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)