Shades of Grey

After all these years, I finally had an orgasm–

but my doctor told me it was the wrong kind.

from Woody Allen’s film “Manhattan”

Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s steamy romance would have gone with the wind if it started in our coast last week.  Hurricane Sandy swept through my ‘hood swirling far more than 50 Shades of Grey clouds and moods:  From people who were grateful to be spared losses, appreciative of a “back to basics” experience, and those with frayed nerves hanging on to the end of their rope, making do with less or without.

No cellphone nor internet connection for erotic messaging.   No heat in the red room–or any color room for that matter–though there was a wide range of pain from living without the conveniences we take for granted.  No local hardware store open to sell rope for mundane emergencies.  No escaping the bind of kids who were thrilled to be out of school a whole week!  And don’t get people started on the damage to their hearth and home, the curse of cabin fever when there’s no place to go with dubious sources of gas and food.

I appreciate how disaster brings people together though.  On any given week, we’d be running around relentlessly, too busy with our important lives.  Last week, everything came to a halt and we had to stay close to home, chill with family and neighbors, sharing what wasn’t spoiled in the pantry and lending a hand where it was needed.  It was a reminder of simple pleasures, the importance of being face to face with community, the strength of resilient spirits and what matters.  (What DID people do before electricity and the internet?)

After all that togetherness, there was mixed emotion when the lights finally came back on–BIG THANKS to the gentlemanly crew from Georgia who traveled far to fix our downed power lines.  Who says we don’t need a hunk of a hero to bring heat back to our lives?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how pain clarifies what matters to you.

© Sharon Birke

Text 201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


Holiday Ole!

Some of God’s greatest gifts

are unanswered prayers.

Garth Brooks

Red Rose and Lace by Sharon Birke

Looking back on 2012, what do you count among your best gifts?  My favorite is the freedom to choose what to put my attention on:  the highs, the lows, the blessings, the lack, the closed doors and the ones I have yet to knock on.  After the unbearable loss of innocents last week, what might be the purpose in the seemingly senseless pain we suffer?  The indomitable human spirit grows even stronger when we ponder: How might we spin pain into gold, transform wounds into wisdom, find courage for forgiveness and compassionate action?

Big questions can overwhelm and healing takes time so for now, thank Goddess for community that helps us embrace our emotions, pick up the pieces and begin to remember that there might be a gift in every experience. To keep our attention on the present and the good we can do in the face of helplessness, a Powerful Goddess recommends the “Elfing” tradition of spreading holiday cheer. Leave a surprise package of goodies at the front door of your friends and family (with a note suggesting they do the same to to others.)  Make the tradition your own by doing someone a kindness unbeknownst to the recipient.

May we see the gifts of 2012 with gratitude no matter what.  May they move us closer to a place of peace, of seeing the wisdom at every turn, of expanding our ability to be gentle with ourselves and present to the people who matter.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share:

How will I remember 2012 best?

What/Whom did I welcome (back) into my life?

How far did I travel–in miles, in accepting myself and in creating possibilities?

Have the most meaningful of holidays!



Woman in Balcony by Sharon Birke

Goddess and Roses by Sharon Birke

Laughing Goddess by Sharon Birke

Smile and Lace by Sharon Birke

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Red Dress and Roses by Sharon Birke


How to Pose Ala Anna Karenina

Like charity,

I believe glamour should begin at home.

Loretta Young

Sharon Birke at

What makes the cast of Anna Karenina look regal aside from their crisp military uniforms, sumptuous ballgowns and those dang corsets?  The same thing that makes you look good without clothes on:  Good posture.

With the holidays upon us, I stepped in front of the camera to demonstrate how to pose for better party and Facebook photos of your own. (I can’t be the only one who likes to look slimmer without the pain of exercise, no?)   Ruffles and leggings are my comfy uniform, a nod to the romance of another time I’d love to live in–except I love modern plumbing better.

1. Roll Over  Slouching–like pajamas and sweatpants–is so very comfortable but never flatters.  Take a moment to roll your shoulders back and pick up your neck before the photographer clicks the shutter.

2. Swan Neck  Tilt the chin forward and down to shave off that double chin.

3. Arm Ham  Lifting your upper arm a tad away from your body could trim an inch off.  Bend elbows and rest your hand on waist (or behind) to show your curves. When posing with a girlfriend, do her a kindness by covering her upper arm with your relaxed hand.  When posing with your husband, have him rest his hand over your arm–not the girlfriend’s.

4. Chin to Shoulder  Give the photographer your favorite side.  Instead of facing the camera directly, look over your shoulder for a slimmer view of your torso.

5. Lean To Me   When you’re looking at the camera over your shoulder, tilt your upper body slightly forward to balance the size of your face with your upper arm.

6. S Curves  Who needs another stiff in a group photo?   At least tilt your chin an inch or pop a hip to one side.

7. Very Skinny  If you must face the camera directly, rest hands above your natural waistline to give the illusion of a more narrow waist.

8. Point That Toe  Take a hint from a trick that spawned an entire dance industry (and heel fetish!)  Pick up the heel of your front foot to elongate the leg.  This also pushes your hips back to look smaller.

9.  Live on the Edge  Instantly diminish potbelly by sitting at the edge of your seat even when party gossip isn’t that enthralling.  This makes it easy to lengthen your torso instead of sinking into the sofa cushions.

10. Mystery Smirk  A smile with relaxed lips and a twinkle in the eye keeps everyone guessing what naughtiness you’ve been up to all year.   Sssshhhh–A gentlewoman never tells!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your own posing tips here.

Ala Anna Karenina period costume by Sharon Birke

Lace Up Boots by Sharon Birke

Ala Anna Karenina by Sharon Birke

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Follies of Bergdorf

You can’t fool me–

There ain’t no Sanity Claus!

Fiorello (Chico Marx)

What era would I love to relive?   Take a guess from my favorite holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman.   The BG Follies of 2012 are inspired by the Ziegfeld Follies, Vaudeville revues and Hollywood classics.  Imagine spending more than a year (never mind the $$$) of letting your imagination run wild, making your fantastic visions come true?   I say “That ain’t work!!!”

Bergdorf’s blog shares behind the scenes video and photos of the art process of their obsessive old world craftsmen at   Click on “Leave a Comment” to share:  What would your daughter do if she saw mom kissing Santa?

Mommy Kissing Santa Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke

Act I.  By Request  An all girl orchestra (in Marc Jacobs, Philip Lim, Elie Saab, etc) pays homage to Bill Wilder’s Marilyn Monroe and her silver ukelele in “Some Like It Hot.”   This window is my absolute fave with its bird’s eye view of glamorously dressed women having a grand old time practicing their craft.


Act II Naughty and Nice  is a tribute to burlesque performer Sally Rand, inventor of the risque fan dance, covered in thousands of white feathers meticulously constructed into an all white mosaic.


Act III A Cast of Thousands showcases a collection of mid-century miniature American mannequins (once used for display merchandising and sewing practice)   as 1920s Ziegfeld Follies girls on fifteen miniature stage reproductions made from replica 18th-Century wood moulding.


Act IV Daredevils Inspired by cartoonist Rube Goldberg is Fifth Avenue’s novelty act featuring a runway look from Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2013 collection.   Every surface is covered in gold and silver leaf while 24 plaster dogs perform every trick under the sun.

Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke



Act V  Finale    Approximately 1,000 individually beveled mirrors create this kaleidoscope set into motion by 7 separate rotating motors.  A homage to Busby Berkeley’s overhead kaleidoscopic camera shot seen in Footlight Parade, complimented by Naeem Khan gowns that mimic Berkeley’s famous waterfall number.

ps  Bergdorf’s fabulous windows are on display through January 3 if you’d like to join their Instagram contest.

Bergdorf Goodman Follies 2012 by Sharon Birke

 © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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