You Just Never Know….

There’s a saying I have heard before. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Until this last year, I never really had cause to think tomorrow would bring anything other than another day with my kids and my husband. Life was good and I was happy in my place as stay at home mom and classroom volunteer at the elementary school where my kids attended.

Ten months ago, my family and I found out the universe had other plans for us. In May of 2011, my husband was diagnosed with Valley Fever, a very serious fungal infection which has been known to take lives when it isn’t caught early on.

Scary? You bet it was! But when life presents moments like these, all you can do is step up to the free throw line and take your best shot. That’s exactly what I did. I went back to school after a long absence. My goal became finding an area of expertise that would allow me to use some of my creative talents and provide the income necessary to keep my family afloat until my husband recovered from his bout with Valley Fever.

Now you are probably asking yourself how in the world I ended up at the Chamber of Commerce. Well, I pursued certificates in Administrative Assistance and Bookkeeping/Accounting Clerk through Cuesta College, with the goal of finishing both within a year’s time.

The class that actually brought me to the Chamber of Commerce was Cuesta College’s Computer Applications and Office Administration Internship Class. The purpose of this class is to provide students with practical training with the skills obtained through the certificate and degree programs offered through the college.

While discussing possible internship choices with my advisor, she mentioned there was one internship offer she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to fill. I asked her what is was and she explained it was with the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and required someone with good writing skills. With my love of writing and past experiences in journalism I felt this might be an internship I could really enjoy. So, I was off to interview for the internship!

After two months writing press releases and learning my way around the Chamber, I knew this was a job I could grow to love. As it happened, the staff at the Chamber was ready to expand and I was offered a part time position. That part time position has grown form sixteen hours a week to thirty, which is just the right amount for me to balance being with my family and finding fulfillment in the workplace. My objective of finding a job that would help support my family while my husband recovered from Valley Fever had been met!

The real happy ending to this story is my husband has fully recovered from his illness and returned to work while I have a job that allows me to use my talents in a creative environment. I look forward to meeting the challenges of my new position and am excited to be a part of such a great organization.

Now I know it is absolutely true you never know what tomorrow will bring, and I am thankful for each and every tomorrow that is healthy and happy for me and my family. I have discovered new confidence in my own abilities and the determination to help my family has led me to a new and wonderful place in my life. What a difference a day makes? I say what a difference a year makes!

Written by Amy Farris

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You Gotta Like Potato Salad!

Independence Day is here! One of the highlights of every summer, the 4th of July is a wonderful holiday no matter what your age. Children look forward to a fun day spent with other families, followed by fireworks either big or small. Adults of all ages look forward to the fun of a picnic or barbeque with friends, a day at the beach or the lake, a holiday spent camping….. and of course the fireworks! The allure of fireworks – from sparklers to “spell” your name to the shower of color created by rockets shooting skyward – we all enjoy this special treat.

Sit in the house and play computer games may be the norm for young people today (and some adults too) – but not when outside there’s a yummy picnic or barbeque followed by fireworks! Hot dogs, hamburgers, tri-tip, corn on the cob, potato salad, watermelon, and ice cream – it wouldn’t be the 4th of July without them!

We’re so fortunate to live in a great place like Paso and so thankful to those who have served our country and our community so that we can continue to enjoy wonderful summer holidays like the 4th of July! Whether in the military serving our country nationally or in law enforcement/fire protection serving us locally – we get to picnic, party, and love our fireworks because of them!

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A Balancing Act!

Most Saturdays, I get the pleasure of watching my little girl, tiny but strong, learn and succeed as she competes in team gymnastics.  As she performs her many routines, I get really nervous for her as she performs her balance beam routine.  Sometimes, almost losing her balance on a 4″ beam, she finds the strength from within to balance herself, get back on track, perform her dismount and smile with success.  She Did It!

All of us perform a balancing act everyday in work and life commitments. The difference between adults and children is that adults take on stresses of daily routine and forget about the what is really important.

What does that have to do with the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce?  The Chamber is a non-profit organization with the goal every day to serve its members.  The staff at the Chamber is very passionate about their individual roles in which they serve and will do whatever it takes to make sure the members’ needs are met, the program is done to perfection or the event is a quality event to help grow local business.  We work hard days and long hours, at times, to see that an event or project is fulfilled to its highest quality; quite a balancing act and a testimony of our commitment to membership.

To balance work, life and commitment, I am reminded of three simple words that help keep me balanced: Simplify, Embrace and Gratitude These words help keep me focused, especially on those days that serve me nothing but hiccups. 

Simplify is about deciding for myself what is most important and get rid of anything that does not serve a purpose.  That includes clutter, tasks and unnecessary projects.  The objective is to scale back to only essentials, which saves me time, stress and money in the end.

Embrace is about appreciating what I have and embracing the day with enthusiasm to take advantage of the opportunities the day will bring.  Embracing opportunity gives us the chance to learn and grow.   The Chamber has given me many opportunities to learn and grow which has led me to my current position as Marketing Director. Thank you Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce for having faith in me.

Gratitude is about having an attitude of gratitude that can be contagious and bring success.  Those simple little words of “thank you” are a missed message in our society these days.  A simple kind word of “thank you” can be bigger than a paycheck and may just be that word of hope that someone needs to get through a tough day.  Attitude of Gratitude is contagious; let’s spread this in the workplace and in life.

There you have it . . . . Three simple words.  What are your three simple words?

Next time, I will write about a magical marketing tip.  This time, it is a matter of the heart.

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Central Coast Economic Forecast Mid-Year Update

It’s time for the mid-year economic forecast update again. I think this economic update is critical in our business planning and serves as a reality check when we learn what the forecasters think and what is occurring here locally.  As the Chamber CEO, it is important to me to have the most current information to share with the small business owners locally.  I believe the speakers, as successful business owners in their own right, will give us a reality check and hopefully confirm that we are turning the corner in this economy.

For our third annual mid year forecast we will again have the expertise of Dr. Chris Thornberg, founding principal at Beacon Economics.  His knowledge and insight help me in strategic planning for the local business, as well as for our Chamber members specifically.  For more local advice regarding employment opportunities and job growth in the county, the featured speakers are Tom Jones with PG&E, Ty Safreno with Trust Automation and Kevin Meyer with Specialty Silicone Fabricators.  They represent substantial employers in our county as well as the business community at large.

“This economic update is critical in our business planning and will serve as a reality check”

Central Coast Eco Forecast logo

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Paso Robles – Not Just Another Small Town

This is the month for our annual Wine Festival – the 30th Festival, to be exact – and soon to follow is the Lavendar Festival and the Olive Festival. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the Mid-State Fair coming up! Oh, and did I mention the summer Friday Concerts in the Park? As I consider these summer-time events and everything else that happens locally, I smile when I think of those “big city” people who think small town living is dull!

I’ll admit it – I’m a Silicon Valley escapee! And of all the places I could have “escaped” to, Paso Robles is the best. Oh sure, it wasn’t at the top of my list when I started planning my escape from the Bay area, but somehow I was lucky enough to end up here! What do I like about Paso? The question really is – what don’t I like (other than the fact that there isn’t a Nordstroms here)? Vineyards, cattle ranches, and hills create great scenery! Cowboys and wine makers mix for a fun social scene. People are friendly and supportive. And of course, there’s always something to do!

We see people from around the world coming into the Visitors’ Center in the Paso Chamber office – and we love to help them plan their wine tasting route, or figure out where to have dinner, or just find a great bed & breakfast to stay at for the weekend! Really, there’s no doubt in my mind that Paso isn’t just another small town – it’s a very special small town!

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