Generation R – Are You Ready?

Dear Friends, Yes, thanks to Lia, I have been outted as a slothful blogger who has not posted anything new since Thanksgiving. No excuses, other than…well, there are lots of ideas swirling around, and this thing called Life and its accompanying dramas. But I will report and invite you to join me on my continuing anti-whine project. This last month I’ve been making an effort to whine less, thank more, as in gratitude. You all know the gratitude books–thank you God for giving me this incurable disease so I can appreciate each day at a time more, etc. No, I am not Pollyanna. It is more a practice of ongoing mind-fullness–filling one’s mind with appreciations of the little things, and thanking the people who provide them: Ah, excellent hot cocoa at the new cafe (and writing hole), Cafe Deux Margot (83rd and Amsterdam Ave.)–thank you! The incredible staff at my son Zach’s group home and day program, some more talented than others, who work for modest pay–thank you tons!! The guys who drive the trains, subways, buses, etc. through snowstorms. We took a Metro North from Beacon to Riverdale yesterday, no problems, and got the single livery car driver to drop us off at Zach’s residence. Sometimes things work. Saying thanks to what works may bring in more things working in our lives. By chance, I picked up a book that shares among other things gratitude as a practice: Alan Morinis’s Every Day, Holy Day. It’s “Mussar” made simple, this being the movement that grew out of Chassidihshe Eastern European Judaism, and that focuses on rather universal personality traits that the practitioner can improve. So the first week’s is to practice, contemplate, and journal about gratitude. It’s worth buying the book, and writing in it as suggested. And you can start:

“Awaken to the good and give thanks.” (repeat at least 3x)

practice: Say thank you to every person who does even the slightest thing that is helpful or beneficial to you.

Which brings me to another, slightly whiny point. In the absence of gratitude, we have rampant rudeness. The R word seems to have been co-opted by an across the ages generation–rude people might be those who bump into us while texting and walking their labs, or young adults who communicate with their parents solely through texting, as if conversation is oh, so much trouble, so passe.  Or they might really believe that “social networking” is as good as socializing and having good manners. I just saw the movie, and I loved it; there’s a lot of cool stuff about social networking that my dinosaur brain barely gets, but it is NOT a substitute for real human interaction, ie, being in the same room with someone, or “room time.” I don’t blame the 20 and 30 somethings for this insidious epidemic. Rudenss is really sanctioned and reflected in or by the business world (what my parents used to call “the real world”). Those of you who work as entrepreneurs, freelancers, are self-employed, under-employed, consultants, etc. may have noticed the absence of thank you and the rise of rudeness in the virtual workspace. Manuscripts go unacknowledged (publishers say they just don’t have time), job query letters languish in some assistant’s in box, and workers may be “downsized,” or “let go” (we don’t say fired anymore, that’s rude) by terse emails.  Any solutions in sight? We can all stop participating in Generation R. We can say “thank you”–yes, even if we are texting. “Please” goes a long way, too. We can show kids that the “get me” attitude is rude. How about for each thing they get, they give a little thanks? There is more to say on this topic. But for now, thank you all listening, starting, and keeping the conversation going. I look forward to ALL of you either responding here, to my email, via phone, or wow, even face to face. Please send in your rude/gratitude moments and “aha’s.” Let’s make the world a friendlier place. And if I am rude, unavailable, non-committal, or just too busy to respond, call me on it.

I will write something every week, really, Lia, I promise!!

Happy New Year 2011, Sheila (sheilaklewis@gmail.com)

 

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About sheilaklewis

As a writing coach, meditation teacher, writer, and academic tutor, I'm passionate about words and the silent spaces between words. In this context, I run book clubs and writers' groups where the resonance of carefully crafted words can spark readers and writers to share their own stories. Connecting through conversation; making memories matter; embracing editing and revision, and imaginative wordplay are some solo and collective outcomes. I came to what I call my "Meditate Write Now" practice after years of art-making, writing grants, curriculum, children's stories, and more. Meditation kept my mind from meandering too far off point and also led me to write from the still point within. May our paths cross in creative journeys across time and internet connections! Other details: My husband and I are the parents of two amazing sons and one daughter-in-law, and smitten grandparents of Micah (born December, 2013). I don't drive, and have lived in the same apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, for too long.
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15 Responses to Generation R – Are You Ready?

  1. Lia Brigante says:

    I have been a forensic social worker (no, nothing to do with dead bodies) since 1996 doing evaluations and investigations for the Supreme Court Appellate Division 1st, 2nd and 3rd Departments (here and upstate, in other words) with some criminal work but mostly family court stuff. I have also been practicing mysticism (western mystery tradition) since the early 90’s. Here is my approach to the rude issue. You see in my forensic work, I deal with all kinds of people, including people who are hostile, aggressive, assaultive, aggravated, and just plain nuts. My approach to both these folks as well as to rude folks is to be respectful. I am polite, never raise my voice. In mysticism, we call this a “mirror”, there’s nothing like people seeing themselves in the mirror of respect and dignity. Some people have just never had any, and some people have had more than they deserve and take it completely for granted – either or, that’s my approach.
    I gave my butcher Joey at my local supermarket a scarf for Christmas. He’ll always cut me a fresh piece of anything I ask him for if the meat in the case is about to expire. And with a smile he does this. When I gave him the scarf, he got shy. I suggested he remind his wife – if she got jiggy about it – that I’m gay, but you know what? It wasn’t that. People are becoming unused to kindness. All I can tell you is, I intend to keep it up, because I am my own person with my own standards of behavior, no matter how other people act. I suppose in the new age world they call this being “centered”, but I do occasionally go off center – in fact there are times when I get so angry that I would like to, well, I’m Sicilian so fill in the blanks. On those days, I just try to avoid people. What’s the point in giving that stuff out? There’s enough of it going around. So, Sheila, whatever words you want to use for it, it’s the only example I can think of to show the folks how it’s done, IS to provide an example. If we don’t, tell me who will?

    Lia

    • sheilaklewis says:

      Thanks, Lia and Margarita. I love Lia’s example around shyness, yes people don’t know what to do with
      a mirror of kindness and courtesy!! And Margarita you nailed it. Bless you, Sheila

      • Aiyana says:

        Thank you, Sheila, for your social commentary, as usual … (our Jane Austen)

        yes, I see that I (we) am getting more rushed, expecting instant responses. I am grateful for the return of the sun reflected on the snow… the return of grace (dare I say it) – and thank you for your thoughtful blogging …

      • sheilaklewis says:

        Thank you, Aiyana, the snow may bring out the best in people, so we can thank it too! I am glad
        you figured out the address even though I sent the wrong one. it is https://sheilaklewis.wordpress.com

  2. Margarita says:

    A “thank you” does, indeed, go a long way in making our human interactions Divine. In stressful situations, it is amazing how ugliness can be transformed with a simple, heart-felt thank you.

  3. Chestnut Tree says:

    We can all be “R” sometimes, even when we think we’re not. How about saying “thank you” like we mean it? We go through the day saying or hearing thank you for the least thing, like holding that door for a stranger. When doing a favor or suffering an injustice is met by silence we hear it, but so do we when someone says thank you like they really appreciate your doing that simple thing, like stepping aside to let someone pass. Being present to the random act of kindness, receiving it, and giving it back is a real exchange of energy. Random ejaculations of thank you, scuse me, bless you are knee jerk social conventions that get us through the day without lengthy encounters. If I say “bless you” when someone sneezes, what does that even mean? I don’t have a god with which to bless, I don’t presume to have the dispensation if I did, and I really should be saying “into your arm! stay home when you’re sick! stop spreading it around!” My Italian friend shouts “Viva!” with such enthusiasm that the room is suddenly laughing and friendly. We can meet someone’s eye and say “thank you” or “I’m sorry.” It just might make someone’s day, including our own.

    • sheilaklewis says:

      Love these thoughtful ramblings under the chestnut tree. Aren’t chestnuts fabulous? I so agree that the mechanical thank you isn’t worth a damn, but it is worth quite a bit if it comes from a conscious connection and from the heart. As for the sneezers, yeah, no God Bless you, stay home. Gratitude is as much about an inner focus as it is about outer contact.
      Thanks my friend!

      • Aiyana says:

        Thanks for your good cheer and good friendship, Sheila. And for taking to blogging like a duck … wishing us both many transformations in the new year ..

    • sheilaklewis says:

      I am going to try Viva, or something other than the robotized thank you, and see how that goes this week.
      Anyone else? Thanks, Gina,
      Sheila

  4. Thanks for including me on your New Year’s Blog list. I’ve been working on that gratitude thing myself. I have always had trouble with the philosphy that God is teaching me a lesson by making my life excruciating and that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. Does that work in Aushwitz? Anyway, I do think that attitude does affect our lives. Since the universe is made of energy, then it’s possible to believe that positive energy attracts positive energy. I read an article in the NYT that stated that it is scientifically proven that if you write a gratitude list every morning, it actually begins to change your brain (in a positive way). So, I’m thankful that I ran into you at that WNBA panel about social networking. (You’ve progressed much more than I have,. Bravo!) If not for that meeting, I would not have met you and become part of a lovely, supportive, intellectually stimulating and creative group of women (and man)
    Happy New Year!

    • sheilaklewis says:

      thanks so much Barbara, I feel gratitude for having met you! I love your point about the teaching a lesson
      through excruciating events, and also, that we can still choose attitude as a force of positive energy. We are all in this together and can support each other, because somehow the human brain needs to learn and relearn the same lessons. keep on with the vision and manifestation of your most wonderful writing this year!

  5. Claudia says:

    Sheila, hi. I haven’t yet replied on your blog, because I have a special issue with “thank you”! So, I am going to change the subject a little, and I hope you will forgive me.

    When my children were little, I did not have a nanny or a babysitter. Consequently, whenever a child had an appointment, the other two children came to that appointment as well. In addition, when Elie was an infant, I was still pushing Gideon around, using our stroller. Paul was in kindergarten when Elie was an infant, and of course he walked. Maneuvering with a baby in a baby carrier, a child in a stroller, and a kindergarten boy was difficult, and at times it was extremely difficult!!! On a few occasions, a person would hold a door open for me, and I did not say “thank you.” Of course, even when I did not say “thank you” I was grateful to some small degree that the door had been held open for me, but my concern was usually with my son in the stroller and with my oldest son. The person who held the door would then loudly say “you’re welcome” in a nasty, snide tone. As a mother of small children, my immediate impulse was to scream at the top of my lungs: “Don’t hold the Goddamn, f***ing door, you HIDEOUS, STUPID, F****, JERK.” However, because I had a baby, a toddler, and a little boy, I never once screamed. In fact, I don’t believe I ever said anything. Nevertheless, I’ve been waiting for about twenty years to scream as loudly as I possibly can at someone who insults some other mother with children! Bottom line: A women who can manage a child in a sling, a child in a stroller, plus a child on foot, can certainly open a door — and would much prefer to open a door than to be insulted.

    I strongly believe that those who offer to help other people either must be genuine in their desire to help or must be insincerely polite. They must not be insulting or snide toward those whom they are ostensibly helping.

  6. Aiyana says:

    I agree about thank you’s — a smile, a look, can convey thank you — the words are not always needed, especially in your case Claudia, when you had other things on your mind!

  7. Good post!!!
    I am just back from China. Amazing as it is (truly truly a special place–the ancient gardens, the Buddhist temples, the endless teas, the Great Wall etc etc), I am so glad to be back in the USA. Just send all of those spoiled rotten teens and twenty-somethings to China for a few weeks of eating mystery meat and doing your biz in a hole in the ground and sleeping on a hard bed–one step away from a bed ‘o’ nails. When those kids returned to the states, they would definitely be a bit more inclined to say thanks!

    • sheilaklewis says:

      wow, talk about eye opening, Catherine. China sounds like a fascinating awful place, with the splendor of old temples and tea, and the misery of dreary poverty. I think sending American teens there is a fabulous idea. I am sure you will have lots more to share with your unique eye and voice. Thank you for a taste!! I saw a film this summer, something called Mardi Gras, Made in China, which showed the horrid working conditions for poor young people who came to the factories to work, in this case making bead necklaces for Mardi Gras, well, I would not wear one of those.
      Cheers, Sheila

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