Happy New Year!

Thank you for all the lovely heartwarming comments on my last post. It is a surreal experience and having your affirmation of my experience made it all the more special.

It has been a nice holiday. I have really enjoyed the break from scrambling to get orders made and sent. I spent a week just being. I read 2 3/4 of the three books in the Twilight series. Let me tell you-such fun reading. I switched my choice for my book club book to Twilight. I am hoping that all my buddies will enjoy reading it as much as I did.

On my break I also got to watch project runway first season - all but the last 2 episodes (my sil got it for Xmas-we tried staying up all night to watch it all but both got too sleepy to finish). I watched the movie Once which was really great. The music reminded me of Radiohead and the Weepies. Two of my favorite groups. My husband enjoyed it too. We got the soundtrack as a gift for Xmas:)

I also got a business book I am starting to read as well as an interesting Chinese healing book.

My sister in law bought me a huge assortment of wonderful Roobis and earl Grey loose teas. i love them-but it is quite funny to see the lengths I have to go to make it since we apparently threw out the tea ball we had by accident.

I find myself dragging my feet so to speak in terms of getting back into business. I feel almost like it is a trouble making friend that once I start hanging out with again-will drag me away from my other responsibilities. I have been thinking of ways to make the business more organized. This includes doing things in bigger chunks. I will spend the next week making new products-taking pictures, packaging them, labeling them and then writing the listings in Word. Then that will be it for assembly except for custom pendants I plan on offering again this month.
I now go to the couch to watch Noggin while sorting through my records to prep for taxes. FUN!


My show is up. It will be in the coffee shop for a month and then I move it up to the Saratoga Uncommon grounds for a month. I find myself sitting here crying because for the past few days every time I pick up my camera, or look at my photographs I think of my mom. I haven't talked about it a lot here, but my mother loved photography. She loved gardening and taking photographs of her flowers. All flowers actually. All through teh year she had fresh flowers in the house. I never thought I would be a photographer. I had no interest in it as an art form until after she passed away. My mother had dreams of having a gallery, for local artists (we lived in woodstock and my mother loved all forms of art), and her own photography. Yet she never really followed that dream past snapping hundreds of photos and putting them in small albums and buying so much local art it just gathered in piles in her basement because all her walls were full. One year I bought her a gift certificate to take a photography class, because she was always talking about wanting to learn more about her camera, but she never used it. There was always a reason-the house needed to be cleaner or her garden needed tending. It must have been some irrational fear or insecurity. I think of this and of her when I feel afraid to try. Sometimes it propels me through my own fears sometimes it just lingers in my thoughts like a hovering bird.
I have been so busy lately that I haven't consciously thought about this-but yesterday the hovering bird seemed to be calling to me to pay attention. Pay attention.
My mother said -especially at the end of her life-that I was her accomplishment. It angered me in some ways, she could bring up anger in me in so many ways at times. Not for any clear reason, but at the time, my personal issues seemed to come from her failings.
My accomplishments seemed to be such a battle to win, to transcend my current situation, was so tough, and I blamed her. I couldn't/didn't see that she taught me to fight and clamor. What she gave me was tough to discern at the time but is becoming clearer now. Her constant undying belief in me, her nagging and longing for me to "shine", to be present, to be aware. Her knowing so little (I thought from disinterest) about the details of my life, often aggravated me and made me feel belittled. Didn't she know how hard my life felt, how those details snagged me and made me stumble? And here I am now, grateful she didn't get wrapped up in the details, that she truly saw the light in me, believed in my spirit and my strength to be the best me-whatever that may look like in the details.
So as I hung my photographs last night, I felt her spirit with me. I felt this overpowering presence of her. I still can't make it all out clearly. But I must admit that I am a bit shocked to find myself here, having what I saw and captured through the lens up for display and for sale. Having it larger than life for the world to see.
My gremlins whisper in my ear-that there are so many more talented souls out there, who am I kidding, to expect this to go any further is a joke. As I hung these pieces, almost every person in the place last night gave my work genuine acknowledgement and praise. I almost had to sit down to clear my head, because there is a part of me that wants to hear these words-not the gremlins-a part that just wants to be encouraged.
I woke up this morning with a bad cold...I guess it shouldn't be a surprise with the stress I have been under the past few weeks with my life and my art.
So I am going to snuggle with my little one, rest, and then I will come back to process some details I need to work through about making this business more manageable.
Thanks for reading.....
****you can still buy from my etsy but I will be taking a bit of a break and will not be packing and sending packages ordered past midnight last night (Tues) until Dec 30th. It is a much much needed break.
This blogging thing is super amazing....if something is feeling heavy in my heart and then I write about it here, I walk away with a much lighter heart for just getting it out. Although I have a cold, I feel good and happy right now. Writing things out can be so therapeutic.******


New listings for today in my shop. If you would like priority mail shipping please email me at thea@theacoughlin.com


For some reason blogger won't allow me to move my photos around so this post is just a mess and I don't have the energy to fix it. Just know things are pretty much in reversed order.

A few new items in my shop.

a beautiful gorgeous piece by Jen Lemen.

Here is my dinner ~ misleadingly gives you the impression I am super healthy. I would have taken a picture of the 4 pieces of cinnamon swirl bread I ate a few hours ago but they are churning in my tummy. Why is this underlined you ask? I have no clue. Thanks blogger for making my evening more frustrating.

Today it snowed and snowed. I feel a bit cooped up and a bit blue to be honest. I am finding the holidays to be quite depressing. For no particular reason. They just are.

I spent some time reading this fabulously luring book recommended by my lovely friend Georgia. I LOVE it. It is quick and semi trashy and I am already so in love with one of the main characters.

Traveling and planning beyond what we are going to do the next few hours has felt daunting to me the past week or so. When asked to do something I find the thought of it-even if it is simple seems almost too much in the effort department. I get pretty mad at myself when i get like this. I go back and forth between trying to make up valid good excuses and feeling like I could make it happen and it would probably be fun.ought of it-even if it is simple seems almost too much in the effort department. I get pretty mad at myself when i get like this. I go back and forth between trying to make up valid good excuses and feeling like I could make it happen and it would probably be fun.

My friend Hope is coming to stay a few days this coming Tuesday. She comes into the airport at 6pm-that is the night I have to be at the coffee house at 8pm to hang my 30 or so photographs. It just felt oh so overwhelming. But she annoyingly reminded me that I could make it into a good thing. She could help me while she is here. I find it difficult to ask for help a lot of the time because it feels like I have this strange way of organizing or tasking things-way too complicated and energy consuming to show people so they can help me.

Yesterday was another close girlfriends suprise 40th birthday party in Connecticut~2.5 to 3.5 hrs away~depending on driving speed and ability to read directions. I excel in the first and lag way behind at the second so it still took me 3.5.

I really had a hard time getting in the mindset of going. Although I love her madly and wanted to be there for her it just seemed .....oh so hard to do for a miriad of reasons.

But I went.

It was good. She is beautiful-my god daughter is beautiful and her laugh just brings sparkles to my heart and soul.

And lastly I saw this link at DOOCE it is an amazing account of team work



I feel a bit like a fraud. My last post came from my heart and I gave it about 5 or 6 days and then life happened and I realized this is not the time to make myself any more irritable than usual. My son is into everything-and leaves HUGE messes in his wake. 3 minutes alone and I get: goldfish crackers I gave him to snack on while running errands all over the kitchen floor-and crushed into pieces when I went to put on my coat. Coffee pot contents disassembled and strewn across the floor while I went to the bathroom, I could go on and on but that pretty much sums it up.

I adore all of you and thank you for all your kind comments and support. I am so behind on getting back to emails and reading blogs.

This is a busy time for the shop and I am stealing every moment I can to get orders out and a few new things made.

I will be setting up my month long show this Tuesday. I still need to pick 3 more photos and put about 15 photos in frames I bought and then wire the backs. Then there are christmas cards.....anyway. I will be throwing a few new things up in the shop over the next day or two and will post here to fill you in.

I will be back writing normal posts after xmas.

Love to all of you.


December views is just fabulous but man I really need more words than a title to communicate clearly.LOL.

I was going through pictures this weekend -recent pictures-old pictures-all kinds of pictures.

The series of laughing pics I posted in my last post, was taken a few years ago-it is of my friend Myra and I sitting along a boardwalk in CT, I think,after the four of us went out to eat. Our husbands just stood by and watched as we went into one of our silly fits of incoherent (to anyone but us) talking mixed with hysterical laughter. My husband took the pictures.

Myra and I met in Biology class at university (sorry too many people I know refer to college as university-and I like the way it sounds). We spent tons and tons of time together-studying- and laughing and we have remained dear and close friends ever since. Unfortunately our lives and locations limit us to mostly phone chats. We get to see each other a few times a year if we are lucky.

I loved this series because it has been a while since I laughed so hard. I cried, and cried, and cried and had to push my cheeks forward because they ached so much from all the laughing. Myra and I act like complete silly dorks together. It is just fabulous.

So when I got a bunch of emails remarking how gorgeous I look-it sent me into a major major reality check. I do not look like that today. I don't like having pictures taken of me any more. To be frank some of what we were laughing about in the pics was all our silly complaints about our wrinkles etc. Well today I am 20 pounds heavier than in those pictures. Not only do I feel uncomfortable, but I don't feel healthy. I see clearly that I am eating for emotional reasons and sitting way too many hours in front of the computer.

Now I am going to mention a bunch of posts-and may get some wrong-and am way too tired to go searching for links-maybe I will add them tomorrow.

Last week-this week-recently I was reading a post at The black apple blog, where she spoke about how upsetting she found an article about Nigella ( the cook) and then another about Jennifer Love Hewitt. Both were referencing the chubbiness of these gorgeous women. I strarted following link to link, and along the way, I read a bit of an article where Nigella spoke about being happy-how she enjoys life and food. This felt so real and healthy and right. It stuck in my mind.

I have gained these 20 pounds from drinking and eating my way through the grief of losing the baby in March - and pushing myself past my limits of exhaustion for my business.

I feel so grateful that life is so full-that I have so many interests and loved ones that I can't seem to cram it all into the 24 hrs of each day. But is that just an illusion? Is that really what this is all about?

A wise friend asked me a couple weeks ago"baby, are you I running from it-from the grief, the sadness, the anger"? Are you afraid to slow down? At first her candor sent a few guards up-but I appreciated the honesty. The answer that whispered to me is yes. I am running so much to avoid the feelings that will come up if I sit still. Even more so I am running from the feelings because I am sick of them. I am tired of them not being resolved. I am tired of calling my friends with the same sadness. I am tired of writing about it here.

How ridiculous! The sadness isn't the same. And man how unfair is it to expect to get over my mother-my only parent-after five years. What kind of crap is that? Doesn't she deserve to be missed?

Going through photos the past few days I came across these photos from our last christmas together. She died March 11th - afew months later. She lived 22 months instead of the 3-9. Each year my mother would light real candles on the tree-the last years of her life she would light one in honour of each person she loved that had died. She would say their name aloud as she lit a candle for them. This year I really want to coninue this tradition here in our home. Christmas eve was my mothers favorite holiday.
As I opened these pictures, I sat in shock looking at her face. I don't look at pictures of her very often. I looked at her and such intense waves of emotion stirred in me. A knowing - a feeling as I looked at the details of her face. As if she were right there looking back at me. Utter disbelief that she is actually gone-that I will never see her again. Ever. That the last time I saw her - was without life-laying in her bed with her hands crossed at her chest. Me rocking in her rocker at bedside looking at her face in the darkening room-waiting for her to stir-for the reality of her absence to sink in.

She was my everything, my person, my only one, for so much of my life. And she is gone.

We had such an intense close relationship. We fought, we loved, we drove each other crazy. We had no other nuclear family members to dilute the intensity of our emotionally expressive and sensitive natures. This made our relationship very close and very intense. It left a big gaping hole when she died. Going through infertility, the treatments, the choices and then pregnancy and now parenting, without the comfort of being loved by her in the way I knew all my life, has been very, very hard. Today I am surrounded by loving sensitive people and I am utterly grateful, but it still doesn't take the place of my mom.

So five years later and it still hasn't sunk in. I am so sick of all the bad habits and behaviors I have picked up to keep my feelings pushed down or avoided. As my love as a parent myself deepens it feels so utterly wrong to not do right by the body my mother gave me. To not honor what she did for me-the love she felt for me, all the good she wished for me.

So this journey I speak of encompasses so much. Moving past eating badly to push through being tired and lonely, to suppress emotion, to add sweetness when I have people I can turn to for that instead. For not eating and dieting here and there because I think I am toxic, or not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not the right body shape.

Not getting enough sleep, not keeping my body strong and flexible. Not praying,not sitting still.

So I have started to make major changes the past few weeks. I am napping, changing behaviors etc. Today this culminated in me taking on a commitment to tackling the uber complicated eating issues I have been lugging around.

Last night we went to a party at a good friends house. My girlfriends looked gorgeous. Each has tailored their diet and exercise programs to fit them. Each of them say no to certain things to stay feeling their best. They all seem to be doing it in healthy positive ways. Mature ways. I felt like a stuffed sausage, uncomfortable in my too tight jeans (ones I bought last year that were a size bigger than the year before) gobbling up food because I felt uncomfortable.

When I got home I read my emails and hearing how good I looked in the pictures really affirmed to me that I can feel better if I take better care of myself. At the time these pictures were taken, I was till in a program for eating that I joined when my mom got sick.

It was a VERY, VERY regimented program. The regiment gave me a sense of control. The eating plan was very healthy and good, it was all the rules and restrictions that went with the program that was extreme. At the time, when my life felt so out of control it was a lifesaver.I started my first year of teaching a month after my mother was given 3-9 months to live. So I am grateful that I had something to focus on, something I could control and women that were there for me every day in motherly ways when my mother was unable to do anything but fight her cancer. Today I do not have a need for the rules and restrictions , all I need is a healthy eating plan.

So last night as I spoke to my friends at the party, I started thinking about how they stay fit and healthy and happy. Then I started thinking of the other women in my life that have been making similar changes-moving toward health and strength-inspiring me along the way. My sister in law, Kiki's recent post, Darlene going gluten free, Deni's amazing health journey, Maddie's health shakes and supplements. I saw that moderate wise food choices are a bit limiting in the sense that you don't indulge in every single thing you want at every single moment, but they do it because it makes them happier and healthier with more energy. It feels right.

It isn't all or nothing for them-it doesn't have to be all or nothing for me either. But what that means is you don't have to have every desert offered just to prove to yourself or someone else that you aren't being extreme. Does that make sense?

I want to be happy-feel beautiful-healthy-strong. I want to enjoy food yet not let it become a substitute for other things.

So my plan is to try adapting these things from the plan I followed for those 2 years, that worked and made me feel balanced, healthy and strong:

eating three meals a day-no snacking-this keeps eating simple for me and leaves me less negotiating and track keeping. I know people say 6 little meals are better but with a 2 year old-I just can't do that and keep it healthy right now.

Eating whole grains (brown rice) instead of white flour (pasta, bread) and sugar(cookies pies).

Eating 2-3 servings of fruit a day and 3-6 servings of vegetables a day. That's just a piece of fruit at each meal and a salad at lunch and a veggie and vegetable juice or salad at dinner.

Trying to juice once a day at dinner time. My son loves vegetable juice (favorite: celery, cucumber, lemon, apple, beet, carrot and spinach juice) but not many cooked vegetables. I think this is a great way for us both to get 2-3 servings at a time.

Get protein from beans, lean meats and fish - a serving at lunch and a serving at dinner.

Having 2 tbs of good fat like olive oil on my veggies.

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water and taking a multivitamin.

At night drinking warm tea instead of eating. Quitting work when I just don't have any more energy instead of eating 4 cookies to get 1 more hour of work done. Sitting next to my husband for some sweetness instead of eating ice cream. Letting myself cry if I miss my mom or the baby-and let it pass instead of constantly moving around looking for something else to do-to distract me.

It is a bit harder for me to write so openly now that I have put a link to this blog on my web page.......but you know what?

This is me.


It has been a long time since I laughed {this} hard



{got lost this morning- caught this along the way}

{this is enlarged from the center of the pic above~ have you seen a dancing bird before?}

{going through archives this am came across these old pics: #1}



{my son picked this necklace ~made by Deni~ to wear this morning}

{the largest framed photo for the show}

{impulse buy on business credit}