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art projects.

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my ::salud:: project draws on our legacy as humans of making sense of our emotions, suffering, and healing through art. this project is my first effort to combine my art practice with 12 years of doctoral training/practice in health and clinical psychology research and psychotherapy. i focused on treating severe depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, and trauma in children, teens, and adults. art has always been a way for me to connect with and express my emotions and mental health — and communicate with other people about emotions and mental health in ways that words cannot. iterations of my ::salud:: project include mental health focused works created for interactive, public, and private purposes. of all the art i work on — this project is closest to my heart and soul.

imagine what would happen if we were all walking around with reminders of what we like & love about ourselves. if we all put effort into the PRACTICE of affirming and  discussing loving ourselves how would that impact our physical & mental health — as individuals and as communities? the #savormyself🥰 campaign of my ::salud:: project was designed to explore these possibilities. contact me for a FREE wallet size card that prompts you to: (1) write down some of the things you like and love about yourself on the back of the card (no thing is too small); and (2) keep the card with you as a reminder (this is key). 


i am very curious to see what happens if we intentionally create communities with a culture rooted in the PRACTICE of expressing love for ourselves. i started this PRACTICE when i was around 12 years old. due to very early severe childhood trauma i struggled to find the will to live from a very young age. by the age of 12 major depression defined my existence and was in the practice of isolating myself from everyone and everything around me. i was desperate to feel better and break out of my shell. and i had to rely on myself to figure out how to do what seemed to be impossible.


one day i remembered an elementary school class assignment that had touched my heart deeply — from around second or third grade. the teacher asked each student to pass around a sheet of paper with their name at the top of it. as each page was passed around, we each wrote one thing that we liked about the person who's name was at the top of the page. in the end we each had a sheet of paper with a list of things every student in the class liked about us. the teacher told us that it was important to hold on to that paper. she said it was powerful. she then told us that she heard about one student who held onto his list for his entire life, and that the list was found in his pocket when he eventually became old and died.


that story and the whole elementary school assignment made a deep and lasting impression on me. but by the age of 12 i had lost my page with the list of things others liked about me. so i decided to try creating my own list and carrying it with me. i didn't know if it would help, but i figured it was worth a try. i was desperate. it was SUPER hard to come up with things at first, so i listed simple things like, "i like that i am good at drawing." and "i like that i love animals and that they love me." i kept the list in my pocket at all times. i looked at it regularly. and slowly changes started happened that honestly surprise me to this day.


slowly i started feeling better emotionally. this shocked and fascinated me. and feeling better made it easier for me to think of more things i liked about myself, things like. "i like that i am brave." and "i like that i care about people." i realized that deep down i believed all of these things and it felt amazing to write them down and remind myself of them. i also realized that i believed a lot of things about myself that hurt me deeply — and that my mind repeated those things to me constantly. "you are ugly!" and "no one wants to be your friend" were two major beliefs about myself that crushed and paralyzed me. so i decided to experiment and add some things i didn't believe, but really wanted to believe, to my list of things i like about myself. i started with"you are fine!" (it was the 80s and that's how we said someone was attractive), and "a lot of people want to be your friend." these were the exact OPPOSITE of how i actually felt about myself, so it was very difficult to write these things down and repeat them to myself. for a long time i wondered if it would make a difference.


you see, i did not start magically believing that i was beautiful or likeable because i wrote positive things down about myself and got into the PRACTICE of repeating them to myself. but important and powerful things did happen. slowly and surely i kept feeling better emotionally. my list of positive things about myself kept growing. i started believing many of the positive things i repeated to myself. and over the years it became progressively easier for me to bounce back from difficult emotional periods, when the painful things i believed about myself seemed especially loud in my mind. so the harmful negative things i believe and repeat about myself didn't go away — but i was able to gradually have a better relationship with myself and feel better emotionally. i didn't understand why until many years later as a doctoral trainee in clinical psychology psychotherapist and researcher.

lessons from my training as a clinical psychologist

1. healing is an additive not a subtractive process.

2. your brain believes what you repeat to yourself.

3. you can pack your "baggage" anyway you want.

healing is an additive not a subtractive process

for most of my life i believed that if i could get rid of all my negative and harmful thoughts and behaviors, and everything else i didn't like about myself, i could FINALLY have better mental health and a better relationship with myself. my PRACTICE of writing down and reminding myself of things i like and love about myself was really helpful in many ways, but many of my negative thoughts and behaviors didn't go away. this confused and frustrated me. many times it made me feel defeated, like i couldn't win, no matter how hard i tried. i felt like i was in an endless war with myself.

people usually come to therapy with what therapists call a "presenting problem." and the presenting problem usually involves things that the client wants to get rid of — or subtract from their lives — as soon as possible. for example a depressed person may understandably want to stop feeling so sad or unmotivated; an anxious person may want to stop worrying so much; and a person with trauma may want to stop having nightmares and feeling paranoid. a skilled therapist knows that helping a client reduce or subtract symptoms that interfere with their lives and cause them distress and pain will help convince the client that: (1) the therapist knows what they are doing and; (2) that therapy is worth their time and money.


::self reflection::

click below for my digital

::self-reflection:: exhibition

onsite exhibition: october 2023

rochester ny, fuego coffee roasters

click below to see other ::self-reflection:: project completed works, doodles, and works in progress

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click below for a gallery of images and videos in my ::flora:: project in development

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