Jeff Masters Louis

 

Mona Lisa’s smile hints at embarrassment

that all these people bother coming so far to see her,

when really she was nothing special.

Allison Pearson

At a Halloween party this year, everyone arrived in costume except for a woman who wore the pedestrian all black clothing with this Mona Lisa purse on her shoulder. She began to apologize profusely for not having had time to think of a fun outfit. I assured her, “Don’t put your purse down and if anyone asks what your costume is, say ‘I’m the Louvre, of course!'”

Can you imagine how much fun Jeff Koons had collaborating with the ever evolving Louis Vuitton for its Masters Collection? It features the King of Pop’s favorites in renaissance art from the landscapes of Monet and Van Gogh to the literally cheeky Reclining Girl by Boucher. Which one might your Santa have on the list?

Titian’s Mars, Venus and Cupid 1550

Van Gogh

Monet’s Water Lilies 1916

 Boucher’s Reclining Girl 1752

All photos on this page from Louis Vuitton

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what iconic painting you’d love to wear and how.

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

 

Wander Women

 

Our happiest moments as tourists

always seem to come when we stumble

upon one thing while in pursuit

of something else.

Lawrence Block

 

 

In planning a holiday, do you ever feel torn between your inner gym rat and spa goddess? I am definitely neither. I don’t see the point of giving up an hour of a good night’s sleep to workout before the start of what is already called a work day. I am confident sunsets are just as lovely as a sunrise. I do not have patience for enclosed chambers with scents or recycled air when my lungs are involved in aerobic exercise. My skin crawls at the thought of spandex, sneakers and extended lounging in bathrobes in public spaces. I question the regimen of standing (or even sitting) upright when the laptop has been ingeniously designed for a comfortable recline on the sofa.  And hard as I try, I simply can’t think of one good reason why I should be running when no one’s chasing me.

This December, I shall explore where I belong in the spectrum in between. I will give up my usual seat on an air-conditioned tour bus to join a National Geographic Expedition where the itinerary includes days of two to four hours on the kayak or hiking and six to eight miles of biking in 90 degree heat. Even without the physical strains, their recommended list of what to pack already tests the religion of my closet:  a hat with a chin strap, a rain jacket that blends with the crowd, sneakers, a backpack and a 44 lb. baggage weight limit for a two week trip. Holy Mother of Glam!

If you’d rather not be seen this underdressed in male company, Travel & Leisure recommends adventure companies that cater to female travelers only. Why not consider a new spin on the bachelorette party, the mother daughter weekend, the sisters bonding holiday, the stocking stuffer?

 

Adventures in Good Company  Specializes in expeditions in the U.S., like dog-sledding and snowshoeing on the shores of Lake Superior

Balanced Rock  This nonprofit’s yearly Women of Color Wilderness Retreats in Yosemite combine survival-skill building, yoga, and mindfulness exercises.

Wild Women Expeditions  Leads intimate journeys, like a horseback ride across Mongolia, designed to foster inclusivity.

Adventure Women  Books luxe trips, most lasting at least a week, to 26 destinations — like hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting in Colombia.

Explorer Chick  The company arranges backpacking trips in the American West and Appalachia, including a trek in the Great Smoky Mountains.

WHOA Travel   Climbing Kilimanjaro and other destinations like Bavaria, Peru, Nepal, Russia, and India.

REI Women’s Adventures  This outdoor-gear co-op leads ambitious expeditions, like a South Africa safari, and three-day Outessa retreats in California, Oregon, and New Hampshire.  Outessa is another REI brand.

Fit & Fly Girl   Daily workouts anchor retreats to party-friendly locales like Ibiza, Spain.

FP Escapes  The Free People clothing brand’s itineraries in places like Nicaragua’s Playa Maderas emphasize mind-body connection

Damesly  Hosts self-discovery workshops in Arizona, Hawaii, and Iceland.

One more that’s personally recommended by a friend who travels the globe year round:  Private Journeys  for small group luxury and exotic destinations.

Intimidated or not, I love National Geographic Expeditions for their commitment to environment conservation through sustainable travel and donating 27% of proceeds to the National Geographic Society, whose explorers and researchers are furthering our understanding of the planet.

A challenge is a good thing when you begin to think you have clearly delineated fences around your ways of being. Even if I don’t discover the Iron Woman in me, at least, the hotels will be fabulous and I’ll have a few laughs to share when I get back in January.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your most memorable, albeit unlikely, adventure.

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 Thanksgiving Guru

 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

 

Last week, I heard a woman speak about the definition of gratitude beyond what you find in a dictionary. I loved her reminder that gratitude is not only about being thankful for what we have, it’s about out ability to give in whatever capacity regardless of our own circumstances.

And when it comes to being charitable, is there a better place to practice than home?  Home–that place where it’s easiest to take people for granted, where biting one’s tongue is a daily mediation, where one’s divinity and charm get tested most passionately. Over the holidays, how do you channel your inner Buddha and keep a thankful heart amidst the wilderness of those you can’t live without nor can’t get rid of?

Meet on neutral ground.  A destination resort allows everyone to chill and enjoy each other without the stress of housekeeping, cooking, groceries and running the laundry.  All the more energy for all to behave graciously around each other.

Have a virtual visit. Skype, Facebook and FaceTime allow far-flung relatives to share adventures, open presents together, exchange knock knock jokes for hours with your four year old niece. Schedule calls after something exciting so children and teens will have more news to open a conversation.

Make a contribution. It is easy to fall back on the role of dependent when you’re in your parents’ roof so make a commitment to yourself to take on chores (and bills) without being asked. When my sister can’t visit my neck of the woods, she sends a special floral arrangement as our dining room’s centerpiece so she is always a remembered in our celebration.

Build in breathing space. If visiting relatives with children, stay at a nearby hotel or Airbnb to give the hostess down time. That way you can change venues when crankiness (either adult or juvenile) sets in. If your parents insist, let the children sleep over and you can get date night out of it.

Manage expectations. Of course, you’ll want to hang out with people you enjoy more–those we usually call “friends”. Just let the family know in advance so they don’t make plans that you’ll end up foiling.

Hang on to your sense of humor. Family is the wisest of all spiritual gurus–relatives never give up egging you until you surrender and find another perspective that allows you to make peace with the situation if not the person. Humor is my best defense. When someone starts to tip my tea and I’m at the brink of forgetting I am divine and sublime, I play worse case scenario  with myself “At least, (s)he’s not…”

It is with great pleasure that I share the poem above from a thoughtful guest who graced our table a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Its truth is clear and will resonate forever.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your greatest blessing this year. Know that I am thankful for you! Gobble gobble!

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 Hands of Michelangelo

 

Carving is easy.

You just go down to the skin

and stop.

Michelangelo

 

 

Classical sculptures greatly inspire the portraits I create and it’s exciting to look forward to the NYC Metropolitan Museum‘s new exhibit featuring Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564).

Despite, or maybe because of Michelangelo’s quirky personality, Italians adored this towering genius in the history of Western art.  He was celebrated for the excellence of his disegno, the power of illustration and invention that provided the foundation for all the arts. He mastered drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture with dazzling imagery and technical virtuosity. Sometimes cranky yet always prolific, they referred to him as “Il Divino” or the Divine. His works, not his moods, attest to how he lived up to the moniker.

Did you know these fun facts about this renaissance man?

 

 

He paints his face as his signature.

The Pietà was Michelangelo’s first sculptural masterpiece and it turned out so well no one believed it could have possibly come from such a young artist. He inscribed his name on a sash running diagonally across the Virgin Mary’s chest and never signed any other work of art thereafter. Though he might paint himself into them as he did in The Last Judgment fresco that covers an entire wall of the Sistine Chapel–a project that was Raphael’s dare for him to prove he couldn’t paint. Look out for St. Bartholomew holding the skin of a face that appears to be Michelangelo’s.

 

 

The David was carved from a scrap block of marble.

Of all the facts about Michelangelo and his career, this is maybe the most impressive. Though notoriously picky about the marble he used, Michelangelo chose a tall, slender piece for the David, leading many to doubt something good could come out of it.

Called the “Giant”, the marble slab had been quarried and then abandoned for over 40 years before Michelangelo claimed it. The stone had deteriorated and grown rough from the elements yet Michelangelo created a 17-foot tall masterpiece, deemed structurally perfect by the world’s best artists and sculptures.

 

 

He launched his career with a forgery.

Michelangelo probably got his start in 1496 from copying an ancient Roman sculpture called Sleeping Cupid and passing it off as the original. After completing the reproduction, he buried the statue underground then dug it up to give it a worn, scratched look then sold the piece to a cardinal for a large sum. A compliment to unstoppable genius!

The Met Museum opens its exhibit Michaelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer on November 13, 2017. This exhibition a wide range of his drawings, marble sculptures, earliest painting, wood architectural model, as well as a body of complementary works by other artists for comparison and context.

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

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

 

Pleasure and Pain

 

If I’m lazy and I can’t come up with a costume,

I would just wear a slip

and write ‘Freudian’ on it.

Julia Stiles

Of all the holidays in the year, I can definitely live happily without Halloween. At a Halloween party I attended last year, it dawned on me that there is simply no good reason for ugly people to dress any scarier! But since I love fantasy,  pretty costumes, and aspire to be wholly human, I concede that it is necessary to embrace the  scary and dark parts of ourselves along with the beautiful, the fleeting moments with the enduring, death with life, pain with pleasure.

From one of the books on personal power I recommended in my previous blog post, Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart:

People have no respect for impermanence. We take no delight in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last–forever, we say–things that we don’t have to ssh, things that we don’t have to iron. Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.

Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. Many cultures celebrate this connectedness. There are ceremonies marking all the transitions of life from birth to death, as well as meetings and partings, going into battle, losing the battle, and winning the battle. We too could acknowledge, respect, and celebrate impermanence.

But what about suffering? Why would we celebrate suffering? Doesn’t that sound masochistic? Our suffering is based so much on our fear of impermanence. Our pain is so rooted in our one-sided, lopsided view of reality. Who ever got the idea that we could have pleasure without pain? It’s promoted rather widely in this world, and we buy it. But pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable. They can be celebrated. They are ordinary. Birth is painful and delightful. Death  is painful and delightful. Everything that ends is also the beginning of something. Pain is not a punishment, pleasure is not a reward.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite fantasy. Trick or treat!

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

 

Not Me Too

 

You have the power of choice.

But your forfeit it when you imagine you can choose for others.

Choose for yourself.

Harry Browne

 

 

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

 

As a mother of both sons and a daughter, I wonder if the polarizing discussion on the rape culture most recently fanned by the “Me Too” movement on social media may be begging the question. There will always be different types of people in this world with a wide range of needs and motivations before considering hormonal influences and physical prowess, what starts out as fun can quickly devolve into something else entirely, individuals will behave differently as a group even before alcohol gets added to the mix, a grand slew of businesses will continue to amass wealth exploiting the sex, drugs and alcohol trifecta, our justice system will be forever slow and sometimes impotent, movies and the media profit from glorifying whoever can up their ratings while heroes, victims and villains will not always be how they appear. Regardless of who stands behind or in front of pointed fingers, how do we educate the young  about their personal sphere of influence and responsibility for choices they make?  How can both men and women enjoy their sexuality without resorting to force or blame? How do we keep our dignity in dealing with people and things beyond our control?

This blog is not the platform for a bottomless debate, so do click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) and share your favorite book that highlights the power of personal choice.

xoxox

 

Free Men, Free Women: Sex, Gender and Feminism by Camille Paglia

 

I Need Your Love–Is That True? by Byron Katie

 

Asking For It by Kate Harding

 

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

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

 

Working From Home

 

The motto every woman should repeat

(in the age of “Lean In”?)

Good for her! Not for me.

Amy Pohler

The all American preoccupation with achievement makes the question “Do you work?” ubiquitous and I catch myself cringing even before I hear a stay-at-home mother reply with an apologetic “No,” grappling to enumerate what keeps her days busy.

While a mother may not get a paycheck for all the invisible work she does to keep hearth and home together, she most definitely works plenty both day and many sleepless nights!  A mother’s work deserves proper recognition and respect–this is why I teach my sons that when the time comes, they must pay their wives if these women chooses to keep their careers on hold to raise their children. She is not a teen entitled only to an allowance. She should always have money she can call her own, not just access to a conjugal bank account audited by the spouse.  When you marry a good woman, she is worth her weight in gold for the myriad services that simply gets chalked up to love. Enough! Even the cleaning lady who breezes through my house has the sense to demand more than triple the hourly minimum wage!

For those who are savvy enough to create meaningful work off their kitchen table, Kathleen Murray Harris shares How To Win At Working From Home (Real Simple, October 2017):

Stick to a schedule and dress up for official business. There will never be an end to the world’s demands of us so set work hours that include breaks and a designated stop time. “When you have a structure, you become more efficient,” says Julie Morgenstern, an organizing expert and the author of “Organizing from the Inside Out.”  Chores you need done for the house or family must be pencilled in your calendar like any other work appointment or, better yet, delegate!

Make your work space inviting. Wireless makes working anywhere possible (and I constantly struggle with the call of the couch and bed!) Maintain an office space in a corner or separate room. Keep it tidy with minimal distractions. Turn off phones and social media on your computer background screen.

Get help.  “Don’t kid yourself and think you don’t need a babysitter for young children if you’re working at home,” says Maura Thomas, a productivity expert and author of Work Without Walls. With the husband and kids who are old enough to understand, put a sign outside a closed door to let them know when “you’ll be back” and a whiteboard where they can write what they need to remember to bring up with you later.

Have an end of work day ritual. Without a commute to wind down and switch gears as career woman and mom/wife. create your own transitions routine: Check what you’ve accomplished on your To Do List and create a new one for the next day. Change clothes to change your mindset and take a brief walk to reconnect with nature, allowing the change of scenery to clear your head.

Now if only my teens would try these ideas out on their school work themselves. Sigh!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your work from home success secrets.

xoxox

 

 

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess photo shoot Gift Certificate:

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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