Full House, Fool’s Belly

 

I know a great joke about CoronaVirus

but you probably

would rather not get it.

Anonymous

 

There goes my empty nest celebration as the husband sets up two monitors to work from home and the young adults fill the garage and basement with their dorm stuff to finish the semester online.  I have only one question for all the universities Where’s my tuition refund?!!!  A son who is a 6’4” lump of inertia at home wondered out loud What’s so bad about this (enforced 24/7 togetherness)? Hmmm… Let’s see…Your mother might kill someone if the virus doesn’t?

An interesting fact from The Economist:  The Coronavirus kills not by destroying cells, but by overstimulating the immune system’s inflammatory response. While all this virus hoopla might pass soon enough, a more serious concern that won’t go away by itself is this: How do we unknowingly stress and overstimulate our immune system on a daily basis?  How can we give our bodies the best chance of weathering future storms?

Gluten, sugar and dairy cause inflammation that may not trigger the shrill bells and whistles of a pandemic. Their symptoms appear quietly and innocently enough as a variety of illnesses such as allergies, diabetes, celiac, autism, MS, Crohn’s, and depression. Most medical professionals resort to medication as the first response and when symptoms are suppressed (which are our body’s means of asking for help), we forget the need to understand the underlying causes. Symptom suppression is akin to saying to our body “Shut up!” when it’s begging for our attention to change something in our diet and lifestyle. Making a change gets doubly tricky because these foods are not only widely popular and convenient, they charm the tongue and comfort the psyche, triggering that corner of our brain which induces addiction.

Should you feel like locking yourself up in a closet to get away from everyone else at home in the long days ahead, one of these books might be good company:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise outdoors, open windows as much as possible and keep breathing deeply. Like all of life’s troubles, this, too, shall pass. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you pay attention to what your body is saying.

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Woman With Many Plans

 

It’s better to be interesting

than

to be beautiful.

Maye Musk

 

Reading A Woman Makes A Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty and Success by Maye Musk kept me awake past my bedtime in admiration of this indomitable spirit.  She’s the woman I want to be when I grow up!  When we see women all dolled up, it’s easy to tell ourselves that she probably hasn’t been through the hardships we’ve had. Not so! Making a fresh start–often from scratch–and moving to nine cities in three countries over her adult life, Maye has had to pick herself up one extra time after circumstances had pushed her down yet again, holding her head high with positive attitude and the willingness to do whatever it takes to show up and make the best of whatever cards life dealt her.

She speaks of her parents who set the example of “Live dangerously–carefully.”  Her mother was another incredible woman who packed up five young kids with all their food/water supply to survive three weeks of driving in the African desert–their family adventure for eight summers. She reinvented herself as a prolific artist in her 60s to 80s after her beloved husband’s tragic death; then learned to make art on the computer at 94.  This reminds me to keep stepping forward in life with grace, to always embrace the new, and to be supportive of the decisions my young adults make for themselves.

At 71, Maye continues to make plans, sharing her accumulated wisdom from motherhood, modeling, and her other lifelong profession, nutrition. She explains her sensible guide to eating based on small healthy snacks/meals when you’re hungry so as not to stress your body with starvation. Plan ahead what to keep in your fridge and your day bag and be kind to ourselves on occasional indulgences, never punishing nor going to extremes with severe restrictions that are impossible to maintain. Best of all, pay attention to our feelings that goad us to eat mindlessly and understand what changes we need to make.

I want to be surrounded by people like her who don’t complain nor obsess about looks, who are unafraid of aging and wearing silver hair, people who keep themselves engaged doing interesting things and giving their best for the people they love and work with. I want to look to the future with enthusiasm, always eager to learn and have fun no matter what shows up and despite severe pain, setbacks and heartache.  I’m not planning on Mars so I’m thankful for the inspiration of your beautiful light on this earth, Maye!

Click on “Leave a comment” (top left) to share what you love about the woman you want to be when you grow up. (All photos on this page from Google Images.)

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

I’d Rather Be Reading

 

 

Some of my best ideas

are born

of envy.

Anne Bogel

 

 

To welcome Women’s HERstory Month, a very small book “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Anne Bogel, speaks volumes of my feelings, dilemmas and longings as a devoted reader, nerd, and bookworm. It called attention to how my enthusiasm for a book might be a literary sin, perceived as book bossiness by others. It explained why I covet bookshelves of old grand libraries more than shoe closet space. Best of all, it underlined my desire for a circle of fellow book lovers, or at least a book twin, who can sift through the thousands published weekly and streamline my never ending queue of what to read next. All this while suggesting a good chunk of book titles I’m compelled to look up.

I can trace events and milestones in my life from the list of books I’ve bought or checked out of the library. My bookshelf has a collection that includes what I’ve received as gifts, what I’ve loved, as well as what patiently awaits attention.  A recurring fantasy is to find the list of all the books I’ve read since I was introduced to this great pleasure in fourth grade by another change of schools that surrounded me with classmates who loved to read, immersed daily in the adventures of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. This reading list would reveal how I started off reading what friends and my favorite aunt enjoyed, what schools and colleges required, until I began to define my own reading path. This list would map the splayed trajectory of my learning, career explorations and personal growth aspirations; the countries I wanted to or eventually visited; the romance and lifestyle I longed for; the parenting advice I sought; the books I read to keep the conversation going with our young adults who live out of the house now.

As a photographer, I strongly recommend printing a dozen or so of your favorite pictures each year because your great grandchildren will not have the patience to sift through the thousands on your smartphone–assuming the unlikely scenario that their technology would be in sync with ours. Like a good photo collection, my fantasy reading list showing book titles and reading/checkout dates is an emotional diary of sorts, that celebrates what’s important in my life at that moment. They serve as a reminder of both what happened and what it meant then, bringing back memories that are hopefully perceived by the lens of appreciation for their gifts of growth and learning.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the collection of books that shaped your own fabulous history. As our lives keep getting busier, consider audio books a secret weapon that allows you to keep reading while driving, working and doing chores.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Boracay: A White Beach Island Guide

 

Everyone must believe in something.

I believe

I should go to the beach.

inspired by Groucho Marx

 

 

Looks like an early white Christmas already where I am in the Northeast. As an island goddess, I prefer a white beach Christmas so it’s fortunate that I know exactly where to escape to.  With its archipelago of almost 8,000 islands, the Philippines has three that rank among Travel & Leisure’s top beaches in the world. Among its 6.6m tourists last year, about a third visited Boracay, a relatively small island measuring 3.98 square miles with a local resident population of only 30,000. You can dive and snorkel through top notch reefs, enjoy a variety of waters sports, go island hopping, kayak or canoe, hike trails and waterfalls, chill on a lounge chair or beach bar, all the while enjoying the help of smiling locals everywhere you turn.

A couple of decades ago, Boracay certainly was idyllic with its throw back in time feel amidst thatched roof hut accommodations.  As late as 2012, Travel+Leisure declared it the best island in the world for the powder soft sand on its White Beach. These days the main stretch of white beach feels more like Florida’s South Beach party town with hotels and restaurants of all stripes shoe horned one after another.

Getting to Boracay  An hour’s flight from Manila gets you to Caticlan (the Kalibo International airport option is farther away), followed by a ferry ride from the Caticlan Jetty Port and a drive to your hotel. Caticlan is a small airport that allow small aircrafts so luggage weight restrictions are strictly enforced. Book transfers ahead with Island Star Express or My Boracay Guide with your preferred level of service.

If that sounds like too much work, consider a hotel that includes inter-island transfers like the luxury T+L favorite Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa, where guests can arrive via speedboat directly from Caticlan to the resort’s private jetty.

Which beach?  Of the island’s 12 beaches, White Beach lives up to its name except it can get busy because most of the island’s shopping, nightclubs and hotels are found here. Spanning 2.5 miles of the island’s west coast, it is divided into three “stations.”

When to go  The weather in Boracay, like most of the Philippines, is either hot or hotter.  Prime travel season runs from Christmas until May. January gets extra busy with the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival–the Philippine version of Mardi Gras–and the annual water-sports competition, the International Funboard Cup. Given a choice, I’d pick the shoulder season (October to November), when temperatures have  cooled down after the monsoon rains of July/August. Low season is June to September if you don’t mind rain and wind.

Where to Stay  To get away from the maddening crowd, The Shangri-la Resort and Spa makes you feel like you’re on a private island because it sits on a sheltered bay at Boracay’s pristine northern coast. Heaven must be not unlike staying at a quiet villa looking out to peaceful blue waters with a friendly butler at your beck and call.  The resort’s layout offers rooms with spectacular vistas of lush green scenery and azure ocean views from every vantage point. TheIe hotel airport transfer takes you on a speedboat directly to the property so you need not suffer the usual drive-ferry-drive routine.

If you want relative quiet without having to spend as much money while having the option to walk to the action on White Beach, you want to be at the  farthest end of Station 1. There are Airbnb beach front homes like Mayumi Villa and Robinson Beach House next to The Lind. These are the better beach front hotels on Station 1:

The Lind Hotel is a high rise with modern facilities, a good sized swimming pool, and the only beach front space for weddings/parties.  Their restaurant has pretty good food, too, if the tender grilled octopus and cucumber mint slushee are an indication.

Friday’s Boracay is among the older properties (since 1982) without a pool but their restaurant has an unobstructed beach view while their accommodations are the closest thing you get to going native.

Ambassador in Paradise is a narrow property with a lap pool. Their restaurant spreads out amidst coconut trees featuring a raw seafood bar set up on a quaint little boat in the evenings.

Boracay has gotten overbuilt so I find it a bit stressful to get to with the traffic and before with the throngs on the beach at sunset. The government’s clean-up initiative in the past year has banned sandcastle artists and other beach entrepreneurs but has not remedied the eyesore of dilapidated and abandoned properties amidst better hotels. But with more than 7,500 other islands to choose from, I’ll have to feature a couple other options on future posts

Click on “Leave a comment” (top left) to share your favorite winter escape. (Photos on this page are from Google Images.)

xoxox

Shangri-la Resort & Spa’s beach cove

Friday’s Boracay beach front

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

Life Sketching

 

Who is she?

She is your power, your feminine source.

When she calls, you will know you’ve been called.

It is up to you to answer.

Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

 

Conception and creation are the highest divine powers of womankind.  When we dissipate our energy with doubt, resentments, distractions, or being spread too thin, frustration is a natural consequence. The comforting non-judgment, loving patience and healing hands of conception catalyst, Mica DeSantis, help you reclaim your personal power and gather energy back to your feminine center. She specializes in helping women clear emotional and mental blocks that get in the way of their ability to conceive children, life direction and purpose.

Whether you seek relief from the sorrow of a miscarriage, overcome an inability to conceive or envision new possibilities, Mica will help you move forward with your life.  For more on Mica’s journey and offerings, visit LifeSketching.com.

Mica is a Powerful Goddess in recognizing that a woman’s joy is power!  When a woman owns the key to the best use of her time and energy, she unlocks the path to an authentic life, harnessing innate talents and abilities to bring happiness to others.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you’ve claimed the key back home to 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

 

 

Best Books for Your Beach Bag 2018

 

At the beach one summer, my wife remarked: ‘Boy, are you skinny!’

I replied: ‘Honey, it’s minor defects like this

that keeps me from getting a better wife.’

Lou Holtz

 

Heat is upon us and I see beach! What’ll be in your tote for whiling away the hours as you bake the perfect tan?

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

A murder mystery by the queen of summer beach reads. Over all weddings in Nantucket this season, the Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be the event of the summer. That is, until the maid of honor is found dead the morning of the special day. Soon, everyone is a suspect, and they’ve all got something to hide.

 

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

Meet Peter Rashkin in 1965 Manhattan, the handsome bachelor owner and head chef of the popular restaurant, Masha’s. He is also a survivor of Auschwitz, where his wife and daughters died. When an up-and-coming model catches his eye, they begin a whirlwind romance. But that’s just where the story begins. Spanning three decades, The Lost Family is a beautiful story about love, family, and the legacy of loss and how it defines us.

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.

Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins

Irish comedienne Maeve Higgins’s wickedly funny collection of 14 essays deliver on her promise to reach beyond the self while addressing such topics as Rent the Runway, a designer-clothes rental service, and the Muslim travel ban with incisive humor and deep humility. In her exceptional essay, “Pen as Gun,” about teaching a comedy workshop in Iraq, questions that begin with the self give rise to political and global considerations: “What if comedy, and creativity, these nebulous things I’ve devoted all these years to, are, in the grand scheme of things, unhelpful? Or even pointless?” Higgins has the rare gift of being able to meaningfully engage with politics and social ills while remaining legitimately funny.  

A Bite Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment by Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell

For the Francophile and travel bug, pack this one for the road — or if you’re simply hungry. Nothing better than relating the history of French food and wine with its history from ancient times through today.

 

Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O-Brien

Let’s call it the Hidden Figures rule: If there’s a part of the past you thought was exclusively male, you’re probably wrong. Case in point are these stories of Amelia Earhart and other female pilots who fought to fly.

 

The Dependents by Katharine Dion

How well do you really know your partner? After 50 years of marriage, Gene suddenly loses his wife, Maida. When their grown daughter returns home, old memories resurface and Gene’s long-held narrative of his own family’s life begins to unravel. Must we bridge the chasm between what makes us happy believing and what we ought to know as truth?

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Three lifelong best friends. One dark secret that will reverberate for generations to come. Told in multiple timelines of the present and the past, this is Southern fiction at its best. A novel about dreams, friendship, and family that makes you long for home.

 

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Darkly funny, Number One Chinese Restaurant looks beyond red tablecloths and silkscreen murals to share an unforgettable story about youth and aging, parents and children, and all the ways that our families destroy us while also keeping us grounded and alive.

 

Fight No More by Lydia Millet

In her first story collection since Love in Infant Monkeys (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), Lydia Millet explores what it means to be home. Nina, a lonely real-estate broker estranged from her only relative, is at the center of a web of stories connecting fractured communities and families. She moves through the houses of L.A.’s wealthy elite and finds men and women both crass and tender, vicious and desperate. With wit and intellect, Millet offers profound insight into human behavior from the ordinary to the bizarre: strong-minded girls are beset by the helpless, myopic executives are tormented by their employees, and beastly men do beastly things.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your reading list recommendations here. Our beach bag is ever grateful to the Kindle!

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Mom & Me & Mom

 

God made Adam first

because He didn’t want any advice

from Eve on how to make Adam.

Anonymous (who is usually a woman)

 

 

To celebrate Women’s HERstory month and International Women’s Day, I wish to express my gratitude to the village of women who blessed my life with a wide range of talents, courage, wisdom, laughter and relentless optimism. I think back on their constant love and generosity through pain and difficulty reading Maya Angelou’s autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom:

My mother’s gifts of courage to me were both large and small. The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin. The large lessons are highlighted in my memory like Technicolor stars in a midnight sky. Her love and support encouraged me to dare to live my life with pizzazz, doing what I never knew I was capable of as a black woman: a conducturette, singer, dancer, broadway performer, poet, screenplay writer, author, movie director, teacher, speaker, etc.

I had thought that I was a writer who could teach. I found to my surprise that I was actually a teacher who could write. One day, an invitation to be a distinguished visiting professor at England’s University of Exeter stunned and thrilled me. I thanked the administration but said I couldn’t leave my mother who was gravely ill. When she heard I had rejected the invitation, she whispered “Go. Show them you spell your name W-O-M-A-N. I’ll be here when you get back!”

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the story of your favorite woman.

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

 

 

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