Mental Health Journeys: A Moment of Peace

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Simple Habit is showcasing people’s experiences with various mental health conditions. These stories are meant to foster open conversations about mental health, its fragility and ever importance. We want to stress that everyone’s experience is different and these stories only highlight one of many. 

Sam Kearney grew up in New Jersey (the Jersey shore, no less!) and has lived all over North Carolina and briefly in South Florida before recently moving back to North Carolina. She loves to paint, doodle, make a fool of herself at karaoke, and hike with her husband.

Recently, despite having no experience, she started Fox and Fir Design – a business aimed to encourage others to care more about the environment. From one t-shirt, Sam has been able to expand to helping seven different eco nonprofits and hopes to reach thirteen by the end of the year. We hope her story will help you see that with enough determination and passion you can push through and do amazing things.

I’ve suffered from panic attacks since I was a kid, and they’ve only increased over time. Some days I’d have at least two or three and it was rare to make it through a day without hyperventilating, freaking out and secluding myself. I felt empty, numb, or I felt EVERYTHING. These two extremes were difficult to cope with. There are days where it is too much to get off the couch, let alone be a functioning human being. Sometimes I slip and things become overwhelming and three days later I still haven’t done the dishes, but that’s okay. I’ve accepted that I am not, in fact, a robot and that there will be good days and also, to put it mildly, not so good days!

It’s been particularly challenging within my business, which I started as a gut reaction to people not respecting or caring as deeply about our environment as they should. I was in no position of authority, I’m not a scientist, and I’m not a textbook entrepreneur, but I wanted to help make a difference. I wanted to get other people into a place and a mindset, where, together, we could all make a positive impact.

Now, instead of focusing on how badly we’re treating the Earth, I try and shift perspective. I work to celebrate the wonderful people and organizations that are part of the solution – those who are doing great things to simultaneously preserve our planet and all those that live on it. Let’s face it, the planet is going to be here with or without us so it’s up to us to make sure those living on it are protected. Sitting with this grim reality and also the simultaneous, conflicting prospect of what could go right is not a natural state of mind, but through meditation, it’s a headspace that comes more easily.


Someone wiser than me once said that trying to find a balance between work and life was the biggest waste of time. It’s all a flow, and sometimes that flow can be interrupted, or shift, but it’s always moving.

That’s when meditation really comes in handy. It’s given me the ability to come down from overly anxious moments to focus fully on one task and move toward my goals. Because of my brain chemistry, building habits can be incredibly challenging, but now that it’s part of my routine, I can’t imagine NOT meditating daily! It has been incredibly helpful to have the tools to help me calm down and avoid more intense reactions. Not only have I noticed a dip in my overall stress levels, but I also now have the tools to calm myself down and even avoid panic attacks.

It’s hard not to let the overwhelming amount of bad news sink me lower, but meditation helps. It keeps me grounded, it lets me be at peace if only for a moment, and it inspires me to keep going. Because of this, I’ve learned to let go of a lot of the negatives so I can focus on putting out a positive message to help the world.

If you’d like, you can check out Sam’s designs here.


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