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Help Thanks Wow

Here we are already at Thanksgiving Week and this morning as I was writing I thought of Anne Lamott’s book Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Although I have not read this one of hers, and I would not call myself a person of faith, I love what is suggested by the title. Ask for help when you need it. Be grateful for what you have. Let yourself be amazed. Boom. That’s a pretty decent recipe for a good life, a happy life. The simplicity of those three words really works for me.

I had my very good friends over for Friendsgiving Brunch today. The whole of it was just lovely. Nine of us managed to squeeze around my grandmother’s old oak dining table, opened to its capacity. I used the good china, my tarnished silverware, cloth napkins, and champagne flutes for mimosas. There was lots of food, great freewheeling conversation, and my two dogs passing through. We ate, as we usually do, with gusto.

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Conley

As I had just been thinking about Help Thanks Wow, I found a little fancy pencil that I thought could do as a wand and I suggested that we go around the table, passing the wand and each saying what we need help with, what we’re thankful for, and what we find amazing. This group doesn’t particularly need a push when it comes to meaningful conversation, but the wand worked some magic, anyway. Each of us dug a little deeper than we might otherwise have done. Each of us took a thoughtful pause.

I love little rituals like this. It did not dampen our spirits to get a little serious. There were still some jokes and laughs and our usual conviviality. And as we took turns and listened, we learned new things about each other.

I am wowed by these four sycamore trees over and over again.

Each Thanksgiving morning I write down, in my Morning Pages, a list of everything I’m thankful for. I like reminding myself of what a huge list I can make. I like getting down to the tiny things. But I think it’s also very good to think about what we need help with, i.e., what we need. Most of us don’t ask for help particularly well and many of us have trouble identifying what it is we need. And I’m not talking about help fixing the fence or hemming a pair of pants. What is it that gives you trouble, spiritually, socially, philosophically? It can be helpful just to lay it out there. You can think of it as seeking help from the universe or from God or just help from those who love you. Sometimes just saying it can move us along.

What do you need help with? What are you thankful for? What amazes you?

“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ― Anne Lamott

“Needing help doesn’t have a look, but asking for it always looks beautiful.”

― Brittany Burgunder

“Being first to ask for help in a friendship takes courage and humility.”

― Afton Rorvik, Storm Sisters: Friends Though All Seasons

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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