The Year of the Present Moment

My Theme for 2012 . . .

It’s the time of year when many people make resolutions for the New Year. I can’t remember that I’ve ever made resolutions. It’s never been appealing to me. What I have done for the past few years is to have a theme for the year. I then use this theme to help with decision making and to have as a vision for the year. I create a vision board to go along with my theme and vision for the year. This gets framed and hung on my wall where I can see it every day. Last year Thomas and Lillian joined me in doing this also and we had fun as a family putting our boards together. Each of their boards is hanging on their wall also. This method has worked miraculously for me so I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe it’s time for a change from the “old style” of resolutions . . . Maybe it’s time to do it different!

Each year my theme and board have gotten more simple. In fact, everything in my life has gotten more simple over this past year. I find that I like and crave simplicity and life is so much easier to enjoy when I have simplicity. Usually I choose two words for my yearly theme. The 2011 theme has been Clarity and Faith. I had a vision of Team TLC being the foundation of 2011. If you’ve been following me, you know that Team TLC was born this year and has blossomed into something wonderful. I sensed how important it was for me to turn my focus and attention on my little family and that all things good would flow from my attention to our Team. I then had four quadrants that stemmed from our Team TLC Foundation. Two quadrants were health and weight. I have lost twenty six pounds and am more aware of the foods I and we eat. Still working on the other two quadrants. So for now, I’ll keep those to my little ole self! 😉

2012 is The Year of the Present Moment. The foundation will be to Focus on My Purpose in the Present Moment. To make more of an effort to be aware and really truly there for whoever I’m with, talking to, conducting business with or focusing completely on whatever I am doing or whatever event I am attending. I decided to choose three theme words for 2012 and they are Kindness, Knowing and Gratitude. Kindness as I enjoy spreading and sharing kindness and I believe it doesn’t stop with the person I share it with. I also believe we attract what we authentically put out there. Knowing as a reminder to listen to my intuition and gut. Even when I don’t know why I’m being pulled in a certain direction or how I am going to “do” whatever it is. Gratitude as life is less stressful and more joyful and peaceful when I am thankful for all that I have and thankful for all that I will have . . . grateful as if I already had it.

My four quadrants for 2012 are ME, Team TLC, Thomas and Lillian. In keeping with my simplistic theme, I have two words for each one of these. My quadrant is about creativity and patience. Team TLC is about a beach vacation. The Thomas quadrant is about coping and respect. The Lillian quadrant is about math and communication.

I have made many shifts this year. I wrote a book, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, lost twenty six pounds, made a complete change in my career and purged and decluttered my house, garage and life. The book is in the final stages of being edited and cover design. I have three modules left in obtaining my certification as a Special Needs Life Coach. Here’s a little tidbit I learned about purging household/kitchen items . . . Be ready to explain when your Mom visits for Christmas and you got rid of some of the things she gave you!! Oops! No worries y’all, I didn’t get rid of anything of sentimental value . . . just a few odds and ends. I figure if I only use it once a year, I don’t want it taking up space in my life!

Here’s what my vision board will look like when I’ve got it completed. It’ll definitely be much prettier though! Now, what about it? Will you do it different in 2012?

2011 Most Popular Posts

We’re all busy, we’re all in a hurry and we all have too much to do. So, I’ve combed through the posts on this site for 2011, looking at the total number of facebook likes and comments, and created a “Most Popular” list for those that may have missed something and those that want to read again and share. Enjoy y’all!

Dares, Choices and Changing the World – April 5, 2011

Decisions from the Gut – May 27, 2011

The Shift That Happens – May 31, 2011

O is for Observe – August 7, 2011

Purging, Weight Loss and Writing a Book – September 11, 2011

Happiness is . . .

Happiness for me is snuggling beside Thomas and talking with him or reading a book with him. Happiness is when he asks to give me a hug and tells me “thank you” for making it better. Happiness is experiencing his excitement and his sense of wonder and awe. Happiness is holding his hand in mine. Happiness is dancing with him. Happiness is over hearing him repeat my shared “words of wisdom” when I least expect it.

Happiness for me is Lillian’s beautiful warm sparkly smile. Happiness is when she exudes pride in her accomplishments. Happiness is touching her beautiful hair. Happiness is sitting next to her and reading. Happiness is her excitement when I pull myself away from the computer and focus on an activity with her. Happiness is her love of books and the library. Happiness is her concern and empathy for others.

Happiness for me is our traditional Team TLC Saturday movie night. Happiness is when Thomas and Lillian show their love for one another. Happiness is seeing Thomas helping Lillian. Happiness is watching the two of them play together. Happiness is a quiet moment with my kids. Happiness is the Team TLC adventures we experience. Happiness is taking pictures of my kids. Happiness is spending time with my Mama and step-father, Frank. Happiness is a warm, hardy, loving hug from a friend. Happiness is spending time with my friends.

Happiness for me is quiet alone time. Happiness is reading my favorite book. Happiness is feeling the sun drench my body in warmth. Happiness is gazing at the moon and stars. Happiness is feeling a light breeze brush across my cheeks. Happiness is nature, the landscape and the peaceful sense of awe I receive from it. Happiness is my comfy slippers. Happiness is making an anonymous kind gesture. Happiness is smiling at others. Happiness is taking pictures of nature. Happiness is the smell of bacon frying in the morning. Happiness is dark chocolate. Happiness is indulging in my favorite foods. Happiness is a good homemade Bloody Mary. Happiness is a taste bud pleasing dark lager. Happiness is a warm, crackling, cozy fire. Happiness is a balmy sandy beach. Happiness is the memory of both my Mammaws, Elnor Downs and Estelle Mann. Happiness is writing. Happiness is sharing my life with others. Happiness is inspiring others.

What is happiness for you? Why not make your own Happiness List . . . it’s good for the soul . . .

This article is now part of my inventory in Inspired Living.  

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Purging, Weight Loss, and Writing a Book

Ever have a hunch, a gut feeling, something telling you to do something right this very minute? Around July 1, 2011, I had an urge and a little voice telling me I needed to purge boxes in my garage. I wrote about it here.  Some of these boxes had been packed since my separation in 2006.

I was feeling {an extremely strong feeling and longing] the need to simplify . . . get rid of stuff. I fought it though and kept making excuses as to why I could not do it right this minute. Too busy with other stuff, ya know. The feeling got stronger and stronger and the voice got louder and louder until I finally listened.

In the first few boxes I unpacked, I came across a book that I had completely forgotten about and had never read.  That book is titled “E is for Entrepreneur” and it’s author is Barbara Hranivolich. I opened the book and inscribed on the first page was a message to me from Barb. It reads, “This never would have happened without you.”

I had completely forgotten that in 2007 I connected with Barb online and asked her if she would like to be a contributor on a blog I had at the time for women entrepreneurs. She began an alphabet series to tie in with being an entrepreneur.  I read the book that night and discovered that Barb mentioned me in the C is for Collaboration chapter of the book also.  She wrote, “There’s the woman I’ve never met in person, but who asked me to write these essays for her blog. What a gift!”  Lastly, Barb included my name on her Gratitude List in the book.  WOW!!  What a powerful gift for me to receive!

For the past year and a half I have had the intention of writing a book and it had not materialized. I sat down and read Barb’s book and a few seconds after finishing the book, I had another urge, a spark of inspiration . . . yes, that gut feeling. THIS is how my first book was to be structured.  I began to write this book the next morning.  I started to get up earlier than I had been and wrote a section every morning.  I delivered the first draft to my editor and a few “reviewer” friends on Friday, September 9, 2011.

“D iz for Different” is the title with a subtitle of “One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”.  It’s a memoir of how I came to accept myself and processed and accepted my function as parent to a child with special needs. Intertwined with how I have to come to think the way in which I do and live my life the way in which I do.

The book will be available in November 2011 at the latest; although I’m shooting for October 2011.  I’ve received an endorsement for my book from Jim Stovall, author of “The Ultimate Gift” which was also a movie.  I am grateful beyond words to Mr. Stovall and my heart and soul are warm and joyful for his kind words.

“As a blind person myself, I understand the challenge and blessing of doing things differently. In this book, Camilla shares her journey with Lillian which will help us all do more, give more, and be more.” Jim Stovall, Emmy-award Winner, Best-selling author, The Ultimate Gift

Not only that, I continued to purge in my garage, in my house and in my body.  I have lost 23 pounds while writing this book and purging and simplifying.  Disgust . . . that’s what did it.  I was just plain disgusted with myself for having gained that weight over the last two years.  I’d had enough, gosh darn it.  So I just quit eating so darn much! I didn’t realize how much food I was eating.

I still eat all my favorite {junk} foods.  I did not deprive myself of anything I enjoy drinking or eating.  I simply ate and do eat less of it.  Instead of eating half a bag of chips, I eat one serving.  I still indulge in Dorinda’s chocolate when I have access to it and still have one or two Dove dark chocolates every day.  I still drink dark lager beers like Guinness and Buckbean’s Black Noddy, still drink wine and still have a Bloody Mary and Dirty Martini when the occasion calls for it!  I still eat ice cream, hot dogs, pizza and pasta . . . I just eat less of it.

*May 2018 Update* – I still love dark chocolate!! However, when I overhauled the way my family and I eat in 2012, I discontinued purchasing anything with artificial flavorings, colorings, dyes, and high fructose corn syrup. So, we eat Trader Joe’s brand dark chocolate these days. I no longer drink alcoholic beverages. I think it’s been nearly 2 years in that regard. And, I’m nearly at two years of being vegetarian also.

I also made one more major shift and change during this Purge Palooza.  I think I’m gonna save that for another blog post.  My gut’s saying to wait just a little longer on sharing that one!!

It is an indescribable feeling and my hope and the reason I share this with you is for each and every one of you to experience listening to your gut and hunches.  You just never know what will come of it . . . Although, I bet you’ll find it’s exactly what you wanted . . . .

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.

And my book published in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance; which reached #2 in the Self-Help Category and #1 in Special Needs Parenting on Amazon.

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O is for Observe

Camilla and Lillian

“Most people see what is, and never see what can be.” -Albert Einstein

Observing, paying attention, being aware of the present moment.  What’s happening, who you are with, are you having a conversation? Are you really being present for the conversation or are you thinking about all those bills that are due or what you’re making for dinner or what happened on the last episode of your favorite show.

Observing and paying attention are keys to our own happiness and success.  In addition, they are crucial in our function as special needs parents.  Have you noticed that many with intellectual disabilities are more intuitive than us typical folks.  They can sense insincerity, they know when someone is not being present, not listening to them, “faking” kindness. {Just had someone point out that they think we ALL sense insincerity.  I’m thinking I didn’t use the proper words to describe what was going on in my head! From my perspective, as Mom to Lillian, I have noticed that Lillian is super sensitive to adults in her charge who are insincere – even when I sometimes don’t initially sense it.  I’m also not saying that those with intellectual disabilities are “more” than those of us who have all of our genes.  I believe some who are missing genes have a heightened or increased awareness in some “areas”.}

How will we guide our kids with special needs into a fruitful, happy and successful future if we are not present for them?  Observe their likes, dislikes, what are they good at doing, favorite hobbies and maybe they have topics or interests they seem obsessed with . . . the weather, the time, making lists, making a plan and sticking to it.  Observe these and then use these qualities to their advantage in life.  They like these things for a reason.  It’s not up to us to figure out why they like or don’t like something or why they are obsessed with a topic.  Let’s observe, be present and give them every single opportunity we can to blossom and use the special and unique gifts they have.

I recently returned from the Chromosome 18 Conference and I was humbled by the young adults.  {The photo above is Lillian and I at Reno/Tahoe airport headed to the conference in Indy.} One of the last conversations I had with my Chromosome 18 family was in the hotel restaurant having lunch with 20 year old Kati. Kati’s mom, Deb, and I began talking about movies and I mentioned the Lion King. Kati said that was the first movie she had ever seen.  Then she proceeded to tell me the second movie, the third movie, the fourth movie and on and on up to the Last Harry Potter movie she had seen.  She remembers this about books she’s read also.  I don’t know about you; but I find that pretty darn amazing.  I was in awe of this young lady.  How many of you remember every single movie you have seen beginning with the very first one.  Kati loves to plan events and trips.  She is planning a trip to Vegas for her 21st birthday which is a little less than a year from now.  She loves horses and wants to travel to New Zealand and Florida.  This young lady is amazing and look at the unique and special qualities she has been gifted.

I was also intrigued by how many of the young adults have as a dream working with animals and/or children.  It seemed to be a very common thread.  I asked my friend, Catherine Burzio, if she thought it was that each was simply picking up or borrowing what the previous young adult had said.  She said “No, that’s not it at all”.  It’s the unconditional love that animals and young children give.  I fully understand that for one reason or another there are reasons that some of these young adults cannot work as a vet or even a vet assistant or in a child care facility.  But, do you think if we observed them more and were present more we and possibly a coach and our community could find or create just the right fit for them.  A fit that gives them the opportunity to do what they love and enjoy and are good at and earn money for themselves.

I don’t know and I’m not at all saying this is the right technique for everyone . . . I’m just thinkin “out loud”.  What do you think?

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Decisions from the Gut

I had the honor and privilege of being at the eWomenNetwork Dinner event last Wednesday, May 18, 2011 and we had a fabulous speaker, Mary Goulet.  Her presentation was about making decisions and using our gut to make those decisions rather than our head or our heart. Ms. Goulet’s presentation was extremely meaningful to me and hit home.

I purchased her book, Go With Your Gut!; which is the perfect size and a quick read.  Had it read in two days.  I’m sure it could be read in one or two hours if one has the time to sit and read it straight through.

Ms. Goulet’s message is so simple; but many times very difficult for us to get out of our head and make decisions using our gut.  That first thought we have that tells us “Do it this way”, “Make the call now”, “Do it now”, “No, don’t do it” and the like.  I realized that I make many of my decisions using my gut and THEN come back a few minutes later or days later and get stuck in my head about that decision.  “What if”, “But”, “How”, “Why” and “What will they think”.

I recently made a huge and important decision regarding my daughter, Lillian, and her schooling situation.  I knew what my gut decision was right from the beginning.  “Do it.”  “It’s the right thing.”  This was at least two months ago and I still find myself, well, arguing with myself about the decision I made. ” What are you going to do about this? How are you going to handle this?  But, what about this?”  I think I’ll save what led to this decision and our school plans for next year for another post.

I highly recommend Go with Your Gut! (amazon affiliate link) for anyone who is interested in the differences in making decisions with our heart, with our head and with our gut.  Ms. Goulet gives excellent descriptions of how to recognize when we are using our heart, head or gut.  Plain and simple, I felt empowered after hearing her speak and especially after reading her book.

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This article is now part of my inventory in Inspired Living.  

I enjoy taking the time to share information with y’all that I think is helpful and give you ideas to live an Inspired Life. So, if you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip bowl on the way out of Inspired Living.

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If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this article along to others who might get some help from it. Thank y’all to everyone who has donated and shared in the past. I don’t always get a chance to respond, and the donations, shares and comments are my indicators that what I share is helpful. Thank YOU!

Living Life as an Adventure

Team TLC

It’s time I share with y’all about some changes to this here blog.  I have been posting articles, tips and how to information relating to Facebook and other Social Media outlets and mixing in personal posts here and there.  Social Media will no longer be the focus.  There are so many people, experts and gurus writing about this and staying on top of it, I really don’t feel I have anything more to add to that conversation.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I WILL still be teaching, speaking about and training business owners how to effectively and efficiently use Social Media Marketing for their business with a heavy emphasis on Facebook.  By nature, I am a “digger”.  I thrive on sleuthing and figuring out all this Social Media jazz.  I will continue to do that, so my clients don’t have to!

Those of you who were here for Social Media tips may want to unsubscribe or remove it from your feed now.  When I feel I’ve got something to add to the conversation, I may throw in a post here and there about Social Media; but primarily this blog is about to open up and share my world with you in the hopes that it inspires those that may need it, motivate those who may want it, help some of us to think different and hopefully give you a good ole hearty laugh sometimes.

In addition, my goal is to take my Communication at Your Fingertips presentation and the Educate n Motivate Bootcamp to schools and conferences across the United States.  In addition, I will spend as much time as possible on the Turning Views Foundation, of which I am the Founder and President.

I will incorporate posts telling my story so as to qualify why one may be inspired or motivated by my and our lives.  This also means you will hear more about my daughter, Lillian Darnell, and my son, Thomas Darnell, and the roller coaster ride of being a Mom to a differently abled child (Lillian).  The thing is the three of us are a team – we call ourselves Team TLC.  We are by no means the perfect little family – how boring would that be anyway! And, yep, there are times when it’s downright not fun in this household!  We are on a journey and are darn well gonna give it our best shot at enjoying every single day and live our lives as an adventure.

I have just recently realized that my little family – Team TLC – is the core and foundation of all that I do. I must care for and nurture myself and my family in order for the structures that I, and we, build to be sound and sturdy.  My family, Team TLC, IS my business.  I hope that y’all stay along for the journey, have FUN with us and share with us too! We gonna have a ball y’all!!

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More About Camilla

I’m Mom to Lillian and Thomas Darnell and I speak, train and consult with small businesses and nonprofits regarding Social Media Marketing.  I’m also the founder of the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word movement™ and the Gift a Voice Project.

My five year old son, Thomas, cracks me up with his fantastic imagination and adds to my joy and happiness in an indescribable way!  My nine year old daughter, Lillian, is a self proclaimed fairy angel and I happen to agree with her 100%.  Lillian is the spark that ignited the creation of the Turning Views Foundation, the Different iz Good movement and the Gift a Voice Project.

In mid December 2004 I received a phone call that changed the direction of my life and landed me in a Different place than I had planned and a Different place than I had ever dreamed.  Lillian’s pediatrician phoned one evening during dinner to let us know that she had gotten the results of Lillian’s Karotype testing.  This is a test where blood is drawn and examined on a cellular level to check for chromosome abnormalities.  Lillian was born on September 14, 2001 about a month before her natural due date.  She was a bit different from the first day of her life and a bit behind with many milestones.  Being a new Mom I just kept associating her delays to being born a month early and being a preemie baby.

Lillian’s pediatrician delivered the news that she had a chromosome abnormality.  Specifically, a deletion of the short arm of Chromosome 18, referred to as 18p-.  I cannot remember a great deal of the rest of the conversation as my mind sort of stopped and I started thinking, “Wait a minute.  What are you talking about?  No, this can’t be right.  No, No, No.”  I remember mention of it being very rare and that visits to specialists must begin immediately – heart doctor, eye doctor, geneticist, etc.

I immediately got online and began researching Chromosome 18, 18p- and chromosome abnormalities.  I learned a GREAT deal online and even knew more than the geneticist when we met with him.  That is also how I discovered The Chromosome 18 Registry and Research Society. The people of this fabulous organization, the Founder, Board Members and Family Members have become my second family and I am grateful and blessed to have each and every one of them in my life.  The Registry exists because a Mom was told 20 years ago that her daughter had 18q- (deletion of the long arm).  We as a society are all blessed that Jannine Cody chose the path she did as the genetic research they perform benefits ALL with genetic disorders.

So began my journey to a different place.  You can read more about the beginnings of this journey here.  The time and space between then and now I’ll cover in blog posts here, over at the Different iz Good website and my upcoming book.

Fast forward to about one year ago when I discovered Proloquo2Go on Twitter as I had created columns in Hootsuite tracking keywords for speech impaired.  I immediately bought Lillian an iPhone and installed Proloquo2Go.  That became the driving force behind learning more about this technology and then also combining that technology with the web and social networking.  These forces combined have opened a world of communication for the nonverbal and speech impaired that have NEVER been there before. We are experiencing a communication evolution.  The way in which we communicate and conduct business has shifted forever and is evolving.

In my online research I kept encountering people asking where they could get assistance purchasing an iPhone, iPod (and now an iPad) as private insurance and Medicaid do not cover these devices.  There were also many who mentioned they were on waiting lists to receive one.  This led to thoughts of “Something has got to be done about this.” It’s completely ridiculous that nonverbal and speech impaired children CANNOT have an inexpensive modern way to communicate. Inexpensive compared to traditional augmentative communication devices; which typically cost between $5,000 – $10,000.  One can get an iPhone, iPod or iPad with an AAC Application and needed accessories for approximately $1,000; could be a bit less or bit more depending on version purchased.

At the same time I was discussing with other Chromosome 18 Moms about how our beautiful special needs kiddos do not like change and changes in their schedule or routine that cause things to seem different. Susan Moran commented that they really stress in their house that different is good and show it by changing furniture around often and other methods. My eyes, heart and soul wrapped around those words and with Susan’s permission I tucked it away to “incubate” until the timing was right! You are a beautiful rockin Mom Susan!

These two paths bordered with what I had chosen as my career (teaching, training and speaking to others about Social Networking) led to the creation of the Turning Views Foundation, Different iz Good . . . Spread the Word movement and the Gift a Voice Project.

The Formal Version

Camilla Downs is an influential guide in teaching the keys to Social Media Marketing. She is a social media marketing and community-building strategist, working with businesses and individuals to maximize the internet to enhance their brands, connect with customers, build communities and network for success. As Chief Community Builder at Turning Views, Inc., keynote speaker and trainer, Camilla has inspired hundreds of people to confidently use Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other online social networking tools through conferences, specialized workshops and consulting.

Camilla has consulted with businesses and nonprofits in Nevada, California and Texas, teaching them to establish, maintain and grow a commanding social media and online presence. She advises organizations on increasing their visibility on search engines and strengthening their brand identities online. She also offers video tutorials and online resources for many people seeking efficient assistance with the proper usage of these new tools of marketing.

Raised in Mississippi and Louisiana, Camilla relocated to Nevada after working for 10 years as a paralegal in Washington State. She has combined her research skills with a passion for collecting and testing the constant torrent of new information regarding social networking. “I am passionate about supporting nonprofits, fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners by teaching them to strategically use online and social networking tools”. “Small business owners are among the bravest and gutsiest among us, and they are starved for assistance in understanding the why and how of effective and proper use of these tools”.

Camilla is mother to two children, Thomas, five years old, and Lillian, nine. Lillian was born with a chromosome abnormality called 18p- which primarily manifests in communications deficits. Lillian has inspired Camilla to be a proponent for speech-impaired individuals, their families and caregivers in using technology and social media to communicate and improve quality of life. “Opportunities exist as never before for speech-impaired individuals to be business owners and entrepreneurs because of social media and technology”.