Another view: Feeling down? Time to look on the bright side

By: Tony Hazarian, Journal Publisher
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I expected the worst. A community leader I like a lot and respect even more had left a message for me. “Call me back when you can,” he said, a hint of tension in his voice. Conditioned by months of lousy economic news, I expected him to say he had laid off some employees, or maybe that he was calling it quits himself. Worse, I thought our newspaper would have to report it, adding to the financial doldrums many are feeling right now. I called and he answered. He paused, and then he shocked me. “How are you doing?” he asked. “Are you OK?” I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I did, anyway. “Me? I’m doing fine,” I said. “I’m good. Why?” Well, my friend went on to say, he had seen me at a few functions around town lately, and my body language was singing a different tune. “You look forlorn,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure you were all right.” Forlorn? I’m not sure what that looks like, but that’s apparently what I had become. I’ve always thought of myself as a positive person who could find a way to smile in any situation. I’ll admit to bouts of quiet introspection, but I blame that on my secondary, analytical personality (I’m INTJ in Meyers-Briggs, if you really want to know). Most times, this helps me solve problems or contribute to team-based solutions here at the Journal. But forlorn? Really? Wow, that wasn’t my intention, I told him. We went on to other things, but I told him how much I appreciated his call and his concern. It gave me perspective on my own behavior — something I can control when so many other things appear whacked. It also gave me pause to look at Auburn, how it was dealing with the recession and how our newspaper was “behaving.” Was Auburn, the business community or the Journal looking “forlorn”? Hardly. Sure, the last few weeks have brought their share of crime and court stories, auto accidents and flu outbreaks, state layoffs and furloughs, but there have been plenty of positive signs as well, especially on the local business scene. Before the year ended, Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery injected new life into the once-vibrant market. Nearby, in February, Reese and Tammy Browning opened Old Town Dessert in the historic Shaw Building, and Paula’s replaced Hilda’s as the place on Lincoln Way to pick up a delicate pastry or cake. Home Depot opened to a packed audience along Highway 49 a few weeks ago — nearly to the day that Community 1st Bank was handing over the keys to the new Boys & Girls Club in Downtown Auburn. Recently, we shared the story of Carpe Vino boldly changing its dining concept and promoting the pleasures of Placer County wines. A few blocks away, Ray Sidhu was bursting with pride as he offered sub-$2-a-gallon diesel, a move helping local businesses and motorists alike navigate bumpy economic roads. Everywhere you look — if you choose to — there are positive signs in Auburn and beyond. The stock market’s late-week rally. Federal stimulus projects greasing the economy. Bernie Madoff pleading guilty. And despite our fears about the economy and the state of California’s government, we’re generally content. The Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index released this week showed 4th Congressional District residents rank 25th of 435 districts nationwide in well-being, defined as a composite of emotional and physical health, work quality, life evaluation and healthy behavior. In terms of work happiness, we rank eighth nationally. Eighth! (More at So if I look forlorn, dejected or despondent, I don’t mean to. Just tell me, and I’ll be reminded of all the great things happening here. You’ll be doing me a favor. And you’ll get the smile that I really intended for you.