Making Mother Happy

 

There are three ways to get something done:

do it yourself, hire someone to do it,

or ask your kids NOT to do it.

Malcolm Kushner

 

 

“It’s for Mother’s Day!” I hollered in exasperation.  To cajole those who believe themselves too busy and too cool for school, I’ve had to use all possible enticements from “This won’t take long” to the more pointed “I wouldn’t even ask you to be in the picture if you weren’t family!”  By the time I’ve convinced the last of them to agree to coordinate calendars, wear similar outfits, deafen my ears to the manly banter while they bicker about who gets to wear which pants or shoes, plus persuade the one who loves ankle socks to part with them just for this occasion, my well of charm and patience has gotten thoroughly dried out. And this is all before I’ve set up equipment!  Don’t ask how I manage to smile in front of the camera after what goes on behind it–herding cows may be far easier.

My Inner Eternal Optimist is consoled by the thought that three agreeable ones out of five is not so bad for a family average. That with our eldest packed to venture out of lockdown and leave for his first full-time job out of college while the younger ones look forward to summer jobs elsewhere,  each day of being ignored in favor of their devices is mere training for the return to Empty Nest. So I grin and bear it, prevailing over any and all objections, aware that none of us can really know when we’ll have more of these special moments to take each other for granted again.

I dedicate this time capsule to my future grandchildren. When their parents ask them to gather for a family photo shoot, may they dutifully take revenge on my behalf.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’re making your Mother’s Day happy.  Keep smiling!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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 Young and The Restless

 

In lieu of shaking hands and hugs,

you may simply kneel, bow or curtsy to me

at a safe distance.

Anonymous (who is usually a woman)

 

 

My 21 years old is certain that this lockdown has got to be every mother’s dream with the family gathered at home, having nowhere to go and no friends to visit. He has no clue how Empty Nest had been not unlike heaven for me!

If we must lead this virtual Amish lifestyle until who knows when, leaving us with few options, how shall we keep from spiraling into darkness and despair?  How do we remember to consider ourselves fortunate that we can still take strolls to enjoy the Spring blooms, how we are lucky if we have no greater worries than enduring boredom, the torment of what to cook next, and the anguish of wearing masks and gloves that don’t match? Goddess knows many have more serious cares and there shall be more concerns not yet apparent.

As we struggle with feelings of fear and helplessness, let us count the ways how this unexpected pause might be just what we need, taking comfort in this excerpt from Pema Chodron‘s When Things Fall Apart:

Underneath our ordinary lives, underneath all the talking we do, all the moving we do, all the thoughts in our minds, there’s a fundamental groundlessness. It’s there bubbling along all the time. we experience it as restlessness and edginess. We experience it as fear. It motivates passion, aggression, ignorance, jealousy, and pride, but we never get down to the essence of it.

Refraining is the method for getting to know the nature of this restlessness and fear. It’s a method for settling into groundlessness. If we immediately entertain ourselves by talking, by acting, by thinking–if there’s never any pause–we will never be able to relax. We will always be speeding through our lives. We’ll always be stuck with what my grandfather called a good case of the jitters. Refraining is a way of making friends with ourselves at the most profound level possible. We can begin to relate with what’s underneath, all the stuff that comes out and expresses itself as controlling, manipulative behavior, or whatever it is. Underneath all that fear and edginess, there’s something very soft, very tender.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your new discoveries while home bound. Be gentle with yourself and no matter what happens next, keep finding the good, the possible and the funny right where we are, one day at a time.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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 Be Zoom Ready

 

The best thing about telecommuting is

not having to dress for work–

And nobody has to know if you’re naked below the waist.

Anonymous

 

 

Now that we can live 24/7 in pajamas for the duration of this enforced lock down, all we need is one well pressed shirt for meetings and interviews on the Zoom App. To maintain professionalism, you want your viewer(s) to focus on what you have to say and avoid distracting them with what’s going on behind you.  Here are some handy tips to look your best on video:

Room Set Up  Pick a room with a door that you can lock so kids and pets can’t run in while you’re in the middle of a meeting.  You want a plain blank wall as background and a firm chair that encourages you to sit tall without swiveling/rocking–not the comfy sofa, your favorite armchair, and certainly not the bed. Remove wall decor, picture frames, plants, and close any door (closet/bathroom) that may be visible to your audience.

 

 

Camera Setup  Raise the camera of your laptop/smartphone to the level of your eyes or higher so you look alert and awake. In the picture below, leaving your laptop/camera at a low angle is not flattering at all–unless you have a particular fondness for your double chin. Either lower your seat or use a stack of books (or a box) to get the camera to a height that allows your face and neck to fill the screen, leaving about an inch above the top of your head and a couple of inches below the shoulder line. Have your pens and reference documents within reach. To avoid spills on devices and paperwork, keep your beverage in a covered cup or bottle.

 

 

Lighting  Face a window to give your face the best natural light during the day. In the absence of a window or for evening meetings, set up a small video light, a ring light or switch the light bulb of your desk lamp to a 40 watt daylight bulb.  If your light source cannot be dimmed to your liking, adjust brightness by moving it nearer/farther away or move it to your side instead of straight on to your face.

 

Ring Light with smartphone holder

 

What to wear  A plain V neck shirt with long sleeves always looks respectable. Choose the color of your top to contrast with the wall behind you. A black shirt on a black background will give the spooky effect of a floating head. Have a jacket handy in case you feel chilly in the middle of an extended discussion.  If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are non-reflective.

All photos above from Google Images. This is my simple lighting setup with a desk lamp.

Click on “Leave a comment” (top left) to share how you keep your focus on the good stuff no matter what. (All photos on this page from Google Images.)

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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

Full House, Fool’s Belly

 

I know a great joke about CoronaVirus

but you probably

would rather not get it.

Anonymous

 

There goes my empty nest celebration as the husband sets up two monitors to work from home and the young adults fill the garage and basement with their dorm stuff to finish the semester online.  I have only one question for all the universities Where’s my tuition refund?!!!  A son who is a 6’4” lump of inertia at home wondered out loud What’s so bad about this (enforced 24/7 togetherness)? Hmmm… Let’s see…Your mother might kill someone if the virus doesn’t?

An interesting fact from The Economist:  The Coronavirus kills not by destroying cells, but by overstimulating the immune system’s inflammatory response. While all this virus hoopla might pass soon enough, a more serious concern that won’t go away by itself is this: How do we unknowingly stress and overstimulate our immune system on a daily basis?  How can we give our bodies the best chance of weathering future storms?

Gluten, sugar and dairy cause inflammation that may not trigger the shrill bells and whistles of a pandemic. Their symptoms appear quietly and innocently enough as a variety of illnesses such as allergies, diabetes, celiac, autism, MS, Crohn’s, and depression. Most medical professionals resort to medication as the first response and when symptoms are suppressed (which are our body’s means of asking for help), we forget the need to understand the underlying causes. Symptom suppression is akin to saying to our body “Shut up!” when it’s begging for our attention to change something in our diet and lifestyle. Making a change gets doubly tricky because these foods are not only widely popular and convenient, they charm the tongue and comfort the psyche, triggering that corner of our brain which induces addiction.

Should you feel like locking yourself up in a closet to get away from everyone else at home in the long days ahead, one of these books might be good company:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise outdoors, open windows as much as possible and keep breathing deeply. Like all of life’s troubles, this, too, shall pass. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you pay attention to what your body is saying.

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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 Woman With Many Plans

 

It’s better to be interesting

than

to be beautiful.

Maye Musk

 

Reading A Woman Makes A Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty and Success by Maye Musk kept me awake past my bedtime in admiration of this indomitable spirit.  She’s the woman I want to be when I grow up!  When we see women all dolled up, it’s easy to tell ourselves that she probably hasn’t been through the hardships we’ve had. Not so! Making a fresh start–often from scratch–and moving to nine cities in three countries over her adult life, Maye has had to pick herself up one extra time after circumstances had pushed her down yet again, holding her head high with positive attitude and the willingness to do whatever it takes to show up and make the best of whatever cards life dealt her.

She speaks of her parents who set the example of “Live dangerously–carefully.”  Her mother was another incredible woman who packed up five young kids with all their food/water supply to survive three weeks of driving in the African desert–their family adventure for eight summers. She reinvented herself as a prolific artist in her 60s to 80s after her beloved husband’s tragic death; then learned to make art on the computer at 94.  This reminds me to keep stepping forward in life with grace, to always embrace the new, and to be supportive of the decisions my young adults make for themselves.

At 71, Maye continues to make plans, sharing her accumulated wisdom from motherhood, modeling, and her other lifelong profession, nutrition. She explains her sensible guide to eating based on small healthy snacks/meals when you’re hungry so as not to stress your body with starvation. Plan ahead what to keep in your fridge and your day bag and be kind to ourselves on occasional indulgences, never punishing nor going to extremes with severe restrictions that are impossible to maintain. Best of all, pay attention to our feelings that goad us to eat mindlessly and understand what changes we need to make.

I want to be surrounded by people like her who don’t complain nor obsess about looks, who are unafraid of aging and wearing silver hair, people who keep themselves engaged doing interesting things and giving their best for the people they love and work with. I want to look to the future with enthusiasm, always eager to learn and have fun no matter what shows up and despite severe pain, setbacks and heartache.  I’m not planning on Mars so I’m thankful for the inspiration of your beautiful light on this earth, Maye!

Click on “Leave a comment” (top left) to share what you love about the woman you want to be when you grow up. (All photos on this page from Google Images.)

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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

I’d Rather Be Reading

 

 

Some of my best ideas

are born

of envy.

Anne Bogel

 

 

To welcome Women’s HERstory Month, a very small book “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Anne Bogel, speaks volumes of my feelings, dilemmas and longings as a devoted reader, nerd, and bookworm. It called attention to how my enthusiasm for a book might be a literary sin, perceived as book bossiness by others. It explained why I covet bookshelves of old grand libraries more than shoe closet space. Best of all, it underlined my desire for a circle of fellow book lovers, or at least a book twin, who can sift through the thousands published weekly and streamline my never ending queue of what to read next. All this while suggesting a good chunk of book titles I’m compelled to look up.

I can trace events and milestones in my life from the list of books I’ve bought or checked out of the library. My bookshelf has a collection that includes what I’ve received as gifts, what I’ve loved, as well as what patiently awaits attention.  A recurring fantasy is to find the list of all the books I’ve read since I was introduced to this great pleasure in fourth grade by another change of schools that surrounded me with classmates who loved to read, immersed daily in the adventures of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. This reading list would reveal how I started off reading what friends and my favorite aunt enjoyed, what schools and colleges required, until I began to define my own reading path. This list would map the splayed trajectory of my learning, career explorations and personal growth aspirations; the countries I wanted to or eventually visited; the romance and lifestyle I longed for; the parenting advice I sought; the books I read to keep the conversation going with our young adults who live out of the house now.

As a photographer, I strongly recommend printing a dozen or so of your favorite pictures each year because your great grandchildren will not have the patience to sift through the thousands on your smartphone–assuming the unlikely scenario that their technology would be in sync with ours. Like a good photo collection, my fantasy reading list showing book titles and reading/checkout dates is an emotional diary of sorts, that celebrates what’s important in my life at that moment. They serve as a reminder of both what happened and what it meant then, bringing back memories that are hopefully perceived by the lens of appreciation for their gifts of growth and learning.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the collection of books that shaped your own fabulous history. As our lives keep getting busier, consider audio books a secret weapon that allows you to keep reading while driving, working and doing chores.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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

Making Dreams Come True

 

Be in love

with your life,

every minute of it.

Jack Kerouac

A-Woman-Makes-a-Plan-book-Maye-Musk

A Woman Makes a Plan by Maye Musk

For this month of love, let us count the ways that we can step towards our dreams by creating space for possibility and asking the questions “How can I make this possible?” and “Who can help me get what I need?”  Acknowledging our desires is a way of saying to our soul “I love you… I hear you.”  In doing this, we add frisson to our days with expectancy, add a twinkle in our eyes  even when we’re by ourselves. Joy is contagious, making us like leaven unto bread in inspiring the people around us when we laugh more, learn to take disappointment in stride and life less seriously.

As we create memories to remember with naughty smiles when we’re on our rocking chairs, let us celebrate all the (small) ways we are making a difference and taking destiny in our own hands.  Nobody else will have as much reason to want to fulfill our dreams and it is up to us to grab opportunity, leaving little room for regrets on chances we don’t take.

If and when we do achieve our goal, may we take the time to relish the feeling of satisfaction before our restless minds turn its attention to some other dream. And even when we don’t get what we want, may we remember to be thankful for the new insights we’ve learned along the way, how we have expanded our growth and understanding, may we relish the distance we shall have covered in our world, geographically and emotionally.

Today is just as good as any day to start.

Maye Musk deserves a separate blog post all her own yet I could not resist including her book here.  Her story as a single mother of three is exemplary, plodding through difficult times and still coming through with grace and charm in her golden years.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite inspiration for making your dreams come true. Below are new books you may want to add to your reading queue. Enjoy your self love journey!

xoxox

You Can Have It All by Romi Neustadt

Risk by Kevin Allison

Power-of-a-Poisitive-No-book

The Power of a Positive No by William Ury

Make Your Bed by William Mcraven

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for 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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