Angel In The House

 

Angels can fly

because they

take themselves lightly.

GK Chesterton

 

 

With so much restless energy long confined, frustration high in the face of 24/7 togetherness and unemployment, school/work from home has been a test on everyone’s patience and sanity, especially for those living in tight quarters or in abusive relationships, and even those who aren’t. With its incessant imposition on the benevolence and diplomacy of the women who run the home, how much longer can we hang on to our wings and halo when we’d rather shrug them off and go on a free fall from grace?

Victorians fondly referred to wives as their Angels in the House, the women who handled all responsibilities that get in the way of a man’s need to focus on his work and personal pursuits.  Twentieth century progress has multiplied that load requiring a woman to prove herself capable of a career of her own while continuing to cover all the domestic bases. She has to tread lightly despite frayed nerves, be tactful around other household members who prefer to remain innocent of chores required to run it.  She is somehow expected to maintain her gentle charm and sex appeal despite the constant exhaustion.

COVID casualties, street riots and black lives protests captivate concern on a global scale. Underneath it all, an even larger but ignored statistic bears the brunt of 24/7 duty, short fuses and stubborn wills on the domestic front.  Who looks out for the well-being of the woman whose capacities are continually stretched in all directions with no reprieve?  How are we to maintain our sanity, never mind the good looks?  Who cares to lighten the load for the tired angel in their house?

In behalf of all the wives and mothers, I send out this universal plea for extra affection, consideration and indulgence when the people we live with find us prickly, bitchy, and positively devilish.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you keep your angel wings and benevolent smile firmly glued on for a Happy Father’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 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 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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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 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

 

 

Sitting With Dignity

 

If you can’t beat them,

arrange to

have them beaten.

George Carlin

 

 

This Powerful Goddess greatly inspires many, keeping her cool through life’s challenges with quiet strength and constant optimism. She embodies equanimity in her elegant stance, reminding me of this excerpt from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are:

When you sit with strong intentionality, the body itself makes a statement of deep conviction and commitment in its carriage. A dignified sitting posture is itself an affirmation of freedom, and of life’s harmony, beauty and richness.

Even when you feel depressed, burdened, confused, sitting can affirm the strength and value of this life lived now. It can bring you in touch with the very core of your being, that domain which is beyond up or down, free or burdened, clearsighted or confused. This includes a deep knowing that whatever is present, whatever has happened to shake your life or overwhelm you, will of itself inevitably change, and for this reason alone, bears simply holding in the mirror of the present moment–watching it, embracing its presence, riding its waves of unfolding just as you ride the waves of your breath, having faith that you will sooner or later find a way to act, to come to terms, to move through it and beyond.

Happiest Birthday, O Powerful Goddess!  This earth has been greatly blessed by your gracious beauty and light. Wondrous possibilities await you in 2018, your best year yet!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you keep your feathers unruffled.

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

 

Wander Women

 

Our happiest moments as tourists

always seem to come when we stumble

upon one thing while in pursuit

of something else.

Lawrence Block

 

 

In planning a holiday, do you ever feel torn between your inner gym rat and spa goddess? I am definitely neither. I don’t see the point of giving up an hour of a good night’s sleep to workout before the start of what is already called a work day. I am confident sunsets are just as lovely as a sunrise. I do not have patience for enclosed chambers with scents or recycled air when my lungs are involved in aerobic exercise. My skin crawls at the thought of spandex, sneakers and extended lounging in bathrobes in public spaces. I question the regimen of standing (or even sitting) upright when the laptop has been ingeniously designed for a comfortable recline on the sofa.  And hard as I try, I simply can’t think of one good reason why I should be running when no one’s chasing me.

This December, I shall explore where I belong in the spectrum in between. I will give up my usual seat on an air-conditioned tour bus to join a National Geographic Expedition where the itinerary includes days of two to four hours on the kayak or hiking and six to eight miles of biking in 90 degree heat. Even without the physical strains, their recommended list of what to pack already tests the religion of my closet:  a hat with a chin strap, a rain jacket that blends with the crowd, sneakers, a backpack and a 44 lb. baggage weight limit for a two week trip. Holy Mother of Glam!

If you’d rather not be seen this underdressed in male company, Travel & Leisure recommends adventure companies that cater to female travelers only. Why not consider a new spin on the bachelorette party, the mother daughter weekend, the sisters bonding holiday, the stocking stuffer?

 

Adventures in Good Company  Specializes in expeditions in the U.S., like dog-sledding and snowshoeing on the shores of Lake Superior

Balanced Rock  This nonprofit’s yearly Women of Color Wilderness Retreats in Yosemite combine survival-skill building, yoga, and mindfulness exercises.

Wild Women Expeditions  Leads intimate journeys, like a horseback ride across Mongolia, designed to foster inclusivity.

Adventure Women  Books luxe trips, most lasting at least a week, to 26 destinations — like hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting in Colombia.

Explorer Chick  The company arranges backpacking trips in the American West and Appalachia, including a trek in the Great Smoky Mountains.

WHOA Travel   Climbing Kilimanjaro and other destinations like Bavaria, Peru, Nepal, Russia, and India.

REI Women’s Adventures  This outdoor-gear co-op leads ambitious expeditions, like a South Africa safari, and three-day Outessa retreats in California, Oregon, and New Hampshire.  Outessa is another REI brand.

Fit & Fly Girl   Daily workouts anchor retreats to party-friendly locales like Ibiza, Spain.

FP Escapes  The Free People clothing brand’s itineraries in places like Nicaragua’s Playa Maderas emphasize mind-body connection

Damesly  Hosts self-discovery workshops in Arizona, Hawaii, and Iceland.

One more that’s personally recommended by a friend who travels the globe year round:  Private Journeys  for small group luxury and exotic destinations.

Intimidated or not, I love National Geographic Expeditions for their commitment to environment conservation through sustainable travel and donating 27% of proceeds to the National Geographic Society, whose explorers and researchers are furthering our understanding of the planet.

A challenge is a good thing when you begin to think you have clearly delineated fences around your ways of being. Even if I don’t discover the Iron Woman in me, at least, the hotels will be fabulous and I’ll have a few laughs to share when I get back in January.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your most memorable, albeit unlikely, adventure.

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

 

Not Me Too

 

You have the power of choice.

But your forfeit it when you imagine you can choose for others.

Choose for yourself.

Harry Browne

 

 

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday

 

As a mother of both sons and a daughter, I wonder if the polarizing discussion on the rape culture most recently fanned by the “Me Too” movement on social media may be begging the question. There will always be different types of people in this world with a wide range of needs and motivations before considering hormonal influences and physical prowess, what starts out as fun can quickly devolve into something else entirely, individuals will behave differently as a group even before alcohol gets added to the mix, a grand slew of businesses will continue to amass wealth exploiting the sex, drugs and alcohol trifecta, our justice system will be forever slow and sometimes impotent, movies and the media profit from glorifying whoever can up their ratings while heroes, victims and villains will not always be how they appear. Regardless of who stands behind or in front of pointed fingers, how do we educate the young  about their personal sphere of influence and responsibility for choices they make?  How can both men and women enjoy their sexuality without resorting to force or blame? How do we keep our dignity in dealing with people and things beyond our control?

This blog is not the platform for a bottomless debate, so do click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) and share your favorite book that highlights the power of personal choice.

xoxox

 

Free Men, Free Women: Sex, Gender and Feminism by Camille Paglia

 

I Need Your Love–Is That True? by Byron Katie

 

Asking For It by Kate Harding

 

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

Working From Home

 

The motto every woman should repeat

(in the age of “Lean In”?)

Good for her! Not for me.

Amy Pohler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess photo shoot Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

Coming Of Age

 

Being an adult is mostly just

going to bed when you don’t want to

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

Pinterest

 

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

From Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From The Sea:

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Summer Cover Up

Deep summer 

is when laziness

finds respectability.

Sam Keen

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Best Beach Reads This Summer

Why do men have an easier time

buying bathing suits?

They only have two options:

nerdy and not nerdy.

Rita Rudner

Surf and sand beckon, at last–but wait!   Won’t a glorious tan bake more memorably with a riveting story?  Add some of these to your beach bag or kindle:

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Who doesn’t fancy a glamorous life with seven chances to get marriage right?

 

The Salt House

by Lisa Duffy

If you like crying behind your sunglasses, a tale of grief, hope, and change.

 

Before We Were Yours

by Lisa Wingate

Inspired by a true story, two generations of two families are forever changed by an injustice.

 

The Weight Of Ink

by Rachel Kadish

A sophisticated work of historical fiction set in London from the 1660s to the early 21st century, about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

 

Call Me By Your Name

Andre Aciman

To be released in theaters this year, this story is set on the Italian Riviera and reeks of summer where a teen discovers lust, love, and the aches of the heart when his family hosts a 24-year-old American scholar at their villa.

 

All The Lives I want

by Alana Massey

A collection of essays on pop culture figures who defined the author’s sense of self. Are you a Winona or a Gwyneth?

 

Startup

Doree Shafrir

Fun and breezy for milleneals who can’t unplug, is there an app to solve every problem?

 

The Destroyers

by Christopher Bollen

A thriller set under the Grecian sun, how far would you go when a wealthy friend’s kindness is bestowed with a few disturbing strings?

 

How To Be Everything

Emilie Wapnick

For those who continue to wonder what they want to be when they grow up, a feel good  tome on creating a path based on your unique variety of interests and passions.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what’s in your beach bag this summer. May the sun shine wherever you go!

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

Best Books About Her Story

Behind every great man

is a woman

rolling her eyes.

Jim Carrey

In honor of Women’s History Month, these novels celebrate the women who didn’t quite make it to our history books as well as their husbands did.  The stories are well researched, parallel real life events, and read like memoirs. Excellent gifts to pass on to your favorite women!

The Aviator’s Wife

How Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the dutiful wife and daughter who married aviation’s first hero, came to realize she had been the brave and fearless one all along

The Other Einstein

Not a great deal is known about Mileva Maric’s scientific contributions, since her husband, the genius Albert Einstein, was careful to relegate her to the shadows.

The Paris Wife

After reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, author, Paula McLain, was moved to write about Hemingway’s little known first wife, Hadley Richardson.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Would you mind very much having your own work published under your husband’s name?

Loving Frank

Would you leave your children and devoted spouse for one great love?

 Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your favorite memoir or novel about a woman whose story needs to be told.

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

The Year of Yes to “No!”

Let every new year

find you

a better man.

Benjamin Franklin

nyc-nj-ct-redhead-powerful-goddess-portraits-sharon-birke-8110548

I suspect my husband would prefer that I don’t take Ben’s quote (above) about finding a better man too literally. 😉 I also suspect New Year resolutions are just another way of making ourselves feel inadequate and never ever good enough. So how about pledging NOT to make resolutions in 2017?

Give “More” a break. Declare “I am enough, I have enough!” Focus on your strengths and build on what you’re good at. Love what you’ve got and find a feature to compliment each time you look in the mirror.

Eat what you like. Bless the food you eat instead of worrying about the calories and just choose from what’s made closest to the way nature made it: Fresh!

Don’t go to the gym. If you don’t like working out, don’t! Instead, make movement a normal part of your daily routine and walk to the farther ATM, bike daily to the grocery,  take the stairs at the office, dance when at a party, learn to cook so you stand in the kitchen for at least half an hour everyday.

Enjoy the mess! If you’re simply a fabulous creative thinker who thrives with stacks of this and that here and there, just minimize the clutter and give away whatever you don’t use or wear, want to clean or take care of, and whatever doesn’t spark joy.

If goals you must, set baby sized ones that make you feel like a rock star (instead of a failure shooting for the moon.)

There will always be more to want and do or things we could’ve done better. Swap the “If only…I should’ve…” refrain to “Next time…” Because even when things don’t work out the way we want them to, no one can ever take away our power to choose to find the gift in whatever life brings our way!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your naughty plans for 2017. Happiest of New Possibilities, Dear Ones!

xoxox

nyc-nj-ct-redhead-powerful-goddess-portraits-sharon-birke-8110528

nyc-nj-ct-redhead-powerful-goddess-portraits-sharon-birke-8110527

nyc-nj-ct-redhead-powerful-goddess-portraits-sharon-birke-8110556

nyc-nj-ct-redhead-powerful-goddess-portraits-sharon-birke-8110585

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

Best Coffee Blogs

I like coffee 

because it gives me the illusion

that I might be awake.

Lewis Black

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130057

Rise and shine with this Powerful Goddess and the best blogs about everything related to your morning coffee:

The Coffeetographer is set up like a magazine with pretty photos, coffee stories and other features.

The Coffee Adventures, a woman’s foray into the world of coffee roasting and brewing.

Coffee Brew Guides, a blog by Garrett Oden, a home brewing enthusiast.

The Coffee Concierge, Benji, reviews of coffee and coffee makers, recipes, brewing guides and experiments.

Pure Coffee Blog a fanatic’s guide to coffee and tea products and establishments.

Dear Coffee I Love You recommends gift ideas for coffee lovers.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your favorite resource for your cup of joe.

xoxox

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130048

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130040

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130051

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130031

NYC-NJ-CT-vintage-lingerie-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits-130027

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

Best TED Talks by Women

Women are made 

to be loved,

not understood.

Oscar Wilde

 

To celebrate Women’s History Month 2016, here’s a short list of my favorite TED talks by women to inspire all. Enjoy!

The Secret to Desire in Long Term Relationships by Esther Perel

Our need for comfort and stability in a relationship goes against what feeds desire. What to do?

 

Why 30 is Not the New 20 by Meg Jay

Raising teens? A few things to think about…

 

Can we “Have it all”? by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Can we ever live and let live on the matter of our life choices?

 

The Opportunity of Adversity by Aimee Mullins

What’s a gorgeous woman to do without legs?

 

The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What is the untold version of the story you believe in?

 

Be an Opportunity Maker by Kare Anderson

How can you use our talents if you’re “phobically shy”?

 

The Price of Shame by Monica Lewinsky

How do you move forward from being shamed on a grand scale?

Why Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads by Dame Stephanie Shirley

How a child refugee of Nazi Europe made her life worth saving

Dare to Disagree by Margaret Heffernan

Is loving people who don’t think like us worth it?

How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over by Mel Robbins

How to get what you really want, just pick one!

 

The Person You Really Need to Marry by Tracy McMillan

Divorced three times, what if he isn’t the one–again?

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

 

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

 

 

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: