i’m a list maker. rather, i’m a to-do list maker. i would forget half of the things i need to get done in a day if i didn’t write them down.
however, i’ve never really sat down and made a list of my goals before. mental checklist, sure. pen and paper, not so much. i know that i am terrible at planning and working on that isn’t going to end up on any list of goals (it isn’t high on the priority list of things i’m concerned about with myself). so, when i learned that the topic for the month was going to be ‘goals’ i wasn’t sure what i would write about. i suppose that many of my goals aren’t that unusual or even interesting (be patient, eat healthier, get off my ass more, spend less time on social media, blah blah blah, et cetera).  but, i did come up with a few goals that might sit a little more comfortably under the title “notes to self”.

1. be more of a hard ass & less of a sissy.
i let things bother me when they shouldn’t. i internalize things (for long, far too long periods of time), this is a message to myself to stand up and have the courage to deal with things as they come at me.

2. trust myself.
lately i find my self second guessing everything i do and being in a state of constant doubt. the internalizing plays a big part in this, i’m sure. time for that shit to stop.

3. get organized.
just kidding. that’ll never happen.
some things in my life are just going to be a mess (like my closet and my desk). if those things get organized it means somewhere else more important things have fallen into serious disarray. i’m fine with this arrangement.

4. experiment more with photography.
i leveled off with my photography sometime last year. it’s time to shake things up, try new things,  step up my game and grow as a photographer. my goal with this years 365 is to come up with different ways to push/improve myself each month. whether it’s trying new edits, finding new subjects, using camera settings i’m not comfortable or familiar with or just giving myself a theme to work within.
also, repairing the shutter on this girl falls into the “experiment” category since i’ve never attempted to repair a camera on my own. internets, please be good to me with your how-to advice.

5. be someone who doesn’t take everything so seriously.



Every year, I come up with about 20 or so goals. Most of them have to do with “personal growth” – not biting one’s hang nails is personal growth – and come mid-February, I’m left scratching my head, beating myself up yet again for having set the bar too high. What’s a girl to do? Contact a  friend who knows a lot about setting goals and getting the job done and ask for some help. And I’m figuring that we all could use a little help in achieving our goals. But I’ll speak to my own goals next week. For now, I’ll pass the blog over to Beverly Army Williams. Her post has concrete steps to help set yourself up for success with personal and professional goals.

Whether or not you’ve ever written a grant, and whether it was a little or gargantuan grant, there are some lessons to be learned about personal and career goals from grant writing.

Each and every grant comprises at least six parts: Need, Goal and objectives, Plan of action, Evaluation, Key personnel, Budget

Wait! What does this have to do with finally completing a 100-mile bike ride (one of my recurring goals)?  Here’s a look at how the grant sections can help you focus your goals.

Need: the grant writer explains why the project must be undertaken. What problem or opportunity has presented itself? What will happen if it doesn’t change?

Goal and objectives: in grant writing parlay, a goal is an overarching aim. What is the big idea? Objectives are the what of the grant: what will it take to reach the goal? Think of this as the stepping stones that lead to the destination. The classic litmus test for a strong objective is to see if it is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Referenced)

Plan of Action: this is the blueprint, the if-you-leave-the-job-and-the-grant-gets-funded-we-can-still-run-the-program part of the grant. It is the how to the objectives’ what. Write down every little thing it will take to make the project (or goal) happen. In what order do all these actions have to occur? How long will they take?

All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein

Evaluation: no one gives you money without a way to assess if it has been well spent. Strong objectives lead to effective evaluation. Questions to ask are how will I know I achieved the objective? What questions will help ensure that I stay on track?

Quality of Key Personnel: grant writers need to prove to funders that the right people are in place for the job. While some goals are achievable on your own, in some cases you’ll need support—a cheering section, an expert to guide you, a coach. Who is needed to make this a success?

Budget: grants are about exchanges. Here’s a project that will alleviate a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. Here’s what it will cost. Does that balance out? Is it worth it? How many people will feel the impact of the project? What is the cost, in terms of money, time, and other intangibles, of your goal? Is achieving the goal worth that cost?

Free writing on each section can lead you not only to concrete plans to achieve a goal, but also help evaluate whether or not a goal is worthy of your efforts and how you will know that you’ve made progress even if, like my 50-mile apex ride of 2012, the goal hasn’t quite been achieved.

 Beverly Army Williams is a writer and fiber artist. She teaches grant writing at a small public university in MA and blogs at and runs a writing consulting business at Follow her on Twitter @Beverly_Army.

By Tiffani “sprouting like a chia pet” Michele

Ah, 2013. For the first time in a long while, I wasn’t so anxious to get rid of the previous year. 2012 was pretty good to me, so you’ll understand why I’m not clinging to you like the last life vest available on a stormy sea. It’s not that 2012 was any better or worse than what I’m sure you’ll throw at me…I don’t love it any more or less. I think the key was that I had very little expectations for awesome last year. 2011 almost killed me with piles and piles of shit situations. By the time I limped into 2012 I felt a certain amount of depressive symptoms without being depressed; apathetic, numb, pretty meh. I gave up…not on life, otherwise that would totally be depression, but on control of life. Que sera, sera, bitches. I was done with expectations and goals and control.

2012 was about letting what happened, happen, and accepting it. Growing from it, learning from it, being with it. I extended this same laissez faire attitude towards myself. Fuck improving myself. Fuck self help books and Oprah lightbulb moments. I had exactly one moment of clarity, and it was this: Relax and get real comfortable with yourself…the good and the bad. Stop being such a judgemental asshole to your own existence and just go with it. Don’t change it, don’t wish you were different, just be.

Turns out this was just as much work as trying to change everything and make everything better. But it was much more fulfilling and fun than my usual uptight self. Not giving a fuck really makes a difference!

By the time December rolled around, I decided to stop shaving and embrace myself in all my natural, hairy glory. I’d never done that before. Ever. And then, at the end of the month, I’d shave everything…including my head. I felt very happy about all of this, especially all the time I saved in my shower routine NOT shaving every nook and cranny.

photo 2

I called it “the Reforestation of Tiff” and I rocked my hairy shit like no one’s business. I took my hairy legs and armpits to clubs in Las Vegas. I showed my bushy crotch at pools and beaches all around town. Speaking of bush…I love mine. I LOVE MY BUSH! In fact, it’s never been a bush before. It’s been a manicured lawn. It’s been a closely trimmed green at a golf course. It’s even been completely barren like a hairless cat. But never, ever, ever have I understood where the term “bush” came from. Until now.

I showed my legs off to my kids. “Look at this!” I’d say. My 13 year old son was actually really impressed. “Wow, mom, I didn’t know ladies could do that!” And honestly, neither did I. But I bluffed. “Real ladies, son. This is what real ladies look like! Look at all this hair!” Open mouthed, he said, “You have just as much as I do!” and yes, yes I did. I felt proud.

I had a moment of self doubt when it came time to shave it all off, including my head.

photo 1

But then I said “Fuck it!” and did it anyway. My leg hair was so long I ended up using clippers to mow it down. I was really happy to see it go…and now it’s halfway grown back again. Not shaving is a luxury that I’m OK taking advantage of now…no shame is compelling me to get rid of it. I also left my armpits and arms unshaved. And after a month it’s clear that the reforestation of my bush is only halfway done, so I’m letting that do it’s thing down there. It’s pillowy soft and when I see myself in the mirror I’m reminded not of some 70’s style porn (why oh why is female sexuality always described in terms of porn?!) but more like of countless paintings of women since art began. My bush, it is art!

My shaved head is amazing and makes me very happy indeed. So simple. So humble. So badass.

photo 1

I cannot stop rubbing my own head. I like when other people rub it, too. I like putting hats on it and taking hats off of it. I like the feel of wind/water on my scalp. Delicious is the best word to describe having a shaved head. I think it’ll be short for a while. The rest of 2013, at least! After that, who knows.


Que sera, sera bitches!

-Erika “Digging Deep” Ray

I love this time of year.  People are aiming to do and be better.  I love that buzz.  If you were a bad friend who flaked on your other friends, you vow to be present in the circle a little more.  If you ate shity ass fast food, you vow to fill your tummy with fresh greens or at least stuff not sold with a side of salt and a toy.  If you changed the channels on the tv more than you changed into your running shoes, you start to get up.  Call these a resolution or just call it a new leaf, I don’t care.  But deep down, every single person vows the next year will be a little different.

I do it every year.  I also do this at my birthday.  I don’t do it because I think I’m an awful person, I do it because the blank page of a new year allows it.  This year, I figured I’d pick a word.  A lot of solid people do this yearly tradition.  They find a word and promise to live their life honoring those letters.  I’ve never done it because I’ve never wanted to be that deep.  And when I make my new year vows, it’s just a general Be Nicer kind of promise.  Because that’s the Lazy Comfy Gal way.  This year, I’m smacking myself around a bit and I’m getting deep on my ass.  I’m picking a word: BRAVE.

I am a Lazy/Comfy Gal.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I lay on the couch and have my kids get me stuff.  To me, those words means you accept your life and think, “This is good and I’m happy with it.”  We’re not wealthy, but we pay our bills and occasionally go out to dinner.  I watch what I eat, but I could be better.  My kids are content, but I could push them a little more.  But I shouldn’t be so lazy or comfy.  I need to be BRAVE.  Push back on life and see what it throws back.  Maybe it will shoot back with some fantastic Life Glitter.  Or maybe it will puke back some Life Shit.  But at least I was pushing and living.

First step in being BRAVE, give back and don’t worry about the outcome.  “Why would you worry about the outcome, Erika?”  I hear you saying…  Easy.  Will people buy them?  Will someone have a fit about the funds?  It’s a ton of work, do I have the time?  What if we screw up the ordering process?  Where does the money actually go?  What if it isn’t enough money?  How much time will it take from my family? It’s going to be so much work.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  That’s all shit.  That’s the Lazy Comfy Gal speak.

The BRAVE girl speak is: I don’t give a flying poo about any of that.  People need money and I can help give a few dimes.  You give because it’s the right thing to do.  The details are so important.  Only the doing.

You can help give a few dimes too (If you’ve already given, share this blog post!).  And when you give, you’ll receive a beautiful notecard set: the following 6 4×6 blank cards for only $12!  Please helps us (6 fabulous photographers), help the families of Newtown, Connecticut.  I can only imagine how brave those families were when the kids had to go back to school this week.  Let’s help make it a little easier for them.


Images (left to right):

Top: DeAnna McCasland :: Kristin Zecchinelli

Middle: Suzanne Gipson :: Carmen Farrell

Bottom: Erika Ray :: Breanna Peterson

fund info here

By Jill Greenwood

I’m not a real big fan of New Year’s Eve. It’s nothing personal, but after years of babysitting for siblings and having small children at a young age, New Year’s Eve just doesn’t do anything for me. Normally, Dave and I have some appetizers and prosecco, and we settle in for an evening at home. Probably goes without saying that most years, I’m lucky to make it ’til the ball drops.


January 1, 2013

But come morning, come New Year’s Day, all bets are off. Because as ambivalent as I am towards the Eve, I love – love – the Day. Something about the promise of a new beginning that makes me sit up and take notice. And let’s face it, after a six-week slide into gluttony known as “the Holidays,” I could use a new beginning. Not a resolution (gave those up years and years ago), but something to focus on. Sometimes it’s a word, like “growth” or “persistence,” or a project or two.


January 1, 2012

This year? I haven’t figured out a word yet – it’s narrowed down to about four – and I’m 99% sure that I’m ready to tackle another 365 project but on my terms. I finished a 365 in 2011 but gave up in August for 2012. This year, I don’t want to give up even if it means taking another photo of my coffee mug. It’s a goal that I have for myself . . . not a resolution (they are made to be broken) but a goal. Goals have to start some where, so we’re focusing on them this month.

Growth 1/365

January 1, 2011

There are about a million other ideas floating around in my brain, but for now, my goal is to finish another 365. I’m sure that I’ll develop a few more as this month progresses. What about you . . . any goals for the year?

-Erika Ray

2012 was a pretty darn good year because it was the birth year of O+U.  I really love this place because I love these women.  I love their ability to reach deep down, even when it’s difficult, to rock out a post.  Our voices can be very different at times, but are always connected by respect and love.  And that respect, love, mixed with wacky sense of humor, balls-out attitudes are the very things that make us so similar.  Our loyal readers who check in share those same qualities.  I’m guessing you haven’t agreed with each post 100%, but you cheer and celebrate life balls out!  Thanks for a fabulous 2012!

2013 is going to be a good one.  Can’t you feel it?  Doesn’t it feel like something is simmering below the surface?  Get your ear to the ground.  See?  2013 is ready to explode all over us.  And I’m more than ready to shower in its goodness.

2012 is almost wrapped up.  Maybe yours was shitty or maybe it was just Blah.  I don’t really care because it’s almost outta here.  It’s time to say “See ya, bitch!”  Get ready for it.  Pull on your sparkly skirt.  Throw some glitter in the air and walk through it.  Or reach for your special PJ pants.  Take off your bra and get real comfy.  Pop the cork and pour some bubbly.  Get next to someone pretty cute.  Save your voice to scream, “Happy New Year!”  Because when that clock strikes 12 a.m., the O+U gals will be all over that shit!


by Carmen Farrell

ho ho ho


…usually has me acting like a flake.  I always (ALWAYS!) plan to do more than I can handle.  This here photo was meant to be the holiday card that we sent out.  I haven’t sent out a card in years (since before kids, probably).  Every year, as cards from friends and family roll in, I feel guilty.  It’s something I probably SHOULD do, but not something I care deeply about doing.  But this year, I had an idea.  A cute idea.  I put the kids on my bed and wrote on their feet.  They were adorable.  Tickle fights… which turned into wrestling which turned into crying.  The usual drill.  After that craziness, I uploaded the photo and did a bit of editing (the big boy’s feet were pretty dirty and I cloned out the worst of it) and then that’s it.  The image sat on my hard drive while I tried to rally my lazy ass to send them in for printing.  Yah.  Didn’t happen.

So instead of having it all to be for naught, I’m sharing the joy here with our lovely O+U readers…a picture of my kids’ dirty feet to brighten your day.

Have a wonderful holiday season – whatever it is that you celebrate – and I hope with all my heart that if you didn’t manage to get a card out this year that you feel no guilt about it at all.



I’m not going to lie – I love Christmas. Here’s the thing though, I really only love it in July when I catch a glimpse of a Christmas scene in a movie and I think “I can’t wait for Christmas!” Cut to me in December and I’m left feeling like something is missing, and wondering how I can fix it.

On the outside we go all out. The lights are up, candles are in every window, the tree is trimmed. Hell, we’ve even been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving. Every year I try a little something different- we’ll do our shopping early, we’ll do it late, we’ll get more decorations, we’ll hit all of the Christmas parties, we’ll stay home. Truth be told though, I know what’s missing, it’s magic.

We just returned from Disney World where we had a surprisingly good time. Seeing the world through a 5 year olds eye’s in a place like that is payoff for parents’ sleepless nights, struggles at dinner, and all-out battles at bedtime. I’m not altogether sure those payoffs outweigh the tradeoffs so I’m going to count them where I can get them.

The most poignant and memorable part of the whole trip was easily inside Belle’s castle. We had just finished watching Beauty and the Beast in the rental van and Wyatt was most excited to see the Beast’s castle. Inside, a talking mirror transformed into a door as we were “magically” transported to the castle. Behind us the voice of a girl no more than 7 exclaimed “Guess what? It IS real.” Those five words sound so simple but they were loaded with joy, and wonder, and a belief in the magic that doesn’t extend beyond childhood. I instantly teared up. That’s the elusive feeling of Christmas that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t access. It’s the magic.

The magic for a 5 year old being surrounded by his favorite characters.



The magic of being able to dance with Belle in her own castle.


The magic of watching a parade, and fireworks, and staying up past midnight, and waiting for Santa until you’re so exhausted you can’t stay awake any longer.

wy parade

And it’s this magic that leaves me torn – do I feed into the belief in santa, filling the stocking and wrapping the gifts with different paper? Do I let him believe in magic knowing how fast it could, and one day will get ripped away? Knowing how small this window is for this kind of wonder do I encourage it? Or am I setting him up for a lifetime of Christmasses that no matter how hard he tries, just aren’t quite right?  How do you handle santa in your house, and how have you come to grips with it?