Friday, November 15, 2019

Insight: Honoring veterans all year long

By Lorraine Glowczak

This past Monday, November 11th, was the day we celebrated and took time to publicly honor and thank all veterans for time served in the military. Without their bravery, our lives might be different today. Although most of us prefer peace over conflict, we take into account the popular 1960s song that states: “To everything (turn, turn, turn). There is a season (turn, turn, turn). And a time to every purpose, under heaven. A time of love, a time of hate. A time of war, a time of peace…..”

It is during the season of war that men and women follow their calling and leave their families to
protect us in times of conflict so we can lead the life we love and dream. I know life is not perfect, but as Americans, we are afforded many freedoms that most countries do not have.

If we take time to think about our lives, even in the most disparaging and challenging of times, we have, in comparison with other countries, a pretty good life. We have access to running water, can speak openly about subject matters that are important to us, we can go to the library and check out our favorite books without any costs, see shooting stars on a clear night sky without the fear of bombs exploding in our midst - and the list can go on and on.

Often, during our daily lives when the struggle feels intense, we forget these simple pleasures and let stress consume us. Although stress is a natural reaction in times of challenge, we might respect those who have served best if we pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and move forward the best we can. In fact, it’s possible that remembering to do this when we feel like throwing in the towel, might be one of the greatest ways to honor veterans.

Author, Cristina Oliveras eloquently reminds us about our everyday stresses in comparison to those who served in the military in an article entitled, “Six Lessons Everyone Can Learn From Soldiers On Veterans Day”. She stated:

“A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life. Imagine the stresses of a battlefield and making quick decisions with incomplete information with enemies at every corner hunting for a quick victory. There is no time to stress over these life or death situations. Soldiers learn to analyze, plan for the best result and execute it. Take this lesson into your daily life when you are up to your ears in debt, or when you feel there's not enough time in the day to finish your work. It could be worse….”

Technically, Veterans Day is now behind us but that doesn’t mean we have to stop saying - and showing our thanks. And one way to honor a veteran all year long is to remember, even on our most stressful and challenging days, just how lucky we are to be alive. When we forget that, then we forget those who risked it all. Let’s make a pack to not forget and honor our veterans all year long.  

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

While November 11 is widely recognized as Veterans Day, many people may not know that the entire month of November is both National Veterans and National Family Caregivers Month.  Both of my parents were veterans. My father served in the Army in World War II and my mother later on served in the U.S. Coast Guard. I encourage everyone to honor and pay respect to those who served our country in uniform and the caregivers supporting our valiant veterans.

There are 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in the U.S. providing care to approximately 15 million veterans. These hidden heroes support their veteran loved ones with their daily needs—ranging from bathing and dressing to paying bills and transportation and assisting with medical tasks, providing an estimated $14 billion annually in unpaid care.

Numerous organizations have dedicated time and resources to address the challenges veterans face today, including their care needs.

AARP supports our veterans and their family caregivers through both the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and a partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to create a Military Caregiving Guide. I encourage everyone to visit AARP.org/Veterans to learn more about how AARP is working for veterans. Here in Maine, AARP pushed for November to be designated as Maine Family Caregivers Month – a perfect opportunity to celebrate our veterans and the unsung heroes who care for them right here at home.

Dr. Erica Magnus
AARP Maine Communications Volunteer
Windham


Friday, November 8, 2019

Insight: Fanning the flame of kindness

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Hi Lorraine,” the email began. “[I am] continuing to enjoy the Eagle, including your thoughtful editorials. It must be hard to come up with fresh topics week after week, but you seem to manage well!”

The author of this email had no clue how his kinds words truly made my day, and quite literally turned it completely around to one of joy in a matter of seconds. You see, this email entered my mailbox immediately following three other emails where the support and kind words were – well, um, how should I put this --- not present. It’s from that experience I became more aware how words have a great impact on others. Instead of provoking pain, words can be used to fan the flame of kindness.

Although freedictionary.com describes fanning the flame as; “To do or say something to make an argument, problem, or bad situation worse”, I would add that one can take an argument, problem or bad situation and dowse it with reflection and courtesy, making circumstances better.

I remember my mom telling me when I was a young child, “things just aren’t like the used to be in the good ol’ days,”. I may be channeling her right now, but it does seem things have changed recently in our approach to one another. Like the good ol’ days of my youth, respectful consideration was incorporated when communicating with others. Not that it was all peaches and cream, as life is filled with human error, but “telling it like it is” was reserved for those who hadn’t completed a thorough inquiry before expressing an opinion. Now, telling it like it is without reflection has become synonymous with courage and strength. But according to an article written by Dr. Karyn Hall, the director of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, the exact opposite is true.

Dr. Hall writes in the online magazine, Psychology Today, “While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, that is not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength. Kindness is an interpersonal skill.”

This, of course, doesn’t mean that we should refrain from telling the truth as we view it, but it can be done in a courteous manner that abstains from hurtful discourse.

“Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person,” wrote Dr. Hall. “Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth and flexible thinking. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201712/the-importance-kindness

I do try my best to practice what I write, but in all honesty, I fail from time to time. In fact, I think my mother has reached down from the heavens and popped me on the mouth more than once – because, you know, they did that in the good ol’ days.

The truth is, my mother was not much of a corporal disciplinarian. She instead chose to fan the flames of kindness when she spoke to others – as well as to me. I’m trying to walk more in her footsteps. And, I wonder, if we all tried kindness more often, how many bad days could be turned around in a matter of seconds to one of joy.

Benefits of leaf shedding

By Robert Fogg

The fall color is starting to fade and soon all the deciduous trees will be bare, except for some brown leaves clinging to the white oaks and beeches. Even the hackmatack trees are shedding their needles. Coniferous trees, such as pines, lose some previous years’ needles but usually cling to the past couple of years new growth. Over time, mother nature will turn these leaves and needles into compost to help feed future generations of trees and plants.

If you have deciduous trees along the south side of your house you can be thankful for the shedding of leaves, which exposes your home to some valuable solar heat and light throughout the winter. For this reason, I recommend you maintain deciduous trees along the south, east and west of your home while maintaining coniferous trees, such as pine and hemlock, along the north and northwest, to break the cold winter wind.

One benefit some people gain, come November, is a decrease in interference to their satellite TV or radio. Another big advantage of the deciduous trees dropping their leaves is the reduced surface area for ice and snow to cling to; along with reduced wind resistance. As we all know, resistance is futile.
The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at RobertFogg@Q-Team.com or 207-693-3831.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Insight: The maple and the blindfold

By Lorraine Glowczak

The other day while cleaning the yard and preparing our home for winter, I took a moment to sit on a lawn chair before storing it away. While I sat enjoying the sun’s warmth, watching the leaves tumble to the ground – one maple tree in the backyard caught my eye.

The limbs seemed to be holding on to the last rays of fall, keeping its golden foliage as long as it can before it must succumb to nature. The beauty of it all created a quick passing thought to climb that maple and to see our yard from the tree’s perspective. But since that would have required me to get up from the chair, I stayed put and imagined it instead. But now – I wish I would have gone for it.

So, what does one do when they don’t have personal experience to recall on their own? They “Google” it to live vicariously through others, of course.

In a livescience.com article written by Ailsa Sachdev, she shared what she had learned when she interviewed a master tree-climbing instructor, Tom Kovar. Kovar has lead climbing adventures and has climbed trees all over the world, creating many years of experience seeing life from a tree’s perspective. When Sachdev asked Kovar what one can see from treetops that could never be seen from the ground, his reply was:

“I had one example of taking a guy tree-climbing in the Amazon — a local community member, probably in his early 60s….asked if he [could climb with me]. He'd lived there his whole life. He got up maybe 30 feet or so and started looking around, and I saw tears well up in his eyes. I could tell he was having a good time, but something deeply emotional touched him. The translator told me as he came down that the man thought he knew the jungle; he could walk along all the trails blindfolded, no problem. But when he got up in the tree, maybe forty feet or so, and looked around the forest, he saw his home from a different perspective, and he had no idea where he actually lived.”

When working closely with others, we are often told and have read that considering other viewpoints can help us work collaboratively together, assist us when dealing with controversy, and can contribute to our personal and professional successes. But how often do we take the moment to step outside of our everyday routines to see a part of life we often ignore (or don’t even notice)?

Much like the man from the Amazon, we can easily perform our daily tasks wearing blindfolds because they have become second nature, so to speak. In doing so, I wonder how much we miss as we go about our daily lives. Is it possible we become so focused on the tasks at hand, not giving much thought to stepping out of our comfortable routines that we miss some pretty amazing things along the way? I think it is possible that I do.

So, perhaps next Saturday I will climb that tree and experience what it sees every day. But knowing how clumsy I can be most days, it’s possible next week’s Insight might be entitled, “An easier way to gain a different viewpoint without breaking an arm.”


Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

On behalf of our 230,000 members, AARP Maine thanks Congressman Jared Golden for participating in our recent tele-town hall on prescription drug costs.  Nearly 3,500 Mainers participated in the forum and many asked questions of Congressman Golden live during the call.
Much of the discussion focused on the latest news from Washington, including two bills which will likely be voted on soon.

Currently under consideration in the House of Representatives is HR 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. Under HR 3, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would negotiate prices for at least 25 of the most expensive brand-name medicines. The bill would also cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year. In addition AARP is pushing for other improvements to Medicare such as coverage for dental, vision and hearing care. 

In the Senate, we urge Senate leadership to bring the bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 to a floor vote this year.  The bill would cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries and require drug manufacturers to provide a rebate to Medicare if the prices of their products increase faster than inflation.

AARP Maine is committed to working with our federal lawmakers to lower prescription drug costs. Too many Mainers of all ages struggle to afford the medications they need to stay healthy, and to even stay alive. It shouldn't be that way. We cannot wait any longer for this to change and urge our elected leaders to pass these bills.

Patricia Pinto
AARP Maine Volunteer State President


Friday, October 25, 2019

Insight: A merry-go-round and the mulberry tree

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was September 30th, 1999 when I bolted from America’s heartland to experience life in Maine. As the tallgrass prairies of my Kansas home slowly retreated from my review mirror, I had no idea what to expect or how long I would make the beautiful rugged coastline my home. All I knew is I was ready and eager for whatever the unknown future had in store for me.

Well, it’s been twenty years and I’m still here.

My time along the eastern shoreline has introduced me
to new friends, new experiences, a new husband and more adventures – and challenges – than I could have ever imagine at the young age of 34. But what has surprised me the most about this long-term escapade in what is now become my permanent home, is the shock I experience when I return to Kansas to visit.

You see, while I was moving forward and living my life – for some reason – I thought the life I left behind would remain the same. But it turns out the lives of my friends and relatives back home have moved on, too.

I just returned from my most recent visit to Kansas to witness the wedding of my youngest nephew (who, by the way was a little over a year old when I left 20 years ago. Shouldn’t he still be a toddler?).

Although it was a very quick weekend getaway for me, I took some time to visit some old stomping grounds that included attending a Saturday evening Mass at the church where I was baptized. It had been over 35 years since I had stepped foot into that house of worship and I yearned to touch, smell, see and hear the sacred space I once called home and was a part of my childhood.

I must humbly admit, it wasn’t for religious or spiritual reasons that I attended Mass. The truth is, I had to see, again, the ornate structure that was built in the early 1900s by local farmers. This elaborate building with it’s baroque-like architecture sits in the middle of corn and wheat fields and is surrounded by less intricate priest parsonage, nuns’ home and a catholic school.

When Mass was walked, I walked the grounds to discover that the nuns’ home is no longer there, and the school will soon be taken down as well. But the greatest shock to me was the playground that housed a merry go round that sat directly underneath a large mulberry tree had vanished, too.

I don’t know why but seeing the empty spaces that once held the merry-go-round and the mulberry tree saddened me the most. It was as if I wasn’t quite ready to break free from my past. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition of a merry-go-round is, “a cycle of activity that is complex, fast-paced, or difficult to break out of.” Isn’t it ironic that life can be like that too….complex, fast paced and not always easy to let go of those things near and dear to our hearts.

According to mametupa.tumblr.com, “[A carousel] has no beginning and no end. Like wheels, carousels imply motion: cyclical, repetitive motion and ups and downs. The carousel, as a metaphor, has several universal connotations generally dealing with the idealized innocence of youth, innocence lost, the constancy of life and fate, an allusion to the individual and society at large. As with the yin/yang, eastern symbol for the unification of opposites, it becomes clear how profound, yet simple, elemental truths can be. As we face the unknown of the future it is important to realize the essence of some forgotten truths from the past. In dreams, a carousel may represent memories of the past and childhood freedoms.”

Walking away from the church and the empty spaces, I relished for a moment my short visit to my past. As I left, my sadness for things and people that have changed was replaced for new freedoms and whatever the unknown future has in store for me.