Wrap Up: December 2018

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Whistler, Canada

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The last month of 2018 was equally slow and fast. My weeks were filled to the brim with work, content creation, travels, and holidays parties, but I loved soaking up every last minute of one of the best years I’ve had in a long time.

At the end of November, I was contacted by Mazda. MAZDA people!!! A few weeks later, I was ecstatic to head up to Whistler, a new Canadian destination for me, for a few days to work on some sponsored content for them and drive a few new 2019 Mazda models. I even managed to get in an afternoon of snowboarding falling on my ass in the snow.

I also spent about a week down in Santa Cruz this month to have quality family time and enjoy our last Christmas in Santa Cruz.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Night Bloom, San Francisco
Night Bloom in San Francisco.

My mom is moving down the California coast, just south of San Luis Obispo, in January, so these were the last memories of Santa Cruz we’ll have as a family for awhile. But, I am looking forward to this new beginning for my mom after living in Santa Cruz for the majority of her life.

December was also the first month of working at my new coworking space – The Wing. The Wing is an all women’s coworking space in the Financial District. They actually started in New York and just opened the new San Francisco office a few months ago.

I’ve only been working there for a month so far but I’m already inspired just being surrounded by so many badass female professionals who are doing their own thing. There are a ton of events that happen each week at The Wing, usually women-themed, and I see this space being another important support system for my growing business. I have a year-long membership so we’ll see how my 2019 at The Wing goes!

Wrap Up: December 2018 | San Francisco
Finding delicious new brunch spots around San Francisco in December.
Wrap Up: December 2018 | Whistler, Canada
One of the highlights of my December – getting to work with Mazda in Whistler and making new friends in the industry.

I also spent a lot of this month training my new (more) full time hire for my business. I met her at the travel media conference I attended in Austin, Texas in September, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together in 2019. Already just from her first month, I have high hopes for the type of progress we’ll make in growing The Atlas Heart brand.

And without a doubt the most exciting part of my December? My brother got married! But more about that below.

Without further ado, this was my December!


San Francisco | I spent most of December in my home base of San Francisco. The more time I spend in SF, the happier I am with my decision to create a proper home base for myself here in 2018. Just having my own apartment to come back to with my ‘to and fro’ mentality in December, helped keep me grounded and focused throughout the month.

I started the month by checking off a winter bucket list activity in the city – Night Bloom. Every December, the Conservatory of Flowers turns into this psychedelic forest walk with LED lights for a few weeks. It was magical to experience. I had never been to the Conservatory of Flowers before either, so it was a good introduction.

I also went to two fun holiday work parties with my sister and my friend Chris. Through these I got to experience Hornblower’s Dinner Cruise around the Bay (which went underneath the Golden Gate Bridge!), and delicious pizza from Del Popolo and craft cocktails from one of San Francisco’s trendiest tiki bars, Pagan Idol.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Night Bloom, San Francisco
The psychedelic Night Bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco.

Other highlights from my December included a date night at Crustacean, where I finally learned how to properly crack a whole crab with a bib, and had the best fresh crab and garlic noodles of my life. I somehow still got crab grease all down my brand new top, even with the bib, but it was worth it.

I also went on a brewery tuk tuk tour around the city with Dylan’s Tours, and has two delicious brunches (San Francisco’s specialty) at Sparrow Bar and Kitchen and Padrecito.

I also experienced SantaCon for the second year in a row, but I was under impressed with this year’s event. Perhaps it was the fact that I waited to go out at night instead of day drinking, as most people do, but by the time I was at the bars everyone was so drunk and sloppy. There were too many bros trying to start fights with other bros, and I realized that even if I was still 22 it’s not a scene that would appeal to me.

Whistler, Canada | It was a quick trip up to Whistler for just three days, but I was buzzing because I got to work with Mazda for the first time on a sponsored campaign. It was also the first time I drove in the snow by myself, and through a snow storm at that, but it was luckily with brand new Mazdas that are made for all types of weather so it wasn’t too bad.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Whistler, Canada
Working with Mazda in Whistler, Canada.

I met a handful of inspiring fellow content creators throughout the trip, including Rachel from Rachel Roams, who was my driving partner for a day of test driving the new Mazda CX-5.

Mazda put us up in the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, up there as one of the fanciest hotels I’ve stayed at, and all around it was a beautiful winter wonderland trip. Plus, it only made me want to go up to Whistler for a proper trip in the near future. Maybe once I finally get good at snowboarding!

Santa Cruz | I spent about a week in Santa Cruz over Christmas and enjoyed quality time with my mom, brother and sis.

Although I was working in the mornings during this week, I tried to keep my evenings free so my mom and I could fit in our favorite Santa Cruz haunts, such as Tortilla Flats, El Palomar, and Carpo’s.

This seemed even more important since it was the last time the two of us would be in Santa Cruz for awhile before her impending move down the coast.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Santa Cruz, California
Goofing it up with my mom and sis during Christmas time in Santa Cruz.

In general, it was a relaxing week of catching up with family and having a lot of good food. It was a great way to round out the end of 2018.

Campbell | And lastly, I spent the last day of 2018 in Campbell to celebrate my brother and new sister-in-law’s wedding! Their wedding dinner/reception was as the tasty Orchard City Kitchen, and we all ended up at the Cedar Room bar next door to ring in the New Year.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | Campbell, San Jose, California
Celebrating my brother getting married on NYE!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less inclined to want to actually go out to major NYE events or popular packed bars in big cities, where it takes an hour to get a drink (I know I sound like a 60 year old woman right now), so really this was the perfect way to ring in 2019 with my family by my side and cheersing to my brother’s new married life.


I got back into my reading game in December, making my way through two books by the end of the month.

The first was Brene Brown’s new book, Dare to Lead, about how to lead people with an open mind, open heart, and optimal communication skills.

As I continue to grow my business, I find these types of leadership books relevant and helpful, especially since I never went to business school. This whole running my own business thing has been a process of diving head first into leadership and managing people, learning things as I go and sometimes the hard way.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | The Wing SF
A glimpse of the library at my new coworking space – The Wing. Most of these books are female focused or written by female authors. I have a lot of reading to do!

Brene is such a talented writer and although this didn’t end up being my favorite book of hers compared to some of the other ones I’ve read (ex: Braving the Wilderness and Rising Strong), it was still a good read that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to think more about the psychology behind leadership.

The second book I tackled this month was actually a Christmas present from my mom – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I’ve watched a few episodes of Trevor’s version of the Daily Show and have always been impressed with how on point he is about a lot of subjects. He also doesn’t shy away from talking about controversial issues, which I appreciate.

Although I knew he was South African, I had no idea that he grew up as a biracial kid during Apartheid, when it was illegal for blacks and whites to have intimate relations, let alone create offspring. I love a good memoir and Trevor didn’t disappoint with telling a moving story of the harsh realities of growing up in South Africa during the 80s and the unwavering bond between him and the mother who raised him.


As the end of the year always has a way of doing, I’ve been reflecting a lot on where I currently am in life and my business and figuring out what I want my 2019 to look like.

The most important thing for me going into the first few months of the year is creating more passive income through this blog. I want more freedom to work when I want and take a step back from the day-to-day tasks so I can figure out more ways in which I can grow my business.

Wrap Up: December 2018 | San Francisco
The beautiful Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

I also have a few exciting travel plans for 2019 already. I just bought my ticket to Denver the other night. I plan to be in Colorado for a few days in January to go snowboarding, catch up with an old college friend and housemate, and see a new US state that I’ve never been to before!

Other travel ideas for the year include France, Luxembourg, Cuba, Sweden, India, Sri Lanka, and more US travels that will take me to more southern states, a region of the US I still have yet to really explore (I’ve heard Florida and Texas don’t count). We’ll see what I can get to this year!

One thing for sure is I’m starting the year with a clear head and a home base that allows me to feel more grounded. Really anything could happen in 2019.

Until next month! x

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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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