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Hawaii, Roundups, Washington

Month in Review: November 2015

Before beginning this post, I couldn’t resist checking out last year’s roundup from November.  Now that this little series has been going for more than a year, it’s always so interesting to see where I was all those months ago and reflect on how far I’ve come.

Funnily enough, though, I’m feeling a lot of similar emotions as I was exactly one year ago.  I’d just moved into a new apartment in Medellín and was struggling to keep my head above water with income as a newly-minted freelancer.  Now, I’m about to move to an entirely new country and even though I’m much better off financially than I was last year, that same ugly fear of going broke is once again rearing its head.  Oh, and in case you missed the announcement a few days ago, click here to find out where I’m going and I’m sure you’ll understand my anxiety.

I have come a long way in terms of understanding myself and what I want both professionally and personally since last year, so at least there’s that.  Another funny similarity to last November is that I’d just purchased my first ticket to a TBEX conference, and just last night I was toying with the idea of buying another one for TBEX Europe next year, coincidentally being held in the same city I’m heading to in a few short weeks.

Anywho, I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the past, so let’s focus on the present.  Here are the highlights of my November!

My November of 2015…

Has been all about family.

From an adventure-filled couple of weeks in Hawaii with my nearest and dearest to a Thanksgiving reunion here in Washington, this month has been all about family time.  For me, this is a rarity these days, which makes me cherish it all the more.  And I don’t want to jinx anything by saying this, but it was probably the most drama-free month of family time we’ve ever had.  We are all adults at this point so I’m sure that probably doesn’t sound exceedingly impressive to most of you, but it’s a big deal for us!  We love each other, we really do, but you know what happens when too many different personalities are confined to close quarters.  Shit can get ugly real fast, and I’m proud of how well we’ve gotten along this year.  That doesn’t exactly make it any easier to leave, but it has been really lovely to be home.

Wailea, Maui

The fam in Wailea

I put my business skills to the test.

I’ve been testing out loads of new ideas this month to make a living doing what I love, and let’s just say not everything has been a smashing success.  I never used to consider myself the entrepreneurial type, but I think it’s even more accurate to say I just lack any sort of business sense whatsoever.  I’ve done myself proud by standing up for myself and receiving respect in return, but I’ve also let myself down by simply being disorganized, failing to follow through on things, or missing out on perfectly good opportunities just because I didn’t know what to do with them.  I’m doing my best to take every failure as a learning opportunity, though, and when I look at it that way, I’ve learned a ton this month!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Getting down to serious business

I made fitness a priority again.

I’ve always been a firm believer that you don’t need a lot of time, space, or fancy gym equipment to stay in shape.  This means that on the road, I’ve got no good excuse for letting fitness fall by the wayside.  That being said, I finally picked back up with the most effective at-home fitness program I’ve ever found, Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide.  Oh, you’re not familiar with the Aussie Instagram star?  Well if you want to whip your ass into shape, you should be.  I purchased the first edition of her e-guide last year and have used it on-and-off since, but every time I do (regardless of whether I ever get her abs or not) I feel an immense sense of accomplishment and newly motivated to keep up with it.  It’s a solid investment for anyone who finds themselves making excuses on the reg to not workout.  You need very little equipment (and you can easily get by with none if you want) and only about as much space as a yoga mat.  If you don’t want to buy anything just yet, I dare you to try one of her free workouts and not get hooked.  I also tried my best to stay active as much as possible in Hawaii, which always resulted in fun outings.

Snorkeling in Maui

Snorkeling in Maui

I’ve struggled to feel any true connection to my home country.

I typically try to keep anything even remotely political from sneaking into this space, but this month I’ve silently struggled with something.  Over the last couple of years, my love for the United States has dwindled considerably, and this year has done further significant damage to our relationship.  There are so many values that I don’t identify with anymore, things that might as well form the definition of “American.”  I find myself feeling embarrassed by the idea that some people still consider America the greatest country in the world when all I can see is gun culture, ignorance, a failing education system, consumerism, debt, obesity, bigotry & racism…and the proud obstinance to do absolutely nothing about it.  I’m sickened by the fact that shootings have become so commonplace that they hardly garner a reaction anymore (a Planned Parenthood?  Really?) and frightened by the fact that someone as obtuse and overtly racist as Donald Trump could actually be considered a legitimate presidential candidate.  I truly fear for the future of our once-great nation and events that have taken place this month have only put our relationship on shakier ground.  At this point, the idea of ever settling in the US almost seems laughable; I no longer feel like I belong.

Maui, Hawaii

Even in Hawaii I felt out of place

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and feelings on this, particularly if you’re American (but other opinions welcome as well).  Do you identify with American culture?  Do you want to settle here someday?

And now, a few fun extras…

My Most Popular Posts

Long-Term Travel, Transitions, and What’s Coming Next – The big reveal!

Where to Travel in 2016: My Top Picks & Wishlist

My Best Instagrams

Both from Hawaii this time, no surprise there!  A sunset and a sunrise. 🙂

A Few Things I’m Loving

Thanksgiving from the Road: Five Gifts Travel Gave Me – Miss Wanderland had me all choked up with this one, talking about all of the wonderful things a life of travel has afforded her.  In fact, if you haven’t taken that trip you’ve always dreamed of, this post might be the motivation you need to finally get out the door.  It’s hard to deny all the positive things that come out of travel, and Alex hits the nail on the head with her top 5.

Traveller Collective – The guys over at Traveller Collective are doing amazing things.  They’ve teamed up with charity:water to help raise funds for sustainable water solutions around the world for communities in need.  The products they’ve created make great travel mementos and could be the perfect gift for a traveler on your list this holiday season.  The cool leather clip seen here is a reminder of all the amazing places I’ve been–each metal washer is engraved with the abbreviation of one of the 30 countries I’ve been to.  And being so small means I can carry it with me wherever I go.  How cool is that? Traveller Collective

My new GoPro Hero4Session – This teeny tiny camera can do big things, and I can’t wait to show you some of the awesome Hawaii footage I’ve got!  If only I weren’t so intimidated by video editing…

That’s it for November, how did the month shape up for you? Onward and upward!

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  • Reply Lauren Lalicon December 1, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    For me, I’m very proud to be an American. I’m a first-generation Filipino American, and I’ve seen what my family, my extended family, and my own friends have come from and where they are now, and it’s because of the opportunities that America has to offer. I completely understand your disillusionment with the country, especially considering all the recent events, the shootings, the police brutality, the impossible-to-fathom Donald Trump, but I think frightening concepts like those will always exist; the concepts will just change throughout time. Plus, each country has their own issues. It’s easier for us to see America’s shortcomings because we are American. National pride is a very complicated issue.
    Lauren Lalicon recently posted…The Time That I Climbed A MountainMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis December 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Agree with your last sentiment, Lauren. National pride is complicated, and my feelings toward the US are more complicated than I’ve even described here. I also know that every country has their own issues, it’s just a matter of finding a country whose issues I can tolerate, and I don’t think that’s the US for me.
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like ChristmasMy Profile

  • Reply Elizabeth December 2, 2015 at 7:35 am

    As a Canadian, it’s probably not my place to pass judgment, but I can definitely relate to how you’re feeling. My boyfriend is from the UK, and has a few relatives in the US, so he (and his siblings) have always looked at the US as this amazing place to be and I think they all kind of thought that they may live there at some point. However, over the past couple of years my boyfriend (and I) have changed our minds because it’s at the point where I don’t think I’d ever want to live in the US as my values don’t seem to come close to lining up with the things that seem to define Americans. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of beautiful places in the US that I have visited and places that I really want to visit, but I’m not sure I could live there long term. There are many places I would like to live, but I don’t think I can count the US on that list anymore… Canada is certainly not perfect but I feel like my own personal values are better reflected by the Canadian government (thanks to the recent election) and Canadians in general.
    Elizabeth recently posted…Christmas Market SaturdayMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis December 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

      Yeah there certainly is a lot of beauty and a lot of good and kind people in the US, even plenty that share my values. But even still, I have a hard time imagining a life in either of the only cities I would even consider at this point (NYC and San Francisco), so I don’t know what that says about my relationship to the country. I think I still need some time away to see if I’m ever drawn back. I think it’s fair for you as a Canadian to pass judgment, you’re as intimately familiar with our problems as anyone!

  • Reply Bridgette December 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    This is an issue that I have a lot of trouble with. There are so many things that I see in America that make me angry. Particularly living in the South I see a lot of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Nevertheless, I have to disagree when I hear you say that America isn’t doing anything about it. I watch the news and see headline after headline of heartbreaking news, objectified women, and persecuted LGBT persons, but when I talk to other Americans about these issues, we all seem to be of the same mind. I think that change in the states is occurring from the grassroots. Those with the privilege to have a voice in the media (and often in the government) are not representing the masses.

    The fact is that America is NOT the greatest country on earth, but it isn’t the worst either. It is an incredible country in its own right, but it has a lot of diversity. There are people in America who are despicable, but the whole country can’t be judged on a very loud minority.

    • Reply Leah Davis December 6, 2015 at 11:29 am

      I guess when I say I feel nothing is being done about our issues, it’s because of what you’ve said here, that many times the people with the power to enact change don’t have the best interest of the masses at heart. The people with money ultimately make the decisions in this country, and that frustrates me to no end–furthermore, I don’t see this issue ever going away. A major reason we still have so much gun violence in this country is because the NRA has enough money to cow congress into doing whatever it pleases, regardless of what’s best for our safety and security.

  • Reply Alisa December 2, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I have only recently moved back to the US after many years abroad, and I have never felt like I belonged here (that’s why I left in the first place)! But visa issues have made it necessary to be here for awhile, and I will say that while I don’t know if I belong here, I never quite belonged anywhere else either. I tried to make Spain my home, but while I loved many of their ideologies, it seemed that they would never accept me as anything more than a foreigner. At least in the US I (want to believe I) have the power to enact change. I’m teaching foreign language here now, and I have to hope that at the very least with the influence of people like myself, the next generation will be more open-minded than some previous ones. I do not love or feel a strong connection to the sick America of right now, but I really want to hope that I can help make it better.

    But if Trump is elected president, I will probably jump ship for the next 8 years. Just saying.
    Alisa recently posted…The Delight of My First Real Snowstorm in 5 YearsMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis December 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Hey Alisa! I hear you, and I’m somewhat nervous of what life will be like should I choose to eventually settle somewhere else because I’m sure I’ll experience moments of feeling like I don’t belong there, either. But, I figure it will require a bit of extra effort on my part and that’s a struggle I’m willing to face if it means I can experience another culture, one that I feel more connected to whether or not I’m truly ‘accepted.’

      I hope you can enact change, too, and sincerely hope America finds its way out of this dark time in its history. More specifically, I hope Trump doesn’t become president.

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