What My Mother Taught Me

 

For mothers, guilt management

can be just as important

as time management.

Sheryl Sandberg

 

What’s better than a beautiful loving daughter to celebrate you on Mother’s Day? Having two daughters–or more!

One day when I’m a wise old owl, I hope to gather disparate notes on life and human nature to bequeath my granddaughters. For now, I’m busy biting my tongue being diplomatic around teens, praying for the strength to hang on to my charm and sense of humor until they produce those grandchildren. Then I’ll be busy keeping a straight face as I watch them take their turn with the joys of parenting–aka Payback Time!

Excerpt from Lynn Wadani’s “75 Things My Mother Taught Me About Life on Thought Catalog:

      1. Nothing that’s handed to you on a silver platter is worth having. And nothing worth having will be handed to you. Fight for what you want.

      2. If you have to fight, hit first. And hit hard.
      3. There is no such thing as having too much fun.
      4. Fall in love as often as you can. Fall in love with songs, with books, with places, and fall in love with people. But above all, fall in love with yourself.
      5. Don’t get into a relationship because you don’t like being single.
      6. A relationship can only end two ways: You will either break up with that person or marry him. Don’t waste your time with someone unless you can accept both outcomes.
      7. While drunk, don’t give your number to anyone you wouldn’t talk to when sober.
      8. When in doubt, don’t text him. But don’t be afraid of texting him once in a while.
      9. When people act like they don’t care about you, believe them.
      10. If he doesn’t accept you for who you are and he makes you cry, walk away.
      11. You were lovely long before he loved you. You will be lovely after that, too.
      12. Mondays are good days. Maybe it’s your routine that sucks.
      13. There is a big difference between listening and being quiet while waiting for your turn to talk.
      14. Running away from your feelings is a race you will never win.
      15. If I repeated the same joke ten times in a row, you wouldn’t laugh at it after a few times. There is no reason for you to cry over and over again for the same reason.
      16. Your friends will give you all sorts of advice. Listen to them, take their point of view into consideration, then do whatever you want. Because your friends are great, but you need to make your own mistakes and learn from every single one.
      17. If you like that dress, wear it. Life is too short to choose depending on other people’s opinions.
      18. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
      19. When someone does something wrong, don’t forget everything they did right.
      20. Travel as often as you can.
      21. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
      22. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
      23. People can only stab you in the back if you hand them the knife.
      24. Always do the right thing. And when you can’t, convince yourself that what you did was the right thing.
      25. Actions speak louder than words. But (typed) words are pretty loud, too.
      26. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
      27. Painted nails and red lipstick can immensely improve your mood.
      28. Own a leather jacket and wear it out every time you want to explore your inner rebel.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you’ll want to pass on to your granddaughters. Forever grateful to the women who have mothered us and to daughters who make everyday Mother’s Day!

xoxox

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

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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

Touring Indochina

 

Adventure, yeah.

I guess that’s what you call it

when everybody comes back alive. 

Mercedes Lackey

 

Early at Angkor W(h)at?!

 

This week’s weather has officially done away with winter and please let’s not start complaining about the heat because this is nothing close to how summer gets in Asia. April and May are the warmest months in that region of simply ‘dry or wet’ seasons and ‘hot-hotter-hottest.’ So if you’re keen on heading that way this year, wait after the cooling monsoon rains blow off some of the heat.  And if you must travel solo, tours like National Geographic Adventures will make sure you’ll have the best time and never feel like you’re traveling alone.

Here’s a glimpse of the fun I had in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia with an active and erudite group of engineers, doctors and lawyers:

 

 Hue, Vietnam 

Stopping to hang with locals going about their day as we bike through town and rice paddies.  Whatever calories we expended was well rewarded with great meals including  a very special private lunch at Tha Om, a century old garden house made from local timber that didn’t require the use of a single nail.

 

Indochina Sails, Ha Long Bay

Cruise Ha Long Bay on a traditional-style wooden junk boat. Kayak around karst formations, visit caves and local fishermen’s boathouses. Just to be on the safe side, I waited until our cruise was about to dock before attempting this Titanic themed shot.

So grateful to our petite yet fearless tour leader who was completely unflappable and generous with her loving kindness and Buddhist wisdom.

Waterfalls at Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang is a World Heritage site chosen by an ancient king for the protection provided by its surrounding hills, rivers and mountains. It sits at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers.

We spent a day visiting some Buddhist shrines then joined a local family for a Buddhist Baci ceremony followed by dinner in their home.

Another day we hiked up a hill, stopping by the school of a Khmu village to play with the children and with its traditional houses, water buffalo and farm animals, the farmers and master blacksmiths dealing with their daily tasks.  We wound up at Ban Thapene, a village with a butterfly park founded by this courageous Dutch couple who seek to educate children on the importance of small bugs and insects in the world’s ecological balance.

 

I made an exception to my religion of waking up as late as possible and rose before the sun to catch the enchanting sight of hundreds of saffron-robed monks walking silently through town to collect offerings.  Even more impressive–since I’d rather not be in the kitchen–are those who have committed years of waking even earlier than these monks to cook hot food to offer them.

Ancient Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Explore one of the most ancient temple sites in the region: the Roluos Group. Bike around the countryside and make a stop at local house to enjoy snacks and meet the locals. My favorite temple is the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery, where humongous tree roots weave their way through the temple walls—hence the “Jungle Temple” nickname and more popularly “Tomb Raider temple” after Angelina Jolie’s movie.

Angkor Wat is  the Times Square of Cambodia and you’ll find yourself in traffic at 4:00 am in the morning as tourists hurry to snag a prime spot for catching the sunrise behind the temple. The vernal equinox on March 22 is THE DAY to see the sun rise exactly at the center point of the highest temple spire. Genius math for such ancient architecture!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what’s on your travel bucket list.

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

Moving to Mars

 

They say love is entirely a matter of chemistry.

This explains why

my wife treats me like toxic waste.

David Bisonette

 

 

 

My teen has determined that between a government that doesn’t care and irresponsible commerce and consumption, we simply must move to Mars.  Why such a  complicated solution and, more importantly, why give up on this planet? How can we use our circle of influence, however small, to make a difference?

Ride the bike or walk.  Get your workout (and make memories if you do this together) along the way to school, lunch and running errands in town.

Donate used clothes and books. Look for local Thrift Shops and the nearby bins for donations.

Leave re-usable bags in the trunk of your car so they’re handy for grocery and shopping trips.

Use washable plates and cutlery.  Ok–I hear the groan especially for parties! Make clean up a snap by soaking used ones until you’re ready to tackle them. Learn to use bamboo chopsticks!

Grow a garden. Getting fingers dirty and familiar with the source of all life is necessary for us to remember that we are not superior but interdependent with all creatures, including the humble earthworm and even germs. Start with a pot of herbs by a sunny window if going outdoors sounds too daunting.

Unplug and opt to be outside.  Good luck convincing teens but if they must know, fresh air and movement are the best antidotes to depression. Assign each member of the family to think of a fun activity outdoors that everyone can do together at least once a week.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share on Earth Day and everyday, how we can give our young a deeper awareness of their role in protecting the oceans, the land, the creatures of our one and only planet.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Brave and Brokenhearted

 

To truly laugh,

you must be able to take your pain

and play with it.

Charlie Chaplin

 

 

In 1862, April 16 went down US History as Emancipation Day, an Act by good old Abe to abolish slavery.  Yet headlines to this day reveal that we, free citizens of a great country, prefer to enslave ourselves to stories of victimhood.  More power to those who bravely make the best of whatever life deals them, owning their power to move forward and choose how their story unfolds, even as the weather insists on Winter when the calendar says it’s long overdue for Spring. 

This poem by Nayyirah Waheed inspired the title of Brene Brown‘s book Rising Strong:

 

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise

With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we run from struggle, we are never free.
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories.
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak,
Compassion from shame,
Grace from disappointment,
Courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home.
Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
We are rising strong.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’d write your own daring ending.

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

 

 

Fifty Plus Fools

 

Let us be thankful 

for the fools.

Without them,

the rest of us could not succeed.

Mark Twain

 

 

Between work and family duty, days easily slip by without a hearty laugh. I drive carpool and find it incredulous that most days, teens are stumped by the question “Any jokes today?”  April Fools is fun-tactic reminding us to enjoy being ridiculous!   May we escape the fate of those who take life all too seriously.

While the author of Fifty Shades of Grey was still toddling in her diapers, Long Island housewife Penelope Ashe was an overnight sensation with her tawdry, sex-filled romance novel Naked Came the Stranger. Except she didn’t.

Naked Came the Stranger was the brainchild of Mike McGrady, a Newsday columnist who set out to hit the bestseller list with an intentionally horrible book. He asked 24 Newsday colleagues to write a chapter full of sex, bad writing, and bad writing about sex. With a bunch of smutty nonsense in hand, McGrady edited the book to make it even worse. Apparently bad was good enough for an independent publisher to pick up the book. McGrady got his sister-in-law to pretend to be Ms. Ashe and the book sold 20,000 copies before the hoax was revealed,  They sold a hundred thousand copies sold in its first year and continues to sell to this day.

 

 

In 1962 before the advent of color TV, Sweden’s only television station announced that their “technical expert” was going to show people how they could get their black and white TV sets to show color. The expert claimed that research proves covering your television screen with a cut open pair of women’s stockings could alter the laws of physics and cause the light coming from the TV to appear in color.

Thousands of Swedish viewers fell for the hoax. Technology did catch up a few years later and Swedish TV actually did began broadcasting in color a few years later – on April 1, 1970.

 

 

Han van Meegeren was a small and dapper man, a Dutch artist of limited ability. His confidence made up for what he lacked in talent, successfully passing off his own paintings as newly discovered works by the renowned 17th century artist Jan Vermeer.  He ran the greatest art hoax of the 20th century pocketing the equivalent of $30 million before he was unmasked.

Edward Dolnick, author of The Forger’s Spell, explains how Van Meegeren made a career of Vermeer.

 

 

Van Mergeeren may have been even more successful if he had a genius accomplice like the husband and wife team of Helene Balltracchi and Wolfgang Fischer.  Helene came up with the fake history of a painting on the spot after a Christie’s expert asked her to explain the provenance of Girl with Swan, purportedly by Heinrich Campendonk. “I hadn’t planned anything,” she insists, “but my grandfather lived in Krefeld and so did the artist. So I could easily say they were connected.” To lend her account credibility, Wolfgang staged a black-and-white photograph of Helene impersonating her grandmother. Wearing a black dress and a strand of pearls,  posed in front of several paintings from her grandparents’ collection. The photo was slightly out of focus, and printed on prewar developing paper. Hanging on the wall at left is a fake Fernand Léger and at far right is a phony Max Ernst.

Click on “Leave a Comment” top left to share how your life’s been richer as a fool.

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

 

 

 

In Her Closet

 

I try not to make a good first impression

because for me that’s

the same thing as lying.

Anonymous

 

 

What gets you going in the morning? Coffee doesn’t do it for me as well as the pleasure of walking into my closet mulling over the infinite possibilities of “What shall I wear today?” When the weather is dreary and my eyes refuse to open or my To Do list is heavy on things I’d rather not do, it is taking the time to dress well that picks up my mood.

In the age of ripped jeans and athleisure, why deny the power of dressing well that automatically commands respect and authority–even from ourselves?

Clothing and posture are the primary requisites for a good first impression. They speak volumes before you say a word. In presentations and social situations, what you wear and how you groom yourself influences how your message is received. Without being consciously aware why, people will pay attention and trust you when you’re respectably dressed and carry yourself with confidence.

This is the psychology behind advertising (backed my millions of dollars in marketing research) that prefers white lab coats for actors to wear. We may know they’re actors, but in looking the part of a scientist or doctor whom we associate with intelligence and research, they subconsciously gain our confidence for the product they endorse.  Following this logic–and you know I’m no prude–it baffles me why women get indignant if they’re treated with less chivalry when they dress in the skimpiest dresses with plunging décolletage. Duh?!

How you dress yourself changes who you are. It complements the value of what you have to say to those who are watching and listening. You tend to perform better when the bar is raised and your audience is unknowingly primed to agree that you deserve to perform better. Regardless of what you do and whom you work for, if you’re well dressed, you make yourself useful and ready to represent business by being presentable to step into a meeting with a client, customer, or supervisor at a moment’s notice.

Whether you want to get a promotion at work or the chance for an upgrade on your next flight, talk your way out of a traffic ticket, or start a worldwide movement, the way you dress and present yourself plays a major role. We can waste our breath arguing over this in the age of sweatpants and casual Fridays, but wouldn’t it be easier to use this understanding of human nature to your advantage?

When life feels unfair, my closet is a haven of true democracy and justice. Solids mingle with prints of all stripes,  a wide swath of colors and hemlines to remedy any mood, and there is always the chance of catching myself smile at the sight of a familiar purse, dress or accessory that conjures happy memories of far away travels, shared meals, and past adventures. The assumption that a well-dressed woman should be treated with respect is best tested by the person you see in the mirror.

Related blog posts:

Stacy London: Top Tips for Dressing for Your Career

Real Simple: Dress For Success For Women

InStyle: 50 Best Fashion Tips of All Time

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the item in your closet that brings back fond memories.

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

 

 

Mom & Me & Mom

 

God made Adam first

because He didn’t want any advice

from Eve on how to make Adam.

Anonymous (who is usually a woman)

 

 

To celebrate Women’s HERstory month and International Women’s Day, I wish to express my gratitude to the village of women who blessed my life with a wide range of talents, courage, wisdom, laughter and relentless optimism. I think back on their constant love and generosity through pain and difficulty reading Maya Angelou’s autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom:

My mother’s gifts of courage to me were both large and small. The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin. The large lessons are highlighted in my memory like Technicolor stars in a midnight sky. Her love and support encouraged me to dare to live my life with pizzazz, doing what I never knew I was capable of as a black woman: a conducturette, singer, dancer, broadway performer, poet, screenplay writer, author, movie director, teacher, speaker, etc.

I had thought that I was a writer who could teach. I found to my surprise that I was actually a teacher who could write. One day, an invitation to be a distinguished visiting professor at England’s University of Exeter stunned and thrilled me. I thanked the administration but said I couldn’t leave my mother who was gravely ill. When she heard I had rejected the invitation, she whispered “Go. Show them you spell your name W-O-M-A-N. I’ll be here when you get back!”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the story of your favorite woman.

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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