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Hurricane Katrina

Before August 29, 2005, it was funny. In just a couple of hours, my 4-year-old daughter Katrina and a playmate managed to litter her room with toys, books and dress-up clothes in typical, 4-year-old fashion. My husband looked at the trail of debris and said, with a laugh, there was evidence that "Hurricane Katrina," had been through there.

Weeks later, the words "Hurricane Katrina," bring up images, which are dark, despairing and deadly. They are a grim reminder that governments and government responses are only as good as the weakest link and that desperate times can bring out the worst in human nature. The best thing each of us can do to be ready for the unthinkable is to have our "houses" in order.

By our "houses" I mean everything from the financial to the physical to the spiritual. We all know of steps we could take to get both our businesses and personal financial houses in better shape. I recently learned of a great example of this, right here in Hawaii. Island Air Chief Executive Officer Rob Mauracher mentioned that days before Katrina hit oil suppliers on the Gulf Coast, he made the decision to buy and hold fuel in inventory for his company. While this is a common business practice for larger airlines, it's an unusual move for an airline of Island Air's size. However, it's going to save Island Air big bucks.

These days, our physical "house" or our own bodies are of interest to more than ourselves or our loved ones. Enlightened employers are starting to look at employee health status improvement as the way to reduce healthcare (and insurance) costs. Take Times Supermarket, for example. The thousand-employee company has not been content to just mandate wellness checkups since 1997. Times plans to start monitoring and counseling diabetic employees next year by using their pharmacies and pharmacists in a new way. As you will see in this month's Living Well feature, the company believes this investment in its employees will lead to both lower healthcare costs and healthcare insurance premiums.

Just as we are free to make healthy or unhealthy choices for our bodies, the status of our spiritual "house" is first and foremost a highly personal and individual decision. Yet there is no doubt that growing spirituality, across many faiths, is a national trend. A recent poll by Newsweek and Beliefnet of 1,004 Americans shows that 55 percent describes themselves as both religious and spiritual and 24 percent describe themselves as spiritual, but not religious.

We're teaching our daughter, Katrina, to clean up her room. We all need to pay better attention to the care and keeping of our "houses."

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