Empowering Discussions

New Video: Using Breathing to Calm Anxiety

When I was deep in my depression I had anxiety almost daily. It stopped me from doing simple things and big things like going to work, applying for jobs or college, and seeing friends. A usual anxiety attack would have me silently crying in bathroom stalls or pulled over on the side of the road in traffic. I felt a lot of shame about my anxiety attacks and never told anybody the reason why I wasn’t able to spend time with them or follow through on my goals and dreams.
Once I started recovery work for depression I learned methods to control my anxiety. I am proud to say that I haven’t had an anxiety attack in years. So, if you often feel anxious I hope this video helps you.  If you would like more support, check out my free online course D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Journey to help ease depression. If you feel called, please share what methods have helped you calm your anxiety in the comments below.
On another note, I’m elated to announce that four new patrons have joined and we are inching closer to my first goal of $200 per month. Reaching that goal will allow me to both share my online course with more people who need it and pay contributors for the bi-monthly publication of Radical.

What methods do you use to calm anxiety?


I’m an artist and writer with a focus on art therapy. If you would like to support my heart work, please consider becoming a monthly patron on Patreon.com/Loviedo. For $1 a month*, you can fund programs like my D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression E-course, my monthly “Radical” e-zine and other creative healing projects, like “Cultivating Radical Self-Love: A Collaboration of Healers, Artists & Writers“.

*You can also receive art in the mail for only $12 a month.

Empowering Discussions

Is Your Narrative Enriching or Diminishing Your Life?

Our world is at a tipping point of changing our global story. We are recognizing the narratives that surround us. We are becoming aware that narratives influence how we perceive not only ourselves, but other groups of people. Narratives can be positive or damaging. The story of “us” springs from many sources, history, religion, culture, education, family and community. The narrative of those who are Black/African-American is being challenged through movements like #BlackLivesMatter. The narratives of those who are LGBTQ is being challenged through political campaigns like marriage equality. The narratives of women and victims of sexual assault are being challenged through movements like #MeToo. These movements are shifting narratives from negative to positive and bringing visibility to those who are oppressed. Our global society needs to become aware of these narratives for a truly equal and healthy society.

We also need to change the narratives in our own lives. If our narrative is centered around self-hate, fear or doubt, then our stories will be filled with negativity. So, how do we change our narrative? The first step is simple. We pay attention to our actions, words and thoughts. The second step is where the real work begins. We have to dive deep into our narrative to realign what we do say and think. We have to read between the lines, search our personal history and recognize our privilege. We each have different narratives including personal and cultural. I encourage you to open you eyes a little wider and discover if your narrative is enriching or diminishing your life.

On my journey of healing from depression and trauma, I had to open up to my narrative. In recovery I learned to take control and change my narrative from being a victim to becoming my own hero. It is a challenge that I consciously choose to accept. Each time I have changed my narrative; from self-hate to self-love, from ugly to beautiful, from poor to rich; my life has improved. This is not easy. It’s been scary. I’ve had to go into my shadowy spots and relive trauma that was painful. Recovery is a process that can take months or years depending on how deep you are into addiction, trauma, or illness. The most obvious reward is a renewed sense of living.

The more obscure reward is connecting to people I never would have met and cultivating a deeper relationship with family and friends. By understanding my own narrative, I am more compassionate and empathetic to the narratives of others. The experience has been beautiful and sorrowful. In the past, learning about inequality turned me toward apathy. However, because of my recovery I can finally rise up and do something. The saying that you can’t help others until you help yourself, is truer than true. Each day I am writing my own future and holding space for others to write theirs.

I was inspired to write this post after learning about the Reclaiming Native Truth project from the First Nations Development Institute. As a grassroots activist in San Diego, CA, I meet a variety of people, but rarely meet Native Americans. Their struggle has always been present in my life because I have relatives and a few friends who are indigenous to this land. I am aware of the lack of visibility in our modern narrative, how they are portrayed in the media, and the struggles they face. This bothers me. I hope that through actions like this, others will be inspired to learn about what it means to be a modern Native American citizen. Together we can change the narrative.

What is your narrative?

What narratives are you blindly following?

How can you change our global narrative?


I’m an artist and writer with a focus on art therapy. If you would like to support my heart work, please consider becoming a monthly patron on Patreon.com/Loviedo. For $1 a month*, you can fund programs like my D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression E-course, my monthly “Radical” e-zine and other creative healing projects, like “Cultivating Radical Self-Love: A Collaboration of Healers, Artists & Writers“.

*You can also receive art in the mail for only $12 a month.

Empowering Discussions, Poetry

Call To Action for the Promised Generation

Promised Generation

by Leah Oviedo

They promised our generation equality

Pulled hoods over our eyes to hide the reality

Work hard and you will reach the American dream

At any cost

They told us it was their fault when we failed

Does that sound familiar?


The real bad guys are still pale and rich

Stealing our tax dollars for oily, greasy power

Forget our schools

Forget our mentally ill

Cultivating poverty to keep us in check

Money will never buy happiness

Pull that hood off.


They said we can do anything a man could do

We can have it all

We are equal now

Except when they rape us

Except what they pay us

Pull that hood off.


Drug dealers and gangs roaming our streets killing our children

Lock away the bad guys, be tough on crime

Police are judge, jury and executioner

Jim Crow never went out of style

Just another form of slavery

Pull that hood off.


It gets better we’re told

Adults are mature, respectful

You can be out of the closet

Get married, be accepted

Unless you’re too flaming

Too gender bending

Pull that hood off.


The air is cleaner

We don’t need all these regulations

Don’t you want a new phone

A bigger car

Water turns our blood to cancer

Our mothers die

Mountaintops disappear and oceans turn to oil

Our fathers perish

Pull that damn hood off.


They are taking your jobs

Taking over your schools

They don’t deserve a living wage

Those people came here illegally

You think you did?

You think nobody civilized was here before you?

Pull that hood off.


Eat more chicken, less red meat

Pumped full of nutrients

Full of hormones and poison

Slaughter warehouse

Tortured to death

So you can have a 99 cent cheeseburger

Pull that hood off.


Terrorists are everywhere

Let’s kill them

On their own soil

Before they come here

Kill their children too

Just in case

Soldiers are disposable

We will honor them once a year

Pull that hood off your eyes

That suffocating, blinding, deadly hood.


Pull it off now before you don’t have any hands to pull with

It’s only uncomfortable at first

Then you feel the warm light

The light of a billion suns

Working together in solidarity

Not charity

Justice for sisters

Freedom for brothers

Healing our children

Who cares which bathroom you use

Opportunities for all abilities

Without borders

Respect Mother Earth

Open your eyes and look around at reality

Where is the equality

Pull that hood off and speak the reality.

I’m an artist and writer on a mission to bring healing arts into the mainstream. If you would like to support my heart work, please consider becoming a monthly patron on Patreon.com/Loviedo. For $1 a month, you can fund programs like my D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression E-course, my monthly “Radical” e-zine and other creative healing projects, like “Cultivating Radical Self-Love: A Collaboration of Healers, Artists & Writers“.

Empowering Discussions, Social Action

The Environment of Racism, Stereotypes and Fear

I used to enjoy picking up litter because I was doing something so great for our environment; picking up trash so it could go in its place. Then I learned that the litter is the result of a deeper problem. The real problem is how we produce stuff and our addiction to having things. Our consumer mentality is so selfish we don’t seem to notice or care that all the stuff and packaging we buy is the reason why we have trash. All the cheap plastic stuff we buy every week for fun or retail therapy results in trash. Every time we buy a bottled drink, coffee to go, or pre-washed veggies in plastic containers we are choosing pollution. Every time we buy something mass-produced in a factory which inevitably creates waste we are creating trash.

 Now I pack snacks in reusable bags or containers and bring a water bottle. When I do get a drink to go I choose a drink that can be in a paper cup because unlike plastic the paper cup will actually degrade. Often I bring the cup home and use it repeatedly until I can recycle it. I bring my own produce bags to the store and choose fruits and vegetables that are package free. More and more of what I buy is in bulk and reusable bags. I also stopped the unhealthy habit of retail therapy which was much harder and rooted more in the decision to get out of debt than environmental reasons. When shopping for goods I first look at thrift stores and my local Buy Nothing Group. My monthly trash bin is a lot lighter these days, but what about non material consumption?

 If we want to get rid of the litter we need to start with the root of the problem and stop creating so much trash. It’s a lot like racism. We need to pull out the root of hate, which is fear, to end racism. Lately I have begun to look at my own fears in the forms of stereotypes.

I used to consume a lot of media and noticed the harmful stereotypes back in High School watching “girl power” tv shows where women had to look sexy if they wanted to be the hero, good girls were submissive and bad girls were rebels. If the show was “progressive” enough to have Black, Mexican, Asian or Native American characters they were usually the bad girls or the poor girls that needed to be saved by the white protagonist.

Then I noticed in movies how often thugs, criminals and villains were almost always Black drug dealers, Mexican car thieves, Asian gangsters, abusive Indian husbands, drunk Native Americans or all rolled into one terrible person and not coincidentally the only token non-white. Just recently I realized how “Trans” people were often portrayed as sick twisted individuals who wanted to dress up as their opposite gender to molest children or become serial killers.

Why are humans inclined to be so afraid of what is different? Why do we hold so many prejudices against those who are different? Why does it take so long to realize we are holding onto fear?

I admit to falling for these stereotypes. I used to cross the street if I saw a group of men hanging out because I assumed they were dangerous. Unless they were standing around in suits they must be up to no good.  I would avoid eye contact with anyone dressed in drag because for some reason I felt uncomfortable around them. It wasn’t until a few year ago when I started examining my ideas about people was I able to see how these media controlled images were creating a fear of those who are different in my mind.

Growing up in a diverse family of different colors and accepting of different sexual orientations I often felt immune to such fears, but I was wrong. Even I held unrealized prejudices. I have to check myself all the time now to understand the reason someone makes me uncomfortable. Is it because of societal expectations or my intuition? Sometimes it is my intuition telling me to be aware, but more and more I comprehend that they are not making me uncomfortable, but I’m projecting fear onto them.

Throw in some white privilege and more than likely I make them uncomfortable based on their own fears. In the racist, violent environment that is America their fears are much more justified and much more real than mine.

These days I’m less likely to cross the street and more inclined to smile and nod or say a simple “Hello”. I refuse to live in fear based on a stereotype.

So what kind of litter are you producing? What fears of those who are different do you hold? Analyze those fears, think about what you consume, both material and through your thoughts. Check yourself.

My inspiration for this post can be found on one of my favorite blogs: http://www.ototsy.com/2015-is-the-new-60s

Ready to stop the racism that litters our streets? Get involved with groups like the Coalition Against Police Violence, thecapv.org or Af3irm, http://www.af3irm.org/af3irm.


 Want ideas for a healthy lifestyle free of depression? Read my other D.I.Y. Therapy posts.

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