Finding Purpose: Life After Athletics

What’s next? Now what? Who are you outside of wrestling?

These are just some of the questions that instantaneously swept over me as I heard the final buzzer go off and saw your opponents hand be raised. You see, my now husband, had just wrestled his final match of not only his five year college career, but also his lifelong wrestling career that had begun at age five. In a matter of minutes, something that had consumed the majority of his life had come to an end. So, in that moment, and many that followed I wondered (as I’m CERTAIN he did) what’s next?

The immediate and easy answer to what comes next for a college wrestler is food. Lots and lots of food! But even more importantly than that, as much water as he could possibly drink. And once his stomach was full, and he was fat and sassy… sleep. Sleep without having to worry about a morning practice or weigh ins and no more stepping on the scale ten times a day.

But here’s the thing that I noticed, you did still step on the scale 10 times a day. You did still wake up early, anticipating practice followed by a day full of classes, study hall and another practice. For the first time in years you had a chance to chill, but you didn’t know how. You didn’t know how to go to class and then just relax. You didn’t know how to fuel your passion for competition. You didn’t know what life would be like without wrestling.

Photo Credit:
Jen Harms-

More than that, you didn’t know who you were without wrestling. You were unsure of your identity if not a wrestler. You had been a wrestler, an athlete, your whole life (and a pretty bad ass and successful one at that). The majority of your friends, your experiences, and your best memories had to do with you being a wrestler. I saw it on your face constantly… Who am I? What’s next?

Now, six short years later, I can’t help but smile as I think back. What came next was a career fueled by that same competitive passion. What came next was unwavering determination that only someone strong enough to survive five years of college wrestling can give. What came next was a love that only someone as dedicated as a college athlete could give. What came next was a life that could not be without what once was. You are a husband, a friend, a coach, a voice of strength and confidence, and now (and this is my personal favorite) you’re a dad.

What I’ve learned (or think I’ve learned from watching it unfold) is that finding purpose after being an athlete your entire life isn’t about finding a new identity, it’s about using that identify to build your life. The drive, the passion, the determination, the sheer ability to love something as deeply as you loved your sport is your identity.

Photo Credit:
Jen Harms-

Perhaps it’s not the same for all former athletes, but for us, it changed us in so many ways. We’re different after facing that time of uncertainty in our lives when the “what’s next” and “who’s next” were consuming our thoughts. We’re different now because it seems just a bit easier to face life’s continual changes with a smile and the hopeful thought of… what’s next?!

Miscarriage Taboo

Remember how I mentioned in one of my first posts that I fully intend to cover the full spectrum of subjects? I meant it! As it turns out, life has dark times, rough patches, and flat out shitty days. So in an effort to be real and not sugar-coat life, I’m hoping to cover some of those times.

March 7th, 2017. That’s the day that I realized I was having a miscarriage. I had known that my husband and I were expecting our first child for less than 10 days and was miscarrying. Here’s the thing though, this awful, heart-wrenching life event is EXTREMELY common. Like 1 in 4, folks! I was shocked to find this out, but even more appalled by the fact that NO ONE talks about it! I have some theories on the secrecy that surrounds something so common. Below I have shared my two theories for the taboo that is miscarriage.

Theory 1:

First, is that women feel embarrassed. It feels like you failed at what your body is so naturally supposed to be able to do. Like you’re broken, damaged goods. Let’s address this! You (and all women) serve far more of a purpose on this Earth than just being an incubator for babies. Is this ability absolutely freaking amazing… yes! Does this alone measure our worth… Hell NO!! The fact that the human body can grow another human is astonishing and mind blowing. However, your uterus and your desire or ability to complete this task is NOT what makes you a woman!

Theory 2:

It’s messy, bloody, gross, and has to do with a Who-Ha (Full transparency, I can’t bring myself to type vagina… Well, what do you know… I can!) It feels embarrassing to tell someone that you are going through a miscarriage because you personally know how much is going on, you know, down there. You are cramping and bleeding (sometimes A LOT) for days, or weeks, maybe even months! And since that’s what you’re going through, you imagine that everyone must know and instantly think of that horror… They’re not! Even after my own miscarriage I have talked with women and close friends going through the same. My mind never goes to the “yucky” parts, it always goes to a place of care and concern. Give people credit, that’s where their mind goes as well!

So Now What?

The thing is, I don’t think anyone is intentionally ignoring miscarriage. And if they are, I genuinely believe it is out of a place of embarrassment, not disgust. In all honesty, I think women who are having (or have) miscarried just don’t know how to start the conversation (even though they may want to). Then, because it’s rarely brought up, when a woman does feel the need (and trust me, for me it was a NEED to be heard) others don’t know how to respond.

So how do we fix this? My suggestion… SHARE! Talk about it! If you’re having (or have had) a miscarriage, be brave and share your story. Be brave and know that others genuinely care about the miscarriage process, mourning and grieving. Be brave and start the conversations. The more people who are brave enough to share, the less taboo this will become. If you know someone who is miscarrying, be brave and ask! Ask how they feel, both physically and emotionally. Be brave and start the conversation, don’t shy away from something that is so normal in our world. If the person you’re reaching out to doesn’t want to share, they won’t, but be brave and give them the option. Trust me, you’re not reminding them of their miscarriage by bringing it up, they haven’t forgotten!

PSA: Are you going through a miscarriage now? Have you gone through one in the past and you’re needing to talk it out? If you need to let it out, talk, share, seek common ground with someone who has experienced what you are, shoot me an email or leave me a comment and I would love to face it with you!

Hey Clark, Shitters Fixed!

Guys, I thought I was being so clever with the name of this post. Then, I showed it to my husband and he says, “It’s shitters full.” Duh! Come on man, we’re talking a classic National Lampoon reference. But then, after having to explain it to him, I questioned my cleverness, so now I’m explaining it, just in case. So much for clever!

In August, with a six year old and four month old, my husband and I sold our house and decided to upgrade a bit. Our new home is an upgrade by 50 years and has a garage, which trust me, is a BIG deal for us! But with these upgrades came a lot of work. A LOT!!!

We scraped popcorn ceilings, re-textured ceilings, replaced light fixtures, painted every square inch, replaced carpet, tiled floors, fixed holes (millions… no idea who needs that many things hung on walls), and finally fixed the bathrooms. Admittedly, I was terrible at taking before and after pictures because I was in a hurry to get projects done before the new school year started. Now, I’m definitely wishing I had taken more to share because we are extremely proud of our work. This post is all about the main level bathroom, which was by far the worst room in the house. Below I’ll explain the updates/changes and share the pictures and links with you!

To start, the bathroom was pink and just flat out dirty! I spent a substantial amount of time removing drywall screws that were left in, patching holes (on both the ceiling and walls), and scrubbing walls, baseboards… everything! Once all the holes were patched, I used spray on wall texture from Home Depot. I have found this texture to work extremely well, blend in nicely, and even dries quickly. It’s a go to for us! Warning though: make sure you have windows open and air flowing- this stuff is fumy!

After my patching work and texture dried it was time to paint. Our whole house is painted the same color, Dakota Ranchwood for the walls and Antique White paint for the ceiling and trim, both from Walmart. I really like Walmart paint and had the same paint, including the color in our last house. It looked great for the full four years we lived there, and cleans easily (which is a must with kids and dogs). This is the color and paint that we chose for the bathroom. It never ceases to amaze me how much of a difference a couple coats of paint make! What a difference from the pink! In addition to painting the walls, I did choose to paint the bathroom vanity. This is really difficult and I have not found a great way to get the paint to adhere to the smooth surface of the vanity. But for now, it looks great!

Then came the fun part… DECORATING! I chose matte black and white to continue the farmhouse theme from the rest of the house in the bathroom. You can find links for all the decorative items and hardware below the before and after pictures. All are great quality and I installed myself!

Short video of finished bathroom! Enjoy the sounds of everyday life in our home!

As promised, here’s a list (including links) of the goodies used in the bathroom. Full transparency, the Amazon links are affiliate links. I wouldn’t share the product with you if I didn’t love it and believe in it’s worth!

We’re incredibly pleased with how our bathroom turned out. It was hours and hours of work over a long weekend but it was TOTALLY worth it! Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have questions!

Little Gardenhearts

So, unfortunately my little Gardenhearts aren’t actually baby carrots, because neither has red hair. Trust me, in our home, this is SAD! My husband has red hair. As I like to jokingly (but dead seriously) tell people, “I married a ginger and I deserve to have ginger babies.” Low and behold, no gingers… yet!

Although neither of my girls are red heads, they’re both pretty dang precious anyway. I know, all moms think their kids are the best, and I’m definitely one of them. That being said, I also know that my girls are not perfect, but they’re pretty close. My husband and I have two daughters, one is six and another is nine months old. (Caveat: That’s their age at the time of writing this article, but you know, kids age really quickly and daily, so check the date of this post, they may be much older now)!

For the purpose of protecting my girls identity, I don’t plan on sharing their names. So on my site I’m going to refer to them as Big Garn (six) and Little Garn (nine months).

My husband and I adopted Big Garn officially in March of 2018, after she had lived with us for six months. She was five at the time and had completely stolen our hearts. I plan to share much more about her adoption, and the fear that comes along with it, as time progresses. Here’s what makes most people think we’re crazy though… I was seven months pregnant on the day of her adoption! She is an absolutely amazing older sister, a natural born leader, and hilarious.

Little Garn was born five weeks early (much to our surprise) and very quickly after we officially adopted her older sister. Having a baby is one of the most amazing things in the entire world. It’s a gift that I have not yet figured out how to put into words, but am hoping to try eventually. Her smell, her smile, and her newly developing personality bring a light to our world that I didn’t know was missing (or even a possibility).

Our girls are giving us a run for our money and I can only imagine what the future holds with them. Hold onto your hats folks and stick close to share this crazy parenting ride with me!

What’s in a Name?

As promised in my first post, I need to explain why I have named my site, (something that was painstakingly difficult for me) Garden of Heart. My family’s last name is Garnhart. I am frequently referred to by coworkers and children alike as; Gardenheart, Garden, and Garnie. When I asked my friends to start brainstorming names it took them less than ten minutes and only twelve name suggestions to land on Garden of Heart (Yeah, my friends are super stars).

It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it’s a cute little play on words and my name. Just to be super clear though, if you are looking for gardening information of any type, you have come to the wrong place. I cannot garden… at all! I am really good at killing plants, but not keeping them alive. So if you stumbled upon my page on accident, while searching for gardening goods, please stick around and enjoy what you find, but please don’t be shocked to not have your gardening needs met.

Sticking with the play on words though, and a catchy Garden of Heart theme, you will notice that all of my page headings are garden based. Because honestly, it’s cute. And more importantly, my brain can’t handle for it not to all be related in some way! Below you can find a little introduction to what you’ll find on each page on my site. That being said, explore it all!

Tending the Garden

This section will be focused on the random thoughts that come to my mind that I feel are worth a bit of writing. These might include family, career stuff, wrestling with mental health, life, anything really! Nothing in here will be overly philosophical, might strike a nerve occasionally, and will most definitely include some curse words (it’s life, it deserves colorful language). Hopefully though, philosophical or not, you will find something that touches you, strikes you, or at the very least entertains you!

The Greenhouse

So, our house isn’t green. Even as I’m typing about these catchy-named pages, I’m realizing that this is pretty much all a lie, but forgive me. Our house isn’t green, although it does have some green trim! Again, this is just a play on words. This page will have all things home, specifically house upgrades! I try to channel my inner Joanna Gaines as often as possible and want to share with you my failures and successes. We just bought a house in August and fully (and I mean FULLY) remodeled the whole place!

Baby Carrots

Again, I can’t grow anything… so this is not actually about carrots, of any kind. This will be a section focused on the little Gardenhearts that we are raising. I’m a new mom, of two (more of that to come later), with very little experience, so please don’t be expecting a ton of answers. This will mostly be funny stories of my girls, crafts, all things little people!

Feed Me

Duh! This section is about food. Recipes, cooking secrets, pictures of me stuffing my face!

I’m anxious to keep posting and growing my site. I’m pretty much an open book and would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have along the way!

Here I am!

So, let me give you the quick version of what you’re in for here… a little bit of everything!

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to starting a blog (who knew?!). So, as per my usual, I’ve done a lot of research, reading, and mulling over the ideas surrounding blogging for a couple years now. Each time I decided I was ready to start I found reasons (fears) to push me away. But here I am, giving this a try, so here are some things to know about this blog:

First, I was supposed to come up with a niche (something to focus on)… I didn’t. I don’t have one specific thing that I’m an “expert” at, or one specific topic that I am super passionate about. Actually, I’m just learning blogging as I go (as with all things in life) and I have a lot of passions. I am a passionate person about so many topics, and just really enjoy writing, so why not try to hit them all?

So the next piece of starting blogging was the name. I’ve never thought of myself as a person with commitment issues, turns out thought, I might be! This naming business was a seriously stressful task for me, and actually kept me from starting this blog for a long time. I finally called in reinforcements. Two of my closest friends and their spouses put their heads together to help me. Let me shoot straight with you, Garden of Heart was not our number one choice. The G Spot was choice number 1 because, hello… it’s hilarious!! Sadly, that domain name is already taken. (Now that you’re wondering what that domain name takes you to, go check it out. Disappointing, huh?!) We finally landed on Garden of Heart (more to come on this name later).

So, now I had a niche (or non-niche) and a name, but I still didn’t feel completely ready. Turns out though, the biggest challenge with starting a blog, as with most things in life, is fear!

I have played around with the idea of starting a blog or vlog or combo for several years but have never been brave enough to take the plunge. Until now! So, what was the sudden change? Life!

In the past few years my life has changed drastically. Some for the bad, most for better… far better (more of that to come later). With drastic changes in life, comes changes in self. I finally decided it was time to be brave, trust in myself, and take a shot on me.

So here I am. I’ve officially taken the plunge and started the Garden of Heart blog. Actually, this is hopefully going to be a seamless (hahaha yeah right) combination of blogging and vlogging. It’s going to cover the gamete of life; food, kids, exercise, random thoughts, raw truths… all of it.

I have no promises about this blog. I can’t promise it will be amazing and influential at the beginning, or ever. I can’t promise it will be anything life changing or paradigm shifting. I can’t promise consistency, although that is a goal. I can’t promise anything other than to give this my best, share myself with you, and BE BRAVE!

Thanks for joining. Can’t wait to share with you all!