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

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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

London With Teen

I sometimes wonder if

Americans are fooled by our accent

into detecting brilliance

that may not really be there.

Stephen Fry

London-Eye-Family-Travel-Sharon-Birke

Last week, I suddenly found myself in London with a young travel companion who–though smitten by the British accent–did not come to visit the Queen nor her crown jewels, completely determined to avoid museums at all costs. Some shopping maybe? Not that either.  So what else was left to do? Plenty, it seems!

Keep an eye on the London Eye

 Skip the endless queue and buy tickets ahead online for the 3:30 pm guided tour

London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
+44 871 781 3000

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Trot through Hyde Park on four hooves with these beauties of Hyde Park StablesThey couldn’t trust beginners like us to hang on to the reins while holding a camera, so this is our best shot right by the stable.

 63 Bathurst Mews, London W2 2SB, United Kingdom +44 20 7723 2813

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Boudoir high tea, Madame?

Have a party designing your own at

Biscuiteer’s Boutique in Notting Hill

194 Kensington Park Road, London W11 2ES, United Kingdom
+44 20 7727 8096

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Watch a show at the grand Royal Albert Hall

Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP, United Kingdom
+44 20 7589 8212

Royal-Albert-Hall-London-Sharon-Birke

I spy a scorpion!  Watch the modern Sherlock Holmes British TV series to whet teen curiosity for this icon of mystery

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From the London Eye, a sunset stroll over the Charing Cross pedestrian bridge takes you to my favorite hotel in London:

The Corinthia

Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD, United Kingdom
+44 20 7930 8181

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My teen had no interest in a guided tour so I’ll just pass on a recommendation by a Powerful Goddess client: Context Tours for guides with academic backgrounds to match your tour of interest. You won’t have to wonder if the stories they tell you is just another fairy tale. London Walks is famous for its 7:30 pm Jack The Ripper tours.

And if you’re in town at the right time, Vauxhall disco roller skating happens on weekends and The Magic Circle has a once a month event open to the public.

For those who are not particularly museum averse, the Victoria and Albert is my favorite for art and design!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share your favorite  tips when you keep calm and travel to London with teens. xoxox

 London-Keep-Calm-with-teen-Sharon-Birke

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Love, Lies and Valentine’s

To make Valentine’s really special,

I’ll tie my man up

so I can watch whatever I want on TV.

Tracy Smith

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If you’re not watching the 50 Shades of Grey movie this weekend, here are some New York Times articles and book recommendations especially compiled by a favorite blog fan for our reading pleasure.  How lucky are we to be so loved!

1. The 10 Best Modern Love Columns Ever 

   I love #2 on this list: Laura Munson’s “Those Are Not Fighting Words, Dear”

2. The 36 Questions That Lead to Love

   Even those who have been married too long may not know each other’s answers.

3. “Love and Lies” book by Clancy Martin

   Adelle Waldman reviews this memoir/essay on truthfulness, deceit, and the growth and care of erotic love.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how well you shall love (thyself) this Valentine’s.  Many hugs and kisses to you and our favorite blog fans!  xoxox

Don’t bore your Valentine with lingerie–

give him/her the gift of lasting memories with Powerful Goddess Portraits!

To purchase a Gift Certificate for a divine portrait session that brings out a woman’s best,

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

or contact:

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

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© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Carnival of Venice

If you can visit Venice

only once in your life,

make it Carnivale!

S. Birke

Share this link to watch on Youtube http://youtu.be/szPv4UIFFzg

Shouldn’t you be in Venice right now?  What better place for adults to remember how to play and have fun than Carnivale–the world famous winter event that attracts revelers and tourists from every corner of the world. Before fasting and introspection, the ten days before Lent is an endless round of parties and feasts for the eyes anywhere you turn! How can you possibly keep a serious face when you’re surrounded by people who take costume even more seriously, preening strangers who revel in the anonymity of masks, robes and cloaks, cheerfully posing for any passing camera?

2015 Calendar 

Events, parties and masquerade balls

 http://www.venice-carnival-italy.com

Where to stay

The Gritti Palace

 http://www.thegrittipalace.com

Hotel Danieli

 http://www.danielihotelvenice.com

Aman Canal Grande Venice

 http://www.amanresorts.com/amancanalgrandevenice/home.aspx

Where to see the most costumes

Masks and costumes congregate in various sites around Venice. Weekends are the busiest. They usually start the day posing in front of the gondolas outside the Doges’ Palace at St. Mark’s Square.  You can follow the revelers when they change venues and stroll elegantly to the Arsenale, a church around the corner or take the ferry to San Giorgio and Burano Islands. Those who prefer the more authentic period costumes hang out at Caffe Florian for tea in the afternoons.

Venice Carnival 2015 runs until February 17.  If you’re not the type to dress up, done a mask at least. This year’s theme “The Most Delicious Feast in the World” celebrates Italy’s culinary traditions and triumphs so if you insist that masks and costumes are really not your kind of eye candy, feast on delicious looking Italians instead!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how a mask helps you tell your truth. 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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