Friday, April 3, 2020

Insight: The indestructible nature of the human spirit

By Lorraine Glowczak

What can I offer to you, our dear and faithful readers, that hasn’t already been said?

I have asked this question every Wednesday at 2 a.m. on publication day for the past three- and one-half years as I prepare each week to write this editorial. But I have never once imagined I would be faced to write an “Insight” during times like these.

With all the uncertainty we currently face, most are experiencing anxiety, vulnerability, fear and isolation in ways that has never been experienced in recent years. I have no previous knowledge in such matters and am flying by the seat of my pants into unknown territory and have no words of wisdom to impart. So, I turn to more wise and talented writers before me who could possibly guide me through the current challenges and mysteries of life we are experiencing now.

The first author that comes to mind is that of a young German-born writer from the Netherlands. Anne Frank. If there is anyone who exuded the indestructible nature of the human spirit during difficult times – it was (and remains) Anne Frank.

As I write this, I am entering into my third week of self-isolation – not so much for myself but to prevent the potential spread of the virus onto others. Although I haven’t lost my mind yet, some days I wonder how much longer I can remain cloistered in my small 900 square foot home with my husband and small dog – without going bonkers.

Anne, on the other hand, lived with eight other people in an approximately 450 square foot apartment (the secret annex) for two years. Anne and the rest of the group lived in hiding with the constant fear of being discovered and could never go outside. They had to remain quiet during daytime in order to avoid detection by the people working in the warehouse below.

With this in mind, what words would Anne have penned if she were alive today? What poetic and hopeful advice would she have shared? Of course, one will never know, but she did offer the following bits of wisdom in her diary that could be useful to us now as we face our own fears in uncertain times:

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains”.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that 'a quiet conscience makes one strong!'”

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

The fact is, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. We don’t know how many local and small businesses will have to shut their doors. We don’t know how long we will have to socially-isolate. We don’t know how much we ourselves will be affected by this virus (financially and physically) and we don’t know how many more people will die. But if we can, from time to time, grab onto Anne’s indestructible and resilient spirit, we will get through this. I believe if we can just hang in there, we will get to the other side of chaos with strength of character – even if it means awkwardly holding on to ideals that appear to no longer apply.

Is it possible that if we can become a part of the indestructible nature of the human spirit that Anne exemplifies, we can rise above the fear, anger, sadness and anxiety – even if for a moment?

When this time is behind us and I look back, I hope this was the path I had taken and did not let the insanity that is currently knocking on the peripheral edges of my mind suck me in. Wish me luck. And for you, our dear and faithful readers, I wish the best during these unusual and difficult times. I hope Anne offered you as much optimism and faith as she has given me.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In Times of Need
This morning I picked up a check for $400 for the Backpack Meal Program from Stephen Napolitano at Dairy Queen. I want to publicly thank him and the multitude of businesses, organizations (religious and other) and the many residents of our communities who have stepped up and supported this Program that helps so many. We may be keeping our social distancing, but you are quick to respond, and I can't begin to tell you how much that response is appreciated.

I need to add the following reminder because we need to remain a wonderful caring community and "Even though we are in a pickle right now, remember we are not the only pickle in the jar"
This is a tough time for all but worse for some. Be kind to those people who are going to work so that the rest of us can go to the store and buy what we need. Remember they are not the reason that some items are not available, and they also have families at home that are counting on them staying safe and not bringing the virus home with them. Be thankful to our Public Safety personnel, Police, Fire and other people who are out there serving us at their own risk.

Remember to show our gratitude and stay safe for yourself and your families.

Always grateful,
Marge Govoni
Backpack Program Coordinator

Friday, March 27, 2020

Insight: Laughter is STILL the best medicine

By Lorraine Glowczak

“We’re feeling stir crazy,” a friend of mine said in an email recently. “My son had a meltdown on Monday because he wants to go back to ‘real school’. Then I had a meltdown because I want him to go back to ‘real school’, too!”

I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the verge of insanity myself, but her note produced in me my customary “throwback head” laughter. After my belly chuckle subsided, I realized it was the first time I laughed like that in two weeks.

Surely I’m not the only one who could use a little reprieve from this highly unusual anxiety ridden time. As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but is laughter appropriate in circumstances such as this?

In an Online Forbes Magazine article, entitled “Laugh Away the Apocalypse with these 15 Coronavirus Memes,” staff writer, Abram Brown quoted Adam Padilla who is known for his creative work with funny memes. Padilla expressed his thoughts about joking in the midst of this horrible pandemic.

“Humor is helping us get through this. It’s about keying in on the common threads that all we have in our new lives.”

Hara Estroff Marano, Editor of Psychology Today, states that laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain. She also said that laughter reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

I think it is safe to say there is a lot of emotional pain and discomfort happening these days.

As far as I’m concerned, a dose of laughter every day will, if anything, heal our spirits and lighten our thoughts so we can live life as normally as possible, whatever normal is now.

One new normal that has popped up overnight since the coronavirus has halted our lives is the current memes that you see on social media.

Online dictionaries state that memes are a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

The following are a few examples of memes as they relate to the current COVID-19 virus.

Stay safe, exercise often and be sure to get your daily dose of hilarity. After all, laughter is STILL the best medicine – especially in today’s circumstances.

Individual volunteers his time to help with essential shopping and errands during pandemic

Richard MacLaughlin, a Windham resident, wants to help elders and other high-risk members of the community by helping with grocery shopping and other essential errands. While shopping for his family, he was concerned to see many older folks out grocery shopping. He posted an offer to help on the Facebook group: Windham Maine Community Board but has not yet received any takers. He contacted The Windham Eagle in an effort to reach Windham community members that may not be online. "I Imagine there are people out there, scared, and needing assistance," said MacLaughlin. "I didn't think my wife's at-risk parents were taking the virus seriously enough, so we sat them down and had the talk. After they did an initial shop to take care of their essentials, I've been bringing them groceries."

MacLaughlin has the capacity to help others and wants to do so not only for those in need, but because it "fills his cup too." He explained that in helping others, it fulfills him as well. And, he added, "When I keep myself busy, I get off my phone and away from social media and digital distractions, and that helps keep me grounded and feeling more positive in general."
If you need help with essential shopping or errands, please contact Richard MacLaughlin at (207) 747-2882.  Please leave a message if he's not available. He will return all calls.

Seeking materials to help produce 3D printed medical masks locally

Dave Townsend, a Windham resident, is trying to create 3D printed medical masks to help out in this pandemic we are now experiencing. He is asking if anyone in the area may have contacts that would be able to help with the necessary filters, elastic straps and seals needed to complete the masks for distribution. Currently, Townsend’s 3D printers could produce about 100 to 150 masks per week to distribute to local healthcare facilities. If you or someone you know could assist Townsend with his goal and help others at the same time, please contact him at

Friday, March 20, 2020

Insight: Valuable lessons learned from the past

By Lorraine Glowczak

Do I even touch upon THE inevitable subject of today? Or should I dance around the larger than average-sized elephant in the room to give us all a break from the daily barrage by not mentioning THE virus?

As much as I want to give myself – and you – an occasion away from it all, I’ve decided it would be irresponsible of me as a writer if I completely ignored and didn’t address this highly unusual time we all are experiencing. Although I will not dig deep into the subject of the coronavirus, I will lightly tap into it with the intention to cheer your heart and provide a bit of hope.

I will start with words of wisdom from Tom Mockaitis. He is a professor of History at DePaul University where he teaches World Civilizations. He has this to say about our current situation: “The pandemics of the past offer valuable lessons. First, in all probability COVID-19 will not come close to the severity of any of the great pandemics. We have far more knowledge and resources to prevent infection and treat this disease than did our great grandparents in 1918. Second, fear continues to be as contagious and debilitating as the disease itself. Considerable evidence suggests that COVID-19 is not particularly lethal to healthy people.”

I don’t know about you – but I feel slightly better by his uplifting words. In fact, Mockaitis says it all in his first sentence: “The pandemics of the past offer valuable lessons.”

One day, after we have all survived the present moment, this experience will one day be in the past. We have an opportunity right now – today - to be an example for good and offer a valuable lesson to future generations,

As I write today’s Insight (Wednesday, March 18th) it is my mother's birthday. If she was alive today, she would have been 91 years old. It goes without saying I miss her deeply and I especially miss our talks. I wonder what advice she would offer me today - in light of recent circumstances. I suspect that since she has been through the Great Depression, she would be slightly concerned about the present situation but would know, from experience, all will turn out well.

I can’t be certain what lessons she would impart on to me as we face this very unusual time in our generation but, based upon our talks in the past, I believe she would have offered the follow pep talk:

There is always enough to go around. And if there is not, humans are innovative and creative so don’t let your anxieties get the best of you.

Family and friends are most important. In fact, when you believe you have lost everything – you realize how much you have gained. Communities come together in times of misfortune.

There is a big difference between what you want and what you need. Yes, we all would like the latest in material objects – but they never replace things and memories like the sharing of warm fresh bread out of the oven lathered with melted real butter.

We need each other to be happy. Protect your family – and your community at all cost. They really are all you have. And when it comes down to it – it’s really not about you. If don’t have community? What good is that?

But above all the hardships is love. And hope. And laughter. And family.

Those are the lessons I belive my mother would have shared with me if she was alive today. And in honor of her – I will share her valuable lessons of the past on to you. Be well!


Towns of Windham and Raymond updated information