The Number 18 – Words of Alchemy

The Number 18

Today is your 18th Birthday.
Lillian Paige Darnell is 18 years old today.

I can still see you in my mind’s eye
as a wee 4 pound sweetheart
as I wondered and dreamed
about your journey to adulthood.

Wow! Did we take giant
twists and turns,
paths less traveled.

Little did I know as I snuggled
you close, sang to you (sorry about that),
and read, read, read to you;
that the number 18 would come
to be a powerful number for you,
for us, in more ways than we could imagine.

When you were 3 years old,
As we sat eating dinner,
As the phone rang,
As the pediatrician delivered
news – 18p-, she said,
missing the short arm of
chromosome 18, she said –
that rendered me speechless,
with tears sliding down my face
into a dinner I could no longer eat.

Little did I know at the time
that this was not the horrible
news I assumed it to be.

Oh, yes. Life changing, for sure.
Yet, not in the way my mind
led me to believe in those first few weeks.

There is no way on this Earth
I could have foreseen how
life changing this would be for me.

Life changing for me so as to
let you be who you came here to be.
For that to happen unconditionally
and organically, I had much learning to do.

Not just learning about genetics,
chromosomes, DNA,
and the effects of deletions of genes.
That was the small stuff compared to
the enormity of the path that lie ahead.

As you step into adulthood on this day
It is my deepest hope that
I have made more decisions for
the highest good, than not.

It is my deepest hope that the times when I have
remembered to share and be unconditional love
stand out and far outweigh the times when
I have not been at my best.

May the wishes you wish come true.
May the dreams you dream become reality.
May the sunshine light your way ever more.
May the moon teach you its secrets.
May the birdsong always sing sweet melodies to your heart.

May you step into adulthood
with iridescent rose gold fairy
wings of the highest and brightest
as you take flight on the next
greatest adventure of your life.

I love you
I honor you
I respect you
I am grateful for all that you
have taught and continue to teach me.

You are You
And You Are Perfect!

Mom – ©Camilla Downs

To learn more about Words of Alchemy, go here …

Words of Alchemy

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.

Poetry: Shadows – Words of Alchemy


Do you see?

Slipped into the shadows
of your being, you have.
When sadness and lack
have settled within.
When comparison of
oneself with others
is the theme
of the day.

When appreciation
has faded and the
heart tightly closed,
you can be sure
the shadows have appeared.

When the light has
dimmed and you feel
smothered by the shadows.
Welcome the light back,
you can.

Remember all the times
Of living in the light
All the times of
joy and freedom.
All the times of
abundance and peace.
They are there too.

Do not forget them.

Remember those times
not with longing,
for this causes the
distance greater.
Remember those times
knowing they are
still there
simply awaiting
your return.

These thoughts are
the bridge that
connect the light
and darkness.
Comfortable you
are in the suffering
of the darkness.

The first
step onto the bridge
out of darkness
is the most
difficult step.

My gift to you
if you choose to see …

Life is a dance
with the light
and the shadows.

The dance of shadows cannot
be a dance sat out
if true freedom and peace
is the destination you seek.

For when you take the time
to dance with the shadows
with curiosity and patience
You will see that all of
life is a dance of contrast.

Have patience when
dancing with the shadows
of your being.

Love both the light and shadows
for one cannot
exist without the other.

Allow yourself to be free
and dance with me. – ©Camilla Downs

To learn more about the book, go here …

Words of Alchemy

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.

Open Your Mind to the Possibilities – Words of Alchemy Review

Thank you to fellow author, Helen Pryke, for this beautiful review on her Pink Quill Books blog. I am deeply touched by this expressive and warm review!

“My review for Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs, 5/5 stars.

Camilla Downs takes us on her journey of healing, compassion and love in this collection of poems. Each one is written from the heart, and her warmth, and her love for her children shines through every word.

Nature and its healing power is very important to Camilla, and her poems instill you with a feeling of well-being and calm. She gently guides you through the chaos and difficulties of life, and shows you how just a few moments of quiet observation of the world around you can help reset your fragile state of mind.

Looking at the world through Camilla’s eyes is a calming experience, and opens your mind to the possibilities that life holds. I loved the poems about her children, and how she acknowledges their difficulties, indeed, she embraces them, and reassures her children that they are a part of them to be accepted and talked about openly, rather than suppressed. This mother’s love, her compassion, is inspiring and humbling. Highly recommend.”

To read the full review, and to visit Helen’s blog, go here …

#BookReview for Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs

No Idea What I’m Doing While Earth Dancing With Three Positive Words – Sonya Interviews Camilla

This past July I took part in a written interview with Sonya of “A Lover of Books”. Before the interview could post, Sonya made a decision to retire from book blogging, which I fully understand. Book blogging can be intense! I figured I would share it here as Sonya put much time and effort into going back and forth with me, and pulling it together.

Sonya and I chat about having no idea what I’m doing, being a nature inspired poet, not intending to publish my poetry, how writing has been therapeutic, Earth dancing, and three positive words. Join us …

First of all can you tell me a bit about your latest book, ‘Words of Alchemy’?

Absolutely, Sonya! Words of Alchemy is a free verse poetry memoir that covers six years of my life, from 2013 -2019. Writing has been and is therapeutic for me, including writing poetry. When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was a way of processing life experiences, healing, and getting things out of my head. Words of Alchemy is a poetry collection of these events.

What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

It is my hope that readers connect with the content, causing them to laugh, shed a tear, or nod their head in agreement. If something I have written helps another to view a situation differently, opens their eyes or heart to a new way of experiencing life, or simply lets them know they are not alone, I am truly blessed.

Is this a book people can turn to when they need to relax or are after some inspiration?

Looking at feedback I’ve received, I would say yes to this. I think the best way to respond is to share some of that feedback.

“I immediately fell for Camilla’s 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.

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.” – Bill Arnott, June 2020

“A beautiful testament to the love and dedication of a mother to her children, and her personal transformation using nature as a guide and companion. I was instantly transported to zen like mindfulness by the melodic prose in this beautiful collection.”- Michelle S.

“Full of beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking poems about love, nature, acceptance, joys, fun, mindfulness and gratitude. They really pick you up and make you consider your own life … It’s a feel good collection of poems that really will brighten your day.”- Lynne P.

For people like myself who haven’t really read much poetry would you say your book is a good starting point?

Yes. In my mind, I divide poetry into two categories, traditional and non-traditional (free verse). I personally struggle with traditional poetry, I just cannot wrap my mind around some of it. However, that’s also the case with free verse poetry. I’ve read some that I could not follow. With that being said, I feel my poetry is easy to read and easily understandable. I’ll also say that if someone doesn’t connect with mine, please do not throw out all poetry. Poetry is so very different. It can be deeply satisfying and moving. Keep trying different authors and styles.

What was the publishing process like for you?

Words of Alchemy was my fourth book to publish. I am now officially an indie publisher, under the imprint of Loving Kindness Books. WooHooo!!

Being that it was my fourth book, it was much smoother this time around. With my first book in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, I had no idea what I was doing. I literally figured it out as I was going along. Before writing the book, and during the writing, I did not let myself think about how it would be published as I felt that would stifle and delay the book being written.

I wrote the book in 3 months, then set out to publish it. Friends beta read the book, with some editing along the way. A friend connected me with a young man who has autism, D.J. Svobado, and who is also an artist. I felt his artwork would be perfect for the cover of the book, and he was thrilled to donate the artwork as I offered him a full page in the front of the book to share about himself and his business.

I got stuck when it was time to upload the book to Createspace (now KDP). At about the same time D.J.’s manager contacted me to follow up regarding his artwork. She wanted to know about the book and to read a few chapters. She also asked if I had someone that would be editing the book, doing the graphic design, and uploading the book. I told her that I was going to figure it out on my own as I did not have the money to pay someone.

After she read the chapters, she offered to do all of this for no charge as she was incredibly moved by what she read. It turns out that this was an area of expertise for her. The publishing of this book was unique. Everyone who had anything to do with the book’s creation, donated their time and skills. It was amazing and incredible the way it came together.

How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve been writing poetry since 2013. That’s when I visited Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California. The beauty was quite overwhelming, bringing me to tears. As I drove home, I made several stops along Lake Tahoe, sitting to take it all in. While doing this, poetic words sprang to life. This was the beginning of a six year journey of being inspired by nature with poetic words, then later, inspired by life events. Here’s that first poem and a couple of photos from Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.

(Fallen Leaf Lake – 2013)

Earth Dance

As the sun’s rays dance upon you like stars twinkling in the night sky, so shall our souls dance upon this Earth.
As you are who you are with ease, so shall we no longer struggle to be who we are.
As you adjust to the World around you without struggle, so shall we go with the flow of life.
As you release your beauty, power, and love for us to enjoy and learn from, so shall we drop the facade of our bodies and identifying with materialism and what we’ve accomplished …
And so shall we become vessels of love, joy and peace.

(Lake Tahoe – 2013)

Was it always a dream to see your poetry published?

When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was therapeutic in that it helped me process life. I did not begin writing it with the thought of publishing it one day. I had no thoughts of publishing it until mid 2019 when I knew it was time to publish another book. I had planned on writing another memoir similar to my first book. Yet, my heart kept bringing me back to the poetry. When I finally listened and took a look at just how many poems I had written, I knew that was to be the next book.

Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?

Just as long as I’m comfortable and wearing comfortable clothes, I’m happy. I like to sit on my couch, with my computer in my lap, with the sun shining in the windows, and a lovely view through my windows.

Do you have any other writing projects on the go?

Not at the moment. I have ideas brewing, adding the ideas to my notes to come back to when I feel I’m finished with my time off. I’m also participating in many author interviews and spotlights. These are fun and tough at the same time as many of the questions pin me down for solid answers. Definitely not an area of strength for me.

Do you read a lot of poetry?

I am reading more poetry. In the past, poetry was not a chosen genre for me. Having written a book of poetry, I’m more inclined to read a variety of poetry now. I am up for giving any style a shot and want to support new poets and indie poets. With this changed attitude, I’ve come across some lovely poetry.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I absolutely love going for walks, whether that be on a manicured walking trail in the city or a dirt hiking trail in the mountains. Taking nature photographs during these walks is a hobby I’ve been at for about 13 years. Reading is another activity I do in my spare time. There’s just nothing better than devouring a wonderfully written book, or expanding the mind and heart through a nonfiction book, memoir, or poetry. Here are a couple of photographs I took on recent walks.

(Scripts Wildlife Preserve – 2020)

Can you give me three positive words?

You. Are. Worthy!

Thank you, Sonya! Thank you for having me on your blog, thank you for your time and efforts in putting this interview together. Thank you for your kindness. All the best to you!!

About Camilla:

Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.

Words of Alchemy is the poetry memoir of a single mom who traveled through the ups and downs of life with reverence and reflection. This book is for those who are in need of uplifting, easy to read poetry that leaves you feeling comforted, inspired, and with a different view of how life can be lived.

Book Blurb:

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt 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. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.

Family Website:
Amazon Author Central:
Meeting the Authors:

Where to Buy:

Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee):
Amazon – Words of Alchemy:
Amazon Author Central:
All of our books:

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

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 – 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, 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, 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 and she began to blog on her website at Thomas hasn’t used his blog in quite some time, but when he was younger he actively posted on it at

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 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 …


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.