Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stay-cation Central

May is almost over, and I'm taken aback by that! This year seems to be whizzing by at breakneck speed! CSUC graduation is over, high school graduation is on the horizon, and my term as Rotary President is quickly coming to a close. (Probably can't come fast enough for the rest of the Club....they've GOT to be tired of ME by now!)

The economic news in California just won't seem to get better. No matter how much I wish for it, or how many new pairs of pretty shoes I buy to try to stimulate a sluggish retail sector, it just seems to want to plug along at its own pace. So heck...let's look at the bright side anyway!

Ever heard of the word "stay-cation"? It's a new term that's been bantered about lately. Simply put.... it means staying put. Spending your vacation time in your own backyard.

I'll tell you what...those can be some of the most relaxing days ever! No airport terminals, no baggage claims, no humorless armed guard poking through your personals in your carry-on trying to determine exactly what that tube of "Preparation H" is for. (It's for undereye wrinkles, I swear to God! Look it up in Glamour Magazine!)

A "stay-cation" will save you money! Let's face it, travel expenses are way too high! But there is an economic bright-side to a "stay-cation". The money you DO spend will be spent locally, and that's a really, really GOOD thing!

And think about it. How much more relaxing would it be to plan a real vacation right here in Butte County? There is so much to do and see. Some of it you may not have experienced since you were a kid (or maybe not at all, which is just sort of sad).

Climb Feather Falls or visit Devil's Kitchen in Upper Bidwell Park. Go visit Bidwell Mansion and get a fresh taste of local history. (When I was a kid, we used to slide down the staircase banister. Please don't do that! We were naughty 4th graders, and we got in BIG trouble.)

Go to a matinee movie and then out for dinner at a lovely downtown restaurant. Finish the evening at a local ice cream shop.

Take a tour of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, then have a late lunch on their pub patio.

Take an early morning ride on as many bike paths as you can find. See how far you can get, and how many different ways you can get home. You'll be surprised what new things you'll see while you're enjoying the fresh air and exercise. When it gets hot, take a dip in the creek. Pack a picnic lunch and watch the kids explore our beautiful park.

Get a babysitter and spend a romantic night in a local hotel/motel. We have lots of lovely local lodging rooms in town that I bet you've never even seen!

Visit the many historic sites in Oroville. Drive up to the Centerville Museum and spend the afternoon at the Covered Bridge. Drive up to Paradise and check out their antique shops. A little further up the road is Sterling City, where they've got on of the cutest little churches you've ever seen.

I've told you a lot, but I've really only scratched the surface!

With so much to do, how do you decide? Simple....visit the Chamber of Commerce! We are "Stay-cation Central"! Come by and let us help you find an itinerary for your family "stay-cation". We've got maps, brochures, community event calendars....everything you need to actually PLAN a stay-near-home vacation for your family.

Remember...the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center isn't just for visitors! It's for YOU, too! Come on down and let's chat!

Monday, May 4, 2009

OMG...did that really happen?

Sometimes you just wish you could have a do-over. I wish we could buy do-over's like you do mulligans at a golf tournament. Buy as many as you need, keep them handy for when you need them. In my perfect "do-over friendly" world, you could use a do-over for just about anything. My sister could use one when she has in "did I really say that out loud?".

Man, do I wish I would have had one available a few weeks ago. I write this story now, several weeks after the event, because I've tried in vain to suppress the memory and figure maybe I should just purge it instead. So here goes.

I'm a member of President Paul Zingg's Advisory Board at CSU-Chico. The Advisory Board funds special awards for Chico State students who excel at community service. We drop into the classroom unannounced and surprise the student with their award. It's really fun. At least it was until a fateful Tuesday in April.

I was in a hurry. No surprise, I'm almost always in a hurry. It was windy and cold that day, and I was late getting over to President Paul's office to meet the other members of the Board for the presentation. All the way over I was wondering how I would keep the dust and pollen out of my eyes and my wildly blowing hair from getting stuck in my lipstick. Little did I know, these would be the least of my problems that day.

I arrive out of breath in the President's office and thankfully had a few minutes to sit in his waiting room with other Board members while we waited for Paul to finish a phone call. Shortly he joined us and we began our walking journey clear across campus to the building housing the Construction Management classes. Again dust, pollen and lipstick laden hair kept my mind occupied as we trekked against the wind, hands thrust deeply in pockets to stay warm.

We arrive outside the classroom and meet up with several faculty members who want to witness the award. As a group with single purpose-of-mind, we flung open the doors to the classroom and marched to the front of the room. Staring up at us in surprise is a jam-packed room of construction management majors, mostly young men in their early 20's, eagerly waiting to hear why the University President and his entourage have crashed the classroom.

After introducing us, Paul reads the award announcement, and the honored student joins us in the front of the room for pictures. I'm feeling really good about being part of this ceremony, and at that moment am thinking "I'm so lucky to be here". We finish the ceremony and file outside to say our goodbye's before hoofing it the 4 blocks back to my office.

It is at this point, I have no idea why or how, that I realize the zipper of my black slacks is down. All the way down. NO, NO, NO, this didn't just happen! In the same instant I take stock....what color undies am I wearing today? OMG, say it isn't so...I realize they're white. Black slacks, white undies, zipper down, hands in pockets in front of a big group of people for pictures. Do-over...please God, let me have just one do-over.

Weeks have gone by and I've told this story to only two other people...Alice in my Chamber office, because we can laugh about anything together...and my husband, only because I'd rather he hear it from me first and he already knows I'm a dork.

These silly events can be a learning experience, however. I've learned to be much more forgiving in the last several years. Particularly in business, and particularly in Chico. As much as we all want to be perfect, everybody makes mistakes and this is still a relatively small town. How well we do in giving folks a do-over speaks much more loudly about our own character than anything else.

For instance, there was a period of time when the Chamber of Commerce was heavily involved in politics, including candidate endorsements. Not everybody loved this, in fact lots of folks were really upset about it and turned their backs on the Chamber of Commerce. It's not quite the same as standing in front of a group with your zipper down, but sometimes it feels the same.

If I could ask for one do-over for the Chamber, it would probably be on this issue. But I can't, so we'll just learn the lessons and move forward. But it bears repeating, often, that the Chamber of Commerce no longer participates in candidate endorsements. We focus on issues only and stay out of the personality of the candidates. Tell your friends. It's important that they know, too.

I know that the Chamber learned a few things from the experience, and we'll remember the lessons. My experience with the CSU-Chico President's Advisory Board taught me a few lessons as well.

First, slow down for goodness sake! Rushing is a mistake when you've got someplace important to be (especially if you're going to be in front of a crowd with your hands in your pockets). You should always make time for one last "mirror check".

Second, black undies with black slacks. No exceptions.

Third, don't kid yourself into thinking you're so important people will remember who you are, unless you've been standing in front of them with your zipper down.

Lastly, there really are no do-overs, so try not to picture these mistakes in your head, and for heaven's sake learn to laugh at your dorky self!