A New Take On Being Thankful


Last weekend I ran 26.2 miles in NYC. This was my third marathon but still a challenge nonetheless. And before you roll your eyes at me and mutter something like, “she’s crazy, why would she do that?” or “I could never do that,” please know that I’m not some Olympian who eats, sleeps, and breathes running.  While I do love running and it’s a form of meditation for me, I have creaky bones, terrible running form, and have a whole host of running issues after having two kids (kegels much?).  In fact, I am still nursing my 13 month old, so to accommodate my enormous jugs, I wear two sports bras. I may have had to use a cow pasture for a bathroom on some of my longer runs. Nothing like squatting  in a pasture with a bunch of cows staring back at you. And to add insult to injury, I got my period two days before the race. Aunt Flo had been absent for almost 2 years at that point. Glad she could join me for the race, it was nice to have the company. Not. The marathon course itself was filled with amazing spectators who dulled the pain by cheering as we ran up a steady incline along Central Park between miles 23-25. Earlier on in the race I had to stop at the medic tent for some Vaseline to put on the bottom of my chafed foot. So like I said I’m not some running genius, I’m human.  I’m also really freaking proud of myself. Like glowing, can’t stop smiling, and high-fiving myself every chance I get. I’m on an ego trip and it feels a-mazing.

Having a little fun during the first mile.

What makes this ego-trip acceptable is that under most circumstances I’m highly neurotic, self-deprecating, and fairly hard on myself. Nothing I do is good enough for my standards. I have really high standards.  I need to work on being nicer to myself.  And so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be thankful every day for something about myself. I know this is the antithesis of what Thanksgiving is all about. We should be thankful for others, for the food and clothes we have, for the heat that is cranked up while I sit in my privileged home in this sub-division. There should be an out-pouring of thanks this month. But isn’t it time we thank ourselves as women, mothers, and partners? It’s ok to do this, right?

Let’s just take one month and be proud of ourselves and thankful for the things we have achieved. It could be running a marathon, getting out of the grocery store without losing your temper while your child demands you buy even more Halloween candy. We can be thankful for our intelligent minds that are crafty, resourceful, and constantly multi-tasking. How about being thankful for your legs…shaven or unshaven. I looked at a picture of myself during the race and unabashedly exclaimed, “holy crap, my legs look so strong!”

Mile 26-feeling the burn.
Mile 26-feeling the burn.

The idea behind being thankful for something every day during the month of November is that it’s supposed to carry over in to other months the rest of the year. I am not entirely certain this works, as the daily grind of every day life overwhelms us and we forget to appreciate others and the little things. But let’s try this, I challenge you to take a moment and be thankful for something about yourself…every day. And it might not even hurt to say it out loud. Put it out into the universe (or at least put it out while at the dinner table) so that others can hear you. Maybe your children will hear you…and by being proud and thankful for things about yourself, in turn, they will learn to thank themselves some day.

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Heather Polifka-Rivas
Heather is originally from upstate New York but her family returned to Vermont 4 years ago. They have lived in NYC and Chicago the past 10+ years and are happy to be back in Vermont. Heather's previous jobs as a starving actor in NYC, package design guru at Estee Lauder, and advisor to fortune 500 companies at Chicago’s top business school have not prepared her for her current job today: stay at home mom to Henry (7) and Ruby (3). A self proclaimed foodie, Heather spends her "many" hours of free time preparing elaborate meals, eating out, tending to her garden, canning it's bounty and willing her one tapped maple tree to weep more sap. She is also a mother runner.


  1. Heather, being thankful for the things you have or for others around you is something that I think about, but I never think about being thankful for the things that I do or the gifts I have (which I do not often acknowledge). Your running is inspiring, as are your words. I’ve been trying to practice being positive, and it’s clear that we are often not positive about the good we do in the world, in our homes, in the lives of others. Thanks for this.

  2. Heather, this is a wonderful piece of writing! You should be so very proud of yourself!! And yes, we all need to be better to ourselves. And giving thanks is a great place to start!

  3. You ROCKED that race!!! And yes, not beating yourself up over every little not-perfect detail is an excellent path to happiness. Enjoy the ride!!!

  4. And yes!! I love this and agree – we are often so hard on ourselves. And by the way, I’m super impressed by this running 26 miles thing. Wow! You are one of very few people in the world that could do that.

    • one of the very few? i guess when you consider how big the world is and how many people actually run…you’re right?! 🙂


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