Free Ingrid – The Power of the Internet




This video was posted to YouTube today. Within minutes, the link was being shared on Twitter. In the next few hours, I’m sure many blog posts will be written on the subject.

It is every human’s right to be free. It is unconscionable to hold another as a hostage. It is the duty of every person to take action to save those who are being held captive.

Hundreds of people are being held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian citizen and former presidential candidate in Colombia, is among them. Throughout six years of captivity, her face has become a symbol of this horrible situation.

When I look into Ingrid’s face, I see a sister of humanity. We are all connected—we are a family. When a member of our family is in danger, we must take action.

Taking action means something different for everyone. I can’t physically rescue these victims of terrorism; but I can pray, write a blog, and share a link.

What can you do?


Who Do? ooVoo



Today was the kickoff of “My ooVoo Day With…”, a “week-long experiment in blogger to fan interaction.” What’s ooVoo? According to the website, it’s “the next evolution in online communication.” It enables up to six people to participate in an online conversation, at the same time, via video chat or text. Other features include video messaging, file transfer, even phone calls. The name makes me smile, since it reminds me of an old comedy routine quoted by Myrna Loy and Cary Grant in “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.” (“You remind me of a man…”) But the technology has me intrigued.

To showcase the ability of the technology, well-known bloggers are hosting chat sessions throughout the week, covering a wide range of topics. Anyone is invited to grab an available slot and join in the conversations. As a thank-you to the hosts, ooVoo is making a donation to each blogger’s charity of choice.

I didn’t even own a webcam—but the opportunity to talk with these bloggers on a face-to-face basis was too good to pass up. So I ran out and got a webcam, and had it set up just in time for the start of “My ooVoo Day With…” I had the privilege of participating in a chat with artist and new media consultant Susan Reynolds and communications specialist Connie Reece, founder of Every Dot Connects. Susan’s battle against breast cancer inspired the creation of the Frozen Pea Fund, which is working to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer. The FPF is one of the organizations benefiting from the ooVoo Day event.

The site proclaims that ooVoo is “remarkably easy to use,” and I agree. Being familiar with web chat, I was able to intuitively use the features of ooVoo, even though I had no previous experience with video chat. The design—with its theme of black, gold and gray punctuated by bright primary colors—is aesthetically pleasing, and makes it easy to identify things at a glance. I quickly found myself looking at my own face onscreen, alongside those of the other participants.

For the first chat, I was on my laptop, with a high-speed Wi-Fi internet connection; but found that it had trouble keeping up. The audio and video were erratic, making it tough to follow the conversation. Thankfully, the simultaneous text chat capability helped me have a say even when my voice couldn’t make it.

A quick query to Scott Monty garnered the advice to use a wired connection–so I moved operations to the desktop PC. An ooVoo chat from there worked just as it should–decidedly cool. I noticed that if a chat participant is using external speakers rather than a headset, I hear my own delayed voice in the background–which makes it kind of surreal at first–but beyond that the chats were as easy and normal as sitting across the table from people at a coffee shop.

The possibilities of using ooVoo have me enthusiastic—whether it’s to connect with my siblings in the same state or get to know my readers from all over the world.

And I’m also looking forward to other “My ooVoo Day With” chats coming up later this week. They remind me of a place, actually. What place? A coffee shop. Who do? ooVoo.


Bound to Overcome

I’ve had a lot going on in my life, thoughts, and goals just over the past couple of weeks. Not much would show on the surface—but between my ears and behind my eyes, the world is a different place. Maybe because I’m different inside. I know it’s been building for some months now—like the Lord is putting together the puzzle pieces of my life, one day at a time.

This is something I’ve been hoping for, aiming towards, for most of my life. I had an epiphany at age 17, suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my career and life, and started working towards that. A few years (ahem, be polite, don’t run over to my About page) and several setbacks later, I had not progressed very far past those goals. Make that “visibly.” Between the ears and behind the eyes, the world was quite different. But looking at my life from the outside, at a casual glance, not much of that showed through.

For the majority of my young adult years, I lived most of my life inside my head, between my ears, and within a few walls. I was a homeschooled highschooler (personal choice). When I graduated, I was tested at a college level, so I chose to postpone college and dive into the dreams I couldn’t wait to dig at. I spent the next four years living at home with my family, attending business seminars, reading voraciously, and pursuing an advanced art education through studying others’ works and writings. In other words, I homeschooled myself through college, after all.

In the meantime, I was writing. Writing fiction novels and graphic novel scripts. I was drawing, drawing like crazy throughout my days. Doing character design for my graphic novel series, studying comic book publishers so I would know the one I wanted to plug it to. I had my sights set on the independents, because keeping my rights was important to me–I wasn’t writing for the present, I was building the foundation of a future. So I could wait a little, sacrificing present income opportunities in order to invest in a bigger future. For that “income,” I started my own Amway business and did freelance artwork, to tide me over while I wrote. How did that go? Well, let me just say I’m grateful my family let me live at home.

Some of my lack of success was caused by the fact that I was incredibly shy and introverted, trying to build a career in very extroverted fields. But I had that dream—I thrived on inspiration, and let it fuel me forward, even when the shyness made it almost painful to do so. As I look back now on the person I was then, I wonder if I could have made it work, despite my weaknesses? But at the time, I didn’t get the chance.

During my teens and early twenties, my family and I spent ten years as caregivers for my grandparents. My grandmother had dementia, and eventually forgot who we were. My grandfather died unexpectedly from a sudden onset of cancer. There were other hard situations we were overcoming as a family then, too. I learned many things, and grew a lot between the ears, behind the eyes, in those years—things that would never show up in my resume or bank account. They delayed my dreams. But they made me stronger, bolder. Partially because, once you’ve been hurt in certain ways, you stop being afraid of certain things. You lose some sense of self-preservation…you kind of don’t care what happens to you. So you get braver, and bolder.

I moved on with my family (my choice, turned down a graphic design job to do it). I looked at life as a new opportunity—I felt set free from the hurts of the past, and felt I could finally begin achieving my goals for the future. But anyone who thinks they can emerge from an emotionally abusive situation and hit the ground running is deluding themselves. It took a month-long bout with pneumonia and a dance with a nervous breakdown to teach me that.

And yet…I came away from those days, and emerged into a patch of brighter light. Suddenly I was free to return to my dream, and I did, with my whole heart. Back to the writing, back to the drawing. Back to the quibbling freelance work to bring in a bit of income while I lived with my patient family, too; but back to filling my days with creativity and excitement, and plans for a big future.

Enter carbon monoxide poisoning.

This was a setback that not only invaded its presence upon my goal plan, and delayed my dreams yet again; this monster literally stripped me of the ability to achieve my dreams. I forgot my stories. I lost my words. My hands forgot their skill and learned a new weakness, a new tremor that would forever mar my drawing. I was one year away from publishing a fiction novel and was beginning to draw the final draft of a graphic novel when I had to stop, and teach myself how to write and draw all over again.

Starting all over, yet again. When obstacles keep blocking your pathway, over and over, and you have to stop, and start, and stop again, you have a tendency to get tired. When you keep falling face-first into the mud, it gets very hard to see the way ahead. Dreams and faith and hope will carry you far, through many hard times…but Discouragement can be a towering monster. It can overshadow everything. When things get so very dark, the light seems to fade away, and you begin to feel that the darkness is all there is, all there ever will be anymore.

Yet the light is still there—the light of dreams, and hope, and faith. It’s just being obscured for the time being. Somehow, someway, you have to climb up out of the mire and walk past that beast of Discouragement. It’s the only way to see light again. Oh, it tries to walk with you, mark my words—does its very best to keep blocking the light. For me, I actually began doubting the dreams I had held for so many years. I began to doubt the worth of what was between my ears, behind my eyes. And that’s a tough situation, because that was all that I had left in me. Without the dreams? To my eyes, if the dreams weren’t real, then I was nothing.

Enter God.

Not that He wasn’t there the whole time. Until I stand before Him at the end of this life, I probably will not understand the whole meaning behind everything that is in my past. I see glimmers, I get a few things; but some of the “whys” escape me. Somehow I’ve managed to cling to faith through it all. But then again I wonder—is it really so hard to cling to One who is gripping you in an embrace that will never let you go? He’s been there with me the whole time. And now, just when I felt like I couldn’t pick my face up out of the mud one more time, and would lie there and drown in darkness…it’s as if He’s saying, “Let’s turn the lights on.”

I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it. Something has changed. Maybe it’s me. Yes, I’ve been working…imagine trying to scale a sheer mountainside by only using your fingernails. Yeah, that’s how I’ve been working the past couple years. So yes, I have all those years of work that must have been building to something. But they never led anywhere, to my thinking.

Until now. Something has changed. Something is different. Between my ears, behind my eyes, it’s been a long journey. It’s been…violating. It doesn’t feel like there’s much of anything left of me inside…just numbness, blankness, tears. Tears that flow easily at times. And fear…the inheritance of so many years of living life in the shadow. Fear that crouches and waits for the merest weakness to show within me…so that it can snatch my new life away from me. And fear upon fear, I am afraid that it has the power to do so.

But then I realize…there are arms around me. Strong, mighty, powerful arms. There is a vengeful love washing over me, shielding me, forgiving me the weaknesses that make me despise myself. Someone is holding me fiercely, saying the He is carrying me on through. Past the mire that threatens to envelop and smother me. Past the dark beast that wants to claim me. Carrying me forward to that beautiful light, which has been there waiting for me all along. He’s taking the emptiness between my ears, behind my eyes, and filling it with glorious things that I never dared to dream of, and can hardly comprehend. The dreams of my future.

And something is telling me that my future, at very long last, is here.

I’m sorry for the long blog post…but I think I’m moving forward on a new journey. And I must have needed to travel light.

On the Radio–Me!


My nickname is “CB.” I always found it funny that I was born around the same year as the CB radio. Well, now I finally know why.

As if seeing me rattle on in the printed word wasn’t enough, now you can hear me on the radio! KLOVE will be airing a news bit with part of an interview with me sometime tomorrow (Friday Nov. 30), and will be making the rest of the interview available for download as a podcast from their website. This is me hyperventilating and trying to remember all I needed to say about the Art for 1000 Wells auction! :) :)

Here’s KLOVE’s website, broadcasts can be heard there:

And here’s the page for the podcast—Click under the one entitled “Art for 1000 Wells”:

Click here to listen

And here’s what it’s all about:

Art for 1000 Wells

Merry Christmas, all!



“Jane and the Beanstalk” by a Friend

A friend of mine has written a wonderful blog with a beautiful metaphor. I’d love to share it with everyone!

 Her blog is on my blogroll, and I enjoy checking in with her often to see what she has to say!

Cinderella’s Closet

'Princess Edrienne' by mousewords


Is anyone doing fall cleaning around the house? I redid my closet today. Specifically, I needed to redo my closet when my shoe rack collapsed under the weight of several canvas paintings-in-progress and a large box filled with quilting fabric. (Well, I dunno, what else do you use a shoe rack for?)

While I was rebuilding my canvas tower beside my sandwiched sweaters, I took the time to do a bit of “weeding.” I came up with one shirt and an old windbreaker that really have to go. Thankfully, I’m pretty up to date on keeping my closet organized—I’ve been through it recently and discarded those wearables that I almost never wear.

So what’s in your closet? Mind if I take a guess? No, not skeletons. Remember that soiree you went to some time ago—and the dress you purchased for it? That fancy slip of a thing that everyone said looked so stunning on you—the one you’ll never wear again? Because, sometimes, you can only wear a dress once. Maybe it’s because you’re blessed with a million others. Or perhaps you’re an outdoorsy type, and by the time you go to another function like that, the styles will have changed completely. Or maybe it’s because the dress just looked so darn good, that now everyone remembers it.

There’s another possible reason, which usually involves the combination of time and the ingestion of too much chocolate, but I won’t get into that one. (Like I won’t get into those jeans I stuffed back on the shelf today.)

So what do you do when you have a beautiful dress gathering dust in the back of your closet? One of three things. You can either:


A: Put it back in the closet, knowing (or hoping) that you’ll wear it again some day

B: Put it back in the closet, knowing (or even hoping) that you’ll NEVER wear it again someday

C: Give it away


I have a suggestion that might help you make that decision. Rather than stuff an unwanted dress back in your own closet, why not put it in Cinderella’s?

In many areas, the local High Schools have a program they often call “Cinderella’s Closet.” Cinderella’s Closet accepts donations of evening dresses and rents them out to students for special events. Remember how much that dress cost you for the soiree?? I remember mine, and even at that price it was a steal. Not every teen can afford the dress of her dreams for homecoming or prom; but with the help of Cinderella’s Closet, any girl can be a Princess for a night. Those of us who glean gorgeous, unwanted dresses from our stash of finery just might help make a wonderful memory for a young student somewhere.

So while you do your fall cleaning—or damage control, as the case may be—think ahead to the coming holidays. You’ll probably be buying something new to wear. So maybe take a moment to consider what you’ll do with that dress you only wore once last year.

Perhaps, somewhere, there’s a Cinderella who needs a fairy godmother.

Today is the Day! PART 5

'A Cup of Tea' by Sally

To complete our group of family artists participating in the Art Helping Mountain Gorillas charity auction, I am happy to introduce my aunt, Sally Pointer.

As she lives in Oregon, and I grew up in the Midwest, visits among our family were not as frequent as we’d like. However, Aunt Sally was always present through her loving communication. No matter which holiday was near, my siblings and I knew we could expect a package from Aunt Sally and Uncle Harry, filled with craft supplies and project ideas—stickers, decorations, confetti, you name it, the packages were stuffed with it. We would dive into the cache of treasures and commence with an afternoon of creativity. Soon our home would be draped with our construction-paper constructions. (Just ask my dad, who is very tall…and had to deal with decorations hung by very short individuals.)

Aunt Sally always decorated her packages with colorful, cheerful drawings—which I always cut out and saved. As a cartoon enthusiast, I was awed by her caricatures. Yet another mentor in my art life.

When I see her artwork today, I think of the mental picture I have from one of our visits: Aunt Sally, relaxing outdoors, with a sketchbook in her lap and a box of colored pencils in her hand. A depiction of a delicate, flowering branch was the product of that day’s work…and her recent art gives another glimpse into the surroundings that she has made lovely.

'Pansies and Forget-Me-Nots' by Sally

Today is the Day! PART 3

Time is getting away from me!  This auction is ending in a few minutes!

I come from an amazingly creative family. My aunt, Susan Porch, is no exception to this.

With her watercolor painting, “Sunflowers IV,” my aunt shows her creativity, artistry, and love of flowers. When I look at this painting, I’m reminded of her garden—lush and filled with beautiful flowering plants. It was a fairyland to a child’s eyes. The scent of the flowers in the Southern California air was nothing like the world I knew in the Midwest. It was enchanted.

During those childhood visits, I would gaze at the oil paintings my aunt had created, awed that they had her name on them. They looked exactly like the paintings I would see in a book. I often admired the stained glass window and tilework in her home—it was only years later that I discovered she had made them herself.

Aunt Susan is bringing the same enchantment to me these days, through her watercolor artwork. I love visiting her art room to see what she’s been working on. I still think they look exactly like paintings I would see in a book. And I look forward to discovering what she plans to create next.

Today is the Day! PART 2


My second highlighted artist in the family is my mother, Melinda Taylor.

For as long as I can remember, Mom has been artistic and creative. As a child, I watched in awe as she brought out her wooden paint box filled with tiny tubes of oil paints. That box, to me, smelled heavenly. Between the wood, the paint, the odd stick of oil pastel, and the paint thinner, it was a treasure chest of wonder.

Then Mom would prop up a canvas before herself, and begin painting. Just painting—with maybe a light pencil drawing to guide her, and a photograph nearby for reference, but nothing else. Then worlds would begin to appear before my very eyes. Mom’s skies were always one of her best subjects—she’s incredibly talented at mixing colors, and the blue she could achieve looked…well, real to me.

Then the next best part—she’d let me “help.” Amazingly talented as a mother, also, she always included her (at that time) four children in whatever craft project she was working on. Imagine that—she must have had a longing to express her individuality through her art, yet she lovingly made every piece a family project. Child-sized fingerprints became leaves on trees. Totally disproportionate brush strokes were woven into the composition of the painting.

When Mom’s work was completed, I would gaze at it in awe. It looked real—and as a budding artist myself, I was convinced I’d never be able to master realism of that kind. But I would go back to my grown-up art materials—which Mom and Pop always gave me, from the start…no “kid’s version,” it was all “real”—and start working away. At least I could try.

This particular painting of Mom’s—which is entitled “September is Here”—is one of the first paintings she’s done in a while. Life has been busy—and her creative adventures have turned toward quilting and other forms of textile art recently. This painting expresses the blending of those two interests—the vivid autumn leaves are made from tiny shreds of fabric, which have been collaged onto the canvas and painted over. I can turn my head right now and look at this painting on an easel behind me. One ray of late afternoon sunlight touches it—and instantly I’m transported to another location. It looks real.

My Mom borrowed my art materials for this painting. The grown-up ones, of course. Life comes full circle.

Dang, I need a Kleenex.

A Friend in the Arts

One of my fellow eBay artists, Ann Ranlett, has just had the exciting experience of being featured in a newspaper article. Ann is an amazing artist—I have a link to her great blog on my blogroll.

Seeing Ann’s mountain gorilla portrait in the article really makes me feel like I need to head back to that drawing board and practice!

Congrats, Ann!!