It has been a crazy few days. If I am going to give this journal a fair shot I just have to jump in. Forgive the randomness.

I think I have pink eye. It itches and I had stringy gunk this am. I am super psyched about going to the walk in place. It is better than trying to get in with my reg Dr. I have had a cough and sinus cold for about 10 days now, so I am convinced that my body has been worn down. Having a toddler in preschool also ensures that i am exposed to some nasty cootie bugs as well-so maybe that is a big factor too:)
Since I decided that this was going to become my journal. Basic recording of my life as a small business owner and mother of a 3.5 yr old, I feel I must introduce you to my local family.
This is 4 of the 5 of us. Kelly (next picture) couldn't make it to dinner this night. From left to right (me, Renee, Sandra and Genine)
Genine and I met in grad school, and became really close when she moved about 10 minutes away and soon after we got pregnant within 3 months of one another.

I met Renee one day when Genine and I were at the apple orchard with the kids. Genine and I had decided we needed to start getting out with the boys. Once I set my mind to something..... Anyway I saw Renee and another lady walking to their cars, and I shouted a hello, and then asked how they met each other. Renee told me about a local moms group they had just been with at the orchard. I showed up to another event and Renee and I became fast friends. Our sons are just 3 months apart in age, and she lives a mile down the road from me.

I then met Sandra through Renee and the moms group. We also hit it off right away. Her son is 2 months younger than my son.

Genine met Kelly after seeing her walk through her neighborhood. She has a daughter who is 5 months older than Genines son. Genine, Sandra and Kelly live within a 5-6 block radius of each other.

Over the past 3 years we have all gotten to be very close. We each have built individual friendships with each other as well as a group bond. We see each other multiple times a week, we formed a book club, go out to dinner (just girls) together for birthdays and have lots of family pot luck dinners, parties and date nights. I do not have blood relatives in the area - these women and their families have become my family here.

I was talking to a close college friend, who lives in Connecticut, today. She stays home with her two children. We were talking about her moms group attempts, and she voiced a lot of frustration because they just don't connect. I encouraged her to keep trying. I shared with her how I had tried many classes and groups before finally finding women I felt really at home with. It also takes a lot of work. Being honest about your feelings when you feel hurt, left out, frustrated or confused-with the intention of understanding more than being understood. It means listening and taking responsibility when you have done something to hurt someones feelings. To do it because you love them and you know they will also do the same in return.

I have had many friendships start and then stop because somewhere along the way they or I realized there wasn't a match. One or the other drove the other crazy more than they brought comfort. And you know what? Thank god I kept trying. Because the friendships I have with these women was worth all the disappointment and frustration I experienced on my way to them.

Weepies + Obama = Priceless


Squam Slideshow

E asked me for 30 photos in slideshow format covering location, classes and the spirit at Squam.

So here is a basic slideshow. When you get to the page- go to the lower right and click the play arrow.

I still have more photos to add, but it feels good to get this far.

When I was taking the group photos at Squam-I shared the realization I suddenly had about that being my moment. The moment my dream took over. It was a physical feeling-like a rush up my spine. A calm settled in my heart as I heard my heart say-this is it-you are a professional photographer-you can do this. The scary leaps you have taken brought you to this moment. Of knowing that this is right where you should be.

When I decided to go into portrait photography I didn't plan very far out. I knew I wanted to have a professional appearance, and that I needed to build a portfolio.

I needed kids, families, teenagers, head shots and events.

I started thinking of people I knew through my husbands work, family, friends, and people I knew of through association. I called and offered these people, a free photo session. I approached families in parks and asked if I could take photos of their families, took their email and then emailed them a gallery and sent them 4x6 prints in the mail. This is how I started building my portfolio and how I started getting my name out.

After I got back from Squam I started to get more paid photo sessions. I also started to work on marketing material using some of the portfolio building photographs.

The work load felt pretty intense for a while, with large comp shoots to process, and wrapping my brain around marketing.

The Babies R Us photo opportunity came about because I made this card (uv coated postcards from overnight prints) and left a bunch at Babies R Us. The event manager saw the card and contacted me to inquire if I would be willing to be the event photographer for their Halloween event.


Photo of me by Denise Andrade

I was talking to a friend last week about blogging. How I wish I could connect with people through my blog, the way I do in person. When I started this blog it was a diary of sorts where I processed the grief of losing my mother and our path through infertility. Then it also became a place where I started to venture into my creative life.

There has been a shift of sorts in my life. Writing here through those struggles and receiving love and support really helped me tremendously. So much that I became ready to move past them. To let go of it. In it's place came things I haven't found as easy to blog about, because they are so different than what I blogged about before. But I am also having a hard time accepting that blogging for me was just for processing that grief.

I want to give back, I want to stay connected to this amazing online outlet of blogging. So I have been thinking about what it is that I want to share through blogging. I keep finding I am trying to squeeze it into what blogging has looked like for me up until now. It isn't working.

So I have decided to start by using this as a diary, and see how it turns out. I am forcing myself to let go of any preconceived notions of what this is supposed to look like.

Dear Diary-

This am I am faced with the question should I sit home today and edit the senior high school shoot-that I have to have the gallery up for by Sunday-and finish the slideshow for Squam that E needs tomorrow, and make T ( my 3 yr old watch movies) or do I get up shower and bring T to the mall 30 minutes away with my/his friend to the bounce house place and keep my fingers crossed he will nap later?

Just 2 days ago T decided he wasn't going to nap any more. That takes away my 2 hr free work time. This afternoon I have a shoot at 4:30. Sunday my goddaughter gets baptiized. Monday I have to set up a place in babies R us to take photos of kids in their costumes. I am freaking out because I still don't know how to use my flash properly and have never done a photo event like this-never mind indoors. When if ever will these nerves go away?

Well T is bouncing around asking repeatedly if he can go outside. Guess we are going to the bounce place.........



October 15, 2008

By Christopher Treacy

Feminine Mystique: Woody Guthrie’s lyrics inspired Jonatha Brooke.

For her new CD, “The Works,” singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke managed to get in touch with Woody Guthrie’s feminine side.

The Boston-to-New York transplant - whose show tomorrow at the Wilbur Theatre was postponed (until Nov. 18 at the Paradise) late yesterday when it was announced that co-headliner Glen Phillips suffered a hand injury - began by combing through the late Dust Bowl troubadour’s archives in search of lyrics for use in a tribute concert.

But as she became better acquainted with the man through his words, the relationship took on a life of its own. Brooke, 44, became smitten. The result is the first recording of nonpublished Guthrie prose set to music by a woman.

“It really was like a love affair,” Brooke said from Manhattan. “Woody’s daughter, Nora, may have invited me in. But in the end, I was pursuing both her and her dad.

“I learned quite a bit from his words and I’m forever changed for the better,” she continued. “Getting into his psyche and witnessing his incredibly prolific, tireless, unprecious body of work was inspiring beyond my wildest imagination.”

Brooke says a large part of what attracted her to Guthrie, who died of Huntington’s disease in 1967 at the age of 55, was his unusual ability to understand relationships from the viewpoint of both genders.

“It was right there staring cw0up at me,” she said. “I think the ability to emotionally cross gender lines is in us all, to some degree. There are times when my writing is up-against-the-wall masculine. But it was so striking and unexpected to discover that aspect of Guthrie’s character since it hasn’t been brought to light before. To me, his insights about how a woman would feel are breathtakingly poetic and sexy.”

Unlike “Mermaid Avenue,” the 1998 Billy Bragg and Wilco project that also married Guthrie’s prose with original music, Brooke got permission from Nora Guthrie to combine fragmented lyrics from her father’s later years, when Huntington’s had begun taking a toll.

“It was heartbreaking to see his handwriting deteriorating on the page,” she said. “It became so labored and hard to read. And yet, he was able to see beyond the confines of his circumstances. The words became simpler, but no less deep and searching. I didn’t think Nora would allow me to cut and paste, but she loved my idea.”

Brooke, who released the CD on her own Bad Dog label, recruited a team of top-notch players for the sessions, including bassist Christian McBride, pedal steel ace Greg Leisz and keyboard player Joe Sample.

“We recorded 13 songs in two days, which was all the time I could afford for these world-class guys,” she said. “It needed to be a visceral performance, and we took a live-session, old-school approach. The songs demanded it.”

A prolific songwriter in her own right, Brooke may be working for a while to pay for the Guthrie project.

“It’s all on my MasterCard,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I’d love to keep that momentum going and continue putting out a new record each year, but we’ll have to see what happens. Maybe I need to be more like Woody, to keep it simple and be less precious with myself.”

Jonatha Brooke, with Glen Phillips, at the Paradise Nov. 18. Tickets: $25; 617-931-2000.


Weekend drive



"Storytellers, by the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world:telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning" ~ Chris Cavanaugh

"To share our stories is not only a worthwhile endeavor for the storyteller, but for those who hear our stories and feel less alone because of it. "
Joyce Maynard

My first conversation with Jonatha was by the lake outside the dining hall at Squam. Like so many of the lovelies at Squam, I felt an instant heart to heart connection with her.

In this first time together she shared a few stories with me, and I instantly knew that I would absolutely adore her music.

Over the weekend Jonatha continued to blow me away with her story telling abilities. Sitting by the fire she would share stories of her family, her friends, and the people she had met at Squam that day. Every story was better than the last, and gave me a sense of knowing the person she was talking about. This is a rare gift. Having the ability to lovingly share about others as well as about yourself.I am so honored to have Jonatha as a friend. She is not only a talented singer and musician, she is funny, generous, sensitive, kind and wise. Jonatha is now on tour. Headed out to Portland as I write this. If you get a chance, check out her tour itinerary. She may be coming to a place near you! If she does, you must treat yourself to an evening of listening to her tell stories through her music and singing. She is so delightful and talented.

Jonatha has been a dancer all her life, which explains this graceful leap:)

Here is a bit of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of hers, called "Ten Cent wings"

"If I knew what I was after, I'd remember where I'd been
If I was sure of something better, I'd go, I'd go
But I am just another picture, and I watch myself like you
I imagine what you're thinking,
I know, I know

Ten cent wings, I'll take two
Pin them to my sweater and I'll sail above the blue
Ten cent wings tried and true
Orbiting like satellites I'll sail away with you

I will love across the borders, I will wait until it's dark
I will fly and you'll be with me, my wings, your heart
Then our memory may fail us, and our language will go too

But the shooting stars will catch our
Celestial view........."


Kelly Rae and Mati Rose

Mati Rose and Kelly Rae had a wonderful evening event. Look at all the joy...

I am amazed that my crash from Squam still seems to be going. I feel a bit discombobulated, crabby, agitated, with a sense of loneliness even though I am surrounded by family and friends that I adore back here at home. I feel disconnected within and tired.

Having two shoots to process when I got home - unrelated to Squam, created a delay in me processing it. Part of me is excited to be able to do that now by processing the images and part of me feels tender doing it. I wish I understood what I am going through better, but all I can gather is that I need to move through it.


" I think the stonecutter is another perfect metaphor for the process of growing into our full potential. You may have heard the story:
A stonecutter hits a rock with his hammer. The stone splits. The casual observer sees this and thinks, “Wow. That guy is really strong. I can’t believe he broke that huge rock with a single blow!”
The reality (obviously) is that the stonecutter didn’t break it in a single blow—he’d been hammering away at that rock for a long time. Many, many blows went into the rock before it finally split. Most people see someone who has achieved some level of success--whether it’s enlightenment or celebrity status or financial wealth--and think, “Wow, they sure must be lucky.”
Obviously, the stonecutter isn’t strong enough to break a rock in one blow and no one is “lucky” enough to reach any level of excellence without an equally diligent and consistent effort.
So, hit the rock.
Again. And again. And again.
You will break the rock.
(Oh, and by the way, quick FYI: once you’re done with that rock get ready to start swinging at the next one. :)"
~ Thinkarete.com


I drew this illustration when I was working on a logo for my portrait business.

When I started my etsy shop, I spent alot of time reading the message boards on etsy looking for tips on how to make my shop look cohesive. I hired a graphic designer that my friend had used to create a postcard I could use for marketing material, and the first thing she asked me was if I had a logo. A logo?

I didn't have a ogo and frankly I felt a bit panicked about trying to think of one, never mind create one.

So, I decided to hire her her to create 3 logos for me and decided on this one:
For visual purposes, I liked the border because it signified a ttv border. At the time I was doing a lot of ttv photography. The emotional and symbolic reasons are here in my profile for my jewelry etsy.

Some things I wish I had known at the time I chose this logo.

1. Monarch.com was already taken. As was monarch designs.com! My husband is a bit of a computer wiz and had shared with me that I probably wanted my website to have a simple, easy to remember address. I was distressed when I found out it was taken, but it gave me the opportunity to think about having a business name that made it clear to all what my business was. Now there are many very successful businesses with cool names that don't explain what the business is, but for me, a single woman, beginning business owner, I wanted a name that didn't require a heavy long explanation. Monarch symbolized a lot for me, and it wasn't an easy quick soundbite.

2. That the height of a logo is relevant when you will be using the logo as an avatar, blog banner, stamp, or small sticker. This logo did not work well in any of those instances. Everything became so small you couldn't read it.

So I stuck with this for a while even though it didn't work in many instances. I mean geez, I had spent a chunk of change on it.LOL.

I spent months pondering a web site name, that would work for me, and that was available.

I decided on www.theacoughlin.com

I edited the above logo to be Thea Coughlin Photography and opened a second etsy store, just for my photographs. I kept Monarch for my photo jewelry and used the new etsy for my prints. I had found that my store looked strange to me with both. I was also trying to get my etsy store featured in shopping blogs and it seemed like maybe having both in the same shop made my store a bit harder to pitch.

I then started fiddling around with fonts I found at www.dafonts.com
to create a logo that would work in all sizes.

I began to feel less panicked to get something, and started to have fun. I looked up tutorials on how to make vector images from images I purchased on istockphoto. I started to look at the colors that were prevalent in most of my images, so I could have a color theme for my website and blog. I went to twopeasinabucket and purchased some digital scrapbooking kits. I emailed Rhonna Farrer and inquired about purchasing commercial rights to one of her kits that I thought I would use for my logo (beautiful design but didn't end up feeling like me). I also emailed a blog author that I admire the most, in terms of design, and begged her to do a trade with me. I didn't want to hire someone again to create my logo, because I realized that the process of developing my own, was really helping me get a sense of what I wanted to convey to my potential clients. I wanted to feel it in my bones-to have it evolve from my journey of identifying myself as a business owner.

Finally after many many trials. I decided on this logo, because I loved the femininity and movement of the font (from the original logo) , the colors were the four that I found I focused on in many of my photographs, and the dots were simple and easy to use as a favicon.
I will be back to share more about my process in developing my business. It is finally starting to show movement and I am getting far enough away from the beginning to reflect back and share some of the process for any of you hoping to venture into something new.

I am off now to substitute at my sons Montessori school, in the toddler room. My son moved up to the 3-6 year room this year. I would much rather have the day to myself, but I am trying to focus on being of service.