Saturday, January 30, 2010

Survived Polio, Flourished Despite Adversity

A few days ago, I found an obituary that had been given to me by one of the Maine Resilience coaches, Tony Strodel. The obituary had been given to Tony by a friend of his and was the obituary of the friend's brother. The obituary began by saying that Donald Wallace had been told throughout his life that the "end was close." Mr. Wallace had contracted polio as a young father and, according to the obituary, was not expected to leave the hospital alive. He had also suffered an injury at birth that had taken sight from one eye and left him with partial vision in the other.
Polio forced him to use a wheelchair. But Mr. Wallace adapted to his physical limitations by developing all sorts of "gizmos and gadgets" to overcome the disability. According to his daughters, "Nothing slowed him down." His life was full of adventure and fun. His faith and a wonderful childhood helped make Mr. Wallace the man that he was. According to one of his daughters, Marcella Brown of Gray, Maine, it was his spirit that allowed him to overcome adversity. "When I was a teenager," she said, "I felt, 'That's Dad.' His spirit can carry him over anything." (Obituary written by Ann Kim and published in the Portland Press Herald. Mr. Wallace died on January 18th, 2008.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

An Optimist

In an interview with Victoria Kennedy in the December 20th, 2009, issue of Parade, Dotson Rader, outlined in some detail the characteristics of a man who was "always an optimist," Senator Edward M. Kennedy. After his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer in the early summer of 2008 he began, according to his wife, Victoria, "figuring out what we're going to do about this...We're going to move forward."
Kennedy believed in universal health care and sponsored legislation to create it but, according to his wife, he was "no Pollyanna." He suffered defeats over the years but, even though he might get upset, he never "reacted with anger. He always took the long view and didn't take it personally." His faith comforted him. The lesson of his life, according to Victoria, was perseverance. "You never give up." Optimists don't. They act on their values and their faith. They take the long view. And they plan, even when confronting their own death.

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Police Poetry Calendar

A couple of weeks ago, the Police Poetry Calendar for Portland, Maine, was released. The program is sponsored by Art at Work which is a national initiative to improve municipal government through strategic art-making projects with City employees and elected politicians. Marty Pottenger was the driving force behind the police poetry project which is in its second year. Portland Police Chief James Craig believes it is "a real opportunity to show the community what police officers are all about." The calendar is dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Rick Betters who died this past year. He was well loved by his officers, and as Assistant Chief Joe Loughlin put it, "No matter what your relationship, you learned something from Rick Betters." The poetry is quite good and worth a read, and as Chief Craig said, it does give you more of a sense of who police officers really are. One poem struck me in particular entitled, "Jenny and I," describing a police officer's involvement in the investigation of the physical abuse of a young child.
"My 18 years wearing camo then blue, her 18 months wearing black and blue, Jenny and I have learned we cry inside."
In addition to giving us a better sense of who police really are, the poetry project allows officers to acknowledge to others and deal more directly with the strong feelings that they must manage on a daily basis, but often without being able to express them "outside."

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.


Barrett Nichols of Falmouth, Maine, celebrated his 108th birthday recently. Mr. Nichols was a child when Henry Ford made his first Model-T. He has lived through two world wars and the Great Depression. His friends say he is an avid golfer, has a good sense of humor, and still loves his cigars and rum and tonics. We know that humor and exercise play a role in resilience. And, at least for Mr. Nichols, it appears that cigars and rum and tonics have also played a role.

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Love After All

Recently a friend of mine gave me a copy of an article that appeared in Oprah Winfrey's magazine, "O," in November of 2007, entitled "Love at Last." It reviewed six lessons the author hd learned from her investigation of those who find love late in life. Two of the lessons, keeping an open mind and being open to reunions with old friends and lovers, seemed to focus more on the issue of being flexible and willing to try out new as well as old things...and people...again. Other lessons focused on being persistent (Lesson 4: "Try, Try Again") and optimistic. Lesson 3 entitled "Say Your Prayers" focused on faith and belief that good things could still happen in your life, perhaps with some Divine intervention. Last of all (Lesson 6: "Enjoy Every Moment") emphasized keeping the focus on the present. One day at a time, a good philosophy. Finding our creating love at last requires resilience.

Duct Tape focus & goals

Duct Tape Isn't Enough focuses on human technology and what we can do to survive the challenges facing our society in the 21st century. The program is based to a large extent on our experience with the Maine Resilience project, which began in January of 2007 and has as its goal, bulding on and sustaining the resilience of all Maine citizens. It is right that the prgram was developed and implemented first in Maine. The people of Maine, with their kindness and strength, demonstrate on a daily basis so many of the skills and the attitudes that are the comerstone of the program. They are its Maine ingredient.