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