Books by Kamala Harris

You may be the first

to do many things, but make sure

you are not the last.

Kamala Harris’s mom

This year we learned that time flies even when you’re not having fun so why wait? This year we found much to be grateful for even as we pivoted to pursue new interests and ways of being thanks to Covid-19. This year we welcome with great expectations the fresh possibilities Vice President Elect Kamala Harris brings to our nation, young girls and the women of the world. I can only imagine the pride of her mother in watching her daughter blaze trails, going where no woman has gone before in US history, and inviting us all to “Dream with ambition and live with conviction.”

Her books will be among my better gift ideas for the holidays for both young ones and the young once:

Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, a memoir

Superheroes Are Everywhere

We are thankful for the breath of hope that she brings to our nation in this brave new decade, as she paves the way for more female and immigrant voices to take their well-deserved seats in government.

Click on “Leave a Comment” to share your Kamala love and what you’re thankful for in 2020. I am thankful for women like Kamala and you!

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

Touch Me (Not)

 

Laughing together

is as close as you can get

to a hug without touching.

Gina Barreca

 

 

Among the happy citizens of our brave new world is my darling husband who no longer needs to mask his jealousies with admonitions like “No hugging, No kissing” now that this has become the social norm with friends and neighbors. He can sleep fitfully knowing there are no tango, hustle, or salsa dance parties beckoning me out of pajamas.  My skin has been happy to forego makeup and frequent showers, my toes happy to forget the ache of high heels that sit forlorn in the closet, wondering when or if they’ll ever get to come out and play again.  Despite our attempts at shrugging off and making light of our small privations, we will eventually have to acknowledge the true cost of this extended skin hunger to our sanity and emotions. How long can we deny our primal need for touch to thrive, to feel connected and comforted? Susan Orbach wrote in her short but sweet little classic Bodies:

In the last twenty years or so, the significance of human touch has come to the fore as being crucial to psychological well-being. Touch is the most basic and fundamental of human experiences. Before we can suckle, before we can even see, we are enveloped by the welcoming arms of our mother. As we nestle into her body, feel the steadiness of her heartbeat, breathe her smell, we embed ourselves with her as our beacon. Her body, her voice, her skin, her touch became the way we orient ourselves as we make our personal journey through infancy, childhood and beyond. And touch is the most crucial of these elements, not only providing us, in the case of loving touch, with a sense of security and ease in our bodies, but shaping our biology and our neuro-circuitry in ways that will affect our tempers and personalities throughout our lives.

We are accustomed to thinking of our bodies as just existing, propelled to grow by reasonable nutrition and our genetic inheritance. Psychotherapists working with troubled bodies show that the kind of touch we receive are crucial to the development of our own body sense.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you stay connected and comforted while living in this no touch world.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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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

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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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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

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

Beauty in Hindsight

 

Being absolutely certain that one is right is part of growing up

and so is realizing years later

that the truth may be more nuanced.

Rebecca Meade

 

As you gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, what will you count among your favorite blessings?  I am thankful for great health and the freedom to create happy memories, the constant love of friends and family, the joy of working with the inspiring and generous women featured on this blog.  I am most thankful for the wisdom that comes from looking back on my life and seeing the big picture, how things eventually work out for a good reason, if we hang on to our sense of humor through the desperation and disappointment of not getting what we want. Then there are the the many little things we may take for granted, like the first one on this list of comforting quips from What I Wish I’d Known in the book compilation The Most of Nora Ephron:

The empty nest is underrated.

If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit.

When the children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

The plane is not going to crash.

There’s no point in making piecrust from scratch.

Anything you think is wrong with your body today you will be nostalgic for a decade later.

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Back up your files.

Overinsure everything.

Whenever someone says “Our friendship is more important than this,” watch out, because it almost never is.

Take more pictures.

You can order more than one dessert.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11:00 pm.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

Overtip.

Never let them know.

If friends ask you to be their child’s guardian in case they die, you can say no.

There are no secrets.

You never know.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what hindsight makes you thankful at last. Happy Gobble Gobble!

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

Sleepless at Fifty

 

 

Looking back, it seems to me

that I was clueless

until I was about fifty years old.

Nora Ephron

 

 

A handful of women I know are celebrating their 50th birthday with some trepidation.  Having had a couple of years’ head start, I am here to assure everyone that the water is perfectly fine! The perks of this golden age include the 20/20 vision of hindsight–The more years you rack up, the clearer things get!

The quote (above) on turning fifty is by Nora Ephron, a prolific journalist, author, and filmmaker whose books, newspaper columns and magazine feature articles were irreverent as they were funny.  Widely known for her trilogy of romantic comedies starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail. I love this woman for her courage in frankly writing about the best and the worst of her life, including the screenplay for the witty movie about her husband’s infidelity in the middle of her pregnancy. I love her evolving collection of five adjectives that she chooses to describe herself with each passing decade. Admirably, “victim” was never among them even through the cancer that eventually claimed her life to the great grief and surprise of friends and colleagues whom she chose to keep in the dark until the end.

Her commencement address to the Welleslay graduates of 1996 is relevant to the rest of us today:

When I was your age, I would have described myself as ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single.  Ten years later, not one of those things turned up on my list. I was journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today, not one of those things turn up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in 10 years–not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you. Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you break the rules and make a little trouble out there… The first (half) of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the five most important things about you in this brave new decade.

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

New Doors

 

Birthdays are good for you.

Statistics show that the people who have the most

live the longest.

Larry Lorenzoni

 

A very Happy Birthday to this Powerful Goddess of many talents and to all of us, summer beauties, as we welcome another year of opening doors for possibility, adventure, or simply enjoy the pleasure of seeing what’s always been in front of us with new eyes!

Excerpt from That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek by Cheri Huber:

Letting go allows us to see that we are never in control in the first place.  “Do you really mean that I have no control over my life?”  Not in the sense that we usually mean it.  You can write the script, but you’ll need a lot of cooperation for the play to go the way you’ve written it.  That’s a lot to expect, especially when you consider that everyone else has a script that doesn’t read anything like yours.

You can make plans, you can make decisions, you can make choices, but there’s no guarantee that things will go the way you expect or want them to.  When you can see that, when you can act without attachment  to the outcome, you are acting from the center that knows it does not control life, even as it knows it is life itself.

Letting go is releasing our grip on delusion, allowing us to see what is.  When we stop resisting what is, when we stop clinging to our beliefs and assumptions about how things should be, we open ourselves to the present moment.  Letting go goes hand in hand with acceptance.  One does not happen without the other.  Letting go is opening the hand.  Acceptance is what the open hand receives.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you welcome a new day and an exciting new year!

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Blooms for Mom

 

Mothers remain a convenient missing link

in the germ theory.

If it is not viral or bacterial, it must be maternal.

Janna Malamud Smith

This Powerful Goddess dedicates her portraits to the mother she almost missed knowing, losing her to illness at a very young age. While many of us have been blessed with more years to enjoy ours, others spend a lifetime wondering why they didn’t get so lucky. Excerpts from There’s Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber:

Many adults keep waiting for their parents to parent them.  “I want my mother to love me.  I want my father to give me what I need.”  The odds are very good that’s not going to happen.  If your parents could love you the way you want to be loved, it already would have happened.

Only you know how you want and need to be loved.  Only you can love you the way you want and need to be loved.  If you can’t or won’t give yourself what you need, how do you suppose someone else, who isn’t nearly so motivated, is going to provide it for you?

Almost nobody wants to grow up.  It’s too hard.  It’s easier to focus on what’s wrong with us and why we can’t do anything about it.  Taking care of ourselves means giving up our wish to be taken care of by someone else.

“I want my mother to do it.  She should have done it but she didn’t.  I’m going to stay stuck right here until…”  Until what?  Until she does it?  But she can’t do it.  And she never could.  Consider this:  If we can’t do it, how could somebody else have done it?

Living from compassion for ourselves gives us the loving parent we’ve always wanted. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’ve been mothered best. Enjoy!

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 two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Frida

 

Nothing is worth more than laughter.

It is strength to laugh

and abandon oneself.

Frida Kahlo

 

The portraits on my previous blog post was inspired by the iconic Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), the precursor of the “selfie.” Frida was a passionate, multi-faceted Mexican artist known for her self-portraits as for the flowers she wore over her unibrow.  She was extraordinary in her triumph over physical deformity and channeled her creativity–even as she was bedridden–through paintings, journals and her self-styled dress. Despite her humble beginnings, Frida Kahlo claimed fame as a talented artist with her own unique vision that could not be ignored despite her diminutive frame and name beside her literally larger than life husband.

The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes

This book includes Frida’s journals written in her own script with brightly colored watercolor illustrations and sketches from the last decade of her life, her thoughts, poems, dreams reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, Mexico’s famous artist.

Not to be a tease (though I do love being one,) the Brooklyn Museum’s Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving retrospective closes this Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.  Since tickets are all sold out to this show, here’s a book that may make up for what you may have missed.

Making Herself Up by Claire Wilcox

On Kahlo’s death, her husband, Diego Rivera (1886–1957), ordered that her most private possessions be locked away until 15 years after his death. The bathroom in which her belongings were stored in fact remained unopened until 2004. This book serves as an archive, giving readers a unique window into Kahlo’s life. It features personal items from her prosthetics, jewelry, and clothes with self-portraits, diary entries, and letters, building an intimate portrait of the artist through her possessions in the context of her political and social beliefs.

Frida the 2002 film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, stars Selma Hayek and Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera, Frida’s mentor and husband.

Help save the planet with this unique and artsy re-usable tote or gift bag from Etsy by ArtByMia.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you love about your favorite artist.

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 two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

Birds and Bees

 

The only time a woman

has a true orgasm

is when she’s shopping.

Joan Rivers

 

It is magical how spring blooms suddenly take over the landscape and just like that, nature is in the mood to frolic and play! With flowers come the fluttering of birds and bees, bringing to mind how we might send off our young adults out into the world with eyes wide open to the politics of sex, that they may choose to take charge of their sexual experiences instead of being hapless victims.

Each of these musings could use a blog post all its own, but for now, feel free to add your wisdom on what we can pass on to those who are learning to make personal choices as they navigate their way and bloom into their own powerful radiance.

Be fully present. You want a partner who is willing to care about your pleasure and satisfaction, not just his own. Druggies and drunks can’t possibly make great lovers with their impaired motor skills, plus such indulgences are just the tip of the iceberg masking personal baggage you don’t need to complicate your life. Choose quality people to allow into your bed. Make contraception and personal safety your business to minimize exposure to violence, recrimination and the basic humiliation of zero recognition the morning after.

Dress the way you want to be treated. It is fascinating how sexy need not be trashy nor reveal much skin. While we are fortunate to live in a country where women are free to dress as we feel like, let us not be hypocrites and insist on being treated with respect when we wear provocative outfits. When traveling to cultures different from our own, do your best to dress like a local.

Respect those hormones. Sex education cannot be left to schools, the internet and their peers where the focus is superficial on body parts and mechanics. They skirt essential topics of human relationships, how hormones rule emotions and logic–and I’m not even talking about sex drive. Sex is a trigger to a hormonal domino effect on our biology and psychology which results in obsession and attachment to possible extreme “Fatal Attraction” crimes of passion. While there are means of protecting ourselves from STDs and pregnancy, there is no disconnecting the sex organ from the heart and ego.

There is no dignity in being victim. Our world is an animal kingdom with predators of all kinds, using power or weakness to wedge their way into our heart and/or pants. That is their job and overt predators aren’t even the worst! There are seasoned and very smooth operators who play the long game, earning your trust, pity and respect first. Their sob stories will be irresistible to your Inner Hero but do remember not all who appear to need rescue, want to be rescued and they will drag you down with their drama. Natural instincts are our best guide in sniffing people out. Keep your faculties sharp with clean living and pay attention to your emotions, both “good” and “bad”  for they are the means by which your soul and body communicate.  I know, I know–how will our economy survive if we all got smart and shunned medication and alcohol completely?!

Novels and movies lie. Don’t you just love those hot scenes of simultaneous and instantaneous orgasms? Makes most everyone feel like there must be something wrong with them or that, at least, they’re missing out on something. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski PhD is a reassuring voice letting us know that “normal” is highly personal. There’s nothing wrong if you can’t get wet, can’t orgasm with someone, or have to teach your partner how you want to be touched.

Let’s embrace and make the most of what we’ve got, recognizing that we are uniquely perfect in every other aspect of ourselves as we bloom and grow in this journey of life. Let it not be said nobody told you sex and power are currencies. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you use them wisely.

xoxox

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Books for Women’s History

 

There is nothing new in the world

except the history

you do not know.

Harry S. Truman

Fortunately for the women and girls of our generation, we stand on the shoulders of courageous heroines–many unsung–who have paved the path of our many liberties.  Add to this list of books on the less known versions of Herstory.

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon. The ubiquitous Monopoly game, widely attributed to Charles Darrow who sold the rights to Parker Brothers in 1935, was designed 31 years earlier by Elizabeth Magie as The Landlord’s Game to help people understand the risks monopolies pose to society.

Who Cooked The Last Supper? Rosalind Miles retells history from woman’s point of view since we can’t blame the all male cast of writers of the Bible and early printed texts for making themselves the star heroes.

Clementine, The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchillby Sonia Purnell. Women get much practice at diplomacy running a home and, fortunately for socially obtuse men like Winston Churchill, he had a devoted advocate and private coach in his wife to overcome both personal and political obstacles.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly on the untold story of black women mathematicians who helped the U.S. win the Space Race.

Headstrong by Rachel Swaby on 52 women who changed science and the world with important breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, biology and the environment, genetics and development, physics, earth and stars, mathematics and technology, and invention. 

Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon. A groundbreaking dual biography brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew.  Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley were outliers of their time, precursors of the modern women.

Women In The Shadows by Edith Borchardt.  Biographies of five brilliant and talented women born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Mileva Einstein-Marić, Margarete Jeanne Trakl, Lise Meitner, Milena Jesenská, and Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. A translation of Charles S. Chiu’s tribute to these women’s accomplishments, which were overshadowed by those of the famous men in their lives.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite book that casts a feminine light on the stories we shall tell the future generation.

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 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Classy Holiday Gift Guide

 

If men are God’s gift to women,

then God must really love

gag gifts.

Maya Angelou

 

December snuck up and caught me completely unawares this year! Fortunately, like Santa prancing with reindeers, we can skip traffic completely and let our fingers be the elves doing all the ordering, packing and delivery.  For gifts to impress or easy stocking stuffers, may you find something uncommon for everyone here:

A rich robe for her. Silk keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. This buttery soft robe is made from ethically and sustainably sourced silk and cashmere–easy on the conscience and likely to become your favorite at home while doubling as pajamas when you travel. Khimori silk cashmere, $175 at naadam.co.

Coffee, tea or (water in) me. Sleek, stainless steel, insulated bottles in fun colors that keep beverages warm or cold for at least 12 hours. Now all we need is for Starbucks to offer discounts to those who bring their own stylish recyclable. HAY George Snowden water bottles from $35, store.moma.org.

Sleek folio. Elegant leather pouches to protect your devices in colors that make you smile while impressing clients. Leather iPad case, from $75 at leatherology.com.

Luxe lunch bag.  This chic Insulated vegan leather bag just might be the inspiration we need to be kinder to the planet and pack our own lunch with reusable containers. The Luncher $149 at modernpicnic.com.

Game night with style.  Playing cards for those who appreciate handcrafted quality, $30 at SeasonsPlayingCards.com.

 

For the crafty. Measuring tape too pretty to sit in a dusty toolbox. Geometric wood tape measures, $36 at jaysonhome.com.

 

And, of course, books never fail!

For the Francophile foodie. This fun book on all things related to French food will make an excellent conversation starter on your coffee table. Let’s Eat France: 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus (everything) you want to know about the food of France, $50 at workman.com.

Inspire wanderlust with wonder. This book transports you to the world’s most unusual and obscure places you may not find in popular guide books. I’d recommend this for the young gentlemen on your list: Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, $35 hardcover at amazon.com. For an illustrated version for budding adventurers (age 8-12) The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, $20 at workman.com.

For the fiction reader who loves travel.  I’ll let the title tell you what this book is about. Novel Destinations: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West. $16 hardcover at amazon.com. And an airplane ticket hidden amongst the book’s pages might be the surprise they’ll remember for a lifetime!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your uncommon and bright gift idea this year.

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

Amazing Libraries of the World

 

Everything comes 

to those who wait

except a loaned book.

Kin Hubbard

My Inner Nerd was terribly excited to tell you about this futuristic Binhai Libray in Tianjin, China that went viral on social media. It promises to be a book lover’s paradise with grand sweeping curves of floor to very high ceiling shelves crammed with books. There’s just one catch: Don’t look too closely at the millions of books in its architecturally stunning main hall because they’re merely painted and only a few real books are strategically positioned at certain sections.

Other fabulous ones for your travel bucket list follow below. I’ve been to most of these cities but have yet to remember to officially add libraries to my itinerary and see them for myself.  Having read about the architecture of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, I once spent an entire day searching for it with my fumbling French, getting misdirected by well-meaning locals to the more popular, modern and out of the way  Francois Mitterrand library.  When I finally figured I had to find my way back to Paris central, the librarian curtly informed me that their gorgeous oval reading room is only for students. ;(  I’ve gotten luckier with a private tour of a stunning one among those cloistered in European monasteries and abbeys.  What’s on this list are libraries that you can possibly visit when you happen to be in their neighborhood.

Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Klementinum Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Bodleian Library at Trinity School, Oxford, London

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Boston Public Library, Massachusetts, USA

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Inner Nerd’s travel delight. Big thanks to the favorite blog fan who inspired me to write about my favorite things all at once: reading, design and travel.

Photos on this page all 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 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

Why I’d Rather Not Halloween

 

Never put your faith in a Prince.

When you require a miracle,

trust a witch.

Catherynne M. Valente, In The Night Garden

 

 

There are more than a couple of reasons why I don’t like Halloween. For one, black is not a color in my rainbow and, more importantly, I don’t believe in encouraging ugly people to dress up looking worse. I love Halloween for one thing only: I adore pretty costumes and faith in the goodness of all mankind–an occasion to forget “stranger danger” paranoia, gamely opening our front door, offering treats to whoever rings the bell even when they look scary or wear masks.

Rita Rudner, a favorite standup comic, sums up this dilemma best:

Halloween was confusing. All my life my parents told me, ‘Never take candy from strangers.’ And then they dressed me up and said, ‘Go beg for it.’ I didn’t know what to do! I’d knock on people’s doors and go, ‘Trick or treat’ and when they offered me candy, I said, ‘No, thank you.’

And while you’re at it, please keep all skeletons where they belong: buried deep underground,  in biology labs for educational purposes only, or tucked away in the back of your proverbial closet. Trick or treat!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite costume.

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

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

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

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:

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

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