Friday, April 24, 2020

Insight: When life returns to normal

By Lorraine Glowczak

“It’s ironic that you are the extrovert and you work from home all day without ever leaving and I’m the introvert but leave the house, talk to people and go to work every day,” my husband told me as he was getting ready to head out the door. We both laughed, because the paradox between our personalities and present life circumstances is true beyond measure.

After our laughter subsided and we returned to living life in ways that do not align with our individual quirky traits, we did our best to not let the cumbersome routines that have become the new ordinary get the best of us.

One of those new routines includes my participation in Zoom video conferencing. I have meetings and gatherings approximately three or four times per day. This online platform can come in handy as it temporarily satisfies my sociable nature.

However, the other side of the Zoom coin has posed a bit of an issue for me. When I see myself staring back from the flat laptop screen, I try to avoid eye contact with that person at all costs. The woman peering back at me does not look familiar. In fact, I have no idea who she is. Who is that woman with a saggy neck, drooping jowls and wrinkles on her forehead? I knew she had gray hair – but the rest of it surprises me.

How is it that I didn’t notice the beginning stages of elderhood? It looks like there is another new ordinary creeping in and I can’t say I’m jumping for joy at the prospect.

There is a saying often written or spoken by individuals who practice Zen philosophy. “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of that statement and understand it only on a surface level – until perhaps now. Thanks to that old lady on the computer screen – and the Pandemic which forced me into the world of Zoom.

Although there are slight variations to the chop wood/carry water wisdom, one interpretation teaches that mastering your thoughts and perceptions allow you to appreciate the extraordinary miracles in ordinary daily life. By mastering your thoughts, you are not chopped by the wood and carried by the water anymore.

If I must accept this ordinary life of an aging soul, then I will take the bull by the horns and conquer the heck out of it. I will master my perceptions of old age – or at least I will give it a whirl by remembering the attitude of a 98-year-old women I read about recently. The story goes something like this: She told her doctor that when she was younger, she looked like Elizabeth Taylor. When the doctor told her that it must be difficult for someone who was once that beautiful to have aged, the woman responded “What do you mean? Am I not still beautiful?” Yes, I want to be like her.

I know that when the pandemic is over and everything returns to normal, many of us, including myself, will come out on the other side with different perspectives and appreciating things, events, and people we took for granted before. But what I am now learning is when things return to normal – the normal is going to be different. The ordinary will have greater meaning.

Yes. I will still be an extrovert. Yes. I will still use Zoom. Yes. I will still age. But my perception of it all will have changed. I will not regard my adventure into aging with disdain. When things return to normal, I will have learned to chop wood and carry water with the best of them.

And, when that old lady looks back at me during a Zoom conference call and begins to judge the shifting tides of my skin, I will look directly in her eyes and respond, “What do you mean? Am I not still beautiful?”

And believe me – that personal shift in perception is one big extraordinary miracle!

May you also experience your own miracles when life returns to normal.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Technology in the Garden of Good and Evil. Is there a solution to climate change?

Scientists have called global climate change an existential threat to mankind's sustainable life on Earth. Vast numbers of scientists now believe that the elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide is from man-made primarily from fossil fuel use. This gas effectively traps solar radiation (heat) close to the surface, and further manifests with increased ocean temperature – +1oC since the mid-19th century. 

This small temperature increase causes more water vapor to enter the atmosphere naturally and results in more intense weather events, perversely including droughts and wildfires. Scientists have projected that a rise of +1.5oC will become a “tipping point” where the onset of climate change will become unstoppable or irreversible by any measure.

This was why nations banded together in the 2015 Paris Accords to slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases by mid-21st Century.  In the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic, the world's nations must remain unified in fighting a new enemy and vow “to slow the growth” of greenhouse gas emissions. It will be equally painful to our economy and culture, but in this battle, the enemy is “Mother Nature,” and we all know from the late 70's Chiffron margarine commercial - “That it is not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Also, like the COVID-19 war, climate change has no territorial boundary or political party. This time it is simply “life as we know it will end” for all species period.
A major lesson from today in 2020 is that we must trust the same scientific process that led us to extend “Slow the Spread” to slow the increased rate of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere before mid-century.  It will not be easy economically or from any technology points of view.
I submit that we must turn to our own EPA and its legacy of reliance on science to manage the environment. Its wisdom and dedication led to near reversal of the environmental affronts of the 20th Century in roughly 50 years. The EPA Alumni Association was formed in 2008 to address ongoing educational and mentoring needs. Its motto is a feisty “We're Not Done Yet.” EPA has repeatedly focused on science and technology to implement a new paradigm that suggests optimistically future successes moving forward on the climate change front.

The challenge will be to infuse a degree of efficiency, creativity, in R&D [research and development] already underway in transportation, construction materials and standards, and electrical power generation. The technology fix is underway in research in solar panels, lighter weight batteries, and pollution prevention practices that alter the impact of manufacturing on multiple products. 

What's urgently needed now is a societal will that empowers technology and excites the public to a more sustainable future for the human race. I close with this interesting observation from our Constitution itself that uniquely supports scientific innovation and creativity. It provides our Congress with the authority "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

Ray Whittemore

Friday, April 17, 2020

Insight: Beautiful Interruptions, part two.

By Lorraine Glowczak

C.S. Lewis once stated; “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life.”

Clive Staple Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian best known for his “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Screwtape Letters” books. He questioned much of ‘real life’ during his early years and it was not until he was in his thirty’s that he began to see all of life’s splendor, even in the midst of – and despite of – its darkness.”

In a previous Insight published in September 2019 entitled “Beautiful Interruptions”, I wrote about
and used this famous quote by Lewis as I described a typical ‘real’ life day of my own.

Yes, I had (and continue to have) plans that were and are constantly being interrupted, but I was also able to count all the adventures as a result of the everyday intrusions. What I didn’t know seven months ago is that there would be a much more potent interruption taking place today. For me, the current events are a simple but an irritating distraction – but for others the current times can be a traumatic event based upon individual circumstances. Is my ideal of “beautiful interruptions” still beautiful today?

To be honest, the dust hasn’t settled yet for me to have clear vision for that answer - but I suspect that I (and perhaps many others) will be able to uncover something special – something beautiful when it is over. But until then, what?

WebMD offers the following guidelines and helpful suggestions for those who may be going through exceptionally distressing times:

1) Face it and don’t avoid it. “As tempting as it may be to try to ignore a traumatic event….facing your feelings head-on is important because you want to be able to take care of them in a way that helps you move forward.
2) Don’t isolate yourself. (Obviously, this advice was published before self-isolation was a thing.) But seriously, we have many opportunities with online chats, FaceTime and Zoom that make it easy to connect with others. Don’t have access to the internet? Phone calls still work. And, I actually received an old fashion handwritten note through snail mail last weekend. It made my day! Write a letter if you must – just stay connected with loved ones and friends in whatever way you can.
3) Exercise and meditate – As WebMD states, experts say these two things are one of the most effective ways to handle the stresses we are experiencing today. But, also, be gentle with yourself. “Don’t force things, though. If you’re tired, it’s OK to rest.”
4) Keep a routine – If there is anything I have learned through all of this is keeping some sort of routine. Researchers at Tel Aviv University state that predictable, repetitive routines are calming and help reduce anxiety. Routines help you have some form of control of your day and subsequently, your life. For me personally, a daily and weekly routine has been a lifesaver.
5) Celebrate life – Even the small and ordinary are causes to celebrate during stressful times. Did you take a shower? Celebrate. Did you get out of your PJs? Celebrate. (Did you just giggle? Or crack a smile? Celebrate).
6) Turn up the music - British dramatist William Congreve stated, "Music has charms to soothe a savage beast." And – while you are at it – dance too.

So, is today’s exceptionally weird interruption as beautiful as I thought they were seven months ago? Darned if I know. But while we experience temporary unpleasantness, we might as well “face it head on” and dance, celebrating life in small ways. And when this is all behind us – maybe for a majority of us there is the correct assumption that “we will realize how little we need, how very much we actually have, and the true value of human connection.”

If this is the outcome of today’s circumstances, then yes, once the dust settles – I believe the current conditions will be judged as a beautiful interruption. Until then? Make your own beauty whenever possible. Write a letter, turn up the music and dance away….in your PJs!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

EPA at 50 - From “Silent Spring” to Today

“The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today
 for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard” Gaylord Nelson.

A vast majority of Mainers did not experience the dawn of the modern-day environmental movement in the United States in the decades of the 50s and 60s, that were championed by Senator Nelson and Maine's own Edmund Muskie, but all have most assuredly benefited from its focus on public health and general natural resource protection and/or remediation. 

The resulting legislation did not come easy as there was much resistance to ceding power to the federal government over state's rights, and the nation was in the midst of considerable growth. At the same time, environmental regulation was often seen as a growth deterrent and a factor affecting America's competitiveness with other worldwide economies.   

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created in 1970 as a unique partnership of federal and state resources to address numerous issues broadly related to clean air, water and solid waste disposal.  It was built upon prior efforts of predecessor agencies like the United States Public Health Service, Federal Water Pollution Control Agency and The Departments of Agriculture, and the Geological Survey.  These agencies included expertise in hydrology, atmospheric science, farming, forestry, and earth sciences and serve as EPA's core of expertise in many environmental areas.

Rachel Carson's iconic “Silent Spring: energized public pressure to pass seminal legislation and the EPA.  Earth Day turns 50 on April 22, 2020.

Raymond C. Whittemore
Standish, Maine

Friday, April 10, 2020

Windham Parks and Recreation offer safe Easter Egg hunt

Looking for a fun family activity to do while you're practicing social distancing on Windham's trails? Why not join in a community-wide Easter Egg Hunt!

Windham Parks and Recreation have hidden Easter Egg signs along the trails in Lippman Park, Mountain Division Trail, and the Lowell Preserve Story Walk. Look carefully - each egg has a word written on it! If you find all 9 egg signs, you can unscramble the words to discover a funny Easter joke!

The Easter Egg Hunt is currently running from now until Sunday, April 19th to give everyone plenty of time to participate. There is a worksheet that can be accessed on the link below that may help you to keep track of all the eggs you find. When you unscramble the joke, please send us an email with your name, age, and the joke itself at Parks& You will be entered to win a prize!

As always, please remember to follow good social distancing practices. “As we continue to provide fun family activities during this difficult time, anything we are offering is taking into account recommendations from the CDC,” stated Windham Parks and Recreation Director, Linda Brooks. 

“Consequently, no eggs are actually on the premises to be picked up, we still want to encourage social distancing on the trails, and if a parking lot is full, please consider visiting one of the other parks and trails.”

Brooks also reminds participants to go only with immediate family members and allow at least six feet of distance between yourselves and any other families. “We want to encourage everyone in Windham to safely enjoy time outdoors,” she said

To access the worksheet, go to:

Resources for businesses and workers

By Sen. Bill Diamond

As we face one of the worst pandemics in a century, this is a moment that requires all of us to step up and do our part. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is necessary to protect our community and reduce the burden on our health care system. The only way to do that effectively right now is for everyone who can stay home to do so. 

This is a moment that has required our local businesses to make sacrifices. Essential businesses and
their workers have quickly stepped up to keep our community supplied with the things we need, while doing what they can to limit the spread of COVID-19. Other businesses in our community have shut down or have significantly altered their operations to protect public health.

For businesses that find themselves struggling financially during this time, there are some resources available. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has become a sort of clearinghouse for information on the programs available to businesses during these trying times. This includes federal programs, such as the Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the US Small Business Administration, and loan programs from the state. They also handle “essential” and “non-essential” business designations. For more information visit, call 1-800-872-3838 or email

Workers have also been asked to step up. Those in the health care field find themselves in an uncertain and scary situation every day when they show up for work, as do workers at grocery stores and other essential businesses. Many of these workers have kids who now have to stay home from school, creating additional challenges for parents. These people are heroes in our community, and they deserve our support and gratitude.

Other workers have been asked to stay home from work, while many others have been put out of work altogether. Last week, more than 23,000 people filed for unemployment in Maine, and more than 21,000 did so the week before that. To put those numbers in context, leading up to this crisis, the Department of Labor typically processed about 800 such claims a week. 

If you have been laid off, had your hours reduced or are otherwise out of work because of the COVID-19 outbreak, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. To apply, visit or call 1-800-593-7660. Please note that call wait times have been very long as the Department works to process an unprecedented number of claims. 

Finally, we must all continue to look out for our own health. If you feel symptoms, such as a cough, a fever, fatigue, or difficulty breathing –– which are symptoms of COVID-19 –– call your primary care provider or the health care facility you normally use. It’s important that folks don’t just show up unexpected, as that can further spread the disease.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to, you can call or text the Maine Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112 or use their online chat at

For any questions about COVID-19 and Maine’s response, you can call 211, text your zip code to 898-211 or email You can also visit for up-to-date information on measures taken in Maine.

I am also here as a resource and am happy to help in any way I can. You may call my office at (207) 287-1515 or send me an email at Let’s get through this together.

VFW members visit nursing home to let veterans know they are not forgotten

Two members of Windham’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members made a trip to the The Cedars, a senior retirement nursing home community located on Ocean Avenue in Portland on Friday, March 27th.  Roger Timmons, VFW Post 10643 Chaplain, (right), and Ken Murch, past Post Adjutant, (left) took time to cheer isolated residents there.

Timmons created and gave a sign to Cedars so that those who visited the home would let Veterans and those caring for them know that they are not forgotten. The sign reads: “You are our heroes. You are not forgotten. We love you. God bless you.

Insight: Clear as mud

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s been four weeks now – but who is counting? 

It took me two and ½ weeks into the self-isolation journey to really settle into this “new”, albeit temporary, way of life. In the beginning, while working in my makeshift home office – I felt scattered and unable to focus. I was multi-tasking beyond my normal quota, and as a result, rarely efficient at completing any one task competently.  

Once I was able to transition into being more focused and grounded, I faced more changes as one “new normal” slipped away to make room for something completely different, requiring another innovative adjustment.

Luckily, I have always been the optimistic sort and it especially comes in handy these days. Or does it? “Work hard, stay positive and don’t let fear take away your focus”, I tell myself often. “Everything happens for a reason and transitions are just a part of life.”

The last part of that sentence is definitely true. Life is full of transitions. Much like death and taxes, you can’t stop change. And change is stressful. In an article written by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology, she addressed the topic of transitions like this: “Some of these [transitions] are predictable, such as graduating from high school at about age 18 (obviously this was written before March 14th), and some are completely random, such as having a tree fall on your roof during a storm.”

Well, we have collectively had one huge tree fall on the roof of lives – and boy has it ever been challenging. One way some of us, namely me, get through these challenging times is to tell ourselves that everything happens for a reason.

What is ironic, however, is I tend to be a philosophically rebellious sort and, considering the current situation, I’m beginning to protest my own optimist nature. Not that I’m abandoning it altogether, because there is a valid place for enthusiasm. Sometimes, optimism can only act as a band-aid to a wound that requires much more healing – and, again sometimes – it can often harm rather than inspire those who are facing incredibly difficult circumstances such as we are facing today.
And – this is where all of this is clear as mud to me. Wanting meaning for why we are dealing with this, I search to find answers.

One book I read about two years ago was entitled, “Everything Happens for a Reason (and other lies I’ve loved)”. The author is Kate Bowler, an Associate Professor at Duke Divinity School who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of 35. She has stated that she had everything she ever wanted - professorship at an Ivy League College, a happy marriage to a high school sweetheart, and after a long period of infertility, she gave birth to a son. But when she discovered that there would be the possibility of an impending death, taking all she worked for and dreamed of away, her views changed.

In a 2018 Ted Talk, Bowler stated the following: “Americans believe in the gospel of optimism. It’s a mindset that has served me well. It drove me to achieve, dream big, to abandon fear. It served me well – until it didn’t.” All she knows for certain now is “….life is really beautiful and life is really hard.”

Bowler admits to not having found a reason for her cancer diagnosis and can offer no magical formula to healthy living, but the one thing she has experienced from it all is a profound tenderness and passion for others and all of life. This gives me hope.

You know what else gives me hope? The profound tenderness and passion I’ve witnessed in our two Sebago Lakes communities since this world-wide pandemic began. (Need an example? Read the two front page articles in this week’s edition).

I don’t deny that a bit of “snippiness” is happening among us from time to time. Let’s just be okay with it knowing that things are a little unusual right now. But observing the more positive actions among us, it balances my optimism, making it more authentic in response to today’s circumstances.

Although life right now, and the reason why the pandemic is happening, is still clear as mud to me, I can at least rest in the certainty that life is extremely hard – and life is incredibly beautiful.
I promise to hand in there if you do!

Easter Sunday ukulele hymn sing-a-long, prayers and message to brighten challenging times

Capt'n Uke (otherwise known as Dana Reed), will be providing an unusual Easter service celebration in the usual SLUKES (Sebago Lakes Ukuleles) fashion this Sunday, April 12th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The music will include old familiar hymns that many love and enjoy and the gathering will take place on Facebook Live (Sebago Lakes Ukuleles page).

Reed, who has served as Navy chaplain for 28 years states he has performed services of worship under adverse conditions. And currently, we are currently experiencing challenging times. “I know how to provide and facilitate for all,” he stated on his Facebook page. “You may be from a faith other than my religious tradition or no faith at all. So, please do not let that stop you from joining me online.”

In this online Easter celebration, Reed will intersperse the song time with a reading or two, address any prayer concerns, and may offer a message for the day.
Be sure to check out Capt’n Uke’s website to get a copy of the latest PDF file of all the songs/hymns that will be played. If you don’t play an instrument, Capt’n Uke encourages you to join anyway.
Go to for this and other musical adventures.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Insight: The indestructible nature of the human spirit

By Lorraine Glowczak

What can I offer to you, our dear and faithful readers, that hasn’t already been said?

I have asked this question every Wednesday at 2 a.m. on publication day for the past three- and one-half years as I prepare each week to write this editorial. But I have never once imagined I would be faced to write an “Insight” during times like these.

With all the uncertainty we currently face, most are experiencing anxiety, vulnerability, fear and isolation in ways that has never been experienced in recent years. I have no previous knowledge in such matters and am flying by the seat of my pants into unknown territory and have no words of wisdom to impart. So, I turn to more wise and talented writers before me who could possibly guide me through the current challenges and mysteries of life we are experiencing now.

The first author that comes to mind is that of a young German-born writer from the Netherlands. Anne Frank. If there is anyone who exuded the indestructible nature of the human spirit during difficult times – it was (and remains) Anne Frank.

As I write this, I am entering into my third week of self-isolation – not so much for myself but to prevent the potential spread of the virus onto others. Although I haven’t lost my mind yet, some days I wonder how much longer I can remain cloistered in my small 900 square foot home with my husband and small dog – without going bonkers.

Anne, on the other hand, lived with eight other people in an approximately 450 square foot apartment (the secret annex) for two years. Anne and the rest of the group lived in hiding with the constant fear of being discovered and could never go outside. They had to remain quiet during daytime in order to avoid detection by the people working in the warehouse below.

With this in mind, what words would Anne have penned if she were alive today? What poetic and hopeful advice would she have shared? Of course, one will never know, but she did offer the following bits of wisdom in her diary that could be useful to us now as we face our own fears in uncertain times:

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“I don't think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains”.

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that 'a quiet conscience makes one strong!'”

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

The fact is, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last. We don’t know how many local and small businesses will have to shut their doors. We don’t know how long we will have to socially-isolate. We don’t know how much we ourselves will be affected by this virus (financially and physically) and we don’t know how many more people will die. But if we can, from time to time, grab onto Anne’s indestructible and resilient spirit, we will get through this. I believe if we can just hang in there, we will get to the other side of chaos with strength of character – even if it means awkwardly holding on to ideals that appear to no longer apply.

Is it possible that if we can become a part of the indestructible nature of the human spirit that Anne exemplifies, we can rise above the fear, anger, sadness and anxiety – even if for a moment?

When this time is behind us and I look back, I hope this was the path I had taken and did not let the insanity that is currently knocking on the peripheral edges of my mind suck me in. Wish me luck. And for you, our dear and faithful readers, I wish the best during these unusual and difficult times. I hope Anne offered you as much optimism and faith as she has given me.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In Times of Need
This morning I picked up a check for $400 for the Backpack Meal Program from Stephen Napolitano at Dairy Queen. I want to publicly thank him and the multitude of businesses, organizations (religious and other) and the many residents of our communities who have stepped up and supported this Program that helps so many. We may be keeping our social distancing, but you are quick to respond, and I can't begin to tell you how much that response is appreciated.

I need to add the following reminder because we need to remain a wonderful caring community and "Even though we are in a pickle right now, remember we are not the only pickle in the jar"
This is a tough time for all but worse for some. Be kind to those people who are going to work so that the rest of us can go to the store and buy what we need. Remember they are not the reason that some items are not available, and they also have families at home that are counting on them staying safe and not bringing the virus home with them. Be thankful to our Public Safety personnel, Police, Fire and other people who are out there serving us at their own risk.

Remember to show our gratitude and stay safe for yourself and your families.

Always grateful,
Marge Govoni
Backpack Program Coordinator