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    Advice, Career

    Quit Your Day Job and Chase Your Dreams

    If you’ve ever had a rough day at work (let’s be honest, most of us have at some point), you might find yourself dreaming of doing something different. Something that makes you feel more alive.

    But, what if you were able to turn one of your hobbies into a full-time job? Imagine waking up every day excited to do that thing you can’t imagine not doing.

    The good news is it doesn’t have to be this distant, unattainable goal. With hard work, determination and a little faith in yourself, you can make your dream a reality.

    And if you don’t believe it, just ask my friend, Autumn Theodore. She knows a thing or two about quitting a day job to chase a dream. She did it.

    After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in International Studies, Autumn worked in marketing roles before venturing out to start her own photography business, Autumn Theodore Photography.

    I sat down with her to talk about finding your passion and having the guts to chase your dreams, even when it seems scary. Read our interview below:

    What sparked your interest in photography?

    I was in college when a friend of mine let me play around with her Canon DSLR camera, and it was love at first click! I started thinking that when I had a “real job,” I’d buy my own when I could afford it. Two years later, I did buy my own camera – but to just use for fun. In less than 10 months, people were paying me for photography so frequently that I decided to build a website. The website, in my opinion, was the launch of my business. (August 15, 2012!)

    Quitting Your Day Job to Chase Your Dreams with Autumn Theodore | | Life and Affordable Style Blog

    When did you realize you wanted to pursue your passion full time?

    I remembered thinking that it was the most fun side hustle I could ever have. But I truly thought I’d never be able to leave my day job. It just seemed too hard. Too scary. But then I started spending lots of time with other people who were entrepreneurial, business-minded, strong, kickass people.

    And then I met Adam Lehman of The Wonder Jam, and he became my business coach. I told him I wanted to quit my day job before I turned 30 (which was 14 months away at the time) – and he said that was no problem at all.

    This was shocking to me, and I didn’t really believe him. But then after a few coaching sessions, I really believed him, and in turn, believed in myself. It didn’t take 14 months…it took four (to tell my boss I was leaving) and another four before I walked out the door of a corporate job for the last time. (And I’m still in my 20s!)

    Did you receive any negative comments from family and/or friends along the way? If so, how did you respond?

    Family has never been a problem – they are blindly supportive of what I do and I couldn’t be more grateful. Friends have never been a problem either – they’ve been so understanding and helpful. To be honest, I don’t get a lot of negative comments.

    Luckily, the things that do bother me are things I can fix by educating people on what it means to be a photographer/entrepreneur. Rude comments are usually made by people who are 1) negative always, not just to me, or 2) uneducated on the thing they’re talking about.

    Did you experience self-doubt before making the jump? How did you convince yourself to keep going?

    At some point, I jumped quickly from lots of self-doubt to no self-doubt, and I was actually a bit scared because I thought I needed to feel more self-doubt! Like lots of other people my age, I have a large amount of student loan debt which made me feel handcuffed to my day job. When I realized that all I needed were excellent processes and kindness to have a successful business, I wasn’t scared anymore. (By the way, processes + kindness = referrals. I’ve never done any marketing, and I don’t ever plan to.)

    What has been your proudest moment so far?

    It’s so funny because I don’t often feel pride. I’m kind of just in awe of the fact that I’m my own boss and I get to have fun every single day doing what I love, taking time for myself, and seeing friends and family more often. But there are two things I’m proud of, come to think of it: 1) working 7 days a week for 8 months straight prior to leaving my day job (this was hard, but it was necessary), and 2) landing a photography contract with Ohio State, my lovely alma mater.

    What advice would you give your 25-year-old self, knowing what you know now?

    On my 25th birthday, I’d say, “You’re going to start a photography business two months from today. It’s going to be fun and hard and rewarding and frustrating. But if you work hard (because it’s not just photography, it’s also web design, accounting, legal, education, marketing, publicity, copywriting, graphic design, and customer service), you’ll get to leave your day job and be your own boss. I know it seems hard right now, but keep going. Keep meeting people. Keep being kind. Keep learning new photography tricks. Keep figuring out who/what  inspires you. JUST. KEEP. GOING. It’s just going to take time.” And it did. :)

    What words of wisdom would you tell someone who is thinking of leaping into the unknown and chasing his/her passion?

    1) Do something you love. If you’re not certain that you love it, find something else. 2) ASK OTHERS FOR HELP. 3) Be patient. Be consistent but patient. It will take time unless you’re a biz genius in which case I want to invest! 4) Be kind. No one will want to support you or buy your product or hire you if you suck. 5) Listen to the “How I Built This” podcast for inspiration.

    Shout out to Autumn for being a true inspiration. To follow her on her journey, check her out on Instagram, Facebook and on her website

    Advice, Real Life

    Coffee Talk: The World Would be a Better Place if We Focused on Building Each Other Up

    Coffee Talk is a monthly series that dives headfirst into real life territory. Consider it like a deep conversation with a friend where nothing is off limits. Take a seat, grab your mug and let’s chat.

    I shared a post on Instagram recently and it resonated with a lot of people. And that’s probably because most of us have been here at some point. You might even be there now. I know I was.

    Story time…

    I used to work at a PR firm, and as much as I liked it, I wont lie to you, it was pretty stressful at times. One random Tuesday shit had hit the fan. Big time. I was tired. I was frustrated. And I lacked one very important thing: self-confidence. I shuffled into my boss’ office, closed the door and before he even knew what I was going to say, he pointed at a chair in the corner of his office and said, “Natalie, the opportunity chair is open.”

    The opportunity chair? Was this guy serious? Here I was, having the worst day of my professional career and he’s shoving some stupid, metaphorical chair in my face? (I quickly understood this was about so much more than a chair)

    That moment made me realize the sad truth. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. While I spent so much time doubting my abilities, he saw nothing but potential. Potential I was too afraid to face head-on and run with. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the confidence in your abilities and see yourself the way others do. It was a breakthrough.

    And it made me wonder…why do we choose to stand in our own way so often? Why do we hold ourselves back from being awesome? Think about that for a moment.

    Because, here’s the thing — opportunity is everywhere. Or, as my boss would say, “opportunity chairs” are everywhere.

    So, let’s promise each other something. Let’s promise to stop telling ourselves we’re not good enough or not experienced enough. Sure, maybe you didn’t go to school for photography or marketing or astrology or hand-lettering.

    You know what? WHO CARES.

    I know you have drive and passion (that’s probably why you’re still reading this post). And I know deep down, you know that, too. And the “but, I didn’t go to school for [insert dream career path here]” excuse? Puh-lease. Let’s be honest, you can learn anything on the internet these days. And you can also learn from inspiring individuals around you. All it takes is the guts to reach out. There’s plenty of room at the table for us all to learn, grow and do amazing things.

    So, what’s the moral of this long-winded story?

    (I know, I know…you’re probably like, “get to the point already.”)

    The world could use creativity and passion and big ideas. But you what else the world needs? More people like my boss, who are happy to build others up when they need it most.

    So, remember this the next time you meet someone just starting out, struggling to recognize his or her own potential. Take them to lunch and tell them they’re doing a great job. Sing their praises to hiring managers you know. Give them tips to help them grow, so they can then pass that knowledge on to the people they meet.

    The world would be a much better place.

    What is the best advice (i.e. wake up call) you’ve received from a boss or mentor?

    Got an idea for a future Coffee Talk topic? Send me a note at hello [at] nataliewashere [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you!

    Real Life

    4 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned from Minimalism: A Documentary

    I’ve been really into documentaries lately. Like, so into them. I watched Iris, Twinsters, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Exit Through the Gift Shop.

    And then I watched Minimalism, a documentary that follows two best friends and creators of The Minimalists, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, on their cross-country book tour. It’s crazy good and I seriously can’t stop thinking about it.

    Because I don’t know about you, but the thought of decluttering and living with less is liberating. I’ve been telling myself for a year now that I was going to make it a personal project to clean house. But, I want to do it for real this time. No more excuses.

    I know that a drastic lifestyle change like this won’t happen over night (I’m not making plans to toss my things and live out of a van any time soon), so I decided to start small and focus first on my disaster of a closet. A closet that was filled with clothes I never wore, but held onto because I “might need them for that imaginary event one day.”

    But we all know “one day” never comes. So, why did I hang onto pieces I didn’t love? Why do you keep clothing you don’t wear?

    It’s a mystery, that’s for sure.

    I’ll be sharing more about my downsizing process in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, here are some of the key life lessons I learned from Minimalism:

    1. Living for stuff isn’t living at all

    I love stuff. Most of us love stuff. We work for a paycheck so we can buy more stuff, and then we wonder why our savings accounts don’t look as big as they should.

    That’s because as humans, we’re wired to be dissatisfied. So that one new shiny thing eventually becomes that thing we toss in the trash. Not because it doesn’t serve a purpose anymore, but because it’s not “in” or fashioniable.

    Which brings me to the next lesson…

    2. The hunger for happiness will never be fulfilled by purchasing more things

    Two words: retail therapy. I’m sure you used this coping method before when you had a bad day, right? Don’t worry, I’ve been there, too. More often than I’d like to admit.

    Usually, it involves a trip to Target where I end up buying home decor, makeup, clothing and whatever else I see and feel like I can’t live without. Do I love any of it? Not really. Do I need any of it? No, of course not. Sure, I feel happy in that moment, but that moment doesn’t last for long and then the buyer’s remorse sets in.

    So, what do you do?…

    3. Keep the possessions that serve a purpose and bring you joy, toss the rest

    This tip was key as I went through my closet. I was only wearing roughly 20% of the clothing I owned. The rest I hadn’t touched in months, or even years. And that was CRAZY to me. So I went with my gut on this. I picked up each item, took note of how it made me feel, and if that feeling was less than stellar, into the donate pile it went.

    I filled four large garbage bags with clothing, shoes and accessories and all that remained was the clothing I loved. It’s an amazing feeling.

    4. “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”

    *mic drop* Because this quote really speaks for itself.

    Have you watched Minimalism yet? What did you think? Would you be willing to give up your stuff in favor of a more simple lifestyle?

    Real Life

    Top 10 Posts of 2016

    Oh, 2016. What a year. A lot of people swear it’s a cursed year, one that claimed so many talented musicians, actors/actresses, performers and just all around good people. Then there was the election and Zika and Brexit.

    Maybe everyone is right about 2016. But, maybe not.

    Because as far as I’m concerned, good stuff happened, too. And we all need to focus more on the good stuff.

    2016 was my year for growth. I got settled in a new city, earned a promotion at my day job, moved in with Fritz, chased my passion for photography and made some new, kickass friends.

    It’s true that every New Years Eve is bittersweet. It’s filled with excitement for what’s to come. But there’s also a bit of sadness that another year has come and gone, no matter how ready you are to say goodbye, see ya never.

    Before we slip on our “2017” glasses, pop the champagne and countdown in unison, I just want to take a moment and say thank you for reading NWH. This little space brings me so much joy, even if I’ve recently neglected it more than I’d like to admit. You being here means the world. And I hope to continue to produce more content (more frequently) in the next year.

    Without further ado, here are the top 10 posts of 2016:












    Real Life

    Coffee Talk: Dealing with “When Are You Getting Married?” and Other Intrusive Life Questions

    Coffee Talk is a monthly series that dives headfirst into real life territory. Consider it like a deep conversation with a friend where nothing is off limits. Take a seat, grab your mug and let’s chat.

    I’m 26 and I’ve been dating the same amazing guy for eight years. We met in college, dated long-distance for three years after graduation, and just moved in together this past May. He is my partner in life, and something as simple as splitting dish duty with him, reinforces the fact that we are a team, through and through. I won’t bore you with my sappiness, but he really is the real deal.

    We’re not married, though. We’re not engaged either. And for the past four years, I’ve been asked the same question from family members, friends, co-workers and random strangers at the grocery store. I’m convinced it’s the new form of small talk that goes something like this — “How’s your career? Are your parents doing okay? Oh, and by the way, when are you getting married? When’s he finally going to ‘put a ring on it?'” (key emphasis on “finally”). As if “putting a ring on it” validates that we are in a real, committed relationship.

    I love my friends and family more than anything and I know when they ask this, it’s not coming from a malicious place. They’re generally curious about the happenings in my life, and for that I am truly thankful.

    But, I wish I could tell them how these questions make me feel. Or, how their reactions imply that because we’re not engaged, it means we don’t love each other enough, we’re not serious enough or something is legitimately wrong with me for making the decision to cohabitate before saying “I do.”

    I’ve had people tell me “it’s never going to happen” or “I hope it happens before I die.” I’ve even had someone tell me I’m “wasting my time” which is the most hurtful response I’ve received to-date.

    When we do get engaged someday, I don’t want the reason to be, “I dragged her along for long enough and I guess it was just time,” like I’ve heard a few guys say after proposing to their girlfriends. I don’t believe that is a good enough reason. I don’t want to get married because society deemed it the big thing you’re supposed to do next. Societal norms are not one size fits all. And no one is dragging me against my will here.

    Marriage is so much more than a wedding. It’s more than a Facebook post of a girl showing off her new sparkly diamond with the caption, “He asked, I said yes!!” It’s more than a $30,000 party. Marriage is a commitment to doing life — the wonderful, the less than wonderful and the downright ugly — with another person.

    When I think about us getting married, I don’t think about the wedding (the thought of a big wedding makes my palms sweaty). Instead, I picture my life with him — a life that involves traveling the world and growing old together on a beach somewhere, as cliche as that sounds. A life that is less than perfect at times, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. A life that is similar to what we have now, but instead, involves kids and grandkids and a mortgage.

    But, before I check all of those items off of my list of to-do’s in life, there’s a few things I want to do first. I want to pursue a career that ignites my passion for creativity. I want to continue to surround myself with inspiring women entrepreneurs and business owners who encourage me to push myself every day. I want to venture to the Pacific Northwest. I want to gaze into the depths of the Grand Canyon. I want to see the Northern Lights.

    Do I want to get married someday? Yes. But, I’m happy right now. We’re happy right now. And that should be okay.

    No matter what stage of life you’re in, I’m sure you’ve been asked questions along the way. You know the ones (Are you dating anyone? Are you going to have kids? Are you two going to have another?). You probably know intrusive questions can be hurtful and just downright awkward, depending on who’s asking them (do you really want to know if someone is “trying” to have a baby? Or, do you really want to stand there with your foot in your mouth when they tell you they can’t?).

    Instead of letting the questions and the anxiety over how to answer them get to you, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different life path, and just because your path doesn’t line up with your friend’s, that doesn’t mean your route is the wrong one. Do what makes you the happiest version of yourself.

    You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Others are going to think what they want to think regardless. Let them.

    How do you respond to difficult personal questions? I’d love to know.

    Real Life

    How to Hit the Gym On Your Lunch Break (When You Work in an Office)

    How to hit the gym on your lunch break (when you work in an office) |

    Feature image via Happily Grey

    Happy December! Can you believe 2017 is just a month away? It’s crazy how time flies. And speaking of a new year, my goal (along with the rest of America) is to get in shape. You know, actually make time for the gym. If you’re in the same boat, then today’s topic is for you!

    I am not a morning person. I’m also not really a “head to the gym after work” kind of person. This makes the chances of me working out at all pretty slim. And staying active is so important. Especially if you’re like me and living that #sedentarylifestyle. So, I made the decision to make exercising a priority. To do this and fit it into my daily routine, I went to the gym during my lunch break.

    If you’re a busy mom who wants to make time for her family and her career and herself, or a twenty-something like me who really values her extra hours of sleep in the morning and the occasional Netflix binge post-work, then listen up! Working out over your lunch break might be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only does it help break up the day, and get the blood pumping, but I find it really helps my brain recharge, so I can tackle the rest of the afternoon and avoid hitting the dreaded 3 p.m. slump.

    Are you thinking of giving the mid-day work out a try? Scroll below for some tried and true tips:


    1. Lay out your clothes the night before

    You absolutely have to plan ahead if you want to make this work. The night before, I’ll lay out my clothes for work and pack my gym bag with everything I’ll need so it’s easy to grab and go in the morning.

    2. Pack your lunch

    Because I’m given an hour for lunch, heading to the gym doesn’t leave any time for grabbing something on the way.

    3. Put it in your calendar

    Call me crazy, but I am less likely to blow something off when it’s on my calendar.


    Walk to the gym (3 minutes)

    The gym I go to is right up the street from my office, which is really convenient. If you don’t have a gym near you, grab a co-worker and go on a walk around the block. Or if you’re looking for something a little more intense, slip on your gym shoes and jog or run for 30-45 min. Every little bit helps!

    Change (2 minutes)

    When I get to the gym, I head to the locker room first to quickly change into my workout gear. I remove my makeup with my two all-time fave products, Neutrogena Makeup Removing Wipes and Simple’s Miceller Water (LOVE this stuff). Then, I’ll put on a killer playlist (I’m loving this one) and get ready to go.

    Get a solid HIIT workout in (30 minutes)

    Because my time at the gym is limited, I make the most of it by working out at a high intensity level for 30 minutes. This usually involves weights, squats, jump rope, etc. Tone It Up has some great workout routines that really help you squeeze in a solid workout, no matter how much (or little) time you have.

    Stretch (5 minutes)

    Once my 30 min are up, I’ll grab a mat to do some ab exercises and stretch for about five minutes.

    Shower (3 minutes)

    I’ll hit the shower for a quick 3-minute rinse. I wash my hair the night before, so I don’t have to at the gym. This used to weird me out, but trust me, dry shampoo is a life saver.

    Get dressed, apply makeup (10 minutes)

    This step is pretty self explanatory. I keep my makeup routine as simple as possible so it’s quick and easy. Scroll below to see what’s in my makeup bag.

    Head back to the office (3 minutes)

    After my afternoon workouts, I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the afternoon!


    This is not your standard makeup bag. Working out should be hard, but applying your makeup after your workout doesn’t have to be. My gym makeup bag is filled with simple, multi-tasking products that help me feel refreshed, but not overdone. Here’s some of the products I can’t live without.