How I Found Happiness in 2011

What, you say it’s the last few days of a calendar year? Must be time for a recap of those New Year’s resolutions that we all forgot about so long ago!! Let’s rewind to January when I decided “How I’ll Find Happiness in 2011” meant trying out an array of techniques while I strive to blissfully thrive:

Expressing Gratitude in January: That was accomplished via journaling, giveaways, granola making and the written word. And how can I forget running my first half marathon. Disney – we shall meet again someday…

Cultivating Optimism in February: Envisioning “Your Best Future Self” is easier with a friend. And tumbling out of crow pose can be just as invigorating as holding it for ten seconds.

Avoiding Overthinking in March: When the concept of “feed your soul” and staying present were first cultivated in myself. Also when my car troubles began which taught me to be flexible and calm when life throws you a busted tire which unfortunately became a common theme in 2011.

Practicing Acts of Kindness in April: Sharing my optimism & passion for blogging inspired quite the conversation at the April Ohio Blogging Association Meetup at Touch Supper Club– probably my favorite one of the 2011 calendar year.

Nurturing Social Relationships in May: I threw one hell of a party – check out Heather’s blog for a great Silver Spoon Awards recap.

Also, attending Fitbloggin’ turned out to be an eye opening experience for me – and now looking back on it – showed the first signs of my issues with social anxiety. I was amazed to see myself go from confident while asking a question at a panel to scared out of my mind while waiting for session to start.

Developing Strategies for Coping in June/July: This is when life got crazy. I started training for a second half marathon. I started a new job. I turned 28. I ran for pierogies. I lost my grandfather. And I found myself coping by not dealing with the stress of it all. Not very healthy for a healthy balance blogger to do…

Increasing Flow Experiences in August: Instead of distracting myself from the stress, I committed myself to my new mantra “I am present” via bike rides, long runs, a new 5K PR and plenty of fun CLE foodie events. I was one busy lady in August!!

***This is when I fell off the bandwagon of blogging about the techniques, but strangely they still found their way into their appropriate months.***

In September: It was challenging to “Savor Life’s Joys” as my issues with anxiety started to overwhelm me, but I still managed to PR the Air Force half marathon, become mayor of the Cleveland Garlic Festival, celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary with Hans and was featured in the Fall 2011 issue of West Shore Live Well:


In October: I took steps to drastically change my life and to practicing “Committing to Your Goals” in October. You didn’t realize at the time but my National Evaluate Your Life Day post was about much more than practicing more yoga & striving to better this blog with a new design and a two year blogiversary post.

In November: I can’t say that “Practicing Religion and Spirituality” were really practiced, but I found myself completely engrossed in the concept of self-awareness in November. This and my goal for authenticity lead to me writing what became my most important post of 2011: “coming clean: when anxiety and depression come back”. November also saw the beginning of a new tradition: Girls Night In with some of my favorite ladies that also happen to be some fantastic bloggers. Visit Julie’s and Jen’s page for their takes on how to hold a successful (& usually ridiculous) GNI.

In December: In “Taking Care of Your Body via Meditation & Physical Activity”, I found enjoyment in my advancing yoga practice and by reconnecting with my love for cardio by agreeing to be a 2012 Cleveland Marathon blogger. There’s no questions that you can look forward to plenty of fitness posts in the new year!

206 posts in 365 days. With ALL that – did I strive to blissfully thrive?

  • Did I attempt by employing effort?
  • Did I boom, grow vigorously or make steady progress?
  • Did I reach a state of extreme happiness?

2011: you were very good to me but you put me through some challenging times. I tried my best to make it through them all. In my best, I found growth in the present moment. While there were some very low moments, there were some fabulous ones as well. I’d say it wasn’t easy to reach that heightened level of contentment, but in those moments where I found it, it was totally worth it. I thank you all for being part of this wild and crazy ride!

What’s in store for 2012? Looks like you have SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO! Happy New Year everyone!

Help Out Two of PIP’s Favorite Ladies

A FAVOR? Would you take a quick moment to help out two of my favorite ladies?

FABULOUS LADY NUMBER ONE: My great friend and event planning mentor Deborah Hermann is nominated in the 2012 Event Solutions Spotlight Awards, “an annual awards presentation dedicated to recognizing the best and the brightest event professionals in the industry.”

Deb is the Chairwoman and CEO of Ghostlight Productions, a Cleveland based event production company. You want a party that you’re guests will never forget, you call Deb and her team. Deb is nominated for the Spotlight Award category of Event Producer of the Year and could use our help in bringing that award home to Northeast Ohio!


(c/o her profile on the awards website)


  1. Go to
  2. Enter your email address at the bottom of the page and hit Submit.
  3. Click on the “Event Producer of the Year” category.
  4. Select Deborah Hermann of Ghostlight Productions and hit Submit.

Want to help even more? Tweet the following: “Vote for #CLE’s own @divabling in the @eventsolutions Spotlight Awards “Event Producer of the Year” category!”. Both Deb and I thank you for your help!

FABULOUS LADY NUMBER TWO: My very talented mother (okay, she’s actually number one in my book, but work with me here) is expanding her role at The Chubby Cook by stepping up to teach a few upcoming hands-on cooking classes! As a favor to me, maybe consider taking one of the following taught by Mama LaVecchia:

On Thursday, January 19th, she’ll teach an Old World Comfort Foods class, featuring the following menu:

  • Haluska: Cabbage and Noodles
  • Halupki: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
  • Kielbasa & Kraut
  • Spatzels
  • Beets & Horseradish Salad
  • Cucumber Salad

On Monday, February 27th, she’ll teach Pierogi & Potato Pancakes where you’ll learn to make:

  • Beef Short Rib Pierogi
  • Potato Cheese Pierogi
  • Cabbage Pierogi
  • Mushroom & Cheese Pierogi
  • Fruit & Cheese Pierogi
  • Traditional Potato Pancakes

That would be exactly what you’d learn how to make. Is it wrong to have pierogies for breakfast?

Both classes are $65 per person and if you know my mother, you won’t go home hungry!! I grew up on these dishes so I can also guarantee that you’ll taste buds will be just as satisfied as your stomach.

The Chubby Cook has added quite the assortment of cooking classes, so I encourage you checking out their 2012 class calendar. My husband and brother will be taking their Cooking with Beer class this spring – I’d be lying to say I wasn’t jealous!!

My Christmas Gift To Myself

Friday’s post was meant to help get the holiday anxiety off my plate. Instead, it only filled to the brim. And before I knew it, I found myself writing this love note to the holiday at hand:


My best way to make sure this didn’t happen: get moving. While many struggle to keep up their workout routine during the month of December, I never have. I’ve seen getting to the gym or to the yoga studio as not only a way to keep those holiday pounds off but as the best way to manage my stress levels. This is how that played out over the holiday weekend:

  • Friday the 23rd: Advancing Practice Class at Nishkama – even in my abbreviated 75 minute attendance – helped centered me again after feeling borderline panic attack with the stress of all that “had” to get done before Saturday evening. I also held side crow for a significantly longer time that morning than previous attempts!
  • Saturday the 24th: Nishkama Yoga at Nishkama – It’s our version of a vinyasa flow class – a solid 90 hot yoga class filled with sun salutations, inversions, hip openers, backbends and savasana. It was only made better with a packed room of fellow yogis ready to celebrate the holidays on their mats.
  • Sunday the 25th: A special Christmas morning vinyasa class at Nishkama – While the turn out wasn’t quite as crowded that morning, the flow was just as energizing and the perfect way to start the holiday.
  • Monday the 26th: Advancing Practice Class at Nishkama – not only did I kick up into handstand on the first try, I got into tripod handstand for the first time ever on my own. Still against the wall, but I’m working towards more…
  • Tuesday the 27th: Cardio at the gym – After four days of arm balances, I went to the gym for a good cardio fest. After a brief warm up on the elliptical, I tackled Couch to 5K Week Two Day One. After several rounds of running at 6.0MPH for 90 seconds and walking for 2 minutes at 4.3MPH, I felt even more inspired that I hadn’t lost my running legs this fall.

So while I may have splurged on a few pairs of yoga pants last week to be placed under the tree, the above collection of workouts was my real gift – making time for myself. A little selfish, sure. But sometimes you need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others.

That said, our holiday was lovely – filled with plenty of family, tasty food, a trip to Christmas Eve mass and a special treat of Starbucks Christmas Blend on Christmas morning. Side note: when you haven’t have the java in two months, you will be super wired for 12 hours, then have a glorious crash before you can drive home from Uncle Jeff’s house. And while we said “I don’t want anything”/”don’t buy me presents”, Hans and I both got each other little surprises, including a new robe for him and new pans for me (seriously excited for these – mine were looking so sad). I also now have enough dark chocolate to last until my birthday. A dark chocolate caramel from Malley’s is perfectly normal to enjoy at 9AM, right?!

What was your holiday gift to yourself this year?

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