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

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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

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:

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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

Paris for Teens and Tweens

 

Airplane travel is nature’s way

of making you look

like your passport photo.
Al Gore

Though teens might consider getting their own car as the best gift of all, plane tickets with a plan for adventure that gets another stamp on their passport could be better for creating family legends from shared memories. I want my young adult wanna-bes to seek the stories that are different as well as familiar in people of other cultures and feel at ease in unfamiliar lands. How else will they truly know that the world has so much more to offer beyond their daily routines and virtual tech obsessions?

Paris being a favorite gateway to Europe, a lucky teen is going to see the best of the best with mom as tour director–thanks to my curated list of fun possibilities culled from previous visits and research. Keep this page handy for your family because it is only a matter of time when the travel winds will blow you through the City of Lights. I’ll be severely testing how far I can keep up my style using the “How to Pack Light tips for our extended trip!

Begin with a city bike tour with Paris Charms and Secretsorienting you through the essential and hidden corners of the city. Your guide will fill you in with interesting facts and tales that will keep you enchanted through 4 hours of pedaling or not–thanks to their electric bikes. Choose their afternoon tour because your guide will likely time your stop at the Eiffel to coincide with its 6:00 pm twinkle time.

A popular eerie attraction, the Catacombs are the city’s old mineshaft-turned-mass grave. The tunnels are lined with the bones of millions of citizens who were laid to rest here by King Louis XVI before getting his own head chopped off.

For movie and theater buffs, the Studio Harcourt gives you the starlet experience with a cinematic black-and-white portrait shoot to commemorate your Parisian adventure. Everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Marilyn Monroe has had their photo taken here.

If waiting in line for the towers of Notre Dame is not your idea of fun, tire your teens out with the impressive climb up some 300 stairs to the top of the Sacré Coeur. Six o’clock in the evening is Vespers when you might get lucky hearing the mystical voices of the Bénédictines Sisters at the church reeling you back in time to how life must have been like there in the 18th century as you view sunset over the city. Sigh!

For a swim in the city with local Parisians, Piscine Molitor is the prettiest old school swimming pool in Paris which was recently renovated. You can surprise your teen with a treatment at The Spa by Clarins or go for drinks and a salad on the rooftop. This is a members-only kind of place except if you get an Escale Molitor package at the spa (one-hour treatment +access to the pool, hammam, sauna, and gym). Book well in advance.

Curious to cook? I’m not, but as a mother, I’m a firm believer in the proper training of future husbands especially when you are in a country known for le gourmet. La Cuisine has a variety of cooking classes from macarons and baguettes to apertifs and entrees.

For treasure hunts to engage even those who are not art enthusiasts, see what fun and games THATMuse can plan for your museum of interest.

Then, of course, Versailles… A stay at the Trianon Palace, a Hilton Waldorf Astoria luxury property, is the closest thing to feeling like Marie Antoinette. If you can’t stay the night, you can book treatments at the Guerlain Spa and enjoy its beautiful pool, go for a walk in the royal garden, then have a spectacular Michelin Star lunch at the veranda of Gordon Ramsay au Trianon. Wear comfy shoes please.

If not Versailles, then at least the Opera Garnier in the heart of Paris for its version of the Hall of Mirrors and so much genius behind the architect’s choice of design and construction elements. Join a guided tour run by the opera house or an independent walking tour that covers its surrounding neighborhood.

As tourists, early birds get the worm and wait less in queues at popular attractions.  If you’re not into worms, wait for later in the day to go when the masses have been let in.

A note on museum tickets: All Kids under 18 enter free (or EU citizens under 26 with proof of age). For adults, get your entry tickets from the   Louvre website because they are they cheaper and allow you into a much faster security line than tickets bought elsewhere like getting a “Paris Museum Pass” from the Paris Tourist board which covers most monuments & museums (eg, Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Versailles, etc) or through your hotel.  Note that tickets sold as ‘skip the line’ passes could have you standing in longer queues than the Louvre’s own e-ticket line.

With or without teens, eating will never go out of style where there’s a lot of walking and sightseeing involved. At the Trocadero, Monsieur Bleu’s terrace has one of the best views of the Eiffel tower with very good food. Note that on Saturdays and Sundays, Monsieur Bleu offers free babysitting services on the French floor (there’s also an American floor) with a disco for kids on Saturdays and other fun activities on Sundays. Dress well because shorts on a hot summer’s day may get you turned away despite having reservations.

A cross between Parisian and Japanese, Le Kong is a futuristic Japanese restaurant  with curved floor to ceiling windows decorated by Philippe Starck at the top of the Kenzo building. Perfect spot at sunset to be surrounded by Louis XV armchairs, plasma screens, a fluorescent staircase and a carpet of pebbles.

L’Oiseau Blanc (the White Bird) at the Peninsula Hotel is named for a French plane that crashed over the Atlantic in 1927 during a transatlantic flight attempt. The restaurant’s décor pays homage to the pilots, complete with a small-scale replica of the biplane that looks like it’s flying off the terrace. Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll appreciate the sweeping views of the Eiffel Tower.

Every weekend between 4:00 and 6:00 pm at La Bauhinia bar of the Shangri-la Hotel, Pastry Chef Michaël Bartocetti celebrates a veritable French ritual and a moment dear to little ones and grown-ups alike: the Goûter!  A superb buffet of traditional French pastries to satisfy every sweet tooth. Reservations at +33 (0)1 53 67 19 91 or by email: labauhinia.slpr@shangri-la.com.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Parisian favorites for the family to enjoy. Enjoy your summer adventures and try not to miss me too much. Bon voyage and a bientot!

Photos on this page courtesy of Google Images.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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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

Patriots and Poets

 

In America,

anyone can become the President.

That’s the problem.

George Carlin

 

 

Patriots need never rush rolling out of bed when it’s hot out and you’re wrapped up in seductive poetry such as this–thanks to a favorite blog fan. And with Google translate, who says Americans can speak only one language? 😉

 

Je t’aime, dans ma peau

Je t’aime du sang d’une

vigne proche de ton village,

le soleil de la mer est dans tes yeux,

une chaleur qui m’enflame

et brule nos corps

Je t’appartient… la vie.

 

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your delicious plans for a happy summer!

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

Best Books for Your Beach Bag 2018

 

At the beach one summer, my wife remarked: ‘Boy, are you skinny!’

I replied: ‘Honey, it’s minor defects like this

that keeps me from getting a better wife.’

Lou Holtz

 

Heat is upon us and I see beach! What’ll be in your tote for whiling away the hours as you bake the perfect tan?

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

A murder mystery by the queen of summer beach reads. Over all weddings in Nantucket this season, the Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be the event of the summer. That is, until the maid of honor is found dead the morning of the special day. Soon, everyone is a suspect, and they’ve all got something to hide.

 

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

Meet Peter Rashkin in 1965 Manhattan, the handsome bachelor owner and head chef of the popular restaurant, Masha’s. He is also a survivor of Auschwitz, where his wife and daughters died. When an up-and-coming model catches his eye, they begin a whirlwind romance. But that’s just where the story begins. Spanning three decades, The Lost Family is a beautiful story about love, family, and the legacy of loss and how it defines us.

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.

Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins

Irish comedienne Maeve Higgins’s wickedly funny collection of 14 essays deliver on her promise to reach beyond the self while addressing such topics as Rent the Runway, a designer-clothes rental service, and the Muslim travel ban with incisive humor and deep humility. In her exceptional essay, “Pen as Gun,” about teaching a comedy workshop in Iraq, questions that begin with the self give rise to political and global considerations: “What if comedy, and creativity, these nebulous things I’ve devoted all these years to, are, in the grand scheme of things, unhelpful? Or even pointless?” Higgins has the rare gift of being able to meaningfully engage with politics and social ills while remaining legitimately funny.  

A Bite Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment by Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell

For the Francophile and travel bug, pack this one for the road — or if you’re simply hungry. Nothing better than relating the history of French food and wine with its history from ancient times through today.

 

Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O-Brien

Let’s call it the Hidden Figures rule: If there’s a part of the past you thought was exclusively male, you’re probably wrong. Case in point are these stories of Amelia Earhart and other female pilots who fought to fly.

 

The Dependents by Katharine Dion

How well do you really know your partner? After 50 years of marriage, Gene suddenly loses his wife, Maida. When their grown daughter returns home, old memories resurface and Gene’s long-held narrative of his own family’s life begins to unravel. Must we bridge the chasm between what makes us happy believing and what we ought to know as truth?

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Three lifelong best friends. One dark secret that will reverberate for generations to come. Told in multiple timelines of the present and the past, this is Southern fiction at its best. A novel about dreams, friendship, and family that makes you long for home.

 

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Darkly funny, Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.

 

Fight No More by Lydia Millet

In her first story collection since Love in Infant Monkeys (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), Lydia Millet explores what it means to be home. Nina, a lonely real-estate broker estranged from her only relative, is at the center of a web of stories connecting fractured communities and families. She moves through the houses of L.A.’s wealthy elite and finds men and women both crass and tender, vicious and desperate. With wit and intellect, Millet offers profound insight into human behavior from the ordinary to the bizarre: strong-minded girls are beset by the helpless, myopic executives are tormented by their employees, and beastly men do beastly things.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your reading list recommendations here. Our beach bag is ever grateful to the Kindle!

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

A Jealous Husband’s Lament

 

When you’re young, you think

your dad is Superman.

Then you grow up and realize

he’s just a regular guy who wears a cape.

Dave Attell

What woman would not prefer a man who wines and dines her with a more refined sartorial sense? A man who’s not afraid of feelings and can look her deeply in the eyes while holding meaningful conversation? All these after years of togetherness and familiarity. Nor do I mean a gay friend either.

Happy Father’s Day to the superhero we live with–May we never grow blind to your  unique superpowers through the years!

Excerpt from Devin Friedman’s article “A Jealous Husband’s Lament” in GQ’s May 2018 issue:

Why, as the family man ages, does he become more reclusive, sedentary, ursine? Meanwhile, it’s different for women, I discovered recently  that my wife has been having all these affairs. With her friends. She goes out and drinks wine and smokes secret cigarettes with April and Melissa and Robyn and Krista. They’re in love with each other.

They get plowed on natural wines and eat fine European cheeses and tell each other everything. They tell each other about their periods, about early menopause, about sex and what their husbands’ penises look like, about the terrible fears they have about their children and how we’re all going to die in the end.

And I have to admit that I’m jealous that my friends and I aren’t like that. I think part of the reason for this state of affairs is that, at this point I kind of don’t want another relationship in my life. I relate to my kids. I relate to my wife. I relate to my wife about my kids. I relate to my kids about each other. I relate to the people I work with. All I want to do at night is drink a Negroni and not relate to anybody.

And I think the other part is that men are brittle, ego-obsessed little freaks. I know virtually nothing about most of my friends’ sex lives, wifely relationships, erectile dysfunctions, fears of death and bankruptcy. That, at least for me, is because we care too deeply about seeming like we’re doing okay. That we’re winning. That we have achieved a place in the world. That we are not failures. But how much fun is it to meet your friend for a drink and lay out an argument for how awesome you are?

So here’s a proclamation: I’m going to get more intimate. I’m going to have an affair with my friend. I feel like the way to do it is to be forthright and real. As a gambit, but also maybe as a better way to live. I expect middling success. But look out, Zach’s wife, because I’m about to know everything about you.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’ll celebrate Father’s Day and a super kiss to your favorite superman!

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

How to Travel Light

 

When preparing to travel, lay out

all your clothes and all your money.

Then take half the clothes and twice the money.

Susan Heller

Can you believe Summer is just around the corner? Whether you’ll be traveling with First or “cattle” class, nothing beats the pleasure of skipping airport luggage check-in and the mindless wait at baggage claim carousels. Assuming your hair and makeup tools don’t require an entire suitcase, here’s how you can prioritize and pack lightly with ingenuity:

Choose the right bags. Carry-on rolling cases with four wheels like Louis Vuitton’s Horizon are the best gift from the travel gods.  When choosing yours, consider the smaller measurements required for domestic flights so you can easily hop onto connecting flights after the international leg of your jaunt. For your large tote, choose wide straps, with a cross body strap when possible, so you can be kind to your shoulders and back. A backpack would be the kindest of all, but I’d rather suffer for the sake of style.

Multi-task everything. A stylish belt bag (at the top of the photo above) doubles as your wallet and evening purse while holding valuables under your shirt when sightseeing during the day. A fabric/synthetic foldable shoulder bag can hold your shopping treasures, water bottle, extra layers of clothing, and serve as a decoy for pickpockets.

Hallelujah for the iPhone that saves us the extra weight of a computer, books (thanks to the Kindle app), phone, camera, alarm clock, flashlight, GPS, diary, ad infinitum.

Bring an extra large shawl for use as a head/neck rest on the plane, blanket, beach wrap, scarf, towel, or picnic blanket.

Choose an accessory that makes a fun accent piece like a necklace that can double duty as a belt or as bracelet when wound several times around your wrist.

Consider clothing color and weight.  Start with a basic neutral palette of gray, black, blue, or beige for pants, leggings, jacket and sweater then add fun splashes of print or color with your tops and accessories. White needs extra care to keep clean when you’re on the road so it’s not my go-to.

Clever dual-purpose travel garments like pants that can be turned into shorts by zipping off the legs are not my style but are worth mentioning here. Jackets with many pockets can serve as a sly piece of “luggage” when you’re traveling with a super strict airline that actually weighs your carry-on luggage.

If traveling through wide swings of climate, the secret key is layering. One warm jacket and one medium weight sweater will serve you well with a change of layered shirts closest to your skin. For variety on photos for Instagram and Facebook posts,  accessorize with different color scarves.

Unless you’ll be sending out your laundry for cleaning, choose material that’s easy to wash and hang dry. For this, I am a huge fan of silk–it is chic, lightweight and can be easily layered, plus it keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cool. Style wise, a mid-length dress can be worn short with a hip belt and leggings.

To roll or not to roll? I roll leggings and pants (above) and use them to flatten out the bottom of my case with other odd shaped items. On top of all these, I lay my selection of tops, a skirt and a dress minimally folded as shown with the ivory shirt below. Pull the shirt arms straight over and across the chest then fold the torso horizontally once (or twice for longer shirts and dresses.) Voila–fewer wrinkles when you unpack!

My silk robe doubles as pajamas.  Pack extra shoes in bags at the bottom of your carry-on and wear the heavier rubber sole shoes/sneakers/boots in flight. Open toe sandals can serve as slippers while lounging in your hotel room and also give your feet a breather on alternate days of much walking. Roll up socks and stuff them inside the pair of flats or stilettos you pack to save room while keeping your shoes in good shape.

Wear as much as you can. On the flight, wear your heaviest boots/sneakers, jacket, sweater with a couple layers of shirts.  You can easily take them off on board then layer them back on as necessary. What about undies, you ask?  Let’s just say this is the matter where I stand on the complete opposite end of wearing as much as you can. 😉

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite secrets for traveling light.

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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