This post was originally published on The Chicago Chic.
If you scroll through my Instagram, you will find various photos of friends, travel shots cultivating wanderlust, and inspiration from content creators such as Natalie Reece, local New Yorker and creative mind behind Words Meet Walls (@wordsmeetwalls). As you look through Natalie’s account you first notice the colorful walls consumed with handwritten quotes. Dive deeper and you get a glimpse into her life, you learn about the obstacles she has overcome and her personal growth. She opens herself up to the world through her words and it’s safe to say, she has a way with words. What started as a passion project has turned into an outlet of inspiration – reminders to live life to fullest and to not allow fear to hold you back from what you truly want. As Natalie continues to pour her creative energy out, she has found that her words resonate farther than she had ever imagined. Moral of the story: we could use more Natalie Reece’s in the world.”
What struck your inspiration for Words Meet Walls?
I started Words Meet Walls because of The 100 Day Project started by Elle Luna! (It actually just started April 4th again this year – It’s not too late, you can definitely start now!) Last year, I was in a sales position that didn’t leave room for much creativity so I was absolutely needing a creative outlet. It was the night before The 100 Day Project started and I was kind of stuck, “What do I want to do? And what can I actually do for 100 days straight?” I realized, I loved quotes, I had pretty good handwriting (looking back some of my starting posts are pretty scary though), and I lived in San Francisco, a city covered in bright walls. The idea kind of just hit me all of the sudden! I remember running down one of the SF hills all the way to Blick Art store on Mission Street. I honestly don’t know if I had ever really stepped foot in an art store before. I grabbed a small black journal and a group of sharpies, and the idea was coming together.
When I showed it to my roommate for the first time before I put it on Instagram, she said, “this has wings!” and then she helped me name it.
When you started the account back in April of 2016, did you know it would get such a positive response?
I had no fricken idea!!! Seriously. It still blows my mind when people say they love my account or when someone reposts me. I’m like Jim Carrey screaming, “You like me! You really like me!” I have loved meeting people through my account and being inspired by all of the other creative people in this world!
How has the @wordsmeetwalls evolved since you first started?
I would like to think it has definitely improved over the past year… especially my handwriting. It’s pretty cool to scroll through and actually visually see how it has evolved. You can actually see when I started to be more definitive about a style and esthetic. I joke to people to not flick to the beginning… which is dumb because the second I say it that’s exactly what they do. I remember reading about a start up once and the CEO said, “If you’re not embarrassed by your early models then you launched too late.” So biggest take-away: Start something even if it sucks… and it definitely will at the beginning.
How do you think social media has impacted the way people connect over art?
Art has become so much more accessible now due to social media, and so much more digestible. I know that people joke that everyone thinks they’re a photographer these days because of Instagram, but why would that be such a bad thing? To add more beauty in the world through social media sounds like one of the most positive benefits of our lives being so flooded with social media apps.
Where do you find your inspiration for your quotes?
Pinterest is my best friend for finding quotes! A lot of quotes I remember off the top of my head. I’ve been collecting and saving quotes for about 8 years now! Pinterest is helpful to make sure I get it right, or if I only can recall one or two bits of the quote. I also will search on Pinterest based on my mood or what’s going on in my life.
You emphasize living life with passion and purpose, what advice would you give others who want to live life to the fullest?
This really started for me when my Mom passed away when I was 18. Both of my parents have passed away – my Dad when I was 5 of lung cancer, and my Mom when I was 18 in a car accident. Losing my Mom was like losing both of my parents at once. She was truly our everything.
I believe that my Mom gave me life twice. The first time when she brought me into this world, and the second when she left it. After she passed, I felt a bit guilty that I felt this new found energy to live life to the fullest. I was sad, of course, but I also just knew deep down that I was being strengthened and that there were positives that could come out of it.
Since both of my parents passed young, and my mom unexpectedly, I really have come to understand that life is short and you never know when your last day could be. I get upset when people worry just about their 401ks (though, it’s incredibly important) because my parents didn’t even live to see theirs. For me, it has really taught me to live more in the moment and to appreciate every day.
My advice is this – be concerned about finding and living with passion and purpose, but don’t let yourself be drained in the search for it. There have been many times when I was so concerned by the fact that I wasn’t doing a job I loved, that I was mentally blocking myself from opening up to things that I could love. Once I started to relax and listen to my intuition and curiosities, I began to find out more of who I am and what I feel passion towards. I’m still figuring it out. I’m still learning.
You have to trust your intuition. If your intuition says to do something, do it! If it says “this is not who I am”, agree with it. If something sparks your curiosity, follow it. Don’t listen to someone who says it’s going to be “too hard” – of course, it is! Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet on the ground. If you’re not laughing, leave. Be patient with yourself – forgive, grow, learn, and know you can and will do better again.
It sounds like you’ve lived all over the map, how many cities have you lived in?
I’ve lived in 6 cities in total! I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I then lived in Athens, Ohio while I went to OU. Since graduating in 2013, I’ve lived in Chicago (twice), New York (twice), London, and San Francisco. I really lucked out!
What prompted you to move back to New York?
When I did my temporary move/couch surfing in Chicago at the end of last year, I really thought I wanted to stay in Chicago, but every day when I would wake up I had a weird anxious feeling that said, “New York”. I tried to fight it for a little bit. I have moved so much and Chicago feels very much like home to me. It all seemed to make sense. I knew though that I wanted to live in New York City one more time in my life (this is my third stint) and I figured it didn’t make sense putting it off any longer since I don’t really plan on living here the rest of my life. When I found this job with Birchbox, it was one of the only jobs I found that my heart started to race when I read the description. When I wrote the cover letter, it was as if I was tunnel vision and my fingers couldn’t type fast enough. I knew in my gut it was the job for me. Fast forward, I got the job, thankfully, and everything happened quickly.
What did you love most about living in Chicago? Any favorite spots?
I love the people in Chicago – both literally because I have so many friends and family there, but also from an overall viewpoint of Chicagoans. Everyone is friendly and laid back. There is a Midwestern charm to Chicago that you can’t find in a lot of big cities.
I spent many days doing Words Meet Walls at Goddess and the Baker in the Loop. I LOVE the street art at Wabash Arts Corridor. I loved the environment at Soho House. And this is kind of lame… but I love and miss Mariano’s grocery stores. Seriously.
I know there’s SO many, but if you had to choose one quote to live by what would it be?
AHH this is the hardest question of them all! My favorite quote since I was 18 has been,
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
Looking for more inspiration? Be sure to give @wordsmeetwalls a follow in Instagram!