Writing With My Eyes Closed – Author D.G. Kaye Interviews Camilla

Featured

I was recently interviewed by author, D.G. Kaye, on her lovely blog. We chat about mermaids, fairies, gypsies, being a Pisces, unexpected life paths and how they led to becoming an author, following inner nudges, and writing with my eyes closed. Join us …

What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?

Walking. Going for walks in nature, whether on a paved walking path, or a dirt trail in the woods. I adore going for walks, taking photographs of nature along the way. I find nature incredibly grounding, healing, and comforting. I attempt to infuse this, along with my energy into my writings and the nature photos I take.

Reading. I usually have about four books going at once. One book on writing, a fiction, a non- fiction, and a book that educates me on certain topics.

Another hobby is networking with other authors, interviewing them on a website I founded and facilitate – MeetingtheAuthors.com. I love meeting authors around the globe, developing and nourishing new friendships.

I also adore swimming. Although, we haven’t been able to do that yet this year. The new community we moved to in November 2019 has not finished construction of the pool. I’m a Pisces so each time I slip into the water, it feels like coming home. Going for swims, being in the water invigorates and brings such joy. I’m pretty sure I’m one part mermaid, one part fairy, and one party gypsy. I cannot wait for our pool to be finished!

D.G. – I hope that pool gets finished. I’m a Gemini – I need air! 🙂 And nice to meet someone who also reads 4 books at one time, lol.

Do your book ideas, or inspiration, grow from events in your daily life?

Being that my two books are memoirs, they are inspired by life events. My latest book published December 2019, Words of Alchemy, is a free-verse poetry memoir. I did not set out to write poetry, much less publish a book of poetry. Six years ago, poetry simply began to flow. When I decided last year that I was ready to publish a second book, I kept getting pulled back to the poetry. My first thought was that I did not want to publish a book of poetry. Who will buy it? HA! Yet, my heart and thoughts would not toss the idea aside. I finally leaned into it. I’m grateful that I listened as I feel it’s a beautiful book that has the ability to enrich others.

The first poem was sparked six years ago when I visited Fallen Leaf Lake and Mount Tallac. Standing in the sparkling snow, looking across the glass-like lake with Mount Tallac reflecting on its surface, broke open a piece of my closed heart, bringing me to tears. On the drive home, I made several stops to sit quietly at Lake Tahoe’s edge. By the time I made it home, I had written my first poem. Following that, poetry began to flow from the nature walks I take. Next, poems were inspired when revisiting the nature photos I took on these same walks. Lastly, the poetry began to flow from life experiences when writing in my journal or looking through the nature photos.

My first book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, was written with the intention of writing a memoir.

In 2004, I became a parent to a child with special needs when my four year old daughter was diagnosed with 18p-, a chromosome deletion syndrome. (You can learn more about chromosome 18 differences by going here, http://www.Chromosome18.org.) In 2005 I left a ten year marriage, becoming a single parent to a one year old and five year old. I experienced financial ruin with all bills being in my name, having to file bankruptcy in 2009 as I could no longer pay the bills. I openly shared this journey, with the feedback being that what I shared was meaningful and helpful to others. That’s what lit the spark of the book idea.

So I knew I wanted and needed to write this book about acceptance of myself, acceptance of becoming a parent to a special needs child, acceptance of becoming a single parent, and acceptance of financial ruin. I just didn’t know the “how” of it. Two things happened to change that.

In the summer of 2011, I kept getting an inner nudge to clean the garage of items that had been boxed since the divorce. I pushed it aside as I did not have time to fool around with going through boxes. The nudge became so strong, magnetic even, that I could no longer concentrate on anything else. I gave in to it.

In one of the first few boxes I found a forgotten book that had been gifted to me, titled, E is for Entrepreneur. I opened the book to find a handwritten message to me that this book would not have happened if not for me. I completely forgot that in 2007 I ran a blog for women entrepreneurs and had invited this woman to write guest blog posts. She began writing a series of A-Z posts having to do with being an entrepreneur. I suggested that she should make her writings into a book. She did! And, she did it without telling me until the book was complete and I received a copy in the mail.

I read the book that night, waking up the next morning knowing that this is the style in which I should write my book. Hence, the title, D iz for Different. Each chapter is a letter of the alphabet. A is for Acceptance, B is for Better, C is for Courage, and so forth. The book hit #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon and #2 in Self-help on Amazon. It was a pretty amazing ride!

During that same summer, I was sharing my book idea with a dear friend who already had one published book, and was working on another. He casually asked how far along I was and when it would be published. That question turned the spark into a flame. The next morning I began getting up 30 minutes earlier, writing a section each morning. I had the book written in about 3 months and published in less than a year. Thank you to Brian Benson for asking me that question and for being such an amazing supporter!

D.G. – Don’t you just love those subtle nudges from the universe. It does pay to follow the signs! I commend you on being an empowering warrior woman Camilla. I shall look forward to reading your memoir. 🙂

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?

I have written the two books mentioned above. In addition, I’ve co-authored a book with my son titled, Biggest Little Photographer and co-authored a book with my daughter titled, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories. So, four total.

Biggest Little Photographer is a collection of photographs my son, Thomas, took during a 365 day photo a day photography project. When he was 8 years old, we read an article about a professional photographer taking a LEGO mini figure with a LEGO camera to exotic locations and taking photos of the mini figure taking a photo. My son asked if he could do the same. I told him that he could and that if he stayed with it and finished the project that we would publish the photos in a book. About a month or two into the project, Thomas came to me and shared that this was a hard project and he thought he wanted to stop. I gave him that option, asking him to think about how it would feel if he finished, and how it would feel if he didn’t finish. He decided to move forward with the project, continuing to take a photo every day for 365 days. The book contains about half of the photographs.

Where Would You Fly is a collection of short stories, fairy tales, and poems written by my daughter, Lillian, from the time she was 4 years old through 15 years old. I wrote the introduction and helped with the early writings. As mentioned above, Lillian has a chromosome deletion called 18p-. The main way this manifests is that she has difficulty articulating words. She has them all in her mind, she just struggles to get them out. It’s been an exciting journey for her as she’s been invited to three book signings at Barnes & Noble and both of us will be attending with each of our books when shops fully open again.

I just can’t pick a favorite as these books are all so very different, with each holding a special and dear place in my heart.

D.G. – That is so beautiful your children are also published!

What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?

Blogging has been key. The first time I came across the term “blog” was just after my divorce in 2006. I got another of those inner nudges that I should teach myself all I could about blogs. I followed that knowing with purchasing my name and my kids’ names as domain names. I just knew that we would be needing them at some point in our lives.

Lillian and I began blogging in 2007 on a site we created together called, PinkElephantBooks.com. Some of her writings from that blog are in Where Would You Fly. I think it was 2008 or 2009, when I began to blog solely on CamillaDowns.com and she began to blog on her website at LillianDarnell.com. Thomas hasn’t used his blog in quite some time, but when he was younger he actively posted on it at ThomasADarnell.com.

Some of the writings in D iz for Different grew from blog posts and many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were first shared on my blog or our family blog at TheTeamTLC.com. Blogging has been key for that reason. It has also served as a sort of root system for sharing in all manner of places online and throughout social media. Think of the blog and blog posts as tree roots, with each time you share a blog post, or someone reads it and shares it as the trunk of the tree, the further sharing and traffic back to the blog being the limbs of the tree. Growing and growing and growing. Turning into a freeway for blog traffic, a freeway to your writings. And, those links never go away (unless the domain goes away).

A blog is something solid that you can refer people to as well, looking more official than sharing a post you’ve written on Facebook, instagram or twitter. Another benefit of having a blog has been anytime I have written a guest post, or had an article published somewhere, or have been interviewed, I include an announcement about it on my blog, with a link back to the original post. The more your name is anchored online, the more you will appear in search results.

D.G. – Great idea to set up the blogs, and wonderful for the children too!

Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?

Yes, I think so. I do my writing on the laptop as my hands begin to ache after about 10 minutes of handwriting. Many of the poems in Words of Alchemy were written with my eyes closed. Once the words began to flow, they were coming so fast, I could see them better and catch as many as possible with my eyes closed. This seems to help get my mind out of the way, so the words can flow freely.

To read the full interview, please follow this link …

Q & A with D.G. Kaye Features Camilla Downs – Words of Alchemy

Blessings,
Camilla

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Gentle Courage that Unfolds into a Celebration – Words of Alchemy

Featured

“This is an exceptional collection of endlessly expressive free verse poetry, extremely moving and inspirational in a variety of different ways. It speaks of nature, healing, family, heart, unconditional love, joy, harmony in oneself, mindfulness, vulnerability and genuine acceptance of ourselves.

Camilla has approached her life experiences with a gentle courage that unfolds into a celebration of the important things that mean the most to us. Despite all of our negative times and troubles we have to endure, life has so many positive experiences to offer. Camilla navigates her own trials and tribulations when it comes to pain, heartache and sorrow, yet still weaves the words into something incredibly beautiful with every single poem she exuberantly spills on to the page.

Whether her poems are long or short, each one packs so much heartfelt emotion in their exquisitely, passionately sculpted words that you will want to read it a few more times, to absorb its essence and appreciate the purity of words that touch deep within your own soul.

My favourite poem in the collection (it was such a difficult choice, since all of the poems within have something unique to recommend them) was the one written by Camilla with her children Lillian and Thomas (Love is Magical). I had to re-read it a couple of times, as I marveled over what was written and by whom. It was exhilarating how well their different writing styles meshed together and at that point, I could really feel the bond of family between them all.

Buy this book and get taken on an enticing emotional journey that you will never forget.” – David E.

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 18 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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Open the Heart – Words of Alchemy

Open the Heart

Nature knows not
Her beauty without us.
We know not
Our beauty, compassion,
And peace without her.
Oh beautiful tree
The lessons thou impart to me
Open the heart to be free
Grateful to you
I will forever be. – ©Camilla Downs

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 18 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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Throwback Post: One Blood Test, One Phone Call, One Moment in Time

**THROWBACK POST**


(Team TLC – July 2014)

Written in 2014 and 2015

November 2020 Note – This writing does not flow. It appears I came back to this over several months in 2014 and 2015 adding my thoughts. I’ve left it in its original, raw state except for a bit of rearranging so writings about the same topic are grouped together.

One blood test, one phone call, one moment in time; drastically changed everything. I know more about genetics, chromosomes, DNA, motor skills, verbal skills, and now emotional and behavioral issues than I ever thought I would need or want to know. The main way that 18p- manifested for Lillian earlier in life was that she had delays with motor skills, articulation issues, and GI concerns. Now at 13 years old Lillian is very hard to understand when she speaks. She simply cannot articulate in the way most of us can. The shape of her mouth and the inability of the tongue, lips, and mouth to coordinate properly are what cause this. She is a smart young lady and has all the words and thoughts she wants to say in her mind, but simply can’t get them all out in an understandable way.

She has always had anxiety and fears concerning certain issues, had problems with unexpected changes, and an inflexibility with schedules. These issues had been mostly manageable. About the time puberty entered Lillian’s life she had an IEP for transitioning from elementary to middle school. She also came down with a bad cold turned into a sinus infection. All of these proved too much for her to handle and she imploded. So began a turn in this adventure that began so long ago.

I now find myself learning about emotional and behavioral issues and Lillian’s inability to cope with situations that cause her to panic or worry.

In December 2014, Lillian caught a pretty bad cold. At the same time we had just attended her transition IEP for moving to middle school next year. Internally, Lillian’s teenage hormones were making their appearance as she had just turned 13 in September. Illnesses take a harder toll on Lillian, even if it is just a cold. She missed some days of school, went back for one day and then seemed to get sick all over again. Her cold had turned into a sinus infection.

After the sinus infection cleared, Lillian refused to go back to school. This wasn’t just a case of Lillian being stubborn and defiant. I could sense a deep fear and high level of anxiety. I tried to help Lillian through this time by addressing and solving whatever it was that was causing the fear and anxiety. During this same time, Lillian’s ability to cope and remain calm seemed to be dissolving. Whenever her schedule was changed or didn’t work out or things didn’t go as she thought they should, she would go straight into a horrific meltdown with an explosion of screaming, hitting, pinching, and scratching. It was lightening fast with hardly any space between something going wrong (in her mind) and the explosion.

At this point, I decided that I needed professional help. In April 2015, I finally located an acceptable psychotherapist that took Lillian’s insurance to work with Lillian and I on mindfulness techniques, dialectical behavior therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. I know that there are medications to help with these difficulties but my inner compass is very strong in that I am supposed to try the non-medicated route first. I absolutely do NOT judge other parents for the routes they take on this complicated and complex journey. The part of me that would have judged no longer exists, thanks to Lillian and Thomas.

It was (and is) my intention to try to help Lillian be in tune with her body’s feelings and emotions so that she can recognize when anger or sadness are present. And to then have her use mindfulness techniques and emotional connection to connect with negative (and positive) emotions. First and foremost to get her past the point where she feels out of control leading to screaming and lashing out at others (myself and her brother, Thomas).

This is furthering my own mindfulness learning as I must be mindful when Lillian disconnects. I must also be patient, flexible, and learn how to not take words or actions personally. There are absolutely days and moments my thoughts go straight to, “It’s time to look into medication.” However, once the moment has passed so has the thought. As long as we are making progress we’ll continue this path. Although Lillian has not returned to school yet, we are making slow progress. I use the term we as this is definitely a team effort by all three of us.

She had one extremely huge meltdown turned into explosion this past July. We made a quick stop at the grocery store to get a few items. I was a bit overwhelmed as the store was super crowded. I was trying not to forget what we needed and to carry on small talk with Lillian. We took a few minutes to smell the essential oil perfumes and wonderful handmade soaps. Then we chose a gluten free cookie for all three of us. After this, I decided to return an item since we were close to the customer service counter. The wonderfully kind cashier offered to ring my other items since I only had a few. I accepted. Lillian had caught up with me at this point and once I was finished paying, I could sense her energy shift.

Apparently, there was miscommunication between the two of us about Lillian looking at more gluten free desserts. This quickly led to a volcanic like explosion for Lillian with screaming and lashing out at me. Fortunately, I was close to the exit doors, so I made my way out and headed to the car with Lillian screaming and yelling 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 or other techniques we’ve been learning.

I decided to start making our way home even though she had not calmed down. Perhaps not the best choice in that moment. She was scratching, pinching, and pulling my hair from behind. As soon as it was possible, I pulled over, turned to Lillian and screamed some ridiculously outrageous comments, and decided I must get out of the car. We needed space between us as I was in a great deal of pain from the scratches and she was a big hot mess. Once out of the car, I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and asked to see the situation differently. I opened my eyes and shining up at me from the rock and dirt filled ground was a beautiful red jewel heart. I knew that was in answer to asking to see it differently and a reminder to always respond with love.

At this point, Lillian was ready to do a calming technique and I requested that she do it on her own. She got out of the car and chose to pick up a couple of rocks and study them. After a few minutes we got back into the car and drove home. We’ve not had anything of that magnitude happen since then and I am hopeful this was simply “one step backward” before more steps forward. When this happens for Lillian, one of us has to be fully present and mindful or things can escalate.

When I pulled over there was anything BUT grace flowing from my mouth. After being scratched continuously, and having my hair pulled from behind from the time we left the parking lot; I lost it. So glad I listened to my intuition to pull over and get out. It was what we both needed. I know when this happens it is not the true Lillian and we are making great progress with helping her to notice, feel, and release emotions (centered around mindfulness).

My feelings are that we are all doing the best we can with where we are in our lives; child and adult. I judge no other parent for how they choose to handle this. That has not always been the case. Where there is Love, there is no judgment. Personally, I want to help Lillian learn NOW how to process emotions so that she has a happy and peaceful life as an adult. So that she knows how to handle things when they don’t go as expected and don’t go her way.

It’s so interesting that for at least 4 years I’ve been talking about connecting with emotions with Thomas and Lillian and Lillian does NOT want to feel sadness. Goes straight from sad, to anger, to deflecting the anger in a split second. We are teaching her how to “listen” to her body for the clues that let her know she’s about to get angry.

I have much to learn from Lillian and she has much to learn from me. I know because she verbalizes what she’s saying to herself. It boils down to this: She’s not in control and she cannot be successful. We are giving her new phrases to replace those: I am in control, I can let this dissolve, I am successful. Along with teaching mindfulness activities and I take both of them through a mindfulness exercise at least 4 times a week. Definitely not an easy path, yet, for me, this is the path of Love.

Two more positive moments from the 2015 Chromosome 18 conference … one night she was having anxiety and worries about going out to eat with her friends (without me as I was having dinner with the moms … ladies night). Worried there would be stairs, worried about going to the bathroom, worried about what to eat, worried about it being too crowded. She was expanding, to use her word. I explained to her that she was expanding and that we could not talk about it and come to a solution in her current state (it was bed time too). She agreed to wait until tomorrow to discuss it. The next day when I brought it up, she said, “There’s nothing to talk about it.”

This happened with one other issue too. And I have used this several times now as it seems she wants to discuss things as we are getting ready for bed. I have been successful at getting her to wait until the next day.

She had a huge meltdown in a restaurant on our last night there. First, it took us half a day to even get out of the room to go to the local library. She slept late and took forever doing her “schedule”. This seems to be interfering more and more with us even getting out of the house. Anyway, after we ordered she began to “expand” about not having gotten to everything she wanted to do while there, being VERY sad and angry about the situation.

She was crying and getting louder. I tried to have her wait until we were done eating to discuss, but she was not in a place to agree. She screamed and pinched my arm. I could not get her to do a distraction exercise so had to resort to helping her resolve the issue so we didn’t have to leave the restaurant with me dragging her out. She finally calmed down. Thomas was having great anxiety during this as he saw all the people staring at us.

Lillian has always had anxiety and worries related to certain situations, venues, and schedules. Some of these are stairs, escalators, people with stern voices, automatic flush toilets and hand dryers, small enclosed areas and big open areas. In addition to a fear of all animals and stuffed animals. Some of this stems from difficulties with Lillian’s proprioceptive system and some from sensory processing issues.

I am still on this journey of attempting to learn Lillian’s nature. I’ve come a long way. What I do know, what my internal compass is rock solid about, is that Lillian’s contributions to humanity will not come forth in the typical way of going to school, graduating, going to college, and getting a job (or some adapted version of this).

And something else I know is that it’s okay if there’s a shift within her and she does go the typical route. I feel she is an artist and her contributions are manifesting and will continue to manifest in this way. As I write this, I realize, she’s got something figured out that many of us strive to figure out our whole lives. How to express oneself. And how to express oneself in a way that benefits humanity and spreads loving-kindness.

Lillian loves and enjoys life. In fact, she is confused when, at her prompting, I or those around her don’t stop what they are doing and BE in the present moment, enjoying life and being happy.

November 2020 Note: This writing turned into a 4,000 word article contributed to a multidisciplinary journal for the Australian Institute On Intellectual Disability, published in 2015. To read the polished and final article, go here …

My Journey With Intellectual Disability and Relationships – A Short Memoir

November 2020 Update – Six years later … We have come such a long way from this time. Thankfully, the severity and occurrences of meltdowns has drastically decreased. Lillian began using botanical oil two or three years ago. That and maturity were huge factors in helping. 

I also wrote a letter to her meltdowns in 2016 that was published by Elephant Journal. If you’re interested in reading that, go here …

Dear Meltdown: Meet My Friend Mindfulness

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

An Emotional Connection and Soothing to My Soul – Words of Alchemy

Thank you to Jo of Jaffareadstoo for this wonderful, moving review for Words of Alchemy.

“What did I think about it..

During this global pandemic I find that I am turning increasingly to the healing nature of inspirational verse to help to me stay grounded.

Words of Alchemy is a collection of expressive free verse in which the author shares her intimate thoughts and feelings about life, love, friendship, family, the natural world and does so with a light touch and an almost ethereal longing to be heard.

I find poetry collections intensely personal, as what seems so relevant to the poet can sometimes get lost in translation, but throughout this interesting memoir collection I felt an emotional connection to the thoughts and feelings expressed by this contemplative poet. Written over a number of years this collection is the author’s very personal journey through some of her troubled times and how she found inspiration in mindfulness and observing life around her.

Words of Alchemy is easy to read either all in one sitting or, as I did, dipping into sections at whim but guaranteed always to find something beautifully written and soothing to my soul. I found the whole collection quite charming and a pleasure to read on one of those scary days just recently when the world around me seemed such a very dark place.” – Jo

Follow the link below to read the full review post …

https://jaffareadstoo.blogspot.com/2020/08/book-review-words-of-alchemy-by-camilla.html

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Reblog: Congratulations to Lillian for Another Milestone

Congratulations to Lillian

September 19 2020

I’m finished. I’m done! After eight years, Lillian will be fully taking over an aspect of her self care. We have been working the past seven months on her taking it over fully. I did it for the last time about 30 minutes ago! Hallelujah!! Congratulations to Lillian!! Photo from our July 2020 Date day.

Just had to share this amazing news over here, too! Go here for the original post on The Team TLC blog …

Congratulations to Lillian

The Tipping Point of Pressing the Reset Button While Being Bold

I’m chattin’ with Haley at The Caffeinated Reader about my tipping point, bribing myself, being bold, and why I wrote free-verse poems for six years. Grab your coffee or tea and join us …

The Interview

1. So first of all, the world is a bit crazy this go-around of Indie Spotlight, have you had time to start any new writings? Read any good books lately?

Things sure have been getting stirred up, haven’t they? I think every single person has been touched by the pandemic or the calls to address systemic racism.

In January 2020 I realized I had reached a tipping point in my 15 year journey of emotional and mental healing. I decided that this would be the year of rejuvenation, a time to heal physically, to rest, to press the reset button, and to market my latest book published in December 2019. So I haven’t started any new writings, other than blog posts on my website. I have given myself permission to not write this year, if that is how it unfolds.

I’m reading three really good books at the moment. 

  1. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  2. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
  3. me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad

2. What’s something that helps with your writing process? Any certain playlists or maybe a certain time of day that helps to spur you along?

What helps me with writing is to first set the intention that this is what I am doing. Reminding myself not to get distracted, at times bribing myself …. You can check social media, or go for a walk, or whatever it is, after you write.

My writings are intuitive, with no planning, just being ready to receive and write whatever comes forward. Specifically in regards to my latest book, Words of Alchemy, the writings were inspired by going for walks, the nature photographs I took on these walks, and life experiences. Sometimes I would listen to Indian flute music, Tibetan singing bowls, Deva Premal, Stevie Nicks, or Van Morrison when writing, other times I would write in complete silence with a view of the trees through my living room windows.

3. Did you always want to be an indie publisher, or did you ever consider traditional publishing?

This was not something I thought about or planned for in advance. I knew that if I dwelled on what would happen after I wrote my first book, it would delay the actual writing of the book. With that, I dove into writing with the book being completed in about 3 months, and published in less than a year.

Once the book was written, I knew I did not have the patience to inquire about traditional publishing. The people and resources I needed to publish that first book seemed to just fall into place as needed. Review blurbs were offered, the cover art was donated, and the book design and editing were donated.

You see, I was not in a place where I could afford to pay for anything. Many saw the value of the story, and wanted to assist in getting it published. I made a ton of mistakes, learning as I went along, and used that for publishing the next three books. I’m sure that I still make mistakes, however, if I had held off until I knew what I was doing, I truly believe I would not have four published books currently.

4. What was the inspiration for your book?

I had no intention of writing poetry. I didn’t sit down and think, I’m going to write poetry for six years, and then publish a free-verse poetry memoir. When I visited Mount Tallac and Fallen Leaf Lake six years ago, something within me shifted. It was deeply moving, bringing me to tears, simply by being in the quiet of the lake, sitting with it. As I drove home, I made several stops along the shores of Lake Tahoe, equally as moving as she is breathtaking. By the time I made it home, I had written my first poem. (Picture included of Mount Tallac, Fallen Leaf Lake, and Lake Tahoe)Further poetry was inspired by nature walks and the photographs I took during these walks. Still further poetry was inspired by life events, as my way of processing what I was experiencing.

5. Is there something special you like to do when not writing or marketing your books?

I adore going for walks, being in nature with the trees, sky, clouds, bushes, flowers, birds, and wildlife. When I’m on these walks, I am intuitively moved to take photographs. I’ll get a nudge to turn around, look up, look down, and a further nudge to take a photo. Many times at a different angle or view from what one would expect. This brings me much peace and gives great enjoyment.

6. If you were stuck in quarantine with other authors, which ones would you want to be in quarantine with? 

Oh, this is a fun one! I’d choose to be quarantined with Elizabeth Gilbert, Toni Morrison, Glennon Doyle, Natalie Goldberg, Benjamin Alire Saenz, bell hooks, and Thich Nhat Hahn. Oh my goodness, what conversations we’d have, what fun we’d have. On another note, if you’d ask me this same question two weeks or two months from now, I would most likely list a completely different set of authors!

7. What’s a writing project you haven’t gotten around to that you hope to write someday?

I’ve got several that come to mind. I deeply want to write a creative non-fiction. This has been brewing for a while, and I hope it comes to fruition soon! I’d also like to write a book with my kids. I’ve published a book with each of them, however, I’d like all three of us to contribute to a book. We shall see if that happens. I know there’s at least one more memoir, if not more. And, perhaps a fiction lurking in the imagination, too.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I would say the most important aspect is to just write. Write, no matter what comes out. No one has to see it. Write every day on any topic just to get into the habit, waking your imagination in the process. After that, plant deep roots of tenacity, and keep going. Oh, and read, read, read books that speak to you.

9. And finally, what is the thing you’d like readers to know most about your latest book?

This collection is from the heart, with my energy infused into each poem, of what I was feeling at the time of writing. Words of Alchemy was not written for a specific reader or audience. These free-verse poems were written to assist me in processing life, with many of the poems written to remind me that I am loved. It is my hope that the collection do the same for readers, that you connect with the writings, bringing a laugh, a tear, a nod of the head, or simply a knowing that you are not alone.

To read the full interview post, follow the link below …

Indie Spotlight #8

Throwback: Parenting is My Work and My Art

**THROWBACK POST**


(Team TLC – 2015)

Written some time in 2015

Parenthood is my work and my art. Something within was awakened when I became a parent. My life completed shifted when my two kids entered it. They reflected back, and still do, what I feel is the gift I am to share with others. They were the catalyst.

Lillian is 14 years old and Thomas is 10 years old. Lillian has a chromosome deletion called 18p- as she is missing the short arm of chromosome number 18. This manifests in speech difficulties, emotional issues, and problems with her proprioceptive system. I have single parented them since Thomas was one year old.

The self-realization journey I began nearly 20 years ago, was sparked with the initial thoughts of parenthood and grew into an all consuming flame as they entered my life. I knew there was a different way to live life, to experience life, other than the way to I had been raised and the way in which some of society chooses to live.

These two are weaved throughout anything I create. The three of us are a team and I actively encourage each of them to explore being creative. Whether that’s with painting, drawing, photography or writing. By choice, we do not own a television and have not since 2008. Instead of watching television, we read and go for nature walks.

Our family life is a form of art that I openly share with the world as I feel that is my gift to share. I came to the realization that the more children we encourage to never lose their sense of wonder, to always follow their heart paired with the practice of mindfulness and emotional connection; the happier and more peaceful world will we have as they age. I feel some children these days are led down the same rabbit hole as I was, in always seeing our happiness and peace not arriving until some point in the future when this, that, or the other is obtained or accomplished.

This thought process begins with, I must be “good” so I can get rewarded. Then, I must get “good” grades and be a “good” student so I can be acknowledged. I must do this also so I can get into college and get a “good” job. If I don’t go to college, I won’t get a “good” job and I won’t make money … and I won’t be happy.

I do this mainly through writing (non-fiction and poetry) and also through nature photography; and lately through painting.

My writings are centered on mindfulness, emotional connection, nature connection, and positive, connected parenting. I draw from personal experience and intuitively share what I am moved to share with others.

***November 20, 2020 Update***I’m pretty sure this was written as an introduction of myself, to be shared somewhere that I had contributed content. In reading this, I am filled with love and adoration for myself as I stood five years ago. I begin to think, how on earth did I make it through the incredibly rough years of 2012 – 2020?

The above is a little snippet of how I made it through. I know I took a path many would not choose, but when I look back at the strength, compassion, and empathy I exhibited, I feel it was the right path for me and my family.

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Liberation of this Soul – Words of Alchemy

Liberation of this Soul

She was tired.
Tired of trying to figure it out.

Tired of trying to make things work.
Tired of manipulating circumstances
to make things work.
Tired of trying to control situations to make things work.

Tired of living in confusion.
Tired of the suffering
created by way of her thoughts.

Tired of the chains that
bound her to the suffering.
Tired of dragging those
invisible chains through life.

Tired of not loving herself.
Tired of not being loved.
Tired of the responsibility of it all.

Tired of questioning her every decision.
Tired of hiding the Truth from herself.
Tired of running from her own self.

Tired of the darkness within.
Tired of the pull of the ego.

What she craved.
What she desperately needed.
Was … FREEDOM.

In desperation she dropped to her knees.
Crying to the all knowing,

Take this tired body,
Take this tired mind,
Take this confusion,
Take this suffering,

She let it all go.
She released it to the divine.

She asked for liberation
from her self-induced suffering.

Liberate this soul.
Liberate this heart.

Allow this heart to open.
Allow this heart to
receive and know unconditional love.
Allow this mind to know Clarity.

Liberation to the graceful
place of Knowing Freedom.
Liberation to the Place
of letting go.

Letting Go
And saying Yes
to Life. – ©Camilla Downs

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 15 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Reblog: We Have a Beautiful Earth

We Have A Beautiful Earth

September 18 2020

We’re in the good range with air quality, so went for a much needed walk. Scripts Wildlife Preserve and Little Washoe Lake. Sat on this perfectly shaped piece of driftwood, and just breathed. We have such a beautiful Earth.

    

Go here to see more photos …

We Have A Beautiful Earth

Powerfully Personal and Enlightening – Review of Words of Alchemy by Bill Arnott

Thank you to Bill Arnott for this lovely review of Words of Alchemy.

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla relays her story – powerfully personal and enlightening. Her words reflect a recognition of challenges and rewards, the natural world she is mindfully part of, consciously present, and admirable, ensuring she shares it with all of us.

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature
and Life through a free-verse poetry memoir. During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations. Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow.

Camilla Downs is a powerhouse – a one-person publishing house, selfless promoter of fellow
authors, bestseller, blogger, photographer, and mom – the order of which is not prioritized. I met Camilla through online authors’ networks. We swapped books, as you do. And I immediately fell for her story – relatable, inspiring – facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, and being a role model. In other words, a good person. A person who, among other things, fuels her creativity and capacity to give by immersing herself into landscapes – communing with the outdoors, shooting photos, and writing about all of it.

Words of Alchemy is her compilation of free verse poetry touching on these issues – a sincere
and sensitive ode to life and to nature. Divided into alchemical sections – experience,
perspective, lessons and growth – we take a seat next to our author for the Alchemy of Healing.

This, from May You See The Beauty:
She awakens to discover that she has / indeed been pulling the weeds and / shifting her view.

Through the Alchemy of Love, we climb a metaphorical trail with this, from The Path:
Keep walking / Keep writing // Keep knowing / Keep loving
And through the Alchemy of Gratitude we reflect, looking back with thanks.

This, from Appreciation:
Study the clouds and the trees. / Listen to the birds.

In Words of Alchemy, author Camilla Downs relays her story – powerfully personal and
enlightening. Her words reflect a recognition of challenges and rewards, the natural world she is mindfully part of, consciously present, and admirably, ensuring she shares it with all of us.

Go here to read the full review …

Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs

Throwback Post – Planting Seeds of Love – Free to Be You

**THROWBACK POST**

Written some time in 2017


(Hike to Lake Tamarack – September 2020)

The poems I write are from nature and shared through my heart and fingers. They are inspired by nature photographs made by me. I sit with a photograph, ask what I am to share, touch my fingers to the keyboard, close my eyes, and let the message flow.

It is as if nothing else exists when I’m in this flow. It is almost always aligned with something I am in the midst of personally, and will usually answer or clarify an issue for me.

This poem was written the morning after I attended a local show by The Alchemist Theatre. The theme of the show was Providence. We all took white stones, were walked through a beautiful prayer/meditation at which time the name or image that appeared for us was our “name”. We then wrote this name on the white stone.

The message shared with me that night is that I am supposed to plant seeds of loving-kindness wherever I go and these poems are part of that. This served more as confirmation as I’ve known for a while I was supposed to do this, yet, was unclear on how.

LoveSeed is the name that came to me during meditation. For quite some time I’ve been dancing in and out of my own darkness and shadows. I experienced a shift that night.

This is the message I wrote to the members of Alchemist. “It is when we are in the depths of our own darkness, we can rest assured the light and solutions are simply awaiting our embrace of said darkness ….. for the light will shine, shine, shine once we patiently dance with the darkness.”

The next day I sat with this picture of trees I took in the summer of 2016 and thought, “What do you have to share?” (2020 Note: I am not sure which photo of trees to which this referred, so I’m sharing a recent photo.) This poem is nature’s message to me and anyone else to whom it speaks and one of the many love seeds I am to plant.

Free to Be You

Light and peace
await you dear one.
I know this is
your heart’s desire.

It’s there.
It never leaves you.
It cannot leave you
for it is what you are.

The light is the Source.
And you are the light.

At times you choose
to recede into the darkness,
and disconnect from the Light.

Pass through the darkness,
you must,
if you wish to
emerge into the light.
The darkness can always
be transcended.

And emerge you will.
Emerging into the light.
Merging with the light.
BEing the light.

You will know this.
You will feel it.
As the light embraces you
and becomes you,
all else will lift
and you shall be set free.

Free to be you,
free to come home
to the true you,
free to share divine love
in the way only you can share.

Come,
Be in the glory
of peace and light
for this is your inheritance.

Ever there,
Patiently waiting
for your awakening. – © Camilla Downs

This poem is published in its original, raw state. An edited version of poem appears in my recently published book, Words of Alchemy.

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

“Words of Alchemy”, published December 2019, is a free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 19 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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.