Get to Know Me: What Weird or Useless Talent Do You Have?

I’m a member of an author/book reader facebook group, and the admins ask great questions. I decided to turn some of the questions into a “get to know me” series. I would also love to hear your answers to the questions posed in the series. Thanks Helen for asking such fun questions!

Before sharing this with writer’s facebook group mentioned above, I had NEVER shared this with anyone other than my two kids. Vulnerable post upcoming …

When they were very young, 2 years old and 5 years old (now 19 and 15), we didn’t have the money for anything other than the necessities.

I was always on the lookout for ways to help us laugh. So … I began to speak gibberish and entire sentences whenever I belched. They thought that was the best, and funniest thing in the world. It became a habit. I still do it to this day. I call my daughter the burp whisperer as she translates what I say. Good lord, help me! 🤪😂🤣 Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have a partner. 😂🤣

Within the facebook group, someone commented how much they appreciated and liked what I shared. I replied:

Here I was thinking I’d become famous for my eloquent words or beautiful photography. Alas, the universe works in mysterious ways. “Here lies Camilla Downs. Sure, she was an author, loving mom, and spreader of loving kindness. Yet, she was famous for her unique ability to belch gibberish, words, and entire sentences. We will miss her and her belching talents.”

I love sharing, being authentic. Sometimes the things we think will turn people away from us, are the things that turn people towards us. Life’s funny, isn’t it? Sending you hugs, not belches.

What about you? What weird or useless talent do you have?


(2015 Team TLC)

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: The Intoxicating Attraction of Mother Nature

October 16 2020

A walk to Tamarack Lake this morning. The smell of the evergreen trees, the silence, the beauty, the sound of the birds, the taste of fresh clean air. Intoxicating. Pure bliss.

   

Go here to see the original post, including more photos …

The Intoxicating Attraction of Mother Nature

Artistic Creation and Mindfulness – Writer’s Life Podcast

Several months ago I was a guest of Nancy Christie’s on “Living the Writer’s Life” Podcast. I’m behind on sharing these types of events, yet, here we are!

Nancy and I explore the role of mindfulness in artistic creation and the connection between art and nature.

Nancy and I didn’t get to explore all areas we had intended so I’m including my notes for anyone who is interested in knowing more.

Topics to explore:

How do you find time to be still and mindful, especially during these difficult times?

I’m on a sabbatical for this year from many of my typical practices, after having been on a nearly 15 year healing journey, alongside providing for myself and my 2 kids.

I don’t work a traditional job, with traditional hours. 20 years ago when my husband, now ex-husband, and I decided to start a family, we also made the decision that I we would transition into working for ourselves so that one of us, could always be home with our future kids. I stuck to that once we divorced when the youngest was 1 year old, now 14 years old.

We don’t own a television, freeing up much time that would otherwise be spent watching it.

Going for walks and swims is a priority.

I knew and know that solitude, quiet time, was (is) vital for my sanity.

Does the environment where you live (Reno, Nevada) help foster your creativity? What do you do to reconnect with nature? How can those in very urban environments connect with nature

For me there was a natural flow from nature to my creations, whether that was photography, poetry, life narratives, or artwork made using rocks, limbs, or other items found in nature. I had to learn how to listen to the internal nudges when I got them:

Nature photos: During walks, I get a nudge to stop, turn around, kneel, lay flat on the ground, or some such thought. I had to learn to listen to this, look around, and take the photo.

Poetry: Closing my eyes and letting the words flow, not hesitating, not worrying about grammar or spelling. I had to learn to let my thoughts and heart direct my fingers.

Walks: It took much practice to learn to listen, look, notice, smell … using all of the senses.

Reno and the surrounding area, Mt Rose, Lake Tahoe, Washoe Valley, definitely help foster my creativity.

To reconnect with nature, I immerse myself in nature. This doesn’t have to be extreme, you don’t have to travel to a forest or national park. Just go outside. Find something of nature, and focus on it. Touch it. Smell it. Notice it. Ask nature what you need to know, what she has to share with you.

If you live in an urban environment: Nature cannot be stripped from the places we live. She is there. You may have to look longer and be more observant. Flowers, bushes, weeds, trees, rocks, birds, insects, the sky, clouds, rain, sunshine, the moon. Try to become detail oriented with nature.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a great resource for mindfulness and stillness, and he brings activism into it as well, There is no need to ignore our world while being mindful and still. Although, it is okay to give yourself permission to do just that.

What are some of the messages that derail the creative process?

I think all messages that derail the creative process stem from imposter syndrome. Those thoughts that tell us we don’t know what we’re doing, no one wants to hear what we have to say, who are we to be doing this, etc, etc, etc.

The key for me with the “noise” has been to notice it. Recognize it’s there. Give it space to be. When we resist, it grows. Don’t give in to it. Just notice it, and let it pass through. Rumi’s, The Guest House, is a good reminder for this. I keep it on the fridge as a reminder.

Has writing helped you work through the challenges you have experienced in your life? What advice do you have for others who are struggling for a way to deal with adverse situations regarding using some form of artistic expression—writing or artwork, for example—to release those emotions?

Writing has absolutely helped me work through challenges and life experiences. It has been vital. It has been therapeutic. I have processed deep healing over the past 15 years, and writing has been what got me through, provided solutions, reassurances.

I would write my feelings and emotions and then ask what do I need to know, and then write more. I would always get a response that was helpful. This could be accomplished with artwork too, a painting, with pottery, creating anything. Infuse it with your emotions and feelings, step back and say, now, what do I need to know, then finish the piece with your answer.

My advice: Listen to your intuition. It knows what to do. Do you get the feeling you need to go for a long drive? There is a reason. Do it. You will not be disappointed. It will open you up to continue moving forward. Do you get the feeling you must go for a walk. Do it. Do you feel like you must touch a tree, hug a tree, smell a flower. Do it.

Go here for the podcast on Nancy’s site, and to explore other topics she covers … https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-vmjj4-effbe0

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.

Throwback Post: Float Your Boat

**THROWBACK POST**


(Photo by me, taken during a 2017 Walk)

December 11 2017:

After an extremely rough afternoon, what a blessing to receive a sweet, loving, kind, and generous message … Just the push I needed to bring on the sobbing so I could connect and release ….

When you have one with difficulties in the executive functions area, it is nearly impossible to suggest spur of the moment activities. In Lillian’s case a meltdown is going to happen 95% of the time.

Yet, I continue to try. We have a blu-ray Christmas movie to watch from the library as they had no regular DVD of this movie.

I figured we could watch it at the lodge in the theater as their equipment will play blu-ray. (I use a really old portable DVD player plugged into a projector for our movie watching as we don’t have a TV.)

I looked on the library website and saw we would have to return the movie on Wednesday so I suggested we head on over and watch it. Well, at the same time, I must have given my patience a vacation. And, invited every worry and concern that has been bothering me over the past three months.

Two kids having meltdowns, one mom having an outburst, and two hours later ….. We are still out of sorts … but this wonderful and generous message was exactly what my heart needed ….

Sharing for anyone else who is having an off day, anyone who gave their patience the day off, or anyone who invited worry and concerns to cloud their day … From one human to another; I share a loving, warm, heart hug with you … And say .. You are not alone. Be still. And know …. xoxo

I find when I am already in “Why me victim mode” and my thoughts are full of worries and concerns that having nothing to do with a current incident … That’s when I lose it. So … when not in that meltdown moment I practice mindfulness and meditation and walks in nature so that I can have a balanced and peaceful perspective most times. Yet, we are human, so that’s not going to happen every time … And … That. Is. Okay …. xoxo

I have felt incredibly out of sorts and in a huge fog lately. Along with some anxiety. I know when I feel anxiety it is usually due to something surfacing that it would be best for me to connect with so as to release. Sometimes I forget that, though, and resist …

Most times if I would quit trying to row the boat and just let that sweet little boat float through life, peace would be more consistent …. For, I fully believe that life knows what its doing and has my back …. xoxo

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.

Get to Know Me – How Handy Are You When It Comes to Fixing Things?

I’m a member of an author/book reader facebook group, and the admins ask great questions. I decided to turn some of the questions into a “get to know me” series. I would also love to hear your answers to the questions posed in the series. Thanks Helen for asking such fun questions!

How handy are you when it comes to fixing things?

I’m actually pretty good at it. Unless it’s a huge job. I’m like an improvising MacGyver with long blond hair! If I don’t have what’s needed to fix it, I figure out a way. I’ve been a single parent for the last 15 years, so it was a necessity to figure things out. Duct tape is amazing! I’ve duct taped my driver’s side mirror on, and used the tape in the first aid kit in the car to tape my brake light on! Hahaha!!

I crack myself up! Seriously, the things I have created and fixed over these past 15 years blows my mind. I am a ninja improviser, I will make things work with what I have. Now that I have some wiggle room financially, I will sometimes stop and think, “Why are you still using this, or doing it this way? You can afford to buy whatever is.” However, the improvising part of my brain is deeply entrenched now, after 15 years. I like that about myself. At least my kids are impressed by the things I’ve done and continue to do. Hahaha!!

What about you, how handy are you when it comes to fixing things?


(Summer 2020)

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: Lillian Darnell – First Time Voting

October 23 2020

It is done. I normally wouldn’t take so many pictures. Yet, this was Lillian’s first time. She can’t/won’t wear a mask so she didn’t get to walk it in to the official ballot box at Raleys – took me about 2 minutes. 💙🌊💙

When Lillian reluctantly agreed to register to vote last year while we were getting her ID, she had no intention of voting. I suggested she might change her mind, and this way she’d be ready, just in case. I asked her last night why she changed her mind, deciding to vote. She said, “The United States needs me to vote.” She researched the candidates and the questions for hours. Congratulations, Lillian Darnell!!! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈

     

Go here to see the original post on the Team TLC website …

Lillian Darnell – First Time Voting

Dear Anyone Who Feels Like They Don’t Matter

Dear Anyone Who Feels Like They Don’t Matter,

I hear you. I acknowledge you feel this way. I see you when you tell me these thoughts create a dull pain you feel throughout your entire body. I hear you when you say that you just want the pain to stop. I know that the intensity of this pain is excruciating at times. I hear you.

I wish, like I’ve never wished for anything before, that I could take this pain away. I wish I could help you to know that you do matter. I wish I could help you see the positive ripple effect of your existence.

I know that I cannot help you see this by merely saying it. I understand this. Please know that I am here for you, I will sit with you, I will hold your hand, I will listen, I will not tell you that you are wrong. You have these thoughts and feelings. They are valid. I hear you. I see you. I am here to help you have strength to get through these thoughts and feelings.

I will try to help you see the others to whom you matter, those who would be lost and heartbroken were you no longer here. I will try to help you find the creative outlet that inspires you to pour these thoughts and feelings into. Nothing is more important to me than being here for you and helping you see and find these. It is my hope that with this as the first step, and with the passage of time, it will lead to you and your thoughts knowing that you matter.

Please know that I am here for you. You matter to me.

With Oceans of Love,

Someone Who Loves You More Than You Know

*************************************************************************************

After my separation and divorce in 2006, and for about 10 years after that, I often had suicidal thoughts. I wanted the pain, the confusion, the thoughts of not knowing what to do, to leave me alone, to be silenced. These suicidal thoughts never persisted for long, as the next immediate thoughts were about my two kids.

I derived strength from knowing I had to be here for them. It took many years, yet, I did eventually come to know that I matter. My thoughts shifted away from the pain and confusion, and shifted to telling me that I matter, that I would get through the tough times, and that everything would eventually be okay.

I learned to use writing, walks, nature, meditation, and mindful living to give me strength, and to encourage myself when my thoughts were at the lowest. These activities worked for me. They may not work for another. However, I do know that there is a creative outlet that will help each of us process these thoughts and feelings.

**Please note: I am not a doctor, a therapist, or a psychiatrist. I am simply a mother who finds herself sharing this message with someone she loves. I was moved to make it an open letter as I know there are many others who may feel this way. Please know that there is someone in your life that wishes you to know the above message, and that they are there for you.

I am actively working on getting professional help for my loved one, as we have been on waiting lists since late December/early January. It was rough last night, and I felt the need to share this.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Samaritans (http://www.samaritans.org/) is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom. They provide a 24/7, toll-free crisis line, as well as local branches. Samaritans Helpline can be reached at 116 123.

(The two photos above credited to Brett Syles on Pexels.com)

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.

 

My Desired Super Power With a Million Pounds – Chelle Interviews Camilla

I’m chatting with Chelle of Curled up with a good book about jobs I’ve had over the past 13 years, Fahrenheit 451, Arsenic & Old Lace, the best thing I’ve done so far in my life, my desired super power, Equal Justice Initiative, and what I would do with a million pounds! Check it out … xoxo ….

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Camilla (pronounced like Pamela, but with a “C”) and I live in Northern Nevada, USA in the beautiful city of Reno. We live in very close proximity to Lake Tahoe with great walking and hiking in forests surrounded by fir and pine trees, with gorgeous lakes. I love reading, going for swims, going for walks, and taking nature photographs.

How many books have you written and published?

I’ve written two books, and contributed to two others for a total of four books. I’m an indie author and publisher under my own imprint of Loving Kindness Books.

December 2019: The latest to be published is the free-verse poetry memoir, Words of Alchemy.

January 2018: My 19 year old daughter’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories. This is a collection of her short stories and poetry from the age of 5 years old through 16 years old.

October 2016: My 14 year old son’s book, Biggest Little Photographer. This is a collection of photographs that he took during a 365 photo a day project, beginning when he was 8 years old, concluding at 9 years old.

February 2012: D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, a memoir of my journey to acceptance of becoming a single parent, acceptance of becoming a parent to a special needs child, acceptance of myself, and acceptance of financial ruin.

What other jobs have you done other than being an author?

Before I became a mom in 2001, I was a paralegal for 10 years and before that I worked in the mortgage industry. My day job for the past 18 years has been being mom to my two kids, 19 year old Lillian, and 14 year old Thomas. I’ve homeschooled (well, unschooled them) for about the past 5 or 6 years, with Lillian graduating in June 2019. Lillian is special needs, having a chromosome deletion called 18p-, so I’ve been her caretaker too.

Throughout the past 13 years, I have had many “jobs” so that I could focus on being a parent, being in charge of my own schedule. I’ve made jewelry, been a social media consultant, been a substitute teacher, Reiki practitioner, mentor, delivered newspapers, dog walking, cat sitting, and elderly visits.

Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?

I recently read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I know, very late to the game with this one. However, I was swept away by the story, and kept finding myself comparing it to modern times. A must read for anyone who has been living under a rock, like me. Hahaha!

What’s your favourite film of all time and why?

It’s impossible for me to name a favorite of all time. So, I’m going to share the first movie that came to mind …. Frank Capra’s Arsenic & Old Lace. We watch this every year on October 31st. My son and I love the oldies, especially Frank Capra movies. Here’s a link to the trailer …

What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?

The best thing I’ve done in life so far is spending the past 15 years on healing myself, getting to know myself, loving and appreciating myself; while solely single parenting two unique kids.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

My superpower would be a heightened and clear intuition. Specifically, having to do with myself, where I would be happiest and most useful at contributing to society, while also supporting my family. This is a blind spot for me. Others can see the areas in which I shine. Yet, it is not clear to me.

You win a million pounds – you give half to charity. Which charity do you pick and why?

I would donate to the Equal Justice Initiative (https://eji.org/). The work that Bryan Stevenson does through EJI is much needed, and speaks to my heart. I cannot fathom if someone I loved experienced what those who EJI helps experience. It’s maddening and heartbreaking. I watched a movie recently based on the case that Stevenson took on that created the EJI. It’s titled, Just Mercy, and it is a powerful movie.

What would you do with the rest of the money?

I would invest some of the money. With the remainder, I would take my family on a lovely vacation. Then, I would buy a piece of property, and build each of us a small house on it. My daughter will always need someone with her, or at least really close. This way she could experience being independent and I would get a BREAK from her!! Hahahaha!

What is your favourite time to write, and why?

My favorite time to write is in the morning. I feel more alert and in the zone during that time. However, I’m okay writing at any time, whenever content decides it’s ready to be written!

Go here to read the full interview post ….

Meet the Author: Camilla Downs @camilladowns

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.

Throwback Post: Floating into Lightness

**THROWBACK POST**

On Monday, September 21, 2017, I had a STRONG feeling I needed to get a hair cut. I messaged a friend hairstylist and asked if she had any openings this week as my hair felt “heavy”.

(Took a photo to show the beautiful pampering Kathy gave me as this ain’t happening by my hands! Two pictures from my morning walk this morning as the curls were still there!)

I woke up yesterday feeling grumpy, angry, and feeling defeated. In the afternoon I went to see my friend Kathy to get my haircut. We had meaningful conversation while she did her magic and then she decided to curl my hair.

I don’t even own a curling iron so this never happens and won’t happen again until I see her again. With her gift of pampering and loving kindness I left feeling incredibly lighter!
After what happened the rest of the day yesterday and today, I now know she didn’t just cut off hair; she cut off so many things that were weighing heavy on me. Things that had risen to the surface and were ready to go! Gone! Poof! Just like that! Now I know why I felt so strongly that I needed to get a haircut!

I went straight from there to the library volunteer job as Lillian could not go since her knee is still healing from the fall on Friday.

I felt as if I floated into the library and went straight into helping with setting up an Explore and Discover area; which they were behind on getting set up. I had just seen the same items set up at the Incline Village Library so I was familiar with it. I simply had a great time while there!

Then Thomas and I attended the Alchemist Theatre event last night. I volunteer with a group of other Reiki practitioners to give complimentary Reiki before the event. That was incredibly inspiring!

The show was amazing as always and I resonated with Jessica’s message of Trust and Spontaneity. Then, Then, Then, Today Happened. Oh my gosh! What an amazing day. But, that’s for another post cause it’s all about trust and being spontaneous. WOW!

**March 2021 Update** … I have no idea what happened on that day! HA! Sounds like it was good, though! Hahahaha! I do remember how much lighter I felt after this haircut. As I remember, it had been years since my last haircut. 

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.

Get to Know Me: What Do You Do On the Weekends?

I’m a member of an author/book reader facebook group, and the admins ask great questions. I decided to turn some of the questions into a “get to know me” series. I would also love to hear your answers to the questions posed in the series. Thanks Helen for asking such fun questions!

What do you do on the weekends?

When my kids were much younger and in traditional school during the week, we would have little adventures (as I barely had money for gas or food). They loved it as I made everything into an adventure. Instead of going out to eat a full meal somewhere, we’d go have a $1 ice cream cone or just a side order of fries. We’d go to the park and read, throw the frisbee, go for walks, toss water balloons, and simply go for drives, or go through the car wash (that’s still an adventure … we all pile in the car when I announce that it’s car wash time!) Beautiful memories!!

My 19 year old special needs daughter, Lillian, is graduated now and my 15 year old is homeschooled, so we stay home on the weekends when everyone else is out and about (before COVID, anyway) and have our date days and adventures, shopping and what not during the week.

To finally answer the question, we just hang out at home, reading, watching movies, having pizza or nachos on Saturday night, and doing some cleaning and washing.

Your turn …. What do you do on the weekends?

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.