Friday, January 26, 2018

Insight: Understanding life backward by Lorraine Glowczak

As I write this, it’s early Wednesday morning on January 24 and today marks the anniversary of my mother’s passing six years ago. 
I think of her often and I especially think of her today. 

As most people who are left behind to move on, I often reflect upon the ways I could have done things differently as a daughter – even though my mother thought I was perfect.

Looking back, there is one thing I am happy I did. One year, as a Christmas gift to my four brothers and their families, I wrote a brief story of my mother’s life. This was not only a gift to my siblings but also a way to make concrete the stories she always shared verbally. Although it wasn’t my initial intention, this little family book pleased her. And in doing so, it honored her.

It’s been 30 years since I wrote that small family keepsake which is now buried deep in storage. I’m sure I learned a few things about life in general as it was written, but now that I’m older, her stories come back to visit me from time to time. When they do, it stirs memories of long ago that help me appreciate and understand more of my life today. 

Author and legacy consultant Rachel Freed stated in her article, “The Importance of Telling Our Stories” that stories connect the past and present to the future. “Our stories and our learning from them honors and respects our ancestors and us. They can awaken future generations to their potential.”

Like my mother’s story did for me and my brothers, it is my hope that the story Elizabeth “Liz” Wisecup shared with our readers (see front page, “Untold story of a local nurse”), may shed some light on your own journey in life, now and in the future. Perhaps in the sharing of how she witnessed the nursing profession change during her career, her story can remind us to pay attention to each moment – not only does time travel quickly but it is ever changing. What is today is not necessarily going to be tomorrow. 

Most of us know the words of Soren Kierkegaard when he stated, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” It’s possible that by looking back on others’ lives, their stories may show us a way of moving forward with more awareness, adventure, fearlessness and pizazz as we go about our daily living.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Recently, Americans who had high health care costs faced a big tax increase just because of their medical expenses. Senator Susan Collins was one of several leaders in Congress who fought back against the measure. She and her colleagues helped to ensure the medical expense deduction was maintained, including restoring a 7.5 percent income threshold for two years. This allows families to deduct large expenses like wheelchairs, prescription drugs and home care costs. 

Millions of older Americans, including over 35,000 in Maine, depend on the health tax credit to afford their health care needs. According to the IRS, 56 percent of those taking the medical expense deduction are age 65 or older. Without being able to deduct these expenses, many would struggle to afford their home care equipment and medicines, and be forced to dip into their hard-earned retirement savings.  

I want to thank Senator Collins for her efforts to restore the medical expense deduction and for sparing middle class families from being penalized simply because they have high medical costs.

Jeff Fowler
AARP Maine Volunteer Advisory Council Member

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the 178,000 unpaid family caregivers who reside in our state, AARP Maine applauds Senator Susan Collins for her leadership in sponsoring the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act. AARP was pleased to endorse this important legislation and we thank Senator Collins for her efforts to work on a bipartisan basis to support family caregivers here in Maine and across the country.  

Every day, millions of Americans provide care for parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones to help them live independently in their homes and communities. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which now awaits the president’s signature, requires the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. The bill creates an advisory body to bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors to advise and make recommendations. The strategy will identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and others can take to recognize and support family caregivers. 

Family caregivers take on a range of tasks including managing medications, helping with bathing and dressing, preparing and feeding meals, arranging transportation, and handling financial and legal matters. The unpaid care that family caregivers provide in Maine is valued at 2.1 billion dollars annually. 

By supporting family caregivers, we can help older adults stay at home where they want to be. Delaying or preventing more costly nursing home care and unnecessary hospitalizations saves taxpayer dollars. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act is an important step in the right direction and AARP appreciates Senator Collins’ commitment to family caregivers and their loved ones.

Lori Parham
AARP Maine State Director

Friday, January 19, 2018

Insight: Keeping New Year’s Resolutions by Lorraine Glowczak

We are almost 20 days into January. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolution? Is it going well, or do you feel yourself beginning to backslide? 
As for me, things are a little rocky and I’m struggling to meet the large list of items that will create a “new and better me.”

I have always been a big proponent of New Year’s resolutions despite the well-known fact that success rates are low and by the time February rolls around, most us are beating ourselves up because we are not doing what we set out to do.

So before next month descends upon us, I thought I would explore a couple of ways that may help me - and others like me - to either stay on track or shift our perspectives so we don’t feel we are fighting a losing battle.

In his article with Psychology Today’s online publication, “Why People Can’t Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions”, author of “Breaking Bad Habits,” Ray Williams shares some insights.

He provides a number of explanations as to why it is difficult to keep the promises we make to ourselves but there seems to be one consistent factor that other authors and scientist mention. Having resolutions involve changing behaviors - and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking. This requires a lot of work. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. 

Some suggestions Williams offers are as follows:

Focus on one resolution and set specific, realistic goals:
For example, losing 10 pounds in 90 days is a specific and attainable goal. Simply stating, “losing weight” is not. And, whatever you do - try to begin with one resolution.

I suppose I should scale back on that two-page resolution list.

Don’t wait until the New Year:

Take small steps towards your goals, renewing your commitment every day.

I keep a journal, and I find that this is helpful to assist me in keeping tabs on how I am doing. When necessary, I adjust.

Celebrate milestones:

Don’t wait until you reach the final end of your goal, instead - celebrate the “baby steps” that help you get closer to your goal.

Celebration? I’m adding that one. I love celebrating.

Have an accountability buddy:

Find a friend, sibling, spouse, etc. who will support you along the way.

My husband and a few friends are my cheerleaders.

Although creating the changes we want in our lives can take a lot of work - it can be worth the effort in the end. The most important thing to note is - we shouldn’t take the journey too seriously. In fact, grab your accountability buddy and celebrate a small step toward your goals by doing something fun.

Lost for an idea? Check out our New Years Resolution pages - pages 6 through 9 in our hard copy.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I’m pleased to announce that after careful consideration and discussions with my better half, I’ll be running for a third term in the Maine House of Representatives. Like my constituents, Sheila and I have built a life in Windham and are very proud to call it home. 

I care about my community and know I still have a lot of important work to do. 

Serving Windham’s people has been the greatest honor of my life and I know that this is repaid by maintaining a climate of trust with my constituents, doing my homework, and spending my days putting work before blind partisanship. 

To do this, I make sure I am ever present in Augusta. 

I currently sit on two committees which is a full workload. Since beginning my service, I have maintained a 100 percent voting and attendance record. If you’re not in the building or paying attention, it’s impossible to make decisions independently.

I understand that practicing civility is key. 

The most notable fact about my time in the Maine Legislature is that one party has controlled the Senate, while the other, the House. Moving the ball forward for the people means having the ability and willingness to work with everyone in the building. I’ve demonstrated I can do this.

In the coming months I will be knocking on doors and visiting businesses throughout Windham and hoping to hear about your ideas and concerns. I’ve worked hard to make Windham a good place to live and work, but know that we can make it even better together. 

I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail. In the interim, you can learn more about me, my public service, and my positions on a host of issues by visiting

Rep. Patrick Corey
House District #25 (Windham, part)

Dear Editor,

Increasing airline fees is a bad deal for Mainers.

There is nothing that drives me crazier than tax and fee increases when those increases are unnecessary. So you can imagine my outrage when I heard of a proposal in Congress that would increase the Passenger Facilities Charge (PFC.)

The Passenger Facilities Charge Program allows airlines to charge up to $4.50 per passenger, with that money going to pay for improvements to airports all across the country. The new proposal would increase that amount to as much as $8.50 per passenger, burdening families and business travelers with higher fares for air travel.

I’m all for making improvements in our nation’s major airports but they don’t need to gouge the passengers even more to pay for it. These capital projects can be paid for through existing revenue streams, including the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) at the current cap of $4.50. There is no need to increase it even more. Let’s not forget that airports also have the ability to issue bonds that are backed by airport revenues and offer favorable financing terms.   

Over the past two decades airport revenues have grown 44 percent and U.S. airports had almost $12.7 billion of unrestricted cash and investments on hand at the end of 2015. Federal grants, offered by the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program and funded through ticket and fuel taxes, are dedicated to infrastructure and capital improvements. 

Bangor International Airport is in the middle of a $14 million improvement project. They have begun modernization of the first floor Domestic Terminal. Construction began in 2014 with refurbishing of the escalators that went into service in the summer of 2014. The new Ticketing and Passenger Check-In Center and the new baggage screening system was completed and opened for service in December 2015. The new ground transportation area and baggage claim area has been finished and opened 6 months later.  

Ninety percent of the funds for the Bangor project came from federal funding sources (passenger ticket taxes that fund the Airport Improvement Program AIP” and the Passenger Facility Charge) with the remaining 10 percent split between the Maine Department of Transportation and airport revenues. 

The question is: if all of these projects were already paid for by existing PFC collection, why do we need to increase this fee on Maine travelers now? If so, does this need outweigh the importance of encouraging more reasonable travel rates in and out of Maine, which are already high?  Especially as Maine is trying to attract new businesses to our state?

The same thing is happening at airports all over the country. Over $100 billion of capital projects have also been completed or are underway at the nation’s 30 largest airports since 2008.  These include, for example, new runways at Fort Lauderdale, Washington (Dulles), Seattle, and Charlotte, multiple new runways at Chicago (ORD), new international facilities at Atlanta and Los Angeles, and new, expanded or modernized terminals at Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando, Hawaii, Houston, Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.  My point is that they don’t need the money. 

There are some people serving in the government whose answer to everything is to dig a little deeper in to the pockets of the American people. That is the wrong approach, which is why I vehemently oppose any increases to the Passenger Facilities Charge. I urge everyone to reach out to your representatives in Washington D.C. and ask them to oppose this unnecessary increase. 

Rep. Sue Austin represents House District 67 in the Maine House of Representatives which includes Gray, Frye Island, and parts of Casco, and Raymond. She currently serves as the Ranking House Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee