How To Spoil Mom


If you aren’t yelling at your kids,

you’re not spending

enough time with them.

Reese Witherspoon



Spending time with mom has much greater currency after Empty Nest when we can choose to reverse roles and spoil her during our visits.  No matter if we’ve only known her as a retired martyr, who wouldn’t tear up getting acknowledged for all she didn’t know she’d have to put up with, get blamed for, and live through? 😉

The essential skill of paying attention to the little things—the flowers and food she loves, the colors she prefers—unknowingly becomes the secret sauce of our success with other people at work, among friends and especially in our intimate relationships. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to hone this necessary skill because–one other little thing for our young ladies to note–how a man treats his mother is very likely how he’ll treat you! Learn from royal courtiers who best each other on ways to delight and impress the Queen though she already owns everything in the Queendom.

If she likes yoga, biking or hiking, think of an unusual setting. On the beach at sunset, perhaps?


If art or shopping is her thing, drive her to another city or quaint town for a spree.  If you’re out of town yourself, send a generous check or Amex gift card with the flowers.


Surprise her with a weekend escape or, to make it even more exciting, fly her out of the country. Find near or far destinations on


If she loves a party, plan a brunch or picnic outdoors and rachet up the WOW by using nothing disposable as any responsible mother of this planet would do.


And since she is the bind that links generations, let her golden chains always be 24k from


Click on “Leave a comment” (top right) to share how you’re celebrating the woman who was your entire world first, the woman who gave you the very best of her everything, the woman who showed you what true love really is. And may you find great pleasure in mothering your mom, too!



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

Text 201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Thanksgiving Guru


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie


Last week, I heard a woman speak about the definition of gratitude beyond what you find in a dictionary. I loved her reminder that gratitude is not only about being thankful for what we have, it’s about out ability to give in whatever capacity regardless of our own circumstances.

And when it comes to being charitable, is there a better place to practice than home?  Home–that place where it’s easiest to take people for granted, where biting one’s tongue is a daily mediation, where one’s divinity and charm get tested most passionately. Over the holidays, how do you channel your inner Buddha and keep a thankful heart amidst the wilderness of those you can’t live without nor can’t get rid of?

Meet on neutral ground.  A destination resort allows everyone to chill and enjoy each other without the stress of housekeeping, cooking, groceries and running the laundry.  All the more energy for all to behave graciously around each other.

Have a virtual visit. Skype, Facebook and FaceTime allow far-flung relatives to share adventures, open presents together, exchange knock knock jokes for hours with your four year old niece. Schedule calls after something exciting so children and teens will have more news to open a conversation.

Make a contribution. It is easy to fall back on the role of dependent when you’re in your parents’ roof so make a commitment to yourself to take on chores (and bills) without being asked. When my sister can’t visit my neck of the woods, she sends a special floral arrangement as our dining room’s centerpiece so she is always a remembered in our celebration.

Build in breathing space. If visiting relatives with children, stay at a nearby hotel or Airbnb to give the hostess down time. That way you can change venues when crankiness (either adult or juvenile) sets in. If your parents insist, let the children sleep over and you can get date night out of it.

Manage expectations. Of course, you’ll want to hang out with people you enjoy more–those we usually call “friends”. Just let the family know in advance so they don’t make plans that you’ll end up foiling.

Hang on to your sense of humor. Family is the wisest of all spiritual gurus–relatives never give up egging you until you surrender and find another perspective that allows you to make peace with the situation if not the person. Humor is my best defense. When someone starts to tip my tea and I’m at the brink of forgetting I am divine and sublime, I play worse case scenario  with myself “At least, (s)he’s not…”

It is with great pleasure that I share the poem above from a thoughtful guest who graced our table a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Its truth is clear and will resonate forever.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your greatest blessing this year. Know that I am thankful for you! Gobble gobble!







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

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman


Paris Charms With Teen

 A good holiday is one spent

among people whose notions of time

are vaguer than yours.

JB Priestley


Have you met a doorman as young as this?

What would you do if you just got back home from too many weeks on the road and your husband dares, “Can you get back on a plane tomorrow?” Do you say, “But this… but that…?” No! No! No! You book tickets the next day, tell your daughter to pack her bags, and get on a flight the day after. This sudden turn of events left my teen in a daze, “I can’t believe this is really happening!”–she thought the upcoming school break meant being glued to her pajamas and iPod. Nah!

This being her very first trip to Europe, our itinerary was designed to please her. “No museums,  no shopping,” she insisted. “No Disney, no queues,” I countered. We walked to and from the Seine, taking in magnificent architecture, pink skies, and painterly scenes at every turn.

At my favorite Pont Alexandre III, I found this scorpion catching the Eiffel. For the best portraits with the Eiffel as background, wake up before the tourists, head to the Trocadero and have that fabulous marble platform all to yourself!


Stay at the Paris Le Grand Hotel

2 Rue Scribe, 75009

+33 1 4007 3232

Love this elegant atrium where a piano man plays classical or jazz tunes in the early evenings. The Le Grand has large (for Europe) rooms at a most central location. The Opera’s golden facade and the metro are at your doorstep.



Bike Tour with Paris Charms and Secrets

Fancy seeing the city like Parisians on bikes? We did! But I must admit these electric bikes saved me from un-chic huffing and puffing!  History buff Xavier (or Paris Charms and Secrets founder, Olivier) takes you around the best sites, sharing little known facts of Paris lore. Make this your first activity upon arrival so you’ll know–among other secrets I’m not telling–which Louvre entrance has less of a queue than underneath that iconic pyramid. Take the afternoon tour and they’ll time a 6pm stop at the foot of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel.  My teen remarked, “If my history teacher told stories like Xavier, learning would be so much easier!” Ah-men!


When you’ve had too many macarons and can’t be bothered lining up for the sweets at Angelina, pick an eclair at L’eclair de Genie, 32 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 75002, phone +33 1 8479 2340.


Find Marie Antoinette’s last handwritten note (among other historical artifacts that belong in a museum) at the restaurant, Le Procope13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, 75006, phone +33 1 40 46 79 00.  We spotted a waiter calling Napoleon, “Will you ever pick up the hat you left here, Sir?”


I did make an exception to our “no museum, no queue” agreement with a day in Versailles. She had zero idea what Versailles was about so she cooed at the palace’s golden gates and lavish decor, walked wide eyed through the sumptuous interiors, and it was only after we finished touring the palace that it finally dawned on her, “You know, this is like a museum!” Aha!!! 😉  Here, I take a moment to commiserate with a statue underdressed for the winter’s cold.


Did I say “No ‘Buts'” when opportunity presents itself?

At the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles


If this trip weren’t such a whirlwind, I would have introduced my teen to Paris’ great artists before we got there.  She would have enjoyed a scavenger hunt of scenes from Monet’s “The Boathouse on the Seine,” Marc Chagall’s “Paris Through the Window,” Van Gogh’s “Sidewalk Café at Night.”

For walking tours, there is Paris Walks for daily local variety in different neighborhoods. For guides with academic backgrounds specializing in your area of interest, book a private tour with Context Tours. And when your teen can’t walk one more step, take a trip on a bateau-mouche, the glass-enclosed boats that ply the Seine, giving you a graceful overview of the city.

To see earlier Paris travel related posts, enter “Paris” in the search box on the top right of this page.  In the near future, I’ll list my favorite books set in Paris. Until then, click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your tips for Paris travel with teens. xoxox

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

%d bloggers like this: