Wrap Up: October & November 2018

October & November Wrap Up - The Atlas Heart

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You may have noticed that I didn’t write a wrap up post last month.

It was already almost the end of November by the time I finally had a slice of free time to write for this blog, and I already had guilt about not getting out my wrap up post for October yet.

So, I decided to give myself a break and just combine my wrap-ups for October & November into one post.

As I’ve gotten more into this whole running my own business thing, I’ve realized how important it is to let things go sometimes, and come up with solutions that will stress me out the least while still getting my highest priority work done.

It’s a delicate balance, but it helps when I think of the bigger picture and the importance of avoiding burnout.

Twin Peaks, San Francisco, California
I finally got to Twin Peaks in San Francisco while working on some sponsored content for Breckenridge Brewery.

Brenna from This Battered Suitcase wrote up a great post about this ‘blog guilt’ that bloggers all feel when we don’t get a chance to work on our blogs as much as we would like.

That post is super relatable for me right now – case in point, the crickets that have been making a comfortable home in the silence of my blog for the past few months.

Thankfully, I know that things are coming together in the right ways behind the scenes of The Atlas Heart and that I’ll be able to give more to my blog next year.

The first exciting thing I’m going to tackle next year? Getting a whole new blog, brand, and logo design.

Hostelling International | San Francisco, California
Working on sponsored content at HI City Center Hostel in downtown San Francisco.
Monument Valley | Arizona
In addition to a few exciting brand collaborations, I also went to Arizona on a press trip last month. Even more reason to get a more professional blog design, so I can work with more brands and tourism boards in the future.

My current design is simple and clean, but I feel like it no longer reflects my journey or conveys any real personality. Plus, I’ve had in since 2015 when I was at a very different stage of my life.

I’ve already found an awesome designer and put in the security deposit, so it’s a done deal. The Atlas Heart 3.0 is coming in early 2019!

I’m also in the process of hiring my first more full time (but still part-time) employee for my client work and this blog.

This person is going to be working around 60-80 hours a month for me to help relieve a bit of that overwhelmingness I’ve been feeling lately with my workload, and trying to manage so many different workflows for clients and brand collaborations.

My business has grown enough that I really need a righthand person to help me manage that growth in the right ways and keep me going in the right direction.

Marina District in San Francisco, California

The Grand Canyon | Arizona, USA
Having an assistant for my blog & business is paramount when I travel so much.

I took the leap around this time last year and hired my first part-time employee (who is still with me), and I’ve had quite a few very part time employees over the past year, but I really want someone who is invested in my brand and who sees the bigger picture of my business.

It’s safe to say that 2019 is going to be an exciting year for this blog and my business. I have high hopes that it’ll be my businesses’ first year of making six figures, and I couldn’t be more pumped.

But enough about future plans, let’s dive into my October & November!

October was a very exciting month for me in particular because I finally found a more permanent place to live in San Francisco. I moved into the Haight at the beginning of the month and I’ve been building up my room and reorganizing my life since (still a work in progress).

Besides the fact that I get offered coke on my way to yoga class sometimes (the Haight is rampant with drug dealers, homeless people, and hippies), it has been the perfect place for me to set down roots in the city.

There is truly never a dull day in my neighborhood, but I kind of like its mix of hectic yet laid back nature.

I love my new room, apartment, sunny back patio, housemates, and the cutest little black cat that lives with us, Cleo.

San Francisco Halloween | October 2018
Cleo all ready for Halloween.
San Francisco Halloween | October 2018
My housemates are into decorating for holidays, I love it.

I love how many cafes and cool restaurants there are within walking distance and that Golden Gate park is right next door. I also love how central the location is while still feeling like it’s away from the city and near a lot of nature.

But, before I moved in, I felt a bit lost in September and most of October about my place in the city.

After my first sublet ended abruptly without much warning, and a month of sleeping on my sister’s couch and going to house walkthroughs every week that always ended in discouraging results, I thought that maybe it was a sign that San Francisco and me weren’t meant to be.

I remember talking to my mom on the phone the day before I was offered a spot at my current place, and tearily telling her that I thought I made a huge mistake in moving here. I knew it would be hard, but not this hard.

And then things just started to finally work out. It was like by admitting to the universe that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and that feeling of displacement, the universe (or my subconscious) listened and got its shit together.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
That feeling when things start finally coming together.

As soon as I found an apartment, things started falling into place again and I felt so much more welcome in the city. The timing couldn’t have worked out better.

Besides finding my place in the city, my client and blog/Instagram work picked up in October and November as well.

I went to Arizona for a week with Visit Mesa, spent time with family over Thanksgiving, found myself camping in Big Sur for the first time since high school, and worked with brands like Breckenridge Brewery, Hostelling International, and Gaston Luga.

I voted for the first time in San Francisco, at the beautiful city hall building. I finally got my driver’s license switched back over to California from Oregon, and even figured out my health insurance now that I’m living in the US – not an easy feat as someone who is self-employed.

I also celebrated Halloween by dressing up as one of David S. Pumpkin’s skeletons (my sister was the other skeleton and our friend Diane was David Pumpkins). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please view exhibit A:

And, of course, I went to plenty of trivia and karaoke nights with friends on Tuesday nights.

This was my October & November in a nutshell!

PLACES & MEMORIES

San Francisco | Besides house hunting, moving into my new place, and buying a whole lot of furniture, I spent October and November getting to know San Francisco better.

I went to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival with my friends Chris and Caroline, worked out at City Fit Fest with my sister and friend Sophia, went up to northern East Bay for my friend Bre’s housewarming party, enjoyed a few Halloween house parties with various friends, and camped and hiked around Angel Island with a group of girlfriends for a night.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass | Golden Gate Park | San Francisco, California
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass with Chris & Caroline.
Angel Island | San Francisco, Bay Area, California
Camping on Angel Island for a night with a group of girlfriends.

I finally went up to the top of Twin Peaks for beautiful views over the city, dealt with the intense smoke from the Camp Fire in northern California for two weeks, and went on a whole lot of fun events around the city – from the Exploratorium After Dark, to Bhangra dance parties, beer halls, and warehouse clubs in the Dogpatch.

Santa Cruz | I went down to Santa Cruz twice over the past two months. Once to load up a bunch of stuff to take back up to San Francisco, and the second time to spend Thanksgiving with the family.

My first weekend in Santa Cruz was still during the height of the fires, which could still very much be felt in Santa Cruz, so my friend and I escaped to the forest and went hiking at The Forest of Nisene Marks in Aptos.

Santa Cruz Thanksgiving, California
I don’t have many photos from my time in Santa Cruz because I was just enjoying it, but this picture taken in SF with my sister represents my two visits pretty well – good food, good company.

For Thanksgiving, besides having a delicious feast cooked by my mom (and making the whole family try my new brussel sprouts recipe – you’re welcome fam), we had a family bowling and arcade day down at the Boardwalk.

It’s rare for all of my siblings and my mom and I to be together, so it was really nice to have that quality family time – even if I didn’t end up winning any of our bowling games.

Arizona | I spent a packed 6 days in Arizona in November for a press trip. We started with a lot of outdoorsy activities in Mesa, such as kayaking, hiking, and horseback riding, and stayed at the lovely Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch.

After a couple of days in Mesa, the group of us went up to northern Arizona to visit Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and stop in cities such as Winslow and Flagstaff.

It was an incredible trip that I’m looking forward to writing up in more detail soon. After a lot of city life for the past few months, it was nice to get out to another state and surround myself in nature.

Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch Bull Riding
Riding horses (and, um, bulls) at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch in Mesa, Arizona.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Having fun with photography at Horseshoe Bend with my fellow press trippers.
Grand Canyon Sunset, Arizona
This was my second time to the Grand Canyon, and it was just as amazing as I remembered from a couple of years ago.

I also had the best group you could ask for on a press trip and traveled with mostly traditional journalists and photographers (aka I was the only Instagrammer/blogger).

There were a lot of early wake up calls to watch the sunrise, and it reminded me that I can be a decent morning person if I make a habit of it.

Big Sur | I only spent one night in Big Sur with my boyfriend after Thanksgiving, but it was a magical trip. Even with how much I’ve traveled, there are few places that rival the beauty of the PCH around Bixby Canyon Bridge and Big Sur as a whole.

Big Sur Camping Trip over Thanksgiving Weekend
Camping in Big Sur with the boyfriend over Thanksgiving weekend.

We somehow managed to get a last minute cabin and spent our time hiking and watching a beautiful sunset next to the ocean. It was the perfect way to end a fulfilling week of family time and memorable experiences.

READS

I’ve been behind on my reading for the past two months, and although I started two books (that I’m still currently reading), I didn’t get through any books in October or November. Eeek!

This was a first. I almost always get through at least one or two books a month, so this next month I’m really going to focus on carving out more reading time.

PLANS

There are only 28 more days left of 2018 and I plan to use them wisely. My goal for this month is to get set-up for 2019 in every way I can, for my business, this blog, my travels, and mindset.

In terms of trips, the only one I have planned is Vancouver next week. I have an exciting sponsored trip with Mazda, driving up to Whistler from Vancouver, and hopefully getting in some snowboarding for a day. More to come about this soon on Instagram!

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
Looking forward to making the most of the end of 2018.

My brother is getting married on New Year’s Eve, so I’m staying stateside for the holidays. I can’t wait to ring in the New Year with my brother and his fiancee to celebrate their new married life!

Until next month! xx

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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