My Grandma’s Life In Five Objects

 

Grandparents are intended

to help a child get into mischief

that she couldn’t have thought of on her own.

Gene Perret

 

 

September is the birthday month of my maternal grandmother to whom I owe much of my sense of style and expansive range of talents. She loomed large as family matriarch and when I think of home, I think of her busy, extended household full of aunts, uncles, cousins, house help and a revolving door of pets. The woman I’ve become and how I relate to the world are born from watching her be or not be, from marveling at her idiosyncrasies and ironies, from hearing my mom and aunts gauge their choices by “What would Mama think?”  We shared the love of constant learning, of evolving artistic expression from the sartorial to the mundane, as well as an affinity for collecting beautiful objects. She kept her best under lock and key, displayed behind glass panels as curiosities, while mine have to double duty as pretty and functional that must survive good, if not daily, use.  To this day, objects are how I remember people, places and events that have generously blessed me, given as gifts or as conjurors of memory, remembrances of who and what helped shape the person I’ve become.

Before I left for college, she couldn’t wait to tweeze my eyebrows and share her makeup palette, teaching me the art of making almond eyes appear wider with at least four shades of eye makeup that became my daily uniform. Who would recognize me now that motherhood had made me surrender the good fight?  My grandma loved red lipstick while her more conservative sisters wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing anything racier than pink.  With masks required at public venues these days, making lipsticks go wasted on covered lips, I wear my Very Prive Louboutin (above) as a pendant instead.

 

A Purse Gone Fishing

My absolute favorite from Grandma is this fish purse that was her souvenir from a trip to Japan before my own parents met. I can imagine the excitement that pulsed through her house as she and her husband planned their first major flight out of their home islands. I don’t know how I got to be the lucky keeper of this treasure considering I have a sister, aunts and a slew of girl cousins.  But I can’t think of anyone else who would have enjoyed it as much as I do. For better or worse–because plastic never dies–this purse looks as new today as it must have been when she first spied it at a shop window in Shibuya or Shinjuku.  As she wandered those streets, did she imagine that one day, her first granddaughter–who, at that time, was yet a mere twinkle in her eye–might birth her a greatgrandson in that country?  This fish purse perfectly melds our love of travel and irrepressible sense of humor, ever ready to share a clever anecdote or joke, usually with a poker face (as any sensible fish would.)

 

 

To Bed, To Bed

My fun fashion flair and insistence on dressing better when everyone else is wearing ripped jeans definitely comes from Grandma’s genes. Though there are limits to the heights I’d willingly suffer. Before COVID-19, I used to tease that women endure enough pain already without our toes needing to get pinched into stilettos, that 4-inch heels should only be worn to bed.  Now that dress up parties and gatherings are few, the bed has proven to be my Private Number Louboutin’s most dependable destination indeed.

 

 

All That Glitters For No Occasion

To whoever decreed “Don’t eat after 6:00 pm,” I have only one question: Why not?!  This may make sense for Early Birds, but someone must speak up for the night owls of this planet!  When my Empty Nest is quiet late at night, I think of those just-the-two-of-us moments with my grandma, rare in her full house, silent except for the crack and crunch of freshly carved watermelon, punctuated by the less than discreet spit of seeds in those long forgotten days before the needless invention of all things seedless. Other nights might be the season for mangoes and more exotic tropical fruits, cookies or a sandwich with the slurp of hot cocoa or milk coffee as our midnight snack. I have since been converted to the rituals of tea because there’s such an irresistible selection of adorable cups and teapots, satisfactions you just can’t get from a coffeemaker.  No good reason to save glittery things for special occasions that may never come either so I delight in feasting like royalty during the day or when I’m burning the midnight candle alone in pajamas. As Virginia Woolf put it: One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. And I always, always feed my eyes first.

 

 

One Pet, No Pets

Despite growing up with my grandmother’s ever changing menagerie of pets from goldfish, to turtles, parakeets to chicks that grew into chicken soup for lunch, dogs from chihuahuas to poodles, etc, I never felt the desire to own a pet myself. I was clear about wanting children though, and when they begged me for a pet, I assured them most confidently they can have all the dogs and cats they wanted when they got their own apartments. Somehow my daughter succeeded in persuading me to compromise with a rabbit when her brothers flew the nest, but very soon after, her attention drifted to boys and friends and the rabbit got relegated as her dad’s bestie. He’s great company for me now that she’s left home, tirelessly staring with adoring eyes much of the day and happy to cuddle at night.  You know I mean the rabbit, not the husband, right? 😉

 

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what makes you smile when you think about your grandmother(s).

 

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 Mother Happy

 

There are three ways to get something done:

do it yourself, hire someone to do it,

or ask your kids NOT to do it.

Malcolm Kushner

 

 

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

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

Coming Up Roses

 

May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early!

My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue,

so that I triumph even when I fall.

Alaister Crowley

 

 

Exciting new decade and new worlds of possibility to you! Among my resolutions is to refer to my sons and daughter as “young adults” instead of “kids” or “children” which they no longer are or should act like.  2020 marks their Defining Decade and because our culture loves to associate turning  21 with drunken abandon–any monkey can do that!–while headline news and social media are rife with people steeped in money and power who have grown old without growing up, can someone please tell me what qualities truly define an adult?

I feel relief as I wave them back on the bus to their respective colleges. I feel the need for a conscious shifting of gears when they are home for extended holidays while hanging on to dear charm, keeping irritation on a low simmer over the household dynamic that tends to revert to how things were when they were adorable little cutiepies. The transition is difficult for both sides entailing diplomacy and patience on thin supply as we shift from automatic overplayed roles to a reversal that isn’t fun for those who have relished being  given to and taken care of.  Small wonder the pervasive marketing of the myth of martyrdom with motherhood!

On New Year’s eve, I told them 2020 is a wonderful decade to plant their feet firmly on the ground so “No babies please.”  What I really mean to say is “No more acting like babies please” but even if they were to take me literally, any juggler knows better than to add another ball to one’s act before getting good at one ball first.  Perfecting the growing act takes while, so I’ll hold on to my rose colored glasses with tiny resolutions meanwhile:

Stoke a passion  Indulge a hobby or learn something new. Nothing is sexier than a woman with a glow in her eyes that comes from inner joy and purpose. There’s much that cosmetics and surgeries get credit for, but you can’t buy authentic beauty that shines from an inner light.

Make movement a part of your day Take the stairs (instead of elevators/escalators) to use the ladies room in the farthest floor of a building. Park farthest from the door of the office, gym, restaurant, grocery or mall. Let dance music move you while you’re doing chores or getting dressed. Stretch those quads while brushing teeth and use each door frame you walk through as a reminder to roll shoulders back, chest out, and chin up.

Check texts/email/social media only after meals  The diet mindset is best applied to our relationship with tech devices. As for food, you’ll never have to worry about weight if you eat regularly, choose fresh over processed, pass on gluten/sugar/liquor and eat your vegetables like mom always said.

Act with kindness  Do something random for someone you may not get credit for. Keep a running gratitude list of how you got lucky and feel blessed at least before bedtime to sleep happy.

Go someplace you’ve never been  Learn and experience something new, welcome new influences through a new club/group, travel and even reading a book can take you somewhere magical.

Give 2 compliments each day One for someone you live or work with. Another for the person in the mirror.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add what being an adult means to you. Happy and healthy 2020 and make this your best decade yet!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable photo shoot for up to three people!

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Unusual Selfie

 

The best advice I’ve received is

”No one else knows

what they’re doing either.”

Ricky Gervais

 

All our friends, family and Facebook’s facial recognition software already know what we look like so how about we give them something more interesting to see than just another selfie?

Here’s how I made these Unusual Selfies without needing a selfie stick:

Get a Folio Case for your smartphone. Coach.com has a fun selection in leather to hold your cash/cards as well as protect your phone’s glass surface. More importantly, it serves as a stand to angle and prop up your phone so you can use its timer (and AF lock) to compose the shot before you jump into the frame.

Google knows everything.  In researching my travel itinerary, I stumbled upon another mom’s blog which mentioned that Dubrovnik is a film site of HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones (GoT). My sons are great fans of this show so I thought it would be funny to impress them and sign myself up for a GoT themed city tour there.

Prep the prop. As inspiration for this GoT tour, I decided go as one of the show’s main characters, Daenerys, aka “The Mother of Dragons” who wears the best costumes among its lead cast.  I packed a fantastic 3D print replica of her Mother of Dragons necklace as well as three custom painted dragon eggs from Etsy.com.

Dubrovnik is King’s Landing in GoT, the capital of the story’s 7 Kingdoms. It has imposing medieval fort walls flooded with tourists. You’ll have a better chance of enjoying the place all to yourself if you visit in winter. Finding a quiet spot can be impossible so keep an eye out for locations  with relatively few passersby.  Be patient and wait for a lull in the crowd to get a clear background.  From the pier, for example, I walked along the base of the fort until I found an outcropping of rocks facing the sea that also happened to have an angle of the castle known as the Red Keep in the show.  I took time positioning the dragon eggs and iPhone until I got the shots I wanted to tell my story—an especially poignant one for a mother of three (dragons) who have all flown the nest. Rain clouds were perfect for the mood and a scarf billowing in the wind added the effect of dragon wings.

If someone offers to take your picture, all the better!  At the Iron Throne (GoT souvenir shop at Boshkoviceva 7 in the old town), my GoT tour guide impressed me with the filters on his Samsung even as he envied how my iPhone takes creamier pictures in daylight.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best selfie trick without a stick.

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

How To Thank The Thanksgiving Hostess

 

There’s turkey ham, turkey bologna,

turkey pastrami… Someone needs to tell the turkey,

“Man, just be yourself!”

Mitch Hedberg

 

When I grow up, I’ll look forward to being the guest for Thanksgiving. Until that day comes, I soldier on hosting for the sake of keeping my teens engaged in the kitchen and leaving them with good memories of tradition and togetherness.  A bit more fun than being sad and lonely tech zombies on their individual cellphones and laptops, yes?

My wish for them is to be wanted as guests in other people’s homes, too, and here are a few clues to what it takes to be the hostess’ favorite whatever your age:

Arrive on time–no excuses. No asking for pickup from the bus stop if you have legs that can carry you the distance.

Send a lovely flower arrangement before the event or visit.  It is always wise not to show up empty handed but bringing a bouquet of flowers only gives the hostess one more last minute thing to do (find and fill a vase) when she already has more than enough on her plate.

Clean up after yourself and help clear the kitchen sink.  If the hostess protests. tell her it’s against your religion and you’d rather make it to heaven.

Bring the entertainment.  Being a good guest can simply be as fun as bringing a game, activity (eg, face painting with young kids) or teach a magic/card trick or skill that entertains all.

If you’re a weekend guest, make/bring breakfast one morning and pay for at least one meal out while you’re there.

After you leave, mail an old fashioned thank you note with prints of your best photos from your time together. Nobody makes time to print but, truth be told, in our age of constantly changing technology and infinite digital photos, only prints count for posterity.

Surprise the hostess with a gift she will enjoy (a board game her family will love, a wireless speaker for their porch, etc).

Pick up the phone and invite them to be your guest when they’re in your part of the world.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you like to add to the Thanksgiving table.  Happy Gobble Gobble and know I’m thankful for you!

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

When I Grow Up

 

I want my children to have

all the things I couldn’t afford.

Then I want to move in with them.

Phyllis Diller

 

Photo by Matt Licari

Speaking of ageless glamour, meet the grandmother I want to be.  Maye Musk, the 70 year old mother of SpaceX billionaire founder Elon Musk, still graces fashion magazines as a model, as the face of CoverGirl and a major airline, and has appeared in Beyonces music video Haunted.

But her past life as a single mother of three was very far removed from her lifestyle today, sharing many hardships of working women struggling to make ends meet. They  had to live with peeling wallpaper and no furniture so that when she finally bought their first computer, Elon had to work on the floor with it. Their weekly treat of red meat was courtesy of a friend’s kindness and Maye’s foresight and ingenuity in splitting the monthly gift of a roast into four parts.

I adore women who pack their own sunshine in style through thick and thin. Forever hip, check out her instagram @mayemusk. and click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the grandmother you want to be when you grow up.

xoxox

 

Photo by Matt Licari

Photo by Matt Licari

 

Photo by Dennis Leupold

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

What My Mother Taught Me

 

For mothers, guilt management

can be just as important

as time management.

Sheryl Sandberg

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

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

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:

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

A Love Note for Mother’s Day

 

My mother had a great deal

of trouble with me, but

I think she enjoyed it.

Mark Twain

 

One of my great pleasures in photographing women is hearing about their life journeys and the remarkable people who have blessed their path.  For Mother’s Day, this extraordinary Powerful Goddess graciously shares:

When I was five years old, my parents’ divorce left my mother in dire financial straits, yet I never heard her complain or say anything negative or prejudiced about anyone. She accepted my lifestyle choices through the 60’s/70’s including those that pushed far beyond limits even for today’s parents. At 15, I wanted to join a cabaret act because nothing makes me happier than performing so she let me use her clothes and makeup and looked the other way. And that was just the beginning of my storied adventures!

She loved the latest fashions, hot pants, go go boots, gowns, etc. While she took my brother clothes shopping at discount stores, she went out of her way to take me to fancier boutiques because she knew how much I loved beautiful things.

My mom is an extraordinary human being, truly a great beauty inside and out, caring, charming, stylish.  Her heart is huge and she loves beyond the unconditional. I love speaking to her freely about my life and problems, including matters I would never reveal to friends.  Thank you so much, Mom, for loving me for who I am, imperfections and all!  You are my life’s greatest blessing and I am eternally grateful!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your love for your favorite woman on this earth.  And make your Mother’s Day happy!

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

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!

996866_726401084051958_765279000_nNYC-NJ-90th-birthday-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-2

My Birthday Card

_S5A7242NYC-NJ-90th-birthday-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess

Half a lifetime ago

photo

And now a bit too big for Grandma’s lap

_S5A6898NYC-NJ-90th=birthday-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess

xoxox

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

When In Rome Again

In Italy,

they add work and life

to food and wine.

Robin Leach

Rome-Italy-Piazza-Navona-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

Piazza Navona on a rainy day last visit

After last year’s whirlwind mother-daughter holiday (see posts London with teen and Paris Charms with Teen,) the older brothers realized that traveling with mom need not just be an excuse to get their pesky sister out of the house.  This Spring break, Brother #1 has signed up for his turn to go on  a mother-son rendezvous.

Argentina was first choice because he’s interested in tango (and the pretty ladies that go with it,) but that’s too long a schlep from Boston for a week off. He got all excited over Iceland, but I refuse to  be any place colder in March. Where can he hop on an easy flight to get to relatively mild weather, see art, architecture, and engineering marvels everywhere he turns, while avoiding hordes of tourists? Why, Rome in March, of course!

Audio tours

Before you even start packing, let celebrity guide Rick Steves’ audio tours stoke your imagination and enthusiasm.

701Rome_021.jpg

A few fun things to do in Rome after you’ve covered the basics:

Rent a Ferrari

This IS Italy! Why not?

ome-colosseum-ferrari-car-rental-italy

photo by Conde Nast Traveler

Ostia Antica

Also known as “The better Pompeii,” Ostia Antica is only 30 minutes North of the Colosseum, compared to Pompeii’s 4 hours South. This used to be the bustling commercial port of Rome when the Romans controlled the Mediterranean. Wandering around the ruins today, you’ll see well-preserved remains of ancient brick structures from docks, bakeries, warehouses, apartments, mansions, shopping arcades, baths and sculptures–a peek at Roman lifestyles 2,000 years ago.

And if your travel companions are allergic to museums, a couple of light and lovely options are:

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

This private mansion off the Piazza Venezia on Via del Corso is also a museum open to the public. An easy walk from the Colosseum past the Typewriter building (aka The Wedding Cake or Il Vittoriano Monument.) I love its rich interiors and their mini version of Versailles’ “Hall of Mirrors.” Listen to the audio guide recorded by a family member of the Doria Pamphilj as you walk through the elegant rooms and art filled halls, pay the extra 5 Euros to tour their more private apartments. Caffe Doria breaks the museum standard fare with its delicious and generous portions for lunch and tea/coffee in old world charm.

Italy-Rome-palazzo-doria-pamphilj

photo by Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Galleria Borghese

Hike up to this mansion of Cardinal Borhese that is now a small museum for lovers of classical paintings and sculpture. Make advance tour reservations, leave your handbag home to avoid one more queue to check it, get there early before the crowds, and take your sweet time  with their audio guide that is not shy about describing  the underhanded ways that wealth and treasures get acquired. Afterwards, you can stroll through the gardens or rent a bicycle wagon in the park surrounding the property.

Italy-Rome-Paolina-Borghese-Bonaparte-as-Venus-Galleria-Borghese

photo from Google Images

The Galleria Borghese is an easy walk down to Piazza del Popolo with its ancient obelisk and open square. Plenty of restaurant choices along the way as you head down Via del Babuino to the Spanish steps.

Galleria del Cembalo

Between the Spanish steps and the Tiber River at a wing of the Palazzo Borghese, fans of photography can admire exhibits in rooms with ornate high ceilings.

Italy-Rome-galleria-del-cembalo

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) for your Rome travel tips.

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 Woman

5 Simple Tips for Earth Day

 

I like to take out the recycling trash bin

because it makes me feel like

I’m actually doing something for the planet.

Mike Quigley

 

Earth-Day-Spring-bloom-Sharon-Birke

How can we love our one and only planet? Let us count the small ways…

Double duty. For your party giveaways, choose something beyond lovely to behold. Make it useful and–even better–reusable!  Decorate each with flowers and/or a candle and group these together as the table’s centerpiece. No guest ever goes home empty handed and nothing goes to waste.

submerged-flowers-floating-candle-centerpiece-party-giveaways

Photo from Google Images

Beg, steal or borrow.  In the age of technology that seems to have forgotten reading as a pleasurable pastime, I have had to give in to my son’s “only if it’s a new book” rule and, of course, little sis had to follow his example, creating her own towers of dust collectors. I’m relieved to report that last week, we celebrated her first trip to borrow books from the library. Finally!

antique-books

Photo from Google Images

Bring your own bags when shopping at the mall or at the grocery, picking up books at the library, etc. LLBean canvas totes are indestructible and forever my favorites. They can even hold each person’s  gift under the Christmas tree and save you from gift wrapping. Mix and match your favorite colors.

LL Bean canas totes

Style by recycle. It took me awhile to get past a bias against “used” until I realized the world has turned inexorably plastic. Find real wood and quality materials in furniture, home decor, clothing, accessories from antique, consignment and vintage shops. And, no, you need not buy the entire set…

antique-french-furniture-11

Photo from Google Images

Shorten the shower. 25 gallons for every 10 minutes. You do the math.

Click on “Leave a Comment” to add how you care for this planet that feeds us.

xoxox

Flower photo at top of page © Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

In The Woods

Now it is up to me to take the first step myself–

to listen to the child in me.

Alice Miller

_S5A7886NYC-Central-Park-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

This Powerful Goddess celebrates her first birthday as mother to herself, recently having lost the woman whose love has been a refuge since giving birth to her.  It is a dark and tender time nursing her grief, remembering her mother’s comforting free spirit, so far ahead of her generation in providing a literal haven for women whose life choices defied the simplistic black and white.

She feels bereft in the woods without the familiar guiding hand that had always held hers.  The hand that had given her a firm, gentle push through the rough brambles, the muddy patches, through the forks in the road.  Now  it’s a strain to hear her mother’s voice when she wonders “Where do I go? How do I go on?”

Yet she does.

She ventures forth with small, hesitant steps at first, her spine eventually straightens, finding the strength to keep on.  She is her mother’s daughter after all.  Her mother’s courage lives within her forever, making sure she continues to keep her sights always true to her own North.

What is a woman’s life after all if not to serve as map and compass for other women to find and understand themselves?

To complete the Alice Miller quote from the top of this page:

…and this meant exposing myself

to all the pain once inflicted on her,

which she had had to bear all alone,

without witnesses, without words,

without hope of ever being understood.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share who has lent you strength to keep going when you couldn’t.

_S5A7895NYC-Central-Park-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

_S5A7821-EditNYC-Central-Park-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

_S5A7836NYC-Central-Park-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

_S5A7866NYC-Central-Park-Glamour-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-Sharon-Birke

xoxox

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Angels Among Us

I feel that there is an angel inside me

whom I am constantly shocking.

Jean Cocteau

000346-Angels-New-York-New-Jersey-Glamour-Portraits-Powerful-Goddess

“What if I don’t like any of my pictures?,” this Goddess asked when she hired me.   She had never liked any photo taken of her in her entire life and was happily surprised–paying me the highest compliment 😉 –when she just had to bring home so many of my photos from her shoot.  She swears every woman should give this experience to herself!

This Goddess dedicates her photo shoot to her favorite angels–her beloved mother and sister.  She holds them close to her heart and not a day goes by that she doesn’t wish they weren’t an ocean away.

She tells me her mom is the most elegant woman who takes great pleasure in dressing up.  On one of their shopping adventures years ago, they found a vision in white silk they couldn’t resist.  This dress sat in the back of her closet patiently waiting to see the light until this moment!   And what a perfect complement to the pearl necklace her mom had given her on her wedding day.  Almost two decades later, these pearls are as timeless and ageless as the angel they adorn here…

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to honor those who bless your life greatly…

© Sharon Birke

Let’s celebrate the angels in your life today!

201 697 1947

http://www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

xoxox

%d bloggers like this: