Friday, January 18, 2019

Insight: Coexisting on a bicycle built for two

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was sometime in the middle of last week when I stopped counting the numerous cars I saw donning the bummer sticker, “coexist.” It was uncanny how they kept popping up as if to slap me in the face and grab my attention. So, I began to wonder what the word might really mean – especially for me. 

I am aware that the design of the words contains religious emblems such as the Islamic Star and Crescent, a peace sign, the Jewish Star of David, and the Christian Cross. It is suggesting to us to put aside our personal belief differences – and – well, coexist. Diverse philosophies are incredibly fascinating to me on an historical and cultural level and, in this particular circumstance, I can coexist with the best of them. 

But still, I began to feel annoyed at each passing bumper that boasted this advice, even though I like the ideal of its message. I felt confused. As a result, this writer who accidentally fell into the role of inquiring reporter, did a bit of researching to see what she might learn.

I came upon an online article written by Rick Paulas who had his own response to this particular sticker. He stated something that lead to understanding my own annoyance. ”…..what happens when you put anything on a bumper sticker is that you remove the suggestive tone and make it a command: ‘Get along, or else.’”

Although seemingly inclusive, there is an air of self-righteousness in the term “coexist” - forcing the reader to fit into a certain mold – and paradoxically – doing the opposite of what it suggests.
It’s true we all will always be different, often with very opposing viewpoints. But it is also true, that it might be wise to find a way to hang out together somehow since we don’t have any other choice.  Maybe it would feel less demanding if we changed the word, coexist, to a simple image of a tandem bicycle.

I personally have never ridden on a bicycle built for two, but blogger/author, Ann Pederson 
explained the experience of tandem bicycling when she and her husband, Gary, participated in a biking trip across South Dakota.

“For those not acquainted with tandem bicycling, it’s not as easy as it looks. For two people to really work together on one bike, they must learn to trust each other, compensate for the other’s exhaustion, and cooperate in ways that test any relationship. Some bikers on the trip cracked jokes about how a tandem either makes or breaks a relationship. Gary and I learned how to find a good balance, how to communicate quickly and directly, and how to let go into the joyous ride that resulted from our new-found tandem lifestyle. As a person who loves to be in control and take leadership, I had to learn how to let go and trust that Gary’s cues and decisions would work for both of us. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t contribute to the ride. That’s another joke that I began to tire of hearing—that the person in the back simply is along for the ride. I can attest to my participation by sore muscles, early bedtimes, and ravenous appetites at the end of the ride.” 

She went on to say that the experience created in her a greater understanding of trust and faith in others and herself.

Perhaps with the image of a tandem bike as a bumper sticker could create a more suggestive tone of working together, rather than a command. 

Hum? Maybe I’ll start a new viral bumper sticker sensation. Or – just borrow another one I saw a year ago: “You may coexist – but your driving still sucks.”’

Friday, January 11, 2019

Insight: Remarkable and amazing

By Lorraine Glowczak

Making fun of people is not something I normally do when I get together with friends, but one day last month was an exception. My friend and I were not making fun of anyone in particular, just those few irritating people who are arrogant and think they know everything.

Still laughing and joking back and forth, I added, “You know – they say that what we judge in others, we supposedly carry that same trait in ourselves.” My friend said she has always believed that statement to be true. Our laughter simmered down. After all, we were being – well - so arrogant and all.

But the truth is, people do frustrate us from time to time. Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, a proponent of the philosophy mentioned above, stated that the irritation we may feel towards others is an experience that can teach us something about ourselves.

But he wasn’t the only individual who believed in this philosophy. Author, painter and poet, Hermann Hess has been quoted as saying, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part ourselves doesn’t disturb us?”

Generally speaking, we all want to have a fulfilling and productive life – a life that comes with happiness, contentment and peace. And sometimes, we let our perceptions and judgement of others get in the way of that. If what the well-known psychoanalyst and painter have said is true, then we might have a bit more control of that rewarding and successful life we long for, despite the fact that we have little control of others and their – well – irritating ways.

Maybe it’s possible by realizing that when we judge someone in this way, it affects us and our happiness more than the other person. By being bothered or exasperated by a few - may say more about us than the other person and it shows us how we perceive the world. And perhaps, if we can take Jung’s advice and be more curious about that “irritating” feature we find in others, we can actually learn more about ourselves – which, I tend to believe, contributes to that ever-longing desire of a deeply fulfilling life. Perhaps it’s possible that by realizing we also exhibit our own irksome ways, there might be a less that disturbs us.

“You know, the opposite can also be true,” my friend replied back to me later after our initial laughter subsided. “What’s that?” I asked. “It seems it would be true that what we enjoy about others, we must also enjoy about ourselves.”

On that note - to all of our remarkable and amazing readers out there – have a great weekend!

Homeless veterans food pantry needs your help

This is the second annual winter appeal for help with donations of non-perishable food items to the Portland Vet-Center Homeless Vet food pantry. American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 of Windham has been supporting this important venture for two years and is entering its third season with the cupboards bare after the holidays. 

Post 148 Service Officer, Chuck Whynot and assistant Post Service Officer, Bill Cassidy, cleared the  
reserves to support the holiday needs in the Portland Homeless Vet community. It is now time to restock the shelves for 2019.

The Portland Vet-Center Food Pantry is a small enterprise serving approximately 20 to 30 veterans a week who are homeless or food insecure. Over the past two years, the Legion has collected donations and distributed over two tons of food under this program.  You can help by donating non-perishable food items such as: soups, canned or pouched type meat products, cereals, drink boxes, snacks, and canned pasta products. 

Donations can be brought to the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, (behind Hannaford’s) on Wednesdays from 9 to 11 am. Food collected on Wednesdays is sorted and delivered on Thursday each week to the Portland Vet-Center for the pantry. All donations for the Portland Area homeless veterans are greatly appreciated.  Financial donations are also appreciated and will be used to purchase items not donated. Checks may be made payable to: Field-Allen Post 148-Food, PO Box 1776, Windham, Maine 04062. Thank You again for your generosity,

Friday, January 4, 2019

Insight: Going out on a limb

By Lorraine Glowczak

Collins Dictionary states that the term, “going out on a limb” is defined as: “[doing something you] strongly believe in even though it is risky or extreme and is likely to fail or be criticized by other people.”

As we enter the new year and set our resolutions for 2019, there are some of us ready and willing to jump off the cliff and “go out on a limb” to live life in a way that may take more courage than we believe we might have.

It is true that the annual habit of creating “whole new you” resolutions has a low success rate, but there is something to be said about self-reflection and its contribution to a life lived with intention.

Whether you make resolutions or not, a look back in the present moment in order to move forward into the future is not only helpful in reaching goals (if that’s the sort of thing you are in to) but has the potential of creating gratitude for what we have, providing more courage and confidence to step out of ways that no longer serve us or to provide the conviction we need to chart a new course.

We often associate “going out on a limb” as taking a big leap of faith into the unknown, and although this is true, sometimes going out on a limb are those small courageous steps to everyday living.

Maybe going out on a limb for you is:

Being yourself: To live life authentically, in our own way takes a lot of courage. Even poet e.e. cummings knew how difficult it is to live in such a way when he stated, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” And, if that is not going out on a limb – I don’t know what is.
Slowing down: In this busy, check off daily “to do” list sort of culture we find ourselves in today, perhaps for you, it takes courage to not have a “to do” list every day. Maybe there will be a certain level of bravery to relax, watch the sunset and the sunrise, to laugh with a friend while at the same time, you battle the guilty feelings of taking it easy from time to time.
Following your gut instincts:  Knowing when to trust your intuition and when to disregard logical reasoning can be more like jumping off a cliff than going out on a limb. But there is a lot of evidence that suggests that your “gut” is one of your greatest advisors and mentors. Still, it can be one of the most challenging endeavors of the year.

Whatever your “going out on a limb” may be for 2019, if you can gather the courage to follow it through, despite the times it may seem risky, extreme or criticized by other people, who knows see what kind of “new you” will sprout as a result. Be afraid, if you must, but do it anyway. The only person who you will have to answer to at the end of 2019 is you. I’ll wish you luck if you throw some luck my way.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Bowl games and New Year's Day

New Year's Day is rife with tradition. Perhaps no such tradition is more exciting for fans of college football than the handful of New Year's Day bowl games featuring some of the sport's best teams. New Year's Day bowl games can trace their origins back to the 19th century. 

According to, on January 1, 1890, members of the Valley Hunt Club in Southern California paraded through the streets of Pasadena, California, engaging in various contests, including tug-of-war. While no collegians competed on the gridiron that day, the parade served as a precursor to the Tournament of Roses Parade, which immediately proceeded athletic contests that included polo matches and greased-pig catching. 

In 1901, the president of the parade, seeking to gain publicity for the town of Pasadena and its floral festival, sought to stage a sporting event that might attract more interest than pig-catching and polo.

Festival organizers ultimately chose college football, deciding to initiate a matchup between a team representing the western United States and the eastern United States. On January 1, 1902, the football teams from the University of Michigan and Stanford University battled in the inaugural East-West football game. Michigan, which had not allowed a point all season long, steamrolled its way to a 49-0 victory. In fact, the game's lack of competitiveness temporarily nixed plans for an annual New Year's Day game, which was not played again until 1916, when Washington State University defeated Brown University 14-0. 

Interest in the game continued to grow from there on out, and in 1923, the game was moved to a large stadium known as the Rose Bowl. The game itself soon adopted the name of that stadium, and it retains that name today. Thanks to fan interest in the New Year's Day game, other New Year's bowl games soon followed, and continue to entertain college football fans every January 1. 

Insight: Cramming for the final exam

By Lorraine Glowczak

Can you believe it?! This is it for 2018! I remember rolling my eyes in frustration every time my mother said, “Time goes much faster when you get older. You blink your eyes, and all of the sudden – you are old.” Now, I am the one who is speaking those words - and I still roll my eyes. But because my Mom’s silly words of wisdom feels factual to me now, it makes New Year resolutions more impactful – like “go to the bathroom or get off the pot” sort of impact.

The thing about becoming older and “wiser” is you realize your time is limited and you want to get out there and really do it. Whether the reason is that you truly discover what is more important to you or, as comedian George Carlin implied, “you are cramming for your final exam,” hoping to get into heaven – whichever the case may be, I suppose it really doesn’t matter. You just know you must do it.

But what I’ve noticed personally about resolutions as I’m heading in the downhill slide, is it’s not so much about eating healthier (although I do plan to do that) or exercise more (I plan to do that, too) or spend more time with friends, having fun, (yes – that, too) and travel more (Oh! I hope so) but to contribute in more positive, aware and educated ways. However, there is a learning curve in taking that route. Especially the “aware and educated” part.

It has been said that for every truth that exists, the exact opposite also contains truth. I tend to buy into this philosophy, generally speaking, because it keeps me from becoming too arrogant about my own opinions and it reminds me that no one owns the copyright on truth. The learning curve for me is taking my “saving the world, creating happiness and justice for all” innate mindset and realizing the effects of the actions I take on a daily basis.

For example: while I promote the elimination of food insecurity in Maine and volunteer time and food to the free weekly Monday Meals program – I am also throwing leftovers away that have been in my refrigerator for over a month. While I work to make sure there is justice occurring in the world, that includes Africa – I wear a diamond ring. While I work to be upwardly mobile, I think about the people I might leave behind in the dust – not because they are lazy and take advantage of the system (and there are a few, no doubt) – but because, in some circumstances – life isn’t always fair.

As January 1st approaches this coming Tuesday, I will do my best to take a hard look at my New Year’s resolutions – bearing in mind my decisions and how they may impact people.

Although there is truth that I am following my innate way to be in the world – I suspect it might also be true that I am cramming for my final exam. Wish me luck. And I wish you luck as you head in the new year with whatever endeavors you believe are important.

May 2019 be your best year yet. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Insight: Please wait

By Lorraine Glowczak

The circle was spinning on my computer screen along with the words, “Please Wait”, as it tried to process information that I needed immediately. Frustrated, I took a deep breath and in an irritated voice I spoke aloud to no one, “Really? I don’t have time for this stuff.” (Except I didn’t use the word, “stuff”).

With the exception of the few, wise, “work/life” balanced individuals among us, it is safe to say we
run through life in overdrive as we check off our excessive “to do” lists. Add on the Christmas parties, holiday baking and shopping that comes with the season and it’s enough to tip us over the edge.

But nature may provide us an excuse to slow down, as if one needs to be goaded into stepping back from our face-paced life to take a breather. Today, December 21, is the winter solstice – the official first day of winter that marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. It’s during this time that we experience the dark months ahead which can open the door to our natural inclination to hibernate, allowing us to rest. And, if we dare, suspend our busyness for a while - standing still while we wait for the promise of warmer and longer days to come.

The word “solstice” roughly translates to “sun stands still.” Even something as important as the sun takes a moment for quiet and reflection. Although technically, the sun only appears to pause, but nature in her wisdom may be trying to tell us to pause from time to time, too.

There are many advantages to taking a momentary hiatus for rest and self-reflection. One well-known benefit to pausing in this way is that it allows the mind to process important information, increasing our ability to create with life. The act of slowing down itself, gives us time to take a deep breath and actually “hear” intuitive thoughts that often become reality, taking action in a more purposeful way.

I must admit that I will always be one to busily flutter from one task and event to another, so for those who find themselves in the same predicament, I am unable to offer any solutions for slowing down - (except for the obvious act of doing less).

But when moments become too stressful and things are spinning out of control, I will recall that moment when my computer asked me to “Please, wait” as it processed the information I requested from it. And much like that computer, I will do my best to pause - and wait – so I can process life with the intention to act with authentic creativity.

Happy Solstice!