Friday, December 29, 2017

Letter to the Editor. *Note that AARP Free Tax Prepartion program has changed phone numbers

Dear Editor,

On Thursday, February 1, at Unity Gardens in Windham, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers will again provide their Free Tax Preparation and Electronic Filing Program to local, low-to-moderate income taxpayers.  

We would like to note that we have received a new telephone number. It is 207-776-6316.

Although the focus is on taxpayers fifty and over, qualified taxpayers of all ages are eligible for this service, which is offered each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during the tax filing season.   
Appointments are required. The appointment line will open on Wednesday, January 17.  

The number to make an appointment is 207-776-6316.  Again, please note this is a new number. 
We would like to reminder your readers to not call the number you may have used previously.

Joan Jagolinzer, District Coordinator
AARP Tax-Aide/Maine

Insight: New Year wisdom from 1927 by Lorraine Glowczak

As you peruse this year-in-review edition of The Windham Eagle, we hope you enjoy looking back at some of your favorite articles with fond recollections of 2017.
 As long as I can remember, I have always looked forward to year-in-reviews. There have been a few exceptions, however, when years were especially challenging. Instead of looking back to reminisce, I wanted to jolt forward quickly into the new year with the hope of creating happier memories. 

However 2017 has played out for you, I would like to gift you with pieces of my favorite prose/poem which I have framed and hangs on the wall in my home office. The name of the piece is, “Desiderata” written in 1927 by Max Erhmann.

As you enter 2018, may some of the words and bits of wisdom below assist you as you make decisions, reach goals and create new memories.

The first stanza of “Desiderata” states, “Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.” It seems it was a noisy world in 1927 and it is a noisy world today. Take some time to yourself and experience the quiet you find in solitude. Scientists and gurus, alike, agree that it clears the mind and helps one face the daily demands of life.

Another stanza in the prose states, “If you compare yourself with others, you will become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” We all have been given our own unique gifts and we all have something special to give to the world. If we focus on our own gifts, we won’t have time to worry about or judge others. 

Another favorite stanza states, “Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.” I must admit, I need work on this one. I always begin the new year with high expectations of myself, only to find two or three months into the new year that I am not going fast enough to achieve my goals. As a result, in comes self-criticism.  

Toward the end of the prose, it says, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Was Erhmann trying to tell us not to worry so much?

And my all-time favorite stanza, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful! Strive to be Happy!” Pretty transparent. Enough said.

Happy New Year! If 2017 was a good year for you, may 2018 be even better. If 2017 wasn’t the best - well there is hope for joy and bliss as you leave the challenges behind. Cheers to 2018!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Insight: The magic of idle stones by Lorraine Glowczak

If you haven’t yet, you must read reporter, Matt Pascarella’s interview with Santa Claus on page 5 of the newspaper. It’s a real interview with real answers. (I’ll let you decide which part is real. If you believe in magic and miracles, it’s all true.) 

There is bit of advice Ol’ St. Nick recommends that rings true for me. He told Pascarella, “Make a wish for a family in need or think of a way to help a fellow human.”

What’s interesting is that Santa isn’t the only person who recommends this advice. If one considers all the major belief systems, they all promote this same philosophical approach to living. 

For whatever reason, this time of year softens our hearts for those who face extreme challenges. Especially homeless individuals. But once the holidays are over, our hearts become less understanding. Perhaps out of frustration or stress, we return to our old ways. We throw stones and shame those who live on the streets. “Get a job!”, we protest. 

I’m not going to deny that I view life through rose-colored glasses. I’m also not going to deny that some who stand on streets corners manipulate their hardships to pull at the heartstrings of someone like me to abuse the system. But must we let those few shatter the life of the many, that often include children and teenagers? Read "Student homelessness" on the front page of the newspaper.)

There is a lot we don’t understand about homelessness, but I think Santa’s on to something that aligns with a moral conviction most of us have to help the less fortunate. 

I think this community exceeds beautifully in the art of goodwill for those facing a multitude of challenges. But there is still that stigma of homelessness that create shame and disgrace - making life unnecessarily more difficult - for those who live on the streets, in cold abandoned buildings, in cars or on someone’s couch - never knowing when the next meal will be or where they will lay their head that night.

Let’s consider Santa’s advice by taking back our stones and misconceptions aimed at the homeless; especially as it affects displaced children and teenagers. They are our future, after all. Who knows what sort of magic will happen if you give a child solid ground without having to worry about dodging stones.

May you find warmth this winter season with family and friends in a home you call your own. Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas!