The REAL Inspiration Behind My Blog And Home Office
Before I even get started I would like to go ahead and warn you this is a long one. If you don't really give a damn what I have to say and just want to shop the post that's perfectly fine. Just go ahead and scroll down to the bottom. However, if you want to hear where I got my inspiration behind this room and hear my story, keep reading.
Since I can remember I have always been a visionary. Just in case you didn't know, competitive cheerleading was a HUGE part of my life. I grew up traveling all around the country competing against teams from other states and even made it on ESPN a few times. It is an industry that involves many creative and visual beings who love expressing themselves. Cheering in college was always in the cards for me until I got pregnant with my daughter Camryn. (You can read all about that story HERE.) I had coached all through High School at some local gyms and before Camryn was even 1 year old I was back in the gym teaching again. As time went on, I continued to coach and my love and appreciation for choreography and design of Allstar Apparel grew. One day when Steve and I were talking we started to discuss the idea of me starting my own gym. We had recognized a need in our area for something smaller than our main competitors and I already had quite a following of athletes and families at this time. That is when Legends Elite was born (that was the name of my cheer gym). I have always loved the color combo of black, gold and white and I love leopard print so that is what we went with for our color scheme. Being a visual person it was so fun to see my vision come to life. I can recall us looking for a space to house the gym and we were able to find a little old 1,800 square foot transmission shop and turn it into a super cute and super successful cheer gym. Thank GOD for my friend Melissa as she partnered with me in getting the gym up and running. If it weren't for her it would have never grown so fast much less gotten off the ground as quickly as it did.
With any new business it was tough at first but the amount of success the gym had in such a short period of time was crazy. Within the first few months, we were on a wait list with tumbling classes, had multiple school squads practicing with us and all of our Allstar Teams were successful. Things were going so great that by the time we had been in business for 2 years, our baby gym had outgrown the space so much that we needed to move into a 10,000 square foot facility. It was one of the greatest moments of my career. I wanted my new facility to truly represent the vision I had for my brand. I had black and white walls, my logo was on EVERYTHING and I decorated the entire place top to bottom. It might have been the most well decorated gym EVER! I'm so serious. Growing up in a cheer gym, I had some of my BEST memories there and I wanted it to be the same for all of my athletes as well. I remember looking around thinking to myself "Oh my God, Sarah...You're doing it. This is really happening." Little did I know God had other plans for me.
Very shortly after moving into our brand new building, I had started to notice something was slightly off with me. It was very normal for me to tumble and do drills with my athletes when I taught but I noticed one time my arms were completely off and crooked when I was tumbling with them. This immediately freaked me out and I began to get anxiety. I went into my office to call my husband and began to cry. At that exact moment I got vertigo and knew something was wrong. If you have never had vertigo before I can only describe it as being on the tea cup ride at Disney World and you can't get off. The vertigo lasted for over a month. Someone who was so used to having complete control over her own body so much it was extremely scary for me. I started to feel like someone else had taken over and I was having an outer body experience. We immediately began to visit many neurologists to try and figure out what was going on. At first we thought maybe it was due to stress or over exhaustion but then...the worst happened. I began losing feeling on the entire left side of my body. Things just went numb. I tried to play it off as long as I could until I could no longer ignore that something was seriously wrong with me.
All of my athletes and staff had started to pick up on my recent irritability and that I just wasn't myself but I can recall one exact night where there was absolutely no more hiding. While at practice one evening, all of the above symptoms went up about 10 notches and I was visibly shaking and could barely speak or use that side of my body. This is when my family and I all started to take everything seriously and demanded I receive an MRI from my neurologist. After an ongoing almost 2 month long battle and multiple MRI's, on Friday December 13, 2013 at age 27 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Some scary shit right? Even worse, one of our biggest competitions of the season was that weekend and I wasn't able to go. The 50+ kids I had in my allstar program and staff were going to have to go without me and it completely ate me up inside. I had felt like the biggest let down and disappointment. It mentally was the hardest thing because again, this was me losing control over my OWN body and this disease was forcing me to have to lay there and do nothing. (something I HATE doing.)
I have to say...although I felt like I was letting everyone down, all of my kids (athletes), their families and even kids that no longer cheered for me all showed me so much support and love. In fact I STILL have a box of all of the cards and sweet notes they all brought me. The cheer community is actually a very tight knit community and everyone even from different gyms are very supportive of each other and the greater good of the sport. My gym even participated in a Mud Run to benefit the MS Center of Atlanta. We had shirts made and it was just such a cool thing to see how much our community came together. As time went on and I got better I was able to be in the gym with all of my kids again but it would never be the same. I had limitations now. How could my business continue to grow without me being the pulse? I was the face, I had the vision. I was so lucky and blessed with some of the greatest staff in the world as they did EVERYTHING I needed of them and stepped up to the plate when I couldn't be there. They truly were (and many of them still are) my family. Even though they were doing such an amazing job, it just wasn't the same. I still couldn't be the type of gym owner everyone needed of me and the kind I wanted to be. I didn't want to only be in the office paying bills and all of the administrative stuff. I wanted to be out on the floor, sweating with all of the kids. I was able to regain full mobility again and for the most part live a very normal life. After a couple of more years, my husband and I decided we would close the gym and were acquired by another local gym. Our thought process has always been "It's better to close a business because you choose to rather than because you have to". At this point, I felt like a complete and total failure. All of my hard work, all of those kids and their families, everything we had accomplished in such a short period of time, all gone. I knew it was the best decision for my family and my athletes but it absolutely crushed me. I saw everything go down the drain. I was hurt and angry and felt it was so unfair. Why me? Why now? It truly was the same as experiencing a death. The gym was my baby and it had died.
After we closed, I took on a few projects with a couple of businesses and assisted them in branding, marketing and even a complete renovation for one medical practice but still...the fire I was had was still missing. I tried so many different things to fill this void I had. I went into decorating overload at our new house, I shopped through my sadness at Saks (thanks Felix, LOL), I drank my feelings, ate my feelings...you name it. I tried it all and it still wasn't filling the void I had. I still had the desire to get my own vision and creativity out there and feel like in someway I was contributing to society. I debated this for a couple of years (for many reasons) but then said "fu** it, I'm going to just do it! I'm going to join the blogger world. Oh dear Jesus, help me". As my Web Designer (who is kick ass by the way) and I started the process of designing this website and thinking of my brand, all of the ideas that came to me continued to match those of Legends. My coloring, how bold I wanted it to be, you name it. I kept trying to ignore the old "gym owner" in my mind and tried to steer clear of even thinking about what my gym "used" to be. As always, my husband continued to encourage me to not look at that as a failure but more of one of the greatest experiences of my life. Something to be celebrated. I finally decided one day to take his advice and face my fear and allowed myself to fully grieve the death of my gym and accept that it no longer existed. I decided to finally come to grips that I do have MS and that it's okay. I'm not an invalid and still have so much to offer to the world. This is how Going Gosnell was born. I went down into my basement and pulled out my old desk from my office when I was "The Boss", the couch from my athlete lounge and some of my favorite pictures and rewards we had received and decorated my home office the exact same colors as my gym....Black, Gold, White, with some pops of leopard. I realized "Holy shit....this is me! I am still Legends." It was like reviving my gym back from the dead. It allowed me to view Legends not as the business but that "I" was the business. The business continues, just in something different now that doesn't require me to work 12 hour days on the weekends and be gone everynight from my kids.
In that moment I realized...I may have MS but it DOES NOT have me. (SIDENOTE:I am happy to report I have been living for the most part symptom free. I just keep an eye on it and get yearly MRI's.) After all of this rambling, if there is anything you can take let it be this...life throws you curveballs. Lord, they never seem to stop. Let the curveballs be the Catalyst in your life to make you chase your dreams even further! Make Shit happen! The new dream just may look a little different than it did before. The saying is "When we try and make plans, God laughs" and I think there is definitely some truth to that!
Okay Okay, I swear I am done talking now. This was supposed to be a decor post after all! Hahahaha!