Amazing Libraries of the World

 

Everything comes 

to those who wait

except a loaned book.

Kin Hubbard

My Inner Nerd was terribly excited to tell you about this futuristic Binhai Libray in Tianjin, China that went viral on social media. It promises to be a book lover’s paradise with grand sweeping curves of floor to very high ceiling shelves crammed with books. There’s just one catch: Don’t look too closely at the millions of books in its architecturally stunning main hall because they’re merely painted and only a few real books are strategically positioned at certain sections.

Other fabulous ones for your travel bucket list follow below. I’ve been to most of these cities but have yet to remember to officially add libraries to my itinerary and see them for myself.  Having read about the architecture of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, I once spent an entire day searching for it with my fumbling French, getting misdirected by well-meaning locals to the more popular, modern and out of the way  Francois Mitterrand library.  When I finally figured I had to find my way back to Paris central, the librarian curtly informed me that their gorgeous oval reading room is only for students. ;(  I’ve gotten luckier with a private tour of a stunning one among those cloistered in European monasteries and abbeys.  What’s on this list are libraries that you can possibly visit when you happen to be in their neighborhood.

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Klementinum Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Bodleian Library at Trinity School, Oxford, London

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Boston Public Library, Massachusetts, USA

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Inner Nerd’s travel delight. Big thanks to the favorite blog fan who inspired me to write about my favorite things all at once: reading, design and travel.

Photos on this page all from Google Images.

 

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Why I’d Rather Not Halloween

 

Never put your faith in a Prince.

When you require a miracle,

trust a witch.

Catherynne M. Valente, In The Night Garden

 

 

There are more than a couple of reasons why I don’t like Halloween. For one, black is not a color in my rainbow and, more importantly, I don’t believe in encouraging ugly people to dress up looking worse. I love Halloween for one thing only: I adore pretty costumes and faith in the goodness of all mankind–an occasion to forget “stranger danger” paranoia, gamely opening our front door, offering treats to whoever rings the bell even when they look scary or wear masks.

Rita Rudner, a favorite standup comic, sums up this dilemma best:

Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents told me, ‘Never take candy from strangers.’ And then they dressed me up and said, ‘Go beg for it.’ I didn’t know what to do! I’d knock on people’s doors and go, ‘Trick or treat’ and when they offered me candy, I said, ‘No, thank you.’

And while you’re at it, please keep all skeletons where they belong: buried deep underground,  in biology labs for educational purposes only, or tucked away in the back of your proverbial closet. Trick or treat!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite costume.

xoxox

xoxox

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of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Dutch Masters at the Met

 

There are only two styles of portrait painting:

the serious and

the smirk.

Charles Dickens

 

Halima Aden in Vermeer’s Girl With The Pearl Earring, Harper’s Bazaar Oct 2017

The exhibit that just opened at the Met yesterday brings together sixty seven of the Museum’s greatest works by Dutch Masters.  In Praise of Painting orients visitors to key issues in seventeenth-century Dutch culture—from debates about religion and conspicuous consumption to painters’ fascination with the domestic lives of women.

This fresh perspective on the Dutch Golden Age unites paintings typically displayed separately in the Museum’s galleries. Rembrandt’s Gerard de Lairesse and Lairesse’s own Apollo and Aurora are presented side by side for a thematic and visually compelling narrative about the tensions between realism and idealism during this period. My favorites from a few of the grand masters featured:

Virtually ignored in his own time, Johannes Vermeer is now considered an Old Master. His fascination was the faithful reproduction of beautiful light on canvas best seen on his most famous work Girl With a Pearl Earring. Using the camera obscura that became available in the Netherlands in the mid-17th century, Vermeer’s best works generally feature windows, and Vermeer would use his new tool to depict the light shining through them in ways never before seen in his time.Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (which inspired the Harper’s Bazaar interpretation with model Halima Aden at the top of this page) appears seductive precisely because of her restraint and the gorgeously observed fabrics. The coy glance lends it a sense of undefinable mystery,

Danaë (finished in 1636) is Rembrandt van Rijn’s best nude painting and one of his greatest masterpieces. It depicts Danaë, the mother of the ancient Greek mythological hero Perseus, welcoming Zeus who came to her in the form of golden rain. This painting was bought by Catherine II of Russia in the 1770s and has been housed in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg ever since.

Considered the greatest and most famous portrait painter of all time, Rembrandt was a master of observation, chiaroscuro and, perhaps most importantly, brutal honesty, as seen in his self-portraits. These depict the ravages of time on the artist’s face without any sense of vanity, and are heartbreaking when seen in succession.

A generation older than Rembrandt, many of the great’s works would not have been possible without the work of Frans Hals. Hals’ work featured looser brushwork than any who had come before him, introducing a lively sense of movement and a lived-in quality to many of studies. The most famous example of this being The Laughing Cavalier.

Unlike many traditional Baroque artists, Hals did not paint completely objectively. He would create an atmosphere and a different sense of composure for each subject to convey a true sense of self in his paintings. In this way he would accentuate not only their status in society through various symbolic gestures and dress but also portray features of the sitter that made them human.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the painting that most inspires you.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

Life Sketching

 

Who is she?

She is your power, your feminine source.

When she calls, you will know you’ve been called.

It is up to you to answer.

Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

 

Conception and creation are the highest divine powers of womankind.  When we dissipate our energy with doubt, resentments, distractions, or being spread too thin, frustration is a natural consequence. The comforting non-judgment, loving patience and healing hands of conception catalyst, Mica DeSantis, help you reclaim your personal power and gather energy back to your feminine center. She specializes in helping women clear emotional and mental blocks that get in the way of their ability to conceive children, life direction and purpose.

Whether you seek relief from the sorrow of a miscarriage, overcome an inability to conceive or envision new possibilities, Mica will help you move forward with your life.  For more on Mica’s journey and offerings, visit LifeSketching.com.

Mica is a Powerful Goddess in recognizing that a woman’s joy is power!  When a woman owns the key to the best use of her time and energy, she unlocks the path to an authentic life, harnessing innate talents and abilities to bring happiness to others.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’ve claimed the key back home to you!

xoxox

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

The Romantic Road

 

I married a German.

Every night I dress up as Poland

so he invades me.

Bette Midler


Dreaming of your next anniversary, honeymoon or escapade for two?  What’s now called The Romantic Road used to be a major trade route during the Middle Ages and has been re-branded today featuring plenty of old world charm. It is Germany’s most scenic drive through rolling hills past vineyards, restaurants, lush parks, historic castles, and old towns that transport you back in time. Mapped out in 1950, this “formal” route through the southern provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg helped rebuild Germany’s tourism industry after WWII.

To get started, fly into Frankfurt or Munich and rent a car. For the love of all that is good and metallic, skip the compacts and rent a fast BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. You’ll be on the Autobahn and you’ll feel safer with a big engine when everyone else is going 120 mph.

I love spontaneity and waking late, but it’s not a vacation if I have to drive (or cook.)  So I opt for the trains and, even better, an organized bus tour. There is much to be said about leaving all the planning and booking to someone else though I can’t rave as much about the “See you on the bus by 7:00/8:00 am” schedule.  To be fair, there is no way I’d get to see  half of a tour’s itinerary if I’m left to my own late start devices.

Photo up top is lunch by the Mosel River on a fine summer’s day. This area is home of the Reisling grape and where there are vineyards–no matter how slanted on a hillside–there’s wine! Nearby is one of the oldest and largest wine estates in Germany, Bürgerspital, situated in a beautiful and historic courtyard right in the middle of Würzburg.

The casino in Baden-Baden has got to be the most glamorous I’ve seen even though they humbly defer to being second to Monaco’s. I’d have to agree that their facade and lobby do not do justice to the interiors that’s still stunning after over a century.

Where to stay: Brenners Park Hotel & Spa is excellent in location, food and service with superb attention to detail.

In Munich, join a bike tour to add variety to your fitness routine and stop by the English Garden to see their famous surfers. This all white church in the city could inspire your next wedding or anniversary (cake.)

Where to stay: The Mandarin Oriental is modern and elegant, but the Bayerischer Hof has the prettiest lounge under a blue dome with a white bar set on a stage at the far end. If you can’t sleep early, there’s a nightclub in the basement with a live band most weekends.

And what’s romance without a bit of fairytale? Neuschwanstein in Bavaria is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty version in Disneyland. I completely missed this highlight in a previous tour due to a shroud of fog so I’m thrilled to report I made it this time around. While many of its rooms went unfinished whenThe Swan King who designed this castle died, the intricate workmanship that executed his vision in the finished rooms. Tickets are time specific and if you’re late to claim them at your appointed hour, they’ll be quickly snapped up by some other tourist.

Where to stay nearby: Hotel Das Rübezahl, a spa hotel at the base of the Alps with a welcoming fire in the lobby, a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, and views of the castle from bedroom balconies.

For more sights along the Romantic Road, see Germany Travel Guide. Fun fact: While Americans have been captivated by the “Romantic Road” and the classic movie “The Sound of Music” filmed in Salzburg, many Germans have not heard of either one.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share where you’d map out your own romantic road.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Me And My Shadow

 

The eye is always caught by light

but shadows

have more to say.

Gregory Maguire

 

 

I’m baaaaack! Hope you didn’t miss me too much while I had the grandest summer being inspired by other ways of thinking, seeing and being in Europe. My shadow could barely keep up with my nonstop packing, unpacking, getting up bright and early to see the next town or city’s delights. Despite my aversion to the diet of worms, I must concede that without the early bird schedule of our tour group’s itinerary, I would have easily missed half of what we saw/did if I were left to my own devices.

It was the kind of vacation that needs a “real” vacation afterwards, the kind where you can simply lay comatose on a beach and catch up with peace and quiet. To stay grounded anytime anyplace, here’s an excerpt from Pema Chodron‘s When Things Fall Apart:

One of the best practices for everyday living when we don’t have much time for meditation is to notice our opinions. When we are doing sitting meditation, part of the technique is to become aware of our thoughts. Then, without judgment, without calling them right or wrong, we simply acknowledge that we are thinking. It’s an exercise in nonaggression toward ourselves. it is also an exercise in bringing out our intelligence: seeing that we’re just thinking, but with no attached hope or fear, praise or blame.

Opinions are opinions, nothing more or less. We can begin to notice them, and we can begin to label them as opinions, just as we label thoughts as thoughts. By this simple exercise we are introduced to the notion of agelessness. All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real and the absolute truth about how things are. We don’t have to make these opinions go away, and we don’t have to criticize ourselves for having them. We could just notice what we say to ourselves and see how so much of it is just our particular take on reality which may or may not be shared by other people.

Notice your opinions. If you find yourself becoming aggressive about them, notice that. If you find yourself being nonaggressive, notice that. Cultivating a mind that does not grasp at right and wrong, you will find a fresh state of being.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you make peace with your shadow.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Out Of Office

 

I want a vacation

so long

I forget all my passwords.

@CapGenius

 

 

This divine summer is slipping away oh so quickly!  A woman who is 24/7/365 in the heat, constantly on call for work and her family’s never ending demands better make time to kick off her shoes, get away from it all and pay attention to her inner wild woman. For it is only in nurturing her sacred connection with the earth that she can heed its eternal wisdom, the well she draws upon for the strength and courage she needs to guide her son(s) and daughter(s) through the thicket of life.

Excerpt from Paula Caplan’s Don’t Blame Mother:

Remember the value of silence and time: allow both your daughter and yourself periods of silence during which to consider what you have heard, how you feel, and what you want to do about it. Many unnecessary troubles come from feeling we have to rush to respond to criticism or a request. Both daughters and mothers need to ask for time to be silent, time to wait, time to think and feel things through before responding. Asking for silence or time is a way to show respect for each other, a way of saying, “Making our relationship better matters enough to me that I want to accord it time and energy.” Since we live in a culture that values quick comebacks and snappy patter, we don’t often think to ask for time, but learning to do so is invaluable in working out problems in relationships.

It is important to talk first to other women partly to rehearse what we want to say or ask for, partly to learn that our feelings are not unique or weird, and partly to brainstorm. This included hearing out how other women feel about their mothers, how those feelings have changed and what changed them, and how other women feel about being mothers.

Fundamentally, most of us want to be less angry, want to feel closer and more relaxed in our relationships. But we lose sight of this goal because we easily get caught up in laying blame or withdrawing altogether. Saying and acknowledging this is absolutely crucial, because it puts you and your mother in the same team.

Why is knowing you’re on the same side so important? Because we become defensive or paranoid if we believe that the other person wants to hurt us or to protect herself no matter the cost to us. Once a daughter commits to improving her relationship with her mother, her mother is likely to sense that commitment even before the daughter talks about it. If mother and daughter both want to improve their relationship, their shared vision of a better future can take them a long way. Hanging on to the knowledge of your commitment to this goal will help your through rough times, the struggles and intermittent backsliding.

Sage advice for any relationship, no?! Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what has helped strengthen your mother daughter bond. A very hot birthday to this earthy Goddess whose life has been blessed by adoring parents!

And as the old song goes, “I’ll see you in September when summer is gone…”

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

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