Growing up, there is something about the kitchen table that inadvertently begs the question to all of life’s intersections. It’s as if the very grains of wood are constructed with dubiety and resplendent conclusions, our support system the crucial legs that count as pillars, all in order to hold the weight of the world that appears to sprawl across it and seep into the knots. Sometimes, if we’re lucky enough, that support system includes both parents. This was the case for Rachel Chadima, whose parents quite literally decorated the landscape of their family’s kitchen table with adjuvant words to fill the gaps where others had carved a vacant and sensitive space. This came by way of Post-It notes that would later come to build the trajectory of her life.
Lovingly dubbed “The Great Observer” by her mother and ultimate confidant, Cheri, Rachel has a penchant for detail. And like every great leader that we have come to nod to overtime, they all have a common denominator that is the admirable quality of discipline, which is also in the forefront of Rachel’s toolbox from which she builds her character. “I have been incredibly disciplined my entire life. I’ve always had such a clear vision of where I was going—so focused every step of the way—that no one could stop me from achieving my dreams,” says Chadima. But even the most romantic of notions can appear intangible when vanquished enough by relentless outside factors. In this fearless leader’s case, it was the bullies of her formative teenage years.
As if adolescence isn’t hard enough to navigate, then comes in jealousy and all of its toxic shades, which can pervade one’s spirit even quicker than the accompanying hormones. The bullying epidemic has been present long before the invention of social media, and while it is often the root of the issues’ inflation, it can also be a source of education and a resource, something Cheri Chadima wished she would’ve had during this time.
“I would go to the library and scour every book, only to leave empty handed and without answers as to how to best support my daughter through the bullying.” - Cheri Chadima
“I would go to the library and scour every book,” she says, “only to leave empty handed and without answers as to how to best support my daughter through the bullying.” Cheri adds that there simply was not the network for women to celebrate one anothers’ successes. That is, until she found herself “divinely inspired”—during her morning devotions at the kitchen table with the rising sun beaming over the farm fields and onto her Bible—to write Rachel lunchbox notes. Surreptitiously placing her Post-it® notes in Rachel’s lunchbox for thirteen years, the content only began to ripen with depth, the thoughts more poignant and specific—with Scripture adorning the top—as Rachel grew.
“I have saved every single one, and they were the very things that got me through the growing up years,” recounts Chadima, with tears gracing her face as she talks about the impact of her Mom’s handwritten notes. “My Mom’s notes gave me hope and encouragement to keep my head up and stay true to who I was at my core. She was an angel lighting my path no matter who trying to dim my light.” She knew from her steadfast faith that her purpose was greater than perimeters others were trying to build around her. Even amidst the ruthless mockery and teenage oppressors, Rachel’s yearning to motivate and enrich others remained indefatigable. Whether it was in her years as a dance team captain, the manager of a yoga studio, or now as an author and business owner, it’s blatantly clear that the foundation of anything Rachel has done and continues to do is to create a safe space for others where cheering each other on—just as her parents did at that kitchen table and from the front row as she danced through life—is her mission. Crediting a long line of entrepreneurs, namely her grandfather, Jay, and father, David, Rachel recalls early on taking notes from these workhorses in her new book Lessons from My Lunchbox. “I studied my dad’s boot prints in the soil like most kids watched the Disney channel- with tunnel vision- and learned so much from his work ethic and integrity.”
With an uncompromised vision and using trial for fuel, Rachel sought out to publish her book and open her Mainstream Boutique in Hudson, WI. She has an appreciation for things delivered with panache and others that are simply prosaic alike; these characteristics are likely what make this small-town raised woman so relatable. It’s clear that Chadima has indeed found her stride and it’s reflected in the way she fondly speaks of her two latest ventures. “Writing my book and opening my store took years of heart, soul and placing my trust in God’s plan for how the dreams in my heart would unfold. I believe everything we walk in life is purposed, and as I look back, I can see that God was preparing me for this moment all along…to share my story with one goal in my heart: to give others hope and to empower young girls and women alike. It’s what I aspire to do every single day.”
With a heart as open as the vast hills she ran as a child, and loyalty as deep as the imprinted soil she fondly recounts, this 26-year old is contributing to a movement, one she views only as mandatory. One that generates an emotional reciprocity between women, where we are able to leave one another’s presence feeling elevated, better than when we arrived.
When we first met, Rachel was standing alongside a fixture in her store built by her dad, her hands tracing the grains of the wood reclaimed from old fences she climbed as a kid on the family farm, enveloped on all sides by a vase of her beloved peonies, a gorgeous statue of the new book in print, and several customers clearly wanting to be nowhere else in the world. When we meet again with Cheri and David on the family farm, her genuine essence is still ever-present and welcoming. I hug them in the home where all of the lessons are learned and lived out, with their very kitchen table in my peripheral vision, and all of it makes sense.
There is always enough room at the table, and Rachel is making sure every last human has a spot.
Lunchbox notes - a simple, yet powerful way to help your kids overcome bullies and thrive - To purchase a copy of "Lessons From My Lunchbox," By Rachel Chadima, click here.
Born and raised with Midwestern roots, Sarah has a proud and strong appreciation for hard work, bear hugs, denim shirts, handwritten thank you cards, folk music and large gatherings to break some bread. You can find her in the studio for her business linyage, teaching yoga, on the trails with her husband and pups, or perusing the farmers market.