Friday, March 22, 2019

Insight: Band-aid on the heart


By Lorraine Glowczak

I recently read a story about a singer/songwriter who, after a very painful breakup from her long-time love, wore a band-aid over her heart as a symbol of her grief. Although the story itself had no impact on me, the words, “band-aid on the heart” certainly grabbed my attention and has stayed with me all week.

When I can’t seem to break free from the grip of certain thoughts and they remain in my awareness longer that I’d prefer, I know I need to brace myself because something is coming next that will require me to step out of my comfort zone or to confront a certain situation. That something was in an email that arrived the other day.

“Hi Lorraine,” the email began. “I understand you folks want to keep things positive and thank goodness, someone has to in Windham. Just so you understand that everything is not so great for many of us in Windham right now…..”

It’s true. If you are a faithful reader, you are very aware that The Windham Eagle is a positive and solution-based newspaper. And, if you know me, for better or worse, I “ooze with passion and enthusiasm” (as another email to me stated).

I struggle with these truths about myself because there is the perception that I may be denying the terrible realities that exists in this world. The fact is, I do understand that there are many hardships, disagreements, strife and adversities that people experience, including yours truly. To ignore these realities is disrespectful; not only to the individual, but to the situation. In our attempt to focus on the solutions part of the equation, it provides an opportunity to find ways to overcome our problems, and thus an opportunity to learn and grow.

It is our hope that our readers notice our efforts to provide resolutions. To some, it may appear as if we are only placing a band-aid over the difficult circumstances. But that’s not how I choose to see it.

I am aware that we cannot completely avoid negative or cynical thoughts, but in seeking out those stories that deliver constructive solutions, it also provides a bit of hope amid the chaos and pain. For example, how can one not experience hopefulness after reading the article about Dr. Kathryn Loukas (see front page.) She tells the story about the life changing experience she had while working with young children who had spinal cord injuries and were skiers – who instead of feeling sorry for themselves, chose determination, grit and a life of joy.

And speaking of joy – the rest of the story about the singer/songwriter is that a man noticed the band-aid she was wearing. Admiring her vulnerability, he wanted to get to know her. That man is now her husband and they have two children.

I suspect that things are not always perfect for Ms. Singer/Songwriter in her happily ever after story, but in finding a little creative “band-aid on the heart” solution to a painful situation, things did change for the better – at least for a while and to our knowledge.

So, if providing a solution is a band-aid – perhaps then, a band-aid is what we need to heal after all.




Letter to the Editor: A plea from local teacher to elected officials


An Open Letter to the Elected Officials of the United States of America
By Rachel Bell, Teacher, Windham, Maine

Mr. President and Members of Congress,

I am writing to you today as one voice for teachers united with and concerned for our students and our community. I have a request…a favor if you will…or maybe, at this point, it’s become a plea.
I am a fifth-grade teacher and we are currently studying about our amazing country and how the government works. We are learning about the Constitution, what elected officials are, why they are elected (to represent and protect us everyday people) and checks and balances (making sure no one branch’s power gets too great). We also work (tirelessly) every day to help the students we love become the best people they can be. We strive to help them grow to be compassionate human beings, respectful of others and themselves, and to spread kindness and tolerance to people they meet.

I am finding it to be a daunting task these days…

My students ask questions. They ask hard questions and they ask honest questions. They ask why those we elected into office don’t always think about what is best for us…We The People. They ask why those we elected into office aren’t always empathetic or kind or respectful to each other or to We The People. In a Zero-Tolerance for Bullying environment, that our school is, they ask why is it ok that the people running our country bully others when we are trying to teach them that is not ok. They want to know why the people who run our country argue with each other in ways that are hurtful and not working together to problem solve when we are trying to teach them successful ways to express our feelings while also listening and respecting the feelings of others…and then coming together to compromise.

I do not have all the answers to these impossible, yet necessary, questions they ask…

So, today, I have a request of you Mr. President and Members of Congress…because these small, beautiful young people are watching you. They are watching you carefully and, as we all know, one of the most powerful learning tools is modeling.

You are not modeling what our young generation needs…

I respectfully and sincerely ask you to stop. Please. Just. Stop.

I ask you to look inside yourself and look at those around you, whom we have put our trust and faith in…and ask yourself the questions that the students would ask if you were face to face with them in a classroom.  

“Am I doing right by the generations to come?”
“Was I respectful and used kind words, not hurtful ones?”
“Was I kind and did I help someone today?”
“At the end of the day, am I proud of the person I was that day?”

These, and many other questions are necessary when you are looking into the faces of children who admire you, who trust you and who look to you for guidance and modeling.

I was called to teaching. It is not a “job” for me but, rather, it is a way of life. I wake up every day and think about the kind of person I want to be and the kind of people I hope my students will be. I try my best…each and every single day…to model respect, kindness and compassion. I see my colleagues doing the same thing…each and every single day. We love our students, like our own children and we feel we are constantly swimming upstream.

We need your help…

We need you to also strive to be the best people YOU ALL can be. We need you to model respect, kindness and compassion…every day…even when you have to restrain yourself, when you are frustrated beyond belief, when you are angry. When you just want to think about your own best interests that is the time when you MOST need to think about theirs...

…and put yourselves aside to do what’s right and good and decent.

So, today I ask you…no, I plead to you. Please make We The People proud of the people in whom we trust to do what’s right, to protect us, to represent us, to have our best interests at heart.

Please help us do right by the young minds…and hearts…that are looking to YOU to be the very embodiment of all the things we hold so dear when we think about humanity.

Be Kind. Be respectful. Be compassionate.

Warmly,
Rachel Bell
Teacher, Grade 5
Manchester School
Windham, Maine

Friday, March 15, 2019

Insight: Living the dream


By Lorraine Glowczak

“Lorraine, it has been so much fun to see where life has taken you these last few years!” is a message I received in an email recently.

I do have to say, it has been quite the adventure. It was a little over three years ago when I was writing about my new beekeeping adventure for The Windham Eagle newspaper and was assigned, on the spur of the moment, to cover an author speaking event.

“This is exactly what I want to do, and I am going to find a way to do this full time,” I said to myself when I walked out of the Raymond Village Library after interviewing the well-known Maine author and her fans.

That night it became very clear to me that I was going to live my dream and become a full-time writer.

Somedays, I have to pinch myself because – here I am - doing exactly what I had hoped for on that slightly rainy evening. I am now living my dream.

There are also days when I don’t have to pinch myself, because I have discovered that living your dream also provides moments where you feel like you ran smack dab into a Mack truck. There is a price for everything and, dang it, nothing is easy all the time. I somehow missed that portion of the lesson in “Reach for the Stars class 101”.

What I didn’t expect in becoming a full time writer is that I would also take on the role of a managing editor (which is a surprise bonus, one I thoroughly enjoy) and that role would then lead me to other roles which would lead me to roles I didn’t even know existed – thus, challenging me to step outside of my comfort zone. Additionally, there are moments I don’t know if I’m coming or going and if I’m doing everything right.

I have discovered when you fully live your dreams you also enter a territory that will often seem demanding, scary and daring. But I have been taken on many unexpected adventures and have grown so much in the process. In these three years:

* I’ve gained courage and it continues to grow.
* Despite my busyness, I oddly have more time to serve others and the community. As a result….
* It leaves little time for my own “problems” and I leave every situation better able to see things differently.
* Things that seemed impossible for me before now seem attainable.
* What once irritated me about others, no longer consumes my thoughts.
* Magic seems to happen more – people are there at the right time, a gift is given when I least expect it, and when I think my calendar is filled to the max, things miraculously open up.

So yes, I am living my dream. And although there are some struggles and a bit of chaos that come with it, I see the gift for what it is.

It is true that there is more I hope for. I want to travel more, for one. And, secondly – I have a dream that one day, not too far in the future, someone will live their own dream fully because they walked out of a small-town library, after having interviewed me – a well-known Maine author.

Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

Thousands of Mainers take prescription drugs. For many, prescription drugs represent the only defense they have against crippling pain. For others, prescription medications are a lifeline in their fight against serious conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes  Americans pay the highest prices in the world for their prescription drugs, and the ill effects cannot be overstated.

In February, seven pharmaceutical company CEOs testified before the US Senate Finance Committee. They deftly shifted blame to the “system” and failed to answer important questions such as why Americans pay the highest prices in the world for their prescription drugs. They all agreed that their companies spend more on advertising and administration than they do on research and drug development. One CEO couldn’t answer why some medications cost 40% less in other countries than here in the United States.  It is time for Congress to push for real answers, and to insist upon long-term solutions.

AARP’s Public Policy Institute periodically publishes reports which examine prescription drug pricing trends. The latest report, “Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2017 Year-End Update,” revealed a startling fact: The retail prices of some of the most popular medications older Americans take to treat everything from diabetes to high blood pressure to asthma increased by an average of 8.4 percent in 2017. This rate of increase is four times the rate of inflation.

However, some medication prices have risen at a much steeper rate. AARP’s study found, for example, that in 2017, the retail price of the popular brand-name drug Lyrica, which is used to treat fibromyalgia, increased by 19.3 percent; the price of Benicar, a widely used medicine for high blood pressure, increased by 17.8 percent. 

If you currently have health insurance coverage, you may be one of the lucky ones who only has a co-pay for your medications. However, the enormous increase in drug costs ultimately affects you in the form of higher insurance deductibles and premiums. At the end of the day, we all pay.

The truth is that drug companies make billions in profits from older adults and hardworking Americans each year. No one should have to choose between food and medicine, but some Mainers are doing just that. 

In recent weeks, Mainers have shared stories with AARP Maine about their struggles to pay for their medications. A husband in Lyman counts on his life-saving EpiPen to be effective even though it expired three years ago. He cannot afford the $425 to replace it. A 72-year old retired nurse in Lebanon rations her meals and sometimes cuts the doses of the drugs she needs to treat her lung and liver disease. A 62-year old in Ellsworth spends almost ten percent of his income on multiple drugs to treat his heart condition. Sadly, these are just three of thousands of examples of Mainers whose lives depend on medications they simply cannot afford.

Several Maine legislators have introduced bills to confront the issue.  Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) has introduced multiple bills (LR 972, LR 973 and LR 1463) which focus on improved access through safe drug importation, and affordability through the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board to broadly examine drug pricing. Senator Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) has introduced LR 786 which requires greater disclosure of drug production, research, advertising and development costs.

The tens of billions of dollars drug companies spend on advertising each year is shameful and results in drugs being more expensive. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. As Maine leaders start to address this critical issue, we urge Congress to do the same. Please visit action.aarp.org/rx to learn more about AARP’s Rx advocacy work and to make your voice heard.

The time has come for Congress to take action against the skyrocketing costs of prescription medications. Drug companies must be kept from overcharging older Mainers and their families for the medications they need to stay healthy. People of all ages depend on prescription medications, and unfair prices are putting them out of reach. Congress and state governments must come together to pass bipartisan legislation to lower prescription medication prices now. It’s time to Stop Rx Greed.

Dr. Lori K. Parham
AARP Maine State Director
Portland


Friday, March 8, 2019

Insight: Bend like bamboo


By Lorraine Glowczak

There were many things I learned with my adventure to the State House last week as I visited with a few of our local delegates, shadowing them to discover what a typical day is like for a legislator (read page 8). I went with a set plan and agenda in mind regarding the exact times and location I would meet each of them. But that all changed the moment I walked into the door. I quickly discovered that if there is one personality trait required of a legislator, that would be the ability to be adaptable and accommodating.

It seems every plan we made, we had to shift and adjust our well-thought out schedule, multiple times in what seemed like a matter of seconds. Rep. Jessica Fay referred to this constantly changing schedule as the “pinball effect.”

Although adaptability during legislative sessions happen at a quick pace, there is a little flexibility required in everyday life. For every set agenda or focus goal, there is always something that is thrown in our way, interrupting our concentration and requiring us to adjust our sails.

When this happens, we can either become frustrated and disappointed by the unexpected disturbances – or alter our course and - as a friend once said to me, “bend like bamboo.”

Here in North American where the largest number of oak tree species can be found, the acorn and oak tree analogy (acorn inside holds the seed of a mighty oak tree potential) is what we use to remind us that we all have great potential within us. Many Asian countries, where bamboo profusely grows, have their own comparison tale. 

Author, Garr Reynolds, explains the bamboo analogy the best:

“One of the most impressive things about the bamboo in the forest is how they sway with even the slightest breeze. This gentle swaying movement with the wind is a symbol of humility. Their bodies are hard and firm and yet sway gently in the breeze while their trunks stay rooted firmly in the ground below. Their foundation is solid even though they move and sway harmoniously with the wind, never fighting against it. In time, even the strongest wind tires itself out, but the bamboo remains standing tall and still. A bend-but-don't-break or go-with-the-natural-flow attitude is one of the secrets for success whether we're talking about bamboo trees, answering tough questions in a Q&A session, or just dealing with the everyday vagaries of life.”

Flexibility is not the only thing that impresses me about bamboo. It has great versatility as well. Besides wood and paper products, bamboo is used in clothing, can be made into wine, eaten as food, used in steering wheels, bikes, helmets, in medicine, and much more. It’s amazing to me that with this level of adaptability, how much is offered and available.

Maybe the next time life throws you or I another curve ball, we can imagine that we are bamboo swaying in the wind. And if that doesn’t work and frustration persists, we could imagine to be in a giant tilted pinball machine. You laugh, but – who knows – maybe machine is tilted in our favor.

Guest editorial


The following article submission was originally published in The Bridgton News. It was requested by a member of the local American Legion to reprint this article as an informative piece regarding an often misconception faced by those who park in handicapped spots. Author, Kelly Ela has also given us permission to reprint.

The Boots
By Kelly Ela

Last week while I exited my car at our local grocery store, I was confronted by a gentleman who gruffly asked if that was my car. With a puzzled look I answered yes. The man continued on to say, “well I saw the disabled veteran plate and wondered what’s wrong with you. You seem to look just fine to me. I don’t understand why young people like you (get to be) considered disabled.”

It was at that point I decided it was vital to share something that’s been on my mind for years. I, like
many veterans, struggle to deal with a disease that is slowly killing me on the inside. It doesn’t matter how fine I look on the outside. The pure ignorance of humanity can take a big toll on some of us. We aren’t always the strong Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen we used to be.

I ignored the man and dragged my tall, proud, grotesquely scarred, PTSD engulfed, medication filled, bullet hole healed, blood clot ridden, body with barely functioning kidneys and lungs that happens to be short of a few organs, into the store, so that I could feed my family with three small children waiting at home.  That, my friends, is why I have a disabled Veteran plate.
This is what inspired me to write, “The boots”.

ATTENN HUTTTT!!!! You step off that bus to the screams and spit blaring from the mouth of the drill instructors and it is at that point, life as you know it just changed.  As the days in hell progress, you are all issued a pair of tall black boots.

These boots will quickly become your lifeline and you will never leave without them. You will lace them, shine them, learn how to march diligently and precisely in them. When they get dirty you will clean them and proudly shine them again. You will stand for hours and hours in them. You will do pushups until you puke in them. You will eat in them, you will sleep in them, you will sweat and bleed on them, you will make friends for life in them. They will get wet and give you blisters that make you cringe, but you will keep on marching proudly in them. You will train hard and learn to defend yourself and America in them.

They will protect your feet as you carry your weapons, bags and fatigued bodies across the mountains, deserts, oceans and more. These are the same boots peeking out from under the white cotton cloth of a soldier just killed in the battlefield. The same boots standing atop a makeshift memorial holding the rifle and dog tags of our sister who just paid the ultimate sacrifice. These are the boots of a United States Veteran.

All of us wore these boots and stood proudly taking the same oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America under the Red White and Blue of Old Glory. There is no person more proud than a Veteran wearing those tall black boots.

As each of us moved through our military careers, we traveled the world. We saw the beauty world had to offer. We saw the terror and awful sights the world also offered. Those boots stood witness with us. As we fell, they fell, as we advanced, they advanced.

When we deployed, those boots deployed with us; we never left without our boots. We left our husbands and wives, our children, and friends. Over and over we left to stand the endless watch of freedom wearing those tall black boots.

As time progressed, each of us were ordered down a different path. Some of us injured on the outside and lost or maimed our limbs. Some of us injured our backs and necks. Some of us burned unrecognizable, while some of us received mental injuries. All while wearing the same boots as our brothers and sisters.

Some of us were unknowingly exposed to agents and poisons resulting in cancer, and diseases with no cure, all while wearing those boots.

Some of us received injuries so great, that those boots had to be put on a shelf below a flag, never to be worn again.

The one thing that stands true is those black boots were worn by every United States Veteran, fighting to defend our country. It doesn’t matter what branch of service. It doesn’t matter if they were on the feet of a man or a woman, young or old. At one point they were laced up and cared for with pride like no other.

Our disabilities may all be different and not always seen on the outside. They were all acquired performing the same mission, while wearing those same tall black boots.

So next time you go to judge that disabled veteran that looks “fine” on the outside, take a moment to look at his or her feet and remember. At one time, he or she strapped up those boots for your freedom and is now paying the price with no regret. God Bless America.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Insight: Peace through Tinku

By Lorraine Glowczak

Life is cyclical - or at least that is what they tell me. “Lorraine, this is happened before, it will happen again, and it will get better,” a local wise man told me this fall when we were discussing the political climate we are witnessing today, both nationally and locally. This conversation occurred last fall and the Pollyanna side of me was hoping the pendulum would have started swinging the other way by now. But I guess, “the arch of justice is long….” (stated by another wise man, Martin Luther King Jr.)

Unless you have completely warded off media, you most likely know that hostilities among our leaders still exists.

I make no judgement of our leaders (well- for the most part) because I could not maintain a peaceful manner during a public and political dispute in which I felt attacked. It is good that we have different perspectives. It is admirable to stand up for what we believe in, despite how others may perceive us and the kick back one gets for speaking a personal truth. Without this, it wouldn’t be freedom and it wouldn’t be democracy. I do hope people continue to speak their truth, no matter how difficult it is. But, at times, it just can be so darn frustrating to have a civil conversation with others who do not see eye to eye.

It’s possible that the frustration we all experience is one of the contributing factors to the conflicts we see among our leaders. Although I wish we could all get along a little better - who can blame our leaders for feeling frustrated? I certainly can’t throw stones. (Analogy taken from another wise man.)
So, how can we all – in the midst of all our individual truths – not allow frustration to consume us and, in doing so, approach things in a more peaceful manner. I must admit, I do not have the answers.   
But I wonder if a Bolivian Aymara tradition known as “Tinku", may provide insight for us. According to Boliviamarka.com, Tinku “began as a form of ritualistic combat. In the language of Aymara it means, ‘physical attack’.”

I learned about the Tinku ritual during a personal Netflix ritual this past Sunday. In one of the episodes of “The Story of Us,” hosted by Morgan Freeman, Tinku was introduced. In that series, I learned brawls in this festival are considered a means of releasing frustration and anger between the separate communities who hold differing opinions. Once the festival is completed, the communities with different perspectives return into a civil working group with the goal of accomplishing things with the good of all in mind.

What if we did that here in our own community? We could do our own Tinku Festival. For three days, we could say and do all those things that a peaceful society would deem inappropriate. We could all yell at those who disagree with us, while dancing and banging drums to get out all our frustrations. We could say things that usually prohibits us from working together. Of course, there would be no physical violence, and no one would be hurt. A bell would ring to signify the end of the festival, and we’d all sit down together and have a feast – agreeing that, despite our differences, we would work together for the common good and commit to peaceful solutions for the next year, knowing we would have an opportunity  to “tell it like it is” from our own opinions at the next festival.

In this Netflix episode, Freeman spoke to Rwandan President, Paul Kagame. In a conversation about the current political and social divide we all experience worldwide, Freeman asked Kagame if he thought revenge and justice were two different things. Kagame replied. “They are different. Revenge may be justified. But it is not justice. Justice allows the disagreeable parties to get along. While revenge allows more revenge and creates a vicious cycle.”

Perhaps there is one cyclical life experience we can do without. War has been around since we’ve had to share resources such as land, water, food.  I don’t think the end of war is eminent. But what we have learned is that we must get better at making peace,” Freeman said, ending the episode.
And I will add that a fun three-day annual Tinku Festival, where acting like nincompoops is acceptable, might provide the peace needed in order to get things done in a civil manner. At least for one year. Just a thought.



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Friday, February 22, 2019

Insight: Bravery and the convertible

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is happening again. Last time it was a quote that stayed with me for weeks, this time it is a word. The term, “bravery”, has been whipping past me the last two weeks as if it’s driving a 1940s Triumph Roadster convertible, donning sunglasses and smiling with not a care in the world. Bravery, it seems, can come in many forms and arrive in odd and surprising ways.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes bravery as: “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty the quality or state of being brave; courage.”

Sometimes bravery means following your instincts, knowing that if you don’t do it – you’ll regret it - even when there is a possibility of failure. You take the chance anyway.

Holden Willard (see front page) is an example of boldly following your instinct. Author, Steven Kotler, describes this form of courage as “decision making in the face of uncertainty” bravery. Willard exemplifies what some, if not most of us wish we could do and be in life – to live our life doing exactly what we love, despite the ambiguity that comes with it.

As a full time studio artist/painter, Holden chooses to listen to that quiet voice instead of the noisy advice of others. Although he may face a certain level of insecurity and difficulty as a result, he has the mental strength to do what he feels called to do.

There is another type of bravery that comes in the form of unsuspecting circumstances such as homelessness, poverty and food insecurity. (insert Link) Kotler refers to this courage as “stamina”. Although the author focuses in on physical stamina; emotional strength and determination take the shape of bravery as well. To face the unknowns of shelter and food not only requires true grit but a level of resilience and perseverance, despite humiliation, to get to the other side.

The fact is, it takes bravery and courage to live. Period. And, if you are alive and reading this, I applaud you. You are making it and deserve the most beautiful things life has to offer.

And for those who are brave enough to courageously dive a little further - kudos to you. I image that when death knocks on your doors, there will be no regrets. And instead of following that light to the end of the tunnel, you may just hop into the front seat of a Triumph Roadster convertible, donning sunglasses and driving off into the sunset while waving behind you, grateful that danger, fear and difficulty isn’t what controlled your decisions or choices. That, in fact, you loved being alive.



Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

Republicans are anxiously awaiting the release of Governor Mills’ first State budget. We hope that it fulfills the Governor’s repeated promise, that it will provide “sustainable” funding for the massive expansion of health insurance, especially for single, able-bodied, childless adults, without containing new taxes.

Before the details are released, it is important to reflect on where we are today and how Governor LePage and Republicans have put Maine in the strongest economic position it has seen in decades.
In 2010, Maine was teetering on the brink of financial ruin. As the incoming Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, I vividly remember the challenges that the new administration faced. Governor LePage inherited an $800 million budget shortfall from his predecessor. Medicaid had a biennial budget deficit of more than $200 million, and our state owed the hospitals $750 million.

Governor Mills begins her term with Medicaid on sustainable financial footing; it has not run a shortfall in years, and we no longer owe hospitals money. Republican leadership resulted in a $1 billion turnaround.

Maine now has a record high number of businesses, record high worker participation and record low unemployment. Wages have risen, fewer people are on welfare and we have fewer children living in poverty.

Our Budget Stabilization Fund (‘Rainy Day fund’) has a record level balance of $272.9 million, equal to 8% of Annual General Fund expenditures, a ratio better than the average among AAA credit-rated states. This is important in case there is a future economic downturn,

Through hard work and a commitment to living within taxpayer means, Republicans delivered to Governor Mills a robust, growing economy, money in the bank, low debt and a sound State budget.  
We must maintain a healthy economy that reaches even more people, including working families and much of rural Maine. It is critical that we:

(1) Avoid tax or fee increases. Lower taxes have produced more revenue for the State budget. The most recent general revenue forecast by the Revenue Forecasting Committee (the 2020-2021 biennium), has been revised upward by $263.2 million (3.52 percent). This is another example of how our economy has greatly improved over the last eight years.

(2) Ensure that Medicaid expansion for single, able-bodied, childless adults has a sustainable funding source that doesn’t take resources from Maine’s truly needy. Taking one-time monies from the $21 million tobacco cessation fund is not wise or sustainable, especially in the face of a youth vaping epidemic. We must also recognize that the federal match continually declines, requiring additional Maine taxpayer resources in future years;

(3) Live within our means by setting priorities, so that we focus on the core mission of government and not try to be everything to everybody. “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” We need to ensure that Maine’s most vulnerable citizens are our first priority,

(4) Avoid unnecessary debt that lowers our credit rating and increases our borrowing costs. The State of Maine’ general obligation bond debt is currently $376 million. Without hearing from the Governor, legislators have already submitted over $1.57 billion in new debt requests. New debt requests are increases every day. For the Governor’s budget to be sustainable going forward, we must avoid a rapid increase in debt payments and the higher interest costs that will result from a lower credit rating; and

(5) Ensure that all budget decisions are transparent and provide data upon which results can be measured. This is a concern when one party rule is combined with a news media that is now sympathetic rather than skeptical of government decisions. Taxpayers and citizens have a right to know how their money is spent and whether or not it is efficient and effective.

When the Governor’s budget is released and moves through the legislative process, it is unclear what level of involvement Republicans will be given. In order to meet the Governor’s promise of “One Maine,” Republicans need to be part of the solution.

Republicans will be willing partners in supporting the pro-growth economic and fiscal policies that are producing results for all Mainers. We will oppose a return to the irresponsible practices that left our bills unpaid, our accounts empty, state employees working without pay, taxpayers financially strapped and an economy in ruins.

Going into 2019, our State’s economy and budget is sound because of hardworking Mainers and Republican leadership. We will work responsibly to make it even stronger.  

Sincerely,
Rep. H. Sawin Millett (R-Waterford), a farmer and former educator, represents District 71: Norway, Sweden, Waterford and West Paris. He previously served six terms in the Legislature (104-105th and 121-124th) and has a lengthy public service career that includes service on the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and as Governor Paul R. LePage’s Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. 




Friday, February 15, 2019

Insight: Perfectly imperfect education

By Lorraine Glowczak

Mrs. Hensley walked through my second-grade classroom door every morning at, what seemed to me to be, the same time every day. “John and Sally*, you can go with Mrs. Hensley, now,” my teacher, Mrs. Dooley, would say to the two students if they were unaware of Mrs. Hensley’s presence.

I wondered where they went for an hour or two every day while I and the rest of my classmates sat at our desks that were lined in straight rows facing the front of the classroom. I always longed to go on whatever adventure they experienced once they walked through the doors into the hallway.

I loved school because I had many friends and Jefferson County North Elementary School in Winchester, Kansas was this seven/eight-year-old’s big social outlet. But the real purpose of attending school was not fun for me and I longed to escape the struggle. I wrestled with learning simple concepts and was mortified when my academic abilities, or the lack thereof, were exposed.

My wish to flee the difficult moments finally happened one day when Mrs. Hensley walked through the door and Mrs. Dooley said to me, “Lorraine, you get to go with Mrs. Hensley today.” I was ecstatic.

I discovered that John and Sally went outside to one of the mobile units that sat directly beside the red-brick school. I knew one side was for the Kindergarteners but didn’t know the designation for the other side of that mobile classroom. It was a mystery to me and my innate quest for adventure was satisfied at the chance to explore the unknown.

My seven-year-old self realized that it was a place that you got to learn in a fun and special way. Although hands-on and experiential education is mainstream in today’s curriculum, in 1973’s midwestern small town, USA, it was an innovative concept and the words “hands-on/experiential” were not uttered at that time among teachers and administration. I unknowingly got to participate in something that would become mainstream in future education.

Math and spelling were the subjects during my time spent in that mysterious side of the mobile unit. (Or was it one, three or more hours? Time escapes you as a child.) We went outside and gathered up snow. We measured it along with other ingredients and made snow ice cream. From there, we worked with worksheets. I just remember the numbers and spelling of words as it related to our experience making snow ice cream.

I excelled and felt smart. In fact, as the other two struggled – my heart went out to them – so I would help them. Or, I tried. Mrs. Hensley always interrupted me and focused my attention on something else. I didn’t understand why she kept interfering with my collaboration with them as they worked on their own, unsuccessfully. I was convinced they needed my assistance.

For the first time in my life (because, you have lived a very long life by the age of seven and eight), I loved learning. The subject matters that I struggled with didn’t intimidate me in those few hours. I was so excited about the experience that when Mrs. Hensley returned us to Mrs. Dooley’s classroom to be with the rest of our classmates, I burst in with excitement. “Hey, you guys – that was fun! We even made snow ice cream!” To which Mrs. Dooley sternly chastised me. “Lorraine. Sit down!”

I was disappointed the next day when Mrs. Hensley made her daily appearance to pick up John and Sally. I was told that I wouldn’t need to go with them anymore.

As an adult, I realize that I was a potential for Special Education since I didn’t quite fit into the mainstream – but since I excelled in Special Ed, I didn’t fit in there, either. I was most likely one of those students who would be classified as “falling through the cracks.”

Do I blame my teachers for not knowing what to do with me – the anomaly? Absolutely not. Was my educational experience perfect? No. However, I never once felt shamed by my teachers and I always felt supported. The educational staff may not have been perfect, but they were perfect at providing the best education they could with what they had. In fact, if it was not for the support my teachers gave to me, I wouldn’t be here today as a managing editor and writer of a local newspaper whose mission is positive and solution-based news, typing this Insight to introduce this publication’s education section.(be sure to check out page 7 and beyond in our online and print section, "Eagle Youth News").

Supporting our local school system and education is the reason we have decided to add this section in this week’s Windham Eagle newspaper. This is our first attempt and we plan to do more. We hope you check it out – but more importantly – we hope the students, teachers and administration feel the support we deeply wish to give. Afterall, education that happens today is what our future becomes. 

From my perspective, after having interviewed students in the Windham and Raymond communities who I had the opportunity to meet, we have a great future ahead of us and we have nothing to fear. Everything is going to turn out just fine.

*To honor their own journey in education, their names have been changed.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Insight: The sucker punch


Lorraine Glowczak

Has it ever happened to you? You read or hear something, and the words resonate like an echo for weeks afterward? That is exactly what happened to me after reading last week’s quote of the week by Harriet Tubman, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

Not only has that quote stayed with me all week, but it wore boxing gloves giving me a right hook to the jaw. “Am I a slave and don’t know it?” has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past five days, and in so doing, have been parrying the punches of reality.

Of course, I’m not referring to the word ‘slave’ in the traditional sense - one who is owned as the property of someone else, especially in involuntary servitude (i.e. human trafficking. This is a very real and important issue and my intention is to not downplay this practice).

The form of slavery I am describing is the one in which someone is completely subservient to a dominating influence. Many of us, if not all, are often controlled by a specified object such as money, technology, fear, fame, self-improvement, drugs or time. I know for certain that I’m held in ‘voluntary’ servitude to more than one of these forces. And much like Harriet Tubman stated, most often, I am totally unaware how much I recklessly keep myself dominated by these influences. (Until, that is, I see a hand in a boxing glove aiming toward my face.)

Frequently, we measure happiness by these things that keep us enslaved. For example, we sometimes work to obtain money versus working for satisfaction. We sometimes use technology to escape from the demands of every day life, only to find we have eliminated one on one contact with each other. And, sometimes the natural instinct to be cautious turns to fear, which can paralyze us, preventing movement forward into the unknown.

Money, technology, and fear are all useful resources and, without a doubt, help us to live fully. But if we are not paying attention, these things can also silently rob us of our freedom - the freedom to make a life, meet new people, and explore new thoughts and landscapes.

I wish I could offer some amazing solutions that can help prevent us from tripping and falling into that rabbit hole but, with perhaps the exception of a one-two punch in the face, most of these sorts of lessons are learned in our own individual ways, one step at a time. The awareness itself, may prevent us from falling too deeply into that trap.

The only possible solution I can suggest is to read some of the many wonderful self-improvement websites and books that are abundantly available. I have plenty of books to share with you. In fact, I have shelves and shelves and….Oh wait. I feel another right hook coming my way.

Blind Date with a book





For the month of February, the Windham Public Library, 217 Windham Center Road, will be sending patrons on a blind date with a book. Take a chance on a wrapped book—it might be the book of your dreams, or it might be a dud. Either way, you’ll have something to talk about! For every blind date you go on, you’ll be entered to win a jar of Hershey kisses.

Raymond Village Library now offers pass to Maine Maritime Museum


Are you looking for a fun way to spend one of our cold, snowy weekends? What about taking an educational trip the whole family could enjoy?

The Raymond Village Library recently received a generous gift, which allowed the library to acquire a family pass for the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Founded in 1962, the Maritime Museum is located on the banks of the Kennebec river in Maine’s own “City of Ships.” The museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits, in the case of a rare warm day this winter, as well as Mary E, a newly restored 1906 schooner. Maine wooden shipbuilding tradition is still thriving in the Maritime Museum’s working Boatshop, where families can chat with local craftsmen. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information about hours, exhibits, and attractions can be found on their website: www.mainemaritimemuseum.org

The family pass includes free general admission to the Maritime Museum for a family group of up to eight people. The pass can be signed out for a day of your choosing.

The Raymond Village Library also has free or reduced-price admission passes for the Southworth Planetarium, Portland Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, and the Maine Wildlife Park. Please contact the library with any questions at (207) 655-4283.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Insight: Love makes the world go round

By Lorraine Glowczak

Today is February 1 and we all know that February brings with it heart shaped candies, cupid, cards of sweet sentiments for those we love and candlelight dinners with our significant others (or perhaps with our close and dear friends). It’s the month of love – and some say it is what makes the world go around.

Diversity also makes the world go round
I believe this to be true. Well, sort of. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, one definition of love is, “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, i.e. maternal love for a child.” Another definition: “concern for the good and well-being of another”. This love, I think, may be the more accurate force that propels the circular motion of the earth.

And speaking of the concern for the good of another, February is also Black History Month. It is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States during the month of February. The concept originally began by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was the second black American who received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard.  He created Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in February 1926 to remember important people and events that played vital and contributing roles to history that were originally left out of the history books.

As a result of Woodson’s efforts, I was taught a more diverse and thorough history (well, perhaps I should clarify that I received more historical data than was available in 1926). The fact is, being exposed to African-American past narratives helped to develop in me a concern for the wellbeing of others and has facilitated an awareness of how diversity plays a role in our lives for the betterment of self and society.

Did you know that studies indicate that diversity can boost the quality of decision-making and can encourage people to be more creative, more diligent, and harder-working? Studies have also shown that a more diverse population can develop innovation, bring unique perspectives that shape knowledge and solve problems.

Writers like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglass Johnson, Claude McKay and musicians like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jimmy Lunceford and artists like Aaron Douglass, Richard Barthe, and Lois Jones were all people who captured images of American experiences not known by all. These diverse stories - spoken through words, sounds and images – inspire most of us to learn from the past and gain a greater understanding in present and future endeavors. 

So, what does this and Black History Month have to do with love – the concern for the good of another sort of love? Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is quoted as saying, “Knowledge gives us power, love gives us fullness.” Through history, education and the artistic endeavors, there is a greater potential of gaining diverse knowledge that creates a full and fulfilling life for all. And I think it’s possible that is the sort of love that makes the world go round.


Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

I am a resident of Windham and I want to thank the Windham Public Works for the great job they're doing on the roads. Twice a week I make the trip to Falmouth via Falmouth Road, and the difference between the Falmouth roads and the Windham roads is remarkable. Just this Tuesday when I made the trip, as soon as I crossed the line to Falmouth, the roads became snowy and icy, even though it hadn't snowed for over 48 hours. And on the return trip, as soon as I crossed the line back to Windham, I noticed clean roads once again. In addition, I live on a hilly street that is not densely populated, yet. I'm always impressed by the job that is done, keeping it well-sanded so we can easily traverse the hills. 

I can't imagine that it's an easy job to keep all our streets clean during and after these storms, so wanted to be sure Windham Public Works hears what a super job they are doing. Thank you!

Best wishes for warmth,
Melissa Condon


Friday, January 25, 2019

Insight: Comparing pork chops and applesauce


By Lorraine Glowczak

The other evening, my husband made me a wonderfully romantic dinner that consisted of baked porkchops, stuffed with brie and sliced apples, with a mixed roasted vegetable medley on the side. Great food and a loving husband. Feeling a little bit of envy at my luck in life?

Or, does your mind, as a result of watching too many reruns of the Brady Bunch, go directly to the episode where Peter Brady imitates Humphrey Bogart, mimicking Bogart’s vocal inflection to tell the family what they are having for dinner: “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” As a child growing up in the late 1960s and early 70s, I instantly fall into that linguistical catchphrase whenever the words “porkchops” and “apples” are used in the same sentence.     

For those who choose to spend their time more wisely and have not seen this Brady Bunch episode, Peter attempts to create a new persona for himself, after being told at a party that he is dull and has no personality. He tries Bogart on for size. Afterall, Bogart is far from boring.

Which brings me back to the original question. Did you feel a tinge of jealousy as I described the dinner made for me by my husband?

For the record, my point is not to bring out your envious nature but to shed light on how we may often compare ourselves with others. Like Peter, we all want to be a part of our social tribe and whether we believe we lack personality, don’t have enough money, don’t have that marble kitchen countertop or travel as much as we’d like; all things we deem important or believe successful, it’s human nature to compare ourselves - leading us into feelings of unnecessary despair.

It is no secret this comparison flaw has increased over the past ten years since the blossoming of social media. In fact, a new term, “Facebook depression”,  has been used to describe the loneliness and alienation one feels as a result of excessive social media use. Afterall, when you see photos of your friends having fun together at a party while you are sitting home alone, or a coworker standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or photos of delightful looking food your classmate is about to eat, it’s easy to compare others’ happy lives and believe the rest of us have somehow failed.

Short of cutting ourselves off from all social media or social contact, what are some steps we can take to limit our natural response to compare? In an online article she wrote for Psychology Today, medical doctor and wellness expert Susan Biali, M.D suggested: “avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds as much as possible [but instead], use social media purposefully, specifically choosing what you will look at and keeping it to a minimum.”

Additionally, she added, “have you given thought to how the things you post might negatively impact others? Could there be a way of posting and participating in social media which would be less curated, more real, and less about showing off?”

And speaking of showing off. I suspect that when I described the evening pork chop dinner; you had envisioned my husband and I sitting down together with candlelight and a glass of wine, talking and laughing, sharing the joy from our spectacularly happy day filled with adventure.

The reality was this: It was a long day at work and I got home very late, eating the meal by myself because my husband was already in bed. The only talking that happened that evening was with my beagle-lab mix who seemed annoyed at me repeating, “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” To top it off, the pork chop was tough from sitting in the oven too long.

Two days later, coming home late after a town council meeting, my husband was in bed but this time, he had not made me a meal. Instead, I made and ate one package of ramen noodles. Jealous now?




Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor,

Reporter Walter Lunt has a real talent catching the essence of people in his Before the Memory Fades column. After I read his stories on Dr. Sydney Branson, “Windham’s Last Country Doctor, and Edith Bell, “Fiercely Dedicated Servant of Church, Youth and Community”, I felt like I had drawn up my chair and had a great visit with both of them. Thank you, Walter, for bringing back so many memories of both people who were so important to Windham’s history.

Linda Griffin
Windham


Dear Editor,

I am writing to thank Governor Mills for acting so quickly to release the Senior Housing Bond. Her leadership on this critical issue will enable more Mainers to age in place through the building of new, affordable, accessible and safe homes for older Mainers. Additionally, funds will be dedicated to home repair and weatherization of existing homes, some of which are the oldest in the country. 

I was privileged to speak at the news conference at the State House on January 15th when Governor Mills spoke and then released the Housing Bond funds.  I spoke to the crowd about my dear friend, Loraine, who was unable to remain in her own apartment because, as she aged, she could no longer manage to climb stairs. She once fell while I was with her and was clearly in danger of serious injury if she remained where she was.  Thanks to a move into senior housing, she is now in a less expensive apartment that is on one floor which will enable her to live independently for years to come.

Loraine is one of many. There are nearly 10,000 older Mainers who have been waiting to move into affordable housing literally for years.  Mainers of all ages, but particularly older Mainers, need this investment in affordable, accessible, safe homes. Thank you, Governor Mills, for releasing the Bond, thank you Senator David Burns and Speaker Mark Eves for your leadership on the original bill, and thanks to every legislator and advocate who worked to make this happen.

Sammee Quong
AARP Maine Volunteer Advocate