Lifestyle

Gift Guide: Non-Toxic Home (Under $20!)

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Gift Guide: Non-Toxic Home (Under $20!) | Sense of Sunny

I always start to kick myself this time of year for still not having a clue where to start my Christmas shopping. There’s so much pressure to find the perfect gifts that are valuable, meaningful and affordable. Of course, I find myself in a similar place this time around and I’m sure some of you are there with me. This gift guide for the non-toxic home will help you get in the giving mood and reach the new year feeling a little less broke.

These non-toxic gifts are great for the hostess in your life, as stocking stuffers, or in a gift basket for the new home-buyer/apartment-renter. Even if the recipient doesn’t (yet) have the goal of achieving a non-toxic home, everyone’s gotta start somewhere.

As I learn more about the toxins that surround us in our homes, our makeup bags, and even our showers, I want to keep learning all I can and continue to spread my knowledge to everyone I know. A non-toxic home is one that I’ve been working towards these past couple months, slowly, but surely.

If you take a look at any conventional item in your home, you’ll be surprised at how many ingredients are proven carcinogens–they’re in candles, dryer sheets, “cleaning” supplies and deodorizers. A quick search on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website will reveal just how bad these items are for our health. There are so many great alternatives for the common household products we assume are harmless.

These five gift ideas are all $20 or under, are free of any harsh chemicals and will make for a really great addition to any home.

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5 Road Trip Essentials For Holiday Travel

Road Trip Essentials for Holiday Travel | Sense of Sunny

Holiday travel season is upon us! From parties, family reunions and romantic getaways to dreaded shopping malls and grocery stores, we’re bound to spend a lot of time in the car these next couple months.

Below are a few essentials to get you through your next road trip and the plight of holiday traffic.

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November Gratitude Challenge #senseofgratitude

November Gratitude Challenge #senseofgratitude | Sense of Sunny

Every once in awhile, usually on an early Saturday morning, over a warm mug and in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, the feeling washes over me. Unexpectedly, without warning, for no reason at all. Once it hits, it stays awhile, peering through my open eyes like a pair of rose-colored glasses. Abundant gratitude.

Similar to many feelings, it can be fleeting and slip out in the night. Usually when I’m not paying much attention, when I’m distracted by something else.

The practice of acknowledging and expressing gratitude can reveal silver-linings and optimism you never knew you had before. Here is a great article on the gratitude effect. Research shows the connection between practicing gratitude and increased happiness and well-being. To “practice” gratitude is to welcome it into your life with intention. It’s the capturing of the feeling before it leaves you. This can be in the form of meditating, writing thank you notes, journaling or even keeping a simple list.

During my senior year of college, I completed the Hundred Happy Days challenge, posting on Instagram each day for one hundred days about something that made me happy. Many days, the challenge wasn’t all that much of a challenge, and for good reason. Other days, I really didn’t know what to be happy about, which inevitably reminded me of the very purpose of the challenge. I really had to think about the moments in my day that made me happy, the small and large forces that carried me through the week. The habit of posting turned into a habit of paying more attention and looking more carefully. Amidst the struggle of getting through the last days of academia and thinking about an uncertain future, the challenge always led me to a place of renewed perspective. For a moment, every day, there it was. Abundant gratitude.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to bring this feeling back. Enter, November Gratitude Challenge 1.0.

Through out the month of November I plan to shine a light on gratitude by posting on Sense of Sunny, Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook using the hashtag #senseofgratitude. If you’re wanting to put a little extra grateful in your day, follow along and join me!

Today, I’m grateful for you. For your urge to click on a post, link, or image, no matter how slight. I share myself in this way so that I may resonate with someone who needs my words or just a moment of distraction in their day. I do it because it brings me an indescribable kind and immeasurable amount of joy. It keeps me up late at night and wakes me up early in the morning. It sparks that fire in my heart. The truth-telling, list-making, passionately curious heart of mine that somehow manages to write the words, but rarely knows how to say them. Without you, I would feel a little less alive, my corner a little more lonely.

SRS

First Vitacost Haul

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Vitacost Haul | Sense of Sunny

Give me snacks and I’m a happy girl, but give me HEALTHY snacks and I will love you forever. I recently posted about my newfound obsession with Vitacost on Twitter and just needed to share all the goodies I received in the mail last week.

If you’ve never heard of Vitacost, it’s an online store that sells vitamins, supplements, health foods and about 1 billion other things at mostly discount prices. To make things even more magical, if you sign up using my link or the code RFZQN3ZS, you will receive $10 towards your first $30+ order. Vitacost offers free 2 day shipping on all orders over $49! Aside from the great selection, free 2 day shipping really pushed me to order my first box. I placed my order Monday night and it was waiting for me by lunch on Wednesday. For me, the worst thing about online shopping is the long grueling delivery time, and I loved that Vitacost only made me get through one full day of agony. And boy, was it worth the wait.

My first Vitacost haul:

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Favorite Things 2.0

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Favorite Things 2.0

Hi, friends. Long time, no see! It’s been a little hectic around here this summer. Between short trips, long days at work, being in a wedding, and only having 24 hours in a day, I’ve found it quite difficult to work up the gumption to formulate cohesive words to share with you all. Despite all of that, I’m never gone for good. And this time around, I have words. So many words! It’s funny how quickly one small discovery can change everything. For me, these changes are coming in the form of living a more natural, chemical-free life. While I promise to go into more detail about this in a future post, I just had to share with you all the tip of the iceberg–my favorite things lately.

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On My List: Healthy Living Cookbooks

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On My List: Healthy Living Cookbooks | Sense of Sunny

On my pursuit of living well, I am always on the lookout for new ideas to come to life in the kitchen. Cooking for one is definitely not always easy, but getting to decide whether it’s mac and cheese night or something-cooked-with-wine night is an unparalleled luxury. At a very young age, I learned the art of Food Network marathons. In my very old age, I over-pin to my “bon appétit.” Pinterest board when hunger strikes. However, before cable TV and the Internet, there were good ol’ fashioned cookbooks.

With many of my summer celebrations now over, it’s time to get back into sustainable healthy habits. Food seems to be the easiest way for me to start fresh. These five cookbooks are in a sea of billions, but their focus on guilt-free healthy living caught my attention.

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A Guide to Traveling Solo

A Guide to Traveling Solo | Sense of Sunny

Last fall, I felt a fire under me that wanted to explore, wanted to wander, wanted to do the thing I was dreaming of doing. As you read here, “the thing” was spending some time in one of my favorite cities, Washington DC. So, I departed on my first solo vacation and never looked back.

Everyone should make a habit of traveling solo–to the movie theater, the local market, or a place many miles away. The experience was all I imagined it would be, both exhilarating and centering, exhausting and liberating, but resulted in a few lessons learned along the way.

Keep reading for some tips on planning before, during and after your best trip ever!

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(Last Minute) Gift Ideas: Mother’s Day

Mother's Day + 10 Non-Traditional Gift Ideas | Sense of Sunny

Every holiday that involves planning a gift for my mom has usually started with me asking what she wants. Which is a terrible tactic for someone who has often said something along the lines of, “nothing” or “everyone to be good.” My siblings and I haven’t always been able to be good agree to disagree when we’re together, so we’ve often had to overcompensate with presenting a slew of gifts, each one different than the last, and usually painted, cut, glued, cooked, wrapped and/or delivered.

While “being good” comes more naturally the older we get, the unique and worthwhile gift ideas start to wane after many years of birthday celebrations, Christmas mornings and Mother’s Day’s have come and gone. While I’m definitely not one to hate on a fresh bouquet of flowers or a new candle, those things usually end up in the same place. The trash.

And how terrible is that?!

Making memories will warm the heart for a lifetime. If you’re still piecing together the perfect Mother’s Day for that wondrous woman in your life, look no further than this list of (last minute) non-traditional gift ideas.

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International Women’s Day + Feminism

Please don’t let this day pass without acknowledging, in some way, its deep and undeniable importance in our lives. The social, economic, cultural and political achievements of all women make our world burn brighter. May you never stop to dampen the fire.

“feminist: a man or a woman who says ‘yes, there is a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.'”

SRS

The 8 Letter Revolution: Self-Love

The 8 Letter Revolution: Self-Love | Sense of Sunny

February is a funny month. The aisles of your favorite stores get decked out in flashy pinks and reds. An article in every magazine gives you never ending gift ideas for that special someone. Date nights are planned, messages of love are scripted and chocolate becomes really important.

But a midst this fanfare, an important notion of love remains quiet and void of recognition.

The practice of self-love is among the greatest and most fundamental human revolutions. It is the investing in the core of what allows you to live and give your best self. Self-love is finding and accepting your worth. Self-love is the simple regard for your own happiness and fulfillment.

Don’t let love be the thing that you only reserve for others. Make it yours, too. Because you’re deep like the great ocean and worth more than the stars in the sky.

4 Ways to Practice Self-Love

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24 Things: Birthday Bucket List

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24 Things: Birthday Bucket List | Sense of Sunny

I have a thing for birthdays. How awesome is it that everyone gets one whole day out of the year to celebrate themselves?! While I’m not always great at establishing concrete New Year’s resolutions (as you read here), I appreciate a good birthday bucket list. They’re a reminder that you can accomplish whatever you want during your own time. While my birthday is still another 12 days away, my birthday month is in full swing, and who says you can’t celebrate for the entire month! When we have a flame that is trying to flicker in our soul, we shouldn’t wait to let it burn.

In my 24th year, these are my 24 things.

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Chasing the World: My Top 3 Winter Travel Destinations

I’ll never understand the type of person who has no ounce of desire to travel. On this big beautiful planet of ours, there is so much to see and experience that stretches so far beyond the home we’ve found ourselves and the safe spaces we’ve created. In my attempt to avoid the aftermath of #blizzard2016, I spent many hours dreaming big this week. Keep reading to see my top 3 winter travel destinations!

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Why You Should Be Journaling

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Why You Should Be Journaling | Sense of Sunny

As a self proclaimed writer, I have broken my fair share of pencils, dried up lots of ink, and scribbled through countless notebooks. This all began the year I received my first lock and key diary. The keeper of my secrets.

While those pages were filled with notes on the really important events of my day (i.e. Recess and school…in that order) and the names of boys I would never have the nerve to speak to, it was also a special look into my perspective of the world, albeit limited. It was a window into my young soul.

The act of writing is no new age experience. Back in 3200 BC, the peeps in Mesopotamia were doing it. Before it was cool. Writing is something we’re all taught and do on a daily basis. We write to-do lists, we write emails, we write messages in birthday cards.

But when was the last time you wrote something for yourself, to yourself?

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That Failure Feeling

That Failure Feeling | Sense of Sunny

The feeling of failure comes with the territory of being an authentic, compassionate, real human being. I’d like to think that most of us are all of those things, therefore, I bet you’ve felt a little bit of failure in your life time. Maybe you’ve let that resolution go. Maybe you’ve been working on a mile long to-do list that never seems to get done. Maybe everything just feels a little blah.

Failure is a feeling, but it’s not what you’re doing. Because failure means that you’re done. That it’s over. That you’ve reached the end of all potential. And of course, that can’t be true.

The expectations we set for ourselves are often huge. As in we’re wading through a giant forest. We’re running towards our visions and our goals, but while we’re looking 20 miles ahead, we’re tripping on roots. We’re running into trees. We’re getting rained on and birds are pooping on our head. We feel like we’re failing.

But we’re still in the forest. We’re still moving. It’s not over.

So, what do you do when you get that failure feeling?

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New Year

I Resolve to Invest | Sense of Sunny

Nine hours before the ball dropped, I was toying with my pencil in a coffee shop, trying really hard to reflect on the past and decide my big New Years resolution. It was about to be the first 365th day of the year where it felt like I had no fires bursting in my heart, no crystal clear visions for the future.

January was steadfast. February was slow. March was a reminder. April was forgotten. May was a deep breath. June was a double take. July was a dream. August was a nightmare. September was an answer. October was an adventure. November was a thank you. December was warm.

The year 2015 was of no grand gesture, but it was full of so much time that I spent in curiosity, wonder and love.

The New Year isn’t necessarily about the goals we set. It’s not about the plans, resolutions, strategies or failures of the past – we can think about those any day. It is about the celebration of time and what we choose to do with it day after day. It’s about the people we spend it with. The things we do that make it pass quickly and, when we’re lucky, slowly. The New Year is about the culmination of every big and small moment that make up the course of our lives.

It’s about the brief second when you’re sitting in a coffee shop, toying with your pencil, and you realize that 12 months of small sparks are enough to light up your whole sky.

This year, I simply resolve to invest. Invest in my light, so that I may share it with all of you.

Happy January 3rd,

SRS

A Hungry Girl Goes to DC

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"You are what you eat. So don't be fast, cheap, easy or fake." | Sense of Sunny

Hey, friends. It seems I’ve been a little MIA these days. But, no fear, I’m still here!

I once read that we should think about our lives in terms of seasons. We may have seasons of nose-to-the-grind productivity, seasons of awakening and transformation, and seasons of change and navigation. Sometimes we have seasons of hunger. Hunger for more.

In the not-so-distant past, I was fighting a strong urge to jump on a plane and fly far, far away. My unsatiated appetite for more life was not being curbed in my tiny apartment or amidst my hectic schedule. So I did the next best thing a girl (who can’t just jump on a plane) is to do and spent four weeks planning a very well thought-out trip that I knew would bring me more life.

What does more life look like, you may ask?

Like the 118 year old marble floors of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, the world’s largest collection of knowledge and creativity. The impactful stories on every floor of the Newseum. The uneven cobblestone paths along the streets of Georgetown. The sidewalk inspiration in Old Town Alexandria. The martini and table for one at a snazzy pizzeria. The intricate and mesmerizing architecture around every turn. The rows of historic homes and artisanal market goods. The miles of sidewalks, metro tracks, and roads that led me where I planned to go for four exhaustively wonderful days.

Check out my trip details below!

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The Truth: Everlane + The Most Powerful Woman

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The Truth: Everlane + The Most Powerful Woman | Sense of Sunny

I am all about being real. No one likes to hang out with people, companies, or food who pretend like they’re something they’re not. This week, it seems like we live in a world full of secrets, between Volkswagen cheating emissions tests and a peanut butter makers’ Salmonella scandal.

Are you okay with that? Because the Most Powerful Woman and I are not okay with that.

Every year, Fortune releases their list of Most Powerful Women. This list gathers the names of CEOs, Presidents, Founders, millionaire earners, change makers, and ultimate boss ladies. This year’s Most Powerful Woman is so real. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, began her journey at the international corporation just months before a swarm of lawsuits would reveal the troubled workplace culture at GM. Fortune recognizes Mary’s commitment to cultivating a workplace culture that welcomes transparency and rejects “business as usual.”

Transparency is broadly defined as the degree to which information flows freely. It’s saying how you really feel, how a shirt was really made, how your food was really produced, how your business really operates. It’s telling the truth, always. Even when it hurts.

“I know some of you are wondering about my commitment to solve the deep underlying cultural problems uncovered in this report,” Barra told lawmakers last June, referring to a damning report on the botched recalls delivered to GM’s board by former US attorney Anton Valukas. “The answer is I will not rest until these problems are resolved. As I told our employees, I am not afraid of the truth. And I am not going to accept business as usual at GM.” – The Verge

Mary let the world know that she was leading in favor of the truth. The ultimate duty of a fearless leader is to represent an urgency for positive change.

So, what does the Most Powerful Woman and my new gray t-shirt have in common?

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7 Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

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7 Steps to Better Sleep | Sense of Sunny

If I learned anything in college it was that no amount of Tervis’ full of coffee or sugar-free Redbulls can make me as positive and productive than getting a quality night’s sleep. I am not an advocate of all-nighters and I believe deeply that your bedroom has the power to change your life. Laying in your bed at a decent hour, however, is only a fraction of what it requires to fall asleep and wake up well-rested.

Sometimes the routine stresses in our lives can quickly take hold of any well to-do intentions we have to getting a good nights sleep and can often lead to bigger and badder problems. Not managing routine stress can lead to serious issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety disorder. Tackling our responses to routine stress can help alleviate its effects on our energy levels and ability to get that sweet heavenly 8 hours. Just let it go, y’all.

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Feeling Wabi-Sabi

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Feeling Wabi-Sabi | Sense of Sunny

At the ripe old age of thirteen, I spent a lot of time cutting up magazines and browsing the shelves for clothes that would distinguish me from the teeny-bopper demographic that I found myself. I added safety pins to t-shirts and called it creative. I hung brightly colored doily coasters on my bedroom wall to add further to this aesthetic. I haven’t always been in tune with the latest fashion or home decor trends, but golly gosh if I didn’t make up my own.

Fortunately for me, many artifacts of my past are long gone. Much of this is due to my yearly pile making, a courageous effort to dispose of unused and unwanted items I’ve accumulated throughout my life. There’s usually one *I’m never getting rid of this* pile, one *I could probably find a use for this* pile, and one *what was I thinking* pile.

More recently, the thought of all my stuff was beginning to weigh increasingly heavy on my mind. Emotional stuff, meaningless stuff, unnecessary stuff. I’ve come across a lot of articles on living minimally, creating the perfect capsule wardrobe, and “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” but none of these methods seemed to give meaning to the struggle I was experiencing.

Two weeks ago, I chose a stressful and overwhelming day to create the piles of 2015. Which essentially means that all of my negative energy was fueled into chucking handfuls of unworn sweaters across my room. A little aggressive, but it got the job done and I was feeling great!

Actually, I was feeling so wabi-sabi.

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An Ode to Summer

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An Ode to Summer | Sense of Sunny

While I longingly anticipate the arrival of the *real* (controversial) PSL, some cozy cashmere, and the crispness of fall, nothing compares to the dog days of summer. I will miss the easy breeziness of it all. Some of my favorite memories could only be possible between the months of May and August. Alright, May is still spring and September is still summer, but who’s counting.

Like a bee in a meadow of wild flowers, my summer flew right on by. I have so many exciting things to look forward to in the cooler months, but I couldn’t let the season pass without a proper adieu.

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On Being Good To Yourself

On Being Good to Yourself | Sense of Sunny

It’s Monday night. I’m wrapped in a blanket on my couch, catching glimpses of the flickering flame of my teak wood candle, and drinking warm tea from a mug that once declared “seize the day.” The world inside me has felt like anything but complacent lately, while the world in which we’re all present has spun on just the same. My alarm wakes me up every morning. I make my coffee, halfheartedly choose what clothes I’m going to wear, and slowly (but always surely) slide out of my door to start the day. Minutes become hours and at least 14 more pass before I feel okay to drop my drowsy eyes to start it all again.

Maybe this sounds like you, too. This kind of mundane, hustle and bustle, cyclical series of events in our lives makes it really all too easy to forget. Forget the freedom in the air we breathe. Forget the warmth of the sun upon our backs. Forget the gentle breeze that provides us relief in the same way it surely guides ships to their harbor. Forget the complexities and delicacies and fragility of our beings.

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Pep Talk Tuesday

Pep Talk Tuesday | Sense of Sunny

Ya’ll, this week is no joke. I contemplated way too many times the thought of avoiding this blog over the next few days, because if I’m being honest, real life me feels like a complete mess on the inside. My words are jumbly, my brain is frazzled, and my thoughts and actions don’t seem to be synchronizing very well. It’s so easy to yell say HECK NAH to everything when life gets a little off-kilter.

But, you know what feels a whole lot better? Saying HECK YEAH to the things that make you smile, the conversations that make you laugh, and the people who lift you up. So, that’s what I’m doing. I hope that no matter what’s happening in your life, that you join me in smiling, laughing, and lifting your self and others through the week. May these articles serve you in overcoming whatever battles you’re fighting this week, as they’ve lead me through mine.

“How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome” Have that.

“How to Follow Your Gut” Doing that.

“How to Finally Make a Decision” Yep, still working on that.

“Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone” Past it.

“How to Find Motivation” Finding it. Somewhere.

Never forget the boss lady (or man) you are. If you need a few reminders, subscribe to the Career Contessa newsletter here to receive a few more rays of sunshine to your day and inbox every week.

Because we all need a little pep talk every now and then.

SRS

Letter To My Freshman Year Self

Letter to My Freshman Year Self | Sense of Sunny

For 12 years of your life, the start of the school year means new clothes, new shoes, new notebooks, new friends, new schedules, and just one step closer to *freedom*. Then you go to a four year college and suddenly you have to figure out where you are, where you want to go, how you’re going to get there, and why you ever complained about your 10pm bedtime.

While absolutely thrilling and worth every late night and #YOLO decision, those four years are definitely tricky. I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I wish I knew during my fateful Freshman year of college (well, high school too, but that’s a whole other ball game.) If I could go back in time, this is what my current self would say to the younger more hip version of me.

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Navigating Your Non-Negotiables

Navigating Your Non-Negotiables | Sense of Sunny

I don’t mean to be a buzzkill and remind you of the frigid dead of winter that seems so far away, but I do want to remind you that 7 months ago you probably started a new routine, made new goals, or felt like the future was full of abundant possibility. I’m a lover of New Years Resolutions, however, I think there is just as much (if not more) value in assessing your life mid-year.

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Easy Like Sunday Morning

Easy Like Sunday Morning | Sense of Sunny

Good morning, friends! One of my all time favorite things about the weekend is when I can wake up early on Sunday morning, have a warm mug in hand, and enjoy the calm that comes before the rest of the world starts their day. Quiet moments like this allow my buzzing mind and inevitably crazy week ahead seem just a little more bearable. There are enough complicated things in our lives, and Sunday mornings do not need to be added to that list. I’ve pulled together a few things to help you start your day with ease. Enjoy!

The perfect playlist for that coffee-in-hand feeling.

My all time favorite Vanilla Almond Granola recipe for an easy breakfast all week.

The best search engine for book lovers who always need a good recommendation.

Happy Sunday!

SRS

How to Do and Be Anything

We Are What We Repeatedly Do | Sense of Sunny

Our good friend and Greek philosopher, Aristotle, made a pretty good point when he threw this #truthbomb out to the world–“We are what we repeatedly do.” Our habits, the things we say, the way we spend our days, that’s us! That’s our life! The prospect of the future can weigh down so heavily on our minds that we easily forget about the possibility in the “now”, the only guarantee of time we’ll ever have.

It is all too often that our conversations go in the direction of what we want to get done (if someday we had the time), the places we want to go (if someday we had the money), the things we wish we could do (if someday we could learn), or the people we want to be more like (if someday we were just a little different). As an obsessive list-maker, I can attest to the importance of dreaming about the future. However, we can have all of the intention in the world and not a single purpose. Without assessing what we repeatedly do, we’re circumventing who we already are.

So, let’s change the end of some of those conversations.

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4 Ways to Manage Your Big Vision on a Small Budget

Project Bedroom: Big Vision, Small Budget | Sense of Sunny

Kitchens make food and bathrooms keep you clean, but your bedroom is where you make big decisions every single day. Are you going to push snooze eight thousand times or spring to your feet and crush that to-do list? Since entering my angsty high schooler phase of life, many moons ago, I have discovered that the ultimate feeling of comfort and solace can be found in the privacy of my own space.

As a tried-and-true introvert, my bedroom serves as a charging station to the center of my well-being. I love the victorious feeling of shutting the door before crawling into bed. It’s like saying #SEEYANEVER to the day.

Here are four ways I’ve managed to achieve my big vision on a small budget.

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Survival Weekend

Some times when life is getting you down, you just need to take a Survival Weekend. Like a straight up avoiding-the-real-world type weekend. You can watch as much Netflix as you want, eat as many cookies as you want, stay up as late as you want, read as long as you want, and consume as much coffee as you want. You can abandon civilization and escape to a private island…or you can travel 4 hours to sleep on your parent’s couch. The possibilities are truly endless!

Although I’m generally optimistic and have no problem getting a little dirty with life’s messes, I also think that sometimes it’s necessary to take a little break, walk away, and clean yourself up. My creativity was diminishing, my excuses were multiplying, and my energy was depleting, so I took matters into my own dirty hands. My Survival Weekend included, but was not limited to…

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The Good ol’ Red White and Blue

Happy Fourth of July! | Sense of Sunny

This month marks the most consecutive days of the year that I feel compelled to soak up every hour of the day. The mountains call my name, the wine pours itself, the to-do list regenerates, and people all around me just seem more pleasant. The true meaning of summer, if you ask me. I’m looking forward to a quick trip home to visit family, a work-related conference, getting through my stack of library books, and lots of trips to the farmers market. If this is what it means to be an adult, I’ll take it.

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Whatever…Love is Love

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate link(s).

We are all constantly "becoming." That is one of the joys of life. | Sense of Sunny

One day before my last birthday, I decided that I needed to start giving some more thought to how I was living my life. On February 12th, I attended my first ever Book Club meeting. Small steps, guys. This month we are on our way to completing our 5th book, Whatever…Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves.

Although my terrible habit of never completing books is still being worked on, I wanted to talk a little bit about our most recent read. Do you ever just feel so randomly passionate about something and it takes you by total surprise? I loved the way Maria Bello told her story in a way that was so easily relatable. Chapter after chapter kept addressing themes that have found themselves swirling around in my head.

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Sense of Sunny

Sense of Sunny

I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. Every new blog I find, company I discover, or person I’ve met, I have a deep urge to figure out their “why.” I would be a giant liar if I told you the name of this blog came easy–It couldn’t be too long, too short, too much of something I’m not. I wanted a “why” of my own, a reason for beginning and a name that would keep telling that story.

Back in my glory college days, I created a Twitter handle @srsunnyday that just felt right. As a result, I gained a few nicknames (sr, sunnyday, srsunnyday, sunny, you get it…) that all seemed to represent who I was in a way that I could have never done so intentionally. So, while I was brainstorming my purpose behind this platform of mine, I couldn’t resist the temptation to stick to what I knew. Sense of Sunny is meant to encompass all that I am, all that I hope to be, and all that I encourage in others. To have a sense of something is to feel a certain natural physical and emotional response to the world around you. To have a Sense of Sunny is to recognize the light in the darkest corner, the color on the grayest morning, and the many details of our lives that make living a wonderful thing to have done.

SRS

4 Tips for Graduates (or anyone, really)

4 Tips for Gradutes | Sense of Sunny

After spending years mulling over a topic, hours studying for final examinations, and days preparing for THE day, it can be a struggle to decide what to do next as you transition in to the working world. While there are thousands of listicles summing up the things you shoulda/coulda/woulda been doing after graduating, these are just a few simple moves I found helpful.

With many college and high school graduations on the horizon or in the rear view mirror, these tips will hopefully guide you as you make the transition. If you’re not graduating, no fear, this post is still for you!

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Anatomy of a Thank You Note

Anatomy of a Thank You Note | Sense of Sunny

If I had only 30 seconds to sum up the most important lessons I’ve learned in my adulthood, “saying thank you” would top that list. As a society, we often focus on how the individual rises to the top, pursues their lifelong passion, or single handedly changes the world. However, I believe that there’s a little more to the story than any single one person.

We are all challenged, motivated, and inspired by extrinsic factors. I would argue, that some of those biggest factors are people that teach us how to be and how not to be, the ones that encourage us to reach higher, and the ones that forgive us and love us when we don’t reach high enough. While saying “thank you” is pretty simple, I have found that writing a thank you note can transform that simple gesture to a more sincere and memorable act.

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The Art of Living Well: Day One

The Art of Living Well | Sense of Sunny

Once upon a time, I plunged into my 20s, fearfully graduated college, and discovered that no degree could prepare me for any of my overwhelmingly unanswered questions. In the process of navigating appropriate post-grad attire (hint: not sorority formal t-shirts), lofty learning curves (Excel and rude people), and the outer aisles of my local Kroger (why is healthy food so expensive…), I’ve come to realize that maybe the answers I’ve been seeking are not found in the places I’ve been looking.

I am very familiar with the tricky condition, Analysis Paralysis. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? What do I want to say? I’ve always known that I wanted to use my words for something meaningful (because, let’s face it, I have plenty to spare). So, I created this blog and spent very many hours analyzing the many forms that my vision could take outside of my head. I researched, tested, and envisioned colors, layouts, and designs. I drafted my first post. I doodled fonts and images on post-it notes, to-do lists, and in empty notebooks. I recruited my closest friends to give me their honest advice.

Then the questions came back and I became paralyzed. Again. When is a good day? What am I waiting for? Who will find any of this meaningful?

The funny thing about time is that it passes through our lives so freely. Suddenly the seasons have changed and the worries we once had are only dust along the road. Along this dusty road, however, are distractions that can blind us from the answers we may be seeking.

The topic of the post I crafted and let sit so many weeks ago was titled “Living Well” and included much of what you’re reading right now.  Fast forward to one week ago where I was sitting in a wobbly chair, underneath a shady tree, and in a crowd of so many people. I listened to a commencement speaker talk about the very art of living well.

Living well is a bunch of things.

It’s striving, staying persistent, laughing, crying, wondering, exploring, loving, truth telling, feeling deeply, forgiving others, and saying thank you. Living well is downward facing dog after a long day. Living well is drinking a large margarita. Living well is calling an old friend. Living well is finding something you like doing and doing it as much as you like. Living well is knowing that when the universe gives you a sign, you take it and run.

So often we focus on the who, what, where, when, and what if’s that sneak their way into our wildest dreams. We think forward and we look back without taking much time to consider that what may be beneath our feet and inside of our hearts is sometimes enough.

When we stop to listen, sometimes the answers find us.

This dream of mine no longer needs to sit inside and wait for a sunny day. I am not fearful. I am not inadequate. I am not alone. Sense of Sunny is my journey in living well. I hope you join me as I stop to take a look around.

SRS