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Keeping connections: 'The family that plays together, stays together'

Abigail Johnson Donohoo
September 25, 2013
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It’s one thing to talk about work-life balance; it’s another thing to actually find ways to achieve it. Keeping personal lives rich and maintaining connections with family and friends can be challenging, but those who’ve employed creative means to do so say it eases pressures often felt in a time-consuming profession like the practice of law.

Lake escape

DavisWendy4-15col.jpg Judge Wendy Davis of Allen Superior Court (second from right) enjoys time with her family at Lake Wawasee. (Submitted photo)

Allen Superior Judge Wendy Davis and her family found their outlet in a lake house on Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County. Summer weekends, she and her husband and three kids – ages 16, 13, and 8 – head up to the lake to play on the water and enjoy one another’s company. “It’s fun because the five of us can do it together,” she said.

The summer schedule requires some scheduling finesse on Davis’ part. She and her colleagues rotate on-call warrant duty. In summer months, she said she takes weeknights, and her colleagues take most weekends.

The lake house is actually her parents’ place, so Davis’

brothers and their families are also often there through the course of the summer. Not only does the lake house give the family a chance to have fun together, but Davis said it has also served as a backdrop to have great conversations with her kids and their friends.

“It’s a great time to reconnect as a family,” she said. “We spend time singing, laughing and encouraging each other as we learn new tricks.”

The benefits to her family are enormous, she says. “You’ve gotta find ways to get back to your family and find out what’s important. If you don’t have good relationships with your family you don’t have anything. That security of spending time with their family, I think it gives our kids a lot of security in themselves.”

During the school year, staying in touch as a family can be difficult. “We fight to have a family dinner,” she said. But, she and her husband made the decision to be intentional about taking time all year, and especially in the summer, to build family bonds.

Davis credits her father, who bought the lake house a little over a decade ago, with being a great example to her and her brothers. “He was the role model, not only with business and success, but also with family,” she said.

Father/daughter time

Carmel attorney Rebecca Geyer has found a unique way to connect not only with her own father, retired attorney Richard Gole, but also with other father/daughter attorneys in the Indianapolis area. She and three other women get together with their fathers for a quarterly dinner and spend a few hours chatting on topics ranging from work to family to sports and news.

Geyer said she and her father were family friends with Indianapolis attorneys Jeff Slaughter and Nicole Slaughter Hague. Slaughter knew of other father/daughter attorney pairs, and suggested they all get together for dinner, and the group was born. “We all do different things, and none of us practice together,” Geyer said. “It’s interesting to learn about other peoples’ practices.”

The group chooses different restaurants in which to meet, she said. “It’s a nice way to keep in touch, and enjoy some father/daughter time.”

Gole is the only attorney who no longer lives in the area. After retiring he moved to Florida, and they try to schedule dinners around his visits.

Playing the ponies

Fort Wayne attorney Stan Rosenblatt said he tapped into a long-time interest to find a new way to connect with his sons: harness racing. “I grew up in Evansville, right across from a thoroughbred racetrack,” he said. “I used to spend a lot of time at the track and enjoyed it and became a horse racing fan.”

An attorney friend of his was involved in standard bred horse racing, and he encouraged Rosenblatt to get involved. Rosenblatt said the suggestion came at a good time. “As my kids got older, and as they got into high school, there was not as much interaction,” he said. “I was looking for something to open up communication and give us other things to talk about than ‘how is school?’”

Papageorge_2-15col.jpg Taft attorney John Pagageorge and his daughter, Mia, participated in a 406-mile, week-long bike ride across Iowa this summer.(Submitted photo)

So, he got into partnerships with standard bred horses and started racing. The move was a hit with his kids and provided the forum for relationship he’d been hoping for. The two boys would come to the track in Anderson, sometimes alone with their dad and sometimes bringing friends along.

“The hour and a half trip there and back gives you a self-enclosed environment where you can talk and listen,” Rosenblatt said.

This connection has continued through the boys’ transition to college and to the working world.

Not only has it helped maintain relationships with his sons, but Rosenblatt said it is a relaxing getaway for him. “I get away from the office, and I look forward to going down and watching,” he said.

Not heaven, Iowa

For Indianapolis attorney John Papageorge, he and his daughter Mia found a connection this summer cycling across Iowa. The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – commonly known as RAGBRAI, is a seven-day bicycle ride from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, and draws thousands of participants each year. Papageorge, an avid cyclist, and 13-year-old Mia decided over the winter to do the 406-mile trip this summer.

Mia started riding with her dad on occasion when she was about 8 years old, and their excursions gradually grew to longer and longer rides. Mia has been a competitive swimmer for about four years and wanted a break from that, so the two decided to train for and participate in the RAGBRAI.

Papageorge said he started cycling 10 years ago. “It’s the only time I don’t have my phone ringing – I mean, it rings but I don’t answer it,” he said. “I’m sort of away from the legal world, from the stress of all that, and I’m usually by myself on my bike.”

Papageorge said he got lucky in that his daughter also enjoys cycling – it provides an outlet for her competitive, goal-oriented personality, while at the same time giving the two of them a point of common interest.

Finding an outlet

Loretta Oleksy, a case manager with the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program, said it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pressures of life and forget that we need to take care of ourselves and our relationships.

The legal profession doesn’t always encourage that sort of personal engagement, Oleksy said. “I love to hear that lawyers are getting out there and finding ways to stay connected.”

There are many, many different ways families can grow together. In her own family, Oleksy said they have found success with reading a book together as a family and discussing it, chapter by chapter. That face-to-face time is essential, especially in a time when electronic communication is so easy.

With a very busy family, Oleksy said scheduling time on a calendar might be helpful, even though it seems less-than-spontaneous. “Say, ‘this is our sacred time, and we don’t schedule things over this,’” she advised.

A big part of maintaining overall health is developing and maintaining quality personal relationships. Oleksy said people with strong social connections have fewer health-related problems, lower risk of mental illness, faster recover from trauma and illness, and a host of other benefits. And, overall, she said, “People are happier when they are with other people than when they are alone.”•
 

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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