Embrace Your Face

by | Aug 14, 2022 | 0 comments


Boxes, poxes and more poxes of boxes. Please no box, I’m done box. I don’t want to be in a box. Why does everything we do need a label box? A box for this, a box for that, a pox, a box on your house. Specificity down to the boxatomic level. Why can’t I be Aleks box, and you be you box, Jimbo Box, Bob Box, Sally Box, Dana Box or Bruce Box? I don’t wanna be a box box, and neither does the art that we create only to be suppressed by flox.

I am not a digital creator box. I loathe this word with the passion of a thousand suns. The photos we make together don’t have to have a purpose box. Sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the beauty captured in that moment, and not necessary for a thousand other uses box. Commercial sure, I get that, but portraits, that’s the soul and there is no box for that. That being said, don’t put me in the Artist Box. 

I’m, (you are), whatever you/I choose to be that day. I may make photos today, play with an orchestra
tomorrow, curate and design a magazine next week, make the best coffee on planet Earth, (try me, I dare you) but that depends on the day, the mood, and a myriad of other things that life box throws at me/us. But this box thing is for the box birds. 

You need KARJAKA? You got KARJAKA, for boxes better or worse. So please, no more boxes. Now excuse me while while I adjourn myself to my studio box.  

Embrace Your Face with Tania Sterl

Do you feel confronted when getting your portrait taken? For most, getting a portrait taken can be uncomfortable, at first, after all the photographers right up in your face! Pressure to perform, look your best, not make a funny face, and wonder “what is my face doing?” and so on. And you’ve got one shot to get it right. (no pressure, right?) Your portrait is meant to showcase who you are to the world. 

Usually, I am the personal stylist behind the scenes, styling clients in a manner that expresses their personality. But this time, it’s me in front of the lens.  As a stylist, I am also a speaker, vlogger, and former model, so I do have to face the camera on a regular basis. But don’t we all? Have to face the camera, face ourselves on zoom, face ourselves in the mirror every morning as we get ready for our day, and put our “best face on.”

And yet – I facing the camera, I still get confronted. Facing my face every morning, too. Turning 50 this year, I notice, the tired eyes, more lines, the skin on my neck changing different from my face. 

So this particular portrait session was an experiment in going more raw, more bare, more simple. As a personal stylist and fashion lover, I usually rely on my dynamic attire to express who I am. While this time, we went clean, simple, bare, in my husband’s white shirt, minimal makeup. No feathers or fur, no designer jewelry or stiletto heels, no sparkles or sequins to flourish my appearance. Just me and my face: Raw. Bare. Honest. Vulnerable. 

Sometimes I’m a queen 
and sometimes I’m a clown 
Sometimes I’m smiling and sometimes it’s a frown

Put on your best face, they say.
Save face, they say.
Don’t make that face or it will stay that way, our parents say
“Rita Hayworth gave good face,” sings Madonna in Vogue
The face that launched a thousand ships…” writes Christopher Marlow of Helen of Troy

What happens when you face your face? 
How often do you spend really gazing at your own face in the mirror?
Try it, for 5-minutes. 
Face yourself in the mirror.
Practice your faces in the mirror (especially before a portrait shoot, too!)

Now make a face,
From a frown to a smile
From a flirtatious wink to a serious face.

Really pause and gaze into your own eyes,
Make faces,
Notice the fine lines,
The freckles and spots.

Spend time with your own face, this way as you age, you can learn to accept, appreciate, and accentuate your face. 

I recently went to see the collection of portraits at the Pompidou Center in Paris, of August Sandler in the 1902s. And no one was smiling then in their portraits. No one. 
Why do we smile in portraits today? Is it a sign of joy and health and success…?

So what face are you putting on today?
Is it fickle or fecund, 
Is it fearful or ferocious,
Is it a funny face?

While your face will always change, what is constant is your face is your face.
Embrace it.
Embrace your face, despite all the changes it will go through, 
Through age and illness,
Through joy and sorrow,
Through kissing and daydreaming…

Face it. Your face is your face.
As it changes as you age,
You may not always love it,
Although I encourage you to…
Accept it.
Appreciate it.
Accentuate it.
Adorn it.

Like when I turned 40 back then and had to start wearing readers to read. There I was encouraging my clients to embrace the changes, and I was so update and resistant that my eye sight was changing. But alas I learned to accept it, appreciate that I have sight (some are blind) and then accentuate, with stylish new glasses!

As I observe my face, facing back at me in these portraits with Aleks,
And facing 50 this year,
I see the changes in my face,
I see the lines, 
I see the wrinkles,
but I also see my mother, my father, experience, struggle, survival, thriving, joy, sorrow, anger, fatigue, beauty, and simply being.

So what face are you putting on today? 
Are you facing backward or facing forward?
Your face will continue to change as you age,
And a face is a face is a face.

“Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…” David Bowie sings…

Learn to face your face.­
Accept it,
Appreciate it,
Accentuate it,
Adorn it,
Embrace your Face.

Indiana Jones and Aging – Craig Thomas

When Indiana Jones found the Holy Grail, it seemed like a distant old man’s fairy tale.  I saw that film at the ripe adolescent age of 16.  Indiana and his dad were so close to attaining the fountain of youth, but were ok with letting it pass them by.  Maybe it’s because Indiana saw the Knight who couldn’t wield his sword due to feebleness of sitting still and old age.  Maybe it’s because Elsa died while trying to retrieve it. 

(Side note: this is the original Elsa—at least the one besides my grandmother— by the way.  With all due respect to Frozen and my 3 little girls.  I really didn’t care that Elsa didn’t sing.  I mean this Elsa…)

I really never got why they came all this way just to get so close, but go empty-handed.  I gotta say:  I might have been Elsa reaching farther for the Cup and not Indiana who let it go.

Of course, “Dad” Jones did recover from a gun shot to where his liver would be, so maybe that was good enough….

Anyhow, I figured when that time came in my life, I’d be happy just to still be walking the Earth.  I would complain about joint pain, wrinkles and difficult children, but I would be old and grateful.  Who would want to be go back in time and be young after getting to the top of mountain?  It seemed inevitable and something that I would deal with when the time came.  It seemed “earned” and a state of mind that I could commiserate with my friends and wife about.  I wouldn’t be alone and I could just kick back on my porch chair and talk about the good ‘ol times with other broken buddies.   

Now I’m about the age Indiana was, but I move a little better than him.  Maybe I can’t ride a horse as well, but I do not have discomfort or pain and I certainly don’t look or feel my age.   Thankfully, technology and research have created lots of supporting evidence that we can actually dial our biological clock backward and I’ve taken advantage of it and been my own guinea pig.

Looking and feeling your best doesn’t need to consist of eating cardboard and running on the treadmill for 4 hours a day.  As a matter of fact, too much exercise and strict eating actually can age the body MORE.  Inflammation in the body needs to be addressed.  Constant protein synthesis (from eating protein too much and too often) decreases immune responses, upticks cellular senescence and lowers autophagy:  ie giving the body a digestive break actually kills off cells that are like zombies and replaces them with new ones ready to work.  The longer a cell hangs around, the more aging occurs with someone—and can even lead to other worse conditions.

Life and the human body need balance.  The body is constantly seeking homeostasis.  It craves equilibrium.  It wants experience, but desires to recover from it.  It enjoys sitting still, but not for too long.  It wants some sun—but not too much.  Life is a constant ebb and flow with nearly everything we do.  

So how do we take care of ourselves?

1. Have a workout program to follow, but allow for rest time:  not only days off during the week, but “de-load” weeks (lesser resistance weight and lower intensity) and even a couple of full weeks off each year.

2. Allow for times of eating a lot less and give your digestive system a nice rest.  Fasting         allows the body to heal and/or replace cells as I mentioned earlier and it assists the body with recovery.

3. Sleep for a quality block of 7-8 hours.  Make your room completely dark.  Stop looking at any blue-light emitting screens (TV, computer, tablet and yes—your mobile phone).  Keep your room cool (or mattress as they make cooling mattresses).  Keep your room completely silent or you can use low level sound machines with background noises that calm you down.

4. Learn how to mitigate stress.  

  • a). Go for walks if you can when working.  Gold star if you can walk barefoot in the grass to ground yourself with the Earth and benefit from the negative ions the soil and grass emit.  
  • b). Practice meditation or some kind of breathing exercise (box breathing, Wim Hof breathing or my favorite: balloon breathing. There is a host of techniques).  Additionally, having a positive outlook and/or practice of gratuity can greatly improve the feel-good hormones (endorphins) your body produces.

5. Keep your sugar intake to an absolute minimum.  Sugar is your enemy and can age you faster than nearly anything else you can do.  If you need a sweetener, reach for stevia, monk fruit, allulose or erythritol.  Use honey or coconut sugar when you’re baking as an alternative. 

6. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.  Negative energy permeates the mind, body and soul and can have residual effects over time.  Being around people who make you laugh and smile more often have an incredibly powerful impact.

While these suggestions may not be quite the same as drinking from the Holy Grail a la Sean Connery, they can add years to your life and life to your years.  You may even have people looking at you twice when you tell them your actual age.  

And maybe then you won’t be talking about war stories and high school heroics.  You’ll be looking to get out and having some new adventures instead.

“DRAINAGE!” – Howard Globus

In the 2007 movie “There Will Be Blood” Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview and Paul Dano played two roles, Paul and Eli Sunday, twins.  

If you’ve seen the movie, you can skip this next bit.  Daniel is an oil prospector and is brought to the Sunday property by Paul.  Paul’s twin brother Eli suspects that Daniel wants to purchase their land for the oil beneath the ground.  Through the years of the movie, Daniel buys all the land around the area except one hold out.  Eli returns to the area to sell the last hold out plot of land, hoping to make some money after having lost everything.

At this point, Eli comes begging to sell the land to Daniel.  Eli had humiliated Daniel earlier in the film and Daniel takes this as his opportunity to return the favor.  Daniel harangues and bullies Eli, forcing him to renounce his faith, which Eli does thinking he will finally sell this land.  

Here Daniel delights in telling Eli that he doesn’t want to buy the land, that he has no need for it.  Daniel explains that the land it has been drained because of all the drilling and pumping of oil on the surrounding plots.  

Daniel explains that it’s as if he has a long straw and from across the room puts his straw into Eli’s milkshake.  Without Eli knowing about it or having any way of stopping him, Daniel drinks his milkshake.

And this is like cybercrime.

Movies and books have painted a picture that cybercrime is done in the wee hours of the morning, lots of screens scrolling with Matrix-like characters in patterns few can understand. Or Tom Cruise descending from the ceiling into a server room with pressure-sensitive floors that will set off an alarm.

In fact, most cybercrime is a lot more mundane.  

Most small and medium businesses leave their networks open on the Internet.  They rely on their Internet Service Providers to provide “A-Level” security to stop threat actors.  In reality, when an Internet Service Provider puts in a modem or router and a business connects a consumer-grade network switch to it, this is like putting a screen door on a submarine.  There is almost nothing to stop a cyber attack with this kind of setup.

Likewise, when people are hired at a small business and receive an orientation (if they receive and orientation), rarely does it include things like acceptable user policies related to computer systems and sharing of data on the Internet, use and storage of network credentials like email addresses and passwords and proper password rotation on Internet websites.

The computers on an open network and untrained employees are the weakest links in the security chain in most small and medium businesses.  

Information can be sucked up, like through a long straw, without having to run elaborate infiltration operations.

It’s important to have properly secured systems, a network perimeter that allows employees to get their job done while also being safe and secure and regularly training employees on how to spot phishing emails and malware on their machines.

Putting the proper controls in place to keep the bad guys out of our systems are important.  Regularly testing the perimeter defenses and updating them as necessary are all part of a good maintenance plan.

However, if we can only focus on one thing to do to keep ourselves safer in our online world, focus on regular education.  5–15-minute videos and trainings once a month go a long way to educating ourselves, our family members and our staff on how to spot Phishing scams and targeted email attacks.

These proactive measures can stop the drainage of information that we want to keep protected.

Like through a long, cyber straw, cybercriminals love to say …

“I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I drink it up!” – HG

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