She said…

Thomas L. FriedmanSo, you think life is moving too fast?

Guess what? It is. I just started reading Thomas L. Friedman’s 2016 book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. I’m hardly prepared to comment on the entirety of the book, because I’m just in the second chapter, but Friedman grabbed my attention early on, with this statement:

“It’s no surprise so many people feel fearful or unmoored these days. … I will argue that we are living through one of the greatest inflection points in history—perhaps unequaled since Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and printer, launched the printing revolution in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation. The three largest forces on the planet—technology, globalization, and climate change—are all accelerating at once. As a result, so many aspects of our societies, workplaces, and geopolitics are being reshaped and need to be reimagined.”

Does that make the world and its chaos a little more understandable, if not manageable?

Think about the life you are living today with instant access to just about everything, thanks to technology. What about globalization and its impact on national and international policy, the economy and social interaction? Climate change incites heated debate, less about how to deal with it, but whether it exists at all. And it’s all happening at the same time at an ever-increasing pace.

Is political chaos, violence, terrorist threats – domestic and global – economic uncertainty, fear, and general unrest attributable to these rapidly accelerating factors? I haven’t done the research, but just by observation, I would respond with a resounding, yes!

The most influential of these three factors (for good or ill) is perhaps technology and our easy access to information. We have hardly absorbed one change when we are bombarded with information about not one but multiples of change in areas over which we have little or no influence. We are barely able to take in reports of one horror or disaster, before we see on our phones yet another. We can’t catch our breath between one new bit of flashy tech and the next. Do we even know the lasting impact of globalization? Climate change isn’t just a political debate; it is an earth-changing behemoth.

This is not seeming to me to be a book that leads to optimism, yet I get it that we must not ignore what is going on around us. We need to learn more and understand more if we are to survive, much less thrive, as a species.

Change, it would seem, no longer comes as a process; it’s more of a bulldozer. If you can’t adapt, you get run over. The reality check for most of us is that we are looking the other way, trying to pretend we can go back to “a simpler time.” We can’t go backward, but I believe we can go forward with deliberation and intention.

The acceleration of technology, globalization, and climate change is already reshaping society – the world, if you will. At one time, big change happened in a bit of a vacuum, rippling into mainstream society over time. Years, even decades could pass before the general population knew about a major innovation, like the aforementioned printing press. Can humankind reimagine and thrive amid supersonic changes? I have about 400 more pages to learn what Friedman thinks, but this is what I think: We can’t control the world; we can control how we live in the world. I guess that makes me an optimist.

–Sharon Vander Meer

For more about Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration, by Thomas L. Friedman, go to

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The weird genius habits

I am a genius. No, really, I am. According to Reader’s Digest I have seven and a half of the weird traits that secretly indicate I am smarter than the average bear. Well, they didn’t say bear, but to say what they said would be like, well, gee whiz, bragging!

First, I don’t believe for a second I’m a genius. There are way too many instances where my life would prove quite the contrary. But it’s fun to think about.

Let’s begin with the habits I don’t have. Cold showers. Really? Who wants to take cold showers? I guess the one good thing about that would be waking up really fast in the morning.

Swearing. This is sort of a half-and-half thing. I do swear, but only now and then, and when it by-damn is called for!

Habits I admit to, but see nothing weird about.Busy, busy, busy

Having a messy desk. See photo. ‘Nuff said.

Stay up late. I would stay up later, but my husband worries I’m not getting enough rest. My best and most productive writing time is in the middle of the night. No distraction. Complete silence. I can board a train of thought and ride it to the end of the line.

Talk to myself. More than I wish to admit. Dialog on the page comes alive or falls flat when spoken aloud, but it’s more than that. When I’m in the middle of a mess (writing mess) I mutter and mumble through it. “If this happens, how does it impact that? Did Joe have green eyes in chapter two and now they’re blue? What if Joe doesn’t go down that road, but takes this one instead?” I know I’ve gone from mutter and mumble to speaking voice when I hear from the living room, “Did you say something?”

“No,” I say, and return to mutter and mumble.

The sound of chewing is annoying. It can be, especially if I’m the one chewing. A sort of meditative experience for me is chewing ice, which is annoying to nearly everyone who can hear it. But the sound of chip-chewing and other crunchy foods sort of gets on my nerves as well. Again, it’s the noise in my head caused by me chewing, not other people. So this one may not apply. Maybe my genius habits only add up to seven.

Doodling. Really? This is weird? EVERYONE DOODLES!

Being self-critical. Well, I must say, this one hits the nail on the head. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say I know the song and dance of all the things that are wrong with me and my work. It takes a certain amount of courage to get past personal doubt and continue to write and publish.

This is my favorite. Daydreaming. That’s the source of everything writers write. You kinda go beyond what you know, into a world where anything is possible.

In conclusion, these random weird habits hardly make me – or anyone else who has them – a genius. What it amounts to is that we are all a little flawed, which may very well contribute to creativity, and that’s okay with me.

So, from one genius to another, have a weird and wonderful day.

From the pen (keyboard) of Sharon Vander Meer

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It is time for… Where do I begin?

American FlagI am fed up with politics. The U.S.A. is overdue for election reform and term limits. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a Pulitzer Prizing winning news site, in the 2016 presidential election, more than $1 BILLION was spent campaigning. It was a brutal election. Each year the diatribes against political opponents becomes more bitter, filled with half-truths and outright lies. Campaigning is less about what good can come of electing a particular candidate and more about the ways the opponent is flawed.

Fewer voters go to the polls. Electing a candidate is often based on who a voter doesn’t like rather than who can do the best job. Knowing who can do the best job is difficult to determine. Weeding through the rhetoric to find a kernel of truth takes an enormous amount of work and political savvy. And the money spent is mind boggling. One billion dollars? I can’t fathom that amount of money. Those dollars could have been better spent for education, economic development, health care, or workforce development.

Representation “by the people and for the people” has all but disappeared. Congress is largely made up of lawyers who have little or no contact with their constituency outside election campaigns. Everyday folks can’t afford to run and if they do and are elected, how will they  hold their own in a city where cost of housing is more than they make in a month? My cynical friends say it’s because everyone in Washington is on the take. Please let it not be so! I want to believe there are still elected officials who have integrity, and who have the best interest of the country as their priority. I don’t see a lot of that, but I remain hopeful.

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A musing

Sharon Vander MeerThoughts on aging

I am old but it pisses me offmakes my blood boilgrinds on me… is a rude awakening when people treat me like I’m old. Even worse, I recall treating old people the same – or worse – when I was young. The following is a short list of comments I would prefer people keep to themselves.

Isn’t she sweet. Puleeze. Some of the crotchiest people I know are old and they have every right to be crotchety. Nothing works the way it used to. Sometimes peeing is the priority and there is NO BATHROOM IN SIGHT! Your kids rarely call. You spend way too much time wondering how time got away from you. The bucket list sprung a leak a long time ago and all your dreams drained away. You would be crotchety, too.

She sure is feisty. What the hell does that mean and why is is applied more often to old women than anyone else? People with a few miles on them have learned the value of persistence, hard work, dedication, and self-denial. There’s nothing “feisty” about that. It’s plain common sense.

Let me get that for you. Yes, it is nice for people to lend a helping hand, but sometimes it makes older folks feel helpless and hopeless. Age-related changes become more evident when you can’t bend over and pick up something you’ve dropped, or the door to the post office is too heavy for you to open on your own. You appreciate the courtesy of kind gestures, but it irritates you as well because someone decides you can’t do it for yourself. Go figure.

Is that appropriate attire for a woman your age? Oh, it’s never said that way outright, but subtly raised eyebrows or a snicker behind the hand conveys volumes without a word being said. I’m delighted the fashion of the ’50s that put women in house dresses with no thought to style has come and gone. Women no longer must fit a mold. I don’t care if leggings are only meant for young skinny women; I’ll wear them anyway. Life is too short to let anyone dictate one’s style.

You don’t look your age. Gloria Steinem famously said to the person who told her she didn’t look 40, “This is what 40 looks like.” This is what aging looks like. Telling someone they don’t look their age when they clearly do, is an insult. Mom used to say, “I’ve earned every wrinkle and gray hair.” So have I. Life is good, even joyful most of the time. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. No one does. I do know I will be about the business of living fully and with anticipation. I believe that no matter what age you are, you can have hope for new adventures, even when the adventure is a trip to Charlie’s for a cup of Starbucks.

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10 Ways to make yourself feel better

Is there a magic elixir for happiness? Should we be that thing called “happy” all the time? Is there value in disappointment and trials? Down days are inevitable. Sometimes all you need is a little boost to get you over the hump.

  1. Call a friend and tell them something you admire about them. This isn’t the same as giving someone a compliment when they have accomplished a noteworthy achievement. This is recognizing a trait that helps others or that has had a personal influence in your life. You know your friends well enough that coming up with an admirable trait or activity should be easy. It’s important to call instead of e-mail. One-on-one interaction is how we build relationships.
  2. Smile. Motivational writer and speaker Denis Waitley wrote: “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” Your smile makes you feel better and has an equally beneficial impact on those you encounter.
  3. Make peace with yesterday. Are you carrying a grudge? It’s probably the heaviest weight you will ever carry. You may not even know how it began. Someone did this, you did that, they retaliated, you pushed back. Suddenly a long standing friendship (or family relationship) hit the iceberg of anger and broke apart. Even if your offer to make peace is rejected, you will know you made the effort, which will lighten your load.
  4. Hang in there. Success is not measured by how many times you fall down; it is measured by how many time you get up and try again. If you have an achievable goal, go for it with everything you have in you. Be energized by the small successes and treat mistakes as learning experiences. You will feel better about your accomplishments and have a more positive outlook.
  5. Be flexible. When life does not go your way, be open to other options. Not getting the promotion or the perfect job is a bump in the road, not a barrier. Too often we believe, “My way or the highway,” shows strength or power. It creates roadblocks to communication and personal growth.
  6. Maintain perspective. My husband jokingly says the words “always” and “never” should be stricken from the dictionary. When you think of your life in absolutes, you begin to see your problems as overwhelming, insurmountable. Take life in small increments and check off the solvable objectives one box at a time. You will feel better with each accomplished goal.
  7. Guard your thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “… for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. ‘Eat and drink,’ saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee.” (KJV) When you are helping, reaching out, lifting up, do so with the right mental attitude and with a generous spirit. A gift given begrudgingly is no gift at all.
  8. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Yes, you are unique. Don’t argue with me. You are you, created in a mold solely your own. You have been given a wealth of gifts and talents. How – or if – you use those gifts and talents is up to you. While it is true that the beautiful people seem to have ideal lives, they’re just like the rest of us, as full of insecurities as you or I. And think about it, some of the most famous actors were anything but beautiful; they were talented men and women who capitalized on their talent and opportunities. You can do it, too.
  9. Disappointment is part of life; get over it. Pain and disappointment are inevitable. It happens to all of us. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that life is not fair. Living under the rationale that what happens to you is unfair will bring you down and create a defeatist attitude. “This, too, will pass,” may be a cliché, but it is a valid, positive way to handle disappointment. Tomorrow is another day. How can you make it a great day?
  10. Trust yourself. Self-doubt opens the door to defeatism. If you think you can’t, you won’t even try. If you think you can, you will make the most of every day and use the gifts and talents you’ve been given in the best way you know how.

Being happy is not a single thing, or getting what you want; it comes from contentment, loving others and being loved, helping those around you and making a difference in the ways you can. Believe in yourself. Live your faith. Make the most of who you are. You will feel better.

NOTE: Clinical depression is a serious illness. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes you can’t make yourself feel better. Seek help. See your regular doctor and ask for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional. See the signs of clinical depression here.

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at,, Amazon Author Central


The way it was, on Sept. 10, 2001

By M.E. Sprengelmeyer
The Communicator, Santa Rosa, N.M.

Hopefully, somebody rang a bell on Sunday. All of us should have paused to remember. It has been 16 years now.

Do you remember where you were that day, Sept. 10, 2001?

Nothing particularly exciting happened in the world that day. But that was the point.

It was the last day of the “old normal,” before the terrorist attacks of the next morning, Sept. 11, 2001, would usher in the era of the “new normal.”

Before that day, our country did not seem to be in a constant state of war. We could walk into our federal government buildings without going through security gates. You could even sit with your loved ones at the departures gate in the airport, watch the planes come in, and give them a hug right before they walked through the door.

In hindsight, we were in the preliminary stages of a viciously divided, partisan period of American history. But our leaders were still decent enough people that when they got through a disputed presidential election that had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the loser congratulated the winner, made sure everyone heard him acknowledge the new guy as “my president,” and allowed our country to move forward. No hard feelings. (OK, maybe a little…)

Life was so much different on the day before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A whole generation of young soldiers had volunteered for service thinking the chances were slim that they’d actually end up fighting in a war.

Soon, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, young infantrymen would come up and tell me and some of the other embedded journalists that they enlisted for college money or other reasons. Yes, they took their training seriously and they got ready, they said. But in all honesty, a lot of them said, they never really thought they’d get to put it to use in an actual battlefield.

That’s because it seemed like a different world on Sept. 10, 2001.

Behind the scenes, people at the highest level of the U.S. government knew we were approaching a more dangerous world, with terrorist groups and rogue states positioning themselves to shatter the relative stability of the geopolitical maps.

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush had received a classified briefing report that spoke of the evil ambitions of the terrorist group Al Qaeda and its enigmatic leader, Osama bin Laden. The now-infamous headline was: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

But the American public wouldn’t hear about that until more than a month later, after it was too late.

In the weeks leading up to the terrorist attacks, it was business as usual in the United States. In the middle of August, I traveled out to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, went on a little hike and got to see President Bush do what they said he liked to do best: clear brush and help care for the land in a beautiful place.

He was all smiles later at the YMCA, joking with reporters in the lunch line and answering one important-sounding question about the Israelis and the Palestinians. But there was no mention of the Al Qaeda memo. Nothing that would indicate we were a country on edge.

Now, ever since that day-after the day-before, we’re a country that seems constantly on edge. We still worry about terrorists. We worry about our armed forces, who are still in harm’s way in Afghanistan and Iraq. We worry about places like Syria and Iran. And now, suddenly, the fear has been ramped up another notch with all the doomsday talk surrounding the nuclear showdown with North Korea.

Here at home, we now accept things that were unthinkable on Sept. 10, 2001. It’s presumed that the United States government will do a certain amount of electronic spying on its own people in the name of “homeland security.” We accept all sorts of compromises in our liberties, like drastic changes in airport security, pat-down searches at high-profile sporting events and more.

Meanwhile, at a new height in the information age, we don’t know what to believe anymore. The partisan divisions no longer are polite. They’re endemic, particularly vicious, and people on all sides try to spin them to their own advantage.

In many ways, we’ve all become way more cynical about the world in which we live – and, arguably, were more on edge today than we were in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Being on edge, constantly, is just another part of the “new normal.”

This year, we waited until Monday to commemorate the 16-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. But maybe we should do something different this year. Let’s commemorate Sept. 10, 2001, figure out how life was better. Figure out whether we were too complacent for our own good.

Maybe, if we think about it, we can remember something positive about our lives before the world changed and see if we can sneak it into the world today.

Originally printed in The Communicator, Santa Rosa, NM,
Reprinted here by permission of:
Tom McDonald
Gazette Media Services
Community News Exchange

What I Believe

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18, from The Message

Love is LoveI am not a theologian. I am a believer. I don’t know what God thinks about the world as it is today, but I do know what I believe. I believe God loves everyone who calls upon his name. Everyone. I believe he looks at the heart not at the head, or the gender, or the ethnicity, or the sexual orientation of those he loves. I believe when God gave his only begotten son to die for the sins of all, he made no exception about which believers are covered by the gift of grace. I believe that my loving understanding of a just God accepts that he is Supreme and I am not. I believe when we are so busy finding reasons to judge and criticize, we miss out on life. Believe Out Loud gives an overview of the LGBT equality position from the Christian perspective of gay and lesbian believers. It’s the view you don’t typically see in the media. If politicians must have something to fight about, maybe they should focus on poverty, mental illness, literacy, and health care, and stay away from debating equality, which every citizen in the U.S. is guaranteed under the constitution.

Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated.

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