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

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

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

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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

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irving’s Woman

 

Clothes make the man.

Naked people have little or

no influence on society.

Mark Twain

 

Irving Penn and Lisa Fonssagrives

 

The month’s iconic birthday boy is Irving Penn, born June 16, 1917.  He spent 66 of his 92 years at Vogue, creating an unprecedented 165 covers—more than any other photographer in its history.  He is remembered for luminous couture compositions shot in natural light as much as his portraits that seemed to reveal hidden selves of sitters from famous celebrities, indigenous folks and people next door, to local tradesmen. For his iconic backdrops, he worked with a discarded theatrical curtain in the studio and random scenes around the streets of Paris.

It was at Vogue’s historic shoot of the Twelve Beauties, the first group portrait of the popular models of the era, that he met the fabulous woman considered to be the original supermodel who eventually became his wife and muse for 42 years, Lisa Fonssagrives. How can a woman resist a man who chooses her over several other lovelies?

What is most remarkable about this artist famous for his fashion portraits is that he didn’t even like fashion. He wanted to be a painter but when that didn’t pan out, his friend hired him to work at Vogue’s art department. When the reigning Vogue photographers of the time could not deliver the modern look that he sought to give the magazine a fresh look for the next generation of women, he picked up the camera himself, diligently applying his technical and artistic skills to successfully deliver his aesthetic. Aside from paid assignments, he constantly pursued his own personal projects shooting flowers, still life, etc. This is an essential practice to consider when we feel stuck and uninspired. Very useful, too, for those who are confused and made lame by the pandering philosophy of “follow your passion” when there’s no obvious passion in plain sight.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you keep your heart’s fire burning.

xoxox

All photos on this page are from Google Images.

Twelve Beauties, Vogue 1947

 

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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!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Frida

 

Nothing is worth more than laughter.

It is strength to laugh

and abandon oneself.

Frida Kahlo

 

The portraits on my previous blog post was inspired by the iconic Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), the precursor of the “selfie.” Frida was a passionate, multi-faceted Mexican artist known for her self-portraits as for the flowers she wore over her unibrow.  She was extraordinary in her triumph over physical deformity and channeled her creativity–even as she was bedridden–through paintings, journals and her self-styled dress. Despite her humble beginnings, Frida Kahlo claimed fame as a talented artist with her own unique vision that could not be ignored despite her diminutive frame and name beside her literally larger than life husband.

The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes

This book includes Frida’s journals written in her own script with brightly colored watercolor illustrations and sketches from the last decade of her life, her thoughts, poems, dreams reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, Mexico’s famous artist.

Not to be a tease (though I do love being one,) the Brooklyn Museum’s Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving retrospective closes this Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.  Since tickets are all sold out to this show, here’s a book that may make up for what you may have missed.

Making Herself Up by Claire Wilcox

On Kahlo’s death, her husband, Diego Rivera (1886–1957), ordered that her most private possessions be locked away until 15 years after his death. The bathroom in which her belongings were stored in fact remained unopened until 2004. This book serves as an archive, giving readers a unique window into Kahlo’s life. It features personal items from her prosthetics, jewelry, and clothes with self-portraits, diary entries, and letters, building an intimate portrait of the artist through her possessions in the context of her political and social beliefs.

Frida the 2002 film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, stars Selma Hayek and Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera, Frida’s mentor and husband.

Help save the planet with this unique and artsy re-usable tote or gift bag from Etsy by ArtByMia.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you love about your favorite artist.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Birds and Bees

 

The only time a woman

has a true orgasm

is when she’s shopping.

Joan Rivers

 

It is magical how spring blooms suddenly take over the landscape and just like that, nature is in the mood to frolic and play! With flowers come the fluttering of birds and bees, bringing to mind how we might send off our young adults out into the world with eyes wide open to the politics of sex, that they may choose to take charge of their sexual experiences instead of being hapless victims.

Each of these musings could use a blog post all its own, but for now, feel free to add your wisdom on what we can pass on to those who are learning to make personal choices as they navigate their way and bloom into their own powerful radiance.

Be fully present. You want a partner who is willing to care about your pleasure and satisfaction, not just his own. Druggies and drunks can’t possibly make great lovers with their impaired motor skills, plus such indulgences are just the tip of the iceberg masking personal baggage you don’t need to complicate your life. Choose quality people to allow into your bed. Make contraception and personal safety your business to minimize exposure to violence, recrimination and the basic humiliation of zero recognition the morning after.

Dress the way you want to be treated. It is fascinating how sexy need not be trashy nor reveal much skin. While we are fortunate to live in a country where women are free to dress as we feel like, let us not be hypocrites and insist on being treated with respect when we wear provocative outfits. When traveling to cultures different from our own, do your best to dress like a local.

Respect those hormones. Sex education cannot be left to schools, the internet and their peers where the focus is superficial on body parts and mechanics. They skirt essential topics of human relationships, how hormones rule emotions and logic–and I’m not even talking about sex drive. Sex is a trigger to a hormonal domino effect on our biology and psychology which results in obsession and attachment to possible extreme “Fatal Attraction” crimes of passion. While there are means of protecting ourselves from STDs and pregnancy, there is no disconnecting the sex organ from the heart and ego.

There is no dignity in being victim. Our world is an animal kingdom with predators of all kinds, using power or weakness to wedge their way into our heart and/or pants. That is their job and overt predators aren’t even the worst! There are seasoned and very smooth operators who play the long game, earning your trust, pity and respect first. Their sob stories will be irresistible to your Inner Hero but do remember not all who appear to need rescue, want to be rescued and they will drag you down with their drama. Natural instincts are our best guide in sniffing people out. Keep your faculties sharp with clean living and pay attention to your emotions, both “good” and “bad”  for they are the means by which your soul and body communicate.  I know, I know–how will our economy survive if we all got smart and shunned medication and alcohol completely?!

Novels and movies lie. Don’t you just love those hot scenes of simultaneous and instantaneous orgasms? Makes most everyone feel like there must be something wrong with them or that, at least, they’re missing out on something. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski PhD is a reassuring voice letting us know that “normal” is highly personal. There’s nothing wrong if you can’t get wet, can’t orgasm with someone, or have to teach your partner how you want to be touched.

Let’s embrace and make the most of what we’ve got, recognizing that we are uniquely perfect in every other aspect of ourselves as we bloom and grow in this journey of life. Let it not be said nobody told you sex and power are currencies. Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you use them wisely.

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

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

Up The Vessel

 

Yes, of course, I’m athletic–

I surf

the internet everyday!

Anonymous

 

Though I don’t like walking without a destination that involves shopping or, at least, a snack, I firmly believe that all aerobic exercise should only be done outdoors, breathing fresh air.  Best scenario is when there’s a pretty view and luxury shopping to boot like at the newly opened “stairmaster” of New York City, The Vessel. Conceived by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, The Vessel is made of 154 flights of stairs in a fantastical shape, a welcome thrill for families to share and perfect enticement for anti-exercise heathens like me to be swept away by the adventure of exploring all levels even while wearing heels. When I meet Mr. Heatherwick, I’ll have to ask him if “The Pinecone” or “The Honeycomb” were runners-up in name selection for his creation because it looks to me like it’s waiting for a gigantic queen bee and her drones to arrive.  Humans crawling all over it look like mere ants!

Tickets to The Vessel are free but best reserved ahead (up to two weeks in advance) and since it’s the newest hot ticket in town, don’t be surprised if you find there can be such a thing as having to wait online before you physically wait in line.  Get there before The Vessel opens at 10:00 am if you’re not a fan of crowds and long queues, especially on weekends. Don’t bother hoping for a ride on its elevator–it’s only for the handicapped plus you’ll run out of patience waiting for your turn anyhow.

The Vessel sits in front of the Hudson Yards Mall leaving a sliver of a view of the Hudson River to only two restaurants:  Wild Ink and the second level of Estiatorio Milos.

New York did need an indoor mall for weather that’s wet, too cold or too hot.  But if you’ve heard the dig “The best thing about New Jersey is (it’s proximity to) New York?” Well, let’s just say whoever said that has not seen the elegance of space and light in the hallways of the Garden State Mall (also a Westfield property.) 😉

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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 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!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HERstory Month

 

I’ve always been famous,

it’s just that

no one knew it then.

Lady Gaga

March is as good a month as any to honor the achievements of notable women that shaped history. How differently would our cultures be if women and minorities were properly represented among the authors of the Bible and world civilization; were counted among the first students of universities and politics; were given proper pay and respect for all the (invisible) work that is required of the glue that keeps family and society together?  These are but a few things we can never know so let’s strive to find every occasion to pay tribute to game changers who have downplayed their power behind the scenes, subtly provided the light that allowed others to travel greater paths than her own, or allowed others to brazenly usurp credit for whatever reason. Next blog will be a list of some fun books on fabulous women ranging in popularity in the history we know. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for everyday heroines whose life stories may never get published.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you love best about your true to life favorite heroine.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legendary Karl Lagerfeld

 

You can be the chicest thing

in a T-shirt and jeans —

it’s up to you.

Karl Lagerfeld

 

A quiet moment to commemorate the passing of a genius in the fashion world. Karl Lagerfeld, the most prolific designer whose work touched the lives of many women, defined modern luxury fashion with a career that spanned far more than most of his contemporaries. Despite the fickle nature of hemlines and style trends, he firmly maintained the height of Chanel’s brand power to the 21st century as its Creative Director since 1983. He was also the visionary behind Fendi since 1965, in addition to overseeing his own line. How many designers can claim the ability to speak as many languages as they do with fashion branding?

“More than anyone I know, he represents the soul of fashion: restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to our changing culture,” Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue, aptly describes Mr. Lagerfeld. Even in his 80s, he was still designing an average of 14 new collections a year, ranging from couture to the high street, plus collaborations and special projects. “Ideas come to you when you work,” he said backstage before a Fendi show at age 83. I can only hope to grow up to have half his energy.

Season after season, Karl Lagerfeld wowed audiences of Chanel’s runway shows by taking over the Temple of Dendur at the Met Museum in New York and by transforming the Grand Palais in Paris to match his unique vision. Audiences at the Grand Palais have been transported to magical worlds, including a full scale rocket ship that took off as grand finale, a giant lion, a waterfall and a beach complete with splashing waves and lifeguard to look out for the models walking barefoot on the sand.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what magical vision you’d love to come true for you. Thank you for lighting up our world with your ever chic inspiration, Mr. Lagerfeld!

xoxox

All images on this page from Google/Getty.

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

 

 

 

Loving Thyself

 

True love comes quietly

without banners or flashing lights.

If you hear bells, get your ears checked.

Erich Segal

Valentine’s is the famous feast day of two popular saints: Hershey’s (chocolate) and Hallmark (greeting cards).  While it is not a big deal in France as it is in the United States, the seaside city of Deauville celebrated this day in 2010 with a reenactment of an old romance film:  A Man and A Woman by director Claude Lelouch. The movie ends with the tormented family man and a young woman (cliche, I know) finally reuniting on the beach. They run towards each other with arms outstretched, they hug, he lifts and twirls her in the air. We don’t see them kiss but we assume they will. Director Lelouch recaptured the magic with a couple hundred people–from teens to grandparents–some of whom drove hours to be there. The men lined up facing the women and at this eclectic group’s third try, Director Lelouch asked them to run towards someone they didn’t know.

Wouldn’t this be such a fun international tradition?

Until it is, I dedicate this Valentine to all who long for love to find them, whether too young to date, simply single or even those in a stale relationship. I want to know how you want to be loved and adored. Write a detailed description of all the small acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and caring that you want a lover to do for you. Perhaps an erotic love letter or poem, an finely prepared gourmet meal, a small present that makes your heart flutter, a sunset stroll, a candlelit bath with bubbles of the bottled kind… Then make this Valentine’s Day extra unique by doing what’s on your list for yourself.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you remember that you are the source of the truest love in all the world. Other people may come and go in our lives, but you, Dear One, should never abandon yourself. Ever! And have the happiest of heart days always!

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

 

 

 

 

Family As Strangers

 

If you think you’re enlightened,

go spend a week

with your family.

Ram Das

 

Growing up among cousins is a gift I wish I could give my own brood. While I have fond memories of this in my childhood, I look back as an adult and wonder, “How did my aunts, uncles, and grandparents navigate the politics of living together?” This Powerful Goddess is so blessed by her constant charm, beauty, and a super tight-knit extended family.  I tell my young adults:  That’s the kind of family you want to marry!

What is their magic?

We put our best face forward, stretch patience an inch farther, and find that extra ounce of consideration to bite our tongue around strangers. Yet after a work day wearing the mask of diplomacy around colleagues and clients, some come home to snap at whoever greets them at the door, forgetting that this person has had a long day, too.

When we are around our supposed loved ones, we feel way too comfortable to be ourselves and toss compassion to the wind. Our lives are so intertwined with theirs that we sometimes confuse their choices as personal affront. Who left this cup in the sink I just emptied again?!!!  It is scary knowing that they see all of who we are, they’ve seen us at our worst, and they know the precise combination of buttons to push us over the edge. Then there’s our human tendency to slack off and stop trying even as we expect these same people to hang around us in tough times.

Venting, while convenient in the moment, will naturally corrode any relationship over time. Pressing the pause button instead of exploding? There’s a gift we all can use more of!  If nobody is in the mood to see the situation from a different perspective, take a deep breath, go for a walk in the woods, and do what you need to distract and reboot.  Later, when everyone’s in a more receptive mood, preferably well-fed and rested, explain to the person how you feel when they act a certain way and what you prefer they say/do next time instead.

While who we are and whom we live with may already be baked in personalities, I hold on to the hope that each time I take a deeper breath and bite my tongue a bit shorter, the next generation might be watching and learning how to make a habit of compassion and assume the best of intentions in the closest of their relationships. Self-compassion and empathy are essential ingredients in this magic brew.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you stay cool and collected when it’s dark and stormy indoors or out.

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

 

 

 

Barcelona In Winter

 

It is the right of a traveler

to vent their frustration at every minor inconvenience

by writing of it to their friends.

Susanna Clarke

 

With all this forecast of snow that fails to show, I dream more and more of living in the Mediterranean where the weather is mild and the culture varied. I adore French style and Italian gusto, but food can win me over, especially fresh and tasty seafood served in appetizer portions that the Spanish call “Tapas.”  To inspire a stop in (if not a move to) Barcelona, here’s an easy itinerary that you’ll enjoy even in winter:

Start with a city bike tour to give your cramped airplane legs much needed exercise while covering a good chunk of the city. Whether renting bikes on your own or riding with a group tour, make sure you include the city’s beach front boardwalk. Locals and tour guides are your best resource for information on how much to tip restaurants/taxis, where to find the best of this and that, etc, so don’t be shy to ask! And see this woman running in the photo? That will never be me! 😉

Learn about local culture with a tapas tour by Barcelona Local Experiences where you sample traditional favorites in food and wine at four historic tapas bars.

Catch a Flamenco Show at the grand and gorgeous Palau de La Musica. If you’re a fan of architecture, the Palau runs guided tours to brag about its interiors which will allow you to admire the beauty of its glass dome with daylight.  If traveling with young ones, they’ll stay more awake at the Tablao Flamenco Cordobes (though I’m not a fan of its location in the touristy Ramblas) where dancers’ vigorously stomp their feet at eye level. For a casual yet sexier ambiance, book an after dinner table at the courtyard of Palau Dalmases.

Shop for fresh produce at Santa Caterina Market followed by a paella cooking class at Cook & Taste Barcelona. Their pretty kitchen in the middle of nowhere was a very lovely surprise. To make them easier to find, look for the Conessa sandwich shop at a corner of Placa de Sant Jaume and walk up the small street right beside the shop.

To appreciate the genius of Gaudi, your first stop among his creations should be the attic museum at Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera) where exhibits give you an idea of how this master architect took inspiration from nature in design and how he was able to calculate the weight bearing loads of the spiraling pillars for his building’s structures without mathematical formulas. For best photo lighting, time your rooftop visit of this apartment building right around sunset. The mid-afternoon is when you catch sunlight streaming beautifully through the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia. Casa Batllo has a fun theatrical tour only on Sunday afternoons with costumed characters relating the story of the pretend Batllo family and Gaudi.

Runner Bean Free Walking Tour has very capable and enthusiastic guides who deserve to be tipped generously.

Nightlife

Click on this Barcelona nightlife link for a comprehensive list aside from their newer nightclubs (Shoko, Carpe Diem, etc.) lined up on the boardwalk by the casino and Frank Gehry’s fish sculpture. The entrance to the clubs look like small pop up stores that make you wonder how they can possibly fit enough people for a wild party. They don’t. They actually use things called stairs and elevators to take you down to a lower level–where the umbrellas add additional dining options facing the beach. 😉

Where to stay

Not the W Hotel if you want a central location. For ease of walking in all directions, I love the Eixample neighborhood where the streets are wider than the old city sections of El Born or Barri Gotic. Around the two Gaudi houses of Casa Mila and Casa Batllo will situate you near Ramblas de Catalunya where locals shop. El Palace is my royal favorite. with its cozy retro nightclub lounge in the basement, featuring a jazz trio or vocalist on weekends.

Where to eat

Vinitus – Vinitus has 2 locations of tapas bars in Eixample. I enjoyed the smaller one with its cozy booths in some shade of blue. They don’t bother with reservations so go early and though I’m not a fan of bread pudding, you must find out why I had to have some.

Behind Casa Mila – Dora for the most tender and thinly sliced octopus and the feel of an old world neighborhood restaurant.

Placa de Sant Jaume is where many bike and walking tours meet. As I mentioned earlier, there’s the tiny sandwich shop called Conessa at one corner of the square that’s known to be the best in the city. Around another corner of the square, I enjoyed the high ceilings and food at Lonja de Tapas on Carrer Sant Jaume 1, 8.

Best Seafood Paella at Salamanca in Barceloneta and if you want to pick out your own live lobster, La Barca del Salamanca on the pier.

Best Churros in town is said to be at Xurreria Manuel San Roman, Carrer de Banys Nous 8.

El Nacional – I can’t vouch much for the food but you must see this former carpark that has been beautifully converted into a lively restaurant square with a selection of half a dozen dining options with a gelato counter up front. Ladies must check out their fun cabaret style powder room behind the stairs, too.

Located in the far northeast corner of Spain, Barcelona is a popular stop for cruise ships and a comfortable three hours from Madrid on the high-speed AVE train. Those who plan on renting a car can start in Barcelona, take the train to Madrid and sightsee Toledo, all before picking up a car — cleverly saving on several days’ worth of rental and parking fees.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best Barcelona travel tip.

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

 

 

Barely There

 

Forgot to make resolutions?

Just write everything you did last night

and at the beginning, add the word “Stop.”

@PeteHolmes

 

A most beautiful and tender welcome to 2019! I shall leave resolutions for others to make and break. Instead, I extend this invitation for all to embrace the new year with a gentle remembering and a return to the womb of woman.

Let us remember the moment of our birth, the time of owning nothing yet knowing that all is well. Remember screaming loudly for our desires without worry that they might  cause shame, guilt or regret. Remember not knowing that there could be some standard or measurement more correct than our own, that there can be separation between us and them, between our bodies, our planet and the heavens. Remember not knowing that we can possibly be unworthy.

Let us take this moment to remember when we knew we are true love itself, that all of who we are is good, whole and complete without missing or undesirable  parts. Let us remember why we have chosen to be a light on Earth, to be with the people who are in our lives right now, and to welcome those we wish to add to our circle of care and influence. Let us recognize and own once more our power to inhabit our bodies and desires fully, to choose peace, love, action, to keep an eye on the big picture, to remember that what seems to good or bad today may yet prove to be its inverse down the road.

While we may appear to be an inconsequential drop in the very wide ripple of consciousness and consequence, let us remember that we are like leaven unto bread and we make a difference anyhow, no matter how bare our little lives may seem.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what makes you feel grounded and powerful. Continued courage in your journey and thank you so much for loving on!

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

 

‘Tis The Season To Be Extra

 

I want to thank all the people who walked into my life

and made it outstanding,

and the people who walked out of it

and made it fantastic.

Anonymous

To bring 2018 to a resounding close, nothing beats making a list of what I’m grateful for. I share this tradition with my family using pen and paper on New Year’s Eve because a Gratitude Journal makes it easy to remember all the good for posterity. It’s also handy for a quick pick-me-up in moments of feeling down-dooby-doo-down-down.

Among my proudest moments this year was witnessing my teens act like adults who bring something to the table, chip in and help out without being asked. I was extra  proud overhearing the one who didn’t bother with presents last year ask his siblings first, “What do you want for Christmas, Guys?” I’m taking this as a sign I can retire from being Santa–though I doubt I’ll ever want to stop wrapping pretty things with red bows.

I  am honored by the kind and loving women who made the experience of creating the portraits shared on this blog a true pleasure! I am grateful for the devoted blog fans who spoil me with sweet comments, gifts and bright ideas.  I am blessed with great health, enduring love, and a world mostly at peace, by people who inspire me with their happy hearts and laughter, pride in their work, their gentle self acceptance. I admire those who persist and commit to what/whom they love even when that doesn’t love them back with equal passion, those who hang on to dignity and grace through hard times refusing to be identified as victim. I thank Arianna Grande for inspiring the young with her positive spin on heartbreak with the song Thank U, Next! (as soon as I got over my older generation shock at a word I deem unnecessary in the vocabulary of a beautiful woman. 😉 )

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what you’re extra grateful for this year. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me and have the merriest Ho Ho Ho!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

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