Grit & Grace: Jessica Spong

"I didn’t set out to be a single parent, but it’s where life brought me, so I’ve had to rise to the occasion. It can be very hard, but it’s rewarding. I get to tuck my kids in every night and say I love you; this is the biggest blessing in my life. While I have an incredible support system filled with family, friends, and coworkers, I am the one constant in my children’s lives. It can be overwhelming but also amazing. My goal is to teach my children compassion for others, always helping those that are weaker or in need. I want to instill in them
the same values that my parents instilled in me – love for others and love for God.

Professionally, I support families whose children are having some type of mental health crisis. Much of the time this is the hardest thing that these families have been through... watching your child struggle with this type of challenge can be heartbreaking. Having a loved one that has struggled with mental illness makes me uniquely qualified to support the families I work with. I find that sometimes parents just want to hear that they are doing right by their children, that they are doing a good job being a parent. I’m able to give them hope and nothing is better than that.

I have learned that no matter your circumstance, socioeconomic status, family structure, education level, or what your own upbringing was like – there is so much guilt that comes along with being a parent. We all judge ourselves for our shortcomings and have a difficult time seeing our strengths and what we are doing right. No matter how short the time I spend with the families I work with, it is an honor to be a part of their journey."

Jessica is a Family Partner at Lahey Health Behavioral Services.



Grit & Grace: Anjali Chitre

"I am the daughter of immigrants from India who came to this country in 1972 in search of opportunity. My parents worked hard to create a life here, and to provide their children with a strong education and opportunity for success. I grew up watching my mother juggle a demanding career as a physician, two children, and a culturally traditional marriage. My mother is one of nine siblings. Her older sisters were married at ages 14 and 16, respectively, and each had between five and six children. When my mother reached a suitable age for marriage in India, she refused and insisted that she be allowed to pursue higher education. Her parents refused to support her but her grandfather allowed her to move in with him to attend college and medical school. I am
most proud of her ambition and desire for independence. Having had this role model in my life, being a working mother has always been my personal expectation of myself.

Coming from a family of doctors, law school was not on my radar screen at all. My family was not initially supportive of pursuing a law degree as they were unfamiliar with what was required and the job prospects. I basically had to forge my own way with it, initially without their support, and prove to them that I could be successful in a field that they and not many of their friends knew much about. After working at a large law firm in Boston, where I had my first child, I moved to the in-house legal department at John Hancock. I work primarily in the Commercial Real Estate space which is dominated by white men. There are still many moments of self-doubt, but I remind myself of the importance of women being present, heard, and respected, and that keeps me forging ahead. I want my two daughters to know that they can be anything they want to be, and no one can tell them otherwise."

Anjali Chitre is Managing Director & Senior Counsel, North American Investment Law at John Hancock



North Shore Family Photography: The Hines Family at Long Hill, Beverly, MA

We're all home today, due to a "monster snowstorm". The kids are making a fort, my husband is working from home, and I'm trying to keep my feet warm. As much as I dislike winter, I do really love watching a snowstorm.

A few weeks ago, I met up with the Hines family to play in one of our first snowstorms of the season. It was so sweet to watch Joshua exploring the quiet landscape. Long Hill in Beverly, MA was the perfect setting for this winter family photo session.

Hoping you are all staying warm and dry today!

In home newborn photo session: The Kennedy Family

One of my new favorite things to do is in home sessions. I love capturing families where they are, how they are. There is something so special about it, so natural. When you invite me into your home, know that I am a mom too. The pile of toys, the newborn peeing/pooping, nursing, diapers, meltdowns...  it's all part of the process and doesn't bother me in the least. 

This family welcomed sweet Anna about one week before this shoot. Big sister was very excited (and bribed with some special snacks). We had a fun morning together and captured some special moments.



North Shore family photography: The Gaither Family at Appleton Farms

I first met Shannon at a birthday party, where I was taken with her adorable toddler twins. Since then, I have photographed their family every year in the fall, and it has been a joy to watch them grow! We met up at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, MA for this family photo session. Shannon is now the editor of North Shore Macaroni Kid , which is a great resource for parents and caregivers!

The Hollands

I've known Matt and Katrina for almost 9 years, even before they were dating! It was my pleasure to do their maternity photos for their second child. Big brother was so loving to his mommy's tummy. I can't wait to see these siblings in action!