Throwback Post: Walk With Me – Nature is a Knowing Mirror

**THROWBACK POST**

May 13 2016:

Today’s Walk With Me theme: Anything is possible if the intention is there. If grass can grow on a rock, then your dreams, your creations are possible.

Confirmation that nature is indeed a mirror reflecting your beauty and whatever it is that will benefit you in the moment.

In the stillness, there is clarity. At times there may be ripples, yet, clarity always returns. xoxo

May 16 2016:

Nature had amazing and beautiful gifts this morning. How did she know I was in need of such beauty and gifts? She knows. She always knows. xoxo

 

Friday, May 20, 2016: Today’s Walk With Me theme was: Let those emotions and feelings blow right on through you; rather than letting them settle within and make themselves at home. Let them stay just long enough to connect with, be curious with, and physically feel. After this, they will leave on their own … If it helps, go stand in the wind!

December 2020 Update: These are from a time I was processing deep healing. Nature was a constant source of comfort, helping me to view events in the most helpful light. My views have changed a bit regarding emotions and feelings. I feel it is imperative that we allow ourselves to physically feel emotions and feelings, so that when they do “blow right through”, we have processed what needed to be processed. If not, these emotions will keep reappearing.

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.

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.

A Philosophy of Walking

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 went for an hour long walk this morning. My body and mind did not want to go. I went anyway.

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.

For the past 18 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.

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.

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.

I’ve been walking with my kids since they were infants. I cherish every single walk taken with them. They are 17 years old and 13 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.

When my daughter was seven years old and my son three years old; I discontinued paying for cable and eventually donated our television. Walking is one activity that took the place of time spent in front of the television. I was moved to incorporate picture making into the walks as well. I have thousands of photographs of our walks throughout the years.

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 herself. 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 forth from my heart. I had never read or written poetry up until about four years ago. This seemed to be an extension of the walking and other practices.

I fought myself on going for the walk this morning. It was 32 degrees outside and I was already cold. I wanted to get warm and cozy, sit and write this story. My heart knew the moment I stepped foot on the trail, I’d be grateful I listened to the call of the walk. May you be inspired to explore how walking could create a shift in your life; whether that be ever so small or ever so big.

©2019 Camilla Downs
(Photo made by me – 2016 – Geiger Way Lookout)

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

Amazing news! My 17 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 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Go here to see latest soul writings. xoxo

How Writing Helps Me With Parenting

Writing has been a sanity saving bridge which has led from processing parenting experiences to peace and solutions. Single parenting two children led me on a journey for which I have no map. Through writing, I create the map as I travel this wild and wonderful parenting safari.

My parenting journey has included many life lessons disguised as sinkholes, road blocks, and dead ends. My daughter, Lillian, was diagnosed at age 3 years old with a rare condition called 18p-. This chromosome deletion only affects 1 in 56,000 people. Her sibling, Thomas, is a strong willed empath who either speaks his mind or holds how he feels inside until he explodes. In 2006 I became a single parent to them, lost nearly everything, and was forced to file bankruptcy.

I have been single parenting Thomas and Lillian for the past twelve years. Lillian is 17 years old now and the main way that 18p- affects her is an inability to articulate words, anxiety, chronic pain, irrational fears, and difficulty processing strong emotions. Thomas is 13 years old with his own difficulties of being a sibling to Lillian and puberty has hit him full throttle.

Writing led me to peace and acceptance of my role as parent to these two unique and beautiful children. Writing brought peace and solid steps to take in regards to medical issues, schooling, and emotional challenges faced by Thomas and Lillian. In some situations, writing was not the only factor; yet, it has been a shining thread of grace that connected my heart and mind along this parenting journey. And still is.

Several factors led to a loosely held practice of writing every day. When I became a single parent I intuitively felt moved to learn the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and journaling.

My practice of going for a walk three times a week also solidified into a committed practice of noticing and immersing in nature. All of these practices combined with the writing practice opened my eyes to a different style of parenting, a more focused and connected style.

My laptop became the couch I rest upon; while writing of my experiences became the therapist. This also serves as a tool for me to sync with life and for giving myself feedback for those experiences. Writing became an avenue to connect with and release the myriad of emotions and experiences of parenting.

The writing becomes an observer of my experiences. One that allows me to step away from the situation by pouring my heart onto the digital pages. I feel we all know in our heart the solution to tough parenting situations; or at the least, what would be the better of available options.

Although I choose to publicly share much of my experiences through writing, one does not have to write with the intention of sharing with others. The very act of writing about experiences and feelings is deeply therapeutic. There are many writing practices from which to choose. Writing with pencil and paper, using a laptop, writing in the morning, in the evening, in silence, while listening to music, at home, in a cafe, in nature … You get the idea.

The how, when and where is a completely personal preference. The portion of the practice I have found to work best for me and those I have mentored is to first get centered in one’s heart. If you find yourself stumbling and no words flowing; this is a sign you are still centered in your mind.

Take three long, deep breaths and gently release whatever thoughts you may be having. Begin to write about the parenting issue facing you. Write about your feelings and thoughts on the issue. Once you feel finished with this portion, stop for a moment. Take three long, deep breaths once again dropping your focus into the heart.

Next, write these six words … “What do I need to know?” Don’t hesitate. Just write. Write until the words are no longer flowing. Write no matter how wacky or scary this may seem. Write no matter what crazy thoughts come to mind. Write those too.

For some of you this may not be concrete enough and seem like “fluff”; and for you, it simply may not work. Yet, I’m betting that more than half of those who try this will at least feel at peace with the situation and at most know what actions to take that are in everyone’s highest and best interest.

I have experienced parenting guidance in this way and have seen others receive peace and guidance as well. If you aren’t accustomed to writing, it may take a while to grease the writing wheels. Don’t give up. Try it for at least a month. No one has to see what you write. Delete it, tear it up, shred it, crumple and stomp on it, burn it, eat it, whatever.

Write. Write and watch the transformation of becoming a more connected and focused parent. Not only that. Write and watch the transformation as you begin to trust yourself and become more at peace with life.

©2019 Camilla Downs

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

Amazing news! My 17 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 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Go here to see latest soul writings. xoxo

My Entire Life Dissolved

The Dissolution

On Tuesday, 12.3, my entire life dissolved. It simply disappeared like sugar in boiling water. Who I am, who I thought myself to be disintegrated. In my mind’s eye, I could see creations and events literally crumbling. Have you ever had that happen?

Being me, I view this as the only way I know how … As a deeply spiritual experience. And I am grateful to be traveling this path … uncomfortable experiences, and all.

It left this one saturated with confusion and pain. I had been sobbing on and off for the past week, lost in this confusion, attempting to find the way out. Desperately trying to figure out the solution, the way to fix it. I did not want this uninvited guest.

Only a week later did I realize what happened on the previous Tuesday, and chose to use the “love and embrace” practice, everything that arises, everything one finds oneself in the midst of experiencing.

I turned into the confusion and despair with love and welcomed it like a long lost friend. When I woke up the next morning, the feeling of heaviness, confusion, and anxiety of needing to figure out the situation had lifted.

It’s not an easy task to embrace and welcome an uninvited guest, to turn an uninvited guest into an invited guest. Yet, you know what I learned? When we do this the uninvited guest delivers what it came bearing and must depart to remain the uninvited guest.

That was one freaking wild ride. Is it all figured out now? Well, on some level it is. I just don’t consciously know the solution yet. For now, I am at peace being in the space of not knowing …. Oceans of love …. xoxo

P.S. … I understand if this post brings forth feelings of sadness. Although I felt sad in the midst of it, there is no need for sadness on the other side of it .. I consider what happened a deeply spiritual experience and I treasure it. I feel there is incredible wisdom and power within confusion. And when we experience what we thought to be our life and who we are dissolving in our minds eye; it’s the beginning of BEing who we truly are …. At least, that’s what I’m going with! Hahaha!

The Final Straw

An hour or two before this happened, someone close to me and whom I love deeply, said this to me in a passionate conversation ….

“You are just in denial about how much your life sucks.”

My immediate response was that I choose not to view my life in this way. I choose to see all there is for which to be grateful and to enjoy the present moments of life. Even though there are moments when I sink into how restricted I feel by circumstances. I further commented I cannot view it any other way. For, should I choose to see it on a consistent basis as “my life sucks”, I feel that would be giving up on myself ….

However, this one statement was the final straw in bringing forth this spiritual experience. It was needed to open my heart further, needed to show me that there are areas where I still turn away from discomfort; rather than embracing it in all of it’s “sucky” darkness.

I feel this minute or so video touches on what I experienced … 

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

Amazing news! My 17 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 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Go here for latest posts.

Poetry and Photography: When Things Come Together

When Things Come Together

And she began the walk
The walk of only she,
breathing in, knowing she was breathing in
breathing out, knowing she was breathing out

She listened to the sounds of
the stillness
the song birds
the beeping construction equipment
the roar of an airplane overhead
the creak and pop of the plastic fence
the screech of the vulture as he took flight
the long distance cough of another echoing across the wetland
the jingle of her earrings in the breeze
the whir of the traffic in the distance

She felt the soft breeze
brush by her cheeks
lifting her hair ever so gently.

She focused
her eyes on the vibrant pink flower
and found her thoughts to be ….

I am the flower swaying in the breeze
The flower is me

She focused her eyes on the crisp green
blades of grass hosting plump round droplets
of water

I am the blade of grass hosting the water droplet
the blade of grass is me

I am the water droplet resting on the blade of grass
the water droplet is me

She focused her eyes on the majestic vulture

I am the vulture resting on a rock
The vulture is me

She focused her eyes on and lay her hands upon
the crooked and tall tree.

I am the tree standing crooked and tall
the tree is me

And she is,
and they are,
fulfilling life.

And she ended the walk
The walk of the One.
breathing in, knowing she was breathing in
breathing out, knowing she was breathing out.
©️2018, Camilla Downs

-Photo Credit: Me xoxo

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

Amazing news! My 17 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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The One Thing We Should Be Teaching

Team TLC Sunset Walk Damonte Ranch Trail 6.18.17 #10

This has been Thomas’ first year of homeschooling and Lillian’s third or fourth year. The style of schooling we follow is more like unschooling, interest based, or child-led learning. It’s definitely not traditional homeschooling.

Over the past several months I’ve had a couple of friends ask how homeschooling is going. Without any thought, I answered through my heart with this, “We are learning how to be kind humans and how to have healthy relationships.”

We are absolutely not memorizing dates and events, taking tests, practicing math facts, or anything like that. We are learning the ONE thing that I never learned and that no child is taught in a traditional schooling situation and something many kids are not taught at home.

Excerpt from “Real Love in Parenting” by Greg Baer, M.D. …

“It’s strange, don’t you think, that we go to such great lengths to instruct our children in subjects that most of them will never use ….. and yet we teach them nothing about the one subject – relationships – they will use every day?

Our children are not taught what human beings need most. They don’t understand how relationships work, and then we wonder why they become frustrated and angry. We wonder why they join gangs, why they can’t keep a job, why the jails are full, why more than half of all marriages fail, why people shake their fists at one another on the road, why children are abused and neglected, why relationships seem to come and go like falling leaves, why newspapers are filled with accounts of violence and war, and so on. There’s no mystery in any of this. All these things are guaranteed to happen when we don’t teach our children the basic principles of love and relationships.”

This is where I have placed my focus. Thomas and Lillian each pursue their own interests and I facilitate. I, by no means, have this figured out. I’m stumbling my way through it, trying to be mindful and conscious.

Camilla & Lillian June 2017 Date Day 6.21.17 #10

The core of what I teach as the facilitator of their learning journey is mindfulness, living spiritually from the heart, oneness, compassion, non-judgment, and unconditional love. I do this with a mixture of the words I use and my actions.

I am aware that the words I speak mean absolutely nothing when my actions do not match. And, that happens often. I am still learning. I share all of this with Thomas and Lillian. When I make a mistake, when I respond in anger, when I respond in an unloving way with my body language and facial expressions, I tell them I am wrong. I share that I’m doing the best I can and I am still learning.

So behind the scenes of the amazing walks and adventures we experience, there is much discomfort and rubbing of one another’s thorns while we figure this all out. I’ve decided it’s better to do this now, rather than waiting for them to get older. For then they will be around others who are not committed to loving them unconditionally while they make mistakes and figure it out.

What seems to also be happening is confronting, accepting, and letting move through me, unlovely aspects of my own childhood. Plus, unlovely aspects and habits I’ve learned and claimed as my own.

Date Day with Thomas April 2017 4.26.17 #1

There’s also a great deal of dancing in the darkness and shadows of my own internal self-induced suffering. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? There’s one thing I know for sure, I wouldn’t have it any other way for this is what I came here to do.

Many times this means putting aside my own personal preference of wanting peace and quiet and everyone getting along, stopping what I’m doing, rolling up my sleeves, taking a deep breath, and being present with each of them as we work through an issue … And, most importantly, not taking anything that is said to or about me personally …. I’m still working on it …. I still don’t have it all figured out; yet, I’m a heck of a lot better than I used to be!  😉

Earth Hour 3.25.17 #2

Blessings,

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

Wonderfully exciting news! My 15 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s book, Where Would You Fly and Other Magickal Stories will arrive soon. Be ready to enjoy the magick! Learn more and pre-order here.

 

10 Most Popular Posts for 2016

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Top 10 Blog Posts With the Most Views (Culled only from 2016 blog posts)

  1. Dear Meltdown, Meet My Friend Mindfulness
  2. Biggest Little Photographer Arrives – We Did It
  3. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures – Four Months
  4. Photo a Day for 365 Days – Thomas’ One Year Anniversary
  5. The Power and Magic of Connected Parenting
  6. 2016 Chromosome 18 Conference – San Antonio
  7. A Rapturous Dance With Life
  8. The Biggest Little Photographer by Thomas Darnell
  9. The Tao of Letting GoLetting Go Burning Ceremony, and There is More Than One Way (These 3 blog posts had the same amount of views)
  10. A State of Pure Awareness

**LOVE OFFERING** If you find this content helpful, I invite you to toss a tip in the love offering bowl. With oceans of gratitude … Camilla ….

love-cards-in-a-basket-october-2016

Top 10 Blog Posts With the Most Views for 2016 (Culled from all blog posts)

  1. Olive Oil as Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer – Oil Cleansing Method
  2. Recipe: No Powdered Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
  3. Oil Cleansing Method – Update
  4. 17 Easy and Free Ideas on How to Rejuvenate Yourself
  5. Taste the Wind
  6. Dear Meltdown: Meet My Friend Mindfulness
  7. Recipe: Almond Flour Cookies
  8. Living in a Tiny Home Adventures
  9. Biggest Little Photographer Arrives – We Did It
  10. Recipe: Chia Seed Pudding

Top 10 Blog Posts of All Time With the Most Views

  1. Olive Oil as Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer – Oil Cleansing Method
  2. Recipe: Almond Flour Cookies
  3. Recipe: No Powdered Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
  4. Help Team TLC With A Christmas Miracle
  5. 17 Easy and Free Ideas on How to Rejuvenate Yourself
  6. Oil Cleansing Method – Update
  7. I Wish I Wasn’t an 18p- Girl: Moment of Defeat – Take Two
  8. A Moment of Defeat
  9. Lillian and Being Different Presentation
  10. Creativity and Resourcefulness

Here’s to a 2017 in which we all go within to BE the change we wish to see in the world. BE Love, BE Peace, BE Compassion … We must BE this within in order to experience it without.

hearts-rock-sparks-2015

Blessings,

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

Wonderfully exciting news! My 10 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer has arrived. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

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A Rapturous Dance With Life

Lake Mead July 2016 #15

I did it. I did it. I did it.

I drove Team TLC 3,400 miles. Thursday, July 7, 2016 through Saturday, July 16, 2016 I drove 3,400 miles roundtrip to attend the Chromosome 18 Conference – Reno, Nevada to San Antonio, Texas .. 1,700 miles each way. A conference Thomas and Lillian have their hearts set on attending every year. We began attending the C18 Conference in 2009 when it was in Las Vegas and have gone every year since then.

We arrived home at midnight on Saturday, July 16th. I was kind of it out of all day Sunday. Then Monday, I woke up ready to go! By Monday afternoon, every muscle in my body ached and I felt weighted down. I was completely out of it for 4 full days. It took about 7 days before I felt like myself again.

Yet, I DID IT!! … xoxoxo

The plan was to leave at 5:00 am on Thursday, the 7th, so that I could drive as far as possible before darkness fell upon us. I am completely out of my comfort zone driving in the dark in unfamiliar places. I could not get to sleep the night before. I was worried and having anxiety about this trip due to finances, honestly, not even having enough to cover the trip.

Yet, I know how deeply important this conference is to Thomas and Lillian. Each for their own reasons. Thomas is the sibling to a sister who has a chromosome deletion. He has, and is, developing deep friendships with the other siblings his age and being mentored by the older siblings.

Lillian’s friends are her peers that she has connected with through this conference. She communicates with some of them all throughout the year. When one texts, blogs, post on Facebook and Instagram, emails, chats on Facebook, or uses skype; the spoken word is not needed.

In our world of verbal communication difficulties, social media has helped create a world that would not exist for Lillian and one where she has true friends. She has no local friends, yet she has friends all over the United States and the world … As far away as Tasmania, Australia.

C18 Trip July 2016 #17

After having about 3 hours sleep, I could not seem to get ready as I was overwhelmed with the enormity of this trip. I had an adult meltdown which delayed our departure. We were finally on our way at 7:00 am; two hours later than I had planned.

There was much excitement as we began the road trip. Lots of talking, observing the landscape, and silliness. About two hours into the morning, we lost cell phone service due to the rural area we traveled. We were without cell service for the next five or six hours until we reached Las Vegas. During this time, Thomas and Lillian became absorbed in reading books, magazines, or using their computers or phones.

Which left my mind much time to mess with me. I had stepped way out of my comfort zone with this trip. I had never driven this far, much less driven this far being the only one in charge of packing, driving, and navigating. Plus, we had never driven this far as a family. Our max road trip travel time was to the 2015 conference in Salt Lake City; which was about an 8 hour drive from Reno.

Thoughts of us being stranded due to car problems kept entering my mind like a dark storm cloud encroaching on the brightest of days. Thoughts of the lack of finances for this trip took their turn in the dance also. Not to be left out of the dance, thoughts of my insanity at attempting this cut into the dance too. All of this dance to be completed with the veil of anxiety and worry weaving in and out like a breeze blowing through the trees.

Thankfully, I am a student of mindfulness and emotional connection. And, since there was nothing else to do but sit and drive, I took this opportunity to put these practices to work. It was a rapturous dance between being mindful, connecting with emotions, and embracing the fear wanting to dance with me.

This trip proved to be challenging. I had not anticipated this dance with life in all of its flavors and colors in such a way to cause the suffering brought on by my thoughts. It was my goal to have this trip be a learning experience for me of not knowing, not planning, and just going. That’s certainly not for everyone.

Yet, I felt this was important for me. It’s a huge step out of my comfort zone. One step closer to trusting myself, trusting internal messages, and letting go of how it’s supposed to be done. As mentioned earlier, I’ve never driven this far alone … Much less alone with Thomas and Lillian. In addition to driving this far in Rosey, our 15 year old car, with dancing through this trip on less than a shoe string budget and letting go of worry that the string will hold tight.

I had moments where I was so extremely hot and exhausted I had visions of taking an ice bath and moments when I was so tired I was shaking and wondering what in the heck I was doing ….. Yet, I know. I may not know on the surface right now; but deep down, I know why I do what I do.

This was also a dance full of wonderful, bright moments. We shared inspiring comments and tons of love that furthered each one of us. Definitely some amazing growth for all of us happened! WOW!

**LOVE OFFERING** If you find this content helpful, I invite you to toss a tip in the love offering bowl. With oceans of gratitude … Camilla ….

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We had a ball and laughed tons and enjoyed the beautiful landscape as we drove by it. Lillian was being so helpful and encouraging Thursday morning before we left.

Thomas was awesome and inspiring with his comments as we drove the two lane highways in the middle of nowhere in Nevada and Arizona. We saw a huge sign that read, “Nothing” and had a great laugh about that! Just after driving through Boulder City and Hoover dam, Thomas said, “I love it here.” He was so impressed with Lake Mead and said he wanted to live there.

Thomas went on to say that he always has deja vu and he has lived this life before. He said it all seems so familiar. He was incredibly inspired by the beauty that passed before our eyes. He also commented that he wants to buy land and simply let kids play on the land.

On the first day of driving, Lillian got sick to her stomach. We ended up spending about 30 minutes at a gas station bathroom and Thomas was extremely helpful. When we were looking for a place to stay and it kept getting darker and darker, I apologized to them as I had planned on stopping sooner. He said, “When you get a rock in your shoe, just shake it out.”

Rosey did a pretty good job. She had a wee bit of problems getting overheated but that was resolved with turning the air conditioner off while traveling up and down the mountainous areas. I had to give her some oil and coolant on the way there and some oil on the way back home. It’s scorching hot checking oil and fluids in over 100 degree weather!

With an hour and a half to go before we arrived in San Antonio, the epoxy glue I use for the driver side mirror had enough of the heat and was simply melting away! A couple of years ago I bumped the mirror backing out of a covered parking spot. So, for about 20 minutes I was holding the mirror until I could pull over. Bungee cord to the rescue!! Before we headed back home, the hotel gave me duct tape and that worked great for the ride back home.

I feel strongly guided to be establishing a new relationship with myself and the world and to model this for my kids, have them actively participate, and to help them know that there’s more to life and living than traditionally meets the eye.

I want them to never lose touch with their true self and to grow into adults knowing their given talents and having a solid and clear courage and conviction in sharing that talent with the world!

I continue to learn so much daily … About me, Thomas and Lillian, others and simply just living and dancing with life! xoxo

C18 Trip July 8 2016 #1

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

Wonderfully exciting news! We’ve completed the first book trailer for my 10 year old son’s, Thomas Darnell, upcoming book, Biggest Little Photographer. You can learn more and pre-order here.

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Walk With Me: Determination and Serenity

Today’s walk with me theme …

“Continue to walk your path in peace and stick to it with determination and serenity.” ~Camilla

I had just asked Mother Nature what, if any, message there was for me on this particular walk. Right after that I spotted this lovely turtle sunning on a rock.

“In moments of stillness and acute quietness, when the noisy mind is devoid of the chaotic business of thinking, an awareness of another dimension reveals itself. It is a dimension of union; the viewer and that being viewed are one. It is the ending of isolation.” ~ Del Wynn, Ack Poetically (Discovered this beautiful quote in The Curious Nature Guide)

 Walk Turtle June 6 2013
Vintage Lake Turtle June 2016
I help to support my family with my writings. So … there is an Amazon affiliate link in this post. This simply means that if you click through to Amazon for more information about a book, and you buy something, we get a few cents (and it doesn’t cost you anything more than usual). Also, If you benefited from this writing, would you like to toss a tip in the love offering “bucket”? Oceans of gratitude … xoxo
Blessings,

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

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