5 With: Kate O'Reilly

April 15, 2015

I'm a huge fan of Kate O'Reilly, aka Clever Kate. I admire her for her vulnerability, her smarts, her ability to make things happen, and her unwillingness to put up with bullshit. Aren't those great traits? I think so. She's also my Twitter role model. You know, she models ways of being helpful and unobnoxious on social media. Very important! I'm so grateful to get to share Kate's cleverness below. I especially love reading about how she found her work, and how she makes things happen by sticking to her values and priorities. So smart. One last Kate-related plug before you read: last week's episode of Kate's podcast (with Jenn Schaal), XOXOJK, discusses worthiness and feeling stuck- two topics particularly dear to my heart. It's so good! Check it out. Now, read!


What do you make or do? How did you come to do this kind of work?
For my work, I write, speak, and help people and small businesses make transitions of all kinds. In my free time, I make a weekly podcast with comedian Jenn Schaal and sing with Prairie Fire Lady Choir. I am also in the midst of starting a cooking show. I love to make things and push them out into the world.

I am also working on a couple of human boys, through parenting them. It’s a constant state of checking in, adding tools to my parenting toolbox, many moments of humility, being armed with snacks, with heaping scoops of dirt and an abundance of fresh air. I still get them on and off the bus every day. Pure joy.

I came into my paid work by patchworking things I knew I was good at with things I liked to do together and then calling it a thing. It was not even close to an exact science. I love that we live in a world where a large majority of people are hyphenates.

How do you make it all happen? 
I get enough sleep. I have a recurring reminder on my phone that goes off every night at nine that reminds me to start transitioning to sleep time. I’m the type that will justify staying up if I don’t. And in my years, I have learned that the Kate that gets enough sleep is the Kate that makes good choices and the Kate that doesn’t, well, doesn’t. I love my sheets and pillows. Loving your bed has a lot to do with wanting to be in it more. But: Sleeping too much isn’t good for depression, which I have suffered from in the past, so I keep it to around 8 hours a night. (Plus, my famous 20-minute naps.)

I also know that am the type of person that values downtime. Even if it means I end up on a bike ride to meet friends for a beer, I want to know I have the option of staying on my couch reading magazines and eating Dip for Dinner™. So, in addition to scheduling travel, meetings, work, exercise and appointments, I make sure to schedule downtime. Seems backwards, but it works!

Two things that I find help with balance are simplicity and organization, and one sort of feeds into the other. Fewer things means they’re easier to organize.

I learned to simplify my clothing and other items when I was traveling a lot for ARTCRANK. I would get home from an intense trip, unpack, and wonder why I had all the rest of the stuff in my closet. When traveling, I pack what fits well and makes me feel good. Why the hell would I ever wear or need the rest of these shoes, clothes, this makeup, jewelry? So I donated it all. I have never missed one thing. Over the last few years, I also culled the rest of my possessions. I have only the books I love and items that are either useful or beautiful. It’s pretty spectacular and definitely one of the reasons I have time and space to create. 

What are your biggest challenges?
I was addicted to food for many years, in helped me cope with some trauma that occurred earlier in my life. Now that I’m healed, all that’s left is the habit. It’s excruciatingly hard to break. I’ve come a long way, and have to work at it every day. 

Give some advice: what's been helpful to you? 
Studying Buddhism. Seeking out laughter. Hanging out (exclusively) with people who make me feel good. Listening closely to people who are struggling with things like gender identity and race, and fighting for and standing with them. Looking forward to the future.

What's exciting you right now?
Not wearing socks. Everything softens in the spring here in the North, and we all need a little bit more of that.

Find more of Kate on her website, her podcast and Twitter. Find more 5 With interviews here

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