“Like a baby, the conscious mind must sometimes be put to sleep during waking hours” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Jeanette Brown by © Lori Maloney

“I first met Jeanette in 2010 when she hired me to create portraits celebrating her participation in a fitness competition. Was a pivotal meeting as it provided my first inkling that ‘this’ – working with women – was what I wanted to specialize in and, we had such fun working together, Jeanette became my friend and has modelled for me a number of times since!

This beautiful woman is smart, kind, generous, dedicated, and fun…JB, I was so happy that we had a new opportunity to collaborate and I LOVED the location you chose, which, I feel, showcases your ability to gracefully ‘fit in’ to any environment easily and always with a touch of glam (those shoes)!!!

Happy birthday, my friend, and thank you for five years and counting of friendship and portraiture!

Life is beautiful!”

Image by © Lori Maloney

An Interview with Jeanette

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. My parents were registered Rottie breeders and a litter was born a few days before my birthday. This litter was extra special because we were keeping a female and she was going to be mine in all aspects including on paper. As I sat in the puppy pen with the proud momma (Cara) while she nursed her puppies, I gleamed at all of them but especially the little girls. DJ (name had been picked out for months) wasn’t a gift but a responsibility earned over many years of proving I could physically, emotionally and financially handle becoming a dog-owner. Spending my birthday with new life and new beginnings couldn’t have gotten any better.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. This was a bitter sweet birthday. I used to compete in fitness competitions and while this is an extremely rewarding sport, the actual process is draining. The bitter moment being that my birthday was on a Thursday and I was stepping on stage 2 days later which meant I was in “depletion”. Food was limited to tilapia and cucumbers, no wine, no cake, 2 workouts/day and consuming 9L of water a day. Let’s also note that competitions require you to have an airbrushed tan in which coat 1 was on that Thursday (in your birthday suit, how appropriate and humbling) which leaves you looking like an oompa loompa. zero carbs + 20 potty breaks/day + orange glow + tired = grumpy birthday girl. The sweet part of my birthday was knowing I was going to be stepping on stage in fabulous shape and knowing I gave it my all. That was also the very first time I was photographed professionally and it was by Lori. It could’t have gotten any sweeter than that.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. Nothing has really surprised me, but that’s ok since I’m a planner and I like to be able to anticipate what is coming my way.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I’ve been plagued with Celiac Disease before it was cool and I remember the first gluten-free dessert I tried which should not be consumed even by my worst enemy. Fortunately, I discovered that Chef Michael Noble created a gluten-free brownie that was actually delicious (Brownie just happens to be my nickname too). I make a point of having that scrumptious piece of heaven every year along with equally yummy espresso.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Don’t get hung up on your age and enjoy the simple things with your loved ones.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. Friends are family you choose and my ritual is to drink wine with as many of them as possible.