Embarcadero, San Francisco
California, Roundups, Washington

Month in Review: March 2016

With the passing of March and the onset of spring, things are pretty cheery around here.  Not that anything went terribly awry in March, but the changing of seasons always seems to bring good (and often unexpected) things, and I can’t wait to find out what they are.

What I will say about the past month is that it brought with it some much-needed clarity.  Although it stings to realize you’re still not quite the person you want to be, it also serves as a wake-up call, forcing you to re-assess your priorities and refocus your energies on what’s truly important.  I see my goals more clearly, and I can see my future success–now it’s time to go after it.

Here are a few of the defining events that took place this month.

In March of 2016…

I stepped up my photography game.

I’ve mentioned my new photography setup a few times but only in passing, so I’ll take a moment now to elaborate on what’s new.  For the last year and a half, I’ve been shooting with a Canon Rebel SL1, a compact DSLR.  The body is just fine, and I appreciate that it’s super lightweight for travel.  However, I’d been DYING to upgrade my lens for the last several months, because as much as I appreciate the versatility of Canon’s 18-55mm kit lens, I was aching for something that would produce higher quality images as well as a stronger bokeh effect in portraits and close-ups.

After a bit of research and finally consulting my trusty photographer friend Megan, I settled on the 24-70 mm f/2.8 zoom lens.  Still great for landscapes like my previous lens, and even better for portraits.  It was exactly what I was looking for, and the image quality is insane.  The sharpness of my photos compared to those taken with my old lens is just incredible.  It even came with a UV filter which I use primarily as an extra layer of protection.  So, the lens was my main concern, and I hit the nail on the head with this one.  But, I wanted to do even more experimenting, so I tacked on a lightweight aluminum tripod and a wireless remote (yay, self-portraits!).  The tripod is perfect for my needs and a great value at around just $25; the value of the remote remains to be seen (but at $20, it’s no great loss, either).

Most of the images that have been featured on the blog since February have been produced with this lens, but here are a few of my favorites so far.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco

Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco

Embarcadero, San Francisco

Embarcadero, San Francisco

I got my personal finances in order.

Until this year, the topic of personal finance may as well have been Greek to me.  It’s not something I ever studied in school (but I’m now convinced it should be a requirement) nor did I have any role models around while growing up to educate me on the subject.  My spending habits are atrocious and the word ‘budget’ has never had a place in my vocabulary.  So, a year and a half after attempting to make it on my own as a freelancer, I decided it was high time I change all that.

My secret weapon?  I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi.  I can’t remember how I originally stumbled on Ramit’s eponymous blog last year, but I am SO glad I did.  Even if you think personal finance is boring (which, let’s be honest, it is) Ramit can teach you the basics in a way that not only makes sense but is highly entertaining and actionable as well.  Following the guidance in this book, I opened bank accounts that won’t charge me foreign transaction fees, a high-interest online savings account, a retirement account, and even started investing (!!).  I also now understand the true difference between cheap and frugal, and how conscious spending can allow you to take care of what needs taking care of while still setting some money aside for the things you truly love.

In all honesty, this book has changed everything for me, and for once in my adult life, I’m in a place where I feel good about my finances.  My most important lesson to pass on to you this month: don’t wait to educate yourself.  Do it now.

PS – IWTYTBR is a mega steal on Amazon right now…just sayin’.I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi

I realized that my own fear of failure is still very much standing in my way.

I think most of us do this at one point or another; we second-guess our abilities and our drive, we doubt our own motivations, we convince ourselves our dreams are not possible.  I realized this month that I’m still doing a lot of things that I think (or I’ve convinced myself) are beneficial when really they are just holding me back from achieving what I really want.  I’m taking the safe route.  I’m still not taking myself or my dreams seriously.  I’m letting my fear of failure keep me from taking the leap I need to take.  When this realization came crashing down on me this month, I knew it was time to make a change.  More to come on this topic…

I took my first trip of the year.

San Francisco has drawn me back to it fairly consistently over the last several years.  With so many of my friends living there, it’s an obvious choice.  My week in Fog City turned out marvelously; I was prepared for rain and gloom and was instead met with brilliantly blue skies.  I met up with friends all over the city and relished the opportunity to catch up on life.  I’m so grateful to have a community in San Francisco that’s always so willing to make time for me when I breeze through.  I can’t find that anywhere else in the world.  Exploring new parts of the city is always an exciting undertaking as well; a few of my favorite discoveries were Japantown, Lands End, Bernal Heights, and Hayes Valley.  And I may or may not have developed a severe dependency on Uber and Lyft.  Expect plenty of SF posts coming your way soon!

Embarcadero, San Francisco

Bridges!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, San Francisco

Donuts!

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Friends!

My Most Popular Posts

How to Build a Beautiful Blog (not actually a post, but a resource page I created for anyone looking to start their very own blog!)

Carry-On Flight Essentials

In Defense of Solo Female Travel

My Best Instagrams

Today on the blog, I wanted to touch on a few subjects of great importance to me and that have been occupying much of my head space lately: solo female travel, safety, and violence against women. It pains me to know that we live in a world where women are still often treated as lesser beings, but what pains me even more is the belief that the answer to this violence is that women are simply better off staying home. I refuse to live my life in fear, cowering away from my dreams of seeing the world under the false assumption that staying put is somehow going to keep me from harm. Our attitudes must change and we must shift our focus to confront these problems at the source, because women are not about to stop traveling. #solofemaletravel #wegosolo #dametraveler #viajosola

A photo posted by Leah Davis (@leahlamochilera) on

A Few Things I’m Loving

Don’t Stop Traveling Because of Fear – Another poignant piece by Jodi of Legal Nomads: “Travel is enriching, rewarding, and can make you a better and more compassionate person. It can also provide you with a perspective that makes you a better human. Bearing in mind that some countries with frequent, systematic attacks should be avoided, I would urge people not to avoid all travel out of fear. Doing so plays into what those who attack innocent people want: an angry, reactive modern world.”

21 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome – This relates directly to my third point.  I’m suffering from imposter syndrome.

11 science-backed ways to develop a better work-life balance – I know I need to implement more of these, and I bet some of you could probably stand to as well.

A Look at What’s Ahead

On the horizon for April, I’ve got get-togethers with family (I get to meet my cousin’s new little ones for the first time!), the video response to my Ask Me Anything post (have you submitted a question yet?), a few giveaways here on the blog (stay tuned!), a week in New York, and a solo excursion to Mexico!

That’s all for March!  Bring on April!


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