13 Ways to Keep Alive Your Childs Nature Connection

Thomas and Camilla Date Day July 2016 Thomas Walking

I began taking Thomas and Lillian for walks when they were both infants. Having not tried to introduce going for walks and relighting the spark of wonder at a later age, I’m not sure how this would work with older children.

Thomas is 10 years old now and Lillian is 14 years old. Each of them treasure our walks together and if we skip more than 2 days, they notice and bring it up.

The meaning and reason for these walks has shifted over the years. When I first began walking it was to get exercise. The walks I take now are for experiencing my connection with nature, listening and learning from nature, and staying connected with my true self. This is the meaning I impart to Lillian and Thomas as well.

These “13 Ways to Keep Alive Your Child’s Nature Connection” have walks as their root. The root must be solid and secure if this growth period is to be successful.

  1. Make going for a walk together a priority. For this to work, there must be a strong commitment. Take each child on a walk alone, go for a family walk, take a walk with your significant other, and take yourself on a walk alone.
  2. Walk slowly. This is not about seeing how quickly you can get finished or how many calories you can burn.
  3. Point out clouds, leaves, trees, rocks, and animals. Get up close to the trees. Touch them. Speak what’s in your mind aloud and be curious.
  4. Ask your child how it makes them feel to be on this walk, sitting next to the lake, sitting on a rock, or touching the tree.
  5. Take pictures of the rocks, trees, leaves, sky, water, animals … whatever you feel moved to capture. Invite your child to do the same. You can talk about these pictures later.
  6. Take a journal with you. Sit and write or draw whatever comes to heart. Invite your child to do the same.
  7. If your child invites you to feel a rock or pinecone or to dip your toes in the water or stand on a big rock or to make shadows or to catch the leaves as they fall; say “yes”, let go and have fun with him.
  8. If they want to linger a bit longer, say “yes”. Whatever is waiting for you at home, can wait. This is deepening your own connection with your child and with nature. And, also strengthening your child’s connection with nature.
  9. Choose a “sit spot”. This is a place that you and your child will visit every time you take a walk. While at your sit spot, sit in silence, and listen. The more you do this, the more you will begin to see and hear and smell. This is a good place to use your journal.
  10. During the walk, ask your child what she hears, smells, sees and what something feels like when touched.
  11. Your child is continually learning from this experience. It’s best not to attempt to make this about learning the proper names of birds, flowers, weeds, and clouds as this will follow naturally the more you walk. Take note of whatever it is and have fun researching it later.
  12. Collect rocks, sticks, leaves, pinecones, and whatever else to take home. Have a place on the patio, in the garage, or inside the house so these can be used later for research or for creating nature based art.
  13. Authentically share your own sense of wonder with your child. This may be buried deeply within. Yet, it is there. Meditate, pray, practice yoga, whatever calls to you so that you can peel back the years and layers of losing your nature connection.

C18 Trip July 2016 #32

There’s no need to wait until you have time to go camping or to get away from the city. The trail at a local park will work. A walk along the sidewalk in your neighborhood will do. Nature is everywhere if we open our heart and eyes to seeing her.

We just read two GREAT children’s books that emphasize this. They are:

The Garden of Happiness

The Curious Garden

Also, I recently read “How to Raise a Wild Child” if you want to read further and go deeper with this.

(I invited Thomas and Lillian to review this to ensure I had not left out anything. With a few additions, it is ready!)

I help to support my family with my writings. So … there are Amazon affiliate links in this post. This simply means that if you click through to Amazon for more information about a book, and you buy something, we get a few cents (and it doesn’t cost you anything more than usual). If you benefited from this writing, would you like to toss a tip in the love offering “bucket”? Oceans of gratitude … xoxo

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Wonderfully exciting news! We’ve completed the first book trailer for my 10 year old son’s, Thomas Darnell, upcoming book, Biggest Little Photographer. You can learn more and pre-order here.

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A Rapturous Dance With Life

Lake Mead July 2016 #15

I did it. I did it. I did it.

I drove Team TLC 3,400 miles. Thursday, July 7, 2016 through Saturday, July 16, 2016 I drove 3,400 miles roundtrip to attend the Chromosome 18 Conference – Reno, Nevada to San Antonio, Texas .. 1,700 miles each way. A conference Thomas and Lillian have their hearts set on attending every year. We began attending the C18 Conference in 2009 when it was in Las Vegas and have gone every year since then.

We arrived home at midnight on Saturday, July 16th. I was kind of it out of all day Sunday. Then Monday, I woke up ready to go! By Monday afternoon, every muscle in my body ached and I felt weighted down. I was completely out of it for 4 full days. It took about 7 days before I felt like myself again.

Yet, I DID IT!! … xoxoxo

The plan was to leave at 5:00 am on Thursday, the 7th, so that I could drive as far as possible before darkness fell upon us. I am completely out of my comfort zone driving in the dark in unfamiliar places. I could not get to sleep the night before. I was worried and having anxiety about this trip due to finances, honestly, not even having enough to cover the trip.

Yet, I know how deeply important this conference is to Thomas and Lillian. Each for their own reasons. Thomas is the sibling to a sister who has a chromosome deletion. He has, and is, developing deep friendships with the other siblings his age and being mentored by the older siblings.

Lillian’s friends are her peers that she has connected with through this conference. She communicates with some of them all throughout the year. When one texts, blogs, post on Facebook and Instagram, emails, chats on Facebook, or uses skype; the spoken word is not needed.

In our world of verbal communication difficulties, social media has helped create a world that would not exist for Lillian and one where she has true friends. She has no local friends, yet she has friends all over the United States and the world … As far away as Tasmania, Australia.

C18 Trip July 2016 #17

After having about 3 hours sleep, I could not seem to get ready as I was overwhelmed with the enormity of this trip. I had an adult meltdown which delayed our departure. We were finally on our way at 7:00 am; two hours later than I had planned.

There was much excitement as we began the road trip. Lots of talking, observing the landscape, and silliness. About two hours into the morning, we lost cell phone service due to the rural area we traveled. We were without cell service for the next five or six hours until we reached Las Vegas. During this time, Thomas and Lillian became absorbed in reading books, magazines, or using their computers or phones.

Which left my mind much time to mess with me. I had stepped way out of my comfort zone with this trip. I had never driven this far, much less driven this far being the only one in charge of packing, driving, and navigating. Plus, we had never driven this far as a family. Our max road trip travel time was to the 2015 conference in Salt Lake City; which was about an 8 hour drive from Reno.

Thoughts of us being stranded due to car problems kept entering my mind like a dark storm cloud encroaching on the brightest of days. Thoughts of the lack of finances for this trip took their turn in the dance also. Not to be left out of the dance, thoughts of my insanity at attempting this cut into the dance too. All of this dance to be completed with the veil of anxiety and worry weaving in and out like a breeze blowing through the trees.

Thankfully, I am a student of mindfulness and emotional connection. And, since there was nothing else to do but sit and drive, I took this opportunity to put these practices to work. It was a rapturous dance between being mindful, connecting with emotions, and embracing the fear wanting to dance with me.

This trip proved to be challenging. I had not anticipated this dance with life in all of its flavors and colors in such a way to cause the suffering brought on by my thoughts. It was my goal to have this trip be a learning experience for me of not knowing, not planning, and just going. That’s certainly not for everyone.

Yet, I felt this was important for me. It’s a huge step out of my comfort zone. One step closer to trusting myself, trusting internal messages, and letting go of how it’s supposed to be done. As mentioned earlier, I’ve never driven this far alone … Much less alone with Thomas and Lillian. In addition to driving this far in Rosey, our 15 year old car, with dancing through this trip on less than a shoe string budget and letting go of worry that the string will hold tight.

I had moments where I was so extremely hot and exhausted I had visions of taking an ice bath and moments when I was so tired I was shaking and wondering what in the heck I was doing ….. Yet, I know. I may not know on the surface right now; but deep down, I know why I do what I do.

This was also a dance full of wonderful, bright moments. We shared inspiring comments and tons of love that furthered each one of us. Definitely some amazing growth for all of us happened! WOW!

**LOVE OFFERING** If you find this content helpful, I invite you to toss a tip in the love offering bowl. With oceans of gratitude … Camilla ….

love-cards-in-a-basket-october-2016

We had a ball and laughed tons and enjoyed the beautiful landscape as we drove by it. Lillian was being so helpful and encouraging Thursday morning before we left.

Thomas was awesome and inspiring with his comments as we drove the two lane highways in the middle of nowhere in Nevada and Arizona. We saw a huge sign that read, “Nothing” and had a great laugh about that! Just after driving through Boulder City and Hoover dam, Thomas said, “I love it here.” He was so impressed with Lake Mead and said he wanted to live there.

Thomas went on to say that he always has deja vu and he has lived this life before. He said it all seems so familiar. He was incredibly inspired by the beauty that passed before our eyes. He also commented that he wants to buy land and simply let kids play on the land.

On the first day of driving, Lillian got sick to her stomach. We ended up spending about 30 minutes at a gas station bathroom and Thomas was extremely helpful. When we were looking for a place to stay and it kept getting darker and darker, I apologized to them as I had planned on stopping sooner. He said, “When you get a rock in your shoe, just shake it out.”

Rosey did a pretty good job. She had a wee bit of problems getting overheated but that was resolved with turning the air conditioner off while traveling up and down the mountainous areas. I had to give her some oil and coolant on the way there and some oil on the way back home. It’s scorching hot checking oil and fluids in over 100 degree weather!

With an hour and a half to go before we arrived in San Antonio, the epoxy glue I use for the driver side mirror had enough of the heat and was simply melting away! A couple of years ago I bumped the mirror backing out of a covered parking spot. So, for about 20 minutes I was holding the mirror until I could pull over. Bungee cord to the rescue!! Before we headed back home, the hotel gave me duct tape and that worked great for the ride back home.

I feel strongly guided to be establishing a new relationship with myself and the world and to model this for my kids, have them actively participate, and to help them know that there’s more to life and living than traditionally meets the eye.

I want them to never lose touch with their true self and to grow into adults knowing their given talents and having a solid and clear courage and conviction in sharing that talent with the world!

I continue to learn so much daily … About me, Thomas and Lillian, others and simply just living and dancing with life! xoxo

C18 Trip July 8 2016 #1

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Wonderfully exciting news! We’ve completed the first book trailer for my 10 year old son’s, Thomas Darnell, upcoming book, Biggest Little Photographer. You can learn more and pre-order here.

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Bench at Vintage Lake February 2016

Therapists, Teachers and Friends

I don’t even know where to begin and not quite sure how to put into words what I have experienced recently. As I was experiencing the below, thoughts of, “I have got to share this. I must tell someone. I feel like dancing and twirling with the wind, shining like the sun and sharing this with everyone.” were whirling within me. It was incredibly powerful.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been told by several how brave I am, how I am honored for my dedication to being a parent. I’ve also been asked not just recently but several times over the past 7 or 8 years, “How did you process all this, how did you do it? Did you have professional help, a therapist?”

My therapists have been the authors of the books I read. Two of my greatest teachers have been my kids, Thomas and Lillian. Other teachers have been the suffering brought on by my thoughts, beliefs, and ideas, and those with whom I have shared un-lovely moments. The friends I share absolutely everything with are nature, meditation, and my own version of praying.

I continually ask to see things differently, to question the thoughts, ideas and beliefs I have. I ask to unlearn thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that no longer serve me. In the few days before this experience, I had finally come to a point where I authentically released and let go of all that I wish for and want. I let go of it with tremendous love and with the knowing that I would absolutely receive once I let go of the longing.

Here is what I experienced …..

A Bayou Angel

This morning a bayou Angel and her Mom came to my assistance. One who feels I am a gift to her in how I show up and live my life. As I sat eating my dinner of a lovely, big bowl of popcorn, I simply stared into the bowl at each kernel before eating it. (I was enjoying my first night alone, with the house to myself, for the first time in a year.)

Popcorn Dinner June 27 2016

I was listening to Stevie Nicks on Pandora, feeling as if Stevie Nicks and I are soul sisters, like I could physically feel the the impact of the words she sang. As I scooped up and popped the last bit of popcorn into my mouth, the bayou Angel and I exchanged our last email for the day agreeing that our having re-connected was divinely arranged.

To See A World in a Grain of Sand

William Blake’s “To See A World … ” came to mind and it was as if the flood gates opened. Not only to let flow tears of knowing, tears of joy, and tears of love …. It was the flood gates of my entire life flowing out around me and wrapping me in the knowing that there have been no accidents in this life.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.

It has been divinely laid out. Every encounter, every relationship, every friendship. I saw the synchronicity of having lived 3 years of my life in Houma Louisiana, the deep unhappiness of my family life at that time, and how the friendships I formed were a saving grace. Not only a saving grace back in the mid 80’s, a saving grace in the year 2013 and 2016. Unbeknownst to me a mutual, symbiotic relationship of one inspiring the other and one becoming a messenger angel for the other.

Everything that I have experienced was laid out in such a way that I could choose a different path at some point in my life. If I didn’t choose that different path, I would most likely still have felt as though I was happy, moving right along side millions of other people doing life the way everyone else is doing life. Or I could have chosen a path on which I numbed myself so as not to feel my emotions and to drown out the callings of my soul; which I did do in my late teens and early 20’s.

Date Day with Thomas June 2016 #15

A Different Path

Yet, I chose the different path. The path that leads to a simple life, a life of ease, a life of valuing something completely different, of knowing the given talent within and of sharing that talent with others. Although it is a path that leads to a life of ease and non-struggle, the walk along that path has certainly not been simple and free of struggle, nor free of suffering.

**LOVE OFFERING** If you find this content helpful, I invite you to toss a tip in the love offering bowl. With oceans of gratitude … Camilla ….

love-cards-in-a-basket-october-2016

It has been a path of confronting feelings about my own self-worth. A path of knowing the deep intrinsic worth of simply BEing. A path of peeling back layer after layer after layer after layer of thoughts, beliefs, and ideas that have compounded throughout this life … and smothered the true me.

I felt as if I was breathing with all of life, all of the earth, and all of the Universe. Two hours time went by and it seemed like it had been 30 minutes.

In the whirling of my life through these flood gates, I felt divinely loved … a pure love so deep I cried sobbing salty tears of joy with the knowing that I am loved, that I have always been loved, and that I AM love.

The knowing sobs ended with a peace and a bliss like I have never felt before that no matter what happens in the next two months and from here forward; everything will be okay and my family will be okay. I will always be loved and be love no matter what.

… And that is what I experienced. These words don’t seem to do it justice. Yet, I have tried to convey the power and beauty of it.

Be the Change

In the past society has taught us (or at least me, anyway) a philosophy of, “If this, than that”. You are only valued IF you live your life a certain way, accomplish certain things, accumulate material items.” … Rather than teaching us as young, sweet, innocent beings that we are valued. Period. There is no, if and when. Period. You are valued.

I take Gandhi’s words of, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world ” straight to my soul. My number one main and most important “job” is ensuring that I “raise” two beings who live life from a place of loving-kindness, who retain peace and joy as they age and are grounded in the knowing of their given talents so as to share those talents for the benefit of others.

And one of the ways in which I carry out this job is to simply be me. To live life from a place of loving-kindness and come to know the given talents I had so deeply buried. And to do this openly with Thomas and Lillian observing and being a part of the process and watching me build a new relationship with myself. (Here’s a wonderfully inspiring, short and beautiful, post by a friend, Tania Marie, titled Portals of Possibilities, which touches on this.)

I single parent the two of them and this is a full time, almost round the clock job. It’s not really a job in the traditional sense of the word as I enjoy getting to do this. I am supposed to be doing this. It’s definitely not always easy or fun, yet those un-lovely times are when we are learning the most and making the greatest progress as human beings.

Crossing the Bridge

WAlk June 19 2016 #4

“And she said, I’m ready to live this life with abandon and joyful bewilderment … I’m crossing that bridge.” ~Camilla Downs

May you take this as you need to receive it. Perhaps a calling to begin questioning why you are doing what you do, what is causing you to make certain decisions. Perhaps to reinforce why you seem to be “bucking” the system, or going against what others think you should be doing.

Perhaps simply to be told that you are loved, you are loved, you are loved and to stop judging yourself.

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Wonderfully exciting news! We’ve completed the first book trailer for my 10 year old son’s, Thomas Darnell, upcoming book, Biggest Little Photographer. You can learn more and pre-order here.

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Angel at the Farmer’s Market

(Every once in a while I receive a nudge to write in third person. This is another of those times.)

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She had been dealing with a headache for 3 days now. She felt as if her body, inside and out, was covered in a thick and sticky sludge. A sludge full of all the reasons why she is wrong, inadequate, a loser, and a downright horrible person.

She thought back to the dream she had two weeks ago. She could not get away from a giant sink hole. Everywhere she went, this sink hole followed! One minute she’d be free of it and then she would purposely re-enter the force of it’s pull. She knew this was not just a random dream. The sink hole was a metaphor for how she’d been feeling about her life these past few weeks.

Then she was brought back to the present when she received a message from a friend that landed on a heart that she’d been slapping around and wringing like a sponge. It was exactly what her heart needed to hear and was the perfect message for her to receive in that moment. The divine message: “I love your positiveness and your love of life and love. You are a true inspiration to me.”

After dinner she went for a walk as she had missed her morning walk. It was an incredibly beautiful evening with magical clouds decorating the sky. She felt light and at peace. She smiled at the adults, kids, and people she passed. She spoke with them. She shared love with Gus, the dog. What a happy fellow he is. She felt like a streak of joy passing by everyone with brief stops to share with one another. Peace was with her through the rest of the night.

While sleeping that night she dreamed she was trapped in a house that kept creating sabotage after sabotage. She finally escaped only to re-enter the house as she had left something inside. At this point she woke up and she knew once again that this was a metaphor.

During her morning meditation she focused on connecting with and releasing this sludge. Memories of being trapped as a child came to her. She decided that it’s time to clear her heart and soul of this sludge, return it to the ether. It’s no longer hers, she no longer needs it.

“The memories of the past are not part of the present moment,” she told herself. “I am not trapped. I am free. Free to live this life in peace and joy and free to release suffering. It’s time to let it go and let the light shine throughout my heart and soul. It’s time to have a heart and soul cleansing. A cleansing that will take with it the amnesia that has smothered the knowing of who ‘I Am'”.

She felt wonderful after meditation. She got everyone’s breakfast ready and went for her morning walk before taking her son to camp. It was a quiet, still, reflective morning.

After taking her son to camp she stopped by the Farmer’s Market to get a couple of fresh tomatoes. She walked right up to the stand she knew she wanted to visit. The wonderful farmer greeted her with a smile and compliments about her smile and outfit. She told him he could pick out two tomatoes for her, one for eating today and the other for tomorrow or the next day.

Tomatoes June 21 2016

She wrote a check as she had no cash on her. He looked at her name and tried pronouncing her first name. She let him know how to pronounce it correctly and he said both her first and last name out loud. He said, “That’s a special name. You should write poetry or be a writer of some type.” She looked at him, smiled, and with a warm heart said, “I am.”

They said goodbye and told each other to have a great day. And she left having just received a message, an answer to that for which she daily prays and meditates.

You’ll never receive answers if you aren’t expecting them. Ask for them. Expect them. You just may meet an Angel at the Farmer’s Market.

Blessings,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Thomas and Camilla Date Day April 2016

This is a long post. So, I’m going to give you the take-away points right now:

Take Away Points:

  • Examine and question the way it’s always been done. Ask yourself, “Is that true? Do we have to do it that way?”
  • It’s okay to question others who have direct control over your child’s education or therapies
  • Observe and facilitate discovery for your child’s interest
  • Differences play a role in our given talent
  • Pay attention to your intuition
  • Trust and have faith in your feelings and ideas
  • “Teach” your child by modeling your beliefs and living your passions
  • It’s okay to do it differently
  • Have meaningful discussions with your child and ask for her input
  • Release guilt and self-judgment for not “doing” life like others
  • Share your passions with your child
  • Become a learner and discoverer with your child
  • Be inspired as your child shines as his unique self

(I originally wrote a version of “I Have a Dream” on the Different iz Good website in 2010. I was called to combine this with two other blog posts from 2011 into a new post with updated information. The updated information is in italicsThere is a bit of repetition. I wanted to leave the original articles mostly in tact and this is the reason for the repetition.)

I do not claim to know the One Way, or One Size fits all approach to living a joyful, peaceful life. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. These are simply my thoughts to share for those with whom it resonates. xoxo

I Have a Dream

“Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

I have a dream of a world where people like my daughter Lillian Darnell, who have intellectual disabilities, genetic differences, chromosome abnormalities, are not pigeonholed into jobs that don’t reveal and let shine their uniqueness. Jobs that do not give them the opportunity to share their unique and different view of the world.

I have a dream of a world where those closest to these magnificent people and those who are entrusted to educate them shift their perception. A world in which we become aware of not what they can’t do or what they are doing wrong or different. A world where educators don’t attempt to make them fit into a cookie cutter system that is so archaic even “typical” kids don’t fit in.

**Update: As an example of the above, during an IEP meeting when Lillian was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, I was told of their concern that Lillian was still not drawing proportionate stick people. The first thoughts that ran through my mind were, “Are you kidding me? Why on earth would we be focused on changing something that is unique about her?” I explained to them that this was something unique about Lillian and very well may be part of the gift she is to share with others.” I told them they could stop being concerned about that. 

Can you imagine what educators would have said to Picasso’s parents? “We are deeply concerned about the way he draws people? We cannot get him to draw proportionate stick people.” Please don’t misunderstand. I know these therapists and educators had Lillian’s best interest in their hearts. My perspective is simply different than their perspective.

**Update: A world where we question the way it’s supposed to be done as that’s the way it’s always been done. A world where we examine our own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs and ask, “Is that true? Does it have to be done that way”? A world where we let ourselves become learners and discoverers right along side our children.**

A world where we open our eyes and discover what they can do, what they are good at doing, and what they like to do. A world where we notice what excites them, what fuels their passions. A world where we take the initiative to mentor them to cultivate this, shape and mold it into a way for them to earn a living for themselves.

Whether that be working for someone else or . . . being an entrepreneur. A world in which we, and they, don’t feel guilty or wrong about using differences to their advantage in life. Our differences most likely play a role in our given talents.

**Update: I have since expanded this dream to include all children and people like my son, Thomas Darnell, who are high functioning, extremely bright, have a deep thirst for knowing “why” and are not okay with “because I said so” as an explanation, who are empathic, and greatly sensitive to the energies of others.**

“Each of us has a Different gift that lies within us. Some amongst us just need a little extra help in uncovering that gift so that we can share it for the benefit of the world. ” Camilla

Lillian and Camilla Walk 5.26.16 #4

(The following was written in 2011 as the last chapter in the “D iz for Different” book)

Z is for Zig Zag

Conventional wisdom says “do it this way, this is the way it’s always been done.” I am the type of person who questions conventional wisdom. I pause to think about whether the way it’s always been done is really the right way for me and my family.

Conventional wisdom says that the best path for Lillian is to attend traditional public school to benefit from what she’s entitled to according to federal laws and what’s established in her IEP. That worked for us through fourth grade, but it doesn’t work now. **Update** – Lillian is now in tenth grade by traditional school standards.

I simply believe with all my being that this young lady will not follow any conventional route in her life, or in her career. I believe she will be self-employed, and I don’t believe she will reach her full potential staying in a traditional public school. Of course, I will accept whatever career path she chooses, but for now, I choose us to zag instead of zig.

I’m not saying that we should always zag when others zig. But, that we pay attention when something inside us is saying, “not so fast there, find a different way,” or “don’t keep doing that.” We may hear these messages, but dismiss them due to doubt, fear, or lack of faith. As these messages spring from our heart, we find that we have invited judgments of our own and others into our mind telling us we are crazy for thinking that way.

**Update: I also believe Thomas will not follow any conventional route in his education and life. In fact, we don’t follow a conventional route as a family. I single parent Thomas and Lillian and have for the past 9 years. We haven’t owned a television since 2008.

We live in an 800 square foot, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo. I haven’t used a microwave in 3 years. I hand wash our dishes. I value good quality food over the newest or designer clothing, shoes, cars, furniture, jewelry, or electronics; and I share that value with Thomas and Lillian. We go for many, many walks together. We talk about food, the differences in quality of food, and the ingredients in our food.

We read a lot. I thoughtfully choose the books we read aloud together and they choose their own books. We also have a movie night once per week using a projector and a Macbook Pro. These are also thoughtfully chosen and we have started taking turns choosing a movie from the selection I check out from the library. I share the books and movies as a reference for others in the Book and Movie Musings section.

Since Thomas was 1 year old we have been going to the library every 2 or 3 weeks. We live as a team rather than a dictatorship. Mostly, I am the team leader, yet I give them many opportunities to lead. We have letting go burning ceremonies every quarter. We continually talk about why we are here, what are our goals, how are we doing personally and as a family, we make gratitude lists, create yearly vision boards for each of us and one as a family, write “compliment” notes for each other, and we openly discuss and practice mindfulness and emotional connection. We are not typical … and we like it.**

I wrote this when Lillian was 10 years old. She is now 14 years old. I homeschooled her the year I originally wrote this. She re-entered school the following year and was there for two and a half years. Here’s a bit of the story on how that happened.

Lillian and Camilla Walk 5.26.16 #2

She has been “homeschooled” for the past year and a half. In January, without my having searched for it, the term unschooling and information about it kept coming across my awareness. After reading much about it, I realized I had been unschooling Lillian all along and just didn’t know it.

Lillian self leads her learning and discovery. I take the opportunity when it’s presented to facilitate that learning. She has always loved to write, draw, and paint. You can see that as far back as 2007 in the first blog we began titled, Pink Elephant Books. I knew even back then that she and I would author books.

Currently, she blogs on her own site at LillianDarnell.com. Her writing is becoming deeper and richer by the day. It has been magical to be a part of and watch her blossom. She is absolutely thriving by being allowed to focus on her passions and interest.

She loves tracking the weather and has loved it since probably about 2007 or 2008. When we need to know what to expect with the weather, we ask Lillian. If she doesn’t already know, she’ll look it up in less than 5 minutes. She says she has a weather sniffer nose and she can smell the rain coming and other weather conditions.

I share my enthusiasm and love of nature, photography, mindfulness, and emotional connection with Lillian and her brother, Thomas. And, Lillian has naturally become interested in these subjects also. Not because I sat her down and taught her the names of everything. But because she has witnessed me living it and my genuine love of these things. Thomas and Lillian love our walks and time spent outdoors. 

Thomas sporadically blogs on his website (ThomasADarnell.com), posts items for sale that he has created, and is about to become a published author. He completed a 365 photo a day project that he came up with and decided to do on his own. That is being made into a book that I will co-author with him. Tentatively titled, “Grand Adventures of the Biggest Little Photographer”.**

Thomas & Camilla Last Day of School 6.3.16 #1

(This next section was written in 2011 and a version of this later became the “O” Chapter in the, “D iz for Different” book.)

O is for Observe

“Most people see what is, and never see what can be.” -Albert Einstein

Observing, paying attention, being aware of the present moment. What’s happening, who you are with, are you having a conversation? Are you really being present for the conversation or are you thinking about all those bills that are due or what you’re making for dinner or what happened on the last episode of your favorite show.

How will we guide our kids, with special needs and “typically developing” kids, into a fruitful, joyful and peaceful future if we are not present for them? Observe their likes, dislikes, what are they good at doing, favorite hobbies and maybe they have topics or interests they seem obsessed with . . . the weather, the time, making lists, making a plan and sticking to it.

Observe these and then use these qualities to their advantage in life. They like these things for a reason. It’s not up to us to figure out why they like or don’t like something or why they are obsessed with a topic.

**Update: The very quality that we may find extremely annoying, could be the key to their joyful future. Let’s observe, be present and give them every single opportunity we can to blossom and use the special and unique gifts they have.

Stand back. Observe. Be inspired as their personality shines and they become their own person with the loving ingredients you have added along the way.

Power and Magic of Connected Parenting

**LOVE OFFERING** If you find this content helpful, I invite you to toss a tip in the love offering bowl. With oceans of gratitude … Camilla ….

love-cards-in-a-basket-october-2016

Dreaming, Zig Zagging, and Observing,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Library May 14 2016 #1

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The Shift and Miracles

Lillian at Wilbur May Arboretum May 2016 Date Day

I feel that any time we experience a shift of perspective, it is a miracle. Also, the things most of us simply do automatically just as we’ve done a million times before ….. I feel those are miracles ….

Recently, Lillian and I decided to reduce her twice per month craniosacral appointments to once per month visits. April marks one year since we began. She started out with once a week, then in August 2015 went down to every other week. She’s making GREAT progress.

Plus, she had a great day at physical therapy on that same day. She said, “Yes” to getting on the ladder and went up one step … FOUR times! YAY!! She has quite the fear of stairs (among other things) and this was a HUGE movement forward for her.

She also told me that she is going to use the stairs at least one time at the Chromosome 18 conference in San Antonio. We’ve been to this hotel before and she already knows what it’s like. There are stairs from the lobby to the 2nd floor meeting rooms and 4 years ago we had to take the elevator every time.

On Sunday she told me that in May or June she will start crossing the foot bridge (on the trail around the lake) without holding onto my arm so that she can practice for doing it along the riverwalk in San Antonio.

Also, she wants to walk the entire Damonte Ranch Loop (about 4 or 5 miles) a few more times before going to San Antonio so that she can be prepared to walk as much as we’d like while there.

Purple Flower at Wilbur May Arboretum May 2016 date Day with Lillian

And there’s more!! She is finally in a place where is ready to think about ways to confront her fear of animals – ALL animals. We have such a hard time on our walks as it doesn’t matter if dogs are leashed or not, she still panics .. and sometimes people just don’t understand that it doesn’t matter how friendly the dog is; she has an overwhelming fear. I always pet and talk to the dog so she can observe; yet she still panics and has anxiety.

One reason she is ready to face these fears is the impact it has on where and how and when we go places and do things.

Just BEing here is a miracle …. As I am on my daily walk, I say, “I am walking on the path that goes around the lake, and this is a miracle.” … Perhaps you may want to find a way to notice the miracles abundant in every single day … xoxo

Trail at Wilbur May Arboretum May 2016 Date Day with Lillian

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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Is That True

Thursday, April 27, 2016 was National Tell a Story Day! Perfect!!

Team TLC Spring Break Emigrant Gap March 2016

Once upon a time there was a family who called themselves Team TLC to correspond with the first letter of each of their names. T for Thomas, L for Lillian and C for Camilla.

One night, which may have been right about last night, they sat down with one another after dinner and had discussions about a big dream Team Member C has for the family. They discussed if all family members were on board with this dream; including concerns of Team Member T and Team Member L.

They pretty much all agree and are enthusiastic about this dream. Team Member C needed to know whether or not to shelf this as a family adventure or to continue with the inspiration and planning. She now knows to continue researching and to let the fountain of creativity flow freely!

They also discussed how to peacefully co-exist as a team so as to work smoothly together as each person will have a part to play in this dream. As this simply will not work if there is arguing and unkindness between team members.

A little bit later, Team Member T came to Team Member C and said, “Can I tell you something? Lillian and I just had a conversation. One without her interrupting me and without her saying “Why should I care?” That was different.” I suggested that it could be like that more often too and told him, “Congratulations!”

And, they lived happily ever after …

Team TLC Washoe Lake April 2016

The adventure continues …

Such an incredible, amazing, joyful experience to be discussing adventures together for exploring, discovering and learning as a family. Investing in getting everyone’s input about the dream that I have for us. Love, Love, Love ….

May you take the opportunity to “look” at the things you’ve always told yourself simply were not possible or were not even something you thought about as that’s not how it’s supposed to be done … and ask “Is that true?” ….

Sometimes we don’t even know we are telling ourselves this as it’s hiding so deeply. Once we begin to practice being quiet, mindful, connecting with emotions, and connecting with nature we are more easily able to catch these sneaky thoughts. We are able to allow a new way of thinking and doing. xoxo

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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I is for Improvise

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

We all improvise on a daily basis. We just aren’t aware of it because it happens so naturally. When we have spontaneous conversations with people during our daily interactions we are improvising. Our dialogue is not “memorized” or practiced. Tapping into this natural improv skill has helped me in dealing with my kids and with not-so-great life situations.

People tell me it makes them tired just watching all the adventures my kids and I have. We really don’t do that much. It just seems that way to those on the outside of our little world. By nature, I am an introvert. I love staying home; but I also know I want my kids growing up learning that you can turn just about anything into an adventure. Be spontaneous. Making things up as we go along is the ultimate adventure. It may not be possible to do this all the time, but with practice you can incorporate it at every opportunity. Our kids will learn how to tap into their own improvisational skills the more they see us doing it. By our example, they will learn how to turn the everyday into an adventure and how to cope when things don’t go their way.

Recently we arrived at an event that my kids had been anticipating all day. As we got closer to the building we saw a line that snaked around the entire building. There was no way I was going to stand in that line. Fortunately, Thomas and Lillian agreed; but they were still disappointed. This was an opportunity to improvise and save the situation. On the way home we stopped at one of our favorite places in Reno, Audrey Harris Park. The earlier excitement in the car returned as we made our way. It’s not really much of a park. It’s very small, with only a couple of benches and it sits at the edge of a ridge. It’s a special place to us though. I am in love with the amazing view of Reno and the skyline which infuses me with peace and awe. I take joy in the drive there and the drive back home. Thomas and Lillian enjoy the view too. More than that, it has become a special place for the three of us as a family. What a great day!

Being a single parent to Thomas and Lillian has indeed been an adventure. In fact, my entire life is a great improvising adventure. Being that I am a procrastinator, with an added pinch of spontaneity, you could say that I am quite the adventure for my kids. Even though I make much of our escapades up as I go along, it is perfect, and I look forward with a happy, smiling heart to every single adventure yet to come for me and my little family.

Tip for the Journey:

Find some time during your day NOT to have a plan. No planned activity, no schedule to follow. Wait until that specific moment and ask yourself what you would like to do for the next hour or two. If you are with your kids, ask them what they would like to do, what kind of an adventure they would like to go on. Kids can come up with some pretty amazing ideas for adventures. Most likely you will not really be able to have the exact adventure they suggest, but this is where improvisation comes into play. As parents, we improvise all the time, and don’t even realize it; when a toy breaks, or the scissors are missing, or they want something to use as a ramp to play cars. You name it! Practice transferring this great skill to other areas to create peace in your life.

When we aren’t happy or not truly living in the present moment, it’s hard to improvise. Practice keeping yourself in the present moment. As often as possible repeat thoughts and activities that help you to pay attention to the present moment, experience joy, and be inspired. When you live in the present moment you are better equipped to tap into your improvising skills, be spontaneous, and go with it.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

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Fishing with Liam and Shifting My Perspective

Meet little 3 year old Liam’s legs and feet. He and his mom sat next to me at Virginia Lake Park in early March. Liam was fishing and I fished with him. I caught a fish!!!

Liam Fishing March 2016 Virginia Lake Park

It was magical fishing with him!! He kept holding his breath, jumping off the bench into the water, and going down deep into those murky waters! We tried to catch shrimp as I told him that’s what I wanted for dinner. No luck. We only caught fish (hint: the pinecones are the fish!)

Joy, imagination, and nature … Magnificent!

I was in a grumpy mood when I sat down. Thomas and I were headed to a different location during our March 2016 date day when we passed this park. He asked if we could stop. I agreed and then let myself get grumpy about this unplanned stop.

I was sitting on the bench being impatient and ready to carry on with our planned stop, being judgmental of others at the park, being grumpy …. And. I prayed to see things differently. Then …..

Liam and his mom sat next to me. All we have to do is ask AND be open to receiving.

I was able let myself relax, go with the flow, BE in the moment, and enjoy this precious moment delivered by a wonderful 3 year old and his divine imagination.

Simply a reminder to let yourself be open to seeing things differently when you may most be in need of it. Allowing yourself to receive the joy of BEing in the present moments of life.

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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Surrender to the Moment

“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment… Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life starts suddenly working for you rather than against you.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Thomas at Lake April 2016

One lesson I continue to get the opportunity to master is that of surrendering to the moment, to life circumstances. When I continue to say “no” to what’s happening and not want to be where I am or experiencing what I’m experiencing, it brings on the stress, the impatience, and un-lovely thoughts.

When I embrace where I am, I feel spaciousness and deep peace. By surrendering I do not mean resigning to the story through which I interpret the situation and the “why is this happening to me”.

I am extremely blessed and grateful to have learned the skills to shift this deep-seated mental habit. Skills such as mindfulness and emotional connection. By no means do I have this perfected, yet it gets easier and easier not to label situations as good or bad.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” ~Buddha

For anyone who needs this …. I send you much love and encouragement as you find the way to your own deep peace …

Let me know how I can help. There are many mindfulness and emotional connection articles on my blog with specific steps I have used. If you’d like to schedule a “Coffee Chat Connection” or “Walk With Me”, go here. xoxo

Camilla at Damonte Ranch Trail Fall 2015

Blessings,

Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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Go here to subscribe to my blog to ensure you receive new posts delivered straight to your inbox! Right here!