Friday, January 25, 2019

Insight: Comparing pork chops and applesauce

By Lorraine Glowczak

The other evening, my husband made me a wonderfully romantic dinner that consisted of baked porkchops, stuffed with brie and sliced apples, with a mixed roasted vegetable medley on the side. Great food and a loving husband. Feeling a little bit of envy at my luck in life?

Or, does your mind, as a result of watching too many reruns of the Brady Bunch, go directly to the episode where Peter Brady imitates Humphrey Bogart, mimicking Bogart’s vocal inflection to tell the family what they are having for dinner: “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” As a child growing up in the late 1960s and early 70s, I instantly fall into that linguistical catchphrase whenever the words “porkchops” and “apples” are used in the same sentence.     

For those who choose to spend their time more wisely and have not seen this Brady Bunch episode, Peter attempts to create a new persona for himself, after being told at a party that he is dull and has no personality. He tries Bogart on for size. Afterall, Bogart is far from boring.

Which brings me back to the original question. Did you feel a tinge of jealousy as I described the dinner made for me by my husband?

For the record, my point is not to bring out your envious nature but to shed light on how we may often compare ourselves with others. Like Peter, we all want to be a part of our social tribe and whether we believe we lack personality, don’t have enough money, don’t have that marble kitchen countertop or travel as much as we’d like; all things we deem important or believe successful, it’s human nature to compare ourselves - leading us into feelings of unnecessary despair.

It is no secret this comparison flaw has increased over the past ten years since the blossoming of social media. In fact, a new term, “Facebook depression”,  has been used to describe the loneliness and alienation one feels as a result of excessive social media use. Afterall, when you see photos of your friends having fun together at a party while you are sitting home alone, or a coworker standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or photos of delightful looking food your classmate is about to eat, it’s easy to compare others’ happy lives and believe the rest of us have somehow failed.

Short of cutting ourselves off from all social media or social contact, what are some steps we can take to limit our natural response to compare? In an online article she wrote for Psychology Today, medical doctor and wellness expert Susan Biali, M.D suggested: “avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds as much as possible [but instead], use social media purposefully, specifically choosing what you will look at and keeping it to a minimum.”

Additionally, she added, “have you given thought to how the things you post might negatively impact others? Could there be a way of posting and participating in social media which would be less curated, more real, and less about showing off?”

And speaking of showing off. I suspect that when I described the evening pork chop dinner; you had envisioned my husband and I sitting down together with candlelight and a glass of wine, talking and laughing, sharing the joy from our spectacularly happy day filled with adventure.

The reality was this: It was a long day at work and I got home very late, eating the meal by myself because my husband was already in bed. The only talking that happened that evening was with my beagle-lab mix who seemed annoyed at me repeating, “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” To top it off, the pork chop was tough from sitting in the oven too long.

Two days later, coming home late after a town council meeting, my husband was in bed but this time, he had not made me a meal. Instead, I made and ate one package of ramen noodles. Jealous now?

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Reporter Walter Lunt has a real talent catching the essence of people in his Before the Memory Fades column. After I read his stories on Dr. Sydney Branson, “Windham’s Last Country Doctor, and Edith Bell, “Fiercely Dedicated Servant of Church, Youth and Community”, I felt like I had drawn up my chair and had a great visit with both of them. Thank you, Walter, for bringing back so many memories of both people who were so important to Windham’s history.

Linda Griffin

Dear Editor,

I am writing to thank Governor Mills for acting so quickly to release the Senior Housing Bond. Her leadership on this critical issue will enable more Mainers to age in place through the building of new, affordable, accessible and safe homes for older Mainers. Additionally, funds will be dedicated to home repair and weatherization of existing homes, some of which are the oldest in the country. 

I was privileged to speak at the news conference at the State House on January 15th when Governor Mills spoke and then released the Housing Bond funds.  I spoke to the crowd about my dear friend, Loraine, who was unable to remain in her own apartment because, as she aged, she could no longer manage to climb stairs. She once fell while I was with her and was clearly in danger of serious injury if she remained where she was.  Thanks to a move into senior housing, she is now in a less expensive apartment that is on one floor which will enable her to live independently for years to come.

Loraine is one of many. There are nearly 10,000 older Mainers who have been waiting to move into affordable housing literally for years.  Mainers of all ages, but particularly older Mainers, need this investment in affordable, accessible, safe homes. Thank you, Governor Mills, for releasing the Bond, thank you Senator David Burns and Speaker Mark Eves for your leadership on the original bill, and thanks to every legislator and advocate who worked to make this happen.

Sammee Quong
AARP Maine Volunteer Advocate

Friday, January 18, 2019

Insight: Coexisting on a bicycle built for two

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was sometime in the middle of last week when I stopped counting the numerous cars I saw donning the bummer sticker, “coexist.” It was uncanny how they kept popping up as if to slap me in the face and grab my attention. So, I began to wonder what the word might really mean – especially for me. 

I am aware that the design of the words contains religious emblems such as the Islamic Star and Crescent, a peace sign, the Jewish Star of David, and the Christian Cross. It is suggesting to us to put aside our personal belief differences – and – well, coexist. Diverse philosophies are incredibly fascinating to me on an historical and cultural level and, in this particular circumstance, I can coexist with the best of them. 

But still, I began to feel annoyed at each passing bumper that boasted this advice, even though I like the ideal of its message. I felt confused. As a result, this writer who accidentally fell into the role of inquiring reporter, did a bit of researching to see what she might learn.

I came upon an online article written by Rick Paulas who had his own response to this particular sticker. He stated something that lead to understanding my own annoyance. ”…..what happens when you put anything on a bumper sticker is that you remove the suggestive tone and make it a command: ‘Get along, or else.’”

Although seemingly inclusive, there is an air of self-righteousness in the term “coexist” - forcing the reader to fit into a certain mold – and paradoxically – doing the opposite of what it suggests.
It’s true we all will always be different, often with very opposing viewpoints. But it is also true, that it might be wise to find a way to hang out together somehow since we don’t have any other choice.  Maybe it would feel less demanding if we changed the word, coexist, to a simple image of a tandem bicycle.

I personally have never ridden on a bicycle built for two, but blogger/author, Ann Pederson 
explained the experience of tandem bicycling when she and her husband, Gary, participated in a biking trip across South Dakota.

“For those not acquainted with tandem bicycling, it’s not as easy as it looks. For two people to really work together on one bike, they must learn to trust each other, compensate for the other’s exhaustion, and cooperate in ways that test any relationship. Some bikers on the trip cracked jokes about how a tandem either makes or breaks a relationship. Gary and I learned how to find a good balance, how to communicate quickly and directly, and how to let go into the joyous ride that resulted from our new-found tandem lifestyle. As a person who loves to be in control and take leadership, I had to learn how to let go and trust that Gary’s cues and decisions would work for both of us. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t contribute to the ride. That’s another joke that I began to tire of hearing—that the person in the back simply is along for the ride. I can attest to my participation by sore muscles, early bedtimes, and ravenous appetites at the end of the ride.” 

She went on to say that the experience created in her a greater understanding of trust and faith in others and herself.

Perhaps with the image of a tandem bike as a bumper sticker could create a more suggestive tone of working together, rather than a command. 

Hum? Maybe I’ll start a new viral bumper sticker sensation. Or – just borrow another one I saw a year ago: “You may coexist – but your driving still sucks.”’

Friday, January 11, 2019

Insight: Remarkable and amazing

By Lorraine Glowczak

Making fun of people is not something I normally do when I get together with friends, but one day last month was an exception. My friend and I were not making fun of anyone in particular, just those few irritating people who are arrogant and think they know everything.

Still laughing and joking back and forth, I added, “You know – they say that what we judge in others, we supposedly carry that same trait in ourselves.” My friend said she has always believed that statement to be true. Our laughter simmered down. After all, we were being – well - so arrogant and all.

But the truth is, people do frustrate us from time to time. Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, a proponent of the philosophy mentioned above, stated that the irritation we may feel towards others is an experience that can teach us something about ourselves.

But he wasn’t the only individual who believed in this philosophy. Author, painter and poet, Hermann Hess has been quoted as saying, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part ourselves doesn’t disturb us?”

Generally speaking, we all want to have a fulfilling and productive life – a life that comes with happiness, contentment and peace. And sometimes, we let our perceptions and judgement of others get in the way of that. If what the well-known psychoanalyst and painter have said is true, then we might have a bit more control of that rewarding and successful life we long for, despite the fact that we have little control of others and their – well – irritating ways.

Maybe it’s possible by realizing that when we judge someone in this way, it affects us and our happiness more than the other person. By being bothered or exasperated by a few - may say more about us than the other person and it shows us how we perceive the world. And perhaps, if we can take Jung’s advice and be more curious about that “irritating” feature we find in others, we can actually learn more about ourselves – which, I tend to believe, contributes to that ever-longing desire of a deeply fulfilling life. Perhaps it’s possible that by realizing we also exhibit our own irksome ways, there might be a less that disturbs us.

“You know, the opposite can also be true,” my friend replied back to me later after our initial laughter subsided. “What’s that?” I asked. “It seems it would be true that what we enjoy about others, we must also enjoy about ourselves.”

On that note - to all of our remarkable and amazing readers out there – have a great weekend!

Homeless veterans food pantry needs your help

This is the second annual winter appeal for help with donations of non-perishable food items to the Portland Vet-Center Homeless Vet food pantry. American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 of Windham has been supporting this important venture for two years and is entering its third season with the cupboards bare after the holidays. 

Post 148 Service Officer, Chuck Whynot and assistant Post Service Officer, Bill Cassidy, cleared the  
reserves to support the holiday needs in the Portland Homeless Vet community. It is now time to restock the shelves for 2019.

The Portland Vet-Center Food Pantry is a small enterprise serving approximately 20 to 30 veterans a week who are homeless or food insecure. Over the past two years, the Legion has collected donations and distributed over two tons of food under this program.  You can help by donating non-perishable food items such as: soups, canned or pouched type meat products, cereals, drink boxes, snacks, and canned pasta products. 

Donations can be brought to the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, (behind Hannaford’s) on Wednesdays from 9 to 11 am. Food collected on Wednesdays is sorted and delivered on Thursday each week to the Portland Vet-Center for the pantry. All donations for the Portland Area homeless veterans are greatly appreciated.  Financial donations are also appreciated and will be used to purchase items not donated. Checks may be made payable to: Field-Allen Post 148-Food, PO Box 1776, Windham, Maine 04062. Thank You again for your generosity,

Friday, January 4, 2019

Insight: Going out on a limb

By Lorraine Glowczak

Collins Dictionary states that the term, “going out on a limb” is defined as: “[doing something you] strongly believe in even though it is risky or extreme and is likely to fail or be criticized by other people.”

As we enter the new year and set our resolutions for 2019, there are some of us ready and willing to jump off the cliff and “go out on a limb” to live life in a way that may take more courage than we believe we might have.

It is true that the annual habit of creating “whole new you” resolutions has a low success rate, but there is something to be said about self-reflection and its contribution to a life lived with intention.

Whether you make resolutions or not, a look back in the present moment in order to move forward into the future is not only helpful in reaching goals (if that’s the sort of thing you are in to) but has the potential of creating gratitude for what we have, providing more courage and confidence to step out of ways that no longer serve us or to provide the conviction we need to chart a new course.

We often associate “going out on a limb” as taking a big leap of faith into the unknown, and although this is true, sometimes going out on a limb are those small courageous steps to everyday living.

Maybe going out on a limb for you is:

Being yourself: To live life authentically, in our own way takes a lot of courage. Even poet e.e. cummings knew how difficult it is to live in such a way when he stated, “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” And, if that is not going out on a limb – I don’t know what is.
Slowing down: In this busy, check off daily “to do” list sort of culture we find ourselves in today, perhaps for you, it takes courage to not have a “to do” list every day. Maybe there will be a certain level of bravery to relax, watch the sunset and the sunrise, to laugh with a friend while at the same time, you battle the guilty feelings of taking it easy from time to time.
Following your gut instincts:  Knowing when to trust your intuition and when to disregard logical reasoning can be more like jumping off a cliff than going out on a limb. But there is a lot of evidence that suggests that your “gut” is one of your greatest advisors and mentors. Still, it can be one of the most challenging endeavors of the year.

Whatever your “going out on a limb” may be for 2019, if you can gather the courage to follow it through, despite the times it may seem risky, extreme or criticized by other people, who knows see what kind of “new you” will sprout as a result. Be afraid, if you must, but do it anyway. The only person who you will have to answer to at the end of 2019 is you. I’ll wish you luck if you throw some luck my way.