Photography and Poetry: What if it Were You

The Vintage Lake with Empty Bench February 2016

He’s frustrated
He’s not sure how to handle it.

He lashes out
He says unkind words
He insults
He teases.

He’s not sure how to handle it
He’s frustrated.

The mom tells the son
that it is okay to
have these feelings.
Feeling angry, sad,
frustrated is okay.
These feelings are valid
simply because he has them.

He does not understand
why the sister behaves
the way she does.
Does not understand
the inflexibility.
Does not understand
the fears she harbors.
Does not understand
the massive and, at times,
violent melt downs.
Does not understand
the anxiety that
can lead to a melt down.

He becomes critical
and desires something
be done about the situation.
He feels the mom blames
the missing chromosomes
for the sisters behavior.
He feels that the mom blames
him for being angry and upset.

The mom lets him know
that it is okay for
him to be feeling this way
He is not wrong for
feeling frustrated
and angry.

The mom only asks him
to think about this …

What if you were her?
What if …

You could not speak clearly so that others understood you?
You were in near constant pain almost every single day?
You had balance issues and fell constantly?
You were much, much shorter than your peers?
You were much, much shorter than your YOUNGER sibling?
Your body did not cooperate with accomplishing tasks?
You could not easily use a spoon or butter knife?
You could not drink from a glass without a straw?
You could not easily brush or floss your teeth?
You were the one without lip closure?
You were the one with hand tremors?
You were the one with fine motor skill difficulties?
You were riddled with anxiety and irrational fears?
You were the one with an entire section of your 18th chromosome missing?

What if this were you
and not the other?

The mom was not telling him
that these difficulties
are excuses for being
unkind to others.

Simply to ponder
what one’s life would
be like if all that is
easy and simple vanished …

Ponder if it all became
difficult and a struggle …

Simply ponder …

The mom let him know he
could continue to feel
and believe what he chooses.

The mom will not force
her opinions of
the situation upon him.

The mom simply asks him to ponder.

And the mom will ponder
what it would be like
if she were the sibling
to the one …

The mom simply asks him to ponder.

And they shall ponder.

-©2017, Camilla Downs

Empathy has within it the seed to change the world. The more of us that plant and cultivate this seed, the more the world will shift towards peace. -Camilla Downs

I posted this on facebook first and the following are my responses to friends comments:

I can literally feel my heart breaking when Thomas and Lillian are arguing and being unkind to one another and that pours through into these writings.

I can be quite harsh with myself about my parenting skills; thinking I screw it up more than I have it heart aligned.

These are times that journal writing proves so helpful as I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can with where I’m at and give myself a good reminder to love myself. No matter what. Alongside that is when dear friends give me a good reminding too …

It was not my intent to cause anyone to feel less or unvalidated. We are all traveling a unique path; yet, with many, many similarities.

When I am in an unawakened state, I harbor deep worry that Thomas and Lillian will not choose to move towards a relationship of harmony and loving kindness. It breaks my heart to feel the current energies of dislike they have for one another.

Empathy has within it the seed to change the world. The more of us that plant and cultivate this seed, the more the world will shift towards peace.

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

Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part Three

This is a continuation post and the last of the series.

Below is an excerpt from Part One:

” …. so I’m going to get to the bottom line first thing. And those who are interested about the entire story can read further. Lillian’s book was published with absolutely no money paid out to anyone for the creation of the book. That’s it!

Now, there was a bit of money paid for the ISBN bar code graphic (about $20), for envelopes to mail the books once received (about $15), and for two proof copies of the book (about $15 each which included shipping).

I want to reiterate that I am not sharing this to brag or gloat. That is not my nature. I am sharing this to give hope, to share …… “

Go here to read the previous post if you missed it ..

Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part One

Below is an excerpt from Part Two:

” …. Thomas and I considered our options between using an online self-publishing site and using a local Reno publisher/printer. We made a chart listing the costs and pros and cons. We had a meeting with the local publisher. After the meeting we decided to go with the local company. I would do as much as possible and they would help out minimally.

Once we decided to go with the local publisher, I began ….”

Go here to read the rest if you missed it …

Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part Two

“D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” was written by me in 2011 and published in 2012. There’s an interesting story on how the book came to be written so if you’d like to read that story go here …

Purging, Weight Loss, and Writing a Book

I wrote the bulk of the book in about three months. When I began writing I had no idea how it would get from the initial writing into a published book. Yet, I did not let that stop me from writing. I knew I was to write, so I wrote. Every morning I got up 30 minutes earlier than I had been, sat outside on the patio, with an expansive view of majestic Mount Rose, and wrote for thirty minutes to an hour every day.

It was either during writing the book or just after I had finished that I began researching how to self-publish one’s book. I decided to use Amazon’s self-publishing arm, CreateSpace. Having no money to invest in this book, was a major factor in choosing this option.

I found friends who were willing to be test readers and editors. I had an idea of what I wanted for the cover; yet, during that same time came across artwork that I fell in love with. The art is created by a young man, D.J. Svoboda, with autism who I had been connected with through a mutual Chromosome 18 friend. I was inspired to ask D.J. if he would like his artwork on the cover of my book. He excitedly answered back with a resounding “Yes”! Another friend designed the initial cover for me at no charge.

D iz for Different Books Shipment of 5 Received 1.11.18

With the cover designed and the book having been reviewed by several others, I dove into Createspace to attempt figuring out how to make what I had into a book! I began to stumble and wasn’t sure how to proceed as it seemed I needed to have Word. I have been an Apple Mac user since about 2000 and have not used Microsoft products since then.

At about the same time, I received a phone call or email from Diana Michelotti to let me know that she is D.J’s manager and wanted to talk about the use of his art on the cover of the book. I contacted Diana and she wanted me to send a few chapters of the book for her review and approval for D.J.’s art.

Not too long after I sent the chapters to Diana for review, I heard back from her that she loved what I had sent and was deeply moved by the content. She wondered who I was going to have edit the book and who would be creating the layout of the book. I told her that I was going to do it myself; that I was stuck for the moment, yet, I would figure it out.

I explained that I had absolutely no money to pay someone for their services. She responded with, “I will do this for you. And, I will not charge you. This is what I do for a living and I want to help you.” She further stated that she believed in the message I was sharing and wanted to help get the book created.

Free Hugs and Smiles Thomas and Camilla at D iz for Different Table 2013

So began the journey of working with Diana. It was a lengthy process as there was much more editing needed than I had anticipated. It was the greatest lesson in patience that I think I have ever experienced. And, I did not handle it in the highest and best way possible, in my opinion.

This was at the very beginning of the huge shift I was beginning to make. A shift of living a spiritually based life; rather than whatever you would call I had been living. I did not see being patient as a lesson at that time. I saw it as an annoyance, something I could not control, and it was bringing forth anxiety and anger. I can see it all clearly now and definitely process these events differently now.

“What a blessing and privilege it has been to work with Camilla Downs and be a part of the creation of ‘D iz for Different.’

Like a bird leaving its nest for the first time – I hope this book spreads its wings, takes flight and reaches those who need to hear Camilla’s inspiring story.” – Diana Michelotti

Less than a year after I began writing it, the book was finally finished and published in May 2012.  And, it was written, created, and published with no money. It was a huge learning experience being the first time I had done anything like this.

Another aspect of the book that came together in perfect synchronicity were the review blurbs. I met the Ziglar family at a conference in 2010 and had kept in touch with Zig Ziglar’s daughter and grand-daughter. When the time came, I asked Julie Ziglar Norman if she would like to write a review blurb. She loved the book and agreed!

A connection I had made through a local networking group approached me one night to say she had been working with someone she thought I should connect with. She connected us via email and after he emailed me back I went to his website only to discover that this person is Jim Stovall!! Author of The Ultimate Gift which was also made into a movie. He was happy to offer a review blurb. I LOVE the movie, by the way!!

There was much I did not include in the book. Not to mention that my writing has evolved since this book and has a completely different flavor now. Don’t get me wrong. I love the book and it’s contents. I still have faith in what I wrote; I can simply see the difference now. The content is mind and brain heavy and not so much from the heart. I barely skimmed the surface of my essence with the book and, in fact, some of my views have shifted a bit since its writing. And, as stated earlier, I have become deeply spiritual since ‘D iz for Different’ was birthed into a published book.

I see it all as part of the process and part of my journey. We all change throughout our lives. Some more so than others. This book was supposed to be “light” and to only skim the surface. It was the toe dip into the author’s ocean for me. A toe dip to test the waters. I am thankful it was met with such a warm reception and enthusiasm.

There is much I wanted to say in the book, that I did not say for fear of offending or turning others away. Fear. What a lesson it has to teach us. I no longer have this fear as one could most likely surmise by reading the writings that currently come forth. Fear is simply love going in the opposite direction and I have tipped the scales so that fear and love have embraced in an ecstatic burst of love creation through writing.

I vow to write. I vow to listen for what to write. I vow to write even if no one reads what is written. I vow to write even if it turns some away. I vow to write for the writing is the food that feeds my soul. I vow to write until the day I am no longer inhabiting this beautiful Earth. I vow to write.

Well, I had not intended all of this to come forth. Yet, there it is. In all it’s grace and glory! Once it turns on, I cannot turn it off until it’s finished!

Back to the book …. The book reached #2 in the Self-Help Category and #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon. The last I checked it had a 4 and 1/2 star rating on Amazon. Sales have absolutely fallen flat and I no longer market the book. In 2013, I let shame and fear that the book was no good take over and I abandoned further marketing.

‘D iz for Different’ is about to receive a facelift by way of a new cover as this cover seems to no longer be in sync with my heart. I love and adore D.J. and this does not speak less of his beautiful art, nor does it speak less of the hard work Diana put into it. This is all about me and what my heart dictates.

So … YES! A book can be published with no money!!

And stay tuned for the updated cover!!

And, stay tuned for the next books to be published. There will be another book coming near the end of this year or beginning of 2019.

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

Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Latest Articles:
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Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part One

I recently read a post in a writing group from someone about envy arising in some members when it is announced that other members finally have a published book! The writer of the post was not being unkind. She simply wished to share why envy is not called for in this situation.

While I don’t agree with the reason indicated, I do agree that it’s in our best interest to catch the feelings of envy and jealousy when they arise. Notice the feeling. Physically feel it and release it. And, by the way, I am not immune to having these feelings either. If they do sneak up, I try my best to do what I previously describe above.

And, when you feel ready, replace it with joy and gratitude for the abundance of the world and celebrate the success with this person. As just because they have accomplished this does not mean it is less likely that you will, it does not take away from your efforts at doing the same. Instead of “Why Him? or Why Her”, think “Why Not Me?” …

On the opposite end of envy and jealousy is inspiration and the knowing that you too can accomplish that which you desire.

As long as you believe it and you believe you are worthy of birthing it to life. Those who are meant to assist will appear.

The writer of the post concluded that the reason that these individuals are published is because they had the money to do it. She is a published author of several books so was speaking from her experience. Her thoughts were that if you have enough money, a publisher will publish the book as long as it fits their criteria and that the publisher doesn’t care if it’s good or not; as long as you pay them.

She further indicated that family and friends will request free books and the author is lucky to receive 10 free books from the publisher and that there are those who become upset when referred to amazon to purchase the book. I do not relay this to contest or argue as that’s not my nature. I fully understand that this may be the experience of some, perhaps many. I only want to present that there is another way and there are those with a different experience.

I’d like to share my experience now that I’ve published three books. Oh my gosh! I’ve published three books! Wahooo!!! Let’s celebrate!! ….

I’ll begin with the latest. My 16 year old daughter, Lillian’s, book – “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories”.

Matte v Glossy Where Would You Fly Book January 2018

This will be quite lengthy, so I’m going to get to the bottom line first thing. And those who are interested about the entire story can read further. Lillian’s book was published with absolutely no money paid out to anyone for the creation of the book. That’s it!

Now, there was a bit of money paid for the ISBN bar code graphic (about $20), for envelopes to mail the books once received (about $15), and for two proof copies of the book (about $15 each which included shipping).

I want to reiterate that I am not sharing this to brag or gloat. That is not my nature. I am sharing this to give hope, to share light with others who may feel that which they believe they are supposed to share with others may never come to fruition. Please don’t give up. If you know you are supposed to share something, begin to take steps. Start where you are. Don’t let the “How” of something five steps away stop you from taking the first step.

Lillian and I began writing stories together when she was four-years-old as I felt then that I was supposed to write and she wanted to write too! Lillian has a chromosome deletion that affects 1 in 56,000 people (named 18p-).

Where Would You Fly Updated Cover 9.2017

One of the main ways it manifests is her ability to articulate letters and words. She is largely unintelligible when she speaks. If you’re interested in learning more about Lillian you can go here on my blog and visit her blog here. To learn more about her book go here.

Shortly after we wrote a few stories together she began writing her own stories, poems, and songs. I made it clear that one day we would write a book together. At 16-years-old she is now a published author!

I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. Yet, I have this quirky thing about me where I do not let the how stop me. I simply get started with where I am and with what I have.

In late Spring 2016 I began sifting through Lillian’s blog posts and handwritten stories. I remembered that years ago a fellow chromosome 18 mom had let me know she was a graphic designer. At the time I was working on websites and social media for businesses so that’s how her message came about.

Camilla and Lillian with Where Would You Fly Book 12.22.17

I messaged Kate and asked how much she would charge to create the book cover and if she was able to help layout the book using Amazon’s createspace (Amazon’s self-publishing arm). I sent this message knowing full well I did not have the money to pay, yet, again, I do not let that ever stop me. I ask. I continue moving forward. I figured if I knew how much she charged, I would have a number to keep in mind for accruing.

Kate messaged that she would help us for no charge. So began the journey of bringing the book to life. I spent hours and hours and hours pulling together the stories, organizing them, and editing them. Kate spent hours and hours and hours creating the cover and having a hell of a time maneuvering through createspace.

If you perform a search for createspace and reviews/opinions, you’ll see what I mean!! Kate was a trooper. She would not give up! The interior would be perfect on her end. Then, after uploading to createspace, it would go all wonky. Random spaces and markings in the book. It was no picnic for her!!

I performed the editing of the book with Thomas, my 12-year-old, as an assistant editor. I have a dear junior high school friend who edited the Forward and About Author section for me (since I wrote those, I needed someone else to edit).

I already had an ISBN as I purchased a block of ten back in 2006 or 2007 as I knew in my heart they would be needed. We’ve used four now!! I handled contacting the library of congress for the LCCN. I procured the bar code graphic.

I researched and created the copyright page information and the Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data; including the dewey decimal number classification. I also requested and received book endorsements. I will be creating the book trailer, the press release, and handling the marketing, and setting up book signings.

I have not had any family member or friend ask to receive a book for free. I, however, have offered it in trade to a few people as I didn’t have the money to pay for services (haircut, mandala class for Lillian).

That goes for Thomas’ book and my book too. No one ever asked for a free book. However, I did gift and trade some books. I am also not shy of telling others that our family earns more money when the book is purchased directly from us as opposed to purchasing on Amazon.

However, we are happy whichever way people choose to purchase. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter where they purchase it. Yet, they may never know or understand how it works if I don’t share the information.

I will continue with Thomas’ book and in a second post and my book in a third post as this one has gotten way too long!! Stay tuned …. Part two to follow next week. Go here to read Part two …

Can a Book Be Published With Little to No Money – Part Two

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

Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Latest Articles:
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Latest News: Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories – Published

Camilla and Lillian with Where Would You Fly Book 12.22.17

A project that began in June 2017, is now complete!

Lillian Darnell, my 16 year old special needs daughter, is now a published author! January 2018 is the official publication date and we are awaiting the arrival of the first shipment of books!

Where Would You Fly Updated Cover 9.2017

When I began I did not know how it would move from the idea stage to the published book that it is today. As with other projects I undertake, I just began and let it unfold organically. I am writing a blog post with more details which will publish this week or next.

I am working on the press release and book trailer now and we will let you know of the book launch date and book signings.

“Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories”

Welcome to the radiant imagination of Lillian Darnell, a wonderful and unique human being, the kind who comes around only once in every 56,000 births, as she is missing the short arm of her 18th chromosome.

Leave this reality behind and enter enchanted lands awash in mysteries, happy endings, adventures, and inspiration. Come within and discover heartwarming and beautiful tales, woven with love and magic, brought forth from the imagination of a young woman with a different perspective. Lose yourself in wondrous adventures as you follow courageous, enchanting characters, kind animals and plant life, and graceful Mother Nature.

The delightful tales, legends, and poems within these pages were written by Lillian Darnell between the ages of four and fifteen. The stories and poems are mostly edited for spelling and grammar, yet the bulk of the stories remain as she originally wrote and published them to include a few grammatical errors and made up words.

Will a girls dream of becoming a princess come true?
How can sad, mischievous, fearful animals help humans feel emotions?
How did the world come to have color?

“You can’t help but feel happy and be inspired while reading this book. Lillian’s stories jump straight out of her heart and onto the pages in an authentic, innocent, and loving way. The world needs more positivity and happiness and her stories are bursting with both. Thank you Lillian!” -G. Brian Benson – Award-winning and best-selling author, actor and TEDx speaker.

“Let your imagination be taken away with Lillian Darnell’s writings and allow yourself to be transported to places where anything is possible with love, joy and a touch of inspiration. This collection is born from a young woman with a unique perspective on how our world could be – immerse yourself and come, see the world through Lillian’s eyes.” -Dr Veronica Wain – Award winning filmmaker, Academic, Author, Disability Advocate

“Although all of us who love fairies understand that children, with their vivid imaginations, are closer to magic than any of us, we all yearn to retain that childlike sense of wonder. Lillian Darnell’s writings are a welcome reminder of what is possible when you dream big, and accept no limitations.” – Grace Nuth, Senior Editor – Faerie Magazine

To order, please use this PayPal button or mail a check to: Camilla Downs, PO Box 19812, Reno, NV 89511. The cost with shipping is $19.00 (Only for our U.S. friends. Our Canadian and overseas friends can contact me at CamillaDowns @ gmail . com … )

Matte v Glossy Where Would You Fly Book January 2018

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

Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Latest Articles:
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11 Ways to Help Team TLC With Attending the Chromosome 18 Conference

C18 Trip July 2016 #17

We need your help! Last minute fund raising for Team TLC’s attendance at the 2017 Chromosome 18 Family Conference in Naperville, Illinois from July 12th – July 15th.

Fortunately, we have a sponsor who has loaned us money for our airfare, registration, and hotel stay. And we have a wee bit from Thomas and Lillian fundraising since last year’s conference.

We just need to make sure we have enough for incidentals while there … food, transportation to and from the airport, and the special events lined up for siblings and self advocates.

If you are moved to help, here’s a list of our creations …. Go here to read the full post ….

Help Team TLC With Attending the 2017 Chromosome 18 Family Conference


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

Wonderfully exciting news! My 15 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magickal Stories will arrive soon. Be ready to enjoy the magick! Learn more and pre-order here.

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 ….


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

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

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Inspired Living: Believe in You

In June of 2012 my daughter, Lillian, recorded herself singing a song of her own making titled “You Can Believe in Yourself.”

Today seemed like the perfect time to share it with all of YOU! I think you can understand it enough to get the message! May it bring sunshine to your day … xoxo

*Lillian has a chromosome abnormality simply called 18p-; which means she is missing a piece of her short arm of chromosome #18. The main way it manifests for her is that she is speech impaired. 

Inspired Living: Be Inspired


This gallery contains 6 photos.

Sunset adventures. Team TLC went somewhere different tonight! Lillian did NOT want to get out of the car or climb up the gigantic rock with stone steps and no rail. I talked her into it with Thomas holding her other … Continue reading

Why It Matters: 20th Annual Chromosome 18 Conference

Why does this matter so much?

I’ve been carrying on a great deal about the upcoming Chromosome 18 Conference this July in Savannah, Georgia, thought I’d take a minute to touch on why this is so important to us.

A sense of belonging, of being amongst our own tribe, is one of the reasons this matters. The conference is packed with back to back educational and informational sessions covering areas concerning infants, toddlers, kids, transition age and adults. Sessions about sensory processing, physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, growth hormone, special needs trusts, IEP meetings, transition, updates regarding research, feeding issues, and much, much more. There is a separate track for the Self-Advocates, as well as a separate track for Siblings. There is also more bonding time after daily sessions are over with a Mom’s night out, Dad’s night out and an outing for all families together.

Lillian’s only friends are her chromosome 18 friends. She texts, emails and writes letters to and with them. They get to see each other face to face at the conference. The bonds they have established grow and deepen. They get to swim together, eat together, be silly together and perhaps even talk about their parents and siblings together with someone who GETS IT! They understand each other. They feel comfortable with one another. She has friends all over the World due to a difference in one little ole chromosome.

I’m excited about the opportunity for Thomas to meet other siblings, share with them, form new friendships and know that he is not alone in the path that he travels as sibling to Lillian.

We learn, we grow, we bond, we are inspired, we laugh, we cry, we come home with information we can use. We each go home knowing that we all belong, knowing we are not alone, knowing that we have a special something in common through an uncommon chromosome.

I wrote an article upon returning from the 2012 Chromosome 18 Conference which details even more of the reasons why this matters to Team TLC. Go here to read about our Journey to Magical Moments.

Thomas and Lillian have decided they want to help get Team TLC to Savannah this July. They stumbled across something in our garage that they decided to get creative with … You can read about it here.

For anyone who does not know us, here’s a little more information. Lillian, my 11 year old daughter, has a genetic difference referred to as 18p-. She is missing a piece of her short arm of chromosome number 18. This affects 1 in 50,000 people. The Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society provides an online venue, private and public, for us to connect. They perform genetic research and are there to guide us and answer our questions. The Registry is located in San Antonio, Texas. It exists because a Mom, Jannine Cody, was told about 20 years ago that her daughter had 18q-. Her advocacy, strength and courage led to what we have available to us today. You can find even more information by going here.