Monthly Archives: March 2021

Mar 30

Talking About My Generation

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Talking About My Generation
Talking About My Generation

Why do we pit one generation against another? Everybody grows up with different circumstances, but there's no reason to decide that one age group had it better or more challenging than another. We can go back centuries, and I'm sure someone is saying, "Oh, look how easy your life is now that the wheel has been invented. We used to have to carry everything we owned in our bare hands. We had to pull and push our belongings across the ground. Kids today will never know our hardships."

It's the same complaint I hear now. Why does it bother anyone if life is made a little more convenient with technological advances? We're supposed to be constantly innovating and creating. That's what our imagination is for. Growing up, I had hoped that my world would be filled with remarkable discoveries. We not only landed on the moon in my lifetime, we have a camera on Mars! It's incredible. Why does the next generation get belittled for it?

I've had conversations with my friends that complained that kids all expect a trophy just for participating. I would ask them why did they give their children participation trophies? I've never once heard a child insist on getting an award because they showed up. It was the adults who decided that for them. You can't blame a kid for something you did. By the way, I think children should receive recognition for their work. If they showed up and did the job, what's the harm of letting them know their efforts were appreciated. Not everyone will cross the finish line first, but they did try. Why not encourage children to strive for greatness even in the face of failure?

No, you're not supposed to understand the music, clothes, or slang that the new generation enjoys. It's theirs to develop as they see fit, just like we did. I still remember my mother telling me to put my headphones on when I wanted to listen to Led Zeppelin. She said she couldn't stand to hear the shrill static sounds coming from the record player. My aunts and uncles would shake their heads when I left the house wearing hip-huggers and a cropped T-shirt. They told my mother my generation was doomed because we grew up watching television.

My favorite is adults complaining that young people stare at their phones all day. Really? You're looking at your screen right now. We all do it. It's not true that children don't go outside and play anymore. Video games, like watching television, are a great escape and fun to do. Most kids, though, if given a choice, will want to do something enjoyable with their parents. I live by several parks, and on sunny days they're packed with families running around, flying kites, and throwing frisbees. Of course, there's always one parent videotaping all of it. That's definitely something I envy. I have very little documentation of my childhood. The few bits of film my dad took of us is all I have, and most of that is movies of fountains. I don't know why.

In many ways, I'm glad I'm not growing up in the twenty-first century. I would never get through this weird new math children are being forced to learn. I still remember the school board giving up on teaching us the metric system. We probably should've stuck that one out, considering the rest of the world uses it. I still don't understand why children aren't learning how to write in cursive. I guess with electronic signatures, signing your name is now a lost art.

All I'm trying to say is give the new generation some slack. I didn't appreciate my elders looking down on me and my own for having a different perspective from theirs. Fashion, music, language, technology are forever changing. The only constant we have in the human race is to continue to grow and learn to love each other. That basic need is within all of us and the only thing that really matters. If you don't want to listen to your teenager's music, tell them to put their earbuds in while you crank up Led Zeppelin. It's only fair.

Mar 22

Let Me Fix You

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"I'll Fix Your Life If You Fix Mine."

I want life to be like the fairy tales I grew up reading. We start out with various struggles like a fire-breathing dragon, a mean step-mother, or a fight to extend our car warranty. Eventually, a magical being shows up, our problems disappear, and we live happily ever after. For some reason, that's not what happens in real life. I have challenges that I eventually overcome, but then new obstacles appear. When will the perfect shoe fit? When will the pumpkin turn into a golden coach? When will I have my happily ever after? For that matter, I want everyone I know to live pain-free and be content all the time. This is why I do my best to help my friends extend their car warranty with as little hassle as possible.

I did try to be everyone's fairy god-mother for years. I wanted to "fix" any and all of their problems. I would feel guilty about any success I had if a loved one was struggling. It took a long time to understand that my "help" was not what they needed. I kept them from having breakthroughs and a sense of accomplishment by solving their issues on their own. We're on this plane of existence to learn and grow, and we can only do that by being allowed to fail. We don't need saving as much as we need encouragement to continue on our path.

A few years ago, I spoke to a couple of new parents. They were concerned that their two-year-old was not talking or trying to make sounds. I said that their little boy is quite observant. He understands everything you're saying. When he wants something, all he has to do is point, and you go run and get it for him. Why should he speak? Try not to be so accommodating and see what happens. Sure enough, their son started to talk in complete sentences. Sometimes, we need to step back and trust that there is a process in place. By constantly coming to the rescue, we don't allow others to find their voice and purpose.

I still daydream of winning the lottery and gifting everyone I know enough money to make their lives easier. The reality is I would be robbing them of finding their pot of gold. There's nothing more rewarding than creating our unique talents and being successful. Stories of overcoming and beating the odds are more interesting than "I was handed a pile of money that I didn't work for." (Already, I know you're shaking your head and saying, "I'm fine with someone handing me a pile of money. I can always make up a good story about it.") Trust me, creating your wealth is a fantastic feeling that no one can take from you. You'll inspire others to do the same.

I've learned that to have my happily ever after is to be in the present. When I take a breath and take stock of where I'm at, I realize I'm healthy, and my family and friends are safe. It gives me a sense of contentment. I want to always be there for support and encouragement for everyone, but I try to be careful not to overstep boundaries. Of course, I'm available if you want to talk about extending your car's warranty, including golden coaches that used to be pumpkins. 

Mar 13

What Kind of Leader Are You?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

 "I'm not weak because I'm nice. I'm actually quite terrifying when you're mean."

"As a leader, is it better to be loved or feared?" This quote from Niccolò Machiavelli has been debated over the centuries. I think many people in a leadership role want a little of both. They worry that if they're too friendly, they'll be taken advantage of. If they're too intimidating, they'll foster resentment. How do we strike a balance between the two? I believe it comes down to respect. No matter what position in the company we have, we should hold everyone in high regard. It creates an atmosphere where everyone feels valued. We can show strength and competency without being a tyrant.

I do my best to show respect to my clients. I want them to know that their needs are important to me. What I never understood is when someone will try to bully or talk down to me. One situation comes to mind. It was when I was a salesman. I had a customer get angry because his delivery had not arrived. I went to his restaurant to meet with him face to face. I apologized that his order didn't show up, but I made sure it was on a truck to come in later in the day. He decided to get in my face and scream that my company and I were incompetent. He threatened to cancel his business with me. I calmly told him that I was on top of the issue but would understand if he wanted me to stop his shipment. I told him his behavior toward me was unacceptable, and I walked away. He called me later and said he shouldn't have spoken to me that way. He will keep me as his salesman and was happy that his delivery came. After that incident, he was careful to never raise his voice with me again. It surprised me that I needed to stand up to him to gain his esteem. What he didn't know was that I lost all respect for him.

It never ceased to amaze me that I've had to prove I wasn't a doormat to be respected by other people. I believe their thought process is that they won't get what they want unless they're demanding. I also think they don't want someone to end up not liking them, so they bend over backward to prove they're not mean. What they don't understand is that respect is a two-way street.

I realize that some people mistake kindness for weakness. I do not. I will go over and beyond for anyone who treats me with courtesy. I want to be around people who want to work on solutions and gives everyone a chance to be heard. I don't get upset if someone makes a mistake with my order or purchase. It happens, and it's not the end of the world. I appreciate it when someone does their best to help me, and the problem is resolved. Of course, if my request to rectify the situation is ignored or blamed on me, then I make it clear that I want a refund. I won't bother to do business with them again. The message is clear. They don't need me as a customer.

Standing up for ourselves and not being taken for granted takes courage. It isn't easy going up against someone who wants to belittle you into submission, but it's the only way to get them to see your power. What they lose by mistreating you is your regard for them. What you gain is a new-found sense of your self-worth.

When people feel safe to voice their opinions and share their ideas, everyone wins. People who feel constantly threatened by their boss only have anger for them, not admiration. Industries that want to grow economically need to invest in their employees' sense of well-being. Everyone should feel supported and encouraged in their work, and that comes from the top. Compassion, empathy, and respect are the traits of a great leader. What kind of leader are you?

Mar 09

Her Story is Our Story

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"We never know how one idea can change the world until we try."

I want to introduce you to three remarkable women inventors in honor of Women's History Month. Mary Anning, Maria Beasley, and Sarah Breedlove/Madam C.J. Walker. I hope their stories of perseverance against all odds will be an inspiration to you.

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was born in Lyme Regis in Dorset, England. Her parents, Richard, and Mary were interested in uncovering fossils to sell as curiosities to tourists. Mary and her older brother Joseph would accompany their parents to help them find and clean the fossils. When Mary was twelve, she and Joseph discovered a four-foot skull that belonged to ichthyosaur (an extinct marine reptile). This find was evidence that the religious belief that the earth was only a few thousand years old was not valid. She continued to unearth more fossils and began educating herself by reading all the scientific literature she could get her hands on. She became an expert on fossils and geology. Her reputation grew, and many scientists and geologists would seek her advice and knowledge. They would publish papers based on her discoveries and not give her any credit. Even though she was considered the top expert in this new paleontology field, Mary was not permitted to join the Geological Society of London because she was a woman. Her research laid the groundwork for Charles Darwin's book on "The Origins of Species." Recently, scientists have recognized the critical contributions Mary Anning has made to advance our understanding of paleontology and evolution. It's a shame that she didn't get the recognition she deserved when she was alive, but I'm glad that we can know her story today.

Maria Beasley (1847-1904) was born in Philadelphia. According to the 1880 Census, she was an unemployed housewife. The reality was a little more interesting. She was an inventor and entrepreneur. Maria held seventeen patents and made an excellent living from her inventions. Her first patent was for her barrel-hooping machine that speeded up barrels' manufacture to 1,500 a day. She also developed an anti derailment device for trains, cooking pans, and a foot warmer, to name a few. Her most famous plan was reinventing the life raft. At that time, the raft was made of planks and hollow floats. Maria created a compact, fire-proof raft with guard rails, and could be quickly unfolded for emergencies. Her reimagined design is what saved hundreds of people on the Titanic. Not bad for an unemployed housewife.

Sarah Breedlove/Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was born near Delta, Louisiana. She was one of five children and the first to be born free because the Emancipation Proclamation had just been signed into law. She was an orphan by the age of seven and had only three months of formal education. Sarah was married at the age of fourteen, widowed with a two-year-old by twenty. After a divorce from her second marriage, she married Charles Joseph Walker and became Madame C.J. Walker. Sarah worked as a commission agent selling for Annie Malone, an African American hair-care entrepreneur. Dealing with a scalp disorder that caused her hair loss, Sarah soon developed her own hair-care line. She worked to find more natural ways to groom her hair without using harsh chemicals. Her company grew by advertising and selling her products door to door. She opened a factory, a beauty parlor, and a college to help teach other black women to become financially independent. Her company employed thousands of women as sales agents, and Sarah became the first African American millionaire. She was also known for her philanthropy. She provided scholarships for students to Black colleges and gave financial support to orphanages, retirement homes, the YMCA, and the NAACP. An amazing woman who devoted her life to giving back to her community.

We all face different challenges in our lives, and I feel even more determined to reach my goals when I read other people's stories of success. Each of us has unique talents, and I want to encourage you to share yours. We never know how one idea can change the world until we try. Happy International Women's Month!

Mar 02

Use Your Energy For Good

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Be the one who lights up the room with infectious optimism."

Growing up, I was very shy. I felt uncomfortable around most people. The only thing that got me out of my shell was dancing. I would feel electricity run through my body, and it made me feel powerful. That energy seemed only to happen when I was performing on stage. I remember walking into the crowded, smokey nightclubs with my head down. My only objective was to get to the dressing room and get ready for my show. The funny thing was nobody bothered to look in my direction. I didn't attract anyone's attention, and they certainly didn't take me for the bellydancer. After my show, I changed and sat at the bar until it was time to do my next set. I didn't look around the room or make eye contact with anyone. The exciting energy I had on stage diminished while I waited. No one in the audience recognized me at all. The bartender laughed when somebody asked, "Where did the bellydancer go?" and he would nod in my direction. They still didn't see me. 

It took me a long time to find my confidence in everyday life. The more assertive and self-assured I became, the more positive energy I put out. I started to recognize the power we all have within us when we take the time to notice our emotions. I realized I needed to build up my enthusiasm for performing before I left my house. I decided to put on fun music. I visualized the audience and danced around my room. When I entered the club, I would walk in with my shoulders back, my head up, and I smiled. It was the same posture I took when I performed. I looked at the customers, and they would immediately smile back. After my set, they would invite me to sit at their tables. They told me that they enjoyed my dancing and that it put them in a great mood. 

I realized that positive energy is infectious. When I go out, I try to be aware of how I'm feeling. I think of my friends who make me grin as soon as I see them. I want them to feel the same way when they meet up with me. It's more than plastering on a disingenuous smile. It's about believing, inside and outside of yourself, this incredible, happy sensation. 

We tend to gravitate towards people who are on the same wavelength as us. It's easy to work or hang out with people who have an all-embracing outlook on life. They tend to be uplifting and encouraging. Being around good vibrations makes us feel marvelous. On the other hand, I tend to avoid people who are constantly complaining and only see the negative aspect of their lives. I find myself either sinking into their low power or fighting hard to keep myself up. Their energy can be draining because they're not pleasant to be around. 

I try to be mindful of other people's energy. Understanding how we affect each other is a fantastic tool to have. I'll try to reassure someone coming across as nervous or encouraging someone who has exciting news to share. Being in tune with others helps solidify relationships because we're able to empathize with them. It lets the other person know they are valued and important to us. 

The next time you meet with others, whether in person or virtually, take a moment and see how you feel. Are you upbeat and full of life, or are you not feeling your best? Those near you will perceive your emotional state of mind. If you need a boost of positive energy:

  1. Put on some music and dance.
  2. Call your best friend and tell her you need a laugh.
  3. Recall a joyful memory that always puts a big smile on your face.
  4. Be the one who lights up the room with infectious optimism.

Trust the superpower of love and understanding that resides in all of us. That's the kind of electric power we can all benefit from.