5 Simple Tips for Earth Day

 

I like to take out the recycling trash bin

because it makes me feel like

I’m actually doing something for the planet.

Mike Quigley

 

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How can we love our one and only planet? Let us count the small ways…

Double duty. For your party giveaways, choose something beyond lovely to behold. Make it useful and–even better–reusable!  Decorate each with flowers and/or a candle and group these together as the table’s centerpiece. No guest ever goes home empty handed and nothing goes to waste.

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Photo from Google Images

Beg, steal or borrow.  In the age of technology that seems to have forgotten reading as a pleasurable pastime, I have had to give in to my son’s “only if it’s a new book” rule and, of course, little sis had to follow his example, creating her own towers of dust collectors. I’m relieved to report that last week, we celebrated her first trip to borrow books from the library. Finally!

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Photo from Google Images

Bring your own bags when shopping at the mall or at the grocery, picking up books at the library, etc. LLBean canvas totes are indestructible and forever my favorites. They can even hold each person’s  gift under the Christmas tree and save you from gift wrapping. Mix and match your favorite colors.

LL Bean canas totes

Style by recycle. It took me awhile to get past a bias against “used” until I realized the world has turned inexorably plastic. Find real wood and quality materials in furniture, home decor, clothing, accessories from antique, consignment and vintage shops. And, no, you need not buy the entire set…

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Photo from Google Images

Shorten the shower. 25 gallons for every 10 minutes. You do the math.

Click on “Leave a Comment” to add how you care for this planet that feeds us.

xoxox

Flower photo at top of page © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

To The Girls

What a wonderful life I’ve had!

I only wish

I’d realized it sooner.

Colette

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On Huffington Post, Nina Bahadur invites you to offer advice for girls as they travel the path to womanhood:

Author Courtney Summers launched the hashtag #ToTheGirls on April 14, the same day that her YA novel All the Rage was released. Her hope is that women will share their best pieces of advice to young women seeking guidance and affirmation.

In a blog post about #ToTheGirls, Summers urged her followers: “Take the opportunity to tell the girls you know — and the ones you don’t — that they are seen, heard and loved. Share advice. Be encouraging. Tell us about or thank the girls in your life who have made a difference in yours.”

Women on Twitter shared their best insight on confidence, romance, success, sex and more.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add yours to my faves:

@SaraZarr : You don’t have to grow up to be a mom or a wife if you don’t want to. It’s ok to not have kids, not want to babysit, etc.

@HaleShannon  Find and stay near the people who make you feel possible, larger, worthy, interesting, excited, comfortable, confident.

@coracarmack  It’s never too late. To do what you love. To change your mind. To change your life.

@syntactics : “I’m sorry” is for when you’ve hurt someone. It’s not for when you’re asking others for respect or the right to take up space.

@FeministFists  You have the right to take back your consent at any time during a sexual situation. Even if he bought you dinner.

@elloecho  The mistakes you made do not shape who you are. They are NOT who you are. Forgive yourself, love yourself, and let them go.

@SarahDessen It’s okay if you don’t have everything together. Life is a process. Keep learning, keep loving. Keep on.

xoxox

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Photography © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Power of the Pin-up

Her sexiness is natural and uncontrived,

and her exposure

is always accidental.

Dian Hanson, The Art of the Pin-up

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Gil Elvgren, I’ve Been Spotted, oil on canvas

Mad Men ends this week… Sigh! Who will not miss Don Draper and Joan Holloway, the epitomes of sexy in the 1960s? Way before their decade, who summed up sexy?

Gallerist Louis K. Meisel of New York City shares his extensive collection of the beautiful coiffed women next door, in stockings and garter belts, or in dreamlike settings captured in oil paintings, watercolors and pastels. The pin-up girl is said to have been born of war, when President Woodrow Wilson’s Division of Pictorial Publicity decided on her as the visual stimuli to persuade men to join the World War I.  Both flirtatious and innocent, mischievous and sweet, was this well- or scantily-dressed woman persuasive or what?!

While pin-up is deemed as the objectification of women, it is also a testament to the quiet power of femininity, sexuality, and a woman’s freedom to choose.  It is a recognition that women are agents of change simply by making the most of what she’s got (and have we got a lot!) in courage, style, looks,  strength, compassion, wisdom, intelligence, charm, wit and humor. And may the softness of our curves lead mankind towards making more love than war!

The Great American Pin-up Girl Returns opens at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City today, April 2 to May 2, 2015.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you love about pin-up. xoxox

Haddon-Sundblom-Pinup-with-dogHaddon Sundblom, Untitled (Girl with Dog)

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Vaughan Alden Bass, Sugar N Spice oil on canvas

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Gil Elvgren, Low Down Feelings, oil on canvas

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William Medcalf, Permite Girl on Car Creeper, oil on canvas

 xoxox

Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Paris Charms With Teen

 A good holiday is one spent

among people whose notions of time

are vaguer than yours.

JB Priestley

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Have you met a doorman as young as this?

What would you do if you just got back home from too many weeks on the road and your husband dares, “Can you get back on a plane tomorrow?” Do you say, “But this… but that…?” No! No! No! You book tickets the next day, tell your daughter to pack her bags, and get on a flight the day after. This sudden turn of events left my teen in a daze, “I can’t believe this is really happening!”–she thought the upcoming school break meant being glued to her pajamas and iPod. Nah!

This being her very first trip to Europe, our itinerary was designed to please her. “No museums,  no shopping,” she insisted. “No Disney, no queues,” I countered. We walked to and from the Seine, taking in magnificent architecture, pink skies, and painterly scenes at every turn.

At my favorite Pont Alexandre III, I found this scorpion catching the Eiffel. For the best portraits with the Eiffel as background, wake up before the tourists, head to the Trocadero and have that fabulous marble platform all to yourself!

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Stay at the Paris Le Grand Hotel

2 Rue Scribe, 75009

+33 1 4007 3232

Love this elegant atrium where a piano man plays classical or jazz tunes in the early evenings. The Le Grand has large (for Europe) rooms at a most central location. The Opera’s golden facade and the metro are at your doorstep.

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Bike Tour with Paris Charms and Secrets

Fancy seeing the city like Parisians on bikes? We did! But I must admit these electric bikes saved me from un-chic huffing and puffing!  History buff Xavier (or Paris Charms and Secrets founder, Olivier) takes you around the best sites, sharing little known facts of Paris lore. Make this your first activity upon arrival so you’ll know–among other secrets I’m not telling–which Louvre entrance has less of a queue than underneath that iconic pyramid. Take the afternoon tour and they’ll time a 6pm stop at the foot of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel.  My teen remarked, “If my history teacher told stories like Xavier, learning would be so much easier!” Ah-men!

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When you’ve had too many macarons and can’t be bothered lining up for the sweets at Angelina, pick an eclair at L’eclair de Genie, 32 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 75002, phone +33 1 8479 2340.

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Find Marie Antoinette’s last handwritten note (among other historical artifacts that belong in a museum) at the restaurant, Le Procope13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006, phone +33 1 40 46 79 00.  We spotted a waiter calling Napoleon, “Will you ever pick up the hat you left here, Sir?”

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I did make an exception to our “no museum, no queue” agreement with a day in Versailles. She had zero idea what Versailles was about so she cooed at the palace’s golden gates and lavish decor, walked wide eyed through the sumptuous interiors, and it was only after we finished touring the palace that it finally dawned on her, “You know, this is like a museum!” Aha!!! ;)  Here, I take a moment to commiserate with a statue underdressed for the winter’s cold.

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Did I say “No ‘Buts'” when opportunity presents itself?

At the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

FullSizeRender

If this trip weren’t such a whirlwind, I would have introduced my teen to Paris’ great artists before we got there.  She would have enjoyed a scavenger hunt of scenes from Monet’s “The Boathouse on the Seine,” Marc Chagall’s “Paris Through the Window,” Van Gogh’s “Sidewalk Café at Night.”

For walking tours, there is Paris Walks for daily local variety in different neighborhoods. For guides with academic backgrounds specializing in your area of interest, book a private tour with Context Tours. And when your teen can’t walk one more step, take a trip on a bateau-mouche, the glass-enclosed boats that ply the Seine, giving you a graceful overview of the city.

To see earlier Paris travel related posts, enter “Paris” in the search box on the top right of this page.  In the near future, I’ll list my favorite books set in Paris. Until then, click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your tips for Paris travel with teens. xoxox

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Modern Cinderella

Instead of a fairy godmother,

Cinderella needed a single shining epiphany:

“This is my father’s house.

I am the rightful heiress to everything here!”

C. JoyBell C.

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What would you wear to the ball?! This modern Cinderella is not overly concerned. She is comfortable in her own skin. She does not let anyone tell her how to live her life. And she simply refuses to wear (or be) blue!

Despite video spoofs and satires spawned by the latest movie release of the beautifully passive victim, the box office does not appear to be suffering much. At least, let’s hope the movie opens interesting conversation between parents and children.

Child and teen development specialist Dr. Robyn Silverman suggests using stories as a springboard to conversation. “Ask children what they believe the story is trying to tell them,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “’What would you do if you were in the same situation: held captive and offered one night to escape?’ ‘Where would you go?’ ‘Who would you enlist to help?’ Silverman’s favorite conversation starter with young ones is, “’What advice would you give the protagonist in the story?’” In the end, she says, “We want our children to recognize true love when they see it but also discover that when they are in a negative situation, their smarts, wit, courage and character can change it. And no, a prince should not be top of mind.”

Happiest Birthday to this Powerful Goddess who IS the party wherever she goes, choosing to give true love and happiness to her own self, and bravely wearing red or nothing at all!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share the single shining epiphany that changed your life. xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

No Feet Left Behind

The one thing that can solve

most of our problems

is dancing.

James Brown

Dancing-Classrooms-The-Pierre-Gala-Sharon-Birke

Exasperated by the computer induced anti-social and sedentary lifestyle of my teens, I signed Mr. Highschool Senior for social dance classes last week. “This will make you famous with the girls in college!,” I assured him. Yet the minutes were long waiting for him to come out of that first lesson.  Was I just wasting time and money?  He finally stepped out of class grinning, “Dancing is fun!” Whew–Thank you, Goddess!

This week, by some fantastic coincidence, I heard about Dancing Classrooms: a 10 week (20 session) social development program for 5th and 8th grade children using the vehicle of ballroom dance.  The dance floor is, after all, a literal level playing field, doing away with the learning barrier between the gifted and talented and those with special needs. In social dance, every child is treated like a lady and gentleman, taught how to connect with and respect members of the opposite sex, given a safe environment to enjoy movement.

Kudos to teachers and school administrators who recognize that a developing personality thrives beyond grades and testing, that adding fun and engaging character education fosters respect and teamwork, affirming a child’s self-confidence with a sense of joy and accomplishment. All this while teaching good posture, considerate manners, and the importance of eye to eye contact with other human beings. They may even discover that their limbs have uses beyond being hunched over tech gadgets!

Social dance changes children’s perception of themselves and I love how the Dancing Classrooms program sets expectations that help elevate their outlook in life.  Thank you to Pierre Dulaine who founded this program in 1994 and the fabulous men and women who continue to make learning essential life skills fun and easy! I was totally impressed by the children who showed off what they learned in 10 short weeks at last night’s gala.

To donate, volunteer or partner your public school with the Dancing Classrooms program: http://www.dancingclassrooms.com/Page/About/

A closer peek through the lens of legendary NY Times society photographer Bill Cunningham

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You’re never too young or too old for fun on the dance floor!

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 A mighty proud 5th grade ballroom dancer

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Watch their video “Mad Hot Ballroom”

 Photos © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Power of Vulnerability

Kindness to ourselves 

helps us

be kind to others.

Brene Brown

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This Powerful Goddess welcomed her wondrous new decade by exploring the breadth of her enough-ness while honoring the women in her family with their treasured heirloom jewelry. It is magnificent to witness a woman venture out of her comfort zone, daring to go where she has not been before, celebrating the many possibilities of her choosing.

Through this long wintry month of snowy blankets that barely melt, I am grateful to be reminded of the reason for the fallow season and the blessing of dark times. I wish you the best and bravest decade, Powerful Goddess! Thank you for touching my life with the books of Brene Brown and the power of vulnerability.  I shall always think of you each time I remind myself “I AM ENOUGH!”

Vulnerability is beautiful and necessary.

The courage to be imperfect,

to let go of what we think we should be,

the willingness to say I love you first,

 to do something or love someone with no guarantees,

to let ourselves be seen as we are,

to practice gratitude and joy, to say “I am enough.”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you grow strength in your darkness. xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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