Monday, January 3, 2011

It's the Little Things

Last week, while running my usual 2.7 mile route around my neighborhood, I was able to shave one minute and 30 seconds off of my mile time, and about four minutes off of my total time. I was pumped!  (But resisted the urge to tweet my success when I realized that most runners would not be proud of an 11-minute mile). 

Still, whatever the numbers, it was a success for me.  So what made the difference?  For the first time I told myself to run as if I had long legs (which I don't), and to take larger strides.

One of my best friends back in Tennessee recently got into running. She's run in three 5K's this fall and is already faster than me, even though I've been running, off and on, for more than three years now.  She has been very dedicated, yes.  But she also has reeeallly loooong legs -- Heidi Klum-length legs -- and I'm guessing that helps her, too.

So, as an experiment I decided to pretend that I also had model-length legs, force myself to take longer strides, and see if it made any difference.  It did!

I was actually quite surprised that a simple mental trick could improve my speed and time as much as it did.  As I contemplate my goals for this new year, I have to ask myself if small, simple things could also make a difference in other areas of my life.

What if, when feeling impatient with the boys, I was to tell myself that I had the patience of Jo?  Instead of channeling my long-legged BFF or Heidi Klum, what would happen if I channelled Jo Frost?  Suddenly the Supernanny's ability to calmly walk the disobedient (and previously undisciplined) toddler back to his "naughty chair"-- one hundred and seventeen times -- until he finally understands that The Supernanny means business, could be my own.

Instead of yelling or glaring, I might find the patience and control to quietly, coolly-and-collectedly tell my four year-old to knock it off already.

A person's wisdom yields patience... Proverbs 19:11

Or what if, when feeling frustrated with my husband, I channeled myself, eight years ago, when I was a smitten twenty-something who wanted nothing more than to be with him, near him, ALL THE TIME.  It didn't matter if we were driving around in his 1994 red two-door Honda Civic listening to reggae or sipping espresso at a cafe and philosophizing, I was just happy we could be together.  I loved snuggling into his hooded sweatshirts, or watching him ollie concrete steps in downtown Boston (which, by the way, is the final proof that I was indeed head-over-heels, because skateboarding is NOT a spectator sport).

Maybe if I could return, even briefly, to the state of infatuation that characterized our early relationship,  the daily annoyances, faults or disagreements wouldn't seem like such a big deal. covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

I also think about how I want to be more generous in this new year.  If I could just remember all the ways in which our friends and families have been generous to us, I might not get that catch in my throat every time I write out a check to the church.  If I could recall all the $50 and $100 checks we've received over the years for birthdays, Christmas, or "just because" someone knew we were in graduate school with two young kids and struggling, I might think twice about spending $50 on something for myself or the boys this weekend at Wal-Mart, and instead give it to someone who really needed it.

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously... Psalm 37:21

I realize of course that these are not new ideas. People have long understood the power of our thoughts. To prepare for pressure situations, coaches tell their athletes to visualize themselves scoring the winning touchdown or saving the game with a bases-loaded strikeout.  Psychologists use cognitive therapy to identify and correct negative thinking patterns in their patients to improve mood.

So as I think about who I want to be in 2011 -- a patient parent, a forgiving spouse, a generous neighbor -- I am going to start by pretending that I already am these things.  You've heard the phrase "fake it till you make it?"  This year I am going to parent as if I am the Supernanny, forgive as if I am the googly-eyed girl blinded by love, give as others have given to me. 

As a Christian, I am also inspired to be more patient, forgiving and generous with others, when I remember all the ways in which Christ has been patient, forgiving and generous with me.  If I am to have any success in keeping my New Year's resolutions in 2011, I must keep Christ -- his love, sacrifice, forgiveness and undeserved kindness to me -- in the forefront of my thinking.

And now it's time to begin. To pray.  To visualize.  To think positively. 

To run as if with Heidi Klum legs. 

On New Year's Day, after competing in my first 5K since last April and my first EVER not pushing a stoller.  I cut my mile time down another minute, 10-minute mile yahoo!

(Although I'm pretty sure Heidi wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.  What was I thinking? And who let me out of the house like that?)

Happy New Year!


  1. This is fab. The outfit is amazing and i love you and Heidi klum is so sweet and I love you channeling her.

  2. you look great and adorable in that outfit! way to go! i love that you know yourself so well and know what it takes to achieve goals, and you DO IT! Christ is the perfect example. your blog stories scream nothing but you as a kind person, patient mother, forgiving spouse, and generous christian. blast that long-legged meredith. she's an animal and you gotta watch out for her.

  3. heather, THANK YOU! wow, you flatter me way too much, because i'm sure my legs are about a foot shorter than heidi klum's! lol. did you know that i love heidi klum?? i love that she's married and has lots of kids and that family is important to her...and that she has really long legs, of course. you know, that taking long strides thing really works! i love the post...and not just because you said i have heidi klum legs :).