How Walking, Nature, and Photography Inspire Creativity – The Creator’s Roulette

In September I was a guest on Armed with a book as part of The Creator’s Roulette series. Kriti has created an amazing space and website, and I’m incredibly blessed that she and I met in an online author/book blogger group. I encourage you to have a look at the website as she has a wide range of blog posts related to books and all aspects of writing. Thank you, Kriti!

In the guest post I share about my philosophy of walking, of how walking, nature, and photography work together to get the creative juices flowing. Join us …

“It is Armed with A Bingo Check in week which means I am hosting the wonderful authors who have donated their book to our giveaway. First up, I have Camilla Downs with me. You’ve met her a couple of times on the blog. I did a cover reveal for her book, Words of Alchemy (in our giveaway) and she was also the community feature of the challenge couple months back. Today, she is here as author, sharing about walking to get creative juices flowing.

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.

A Philosophy of Walking
By Camilla Downs

For the past 20 years I have been going for walks. The meaning and depth of the walks have shifted throughout the years. What started as an activity simply to satisfy my desire to be active, bloomed into a walking practice. A practice to process healing, to release, to discover my authentic self, and to connect with nature.

Just as a cool glass of water slakes my thirst on a scorching hot day, going for walks quenches the thirst of my soul and heart to know my true self, to heal, to release, to allow joy, and to be at peace. Walking guides me in the loving way to process life, to fulfill life, and to let life be.

Going for a walk at least three times a week has literally kept me going when I felt I could not carry on, and propelled me into bliss in times of joy. Each time I walk I have a different experience. At times, the walk overflows with peace and bliss and at other times, I’m ready to be done the second I begin. Those times are when I can’t seem to get out of my head. Worried about this, that, or the other; or lost in the past or distant future. Turning the worry over and over like one would a compost pile. Hoping a resolution will bloom from the compost pile of worry.

Most days the walking, along with nature as a helper, snaps me awake from tending the worry compost pile. My entire being melds with nature during these walks and reminds me what I already know. That the worrying only buries solutions deeper in the compost pile.

This is a poem I wrote after one of my walks, demonstrating what nature and these walks mean to me:

Nature’s Way

You see through me

You wake me up
You shake me up
You see me through.

The colors you pair
for these eyes to see.
Reflect my true colors
back to me.

With each step
upon your graceful
ever receiving surface,
My love I impart to you.

Focus on a tree,
Focus on a cloud,
Focus on a flower,
My love I give
to Nature with each focus.

Nature’s love travels
through this body
to the heart and soul.

My love and appreciation travels

to Nature through my essence.

Walks enveloped

in the glow of your beauty,
The shine of magnificence,

Are the Way of loving myself,
Are the Way of appreciating,

Are the Way of stillness,
Are the Way of Knowing

Ever present Love,

Ever present Grace,

Ever present Peace.

Going for walks and being amongst the trees, sun, clouds, grass, rocks, flowers, bushes, birds, wind, and weather nourish my heart and soul. Just as fruits and vegetables provide this body the nourishment it needs to continue; walking does this, and much more, for my heart and soul.

Going for walks is like being at an outdoor art gallery where nature changes the artwork every day, in fact every minute at times. Walking teaches the art of letting go of that which you find beautiful and meaningful. Walking teaches to quiet the mind, seize the moment, breathe and let soak in every morsel of beauty nature shares.

For the beauty nature displays while on a walk, is ever changing dependent upon the time of day, the season, whether clouds obstruct the sun, and whether it is near sunrise, midday, or sunset. Walking teaches the art of experiencing the continual changes of life as nature experiences the changing seasons.

Going for a walk opens the writer’s spigot and helps to flow the words of my heart and soul. I know it may seem I’m assigning much responsibility for these walks. In truth, my walking practice works in concert with a meditation and mindfulness practice, along with a writing practice. All of these practices to be held grounded by the practice of allowing myself to physically feel the emotions of life. This quintet of practices guides me in walking into the unlovely aspects of life and welcoming uncomfortable emotions, as well as fully experiencing the joy of life.

I’ve been walking with my kids since they were infants. I cherish every single walk taken with them. They are 19 years old and 14 years old now. Once they were old enough for one to stay at home, I began going with each one of them for a walk once or twice per week and a walk as a family once or twice per week. I continued to have walks alone, one to three times per week. Now that they’ve gotten older, the walks with each of them has slowed a bit. Yet, it is my hope that I opened their eyes to the beauty and philosophy of walking.

Whenever my son or daughter had a tough day, I would be sure to have a walk with him or her after dinner. The three of us had many deep and meaningful conversations during these walks. Mixed with periods of silence to simply enjoy the beauty. Not to be left out, mixed with much fun and silliness also. Rolling down hills, playing with our shadows, catching leaves as they blow from the tree, hitting pine cones with sticks, running through sprinklers, playing in the mud, feeding the ducks, helping worms cross the sidewalk, and making nature photographs.

I was not only moved to photograph our family during these walks; I was moved to photograph nature. There are only a few occasions I’ve gone for a walk and not taken at least one photograph. These photographs helped to inspire poetry to flow from my heart. I had never read or written poetry up until about six years ago. This seemed to be an extension of the walking and other practices.

Headed Home

And she walked.
And she walked.
She walked until
Arriving at
The home of
Peace and Joy.
Discovering once there,
She had been
Here all along.

I began to share the nature photographs on social media. I would normally write a few words about the beauty of nature. One day when I was choosing a photo to post, a poem flowed in place of the descriptive words I had previously posted. This began to happen nearly every time I posted a photo.

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. Here’s that first poem and a photo of Lake Tahoe.

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 do the same …

And so shall we become vessels of love, joy and peace.

Writing, getting things out of my head, helps me to see situations differently, helps me to process life experiences, and to discover solutions. Writing is deeply therapeutic for me, allowing my creative and imaginative nature to come out and play as well.

Going for walks, taking nature photographs, and writing about life experiences have guided me in processing life. Here’s a poem that was written during a time I was feeling unsure of myself, comparing myself to others, and not having faith in my abilities.

Twenty years ago I began going for walks. The walks blossomed into a walking practice, teamed with other practices, leading to blogging, writing poetry, and having four books published. It’s been a wild and interesting journey! Thanks for letting me share a small piece of the journey with you and your readers, Kriti. All the best to you!”

To read the full post, including the nature photographs paired with the above poems, and have a look around Armed with a book, go here …

Camilla Downs – On Walking and Inspiration

Why I Make Nature Photographs

Amazing solo walk on February 14th. Just WOW!!

I love the mystery of going for a walk and listening for that strong urge that whispers,

“Take a picture now. Squat for this one. Kneel for this one. Lie down on the ground for this.”

It’s so fun to see where it leads and the photos that are made. xoxo

Solo Walk Vintage Lake 2.14.18 #1 Solo Walk Vintage Lake 2.14.18 #2 Solo Walk Vintage Lake 2.14.18 #3 Solo Walk Vintage Lake 2.14.18 #4

I feel like this Ted Talk should be included with these photos.

“Celebrate What’s Right With the World” ….

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

Amazing news! My 16 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” is published. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 12 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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Inspired Living: Storm Excitement


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Loud thunderstorm and lightening storm adventures …. with big fat raindrops = Thomas and Lillian sitting on the floor watching and talking to the storm fairies! Blessed by their excitement! The amazing sunset that followed the lightening and thunderstorm ….. … Continue reading

Inspired Living: Rocks Make a Room Fancy

(Thomas’ Contribution to the Reiki Room … Artwork titled “Tree”)

The other day Lillian made my and her bedroom “fancy”. She rearranged the pillows on the beds and added special rocks to the dressers and nightstands. She loves what I’ve done to the spare bedroom in converting it to a Reiki Oasis Room.

I cleared out some things, added a bamboo plant, candles, rocks and stones. She says it’s open and fancy now! HA! Love that she feels rocks add to the fanciness of a room! 

Inspired by Rain

Just back from a refreshing, inspiring and delicious walk in the rain …… Ahhhhhhhhh!! My wish for you is that you get out there and FEEL the rain, SMELL the rain and LISTEN to the rain …. and experience how you FEEL emotionally afterwards. Lovin me some LIFE y’all! ♥

Live Your Purpose


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(Reno Sunset) No matter who you are, no matter what your age, no matter your religion or non-religion, no matter your race, no matter your gender, no matter your financial situation and no matter your different abilities; YOU have a … Continue reading

30 Day Journey of Life: Self-Love

“Self-love is the source of all other loves.” -Pierre Corneille

And so it is … I accept and realize that to become enlightened and enrich my own life I must stop searching, trying so hard, and waiting for some “thing” to happen. I must be that which I seek and that which I seek lies within me. On October 15, 2012 I embarked on a Journey of Life. For at least the next year, I plan to dedicate myself to a different 30 Day Journey of Life at the beginning of every new 30 days.

The first 30 Day Journey of Life was Giving. The second 30 Day Journey was Non-Judgment. The third 30 Day Journey of Life was Silence. This month’s 30 Day Journey of Life is Self-Love.

I got a little behind so this 30 Days runs from January 26, 2012 through February 26, 2012. During this 30 days my plan was to treat myself kindly with my thoughts. And, also to take more time to not DO so that I can accomplish more. And, lastly to be conscious of what I eat and drink during this period.

Since I’m posting this so late, I can say that I didn’t do such a good job with this 30 Day Journey of Self-Love. Up until yesterday morning, February 20, 2013, that is. It took me that long to move through and accept a few things. I reached out to a friend yesterday morning, I started my day with 20 minutes of meditation on a specific prayer/mantra, ended my day with another 20 minutes of meditation and began my day today the same way. During this entire 30 days I have cut down on sugar intake and alcohol consumption. I actually don’t imbibe that much. I just wanted to do this for myself. Why? Because I Can! In addition, I increased the amount/length of my daily walk.

I feel wonderful and am truly INspired y’all!

Onward! Next 30 Day Journey of Life begins on February 27, 2013 … The day after my birthday!