new year’s resolutions + butter-roasted tomato sauce


“The key to running fast is to run faster.”—
“Dad, I know that.”

I’m 22 years old and training for my first half marathon. Although, I’m not really training for my first half marathon so much as I’m learning how to run. I’m not athletic, I never will be. But at that point in my life I needed a hobby.

“The key to running faster is to either increase your stride or increase the frequency of your strides,” Dad said.

I’m thinking about that heading into the new year. This year, we churned. We hurried to pack our stuff to move, we hurried to find an apartment, we rushed to find a doctor for Brad and start a new treatment. We’ve been hustling. As inspirational as that word is to other people, it makes me want to weep, then take a nap.

In 2014, I’m lengthening my stride to push myself just a few inches closer to what’s important to me. I still want to reach for things that excite me, but lengthening my stride lets me relax and gently stretch myself without burning out. Slow, Less, and Small are words I’m embracing this year. (And “second step” is becoming my mantra.) It doesn’t feel like shrinking; it feels like making room.

Bottom line, here is my list:

This is the year of abandoning books.
I read under threat of failure this year. Not serious failure, just the goal I made on Goodreads to finish 52 books this year. If there’s one thing my “to read” list on Goodreads has taught me, it’s that life is short. No, really. Almost 700 books are on that list and there isn’t that kind of time in this life. So starting in 2014, if a book doesn’t grip me, I’m casting it aside for one that does. My reading goal this year is 15 books. I want to read slowly and notice. I want to know more about writing and storytelling at the end of a book than I did when I started.

Laugh less.
This is a social tic I’ve developed this year: nervously laughing after every single thing I say. I realized it last week when I skyped with my friend Shanna. She’s a rare citizen of my inner circle and I can be honest with her in ways I don’t know how to be with other people. But even so, I nervously laughed after everything I said, even more so after saying really important things. I could just be deeply awkward, but I think I’m actually out of practice and insecure. It’s been a year of losing the tent of old friends and painstakingly meeting new people. I almost always wonder what to say next while inside my head, I’m pleading like me! like me! Laughing less won’t solve this problem, but it’s a place to start.

Laugh more.
On the other hand! Please don’t feel bad for me when I say this year has had a lot more serious talks, hard swallows, good cries, bad cries, and goodbyes than it has had gut laughs. 2014 will be all about the peace and trust that free me to laugh.

Practice No List Sundays (and figure out what the sabbath is).
Every weekend I have a list and every weekend the list torments me. Easy solution? Ditch the list. At least on Sundays. For that one day a week, I’ll focus only on what’s right in front of me. This moment, this task, this conversation, this meal. Not those dirty floors, that appointment I have to make, that bag of clothes to hand wash, and those meals that need planned. As part of this, I want to study and think about what the biblical sabbath really is because Sunday doesn’t feel too different from Saturday to me, and I’m not sure that’s right. Maybe it is. I’ll report back when I know.

I’m not even sure how to describe this except that I want to love differently this year. Not a timid, selfish love, but a grossly generous and gracious love for all.  I can’t do this on my own. God, help me.


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In the spirit of Simple, Less, and Slow, try this tomato sauce from Bon Appetit. I was drawn to it because I have deep and ridiculous fantasies about someday becoming a master of Italian cooking and crafting next-level deliciousness out of a few tomatoes, some garlic, and magical thinking. This sauce is a step in the right direction. By the time the oven is heated to roast the tomatoes, you’ve done virtually all the prep. After that, it’s just boiling water. Plus, it made me brave enough to buy anchovies for the first time ever. So I ask you, dear readers: What do I do with the rest of my anchovies?

bucatini with butter-roasted tomato sauce
(at Bon Appetit)

We ate this with steamed broccoli because weirdly, we almost always eat broccoli when we eat pasta. I think it’s sort of a shoulder angel thing. It can’t be bad to eat pasta when you have virtuous broccoli perched on your plate, right? This roasts down to a jam consistency, so you don’t taste the anchovies specifically, but you do taste secret Italian mojo.





  1. Mom

    52 books?! Oh my goodness but that is impressive. My Goodreads site tells me I only read six books last year. I allowed that announcement to make me feel like a failure until I realized that most of those six books I read twice…so I’m up to at least 10…

  2. Shanna Mallon

    Joanna! Please start laughing every other word if it means I get to see your face! But… I get what you mean, and I feel those same things. Tim and I listened to this book over Christmas by Tim Keller: The freedom of self-forgetfulness. It was SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD. I don’t want to be presumptuous about telling you what one of your 15 books should be this year but this should be one of your books this year. Bonus is it’s short.

    On a sort of related note, at least once you read the book or skim its description: I tried to do a line-a-day journal this year that went hot and heavy until June, then very sparse until October, then only one entry since then (plus one last one today!) but when I was scrolling through it this morning, I realized I have struggled–and known I struggled–with the same stupid things all 12 months. The same insecurity and pride and fear of man and, reading that, thinking about that, I was like, God, seriously, You are so much better than I am in yet another way. I wouldn’t put up with me. If there’s anything I want in 2014, it’s to believe that with every thread of my heart.

    ps I love you.

  3. joannalinberg

    Mom, I’m pretty sure at least five of the books I read this year came from you, so that can’t possibly be your whole total.

    Shanna, I’m going to order that book now! It sounds like exactly what I need. And I keep thinking about what you told me: We change! We do change and I’m so thankful for it.

  4. Kathryn

    Simple, less and slow are good words for the new year. I saw this sauce in bon appetit but was scared by the anchovies – now that you have reassured me, I will certainly be giving it a go.


  1. honey&salt | this isn’t what I want to say - […] I talked about wanting to lengthen my stride rather than churn in 2014, I didn’t know that would turn…

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