“Once you have arrived, act as though it’s your winery.” This is one of the many pseudo-gems of wine wisdom I begin my tours with, “You own this place, you are the most important person at the facility and you are going to act and be treated like you own it.” Wanna revisit the Chardonnay at Loxton? Sure. A picture next to the badger statue at Hamel? No problem. A quick dip in the Petroni pool? Too far but you get the idea.

My advice to my daughter at Chico is the same. How is the three-acre Wildcat Recreation Center? Have you climbed the monkey face in upper Bidwell Park? Do you know what a “Chikoko” is? What’s your favorite piece of public art? Has the Amorphophallus titanum bloomed yet? Is Nobby’s cheese skirt really that delicious? And these are just the questions I got out of the Chico News and Review. Yes, I do realize I am a pain-in-the-ass dad trying to get his daughter off her phone but the intention is that she learn about, explore, master, and own her environment.

Donald Trump knows how to own it. He is the master of every room he enters, thinking that he can simply reach out and grab America in the pu**y (WTF?!? #FDT). This is where owning it can go too far, when you have no empathy for your surroundings and the people who inhabit those surroundings. If you are still a Trump supporter then please quit reading this, go directly to the websites of the two candidates, look at the issues and realize who will take ownership of the planet and the people on it and who won’t.

I’m a nervous person, my brain is always jumping around because of my superpower,  but when I own an environment (classroom, job setting, stage) things go much better. Not perfect, life is not like that, but better. I still sweat nervously in front of my students every day but usually after a little time I find my groove. Confidence comes eventually especially with practice and preparation.

When my backhand kept launching over the wall in Larson Park because I had switched to the Head TI S6 racket I didn’t stop playing tennis, “Oh well, must be time to move on to golf.” No, I made a commitment to own the backhand. I made it my favorite shot by drawing a little chalk square on the wall and hitting it 10,000 times (Thanks Malcolm Gladwell). Guess what happened.

When 12 out of 13 students failed my final quiz on the surface area of shapes, I did what all teachers should do, I owned it. Their failure is my failure and so I retaught the lessons, brought in the Kahn Academy, had the students who were getting it teach the ones that weren’t (and in doing so discovered students were confusing surface area and volume and having difficulty breaking down 3D shapes).

When I hit a rough patch in a relationship (wife, colleague, daughter, wine tour guest), I don’t stop talking to the person and hope that it gets better, (the model I grew up with), I own any mistakes I’ve made then make a plan and solve the problem. If it’s unsolvable, then accept it and move on. Simple.

Think about the people you like the most, what trait do they share aside from hopefully liking you? The people I like own their lives. They know and love their path and they walk it everyday. No phonies as Holden Caulfield said in “A Catcher in the Rye.” Real people living real lives. Doing not watching. Creating not criticizing.

Think about how you can start owning your life. Need to change paths? Start hanging with a different crew? Find enlightenment? Start small. Walk onto your next stage (winery, classroom, amphitheater in the plaza) and own it. Say to yourself, this is my stage and since I am only dancing on this earth for a short while, I will own it.

Then smile, take a breath, and do whatever it is that you are meant to do. It might take a little more time to figure that one out but at least you’ll be on the right path.


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