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My flatmate from my first year working in France also happens to be from California, so, it’s only fitting that she kindly passed on a tradition called “The Sunshine Award” to me. The Sunshine Award is less of an award as a means to spread love and understanding—and self-reflection—through the blogging community. Once nominated, which is just a simple shout-out, you follow some guidelines, then answer the questions that were set forward for you:

1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post and/or on your blog
2. Link to the blogger who nominated you
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself
4. Nominate other bloggers to receive the award
5. Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them
6. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer

To follow Sasha’s experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, an English assistant in France, or her new adventure as a DC-based student of Public Health, find her at notesofwonder.wordpress.com.


1. What is one book that has had a profound affect on you or your world view?
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. This book really showed me what it meant to live and write. It holds all sorts of truths and untruths about the world and story telling that may or not work for other moments, from other people. Not to mention its wholly unromantic view of war and, specifically, the war in Vietnam.

At the hour of dusk you sit at your foxhole and look out on a wide river turning pinkish red, and at the mountains beyond, and although in the morning you must cross the river and go into the mountains and do terrible things and maybe die, even so, you find yourself studying the fine colors on the river, you feel wonder and awe at the setting of the sun, and you are filled with a hard, aching love for how the world could be and always should be, but now is not.”
― Tim O’BrienThe Things They Carried

2. What is the best film you’ve seen in the past year?
Argo. It took me so long to find a rentable version, but it was worth it. What is with my war/anti-war/literary/faux-literary theme, I wonder? That’s a topic for the future.

3. What is one of your go-to weeknight dinner recipes?
A giant bed of argula, kale, or any combination of fresh greens, topped with walnuts and fresh, raw goat cheese. Last night I subbed the toppings for grilled corn, basil and grilled salmon. I always say that I love to cook, but that’s a lie; I love to make salads.

4. How do you take your coffee (or tea)?
Black. I honestly dry-heave with the milk in it, possibly explained by an allergy. Sometimes, in the afternoon, I step out of my comfort zone with a soy or almond iced latte. I recently found this interesting mint mojito iced latte invention that I wouldn’t mind tasting.

5. Why do you blog?
It started because I had too much spare time, was in a foreign place, love to write and am always reading blogs, but it soon turned into a coming-of-age story about my views on international education systems and cultural interaction and integration. Surprise, I’ve found the perfect grad program! More to come.

6. What’s the link to what you feel is your best or favorite blog post thus far?
When university is not a practical solution describes a moment when I realized everything I had learned about education and intelligence during the course of my own schooling was naively wrong.

7. Why do you like that post?
As I said, this blog has become a journey of self-actualization. Welcome to my learning process.

8. Spring, summer, fall, or winter?
Fall. I ski, but I love autumn because of the anticipation it brings—the signs of a cold season to come, the slow layering of jackets over skirts, the journal in one hand and cup of tea in the other, and making plans for the season to come. Winter signifies the future far more to me than spring does. Call me cold…

9. What is your signature drink?
Gin, fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime, and ice topped with sparkling water. I came up with it in Argentina because of the cheap grapefruit and the juicer that came included with all apartments. But, for the every day sober me, I enjoy some good blackberries muddled with mint topped with ice and soda water. That magic happened the other day out of a need to empty the fridge of soda water, but I can guarantee I will see many more in my future. I lied again; I like to make salads and bubbly drinks!

10. Where do you feel most at home?
Running through the redwoods.

sunshine-awardNow, I’m nominating people from all across the board—friends, blogging strangers, blogging stars. I’d love to hear more about your own personal journeys.

1. Courtney tells the world all about her work in the public health field, living in different countries, cultures, health systems and views on food, as well as her personal triumphs on the hard road to a PhD at TranslatingNutrition.

2. Marisa blogs about living in style on a budget at BrokeWithDesignerTaste.

3. ToeMail once asked me if they could link one of my photos involving—you guessed it, toes!—and I’ve been hooked ever since. The blog is such an interesting lense on the world.

4. Elana’s Pantry is my go-to resource for all my digestive woes. She’s open and honest about her struggles with autoimmune disorders and healing through food, all while providing great grain-free recipes that leave nothing to be desired from traditional eats.

My questions for these lovely bloggers, and anyone in need of some self-reflection, are:
1. What is something you do every day that makes you happy?
2. What do you hope to inspire in your readers?
3. On the other hand, what do you achieve in blogging for yourself?
4. Breakfast or dinner?
5. Sweatpants or dresses?
6. What is the story behind your very first blog post?
7. Do you have a professional role model?
8. What person has been the most influential in your personal journey?
9. Are you blogging long- or short-term?
10. What is your artistic inspiration?