Mi”chelle” is coming out of her shell!

I moved to the Finger Lakes area 22 years ago from the sunshine state of Arizona. And, since I grew up there, I had always considered it my home. The reason I have always felt Arizona was my home is I never took the time or the effort to go out and see what the Finger Lakes area truly had to offer me until I took my position here at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection (“FLVC”).

Before coming to FLVC, I was a paralegal. And, to be honest, all I ever really did was go to work each day and then go home. And, on the weekends I really didn't do too much of anything other than relax and try to spend as much time with my family as I could. Since I began my job here at FLVC which was a mere eight months ago, I have not only seen more and experienced more of the Finger Lakes Region than I have in the 22 years I have lived here but, I have also changed as a person. I had no idea what was in my own backyard when I lived in Naples for a portion of my 22 years. And, I literally mean that as I lived on James Street which is the street directly behind the Bristol Valley Theater! I had never attended a play until recently when I saw Les Miserables; truly spectacular! This is something that I would have never done before I came to work here at FLVC.  And, I had no idea that we had so many wineries in Naples and what the Artizanns store had to offer. I was among such talent when I lived in Naples and never even was aware of it. I mean do not get me wrong, I was not totally a hermit!

I did go to the Naples Grape Festival every year!! I also never knew that the people right down the road in Bristol that owned the Brown Hound Bistro, Arbor Hill Grapery and Brew & Brats and Bristol Mountain. But, now I am making up for lost time as they are part of my everyday life here at FLVC.  I had never visited Geneva other than driving through it on the way to Emile’s Restaurant in Waterloo or on the way to the Bass Pro Shop in Auburn. But, now I have seen the beauty of places like Belhurst Castle, Geneva on the Lake and the Smith Opera House just to name a few. I also was given the chance to tour Livingston County. I had been to Geneseo before but, I had never experienced the most breathtaking waterfalls that have ever existed as in Letchworth State Park. They were absolutely beautiful. I still look at the pictures I took on that day. In addition to going on tours of the area, I have also been given the opportunity of visiting and meeting with owners and their employees of our fine restaurants and accommodations we have in Finger Lakes on a regular basis. And, not to mention I have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people in the industry including chamber people, TPAs (oops just realized I’m using the lingo too! This stands for Tourism Promotion Agency), and our Ontario County folks who we work closely with to promote our wonderful Finger Lakes area.

Not only have I seen so many new places since I have worked here but, FLVC has transformed me into a “foodie” (didn’t even know what the term meant until I got here!). I would have never thought to try couscous or hummus! And, Finger Lakes wine? A beer from a brewery? What are those? I was strictly a white zinfandel and light beer kind of gal!

And, lastly, this job has changed me as a person entirely. Before I came to FLVC, I would not have dreamt of going anywhere outside of my comfort zone. I considered myself fairly shy that is unless I knew you pretty well. Now, I do not have to know a person to walk right up to them at a social function and introduce myself. Even my husband has noticed a drastic change in me. He has said to me on several occasions “Wait a minute, what?” “You did that?”

I would like to thank the FLVC for basically opening my eyes to see the beautiful area that is now my home; introducing me to new foods and beverages and making me come out of “Mi””chelle”!!!!!!!