Monthly Archives: November 2020

Nov 30

Finding Inspiration With a Few Simple Tricks

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Go out, play, have fun, and make the world a better place."

Kent, my eight-year-old nephew, told me he was working on some new jokes. He'll tell them to me as soon as he's figured out the punch lines. I told him the best way to feel creative is to go out and play. It's the same advice I give myself when I need help in the inspiration department. When I'm stuck on a problem, I realize that sitting and staring at my computer screen doesn't help. I've found a few tricks to get my imagination to work clearly.

Get Up and Move. Being sedentary for an extended length of time isn't good for our health and well-being. Sitting still in an office or classroom reduces our productivity. We think better on our feet. Increasing blood flow and raising our oxygen levels only happens when we're on the go. We all need a bit of recess. Our breakthroughs and problem solving happen easier when we take a walk, whether on a nature hike or window shopping. Put on some feel-good music and dance around. Even doing some simple stretches can clear away the cobwebs. It's like a fog has lifted, and we can see the answer in front of us. 

Meditation. Taking five minutes to close our eyes gives us a moment away from the non-stop action in our lives. Meditating helps us to slow down our breathing and brings us into the present. The roadblocks in our thought process will give way to finding a path forward. The "ah-ha" moments come when we can quiet our minds and filter out the chaos. Our insight grows when we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities. 

Write It Down. Don't let that good idea getaway; record it on your phone or grab a pen and notepad. I've gotten my best concepts in the middle of the night, and I'll get up and start jotting it down. I've learned from my past experiences that no matter how much I think I'll remember it, I won't. A moment of clarity can come from seeing our thoughts on paper. We can start to mold and shape our vision when we can cross out or add-in as needed. It's like a photograph appearing before our eyes as the picture comes into focus. 

Call A Friend. We can try to bounce our ideas off a wall, but our best bet is to talk to someone and get their feedback. Mastermind groups are popular for a reason. When we get the opportunity to discuss and strategize with others, our thoughts start to take form. We can hear other perspectives and see our ideas advance. When we have the support and encouragement from others, we can feel the impossible become possible. Collaborating and working on other people's projects will also help the creative juices flow for our work as well. 

Inspiration comes when we take the pressure off ourselves. Playing, laughing, and enjoying the people around us puts us in a positive mood. Taking a warm bath, reading a good book, or watching a wonderful program gives us the ability to regroup by shifting our attention to something else. 

I love that my nephew, Kent, is working on his standup routine. I enjoy watching him bring his imagination to life. We all carry that innate creativity that keeps us improving ourselves. We should never take it for granted. Go out, play, have fun, and make the world a better place. 

Nov 24

Thanksgiving Tradition

By Celeste DeCamps | General

There were only two traditions in my family, and they both centered around Thanksgiving. The first one was my mother's decision to invite anyone who didn't have a place to go on Thanksgiving to come to our house. I didn't grow up in a small family. I have two older brothers, two younger sisters, and another brother. Six kids weren't enough, so my parents adopted a seventh. Our place was where all the neighborhood kids hung out, which made all the other parents very happy because their homes always looked pristine while ours always looked like a bomb went off.

Besides my family, we had relatives that would spend Thanksgiving with us as well. We would spend a few weeks before Thanksgiving shopping, cleaning, and organizing. We would start preparing food three days before the big event. My mother made everything from scratch. I was in charge of pies. I would bake about eight to ten pies. My sisters were busy making appetizers and other side dishes. My father and my brothers sat on the couch and watched football. That seemed fair.

The parade would be on, and my Uncle Smokey would show up at that time with his famous eggnog made with Southern Comfort. Soon the parade of friends and family would start as well.

People would start coming in from late morning until late in the evening. Friends came in before going to their own family or drop in after being with their family. It wasn't unusual to answer the door and see a stranger standing there, explaining that my mother invited them. Once, a whole blues band showed up to have dinner with us. It's true what they say; once you feed them, they never go away. They were with us for three months. That's a different story for another time.

All of this sounds like a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. It was a great feeling knowing how much everyone enjoyed being with us, which brings me to our second Thanksgiving tradition.

After everyone had stuffed themselves silly, and we were sitting in the living room, we would put on Monty Python's "Meaning of Life." Now, if you've never seen this movie, I'm going to spoil one scene. I don't feel bad about it at all, because this movie has been out for years and you should've seen it already.

We start the movie and fast forward to this one scene. It takes place at a very elegant restaurant. The actor, John Cleese, is the waiter. In walks a huge man. He must weigh a thousand pounds. The waiter goes up to him and says, "Good Evening, Mr. Cariso. How are you doing tonight?"

The man says, "Better. Better give me a bucket", and then proceeds to projectile vomit. My brothers and sisters and I are on the floor laughing, much to the horror of our guests. There's nothing my mom can do because she knows we're going to put this on. We think she thought it was hilarious too, but didn't want to encourage us.

The waiter hands the big customer a menu and says, "What would you like to have this evening?" The man replies, "I'll have the entire lot."

Cut to a massive amount of plates and glasses and a gigantic mess on the table. The waiter asks, "What else would you like to have?"
"Nothing, I can't eat another bite."
"How about a wafer-thin mint?"
"No, I can't have another bite."
"Just one small, tiny wafer-thin mint."
"Fine."
The waiter slips the mint into the man's mouth and then runs for cover to the other side of the restaurant.

Now the man's buttons are popping off one by one as his stomach expands and finally explodes. There are guts and blood all over everything and everybody. We are now hysterical. We have so much fun watching that scene that we will start the movie from the beginning and watch it again.

I have beautiful memories of our family Thanksgiving dinners. More importantly, my mother taught me always to have my door open. She appreciated everything she had and was happy to share with anyone that was in need. She instilled in us to give back and be grateful for what we have. My mother believed our purpose on this earth was to be here for each other and that a well-lived life revolved around family, friendship, and community.

I wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the people in your life and take in these special moments. They'll give you fun and loving remembrances. After you finish eating and feeling full, do yourself a favor, put on Monty Python's "Meaning of Life." I know my family will.
Nov 17

What Kind of First Impression Are You Making?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Impress and Be Impressed"

"Don't judge a book by its cover." is an old saying and one that I always respected. The truth is we do make snap judgments when meeting people for the first time. We quickly take in what they're wearing, their body language, and their reaction to meeting us. We base our opinions on our new acquaintances from our past experiences. Our perception may be skewed, but an open mind will allow us to give a person time to reveal themselves. 

It never occurred to me to ask people what their first impression of me was. It doesn't stop them from telling me anyway. A couple of people remarked that they thought I asked too many questions when they first met me. Really? Why did they believe that? What did they think my intention was? Was I asking personal questions? Did I come across as an interrogator? Why would anyone think that? Oh, wait. I hear it now. 

People say they don't like to be labeled, and yet we label each other all the time. I don't think it's a bad thing because it gives us a starting point. 

I'm sure my dentist has a whole life that doesn't revolve around dentistry. All I know of him, though, is that he's my dentist. It's what he does, and I depend on him to keep my pearly whites healthy. It would be weird to ask him to give me an eye test because I didn't want him to feel labeled. 

Don't worry about giving your resume to people you're meeting for the first time. To make a good impression depends on more than your title. You want to come across as confident, pleasant, and relaxed. Here's a quick checklist to help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Expensive designer clothes are unnecessary, but whatever you're wearing should make you feel good about yourself. Ditch the sweat pants and wear a well-fitted, ironed dress or pants and shirt. Looking sloppy gives the impression of not caring about yourself or others. Taking the time to look great will make you feel fabulous. 
  2. Our body language is a reflection of how we feel on the inside. Feel self-assured by pulling your shoulders back, lift your head, and smile. Excellent posture creates presence and gets you noticed. When you meet someone, smile while making eye contact, this lets the other person know you're focused on him. Give feedback by nodding and showing you're engaged.
  3. When you ask a question, try not to ask too many; apparently, people don't like it. Listen to the answer and pay attention to how they phrased it. If they use a word to describe something, use the same word or phrase when you answer a question. For example, your new friend says, "I love the smell of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning." At some point, when you're speaking, you can say, "I agree, fresh-brewed coffee is the best way to start my day." 
  4. Remember the person's name you're talking to. If you forget, simply say, "I apologize, but I'm not sure I heard your name correctly." When they tell you their name again, repeat it to make sure you're pronouncing it right. People like hearing their name, and it keeps their attention on you. Don't overuse their name, but say it a couple of times during the conversation. When you leave, say their name as part of your good-bye. 

We're many things to various people. Our relationships reflect the multitude of personalities that reside within us. No one will ever know the real you; only you will. We should keep an open mind as we meet new people as we hope they will give us the same opportunity. First impressions are significant, but that shouldn't be the only impression. 

People can surprise you. As you get to know someone, your idea of her may change as well. Maybe she does ask a lot of questions at first, but, little by little, she ends up being your best friend. You then get to tell her, "Wow, I thought you'd never stop asking me questions."

Nov 10

Find Your Success At Any Age

By Celeste DeCamps | Uncategorized

"We're never too young or too old to find our passion."
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "Age is just a number." While I believe there's a lot of truth to that, we still have an unhealthy fear of it. I'm not sure there was ever a time I was completely comfortable with my age. When I was five, I was told I needed to grow up. I wasn't a baby anymore. When I was sixteen, I was old enough to drive, but not old enough to go where ever I wanted. When I hoped to go back to ballet, I thought I was too old to learn at eighteen. Throughout my life, I was either too young or too old. It's ridiculous.

We put too much pressure on ourselves to have all of our goals achieved by a set time. Where do you see yourself in five years? Will you be a multi-millionaire by thirty? Have you put in place your retirement plans? The truth is everyone finds success at different ages.

There's no set rule that says we have to realize our dreams by thirty-five. Vera Wang wanted to be an Olympic skater. When she didn't make the team, she entered the fashion world at age forty. Betty White was fifty-one when she made it big on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book series "Little House" at sixty-five. It would become the basis for the television show "Little House on the Prairie." There are many examples of people coming into their own at different stages in their lives.

I'm going to age until I don't anymore. I might as well learn all I can about anything that grabs my interest. It doesn't matter if it takes years to become adept or be an expert in it. Experience and knowledge are what's important. We can't be afraid that we're not an appropriate age to want to be involved in new adventures. Who decided this anyway? Too often, we get talked out of taking a chance because someone reminds us of how old we are. It took me a while to realize those people were projecting their own fears onto me. I'm not worried about what other people think. I decide what makes me happy and fulfilled.

I get information from anybody who has expertise in an area I need help with. My dad, who just turned ninety-one, is someone I can turn to for his vast knowledge of the stock market. Bryce, my twenty-year-old nephew, is a computer genius. I can call him anytime and get great advice. If I want to hear a lecture on The Titanic, my eight-year-old nephew, Kent, is glad to oblige.

The idea that we have to be a certain age to start a new career or take up a physical activity is nonsense. I read about people running marathons well into their eighties. There are women taking ballet lessons for the first time as adults. People are leaving careers and starting new ones instead of retiring. Young people still in high school are becoming activists and believing they can make their world better. I find it inspiring.

Our age doesn't matter at the end of the day. What matters is finding a purpose that fills up our days. Creating opportunities and connecting with others makes life worthwhile. Learn to play guitar, climb the mountain, and take a dance class. We're never too young or too old to find our passion.
Nov 03

Give Positive Energy and Get Back Even More

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Make your day by making someone else's"
My friend Carolyn was walking to her car when a young man said, "Excuse me, your shoe is untied." She looked down and found her shoelaces hitting the ground. She looked around to see where she could safely tie her shoe up. Without saying a word, the man bent down and quickly tied up her sneaker. She was so surprised by this. She thanked him, and he simply said, "You're welcome."

When Carolyn relayed the story to me, she said she felt wonderful that someone would go out of their way for her. I said I'm sure the young man also felt great to help you. She said, "Oh, I didn't think about that. I hope it did make him happy. I know it made my day."

We tend to take for granted the little acts of kindness we do for each other. If we're not making a meaningful impact on the world because we haven't figured out time travel, we feel our lives are insignificant. Some people seem destined to make incredible discoveries that can change our lives for the better. The truth is, we can contribute to each other's well-being, and that's just as important.

I would feel lost and very lonely if I didn't have my family and friends. I learned a long time ago to not only be grateful but to let them know how much they've added to my life. My husband, brothers, sister, and nephews have consistently played a part in supporting and encouraging me when I need it most. When I look for advice, my friend and dance partner, Dawn, always takes my call. My Toastmaster friends make themselves available to listen to my presentations. I don't take any of it for granted. I try to show my appreciation and love by always being there for them as well.

Small gestures can be a big deal to someone who has a hard time asking for help. Being mindful of the people around you and paying attention to their feelings contributes to our compassion and empathy. It's doing something nice without expecting anything for it. Selfless acts lift our spirits and give us a sense of community.

The next time you're feeling discouraged and unsure of your place in the world, think about what you can do to help someone in need. Volunteer work is a great way to give back to your town and to meet new people. It will also raise your self-esteem and confidence. Studies have shown that people who do volunteer work experience less stress in their lives.

On a smaller scale, hold the door open for someone. Compliment the person standing next to you. Pay for a stranger's coffee. It's a fantastic boost of positive energy that will wash away the blues. You'll have a great sense of satisfaction that your place in the world matters.

In the meantime, I'll let you know if I make any progress with my time machine.