Wrap Up: March 2018

March | Yearly Wrap Up 2018 | Dolores Park, San Francisco

On one hand, March went by in a slow and methodical way. March always feels extra long coming after February and I packed so much into this month, it’s hard to believe that it has only been four weeks. On the other hand, IT’S APRIL!! The 4th month of the year already.

There were a few things that I thought I would’ve done already by this time in 2018 – namely, I thought I would’ve started writing my first book and already be living in Europe. However, I’ve learned how good it can be to let go of expectations sometimes, and just let life take you where it will.

I may not have started my book yet, but I’ve secured more solid freelance work and upped my rates to a point where I’ll be on good footing financially when I finally do make it to Europe in May – something that was a constant struggle for me last year, after a series of unfortunate financial hardships. Getting rid of that financial stress alone was worth staying put for longer than expected.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands.

I may not be in Europe right this minute, but I also gave myself more time to save money stateside after India, and to continue reconnecting with all of my friends and family who I’ve missed a lot in the past year.

In the past few months, I’ve realized how much I needed that last part. I feel grounded and happy, mostly because I have a positive community around me again. It’s something that I want to focus on even when I’m abroad later this year, to create a solid community and continue to slow down my travels wherever I go.

After so many travels in February to India and Oregon, March was a month of enjoying California time, going out with friends, hometown adventures, and, again, splitting my time between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

This was my March!


California | I had one full glorious month in California, something I haven’t had since December. I split my time between Santa Cruz work days and San Francisco friend dates and parties, as per usual.

I celebrated three friends’ birthdays in particular that were highlights to my month – my friend Brian’s birthday in San Jose, my friend Carrie’s birthday in Berkeley, and my friend Diane’s birthday in San Francisco.

Brian chose to celebrate his birthday at the classiest whisky speakeasy bar in San Jose called Haberdasher. This place makes delectable cocktails in a laidback atmosphere that oozes 1920s charm and top hats for light fixtures.

It’s not unusual for me to just ask the bartender to make me something unique off the menu while I’m there. They ask a few questions and voilà , you have a tasty concoction to sip on that bursts with all kinds of flavor. This time my favorite was an elderflower gin cocktail.

Carrie’s birthday was at the Missouri Lounge in Berkeley, which is this sweet dive/dance bar. The DJ was playing some classic hyphy jams from my high school days – think E-40 – so there was really no way that I couldn’t have a good time. Plus, I was finally able to be in town for one of my best friend’s birthdays.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Santa Cruz, California
From Santa Cruz to San Francisco.
Wrap Up: March 2018 | Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
For some reason I took no pictures at any of these birthday parties, so here’s a pretty picture of the Golden Gate Bridge instead.

Diane’s birthday was at Bourbon & Branch, a fancy speakeasy bar in the Tenderloin (there are apparently a lot of them in the Bay). It was a swanky and exclusive night (you needed a password to get into the party) that included an open bar of really nice cocktails. We ended the night at Grubstake, a classic late night diner in the city.

Another highlight of the month was attending Shipwreck at the Booksmith on Haight. On the first Thursday of every month, Shipwreck showcases local erotic fan fiction writers, who write a piece based off a different book each month.

This month’s book was Ready Player One and the fan fiction that ensued was hilarious. They try and make the erotic stories as ridiculous as possible and they definitely worked wonders the night I was there. Oh, and the open bar during the readings meant that the crowd was a riot by the end of the night.

I also finally got to experience Motown Mondays at Madrone Art Bar – aka the bar that everyone ends up at after everywhere else is closed. Although they didn’t play as many classic Motown hits as I would’ve liked, it was still a fun night that included dancing to Marvin Gaye until midnight.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | San Francisco Bay Area
From Motown Mondays, to rooftop lunches at El Techo, to live jazz at Golden Gate Park – March was a busy month.

Other highlights from this month included hiking Marin Headlands and getting one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge at night, celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Oakland with a good group of friends, spending a lazy afternoon with perfect weather at Dolores Park, enjoying a classy evening at Golden Gate Park’s Boathouse to listen to live swing jazz, grabbing a savory lunch of tapas and a margarita at El Techo, attending my sister’s famous Oscar party, and trying Moroccan food for the first time (how has it taken me until the age of 27 to do this!?).

At the end of March, I went to a celebration of my papa’s life in Santa Cruz with my siblings and mom. He passed away in January, and we were finally able to get everyone in one spot to go out to his favorite Western-themed restaurant in Santa Cruz, Silver Spur.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Silver Spur, Santa Cruz, California
Celebration of my papa’s life at Silver Spur in Santa Cruz.

It was a beautiful day and I felt his warmth there in spirit, his corny jokes always at the tip of our tongues, as I ate his favorite dish (the western omelette with a buttermilk biscuit) and remembered how much we all loved him and his impact on our lives.

I finished the month by taking a bus up to the Sacramento area, to explore Folsom and El Dorado Hills. This was another new place in California that I hadn’t spent much time in, and it was beautiful weather the whole time I was there for outdoor adventures.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Folsom Lake State Recreation Area Wrap Up: March 2018 | Sutter Street, Folsom

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

I explored the historic Sutter Street, Rainbow Bridge, Folsom Lake at sunset, and went hiking in Folsom Lake State Recreation Area for an afternoon that included some much needed hammock time.

Last but not least, I got my nose pierced!


Whew! I told you it was a busy month.


This month I got through two books – A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold and The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. They were completely different reads, but both powerful in their own ways.

A Mother’s Reckoning is a non-fiction book written by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. The book talks about her life in the aftermath of Columbine and the death of her son.

The Columbine massacre equally sickened and fascinated me when I was of high school age. I remember when I was 17 not being able to sleep soundly for a week after I read David Cullen’s well-written and chilling, Columbine, that gave explicit details about the massacre and the boys’ mental states leading up to it.

I could never quite wrap my head around the cold and cruel meticulous way that Dylan and Eric planned to blow up their high school, killed 12 innocent students, one teacher, and injured more than 20 others in the process.

A Mother’s Reckoning tells that story from a completely different viewpoint. One from a grieving mother who lost her son to suicide, and who had to deal and come to terms with the consequences of her son’s actions long after his death.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

It was heartbreaking, honest, and a weary tale of what can happen even in the most seemingly normal households, and how important it is to recognize the signs of depression in your loved ones.

It was a hard book to get through and I had to put it down more than once to take a break from the all-consuming sadness that Sue writes about, but it was an interesting and poignant read all the same.

Watch her TED Talk here for more of an idea of what her book is about.

The second book I read was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This book had been recommended to me time and time again by other entrepreneurs, and I found it to be an interesting read that inspires the ‘work smarter not harder’ mindset to start living the life of your dreams.

It was a mix of finding that I already do a lot of what he recommends in his book, discovering new techniques I could implement for my own business to make it more hands-off and successful, and  finding some concepts that were fairly outdated and easy to dismiss (even in his latest edition).

Basically, it was a hit-or-miss read for me and I found it hard to get into sometimes because it was so meaty with websites and apps that he was recommending throughout the book. With that said, I can’t deny that he provided some actionable takeaway tips that I want to start implementing, so overall it was an educational and enjoyable read.


After my sister’s Oscar party at the start of the month, I was inspired to watch more films this month and less TV shows. I was hoping to get through all of the Oscar nominated films, but only made a dent. It was probably my own fault that I chose to watch some of these movies more than once because they were that good.

I had already seen Darkest Hour and Dunkirk – two related films about England/France/Winston Churchill and WWII, but the other nominees were new to me.

My favorite movie by far from this month (and the year) was Get Out. It calls itself a satirical horror film about the casual (and outward) racism that still very much exists in the US, and it was SO. WELL. DONE.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Folsom Lake, California

This is one of those films that I watched two different times this month, it has so many layers and good bits. I’m not usually one for the horror genre, but this movie was really more creepy suspense than full-on horror. And it was sadly right on point about the state of racism today.

Another favorite movie, and another one that I watched twice this month, was Lady Bird. The film is based on Greta Gerwig’s experience growing up in Sacramento, and the rocky relationship she had with her mother.

The film’s lead character Christine (aka “Lady Bird) was relatable and raw and I loved everything about this film. It is also the first time a woman (Greta Gerwig) has been nominated for a ‘best director’ award at the Oscars, so there’s that too!

Maybe not the same caliber as the first two, but I also just recently saw Tomb Raider in theaters and, not gonna lie, I really liked it. I love Alicia Vikander, and those cinematography shots of Hong Kong and London made me both reminisce about my stint in Asia and got me excited for my upcoming trip to the UK.

I would still love to see The Shape of Water, I, Tonya, Call Me By Your Name, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Maybe in April! Any other films you’d recommend I watch this month?


Although I didn’t sign up for ClassPass like I was thinking I might do last month, I did start going on more hikes and I started a new morning routine this month.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Santa Cruz, California

The morning routine has done wonders with my productivity and mindfulness, and I hope I can keep it going once I’m abroad and traveling again.

It includes:

10 minutes of meditation (to eventually be upped to 20) with Headspace

20 minutes of cardio + stretches, sit-ups and push-ups. 

30 minutes of making a quick breakfast + reading or journaling. 

Simple but effective. Taking an hour out of my day in the mornings to take care of my body and do the things that I enjoy has been great for my mindset and my work ethic.


In March, I officially bought my tickets to Iceland and the UK, so I have a definite date I’ll be heading to Europe now – May 6th! I’m excited for what my next adventure will bring and to continue looking for a more permanent base this year.

Until then, I plan to soak up every California ray I can and to continue spending time with positive people who mean the most to me. It has been wonderful being back in California since October, and I’m looking forward to more good times this coming month before my departure.

Wrap Up: March 2018 | Folsom Lake | California

I plan to stay in California for April to get ready for my upcoming travels and appreciate everything I’m going to miss once I take off again. Now that the weather is getting nicer and the sun is going down later, I’m sure my April will be even more packed.

Until next month! xx

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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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