Friday, July 27, 2018

Insight: A problem; a privilege by Lorraine Glowczak

I have always admired those individuals who knew from the moment they were born what they were going to do with their one, wild and crazy life. That has never been my experience. I popped into the world seeing everything as a possibility and an adventure to be had.

While I enjoy this quirk about myself, there are a few downsides when one has too many passions. The biggest challenge is the inability to choose from all the possibilities available. The name they give this “problem” is analysis paralysis.

I’m getting better in this arena but some days the challenge returns, reminding me that my quirk still exists. The “problem” returned recently as I did a google search on a new side venture I’m contemplating. My research led me to “What to do when you have too many passions and you feel stuck as a result.”

I had once believed that my analysis paralysis was a unique issue for me and a few unlucky others. However, my research has taught me otherwise. I discovered a multitude of online magazine articles from and to blogs that delve into ways to act when you have too many choices. In fact, wanting to do everything - at least once - is more common than the more focused among us.

As I continued in my research, I began to realize that those of us who face this conundrum are from western cultures. I never once came across a blog written by a woman in Syria or a man from South Sudan who were contemplating what option to do next or which passion they should pursue. Instead, I only found that the major challenges faced by those from struggling or war-torn cultures were much more complex. Survival of self and family seemed to be their focus.

In the website, /, I found the following statements from individuals who simply want a calm and normal life:

“I’d like it that the war ends and then we can go looking for my parents. If I have to stay here in Uganda, then I hope that we get enough to eat, and we stay safe….”

“I hope to return to normal life, a life where I’m not constantly nervous, where the ground is not constantly giving way. Leaving home has created so much instability. You can’t predict anything from one moment to the next. Now, what you do doesn’t equal what you get.”

“I wish 2018 is a year of peace, with justice and more compassion for all the refugees in the world. I wish people around the world would return to their hearts as human beings.”

After reading all the statements from those driven out of their native homelands, it dawned on me how very privileged I am to live in a land where I get the opportunity of having too many options. 

My “problem” of being paralyzed to act as a result, seems somehow frivolous now. Instead, “my problem” has become my motivating force, seeing it as an opportunity to move in the direction I deem important – and a calling. And, I’ll stop complaining. I promise.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

For over half a century, Americans have paid into the Medicare system with the expectation that they will have access to health care in retirement. For those 65-plus, Medicare provides more affordable health coverage where private insurance would cost seniors out of the market. It is of paramount importance for Mainers currently on Medicare, and for those who will need it in the future, that the program continues as promised.

In Maine, with long winters and high heating costs, the financial burden of medical care without Medicare coverage could not be afforded on a retiree’s fixed income. In 2015, Maine Medicare beneficiaries had a median personal income of $21,000, barely enough to cover life’s necessities such as food, utilities, transportation, housing and medicine.

In the upcoming election, the future of Medicare is on the line. The 300,000 Mainers on Medicare pay high enough out-of-pocket costs as it is. We need to protect Medicare to ensure the economic stability of our older residents in the years to come. Any additional medical financial strain would only jeopardize their independence. That’s why AARP Maine is working to ensure that you know where the candidates stand on this important issue. You can learn more and take our pledge to vote in November at

July 30 marks 52 years since Medicare was signed into law. Before Medicare, older Americans struggled to find health coverage they could afford, which left many individuals either uninsured or living in poverty. Let’s celebrate all of the good the program has done to further our health and financial security which we worked so hard to achieve.

Sammee Quong
AARP Maine Advisory Council Volunteer

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Insight: Familiarity in a changing world by Lorraine Glowczak

Bill Bryson once said, “Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking up from a long coma.” As I write this Insight, I’m sitting at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas. I am in my home state to visit family and a few close friends. I enjoy returning home and seeing “old” places again for the first time. 

But, much like Bryson, I am always a bit startled when I see how much things have changed over the years. When I left home 20 years ago for my “short adventure” to the eastern seaboard, I somehow believed the life I left behind would freeze in time and would always greet me, just as it was when I left, remaining in its usual way upon my return. 

I have discovered over the years however, the world does not revolve around me. The landscape and people continue to transform, refusing to accommodate my perception of time. This often happens when I visit someone I haven’t seen for a long while. On this return visit, I got to meet up with a young friend of mine. She is the 33-year-old daughter of one of my best friends in Kansas and is now a mother to two young daughters.

Bri and I, along with her mother and brother, have gone on a couple of road trips in the past. One such adventure included a trip through the Southwest and along the West Coast, camping along the way. We have often reminisced about the silly mishaps on this excursion, but there was no mention of such during this visit. Instead, we spent some time talking about what life was like now that her mother passed away from cancer 1 ½ years ago. 

It was the first time we met up after her mother’s passing and life celebration. As Bri spoke, I was again amazed at how time travels and changes so rapidly. “Where did that nine-year old go?” I asked myself, thinking back to the moment I first met Bri and her mother.

But as I continued to listen to her, she amazed me with her strength and sense of serenity despite all things. There was a deep and calm beauty about Bri that she inherited from her mother and I began to sense a familiarity. For just a moment in time, life didn’t change. My native land and all who were in it when I left, remained the same. Her mother was before me, unchanged. As soon as the feeling arrived, it left just as quickly.

As for my own family, the grandchildren now have children of their own. “The only thing that has changed about us is that we are old, fat and gray,” my four brothers will joke. There is a bit of truth to their humor, and humor is one constant gift they give to me.

I thank my lucky stars that we can capture a few flashes of familiarity in an ever-changing world. And if we let it, it can soothe those drastic moments of change that startle us.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I recently attended a memorial service for Robert L. Hunt. When I was a young boy, he taught me to swim. In high school, he was my science teacher. He taught us about “climate change” long before that term was ever used.

When I was a young man, Bob got me involved in Windham town affairs. While he was a selectman, he asked me to serve on the Police Study Committee for our town. Then in the mid-1970s I was elected to the Windham Town Council and served with him on that board.

Although we belonged to different political parties and we sometimes differed on issues, we always treated each other with civility. Bob was pragmatic and very practical. He taught me that being involved with government required great patience.

Throughout my political career, Bob would call me with advice. When I was a Cumberland County Commissioner, he would call me about the Saco River Corridor Commission. During my years in the Maine Legislature, he called me about various issues. It seems, Bob had an opinion about everything and they were always informed opinions. By the way, Bob was not the first person with the last name “Hunt” to call me. His mother, Thelma, also called me. Those who knew Thelma will understand why I mention her calls. Let’s just say she had some rather strong opinions.

All of my relationships with Bob Hunt were important to me, but by far, the most significant was my enduring friendship with him.

I will conclude by telling about my last visit with him. Earlier this year, my wife and I were visiting a relative at the Bridgton Health Care facility when we talked to his daughter Ella, who worked there. She told us that her dad was a resident at the facility. I certainly had to stop by his room to visit him. I stepped into his room and stood by the foot of his bed and announced that “I am looking for a guy named Bob Hunt”. He looked up with a twinkle in his eye and said, “I am looking at a guy named Gary Plummer.”  We had a wonderful visit that I will always cherish.

Knowing Bob and his family has enriched my life beyond words.

Gary Plummer

Friday, July 13, 2018

Insight: Everything happens by Lorraine Glowczak

"Hello everyone,” the email began. “I won’t be able to make it to tonight’s meeting. We received word from my brother that today might be the day and I want to spend time with my family.”

The email, sent to a board of directors of which I am a member, was referring to the individual’s 24-year-old nephew who is in the process of taking his last breaths. He was diagnosed with brain cancer six months ago.

The news comes on the cusp of my reading the book, “Everything Happens for a Reason – and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler. Bowler is a cancer survivor and an Assistant Professor of Duke Divinity School.

Although I am one to hop on the think-positive-train wholeheartedly, I have always hesitated when “everything happens for a reason” is uttered. I believe, without a doubt, we have some control over what happens in our lives and we most likely have control over our responses. But is it safe to say that EVERYTHING happens for a reason?

I think it is possible that some things just happen and when they are unfair, confusing and painful we tend to apply human reason to make sense of it all. This, in and of itself, really bears no issue. 

If one believes that absolutely everything happens for a reason, fair enough. But it can become an issue, when one is certain of a specific viewpoint. It has the tendency to create judgment and make us overly certain of our personal truths which seem to give us the freedom to apply the “reason” philosophy on everyone - in every situation.

In the midst of painful experiences, such as cancer and other unbearables, this certainty can cause greater harm, pain and damage to those who are already suffering.

Bowler shares some of her thoughts on how people responded to her cancer. “My [email] inbox is full of strangers giving reasons. People offer them like wildflowers picked along the way…they want me to know, without a doubt, that there is hidden logic to this seeming chaos. (p. 112).

Bowler states the hardest lessons come from the “solutions people” who tell her that attitude is everything and it determines one’s destiny. “I am immediately worn out by the tyranny of prescriptive joy,” she said.

I’m not offering what each person should do or believe. I can’t. Because no one owns the copyright on truth. What I’m suggesting is that perhaps we should not make assumptions in certain circumstances where the lines of reason are fuzzy. Especially for those already facing horrendous situations. What good is it to be right in such instances if it only wears down an already weary and broken person?

In terms of whether there is a reason for everything or not is not as important as the awareness that what we say, can and does have a great impact on others.

So, let’s just agree that either everything happens for a reason or everything happens for a reason and enjoy our perceptions while being mindful of others.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Insight: Freedom, Independence and Unity by Lorraine Glowczak

When this edition of the Windham Eagle newspaper hits the newsstands on Thursday and arrives in mailboxes on Friday, the Fourth of July celebrations will be behind us. Or will it?

In my observation, what I find amazing about this holiday is that we celebrate in unison, despite our differences. Now almost 240 years after the first celebration, the enthusiasm around the birth of American independence is just as strong as ever. Granted, it may be different than the first days of merriment, it is the one holiday that most people all over the nation celebrate together and have since its inception.

It’s true that we no longer hold mock funerals of King George III to symbolize our freedom from the monarchy as in the early years, but we do celebrate in one or more of the following ways: parades, patriotic music, backyard barbecues and picnics, swimming, boating, kayaking, laying on the beach and, last but certainly not least, enjoying the fireworks that light up the evening skies.

The gathering together as American citizens to celebrate in this way, whether we agree with the politics of the country or not, is an important foundation for another type of independence. The independence and freedom to exist in alignment with our perception of a life well lived.

John Adams, who assisted Thomas Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, was no different. He worked closely with five other individuals (including Jefferson) to draft a formal document to justify the separation from England. Despite his deep-seated views, he worked with others to meet a common goal for the common good.

But Adams has been referred to as a radical in various ways. It is said that he believed the correct date to celebrate Independence Day was July 2nd - because that is the date the Continental Congress voted in favor of the resolution for independence. It didn’t matter to Adams that the resolution was formally adopted two days later, on July 4th.

To remain genuine to his personal viewpoint, it is reported that Adams refused invitations to attend or celebrate 4th of July events as a form of protest. How’s that for showing your independence on Independence Day?

The fact is – Independence Day can be celebrated every day and in our own ways. Is it easy to live together individually, celebrating it all? Well – maybe not easy but it’s possible and it can be done. How?

If we remember that we all warrant freedom and independence, no matter what – then I think we could celebrate each other uniquely, together in unity, and the freedom that comes with both every day. “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” (Lincoln).

I think we all deserve it, don’t you?