A Thanksgiving Dish

The essence of all beautiful art,

all great art,

is gratitude.

Friedrich Nietzsche


Aahh, the happy holidays are here and my heart goes out to all ye who have to cook but don’t want to.  The caterer’s order form keeps winking at me each time I walk past the kitchen counter, but no, I shall not succumb to temptation.  My kids need every available bait to lure them away from their singular preoccupation–the computer–and if this means overseeing the mess as they make the one dish each is supposed to contribute to the Thanksgiving table, I shall prevail!

I must call Martha and find out how she keeps her apron spotless, her smile calm and fresh after preparing a feast for twenty.  From scratch.  Where does she find guests who sit politely around the dinner table without anyone ever checking their smartphone, the men never staring at the TV, the kids eating daintily without fighting?  More importantly, where does she hide her army of assistants who lead us to believe one smiling woman did it all? How do domestically challenged women cope with this popular myth of the perfect mother?  Oy vey!

I am thankful I’ve learned to be gentle with myself.  My pumpkin pots look better as props for posing, yes?

I am thankful for the Powerful Goddesses who bless this blog with their infinite wisdom, beauty and inspiration.

I am thankful for the love of family and friends who understand happiness is gratitude for what is–perfection not necessary.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you’re thankful for.  A very Happy Gobble Gobble!








© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me


Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


No Miles? Still Travel

There is something unexplored about woman

that only a woman can explore. 

Georgia O’Keefe


“Where are you going with that?” critics ask, eager to snuff out a woman’s enthusiasms in her journey of self-discovery.  As if anyone can see where every road leads at all times?  Thanks to her thirst for adventure and possibility, a woman eventually finds the courage to follow her disparate joys and passions, shrugging off naysayers along the way who can’t make sense of her choices.  This Powerful Goddess has been true inspiration in persisting to lay down tracks for a variety of learning experiences until they finally came together like puzzle pieces.

And what about the rest of us?  What can we do until we get our own eureka moment?  How about keeping one foot moving in front of the other, pursuing what thrills us even when it does not make sense to anyone?  Excitement generated by our desire to learn, experience and create feeds our souls, pulls us forward to new revelations and insights.  Even when we are not particularly good at what we choose, doing what makes us happy has intrinsic value in feeding our health with a sense of purpose and wild doses of inspiration, the fuel that sees us through the bumps of life.  For what price won’t you pay to discover what gives you personal fulfillment?

Heeding our instincts for variety and change are as vital as eating or sleeping.  It could begin with making new friends by learning new skills and hobbies, exploring a new city or vacation destination, camping in the backyard at first, peering through a microscope, trying an exotic cuisine, taking a new route to/from work or school.

To heed your nomadic instincts literally, you can begin by making peace with the unknown or the “irresponsibility” of leaving the husband and kids to fend for themselves.  There are women travel groups that assuage the fear of solo travel, providing a ready made bunch of friends who share your predilection for adventure, shopping and taking the time to smell the roses:





In our life journey after all, every road leads us back home to ourselves.  Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to tell us what new path you’re excited to explore.






© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me


Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


When Things Fall Apart

There are two tragedies in life.

One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.

George Bernard Shaw


 Photo by Philippe Lopez, Getty-AFP, Nov. 11, 2013

Many thanks to the survivors and heroes of the families in the wake of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.   Because no one is exempt from personal disasters in our lifetime, Pema Chodron shares her insights on dealing with tragedy in When Things Fall Apart.  Far from a quick fix, life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries self-help manual, this book is an experience laced with sadness, relief, and a kind of temperate joy.  What to do when the rug, the roof, and the walls are all swept off you at once?

How do you embrace fear, sorrow, groundlessness?  Why sit through pain, confusion, disorder?   How do we keep one foot moving in front of the other until we get to a place where the pain does not seem so big or so deep, where we can see beyond to its good purpose?  Tough times keep us  fully present to who and what is in front of us, sharing loving kindness, generosity and compassion, a mandatory break from our compulsion to zone out in front of the TV/computer, the constant busy-ness of getting and spending. Dark times sift through the fluff and clarify what and who matter in the joy of living.

Things falling apart requires us to change, take action that we would otherwise delay or not consider an option.  The familiar is no longer there  and  it is only by surrendering our resistance to change despite the fear that we allow an opening to solutions and a new way.   We suffer more when we cling  to what we know and insist on,  giving us the illusion of control in a world where impermanence is the inevitable human experience.

We owe much to survivors and heroes.  They remind us that the human spirit is invincible, that difficulty is eased by helping hands–our own and that of others. As Pema puts it, “To stay with that shakiness — to stay wth a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge– that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic– that is the spiritual path.”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you once considered a personal tragedy that has turned out to be a great blessing in your life.

How can I help Haiyan survivors?

To donate to Philippine-based organizations who know the local needs and how best to respond, contact the Community and Family Services International and the Philippine Red Cross as recommended by Jessica Alexander, the author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.  This is the link to her article:



Photo by Ted Aljibe, Getty-AFP , Nov. 11, 2013

Aftermath in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban

Photo by Francis R. Malasig, EPA, Nov. 9, 2013


Photo from BBC UK


Photo from CNN



Inside The Harem

If the sun had not been female,

even she would never have been allowed

to enter the harem.

Dursun Bey


Grand Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

on the cover of The Harem: The World Behind the Veil by Alev Lytle Croutier

“For your blog… Happy Saturday!” wrote a beloved blog fan who shares my enthusiasm for reading, travel, art and the language of gifts.  When a thoughtful note comes with a surprise like this book of gorgeous illustrations, how can any day be less than happy?!

It transported me to my week in Istanbul, breathing in the musk of the Turkish Straits on a rooftop with a 360 degree view,  speculating on the lives of the local women in traditional dress below.  I toured the Topkapi Palace’s Grand Seraglio and imagined those cloistered in the Sultan’s harem from 1500s to 1900s. Walking through the empty boudoirs, marble baths, and latticed hallways, I wondered–despite my love of fancy costume and interior decor–how did it feel to live in a cocoon of physical and spiritual isolation?  What secrets, what drama, what boredom had these stairways and alleys witnessed?

Renditions of European women in various states of elaborate undress was a major theme in Western art and may not have anything to do with the reality of the sultan’s harem, but why forbid imagination and creativity?  I adore women relaxed in the sensuality of their bodies,  some with a frank stare, others heedlessly enjoying an unselfconscious moment.  And, oh, the beauty of intricate mosaics, rich silks and velvets, and the pleasing curves of skin like ivory!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to tell us what you wish were not forbidden.


Odalisque With a Slave by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres


The Bath by Jean-Leon Gerome


The White Slave by Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte de Nouy


The Daughters of a Sheik by Conrad Kiesel


Leila by Sir Frank Dicksee


© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me


Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


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