Friday, October 18, 2019

Insight: “Three years on a rock”

By Lorraine Glowczak

I have always heard the words, “never give up” when we feel discouraged during times of challenge. But it wasn’t until I did some research on this week’s business spotlight, Sebago Kyokushin Karate when I came across the Japanese proverb, “three years on a rock” for the first time. For some reason, that sentence speaks more volumes to me than our usual go to adage when we’re ready to “throw in the towel”.

Basically, the Japanese proverb means to persevere at all times. On the Sebago Kyokushin Karate website, the author Shihan Cameron Quinn is quoted, “[perseverance] teaches the student to face the demands of daily life with a mature and enduring attitude. A budo-ka [martial way] is not easily shaken by the blows of adversity, realizing that for a person to draw near to their true potential, a never-say-die spirit of perseverance is required”.

It’s possible that the “martial way” can be applied to everyday life because we are constantly faced with hurdles and hardships. Although certainly times of rest to re-center ourselves is needed, continuing on despite the difficulties – with determination, agility and maturity - will only make the finish line more glorious. (Then of course, there are other finish lines after that).

Newt Gingrich said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of the hard work you already did.” There are many, many stories of successful individuals who sat on a rock for more than three years. One of my favorite stories is that of Harland David Sanders, otherwise known at Colonel Sanders. According to the Unbelievable Facts website, his story goes something like this:

Colonel Sanders left school at 13, lost numerous jobs, his wife left him, and at the age of 65, he retired as a failure dependent on his savings and money from social security. One day, knowing he was a good cook, he borrowed some money, fried some chicken, sold it door-to-door, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken and became a billionaire at 88.

Sometimes, however, personal successes that make up our fullest potential are less grandiose but are just as powerful. A woman who currently lives in Australia and simply goes by the name of Gloria, tells her story on her website, Stronger Braver Fighter:

“Many women [people] go through tough times at one time or another in their life where they lose their identity – bad break-ups, abusive relationships, violence, and so on. I, on the other hand, never had an identity to begin with. That’s because I was taught from an early age that I wasn’t good enough . . . for anything.”

Gloria goes on to describe that she came from a culture where females were supposed to be weak and submissive. Not only that, but appearances counted for everything, so discrimination based on her looks was quite severe. “Being short and overweight, I grew up constantly being told…that I wasn’t smart enough, that I was useless and stupid, and that I would never amount to anything.”

But Gloria persevered, losing the weight through a martial arts discipline. “I realize now that people’s criticisms and judgments of me while I was growing up were like poison to my mind, working to keep me mentally small and weak. We’re all exposed to these poisons in our lives at one time or another. Fortunately for me, I was able to overcome mine.

I have no anger or animosity towards any of the people who put me down in my younger years and programmed my mind for failure, because I know now that it was just an expression of their own fears and weaknesses. In a way I’m actually thankful to them because I believe it’s my tough life that has made me so strong today.”

Sitting on a rock for three years is hard – in more ways than one. But even a cold hard rock warms up from the body’s heat. Even a boulder along the ocean’s edge is eventually reshaped by the waves. If you are experiencing a particularly difficult time in your life, I hope this reminds you to keep on keeping on – keep refusing to give up. Just so you know, I have my days too.

As Gloria stated, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get [to where I need to go next], and I want to help you do the same. Together we can’t fail.”




Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

This letter is written in support of Robert Muir and Donna Chapman who are running for Town Council. Diversity of needs due to age, financial resources, health as well as diversity of occupations, interests, desires, opinions etc. are necessary for a thriving community. When comments are made that the Town Council should have unity, should have the same thoughts and opinions about goals, it makes me shudder. Those comments do not reflect the diversity of opinions in town.

Even when goals are shared, there can be many alternative ways to achieve the goals for a better outcome. Windham does not need seven council members who all think and vote the same way. That is dangerous! Having served on the council with both Bob and Donna, I know that they share the same perspectives on some issues and not on others. But they both are honest, dependable, have historical knowledge, understand restraint in government, and understand that a lot of people in Windham cannot afford big increases in taxes. Their common sense prevails.  If you want to maintain the voice of diversity of ideas on the council, I urge you to vote for Robert Muir and Donna Chapman.

Liz Wisecup
Windham

Friday, October 11, 2019

Insight: The importance of gratitude and grace

By Lorraine Glowczak

At a workshop luncheon I attended recently, the facilitator offered a few guidelines on what makes a great leader - whether that leadership comes in the form of family, career or community volunteer efforts, she stated that the “rules” apply to all. The facilitator referred to the “ABC’s of Leadership”. At this gathering, we focused on 1) Accountability, 2) Be real and 3) Commitment.

It was the accountability topic that caught my attention the most. I always knew that accountability
meant accepting responsibility for one’s actions but as we discussed the details further, I learned that it also entails: trusting in others and others in you, not making assumptions, setting the example, saying thank you - and meaning it.

As we were about to discuss the “thank you” portion of accountability, the facilitator’s phone alarm sounded. “Oh! I apologize,” she said as she shut the alarm off. “That’s my gratitude reminder.”

Not only was I surprised by the synchronicity of the alarm as it coincided with the subject but the fact this leader makes a concerted effort, setting time aside every day to be thankful for things and people in her life. And, it’s not even Thanksgiving, yet!

Although, I never set an alarm, I do try to speak words of thanks during my most human and disgruntled moments to remind myself how truly lucky I am. It really does wonders in shifting me out of my humdrums. In doing so – it also alters my response to the world and people around me in a positive and graceful way.

It is no secret that we as a nation have become radically divisive and angry. We’ve become rude with each other, throw insults as if they were candy, make assumptions without knowing all the facts – and are incessantly ungrateful for the dedicated work of others. I don’t know about you, but this both baffles and saddens me.

I don’t have any real solutions to this issue, but I wonder what would happen if we all (or at least a majority of us) tried gratitude on a daily basis.

In a 2017 Business Insider online article written by Chris Weller, he tells the story about Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of Belfor Holdings, Inc. Yellen started composing handwritten birthday cards to thank his employees for their efforts and dedication after he was hired by his brother-in-law. He knew the employees felt he was being given special treatment, so Yellen decided to turn the perception around. He’s been doing this for 32 years and now writes over 7,000 handwritten birthday cards. 

Weller writes: “Over time, the gesture has made for a more compassionate, gracious workplace, Yellen said. People feel appreciated and reciprocate those good feelings outward. Some managers have even taken up the habit themselves to write cards for their team members, clients, and loved ones. Other CEOs may consider the gesture frivolous or a waste of time, but Yellen is quick to disagree. He said his experience has taught him that the value keeps coming back in spades. ‘When leaders forget about the human element, they're holding back their companies and limiting the success of others," he said. "Focusing only on profit and forgetting that a company's most important asset is its people will ultimately stifle a company's growth.’”

But I would stretch Yellen’s comment further by adding – without gratitude towards one another - a community’s growth, a nation’s growth - is stifled.

Author and mental strength trainer, Amy Morin writes that grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. “Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge,” Morin wrote.

Professor Dr. Kerry Howells is well known for her academic research on gratitude. She’s been on Ted.com and has written books and blog posts on the subject. She shared this story:
“When I was a visiting scholar in South Africa a few years ago, I was privileged to learn much about the role of gratitude in Zulu culture. The Zulu people have so many stories transmitted orally from generation to generation about the importance of gratitude and so many rituals where gratitude needs to be expressed. If one did not express gratitude, they would be considered uncivilized or even barbaric. Gratitude is what gives grace to the Zulu culture.” (www.kerryhowells.com/what-happens-if-we-forget-gratitude/)

If a simple thank you is what gives grace in the Zulu culture – wouldn’t the same be true for the American culture? I’m not a Ph.D. who has studied the results of gratitude, but I would like to believe that being grateful would have some positive effects and make constructive changes in our society.

I suppose the only way we can find out, is by experimenting with our own lives. Let me start now by thanking you – our readers who love us and thank us for our efforts. And, a thank you to area businesses who trust and support us in distributing the community, positive and solution based newspaper. Thank you! Seriously. I mean it. You are the ones who make my day – and you are graceful, civilized leaders in the truest sense.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Insight: Allowing the extraordinary to happen

By Lorraine Glowczak

She turned right instead of left and was heading in the wrong direction. I was sitting in the backseat and didn’t want to be one of those backseat drivers, so I didn’t speak up. Fortunately, the passenger in the front bluntly stated, “We should be heading the other way.” It was then I explained to the driver where we needed to turn in order to reach our destination. I don’t know if we made it, because I woke up.

It was the first of four dreams I’ve had in the past month where I am sitting in the backseat of a car, putting my life – my journey - into the hands of other drivers.
But finally, two nights ago, I found myself dreaming that I was driving my own vehicle. But this
time, although I knew my destination, I needed directions. I called the police from - believe it or not - a phone booth. They were frustrated with me and refused to offer the instructions I needed. Feeling a bit apprehensive but hopeful, I hopped back into my blue Honda Element and drove west, somehow trusting I would make it.

Then suddenly, I was swept into an airplane as it was landing. As we approached the runway, we flew under four beautiful rainbows. I knew I had successfully reached my destination and the real adventure was just beginning. I woke up.

The dreams provide a paradoxical message for me. It is apparent that I need to take control and be in command of the direction of my life, but in order to do so, I must also let go of the concept of control, trusting my instincts, and allow for the extraordinary.

This contradiction in life can be found in everyday events. In fact, it is such a norm that most of us don’t notice it unless it’s of the “hit by a mac truck” variety. Those experiences are deserving of another Insight altogether. Today, I will concentrate on the everyday type.

For example, our very own amazing gazebo builder and Boy Scout, Jamie Louko of Raymond provides the perfect example of being able to successfully live within this dichotomy. (See front page for his story). Reporter, Briana Bizier writes, “Louko discovered during the course of the gazebo’s planning and construction, building projects are rarely straightforward. Louko’s original plan for the gazebo proved to be too close to a land lot line, and his application for a building permit was turned down by the select board. This setback forced a creative reevaluation of his original plan.We were forced to move to the front of the library, which ended up being an even better place to build,” Louko told me. “I am very thankful because I think it was for the better.”’

Jamie had a plan, but he was required to adjust his expectations, and thus control over the situation. This eventually allowed for a more perfect outcome. Much like building construction and plans, life is rarely straightforward. And although we do have some control and command over our lives, most often there are things beyond are control and we must adjust.

I am both profoundly agitated and – at the same time – exceptionally enthusiastic about allowing the extraordinary to happen. When you know where you are heading but don’t know how you’re going to get there or how it’s going to look – your breath can be taken away. Your breath can be robbed by fear AND your breath can be seized by beauty. In between those two extremes, perfect beauty can arise.

If, by chance, on my way to the land of my dreams and goals, I happen to fly beneath four rainbows – you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll take a photo and capture the beauty to share with you – the extraordinary that was allowed to happen.


Letter to the Editor

Dear Maine Senators,

I am respectfully asking for your support by co-sponsoring S.892—Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019. This award is to be presented collectively to “the women in the United States who joined the workforce during World War II, providing the aircraft, vehicles, weaponry, ammunition, and other materials to win the war, that were referred to as ‘Rosie the Riveter’, in recognition of their contributions to the United States and the inspiration they have provided to ensuing generations.”

S.892 honors all of the women who made history on the WWII home front, and they have not yet been recognized for their historic contribution. I encourage you to co-sponsor S.892 that collectively honors and recognizes our Greatest Generation of women who selflessly contributed to the war effort—a group that continues to inspire future generations.

Republican Senators are asked to contact Rowan Bost (Rowan_Bost@collins.senate.gov) at Senator Collins’ office to be added as a co-sponsor for the Rosie the Riveter Gold Medal Act.

Democrat Senators are asked to contact Sara Paige (Sara-Paige_Silvestro@casey.senate.gov) at Senator Casey’s office to be added as a co-sponsor for the Rosie the Riveter Gold Medal Act.
I appreciate your consideration.

Sincerely,
Rebecca A. Cummings

Friday, September 27, 2019

Insight: Beautiful interruptions


By Lorraine Glowczak

My day begins before the sun rises. With a soft lamp light on and a candle burning at my desk, I write for a couple of hours until the sun begins to peak over the trees in my backyard. I complete one chapter in my book of essays as the rays begin to peak into the windows. My husband and dog wake up and I stop writing to be with them and make my first cup of coffee.

Once my husband leaves for work, the dog and I go for our leisurely morning walk. I return to my writing until noon. I feel prepared to meet my copy editor for a late lunch in Portland. She will be reviewing my work and providing professional feedback I desire. Later, I meet a friend for a run around Fort Williams – along the rocky ocean coastline. Feeling accomplished and refreshed, I return home to help my husband make dinner. We eat by candlelight. I end the day reading “The House by the Sea” by May Sarton. I go to sleep. Life is good.

This is an example of a typical day for me.

NOT! NEVER! EVER! It’s all a complete lie. This is how I wish my days would go but life sweeps in and interrupts every plan I try to make to have at least one day as I envision.

A more accurate depiction of my life goes something like this: The six o’clock alarm to wake my husband for work, also wakes me. I oversleep because I didn’t hear the alarm that I had set for myself to wake up at 4 a.m. Disgruntled for wasting two hours asleep in bed instead of writing, I scurry around quickly thinking about everything I must do for the day – a meeting at 8 a.m., followed by another one at 11 a.m. followed again by a 2 p.m. interview. I hope I can meet my deadlines after my meetings are completed. I’m exhausted thinking about it but hope the coffee will put reignite my usual spunk.

I put the dog on the leash to take her for a walk. I rush her to do her business because I’m running late and want to get my own exercise in. My plan to do a 30-minute run turns into a 20-minute walk/run because I’m older than I think I am. I finally shower, dress and head off for the day. I rush from one meeting to the other just in time to get to the office to answer all my emails and return phone calls. After the day is done, I arrive home after 9 p.m. Lights are out. Dog and husband are in bed. I eat whatever is leftover in the fridge. I fall asleep with a half-eaten sandwich in my hand while watching a Youtube episode of “Unsolved Mysteries”. My May Sarton book sits on the coffee table and is covered with dust. 

Life is full of interruptions and rarely goes as planned.

But here is the deal. This is my life. As C.S. Lewis once stated; “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.”

I’m finding that this is true for me. In my typical ‘real’ life day, I experience more adventures than I can name. I get to meet lighthearted people who make me laugh. I am a part of organizations who do their best to make a difference. I’m introduced to artists, writers and lovers who’ve been married for over 60 years. And, I find that it is so nice to crawl into a warm, soft bed to snuggle with my four-legged and two-legged counterparts.

Yes. I will complete that book of essays. Perhaps not on the timeframe or in the manner I would prefer; but somehow, I know that the book will hold more gravity and carry more weight due to the beautiful interruptions that happened along the way. That seems to be my real life. And, although it is far from perfect, I’m not certain I would be happier any other way.






Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

Windham needs to have affordable 1-bedroom housing. All the new housing is two or more bedrooms.

I have been looking for more than six months and have not found anything.  

I cannot get into senior housing as you must be 55 and I have one more year to wait to apply. There needs to be something for people over 50 but not old enough for senior housing.

Although I do not have a solid solution to offer, I would like to say that the next time there is new apartment housing being built, I would encourage the builders to consider one bedroom apartments.
I have lived in Windham over 50 years and would like to stay here.

Thank you
Pam Brown