A Philosophy of Walking

And she walked.
And she walked.
She walked until
Arriving at
The home of
Peace and Joy.
Discovering once there,
She had been
Here all along.

I went for an hour long walk this morning. My body and mind did not want to go. I went anyway.

Just as a cool glass of water slakes my thirst on a scorching hot day, going for walks quenches the thirst of my soul and heart to know my true self, to heal, to release, to allow joy, and to be at peace. Walking guides me in the loving way to process life, to fulfill life, and to let life be.

For the past 18 years I have been going for walks. The meaning and depth of the walks have shifted throughout the years. What started as an activity simply to satisfy my desire to be active, bloomed into a walking practice. A practice to process healing, to release, to discover my authentic self, and to connect with nature.

Going for a walk at least three times a week has literally kept me going when I felt I could not carry on, and propelled me into bliss in times of joy. Each time I walk I have a different experience. At times, the walk overflows with peace and bliss and at other times, I’m ready to be done the second I begin. Those times are when I can’t seem to get out of my head. Worried about this, that, or the other; or lost in the past or distant future. Turning the worry over and over like one would a compost pile. Hoping a resolution will bloom from the compost pile of worry.

Most days the walking, along with nature as a helper, snaps me awake from tending the worry compost pile. My entire being melds with nature during these walks and reminds me what I already know. That the worrying only buries solutions deeper in the compost pile.

Going for walks and being amongst the trees, sun, clouds, grass, rocks, flowers, bushes, birds, wind, and weather nourish my heart and soul. Just as fruits and vegetables provide this body the nourishment it needs to continue; walking does this, and much more, for my heart and soul.

Going for walks is like being at an outdoor art gallery where nature changes the artwork every day, in fact every minute at times. Walking teaches the art of letting go of that which you find beautiful and meaningful. Walking teaches to quiet the mind, seize the moment, breathe and let soak in every morsel of beauty nature shares.

For the beauty nature displays while on a walk, is ever changing dependent upon the time of day, the season, whether clouds obstruct the sun, and whether it is near sunrise, midday, or sunset. Walking teaches the art of experiencing the continual changes of life as nature experiences the changing seasons.

Going for a walk opens the writer’s spigot and helps to flow the words of my heart and soul. I know it may seem I’m assigning much responsibility for these walks. In truth, my walking practice works in concert with a meditation and mindfulness practice, along with a writing practice. All of these practices to be held grounded by the practice of allowing myself to physically feel the emotions of life. This quintet of practices guides me in walking into the unlovely aspects of life and welcoming uncomfortable emotions.

I’ve been walking with my kids since they were infants. I cherish every single walk taken with them. They are 17 years old and 13 years old now. Once they were old enough for one to stay at home, I began going with each one of them for a walk once or twice per week and a walk as a family once or twice per week. I continued to have walks alone, one to three times per week. Now that they’ve gotten older, the walks with each of them has slowed a bit. Yet, it is my hope that I opened their eyes to the beauty and philosophy of walking.

When my daughter was seven years old and my son three years old; I discontinued paying for cable and eventually donated our television. Walking is one activity that took the place of time spent in front of the television. I was moved to incorporate picture making into the walks as well. I have thousands of photographs of our walks throughout the years.

Whenever my son or daughter had a tough day, I would be sure to have a walk with him or her after dinner. The three of us had many deep and meaningful conversations during these walks. Mixed with periods of silence to simply enjoy the beauty. Not to be left out, mixed with much fun and silliness also. Rolling down hills, playing with our shadows, catching leaves as they blow from the tree, hitting pine cones with sticks, running through sprinklers, playing in the mud, feeding the ducks, helping worms cross the sidewalk, and making nature photographs.

I was not only moved to photograph our family during these walks; I was moved to photograph nature herself. There are only a few occasions I’ve gone for a walk and not taken at least one photograph. These photographs helped to inspire poetry to flow forth from my heart. I had never read or written poetry up until about four years ago. This seemed to be an extension of the walking and other practices.

I fought myself on going for the walk this morning. It was 32 degrees outside and I was already cold. I wanted to get warm and cozy, sit and write this story. My heart knew the moment I stepped foot on the trail, I’d be grateful I listened to the call of the walk. May you be inspired to explore how walking could create a shift in your life; whether that be ever so small or ever so big.

©2019 Camilla Downs
(Photo made by me – 2016 – Geiger Way Lookout)

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

Amazing news! My 17 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here.

Wonderfully exciting news! My 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Go here to see latest soul writings. xoxo

Listen to Your Heart

“Listen to your heart. It knows everything.” ~Paul Coelho

Heart Shaped Leaf

I feel it’s important that we begin to listen to inner nudges, our gut, our heart, instincts, whatever word you use to describe that inner push. There is a reason we are being moved and listening can change our life for the better.

It may not seem that way initially. Yet, listening to our heart shines the light and leads us out of darkness. That infinite and ever present light is shined only after we greet, embrace, and connect with uncomfortable emotions.

I also feel it’s important that we openly talk with and teach our kids about mindfulness and emotions and what to do with them. Letting them know it’s okay to feel these emotions, yet we don’t want to let them soak into us and fester. We want to meet them with love and curiosity. We absolutely don’t want to resist them as they will grow in magnitude and intensity.

Some of us had parents who taught us these things without all the fancy names. Some of us didn’t. And some of us had parents who taught us and we simply forgot! I feel our children already know these things when they are infants and toddlers. When they go out into the world, many of the messages they receive are the opposite of or do not support emotional connection and BEing mindful.

So they begin to leave behind what they know in their heart. Or worded differently, they close it in their heart where it stays, ready to be let loose by those in their life who will share and mentor this way of life for them.

___________________________________________________________________________

What if I’m Selfish?

I had been having the urge to soak in an epsom salt infused tub of warm water for at least 4 days. I finally listened. My body was not moving any further until I did. I felt so heavy and dazed.

After dinner, I got everything ready .. Water running with loads of epsom salt, Himalayan salt votive, palo santo, just the right music wafting in from the living room, door cracked a bit, and darkness.

The minute my feet touched the water, my body exhaled a wave of thanks. I sat in pure bliss for about 30 minutes. It felt as if the weight had lifted and as the water drained so did whatever I had shed. As the water was draining, I instinctively rinsed myself with soothing hot water to ensure getting every bit of it rinsed.

This felt truly miraculous. I felt like a different person when I exited the bathroom. I was calm, focused, and centered …. and, within about 15 minutes …. my 10 year old son, Thomas, became emotionally distraught …

My very first thought was to thank myself for listening to the call to become calm and centered. I was in the exact perfect place to help Thomas through the emotions he was experiencing.

(Note: I have permission from Thomas and Lillian to share this.)

He and his 14 year old sister, Lillian, had been teasing and arguing with one other. He is struggling with harboring jealous emotions towards her. I’m sure this is nothing new with siblings of special needs children. At some point, they are bound to think the scales are tipped in their siblings favor way too much. And that the sibling gets let off the hook too often and receives different (and better) treatment at times.

He wasn’t understanding why Lillian has so many friends and friends of mine who think she is a wonderful, talented person. When behind the scenes, she can be so incredibly nasty to him and me, with the meltdowns she experiences.

For some reason he was feeling like people thought he was selfish and no one wanted to be his friend. He asked, “How come she has friends, with as unkind as she can be and I don’t?”

Without even realizing it, I handed this over to my heart as the words flowed calmly and lovingly from my mouth without the interference of my mind.

We spent an hour talking. I can’t remember all that was said. Here is what I do remember. I have added a bit more to my responses for clarification … as Thomas already knows where I’m coming from …..

Thomas: “What if I feel selfish?”

Me: If you feel you have wronged someone, apologize to them. Then, apologize to yourself. It’s very important that you apologize to yourself also. Do your best not to judge yourself. If you feel judgmental about yourself, accept this. Then, accept the feelings that it brings forth. Physically feel and accept these feelings with love and curiosity and they will eventually fade and so will judgment.

Thomas: What if they don’t accept my apology and tell me off?

Me: You cannot control what others do with kindness, gifts, or words you share with them. It is something of their own to work out if they do not accept.

Thomas: But, that doesn’t make it feel any better. I would still feel sad (or bad) about it.

Me: Yes, and that’s okay. You don’t want to push that away. Feel the sadness. Feel it in your body. Just don’t let it move in and stay. At some point it will lift, as long as you continue to not resist the feeling and continue to feel it in your body.

Thomas: What if I am selfish?

Me: The most important words that will ever come out of your mouth or be in your thoughts are “I AM” and what you choose to follow “I AM” with. For, whatever you add to this statement will be your reality.

Me: This is one reason I make it a point to say and feel, “I am Love,” so often. This is why we have a different word for every day to describe ourselves and our day. “I am awesome, I am incredible, I am extraordinary, I am fabulous.” We already say enough negative, judgmental words to ourself.

Thomas: Why does Lillian continue to have friends and people thinking she’s wonderful with how unkind she can be?

Me: What would you have them do? Throw her out? Throw her to the side? We must know that a person’s behavior is not their true self. Their true self is kindness and love. We see that part of Lillian too. It’s there.

I reminded him of our “Letting it Go” Burning Ceremony a while back and to remember what Lillian wrote on her pieces of paper. She wants to release it. That is the true Lillian.

Me: We do not stop loving someone because they are sharing unkind or rude behavior with us. One thing that I know for certain. Every single human being, every single one of us … wants the same underneath it all.

And this want is universal. We ALL want joy and love. That is our bond. Some of us are simply stuck. Some more so than others. I feel we should help those who are stuck. Help them to find their own way to happiness. The way where they harm no other, yet are true to their own self.

This does not mean that we excuse someone’s unkind behavior or that we continue to be around or with that person if they are completely disconnected from their true self.

Me: As long as you are being your true self, living a heart-centered life, not harming others, and sharing loving kindness in your own unique way; you will have happiness.

We don’t want to concern ourselves with what others think of what we do, say, or have. If they care for and are concerned about us however, we do want to listen with an open heart.

Me: There will be those who consider this selfish. It is not selfish to live a heart-centered life and share your unique and given talents with others. It benefits everyone when each of us chooses to live in this way.

Me: It can be a hard habit to break, letting ourselves become overwhelmed with worry, anxiety and fear of what others think of us. Yet, what they think of us, is their own “stuff” to deal with.

Me: There are really only two emotions. Love and fear. Jealousy stems from fear. Fear that someone else is getting or having more than you. Fear that someone else is having a happier experience than you.

Me: I am sharing all of this with you as a 46 year old woman who still works on releasing these unhealthy thoughts. I have come a long way. I am not perfect. No one is. Yet, I’m a lot better than I used to be!

Me: I don’t remember having any of the adults around me talk to me about these kinds of things. However, I do remember both of my grandmother’s attitudes of not being concerned with what others think. That has always stuck with me and I admired both of them for their attitude.

Me: Although I am grateful to have some of this attitude become a part of me, I am also grateful that I softened it with my own touch. They both grew up in hard times. Mammaw Downs was a sharecropper. She had to leave school in the 2nd grade to help her family as her mom had died.

Me: I still compare myself to others. I still let myself get fearful about what others think about what I do or say. I still judge myself for having not accomplished or achieved what others have in the same amount of time or less time.

Yet, the difference is that now I recognize when I’m doing this. And I use emotional connection, practicing mindfulness, and spirituality to greet and process these emotions.

Thomas: You say judgmental things to me sometimes and tell me I’m doing things wrong.

Me: I know I do. I am not perfect and I need your help. I want you to let me know when I have done this. Most times I try to reflect before I say things to you, yet that doesn’t always happen.

Afterwards we hugged and snuggled … and … moved forward.

Note: I know this can be a confusing topic to discuss with our kids. For that reason, I always give an example from my own experiences to help them understand what I’m talking about.

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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