Sleepless at Fifty

 

 

Looking back, it seems to me

that I was clueless

until I was about fifty years old.

Nora Ephron

 

 

A handful of women I know are celebrating their 50th birthday with some trepidation.  Having had a couple of years’ head start, I am here to assure everyone that the water is perfectly fine! The perks of this golden age include the 20/20 vision of hindsight–The more years you rack up, the clearer things get!

The quote (above) on turning fifty is by Nora Ephron, a prolific journalist, author, and filmmaker whose books, newspaper columns and magazine feature articles were irreverent as they were funny.  Widely known for her trilogy of romantic comedies starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail. I love this woman for her courage in frankly writing about the best and the worst of her life, including the screenplay for the witty movie about her husband’s infidelity in the middle of her pregnancy. I love her evolving collection of five adjectives that she chooses to describe herself with each passing decade. Admirably, “victim” was never among them even through the cancer that eventually claimed her life to the great grief and surprise of friends and colleagues whom she chose to keep in the dark until the end.

Her commencement address to the Welleslay graduates of 1996 is relevant to the rest of us today:

When I was your age, I would have described myself as ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single.  Ten years later, not one of those things turned up on my list. I was journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today, not one of those things turn up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy. Whatever those five things are for you today, they won’t make the list in 10 years–not that you still won’t be some of those things, but they won’t be the five most important things about you. Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you break the rules and make a little trouble out there… The first (half) of your life is over. Welcome to the best years of your lives!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share the five most important things about you in this brave new decade.

All photos on this page from Google Images

xoxox

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Fearless in Style

 

People often ask, “You have so much confidence.

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

One day I decided that I was beautiful then

carried out my life as if I were beautiful.

Gabourey Sidibe

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

When in Rome: Best Photo Locations

 

Sometimes the road less traveled

is less traveled

for a reason.

Jerry Seinfeld

 

What is your favorite corner in the Eternal City?

Piazza Navona

This is my favorite piazza for its open space, sculptures in fountains and its nightlife of hawkers, locals and street artists. This is the neighborhood I consider central for booking a hotel to stay in because I can walk in every which direction to different neighborhoods.

 

The Tiber River

There are lots of points along this river that you could use. Here are three of the most popular choices.

  • The view to St Peter’s Basilica – The view down to St Peter’s from Ponte Sant’Angelo is one of the best in Rome. Certainly the best along the river Tiber. Aim for sunset and blue hour to make the best of this location.
  • Castel Sant’Angelo – Looking along the same bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo, is Castel Sant’Angelo. The lines of the bridge leading up to the Castel offer another great photo from this location.

 

Altare de la Patria (aka Vittorio Emmanuel monument or The Typewriter Building)

The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) is an imposing structure with striking architecture. Get up close to get interesting details of the sculptures. You can take the elevator to the top for the views.

 

Spanish Steps

Always crowded with tourists because it’s iconic and has been featured in popular movies set in Rome. New regulation does not allow people to sit on the steps anymore which takes away from its personality.

 

The Colosseum

Among the “new” 7 Wonders of the World is the Colosseum. Can you imagine its glory days when the entire structure was wrapped in white marble? There are plenty of good options for photographing this masterpiece, so let’s look at some of the potential photographs you could take.

Arriving at dawn means you can photograph the Colosseum with no people with the bonus of catching the sun peak through its arches.

Trevi Fountain

Completed in 1762, this still counts among Rome’s most popular tourist attractions.  Its statues are dramatic backdrops for portraits if you can avoid the crowds by waking early or elbowing your way to the front row.  Crowds can provide an important narrative element to a photo, giving the image context and life. To get the best of crowds in a photo you’ll want to get above them.

 

The Pantheon

This building has a lovely dome with genius construction in allowing rain to fall from the hole in its center and flow down the gently sloped marble floors with built in drains. If you get lucky at night to catch its front foyer lit, you can create a fun picture with someone in the spotlight juxtaposed with the gigantic pillars.

For a wide shot of the entire building, come at twilight when it is lit up and you’ll have the blue skies to complement the yellow glow of lamp lights.

 

St. Peter’s Basilica

Get lucky with the Pope’s appearance or enjoy the details in the architecture and the mosaics that look like very fine paintings.

Best time to photograph  Arrive early to avoid queues at tourist locations. Sunrise and sunset are fun for playing with shadows. The twilight hour after sunset is magical when the sky is that shade of blue that complements the brightness of streetlamps.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite corner in the Eternal City. All photos on this page from Google images.

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

 

 

One Perfect Speech Coach

 

It’s all right

to have butterflies in your stomach.

Just get them to fly in formation.

Rob Gilbert

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

xoxox

 

 

 

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

The Unusual Selfie

 

The best advice I’ve received is

”No one else knows

what they’re doing either.”

Ricky Gervais

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxox

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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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

 

 

Greece To Me

 

It’s nice to know that there are Greek gods out there,

because you have somebody to blame

when things go wrong.

Rick Riordan

 

To begin celebrating empty nest, let me take you along on a European adventure that I will feature over the next few months with glimpses of Croatia and Italy. First stop, Athens!

After seeing some ruins one moonlit night 1867, Mark Twain concluded “We have seen all there is to see,” and set sail for the islands. I have met a few travelers who share this attitude thus I have not hurried to visit. If there is truth to Athens’s reputation as ugly, dirty, even dangerous, that you should get in and get out as quickly as you can, then we can, at least, spend a day there. If you need to check off the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Agora, etc. off your list, arrive early in the day so you might spare yourself a long queue before the heat gets miserable. I feel sort of “been there, done that” after a well-traveled tour guide in Sicily assured me that the Greek ruins in Sicily are far better preserved than those in Greece so my brief stop in Athens will be about mingling among people, not stones.

Stay at the Hotel Grand Britagne (photo at top of page) if you’re a fancy old world Europhile. I like that its location straddles the Kolonaki and Plaka districts so you can walk either way. They have the best views from their rooftop restaurant and bar. The rooftop of the Electra Metropolis Hotel gives you an even better close up view of the Acropolis.

For the quiet romantics who prefer a boutique hotel experience, check out the quaint Palladian Home in the Plaka.

Check out the upscale Greek version of Eataly at Yoleni’s in the higher-end Kolonaki district where you will find a bit more foliage amidst the hilly streets of shops and restaurants. The Travel Porter blog lists where to dine and shop in this neighborhood.

In the shadow of the Acropolis, the Plaka is like a village within the city for those who don’t have time to island hop. It’s arguably the nicest commercial neighborhood in Athens without car traffic.  Even regular tourist shops have amazing postcards to make your friends wish they had traveled with you. I’m happy to breach my “no jewelry shopping as a tourist” rule to find a truly golden souvenir from Byzantino Jewelry store (120 Adrianou Street), an artist-owned shop that makes quality modern jewelry, as well as copies of ancient museum pieces. 

To keep kids of all ages occupied while you browse, send them to the nearby Children’s Museum, the Music Museum or for art lovers, the Frissiras Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Painting at 7 Monis Asteriou Street. The only museum of its kind in Greece, it houses a private collection of contemporary paintings and drawings as well as temporary exhibitions by Greek and European artists in two fully renovated neoclassical buildings of the 19th century.

Cafes may be pricier on the main roads (Kydatheneon and Adrianou) and around the squares, but they are worth the fun of people watching. Everyone who comes to Greece walks down these two streets, true crossroads of civilization.

Cine Paris is the best outdoor movie theater in Athens with a bar, featuring movies in English with Greek subtitles. The theater is on the roof with a view of the Acropolis so you can get lucky and witness the colors change during its sound and light show. This is also one of the best places to browse and find unique gifts for movie fans because their shop sells the Greek versions of movie posters from the 60’s to today.

For those who need their ouzo, stop by Brettos Liquor store. This was the oldest distillery in Athens. Admire the old barrels and the colored bottles that line the walls all the way up to the ceiling. It has a tiny bar where you can get drinks by the glass.

George Dolkas T-Shirt and Swatch Shop may be your best bet at finding those last Olympic Pins people fanatically collect and trade. He offers the more tasteful shirt collection in the Plaka. If you walk up Kekropis Street next to the T-shirt Shop, you will find the small workshop of Dimitris Koutelieris (14 Kekropis Street) on your left. Dimistris makes furniture and art out of recycled objects and materials. His creations include smaller pieces that you can carry home with you.

Anafiotika is the cluster of small houses built on the slopes of the Acropolis above the Plaka. The name Anafiotika is from its original inhabitants who were stone masons  from the island of Anafi who built Athens in the mid-19th century.   Anafiotika is as close as you can get to imagine wandering around the back streets of a Greek island like Mykonos without leaving the city.

I found the best picture of Anafiotika on this blog post with a cheeky title on Athens Insider: If Athens Were a Dating App, Which Way Would You Swipe?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your Athens favorites. (All images on this page from Google.)

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Doors

 

Birthdays are good for you.

Statistics show that the people who have the most

live the longest.

Larry Lorenzoni

 

A very Happy Birthday to this Powerful Goddess of many talents and to all of us, summer beauties, as we welcome another year of opening doors for possibility, adventure, or simply enjoy the pleasure of seeing what’s always been in front of us with new eyes!

Excerpt from That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek by Cheri Huber:

Letting go allows us to see that we are never in control in the first place.  “Do you really mean that I have no control over my life?”  Not in the sense that we usually mean it.  You can write the script, but you’ll need a lot of cooperation for the play to go the way you’ve written it.  That’s a lot to expect, especially when you consider that everyone else has a script that doesn’t read anything like yours.

You can make plans, you can make decisions, you can make choices, but there’s no guarantee that things will go the way you expect or want them to.  When you can see that, when you can act without attachment  to the outcome, you are acting from the center that knows it does not control life, even as it knows it is life itself.

Letting go is releasing our grip on delusion, allowing us to see what is.  When we stop resisting what is, when we stop clinging to our beliefs and assumptions about how things should be, we open ourselves to the present moment.  Letting go goes hand in hand with acceptance.  One does not happen without the other.  Letting go is opening the hand.  Acceptance is what the open hand receives.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you welcome a new day and an exciting new year!

xoxox

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Next

 

Make the most of yourself,

for that is all there is

of you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All images on this page are from Google.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fathers On Love

 

Learn from other people’s mistakes.

We will never live long enough

to make them all on our own.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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201 697 1947

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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

 

 

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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!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

Books for Women’s History

 

There is nothing new in the world

except the history

you do not know.

Harry S. Truman

Fortunately for the women and girls of our generation, we stand on the shoulders of courageous heroines–many unsung–who have paved the path of our many liberties.  Add to this list of books on the less known versions of Herstory.

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon. The ubiquitous Monopoly game, widely attributed to Charles Darrow who sold the rights to Parker Brothers in 1935, was designed 31 years earlier by Elizabeth Magie as The Landlord’s Game to help people understand the risks monopolies pose to society.

Who Cooked The Last Supper? Rosalind Miles retells history from woman’s point of view since we can’t blame the all male cast of writers of the Bible and early printed texts for making themselves the star heroes.

Clementine, The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchillby Sonia Purnell. Women get much practice at diplomacy running a home and, fortunately for socially obtuse men like Winston Churchill, he had a devoted advocate and private coach in his wife to overcome both personal and political obstacles.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly on the untold story of black women mathematicians who helped the U.S. win the Space Race.

Headstrong by Rachel Swaby on 52 women who changed science and the world with important breakthroughs in the fields of medicine, biology and the environment, genetics and development, physics, earth and stars, mathematics and technology, and invention. 

Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon. A groundbreaking dual biography brings to life a pioneering English feminist and the daughter she never knew.  Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley were outliers of their time, precursors of the modern women.

Women In The Shadows by Edith Borchardt.  Biographies of five brilliant and talented women born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Mileva Einstein-Marić, Margarete Jeanne Trakl, Lise Meitner, Milena Jesenská, and Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. A translation of Charles S. Chiu’s tribute to these women’s accomplishments, which were overshadowed by those of the famous men in their lives.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite book that casts a feminine light on the stories we shall tell the future generation.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

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

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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