Friday, May 17, 2019

Insight: The Minister of Loneliness

By Lorraine Glowczak

It wasn’t until I became involved in area age-friendly communities, that I was made aware of the very serious issue of social isolation and loneliness among the older population. But I had no idea the extent of this problem until I attended last Friday’s Institute for Integrative Aging program launch at Saint Joseph’s College (on front page).

“It [loneliness] is proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” stated Mark Robinson in a January 17, 2018 New York Times Article. Robinson is the chief officer of Age UK, Britain’s largest charity working with older people.

Social isolation and loneliness are so critical in Britain, that the Prime Minster recently appointed a Minster of Loneliness to their cabinet. Although it is true that social isolation and loneliness are challenges faced in the United Kingdom does not negate the fact that we are experiencing the same issues right here in the Lakes Region.

We are a rural area and, adding in the long cold winter months, it is easy for all us to retreat - especially the aging population. These individuals frequently live alone and, if they do have family, they often live in other states.

So, what steps can we take as a community to alleviate this problem? We’ll – luckily – Windham and Raymond areas are hosts to amazing people and organizations who strive to be there for one another. As such, below are organizations that provide activities for individuals who desire more social connections:

Lakes Region Senior Center at Little Falls Activity Center, 40 Acorn Street in Gorham
Age-friendly Raymond, Raymond Arts Alliance, Raymond Village Library and Raymond Village Community Church collaborate on a multitude of events. Call the library at: 207-655-4283
Windham Parks and Recreation. Phone: Call 892-1905
Saint Joseph’s College SilverSneakers®. Call 893-6627
Windham Public Library. Call 892-1908

There are also free weekly Monday Meals provided by area churches and organizations which can be found in our events calendar every week.

But what about those individuals who are physically, or otherwise, unable to leave their home to join in on the above mention activities.

Easily accessible transportation is a problem here in the Lakes Region and it is an issue we need to address. Much like the U.K.’s Minster of Loneliness whose directive is to confront the challenge and take action – we, too, can act as ministers of the Lakes Region, working together to find a way to solve this transportation challenge. In a recent interview with Peter Nielsen who heads the Institute of Integrative Aging at Saint Joseph’s, he mentioned this is a situation they are working diligently on.

Perhaps we can join in and collaborate with them to help solve this problem.

Although the term “minister” is often associated with religion and clergy – to minister can also mean to “care”, to “comfort”, and to “support”. Let’s all be ministers of loneliness to our community in the best ways we know how.

We each can visit someone we know who is home bound – or better yet, give them a ride. As I write and encourage you to do this, I often tell myself that I’m “too busy” to do this very thing. So, if you are “too busy”, too – let’s make a pact and do our best to be one of the many minsters of loneliness in the Lakes Region.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

WORDS FROM THE PAST

“Mr. President, I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition.  It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear.  It is a condition that comes from a lack of effective leadership either in the legislative branch or the executive branch of our government.  That leadership is so lacking that serious and responsible proposals are being made that national advisory commissions be appointed to provide such critically needed leadership.  I speak as briefly as possible because too much harm has already been done with irresponsible words of bitterness and selfish political opportunism.  I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured with eloquence.  I speak simply and briefly in a hope that my words will be taken to heart.  Mr. President, I speak as a Republican.  I speak as a woman.   I speak as a United States Senator.  I speak as an American”

Those words uttered by one of our late, great US Senators, Margaret Chase Smith on June 1, 1950 on the Senate floor.  Her words, I believe, sum up the state of governing today, particularly at the national level.  Not much has changed in sixty-nine years.  “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”  And repeat it we have.

Smith goes on, “I think that it is high time the United States Senate and its members do some real soul searching and to weigh our consciences as to the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America and to the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privilege.”  Voters need to do the same thing.

Senator Smith goes on to say: “As a United States Senator I am not proud of the way the Senate has been made a publicity platform for irresponsible sensationalism. I am not proud of the reckless abandon in which unproved chargers have been hurled from this side of the aisle. I am not proud of the obviously staged, undignified countercharges which have been attempted in retaliation from the other side of the aisle. As an American, I am shocked at the way republicans and democrats alike are playing directly into the design of confuse, divide, and conquer.”

I challenge all elected officials from our city and town halls, our statehouses, the White House, the People’s House to visit:  
http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/SmithDeclaration.pdf.  Read Senator Smith’s entire speech, then do some serious reflection to see where you fit.  You might find some wisdom in her words.

We must bring the discussion home. Home, to the founding of our country. Home, to remember the reason so many of our brothers and sisters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles died, so that we may live in freedom.  Freedom from government overreach.  Freedom to say what our beliefs are without fearing retribution.   We must if our Republic is to survive.

Jeffrey M. Pierce, Windham


Dear Editor,

This has been a bad year in Augusta. Rights are being removed at a dizzying pace. First Amendment, Religious Freedom and Parental Rights are attacked almost daily. Yes, elections matter. The winners get to set the committee members, agendas and schedules. The winners get to blast forward. This majority is blasting forward even when "the people" say stop. There is good news. I have seen a large increase in citizens getting involved. I also see them staying involved as they are not listened to. 

More good news? Raymond/Gray representative Susan Austin is on your side. Case in point, the LD 1025 Conversion Therapy bill. This bill alleges that minors are being tortured to change their gender.

In looking into this, it turns out there has never been a complaint in Maine history of this happening. Further, the proponents of the bill added "talk" into the category of torture. Thus, if a confused teenager is not sure of their sexual direction, this law would say a counselor, therapist would have to remain neutral. For parents reading this, how did that work out on any issue your kids struggle with - you staying neutral? So, a young child who thinks they might want to take strong medications and even remove body parts to stop the confusion would not be able to get any advice from professionals. 

In the discussions there were many examples of science thrown out for debate. One of the only verified notations was that many kids are confused as teens as to their gender and 80% of them return to their birthright by age 25. One women (who thought she was a man for most of her life) spoke about the pain she now suffers from having surgeries at a young age. Rep. Austin knew all these facts and that there was no record of complaint. She still acted to create a bill that would end the idea of a practice of conversion therapy before it even started. However, she understood the value of professionals and was not seeking to make cultural change so her bill simply stopped what you and I would see as torture. Her bill was the only bill that would stop conversion therapy, if it ever did occur. The majority froze her bill and just passed LD 1025 which takes away many rights and offers our children as sacrifices to a cultural revolution. My kids are adults, I am ok. I do feel for a society without hope, that is so open to destroy life at any level. I live in Raymond but Rep. Austin is not my representative. I admire representative Austin's faith, core values and respect for life. This would be a great time for you to get involved before we lose more rights.

Mike McClellan
Raymond, Maine


Friday, May 10, 2019

Insight: Imprinted memories of ordinary days

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was a cold sunny day in early January 2012 as I was running down Commercial Street in Portland to catch the ferry to Peak’s Island to meet with my writing group. As I was enjoying the winter’s early Saturday morning sun, my cell phone rang. It was my mom. 

Living 1500 miles apart from each other, talking on the phone was a constant habit. “Hey Mom,” I
began and then told her that I would not be able to talk long. It was a short call and I can’t remember everything we discussed but there is one thing she said that has been etched into my memory.

“Things aren’t good,” she said as we were about to end our call. Confused, I asked if it had to do with my brother and sister-in-law whom she was living with at the time. She was vague in answering my question, so I knew someone was in the room with her. “Are they sitting right there?” She confirmed they were. I had to purchase my ferry ticket, so we ended our conversation.

It was the last “normal” phone call we had. A few days later, on January 12, she was officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It had already spread to her lymph nodes and there were two golf ball sized tumors in her lungs. As soon as I could, I flew home to Kansas to be with her and my four brothers as we took care of her and said our goodbyes. She passed away 12 days later on January 24.

For those whose lives are nearing the end, it is often said that the things remembered most fondly are the ordinary and everyday events spent with the special people in our lives. Oddly, these seemingly mundane life experiences escape us in the moment, but after our loved ones pass – it’s those things that we recall with great depth.

For me and my mother, those moments include peonies, Big Macs and margaritas.

Peonies

My mother adored the big pastel colored peonies so much that she planted what seemed like a dozen bushes surrounding our house. During those early summer months when the flower was in full bloom, I would come home to one light pink blossom in a blue vase (that I now have) on the dining room table. The sweet floral scent that filled the air would always stop me in my tracks. That memory will forever be ingrained in my mind. 

Big Macs

I’m a sort of a food snob these days, but during my teenage years when I was a back-sliding vegetarian, once a week my mom would treat herself and me to a Big Mac after grocery shopping. We often would laugh and talk – about what – I don’t remember. But the memory of us together in an ordinary moment, rest gently in my heart (as probably the fat from those Big Macs I ate.)

Margaritas

As I grew into adulthood, we gave up the Big Mac’s and switched to margaritas (on the rocks with salt.) But that is the only thing that changed. We still laughed and talked – about what – I don’t know. But I remember it as if it were yesterday.

For Mother’s Day celebration this year, I wish you all mundane moments with your own moms this Sunday – so that you too can have imprinted memories of ordinary days of a well lived life with those you love. 

Happy Mother’s Day!


Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

As a three-year breast cancer survivor, I recently testified in support of the bi-partisan group of bills which address prescription drug affordability and accessibility.

Due to various side effects, there is only one drug I can tolerate that treats my specific type of cancer and I need to take it for at least five years. It started out at $789 a month. I am on year three and it’s down to $365 a month which is $12.19 per pill.  I know people in this same drug class group who are getting the same medication, same dose and everything, for $30 a month. 

My friends in other countries on the same drug cannot believe the prices we have to pay.  I’m not complaining – I’m glad I am able to afford the medication – but we need a better control system so all of us can afford these drugs that we need in order to stay healthy.  In some cases, these drugs are literally keeping us alive.

The truth is, at the end of the day we all pay, even if we have insurance. As the cost of the drugs go up, insurance pays more and eventually so do the patients by way of additional co-pays and higher premiums and deductibles. 

Pharmaceutical companies won’t help us. So, I turn to our state legislators, to stand up for Mainers everywhere and to fight these terrible costs that in some cases cost us our lives. We shouldn’t be choosing between cutting our pills in half and going without food. You know and I know that thousands of Mainers are doing just that. It is time to stop the prescription drug price-gouging and demand a better way to keep these necessary medications within reach. Please pass these bills and let’s make this difference together.

Mary Ann Cumming


Friday, May 3, 2019

Insight: Hope and the moon


By Lorraine Glowczak

“If we have the capability and intelligence to land on the moon, how come we haven’t found a cure for (fill in the blank)?”

I often hear that question posed in references to cancer, ALS or other incurable diseases. I must admit; I wonder about that, too as we enter the month of May which is brain cancer and ALS awareness month. (Be sure to read Julie Brown’s article on page 7).

In the past year, I have either known or been aware of at least three people who passed away from brain cancer (all under the age of 35) and had one very close friend whose life was taken at the age of 36 from ALS. Although I haven’t physically been affected by these issues, I have watched them unfold and feel utterly helpless…..and sometimes, hopeless.

I know there have been positive strides to cure these horrible diseases, but for those of us who have witnessed loved ones lose their lives, the advances are not coming fast enough.

So, I’m curious – after billions of funds raised and many years of research, why hasn’t there been a cure for one or more of these dreadful maladies?

After doing a bit of research - the long and short of it is– cancer and other diseases are very complex beasts. According to the World Wide Cancer Research Center website, “Cancer is an evolving disease. Over time in every patient, cancer cells undergo a myriad of molecular and genetic changes. These changes shift what the cancer cells look like and how they behave. It makes them more resilient, more aggressive….

And, it seems that studying the mechanisms of ALS are much like studying cancer. It’s a constantly moving target and the mysteries of the human body are as vast as space itself. But should we let the unpredictable nature of cancer cells and ALS tarnish our hope for a future cure despite the odds?

There are some advances that, although are not cures, offer some optimism. For cancer there is:  genomic medicine, immunotherapy and the emerging field of cancer stem cells. For ALS there is Radicava and BrainStorm’s treatment program. And, perhaps just importantly – hope is always available to us if we so choose. Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all…”

With hope, we can meet the challenges. With hope we gain an inner strength we did not know was possible. With hope, we can take more thoughtful actions. Where there is hope – there is life. And, it is conceivable that with the collective hope from all of us who have gathered under the darkness of the incurables – we can shoot for the moon – landing among the stars that will lead to a cure. 

Someday. Somehow.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Thousands of Mainers take prescription drugs, and many struggle to afford them. I am one of those people.  My only source of income is my Social Security and that barely covers my monthly expenses.

I am a retired nurse.  I know how the healthcare system works. Despite research and multiple conversations with my doctors about any available alternatives, I can barely afford the life-saving medications I need.  I have several chronic diseases that affect my lungs and my liver.  Sometimes I have to skip doses which causes terrible side effects.

The other side effect is my quality of life.  The cost of these drugs is so high that I have to ration my food.  I cannot visit my own children who live out of state because I cannot afford the trip.  I am only 72 years old and this is not how I imagined my “golden years” would be.  Yet, I know there are many other people who are far worse off than I am.

Americans pay more for prescription drugs than any other country in the world. The Pharma executives don’t care at all that the cost of their drugs is ruining people’s lives. They care about their profits.  Sometimes it feels like they are trying to weed us out.

It’s time to make our voices heard.  I went to Augusta on April 17th to testify before the Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services regarding a package of bills to address Rx drug cost and accessibility.  Please, call your state legislators.  Call your members of Congress.  If you are as outraged as I am by the cost of prescription drugs, please speak up now.  We need our representatives to take a stand and we need Pharma to take responsibility.

Ellen Harris-Howard


Dear Editor,
In researching and trying to understand the proposed CMP transmission line that would bring electricity to the people of Massachusetts, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, I came across some facts I was not aware of or hadn’t considered.  The corridor would fragment what is now, the largest contiguous temperate forest in North America. It would cross 724 lakes, ponds, and wetlands and the chemical spraying necessary to maintain the corridor would impact each and every one of them. Roads associated with the project would cross 184 streams in the heart of the last stronghold of wild brook trout in the United States.  

The corridor also not only destroys habitat for wildlife and jeopardizes water, it endangers Maine’s renewable energy future.  New renewable projects that would provide real, provable greenhouse gas benefits would not be able to hook up to the grid due to congestion from Hydro-Quebec electricity imports.  

Despite its massive marketing campaign, CMP has not provided any evidence that its transmission corridor will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions rather, is it possible that this project may simply allow Hydro-Quebec to shift sales from existing customers to a more lucrative market in Massachusetts?  Maine does not have to make these inordinate sacrifices for the sole benefit of the State of Massachusetts, a State with far more wealth and resources to develop their energy solutions than Maine. The CMP transmission corridor is the largest proposed industrial project in Maine in decades. It has the capability to harm Maine’s clean water, its wildlife, its tourism workers, and its clean energy future. 

Mainers will gain nothing from this project but a spoiled environment upon which their economy, vitally depends.  It is truly, ultimately, a detrimental project for the State of Maine.  Please make your opinion known at NECEC.DEP@maine.gov and Governor@maine.gov.

Mary-Therese Duffy
Raymond


Dear Editor,

About eight years ago, my family purchased a home in North Windham, ME. It is a family home, and grandparents, parents and grandchildren enjoy the pleasures of the Maine environment. We boat, hike, ski and bicycle together whenever we are able.

My husband and I are exceedingly interested in fitness and exercise. Cycling the Sebago to the Sea Trail in Windham has been a primary source of pleasure for all of us. This past week, a note was placed on our car window at the South Windham Post Office notifying us that we are no longer able to use the Post Office parking lot because, “ drivers who use that lot and have dogs, do not pick up after their pets on the Trail.”  We had a bike rack on our car, but definitely did not have a dog along with us.

I am perplexed and dismayed by a Federal Office painting everyone with such a broad brush and eliminating a service due to others’ disregard for the common courtesy.  The streets in Windham are dangerous for cycling. The Sebago Trail is a wonderful way to ensure the safety of all ages by using a facility that removes the possibility of a very serious accident on very busy roads and highways. Yes, dog waste is a problem everywhere, and signs should be posted along the trail to remind walkers and bikers of this nuisance and esthetic displeasure.  However, to remove convenient parking to eliminate this problem is not the solution.  What it does is to punish the innocent for a crime they did not commit.  Honestly, at that Post Office, we have never seen more than three or four cars at any time.  

People who live along the trail enter from various entrances that bisect the trail in many different locations.  They do not have to drive anywhere, it is just a convenient location for entry.

I hope the Post Office reconsiders this harsh edict.  It puts obstacles in the path of Windham residents. The use of this trail which took many years to build and is not yet finished is a wonderful asset to all who love the outdoors.  Let’s support the right of all neighbors to use this trail, while at the same time respecting the rights and wishes of others.

Respectfully,
Carole Davis, Windham, ME





Friday, April 26, 2019

Insight: The viper’s tail


By Lorraine Glowczak

For someone who is profoundly fearful of snakes, I am also incredibly fascinated by them and know more about the spine-chilling serpents than I’d prefer.

Recently, I learned that there are some snakes, such as vipers and adders, who use a technique that entices their prey, drawing them near for a quick catch. I watched a video that captured a viper in action who had changed the appearance of his tail into a plump spider walking along a rock. I don’t know if it was a sparrow, swallow, black bird or crow that dove down to eat her spider look-a-like lunch, but she was in for a surprise to discover that it was she who was the tasty snack.
Credit: reptiles4all/shutterstock

This clever skill used by vipers and adders is called caudal luring. And - if we are not careful…..life’s version of caudal luring can play a role in our own lives, causing us to take a detour on our personal goals, and thus, preventing us from diving fully into living our dreams.

If we are lucky – we may only get side-tracked for just a bit. This is not so bad because it creates an opportunity to learn from the experience and continue forward with more awareness. For the most part, this is real life and it’s okay to fumble. I think they call it humanhood.

However, if we are not paying attention, the lure of life’s many requests – whether they be family, work and community demands or paying our monthly bills – may consume (or eat) us, and thus stop us in our tracks, causing us to lose our way indefinitely.

I’ll use myself as an example. I have three goals, when combined, feel like one dream destination. They are:

1)     Working together with our team of writers, layout editor, ad manager, staff and publisher, I am determined to create this small-town news source, The Windham Eagle, as an award-winning Maine newspaper that is locally owned with no ties to a publishing conglomerate. I know – it is a lofty goal. But before you might scoff, I invite you to talk to my family and friends who have witnessed my journey thus far.

2)     To be an author who is published in mainstream media. Afterall, one would presume that it would add a bit of credibility in order to obtain goal number one.

3)     Travel, travel and travel. And….more travel. Besides offering stress reduction, lowering the risk of depression and boosting happiness, studies have indicated that travel increases creativity. And thus – an important contribution to goals two and three.

At the beginning of the year, I was very clear about these three goals. As we enter into the last week of April, the first quarter of 2019, I have been forced to re-evaluate my journey. In just four short months, I have had more than one close call with that viper’s tail.

I share this with you because I want to help you live your dreams and goals fully, warning you that there are objects out there that may appear as stepping stones toward your destination – but, in fact, may capture and devour you. I also share this story as a form of accountability on my own part.

So, the next time we run into each other, feel free to ask, “Any close calls with the viper’s tail, lately?”


Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor,

I would like to let your readers know that there will be a Windham Community Garden Open House Saturday, May 4th from 9 a.m. to noon.

The open house is not only for our gardeners but anyone who would like to learn more about the garden. Please come and tour the garden and get any questions you might have answered. 

We are also looking for new members for our Garden Committee so if your interest lies there then come by and find out more. Bottom line is, we are very proud of our garden and our gardeners, so everyone is welcome.  We are located on route 202, Gray Rd next to the public safety building and the skate park. You can also find us at windhamcommunitygarden.org.

Hope to see you there on Saturday, May 4 (rain date is Saturday, May 11).

Marge Govoni,
Windham Community Garden Committee 


This letter was written to Windham Middle School Health Teacher, Eliza Adams from one of her students. We have been asked to print it in our editorial page. This was in response to a question Ms. Adam's had asked the class regarding what they had learned about the use of drugs and why they would choose not to use drugs.

Dear Ms. Adams,

The information that I have learned during this class has had a tremendous impact on the way I view drugs. I have so much more knowledge about how drugs affect our brain and why we should avoid them. One reason I am determined to stay away from drug use is that they negatively affect your mental health and if you use them for a long period of time, it will cause depression because the chemicals in the drugs replace the natural serotonin in your brain, making you almost unable to feel happy when you are not high. Another reason I'm going to avoid drugs is that when you're addicted to drugs, things that you used to enjoy will no longer make you good. The drug is the only thing that will bring you pleasure. I enjoy doing many things such as: painting, drawing, gardening, and hiking.

I want to continue feeling happiness while doing these things and if I started doing drugs, I would no longer feel that. One other reason I wish to avoid drugs is because they have negative effects on your overall health. Drugs that you smoke damage your lungs, drugs damage your brain, drugs effect your memory, and there are so many more ways that they damage your body and health overall. Also, I will never try drugs because of the addiction. Many drug addicts feel that their entire lives revolve around the use of drugs and that they cannot live without it. I would never want a substance to have that much power over me. I refuse to allow these chemicals to have power over me and force me to do unimaginable things. In conclusion, I am determined to avoid using drugs due to the negative impact it has on your health and brain.

Alana Grant, grade 8


Friday, April 19, 2019

Insight: I don’t believe that at all

By Lorraine Glowczak

Earth Day is this coming Monday, April 22. Before that, on Sunday, there will be a Peace Vigil at the rotary in Windham with the intention to create positive social change (see front page for detail). 

Because I have been told I “where my heart on my sleeve” and that I am an “open book” - I suspect those of you who read my weekly Insights most likely know where I stand on these issues. (Hint: When I tell people that I have some conservative perspectives on life and in politics, I usually receive a hardy laugh followed by, “I don’t believe that at all.”)

Instead of sharing with our readers my own perspectives on Earth Day and my preferences for peace,
I decided it might be interesting to discover why we tend to lean toward one perspective over another. Of course, this is just an editorial where no more than 500 words are allowed and is not an academic analysis, so - obviously, I will not be able to offer any real answers. But I did discover something interesting about personal perspectives and the human tendency to not stray far from our subjective viewpoints.

In an] NewYorker.com article entitled “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” written by Elizabeth Kolbert, the author showcases a few studies about confirmation bias - the tendency we all have to embrace information that supports our beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. In one example, Kolbert writes about the results of a study:

… researchers rounded up a group of students who had opposing opinions about capital punishment. Half the students were in favor of it and thought that it deterred crime; the other half were against it and thought that it had no effect on crime.

The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who’d originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who’d started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who’d opposed it were even more hostile.”

Kolbert pointed out that when the study participants’ beliefs had been totally refuted, they failed to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs.


I know for a fact that I am no different than the group of students mentioned above. Admittedly, I do my best at honing in on my confirmation bias skills. But I do hope from time to time – any tunnel vision I may have will cease – if only temporarily – taking in facts that I would normally dispute. 

Who knows what can happen if you open doors to other views. Perhaps I will learn to relish the music my husband listens to and enjoy the foods he eats. I’d run home and tell him now about my newfound approach to life – but I suspect I’d be met with a belly laugh – followed by, “I don’t believe that at all.”

Happy Earth Day and peace be with you!

Student of the Week: Caylan Kinney


Caylan Kinney, age 13 and a student at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Kinney states that she enjoys participating in soccer, basketball, softball and skiing. When there is down time, her favorite pastime is sleeping.

“Caylan is the perfect example for her classmates,” began teacher, Mrs. Fieldsend. “She is polite, engaged in class activities and discussions, and asks questions to clarify content as well as to deepen the discussion of the topic being explored.” Ms. Merrill added, “Caylan is a very dedicated student.  She always stays on task and is always respectful.”

Kinney stated that teachers who can relate with the students is what makes learning fun in her opinion. Her favorite subject is English, and her favorite movie is the “Office” T.V. show.



Friday, April 12, 2019

Insight: The wisdom of Willie Nelson

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is true. We all make mistakes. However, there are moments when we might feel like we drown in constant oversights because we fumble more than “average” (whatever average is). 

For me, that has been this past week. It has been nothing but a big ball of errors – one right after
another. You know it’s a bad week when you write an email to your state senator apologizing for a badly written article that included him. And that’s just the beginning of my super blunder powers.

So, you can imagine my curiosity when I walked into Windham Primary School’s Kindergarten classroom to hear teacher, Jen Key, state to her students. “Our brains grow every time we make mistakes.” (Be sure to see the article on page 6 of The Windham Eagle Newspaper).

I must have a 200-pound brain by now. Is that the reason my neck aches?

I had to do some research to verify Key’s statement and I discovered a few things. There seems to be some scientific evidence that this is true. According to an online article by Barry Boyce on mindful.org, there is, …..”slowly growing body of research [that] suggests our common aversion to failure is itself a failed strategy. Being curious about our mistakes is the royal road to learning.”

Boyce stated further that research, beginning in 2011, suggests that this aversion [mistakes are bad] can be a cause of poor learning habits. “The research suggested that those of us who have a “growth mindset”—believing that intelligence is malleable—pay more attention to mistakes and treat them as a wake-up call, a teachable moment. By contrast, those who adopt a “fixed mindset,” believing intelligence is static, shut down their brain in response to negative feedback, and thereby miss one of the key opportunities to learn.”

So, how does country singer, Willie Nelson fit into this story and provide the wisdom I needed? The email response I received from my cowboy boot wearing senator stated his reaction to my apology: “Not to worry - as the Willie Nelson songs goes, ‘I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong’.”

Recognizing when we make mistakes, admitting them and using them as teachable moments to educate ourselves is one way to move forward in life – using what we learn to become better at what we do, contributing to a more mindful approach to life.

What is the other possible way to move forward? Forgiveness. From yourself and – perhaps with a bit of groveling and gift certificates to Dunkin’ Donuts – forgiveness from others.


Letter to the Editor


Editor’s note: We received this letter via Be The Influence. The letter was sent directly to the Windham Middle School and Windham High School principals. The author of the letter gave us permission to print it in this week’s editorial.

Dear Drew and Ryan,

I am reaching out to you both today not only as a parent of three middle school students in the district, but through my professional capacity at the American Cancer Society. Yesterday, my colleagues at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network held their annual Day at the Capitol event at the State House. 

This is a day where we gather as advocacy volunteers to speak with our elected officials about important pieces of legislation that have an impact on the health of Maine residents, specifically when related to cancer. One of those pieces of legislation is LD 1028, “A Comprehensive Approach to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use in Maine”. This comprehensive bill will allow for opportunities to increase tobacco prevention, education and cessation. Back in the fall, I attended the panel discussion at WMS presented by Mrs. Adams seventh-grade health class to learn about the impact of e-cigarette use/vaping has within their age group and peers. It was through the success of that event that we extended this opportunity to Mrs. Adams and her students, Laura Morris, Mr. Daigle and some of the high school ambassadors to join us in Augusta. 

I am so very impressed with how well all of these students represented our district. They were well prepared to speak on behalf of the impact that nicotine products (especially e-cigarettes) have on the pre-teen/teen population and they shared insightful thoughts of how to perhaps get ahead of this public health problem. The students met with Senator Bill Diamond, Representative Mark Bryant and Representative Patrick Corey to talk about what they witnessed within their peer groups and how the tobacco industry is using tools to market to them. These students were well prepared with facts and data from what they learned in the classroom and through their collaboration with the Be the Influence Coalition. It was great to see the role reversal and watch the students educate our elected officials about the impact tobacco products have within their age groups. This group of students embody what it means to be tobacco prevention champions and I truly believe their voices made a difference.

I heard so many positive comments, both today and yesterday, from senators/representatives, partners and ACS CAN volunteers of how impactful having youth engaged in this important topic is. As administrators, you should be proud of the students and your staff for the positive representation of RSU14. It is evident that your staff go above and beyond to not only teach their students but truly care about the current and future well-being of them. Yesterday was an excellent “hands-on learning opportunity” about the legislative process and how impactful our voices are in decision making process in Augusta. I was not in the gallery with the students when they received recognition and a standing ovation from the entire legislative body while watching the legislative process in action. But I heard it was fantastic!

Sincerely,
Nicole Heanssler



Friday, April 5, 2019

Insight: Brilliance and Broccoli

By Lorraine Glowczak

Taking a break from Netflix this past weekend, I came across a documentary on PBS that highlighted various women who were successful in their own ways. One person made an exceptional impact on me from that film. Her name is Sara Blakely.

Blakely is the creator of Spanx, a brand of leggings and undergarments. Although her story about creating a trademark clothing by “accident” is interesting and I admire her journey as a successful and wealthy entrepreneur – those are not the things that grabbed my attention. It was one sentence she uttered that stopped me in my tracks. Paraphrasing, she said something like, “Sometimes you have to keep moving forward with perseverance and determination while at the same time, not having all the answers.”

I thought that statement was brilliant. If anything, it was what I needed to hear at that moment.

You see - there is a small group of individuals of which I am a part who are working to establish a non-profit in the area that would help assist those facing hardships in one particular and much needed way. We are reaching out to other groups to pitch our idea with hopes of gaining support – and to be a part of this non-profit.

This is a huge undertaking and I often feel intimidated by the process. In fact, I have my moments when panic sets in and I want to put on the brakes, jump out of the car and run away as fast as I can.

That experience happened last Sunday as one of my cohorts and I presented our idea to another group. We did the best to provide answers to the many thoughtful questions we received. 

Unfortunately, there were a lot more questions than we had answers. After about a half hour of doing our best to provide the most intelligent responses we could muster, one gentleman in the crowd said, “I say we bring this idea to our whole group for consideration. We obviously are not going to know all the answers but it’s like broccoli. You try it and see if you like it.”

Another brilliant statement spoken by another brilliant person. His justification relieved a bit of the terror I was feeling at the moment. In fact, he made me laugh. “Can I steal that analogy,” I asked him. (Fair warning. I’m serious if I ask you that question. Be careful what you say around me – I’m a writer who is required to pen an Insight/Editorial every week, and that too, can be challenging. So, I have to steal my ideas from whomever and wherever I can.)

With all joking aside, the endeavor we are trying to pull off is no easy feat. But, for whatever reason, I believe in it. As a result, I continue to move forward in this effort, despite my pounding heart. You could say I, along with the others who are considering this big venture, are hanging on the coattails of perseverance and determination even though we don’t have all the answers.

I for one, love broccoli.

Student of the Week: Morgan Clark


Morgan Clark, age nine and a third-grade student in Mrs. Earle’s classroom at Windham Primary School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Clark states that she enjoys participating in soccer and during her free time, she likes to hang out with her friends or take a nap.

Principal, Dr. Rhoads selected Clark for her active participation in school. “She is dedicated and committed member to the Terracycle Club, which collects household items that are returned to a company that pays for these items,” explained Rhoads. “The funds are used for technology at our school.”

Clark stated that her greatest accomplishment thus far has been her experience with REACH testing and she finds that learning is fun when she is challenged. The person who has meant the most to Clark in her educational experience is her Literacy Teacher, Miss Tompson.

Clark lives at home with her mom, dad, her sister Ashley and her dog Shiloh.

Favorite subject:  Math
Favorite movie: “A Dog’s Way Home”
Favorite holiday:  Easter




Friday, March 29, 2019

Insight: The acumen of Atticus

By Lorraine Glowczak

What is it that makes Atticus Finch, the character played by Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird” so admirable? Have you ever heard anyone say, “I really can’t stand that Finch character - he adds nothing to the story.”?

image: Universal Studios
For those who have read the book (or watched the film), we are aware of the wisdom Atticus imparts to, not only his children, but to all of Maycomb, Alabama. Among the many lessons learned, he teaches all of us to consider another’s point of view, exhibit moral courage, and that hate doesn’t serve a purpose. He imparts his knowledge, not only in words but in his actions. As Calpurnia told Scout and Jem, Atticus was “the same in his house as he is on the streets.”

We cheer Atticus when he stands up for an innocent man despite how he and his family are treated as a result, we want to fight for him when Bob Ewell spits in his face, and we adore this single parent’s ability to be loving, and yet firm, with his children. If we admire Finch so much, why don’t we emulate and incorporate his wisdom into our own lives more?

I, for one, don’t do a very good job at following the acumen of Atticus. I can write about my admiration of wise and thoughtful actions of people around the world all day long, but to live it – that’s whole other can of worms (and yes, mockingbirds eat worms).

If I look at other areas of my life where I might do a better job at the imitation of others, I realize that, as a younger writer, I did my best to mimic the routines and writing habits of successful authors. I always create a room/space based upon the advice of Virginia Wolfe, I write when I feel like it or not as advised by Khaled Hosseini and – per Stephen King – I don’t obsess over perfect grammar.

Although I’m far from the success of these famous authors, I have come a long way by emulating their habits and advice. I may not write for the New York Times (yet) – but I do write for The Windham Eagle newspaper and have at least one or two fans! That’s more than when I started!

Seeing how emulating my favorite authors propelled me into my own world of writing, what would happen if I incorporated the wisdom of Atticus Finch into my life with small steps. What if, every time I feel a little fear about something I believe is important, I exercise the muscle of courage – and step into it. What’s the harm in trying?

I suspect mimicking Atticus will never be easy – but as he said, “You’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway.”



Editorial poem


Fourteen-year-old Masha Yurkevich, an eighth-grade student at Windham Middle School, has submitted the following poem. May her positive perspective and wisdom inspire you to live a life of meaning and peace.

                   
If I will...
By Masha Yurkevich

If I will have wrinkles,
let them be from too much smiling.

If I will have bad vision,
let it be from looking at good for too much.

If I will be starved,
let it be from me feeding all you the good I've had.

If I will have broken bones,
let them be broken because I have taken the pain that would've gone to you.


If I will be weak,
let me be weak from being too strong.

When I will die,
let me die because I have done enough good here.



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.