Annotating Fairytales

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We can’t all be princesses…

Someone has to clap

when I walk by.

Girl Two Doors Down

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Among my favorite treasures is this photo of my daughter and her Disney equivalent in matching costumes, both dark haired and wide eyed, beaming broadly in recognition of a kindred princess. She wore her Snow White costume for much of the year she was four years old until it grayed and frayed around the edges. Fast forward fifteen years later, she begins to find that honoring her own needs isn’t always high on the agenda of a prospective Prince, so it might as well be on hers.

While Meghan Markle‘s dilemma has provided entertaining distraction from our prolonged and heavy real world concerns, it is high time we edit the fairytales we’ve innocently fed our daughters’ imaginations so that they might stand a better chance at the elusive “Happy Ever After” they have been told to expect after every grand wedding.

Food for thought for our young–and not too young–to consider:

Entitled women need not suffer royally. Fairytales have scientifically proven that the best brides for a prince are those used to being invisible slaving away at the hearth, grateful to wear rags and hand-me-downs, and have a knack for diplomacy around the varied temperaments of (s)even very short men or a couple of wicked stepsisters. Such brides never talk back at evil stepmothers or in-laws and would never dream of demanding that her prince make the heart-rending choice between her own happiness or that of his family.

Every parent wants their son/daughter to marry up. What sane parent–even those whose blood isn’t blue–will want less than the best for their own son/daughter? When a royal family concedes to an “unexpected” match, should we then assume that they will happily surrender all other stringent protocols and stifling roles that have governed everyone living under their palatial roof throughout history? Is there to be no price to pay for entry into that magical kingdom of fancy ballgowns and dress up parties?

No one is a victim. This is a tough sell with our culture firmly hooked up by (social) media onto the IV drip of glorifying victimhood as the surest way to more thumbs up and shares, fame and publicity, book publishing and movie deals. May we strive to be adults who: (1) take responsibility for our choices and acknowledge the quid pro quo in getting what we want; (2) embrace dark emotions as natural and necessary human experience, fertile ground for growing our own understanding, strength and resilience; (3) open our eyes to the fact that no matter how much we chafe at the injustice of reality, the caste system is alive and well even in first world nations–only made difficult to swallow under the egalitarian spell cast by democracy. Oprah herself covered this with her bookclub choice Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

A true modern princess wields her power over social media responsibly, aware of the influence her example sets on young minds. Knowing the animals, prince, and system she has to live with, she seeks to bring together nations, using her understanding of the rules that govern the terrain to navigate her way with dignity, never pandering to other people’s pity nor glamorizing helplessness.

Click “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your tips on how to keep feet squarely on the ground while making our dreams come true.

xoxox

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xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

Text 201 697 1947

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Quit and Go

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Always remember

the most important rule of beauty is

“Who cares?”

Tina Fey

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A new year and new beginnings might mean a fresh start for many, 2021 in particular might bring with it a new appreciation of our beauty without (or less) makeup and gratitude for the simplest of life’s daily pleasures. But creating space for possibility requires us to take a farther step back, challenging us to set boundaries because work and home have now relentlessly merged, to carve time for solitude even when the house is full, or to graciously let go of old ways of being and thinking even as the pandemic has made some automatic choices for us.

A few thoughts from James and Claudia Altucher’s The Power of No:

We beat ourselves up in ways in which we would never beat up someone we loved. Filtering the people we allow into our lives is probably the most important factor in determining whether we will live a happy life or not. Because if we let the wrong people in, we will be drained, and if we are drained, how can we expect to have abundance or creativity? Choose your family, your friends, your colleagues, your tribe, your life.

Luck equals (1) diversification plus (2) persistence. Excuses are leaks in a boat. When you cover one, another pops up, and it’s even bigger. It’s hard to keep the boat repaired and get safely to shore if you have an excuse mind-set. Replace a complaint thought with one of gratitude or compassion.

Time it takes to reinvent yourself: Five years. Here’s a description of the five years: Year One: You’re flailing and reading everything and just starting to do. Year Two: You know who you need to talk to and network with. You’re doing every day. You finally know what the Monopoly board looks like in your new endeavors. Year Three: You’re good enough to start making money. It might not be a living yet. Year Four: You’re making a good living, and you can quit your day job. Year Five: You’re making wealth. Sometimes you get frustrated in years one through four. You say, “Why isn’t it happening yet?” That’s okay. Just keep going. Or stop and pick a new field.

Someone who is reinventing always has spare time. Part of reinvention is collecting little bits and pieces of time and carving them the way you want them to be. That is the Power of No in action: you say no to the superfluous distractions because you must find some time for you. When you say yes to something you don’t want to do, here is the result: you hate what you are doing, you resent the person who asked you, and you hurt yourself.

Optimism, humor and grit will see us through 2021 and all other unexpected turns life ahead might take. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’re drawing the line in 2021 for Happy New Possibilities!

xoxox

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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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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!

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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

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

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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

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

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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

Fearless in Style

 

People often ask, “You have so much confidence.

Where did that come from?” It came from me.

One day I decided that I was beautiful then

carried out my life as if I were beautiful.

Gabourey Sidibe

 

Aside from Halloween, I don’t do therapy.  I am completely capable of boring myself with my own whining, obsessive worries, and  old stories that other people mistake to need resolution or absolution. I do all this with a journal because, unlike friends, pen and paper take it all in without compounding my complaints with worse versions of their own. Besides, if I had to dress and drive somewhere, I want to be the one charging for the hour. When it comes to overcoming fear and trepidation, this witch swears by these style tricks that thoroughly complements the essential broomstick:

Own one fabulous coat (or jacket.) When you have to run out of the house in pajamas, a long dress coat hides many sins while allowing effortless elegance.  Barbara Corcoran launched her real estate empire wearing the same red coat to all her client meetings.  This power coat was her biggest investment as a small town waitress starting a new and very foreign career in the big city. And when you’re done torturing yourself teetering on stilettos, find a comfy pair with an inch or two of sturdier heels with rubber soles that’s kind to your spine while still encouraging good posture.

Color is my coffee  Wake yourself up with a bright, light or white top. Color has healing properties, perks up your face and makes you smile when you see yourself in the mirror. There is one other reason why I don’t wear black: No one has died yet.

Perfect eyelashes   The purpose of having a daughter and girlfriends is to have people you can count on to glue on your lashes when you’re no longer capable of doing this yourself.  Whether it’s lipstick, a blowout, or a facial, indulge in whatever makes you feel better about what you’ve got. My life may not be perfect, but my fake eyelashes can be.

Wonder Woman  I love this film starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  She was no helpless Barbie Doll in real life as an Israeli citizen with the requisite military training. As Wonder Woman, she ventured out of her tiny cloistered island, overcoming great fear of leaving all that she loved behind to venture into the unknown for the sake of saving the planet. When I need a push to get out of my comfy world, to travel somewhere or to attend an event where I know no one, I dress well and coax myself with the thought that I can show up for just a wee little bit. I promise myself that I can leave anytime I feel like and dangle a treat as reward after. More often that not, I end up staying at the event for much longer and have a great time meeting or simply observing a different world and its people. Amy Cuddy shares a life hack to quickly boost your confidence through Power Posing.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you say BOO! to fear.

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!

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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

One Perfect Speech Coach

 

It’s all right

to have butterflies in your stomach.

Just get them to fly in formation.

Rob Gilbert

 

 

Among the brightest lights of inspiration in my world is Jane Paterson of OnePerfectSpeech.com. Fortunately for the rest of the world, this veteran of speech writing and interview coaching now offers her services to a wider audience through her very user friendly website. You’ll find tutorials on it that have easy to follow instructions and practical advice on speech development, practice and presentation.

Whether you have been invited to toast the bride and groom, to acknowledge valued mentors and employees at a corporate gathering, or simply need help polishing that elevator pitch for your business, Jane will walk you through the process of speaking from the heart seamlessly. In her capable hands, you will always feel like you’re sharing a comfortable couch even when your conversation is through video and those butterflies in your stomach will have no choice but to fly in formation!

Jane fully embodies the Powerful Goddess ideal of delivering excellence and doing whatever it takes to nurture personal fulfillment no matter what. She lifts others up with her eternal sunshine while striking an admirable balance of equal parts responsibility and fun play at work and at home. Definitely a woman I aspire to be when I grow up and am very blessed to know.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share who lights up your world!

 

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

 

 

Alone Need Not Be Lonely

 

Your child’s life will

be filled with fresh experiences.

It’s good if yours is as well.

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

 

 

Happy new school year and Hurray for Empty Nest!  While our young wannabe adults are happily settled in their respective college dorms, I am skipping around the house, thrilled to have it all to myself at last. No more waking to other people’s alarms, slamming doors or heavy footfall. No mess in the kitchen sink that isn’t mine.  No one else’s junk spilling out of one less cupboard. The only thing I miss is a compelling answer to that question well-meaning friends and family never tire of asking: What next?  Why–Do they imagine being stripped off the mantel of mothering depressing? That I’d mourn its relentless martyrdom?  Rush to fill the void of being needed?  Au contraire!  I am quite content admiring the empty spaces in my internal and physical landscape, reveling in the freedom of a blank slate, stillness and quiet. I feel so much excitement bubbling over no specific reason. It is an exhilaration not unlike  jailbreak!

Aaah, that blank canvas–it is intimidating even as it promises much possibility.  In this culture of relentless achievement, how can I possibly look people in the eye and admit I do not have a grand plan?  Yet, yet my heart feels full and so very excited over what appears to be absolutely nothing.  I take pleasure in this time to embrace and circle back to the self I have ignored for too long in the service of family. I am seduced by the attention I can give to the woman whose voice has been drowned out by everyone else’s wants and schedules at work and at home.  This could be a scary chapter indeed. What if that blank canvas remains just that?  At least, I am cushioned by the confidence that I have been in this familiar place of new beginnings many times before. Since then, I have acquired riches over the years in wealth and clarity about what makes me happy or not.  I can choose to narrow options or expand creatively, seeing the old with new eyes.

As unread books on the shelf wink at me complicity and travel adventures beckon, I dream of new crafts awaiting to be learned, beautiful objects to be found in cultures and traditions that I’ve taken for granted.  I may yet learn Mandarin, find the patience to paint like a renaissance master, write that darn book that stubbornly refuses to write itself. Who knows what doors I’ll open or what doors I’ll build if opportunity doesn’t knock?  Great expectations include plotting my escape from cooking for two (without resorting to divorce,) going back to college for the sheer joy of learning, and why not a gap year from all adult responsibility?!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what a blank canvas means to you.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

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201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Next

 

Make the most of yourself,

for that is all there is

of you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This graduation season has been a sentimental milestone for me.  It closes a chapter in life that leaves my husband and me standing exposed as individuals who have been immersed as committed parents for the last couple of decades. It kind of feels like a breakup with the house all quiet, one less plate to set at meal time, no more mountains of laundry or mess in the kitchen. Thankfully, these wise beauties share their recipes for getting over it–sometimes slowly but surely:

You need to cook that beautiful dinner even when it’s just you, wear your favorite outfit, buy yourself some flowers, and celebrate the self love that often gets muddled when we focus on what we don’t have. -Meghan Markle

Time passes, and the more you live your life and create new habits, you get used to not having a text message every morning saying, ‘Hello, beautiful. Good morning.’ You get used to not calling someone at night to tell them how your day was. You replace these old habits with new habits, like texting your friends in a group chat all day and planning fun dinner parties and going out on adventures with your girlfriends, and then all of a sudden one day you’re in London and you realize you’ve been in the same place as your ex for two weeks and you’re fine. And you hope he’s fine. -Taylor Swift

There are two ways you can go: You can either nurture yourself or go destructive. I have gone down the destructive path before, and that didn’t work for me. You dig deep beyond those scars and find that soft tissue again, and you massage and nurture it and bring it to life, little by little, through serving yourself well. I did it through hikes and vitamins and therapy and prayer and good friends. -Katy Perry

I actually shed tears for the woman I used to be. How sad was I in my ‘please’ and ‘you don’t understand, just give me another chance’ and all that stuff. What I now know is that was my biggest teacher. He was here to show me to myself so I could learn to love myself more. This was the guy who said to me, ‘The problem with you is you think you special.’ And I said, ‘No I’m not. No, I’m not really special.’ Look at me now. -Oprah Winfrey

Heartbreak is a gift in itself. Cry if you have to, but it won’t be forever! You will find love again, and it will be even more beautiful! In the meantime enjoy all that YOU are! -Rihanna

There are many stages of grief. It’s sad, something coming to an end. It cracks you open. When you try to avoid the pain, it creates greater pain. I’m a human being, having a human experience in front of the world. I try really hard to rise above it. -Jennifer Aniston

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) on how you’d fill an empty nest.

All images on this page are from Google.

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!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fathers On Love

 

Learn from other people’s mistakes.

We will never live long enough

to make them all on our own.

from “Human Engineering” by Harry Myers and Mason M. Roberts

 

Happy Father’s Day!  Llittle Daddy’s girls grow up too quickly into gorgeous women!  What life experience would you pass on to our daughters as wisdom on men and relationships?

Prince Charming is not coming.  Do you really want to get involved with a dashing self-absorbed Mama’s boy who’s obsessed with slaying dragons and chasing damsels in distress?  This can only mean he’s unemployed and is on serious medication to believe dragons exist. You won’t be the first nor last damsel in distress he’ll want to rescue and his thirst for constant adventure won’t make him a happy helper with the kids at home. There is a price to pay for everything so clarify the manly qualities that are most important to you, as well as your deal breakers.

Handle your own money. Set up your bank accounts so an automatic percentage for every dollar you earn goes to a savings account that grows.  No matter how attractive credit card companies make the terms of their little plastics, do not spend more than what you have.  Most importantly, avoid marrying other people’s debts and drama.

Be happy alone. Whether in a relationship or not, keep time alone sacred and romance yourself each week to enjoy your own company. Even when demanding children start popping into the scene, your primary relationship should always be with yourself.

Great sex ain’t good enough.  A relationship needs conversation, laughter and shared values to make it through tough times. Before those sex hormones cloud your thinking–making you obsessive and attached–establish ties that bind common interests outside the bedroom.

Actions speak louder.  Falling in love is delusional. When we’re interested in someone, we will interpret other people’s words to skew for intent. If his actions don’t back up what he says, learn from Ariana Grande: Next!

Something is not always better than nothing.  How does he make your life better? If you know he’s not good enough, but he’s the only one who has asked you out in awhile, don’t waste your time nor his. Both of you are better off asking other people out whom you may be better matched. Don’t be lazy.

Keep your relationships rich and varied. Many women brush off girlfriends in the thrill of being a couple.  Rookie mistake!  Maintain breathing room to acknowledge your individuality and he will appreciate your confidence in giving him time to himself and to hang with his boys. Value each other’s disparate experiences and influences that you bring to the table. At the very least, make sure you like his friends and family because you’ll be spending time a lot of time with them, too.

Your sad story is boring. Whatever and whoever shows up in our lives are meant to draw out qualities like wisdom, strength and courage. Find the gift of a breakup, never abandon yourself, and move forward in life with greater self-compassion and understanding. There is never a wasted experience and there is no dignity in being identified as victim forever.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share wisdom from your dad or your own, if you’re a dad yourself. You’re too lucky to be loved by many divine Goddesses!

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!

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bride and Prejudice

 

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

A second marriage is the triumph

of hope over experience.

Oscar Wilde

 

 

Here come the brides in June! Americans are still married to monogamy even as online dating provides ever widening options to make exploring our curiosities outside it easier. In 2016, a survey found that 48 percent of men and 31 percent of women said that their ideal relationship would be nonexclusive to some degree. Esther Perel‘s TED talk Rethinking Infidelity has racked up 7.5 million views on Youtube, making someone who preaches forgiveness a star.

As modern as we would like to believe our society to be, the stigma on affairs still provides prime fodder for tabloids and personal choices continue to cast a long shadow on professional lives.  Why do we feel entitled to judge other people’s (sex) lives and choices–as if we can know what they’re going through, as if we’ll ever have the chance to walk in their shoes?

Recognizing our innate desire to duplicate the devotion of parental love in our spouse, would you be capable of prioritizing your primary relationship if you were allowed adventures outside the marriage?  Would you rather have shallow relationships with many partners or do you want the pleasure of the long game and a shared history in getting to know someone deeply and profoundly? However you choose to make up your mind along the way, how can we remember that marriage is different for each participant? Because to speak frankly, what came first: marriage and monogamy or our very human nature that continually seeks novelty and variety?

More than separate checking accounts or the option to sleep in separate beds, the biggest challenge of a long term relationship is our tendency to believe we own our spouse even as we take them for granted. Relationship takes work and plenty of tending, an often tested commitment to see the best in the other while requiring us to dig deep into our ability to provide a safe space for each to grow in whatever way he/she requires as an evolving soul.

Everyone else outside such relationship must have more important things to do like mind their own business.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what marriage means to you.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glam of Thrones

 

Women should look good. Work on yourselves.

Education? I spit on education.

No man is ever going to put his hand

up your dress looking for a library card.

Joan Rivers

 

Now that Game of Thrones has run its course, I’ll have to find something else to keep a conversation going with my sons who live away from home. Gore and incest aside, what I enjoyed best in this series was the craftsmanship of the artisans behind the props and costumes and the strength of the women who held their own in a cast often outnumbered by men. Looking back on the countless costumes of the lead characters, nobody outdressed the most fashionable Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, after she is resurrected from her husband’s funeral pyre wearing nothing but three baby dragons.

In Qarth, she wears the prettiest gowns among its creepy, albeit stylish, citizens.

This dress was a way to tell the smitten Jorah that she had slept with Daario.  The cutouts fit effortlessly, yet can you imagine the precision required for its tailoring?

She rules over a very dusty region wearing queenly white, cream, and dove gray dresses in the cross-neck halter style.

In another season, her style evolves to V-neck gowns fastened at the top–very revealing until the last minute that it decides it’s not. She is attractive and appealing while remaining in control.

Her white striped fur coat was both romantic and practical for riding dragons. There’s elegant detail in its cuts with even more remarkable drama on its back.

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

All photos on this page from Google Images.

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Painting Center

 

What a wonderful life I’ve had–

I only wish

I’d realized it sooner.

Colette

 

As Women’s History Month draws to a close and the next whatever grabs media attention, let us take a moment to clarify the direction of the story we write for ourselves. Akin to painting on a blank canvas, let us choose the colors of the palette we will continue to create with (or no longer,) noticing what is meaningful now to our own definition of personal success. Goddess knows it’s impossible to be true to our hearts when we are continually surrounded by loudmouthed know-it-alls who believe they can dictate what we should feel, think, want or desire, pegging us all in one convenient mold to mindlessly follow the dictates of someone else’s “paint by numbers” sketch.

With gratitude to the brave women who have won many freedoms for our generation, how can we pay attention to our truth as we navigate the wide range of possibilities in work and play?  I believe feminism can claim success in achieving women’s liberty only when each woman is respected for her own choices without being measured against an often male standard, unwittingly imposed by fellow women.

To take stock of where you are now and which direction you’d like to keep stepping, have a notepad handy (on your smartphone, why not?) to list what comes to mind this week under these four headings:

What I’m Doing That I Like

What I’m Not Doing That I Wish I Would

What I Want More Of

What I Want Less Of

By the end of the week, read through your lists and figure out how to incorporate more of what you want in your days, starting with whatever you need to make things possible brushstroke by brushstroke. I love Marie Curie’s wisdom in “Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood.”  Listening to our hearts must be the beginning of all understanding.

Celebrate each small success that helps us keep on shining from our center!  Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) and share what you love best about where you are in your story already.  You are more than perfect and wonderful!

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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