Friday, February 22, 2019

Insight: Bravery and the convertible

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is happening again. Last time it was a quote that stayed with me for weeks, this time it is a word. The term, “bravery”, has been whipping past me the last two weeks as if it’s driving a 1940s Triumph Roadster convertible, donning sunglasses and smiling with not a care in the world. Bravery, it seems, can come in many forms and arrive in odd and surprising ways.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes bravery as: “the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty the quality or state of being brave; courage.”

Sometimes bravery means following your instincts, knowing that if you don’t do it – you’ll regret it - even when there is a possibility of failure. You take the chance anyway.

Holden Willard (see front page) is an example of boldly following your instinct. Author, Steven Kotler, describes this form of courage as “decision making in the face of uncertainty” bravery. Willard exemplifies what some, if not most of us wish we could do and be in life – to live our life doing exactly what we love, despite the ambiguity that comes with it.

As a full time studio artist/painter, Holden chooses to listen to that quiet voice instead of the noisy advice of others. Although he may face a certain level of insecurity and difficulty as a result, he has the mental strength to do what he feels called to do.

There is another type of bravery that comes in the form of unsuspecting circumstances such as homelessness, poverty and food insecurity. (insert Link) Kotler refers to this courage as “stamina”. Although the author focuses in on physical stamina; emotional strength and determination take the shape of bravery as well. To face the unknowns of shelter and food not only requires true grit but a level of resilience and perseverance, despite humiliation, to get to the other side.

The fact is, it takes bravery and courage to live. Period. And, if you are alive and reading this, I applaud you. You are making it and deserve the most beautiful things life has to offer.

And for those who are brave enough to courageously dive a little further - kudos to you. I image that when death knocks on your doors, there will be no regrets. And instead of following that light to the end of the tunnel, you may just hop into the front seat of a Triumph Roadster convertible, donning sunglasses and driving off into the sunset while waving behind you, grateful that danger, fear and difficulty isn’t what controlled your decisions or choices. That, in fact, you loved being alive.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Republicans are anxiously awaiting the release of Governor Mills’ first State budget. We hope that it fulfills the Governor’s repeated promise, that it will provide “sustainable” funding for the massive expansion of health insurance, especially for single, able-bodied, childless adults, without containing new taxes.

Before the details are released, it is important to reflect on where we are today and how Governor LePage and Republicans have put Maine in the strongest economic position it has seen in decades.
In 2010, Maine was teetering on the brink of financial ruin. As the incoming Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, I vividly remember the challenges that the new administration faced. Governor LePage inherited an $800 million budget shortfall from his predecessor. Medicaid had a biennial budget deficit of more than $200 million, and our state owed the hospitals $750 million.

Governor Mills begins her term with Medicaid on sustainable financial footing; it has not run a shortfall in years, and we no longer owe hospitals money. Republican leadership resulted in a $1 billion turnaround.

Maine now has a record high number of businesses, record high worker participation and record low unemployment. Wages have risen, fewer people are on welfare and we have fewer children living in poverty.

Our Budget Stabilization Fund (‘Rainy Day fund’) has a record level balance of $272.9 million, equal to 8% of Annual General Fund expenditures, a ratio better than the average among AAA credit-rated states. This is important in case there is a future economic downturn,

Through hard work and a commitment to living within taxpayer means, Republicans delivered to Governor Mills a robust, growing economy, money in the bank, low debt and a sound State budget.  
We must maintain a healthy economy that reaches even more people, including working families and much of rural Maine. It is critical that we:

(1) Avoid tax or fee increases. Lower taxes have produced more revenue for the State budget. The most recent general revenue forecast by the Revenue Forecasting Committee (the 2020-2021 biennium), has been revised upward by $263.2 million (3.52 percent). This is another example of how our economy has greatly improved over the last eight years.

(2) Ensure that Medicaid expansion for single, able-bodied, childless adults has a sustainable funding source that doesn’t take resources from Maine’s truly needy. Taking one-time monies from the $21 million tobacco cessation fund is not wise or sustainable, especially in the face of a youth vaping epidemic. We must also recognize that the federal match continually declines, requiring additional Maine taxpayer resources in future years;

(3) Live within our means by setting priorities, so that we focus on the core mission of government and not try to be everything to everybody. “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” We need to ensure that Maine’s most vulnerable citizens are our first priority,

(4) Avoid unnecessary debt that lowers our credit rating and increases our borrowing costs. The State of Maine’ general obligation bond debt is currently $376 million. Without hearing from the Governor, legislators have already submitted over $1.57 billion in new debt requests. New debt requests are increases every day. For the Governor’s budget to be sustainable going forward, we must avoid a rapid increase in debt payments and the higher interest costs that will result from a lower credit rating; and

(5) Ensure that all budget decisions are transparent and provide data upon which results can be measured. This is a concern when one party rule is combined with a news media that is now sympathetic rather than skeptical of government decisions. Taxpayers and citizens have a right to know how their money is spent and whether or not it is efficient and effective.

When the Governor’s budget is released and moves through the legislative process, it is unclear what level of involvement Republicans will be given. In order to meet the Governor’s promise of “One Maine,” Republicans need to be part of the solution.

Republicans will be willing partners in supporting the pro-growth economic and fiscal policies that are producing results for all Mainers. We will oppose a return to the irresponsible practices that left our bills unpaid, our accounts empty, state employees working without pay, taxpayers financially strapped and an economy in ruins.

Going into 2019, our State’s economy and budget is sound because of hardworking Mainers and Republican leadership. We will work responsibly to make it even stronger.  

Rep. H. Sawin Millett (R-Waterford), a farmer and former educator, represents District 71: Norway, Sweden, Waterford and West Paris. He previously served six terms in the Legislature (104-105th and 121-124th) and has a lengthy public service career that includes service on the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and as Governor Paul R. LePage’s Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Insight: Perfectly imperfect education

By Lorraine Glowczak

Mrs. Hensley walked through my second-grade classroom door every morning at, what seemed to me to be, the same time every day. “John and Sally*, you can go with Mrs. Hensley, now,” my teacher, Mrs. Dooley, would say to the two students if they were unaware of Mrs. Hensley’s presence.

I wondered where they went for an hour or two every day while I and the rest of my classmates sat at our desks that were lined in straight rows facing the front of the classroom. I always longed to go on whatever adventure they experienced once they walked through the doors into the hallway.

I loved school because I had many friends and Jefferson County North Elementary School in Winchester, Kansas was this seven/eight-year-old’s big social outlet. But the real purpose of attending school was not fun for me and I longed to escape the struggle. I wrestled with learning simple concepts and was mortified when my academic abilities, or the lack thereof, were exposed.

My wish to flee the difficult moments finally happened one day when Mrs. Hensley walked through the door and Mrs. Dooley said to me, “Lorraine, you get to go with Mrs. Hensley today.” I was ecstatic.

I discovered that John and Sally went outside to one of the mobile units that sat directly beside the red-brick school. I knew one side was for the Kindergarteners but didn’t know the designation for the other side of that mobile classroom. It was a mystery to me and my innate quest for adventure was satisfied at the chance to explore the unknown.

My seven-year-old self realized that it was a place that you got to learn in a fun and special way. Although hands-on and experiential education is mainstream in today’s curriculum, in 1973’s midwestern small town, USA, it was an innovative concept and the words “hands-on/experiential” were not uttered at that time among teachers and administration. I unknowingly got to participate in something that would become mainstream in future education.

Math and spelling were the subjects during my time spent in that mysterious side of the mobile unit. (Or was it one, three or more hours? Time escapes you as a child.) We went outside and gathered up snow. We measured it along with other ingredients and made snow ice cream. From there, we worked with worksheets. I just remember the numbers and spelling of words as it related to our experience making snow ice cream.

I excelled and felt smart. In fact, as the other two struggled – my heart went out to them – so I would help them. Or, I tried. Mrs. Hensley always interrupted me and focused my attention on something else. I didn’t understand why she kept interfering with my collaboration with them as they worked on their own, unsuccessfully. I was convinced they needed my assistance.

For the first time in my life (because, you have lived a very long life by the age of seven and eight), I loved learning. The subject matters that I struggled with didn’t intimidate me in those few hours. I was so excited about the experience that when Mrs. Hensley returned us to Mrs. Dooley’s classroom to be with the rest of our classmates, I burst in with excitement. “Hey, you guys – that was fun! We even made snow ice cream!” To which Mrs. Dooley sternly chastised me. “Lorraine. Sit down!”

I was disappointed the next day when Mrs. Hensley made her daily appearance to pick up John and Sally. I was told that I wouldn’t need to go with them anymore.

As an adult, I realize that I was a potential for Special Education since I didn’t quite fit into the mainstream – but since I excelled in Special Ed, I didn’t fit in there, either. I was most likely one of those students who would be classified as “falling through the cracks.”

Do I blame my teachers for not knowing what to do with me – the anomaly? Absolutely not. Was my educational experience perfect? No. However, I never once felt shamed by my teachers and I always felt supported. The educational staff may not have been perfect, but they were perfect at providing the best education they could with what they had. In fact, if it was not for the support my teachers gave to me, I wouldn’t be here today as a managing editor and writer of a local newspaper whose mission is positive and solution-based news, typing this Insight to introduce this publication’s education section.(be sure to check out page 7 and beyond in our online and print section, "Eagle Youth News").

Supporting our local school system and education is the reason we have decided to add this section in this week’s Windham Eagle newspaper. This is our first attempt and we plan to do more. We hope you check it out – but more importantly – we hope the students, teachers and administration feel the support we deeply wish to give. Afterall, education that happens today is what our future becomes. 

From my perspective, after having interviewed students in the Windham and Raymond communities who I had the opportunity to meet, we have a great future ahead of us and we have nothing to fear. Everything is going to turn out just fine.

*To honor their own journey in education, their names have been changed.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Insight: The sucker punch

Lorraine Glowczak

Has it ever happened to you? You read or hear something, and the words resonate like an echo for weeks afterward? That is exactly what happened to me after reading last week’s quote of the week by Harriet Tubman, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

Not only has that quote stayed with me all week, but it wore boxing gloves giving me a right hook to the jaw. “Am I a slave and don’t know it?” has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past five days, and in so doing, have been parrying the punches of reality.

Of course, I’m not referring to the word ‘slave’ in the traditional sense - one who is owned as the property of someone else, especially in involuntary servitude (i.e. human trafficking. This is a very real and important issue and my intention is to not downplay this practice).

The form of slavery I am describing is the one in which someone is completely subservient to a dominating influence. Many of us, if not all, are often controlled by a specified object such as money, technology, fear, fame, self-improvement, drugs or time. I know for certain that I’m held in ‘voluntary’ servitude to more than one of these forces. And much like Harriet Tubman stated, most often, I am totally unaware how much I recklessly keep myself dominated by these influences. (Until, that is, I see a hand in a boxing glove aiming toward my face.)

Frequently, we measure happiness by these things that keep us enslaved. For example, we sometimes work to obtain money versus working for satisfaction. We sometimes use technology to escape from the demands of every day life, only to find we have eliminated one on one contact with each other. And, sometimes the natural instinct to be cautious turns to fear, which can paralyze us, preventing movement forward into the unknown.

Money, technology, and fear are all useful resources and, without a doubt, help us to live fully. But if we are not paying attention, these things can also silently rob us of our freedom - the freedom to make a life, meet new people, and explore new thoughts and landscapes.

I wish I could offer some amazing solutions that can help prevent us from tripping and falling into that rabbit hole but, with perhaps the exception of a one-two punch in the face, most of these sorts of lessons are learned in our own individual ways, one step at a time. The awareness itself, may prevent us from falling too deeply into that trap.

The only possible solution I can suggest is to read some of the many wonderful self-improvement websites and books that are abundantly available. I have plenty of books to share with you. In fact, I have shelves and shelves and….Oh wait. I feel another right hook coming my way.

Blind Date with a book

For the month of February, the Windham Public Library, 217 Windham Center Road, will be sending patrons on a blind date with a book. Take a chance on a wrapped book—it might be the book of your dreams, or it might be a dud. Either way, you’ll have something to talk about! For every blind date you go on, you’ll be entered to win a jar of Hershey kisses.

Raymond Village Library now offers pass to Maine Maritime Museum

Are you looking for a fun way to spend one of our cold, snowy weekends? What about taking an educational trip the whole family could enjoy?

The Raymond Village Library recently received a generous gift, which allowed the library to acquire a family pass for the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Founded in 1962, the Maritime Museum is located on the banks of the Kennebec river in Maine’s own “City of Ships.” The museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits, in the case of a rare warm day this winter, as well as Mary E, a newly restored 1906 schooner. Maine wooden shipbuilding tradition is still thriving in the Maritime Museum’s working Boatshop, where families can chat with local craftsmen. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information about hours, exhibits, and attractions can be found on their website:

The family pass includes free general admission to the Maritime Museum for a family group of up to eight people. The pass can be signed out for a day of your choosing.

The Raymond Village Library also has free or reduced-price admission passes for the Southworth Planetarium, Portland Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, and the Maine Wildlife Park. Please contact the library with any questions at (207) 655-4283.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Insight: Love makes the world go round

By Lorraine Glowczak

Today is February 1 and we all know that February brings with it heart shaped candies, cupid, cards of sweet sentiments for those we love and candlelight dinners with our significant others (or perhaps with our close and dear friends). It’s the month of love – and some say it is what makes the world go around.

Diversity also makes the world go round
I believe this to be true. Well, sort of. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, one definition of love is, “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, i.e. maternal love for a child.” Another definition: “concern for the good and well-being of another”. This love, I think, may be the more accurate force that propels the circular motion of the earth.

And speaking of the concern for the good of another, February is also Black History Month. It is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States during the month of February. The concept originally began by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was the second black American who received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard.  He created Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in February 1926 to remember important people and events that played vital and contributing roles to history that were originally left out of the history books.

As a result of Woodson’s efforts, I was taught a more diverse and thorough history (well, perhaps I should clarify that I received more historical data than was available in 1926). The fact is, being exposed to African-American past narratives helped to develop in me a concern for the wellbeing of others and has facilitated an awareness of how diversity plays a role in our lives for the betterment of self and society.

Did you know that studies indicate that diversity can boost the quality of decision-making and can encourage people to be more creative, more diligent, and harder-working? Studies have also shown that a more diverse population can develop innovation, bring unique perspectives that shape knowledge and solve problems.

Writers like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglass Johnson, Claude McKay and musicians like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Jimmy Lunceford and artists like Aaron Douglass, Richard Barthe, and Lois Jones were all people who captured images of American experiences not known by all. These diverse stories - spoken through words, sounds and images – inspire most of us to learn from the past and gain a greater understanding in present and future endeavors. 

So, what does this and Black History Month have to do with love – the concern for the good of another sort of love? Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is quoted as saying, “Knowledge gives us power, love gives us fullness.” Through history, education and the artistic endeavors, there is a greater potential of gaining diverse knowledge that creates a full and fulfilling life for all. And I think it’s possible that is the sort of love that makes the world go round.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am a resident of Windham and I want to thank the Windham Public Works for the great job they're doing on the roads. Twice a week I make the trip to Falmouth via Falmouth Road, and the difference between the Falmouth roads and the Windham roads is remarkable. Just this Tuesday when I made the trip, as soon as I crossed the line to Falmouth, the roads became snowy and icy, even though it hadn't snowed for over 48 hours. And on the return trip, as soon as I crossed the line back to Windham, I noticed clean roads once again. In addition, I live on a hilly street that is not densely populated, yet. I'm always impressed by the job that is done, keeping it well-sanded so we can easily traverse the hills. 

I can't imagine that it's an easy job to keep all our streets clean during and after these storms, so wanted to be sure Windham Public Works hears what a super job they are doing. Thank you!

Best wishes for warmth,
Melissa Condon