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.