Dec 13

Tis the Season, Once Again

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Christmas shopping made me realize I know absolutely nothing about you

The holiday season is here! A time for joy, laughter and buying lots of stuff. Everyone complains about the corporate greed monopolizing the spirit of giving, yet we all give in to it. Why? Because if you don’t give your loved ones gifts, how will they know you really love them? Face it, nothing says “I Love You” more than “Here, I got you something to dust, forever and ever.”

Oh don’t worry, I’m not getting all “Humbug” on you. I just want to give you other ideas for gift giving. That’s what I do, I help people keep their stress levels down. You’re welcome. 

First of all, no one needs any more stuff. The only people who do, are kids. They are just learning about the joys of materialism and they shouldn’t be disappointed. I remember needing, very badly, a doll that talked. (Yes, I’m quite ancient. When I was little, this was a miracle). When you pushed her belly button, she would laugh and say, “That tickles!” She was amazing and I had to have her. My parents did buy me the doll.  I thought I was the luckiest girl in the entire world. I made that doll laugh for two whole weeks. Then the excitement was over and she was put in the corner for the rest of my childhood. 

When my nephews were little, I would get them large, empty boxes. They played with those boxes longer than any other toy they got. Those boxes became spaceships, pirate boats and a great place to hide. Yes, I’m quite the cheapskate, but I know kids. When they get a chance to use their imagination, it’s the best present of all. Ok, I’m really just a cheapskate. 

Secondly, I hate trying to figure out what to buy people. All of these gift guides obviously know nothing about my friends and family. No one on my list wants memory foam slippers, scented candles or a portable cooler. They have all the kitchen appliances they need. They have no room for more glassware and dishes. They have towels, bathrobes and sheets. As far as buying something for their hobbies, that’s a bust too. There’s just so many engraved flasks, bottle openers and ideas for “What to do with Cork” that I can give as gifts. Yes, I’m saying everyone I know likes to have a drink or two.

Thirdly, I believe in the gift of presence. (See what I did? I know, not original at all and quite corny.) The truth is, I made a pact with friends. We decided a long time ago, not to send each other presents. We, instead, make a plan to get together. We spend an entire weekend, catching up. We go somewhere new and create memories. I much rather spend time laughing, and talking than to scour Amazon for another funny mug.

I do the same thing with my family. We all live in different states. We will meet up after the holidays, when the price of airfare goes down. We go to visit with our dad in Florida. All he ever wants is for us to be together. After a few days, he can’t wait for us to leave. Ah, family.

Finally, take the time to remember what’s really important in life: the health and well-being of your loved ones. Take time for yourself, breathe and stay in the moment. Call your friends and make a plan to get together. Trust me, they really do not need another scarf. They do need a reason to get out of the house for a while. 

I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season. It is nice to take some time and reflect on the year ending and a new year beginning. Wishing you all the very best. I am sending everyone empty boxes, because we could all use a place to hide.

Dec 03

Quick and Easy Memory Tips

By Celeste DeCamps | General

I hear this all the time “I can’t seem to remember anything anymore.” “I apologize, what is your name again?” and my favorite “I can’t find my phone. Can I call you back?” 

I think many of us are just overwhelmed with all the things we need to do in a day. We aren’t suffering from memory loss as much as we are trying to get our “to do” list accomplished. We live in a fast paced society and we rely on our gadgets to help us get it done. We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore, or passwords for that matter.  We don’t need to do math in our head or rack our brains to remember who sang that song about bananas. With a few key strokes, the answer is there and no brain cells are activated. 

Yet, we do need to exercise our brain and be able to recall names, places and dates. It’s important in social and business relationships that we remember who we met and a little bit about them. Networking is what builds our community and it has to be more than a facebook or instagram post. In our jobs, we need to be able to do a presentation without relying on notes. Engaging your audience means keeping eye contact and speaking confidently about your subject. In social situations remembering peoples’ names goes a long way in making a good impression.

What can we do to help our powers of recall work more efficiently? I’m so glad you asked, otherwise all of this wonderful material would go to waste. 

Three keys to help strengthen our memory are: Imagination, Mindfulness and Practice. A way to remember these steps is to turn them into an acronym-IMP-the first three letters of the word Important. (See what I did there? I can tell you're already having fun).

Imagination is an important step in the technique of retaining names, numbers, lists and dates. Visualization helps us to cement this process of memorization. Think about a story you read when you were a child. For example, can you recite Green Eggs and Ham? I’m sure that while you are thinking about it, pictures from the story are popping up in your mind. That’s where your imagination comes in.

When you meet someone for the first time, make sure you hear her name correctly. Repeat her name and look into her eyes as you shake hands. (Only for a second. Stare too long and it becomes creepy). Now, find a defining feature that stands out and link her name to it. For example, her name is Lynn. It’s possible that you know another Lynn and you can make a quick comparison to the new Lynn. She can stay in your mind as Little Lynn or Light Hair Lynn. You can also try to rhyme her name with her defining feature: Thin Lynn. When you say good-bye repeat her name again. Saying someone’s name at least three times helps keep them stored in your memory file. Three time's a charm, just ask BeetleJuice.

When you are trying to remember a list, the power of creativity helps. Let’s say you have five points you want to make in a meeting. Put a number next to each point and a picture that will trigger your memory. Rhyming also helps. Soon you’ll be just as good as Dr. Seuss. 

For example: Five Ways to Engage Your Audience

  1. Be passionate about your message
  2. Speak clearly
  3. Be organized
  4. Have a call to action
  5. Tell personal stories that relate to your message

Number one rhymes with sun. Picture a bright sun high in the sky with your main message written across it. You can design it anyway you want. The more detailed you can make it, the more memorable it will be. Sunlight spotlights your passion.

Number two rhymes with shoe. Visualize your shoe with a large mouth. Your shoe is talking to you loud and clear. The reminder is speak clearly.

Number three rhymes with bee. Picture a large beehive being built by very organized buzzing bees. The point “be organized” will be easy to remember.

Number four rhymes with floor. Think about a living chessboard that is in an action packed game. See the Queen belting out orders to the other pieces. The picture of the action packed floor will be your call to action 

Number five rhymes with dive. See yourself diving into a large pool full of fish. Each fish is telling their own story all at the same time. Personal stories add an impact to your message, so dive into yours. 

When you can see the pictures in your head as you move from point to point, your speech will flow that much easier.

Mindfulness. Take a moment to breathe deeply and focus on what’s in front of you. When we do that, we are present. We can be so distracted that it can feel hard to quiet our mind of all that we have to do. When you are completely aware of your surroundings it makes it easier to concentrate on the task at hand. This helps you retain what you are reading or listening to. 

Check your posture. How are you sitting or standing? It does make a difference. When you are trying to solve a problem, sit up straight. It will help you feel confident in your abilities. It helps your circulation and blood flow. You will find your memory works better and will also put you in a positive mood. 

Practice. Just like learning a language or a dance step, practicing something new takes time. The more you work on bringing your ideas to life in your mind, the easier it becomes. You will become aware of staying in the present and focused on listening to the person in front of you. You’ll find that your attention span, along with your memory gets better. You’ll be amazed just how clever you are when you are developing fun images to connect to names, dates and lists. It will become a habit that becomes easier as you do it. 

IMP-Imagination, Mindfulness and Practice will play a very important part in your day to day life. I carry a very funny slideshow that lives in my head.  Not only does it help me with my memory, but it keeps me in a great mood. Yes, I crack myself up. I hope you do too. 

For more tips on having a great memory check out this wonderful book by                  Grandmaster Kevin Horsley “Unlimited Memory" 

Nov 25

Thanksgiving 101- Gratitude Attitude

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Everyone it's 2:30 time to eat which on Thanksgiving is dinnertime for some reason
Everyone it's 2:30 time to eat which on Thanksgiving is dinnertime for some reason

Thanksgiving 101-Gratitude Attitude

Being and feeling grateful is tough when it seems like your whole world is falling apart. Sure when things are going well it’s easy to spout lovely platitudes of appreciation. It’s quite different when you are in crisis mode and someone is trying to tell you it could be worse. Yes, I could be in jail right now for punching you in the face. I’ll be happy to tell you it could’ve been a whole lot worse. 

I know people mean well when they are trying to give you comfort but it’s hard when you are feeling powerless. Yes, there’s a lot we cannot control even though we want to very much. Tragedy and heartbreak are a part of life, and no, time doesn’t heal everything. The best we can do is adapt and live with it. As much as I don’t want to revisit the past, I know it’s always with me. I don’t dwell on it, but when I feel down it’s easy to open up old wounds. I’ve had to learn not to let it spiral out and consume me. 

Do you know what night has the most people out drinking? It’s not New Year’s Eve, and no, it’s not Tax Day. Believe it or not, it’s the night before Thanksgiving. Hey, facing the family isn’t easy for many of us. Liquid courage helps a little bit. Family can bring up past hurts and resentment. I stress the word “can” because we do have the power to decide how we are going to behave and react to our family. I have a few thoughts to share with you that might help increase the odds of having a wonderful time with our loved ones. These tips and tricks may also help when you are going through some hard times. 

Visualization. It’s easy to visualize the worst case scenario and many times what we expect is exactly what we get. What about trying to picture a happier more loving scenario? Think about each person in your family and see them in the best light possible. See yourself laughing and joking with them. Open yourself up to believing your visit will be enjoyable. You may find your own attitude change for the better. 

Bring wine, just in case. 

A friend of mine once told me that she hated going to work. The people in her office were always in a bad mood, and it was a miserable place to be. I suggested that she visualize everybody in her office having a fun day. I told her to set the scene before going to bed. I wanted her to see herself smiling to everyone and saying a friendly hello. She told me she decided to do it every night for a week. On Sunday she called me and said a miracle had happened. She had the best five days at work and couldn’t believe how nice everyone was being. My belief is smiling is infectious and has a relaxing effect on others. It’s easier than spiking their coffee. 

Empathy. The more we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, the more we can relate to each other. Most of us wear our scars on the inside and we will never understand the hurt that is being carried around. Practicing compassion goes a long way to developing patience for each other. The more we communicate our feelings the less chance of being misunderstood. 

My father had a tough time growing up and said very little about his parents. My uncle, on the other hand, has given me more insight to how they were raised. For me, it unlocked a whole new perception of my dad. We have to remember our parents are people too. They are not perfect but I believe most try their best. Getting a glimpse into their past may help give us clues to understanding them better. 

Last but not least, wait for it, Gratitude. Yes, practicing gratitude can go a long way. It can help us find that silver lining when all we see are dark clouds. It may feel like the last thing we want to do when we are struggling, yet, if we take a moment to be grateful about one thing it may keep us from drowning. 

I’m lucky. I don’t have to look too far to find what I’m grateful for. It’s easy to conjure up a good memory when you have people in your life that you love. I have a great family and wonderful friends that I can always count on. My hope and wish is that you too have a lot to be grateful for. 

Happy Thanksgiving!! See you at the bar!!

Nov 18

Why Are We Always Explaining Ourselves and How Do We Stop?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Cake Never Explains Itself Why Should You

I was at a friend’s birthday party a couple of months ago. It was held in the back room of a restaurant. There were no decorations and the room was drab and colorless. The tables and chairs were placed tightly up against each other. It was hard to move around and very uncomfortable. I thought to myself, it’s not the worst thing in the world and it’s only for a couple of hours.  During dinner the birthday guy turned to me and said, “This isn’t what I had wanted. I’m sorry the party isn’t better. The venue had to be changed at the last minute.” 

I said, “It’s fine. We are all here to celebrate you, that’s what’s important.”

“You’re only saying that to be nice. I know this sucks.”

“It does not suck. Everyone is enjoying being here and being with you.”

“You’re a very nice friend, but you don’t need to lie.”

“If this was my party and I was worried about it not being perfect, what would you say to me?”

“I would say your party doesn’t suck and everyone is enjoying being here and being with you.”

Everyone finds themselves in embarrassing situations and the last thing we want is other people piling on. What we want is some reassurance that it’s not as bad as we think it is. 

How many times has your friend told you, “Oh my place is a mess. I’ve been so busy I didn’t have time to properly clean” or “Don’t look at my hair, I need to get it cut”? My favorite one, because I know I say it too often, “I know I’ve gained weight, but I plan on starting a new diet soon.” 

Why are we always explaining ourselves? If you didn’t point out the small stain on your shirt, I would’ve never noticed it. Do we judge other people so harshly that we just assume they are doing the same to us? Maybe we are too hard on ourselves and worry way too much about what other people think. 

Being part of a society does mean fitting in. We want to feel accepted and valued for our contribution. When we feel we are being put on the spot we tend to over explain. We then have to walk away beating ourselves up for it. 

“Have you started exercising yet?”

“I plan to very soon. I’ve been trying to decide if I want to go to a gym, try a workout program at home or just wait for the fat fairy to come and make me skinny.”

Why couldn’t I just say “No, not yet” and leave it at that? Most questions can be answered with yes, no, or maybe. We are not on trial and we certainly don’t need to make anyone a judge and juror. I think most people are asking questions just to start a conversation. We shouldn’t feel that we have to justify our existence to anyone. I don’t think most people expect us to do that and yet we make ourselves feel that way. 

What’s the solution if we tend to give more information than needed? Try taking a second to breathe before answering. Think about what you want to say or not say.  For example, today you’re fixated on how your skin looks. You have a breakout and you have a networking event to go to. You feel self-conscious and yet you know you need to be there. Once you are away from your mirror, stop obsessing about how you look. Remind yourself of the importance of making a good first impression. Dazzle them with your smile. No one will give a second thought about how you look. They will if you decide to explain it away.

We also tend to give too much of an explanation when we have to say no to someone. For example, someone is asking you to pick them up from the airport at a time that is inconvenient for you. Instead of a long meandering answer trying to cover all the reasons you can’t, simply say “I’m sorry I can’t get out of a commitment I already have at that time.”

We don’t want people to feel that they can’t count on us, but sometimes we have to set boundaries to not be taken advantage of either. The less you explain yourself the more you realize people just want a direct answer from you. You also don’t want to make the mistake of explaining yourself to the point you end up doing what you were trying to get out of. (I say this while I’m taking my friend to the airport).

When you have a minute check out this video Pantene put out. It sums up perfectly how we tend to apologize when no apology or explanation is needed.

We can alleviate stress and gain confidence when we decide not to explain our actions to others all the time. We can change our mind-set to feeling positive and self-assured. We can go to the party, have cake, and feel good about ourselves. My diet starts tomorrow.

Nov 11


By Celeste DeCamps | General

My mother told me that I danced before I could walk. I didn’t think about anything when music was playing except to feel it move through my body. I believe we all have rhythm though I have met a few people who seem to have forgotten it. When I was twelve I told my parents that I wanted to play the drums. They did their best to convince me to play something smaller, like the flute. I told them that people won’t be able to hear me if I did that. It wasn’t until I had stuck with the lessons for a couple of years that my parents bought me a drum set. I think they were really hoping that I would’ve given up before having to get one. 

I played in my high school marching band and the orchestra. When I got to college, I used all my electives in music. My brother, Stan, played the sax and was a music major. He introduced me to an amazing drummer, Rob Cargell, to continue my drum lessons. It was the start of a whole new phase of understanding music and being part of a band. Plus, Rob was really cute.

I took rhythm classes in Jazz and Rock. The focus being how to connect and anticipate what the other guy is doing. It’s a completely different feeling from playing with a marching band. Instead of reading music and following a conductor, I’m working with a small group improvising a song. I was having a hard time relating and trusting my inner rhythm. Rob was trying to figure out why and at one point looked at me and said, “Stop counting.” 

I said, “What? Stop counting? I have to count or I’ll lose my place.”

“Don’t count while you’re playing. You’re not allowing yourself to feel the music that is being created around you. Get out of your head and just listen.”

It was the strangest feeling when I started to play and hone in on what the bass player was doing. Little by little I felt like he and I were one person. The more I practiced with the band the better understanding I had of the other players’ personalities. 

Empathy is feeling someone else’s ideas and thoughts. Everyone’s approach is different and you have to gain an understanding of how that person will interpret a song. To lock in with another person, to be in the pocket together is hard to describe. It’s like you’re reading the other person’s mind, especially when you have played with the same group of people over a long period of time. 

The rhythm section’s job is also to support the soloist. It’s an amazing sensation when you can understand when to lay back and when to punch with an accent. I have a whole new level of appreciation when I hear a group meld their ideas together. 

I’ve always thought that the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes was important to being more compassionate to those around you. I think playing in a band and relating to each other heightened my sense of awareness. I seem to pick up on other people’s emotions before they even say anything. I also know that annoys a few people but I can’t help it.

I continued playing drums even when I became a professional belly dancer.  Stan came out to see me perform in a Greek restaurant. Later he asked me how long I had to practice with the band before going on stage with them. I said the band and I never practice together. 

“Well, then how did you know what they were going to play? How did you dance to the music and the drum solo if you’ve never heard it before?”

“I learned how to listen and anticipate what the musicians are going to play and they watch me as well. This way it looks like we rehearsed it.”

“But the rhythms and time are constantly changing. How do you stay with them so well?”

“It’s easy. I don’t count.”

Oct 28

Find Your Inner Child Find Your Passion

By Celeste DeCamps | General

What do you want to be when you grow up? Every kid gets asked that and many adults are still trying to answer that question. Some people seem to know exactly what profession suits them while others seem to spend their whole lives searching. I know for myself the idea of doing just one thing for the rest of my life didn’t sit well. I just saw so many possibilities that I wanted to try them all. I was lucky that I was able to start and end many different types of careers. My newest venture may be the most rewarding one I’ve had so far. It’s also what I wanted to do when I was ten years old. 

I just read an interesting article by Bruce Grierson, “The Rule of Age 10.” He researched people who changed their job path to something that was more gratifying for them. Some people will chalk it up to a mid-life crisis but research says that may not be the case. Our passion may be traced back to our much younger selves. 

Mr. Grierson’s  research revealed that by “Age 10 is a developmental sweet spot. You’re old enough to know what lights you up, yet not so old that adults have extinguished that fire by dumping more practical and “realistic” options on it. In other words, age 10 contains, in a sense, our source code.” 

Parents and teachers mean well by steering young people towards a vocation that will help them be successful as adults. It’s not that they don’t want to support their dreams they just know how hard it is to find a profession that pays well. Unfortunately for many people they end up in a job that doesn’t fulfill them emotionally. They feel that they wasted a lot of time and energy on a career that is not satisfying. 

Hence, the myth of the midlife crisis emerges. People suddenly leaving their successful, well-paying job to do what they always wanted to do when they were a kid. They find their enthusiasm for life again by going back and finding that spark that they thought they lost. 

How do you figure out what you wanted to be when you were younger? What if you wanted to be a football player or a super model? Chances are that ship has sailed, but you may still find interests that you had that can be developed today. Do a little research. Dig out your yearbook or maybe a journal that you kept at a young age. Talk to family and friends. You never know what you may find but it would give you a glimpse into finding what lit you up. 

I know, for me, I found the joy of writing again. I also found my voice and confidence to share my message to audiences. It’s been a long journey but one that I had to take to bring me to where I am now. All experiences, good and bad, are not a waste of time. If you are still looking for your passion, take  a moment and think about what held your interest when you were ten years old. You may just find the missing piece of your puzzle. 

Oct 13

How To Practice Mindfulness Without Losing Your Mind

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Mind Full or Mindful
Mind Full or Mindful

I’m either stuck in the past or fixated on the future. The idea of living in the moment seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. I’m trying to be in the “Now” but my mind has other plans. Even when I’m meditating my thoughts swim over waves of nostalgia or conjure up fears of an unknown future. 

The only time I find myself living in the present is when I’m dancing. My mind somehow is impervious to thinking about anything else except the music I’m listening to. It’s very freeing not thinking about anything in particular. I’m not even thinking of what dance move is next. I just let my body move to the rhythm and feel relaxed and energized at the same time. 

Things that I think I should be worried about melt away. I sing along with the band and for that moment I am completely present. Inhibitions, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy simply do not exist. How can I dance through life? As much as I want to dance to the 80’s music playing in the supermarket, I do not. 

What I have done is read a wonderful book by Eckhart Tolle, titled “The Power of Now.

“If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a truthful reflection, so look at the emotion, or rather feel it in your body. If there is an apparent conflict between them, the thought will be the lie, the emotion will be the truth. Not the ultimate truth of who you are, but the relative truth of your state of mind at that time.” Tolle, Eckhart

Here are three ideas to help you stay in the present.

1. Instead of fighting with my thoughts, I let them happen. I am able to stop being bombarded with crazy, nonsensical ideas and look to see the cause of them. I realize more and more, the importance of being aware, and taking a moment to understand what is bothering me. Why am I ruminating over things that have already happened and a future that hasn’t happened at all? What am I so afraid of? When we stop to take a deep breath and answer these questions, we understand ourselves a little better. 

2. I know I have a choice. I can either let the fear take over or embrace this negative emotion and turn it into motivation. This is what will anchor me to the present. I stop worrying and instead look to what I need to be doing for myself. I write out a list of what I want to get done. This way it’s out of my head and onto paper that I can look at. It gives me a feeling of control when I’m feeling overwhelmed and powerless. 

"I want to learn to live in the moment... just not this moment. some other moment. Like a moment on the beach."

  3. I make sure I schedule in a workout. Keeping my mind and body connected alleviates the undue anxiety. I step away from the computer to take in a few deep breaths. I will relax my neck and shoulders. If the sun is out, I’ll take a walk. To be honest, I’ll take a walk in the rain too. Sitting in the park, the woods or at the beach is a great way to live in the present. It’s a way to focus on what is really important in life right here, right now. 

I’ve learned that everything has a way of working out even when we can’t see how. Understanding all the opportunities life has to offer gives us a sense of hope instead of dread. It’s not easy to stay present all the time, it takes practice. Being aware is the first step to getting yourself to the here and now. To help get you there, appreciate your past and trust your future. Release all the thoughts of what you need to get done by putting pen to paper. Get outside, breathe some fresh air and take a walk. 

Dancing will always be my go to move when I want to feel good, even if it means waiting till after I leave the supermarket.