Friday, August 16, 2019

Insight: The lessons of spicy foods

By Lorraine Glowczak

The delicious but spicy tuna tartare I had eaten the night before was the culprit of the heartburn I was experiencing the next morning. Add on to that - the burning in my leg muscles on a somewhat humid morning while running (or rather, jog/walking) the Kelli 5K last Saturday, made for a slightly uncomfortable experience. “Please don’t get sick,” was my mantra for 30 some minutes.

To eliminate the possibility of creating an unpleasant encounter for the one or two runners behind me, I tried various techniques to take my mind away from the nausea: counting my breaths in and out, organizing my day in my mind, listening to the morning dove that seemed to always be on every branch I ran under…and I did my best to be grateful for the monarch that kept flitting around in front of me as if to say, “You can do this.” But atlas – I would return to the mantra, “please don’t get sick.”

At one point during the run I wondered why I just didn’t donate money instead of challenging my body, which was a former runner but seems to like the slower pace of walking these days. But then, wouldn’t you know it, something dawned on me to challenge – and change – my perception. Because, after all, challenging the body wasn’t enough for the day.

My first thought went to Kelli Hutchison, of which the run is named after. “All I have is heartburn, not cancer.” And then my thought shifted to Griffin Cochrane who received a portion of the proceeds of the fundraising event. Again, I was reminded of my minor inconvenience as I compared it to that of leukemia. It was at that point the run took on a different meaning.

You see, my personal life’s mission is to be of some use to the world, providing a bit relief in a positive way whenever I can with the hope that it somehow helps others.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking that my lofty “save or change the world” ideals put in action should be easy. Author, Bruce Kasanoff articulates my Saturday run realization the best in an online article he wrote for Forbes magazine. When referencing our thoughts as compared to action, he states: “You're not going to accomplish this by meditating once or writing a few passages in your journal. It will take a ton of consistent effort and focus.”

He goes on to say that when you shift from thought to action, you might hear an inner voice tell you something irrational like skipping your luxury vacation and work instead with gang members through a community center. “What? Does working with gang members sound like a crazy thing to do,” Kasanoff points out. “Did you think it would be easy or trivial to make the world more peaceful [or insert my many lofty ideals]?

Kasanoff also stated that the wishes you make while waiting in line at Starbucks don't change the world. In most cases, you have forgotten them after a few days or a week. To change the world, you need persistent and positive thoughts that are strong enough to change your own actions. In other words, before your thoughts can change the world, they must change you.

Luckily, I did cross the finish line without sharing with others the previous night’s meal. And, when I did, I was a slightly different person. I entered the race to remember a young girl and to help a young boy in my effort to ‘change the world’ – but it was they that changed me.

But what has also changed about me is this - next year, I will remember not to eat spicy food the evening before the race.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Millions of people are affected by the rising costs of prescription medication every day. It is wrong that hard working families have to choose between taking medication and being able to eat a meal.
My aunt was born with chronic lung disease and is a cancer survivor who has taken a great deal of prescription drugs during her life. Some of them worked, many didn’t help at all, and some may have made things worse.  Up until a couple of years ago, none of the medication she had taken helped her, until she found one that seemed to finally work. She was on that medication for about a year until the company that made the medication decided to change the patent by one little degree.

By changing the patent, the cost of the medication skyrocketed from $30 a month to $400 a month. She can no longer afford to take the only drug that helped her. It is wrong what big Pharma has done to hardworking people who rely on life-saving medication. The health of our loved ones affects the whole family! The greed must stop. 

Senator Collins, your home state did their job in passing comprehensive prescription drug packages. We hope you can bring the momentum back to Washington with you.

Harrison Quidort


Friday, August 9, 2019

Insight: The genius of youthful wisdom

By Lorraine Glowczak

If you speak to artists who are unable to contain their aspirations, whether their creative endeavor speaks through the brush, the pen, the harp or the bread pan, they will tell you, “I cannot NOT do this.” It’s as if they would wither away into the ethers if they did not paint, write, perform in an orchestra or make award winning ciabatta. It is as if life would be torture if lived any other way.

When I graduated from high school in 1984, I placed myself into this category. Writing was going to be my life - with publication as icing on the cake. Although I wouldn’t say “I’ve arrived,” I’m tapping the edges of my youthful ambitions. However, I almost lost my way.

Besides the everyday life hurdles, it was that I believed the adults in my life who told me how unwise it was to follow such “foolishness” that diverted me from the path of authorship.

I was reminded of my youthful ideal and how I narrowly escaped the grips of adopted fears on Monday evening at the Artist Meet and Greet hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance and library. I got hear artists Holden Willard, a 2017 Windham High graduate and his father Don, speak about their lives as artists. Willard sees art as his life’s career and intends to not let anything get in the way of his creative ventures. Although they admit to having some fear around their son’s financially secure future, his parents support him in his decision.

As a society, we tend to believe that it is the elders who hold and impart wisdom to the less experienced among us. Although it is true that we older adults have lived a long life and do have valid bits of knowledge and experiences to share, we must be careful to not let our hardened viewpoints and baggage of failed expectation and disappointments spill over, preventing the youth to live their dreams fully.

Yes, life is life and it will be painful for them at times. But that’s okay. We survived. They will too. No matter our own fears and setbacks, it is not up to us as adults to cage the spirit of youth. In fact, they offer the reminder and wisdom to continue moving forward with our own lives and passions – whatever they may be.

In the online article “Generation Us: Heeding the Wisdom of Youth”, written by David McNair (dailyprogress.com) he has this to say about the subject:

“Children… see themselves as the heroes of their own lives, not the victims of time and circumstance, and they approach things with fearlessness. And when they get hurt, or things don’t go their way, they cry and yell and stomp their feet — but they move on.

Too often, as adults and older people, we settle for ways of being that aren’t necessarily that joyful, rewarding or even healthy. Set in our ways, perhaps, and veterans of a struggle the young can’t even begin to imagine, we can get hardened and wary. That’s where the wisdom of youth comes in.”

Life is too complicated to put everything neatly in compartments – we all must find our own ways to maneuver around in the world. But if we can, no matter our age, let’s keep showing up and moving on despite the difficulties and the fears we come up against. And, if you are feeling like you might be losing your way, listen to the wisdom of the young artist in your life – to remind you the vision you once had about a life lived fully.

Will it be worth it in the end? Who knows? But I, for one, would rather regret the things I did than that things I didn’t do. I was foolish in my youth – why change now.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

When you get a raise, it’s normally because of a job well done.

Central Maine Power (CMP) has asked the Public Utilities Commission for a raise – a big one.  The utility giant wants a 46.5-million-dollar rate increase. Even if CMP wasn’t already under intense scrutiny for inexcusable billing mistakes, the current proposed rate increase would still be unaffordable for Mainers.  However, during three recent public hearings, consumers shared how CMP overbilled them, failed to correct the billing errors, and subjected them to an appalling customer service system.

The public uproar has not been limited to the public hearings.  In the last week alone, AARP Maine heard from over 450 CMP customers, all of whom expressed outrage at CMP’s rate increase request. That request includes an increase in the fixed rate for all their customers no matter how much or how little electricity they use. CMP clearly mishandled the launch of their billing system and their bad performance should not be rewarded with a raise.

AARP Maine strongly opposes CMP’s latest request to raise their rates. CMP’s Spanish parent company, Iberdrola, just announced double-digit growth in their profits, yet they continue to push for higher rates for their customers.  We think it’s time to put ratepayers ahead of shareholders and pay Maine back first. 

If you would like to make your voice heard on this issue, send an email to me@aarp.org today.

Austin Hodge


Friday, August 2, 2019

Insight: Why me?

By Lorraine Glowczak

With a little preparation and some research prior to an interview, it is relatively easy to gain the perspective needed from individuals to write a well thought out feature article that not only stimulates the reader’s mind but informs the heart as well. It is our hope, that these stories inspire others and opens the door into other’s lives thus gaining a viewpoint one would not have otherwise.

There are, however, some lives whose stories are dabbled with challenge - and no amount of planning and research can prepare the writer to capture the richness of that individual’s journey. In this week’s publication, the story that made me stop in my tracks was my interview with five-year-old Griffin Cochrane and his family. Griffin, who has leukemia, will receive a portion of the funds raised by the 10th annual Kelli’s 5K.

At the present time, Griffin is in the midst of a daunting three-and one-half year chemotherapy treatment program. I try to tread lightly in these types of interviews. “Do I ask too many personal questions,” I asked Melissa Hutchinson after the Cockrane family left our meeting. Melissa is Kelli’s mother of which the 5K is named. Melissa has received the brunt of my stumbling in the dark Q/A sessions a multitude of times, so I trusted her feedback.

“I remember the first time you interviewed me; it was so painful. But then I read the article afterwards….and….” she then touched her heart to signify that I was able to capture a bit of the truth. I secretly hoped Griffin’s mother and family would feel the same way.

One thing I’ve noticed when I interview people going through extraordinarily painful circumstances is that I have never once, in the almost four years of writing for The Windham Eagle newspaper, heard the question: “Why me?” Not once.

In her book, “An Alter in the World”, Barbara Brown Taylor points out something important regarding that question many of us have asked at one time or another when life throws us excruciating curveballs. “[This] is a natural question to ask when you are in pain, but they are just as relevant when you are in pleasure. Who deserves a warm bath on a cold night after a hard day’s work? Who has earned the smell of a loved one, embracing you on your first night back at home?”

In 53 years, I’ve never had surgery or spent one night in the hospital. Why me? I can see the purple hues of a fall sunset with my own eyes. Why me? I can hear a cardinal in the background as I type this Insight. Why me? I can smell the earth when I walk in the nature preserve near my home. Why me? What did I do to deserve these wonderful things? I don’t know the answers except that I now know that on those painful “stub your toe” sort of days, I won’t be as quick to ask the question, “Why me?”

Forgiving: A poem

By Masha Yurkevich

Let me be forgiving
If someone is unkind.
Let me forgive them
and not keep it in my mind.

Let me smile to them
and send the anger right away.

For angry thought can
darken
even the brightest day.

 Stars without darkness
Are no use.

Then,
there is no light
for them to produce
 You can't climb every mountain
and you can't win every war.

But one thing you can always do is try to
be better than before.

You always warm me up with your
sunny ways
and brighten all my
cloudy days!

~ dedicated to my family,
Those wonderful people
That make my life better!


Friday, July 26, 2019

Insight: The truth is out

By Lorraine Glowczak

“You are going to mow in this heat,” my next-door neighbor asked me as I was getting ready to start the mower. “It’s way too hot to mow.”

It was late last Friday afternoon when the oppressive heatwave of 2019 was descending upon us. I was preparing to do my regular Saturday chores since my husband and I were going to spend the weekend in Rockland with friends and wouldn’t be around for the weekend for a more appropriate, less heat intensive time to work on the lawn.

I explained this to my neighbor who offered her condolences at my Friday afternoon ‘luck’. “Well, sometimes life sucks,” I said, laughing. “That’s not what you say and write about in the paper,” she joked back. Dang! She caught me…….

She is correct and it is true. I often write about the upsides to life, seeing things from an Anne of Green Gable, Pollyanna, it’s all good and positive perspective. And, for the most part, that is true. But – as I have stated many times before, for every truth that exists the opposite is also true. And that includes me and the way I maneuver around in the world. If you don’t mind, I’m going to share that other side with you because – after all – I don’t want to get “caught” again.

Although I do care about appearances – the way I present myself, the way I speak, the way I write – all have an impact on me and does have some power over me. But in the end, authenticity takes over and sometimes ruins all appearances I put forth in my glass half full lifestyle. Although, at times, I know this can have detrimental effects, I also am aware that you can’t fool people. Intelligent people can see through a fa├žade anyway – so why not be who you are at any given moment, right?

I think I come by optimism innately, but the darn thing is – I am human who vents too much, spits venom when I am angry, stresses unnecessarily on publication day and won’t back down when I argue with my husband (because, you know – I’m always right.)

Being human definitely has its downsides – and if I’m not careful, I’ll let the “appearances” part take over, letting the feelings of failure slowly creep in my mind and make itself way too comfortable when I’m not up on my game.

When this happens, I remember the following quote by Stephen Dimmick:

“Being optimistic doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. Being optimistic doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. Being optimistic doesn’t mean I don’t speak my mind – sometimes peacefully and sometimes with burning fire. Being optimistic doesn’t mean I won’t argue with you or even walk away from you. Being optimistic simply means I know the glass as full and overflowing with goodness despite living in my human condition.”

So, there you go! The truth is out.