Friday, December 20, 2019

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor – A message from Santa

Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas everyone! As the big night gets closer, my elves have been helping get my sleigh ready and all the reindeer are resting to make sure they are ready, too! 

Rudolph’s nose has been cleaned and shined so it will be very bright as I travel all around the world.

To the kids: Are you excited for the big day? I know you’ve all been working really hard to be good this year, but there’s still a few days left, so be sure to be as nice and helpful as you can. I’ll be checking my list twice and you don’t want to be on the ‘naughty’ one. It’s important to remember Christmas isn’t all about toys and lights and candy canes. It’s showing your parents, brothers, sisters and friends you love and care about them. You can do that simply by spending time with them or helping them when they need it. Even something as simple as a compliment can make a big difference in someone’s day.

Once I’m done delivering presents, and spreading cheer, I return to the North Pole and spend time with Mrs. Claus and the elves. Family is an important part of Christmas to me.

Get those letters mailed, if you haven’t already, and I’ll get ready to stop by your house. Oh! Don’t forget the cookies and milk (no kale) as I get hungry travelling to so many houses!

To the adults: Mrs. Claus and I were talking the other day and while kids get most of my attention, some adults begin to forget about me as they get older, but I haven’t forgotten about you.

Christmastime is different when you’re an adult and can sometimes be more stressful than fun. It may be more difficult than it used to but look for ways to find that special feeling you had at Christmas when you were younger. It can be found in a look on your child’s (or niece/nephew’s) face when they see the lights or open a gift, or when everyone sits down to Christmas dinner. Or maybe you find it elsewhere. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress (I know I could use it after a night of eating cookies), spending time with your pet(s), or simply finding something that makes you laugh. There’s no right way to feel good about Christmas; It’s about being together with those you love and enjoy.

Well, I’ve got to get back to supervising the elves and continue to get ready for my big sleigh ride!

Merry Christmas everyone!
North Pole

Friday, December 13, 2019

Insight: Believing in the intangibles all year long

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to,” Attorney Fred Gailey (played by John Payne) explained to Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) in the 1947 version of the Christmas movie “A Miracle on 34th Street”. “Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.”

Then, Fred really makes his point to a doubting and pragmatic Doris when he states, “Look Doris, someday you're going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn't work. And when you do, don't overlook those lovely intangibles. You'll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.

I must admit, I am a sucker for Christmas movies….all of them. And, if I am completely honest – I am sucker for Christmas itself. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered why I love this time of year so much. Yes of course, the “decorations of red on a green Christmas tree” as I watch chestnuts roasting on an open fire while a winter wonderland of snow sits outside my window  - all encapsulate that special holiday feeling – but there is something more than that.

Like Kris Kringle reminds us, and Fred Gailey fights for, in “A Miracle on 34th Street”, it’s the fact that Christmas is a frame of mind. It’s a time when we remember the small but powerful things that gives life true value, producing excitement and passion within us. It’s those intangibles most of us believe in with ease this time of year – you know - those things such as caring, gentleness, selflessness, peace and patience with one another.

But the instant the holidays slowly recede into yesterday’s memories, I experience a period of sadness as if to feel slightly let down. But I quickly push those thoughts aside and return to “reality” as I believe it to be. I resume my three-page to-do list lifestyle for the next 11 months and my frame of mind changes. For the next 11 months, I get swept away with the practical and reasonable, consumed by the demands of life. Yet, at the same time, I experience a longing.

I struggle with the commonsense way of living while being tugged by the Kris Kringle in my soul. It’s easy to remember the joy, love and kindness when everyone sees the value of the intangibles during the holiday season. However, it can be more difficult walking alone during a season of realistic normalcy when the Christmas frame of mind is not as easily accepted, and perhaps worst - forgotten.

But this year, when 2020 opens its door, I hope to remember this feeling that is so easy to dance with now and will do my best to remember what is worthwhile. I do not want to lose sight of what is important.

Despite whatever “realities” will be before me next year, I will work to forever believe in the power of the intangibles – all year long. May you, too, remember to carry the spirit of Christmas with you. That way, perhaps we all can encounter the holiday feeling every day instead of just through the month of December.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Since the Town of Windham’s relocation of their Veterans Memorial in 2005, now located in front of Windham High School, the American Legion Field-Allen Post has been placing a Memorial Wreath on the stone in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII for America.  On the 78th Anniversary of the attack, Post Honor Guard members, David Rendall, Craig Pride and Larry DeHof continued the tradition with the placement of the memorial wreath on a very, very cold Dec 7th, 2019.  Photo by Larry DeHof

Friday, December 6, 2019

Insight: Ways to be grateful when you don’t feel like it

By Lorraine Glowczak

Ready or not, the Holiday Season is upon us. As for me, I am ready … for the most part. It is fairly easy for me to be ready since my family in Maine consists of my husband and my dog.

Although we may not be a typical American household and we won’t be sitting around the table with our larger, extended families who live in the Midwest, the three of us are doing good. We are healthy, well-fed, live in a warm home and have many caring and loving friends. We feel grateful, joyful and content. However, this is not always the case for everyone during the holidays.

The celebrations. The bright lights. The carols of good tidings and great joy. The ideal “Norman Rockwell” family gathering can all be overwhelming. The perfection expected of the holiday experience can come crashing down on us making the feeling of gratitude difficult to muster. In fact, some might have difficulty coughing up a sincere “thank you” no matter how hard they try.

First - for those of you who have lost someone special, I want to take a moment and recognize your grief. My wish for you is that the pain you experience will lift sooner rather than later.

For those who may be experiencing other challenging circumstances or whose families are either miles away or estranged, being grateful during a time of celebration and thanksgiving can be difficult.

I have researched some ways in which we can reach deep into our pockets and pull out a “thank you” when it is not easy to do so. Here are some ways I found that may be helpful. You or I may not be able to utter the words of gratitude but, perhaps, shift the feelings of such:

·       The first suggestion I came across was, “stop focusing on the negative and stop complaining for 21 days.” According to psychologist, it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, retraining the brain and the way you approach and view things in the world. I have never tried the 21-day challenge – so I don’t know if it will work. But it wouldn’t hurt to try it if you’re up for it.

·       Upon waking or just prior to going to sleep, think of just one thing you appreciate in your life. During an especially difficult time in my own life where I faced certain financial challenges, I did this. Some days, the only thank you I could muster was; “I’m grateful for this warm cup of coffee.”

It worked for me. Although the difficult circumstance remained for a year or so, my gratitude shifted my life and I felt better – even during the most difficult moments. Did life continue in a “rainbow, roses and everything is beyond perfect” manner?  Of course not. Life is life. Yang begets Yin. Love begets hate. Truth begets dishonesty. And, perfection is often found in the imperfection.

·       Being okay with your “non-traditional” life.

Most of us don’t live that Norman Rockwell family and existence. Whether you are a single parent, live alone or must dance to a weird family dynamic – remember that you are not alone. In fact, there are more people like you than you think.

·       If you don’t have family, create a “fremily” (friends who are family). Don’t force it. Go with those who are your “kindred spirits”.

These are the people who are most like you. (Although I can’t make any promises. The odds are that if you are authentic, tell the truth to yourself; you will find your “friemly-those kindred spirits who live life much like you.) I have hosted these gatherings and thoroughly enjoyed the non-traditional get-togethers.

In fact, at one fremily get-together, I invited one of my husband’s co-workers who was alone for Thanksgiving. We didn’t know each other that well but enjoyed each other’s company so much that a year later, we travelled to Italy together. Next summer in 2020 – I will be a bridesmaid in her wedding.

·       My all-time favorite suggestion came from a Real Simple magazine article. It recommended, “For Pete’s sake, stay off Pinterest.”

It’s true for me. Not only for Pinterest, but Facebook and other social media connections. These sites give the impression that others live the perfect, happy life with friends and family. Most of these posts and photos do not reflect with honesty, a personal reality. Like the time I took a photo of a ‘loving and happy’ couple just moments before they had a not so little spat.

Don’t compare your life with others’ misleading life presentations. In fact, most often, if they are presenting a perfect life. They have more challenges than you. I know this because I probe too much – discovering the truth of said “Facebook postings.”

I hope this small list is helpful in some way as we dive into the holiday season. Just remember, in little over a month it will be a new year with new possibilities of change ahead. Maybe that’s something to be thankful for.

Magic is happening again this year with Santa’s mailbox in Windham neighborhood

Chase Hill, Blake Perkins and Harper Maxfield
put their letters to Santa in the mailbox located
at 23 Freeman Court in Windham.

As Windham Eagle reporter, Elizabeth Richards stated in an article she wrote last Christmas season, Santa needs a little help gathering stories and answering letters. In that article, Richards introduced Windham residents, Joanne Mattiace and Maggie Terry, who had set up a festive holiday display outside their home, complete with a mailbox to collect letters for Santa. And, they are continuing this joyful service again this year.  

The couple encourages children to write letters telling Santa what Christmas means to them. Children who dropped off letters will receive a personalized response.

 “I really think that Maggie and I focus on charity at Christmas time because we adopted a young boy years ago…and Christmas has meant a lot to him,” Mattiace said.  “Everybody needs a little holiday cheer, whether you’re Christian or Jewish or whatever, whether you’re old or young, straight or gay. We all just need to be a little kinder to each other,” she said.

If your child or if you know of a child who wants to write a letter to Santa and receive a personalized response from his helpers, drop off a letter in Santa’s mailbox that sits at 23 Freeman Court in Windham. Due to the potential influx of letters, the last day that Santa’s helpers will be receiving mail to Santa will be December 19th.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Insight: “Thanking” outside the box

By Lorraine Glowczak

This is an early week for the newspaper, arriving in your mailboxes on Wednesday - just in time before we celebrate the day of thanks. Tomorrow most of us will be sitting around the table enjoying the usual turkey fixings with friends and family; taking the opportunity to share our gratitude toward our loved ones – and for life itself.

Now that the holidays are about to go into high gear with decorating, shopping, family gatherings and holiday parties, we might begin to feel overwhelmed - so much so that we will forget the gratefulness we felt at Thanksgiving.

But we should not despair if we neglect appreciation during these stressful moments as we try to create the “perfect” season of merriness. You – and I - certainly do not need to add guilt to the package that comes with the holiday busyness.

We all know the benefits that come with feeling grateful; benefits such as improving physical and mental health, reducing aggression, enhancing empathy and improving self-esteem. But there seems to be more. I recently learned two things about gratitude. First – more is not necessarily better. 

According to Psychologist, Dr. Amy Gordan, “people who tracked their gratitude once per week were happier after six weeks, whereas those who wrote and tracked their gratitude three times per week were not.”

Secondly, I discovered that if one consistently expresses or feels gratitude on a weekly basis, it changes the chemistry of the brain – and the benefits can last over time.

In an article entitled, “How gratitude changes you and your brain” written by Psychology Professors, Dr. Joel Wong and Dr. Joshua Brown, research indicates that gratitude can train the brain and be long lasting. Wong and Brown tested nearly 300 adults, mostly college students who were seeking mental health counseling at a university and discovered the following:

 “When we compared those who wrote the gratitude letters with those who didn’t, the gratitude letter writers showed greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex when they experienced gratitude in the fMRI scanner. This is striking as this effect was found three months after the letter writing began. This indicates that simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.”

So, if you miss a whole week and the grateful feelings escape you, no need to panic. Scientific findings indicate that the attitude of gratitude is long lasting and will carry you through the rough holiday spots.

And speaking about those rough spots. I’d like to “thank” outside the box and remember those who may be experiencing the holidays without a loved one or are facing some form of hardship. If this is the case for you, I promise not to tell you to “count your blessings” as I wish to respect your grief.

So, whether you are in a “full throttle ahead” holiday spirit and the stress causes you to forget to be thankful or if grief is your journey this year, remember that studies indicate that past spoken gratitude will carry you for a while. And for that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Seeking families in need and those looking to adopt a family for the holiday season

The Windham Eagle Newspaper and the Facebook Windham Maine Community Board are excited to come together this Holiday Season to create a positive solution by helping some local families who are in need or have fallen on hard times. If you or someone you know is in need this holiday season please fill out an application form at the top of The Windham Eagle's home page

As we cannot guarantee every family will be adopted, we will work diligently to bring cheer to as many Windham and Raymond families as possible. We will be accepting requests from residents of Windham and Raymond Maine until Saturday November 30, 2019.

If you are able - we would love for you to join us in sharing some joy with our neighbors this season. Let us know how you can help to adopt a family or how you can help by filling out the online form at:

Friday, November 22, 2019

Insight: Growing old gracefully

By Lorraine Glowczak

Running was once a part of my early morning exercise routine. Now, I am taking up walking instead. I’ve been halfheartedly resisting this change because I’m not quite ready to “grow old gracefully.” I’d rather be the type who “skids broadside into the grave all worn out”. But when push finally comes to shove, I decide to stick to my relaxed morning saunter despite the torment I put myself through.

On one of my particularly guilt-ridden days when I was trying to coax myself back into running, it dawned on me why I was enjoying my newfound workout. There is something about slowing down that is calming. The thing I have noticed about my morning walks is that I get the opportunity to stop and talk to other walkers and, often, get to meet their dogs too. I even get to learn about the personality, affections and eating habits of my four-legged neighbors.

I am beginning to realize there is so much I missed when I ran. And, come to think about it, I run all day every day from meeting to meeting, so I could use this time of slowing down end enjoy the scenery. But some mornings, I still think I “should” be running.

Guilt? Why do I feel this guilt about slowing the pace of my daily exercise routine? I can understand feeling responsible for eating too many donuts or being mean to my friends - but this?

It seems guilt can play a role in our lives when it really has no place or serves no purpose. We wonder if we are a good enough parent when we let our children eat French fries for dinner, we feel ashamed when we watch too much TV, we are remorseful when we don’t make a phone call to a friend or when we say “no” to a volunteer invitation.  

But it wasn’t until I read a recent Facebook conversation that I realized that unnecessary guilt can go too far. In a post by my friend, she shared this quote: “When you are resting, because you are worn out, you need to remember that you are not wasting the day doing nothing. You are doing exactly what you need to do. You are recovering.”

A friend of hers responded by saying: “I did that yesterday. I took some time to rest – and then I apologized for it.” Her reply shocked me enough, acting as a lightning bolt – helping me to see my own misconstrued feelings of irrational thinking.

Author and psychologist, Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. stated that unjustified guilt has been linked to needless emotional suffering…. “So, unless guilt feelings are actually necessary for you to take appropriate responsibility for a significant misdeed such feelings don’t really serve you or anyone.”

Seltzer offers suggestions to turn the tide of pointless guilt around and it all boils down to accepting yourself and your own personal successes. Additionally, recognizing the good things that come from what we do and who we are – letting go of perceived perfections is important to our happiness.

So, tomorrow – I will put on my walking shoes and will enjoy the smells, the sights, the sounds, the people and the dogs I will meet along the way – totally guilt-free. Even if it means growing old gracefully.

Rep. Corey offers office hours at Windham Public Library

Representative Patrick Corey (R-Windham) will be holding in-district office hours for constituents this December.

These meetings will happen at the Windham Public Library, 217 Windham Center Road on Monday, December 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in one of the meeting/study rooms.

Residents can learn about what's going on in Augusta, discuss policy and share ideas, or find out how his office can help you.

Patrick Corey is in his third term in the Maine Legislature and serves on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Insight: Honoring veterans all year long

By Lorraine Glowczak

This past Monday, November 11th, was the day we celebrated and took time to publicly honor and thank all veterans for time served in the military. Without their bravery, our lives might be different today. Although most of us prefer peace over conflict, we take into account the popular 1960s song that states: “To everything (turn, turn, turn). There is a season (turn, turn, turn). And a time to every purpose, under heaven. A time of love, a time of hate. A time of war, a time of peace…..”

It is during the season of war that men and women follow their calling and leave their families to
protect us in times of conflict so we can lead the life we love and dream. I know life is not perfect, but as Americans, we are afforded many freedoms that most countries do not have.

If we take time to think about our lives, even in the most disparaging and challenging of times, we have, in comparison with other countries, a pretty good life. We have access to running water, can speak openly about subject matters that are important to us, we can go to the library and check out our favorite books without any costs, see shooting stars on a clear night sky without the fear of bombs exploding in our midst - and the list can go on and on.

Often, during our daily lives when the struggle feels intense, we forget these simple pleasures and let stress consume us. Although stress is a natural reaction in times of challenge, we might respect those who have served best if we pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and move forward the best we can. In fact, it’s possible that remembering to do this when we feel like throwing in the towel, might be one of the greatest ways to honor veterans.

Author, Cristina Oliveras eloquently reminds us about our everyday stresses in comparison to those who served in the military in an article entitled, “Six Lessons Everyone Can Learn From Soldiers On Veterans Day”. She stated:

“A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life. Imagine the stresses of a battlefield and making quick decisions with incomplete information with enemies at every corner hunting for a quick victory. There is no time to stress over these life or death situations. Soldiers learn to analyze, plan for the best result and execute it. Take this lesson into your daily life when you are up to your ears in debt, or when you feel there's not enough time in the day to finish your work. It could be worse….”

Technically, Veterans Day is now behind us but that doesn’t mean we have to stop saying - and showing our thanks. And one way to honor a veteran all year long is to remember, even on our most stressful and challenging days, just how lucky we are to be alive. When we forget that, then we forget those who risked it all. Let’s make a pack to not forget and honor our veterans all year long.  

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

While November 11 is widely recognized as Veterans Day, many people may not know that the entire month of November is both National Veterans and National Family Caregivers Month.  Both of my parents were veterans. My father served in the Army in World War II and my mother later on served in the U.S. Coast Guard. I encourage everyone to honor and pay respect to those who served our country in uniform and the caregivers supporting our valiant veterans.

There are 5.5 million military and veteran caregivers in the U.S. providing care to approximately 15 million veterans. These hidden heroes support their veteran loved ones with their daily needs—ranging from bathing and dressing to paying bills and transportation and assisting with medical tasks, providing an estimated $14 billion annually in unpaid care.

Numerous organizations have dedicated time and resources to address the challenges veterans face today, including their care needs.

AARP supports our veterans and their family caregivers through both the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and a partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to create a Military Caregiving Guide. I encourage everyone to visit to learn more about how AARP is working for veterans. Here in Maine, AARP pushed for November to be designated as Maine Family Caregivers Month – a perfect opportunity to celebrate our veterans and the unsung heroes who care for them right here at home.

Dr. Erica Magnus
AARP Maine Communications Volunteer

Friday, November 8, 2019

Insight: Fanning the flame of kindness

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Hi Lorraine,” the email began. “[I am] continuing to enjoy the Eagle, including your thoughtful editorials. It must be hard to come up with fresh topics week after week, but you seem to manage well!”

The author of this email had no clue how his kinds words truly made my day, and quite literally turned it completely around to one of joy in a matter of seconds. You see, this email entered my mailbox immediately following three other emails where the support and kind words were – well, um, how should I put this --- not present. It’s from that experience I became more aware how words have a great impact on others. Instead of provoking pain, words can be used to fan the flame of kindness.

Although describes fanning the flame as; “To do or say something to make an argument, problem, or bad situation worse”, I would add that one can take an argument, problem or bad situation and dowse it with reflection and courtesy, making circumstances better.

I remember my mom telling me when I was a young child, “things just aren’t like the used to be in the good ol’ days,”. I may be channeling her right now, but it does seem things have changed recently in our approach to one another. Like the good ol’ days of my youth, respectful consideration was incorporated when communicating with others. Not that it was all peaches and cream, as life is filled with human error, but “telling it like it is” was reserved for those who hadn’t completed a thorough inquiry before expressing an opinion. Now, telling it like it is without reflection has become synonymous with courage and strength. But according to an article written by Dr. Karyn Hall, the director of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, the exact opposite is true.

Dr. Hall writes in the online magazine, Psychology Today, “While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, that is not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength. Kindness is an interpersonal skill.”

This, of course, doesn’t mean that we should refrain from telling the truth as we view it, but it can be done in a courteous manner that abstains from hurtful discourse.

“Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person,” wrote Dr. Hall. “Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth and flexible thinking.

I do try my best to practice what I write, but in all honesty, I fail from time to time. In fact, I think my mother has reached down from the heavens and popped me on the mouth more than once – because, you know, they did that in the good ol’ days.

The truth is, my mother was not much of a corporal disciplinarian. She instead chose to fan the flames of kindness when she spoke to others – as well as to me. I’m trying to walk more in her footsteps. And, I wonder, if we all tried kindness more often, how many bad days could be turned around in a matter of seconds to one of joy.

Benefits of leaf shedding

By Robert Fogg

The fall color is starting to fade and soon all the deciduous trees will be bare, except for some brown leaves clinging to the white oaks and beeches. Even the hackmatack trees are shedding their needles. Coniferous trees, such as pines, lose some previous years’ needles but usually cling to the past couple of years new growth. Over time, mother nature will turn these leaves and needles into compost to help feed future generations of trees and plants.

If you have deciduous trees along the south side of your house you can be thankful for the shedding of leaves, which exposes your home to some valuable solar heat and light throughout the winter. For this reason, I recommend you maintain deciduous trees along the south, east and west of your home while maintaining coniferous trees, such as pine and hemlock, along the north and northwest, to break the cold winter wind.

One benefit some people gain, come November, is a decrease in interference to their satellite TV or radio. Another big advantage of the deciduous trees dropping their leaves is the reduced surface area for ice and snow to cling to; along with reduced wind resistance. As we all know, resistance is futile.
The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at or 207-693-3831.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Insight: The maple and the blindfold

By Lorraine Glowczak

The other day while cleaning the yard and preparing our home for winter, I took a moment to sit on a lawn chair before storing it away. While I sat enjoying the sun’s warmth, watching the leaves tumble to the ground – one maple tree in the backyard caught my eye.

The limbs seemed to be holding on to the last rays of fall, keeping its golden foliage as long as it can before it must succumb to nature. The beauty of it all created a quick passing thought to climb that maple and to see our yard from the tree’s perspective. But since that would have required me to get up from the chair, I stayed put and imagined it instead. But now – I wish I would have gone for it.

So, what does one do when they don’t have personal experience to recall on their own? They “Google” it to live vicariously through others, of course.

In a article written by Ailsa Sachdev, she shared what she had learned when she interviewed a master tree-climbing instructor, Tom Kovar. Kovar has lead climbing adventures and has climbed trees all over the world, creating many years of experience seeing life from a tree’s perspective. When Sachdev asked Kovar what one can see from treetops that could never be seen from the ground, his reply was:

“I had one example of taking a guy tree-climbing in the Amazon — a local community member, probably in his early 60s….asked if he [could climb with me]. He'd lived there his whole life. He got up maybe 30 feet or so and started looking around, and I saw tears well up in his eyes. I could tell he was having a good time, but something deeply emotional touched him. The translator told me as he came down that the man thought he knew the jungle; he could walk along all the trails blindfolded, no problem. But when he got up in the tree, maybe forty feet or so, and looked around the forest, he saw his home from a different perspective, and he had no idea where he actually lived.”

When working closely with others, we are often told and have read that considering other viewpoints can help us work collaboratively together, assist us when dealing with controversy, and can contribute to our personal and professional successes. But how often do we take the moment to step outside of our everyday routines to see a part of life we often ignore (or don’t even notice)?

Much like the man from the Amazon, we can easily perform our daily tasks wearing blindfolds because they have become second nature, so to speak. In doing so, I wonder how much we miss as we go about our daily lives. Is it possible we become so focused on the tasks at hand, not giving much thought to stepping out of our comfortable routines that we miss some pretty amazing things along the way? I think it is possible that I do.

So, perhaps next Saturday I will climb that tree and experience what it sees every day. But knowing how clumsy I can be most days, it’s possible next week’s Insight might be entitled, “An easier way to gain a different viewpoint without breaking an arm.”

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

On behalf of our 230,000 members, AARP Maine thanks Congressman Jared Golden for participating in our recent tele-town hall on prescription drug costs.  Nearly 3,500 Mainers participated in the forum and many asked questions of Congressman Golden live during the call.
Much of the discussion focused on the latest news from Washington, including two bills which will likely be voted on soon.

Currently under consideration in the House of Representatives is HR 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. Under HR 3, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would negotiate prices for at least 25 of the most expensive brand-name medicines. The bill would also cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per year. In addition AARP is pushing for other improvements to Medicare such as coverage for dental, vision and hearing care. 

In the Senate, we urge Senate leadership to bring the bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 to a floor vote this year.  The bill would cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries and require drug manufacturers to provide a rebate to Medicare if the prices of their products increase faster than inflation.

AARP Maine is committed to working with our federal lawmakers to lower prescription drug costs. Too many Mainers of all ages struggle to afford the medications they need to stay healthy, and to even stay alive. It shouldn't be that way. We cannot wait any longer for this to change and urge our elected leaders to pass these bills.

Patricia Pinto
AARP Maine Volunteer State President

Friday, October 25, 2019

Insight: A merry-go-round and the mulberry tree

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was September 30th, 1999 when I bolted from America’s heartland to experience life in Maine. As the tallgrass prairies of my Kansas home slowly retreated from my review mirror, I had no idea what to expect or how long I would make the beautiful rugged coastline my home. All I knew is I was ready and eager for whatever the unknown future had in store for me.

Well, it’s been twenty years and I’m still here.

My time along the eastern shoreline has introduced me
to new friends, new experiences, a new husband and more adventures – and challenges – than I could have ever imagine at the young age of 34. But what has surprised me the most about this long-term escapade in what is now become my permanent home, is the shock I experience when I return to Kansas to visit.

You see, while I was moving forward and living my life – for some reason – I thought the life I left behind would remain the same. But it turns out the lives of my friends and relatives back home have moved on, too.

I just returned from my most recent visit to Kansas to witness the wedding of my youngest nephew (who, by the way was a little over a year old when I left 20 years ago. Shouldn’t he still be a toddler?).

Although it was a very quick weekend getaway for me, I took some time to visit some old stomping grounds that included attending a Saturday evening Mass at the church where I was baptized. It had been over 35 years since I had stepped foot into that house of worship and I yearned to touch, smell, see and hear the sacred space I once called home and was a part of my childhood.

I must humbly admit, it wasn’t for religious or spiritual reasons that I attended Mass. The truth is, I had to see, again, the ornate structure that was built in the early 1900s by local farmers. This elaborate building with it’s baroque-like architecture sits in the middle of corn and wheat fields and is surrounded by less intricate priest parsonage, nuns’ home and a catholic school.

When Mass was walked, I walked the grounds to discover that the nuns’ home is no longer there, and the school will soon be taken down as well. But the greatest shock to me was the playground that housed a merry go round that sat directly underneath a large mulberry tree had vanished, too.

I don’t know why but seeing the empty spaces that once held the merry-go-round and the mulberry tree saddened me the most. It was as if I wasn’t quite ready to break free from my past. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition of a merry-go-round is, “a cycle of activity that is complex, fast-paced, or difficult to break out of.” Isn’t it ironic that life can be like that too….complex, fast paced and not always easy to let go of those things near and dear to our hearts.

According to, “[A carousel] has no beginning and no end. Like wheels, carousels imply motion: cyclical, repetitive motion and ups and downs. The carousel, as a metaphor, has several universal connotations generally dealing with the idealized innocence of youth, innocence lost, the constancy of life and fate, an allusion to the individual and society at large. As with the yin/yang, eastern symbol for the unification of opposites, it becomes clear how profound, yet simple, elemental truths can be. As we face the unknown of the future it is important to realize the essence of some forgotten truths from the past. In dreams, a carousel may represent memories of the past and childhood freedoms.”

Walking away from the church and the empty spaces, I relished for a moment my short visit to my past. As I left, my sadness for things and people that have changed was replaced for new freedoms and whatever the unknown future has in store for me.

Seeking classroom grandma and grandpa readers

The Opportunity Alliance is seeking older adults, age 55 and over, with time during the week to help children develop their reading skills.

Under the guidance of classroom teachers, volunteers are needed to sit and listen to children read,
pick out books and help them to sound out words.  As one volunteer said, “The benefits to me are seeing a positive change in a child. One little girl struggled to read but with encouragement and praise she now wants to read with me daily.”

Applicants who meet generous income guidelines receive a nontaxable stipend, travel reimbursement, ongoing training and are guaranteed to laugh and smile every day! 

Studies prove those who volunteer have better health and increased friendships. Call today to learn more about our volunteer opportunities at 207-773-0202 or toll-free at 1-800-698-4959.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Insight: “Three years on a rock”

By Lorraine Glowczak

I have always heard the words, “never give up” when we feel discouraged during times of challenge. But it wasn’t until I did some research on this week’s business spotlight, Sebago Kyokushin Karate when I came across the Japanese proverb, “three years on a rock” for the first time. For some reason, that sentence speaks more volumes to me than our usual go to adage when we’re ready to “throw in the towel”.

Basically, the Japanese proverb means to persevere at all times. On the Sebago Kyokushin Karate website, the author Shihan Cameron Quinn is quoted, “[perseverance] teaches the student to face the demands of daily life with a mature and enduring attitude. A budo-ka [martial way] is not easily shaken by the blows of adversity, realizing that for a person to draw near to their true potential, a never-say-die spirit of perseverance is required”.

It’s possible that the “martial way” can be applied to everyday life because we are constantly faced with hurdles and hardships. Although certainly times of rest to re-center ourselves is needed, continuing on despite the difficulties – with determination, agility and maturity - will only make the finish line more glorious. (Then of course, there are other finish lines after that).

Newt Gingrich said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of the hard work you already did.” There are many, many stories of successful individuals who sat on a rock for more than three years. One of my favorite stories is that of Harland David Sanders, otherwise known at Colonel Sanders. According to the Unbelievable Facts website, his story goes something like this:

Colonel Sanders left school at 13, lost numerous jobs, his wife left him, and at the age of 65, he retired as a failure dependent on his savings and money from social security. One day, knowing he was a good cook, he borrowed some money, fried some chicken, sold it door-to-door, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken and became a billionaire at 88.

Sometimes, however, personal successes that make up our fullest potential are less grandiose but are just as powerful. A woman who currently lives in Australia and simply goes by the name of Gloria, tells her story on her website, Stronger Braver Fighter:

“Many women [people] go through tough times at one time or another in their life where they lose their identity – bad break-ups, abusive relationships, violence, and so on. I, on the other hand, never had an identity to begin with. That’s because I was taught from an early age that I wasn’t good enough . . . for anything.”

Gloria goes on to describe that she came from a culture where females were supposed to be weak and submissive. Not only that, but appearances counted for everything, so discrimination based on her looks was quite severe. “Being short and overweight, I grew up constantly being told…that I wasn’t smart enough, that I was useless and stupid, and that I would never amount to anything.”

But Gloria persevered, losing the weight through a martial arts discipline. “I realize now that people’s criticisms and judgments of me while I was growing up were like poison to my mind, working to keep me mentally small and weak. We’re all exposed to these poisons in our lives at one time or another. Fortunately for me, I was able to overcome mine.

I have no anger or animosity towards any of the people who put me down in my younger years and programmed my mind for failure, because I know now that it was just an expression of their own fears and weaknesses. In a way I’m actually thankful to them because I believe it’s my tough life that has made me so strong today.”

Sitting on a rock for three years is hard – in more ways than one. But even a cold hard rock warms up from the body’s heat. Even a boulder along the ocean’s edge is eventually reshaped by the waves. If you are experiencing a particularly difficult time in your life, I hope this reminds you to keep on keeping on – keep refusing to give up. Just so you know, I have my days too.

As Gloria stated, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get [to where I need to go next], and I want to help you do the same. Together we can’t fail.”

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

This letter is written in support of Robert Muir and Donna Chapman who are running for Town Council. Diversity of needs due to age, financial resources, health as well as diversity of occupations, interests, desires, opinions etc. are necessary for a thriving community. When comments are made that the Town Council should have unity, should have the same thoughts and opinions about goals, it makes me shudder. Those comments do not reflect the diversity of opinions in town.

Even when goals are shared, there can be many alternative ways to achieve the goals for a better outcome. Windham does not need seven council members who all think and vote the same way. That is dangerous! Having served on the council with both Bob and Donna, I know that they share the same perspectives on some issues and not on others. But they both are honest, dependable, have historical knowledge, understand restraint in government, and understand that a lot of people in Windham cannot afford big increases in taxes. Their common sense prevails.  If you want to maintain the voice of diversity of ideas on the council, I urge you to vote for Robert Muir and Donna Chapman.

Liz Wisecup

Friday, October 11, 2019

Insight: The importance of gratitude and grace

By Lorraine Glowczak

At a workshop luncheon I attended recently, the facilitator offered a few guidelines on what makes a great leader - whether that leadership comes in the form of family, career or community volunteer efforts, she stated that the “rules” apply to all. The facilitator referred to the “ABC’s of Leadership”. At this gathering, we focused on 1) Accountability, 2) Be real and 3) Commitment.

It was the accountability topic that caught my attention the most. I always knew that accountability
meant accepting responsibility for one’s actions but as we discussed the details further, I learned that it also entails: trusting in others and others in you, not making assumptions, setting the example, saying thank you - and meaning it.

As we were about to discuss the “thank you” portion of accountability, the facilitator’s phone alarm sounded. “Oh! I apologize,” she said as she shut the alarm off. “That’s my gratitude reminder.”

Not only was I surprised by the synchronicity of the alarm as it coincided with the subject but the fact this leader makes a concerted effort, setting time aside every day to be thankful for things and people in her life. And, it’s not even Thanksgiving, yet!

Although, I never set an alarm, I do try to speak words of thanks during my most human and disgruntled moments to remind myself how truly lucky I am. It really does wonders in shifting me out of my humdrums. In doing so – it also alters my response to the world and people around me in a positive and graceful way.

It is no secret that we as a nation have become radically divisive and angry. We’ve become rude with each other, throw insults as if they were candy, make assumptions without knowing all the facts – and are incessantly ungrateful for the dedicated work of others. I don’t know about you, but this both baffles and saddens me.

I don’t have any real solutions to this issue, but I wonder what would happen if we all (or at least a majority of us) tried gratitude on a daily basis.

In a 2017 Business Insider online article written by Chris Weller, he tells the story about Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of Belfor Holdings, Inc. Yellen started composing handwritten birthday cards to thank his employees for their efforts and dedication after he was hired by his brother-in-law. He knew the employees felt he was being given special treatment, so Yellen decided to turn the perception around. He’s been doing this for 32 years and now writes over 7,000 handwritten birthday cards. 

Weller writes: “Over time, the gesture has made for a more compassionate, gracious workplace, Yellen said. People feel appreciated and reciprocate those good feelings outward. Some managers have even taken up the habit themselves to write cards for their team members, clients, and loved ones. Other CEOs may consider the gesture frivolous or a waste of time, but Yellen is quick to disagree. He said his experience has taught him that the value keeps coming back in spades. ‘When leaders forget about the human element, they're holding back their companies and limiting the success of others," he said. "Focusing only on profit and forgetting that a company's most important asset is its people will ultimately stifle a company's growth.’”

But I would stretch Yellen’s comment further by adding – without gratitude towards one another - a community’s growth, a nation’s growth - is stifled.

Author and mental strength trainer, Amy Morin writes that grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. “Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge,” Morin wrote.

Professor Dr. Kerry Howells is well known for her academic research on gratitude. She’s been on and has written books and blog posts on the subject. She shared this story:
“When I was a visiting scholar in South Africa a few years ago, I was privileged to learn much about the role of gratitude in Zulu culture. The Zulu people have so many stories transmitted orally from generation to generation about the importance of gratitude and so many rituals where gratitude needs to be expressed. If one did not express gratitude, they would be considered uncivilized or even barbaric. Gratitude is what gives grace to the Zulu culture.” (

If a simple thank you is what gives grace in the Zulu culture – wouldn’t the same be true for the American culture? I’m not a Ph.D. who has studied the results of gratitude, but I would like to believe that being grateful would have some positive effects and make constructive changes in our society.

I suppose the only way we can find out, is by experimenting with our own lives. Let me start now by thanking you – our readers who love us and thank us for our efforts. And, a thank you to area businesses who trust and support us in distributing the community, positive and solution based newspaper. Thank you! Seriously. I mean it. You are the ones who make my day – and you are graceful, civilized leaders in the truest sense.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Insight: Allowing the extraordinary to happen

By Lorraine Glowczak

She turned right instead of left and was heading in the wrong direction. I was sitting in the backseat and didn’t want to be one of those backseat drivers, so I didn’t speak up. Fortunately, the passenger in the front bluntly stated, “We should be heading the other way.” It was then I explained to the driver where we needed to turn in order to reach our destination. I don’t know if we made it, because I woke up.

It was the first of four dreams I’ve had in the past month where I am sitting in the backseat of a car, putting my life – my journey - into the hands of other drivers.
But finally, two nights ago, I found myself dreaming that I was driving my own vehicle. But this
time, although I knew my destination, I needed directions. I called the police from - believe it or not - a phone booth. They were frustrated with me and refused to offer the instructions I needed. Feeling a bit apprehensive but hopeful, I hopped back into my blue Honda Element and drove west, somehow trusting I would make it.

Then suddenly, I was swept into an airplane as it was landing. As we approached the runway, we flew under four beautiful rainbows. I knew I had successfully reached my destination and the real adventure was just beginning. I woke up.

The dreams provide a paradoxical message for me. It is apparent that I need to take control and be in command of the direction of my life, but in order to do so, I must also let go of the concept of control, trusting my instincts, and allow for the extraordinary.

This contradiction in life can be found in everyday events. In fact, it is such a norm that most of us don’t notice it unless it’s of the “hit by a mac truck” variety. Those experiences are deserving of another Insight altogether. Today, I will concentrate on the everyday type.

For example, our very own amazing gazebo builder and Boy Scout, Jamie Louko of Raymond provides the perfect example of being able to successfully live within this dichotomy. (See front page for his story). Reporter, Briana Bizier writes, “Louko discovered during the course of the gazebo’s planning and construction, building projects are rarely straightforward. Louko’s original plan for the gazebo proved to be too close to a land lot line, and his application for a building permit was turned down by the select board. This setback forced a creative reevaluation of his original plan.We were forced to move to the front of the library, which ended up being an even better place to build,” Louko told me. “I am very thankful because I think it was for the better.”’

Jamie had a plan, but he was required to adjust his expectations, and thus control over the situation. This eventually allowed for a more perfect outcome. Much like building construction and plans, life is rarely straightforward. And although we do have some control and command over our lives, most often there are things beyond are control and we must adjust.

I am both profoundly agitated and – at the same time – exceptionally enthusiastic about allowing the extraordinary to happen. When you know where you are heading but don’t know how you’re going to get there or how it’s going to look – your breath can be taken away. Your breath can be robbed by fear AND your breath can be seized by beauty. In between those two extremes, perfect beauty can arise.

If, by chance, on my way to the land of my dreams and goals, I happen to fly beneath four rainbows – you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll take a photo and capture the beauty to share with you – the extraordinary that was allowed to happen.