Help. Thanks. Wow…2018!

I spent some time at the local Library last week — right before New Year’s. It’s part of my two-fold effort to a) read more and b) de-Amazon myself. The read-more part of that equation includes my membership in Goodreads, which lets me keep a running list of To-Read books, conveniently accessible from an app on my phone. So, that’s me there, in the stacks, with my iphone held out like a tricorder, looking for my next book.

Last week, though, I went sort of old school and resorted to the card catalog. I say “sort of” because it’s now a computer, and the only reminder of the spiffy wooden drawers and actual cards were the sheets of paper and midget pencils that truly, truly gave me much joy.

Anyhow…on the card catalog computer, I searched for the next book on my list, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, but what came up instead was Ten Prayers That Changed the World. For several reasons, that sounded interesting (or important, maybe), so I used one of those pencils to write down the book’s GPS and headed to the Religion section of the Library.

(I think, by the way, that Library should be capitalized. It is due that respect. Wouldn’t you agree?)

As I was saying, I made my way to the Religion section, and found book 242.8, Ten Prayers, but it was dry and historical and…yawn. Then, as I slid it back on the shelf, my eyes spied Anne Lamott on a spine and I smiled. So THAT’S why I’m here.

If you have not read Lamott before, she is one of the most witty writers you’ll find, funny and thoughtful, She writes a lot about faith, most notably the classic Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (2000).

The book I found last week, Help Thanks Wow, narrates “The Three Essential Prayers,” according to Lamott: HELP, THANKS, and WOW.

It is (of course, because this is how the Universe works) exactly what I needed. At this moment. Here at the completion of a year that has been fraught with wide world crises, full of more personal Help moments than I would like, yet balanced with enough Thanks and Wows to keep me almost hopeful enough for the year ahead, just enough faith (we are in the Religion stacks) that 2018 will be a breathable year at least, a shining year even? Perhaps, maybe, I pray.


HELP me to remember to breathe and stretch and move, to set good boundaries, to seek out joy and laughter, to practice good self-care, to keep an open heart.

THANKS for the roof over my head, the food in my cupboard, the cat, the car, the…daily blessings so often overlooked; thanks also for the ability to make a living on my own terms, to confer daily with my creative muse, and to live in this most beautiful spot on the planet.

and WOW! because I am blessed with and surrounded by the most amazing friends with whom I get to share this journey.


©2018, Jen Payne. More of Jen Payne’s writing can be found in her new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, available online from Three Chairs Publishing.

7 thoughts on “Help. Thanks. Wow…2018!

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  1. Great post! I will look up those books today, snow bound and looking for something “self-care-like” to do. Thank you!

  2. What fun this is,Jen. Thank you for taking me back to those Saturdays when my mom and I walked to the library and luxuriated in the treasured pages for an hour. Our talks while walking were also a great treasure.

    1. I used to love going to the library – like you, when I was younger. Not sure when or why I stopped going, but it’s really good to be back!

  3. I love Lamott, and Traveling Mercies is my favorite of hers I’ve read so far. I have a hold on her Help Thanks Wow! at the local library and am second on the waiting list. After your excellent comments, I am really looking forward to reading it. Thanks!

    1. Help Thanks Wow is a perfect book to start off the new year. Really puts things in perspective. Let me know what you think? (I just pick out her book GRACE, which also sounds interesting.)

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