My husband and I spent a long New Year’s weekend sans kids at his parents’ lake house in Brown County, IN. The lake house is my little piece of heaven, and as close to a free vacation as you can get. It takes us a little over an hour to get there, but seems a world away.

The house is nestled on a lake inlet, right on the water. It even has its own little dock, complete with a canoe and a paddleboat. There are trees everywhere, and it always makes me a little homesick. I’m from California, and it reminds me of Lake Tahoe, where I spent many a summer with my parents and grandparents.

It’s amazing to me how quickly the stress slips away the second I walk into the house. Sure, it’s starts to melt off me as we’re driving the winding roads lined with pine trees and dotted with an occasional deer or other critter, but I literally feel a sense of calm and well-being once we’ve unloaded the car, walked into the house and closed the door.

Because this weekend is all about US. Not our kids, not our jobs, not our parents, not our new laminate floor that already needs repairs, not our dog who likes to pee in the house, not the home office we need to get set up for hubby, not the PILES of laundry that three teenagers can create…just US.

We spent this 3-day weekend doing nothing but sleeping, watching movies and reading. It was absolutely glorious! The only thing that would have made it better would have been a few inches of snow. As everyone knows, snow on the lake (and the surrounding trees) is magical. But I sucked it up and dealt with the lack of snow, and enjoyed the view of the icy lake and the drip, drip, drip from snow and ice as it melted on one unusually mild day.

Normally, we go for walks. We take pictures, count how many deer we see (our record is 26), and breathe lots of clean air. But this weekend, we barely even went outside. In fact, the only time we were outside was to check out the new digs that the local beaver had created. Apparently, “busy beaver” is a well-deserved term. This dude, who has evaded the local conservancy folks and their beaver traps, has managed to chew down 19 trees. NINETEEN. And he’s created his home underneath the brand-new dock of our next-door neighbor. Which I think is pretty funny. Apparently, beavers like that “new house” smell as much as humans.

My point? I’ve learned that “us” time is important. Really important. And if your life is as crazy as mine, it’s easy to put the person you love at the end of the line. Making time to reconnect not only improves your relationship, it improves your outlook on life. All seems right with the world. When we refill that tank, we then have more to give out to others. We’re more patient with our kids. We’re more productive at work. We’re happier.

So take the time to reconnect with the one you love. Or take some well-deserved “me” time. Maybe you’ll even see a beaver.


I love it when people ask what I do for a living. I do quite a lot of different things in my job, and sometimes it’s hard not to share TOO much information. Hey…I love my job, which is all too rare these days.

But I usually answer with “I give away money”. I find that this is usually an attention-getter. In fact, at that point, I usually have someone’s undivided attention.

You see, I have the honor and privilege of handling financial requests that from the various non-profits in my community. This is just one of the many facets of my job, but it’s one of the things I love the most. When I started working at Hendricks Regional Health many years ago, I knew how generous they were, but didn’t know HOW generous. Like “hundreds of thousands of dollars” generous. Every year.

Mind you, things have changed in the past few years as the hospital has tightened its belt due to increasing competition and the state of the economy. I’ve seen my budget cut, as the need to increase the budget to cover the uninsured has increased greatly. So many people have lost their jobs and their health insurance, and our mission first and foremost is to meet the healthcare needs of our community whether people have the means to pay for that care or not. And in the scheme of things, fixing a broken leg or saving someone’s life is way more important than our logo on the back of Little League t-shirts.

But being a non-profit hospital means that we CAN put the money back into the community. Because it’s the right thing to do. A couple of “for-profit” hospitals have moved into the Indianapolis area in the past few years, and profits go to their physician owners. Not so for a non-profit. We also never turn anyone away from our emergency room. Ever. And our ER wait time averages about 15 minutes – something most other hospitals in Indianapolis (and the country) can’t touch.

Off my soap box.

It’s difficult to say “no”. In the past couple of years, sometimes my “yes” has become “no” as I work with a smaller pot of money. Or sometimes my answer is “yes, but we can only give you half”. I’ve lost sleep over some of the tough decisions we’ve had to make. But the fact is, we have a finite amount of money available and have to do the best we can with it. And hopefully, we make a difference in the lives of the people that are touched by the worthy organizations we help.

So, I “give money away”. Actually, it’s more difficult than you might imagine.