How I’ll Find Happiness in 2011: Increasing Flow Experiences

In my eighth month of exploring The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky as a part of my journey on finding happiness in 2011, the month of August was dedicated to the act of increasing flow experiences: Doing more activities that truly engage you, where you completely “lose” yourself, which are challenging and absorbing.

As I discussed last month as I struggled to deal with coping, my new life intention of “I  AM PRESENT” came into existence and at the perfect time. Trying to embrace the current moment has been a joy which I’ve been working on doing in a variety of ways:

  • running: as the mileage increases on the half marathon schedule, there’s been more hours spent in my running shoes. In the past, that meant overthinking during a run about what I wasn’t doing. Instead, I’ve been focusing on my breathing and pacing – and making huge strides because of it.
  • working: instead of letting my to-do list overwhelm me, I’m embracing it, realizing that I am working on something very special and very unique to Cleveland.
  • unplugging at night: this has been hard, but I’m doing my best to put down the electronic devices at an earlier time. Some days I’m more successful than others – and I notice a difference when I do.

But the strategy that I’ve enjoyed the most?


Getting my bike ride on.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time recently with @BikeCLE. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting pre-half marathon jitters. Perhaps it’s because Hans and I had a fabulous Saturday afternoon ride a few weekends ago where we caught up after a busy week.  But I’ve been lovin’ on my bicycle recently.

On Sunday morning, I took off on my bike on the towpath by myself. I was worried to go alone, but I took my cell as back up. I started on a familiar path:


I had a ten mile long run on the schedule the next day, so I said to myself “ride for five miles or thirty minutes – whichever comes first – then turn around and head back to the start”. No speed expectations, no goals – just a chance to enjoy what’s available to me.

Whom did I see? People enjoying that present moment:

  • Folks on cruisers, leisurely pedaling along.
  • Cyclists intensely focused as I attempted to stay out of their way
  • Fisherman fly fishing along the canal
  • Runners with fuel belts and determined looks on their faces
  • Couples walking pair by pair, perhaps after a group brunch at the nearby Yours Truly
  • Families with kids of all ages, biking along at a variety of speeds
  • Pups on walks – some behaving, some not!

What did I see? Parts of our national parks system that I had never seen before.



Perhaps previously I was too distracted to look around and really embrace it all – distracted by overthinking, by over processing. But that day, I was wide open to all the experiences around me. And it was glorious.

Before I knew it, I was back at the start – the Canal Visitor Center.


I made it back a bit faster than anticipated.


That might have been one mile more and four minutes less than my bike ride the week before with the hubby. I got home, showed him my Garmin and he said “I slow you down!” Once this half-marathon is over, I foresee a lot more time on the towpath in my future. Anyone have any fall biathlons to recommend?

LONG STORY SHORT: I thought I was just headed out for a nice easy bike ride that morning, but it was so much more. I left the park feeling as light as I do after a yoga class – all because I took a moment to appreciate what was around me. So shut off those thoughts and open your eyes, kids. BE PRESENT. Beautiful things are all around.

@BikeCLE Ohio City Tour with Great Lakes Touring Co.

HEY CLEVELANDERS! Back in June, I was lucky enough to participate in the inaugural tour for Great Lakes Touring Co. (AKA @BikeCLE). On that tour of downtown Cleveland, our group had a wonderful time and I knew I wanted to take other tours of the area. Good thing for me I had this past Friday morning open and was able to join the company again on their Ohio City bike tour.

The tour started at the J Palen house, where Team BikeCLE met us with all the equipment we could need, including the all important cruiser bikes!


…and who was my guest that morning?


My partner-in-crime, Katie! We snagged some bikes and got ready to ride!


Staring out, we headed down Bridge Avenue to the birth site of John Heisman of The Heisman Trophy fame. I didn’t know he was born in Cleveland!


We then biked over to St. Ignatius where classes were definitely back in session: the high school boys waved at us from the cafeteria as we rolled by!


…then on over to Monroe Cemetery, one of the area’s 10 largest cemeteries.


From the cemetery, we biked up Fulton, pass Johnny Mango, and over to St. Patrick’s Church:


Fun fact: the stones at the top of the church were shipped directly from Ireland!

On our way from there, we stopped at one of the community gardens where produce was being grown by the citizens of Ohio City:


Cutting through Fairview Park and stopping at a few more tour points, we found ourselves crossing West 25th…


…and over to the Glass Bubble Project – a secret gem of Ohio City!


The Glass Bubble Project creates unique works of art from recycled metal and hand blown glass.

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Fun fact: they stop operations in the summer time because it’s too hot to blow glass. But they hold events and classes at the space from September to late Spring. Ohio Blogging Association meetup anyone?

We then headed over to two Ohio City institutions: the West Side Market and Great Lakes Brewing Company:


…then finished up the tour back at the J Palen house – which is a bed & breakfast and is ADORABLE inside!


Another fun and informative tour by Great Lakes Touring Company complete – many thanks to Anne and Joe for a wonderful Friday morning!  Visit the Poise in Parma Facebook page to see all my photos from the Ohio City bike tour.

…but my fun with @BikeCLE didn’t end there for the weekend. I joined them for their Bike Aboard get together the next day on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Looks like you have SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

Make sure to check out BikeCLE on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their bike and hike tours.

Full disclosure: Great Lakes Touring Co. invited me and a guest to take this bike tour of Ohio City. As always, my thoughts, opinions and excitement for this great CLE company are 100% my own.

event recap: #GlimpsesofAsia Tweetup at Cleveland Museum of Art

A few weeks back, The Cleveland Museum of Art tweeted to their followers, asking why they would want to attend a tweetup featuring Asian artwork and cuisine. I tweeted something about trying not to get noodles all over the beautiful artwork that filled their halls. Surprisingly, even with my panache for messy eating, my tweet made their cut and I was selected to attend @ClevelandArt’s first tweetup: #GlimpsesofAsia featuring treats from Jonathon Sawyer’s new restaurant Noodlecat:


Since I always over estimate the drive from the East side to University Circle, I arrived at the museum a bit early, running into @EatDrinkClev and @MaryLeeS. After traversing some very intimidating hallways, we found ourselves checked in and tweeting it up:


I took a moment to look around the wing of the building that reopened in 2008 after extensive renovations, finding a timeline showing how the renovations started and how they continue into the future.



After some initial socializing, our guide kindly lead us to The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall to see The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art exhibition, which “highlighted Korean and Japanese artistic efforts to fuse the genres of art and poetry in works as diverse as landscape painting, figure painting, and calligraphy.”

The museum guide asked us not to take pictures of the artwork as we made our way around the tour, but encouraged us to tweet away. We saw some beautiful pieces – some of which you can see here at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website. One fun fact we learned was as we looked at a set of pottery used to serve chrysanthemum tea:


You know what I’ll be chugging that day. Upon our arrival back to the gathering space, we were ready to dive into some good eats provided by Noodlecat:

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I could have used this handy diagram to know what to do with the components provided to us:

(picture c/o noodlecat’s Facebook page)

…but luckily @KaseyCrabree and I had @JoeG2001 and @jseabury to explain the proper way to consume our noodles. Thanks again guys!

Chef Brian Reilly kindly provided a gluten free alternative for those of us that needed it. Instead of the chilled mori soba noodles that the masses received, I received a box of rice noodles and the base both spiked with some pepper vinegar:


I would do an injustice in even pretending to properly describe the ingredients that went into the broth and garnishes. Just know I ate the entire thing and I promised Chef Reilly that I’d be heading downtown to East 4th for more very soon. Post noshing, Chef Reilly and Chef Sawyer both took moments with me to chat about how they ensure everyone’s experience at the restaurant is as enjoyable as possible, even if that means taking a moment to sub out some ingredients.

Unfortunately, I had to check out of the tweetup early and missed the Indian Kalighat paintings. I encourage you to head over to EatDrinkCleveland to get a glimpse on what she enjoyed in that section.

LONG STORY SHORT: What an unique experience: to be able to learn so much about a culture while enjoying some authentic cuisine in an inspiring environment while meeting some new friends. I had a great time and plan to visit the museum again very soon. Thank you again to The Cleveland Museum of Art for their hospitality and to Noodlecat for the tasty treats!

Make sure to follow them both on Twitter at @ClevelandArt and @Noodlecat – social media FTW!

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