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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

24 Things: Birthday Bucket List

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate link(s).

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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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

An Ode to Summer

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate link(s).

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

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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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

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