Wrap Up: February 2018

A Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal - Agra, India

It’s weird to think of the past sometimes and where I was in February at this time last year – in Thailand, then Vietnam, and at the very end of a bad relationship. I was at the cusp of so many things – both positive and negative.

I was in a place where I had shut myself off from the outside world (i.e. living on a tiny remote island). And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also preventing myself from appreciating quality connections – both nurturing the old and creating the new.

Fast forward a year later, I’m back in California, surrounded by some of the closest people in my life,  and I feel more grounded than I have in years. Maybe it just took coming home for awhile, or realizing that California is still very much a ‘home’ for me even after all the times I’ve left it and come back.

All this is to say that my February this year kicks last year’s February’s butt.

This month, I managed to partake in a whirlwind girls trip to India, a place I’ve been wanting to go for YEARS. I spent time with my dad and stepmom in Oregon to catch up on the past year and enjoy quality time with the fam.

I also spent more time in California to see some of my favorite people, and felt that constant gooey undercurrent of belonging every time I laid eyes on the San Francisco Bay from above.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Puppies in Udiapur, India
Sleeping puppies in Udaipur, India.

February was another packed month – maybe I’ll learn how to slow down properly one of these days? – but it held some of the best memories from the year so far. 2018 is already shaping up to be a stunner.

Without further ado, this was my February!

PLACES & MEMORIES

India | I’m not going to go into too many specifics about India because I’ll be writing up a post (read: many posts) about my short time in this wonderful country, but let’s just say it was an epic trip. And I don’t use the the word ‘epic’ lightly.

My bestie Pascale and I only had a couple of weeks to put the trip together, and we somehow managed to pull it off with a bang. For a two week trip of getting my feet wet in a foreign country again, it was the perfect balance of culture, socializing, and pure open-eyed wonder.

Indian Wedding in Udaipur, India
Indian wedding in Udaipur.

We managed to fit in 7 cities in 15 days (not recommended), traveling through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur at lightening speed.

Even though it was a fast trip, we made an effort to meet as many locals as possible. We only hung out with Indians for the first half of the trip and had a blast – they’re such sassy (and gorgeous) people and we loved getting to know their culture through their eyes.

We hit all the usual spots around this part of northern India (i.e. the Taj Mahal), and fell in love with Pushkar and Udaipur particularly.

This trip only made me want to plan an adventure in southern India ASAP. I know I’ll make it back to the country someday on the sooner side.

Eugene | After a quick couple of days in San Francisco once I touched down from India, I was on a plane again to Oregon to go spend time with my dad and stepmom.

My 10 days in Oregon were the polar opposite of my time in India – think rural and cold. It even snowed one of the mornings I was there!

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Eugene, Oregon
Winter in Oregon.

It was a bit of a culture shock after India, and I was still recovering from a respiratory sickness that hit me toward the end of my trip. Therefore, I was feeling under the weather for the first 5 days or so of my time in Oregon.

But there was so much good about my trip too! I went to a couple of Pac 12 women’s basketball games with my dad, cheering on the University of Oregon Ducks and reminiscing about my childhood when we used to go to games all the time (usually my own).

I also got to watch my dad’s band play a couple of times, be the band photographer for a night, and enjoy a Sunday funday with my stepmom at the swanky new fusion Thai cocktail and tapas bar in town – Blue Mist.

California| I’ve been back in California for the past couple of days, and besides catching up on work, I’ve already had In-N-Out, seen Black Panther (SO GOOD), and I’m heading to a birthday dinner in San Jose tonight.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz sunset at West Cliff.

One thing that I love about being back in California is that there is always something to do and people to hang out with. So much of my crew lives in the Bay Area and it’s a great spot for travel networking as well.

I’m happy I’ll always have it as a place to come back to, even though I’m planning on moving abroad again soon.

READS

My reading game was strong in February. Reading has a special way of giving me new perspective, sparking my creativity, and improving my writing. The more I’m able to read, the better.

I read through 3 books in February and loved each one. I got into Brené  Brown this month thanks to my stepmom, who recommended her way back when and had a couple of her books laying around.

I read two of Brené’s books  – Rising Strong and Braving the Wilderness. I enjoyed both although Braving the Wilderness resonated with me on another level.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Rising Strong is about leaning into courage and being able to come to terms with the stories we make up in our lives. Oftentimes we make up stories about what’s going on in a situation without having all the facts, and usually those stories are at least partially, if not completely, wrong.

Think about when you get into a fight or feel offended by something. Instead of asking someone what they really meant, we first go to our pre-made stories (that often reflect our insecurities) of why they’re acting the way they are (i.e. they don’t like me that way, I look fat in this dress, I’m not as eloquent as I think, my work isn’t up to scratch, etc).

These made-up stories can be disastrous and hurtful. It was an interesting way to think about conflicts and relationships, and how best to work through them.

I’d never thought of it before in the way that she laid out, but these ‘made-up’ stories make complete sense. I know I’ve made up plenty of my own stories in my head throughout the years that probably weren’t actually true.

Braving the Wilderness was super relevant in the fact that the book goes into depth about how to come together again as a community when there’s so much distrust and lack of understanding at the core of our society.

Since that basically describes the US right now (and the world as a whole), it was a very interesting look at how to put our egos and pride away to start actually listening to people, no matter what side you fall on.

We’re so quick to judge other people as soon as they have the label of democrat or republican, but we don’t take a closer look, we don’t treat them like they’re the same as us. It’s something we need to work on as a society, to stop being divisive and to start appreciating how wonderful inclusivity can be.

We’re only shutting ourselves off into factions that increase the amount of loneliness and loss we feel on a regular basis.

The last book I read for the month was a novel called The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty – the author who wrote the Big Little Lies, that they turned into a popular limited series last year on HBO.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Reads - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I breezed through this last one in a few days. Moriarty has a way with writing suspense and delivering twists in a subtle way that kept me hooked until the end.

I was up until 1am last night finishing it because I literally couldn’t put it down. This is why it’s dangerous to give me suspenseful novels, they become my life too easily!

SHOWS

After getting through the rest of Stranger Things last month, I started another show this month – Riverdale.

The show is based on the Archie comics. It’s dark, creepy, and a bit melodramatic at times (I mean, it’s the CW so it’s to be expected), but also weirdly addicting. I had so much flight time in February, I used my cruising altitude moments watching most of the first season.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Shows - Eugene, Oregon

While I was in Oregon, my dad also got me into Outlander. A British series that follows one woman who gets lost in time – two centuries in the past to be exact. I only got to see the first few episodes, but I plan to watch more now that I’m back in California.

WORKOUTS

Since I plan to have a relatively calm March (ha! We’ll see how this goes), I’m hoping to use some of my free time for getting in shape again. I always work and write better when I’m active and eating right, and that’s the mindset that I want to get back into this month.

I’m contemplating even signing up for a month of ClassPass again to take some classes around SF, or at the very least going on weekend hikes with new friends. I just joined the Girls Who Hike SF/Norcal FB group, so I plan to go on a few hikes with them in March.

PLANS

I was originally planning on moving back to Europe in March, but then India happened and my finances took a bit of a hit due to the impromptu nature of the trip.

I also felt like I was in such a rush zipping from place to place in February that I’m in no way prepared mentally or otherwise to be making another big move at this time.

So, right now I’m thinking of moving back abroad in April or May. The plan as of now is to spend 1-3 months in the UK and then make my way down to Portugal. We’ll see what actually happens though, you never know with the way I live my life.

Wrap Up: February 2018 - Thar Desert - Jaisalmer, India
Camel photobombs in the Thar desert.

I do know that I have to back in the US by the end of the year for my brother’s wedding, and I’m also looking at going to a travel blogging conference in Texas at the end of September.

Those two things are a big factor in wanting to get over to Europe sooner rather than later. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year plays out.

Until next month, friends! Xx

How was your February? Tell me one interesting thing that happened to you this month!  

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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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