The Thanksgiving Guru

 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

 

Last week, I heard a woman speak about the definition of gratitude beyond what you find in a dictionary. I loved her reminder that gratitude is not only about being thankful for what we have, it’s about out ability to give in whatever capacity regardless of our own circumstances.

And when it comes to being charitable, is there a better place to practice than home?  Home–that place where it’s easiest to take people for granted, where biting one’s tongue is a daily mediation, where one’s divinity and charm get tested most passionately. Over the holidays, how do you channel your inner Buddha and keep a thankful heart amidst the wilderness of those you can’t live without nor can’t get rid of?

Meet on neutral ground.  A destination resort allows everyone to chill and enjoy each other without the stress of housekeeping, cooking, groceries and running the laundry.  All the more energy for all to behave graciously around each other.

Have a virtual visit. Skype, Facebook and FaceTime allow far-flung relatives to share adventures, open presents together, exchange knock knock jokes for hours with your four year old niece. Schedule calls after something exciting so children and teens will have more news to open a conversation.

Make a contribution. It is easy to fall back on the role of dependent when you’re in your parents’ roof so make a commitment to yourself to take on chores (and bills) without being asked. When my sister can’t visit my neck of the woods, she sends a special floral arrangement as our dining room’s centerpiece so she is always a remembered in our celebration.

Build in breathing space. If visiting relatives with children, stay at a nearby hotel or Airbnb to give the hostess down time. That way you can change venues when crankiness (either adult or juvenile) sets in. If your parents insist, let the children sleep over and you can get date night out of it.

Manage expectations. Of course, you’ll want to hang out with people you enjoy more–those we usually call “friends”. Just let the family know in advance so they don’t make plans that you’ll end up foiling.

Hang on to your sense of humor. Family is the wisest of all spiritual gurus–relatives never give up egging you until you surrender and find another perspective that allows you to make peace with the situation if not the person. Humor is my best defense. When someone starts to tip my tea and I’m at the brink of forgetting I am divine and sublime, I play worse case scenario  with myself “At least, (s)he’s not…”

It is with great pleasure that I share the poem above from a thoughtful guest who graced our table a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Its truth is clear and will resonate forever.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your greatest blessing this year. Know that I am thankful for you! Gobble gobble!

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:

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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

 

Pleasure and Pain

 

If I’m lazy and I can’t come up with a costume,

I would just wear a slip

and write ‘Freudian’ on it.

Julia Stiles

Of all the holidays in the year, I can definitely live happily without Halloween. At a Halloween party I attended last year, it dawned on me that there is simply no good reason for ugly people to dress any scarier! But since I love fantasy,  pretty costumes, and aspire to be wholly human, I concede that it is necessary to embrace the  scary and dark parts of ourselves along with the beautiful, the fleeting moments with the enduring, death with life, pain with pleasure.

From one of the books on personal power I recommended in my previous blog post, Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart:

People have no respect for impermanence. We take no delight in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last–forever, we say–things that we don’t have to ssh, things that we don’t have to iron. Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.

Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. Many cultures celebrate this connectedness. There are ceremonies marking all the transitions of life from birth to death, as well as meetings and partings, going into battle, losing the battle, and winning the battle. We too could acknowledge, respect, and celebrate impermanence.

But what about suffering? Why would we celebrate suffering? Doesn’t that sound masochistic? Our suffering is based so much on our fear of impermanence. Our pain is so rooted in our one-sided, lopsided view of reality. Who ever got the idea that we could have pleasure without pain? It’s promoted rather widely in this world, and we buy it. But pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable. They can be celebrated. They are ordinary. Birth is painful and delightful. Death  is painful and delightful. Everything that ends is also the beginning of something. Pain is not a punishment, pleasure is not a reward.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite fantasy. Trick or treat!

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

 

Working From Home

 

The motto every woman should repeat

(in the age of “Lean In”?)

Good for her! Not for me.

Amy Pohler

The all American preoccupation with achievement makes the question “Do you work?” ubiquitous and I catch myself cringing even before I hear a stay-at-home mother reply with an apologetic “No,” grappling to enumerate what keeps her days busy.

While a mother may not get a paycheck for all the invisible work she does to keep hearth and home together, she most definitely works plenty both day and many sleepless nights!  A mother’s work deserves proper recognition and respect–this is why I teach my sons that when the time comes, they must pay their wives if these women chooses to keep their careers on hold to raise their children. She is not a teen entitled only to an allowance. She should always have money she can call her own, not just access to a conjugal bank account audited by the spouse.  When you marry a good woman, she is worth her weight in gold for the myriad services that simply gets chalked up to love. Enough! Even the cleaning lady who breezes through my house has the sense to demand more than triple the hourly minimum wage!

For those who are savvy enough to create meaningful work off their kitchen table, Kathleen Murray Harris shares How To Win At Working From Home (Real Simple, October 2017):

Stick to a schedule and dress up for official business. There will never be an end to the world’s demands of us so set work hours that include breaks and a designated stop time. “When you have a structure, you become more efficient,” says Julie Morgenstern, an organizing expert and the author of “Organizing from the Inside Out.”  Chores you need done for the house or family must be pencilled in your calendar like any other work appointment or, better yet, delegate!

Make your work space inviting. Wireless makes working anywhere possible (and I constantly struggle with the call of the couch and bed!) Maintain an office space in a corner or separate room. Keep it tidy with minimal distractions. Turn off phones and social media on your computer background screen.

Get help.  “Don’t kid yourself and think you don’t need a babysitter for young children if you’re working at home,” says Maura Thomas, a productivity expert and author of Work Without Walls. With the husband and kids who are old enough to understand, put a sign outside a closed door to let them know when “you’ll be back” and a whiteboard where they can write what they need to remember to bring up with you later.

Have an end of work day ritual. Without a commute to wind down and switch gears as career woman and mom/wife. create your own transitions routine: Check what you’ve accomplished on your To Do List and create a new one for the next day. Change clothes to change your mindset and take a brief walk to reconnect with nature, allowing the change of scenery to clear your head.

Now if only my teens would try these ideas out on their school work themselves. Sigh!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your work from home success secrets.

xoxox

 

 

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess photo shoot Gift Certificate:

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

 

Coming Of Age

 

Being an adult is mostly just

going to bed when you don’t want to

and also getting up when you don’t want to.

Pinterest

 

Happy Back to School Whew!  Grateful to send two sons off to colleges (albeit in opposite directions) and now wondering how to sell a tighter driving radius to my daughter for her own university prospects.  Not that I’ll insist she visits me often–though that can’t possibly be such a bad thing, no?

From Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From The Sea:

Woman must come of age by herself.  This is the essence of “coming of age”–to learn how to stand alone. She must learn not to depend on another, nor to feel she must prove her strength by competing with another. In the past, she has swung between these two opposite poles of dependent and competition, of Victorianism and Feminism. Both extremes throw her off balance, neither is the center, the true center of being a whole woman. She must become whole. She must, it seems to me, as a prelude to an “two solitudes” relationship, follow the advice of the poet to become “world to oneself for another’s sake.”

In fact, I wonder if both man and woman must not accomplish this heroic feat. Most not man also become world to himself? Must he not also expand the neglected sides of his personality, the art of inward looking that he has seldom had time for in his active outward-going life, the personal relationships which he has not had as much chance to enjoy, the so-called feminine qualities, aesthetic, emotional, cultural and spiritual, which he has been too rushed to fully develop. Perhaps both men and woman in America may hunger, in our material outward, active, masculine culture, for the supposedly feminine qualities of heart, mind and spirit–qualities which are actually nighter masculine not feminine, but simply human qualities that have been neglected.  It is growth along these lines that will make us whole, and will enable the individual to become world to himself.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how being a world unto yourself has meant for you.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

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

Gifts From The Sea

 

One can collect

only a few seashells on the beach,

and they are more beautiful if they are few.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Travel and Leisure ranks 3 of the Philippines 8,000+ islands among the top 5 in all of Asia.  Having had to live most of my adult years raising a family away from the turquoise seas, coconut trees and soft sandy beaches of my childhood, I keep memories of these far away pleasures alive with seashells around the house and in the studio, a handy prop for abstract studies in chiaroscuro.

In her classic, Gift From The Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh parallels her favorite shells with essays on the spirals of life, youth and age, relationships and marriage, solitude and contentment, commitment and creativity. This book is a true gift to be re-read and pondered at different stages in our lives. It opens:

I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. But as I went on writing and talking with other women, young and old, with different lives and experiences – those who supported themselves, those who wished careers, those who were hard working housewives and mothers and those with more ease – I found that my point of view was not unique. Even those whose lives had appeared to be ticking imperturbably under their smiling clock-faces were often trying, like me, to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it, more adjustment to their individual needs, new and more alive relationships to themselves as well as others.

Enjoy the rest of summer with these shells on landscapes that might as well be sand dunes.  Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite gifts from the sea of life.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

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

Summer Cover Up

Deep summer 

is when laziness

finds respectability.

Sam Keen

 

 

Not feeling too inclined to flaunt your curves in tiny outfits this summer? Long dresses always look elegant while feeling oh so comfortable to wear like pajamas. Molly England on Huffington Post shares size 14 model Ashley Graham’s sentiments on  the media’s prescribed standards for women’s bodies in her essay for Net-a-Porter’s online magazine, The Edit:

I think that you can be healthy at any size and my goal is to help and educate women on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22 as long as you’re taking care of your body, working out, and telling yourself, ‘I love you’ instead of taking in the negativity of beauty standards.

While Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Lopez have worn their curves with confidence over the years, I share her sentiment that our young girls need to see more women on TV and in magazines who have healthy figures.

Surely, there must be more to gain engaging in topics of conversation other than weight loss. And if we do, what projects might we uncover to indulge our joy and curiosity?  How might we remember to choose to speak kindly to ourselves? How can we free our thinking to be more present for fun with the people we love?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what hat you might try on next? Have the best summer ever!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

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

Remembering Dad

I gave my dad $100 and said,

“Buy something that makes your life easier.”

So he bought something for my mother.

Rita Rudner

 

 

After you’ve trolled the mall and tired of online shopping without coming up with a brilliant Father’s Day gift idea, how about circling back to what’s most precious and truly essential?  How about giving Dad the gift of memory beyond pictures? Sit over a cup of coffee and give him your undivided attention.  Get curious and ask what he remembers best about his childhood, who shaped the man he became, what he enjoyed raising you (especially through the teen years,) and what he hopes for the future. Understanding where the man came from is necessary in telling a richer story when it’s your turn to remember the best of your life, too.

Whether you are thinking of a new relationship or simply want to strengthen old ties, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective Families lists questions that help you craft a personal mission statement that provides a touchstone for all to stay connected as a family while each member navigates his/her own destiny.

What kind of person/spouse/parent/family do we want to be?

How do we want to treat each other?

What roles should each of us have?

How can we best relate with each other’s families?

How do we want to resolve our differences?

How do we want to handle our finances?

What values do we want to teach our children?

How do we support and develop potential in each other?

What kind of discipline do we want to use with our children?

What kind of home do we want to invite friends to?

What traditions do we want to keep (and create)?

What do we want to be remembered by?

How do we want to give back?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what your dad taught you best!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

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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