When Santa Gets Naughty

 

Santa has the right idea:

Visit people

once a year.

Victor Borge

 

 

Imagine if every Santa said “No, thanks!” to doing all the things people take for granted, can’t be bothered to do, or simply deride: planning gatherings, putting up holiday decor, shopping and wrapping presents, sending holiday cards, cooking, hosting, and cleaning up after parties, stroking egos, playing diplomat between factions and generations, being the invisible glue that binds family and friends together?

Just sayin’.

Happiest of Holidays with enormous gratitude to every Santa out there! For a convenient holiday planning guide, see Real Simple’s Ultimate Christmas Countdown Checklist.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how much more interesting the year might get if a Santa this hot promises to (teach you how to) whip naughty into nice?

Keep doing the all the good you do and the warmest of divine holiday blessings to you and your beloveds. Ho-Ho-Ho!

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:

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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 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:

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

 

 

 

Ho-Ho-Holiday Family Cheer

Parenting is mostly 

informing kids how many minutes

they have left of something.

@yoyoha

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As another year brings us closer to another teen leaving home for college,  it becomes clearer to me that creating happy family memories has got to be the most important job of parenting. Best if you print proof to remind them of the good old days when many changes of technology later shall have voided today’s digital files.

If you don’t get to print a family album for Christmas, print a few of the best of photos off your smartphone and pack a “time capsule” box for each kid to sift through with their own (grand)children later.

These pictures are from our day tour to see Dad’s office then taking the train to the city to marvel at the white marble and fantastic design of the Oculus, walking through Central Park, and surprising them with a gondola ride while waiting for dinner at the Boathouse.

I’ve been around the world and there’s no gondola ride more royal than after dark at Central Park when you get the lake, the NYC skyline, and the heavens above all to yourselves. The gondolier serenades you with his witty renditions of Italian arias personalized to the occasion you’re celebrating.  Add this adventure to your own family treasures!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best memory with  the family this year. Warmest of holiday wishes and many more merries!

xoxox

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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

My Grandmother’s Closet

My grandmother was a very tough woman.

She buried three husbands and

two of them were just napping. 

Rita Rudner

 _S5A6660NYC-NJ-90th=birthday-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess

A quiet moment of thanks to commemorate the life of the woman who inspired the mission of Powerful Goddess Portraits: To celebrate every woman’s best by making the most of what she’s got.  My grandmother passed last week at 92 surrounded by everyone who loved and was loved by her.

Corazon (Spanish for “heart”) was my first arbiter of style. Her busy extended household was the home of my childhood. A prudish Catholic upbringing failed to  dampen her sense of humor, her love of retelling (saucy) jokes and collecting gag curios to make you blush. Her womb birthed 6 children, she raised many of 15 grandchildren and 13 more call her Great Grandmother today.  Thinking about her signature dishes continues to have a Pavlovian effect on my mouth.

As the inveterate night owl, she fascinated me on many late school nights with her ingenuity, her hunched figure diligently presiding over the formal dining table filled with accoutrements for her project de la nuit.  When my mom was crowned teen queen, she designed the very first quick change gown the town still talks about–no one had ever witnessed a gown transform into a completely different outfit in the blink of an eye!   When my daughter was 6 and ready for the hula dances I learned at her age, guess who sent us matching handmade grass skirts?   There was a time when Ikebana was the rage, bonsai plants took over the garage, her sewing machine a permanent fixture in the living room.   Her house was a revolving door not only of creative projects, but also of pets from goldfish, turtles, chickens, birds, several breeds of dogs, way before the grandchildren  joined the parade.

You didn’t have to leave her house to get a hair cut or perm because she could do that, too. “Let’s shape your eyebrows…” was my initiation to the wonders of makeup.  You can’t buy my favorite summer purse on 5th Avenue–it’s an antique of timeless design from her closet.  For my recent birthday, my kids were impressed by her sketch of animals kissing, elegant calligraphy lacing through the card decorated with her lipstick kiss marks–Who would guess that this artistic script in impeccable English is by someone who never made it to highschool nor to other countries much?  She rarely steps out of the house these days, but when she does, lipstick has got to match the dress.

It was s  sweet homecoming with the aunts, uncles, cousins I grew up with.  How I wish my kids could enjoy the pleasures of being imposed on, sleeping through chaos, being loved by and required to love noisy and nosey relatives of countless degrees!   I say personal space is overrated and Hillary is right about that village!

Laughter mixed with tears when we had to say “When might we see each other again?” goodbyes and I am forever grateful for a childhood around this doyen of talent and creativity.  I am forever blessed with the strength of my self-defined style, compassion, a keen eye for design among the very many talents I have been so lucky to inherit from this Powerful Goddess.  Daghang salamat, Ama Azon, for the treasures of your closet and the treasured memories and wisdom of a lifetime:

that happiness, like religion, has many faces and true faith means respecting each other’s choice for what best suits our needs

that marriage is not a reform institution.  To make any relationship work, there can only be gratitude and the question “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”

that today is the day to enjoy what we’ve got and be present for the love and laughter of family and friends

I am grateful for all that I am because of you, Ama Azon!

xoxox

You can swim the deepest ocean and never find a fish like this

NYC-NJ-Vintage-Fish-Purse-Portraits-Powerful-Goddess-9270591-2

These hands make countless memories and things out of nothing–

and yes, may you wear hip nails at 90, too!

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My Birthday Card

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Half a lifetime ago

photo

And now a bit too big for Grandma’s lap

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xoxox

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Graduate

The unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing

about life is that

there is no core curriculum.

The entire place is an elective.

Jon Stewart

Drummer-Boy-Highschool-Senior-Graduate-by-Sharon-Birke

My not so little Drummer Boy is marching off to college–hopefully without lugging his drum set. Sniff! Have I told him everything I wanted to say? Will he remember to dare failure and never give up on himself? Will he get some sleep despite internet being on 24/7 at the dorm?

Because a mother’s wisdom may not always appeal to a teen, a favorite Powerful Goddess blog fan helped cull this collection of books that might be lifetime companions for someone starting out on life’s brave new solo adventures.

The Evolution Man or How I Ate My Father by Roy Lewis

Have the travails of teens and man changed much since our cave dwelling days? Human evolution explained as a domestic situation comedy.

How-I-Ate-My-Father-Roy-Lewis

 

For all hopeful tinkerers and creatives who suspect creativity is the domain of a select few.  Might genius simply be the fruit of learning from the next failed step that you persist beyond?

How To Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery by Kevin Ashton

How-to-Fly-a-Horse-Kevin-Ashton

The Aladdin Factor by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Life could be much sweeter (and sooner) when we ask for the help we need. Here’s why and how.

aladdin-factor-book

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter by Meg Jay

For the generation of indulged youth, a friendly reminder that it’s never too soon to plant the seeds of relationships, career and finances.

Defining_Decade_Meg_Jay

To honor my Drummer Boy’s Asian roots while impressing young ladies with his culinary skills:

Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Travels Through The Great Subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford

Mangoes-and-Curry-Leaves

Because he was born in a land that he has not visited since…

Frog In The Well: Portraits of Japan by Watanabe Kazan by Donald Keene

Frog-in-the-Well-Watanabe-Kazan-Donald-Keene

To make the ladies swoon…

John Updike’s Collected Poems 1953 to 1993

Collected-Poems-John-Updike

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

Easily the smallest book of the lot, it is powerful in its specific practices  on how to live in peace with oneself, with the least worry and regret.

Four-Agreements_Don-Miguel-Ruiz

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Reader’s Edition) by Michael Pollan

If what we eat is what we are and think, shouldn’t we be more curious about our food–or what we consider food?

Omnivores-Dilemma-Michael-Pollan

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

A non-fiction thriller lest science and obsession carry him away, leading him to forget he is a piece of nature’s whole.

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And whether you are have comfortably discussed the myriad aspects of the topic that simmers in their mind…

S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna

SEX-book-for-teens-Heather-Corinna

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your fave to this list. And give yourself a giant pat on the back for being the best parent that you are!

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

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Remembering Robin Williams

Be kind,

for everyone you meet

is fighting a harder battle.

Plato

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A quiet pause to honor a fireball of laughs, Robin Williams. His genius for improv was said to be honed by a solitary childhood.  His standup comedy put our pain and miseries in hilarious perspective. If our darkness is the birth place of our light, why do we feel compelled to hide behind a constant cheerful mask?

While a performer lives for the audience’s laughter and applause, he must always muster the courage to bare his soul to relentless critics.  I prefer to honor this man’s great legacy through movies that family generations can enjoy together than remembering him for how he chose to die.

Please add your favorite Robin Williams movie by clicking on “Leave a Comment” (above left). xoxox

Mrs. Doubtfire

My favorite Robin Williams movie!  Daniel Hillard (Williams) is a kind man and a loving father, but he’s a shaky role model for the kids so he loses custody when the wife divorced him.  Learning that his wife was advertising for a housekeeper, Daniel applies for the job as the perfect Scottish nanny so he can see his children more than once a week.

Patch Adams

A medical student strives to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients and prove that laughter is the best medicine.  “When you treat a disease, you win or you lose. But when you treat a person, you win no matter what the outcome.”

The Fisher King

An abrasive radio deejay (Jeff Bridges) strikes up an unlikely friendship with a homeless man (Williams) who has a poignant connection to his past.

Dead Poets Society

An embattled English teacher at a private academy inspires students with the power of language and all that make life worth living:  poetry romance, love.

Birdcage

A gay couple attempts to present a “normal” family when their son brings home his fiancee’s parents.

 World’s Greatest Dad

A milquetoast high school teacher pens a phony suicide note for his son after discovering him dead of auto-erotic asphyxiation. I love the scene of how he masks frustration and tears with stifled laughter when a colleague comments “Raising a child is the toughest job you’ll ever know.”

Moscow On The Hudson

Released during the peak of the Cold War 1980s, a Soviet circus musician (played by Williams in an early dramatic role) defects to the United States while he’s in New York for a performance.

Good Morning, Vietnam

The wartime experience of real-life Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer, finding belly laughs as well as poignant drama in his attempts to survive the war while finding friendship and battling the hypocrisy of his superiors. Life, liberty, happiness is America!

 Good Will Hunting

As the therapist who helps Will Hunting (Matt Damon) move beyond his troubled past, Williams provided an impetus for the film’s touching final act while delivering some of his most sensitive dramatic work.

Aladdin

His largely ad-libbed voice work as the genie in 1992’s Aladdin represents the best of Williams firing on all cylinders and delivering some of his funniest lines without having to carry the film.

 

xoxox

Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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