Monthly Archives: December 2020

Dec 29

It’s A New Year

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"A New Year, New Challenges, and New Possibilities."
A new year is around the corner. There's a universal anticipation of starting fresh. I get excited about what new possibilities may develop. Granted, 2020 was challenging, unexpected, and life-changing. I may be one of the few people who didn't organize and get rid of unnecessary items. All my useless stuff is still in the closet, under the bed, and behind the couch. ( I betcha didn't know you could hide junk behind the sofa. My husband taught me that one.) I did feel the world take a breath for a moment. The realization we're all in this together and how important it is to take care of each other took hold, except for the woman not wearing a mask who tried to get on the elevator with me. She didn't get the memo.

I think one of the most important takeaways of this past year is our health and well-being. I try to be mindful of my diet, exercise, and taking in plenty of sunshine. I have to admit that the stress and anxiety of world events took their toll, and cookies seemed to be the only answer. When my jeans started to get too tight, it was time to rethink my coping strategy. Practicing mindfulness and meditating did help alleviate some of the pressures I was feeling. What really helped was connecting with friends and family either by phone or Skype.

Talking, laughing, and even crying with others was the best way to deal with the unknown. Virtual get-togethers were my saving grace. I watched friends' graduation, a Bar-Mitzvah and birthday parties. I even made a few new friends through Zoom networking events. I received encouragement, support, and advice as I turned my in-person presentations into online productions. It's amazing how adaptable we can be. I realize how fortunate we all are by having the technology to keep us from feeling completely isolated from each other.

I'm continuously surprised at others' ingenuity. I've been entertained by the wonderful videos people produced while in quarantine. Have you seen the video by Casey Neistat where he and others recreate a scene from Star Wars? Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. Star Wars Speeder
I've learned a great deal about cooking techniques, new exercise classes, and how to make cauliflower taste like chocolate pudding. I've tried to use the time at home to be productive but also a time to be grateful for what I have.

It's not easy finding a silver lining, but the stories of people's kindness to others have been uplifting. I'm happy for people who finally wrote their book or developed a new skill. It's great to hear families come together and spend quality time with each other. We'll always have challenges to face and overcome. If there's one lesson we learned is that we're not alone. When we need a helping hand or someone who'll listen to us, it's good to know we have each other. The New Year will find us all more vital, more compassionate, and more loving.

I promise when it's safe for us to visit, I will clean behind the couch for you. I wish you a Happy and Wonderful New Year.
Dec 22

The Best Super Hero

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Everyone Should Be A Secret Santa to Someone."

Photo courtesy of Stan and Kent Waldman

Do you believe in Santa Claus? The only correct answer is, Yes! This mythological being is the very essence and spirit of the holiday season. He embodies love, friendship, and the joy of giving. As we close out the year and look forward to a new one, one thing is certain, a visit from Kris Kringle. Many acts of kindness occur under his name, and heartfelt memories are created.

One of my favorite memories of Christmas eve is with my youngest brother, Zach. I told him he would need to get to bed early because Santa doesn't drop off presents until everyone is asleep. He was five years old and a bit skeptical. He looked at me and grinned, "Are you sure Santa is coming?"
"Yes, of course, he's coming. Why would you doubt that?"
All of a sudden, we heard the front door open. I said, "Should we take a peek and see who it is?"
Zach said, "Sure, why not?" Still not believing he would see anybody.
We slowly and quietly crept down the hall, and we could hear somebody in the living room. We looked, and there he was, Santa Claus in person!
Santa looked up and saw us. Zach was so surprised he started crying. He ran back down the hall, and it took a lot of convincing to get him to come back. Santa assured him it was fine that he got caught. He would give Zach his present personally.

Santa comes in many shapes and forms. My friends Eliezer and Lisa Rodriguez dress up as Santa's helpers with their sons, Miquel and Cristian, to hand out toys to families. They've done this for many years in partnership with the YMCA and Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. They do fundraisers, collect wish lists, do the shopping, wrapping, and delivery. They believe every child should have a special gift from Santa. They tell me that all of their hard work is worth it. The excitement of giving and being involved in their community keeps them all uplifted.

Steve Rodman, a professional Santa for many years, told me that he's no longer Steve when he puts on the costume; he's Santa Claus. He said there's no greater feeling than seeing children and adults be thrilled to see him. The kids hand him pictures and letters as they hug and kiss him. It's a universal love that everyone can feel, and it's a responsibility that he doesn't take lightly. His costume, the bells on his belt, and his laugh are authentic. He listens patiently to each child as they tell him what they want for Christmas. He assures them he knows they've been very good. Isn't that what we all want?

Santa Claus is the superhero that cares and lets us know he appreciates all of us by leaving a gift. There's a sense of global unity that everyone is getting a visit from this jolly old man no matter their culture or beliefs. Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but it's Santa that goes around the world and spreads holiday cheer. He inspires us to be like him and to give to others. To love unconditionally and realize that we're not perfect. We all want to love and to be loved. Everyone should be a secret Santa to someone.
Happy Holidays and I hope you get what you wished for.
Dec 15

Hey Mr. Postman

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Letters From the Heart Will Never Go Out of Fashion."
Apparently, I'm considered "old fashioned" because I still like mailing holiday cards to friends and family. "Don't you know everyone sends season's greetings by email, text, or FaceBook? No one bothers with cards anymore." Yes, I know all about the excellent technology at our fingertips, but I like sending and receiving cards and letters. The little girl inside me still gets a kick out of opening up an envelope that isn't a bill. I love the artistic designs of today's cards. They're flashy, fun, and colorful. Emojis are cute, but you can't hold them in your hand. You can't put them in a drawer and take them out once in a while to reread a pleasant memory.

I like sending text messages to people throughout the day. I enjoy sharing jokes and silly cartoons. Once in a while, though, I will find the perfect card for someone and write a personal message to let them know I'm thinking of them. It's a way to stay connected that I believe is more personal. Before the wonderful advancements of technology, writing letters was the best way to keep in touch. I guess a part of me misses that form of communication.

I'm also the type of person that will not text you to see if you're available to talk on the phone. I'll take my chances and call you. I'm fine with leaving a voice mail if you don't pick up. I do find it funny when someone will go to the trouble of texting me a long conversation and then say they're too busy to talk. I'll text back and say I understand, and then they will text for another ten minutes. I must really be "old fashioned" because this makes zero sense to me. Every time I think the person is finished texting, the little bubble appears. Now I feel stuck waiting for more text to arrive. Tell me again how this is more efficient?

Writing a letter allows me to express my feelings on paper. I find I take more time to shape my thoughts that I want to convey. It may be a heartfelt thank you or a walk down memory lane. Sometimes I add a photograph or two. Yes, an actual photo on paper that you can hold or put in a frame. I love pictures, and I have many that adorn my walls. I change them out every so often. I have a million images on my computer, but it's not the same. I know I'm "old fashioned."

When I drop a line to my family or friends, it lifts my mood instantly. I feel happier when I take the time to let someone know how grateful I am that they're in my life. Reaching out to each other is always necessary no matter what time of the year it is. Take advantage of all the resources available to brighten someone's day. You'll end up brightening your day as well. Before you know it, you'll be "old fashioned" too. 
Dec 08

Tips For A Better Night’s Rest

By Celeste DeCamps | General

A Good Laugh Will Lead to Good Dreams.

I'm in the supermarket, walking up and down the aisles. I look up, and I see many angry faces, all directed at me. I don't understand what's happening until I realize I'm not wearing a mask. My heartbeat gets faster, and I feel so embarrassed. I also feel vulnerable. How did I leave my home without my mask? I try to be so careful. I can't believe how irresponsible I'm being. I then open my eyes and find that once again, I'm having a bad dream. It turns out I'm not the only one. Psychologists are reporting a significant uptick in covid related dreams. 

From WebMD: "Vivid dreams about bug attacks top the list of crazy COVID-19 nightmares, says Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., a Harvard psychologist and dream researcher who launched an international survey about pandemic-related dreams. From "swarms of wasps, flies, and gnats to armies of roaches and wiggly worms," bug attacks are "by far the most common metaphor" seen in the more than 8,000 dreams reported on her survey since March. I think part of it traces to the slang use of the word; we say we have a bug to mean we have a virus," says Barrett. "Dreams can be kind of pun-like in using visual images for words."

Dreams play a major role in helping us deal with stress and anxiety. Our subconscious mind is working overtime in trying to help us with emotional overload. We're bombarded daily with news of this pandemic and how quickly it spreads. We're concerned about our family and friends, and we miss not being able to see each other. It's no wonder that our dreams reflect that worry. 

Sleep is a vital component to our overall health and well-being. Most of us are suffering from lack of sleep because we're feeling anxious. I find myself waking up quite a bit throughout the night. Sometimes I can get back to sleep, but other times it seems impossible. My mind races with worst-case scenarios, and the more I try to make it stop, the crazier it gets. I've written in the past, ways to get a better night's rest, but I think an update is in order in these uncertain times. 

Disconnect. I know we all want to look at our phones for messages or cat videos, but with it comes upsetting news. It's hard to ignore. Turn off the tv, computer, and your Dick Tracy watch. Put your phone on silent or switch notifications off. This will keep your phone from dinging and the impulse to check it. Instead, read a good book or flip through a magazine. Give your mind something pleasant to absorb in place of the apocalypse. 

Stretch. In general, exercise alleviates the feeling of dread and replaces it with a better outlook. Gentle stretches before getting into bed will also relax tense muscles. As you move, take slow, deep breaths. This will put you in the present and give you a much-needed break from future concerns. 

Meditate. I find meditating works the best for me when I'm trying to fall asleep. If my mind keeps wandering, I'll put on a guided meditation from an app on my phone. Yes, now it's okay to use your phone. Listening to relaxing sounds and quieting our minds will induce a more peaceful rest. Dreams may still happen, but hopefully, they'll be more pleasant. 

Call A Friend. I wouldn't suggest calling someone in the middle of the night, but it is a good idea during the day. We're all experiencing uncertainty and feeling fearful. Talking and expressing our worries to others helps us to feel less alone. Being able to chat and have a good laugh is the best remedy of all. If you're having trouble with depression, please consider talking to a professional therapist or psychologist. We can always learn new coping skills. 

Nightmares, especially when they feel so real, can stay with us in our waking hours. It can darken our mood and make it hard for us to have hope. We need each other and reaching out to family and friends is essential. Check-in with your loved ones and ask about their emotional well-being. Communication is vital for us to get through this. 

My latest dreams are better. Instead of finding myself in a room full of strangers without my mask, I have the more normal dream of being naked instead. I'm just glad I'm not dreaming about bugs. Cheers to happier times ahead.