Winter in Central Washington
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Month in Review: December 2017

Happy New Year my friends!

I enjoy writing these posts no matter what time of year, but in December, there is so much more to reflect on. I’m thinking about the year as a whole and what I’ve learned and accomplished rather than just the past thirty days.

It’s been an absolutely wild ride, and I can’t help but feel grateful for all the ups and downs, the highs and lows. Because I can’t very well be grateful just for the happy moments, since the tough times played such a profound role in helping me grow. Without the lows, the highs wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful.

The month of December brought with it so much to be thankful for, including plenty of family time, new experiences, and planning for the future.

In December 2017…

We realized we still have no idea what the f*ck we’re doing in life

I figured I’d kick things off with this one, because I wouldn’t want anyone out there believing we’ve got things all figured out when the reality is entirely the opposite.

Both Hans and I have really struggled over the past month with knowing where to take our careers from here. We both have a lot of ideas and a lot of opportunities we could pursue, but we want to make sure that whatever we choose to move forward with is for the benefit of our highest purpose in this lifetime.

We want to make choices for the greater good of humanity, and it’s hard to know which path serves the most people in the most meaningful way.

And of course, we can’t forget the little detail of making a living. As independent creatives, this is sometimes easier said than done. What we’re most passionate about won’t necessarily pay the bills.

Don’t get me wrong here–I love my blog and wouldn’t dream of giving up what I’ve built here over the last four years. But, I just don’t think full-time blogging is a good long-term plan for me. I’ve had second thoughts about it ever since I decided to go all-in earlier this year.

Portrait photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV

Here are a few things we do know as of right now: 

  • We have no intentions of going back to 9 to 5 jobs–we value our freedom and flexibility too much
  • We want to move somewhere new, which could make things more challenging…or bring with it more opportunities

And that’s pretty much where the list ends. So as you can imagine, we have a lot left to figure out before we’ll feel really confident moving forward with just one of the options available to us.

But the one thing that keeps us sane amidst all of this confusion is the fact that just about every one of our friends feels the same way about their own lives. The reality is that NONE of us have things “figured out,” and getting older doesn’t necessarily change that.

At the end of the day, all we can really do is take things day by day and try to laugh through it all. I feel fortunate to have a partner who understands this because without his support through this confusing time in my life, I think I’d really feel lost.

We flew to Las Vegas so Hans could audition for America’s Got Talent

If you read my roundup of my favorite travel moments of the year, you’ve already heard this story. But for the rest of you, here’s what went down.

Fifteen years ago, Hans and his mom came to an agreement that if he went on a reality singing show (American Idol was new on the scene at the time), then she would go on a date.

For a plethora of reasons, it wasn’t until this very year that both of them finally upheld their end of the bargain. Now that he’s 30, Hans is actually past the age cutoff for American Idol, but when he discovered that America’s Got Talent was holding auditions, he jumped at the opportunity.

Hans' America's Got Talent Audition in Las Vegas

It started with a video audition, then an invitation to audition in person in Las Vegas. Then, his mom went on her first date in fifteen years.

I’m fairly certain Hans couldn’t have cared less about the actual audition at that point–his mom was dating again, and that had been the goal all along.

But, seeing as he now had an invitation to Las Vegas, he couldn’t exactly let that opportunity go to waste. Entourage in tow (myself, his mom, and his two sisters), he flew down mid-month and CRUSHED his audition.

We won’t know the results until January or February, but we’re proud of him no matter what the outcome. For more details about the experience, read my last post!

I upgraded my camera gear

Buying a full frame camera had been on my to-do list for quite some time, but I wanted to wait until I could get my dream camera so I wouldn’t be tempted to upgrade again shortly afterward. And get my dream camera I did!

I got my very first DSLR back in 2010 but didn’t really do much with it at the time. In fact, I had that camera the whole time I was living in Thailand and teaching English, yet I almost always opted for my point-and-shoot instead.

Once I became more comfortable shooting with my DSLR during later travels, I regretted all that time I lost in such a beautiful part of the world.

From 2012 onward, my progress was slow, but at least I was making progress. It wasn’t until the last year or so that my interest in photography reached an all-time high–in fact, you might say it’s bordering on obsession at this point.

Photography started to look appealing as a career option, and at the very least, having better camera gear would only improve the content I was putting out on my blog and social media. So it made sense to move from my basic DSLR to a more advanced model that would produce higher-quality images.

I felt as though I’d done all the growing I could with my Canon Rebel SL1.

As I’m hoping to break into the world of professional photography this year, one of the first things I did when my new camera arrived in the mail was get in some portrait practice with the help of my beautiful future sister-in-law. I couldn’t have asked for a better guinea pig!

Portrait photography with the Canon 5D Mark IV

We took a walk through the snow so I could get familiar with my new gear and editing software (I had to upgrade to a newer version of Lightroom as the old one wasn’t compatible with my new camera).

I can’t wait to share more of the photos I’ve been shooting with my Canon 5D Mark IV.

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Running into 2018 like… 🏃‍♀️⠀ ⠀ I’m so excited to see what this new year has in store. I’ve got big plans and a fiery desire to bring my dreams to light.⠀ ⠀ -I will make photography a bigger part of my life/career path.⠀ -I will create more passive income through my blog. ⠀ -I will live a more compassionate life. ⠀ -I will make more time for mindfulness and self-care.⠀ ⠀ Side note: as I was writing this post just now, my instinct was to say “I want.” But by making the simple change in my language to “I will,” I instantly empowered myself. I KNOW I can accomplish these things. I can’t let doubt even begin to creep into my vocabulary. Because this isn’t just wistful dreaming, this is an ACTION PLAN. ⠀ ⠀ What’s one of your intentions for 2018? What will you accomplish? Let’s move into the new year knowing our aspirations are within reach 💪 We’ve got this!

A post shared by Leah Davis | The Sweetest Way (@thesweetestway) on

A Few Things I’m Loving

Photography Classes on Skillshare – I’ve been using Skillshare to level up my photography skills over the last few months, and so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the high caliber of the content available to me. I’m learning SO much, all for just $15 per month. Of course, they offer courses on an enormous range of topics, so if you want to get better at something this year, I’d highly recommend using Skillshare to help you do it.

Develop the Art of Mindful Seeing Through Photography – I forget exactly how I stumbled upon this article, but I’ve read it and re-read it several times since. It suggests using photography as a mindfulness (and even meditative) practice, giving specific ways you can incorporate this into your daily routine. I’m considering starting my own 365-day project by taking, sharing, and writing about one photo every single day for a full year (just as the author did). I can’t think of a better way to combine two of my favorite things, all while improving my photography!

This video of a little girl having a dance-off with an airport employee – If you haven’t seen this yet, please take a minute to watch! It’ll melt your heart and remind you of the good in the world.

That’s all for December…onward and upward!

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  • Reply Bernard January 1, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I enjoyed your blog. Thank you

  • Reply Diane January 1, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Happy New Year to you, Leah! I loved reading your month in review and am heading over to the post you linked w/the AGT details. Good luck to Hans!
    Diane recently posted…What’s surprised me the most about my life in France?My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis January 5, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Thank you so much Diane! Happy New Year to you too!

  • Reply Justine January 3, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Oh, that’s so exciting about the new camera! I really want to make an effort to improve my photography this year, but I’ve been struggling to find good resources for learning about photography. I’m so glad you mentioned Skillshare. I’m going to check it out, for sure. Do you have any other resources you’ve used that you’d recommend? For example, blogs or books. Any advice would be highly appreciated. Happy New Year, Leah!

    • Reply Leah Davis January 5, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Hey Justine! There are SO many free resources on YouTube. I have relied pretty heavily on YouTube videos to learn more about editing with Lightroom, but you could have just about any question answered I think! Maybe start with Skillshare though and supplement with YouTube. If I come across any other good resources I’ll let you know! Happy New Year to you too!!

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