2012 Most Popular Posts

It’s always fun and useful to look back through the previous years posts and pull out the most popular. I really enjoy when those I follow take the time to pull together the most popular posts on their sites just in case I missed something or want to revisit a post that is thought provoking. So, here ya go! Just took the time to take a stroll down my blogs memory lane!! Enjoy!

The Story Behind the Book Cover Artwork

Time to Just Be

I Wish I Wasn’t an 18p- Girl: Moment of Defeat – Take Two

Journey to Magical Moments – The 19th Annual Chromosome 18 Conference

Lillian and Being Different Presentation

Steps out of Darkness

You

Go here for 2011 Most Popular Posts Y’all! May each and every one of you have a Happy and Blessed New Year!!

Special Needs Book Review Guest Post

Thank you to Lorna d’Entremont of Special Needs Book Review for sharing with her audience about ‘D iz for Different‘!

Special Needs Book Review is pleased that yet another author agreed to introduce her book to our readers. This guest post is by Camilla Downs the author of D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance. Since the book’s publication, Camilla Downs has undergone her own professional transformation with a career change from social media consultant to special needs parent coach and mentor, offering hope and guidance to others parenting kids with special needs. Congratulations Camilla on all your achievements! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. First, who is Camilla Downs?

……….. “Feelings of isolation and overwhelm keep special needs parents stuck, especially when coupled with deeply ingrained erroneous thought habits,” said Ms. Downs. “Special needs parents can unknowingly isolate themselves and begin viewing their lives in a negative way. These findings from the discussions and interviews that went to the writing of D iz for Different have been further confirmed by the hundreds of discussions that have been generated since its publication in May of 2012,” she added.

Go here to read the entire article.

The Story Behind the Book Cover Artwork

I’ve been asked about the reason behind the choice of artwork for the book cover …. So, here’s the story behind the book cover artwork …

I’m a member of The Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society based in San Antonio, Texas because my daughter, Lillian, has 18p- (meaning she’s missing a piece of her short arm of chromosome #18). The C18 Registry is for all who have a change in their chromosome #18. Through the C18 Registry I met Mark Sogard, who is uncle to Liz Cody, who is daughter to Jannine Cody, who founded the Registry about 22 years ago.

Mark and I are connected online via Facebook. Mark lives in North Carolina and attends Hope Church. Through attending his church he met and knows Daniel (D.J.) Svoboda. D.J. is a very talented young man, who also happens to have autism. D.J. was 29 yrs old when he and I met online … through facebook. Mark sent me a message one day, maybe a year or so ago, that I should connect with D.J. as he felt we just needed to know each other.

Excerpt from D.J.’s biography in the beginning of ‘D iz for Different’: “Growing up, D.J. was teased and bullied. These negative experiences inspired D.J. to create the land of Imagiville; a safe place in his imagination where everyone is treated kindly and accepted just the way they are. Through his art and public speaking he brings Imagiville and the Imagifriends to life and uses them as a vehicle to spread a message of hope, inspiration and awareness that those with autism and special needs are special just the way they are.”

This is why D.J. and I were drawn into one another’s world. His mission and message are so similar to mine. When I began writing the book, I had a spark of inspiration to ask D.J. if he would like his artwork on the cover of the book. The rest is history!!!

If you and I are connected on facebook you will see D.J. commenting frequently on many of my posts …. especially posts having to do with the book. D.J. is one of the kindest, most positive people I have ever “met”. I’m grateful that Mark followed his instincts in connecting us and grateful that D.J. is getting to experience having his artwork on the cover of a published book!!!

There you have it … The story behind the Book Cover Artwork!

D iz for Different Video Journey

I poured through all of my pictures y’all and put a few together to mirror my journey as described in the book. Hope y’all enjoy it!

I Wish I Wasn’t An 18p- Girl: Moment of Defeat – Take Two


I’m pretty sure Lillian has said something like this at least once in the past. I’m not sure exactly why, but this time it felt like a punch to the gut.

Lillian falls frequently due to depth perception and balance issues. She fell pretty hard on the tile floor tonight, and this is what prompted her to make the, “I wish I wasn’t an 18p- girl” statement. She’s okay. Got one heck of a bruise on her elbow. I told her it was okay to feel like that and to wish she didn’t have 18p-. I also told her that 18p- is not who she is. I told her she is Lillian, and 18p- is just a special quality she has. She smiled and said, “I know.” Twenty minutes later she was fine and had forgotten all about her comment.

I didn’t though . . . Guess you could say this is my Moment of Defeat – Take Two.

The moment after she was in bed, I had that “time standing still” feeling and the tears began flowing. I began to question everything I’m doing, my belief system, my thought processes. I had the “Who do you think you are?” and “What are you doing?” thoughts in the mix too. The last time something like this hit so hard was in May 2010. I wrote about it here: A Moment of Defeat.

Why? Why did this statement, on this particular night, this particular week have this impact on me? Maybe partly due to the book I’m about to release in which I share about myself, my past, my thought processes and my belief system. I’m on the edge, facing some fears and taking hold of that vein of courage within me. Then, I’m sucker punched by one little statement from the little girl who inspired me to “be” where I’m at and to write this book.

Maybe partly due to needing a break from this beautiful young lady. Maybe partly due to feeling a bit guilty as I’ve not shown patience lately in understanding what Lillian is trying to say to me. Guilty because there are times when I cringe when I hear her begin to speak to me. I know I will not understand half of the words she speaks and I will have to focus 100% on what she’s trying to say and it will take double or triple the amount of time to understand one little sentence . . .

**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

Yep, this one hit hard. Only for a moment though (well, okay, maybe a few hours!). I remind myself that I DO exhibit patience more times than not, I DO choose to have a sense of humor and laugh about it with Lillian. I remind myself I KNOW why I wrote this book. I KNOW that my belief system and thought processes are right for me as this is what brought me to the acceptance and happiness that has always been right here within me. I remind myself that I am sharing it with others in the hopes that something I’ve written will give someone hope, encouragement and inspiration. I remind myself that just a few hours earlier a little girl with wisdom filled eyes looked in mine and said “I know.”

 

Purging, Weight Loss, and Writing a Book

Ever have a hunch, a gut feeling, something telling you to do something right this very minute? Around July 1, 2011, I had an urge and a little voice telling me I needed to purge boxes in my garage. I wrote about it here.  Some of these boxes had been packed since my separation in 2006.

I was feeling {an extremely strong feeling and longing] the need to simplify . . . get rid of stuff. I fought it though and kept making excuses as to why I could not do it right this minute. Too busy with other stuff, ya know. The feeling got stronger and stronger and the voice got louder and louder until I finally listened.

In the first few boxes I unpacked, I came across a book that I had completely forgotten about and had never read.  That book is titled “E is for Entrepreneur” and it’s author is Barbara Hranivolich. I opened the book and inscribed on the first page was a message to me from Barb. It reads, “This never would have happened without you.”

I had completely forgotten that in 2007 I connected with Barb online and asked her if she would like to be a contributor on a blog I had at the time for women entrepreneurs. She began an alphabet series to tie in with being an entrepreneur.  I read the book that night and discovered that Barb mentioned me in the C is for Collaboration chapter of the book also.  She wrote, “There’s the woman I’ve never met in person, but who asked me to write these essays for her blog. What a gift!”  Lastly, Barb included my name on her Gratitude List in the book.  WOW!!  What a powerful gift for me to receive!

For the past year and a half I have had the intention of writing a book and it had not materialized. I sat down and read Barb’s book and a few seconds after finishing the book, I had another urge, a spark of inspiration . . . yes, that gut feeling. THIS is how my first book was to be structured.  I began to write this book the next morning.  I started to get up earlier than I had been and wrote a section every morning.  I delivered the first draft to my editor and a few “reviewer” friends on Friday, September 9, 2011.

“D iz for Different” is the title with a subtitle of “One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”.  It’s a memoir of how I came to accept myself and processed and accepted my function as parent to a child with special needs. Intertwined with how I have to come to think the way in which I do and live my life the way in which I do.

The book will be available in November 2011 at the latest; although I’m shooting for October 2011.  I’ve received an endorsement for my book from Jim Stovall, author of “The Ultimate Gift” which was also a movie.  I am grateful beyond words to Mr. Stovall and my heart and soul are warm and joyful for his kind words.

“As a blind person myself, I understand the challenge and blessing of doing things differently. In this book, Camilla shares her journey with Lillian which will help us all do more, give more, and be more.” Jim Stovall, Emmy-award Winner, Best-selling author, The Ultimate Gift

Not only that, I continued to purge in my garage, in my house and in my body.  I have lost 23 pounds while writing this book and purging and simplifying.  Disgust . . . that’s what did it.  I was just plain disgusted with myself for having gained that weight over the last two years.  I’d had enough, gosh darn it.  So I just quit eating so darn much! I didn’t realize how much food I was eating.

I still eat all my favorite {junk} foods.  I did not deprive myself of anything I enjoy drinking or eating.  I simply ate and do eat less of it.  Instead of eating half a bag of chips, I eat one serving.  I still indulge in Dorinda’s chocolate when I have access to it and still have one or two Dove dark chocolates every day.  I still drink dark lager beers like Guinness and Buckbean’s Black Noddy, still drink wine and still have a Bloody Mary and Dirty Martini when the occasion calls for it!  I still eat ice cream, hot dogs, pizza and pasta . . . I just eat less of it.

*May 2018 Update* – I still love dark chocolate!! However, when I overhauled the way my family and I eat in 2012, I discontinued purchasing anything with artificial flavorings, colorings, dyes, and high fructose corn syrup. So, we eat Trader Joe’s brand dark chocolate these days. I no longer drink alcoholic beverages. I think it’s been nearly 2 years in that regard. And, I’m nearly at two years of being vegetarian also.

I also made one more major shift and change during this Purge Palooza.  I think I’m gonna save that for another blog post.  My gut’s saying to wait just a little longer on sharing that one!!

It is an indescribable feeling and my hope and the reason I share this with you is for each and every one of you to experience listening to your gut and hunches.  You just never know what will come of it . . . Although, I bet you’ll find it’s exactly what you wanted . . . .

Blessings,
Camilla
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.

And my book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance; which reached #2 in the Self-Help Category and #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon.

Latest Articles:
[catlist name=blog]

O is for Observe

Camilla and Lillian

“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.

Observing and paying attention are keys to our own happiness and success.  In addition, they are crucial in our function as special needs parents.  Have you noticed that many with intellectual disabilities are more intuitive than us typical folks.  They can sense insincerity, they know when someone is not being present, not listening to them, “faking” kindness. {Just had someone point out that they think we ALL sense insincerity.  I’m thinking I didn’t use the proper words to describe what was going on in my head! From my perspective, as Mom to Lillian, I have noticed that Lillian is super sensitive to adults in her charge who are insincere – even when I sometimes don’t initially sense it.  I’m also not saying that those with intellectual disabilities are “more” than those of us who have all of our genes.  I believe some who are missing genes have a heightened or increased awareness in some “areas”.}

How will we guide our kids with special needs into a fruitful, happy and successful 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.  Let’s observe, be present and give them every single opportunity we can to blossom and use the special and unique gifts they have.

I recently returned from the Chromosome 18 Conference and I was humbled by the young adults.  {The photo above is Lillian and I at Reno/Tahoe airport headed to the conference in Indy.} One of the last conversations I had with my Chromosome 18 family was in the hotel restaurant having lunch with 20 year old Kati. Kati’s mom, Deb, and I began talking about movies and I mentioned the Lion King. Kati said that was the first movie she had ever seen.  Then she proceeded to tell me the second movie, the third movie, the fourth movie and on and on up to the Last Harry Potter movie she had seen.  She remembers this about books she’s read also.  I don’t know about you; but I find that pretty darn amazing.  I was in awe of this young lady.  How many of you remember every single movie you have seen beginning with the very first one.  Kati loves to plan events and trips.  She is planning a trip to Vegas for her 21st birthday which is a little less than a year from now.  She loves horses and wants to travel to New Zealand and Florida.  This young lady is amazing and look at the unique and special qualities she has been gifted.

I was also intrigued by how many of the young adults have as a dream working with animals and/or children.  It seemed to be a very common thread.  I asked my friend, Catherine Burzio, if she thought it was that each was simply picking up or borrowing what the previous young adult had said.  She said “No, that’s not it at all”.  It’s the unconditional love that animals and young children give.  I fully understand that for one reason or another there are reasons that some of these young adults cannot work as a vet or even a vet assistant or in a child care facility.  But, do you think if we observed them more and were present more we and possibly a coach and our community could find or create just the right fit for them.  A fit that gives them the opportunity to do what they love and enjoy and are good at and earn money for themselves.

I don’t know and I’m not at all saying this is the right technique for everyone . . . I’m just thinkin “out loud”.  What do you think?

{Wanna ask your Facebook friends what they think? Press here to share it with ‘em and/or if you liked this post press that little ole like button below! Thanks!}

More About Camilla

I’m Mom to Lillian and Thomas Darnell and I speak, train and consult with small businesses and nonprofits regarding Social Media Marketing.  I’m also the founder of the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word movement™ and the Gift a Voice Project.

My five year old son, Thomas, cracks me up with his fantastic imagination and adds to my joy and happiness in an indescribable way!  My nine year old daughter, Lillian, is a self proclaimed fairy angel and I happen to agree with her 100%.  Lillian is the spark that ignited the creation of the Turning Views Foundation, the Different iz Good movement and the Gift a Voice Project.

In mid December 2004 I received a phone call that changed the direction of my life and landed me in a Different place than I had planned and a Different place than I had ever dreamed.  Lillian’s pediatrician phoned one evening during dinner to let us know that she had gotten the results of Lillian’s Karotype testing.  This is a test where blood is drawn and examined on a cellular level to check for chromosome abnormalities.  Lillian was born on September 14, 2001 about a month before her natural due date.  She was a bit different from the first day of her life and a bit behind with many milestones.  Being a new Mom I just kept associating her delays to being born a month early and being a preemie baby.

Lillian’s pediatrician delivered the news that she had a chromosome abnormality.  Specifically, a deletion of the short arm of Chromosome 18, referred to as 18p-.  I cannot remember a great deal of the rest of the conversation as my mind sort of stopped and I started thinking, “Wait a minute.  What are you talking about?  No, this can’t be right.  No, No, No.”  I remember mention of it being very rare and that visits to specialists must begin immediately – heart doctor, eye doctor, geneticist, etc.

I immediately got online and began researching Chromosome 18, 18p- and chromosome abnormalities.  I learned a GREAT deal online and even knew more than the geneticist when we met with him.  That is also how I discovered The Chromosome 18 Registry and Research Society. The people of this fabulous organization, the Founder, Board Members and Family Members have become my second family and I am grateful and blessed to have each and every one of them in my life.  The Registry exists because a Mom was told 20 years ago that her daughter had 18q- (deletion of the long arm).  We as a society are all blessed that Jannine Cody chose the path she did as the genetic research they perform benefits ALL with genetic disorders.

So began my journey to a different place.  You can read more about the beginnings of this journey here.  The time and space between then and now I’ll cover in blog posts here, over at the Different iz Good website and my upcoming book.

Fast forward to about one year ago when I discovered Proloquo2Go on Twitter as I had created columns in Hootsuite tracking keywords for speech impaired.  I immediately bought Lillian an iPhone and installed Proloquo2Go.  That became the driving force behind learning more about this technology and then also combining that technology with the web and social networking.  These forces combined have opened a world of communication for the nonverbal and speech impaired that have NEVER been there before. We are experiencing a communication evolution.  The way in which we communicate and conduct business has shifted forever and is evolving.

In my online research I kept encountering people asking where they could get assistance purchasing an iPhone, iPod (and now an iPad) as private insurance and Medicaid do not cover these devices.  There were also many who mentioned they were on waiting lists to receive one.  This led to thoughts of “Something has got to be done about this.” It’s completely ridiculous that nonverbal and speech impaired children CANNOT have an inexpensive modern way to communicate. Inexpensive compared to traditional augmentative communication devices; which typically cost between $5,000 – $10,000.  One can get an iPhone, iPod or iPad with an AAC Application and needed accessories for approximately $1,000; could be a bit less or bit more depending on version purchased.

At the same time I was discussing with other Chromosome 18 Moms about how our beautiful special needs kiddos do not like change and changes in their schedule or routine that cause things to seem different. Susan Moran commented that they really stress in their house that different is good and show it by changing furniture around often and other methods. My eyes, heart and soul wrapped around those words and with Susan’s permission I tucked it away to “incubate” until the timing was right! You are a beautiful rockin Mom Susan!

These two paths bordered with what I had chosen as my career (teaching, training and speaking to others about Social Networking) led to the creation of the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word movement and the Gift a Voice Project.

The Formal Version

Camilla Downs is an influential guide in teaching the keys to Social Media Marketing. She is a social media marketing and community-building strategist, working with businesses and individuals to maximize the internet to enhance their brands, connect with customers, build communities and network for success. As Chief Community Builder at Turning Views, Inc., keynote speaker and trainer, Camilla has inspired hundreds of people to confidently use Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other online social networking tools through conferences, specialized workshops and consulting.

Camilla has consulted with businesses and nonprofits in Nevada, California and Texas, teaching them to establish, maintain and grow a commanding social media and online presence. She advises organizations on increasing their visibility on search engines and strengthening their brand identities online. She also offers video tutorials and online resources for many people seeking efficient assistance with the proper usage of these new tools of marketing.

Raised in Mississippi and Louisiana, Camilla relocated to Nevada after working for 10 years as a paralegal in Washington State. She has combined her research skills with a passion for collecting and testing the constant torrent of new information regarding social networking. “I am passionate about supporting nonprofits, fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners by teaching them to strategically use online and social networking tools”. “Small business owners are among the bravest and gutsiest among us, and they are starved for assistance in understanding the why and how of effective and proper use of these tools”.

Camilla is mother to two children, Thomas, five years old, and Lillian, nine. Lillian was born with a chromosome abnormality called 18p- which primarily manifests in communications deficits. Lillian has inspired Camilla to be a proponent for speech-impaired individuals, their families and caregivers in using technology and social media to communicate and improve quality of life. “Opportunities exist as never before for speech-impaired individuals to be business owners and entrepreneurs because of social media and technology”.