Sunday, June 28, 2015

Insight - Women in Business - By Michelle Libby

Last week I attended my first Women’s Outlook on Maine Business Forum at Saint Joseph’s College and put on by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Kim Block was there as emcee, but in addition there were tons of local business women. The event has been around for many years started by Sheri Huff, who was recognized as the 2015 Woman in Maine Business Leadership Honoree for her years of help in the region. She started the community coin challenge, which this year became the Feed The Need campaign. Congratulations to Sheri. 

Panel speakers were Deb Bergeron, a personal and professional life coach, Sarah Guerrette, director of Women’s Business Center at Coastal Enterprises, Inc., Judy Crosby, director of The DaVinci Experience and Emily Straubel, an accountability coach and writer. 

Each speaker had a little different perspective on success in life and in business. 

Deb spoke about her “inner mean girl,” who was constantly causing her to doubt herself and told her that she couldn’t be successful. She believes that everyone needs to have an action plan. Her advice to new business owners is “Be patient and ask for a lot of help.” 

Emily was concerned with goals and having goals that were purposeful. If you don’t have a connection to the goals, they aren’t going to be met. “Relying on willpower is not going to do it,” she said. “Create a goal that you have an attachment to,” she said. Emily also believes that creativity is everything. Every day should be lived with a “What am I going to do today to get closer to my goals in life?” question. Emily also recommended that women work to have a passive business income. Learn how not to be an employee in your business, she said. 

Judy, who owns a science summer camp for children, has had her own successes and stumbling blocks. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she told the audience. She recommends for new business owners to take adult education classes locally. She also said it is a good idea to have a business plan. When asking for help or making a presentation, know your audience so you can speak their language.  

Sarah spoke about the resources that are out there for women in business and through her company, women can learn what is needed to start their own business from start to success. 

Having never been in the business world before The Windham Eagle, seminars like this are always an eye opening experience for me. I love that women come together to learn and share successes. I believe that any of the women there would step up to help any of the other attendees if asked. That’s the kind of world I’d like to be in. 

The icing on the cake at this event was the wait staff, provided by the chamber. A few of the male board members served wine, lunch and helped to make the event a wonderful experience for everyone.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Insight - Box store in Windham - By Michelle Libby

At the planning board meeting Monday night, it was put forth that a big box store wanted to build on Route 302 between the rotary and the Big Apple store and gas station. Sights like that are not unusual in North Windham near the shopping center, but that far out, buildings have more character and fit in with the landscape. Lucky for us the planning board and Linda Griffin from the historical society and Pleasant River Properties were paying attention for us and in the end asked the Dollar General to come back to the planning board with a better look for the area of Windham they are building in. 

Other businesses away from North Windham have attractive buildings with sloped roofs, cupolas and decorated with flowers. Mercy Windham has an attractive look, as does Windham Automotive and Hancock Lumber. All are trying to fit in with the pastoral land around them. 

A 9,100 square foot building is going to change the look of that parcel of land that once was slated to be a water park. I understand, and I think most of us get that change happens and progress moves us forward, but as we have heard from the planning office and the 21st Century Downtown Plan, that wants to fix up the North Windham corridor to make it look more Maine with trees, buildings with character and sidewalks. 

The information on the proposal is available online and most of the planning board meetings have been recorded for future viewing. 

Windham belongs to all of us and we need to speak up if we see things that shouldn’t be happening or development that is not in our best interest. Thank you to Linda and the planning board who were willing to speak up for Windham’s best interest. Will you speak up too?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Insight - Advice for parents on the eve of graduation - By Michelle Libby

Last year at this time I was running from place to place trying to keep up with my senior and all of the exciting activities she had. This year, I’m watching other parents run from event to event. I’ve learned a lot this past year, some of it hard, some of it exciting and all of it an experience. 
These are some of the things I’ve learned.
1.      Facetime is a great invention. Parents can see their child, and the child’s room, and the food they are eating, and meet all their friends, no matter how far away they are.
2.      Parents can’t control everything their kids do while at college.
3.      When there’s an issue with a class or a professor, parents can’t send an email or call the teacher. It’s just not done.
4.      Sometimes it’s better to laugh than cry.
5.      Majors are made to be changed, if it’s not the right fit.
6.      Colleges can be changed and more often than not kids transfer schools after the first year.
7.      There is a steep learning curve once a student gets to the college campus. Social and educational.
8.      Keeping the lines of communication open is important for when issues do arise.
9.      Sometimes it’s good to have your child far away so you can’t drive there for a hug or to deliver homemade cookies on a whim.
10.  Nothing is better than having your child come home over vacations with stories, experiences and a boatload of dirty laundry.

I’ve learned a lot about being a helicopter parent and how to not get involved in situations my child should be able to take care of. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is a different path for everybody. The path I took isn’t necessarily the right path for my daughter and her path won’t be the right path for my son. Everything is a learning process. Every experience is there for a purpose. 

Enjoy graduation, it’s an exciting time. Be safe. Be smart. Be well. Congratulations to the class of 2015 from The Windham Eagle!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Insight - Wellness Fair brings like-minded people together - By Michelle Libby

This past Saturday, I spent the morning at the first annual Windham Wellness Fair. What’s a wellness fair? It’s a place where practitioners from the area, from massage therapists and Reiki masters to natural cooking companies and even the Windham Public Library, joined together to share their talents and skills. People were given Reiki sessions, I had a psychic reading (for lack of a term) with Georgana Prudhomme, who was amazing and put my mind at ease about a few things that were on my mind.
The fair was organized by Bob Beane and Lisa DeFosse. Visitors were treated to healthy snacks and the opportunity to receive services free or for low cost. 

The world, and healthcare specifically, is changing and people are more in touch with natural ways to heal themselves, said DeFosse, a massage therapist in Windham. We now hear more and more about preventative care, rather than reactive care, where we end up in the hospital. 

Chiropractor Mark Wasowski from Windham Chiropractic had a popular table doing posture analysis. There were also crystals for sale and door prize drawings for all who attended. (I won one.) Laurel Parker from The Windham Public Library brought a selection of books chosen especially for this event, and her table had self-help books, nutrition books and other topics.

Michelle Bolen, LCSW, did a demonstration on neurofeedback, which drew a large crowd and encouraged the organizers to consider adding more demonstrations for next year.  

Organizers of the event were pleased with the turn out, they said, and hope to have an even bigger event next year with exciting breakout demonstrations. They are looking for more practitioners to join them on the wellness fair committee. They are also looking to start an integrative health care networking group here in Windham. The first meeting is scheduled for June 12, at 6 p.m. at the Windham Public Library, 217 Windham Center Road, and all are welcome. For more information, contact Bob Beane at

If you’ve never been to a wellness fair before, I recommend you check them out. The people are friendly and you never know what you might learn.

Michelle Libby