Taking Chances

To keep your marriage brimming with love,

whenever you’re wrong, admit it;

whenever you’re right, shut up.

Ogden Nash

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Honey and I just got back from our very first honeymoon A.C. (after children) in Puerto Rico–sandy beaches, salsa dancing, and casinos that remind us of how lucky we’ve been betting on each other a lifetime ago and luckier still that we have learned to reshuffle our hand to make the most of the cards life dealt us since.

Like this Powerful Goddess, I did wear white. Not so much to conjure the days of innocence, but for the simple reason that white complements a good tan best. ;)

Lucky we did not swear NOT to talk about the kids during our time alone–impossible with Puerto Ricans who are big on family culture. Seeing young couples with toddlers and their oversized strollers did make us sigh with relief that we can travel far lighter lately.

We flew home in time for the second marriage of my husband’s college buddy. Having witnessed the dissolution of his first, we were thrilled to see him taking another chance with a woman who brings out his playful side. We sat among the witnesses, silently thankful that our own marriage has endured, shuddering at the thought of possibly having uttered the word “obey” at my own wedding?!!!

Esther Perel says all of us do marry a second or third time, though some of us do so with the same person in our personal evolutions. Her TED Talk on The Secret to Desire in a Long-term Relationship asks “Can we want what we already have (for toooo long)?” Now there’s a question where “I do” is a most meaningful answer.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you have been lucky to bet on the same person a second or third time. A toast to the courageous!

xoxox

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xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Myanmar Meander (Part II: Mandalay, Kalaw and Inle Lake)

Travel far enough,

you meet yourself.

David Mitchell

Too many fun things keep popping up that kept me from getting to this sequel sooner.  I’m off on another trip this week, always compelled to follow where joy leads me.  This summer has been particularly full of fun firsts. This year literally started on the right elephant’s foot!

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In the mountains of Kalaw, all is green, peace and quiet except for my occasional shrieks while on a  bareback elephant ride at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp. Green Hill is a sanctuary for retired elephants (even their vet is a retiree) that also promotes reforestation with its tourism program. You get to feed and pet the elephants at their hut then scrub their thick hide as they soak in the river. And don’t you worry, riding them bareback is optional–only for the brave or the reckless. ;)

Selfie or not? Even the monks do it. At the U-Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world built in 1850 and still holding up to foot traffic.

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Mandalay, the last royal capital of the former Burma, has a romantic name that sounds infinitely more beautiful than its downtown area. The best parts of it are the hills dotted with stupas and temples and the sight of monks–men in burgundy robes, women in pink, all with shaved heads.

Mandalay is known as Motorcycle City among locals. I’ll remember it more for vans with passenger doors that open to oncoming traffic.

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The Shwenandaw Monastery, a glorious example of traditional 19th century wooden monasteries, is made of intricately carved teak.  Originally part of the Royal Palace in Amarapura, this building is also a fine example of recycling, dismantled and transported to Mandalay as the King’s living quarters when the capital city was moved in 1857, then moved a second time outside the Royal Palace grounds when his son succeeded the throne.

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In remote villages, life seems to have gone on largely unchanged for the past 2,500 years: peasants, oxcarts, the same kinds of food and clothes. The same pagodas covered in gold in the richer towns or merely painted in the poor ones. Cellphones are quickly becoming ubiquitous though.

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I bought a farmer’s umbrella not quite the size of this red giant, but ingeniously made completely of handmade paper and bamboo moving parts.

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There are 500,000 monks and 150,000 nuns in Myanmar—which is to say that a significant percent of the country aspire to follow the Buddha’s path. Most boys spend some years as monks before returning to their families. I met a couple of women who chose to join an order after they had already finished college and had worked on a career.

Busloads of tourists certainly don’t make studying easy for this little monk.

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As a tourist, you pick up some Buddhism along the way, getting a better understanding of the variety in religious structures. The pagoda or stupa (or zedi) is a solid structure with no interior that often contains a relic. A temple is a hollow square building. A cave serves as a meditation center for monks. The ordination hall is for exactly that. The monastery is the monks’ residence. The library is where scriptures of the Buddha are kept.

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Mornings in Myanmar often find bewitching mists hovering in the valleys and lakes.

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Inle Lake, in central Myanmar, is the region where locals  live on wooden houses on stilts, farm on floating patches of soil, bathe, brush their teeth,, do their laundry, commute, etc… all in the same water.  My fellow travelers asked our guide, “Where does the sewage go?” She doesn’t look us in the eye when she answered, “Septic tanks.”

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Aside from farming on floating patches of muck that are held in place by bamboo poles, industry in the lake includes boat making, weaving silk and lotus fiber, tobacco rolling, silver making, iron work, religious traffic, etc. A big gash in the mountainsides for new hotels represents the government’s ambition for a stronger surge of tourism. How will the lake’s ecosystem support such deluge? Beats me!

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Stay at a lake front room of the Inle Resort or catch the sunset from their boat landing. The spa is absolutely stunning here!

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Inle Lake fishermen are an iconic sight standing at one end of their boats, gracefully paddling with just one leg to keep one hand free for the net and the other for the spear.

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The beauty of Myanmar is in considerable part a consequence of its inaccessibility. Get there before it becomes more mainstream and lose its unique charms. Best month to catch a tour group is February.

Moi in their traditional wrap.

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Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your exotic travel tips.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Come As You Are

Women who love themselves 

are threatening; men who love

real women, more so.

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

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Excerpts from Dr. Emily Nagoski, PhD’s new release Come As You Are:

A woman’s body and her pleasure belong to her and no one else. It’s possible to say no to intercourse without saying no to all the other things that come with it–the love, the affection, the pleasure, the play. Your own internal experience is a legitimate guide for whether or not you want to try something.

Exposure to media that reinforces body self-criticism increases body dissatisfaction, negative mood, low-self-esteem, and eating disorders. If there were a food that consistently made you sick, you’d stop eating it. So if there’s media that makes you feel more self-critical, stop looking at it.

Pay attention to how magazines, TV shows, and music videos make you feel, and stop buying what makes you feel worse. If it makes you feels worse, it’s likely to interfere with your sexual wellbeing. Even if you’ve been taught to believe that feeling worse about your body “motivates” you to “improve,” that’s a psychological trap you never need to be caught in again.

To stop watering these weeds in your mind:

Take off all your clothes–or as many as you can bring yourself to take off–and look at your entire body in a mirror. Make a list of everything you see that you like.

Of course, your brain will first be filled with all the self-criticism and disgust you’ve been holding on to all these years. Remind yourself that the day you were born, your body was a cause for celebration, for love without condition, and that’s just as true today as it was then.

Do this over and over again. Practice acknowledging the self-critical, judgmental thoughts yet focusing on the self-appreciating thoughts. Celebrate your body as it deserves to be celebrated. Treat it with the respect and affection it deserves. Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend or daughter.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what helps you be grateful for the beauty that you are.

xoxox

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xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

At the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum

You can’t connect the dots looking forward.

You can only connect them looking backwards.

So trust that your dots will connect in the future.

Steve Jobs

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Benker & Steiner 1996 poster on the beleaguered patriarch

What museum allows you to photograph and assemble a webpage of your favorites among their exhibits? Encourages interactive fun for design inspiration? Has the stairs of a London Bus wedged into a mansion’s grand staircase?  New York City’s Cooper Hewitt checks “Yes” to all these and more! Even my difficult-to-please teen says he’ll save his ticket stub to remember our visit. Next time the heat gets unbearable this summer, hit this cool destination with your favorite young adults!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share your fun family ideas in/around NYC this summer.

xoxox

In the mood to design a hat, a chair, a building? Possibilities can be endless here…

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Extrusions 2009 by Heatherwick Design Studios.

A metal bench inspired by the toothpaste you squeeze out of a tube.

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My kind of grand staircase model, but, boy, would I hate forgetting something in my bedroom upstairs!

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An artwork from the more glamorous days of luggage airline tags.

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A functional chair that lets you spin like a top.

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Next two photos, a dress that folds itself neatly soon as you drop it onto the floor. Every mom’s dream!

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Did I say we love the Cooper Hewitt?

Go on weekdays to enjoy the “Immersion Room” for more than the 5 minutes you’re allowed when there’s a crowd. Draw a single object and the projector will multiply it across two walls. Lucky my teen was game to plaster himself amidst his heart pattern.

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See my collection of Cooper Hewitt exhibit favorites at

http://cprhw.tt/v/n42f

Happy Summer!

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

 

Marseille: Shade and Shadow

Boy, those French–

They have a different word

for everything!

Steve Martin

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Mature romance by the water is how I will remember Marseille. With its Mediterranean harbor of clear blue waters coyly inviting you for a dip, sunshine 300 days of the year, a spread of restaurants representing its multicultural population, Marseille has all the good stuff tempered by a rough-edged reputation.  It’s a three hour train ride from Paris and an easy commute from the smaller cities of Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Arles and Nîmes when you’re in the South of France.

Marseille is both gritty and pretty–full of graffiti and locals who warn tourists not to wander in certain areas after dark or even during the day. Despite this, I had a wonderful time traveling with easygoing photography lovers who had much enthusiasm for the town. Marseille reminds me of the less savory parts of ourselves we’d rather skirt over and the dark corners of our psyche that might prove to be less dangerous  if we embraced them.

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The freshest seafood right off the boat!  At the fish market, this octopus stealthily tried to grab some lunch before he became someone else’s lunch.

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Stay at the Intercontinental or chill on their terrace bar and restaurant with its view of Notre Dame de la Garde. Thanks to Anais, Gerard and Olivier for charming service!

InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu, 1 Place Daviel, +33-4-1342-4212

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At the MuCEM (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée), admire the engineering genius and patchwork shadows of its lace facade made of cement. Check out the sea view from their restaurant “Le Mole Passedat.”

7 Promenade Robert Laffont
Marseille, France
+33 4 84 35 13 13

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Underneath this Cathedral (across the street from the MuCEM) is Les Voûtes Marseille: home to shops, restaurants, bars, etc…

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Open air Tango in the square on Friday evenings by the ferry dock. I loved seeing elderly couples walking hand in hand, dancing tango in the open air, women much older than I am still wearing high heels and above the knee dresses on date night. C’est si bon!

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Hop on or off a boat to swim, visit the calanques, the Frioul, and the prison of “The Count of Monte Cristo” (a movie you’ll want to re-watch!)

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Go topless at this most adorable little cove near Le Petit Nice, a Relaix and Chateaux boutique hotel best known for the Marseillaise specialty dish, bouillabaisse.

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For casual rooftop dining with sea and marina view among good looking locals:

Rowing Club, 34 Boulevard Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille, France
+33 4 91 90 07 78

Best couscous is at Le Kahena, beside the white church corner of the Vioux Port.

Le Kahena, 2 Rue de la République, 13001 Marseille, France
+33 4 91 90 61 93

Foster and Partners’ Ombriere reflecting steel pavilion at Vioux Port.

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Had the most delicious meal at the casual garden of La Passarelle. Look up when you’re facing their kitchen to find this embroidered artwork.

La Passarelle, 52 Rue Plan Fourmiguier, 13007 Marseille +33 4 9133 0327

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Limo to/from the airport and anywhere else:

Taxi Perez (Joseph’s phone 0613360991)

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your South of France travel tips. Vive Le France!

Watch my slideshow on Youtube

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Best Books This Summer

Too much

of a good thing

is wonderful.

Mae West

While I do my best not to get overly baked in the Mediterranean sun, do tell what’s on your reading list?  Here’s a collection by (mostly) women writers for whatever corner of the planet this summer may take you:

The Ladies of Managua by Eleni Gage. Through three generations in Nicaragua and Miami, love, loss, secrets, and the mother daughter dynamic hold true no matter where we live.

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The Wild Oats Project by Robin Rinaldi. Move over, Madame Bovary! This woman’s midlife memoir  is a quest for passion at any cost.

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Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. A Sonoma vineyard provides the backdrop of a family drama, each character exploring what (s)he wants from relationships and of her/himself.

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Speak by Louisa Hall. Moms will want to read this book recommended “for all teens.” What to do when your kid in high school refuses to speak out of shame and becomes a social outcast?

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The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendetta Vida. In Morocco, a woman reels you in on her journey of reinvention, questioning our preconceived notions of identity, perception, and social blueprints.

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The Rocks by Peter Nichols. Spanning six decades and three generations of two families, a tragic event sets the stage for the tale of two warring expat Brits in Mallorca who used to be married to each other.

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In The Country by Mia Alvar. What stories do we tell ourselves to make our reality bearable? Nine short story vignettes of Filipinos working around the world, each contemplating the masks we wear and the consequences we face after tough choices.

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The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus.  A New York family struggles to hold on to the waning opulence in their lifestyle. When is feeling rich (or poor) relative?

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Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what’s in your beach/travel bag. And have the sunniest 4th of July!

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

 

The Russian Doll

If my kids turn out good, 

it means I’ve been a good dad.

If they turn out bad, it means they

took after their mother’s side of the family.

Jeff Foxworthy

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This photographer feels most alive capturing moments with her camera that show the beauty in our world through people’s eyes/smile, architecture, nature, flowers… In her Powerful Goddess portraits, you can see she counts among the beauties of our world, more breathtaking in front of the camera!

Her father through her lens:

My father is the most positive person I know, very generous, smart and kind. He is full of anecdotes to make people laugh. I’m sure my passion for music and dance come from him. He can dance, sing and play the accordion. His love for adventure, change, and travel took him to live in Mongolia, Cuba, and Norilsk (Northern Russia.) He loves sports while I love his energy and passion for life. When he hugs me, I feel the love of a good father. He is the Sun! I have his smile, blondness, optimism, and boundless energy. Papa, I wish you could give all this to my kids as well! I love you so much!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you love best about your dad or of being a dad. Happiest Father’s Day to the men we love! You know who you are… ;)

xoxox

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xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

 Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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