Get to Know Me – What Movie Can You Watch Over and Over?

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 movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?

True to my nature, I can’t list just one. These are just a few.

Casablanca

Harvey

You Can’t Take It With You

It Happened on 5th Avenue

It’s a Wonderful Life

The Avenger Movies – especially Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2

There are many I’ve seen once, and have on my list to watch again.

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.

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.

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.

Camilla’s Case Study Included in Guide to Self-Publishing by Bloomsbury

In October I received my gratis copies of Guide to Self-Publishing. The books they mailed first time around never made it (mailed first class mail – coming from the UK). These arrived via DHL. Thrilled that my case study was included in this guide published by Bloomsbury.

“I found your case study incredibly touching.” – Assistant Editor

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.

Latest News: Camilla on Meet the authors!

October 10 2020

I was recently on a facebook live with 4 other authors. We had a great time answering everyone’s questions. We chat about writing styles, where ideas come from, and much more!

Join Helen Pryke, Fay Henson, Elizabeth Hill, Camilla Downs, and Valerie Keogh for a chat, laughs, and more.

Where to Buy Words of Alchemy:

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): http://camilladowns.com/books/words-of-alchemy/
Amazon – Words of Alchemy: mybook.to/WordsofAlchemy
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
All of our books: http://camilladowns.com/books/

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: Sunrise With Wild Wind Bloopers at Sunset

Sunrise With Wild Wind Bloopers at Sunset

September 24 2020

Thomas and I went for a hike on the Tamarack Lake Trail earlier this afternoon. Incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

Thomas had fun hitting rocks into the lake. I included some blooper photos of trying to take selfies with the wild wind that was blowing, and a blooper of what happens when Thomas takes my photo … He keeps taking the photo until I take my phone away! Crazy kid!

      

Go here to read the full post and view more photos …

Sunrise With Wild Wind Bloopers at Sunset

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 MeetingtheAuthors.com 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.

Website: http://camilladowns.com/
Family Website: http://theteamtlc.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CamillaDownsAuthor/
twitter: https://twitter.com/camilladowns
instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CamillaDowns/
pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/camilladowns/
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
Meeting the Authors: http://meetingtheauthors.com/

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): http://camilladowns.com/books/words-of-alchemy/
Amazon – Words of Alchemy: mybook.to/WordsofAlchemy
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
All of our books: http://camilladowns.com/books/

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

**THROWBACK POST**


(Team TLC – July 2014)

Written in 2014 and 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently, there was miscommunication between the two of us about Lillian looking at more gluten free desserts. This quickly led to a volcanic like explosion for Lillian with screaming and lashing out at me. Fortunately, I was close to the exit doors, so I made my way out and headed to the car with Lillian screaming and yelling behind me. I quickly got into the car and invited Lillian to do the same if she was going with me. She was not open to doing any of the mindfulness or other techniques we’ve been learning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Journey With Intellectual Disability and Relationships – A Short Memoir

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

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

Dear Meltdown: Meet My Friend Mindfulness

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

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

Amazing news! My 19 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

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

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

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

“What did I think about it..

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

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

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

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

Follow the link below to read the full review post …

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

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

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

Amazing news! My 19 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

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