Friday, March 27, 2020

Insight: Laughter is STILL the best medicine

By Lorraine Glowczak

“We’re feeling stir crazy,” a friend of mine said in an email recently. “My son had a meltdown on Monday because he wants to go back to ‘real school’. Then I had a meltdown because I want him to go back to ‘real school’, too!”

I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the verge of insanity myself, but her note produced in me my customary “throwback head” laughter. After my belly chuckle subsided, I realized it was the first time I laughed like that in two weeks.

Surely I’m not the only one who could use a little reprieve from this highly unusual anxiety ridden time. As the saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but is laughter appropriate in circumstances such as this?

In an Online Forbes Magazine article, entitled “Laugh Away the Apocalypse with these 15 Coronavirus Memes,” staff writer, Abram Brown quoted Adam Padilla who is known for his creative work with funny memes. Padilla expressed his thoughts about joking in the midst of this horrible pandemic.

“Humor is helping us get through this. It’s about keying in on the common threads that all we have in our new lives.”

Hara Estroff Marano, Editor of Psychology Today, states that laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain. She also said that laughter reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort.

I think it is safe to say there is a lot of emotional pain and discomfort happening these days.

As far as I’m concerned, a dose of laughter every day will, if anything, heal our spirits and lighten our thoughts so we can live life as normally as possible, whatever normal is now.

One new normal that has popped up overnight since the coronavirus has halted our lives is the current memes that you see on social media.

Online dictionaries state that memes are a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

The following are a few examples of memes as they relate to the current COVID-19 virus.

Stay safe, exercise often and be sure to get your daily dose of hilarity. After all, laughter is STILL the best medicine – especially in today’s circumstances.

Individual volunteers his time to help with essential shopping and errands during pandemic

Richard MacLaughlin, a Windham resident, wants to help elders and other high-risk members of the community by helping with grocery shopping and other essential errands. While shopping for his family, he was concerned to see many older folks out grocery shopping. He posted an offer to help on the Facebook group: Windham Maine Community Board but has not yet received any takers. He contacted The Windham Eagle in an effort to reach Windham community members that may not be online. "I Imagine there are people out there, scared, and needing assistance," said MacLaughlin. "I didn't think my wife's at-risk parents were taking the virus seriously enough, so we sat them down and had the talk. After they did an initial shop to take care of their essentials, I've been bringing them groceries."

MacLaughlin has the capacity to help others and wants to do so not only for those in need, but because it "fills his cup too." He explained that in helping others, it fulfills him as well. And, he added, "When I keep myself busy, I get off my phone and away from social media and digital distractions, and that helps keep me grounded and feeling more positive in general."
If you need help with essential shopping or errands, please contact Richard MacLaughlin at (207) 747-2882.  Please leave a message if he's not available. He will return all calls.

Seeking materials to help produce 3D printed medical masks locally

Dave Townsend, a Windham resident, is trying to create 3D printed medical masks to help out in this pandemic we are now experiencing. He is asking if anyone in the area may have contacts that would be able to help with the necessary filters, elastic straps and seals needed to complete the masks for distribution. Currently, Townsend’s 3D printers could produce about 100 to 150 masks per week to distribute to local healthcare facilities. If you or someone you know could assist Townsend with his goal and help others at the same time, please contact him at

Friday, March 20, 2020

Insight: Valuable lessons learned from the past

By Lorraine Glowczak

Do I even touch upon THE inevitable subject of today? Or should I dance around the larger than average-sized elephant in the room to give us all a break from the daily barrage by not mentioning THE virus?

As much as I want to give myself – and you – an occasion away from it all, I’ve decided it would be irresponsible of me as a writer if I completely ignored and didn’t address this highly unusual time we all are experiencing. Although I will not dig deep into the subject of the coronavirus, I will lightly tap into it with the intention to cheer your heart and provide a bit of hope.

I will start with words of wisdom from Tom Mockaitis. He is a professor of History at DePaul University where he teaches World Civilizations. He has this to say about our current situation: “The pandemics of the past offer valuable lessons. First, in all probability COVID-19 will not come close to the severity of any of the great pandemics. We have far more knowledge and resources to prevent infection and treat this disease than did our great grandparents in 1918. Second, fear continues to be as contagious and debilitating as the disease itself. Considerable evidence suggests that COVID-19 is not particularly lethal to healthy people.”

I don’t know about you – but I feel slightly better by his uplifting words. In fact, Mockaitis says it all in his first sentence: “The pandemics of the past offer valuable lessons.”

One day, after we have all survived the present moment, this experience will one day be in the past. We have an opportunity right now – today - to be an example for good and offer a valuable lesson to future generations,

As I write today’s Insight (Wednesday, March 18th) it is my mother's birthday. If she was alive today, she would have been 91 years old. It goes without saying I miss her deeply and I especially miss our talks. I wonder what advice she would offer me today - in light of recent circumstances. I suspect that since she has been through the Great Depression, she would be slightly concerned about the present situation but would know, from experience, all will turn out well.

I can’t be certain what lessons she would impart on to me as we face this very unusual time in our generation but, based upon our talks in the past, I believe she would have offered the follow pep talk:

There is always enough to go around. And if there is not, humans are innovative and creative so don’t let your anxieties get the best of you.

Family and friends are most important. In fact, when you believe you have lost everything – you realize how much you have gained. Communities come together in times of misfortune.

There is a big difference between what you want and what you need. Yes, we all would like the latest in material objects – but they never replace things and memories like the sharing of warm fresh bread out of the oven lathered with melted real butter.

We need each other to be happy. Protect your family – and your community at all cost. They really are all you have. And when it comes down to it – it’s really not about you. If don’t have community? What good is that?

But above all the hardships is love. And hope. And laughter. And family.

Those are the lessons I belive my mother would have shared with me if she was alive today. And in honor of her – I will share her valuable lessons of the past on to you. Be well!


Towns of Windham and Raymond updated information


Friday, March 13, 2020

Insight: As the snow melts

By Lorraine Glowczak

The warm sunny weather we’ve been experiencing the past few days has put a spring back in my step and I’m loving every minute of it. Although I do receive snow with open arms during the wintertime of the year, I’m just as happy to see it go as we head fully into March.

However, as the snow gently recedes and melts away, it slowly exposes the trash in the ditches along
the roads I travel. This brings back a memory from my childhood.

I was six years old in 1971 when Keep America Beautiful, Inc. produced its anti-pollution campaign. It was probably the best-known and most guilt-inducing public service announcement at the time. It’s the commercial staring actor, Iron Eyes Cody as a Native American shedding a single tear at the sight of a trash-filled and smoke laden landscape.

The words in the ad go something like this: “Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country and some people don’t,” states a narrator in a baritone voice. 

Apocalyptic music follows as someone tosses a bag of half-eaten fast food out the window of a passing car. It lands and scatters at the actor’s feet. He looks forlorn into the camera as the tear rolls down his cheek. The narrator continues, “People start pollution. People can stop it.”

Without a doubt, this commercial made a massive impact on my six-year-old psyche and I became an environmental activist – well – at least for an hour after I saw the ad and until something else caught my attention. Eventually the commercial stopped running and although I never became an activist in the traditional sense, you will never catch me throwing trash out the window of my car. That tear really made its mark on me. But more accurately, I do love the natural environment that Maine has to offer, and I would like to preserve it as best as I can.

In about one month - on Wednesday, April 22, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Whether you have been deemed an official “tree hugger” or not, we all have a certain responsibility to the environment if we wish to maintain the life we have now.

It really does not matter whether you are a conservationist, or you simply enjoy the Maine outdoors, it behooves us all to assume a certain obligation to not mess up our own back yards. Our actions do not have to be big, profound, or impressive (but if they are, contact us and we’ll write about you!).They can be simple everyday actions that work within our everyday lives.

One small action I have done in the past happened during my morning walks. I took a trash bag with me and pick up garbage thrown along the side of the road. I would have to stop every two or three seconds, and the trash bag was completely full in less than a ¼ of a mile.

Just as I was beginning to feel I was making a difference; I would then notice more trash reappear after a couple of days of having not walked. This brought back my memory of “the lone tear.”  
Although it seems I’m trying to save the Earth, that’s really not what I’m doing at all. I’m selfishly saving my own butt and the way I have become accustomed to the joys of being in nature.

If there is any truth that the planet is a self-correcting system then it would seem that the earth, in all its natural intelligence, will adjust just fine. Humans, however, don’t adjust so well. We love things to remain the same and we fight change with all our might.

Whether it’s four-wheelin’ in the countryside you enjoy or a nice meditative stroll through a forest path – we all want the same thing – for the beauty of nature and all it has to offer to remain as we know it.

Comedian George Carlin once said that the planet itself will be just fine. It will just “shake us off like a bad case of fleas” to free itself from the object causing its pain. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to be shook off the planet just yet.

So, this may be selfish (again) on my part, but would anyone out there be interested in joining me in self-correcting trash habit behaviors? Here’s the deal. Starting today, I will stop buying plastic coffee to-go cups. If you see me with one, I will owe you coffee.

If you join me, then perhaps next spring when the snow melts yet again…the roadways will have less trash. And perhaps, somewhere, someplace, somehow.....there will be less tears…less fleas.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Insight: The Boogie Woogie Tribe of Bozos

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Our ancestors were not bigger than the animals they took down most of the time or faster than the animals they took down most of the time, but they were much better at banding together into groups and cooperating. This was our superpower as a species We banded together. Just like bees ought to live in a hive - we ought to live in a tribe. But we are the first humans – ever - to disband our tribes. And it is making us feel awful, but it doesn’t have to be this way.”

This is what journalist, Johann Hari, had to say in his 2019 Ted Talk regarding his research on unhappiness and loneliness. Although I am not an expert in the field of psychology, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall. The feeling of isolation has become such an issue in today’s western societies that the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called loneliness a “growing health epidemic” and in 2018, Britain appointed a Minister of Loneliness to help combat their own “epidemic”.

There have been moments in my own life when I have been without a tribe and Hari is right, it felt awful. But, for the most part, I have always landed among a group of people who I could always call my own – a group where I can ban together with others to face challenges bigger than I could manage alone. One friend of long ago once said that she had finally found her “boogie woogie tribe” referring to those of us in her group. Since then, I have borrowed her phrase when I find myself among a relaxed group of friends where my loud laughter and personality quirks are accepted as endearing attributes.

There are many complicated reasons why there is an increase in loneliness and since I do not have the credentials to identify them, I can’t offer professional solutions. I can, however, share a bit of what I have learned from my own experiences at having walked through the land of isolation.

One contributing factor to my own past self-imposed seclusion was the result of holding myself to unrealistic standards - feeling as if I didn’t quite measure up or was not “perfect” enough to quite fit in. But eventually, I grew a little wiser and realized I’m just like everyone else. I’m not the only one who carries imperfections. As another friend told me just the other day, “We are all just bozos on the bus.”

I recently came across an article written by author, Elizabeth Lesser. She had this to say about the expression, ‘bozos on the bus’:

“I have co-opted the phrase and I use it to begin my workshops, because I believe that we are all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments-mistake-prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world. None of us are models of perfect behavior: We have all betrayed and been betrayed; we've been known to be egotistical, unreliable, lethargic, and stingy; and each one of us has, at times, awakened in the middle of the night worrying about everything from money to kids to terrorism to wrinkled skin and receding hairlines”

So, if you are lonely and isolated because you don’t quite feel you measure up, remember Lesser’s words of wisdom. And if there are other reasons for your loneliness, and you are capable of getting out of the house, perhaps a few of the following guidelines can help you get over that hump and find the tribe you so deserve:

*Hang out with like-minded people by joining a club or taking a class to develop a hobby.
*Try volunteering as it connects you with the community around you. There are so many organizations that need volunteers, you are bound to find something you enjoy.
*Participate in your favorite sport.

*Write down your thoughts to process your emotions and get a clearer idea where your head is.
*And, of course, there is no shame in reaching out for professional or pastoral help.

Just remember, we are all bozos on the bus and, if loneliness is where you are now, perhaps small steps will eventually lead you to your perfect boogie woogie tribe of half-baked-mistake-prone bozos.

Census takers needed now

The U.S. Census Bureau is still looking for applicants for some temporary, part-time jobs as Census Takers.

Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the House of Representatives and inform how state, local and federal lawmakers will allocate billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities every year for the next 10 years. Thus, an accurate count is essential, and your help is needed.

You can make a difference, help your community and earn extra income for doing it. Apply online at #2020CensusJobs #ApplyToday