Happy New Year

Happy New YearThe clock striking midnight on Dec. 31, 2020, will not bring about a magical return to “normal,” whatever your definition of normal might be. We still have a largely uncontrolled virus, political stress and strife, and the economy is a mess. Many will start the New Year with a boatload of Old Problems.

So, how do we move forward? Well, that’s somewhat dependent on how one approaches life.

How do you see your strengths and weakness? Are you a naturally confident, can-do kind of person? Are you self-motivated or do you need a kick in the pants to get going? Are you resilient? Empathetic? Optimistic? It has been said that if you believe you will succeed, you probably will. If you think you will fail, you probably will. Between the two, which choice will you make and how will that form your strategy for getting from where you are now, to where you want to be in 2021?

My magic formula for positive change is simple. Show up.

  • Show up for your family when they need you.
  • Show up for friends who are going through tough times.
  • Show up to celebrate important occasions.
  • Show up to help in soup kitchens, or food banks, or clothing drives.
  • Show up in the coffers of a charity that will make life better for others.
  • Show up in local small businesses who are struggling in these tough economic times.
  • Show up for yourself through self-care.

Show up.

When I think of our small community, I’m thankful to report that many of my friends and neighbors have done just that, shown up and delivered. At the beginning of the pandemic, when there were no masks to be found anywhere, folks dusted off their sewing machines and made masks, then gave them away.

Our struggling food banks had lots of support from locals. Was it enough? The need for food and personal items for those affected by job loss or homelessness never goes away. The good news is, people are still showing up to help.

Blankets were given to those who needed them. Elders were given boxes of food and necessities. There is so much more I’m not aware of, but I thank every one of you who stepped up and showed up. The difference you made rings through into 2021 and resonates in the hearts of all you helped.

So, what does “show up” mean? Whatever it means to you, but here are some ideas:

  • It’s the simple things that add up. Samaritan House always needs socks, scarves, woolen caps, and masks for distribution, especially in cold winter months.
  • A telephone call to a shut-in or a friend or a neighbor you haven’t seen or talked to in a while can make a big difference. If you think you don’t have anything to say, be honest and say you just wanted to touch base and say, “Hi,” and let the conversation go on from there.
  • Send a card. In the mail. With a stamp. Or a letter. Or a thank you for a kindness. It’s the connection that matters.
  • The most important truth our friends and neighbors need to know is the very truth we need to remember: we are not alone. We have a tribe, a team, a family, a network, friends we can turn to. Lean on faith and friends as you look to the future.
  • Think of all that you can do and don’t worry about the things you can’t. I don’t know if this is accurate, but I read recently that 97 percent of the things we worry about, never happen. That’s a lot of wasted time that could be spent breathing deep and chilling out and showing up. It doesn’t have to be a big deal to have a big impact.

Please note that when you “show up” in the company of others, be safe and adhere to appropriate protocols to protect yourself and those you encounter: mask up, social distance, wash your hands.

I wish for each of you a blessed and happy and stress-free 2021. When you show up for others it has an amazing effect on you. Try it; you’ll like it.


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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.

REFLECTION ANEW

More than meets the eye

Look beyond
what you see,
look at you,
look for me.
What seek you
in the days ahead?
Health and hope,
not fear nor dread?
It starts within
each gentle soul
as we look
to be made whole.
It is not so simple
is it now,
as we look for
the why, the how?
Do one kindness
on this day,
a smile, a laugh
to pave the way.
See beyond
what is there,
look for joy,
everywhere.

I watched a commercial featuring an elderly man doing a seemingly foolish series of exercises using – I think it’s called – a kettlebell. His actions are a curiosity to his neighbors and downright alarming to some, but he persists, always using as inspiration a photo the audience is not privileged to see, until the end. You can view the ad here. The commercial inspired me to write this poem and served as a reminder to identify what brings joy and focus on that. Happy New Year!


Sharon Vander MeerThank 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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.

PEACE

Peace

Peace on Earth
seems far away
as we muddle about
from day-to-day.

Sing the song
of Peace on Earth,
see each person’s
gifts and worth.

Pass not judgment,
hear instead the sighs
of Peace on Earth
from he – or she – who cries.

May I make time to think
of a kindness I can birth
to bring about
Peace on Earth.


2020 has left us reeling and maybe a bit rattled about what lies ahead. I wrote this poem with hope in my heart.

–Sharon


REFLECTION

Christmas ornaments reflect light –
iridescent, glowing,
bringing joy,
lifting spirits,
and lighting faces
– young and old –
with smiles.
Like stars alight
in the swirling dark,
their colors shine sublime.


Sharon Vander Meer

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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.


 

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

Writer Sharon Vander MeerCovid-the-curse of 2020 may soon be one for the history books as more meds are created to slow the pandemic down and maybe even bring it to a halt. In the meantime, the battle rages about whether to mask or not, gather or not, be vaccinated or not.

It appears abundantly clear that masks do work, social distancing does work, and vaccines can get us back to what passes for normal. Are there risks? Perhaps. One thing we know is that the pandemic has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide and left many survivors with lingering symptoms. The good news is that 97 percent of affected patients did survive.

For me, 2020 can be distilled down to things more personal. Our best friends died in a horrific accident in February; my son went through multiple health problems and continues to struggle; my husband fell at the end of June and broke his right femur, had surgery, and ended up in rehab for three months. He’s home now but needs in-home care. Mentally he’s 100 percent; physically he fights the good fight… with help. I developed chronic back pain, which is proving to be harder to get rid of than I’d hoped.

This is not the great whine, the 2020 Vander Meer pity party; this is the reality we’re living with. You have your reality: sickness, loss of a loved one – perhaps because of Covid, but likely from some other illness or circumstance; your plans have been harpooned because of the pandemic, moments lost forever, never to be regained. The political absurdities of 2020 I will leave for someone else to talk about, as well as racial inequality, which is a systemic barbed wire woven into the fabric of – not just our nation – but the world.

So, where is hope? It is found in every dollar given to feed the hungry. It is every first responder, nurse, doctor, and health care worker logging hours of overtime (for which they will never get adequately compensated). It is in all the agencies finding help for the homeless and in every person who puts on a mask to protect those he or she may encounter. It is the scientists working on a cure. It’s in the phone call you make to check on a loved one… Hope is everywhere and bolsters us now when we need it most.

The holidays are upon us, and by all accounts, there will be less giving in the gifting sense, but there will be lots of sharing. We have found within ourselves – it would seem – wellsprings of generosity and kindness. Perhaps by entering 2021 with a spirit of hope, we will find in others that something special that sets them apart, and help them celebrate that.

There is a public announcement, I think it originates in Albuquerque, but I’m not sure, that asks everyone to look within themselves and find their unique gift or skill and find ways to put it to work. Giving isn’t just about dollars donated; it’s also about how you engage with your community, following safety protocols, of course. We all have something to give. We can all point to people in our town who have made a difference, whether it’s collecting food for distribution or making masks back when there was a huge shortage. Giving and helping and reaching out are not activities limited to times of trial. My particular local heroes are the visionaries who are working on the natural waterway that runs through the heart of Las Vegas and creating a beautiful Gallinas River Park along the route. While the heavy-duty work is paid for by grants, a lot of volunteers are showing up to help when and where they can.

We have lots of reasons to be hopeful about the future. This year has been a test, but it has not broken our spirits. If anything, it has given us reasons to look around and appreciate living in our small town. It’s not perfect, but nothing is.

There will be less spending this year, so the talking heads say, but may I suggest that whatever you spend this year, try your very best to spend it at a local business. We need them to be strong and able to weather this financial storm. They are braver than any superhero and made of stouter stuff than you can imagine. Let them know you appreciate them. Spend your shopping dollars in Las Vegas in small businesses. Find out more about hometown merchants at the Las Vegas First Business Alliance website lasvegasfirst.org or by emailing lasvegasfirst@gmail.com.

Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas and look to the New Year with hope in your heart.

–Sharon


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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.


BOOK TALK NOV. 22

We are so excited about our next Literary Salon event. Book Talk will feature two of our favorite booksellers talking about the books they love and getting your feedback about the books you love. The holiday season is upon us. This is a great opportunity to find just the right gift for the readers in your life. Thank you Dennis Ditmanson and Nancy Colalillo. Readers and writers, you won’t want to miss this!

Books of the Southwest

Ditmanson is a dealer in used books with a focus on the American West and an emphasis on the Southwest, New Mexico, and Las Vegas. Hence the name – Books of the Southwest. Ditmanson has a smattering of other non-fiction and general fiction, cookbooks, trail guides, etc.  His main outlet is at Frankie Ann Tiques, 247 Plaza, and He keeps a small space at Rough Rider Antiques. He and his wife Carol, came to Las Vegas in 2001 when Ditmanson took on the Superintendent posts at Pecos National Historical Park and Fort Union National Monument.  “Books have always been a must for me. I got the bug as a seller after a stint working for Nancy at Tome On the Range!”

Nancy Colalillo is the founder of the original Tome on the Range independent bookstore, which she owned and operated from 1996 to 2013. After a brief retirement, Nancy resumed her retail career with the founding of Paper Trail, a quirky gift shop located in Tome’s second home at 158 Bridge Street in historic Old Town Las Vegas, NM. In addition to flights of fancy for home, office, kitchen, garden, and kids, she has integrated a carefully chosen selection of books for all ages into Paper Trail’s offerings, proving that once a bookseller always a bookseller!

Nancy has also been involved in commercial and economic development ventures that focus on shopping local, historic preservation, and community improvement. She is the quintessential emcee at fundraisers and her entrepreneurial savvy has been a great inspiration to many small business owners.

Don’t miss this Literary Salon!

Sign up below for the November FREE Book Talk
Las Vegas Literary Salon

Media File(opens in a new tab)

Thanks to Jim Terr for his help in preparing videos of Dennis and Nancy for posting. Check out Nancy’s personal invite here…


Sharon Vander Meer

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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsvandermeer@gmail.com.

IN A FALL MOOD

Red Chile

CHILE NEW MEXICO

The aroma of
chile roasting warms my heart
conjuring autumn.

SQUIRRELY

The squirrel is busy,
so industrious!
Running about, gathering…
what?
It can’t be nuts,
unless it’s pinon,
we have a lot
of that around.
Our shade trees are elms,
not oaks,
the Chinese variety.
They’ve nearly lived out
their life spans,
with crusty bark and spindly limbs
subject to fracture
when autumn winds blow.
But, the squirrel doesn’t mind,
scurrying about in a mad rush,
running up one tree and down another.
Its busyness is calming somehow,
nature welcoming fall
as the squirrel prepares
for a change in the weather,
as must we.

NESTING RESTING

An autumn nip
in the air
sends you snuggling
in your chair.

Pull in,
regroup,
make yourself
some Harvest Soup.

Be alone
by yourself,
take a book
from the shelf.

Time enough
to reconnect.
For now, sit awhile
and reflect.


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. I am an indie author of six books and two chapbooks of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.

HOW TO BE ORIGINAL

To say Adam Grant is a professor and an author of nonfiction books about social and business psychology is to say a candle and a 100-watt bulb are lights. Read more about him here.

I just finished listening to the audiobook of his best-selling Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. It is inspiring and eye-opening. What does it mean to be “original” in an age when everything is accelerating at speeds beyond our imaginations? How does one stand out in a crowd? How do you take a novel – sometimes controversial ­– idea, and get other people on board?

The answer might not be what you think. Great thinkers, brilliant innovators, and Nobel prize winners top the list of originals, but how about the office worker who has a brilliant idea for improving an internal process. Is she shot down because the idea is so novel, so unconventional the hierarchy can’t see its value? How does that lower-level staffer get past barriers of groupthink and cautious management?

The book is based on real-world examples and research done by, well, innovative social psychologists in different fields of expertise. It delves into –

• ways you can improve family dynamics and raise children who can solve problems and think for themselves;
• coalition-building to achieve transformational objectives;
• managing fear;
• understanding why listening to your critics makes your ideas scalable and achievable;
•how entrepreneurs create sustainable products and businesses;
• why it’s okay to procrastinate;
• yes, and more.

Originals aren’t born, they are made, or perhaps better stated, they make themselves. They are not always dynamic, take-it-to-the-mat personalities. Originals learn the skills necessary to carry their invention or idea from coulda, shoulda, woulda, to a revolutionary product, inspirational message, or life-altering concept.


What to look for (from the author’s website)

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent.

You’ll learn from…
​• An entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest
• A woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below
• An analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA
• A billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him
• A TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor


Adam Grant explores the journeys of several successful originals and looks at why some things work and others don’t. He explains how the non-innovator – which covers most of us – can take the behaviors of originals and create change within their own businesses, organizations, and families. You can even take a quick test to see if you have the traits of an original. Typically, respondents got 6 of 15 answers correct; I got 9 of 15 and I read (listened to) the book! I suspect I’ll listen to it again after I’ve had time to distill the wealth of information it contains.

Originally published in 2014, the book is available through online retailers and in bookstores. I’m sure if Nancy at Paper Trail doesn’t have the book, she can order it for you. I got Originals through Libby, the Carnegie Library application on which you can download digital and audiobooks. To use the app, you must have a library card.

Happy reading! I also invite you to learn more about the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a writing and reading group sharing ideas and information. Learn more here and here.


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. 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 www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.


Book review: Eerie new mexico

If we’re honest we will all admit to having heard something go bump in the night. Chills race down our backs! Or a shadow races around the room and makes our our mouths go dry. It’s human nature to be wary of the unknown. Hollywood has tapped into our fear factor and made billions off horror movies. The big screen gives us just the right amount of shiver. We’re ever so grateful we’re not the idiots going into the darkened spooky house. We’re not the shivering girl standing alone in the hall listening to footsteps on the stairs. And haven’t most of us – at least once, if briefly – seen inexplicable lights dart across the night sky?

In Eerie New Mexico, author Ray John de Aragon delves into events that have happened over the years that make us think twice.

“Did that really happen?”

“Did I really see that?”

“Are my troubles the result of getting the Evil Eye?”

Well, okay you probably don’t think about that last one, but maybe you should. In Eerie New Mexico, the author explores superstition, the unusual, the supernatural, and old wives’ tales that seem to have a grain of truth, or as the very least, send a cautionary message.

Inter-mixed with history, he recounts folklore passed down from generation to generation, altered and embellished over time. Some tales have the charm of a scary story told around the camp fire. Others cause an in-drawn breath of horror. De Aragon weaves historical fact into the narrative while calling attention to rituals and celebrations based on a deep belief in the spiritual, the unexplained and the unknowable.

Ray John
DE ARAGON

So, dig into the Wonders of the Invisible World with tales of Mal Ojo, Bolas de Lumbre, Raising the Dead (it may not be what you’re thinking), the Dark Side of the Moon and Children of the Stars. Check out the Mystical Missions with stories of Spirit Master, A Holy Ghost, Mystical Hermit (think Hermit’s Peak), Ascending Spirits, the Passage to Strangeness (corridos el muerto had me closing the book and regrouping), New Mexico’s Inner Superstitions, and the morality tale of Patas Chuecas.

This is a lively book, despite there being a lot about death, but as the author wrote in the section entitled, Homeland Overview, “Everything in existence is interconnected and interrelated between life and death.”

At 150 pages, it’s a quick read chock full of interesting tales and lots of New Mexico’s forgotten or ignored history.

Eerie New Mexico is published by History Press and sells for $21.99. It will be available for purchase after its release date of Sept. 22.

Zoom in to an interview with the author on Sunday, Sept. 27, 4-5 p.m. Registration is required. Please register below. You will be sent a link to the Zoom event, A visit with the author, Ray John de Aragon.


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. 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 www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.

Perfectly imperfect

This is my way of procrastinating. I have every intention of starting a new novel that’s been churning around in my head for a while, and I started working on a book of inspirational prose and poetry entitled, Echoes. And then stopped.

But I digress. This is about filling one’s time in the age of COVID. Lower case or uppercase? Depends on how pissed off I am when I’m typing the word. The restrictions caused by this pandemic keep loved ones from being with the people they need most – family. It makes me crazy, and yet… I know people in medical care of any kind are more vulnerable and I do not want my dear one to be exposed to the virus, so not being with him is in his best interest… I guess. I feel as though I am in isolation as well, which is ridiculous. I can – and do – get out and about, but life isn’t the same without him by my side. Enough of that!

BEFORE

And back to the topic. I’ve been doing other things to occupy my time, instead of writing. Well, not really, if you follow this blog you know I write now and then, essays and poems, and about local folks and how they are coping with Covid-19. But some of what I’ve been up to has nothing to do with writing at all: keeping my potted plants alive in this dry, dry weather; trimming the indoor plants so my patio doesn’t turn into a jungle; cleaning closets; working with Patti Romero and Susie Tsyitee (and now Mary Rose Henssler) in the development of the Las Vegas Literary Salon series of events for writers and readers; church committees and projects… and a real departure for me, painting furniture. I was inspired by Juli Salman and Angela Meron who are WAY better at this than I am, but it was something to do and I wanted to try it out. I’m also dabbling in watercolor, but we won’t go there. I’m a little heavy-handed with the brush.

Anyway, the table belonged to Bob’s mom. It has been painted and repainted a number of times. I suspect there is decent wood under all the layers, but I decided to give it a bit of flair, with what I consider to be a fairly decent result. It is perfectly imperfect in every possible way. Close inspection will reveal some quirks and mishaps, but I consider these to be marks of unintended panache.

The table has gone from being functional as a plant stand to being… I don’t know what the heck! Anyway, the table has been transformed and my writing is waiting in the wings. My book, Echoes is taking shape; I just need to get back to it. I’m writing a review of Ray John de Aragon’s latest publication, Eerie New Mexico, and will have an interview with him on my blog sometime next week. This is in advance of his spot as a guest on the Las Vegas Literary Salon’s Zoom A Visit With the Author, Sept. 27 from 4-5 p.m. And yes, this is an invitation to register and be in the virtual audience. Go to lvliterarysalon@gmail.com to register. Type September Salon in the subject line.

AFTER

Back to the table. I really enjoyed working on this piece. It took me about a week, not counting the drying time between coats of shellac. And it fired up my brain with writing ideas, so in terms of writing, it was not a complete loss. (Smiley Face Here!) Mostly it energized my flagging spirit. When you have a family member (in my case members) dealing with illness and you can’t be there physically, it does drain you and whittles away at your resolve to be upright and bright. You know what I’m talking about; having a positive attitude goes only so far when the control you thought you had is taken away. Covid-19 did that to many of us. Ask any business person, health care practitioner, those who have lost a jobs… You get it. You know what it means.

What the perfectly imperfect table did for me is help me remember that I’m not the sum of current circumstances; I am someone who knows that defeat is the end game only if I let it be. I have a choice every day to use what God gave me and make the most of it. So, back to writing and back to being creative in the best way I know how. I’m not the bubble gum pink table, I’m the bright new-looking one with something to say. I hope. Anyway, I will be doing it in my perfectly imperfect way.


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. 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 www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M. Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.