The One Thing We Should Be Teaching

Team TLC Sunset Walk Damonte Ranch Trail 6.18.17 #10

This has been Thomas’ first year of homeschooling and Lillian’s third or fourth year. The style of schooling we follow is more like unschooling, interest based, or child-led learning. It’s definitely not traditional homeschooling.

Over the past several months I’ve had a couple of friends ask how homeschooling is going. Without any thought, I answered through my heart with this, “We are learning how to be kind humans and how to have healthy relationships.”

We are absolutely not memorizing dates and events, taking tests, practicing math facts, or anything like that. We are learning the ONE thing that I never learned and that no child is taught in a traditional schooling situation and something many kids are not taught at home.

Excerpt from “Real Love in Parenting” by Greg Baer, M.D. …

“It’s strange, don’t you think, that we go to such great lengths to instruct our children in subjects that most of them will never use ….. and yet we teach them nothing about the one subject – relationships – they will use every day?

Our children are not taught what human beings need most. They don’t understand how relationships work, and then we wonder why they become frustrated and angry. We wonder why they join gangs, why they can’t keep a job, why the jails are full, why more than half of all marriages fail, why people shake their fists at one another on the road, why children are abused and neglected, why relationships seem to come and go like falling leaves, why newspapers are filled with accounts of violence and war, and so on. There’s no mystery in any of this. All these things are guaranteed to happen when we don’t teach our children the basic principles of love and relationships.”

This is where I have placed my focus. Thomas and Lillian each pursue their own interests and I facilitate. I, by no means, have this figured out. I’m stumbling my way through it, trying to be mindful and conscious.

Camilla & Lillian June 2017 Date Day 6.21.17 #10

The core of what I teach as the facilitator of their learning journey is mindfulness, living spiritually from the heart, oneness, compassion, non-judgment, and unconditional love. I do this with a mixture of the words I use and my actions.

I am aware that the words I speak mean absolutely nothing when my actions do not match. And, that happens often. I am still learning. I share all of this with Thomas and Lillian. When I make a mistake, when I respond in anger, when I respond in an unloving way with my body language and facial expressions, I tell them I am wrong. I share that I’m doing the best I can and I am still learning.

So behind the scenes of the amazing walks and adventures we experience, there is much discomfort and rubbing of one another’s thorns while we figure this all out. I’ve decided it’s better to do this now, rather than waiting for them to get older. For then they will be around others who are not committed to loving them unconditionally while they make mistakes and figure it out.

What seems to also be happening is confronting, accepting, and letting move through me, unlovely aspects of my own childhood. Plus, unlovely aspects and habits I’ve learned and claimed as my own.

Date Day with Thomas April 2017 4.26.17 #1

There’s also a great deal of dancing in the darkness and shadows of my own internal self-induced suffering. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? There’s one thing I know for sure, I wouldn’t have it any other way for this is what I came here to do.

Many times this means putting aside my own personal preference of wanting peace and quiet and everyone getting along, stopping what I’m doing, rolling up my sleeves, taking a deep breath, and being present with each of them as we work through an issue … And, most importantly, not taking anything that is said to or about me personally …. I’m still working on it …. I still don’t have it all figured out; yet, I’m a heck of a lot better than I used to be!  😉

Earth Hour 3.25.17 #2

Blessings,

Camilla
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.

 

The Power and Magic of Connected Parenting

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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Dear Meltdown: Meet My Friend Mindfulness

Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I recently received the honor of having one of my articles accepted for publication by Elephant Journal. I was inspired a couple of months ago by blog posts which are letters openly written to others. For example, Dear Person at the Grocery Store, Dear Lady in the Bookstore, Dear Stressed Out Mom, and the like.

Upon seeing these I knew I was to write something like this. At that same time, I also knew I wanted to share something meaningful about the meltdowns that Lillian is experiencing. The next thing I knew, I was writing a letter to her meltdown. I was pouring my heart out to that meltdown. This is the result and this is what Elephant Journal published …

Meltdown (per Merriam-Webster) – an accident in which the core of a nuclear reactor melts and releases radiation, a very fast collapse or failure, a very fast loss of emotional self-control. (emphasis mine)

Mindfulness – (per Merriam-Webster) – the quality or state of being mindful, the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also such a state of awareness.

Letter written to the meltdowns that my 14 year old special needs daughter experiences:

Dear Meltdowns, Welcome and Meet My Friend Mindfulness

Sometimes I’m able to sense when you’re lurking in the shadows. Sometimes I’m not. And you sneak up like a cat stalking its prey.

You penetrate the peace of an otherwise tranquil day like an earthquake suddenly rocking and rolling in the middle of a quiet night’s sleep. You are the complete opposite of fun and joy.

You are loud, aggressive, physically harmful, and verbally malicious. You lack compassion, empathy, and kindness. You take all actions and words personally.

What I want you to know is that I welcome you. Not like I’d welcome my best friend coming over for coffee and chatting. I welcome you like one later appreciates a grumpy relative during the holidays knowing that being around this person can help us to learn more about our own triggers.

You are helping us to know what emotions and situations Lillian has resistance to fully experiencing. You are the red flag that goes up as a warning that THIS is where she feels vulnerable.

So, I welcome you. I meet you with love.

When I am in a peaceful, mindful state, going with the flow of life, I handle you just as easily as a leaf floating in the wind. I choose not to accept your meltdown hook.

When I’m resisting life, choosing grumpiness, and having an off day, I accept the hook you’ve thrown out and jump right in with both feet. These are the times I learn more about myself.

Either way, one thing I know for sure is that you are not the true Lillian. The true Lillian is there, and you are simply acting as a buffer so she doesn’t have to experience the rawness of life. It is my hope that as I meet you with kindness and compassion, you see that it’s okay to move aside.

Lillian can handle the unexpected, the discomfort of not getting her desires, and the “letting go” of learning to be flexible. It’s okay to release your grip.

I will continue to meet you with a calm voice and compassion as often as possible, until the day you realize it’s okay to become dormant, slip into an eternal sleep, and allow a miracle – the miracle of Lillian fully experiencing emotions and going with the flow of life.

Love,
Camilla (Mom to Lillian)

Lillian has a rare genetic condition called 18p-. This means that she is missing the short arm of chromosome number 18 and it affects about 1 in 50,000. The main way this manifests for her is that she is speech impaired, and has balance and motor skill issues. Also, for the past year and a half she has struggled with experiencing anxiety and difficult emotions.

**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

Situations that can cause Lillian to meltdown:

  • Events not unfolding as anticipated
  • Schedules being adjusted
  • Communication difficulties
  • Being reprimanded
  • Teasing from her sibling

In July 2015, Lillian had the worst explosive meltdown we’ve ever experienced. We made a quick stop at the grocery store to get a few items.

As I paid for our items, Lillian caught up with me, and once I was finished, I could sense her energy shift. Apparently, there was a miscommunication between us about looking at more gluten free desserts.

This quickly led to a volcanic explosion for Lillian. Fortunately, I was close to the exit doors, so I made my way out and headed to the car with Lillian melting down behind me. I quickly got into the car and invited Lillian to do the same if she was going with me. She was not open to doing any of the mindfulness techniques we’ve been learning.

I decided to start making our way home even though she had not calmed down – not the best choice in that moment. She was scratching, pinching, and pulling my hair from behind.

I pulled the car over, turned to Lillian and screamed some ridiculously outrageous comments. I quickly realized I must get out of the car. We needed space between us as I was bleeding and in a great deal of pain from the scratches and she was a big hot mess.

Once out, I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and asked to see the situation differently. Upon opening my eyes, I saw, shining up at me from the rock and dirt filled ground, a beautiful red jewel heart. There was my answer, a reminder to always respond with love.

At this point, Lillian was ready to do a calming, mindful technique and I requested that she do it on her own. She got out of the car, chose to pick up a couple of rocks and studied them. After a few minutes we got back into the car and drove home.

We’ve not had anything of that magnitude happen since and I am hopeful this was simply “one step backward” before more steps forward. When this happens, one of us must be fully present and mindful or things can escalate.

Lillian has been seeing a psychotherapist since April 2015. We are working on cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness training. Additionally, I work with her on physically feeling the emotions within her body.

She has made great progress. It’s slow going, yet I feel we are closer to the ultimate goal.
The miracle of Lillian truly experiencing negative emotions and the rawness of life without the buffer of a meltdown.

At some time or another it’s possible we’ve all experienced our own version of a meltdown. Mindfulness is a miraculous practice to bring into one’s life. Once we become practitioners of mindfulness, more often than not, we are able to remain calm and peaceful when we or our children experience the rawness of life.

With mindfulness we are able to tune into our body and notice the beginning signs of a meltdown; clenched jaw, increased heart rate, tight shoulders or neck, stomach pain.

At this point we can say or think to ourselves, “There is anger inside of me.” This is the opposite of thinking or saying, “I am angry.” These two statements have completely different meanings and will take one down different paths.

Once we acknowledge there is anger (or any other uncomfortable emotion) within us, we can then put our focus on how this physically feels in the body. Is it tight, rolling, moving from place to place?

Let’s be real here. This is absolutely not fun and can be extremely uncomfortable. Yet, if we stick with this practice, it will become more of a habit and eventually the uncomfortable emotion will release.

If we wish to help our children, special needs or not, in this area, we must first practice this for ourselves and model this to them. Why would they meet a meltdown in this way if they never see us do this?

Examples of mindfulness techniques used with Lillian and her sibling, Thomas:

  • Focusing attention on a favorite rock, gemstone, or crystal. Concentrating on how it feels, looks, smells, and sounds.
  • Breathe work. At times with no phrase and at times with different variations of phrases.
  • Focus on in and out breath.
  • Breathing in, I am calm. Breathing out, I am peaceful.
  • I am in control. I can handle this situation.
  • Guided 5 minute mindful exercises.
  • Relaxing each area of the body.
  • Focusing on different areas of the body.
  • Walks in nature to include focus on flowers, trees, birds, ducks, etc.
  • Thinking or saying a peace mantra, Om Shanti Om.
  • Taking turns describing in detail another family member (remembering to use non-judgmental words) and similar family exercises.

These techniques were learned by me during the past 18 years of reading, studying, and practicing the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Lao Tzu, Pema Chodron, Raphael Cushnir, and The Dalai Lama.

In between monitoring the debut of the article yesterday, there was a meltdown. Lately they are brought on by disagreements with her sibling .. Thomas. So, as I sat sharing, responding, and getting the word out; my hands were stinging with fresh scratches.

I have faith that with the mindfulness exercises we practice, discussions of recognizing emotions, and time spent in nature; eventually Lillian will succeed in going with the flow and simply letting things go ..

I must share with you that when I received the email from elephant journal Sunday night, I panicked. A wave of anxiety and fear swept over me and I felt as if I was drowning in sadness. Thoughts of what others would think of these words straight from my heart weighed heavy on me.

I went to bed Sunday night connecting with these feelings, focusing on how they physically felt in my body. The feeling had subsided some by the time I got up the next morning. After an hour of meditation and a solo walk in the fresh snow, it had completely lifted and I was free to allow and receive joy. I felt it was important to share this with you.

Would you like to help spread the word? Here are ways you can help:

  • Have me speak to your group about mindfulness and emotional connection
  • View the article on Elephant Journal’s website
  • Leave a comment on their website by scrolling to the bottom of the article
  • Share the article using the share buttons near the bottom of the article (feel free to tag me if you share on facebook)
  • Blog about the article on your own blog (like Tania Marie did on her blog)
  • Leave a comment here
  • Share this article using the share buttons
  • email the article to others
  • Share with parenting groups, including special needs parenting groups

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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Mindful Parenting – A Solution for Sibling Fighting

Let this moment be the teacher.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~Albert Einstein

At times, Thomas and Lillian simply do not get along. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this as parents or with our own siblings or cousins.

My response varies depending on mindfulness, my own emotional state, and timing. One area I continue to work on shifting is my initial internal response to conflict. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, there was a great deal of arguing and conflict. It became my habit to withdraw, shrink, and shut down in order to escape.

I still have times when I choose to escape. This has gotten better. I continue to be aware, catch it when this happens, not “bite” that hook, and know that it can be handled a different way and there’s no need to hold anxiety from the past.

What I have found to be an incredible combination for helping Thomas and Lillian discover their own way out of the tensions is when I stay calm and mindful and use the surroundings of the moment as a teacher. During these times creativity and improvising blossom into the situation.

“My whole life has been one big improvisation.” ~Clint Eastwood

In one instance, the arguing kept going back and forth. He says such and such. She responds with such and such. No, I’m right. You’re  wrong. You’re such and such. On and on.

I spontaneously stood in the middle of the room. Got their attention, and proceeded to act out a one woman skit. I began with this:

“Thomas and Lillian: What I have learned is that is impossible to have an argument with yourself. Watch. Let me demonstrate. I turned and faced to the right and pretended like I was arguing with someone and saying unkind things.

Then I turned to the left and pretended to be this other person facing the bearer of the unkind things. I remained silent and just stared. Then I looked at Thomas and Lillian. I said, See. Argument over. If one person chooses not to respond, not to bite the hook, the argument cannot continue. It ceases.” I did it again just for emphasis.

They were mesmerized. Partly, I’m sure, as I was in such an animated state. Exaggerating my movements and words. I had not pre-meditated this as a response. I did not stop myself when the thought occurred. I just went with it. There was no more arguing for the rest of the evening.

Another time they were not in the midst of an argument, I improvised and spontaneously chose flowers as the teacher. I happened to have a vase of beautiful, amazing stargazer lilies. I was talking to the lilies – thanking them for sharing their beauty and scent with me and for adding to my joy.

Thomas and Lillian were giggling about this and I’m quite sure Lillian told me I was crazy. I told her “thank you” and added that I was extraordinary too. Then, I said to both of them:

“Look at how the flowers get along together. They aren’t fighting and struggling with one another. They are just BEing flowers. See that one leaning against the other one. He’s not saying, “Get your petal off of me. Don’t touch me. You’re gross.” This one is supporting that one. They are happy just being flowers and sharing their beauty with us. Imagine if we could be more like the flowers.”

They still argue. They still disagree. Yet, I know what I share with them is divinely inspired. I know it’s in their heart and mind somewhere. Sometimes they choose to completely ignore what I’ve shared and they both grab the “I’m arguing and not stopping till I’ve had the last word” hook.

Yet, sometimes they choose to remember and use what I’ve shared. As often as I can, I choose to use this as an opportunity for me to practice not falling back into old habits.

“Non-violence in action is a very potent force …. If we have the patience, things will change.” ~Cesar Chavez

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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Happy 10th Birthday Thomas A. Darnell

What do I say that I haven’t already said to celebrate this wonderful, kind-hearted, shining young man? It really matters less what I say about and to him as opposed to how much it matters how I live my own life, what I mirror and how I react to life’s situations in his presence.

That’s the amazing thing about having kids. It’s like having an accountability partner 24 hours a day, a walking vision board, a mirror even; to remind you of how you truly want to live your life. This is also why I, and others, claim that our kids are one of our greatest teachers. They mirror for us qualities about ourselves that we want to shift and remind us of our own philosophies and words of wisdom when we most need to hear or see it.

My birthday wish for Thomas is that he never forget the qualities of his soul. That he is an empathetic, kind-hearted being of love, that he never misses out on an opportunity to spread loving-kindness when he is urged by his inner light to do so. That he never lets me or another adult tell him his thoughts and ideas for spreading loving-kindness won’t work or are silly. That he discovers the treasure that he holds in his heart and share that treasure with all other beings. That this bring him all that he desires – success, prosperity, affluence – all wrapped in the love shared by others. And, that he always remembers to have fun and laugh while living this life.

Thomas,

In moments of confusion remember to BE quiet, BE still, breathe, think peaceful thoughts (especially the peace mantra we learned – Om Shanti Om). When you connect with the stillness, you open the portal to your own creativity and your heart will use that to give you answers and solutions. It’s magical, miraculous, and it works every time.

May you never let your light be dulled by outside influences, may you remain true to your heart, and may you always strive to BE mindful. There are no words to describe the depth of love I feel for you. YOU are a true gift.

I thought it would be fun to include a collection of the birthday wishes I’ve posted for Thomas’ birthday over the years.

2014:

For 8 years now I’ve had the pleasure of this person’s beautiful light in my life. It ain’t been all roses and butterflies, yet it’s been perfect and just as it should have been and is. I am thankful for all that he teaches me and will continue to teach me. I painted a rock for him and made a card filled with love and (hopefully) words of wisdom … along with an apology for not having more for him. This morning he gave me a huge hug, told me he loved me and that it’s okay and that it doesn’t matter. So blessed, I am. “Fill your heart with love … Love is always the answer. Listen to your heart. That’s where love lives.” – My message to Thomas in his card .. Happy Happy Happy Birthday Beautiful Shining Thomas!!!!!!!! xoxo

2013:

Some people say, “I can’t believe (s)he is already 8 years old.” I think to myself, “I cannot believe he is only 8 years old!” …. I wrote a post dedicated to this young man. Link is in the comments if you want to read more! “Today, on HIS special day he came and got me, told me to close my eyes and led me to his room. He said he had a gift for me. When I got to his room I removed my hand from my eyes and he had beautifully made his bed! Take my breath away … HE had a gift for ME on HIS special day! This was more of a gift than … ”

2012:

HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY THOMAS!!!!! You came right into this world without any hesitation the night of November 13, 2005 and you haven’t stopped since! I am grateful and blessed in a way I cannot even describe that you came into my life and keep me learning and growing. I’m enjoying every minute of observing you on this journey of discovering your gifts and talents and am so excited to see how you use them to serve others. You have taught me patience, not taking actions and comments of others personally, and have furthered my true understanding of releasing judgements of others. You inspire me to be the best teacher and guide to you and your sister that I can be. It’s been a wild and crazy (and fun) adventure and I’m thankful to you for inspiring me to go deeper. within myself to be the best that I can be.

2011:

Happy 6th Birthday to the handsome superhero Thomas! One who, at times helps me understand why some people don’t want kids, and at other times melts my heart, makes me laugh so hard my face hurts and one whom has added to and enhanced my journey for the better. He teaches me how to be a better parent and gives me tremendous incentive to learn how to teach him respect and how to make good choices. Thanks for the wild and crazy ride young man . . . always an adventure with you in our lives . . . Love YOU to pieces!

2010:

Happy Birthday today to the one whom makes my heart happy dance and melt with every hug, every kiss and every “I Love You”. Happy 5th Birthday to my son Thomas. You crack me up with your imagination and add to my JoY in an indescribable way!!

2009:

Happy 4th Birthday today to a little dude who makes sure that my everday is anything but dull & boring! Happy Birthday Thomas ~ I Love You!!!

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

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My Journey With Intellectual Disability and Relationships – A Short Memoir

The article I contributed to Interaction, which is a multidisciplinary journal for the Australian Institute On Intellectual Disability, has just been published. Here’s a brief description of what and why I was asked to contribute: “looking at creativity in how we work and interact with people with intellectual disability. The other theme I am interested in exploring is empathy and how this “works” within our relationship building within intellectual disability”

Excerpt from the article:

“One blood test, one phone call, one moment in time, drastically changed the direction of my life forever. I know more about genetics, chromosomes, DNA, motor skills, verbal skills, and now emotional and behavioural issues than I ever thought I would need or want to know. ……. I thought I had life pretty much planned at that point and for a while this brief phone call seemed to have caused my life to break apart like a melting iceberg with pieces scattering here and there. Looking back now, all that was brought into my life, all that occurred, all that began, and all that ended were meant to happen for my own growth and enlightenment. An enlightenment I feel spreads far beyond myself and my family as I believe we are all connected.”

Click here to read the digital version of the journal. The access code is: K9HqOa

My article is on page 30. However, the entire journal is excellent! You’ll need a chunk of time to read it as it’s short story length at around 4,000 words.

I encourage anyone who is moved to subscribe to this wonderful publication to do so! Enjoy and please feel free to share and/or forward to anyone you think would benefit! With oceans of love … xoxo

PDF version: Interaction Volume 28 Issue 4

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

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