Friday, September 13, 2019

Insight: She who works with her hands

By Lorraine Glowczak

While interviewing one of the owners of Partners in Canine for this week’s business spotlight, I discovered that one of the owners, when asked as a young child what she wanted to be when she grew up, said she with confidence that she wanted to be zoologist. 

I remember being asked that same question when I was in the second grade. Mrs. Dooley asked all 15
of us what we wanted to do with our one wild and crazy life. I panicked. I really didn’t have a clue and I knew I had to think of something fast. I was in the second row, so I had a minute to think of something good – or at least a profession that is regarded as somewhat respectful.

Billy said, “I’m going to be a professional football player.” Vickie was next to answer and then it was my turn. “I want to be a ballerina,” she said. The pressure was on and I still hadn’t come up with anything unique. I wish I would have simply told the truth and said I didn’t know, because after, all I was only eight years old. But instead, I blurted out, “I want to be a cashier when I grow up.”

Silence. Complete silence from not only Mrs. Dooley but my classmates as well. I was embarrassed. I had no clue why I even said that. It must have been on the previous week’s spelling test.

The lesson from this story comes in the form of two questions: Why the silence? Why my shame?

What I didn’t know then is that I would go on to do something, by society’s standards, that might be considered a rung below a cashier. The perception was confirmed about six months after I started my own cleaning business – cleaning residential and commercial properties. While I was proud of being a sole proprietor, I was soon reminded of the seemingly unimportant career path when I arrived home one day shortly after starting my entrepreneurial endeavor to a message left on the answering machine (this was before the popular use of cellphones). The message went something like this:

“Hello Rainy!”, my Ivy League educated friend began. “I do realize that cleaning is quite the lucrative business, but – oh Rainy – cleaning for others is so beneath you.” I knew she saw within me a different potential, but she did not see the value in the service to others – but perhaps more importantly – the service to myself. I was preparing to become a writer.

If you ask anyone who works with their hands, they will tell you that some of their most creative thoughts occur during routine and mundane activities. In fact, according to an online magazine article from “Psychology Today” written by Carrie Barron, MD states:  “Research has shown that hand activity from knitting to woodworking to growing vegetables or chopping them are useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression. There is value in the routine action…. foster[ing] a flow in the mind that leads to spontaneous joyful, creative thought.”

In another article, “Lessons I Learned Cleaning Other People’s Homes”, written by Inka Linda Sarvi, captured what I learned myself in the cleaning business. Sarvi was hired by Zenith Cleaning as a communications and marketing professional – who was also required to clean homes and offices.
She said that every time she finished cleaning a space, she couldn’t deny how peaceful she felt. “I now look forward to how good it feels to get lost in the relaxing rhythm of wiping surfaces and the meditative concentration of focusing fully on one task at a time. The strangest and most fascinating part is how when I clean, I’m constantly struck with new ideas for short stories, poems, songs and paintings, as if my creativity is no longer gated by the constraints of time or assignments.”

She continued by saying that it didn’t make sense to her how cleaning something that inherently makes a space better and helps others is so looked down upon. “It illuminates the truth that the stigma around it is no more than a collective illusion, just one of many other falsehoods that make up the fabric of our society.”

I will admit, I’m glad that my career in cleaning is now behind me as it is hard physical labor. However, what I have learned is there is no shame in working with one’s hands. If I ever had an opportunity to go back to my eight-year old self in Mrs. Dooley’s class, I would proudly announce that I would grow up to be a sole proprietor of a cleaning business…and then I would add, “I’m going to be an author too. I promise to give you all a signed copy of my bestselling novel. Thank you.” And then I would take a bow.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Republicans in the Maine legislature voted down three of the four bond issues during the recent special session (August 26). This is a shame because all four bonds would be very beneficial for Maine, and voters should be given the chance to weigh in.

However, I’m very pleased that my representative, Patrick Corey, of Windham, voted yes on three of the four bonds.  Most important to me, he was one of only five Republicans who voted to support the Land for Maine’s Future bond (LD 1851). He was the only Republican to support the Water Quality Protection bond (LD 1847).

Representative Corey’s support of Environmental issues is exemplary; he’s received a lifetime score of 89% from Maine Conservation Voters.  He should be commended on his support of bills such as the Land for Maine’s Future program, solar power, and protecting drinking water quality, to name a few. 

In the last few years, many of the environmental issues we’ve made progress on have been because of the support and leadership of Representative Corey.  We need more people in the legislature like Corey, who will stand up for the protection of the Maine environment and the health of Mainers.

Representative Corey gave a strong speech in support of the LMF bond, saying that this bond “would invest in Maine's recreational access, conservation, and traditional Maine industries including agriculture, marine resources, and farming.” 

The next chance for the legislature to take up this important bond issue will be in January.  If Corey is your representative, please thank him. If he’s not, please urge your representatives to support this important bond.

Thank you,
Bill Briggs

Friday, August 30, 2019

Insight: A turtle’s stroll into adulthood

By Lorraine Glowczak

With eyes closed and face turned up toward the sky, soaking in the sun’s rays, I drifted into my own inner world as I sat in my kayak that floated toward the pond’s edge. “Wow! That’s amazing. There are eight turtles on the log next to you,” my husband said, whisking me out my Sunday afternoon stupor.

I had drifted so close to the log, I could have touched the hard-shell terrapins, also inebriated by the
sun’s warmth. I leaned forward slowly to gain a microscopic-like view, hoping not to shock them out of their own Sunday stupor and dive in the water away from me. There were many things I noticed about them - their different sizes, the various designs and shapes each individual shell contained and the way each tilted their head. But what fascinated me the most was how the turtles strategically separated themselves from one another. It was as if the ability to hide in their shells wasn’t enough to protect them from the harshness of the outside world so that sat as far away from each other as possible.

According to, turtles are not social creatures. While they typically don’t mind if there are other turtles around them, they don’t interact or socialize. While, I am an outwardly social creature, I do have days when I feel like a freshwater turtle – and sometimes without the shell. But then, that may be what adulthood is all about - moving forward in the world, even on difficult days, when you feel exposed and lonely. Adulthood can come with some pretty hard blows, sometimes hard enough to knock off the protective shell we use to shield us in time of struggle and danger.

In his article, “How to grow up: A guide to humans,” author Mark Manson pointed out that although tasks such as preparing for job interviews, managing your finances, cleaning up after yourself is consider being a responsible adult, “[These things] simply prevent you from being a child, which is not the same thing as being an adult.”

Manson went on to explain that most people do these adult tasks because they are “rule- and transaction-based.” For example, you prepare well for a job interview because you want to get a good job. “Bargaining with rules and the social order allows us to be functioning human beings in the world. But ideally, after some time, we will begin to realize that the whole world cannot always be bargained with. If you have to convince someone to love you, then they don’t love you. If you have to cajole someone into respecting you, then they don’t respect you. The most precious and important things in life cannot be bargained with.”

This concept of “real” adulthood has been with me all week as I struggled to write Simone Emmons’ and Kristen Stacy’s stories (see “Service Dog Strong” on front page). Both sexually assaulted, they experienced loneliness and fear but admitted that telling their story makes them feel less alone – realizing there are others with similar experiences.

If there was anything I learned from my conversation with Simone and Kristen is during those tough and difficult moments – when we feel exposed and lonely – we are never truly alone. Much like the eight turtles last Sunday, there is always someone next to us. Even if there is distance between us – we are all in this together. We all sit on the same log – basking in the same sun. Perhaps this is adulthood at its best.

Route 302 road construction timeline

Below is the construction timeline on Route 302:

Sunday, September 8 to Monday, September 23 construction will consist of milling and paving shoulders from the Angler Road and Whites Bridge intersection approximately 7200 feet to the Windham Christian Academy - night work.

Tuesday, September 24 to Monday, September 30, construction will consist of shimming and surfacing.

Tuesday, October 1, construction will consist of hand work and stripping

Wednesday, October 2 to Thursday, October 3, construction will consist of back shoulders and gravel driveways.

The above schedule may change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Insight: Finding purpose

By Lorraine Glowczak

There are many things I love about my job here at The Windham Eagle. What I enjoy changes from time to time, depending upon when you talk to me. But today, my favorite part is the interesting, fun and amazing people I get to meet.

Having only lived in the area for just five years, almost everyone I interview, I encounter for the first
time. I like meeting new people because I enjoy discovering how they have successfully maneuvered in this crazy and chaotic world. By success, I’m referring to how one has experienced the extreme ups and downs of life and are able to keep smiling and moving forward. Because - we all know that it isn’t always easy.

In my attempt to learn about them, I always discover something about myself.

This week, I got to meet former Windham Town Clerk, Rita Bernier (be sure to check out her story on the front page). Rita is one of those individuals who finds a purpose in everything she does. Yes, she was a successful town clerk but just importantly she was a successful mother, wife and bus driver prior to that. In the front-page article, you’ll learn that she loved those children on her bus route as if they were her own children. She knew her purpose and she acted on it without hesitation. Then, when she became the town clerk, her devoted nature shifted. And, it shifts again when she teaches rug making.

You see, as a society, we tend make careers our purpose in life, including yours truly. During my 20s and 30s, I spent my time trying to “find myself” and my purpose for living. I believed there was one particular thing I was meant to do, and I was going to find it. Over and over, determined to capture it, I’d accept a position, hoping that it would be THE one, but would always come up disappointed, feeling as if I somehow failed yet again.

Somewhere along the way, my perception shifted, and I stopped worrying so much about it. I’m still not certain how it all transpired, but upon meeting Rita I realized that it isn’t necessarily a particular occupation that fulfills a life’s purpose but it’s what you do with what lands in your lap.

When I was 14, I worked at my neighbor’s farm gathering eggs and doing other chores. I learned that lamb’s quarter, a weed that grows profusely in Kansas, was a favorite food of chickens. In fact, they’d run toward me as soon as I walked inside their fence with a handful of it. It was such a simple thing, but there was a sense of accomplishment, laughter, joy – and yes, oddly purpose.

Rita reminded me that purpose comes in many forms and can be obtained in just about anything you do. Actor Michael J. Fox has been quoted as saying, “I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it’s not just divinely assigned.”

And speaking of purpose, if you are tip toeing on the edge of insignificance, I hope these 520 words help you find some value in the small things. If so, then I’ve done my job for today. Tomorrow? Who knows.

Letter to the Editor

Bear Editor,

What a relief it is to hear about campaigns that take aim at price gouging by pharmaceutical companies!  It is a long-standing problem that just seems to be getting worse.  Many Mainers find it very difficult to afford the medications they need.  Their treatment is absolutely necessary to keep them alive, but the price of Rx drugs just keeps climbing and climbing.  People are scared that soon they won’t be able to afford their medications and will have to start cutting things out like heat, food or home repairs.  It’s terrifying to get to a point where the medicines you need to keep your family safe become out of reach.

This is particularly true since our drug prices are the highest in the world here in the U.S.  Wasn’t this supposed to be the land of plenty and privilege?  Regular people need help.  We are tired of drug companies raising prices when these same drugs can be bought for less already in other countries.  This is contrary to the American way of doing business that has always focused on a competitive marketplace that creates fair prices for consumers.

It’s time we all make a strong appeal to our Members of Congress to put an end to this painful situation.  If you want our support, stop talking and take action.  Get some sensible solutions on the table for this impossible situation.  It’s inhuman when someone is suffering, and something that can help is out there, and you can’t get it for them.  It feels cruel.

Rosalyn Fisher

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.