Hi! I'm an illustrator, designer, geek & rocker, based in San Francisco. Pursuing my passion, I've created a fun, eco-conscious gift line called WilloToons - where geek meets rock 'n roll!
Click the links (at the top of the page) to read more.
“We were made to accomplish the easy
things and made to live through the things that are
hard.” ~ Charles Bukowski
We were made to accomplish the easy things.
There are a million little easy things that can eat up a day. This app has a number, check it. Clear it. Read it. Respond to it. Like it. Share it. Email it. Save it. Bookmark it. Make a note of it. Cross it off. Make a phonecall. Write it down. Make a mental note. Let it go. Talk it out. Pick it up. Put it away. Move it again. Water the plants. Take it off. Wave it away. Say hello. Kiss goodbye.
We were made to accomplish the easy things.
These things in our lives that challenge us like a game of bop the badger or whatever it’s called. We build blocks, and we knock them down. We build it again. We move it. We change it. We look at it. We like it. We hate it. We stop. We start again.
We were made to accomplish the easy things.
As I sit here, I hear the hum of the people in this cafe. I see the couple who just moved outside. Made a table their own. The petitioner outside saying hello. Wanting to talk. The guy who just threw his jacket on the chair to save it while he gets something to eat. The cars, taking a right. Stopping. Taking a left.
One foot in front of the other, we were made to accomplish the easy things.
I talk about this a lot – and have been holding it very consciously in this new/re-discovered chapter of my business: the importance of decomplexifying.
I feel like I have more control and awareness around this now. There aren’t necessarily a million things to do as there was before. And maybe that was my issue. I took on too much. I tried to do too much. I tried to do it all. I was being driven by ‘not good enough.’ And that not good enough meant I clearly wasn’t working hard enough. As trains move faster, do they need more coal? Or is there a centrifugal energy that actually enables them to require less coal as they propel themselves faster and faster down the tracks?
I have hit many times in my career that I’ve found myself working for hours. Working too hard. For too long. Perfectionism. Not knowing where to stop. Not prioritizing.
Stopping to do the admin work. Stepping back to recognize what’s the most important thing I need to be doing right now. What are my priorities right now, and what do I need to start working on right now in order to get where I want?
I feel like I’ve been doing great at this – but what does that mean to be doing great? What’s the measure for that? Who says so? What was the goal in the first place?
Setting goals and timelines is key.
We were made to accomplish the easy things, but with so many of these easy things in our lives, how often are we just on a hamster wheel, going from one thing to the next to the next, without any recognition of the path we are on, let alone the celebration of what we’ve accomplished thus far. This is important and crucial to our being conscious as we walk through this life.
As an artist, it’s nice to be unconscious. It’s nice to roll through our lives in a flow, letting the current take us where it may. However, sometimes this can take us out to sea before we know it. And we must be aware of how we’re no longer steering our own ship. The current has us, and before we know it we’re wading in foreign waters. Having to paddle harder, and longer to find our way back to the bays where we live and the waterways we intended to take.
Feeling lost and coming home again is tied to how we are made to accomplish the easy things.
Originally written some time in February, 2013
This is not about working hard. More importantly, this is not about listening to the f*cking brutal voice in my head that insists I’m not working hard enough or fast enough, and that it’s all my fault.
To that voice today, I say: f*ck you.
I’m onto you. And guess what: this life? This life – MY life – isn’t about working HARD. And it sure as hell isn’t one that will be burdened day-in and day-out by a slave-driving inner critic that – while trying to protect me and make sure I survive, I get it – makes me feel like I’m a caged animal in the circus, fearful of the lion tamer’s whip.
This is not about putting on a façade that I live a joyful, easeful, creative life. This is about really, fully and completely LOVING and reveling in everything I do.
This is about CHOOSING.
This is not about looking elsewhere for validation of my worth, or my value. This is about holding my creative spark, and bright light, like a wide-eyed newborn. Fully present and perfect just the way she is. Allowing time, and expectations, and all the bullsh*t of ‘shoulds’ and ‘have-to’s’ and ‘not-enoughs’ to take a f*cking hike already.
This is about staying awake. Listening closely to the whisper within, and to allow the dogs to bark loud with force when intruders attempts to disturb this land.
This is my land. My life. My canvas. My days, my weeks, my months, my years.
And you know what? This creative life I so desire, and my ability to set my schedule, create opportunities and make a living doing what I love – it’s already happening.
Right here. Right now.
This isn’t about someplace I need to get to. This isn’t about needing to figure out the perfect formula or the ‘best’ way to do it right and really have it.
This is about realizing that right here and now you’re in it. That right here and now – in the noticing; in the eyes-wide-open-taking-it-all-in; all the beautiful colors and joy and sorrow and delight of this awesome life before me – that this is it. That THIS is what it’s all about.
So what do I really want to tell you?
Sometimes I spin my wheels, just like everybody else.
Sometimes I’m paralyzed with fear just like everybody else.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am okay… and that who I am and what I’m doing is as awesome as I hope it is.
Sometimes I need to hear “you can do this.”
And that too is part of my fierce declaration. My fierce declaration that says it’s okay. It’s okay to feel vulnerable, and scared, and it’s especially okay to say f*ck you to those voices inside that want you to believe you can’t do it.
Because this life? This one is worth living.
It’s worth standing up tall and making your voice be heard.
Living the life that YOU want to live, on YOUR terms.
What’s your fierce declaration?
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I wrote this piece during Wild Writing today; 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 a poem called “About Flying” by Julia Geanie Moore.
p.s. For those of you who love this mug, you can buy it online here.
Did you happen to see the new Dove commercial that’s been going around? It hit home for me, and I’m clearly not alone. We are our own worst critics, and when you really stop to listen to the messages you’re telling yourself, it’s heartbreaking… not to mention limiting.
All too often I work with clients who don’t see their own magic, and who have listened to the critical voices in their heads for so long, they flat out believe them. Healing this unhealthy relationship is what the work in our Feel Alive 30-Day Program is all about. It’s recognizing, for one, that the body you’re in for this lifetime is not out to get you, or a separate monster you must battle, let alone ignore.
Your body, your heart, and your spirit are all a part of you, and the more you nurture this relationship with love, compassion and communication, the greater your joy and peace of mind will be in your day-to-day life.
Jackie – my long-time coach, mentor & collaborator on Feel Alive (not to mention one of my favorite people in the world!) – and I have been absolutely loving co-creating this course. We’ve brought together an amazing group of women who desire to feel more grounded, connected & confident, and we’re honored to take part in their process.
We’re thrilled to invite a new wave of women to join us on this journey. We’ve just opened registration, and we’ll be getting started on April 30th.
What does it mean to be ‘in relationship’ with your body?
If you’re curious about this work, we’ll be doing a free call on Thursday, April 25th. This is a working live call, which means we’ll be digging into some juicy work, just as we do on the live calls throughout the 30-day program!
This change has been in the works for a few years now, but today marks official closure on an amazing chapter in my life designing, launching and having my ‘where geek meets rock ‘n roll’ line of products. I’ll get to that in a second, but first… a little history.
History of WilloToons
I registered WilloToons.com on March 28, 2000 – exactly 13 years ago this month! – the name playing off my cartoon-style illustration. Mind you, back then we didn’t have vector graphics, and it had only been a few years that I’d had my own website (my first was a Homestead site back in ’98, that I wish I had screenshots of!). In 1999 I had my first job as a Production Artist, and then became a Flash Designer/Animator, and eventually Web/Graphic Designer. (Enjoy those hilarious old portfolios from 2003! :)
After going out on my own and doing freelance Design, Illustration and Animation for others, I finally followed my heart and launched my dream of my own line in 2007, featuring my designs & illustrations on tees for men & women and a baby line for all the kiddos of the geeks & rockers.
Celebrating the Awesomeness
Over the next 3 years, my line evolved into different colors and styles, designer totebags, greeting cards, jewelry, and a vibrant, organic, eco-friendly baby line. I developed a community of fans around the world (check out this awesome Flickr Pool of photos!), met amazing people while traveling around the country, garnered notable press, had the opportunity of speaking, consulting and inspiring fellow entrepreneurs, and learned SO much in the process.
I’m ridiculously proud of what I created with that business. I followed my heart and made it happen, and the experience was truly life-changing, in more ways than one!
End of a WilloToons Era
When I said this change has been in the works for awhile, it’s because I actually first announced letting go of my line in January, 2011, and shortly after redesigned & relaunched my site with my “Inspiring Creative Sustainability” tagline and video series.
However, I had kept the shop open to sell the last of it. It’s with this announcement though that I can report I have officially closed up the WilloToons shop! This isn’t really that big of news, but for me – after almost 6 years of having it, and 2 years in liquidating limbo – it feels both weird and fabulous all at the same time.
Evolving at the Speed of Life
So here we are, my WilloToons shop has been officially closed, but this is hardly a ‘What next?’ moment, since that’s already been in full swing for a couple years now.
If you’re just tuning in, here’s what’s been happening:
- 2010: Served as Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer at Storenvy
- 2011: Premiered WilloToons Connect video series
- 2011/2012: Served as Co-Founder/VP Marketing at Stitch Labs
- Aug, 2012: Launched RE:CONNECT
- Dec, 2012: Launched Feel ALIVE!
- Currently: Speaking, Teaching, Coaching/Consulting and Writing
When you get clear on what you want, change happens fast!
WilloLovesYou – The Story of a Heart-Centered Entrepreneur
WilloToons became my brand, but I’ve outgrown it, and it doesn’t fit the work I’m doing now. So, thinking of what I wanted to have my URL be, and my handle on all the zillions of online networks, I actually didn’t want it to just be WilloOBrien… and instead I wanted to have something that communicates the thread of compassion and purpose I have infused in my life & business. And here we are… introducing WilloLovesYou!
Less of a brand, and more simply my new online moniker, it’s a fun name that emanates the love I have for people, life and the message I want to share with the world.
The changeover happened on Twitter & Instagram on March 7th, and on my website on March 8th… so it’s official! It’s been so exciting to see friends celebrating with me. So much LOVE! <3 Thanks to all of you who supported me over the years. I truly couldn’t have done it without you!
*Cheers!* to evolving, growing and changing. Yeeeeehaaww!
I have some very exciting developments rollin’ out over the next few weeks and I’m super excited to share them with you! Please subscribe, if you haven’t already, and you’ll be the first to know.
Thanks & hope this finds you well and following your heart! I can testify, it’s damn well worth it, every step of the way. xo
My talk on Happiness at Creative Mornings received such a positive response, that I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be leading it again online, via Skillshare!
Most Creative Mornings talks are recorded, but we learned at the last minute that the videographer for mine had to cancel. So, for all the friends who couldn’t make it, this is for you!
Even if you were in the live audience last month, you won’t want to miss Creating Happiness in Life & Work on Skillshare, as in addition to the audio/video experience, you’ll be given a hands-on project to discover and create your own personal purpose statement. Plus you can watch it anywhere, and at any time! As long as you’re enrolled, you’ll have access to the video forevah.
Are you seeking inspiration? Food for thought? Direction on how to find happiness in work, or how to cultivate healthier work/life integration? Enroll in this class. In fact, use discount code BLOGPALS for a whoppin’ half off the registration price.
Let’s uncover your unique map to happiness!
I’ve been writing for Citibank’s Women & Co. over the last few months, and loving it!
Here’s a list of all the posts so far for anyone who missed them:
Very fun added bonus to be published on HuffPo, too!
Let me know if anything hits home for you in any one of these, and please share them with your communities!
Is it time to step up your game? Do you wanna play bigger, but you just feel stuck?
I met Tara 2 years ago after taking her Living Your Brilliance course; a 30-Day exploration dedicated to uncovering and working with your inner critic. I was so powerful for me and my discoveries within that course have helped me ever since. This brilliant Inner Critic work of hers is also one of the valuable offering in her Playing Big course, along with practical training in skills such as communication, negotiation, and getting media attention for your work.
I absolutely love Tara’s mission, “that visionary, compassionate women playing big will heal the world.” YES! Her Playing Big course is creating powerful women leaders who are ready to overcome fears, end procrastination, and clarify their vision.
I can’t recommend this course enough. Check it out… Registration is open now!
Last year I had the pleasure of speaking at a Women 2.0 Founder Friday event, and attending their fabulous Women 2.0 Pitch Conference.
This year I’m attending the conference again, and am honored to be one of the experienced and esteemed mentors they’ve called in for their “Romantic Valentine’s Day Mentoring Lunch” (ooh, la la)!
12:25pm-2:15pm: Women 2.0 is hosting a mentoring lunch, paring 9 attendees in a roundtable discussion with an experienced entrepreneur for new entrepreneurs to ask tactical questions and get feedback from entrepreneurs who’ve been there!
Women 2.0 Pitch Conference 2013
“The Next Billion” - Consumers, Markets & Products
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Westin St. Francis, SF
Mentoring, teaching and connecting with fellow entrepreneurs is my favorite, and I absolutely love Women 2.0, and what they stand for:
The Women 2.0 mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups. Their goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the resources and knowledge needed for success, while building and expanding their network.
I’m thrilled to give back, guide and support other talented men & women entrepreneurs starting up, building, growing & following their dreams. Will you be there?
Listen to the pulse of your heartbeat, even when it lives in the small of your back, your tired feet, your tight shoulders. Be still and listen.
Then move slowly, in place. Breathing into the space. The stillness. Feeling the movement and stillness become one. Letting it find you. Giving way to the powerful stirring stranger within that has a message for you.
What is your body trying to tell you? What is this reflection, in the sky, in the earth, in your loving friend’s eyes… what is that deep longing message yearning to have you hear?
We so often want to clean the slate, slough it off, start anew.
What if we sat in our forest, with the dirt, the broken branches and fallen leaves, and just listened?
You must let it find you.
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~
I wrote this piece during Wild Writing; a writing group/workshop I have been attending every Monday for the last few months. 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 a poem called “Lost” by David Wagoner.
When someone asks you "how can I help?" be ready with a clear answer. *Receiving* support is key to keep the flow of energy going.
Did you know I offer a Complimentary Consultation for all of my Coaching/Consulting services? Let's talk! http://t.co/nvjYFVHGB7
Animated gifs are the future. Good thing I'm so good at them from all my ecard experience back in '99! :p #Illustrator #Animator #HireMe
@tarasophia So so SO thrilled for you and what you're creating, Tara. Keep up the great work, m'love! xo
Last day to register for @tarasophia’s amazing Playing Big course: http://t.co/UBVKbuLQvY Get in on this… it will shift everything for you!
@saraaltier Hi, @felska! I’d love to chat… looks like you’re doing some awesome work with @DreamChamps! Also ‘human sparkler’? Adorable.
.@mark_wilkins Ha… indeed! I created my first website in ‘97 and started blogging regularly & working at a .com in ‘99. #oldschool
Exactly 13 years ago today - March 28, 2000 - I registered http://t.co/p3klg33Usb!
@zainy Thankfully it’s not you. The other 5… it’s possible. ;)
@NateStPierre :( feel better!
@AValentino13 Haha. Truth! :)
Emotional maturity is a precious gem, especially in men. Just encountered one that could use some serious polishing. Aka therapy.
@jtag Awesome! I always love it when people do those of my talks… looking forward to seeing yours!
Showing someone my paintings today, I had fun looking at these fun watercolors I did for a gallery show in 2010: http://t.co/qYyH1aMpns
Truth! RT @lisabari: Guess what? Fear is the only thing holding you back. cc/ @WilloLovesYou (because she already knows this)
Lunching with @EmilyCastor & visiting the @Lyft office! (at Zimride HQ) [pic] — http://t.co/RmJKosIs7z
I've started using @WaveHQ and am laughing seeing that it auto-categorized my visit to Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem as Doctor/Dentist. :D
@timishungry @termie I most definitely do! I'm so grateful for my family here. :) Can't wait to see ya'll this weekend (if you're coming?)!
I ❤ SF
Stripes, stripes & more stripes! (at Slash)
Please do not feed the fears. 🐻 My friend, Dr. Keely Kolmes rockin’ the mic at #ignitesf. (at Public Works)
From yesterday’s hike in the Berkeley hills with @matirose! (at Inspiration Point)
Passin’ out shugga
Oh, hey. (at Connect Stealth Starship)
El buen sabor
at The Fremont Diner
Happy & relaxed in Cancun. #latergram
Tonight’s sunset. #worthit #nofilter at NPS Lands End Lookout Visitor Center – View on Path.
Wine & working with the best clients/friends, @ReinventEvents! Path.
Vroom vroom! (at The Fremont Diner)
Sonoma bound with @khartline & @katetheshark for a little work & wine in the sunshine! (at Golden Gate Bridge)
Eden’s store is beautiful & she represents so many talented local artists! at Secession Art & Design – View on Path.
Ice cream with @rosical! 🍦☀💖👯 (at Bi-Rite Creamery)
rocketshoes: At the 1:05, if it’s not completely clear that this guy is in Tokyo Police Club… I envy people who know how to make hooks like this. Fantastic. Thanks, Drew.261 plays