A joyously cathartic and deeply spiritual road trip for readers of Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert, Pema Chodron, and Brené Brown.

Feeling Stuck? You’re not alone. In or out of a relationship, job hunting or retiring, in a life transition, or wrestling with Big Questions, a joyful life can feel elusive. After two decades of offering motivation, inspiration, support, and problem-solving as a life coach and in her Ask Your Jewish Fairy Godmother column, Helen Rosenau embraces the deeper, more complex struggles of fellow messy humans.

This book will help you find joy in the journey of change.  Through stories from her life and advice columns, plus insights, writing prompts, coaching, and cheerleading, Rosenau walks the walk towards self-knowing with you. She’ll help you get brave enough to risk change, toss old crap that keeps you from making progress, and create more happiness in your life.

You deserve more joy. The Messy Joys of Being Human offers you tools to create it–Because life will always be a glorious mess and you will always be beautifully human. Are you ready?


What Kirkus says:

A wide-ranging motivational guide urges readers to embrace change in order to grow. Rosenau opens her nonfiction debut with clear intent: Her book is for people who feel trapped in counterproductive routines and want to get “unstuck” from patterns of behavior that no longer (and perhaps never did) satisfy them. Sometimes, she observes, people get ensnared in how they see their own stories and how they view themselves in those narratives. “Doing that,” she writes, “can end up creating entrenched patterns that limit the ways we interact and the possibilities we strive to manifest.” In a series of fast-paced chapters that are written in an enormously engaging voice, the author attempts to look deep into the souls of her readers, seeking to know their real selves—how, as the old saying goes, they treat stray dogs and shopping carts. She professes to want to concentrate on how people deal with sorrow and joy, how they respond to the happiness of their friends even when they are in low spirits. “We’re all a little bit light,” Rosenau writes. “But we’re also murky.” She wishes to empower her readers to seize this dichotomy and begin a personal transformation that will be at various times fun and a tough slog. The author mixes her motivational insights with personal anecdotes and a heavy sprinkling of concepts from Jewish culture like yetzer hatov, an inclination toward the good (or bad, in the case of yetzer hara). But the book’s strongest running thread is its rich and warmhearted human empathy. “Understanding why we’re suffering doesn’t make it any easier or make what’s hurting hurt any less,” Rosenau reminds her readers while reassuring them: “You will have a solid sense of trust in yourself and your decision-making. You will feel your Yes in every part of you: body, mind and soul.” Readers feeling a lack of that self-trust will find a great burst of Yes in these pages.A wise and uplifting manual of encouragement for readers seeking to take stock of their lives and shelve their bad habits.

Rosenau, a writer and visual artist, passionately advocates for readers to do the deep reflective work she feels is necessary to live joyful lives. She divides her lessons into five sections: “Getting to Know Us,” which helps readers assess their present situations and reflect on hopes for the future; “Our Messy Joys,” which encourages readers to reexamine limiting beliefs; “Risking Change,” which advises on how to makes changes intelligently and with intention; “Learning to Fly,” which counsels readers to stay on the self-growth road and not succumb to worries; and “You, Me, Us,” which exhorts the virtues of living a life full of love. Along the way, Rosenau shares her own insecurities and past missteps, such as her dedication to a “visioning collage” filled with “worldly aspirations” like writing a New York Timesbestseller. She also provides helpful instructions for readers to dig deeper with writing prompts at the end of each chapter. “Chances to grow are rarely easy or fun,” she writes, advising readers not shy away from hard introspection. Though she provides no easy answers, Rosenau’s set of practices, inspiring prose, and questions for contemplation will be of use to readers looking for guidance without demanding strictures.

What Midwest Book Review says:

This compendium of insightful commentary and counsel will help you find joy in the journey of change. Through stories from her life and advice columns, plus insights, writing prompts, coaching, and cheerleading, Rosenau walks the walk towards self-knowing with you. She’ll help you get brave enough to risk change, toss old crap that keeps you from making progress, and create more happiness in your life.

“The Messy Joys of Being Human” offers you tools to create a life very much worth living — despite all the inherent chaos, confusion, and ambiguity that comes with being alive in the world today.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “The Messy Joys of Being Human: A Guide to Risking Change and Becoming Happier” is an extraordinary and life-enhancing read that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

What Eugene Weekly says:

You know that old saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, I have a really hard time in that department when it comes to actual books. While pursuing the bookstore or library, I am way more likely to pick up a book whose cover speaks to me. I have to admit, when I first came across The Messy Joys of Being Human by Eugene-based author Helen Rosenau I didn’t think it would be a book for me. I was proven wrong, however, as I read the first page and found myself screaming, “Yes!” to the questions posed by the author right out of the gate. Apparently, to my own surprise, I did require a Jewish fairy godmother — Rosenau’s self-professed title — this whole time without being aware of it. It’s a book of questions, of sharing, of enlightening self-awareness, and most of all some of the best advice I have been given in a long time. While devouring the pages with a pencil and notebook in hand, I felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend. The Messy Joys of Being Human challenged me to embrace my struggles and guided me on a journey of both change and discovery. Unlike other self-help books I have read in the past, Helen’s writing is warm and compassionate, and sprinkled with a type of wit and humor that could only be delivered by the Jewish fairy godmother that you never knew you needed. 

Reader Comments

This book reads like a conversation with a good friend. The writing prompts are evocative and meaningful; a reader could come back again and again as life evolves. The author’s experiences ring true, and the Jewish and metaphysical metaphors make the messaging come alive for me and taught me useful new ways of seeing.
– Myrna Hant, Ph.D., Research Scholar , UCLA Center for the Study of Women

This is a fabulous read! Helen is wise, insightful, funny, and smart. She has a way with words that grabs you and makes you feel safe tackling the tough issues that true healing requires. If you do the exercises in this book, or even just read it, you will be touched and changed. I recommend it highly to anyone who’s ready to change, or wants to be.
Luke Adler, Author of Born to Heal

It is with great exuberance that I recommend The Messy Joys. If you need to be inspired, read this book! If you need help getting back on track spiritually, look no further. I have enjoyed every page, every sentence. Take your time, go slowly, and let the wisdom do its work.
Sydney Ashland, Medical Intuitive and Integration Consultant

This book is a great guide to living in the now, once you clean out your old emotional baggage, which The Messy Joys exercises will help you do. Helen interprets teachings from authors like Brene Brown and Anne Lamott in a deeply spiritual way. She grounds herself and readers in Jewish mysticism and a Zen consciousness that offers a deeply satisfying and peaceful perspective for a happier life.
– Flaxen Conway, Professor, School of Public Policy, Oregon State University

Exquisitely crafted guidance. Every sentence brings insight and wisdom with humor and compassion. As a teacher and healer I admire its honesty and truth.
Bette Phelan, Musician, Acoustic Ocean Music

I’ve helped many people understand how they may be stuck in old stories and patterns. The Messy Joys offers many ways to achieve change. It is refreshing to see these tools to help people clean out their wounds. It gives clear examples and directions to a path of progress that may have been previously unknown to readers. Hooray! Helen is a trustworthy, articulate, caring guide. She balances deep spirituality with practical manifestation and offers it in an accessible, smart, engaging book that both young and old can learn from. The Messy Joys of Being Human is a healing blessing.
– Johanna Mitchell, Astrologer

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