My name is Sam and I want to create art that makes the world a better place.

Here are a few things that have helped my mental health the most.

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Capitalism sucks. 2020 proved it more than any other year, as the rich became richer and us regular folks did not, burdened by the dual weights of joblessness and isolation. I am not a big advocate for spending money mindlessly or needlessly, but there are a few things that I purchased or was gifted in 2020 that helped me to get through the year with a bit more oomph.

Sometimes shopping is an escape from reality, and sometimes it can radically transform your reality. Here are a few things that have helped my mental health the most.

These 5 Purchases Transformed My Mental Health

We don’t judge the sky for its weather — why do we judge ourselves for our emotions?

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The sunsets have been especially beautiful as of late.

Sprays of deep orange, plum purple, and crimson spread like wildfire across the walls of my bedroom as evening falls, and it’s the one moment of my day that I stop and just plain appreciate.

There’s something magical about sunsets and sunrises, especially if you happen to catch a good one.

On days you don’t happen to be present for celestial glory, it’s not like you suddenly decide that the sky is no longer beautiful. …

Lessons learned from a boring adult.

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The first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning was cleaning.

The floor was covered in a haze of dust and salt from the recent snow, along with various bits of debris and garbage that my cat has turned into toys to pounce upon.

My mind did not want to be awake with the mess.

So I pushed off the covers, fed my cat, brewed some tea, and began cleaning.

Once I was done, the sun’s rays were beginning to march their way into my blurry eyes.

By the time I had settled at my desk with my tea warming my fingers, I felt better. …

We may not want to be brave, but it’s the only way through.

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Two mornings ago, I awoke to a fog.

An outdoor fog, to be sure, but one that mirrored my interior exactly. The sun shone through the clouds in a bright, circular halo, yet few of its rays reached me. The frozen wind cut through me, its blades like knives to my misery.

My partner moved out and now I am alone. Waking up each morning has been close to alighting on a precipice — my consciousness is barely tethered to my body, and I may fall off the edge at any time into real and true despair.

Somehow, the part of me that is still tethered is holding on. Despite all of my fears and anxieties, there is one bright light: I know that I am brave.

Advice from a trauma survivor to help you through

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At no point during the entirety of 2020 so far did I sit down and think about the future. For the first time in my life, the present moment became the most important, rather than focusing deeply on what I was trying to accomplish in the future. The future is so uncertain, what’s the point of making plans?

It’s as though I spent the last six months stuck in a vat of Jello, slowly sliding and slipping my way through it to reach the other side. But I can finally breathe again, and focus on who I am again.

For the first time in my life, I now live alone. Solitude, quiet, only my messes everywhere: it feels like I’m living in a dream. Sure, I’m super depressed right now. My boyfriend of three years just broke up with me and moved out, but it needed to happen. I needed a change before I had a psychotic breakdown of some sort — in fact, I think I got quite close last night, so it’s a good thing he left. …

The first place we went for a hike, and the last.

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2020 has sucked for most people, and thus far I’ve been grateful to escape the worst of its murderous grasp. No family members lost to COVID-19, no traumatic hospital visits, no COVID scares — I’ve been lucky.

Until, of course, I went on a nice romantic hike with my partner the day before our 3-year-anniversary. The same hike we took on our very first time exploring the mountains together back in 2017: a 4-mile trek to the top of a rocky, windy mountain, located in our favorite park only a few minutes from our house.

He and I have been together since the first night he asked me out, back when I was long-dreaded little hippie girl still finding her way towards my future in Colorado Springs. He welcomed me into the fold of his work crew and made sure I always had a burger if I was hungry, or guacamole if he was feeling like making some. We moved in together after about six months of dating, just due to circumstance, and our apartment had become my blissful home. …

And the punches keep coming…

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that 2019 was not an easy year for me.

Although I accomplished a lot, including publishing a book and starting my own business, so many terrible things happened as well. My father died in January and I quit my job in May, weighed down with grief over my father’s death and in a workplace intent upon pushing me out. I committed myself to writing full time, and though the start was rocky, I actually began doing well in November of 2019, earning more than enough to support myself.

Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of 2020, however. For the foundation-shaking, fantasy-destroying reality check that this year has been. And I know I’m not alone in that. Being stuck in isolation for going on eight months has a way of doing one thing to a person: giving you way too much time to think. …

I woke up this morning
with the fall of the leaves on my breath

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Today, the day after the autumn equinox,
we fall in love with death
once again.
The leaves goldening
as the chill night air gleans life from their
veins, and
we all sigh in relief.
There is no greater feeling
than the coming of the cycle,
the turning of the year’s wheel.

When I was growing up,
the only fall I felt was through photos
of trees turning crisp and the air turning
orange and red in the sunrise. …

And I don’t care anymore.

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I knew from an early age that I never, under any circumstances, wanted to bear a child.

People like to put words in your mouth, especially at the ripe period just before puberty, and say things like, “Oh, you’ll want a family when you’re older.”

But my slim, pouty-lipped self always shook my head defiantly, my sun-drenched hair swinging in rebuke.

“I just want to be a writer,” I’d always say.

I knew the path that lay before me, even if none of the adults wanted to listen, or at times, even tried to talk me out of it.

I knew because I already spent every moment I could with a notebook balanced upon my knobby knees, feral fingers scrawling out my every fantasy and nightmare, and nothing would ever stop me from continuing to do so for the rest of my life. …

Regressing back to my 12-year-old self is helping me get through the pandemic.

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The year was 2004.

George W. Bush had just been reelected, much to the dismay of the entire country, and the Iraq War was just beginning. In his dorm, Mark Zuckerberg had recently come up with the idea for Facebook, unaware that his ambitions would change the face of the world.

2004 was a rough time for me. I had just hit puberty and my breasts had jumped three cup sizes in a month. …

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