A Life Changing Visit to South Lake Tahoe – James Interviews Camilla

Several months back, I was honored to be a guest on JQM Literary Chat with James Quinlan Meservy. James and covered where my first name originated, my roots, poetic words bubbling to the surface, and a life changing visit to South Lake Tahoe. Join us …

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:

I’m Camilla Downs (pronounced like Pamela, but with a “C”). I was named after Camilla Sparv, a Swedish actress in the 1960’s and 70’s. I’ve been told that I’m the great great grand-daughter of a full blooded Chickasaw Indian and Irish immigrants (haven’t researched this yet, it’s on my to do list for this year).

I have lived in Reno, Nevada, USA for the past 14 years, moving here from the Seattle, Washington area in 2006. I spent my first 18 years in Jackson, Mississippi and Houma, Louisiana. I love walking. I am out for walks anywhere from three to six days a week. Nature is partly the inspiration for my writings and poetry. The other part is a desire to process my life experiences; to give them an outlet through writing.

I have been single parenting fourteen year old Thomas and eighteen year old Lillian since Thomas was 1 year old. Lillian has a chromosome deletion simply called 18p-. This means she is missing the short arm of chromosome #18. My kids and I call ourselves Team TLC to correspond with the first letters of each of our names. During 2015-2019 we were tiny home dwellers, living in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 810 square foot apartment. That was one heck of an adventure!

WHAT INFLUENCED YOU TO WRITE YOUR GENRE(S)?

My latest book to publish is a poetry memoir of the last 6 years of my life. It was largely inspired and influenced by Nature, and the many walks I took during the time it was written. About six years ago, 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 bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. This was the beginning of a six year journey of being inspired by nature with poetic words, then later, inspired by life events.

My first book is a memoir of my journey to acceptance of myself, and acceptance of becoming a single parent to two children, one with special needs, one a genius (who is most likely on the spectrum). The influence for this book was born of a desire to share my life with others, in the hopes of letting them know they are not alone. In addition, the feedback I received for life experiences I shared on my blog and in social media, fueled the desire to share in a published book.

The second book, for which I am simply a contributor, is my daughter’s book. I collected her writings, organized them, wrote the introduction, edited, proofed, and published the book. Her book was intentionally not professionally edited so as to share her unique view with the reading world. A photo I took of her was used for the cover of the book. It is in the fiction genre as it is a collection of her short stories and poetry from 5 years old to 15 years old. The influence for this book was a desire to help Lillian have something that showcases her unique talents and skills. She and I had talked about publishing a book ever since she was about 5 years old.

The third book, I am also simply a contributor, as it is a photography book of photos my then 8 year old son took. I organized the book, wrote the introduction, and he and I chose quotes to pair with the sections of the book. The influence for this book was a promise I made to 8 year old Thomas. Before he began the 365 photo a day project, I told him that he he followed through and finished, we would publish the photographic journey as a book.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?

I don’t know that I have a favorite author, book, or literary character. I love to read authors and books that enlighten me in an interesting or fun way about life, topics, events of which I am ignorant. I like authors and books that involve my emotions, books that I can’t stand to put down. The majority of what I read is nonfiction.

However, I do love reading fiction if it covers a topic I want to learn more about, or it has an inspirational message. I also enjoy fiction books that have a character solving a mystery, as long as the mystery to be solved is not someone’s murder or crime related.

Here are a some of my latest reads: On Writing by Stephen King Untamed by Glennon Doyle Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz Star Crossed by Barbara Dee The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee The Library Book by Susan Orlean

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH POTENTIAL READERS?

What I’d like to share are words from readers, rather than myself, from blog reviews and Amazon reviews …

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 zenlike mindfulness by the melodic prose in this beautiful collection. Poems like “Released” will remain with me as a reminder of the healing strength of our connection to nature. The rich imagery and natural metaphors make each piece a standalone daily meditation. – Michelle S.

I have always loved Camilla’s writing. So glad she put it in a book for me, for us, to always have on hand. Her poem form is original and real. I get release and comfort in reading the selections. Godspeed to her and thank you. – Amazon Customer

Words of Alchemy is warm and personal, like being invited to sit on the author’s couch and listen to her talk to family and friends. Intimate and loving, these poems are a celebration of family, of friends, of life, of nature, and of adaptation. – Amazon Customer

What a joy it is to read this gem of a poetry book. Full of beautiful free-verse, a memoir about friends, family, relationships and the love of the nature. This is for you if you enjoy the natural world, (as I do,) if you appreciate poetry that delves into the heart and doesn’t hold back. In many ways it is an intimate and brave expression of the author – Camilla Down’s – thoughts and feelings. – Marjorie M.

This book is 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 and the changes you could welcome to lead a happier, fuller life while reading about Camilla’s passion and love for nature, family, friends and all the small things that a lot of us take for granted! It’s emotive, and lovely and just a stunning read for a day when you may be feeling low! It’s a feel good collection of poems that really will brighten your day! – Lynne P.

Follow the link to read the full interview on the JQM website …

JQM LITERARY CHAT WELCOMES 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.

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.

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.

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

Nature’s Classroom – Words of Alchemy

Nature’s Classroom

The one supporting the many,
The many supporting the one,
This interdependent relationship you share
A lost art to we.

It’s clear to see,
The disconnect coming forth,
When the wild is taken from you,
Mirrored in the forests
Of the society of we.

Oh Mother, what a sweet
And beautiful teacher you 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 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.

An Outrageously Determined Trailblazer – Spotlight on JQM Literary

Much thanks to James for having me on the JQM Literary Spotlight today! We’re chattin’ about an outrageously determined, trailblazing, heartfelt, warrior woman and how I became an accidental poet. Join us …

FIRST, LET’S GET TO KNOW YOU A BIT. TELL US SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOURSELF:

I cheated for this one as I felt too close to myself to really nail down my uniqueness. So …. I asked my Facebook connections, what they think is unique about me. Here’s what they had to say: It is unique that my two kids are published authors, along with my two published books. Thomas’s book was published when he was 10 years old and Lillian’s when she was 16 years old. They are 14 years old and 18 years old now. Here’s the rest of what they had to say … I’m a heartfelt warrior woman, who is an Earth Mother, resourceful, creative, a problem-solver, and who is outrageously determined; trailblazing with patience, creativity, strength, perseverance, and altruism.

WHAT IS THE GENRE AND AUDIENCE FOR THIS BOOK:

Nonfiction/Free-verse Poetry/Memoir …. Any age who enjoys free-verse poetry

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK:

I began an incredibly deep and profound healing journey after my divorce in 2007. A major part of the healing was going for walks, lots and lots of walks, allowing nature to help me in healing. When in nature, poetic words would simply bubble to the surface of my thoughts. That was the original inspiration. Following this, I began to receive intuitive nudges to take photographs while on these walks. So began the practice of taking nature photographs and posting on social media. One day I sat to look through the photos, choosing one to share, and as I began to type the accompanying message, a poem landed on the page! It was incredibly magical. I didn’t even set out to write poetry, an accidental poet, perhaps?

Go here to read the full spotlight …

https://jqmserv.wordpress.com/2020/07/13/jqm-literary-spotlight-presents-words-of-alchemy-by-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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Friday Night Drinks at the Bucket of Blood Saloon – Julie Interviews Camilla

I’m having Friday night drinks with Julie in the UK! Plus, we’re chattin’ about Mark Twain, Bucket of Blood Saloon, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Garden of the Gods, Lake Tahoe, and the sound of wild snails eating … Grab your drink and join us …

Another Friday, they seem to be coming around faster and faster! Which means it is time for another Friday Night Drinks and this week I am joined by author, blogger, self-publisher and mentor…. Camilla Downs.

Camilla, thank you for joining me on the blog for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks so much for inviting me for drinks, Julie!! Books and drinks, can’t go wrong! I’m having a spicy, virgin Bloody Mary, with pickled okra and garlic stuffed green olives. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Bloody Marys are the one cocktail I cannot stomach, I’m afraid, I’ll have to stick to the gin. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

We would make our way from Reno up Geiger Grade Highway to Virginia City, stopping to take in the view along the way. Once there, we’ll stroll along the wooden boardwalk, which serves as a time machine to take us into days gone by. We’ll enjoy being immersed in the Old West of gold rush days, touring the mini-museums, the ancient cemetery, learning more about Mark Twain and the time he spent in Virginia City. We’ll end our visit at The Bucket of Blood Saloon, while the Comstock Cowboys perform. I’m including a photo I took of the view as you drive from Reno to Virginia City.

That sounds perfect. USA road trips are one of my favourite types of trip. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Billy Idol and Cyndi Lauper …. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, don’t they?

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m taking this year to press the reset button. Rest, relax, doing whatever is in front of me, or whatever I feel like doing. You see, for the past 15 years, I’ve been on an exhausting journey of healing. Which began with leaving a 10 year marriage in 2006, becoming a single parent to a 5 year old special needs child and her 1 year old sibling, and losing everything. If that doesn’t kick your butt into gear to take a good, long, look at yourself, I’m not sure what will! During that time I published four books, two of which are with each of my kids.

All this to say that I’m taking this year off! No meditating and no writing, unless there’s something that just needs to be written. This excludes my blog as I write whenever I’m moved about life experiences or current events. As this year comes to a close, I’ll begin thinking about what’s next, preparing myself to be guided by the heart. For sure, another book, a return to meditating, and who knows what else!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

The proudest moment was having my first book, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, reach #1 in on Amazon in Special Needs Parenting and #2 in Self-help, along with the feedback and reviews that were received. There’s nothing like the feeling of others reflecting back to you, the areas where you shine. We are mostly blind to this, not able to see ourselves as others do. It’s a true blessing when this happens.

The biggest challenge has been having faith in myself and my projects, during creation, and once released into the world. It was a true blessing learning about imposter syndrome, recognizing when it is discouraging me to move forward with a project. I was incredibly relieved when I discovered about imposter syndrome, that it is something many authors, artists, entrepreneurs, and people simply living life experience.

That is something i can relate to, I am a lifelong sufferer. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would love for Elizabeth Gilbert to endorse one of my past or future books, sharing it with all of her instagram followers, and telling them why she loves it.

That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m really excited about taking this year off. Hahaha! I have to keep reminding myself that this is the case. I keep thinking I should be doing something, with thoughts of guilt and shame for not hustling and working on creating something.

I’m also pretty excited that I’ve finally gotten my daughter’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories, converted to and released as an ebook and am working on getting my son’s book, Biggest Little Photographer, converted and released as an ebook as well. These have been on my to do list for a while!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Last summer I visited The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The feeling in the air, the calm, peace, and beauty are overwhelming, in a good way! You’ll definitely need a full day, if not two days to be able to experience all of it.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

For the past 7 years, I’ve used organic olive oil as my facial cleanser and moisturizer, and nothing else. I so much like what it’s done for my complexion that I quit wearing make-up about 4 years ago.

Oh, that’s interesting! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

The Sound of the Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

I know it sounds odd. But, I adored this book. I’ve read it twice, and now thinking about it, I’m ready to read it again.

That sounds intriguing and very different to anything else that I’ve read. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

When I used to imbibe, I would drink a glass of water in between glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverage. I think I’ve only had a hangover a couple of times. Perhaps that helped? These days if I were to get a hangover, I’d turn to Google, searching for a natural cure with something from the kitchen, or perhaps essential oils.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A drive around Lake Tahoe. Stopping for hikes and stopping to spend time at the beautiful beaches. Lake Tahoe is an absolute gem. If you’ve not visited, you may want to add this to your bucket list, too. There’s not only Lake Tahoe, but when driving the area, there are many smaller lakes hidden throughout the area. I’d go for a walk or two, taking nature photos along the way. Then, I’d go for a dip in Lake Tahoe’s ice cold, refreshing waters. I’d also make sure to have a few good books with me, spending time relaxing and reading. Let me know if you make it over one day, as I’d love to meet you in person Julie!

Follow the link below to read the full interview, including the amazing photos paired with it ..

Friday Night Drinks with… Camilla Downs

The Key – Words of Alchemy

The Key

When ignored,
the darkness within
slowly erodes this physical body
When stuffed and buried deep within,
it silently grows stronger.

At some point along the path
and at many times,
the darkness surfaces.
Fast as a bullet train
or ever so slowly as a tortoise.
It will not be denied.

Keep turning our hearts away, we can.
Yet, the darkness will not depart
until it has space to be recognized.

The darkness, the shadows,
only wish and pine for this space.
To be seen and accepted and felt
with compassion and deep love.

As the darkness is wrapped
in a loving embrace,
the transformation begins.

Acceptance, compassion and love,
serve to alchemize the darkness and shadows.

Transforming and melting the darkness
into the light.

The darkness may transform ever so
swiftly or ever so slowly.
Yet, it will transform when met
with love and compassion.

The irritation,
The anger,
The loneliness,
The despair,
The confusion.
Surface as they rub
the darkness within.
These feelings and emotions are the
key that allow an
opportunity to free oneself
from the suffering of denying
the darkness.

Freedom to live
consciously and authentically
is the gift this key bears.

Oh, glory be,
the Key of Alchemy. – ©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 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Latest News: Words of Alchemy – Camilla on Chat and Spin Radio

I was recently on Chat And Spin Radio, an Internet Radio Station based in the UK. My interview begins at 1:35 if you’re in a hurry. They play awesome music, too!

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.

Positive Ripple Effect of Packing My Energy Into Poetry – An Interview on Books and Wine Gums

In mid-June 2020, I was interviewed by Emma on her lovely Books and Wine Gums blog. We chat about deciding what goes into my writings and what stays private, found poetry, why I think poetry is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, what I “pack into” my writings, imposter syndrome, wine gums, and dark chocolate …

Hi Camilla. Let’s start at the beginning. Where does a new poem begin for you? Do you have an idea you wish to explore, or do they stem from an image? Or is it something completely different?

In the beginning of my poetry writing, new poems stemmed from being in nature. Following that, the poetry flowed from nature photos I took while out for walks. After that poetry began to flow simply from life experiences. Let me expand a bit.

The first poem was inspired about 6 years ago when visiting Fallen Leaf Lake near my home in Reno, Nevada, USA. I had never written poetry before this. The beauty of the lake, with Mount Tallac at its edge, stirred something within me, bringing me to tears. On the drive home, I made several stops along Lake Tahoe, deepening the experience. By the time I got home, the first poem had formed.

During walks, I take many photographs which I began sharing on social media. I would normally say a few words about the beauty of nature. One day when I was choosing a photo to post, a poem flowed instead of my normal few words. This began to happen nearly every time I posted a photo.

After the initial period, life experiences became meshed with the poetry that flowed from the photographs. The last phase happened during journal writing. Every once in a while, a poem would flow during my morning journal writing.

I suppose what I’m saying is that it was a progression and combination of experiences that inspired the poetry.

I love that idea, the way the process has evolved. In ‘Emerge’ you talk about a ‘darkness that / Has been necessary’ and you describe your new collection as a ‘free-verse poetry memoir’ – how do you decide what will go into your writing, and what stays private?

My writings are intuitively guided. It’s usually not a conscious decision. However, on my blog, there are times when I specifically set out to write about a certain topic. As far as what stays private, I try to let myself be guided by my heart and intuition, not letting worries of what others think deter me. I hold the belief that if I’m guided to share something, there is a larger reason than I may be aware, usually that others will benefit from reading of my experiences. I trust that there can be a positive ripple effect from the experiences that I publicly share.

I love the idea of shared experiences through our reading being something we then draw upon. Which other forms of poetry do you like to explore? Who are your influences?

I love Found Poetry. I collect books destined for the trash and randomly tear out a page. I then scan through looking for words and phrases that catch my eye and cut them out. Laying them on a clip board, I keep moving from one word and phrase to another until I’ve put together a mini poem (attaching a photo). I include one in almost every signed book I mail. Wikipedia defines found poetry as: ‘Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_poetry

I also like to write a Haiku here and there. I participated in a fun Haiki author interview a few weeks ago, and had to be creative with answering.

That is so cool! Why do you think poetry is enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity?

I’m not sure I have a solid answer for this. From my perspective, I enjoy poetry because it has the ability to be incredibly powerful without needing to be 300 pages long. Perhaps that’s one reason for the resurgence. We are experiencing deep, vital shifts in humanity. Poetry captures this in short and powerful bursts.

I absolutely agree. What would you like your readers to take away from your work?

When I write and take nature photographs, my energy is packed into the writing and photograph. When a reader closes one of my books, I want for them to have felt the energy within the writing, connecting with one or more pieces of writing. Connected in a way that helps them view differently, inspires them, opens their heart, and lets them know they are not alone. Or simply brings a smile, a laugh, or a tear. Every encounter with my writings or photography need not be deep. The connection is the important piece.

Describe the process you go through when puting a collection of work together. What’s the drafting and editing process like for you?

Beginning six years ago, whenever I wrote a poem, I posted it on my blog, correcting spelling errors, not really being concerned with grammar. When I decided last year that I would gather my poetry for the past six years for publishing as a book, the first step was to gather the poems into one place. Then I read through deciding on overriding themes. Once the poems were assigned a theme, proofreading and editing for spelling and grammar followed. Proofreading, proofreading, proofreading over and over again until no further mistakes are found. For final proofreading sessions, I read the material out loud, as for some reason, mistakes stand out when material is read out loud. For me, anyway.

What is the best part of being a writer? And the worst?

There are two aspects I find to be pretty amazing. One is the wonderful authors and book bloggers that I meet online. It’s quite the feeling to connect with like-minded people around the world, and just plain fun. The other aspect is the feedback received from my writings. Hearing how words I have written have benefited others is the most magical aspect of writing.

The worst part is actually one of the best parts once we recognize it. Imposter syndrome. I’m pretty sure just about every creative person experiences it. However, I didn’t know what it was, or meant, years ago. Not knowing what it is, self doubt can become crippling and depressing. Once I was made aware of what it is, it was easier to recognize it, let it be, yet, continue to move forward with creating.

That’s an excellent way to deal with Imposter Syndrome. What other advice would you give to a new writer who is just starting out?

I feel the most important aspect is to just write. Not letting fear, or feelings of inadequacy stop you. Write every day. No one has to see anything you write. It’s for your eyes only. Until you decide it’s for other eyes. Write, have tenacity, and read books that inspire you and your writings.

Finally – wine gums or chocolate as your creative snack of choice?

Okay. I had to research wine gums. I had no idea! It would depend on my mood. If I’m feeling playful and silly, I’d go with the wine gums. If I’m feeling grounded and content, I’d go for a piece of lovely dark chocolate. Heavenly to even think about.

Go here to read the full interview …

An Interview with … 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.