Happy New Year! Celebrating a Monumentus 2013

Hello, my friends! Wowza has it been a jam-packed-with-awesome last few months.

I’m delighted to share my coaching/consulting business has been soaring, and along getting started with new clients, launching/running my Harvest & Thrive course, I’ve even been able to hire a small team! Huzzah! Big stuff.

Willo on NYEMay you be filled with love, laughter & joy!

I have been doing a lot of really amazing personal work that I want to share with you; inspiring books I’m reading, mind-blowing conversations, enlightening meditations and daily practices.

For now, however, I’d like to share a few lists I wrote (inspired by a dear friend’s prompts) celebrating the last year. It was an incredible one!

What are your top ten proudest, happiest, or most meaningful moments of 2013?
(in no particular order)

  1. It was an incredible honor to co-create Feel Alive with my mentor & coach Jackie Priestley. I learned so much and am SUPER proud of what we created together.
  2. February of 2013 was really life-changing for me in many ways. First, breathing, moving & loving in an 8-Day Training Intensive ‘Conscious Loving & Living’ with the pioneers of body-centered therapy, Gay & Katie Hendricks (photos) + running the ReConnect ecourse with Mati, and creating the Feel Alive ecourse with Jackie + attending Wisdom 2.0 (photos + I’m going again next month… are you?) + my coaching practice beginning to take off = incredible!
  3. Having the opportunity to travel internationally… twice! First to Mexico for Entretrip, then to Oslo, Norway with Shane. YES!
  4. Committing to my health, taking up running again, doing a 5K, and getting up to running 5 miles + 45 minutes at a time!
  5. Opening myself to love, and experiencing a really wonderful relationship (for what it was). It’s completed now, but I’m grateful for the unadulterated joy, adventure and insight. More ready than ever to invite in love. Intention and clarity is powerful! Here’s my related post/video about integrity & dating.
  6. Being asked to speak on Happiness at CreativeMornings
  7. Being interviewed at Makeshift for Form & Future (here’s the video recording), and having a friend say afterwards that she feels really honored to know me, and (something like) I’m a special one, and she’s really glad I’m here. It was out of character for her, and felt really amazing to hear. I felt very seen and validated for what I’m bringing to the world in my own unique way. I’m grateful for all of the amazing friends who reflect this for me, and the kind people in my community who so genuinely give me their sweet love & support.
  8. YxYY!!!
  9. Launching Harvest & Thrive! I’m very proud of my Skydiving (1-Day Power Session) program, too… but Harvest & Thrive feels like my heart song.
  10. Having an awesome, creative, inspiring, easy-to-get-to, enjoyable-to-be-at office all year outside of my home!! (photos)
  11. One more: Having a breast lump scare, and discovering it was fine! PHEW! (I didn’t talk about this publicly, but I found it on my birthday, and it was pretty f*ing intense. Now that I’m distanced from it – and I know my boobs are healthy & cancer free – thank goodness!! – it feels easier to share.)

What things fulfilled you the most?

  • Feeling the fear & following my heart anyway – on many levels!
  • My love and deep connection with my Self and my body
  • Loving and supportive friendships – my heart wants to burst when I think of how much love and gratitude I feel for my close friends in my life. I’m so, so blessed.
  • Trusting my intuition, listening to my gut/heart and holding that as sacred truth; therein building and growing that connection
  • Wild Writing and my writing practice
  • Running, moving my body, breaking a sweat
  • Slowing down, sleeping more, listening to my body
  • Letting go, being vulnerable, being willing to see things for what they are, and as an opportunity to grow from here
  • Traveling… warm Mexico beach & sun, in particular – so dreamy! Can’t wait to go back.

There’s so much more I could say here, but suffice to say I’m incredibly grateful for what an amazing year it was. My sights are set forward on the year ahead, and I’m already loving it! I will share more around my intentions, and the deep clarity work I’ve been doing, in another post soon, but for now…

Your turn:

  • What are your top ten proudest, happiest, or most meaningful moments of 2013?
  • What things fulfilled you the most?

Make it a great year, m’loves.

What Tapes Are Playing For You?

Shining a light on your thought patterns will help you stop thinking, and therefore behaving, in ways that don’t serve you.

You have the power to Consciously Create the Life & Business You Desire. Turn down the negative tapes that are playing, and potentially holding you back. Rewrite the script, play a new tune, and dance your way into feeling more empowered and alive with possibility!

Speaking at Farmhouse Conf 5: The Collapse of Hope & Letting Go of What Could Have Been

I had a last minute opportunity to speak at the 5th and final Farmhouse Conference:

Stories About The Collapse Under an Avocado Tree in Hollywood, California

Avocado treeThe famous avocado tree – massive, like a big green umbrella above us

Shane Becker, the organizer of Farmhouse Conf, attended YxYY event over the summer, so that’s how I’d met him and heard of Farmhouse. In fact, many LA and SF Yaysayers were in attendance, so it was an unexpected bonus to see & reunite with all of them!

Well versed in the heart-wrenching art of letting go, I contributed:

The Collapse of Hope & Letting Go of What Could Have Been

Launching our big ideas into the world takes courage & moxy. We dive in, our eyes twinkling with possibility and hope, and if we’re lucky we catalyze collaborators, supportive fans, customers and a community along the way. But what happens when you’ve lost that loving feeling? Or when you realize it’s time to let go of the baby you’ve put your blood, sweat & tears into and move on? Letting go of what could have been may just take more courage & moxy than getting the idea off the ground in the first place.

Willo speaking at Farmhouse 5Photo by  Tj Nelson Jr – view all

I shared how challenging it was for me initially to let go of my WilloToons line, and the challenges I’ve faced in taking big, bold leaps over the last few years (detailed here). All of which that has inspired my Connect video series, our ReConnect ecourse, my 1-Day Major Movement ‘Skydiving’ offering, and more.

I related the ‘collapse of hope’ to the letting go we experience in any relationship. That even if it’s best for all involved, there’s still a healthy amount of grieving and mourning that takes place.

I talked about the importance of recognizing that when we do let go, there’s always a thread that carries through; that we are never starting over. Which is much of what has inspired my latest offering, Harvest & Thrive.

Lastly, I shared that for us to really and truly move on, we must do the work to heal our hearts, so that we may be strong enough for the next big jump. We must go through a process of forgiveness and acceptance; of others as the case may be, but most importantly ourselves.

All of the talks were filmed, so I’ll be sure to update this post with the video when it’s available.

alexis farmhouse sketchLive sketch by Alexis Finch (aka @agentFin)
“Though we suffer the collapse of hope, we grieve & are resilient, so start again.”

The collapse, watercolor by Rachel Weidinger“the collapse does not need to enter your heart”
Watercolor by Rachel Weidinger

The entire day was amazing. I was delighted to meet/hang out with amazing folks, like fellow speaker, Nirvan Mullick, the filmmaker & hero behind Caine’s Arcade & the worldwide Cardboard Challenge; igniting entrepreneurship, play & imagination in kids everywhere!

nirvan willoThis is Nirvan’s original Fun Pass from Caine’s Arcade!
You must watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet.

Willo O'Brien & Jessica HischeMe with another fellow Farmhouse Conf speakers;
letterer, illustrator & designer, Jessica Hische

The entire conference went on late into the evening with fun performances by Mates of State & The Blue Ribbon Glee Club. It was a really fabulous day, and I was thrilled to have been a part!


Have you experienced a collapse of hope?
What have you had to let go of?

Share with us in the comments.

Celebrating the launch of Harvest & Thrive!

Today I am THRILLED to announce the launch of my most comprehensive offering yet!

Harvest and Thrive

Click here to view the full course details »

The seedlings of this idea came to me almost a year ago, and since then it’s been slowly taking shape. It’s morphed, evolved, and become what it is today in a way that has me totally dumbfounded and humbled at the wonders of the creative process. I was actually feeling pretty stuck with it at one point. Not even totally realizing I was stuck, because I was so busy running my other ecourses, putting on YxYY, traveling, and feeling *completely over the moon* in my growing coaching business.

But this one kept knocking at my door.

I’d have new ideas for it all the time. I’d write them down, share them with friends, and get super excited. I’d make some progress here and there. I’d record a video, write some emails, schedule some plans… but somehow it just wasn’t coming together. Then recently – actually just a short 30 days ago! – it all came to me like a lightning bolt. WOW is that a cool feeling.

Couldn’t be more fitting really, because it literally felt like the door blew open, and the crisp fall air brought in leaves of clarity and guidance. It was like finding the last few pieces of the puzzle, and having the whole picture finally come together. Huzzah!


What a gift…  This year I’ve taken to calling myself a Doula for Hatching Big Ideas. Not only is it more interesting than saying I’m a Coach & Creative Business Consultant, but it really holds such a deep resonance for me. I help birth beautiful ideas. Ideas that light up people’s hearts!

I love that I get to work with so many brilliant souls, coaching them through untangling their fears, experiencing major shifts, and supporting them as they make big, bold leaps in their lives, artistic passions and careers. I also love that I get to experience this process in my own life & business, with my own creations, and that the two are so closely married.

Feel all that love and celebration? ❤
I think that’s why I’m so excited to share Harvest & Thrive with you today.
This is me taking the next step on my path. This is my calling. This incarnation has been calling me for almost a year, and I listened. I listened and let it guide me, and here we are. It’s here!!

It’s also my gift to you. My way of serving the world. My way of sharing and giving all that I have learned in coaching others, and coaching myself through my own creative process. It feels like a gift to me to be able to share it with you! I think that’s what they call a win-win, which is pretty much my favorite way of doing business. ;)

I would love to have you join me for this experience. If not the entire course, then whichever one of the modules feels right for you (yes, they’re available individually)! It’s a grand experiment, and it’s going to be really fun to see what comes of it.

Thank you for reading my shmoopy post. I wish this feeling for everyone! :)

Big love & hugs,


10 Reasons Why I Love Waking Up Early (and the weird fears that stop me from doing so)

Over the years working for myself, and setting my own schedule, I’ve watched my sleep patterns get all out of whack time & time again. I’ll be on a good rhythm for awhile, but then I’ll travel, have a major deadline, or simply be totally in my groove and in the creative flow, and next thing I know I’m only getting only a few hours of sleep every night, or I’m on some crazy 3am to 10am sleep schedule.

Now a 3-10am sleep schedule may be fine for some, but as I’ve matured, both in life and in my business, I’m more acutely aware of how my sleep schedule affects my energy, mood & productivity; all three of which are crucial when you’re supporting yourself doing what you love!

When I notice patterns, I like to explore and get curious as to what’s driving the behavior.

– What am I really longing for?
– What am I afraid of?

Instead of allowing a self-defeating pattern to play out and affect my life, how can I get clear on what I want–effectively coaching myself–to create the experience I desire. Easier said than done! But I’ve created awesome new habits before, and I’m up for the challenge.

stay focused horizontal

Step One: Clarify your intention

My goal is to integrate new habits that support me in feeling awesome physically (energy), emotionally (mood), and mentally (productivity).

Step Two: Identify the pattern 

One of the key factors that plays into my late night, self-sabotaging cycle is that I actually don’t like going to bed early. Knowing that, my self-coaching process went something like this:

Me: I don’t like going to bed early.

My inner coach: “Why?”

I don’t want to wake up early.


I don’t know. I don’t really want to be awake in the morning when it’s dark and cold. Something about it seems boring and I’d rather be snuggled in bed.

“What time would you like to wake up?”

I’d like to wake up at 7am every day.

“Is that happening right now?”

No, because I keep staying up till 2 or 3am.

“So what time do you wake up when you stay up till 2 or 3am?”

If I’m lucky I can sleep until 9 or 10 to at least get 7 hours of sleep, but that usually never happens, because of noise, or light, or early morning meetings, so then I’m only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

“And that’s not working for you?”



Because I wake up groggy and tired. I feel behind on my day already. I have less energy to get up and get things accomplished (exercise, projects, housework, etc.).

“And how does that make you feel?”

Behind. Tired. Fuzzy. Mad at myself for not getting myself to bed earlier.

“Why didn’t you go to bed earlier?”

I didn’t want to go to bed.


I guess because I had gone out, or worked all night, and I just wanted some time to chill.

“Even though you knew it might mean sleeping in later the next morning or not getting enough sleep?”

Well, at the time I don’t really care. I just want to watch some shows and not think about anything else.

“Sure. You’ve had a long day, so you deserve some time off, right?”

Ya. I want some time to myself… to feel “normal.”

“What’s normal?”

Not having a million things to do… decisions to make, places to be, everything relying on me to make it happen.

“I can see how you need some down time to recover from that. It sounds like that time is also a little bit of an escape for you?”

Totally… except when I’m on this schedule I tend to do it all over again the next day… and I’m tired! So I don’t really feel like I’m recovering.

“So you’re seeing a pattern here that’s not really working for you… how does that make you feel?”

Out of control. Off my game. Mad at myself for not being someone who can get myself to bed earlier.

“What kind of person do you want to be?”

I want to be someone who crawls in bed with a book and goes to bed at a normal time. I want to wake up early, feeling awake and amazing, and be super productive throughout my day!

“Have you experienced that before?”

Totally and I love it!

“So you actually like waking up early? Because earlier you said you don’t want to wake up early.”

No, I do… I guess I just don’t like going to bed early.

And herein lies our pattern.

Patterns are habits we’ve formed, most often through
unconscious thoughts, that then produce behaviors that stick.
[ Click to tweet this ]

So, how do we produce new behaviors? We create new behaviors through uncovering our unconscious thoughts, and forming new pathways through conscious, intentional thought.

Step Three: Reveal your unconscious thoughts

For me, I make lists. I challenge myself to get clear on a belief by writing down 10 truths. In this case, I’m challenging the conflicting thoughts that are creating a pattern I’m not happy with:

– I don’t like waking up in the morning.
– I want to wake up earlier.

Which (finally) brings us back to the title of this post…

10 Reasons Why I Love Waking Up Early (and why I want to start loving going to sleep earlier)

If you’re interested in doing something similar, know that this exercise is just a stream-of-thought, get-everything-out process. Some may seem similar, but in writing these down, each of them are different enough to me to warrant a new line of feeling truth and exploration.

  1. I feel best when I wake up by 7am.
    “Why?” I don’t like still being in bed at 9am, especially on a day I want to work and get things done.
  2. I love waking up feeling wide awake, happy, refreshed and alive!
    “Why?” When I go to bed late, I wake up groggy, feeling behind, and stressed I didn’t get enough sleep. And that’s usually because my morning hours are always interrupted by noise and light!
  3. Waking up early gives me more time in the morning to do things I love, like go for a run, or hike. Do yoga or meditate. Journal, write or read. Just reading these gets me so excited to make time to do them! But when I wake up late or tired I don’t feel excited to do them. I almost forget my love for them entirely.
  4. I want to never feel like I need coffee! Sometimes when I get off on my sleep schedule I start craving coffee, and it’s a crutch. I’ve been off coffee, and I definitely don’t ‘need’ it. I want to feel naturally awake and bright-eyed! I want to juice instead.
  5. I will make more money & be more successful. I will be more productive from the get-go, and have more working hours to get stuff done.
  6. It helps me stay healthy, physically. I am able to stave off colds and sore throats. Plus my skin is clearer and healthier, vs dry/sallow/unhealthy looking skin & breakouts.
  7. When I get enough (good) sleep, I am mentally clearer, and more emotionally stable. I don’t get caught up in my own mental cycle of feeling behind, or beating myself up for feeling groggy/lazy/tired. I can make better decisions, faster.
  8. I feel more in control of my life. I have choice. I’m taking an active role in my life/future.
  9. I feel like I’m on top of it. Ahead of the game. Peak performance. Cutting edge. Kicking ass.
  10. I love the idea of crawling into bed with a book and reading a little bit every night. I don’t read as much as I’d like, and this would be a way for me to get through more books; fill my mind and heart with knowledge, insight and spiritual/emotional perspective. My dreams would be more intentional and on track with the thoughts & concepts I want to focus on vs TV (e.g. Breaking Bad or Newsroom political drama).


The Weird Fears that Stop Me

Where there is light, there is darkness, and in my quest for clarity around this behavior I wanted to uncover the fears – irrational or not – about what was holding me back.  

“What are some of your fears or dislikes about going to bed early?”
(Note, these are things to be compassionate about.)

  1. I like proving to myself I can. Because I’m an adult.
    “Don’t tell me what to do.”
    “I don’t wanna!”
  2. When I was a kid, I didn’t really having anyone putting me to bed early, or at consistent times.
  3. I want to check out. Watch another show. Escape/avoid responsibility. Feel like a normal person.
  4. I’m afraid if I go to bed early, I’ll always be the girl who gets tired early. And then I’ll never be able to stay up late again. This challenges my own perception of who I am: “I like to party, and stay up all night. I’m the energizer bunny! You can count on me to stay until the end. I’m a night owl.”
  5. I’m afraid of change. I identify with being a night owl who sets my own schedule and can sleep till whenever I want.
  6. I don’t like feeling tired, so I fight it. I don’t want to give in to it. I want to win.

Try to list out 10 truths/feelings on your lists, and feel free to list out more if they keep coming. If you’re not able to get to 10, that’s fine too. You can always add more later, as you’ll find once you start listening and clear some of the surface ones off the top, you may open the space for a few deeper-seeded thoughts to arise.

Step Four: Integrating & Creating Change

As I said earlier, creating change is way easier said than done. We are creatures of habit, and we’ll always have an underlying conviction, or persona, that wants to hold on tight to the way it is.

In step one we set our intention, which is really our WHY. In step three we dug deeper into that why. Not only why it’s happening, but how we feel about it. What we like, what doesn’t feel good, what we REALLY want, etc. Our minds have a funny way of conveniently forgetting what we really want when faced with stepping out of our comfort zone.

The Best Life-Hack I know: Listening & Compassion

After you’ve revealed some of the unconscious complexities at the core of your pattern, you’ll want to implement triggers that bolster your accountability. These can be as simple as:

  • Posting a large post-it or sign on your wall or TV, with your key why’s that you can glance at [to remind yourself] when you feel the hesitation or old tapes playing
  • Setting an alarm on your phone, with a detailed reminder of your intention & why’s
  • Having an accountability buddy to check in with
  • Creating a routine that supports your plan (e.g. hot tea > jammies > book)

Most importantly, however, is that you keep listening & have compassion for yourself! I go into this in great detail in my “How I Found My Way Back to Running” post. Essentially, you must stay conscious to the tapes that are playing, and not beat yourself up for having a hard time in the beginning.

Take baby steps. Watch where it feels hard. Befriend yourself through the process. Change won’t happen overnight, but with patience and determination, you can create the life you want!

Shining a light on unconscious thought patterns
is key to ensuring they don’t run your life.
[ Click to tweet this ]

Do you struggle with funky sleep patterns?
What would support you in feeling awesome physically, emotionally, and mentally?
What’s the new habit you want to create in your life?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

I’ve written a number of posts about forming new habits, as a commitment to Creative Sustainability & self-care. This is my first where I reveal some of my own self-coaching process, and I hope by sharing my self-dialogue it helps others out there.

If you feel you’d benefit from having a coach walk you through this process, to clarify your goals and reveal some of your unconscious thoughts creating patterns that aren’t serving you, schedule a complimentary consultation with me and let’s talk.

My Octohug illustration has been published in a coloring book!

Want to hear the coolest thing in the whole world? One of my illustrations has been included in Souris Hong-Porretta‘s new Outside the Lines Coloring Book!

I am crazy honored to have my Octohug drawing nestled on a page near awesome illustrations by some of my favorite artists: Gary Baseman, Keith HaringKozyndanRyan Junell, Ryan McGinness, Saelee Oh, Shepard FaireySouther Salazar, and so many more!

Outside the Lines: An Artists' Coloring Book for Giant ImaginationsBuy on Amazon ~

For those who are unfamiliar with my history, Octohug was one of my first illustrations I had embroidered on baby onesies, and gocco printed on greeting cards when I launched my WilloToons product line in 2007!

octohug illustration

I am so over the moon excited that this sweet illustration lives on in OTL, and will be colored by kiddos all over the land!!

Outside the Lines has been receiving a ton of amazing press, too. Check it out:

  • Huffpo Arts & Culture: Coloring Book Geared Towards Art-Loving Adults Might Be The Best Thing We’ve Ever Seen
  • Gizmodo: An Artist-Designed Coloring Book For Budding Creative Types
  • Cool Hunting: Over 100 works of art by over 100 contemporary artists, for creatives of all ages
  • Hello Giggles: Item of the Day
  • Boing Boing: Kids’ coloring book of contemporary art
  • Daily Candy: A Modern Take on the Coloring Book
  • USAToday, Nylon Mag and many more! (Souris’ Pinterest board)

She even had a huge Book Launch party at MOCA that I wish soooo badly I could have been there for!  (I was in Oslo, Norway at the time.) LA Weekly covered it and published some great photos:

Souris & Shepard FaireySouris Hong-Porretta & Shepard Fairey



OTL Book Launch at MOCAThe beautiful MOCA, which all artists received a membership to… I’m so excited to go!

Outside the Lines Book Launch at MOCAView all OTL Book Launch photos by Nanette Gonzales, LA Weekly

I’ve even started receiving shout-outs from friends who are coloring my page!

Verdell's octohug

This coloring book is truly SUCH a super cool creation. A perfect gift for kids AND art-loving adults, too. Gigantic thanks to Souris for including me!  ♥

How I Found My Way Back to Running

If you can’t see the video above, click here to watch it on YouTube

Exercise has shifted for me in the last 5 years…

I had been a runner back in 2008, even completing a 5K during a 5-month period when I was enrolled in BootcampSF. However, while I was working out really hard over those months, it was actually a bit too extreme. I was spreading myself really thin time/energy wise and, despite all my working out, I still wasn’t feeling comfortable in or connected to my body.

So, after years of making myself workout, I ended up doing an experiment…I completely allowed myself to stop having that expectation of myself entirely. I figured there were plenty of people I knew who didn’t workout at all, and I thought that sounded pretty nice, and I wanted to try it. On a deeper level, however, it was about coming back to listening to my body. Not having external expectations on myself about what I should do, but instead reprograming my desire to move to come from a place within myself. Spoiler alert: it worked. :)

I started taking walks and hikes with friends, and I fell in love with yoga. I even developed a lovely home practice, thanks to Marianne Elliott’s fabulous 30 Days of Yoga. (I also had Marianne on my Creative Sustainability video series!) I had even started running again a little bit, using Couch25K (a great starter app, available on iPhone & Android), but I didn’t stick with it.

Clarifying my Commitment to my Self

In the last year I’ve put out two ecourses centered around clarifying intention, reconnecting to your body and feeling alive.

In ReConnect, Week 2 is all about ReConnecting with Your Body, and our Feel Alive course dives even deeper into it, with a full 30-Day program.

If this sounds of interest, you can instantly download the 2 free intro calls we did, both of which have guided meditations and walk you through a very helpful self-discovery process!

Through experiencing and facilitating that work, I was clearer than ever about the commitments I wanted to make for myself and my body. In particular, I recognized that breaking a good sweat makes me feel totally alive & connected.  And you know what’s a fast, easy & fun way to break a good sweat? Running!

Getting back on the horse

It all started back in April when I had a 9am meeting, and after lagging on getting my butt out the door, I had only 10-15 minutes to get in a sweat before a day of meetings started. So I went for a quick run around my neighborhood! I was surprised at how easy it was, and how great I felt. So I kept doing the same 1-mile loop, eventually adding a block… and then another block here & there to increase my time & distance.

Here’s a little motivational board I had up in my house during the first few weeks:


Then some friends & I did the Roses to Rosé 5k (yes, it helped we got served rosé at the end – ha!), and that marked the longest I had run since the 5K in 2008!

Yessss! Ran the whole way, and got a rose & glass of rosé at the finish line!  #RosestoRosé5K

Once I believed I could run 3.2 miles, I went for 3.5, and started running those regularly. Now I’m up to 4, and I’ve shaved a whole minute off my average time!

What makes you feel alive in your body?

It doesn’t have to be running… it could be walking, hiking, yoga, pilates, boxing, or simply stretching and meditating. Bottom line is when we’re out of the habit, it can feel like it’s a million miles away, and a very tall horse to climb back onto.

When you’re out of the habit, or disconnected from your body, you forget what you want and why you want it. All of a sudden emails become more important, work, kids, etc.

Do you find yourself putting your work or family ahead of your own needs?
Do you find yourself thinking about working out, but then not doing it?

What tapes are playing?

Do you have loud tapes playing around this topic? By tapes I mean your thoughts, conscious or unconscious, that either get you out the door, or keep you cozied up all safe in bed or on the couch.

Yours may be playing very mean, impatient, interrogative thoughts. Maybe one that tells you how fat you are, or how much you suck? (So mean!) Or maybe it’s more of a small voice within you, that is so tired from the whipcracking, that the justifications for not moving have become really loud and convincing. I mean really, why would anyone want to listen to a mean, bossy Inner Critic when there’s chocolate and mindnumbing TV to consume?

What are the other tapes that are playing about how you want to feel?
What are you longing to experience?

I want to feel connected to my body. 
I want trying on clothes to feel great. 
I want to feel comfortable in my skin.
I want to look in the mirror and love what I see.
I want to know I’m taking care of myself.
I wish I was a runner.
I wish I could do more yoga.
I wish I was more flexible.
I want to feel healthy and alive!

What are your ‘if-onlys’ saying to you?

Compassion is the key

It may seem backwards that compassion can actually help us get moving, but after all my years of having my inner WhipCracker whip me into shape, developing a healthy, compassionate relationship with myself and my body was precisely what helped me find my way back to running.

Being compassionate with yourself doesn’t mean giving up and eating bon-bons on the couch all day. It means that when it feels hard, you listen. You don’t abandon yourself. You don’t beat yourself up. You take your own hand, and lovingly talk yourself through it like you would a dear friend or loved one.

For example, when I was just getting back into the habit and didn’t feel like going for a run, I’d have a dialogue with myself about it that went something like this:

“I get it. I understand that this feels challenging. And that make sense… you’re out of the habit, so of course this feels hard! It probably feels scary… but I also know how much you love a good sweat. And we’ve made a commitment to ourselves, remember? This helps us feel connected and grounded in our bodies. This makes us feel alive. Let’s just put one foot in front of the other and get out the door and see what happens.”

I am no longer motivated by fear or illusion around what I should be doing. Instead I have made a commitment to myself to be in relationship WITH myself. That means love, respect and communication.

We need compassion for ourselves in all areas of our lives. Developing a healthy, loving relationship with yourself is the best gift you can give yourself for designing a happy, fulfilled life.

Don’t break the chain

Somewhere along the line I discovered this lifehacker productivity post by Jerry Seinfeld, all about marking your progress down on a calendar every day, to log that you’ve kept your commitment to yourself. It’s excellent. If you’re into this idea, grab a calendar or print one out for yourself and start doing it. You can also do it online by using DontBreakTheChain.com. I have been using it on my phone, and it’s fun to see the progress visually. Here’s my last 5 months:

Don_t Break The Chain!

Mind you, it’s technically supposed to be an every day thing, which you can absolutely do. Even if it means you count stretching, or meditating. Whatever one small thing you do for yourself in a day that can count towards your chain, go for it.

It’s all about staying in integrity with the commitment you’ve made to yourself.

I’ve also been using Nike+, which connects with Path, where many of my other friends are running, too. I actually saw my friend Timoni‘s posts this spring & was so inspired, it was one of the big motivators that got me running!

Since then I’ve logged many miles in the app, increased my time, distance*, and hold regular challenges with my friends. I’m clocking a consistent 10 miles a week now, and am even going out for runs while traveling. Here are a few more photos.

There are still days I find myself not wanting to go, but I remind myself of my commitment, and I talk myself through with compassion. I put my running clothes on, my shoes on, my armband and my headphones, and I get myself out on the street.

Treat Yo Self

Clarity & Intention

Who Dares WINS

Today, looking in the mirror, splashing cool water on my face, I thought how everything really comes down to clarity and intention.

This summer I’ve been peeling back the layers. Determined to see, like a tired child propping eyelids open with toothpicks to stay awake. But there’s no sleepiness in my hunt. Instead I’m like a voracious beast, hungry for the truth.

Digging and peeling.
Digging and peeling.

Shedding light. Holding what I find up to the sun; inspecting it from all sides. Taking notes.

Taking witness. Seeing what is true. Challenging it and being willing to scrounge around my own dark shadows. Finding shame, embarrassment, inability, weakness… but seeing it clearly for what it is, without judgment.

This allows it to shift and transform, until it’s simply one version of truth, sitting in my hand right here, right now… and it has every permission to change and morph with its newfound freedom.

Intention creates movement.
Intention creates focus.

Intention keeps the clarity honest.

It’s the inspector or point guard that says, “Hey, just what is it that you’re doing now, and is it getting you where you want to go?” “Do you remember the intentions you set? Did you even set them at all?”

There’s this 10-Q project I did last year, and I’m doing it again now. It’s 10 days, 10 questions – and it emails you the answers a year later.

One of the questions is about what regrets I have had about the last year, or what I would’ve done differently. And, interestingly enough, what has been racing through my mind ever since is that I haven’t set clear enough goals. Didn’t plan. I didn’t set my intentions clear enough.

I mean, granted, I’ve been exploring. And this year there has been so much transformation and discovery. But there is power in having clarity and bold intention.

So I’m here now, seeing clearly where I have been and where I am. And I’m getting – on a whole new level – that I need to take that same verve and hunger for clarity, and get fierce about setting intentions and goals.

Big goals.

Thinking bigger.
Playing bigger.

It’s time.

~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

I wrote this piece during Wild Writing; a writing group I have been a part of every Monday (minus a few weeks here & there) since September 2012. Every week Laurie reads us a poem, and we get a few lines to jump off from… and then we fast & furiously free-write. 

This one was inspired by “Last Swim of the Summer” by Maya Stein.

Staying in Integrity with your Self while Dating

Can’t see the video above? Click here to watch it on YouTube.

I remember having dinner with a friend in January, and telling her quite clearly that I knew it would be end of February when I was ready to start dating again. She looked at me with concern, not understanding why I wouldn’t just start immediately, but as a business owner, I had other things on my plate and knew I wasn’t ready to be fully open and ready for it.

Beyond the realities, that I was completely pre-occupied with two new ecourses, speaking, traveling, and in an intense 8-day training* over the next month, it was almost like I intuitively knew I would be ready at the end of February. I really didn’t know much more than that then, but looking back I see now how beautifully the next month guided me; showing me relationships that inspired me and introducing me to people who shared their dating success stories.

The cool part, however, was seeing what happened when I made the shift. All of a sudden it was like a switch turned on, and I started meeting new, amazing men left and right. Some not so amazing (or a right fit), of course, but just watching the shift from my being ready to what then showed up in my life was really incredible (and is still proving to be!!).

However in the beginning, I realized when I jumped back into it, I still had some aligning to do… within myself. I found that, while the men I was finding were close, I was still seeing old patterns happening, and I was committed to seeing and untangling those patterns in order to magnetize the man and relationship I desire. The root of this not focusing solely on who I wanted to attract, but who *I* wanted to be in a relationship. Most importantly really listening to what my needs are, and being willing to stay true and communicate them, even when it can be tempting to sacrifice them for the enticing lure of love, acceptance and connection. I had to be willing to be vulnerable and courageous enough to really listen and speak my needs.

In summary, the question I was asking myself was something like:
How can I stay in integrity with who I am, what I want, and who I want to be in this life, as I commit to finding a partner who honors and respects me for that clarity, and is willing to honor and communicate his own truth, needs and desires? Some deep work on all counts there, but I learned so much by having this be my commitment while dating.

One helpful resource in discovering your desires is to explore what your love language(s) are. There is a book, The 5 Love Languages, but you can also go to their website and take an online test! Unrelated, but interestingly enough, I discovered one of my love languages while I was in one of Rachel Cole’s amazing Well-Fed Women Retreats (I went to one in 2012) where she asks the powerful question, “What are you truly hungry for?” Rachel is also one of our esteemed contributors in our ReConnect eCourse, and its awesome to watch women so deeply impacted by this truth-seeking question.

Conscious Loving
*The intensive 8-Day training I mentioned completing in February of this year was Gay & Katie Hendrick’s 3-Day Conscious Loving and Living Essentials and their 5-Day Conscious Living Advanced Training. Note: they offer a Conscious Living Special for both.

This training was absolutely life changing for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for everyone (not just coaches, therapists, etc)! Gay & Katie are absolute pioneers in their fields, in particular the field of love & relationships, conscious breathing, body-centered therapy, and working in your zone of genius. It was SUCH an honor to learn from them.

This training is also where I met so many amazing new friends, including the lovely and wise Elizabeth Hunter, who I reference in the video above. She’s given me her permission to share that she and her partner have been happily together now for over a year!

I also met a very inspiring couple, named Brendan & Juna, who publish a weekly video to their site, Daily Relationship. Absolutely gorgeous individuals, sharing incredible guidance as they walk their path! Truly honored to know this dynamic and heart-centered couple.

Incredible what transformational work and intention can create, isn’t it?

Here’s a summary of a few books I recommend:

How about you?
What has been your experience dating and finding the love you desire?

Where might you be not listening to your gut, desires or needs when it comes to dating & relationships? Is there room for growth there, or did anything hit home for you in this post & video?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Here’s wishing you all the very best in happiness, love & success!

Mentoring at Women 2.0 Conference in Vegas, baby!

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor at yet another amazing conference full of entrepreneurs, innovators and forward-thinking creatives!

women 2 logo

2020 Vision: Designing Work, Life & Play
November 14-15, 2013. Bellagio Ballroom, Las Vegas.
A must-attend conference for investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and designer



I’m a huge fan of Women 2.0, and have had the pleasure of participating in many of their events over the last few years. I mentored at their SF Pitch Conference earlier this year, and helped out as a volunteer at their Pitch conference on Valentine’s Day last year (see photo on the right). In fact, that was an exciting day, as that evening Brandon drove over the paperwork to me to sign for Stitch’s seed round!

I also co-hosted (spoke at) one of their Founder Friday events last year while I was serving as Co-Founder at Stitch, and it’s thanks to their awesome Women 2.0 Co-working event in 2009 that I met some of my dearest friends!

Designing Work, Life & Play

I love the title of this upcoming Women 2.0 conference, too: Designing Work, Life & Play is my specialty! As a designer who now works coaching & consulting entrepreneurs on work/life integration, I might have to start using that as a tagline! ;)

Lunch Mentorship with Seasoned Founders

Women 2.0 structures their mentorship sessions in a roundtable format during lunchtime, which I’ll be facilitating on both days at the conference. I’ll be matched up with 5-7 attendees, and we’ll all have the opportunity to ask questions, share resources and form lasting connections. It works, too, for I’m still in touch with a few of the women I met there earlier this year!

Vegas is rockin’ & rollin’ right now with the Downtown Project, and I’m excited to go back and visit all my friends there! Will you be in Vegas around this time? Let me know!

UPDATE 11/18: I’m back & it was a blast! 

I ran into several women who I had met at the last Women 2.0 I mentored at, AND a few that I’d met at SXSW V2V a few months ago. And, as per usual, I met a whole slew full of new amazing men & women who are starting companies, making huge career transitions, seeking and/or offering investment capital. So neat to see how these connections create a ripple effect propelling ideas forward and bringing people together!

Willo O'Brien mentoring at Women 2.0
Action shot from Thursday’s Lunch mentoring session – great group of ladies!
Photo by the talented Elvina Beck

Willo O'Brien at Women 2.0 Conference in Vegas

Thanks for another inspiring conference experience, Women 2.0!