Thriving . . . Not Just Surviving: Rachell Kitchen

You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” – Brené Brown

Rachell Kitchen has faced significant trauma in her life, more than most people. She has not only survived the trauma, but she is thriving. I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Rachell, a Woman Making Strides who is also my life coach.

Rachell Kitchen photo by Pfeiffer Photography

Rachell Kitchen – photo by Pfeiffer Photography, Naperville, IL

Rachell lives in Aurora, Illinois, and has two grown children. She owns her own business, Level Up for Life Coach as a certified professional life and transition coach. She has been a coach for three years and is passionate about her work.

In recent years, Rachell has faced several traumatic life changes. A couple of years ago, both her Mom and her mother-in-law developed cancer. Rachell had a few breast cancer scares of her own. Her youngest child, Kyah, moved from Illinois to Ohio to California and then got married. Besides all this, Rachell faced betrayal that ended in divorce. And tragically, Rachell’s father was murdered during this time—beaten on the street by strangers.

As you can imagine, Rachell was a bit of a “hot mess”. “It was all traumatic, but the worst was sometimes feeling alone in it. Where I thought I ‘should be’ getting support, I wasn’t. But then I realized people would support me if I asked for what I needed.” Rachell gets teary-eyed when discussing the support she did receive. Her friend Chris accompanied her to Chicago for court cases for the murder trial regularly for 18 months and shielded her when the criminals’ relatives taunted her. “I am so grateful for Chris and other friends who supported me.”

She founded a meetup group (no longer active) called the West Suburban DIVAS. The purpose of the group was for women to come together for connection and support while enjoying activities and discussing self-improvement books. Leading the DIVAS helped her overcome perfectionism. One of the books that helped Rachell was Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. The book led her to create a gratitude journal that changed her life as she learned to find things to be grateful for every day. That helped her focus on the good in people. On bad days, she picked up the gratitude journal and realized she did have abundance.

Rachell’s bad times led her to go on a path of self-discovery. She worked with a life coach, initially hoping to save her marriage. But the relationship that came out of that was a relationship with herself. Negativity from others had affected her self-worth, and she worked through this. Coaching helped her identify her own values and strengths.

This process helped Rachell to reinvent herself. There was a time when she was in victim-hood, feeling sorry for herself. Over time, she had an awakening. She realized the only person she could control was herself. That got her seeking out ways to be a better person. Through coaching, Rachell began to realize more of her own good qualities. She was a good listener and a person who empowered others. She also is a go-getter. These realizations about her strengths prompted Rachell to become a life coach herself. “I cashed in my IRA and enrolled in the best coaching school I could find.”

Rachell also realized, “You can have joy in the chaos.” The traumas she faced happened about the time she turned 50, and she wanted to celebrate that milestone birthday in a big way. Friends who were professional photographers offered to take pictures, so Rachell participated in a photo shoot. As it turns out, the photos have been helpful in her business.

Rachell in white dress

Image from Rachell’s photo shoot by Pfeiffer Photography, Naperville, IL

In her business, Rachell offers individual life coaching as well as group coaching, public speaking, and writing. A recent group coaching was a 5-week program called “Take Charge of Your Life: Rewire Your Brain for Confidence, Focus, & Taking Action.” People participated by video or audio conferencing. Rachell loves all aspects of her work, but especially individual coaching. “There’s nothing better than when I can witness someone feeling empowered. Their idea of who they are and what they’re capable of shifts. I’m humbled to have a little part of empowering them to see their own greatness. But it’s not about me. It’s about them shifting their limiting beliefs.”

She is proud to have created a 5-day summit called “Divorced and Thriving Summit” to help divorced women reinvent themselves. “Women need resources to deal with divorce. You can lose your friends, your social network, finances. It is overwhelming to not just start over, but to thrive.”

Most of Rachell’s clients are women, and she enjoys helping them deal with transition until they can do it on their own. Rachell says, “How can we live in alignment with our values? We get overwhelmed; we make so many decisions every day. It is powerful for women to step into that place where they’re more self-aware and in tune with their goals and to make decisions from that place. When we get in alignment with our values, we can change the world.” Improving ourselves can influence our children to lead better lives, and Rachell has seen this ripple effect in her own children.

Words matter to Rachell, and she is a contributing author for three books: Woman Thriving Fearlessly in Business, #Sisterhood Connection: A Year of Empowerment, and The One Thing Every Mom Needs to Know. She says, “It matters how we show up in the world. That’s what I’m passionate about. Don’t just survive . . . thrive!” But she does more than say words, she is living the words.

When not working on her business, Rachell loves to cook. She is currently writing a book about life lessons, which will include recipes. For example, after she moved Kyah into an apartment in Ohio for her first “real” job, Rachell was distraught and let herself cry for 20 minutes. But then she asked herself “How do I want to show up?” She decided “I want to lean in.” She decided to make herself something new to embrace her new life. So she made roasted eggplant and ate it on her best china.

Rachell's simple roasted eggplant with thyme

Rachell’s simple roasted eggplant with thyme

Running is another activity that helped Rachell get through her traumas. She has been running since 2013. At first, she ran to lose weight, but that has shifted to “I want to be in good health so I can be of service to other people.” For a time, she was part of a fun run club where she found friends with similar interests. Rachell’s first race was the Chicago Half Marathon, and now she has run 14 half marathons. You may remember that Rachell ran with me during my first half marathon, which I discussed here. Rachell’s goal is to run in every state in the U.S., and she has run in 11 states so far.

Rachell likes to run alone and be with her own thoughts. One day, early in the morning, she saw 15 to 20 deer at the local arboretum, and some came close. She says, “I felt the most connected with God during that time. Early in the morning, answers would come to me. Clarity would come. I was struggling with my faith at the time but realized that church and God and Spirit is in me. I became connected with my Lord and Savior on the trails.”

Rachell loves to run in winter

Rachell loves to run in winter

For self-care, Rachell continues to work with her own life coaches, still working on feeling whole and healthy. She says affirmations and does visualizations. She journals and meditates, sometimes sitting quietly and being alone in her head. She also gets manicures, pedicures, and facials. Rachell has learned to say No. “I try to do self-honoring acts, so when I’m tired, I rest.” She schedules Pajama Days where she wears cozy pajamas all day and stays home, relaxing and taking downtime.

I asked Rachell if she has any role models. “Oprah is one of my role models, and what I admire about her is her tenacity. She was fired from a network that said she wasn’t suited for television. She has struggled with her weight all her life. She’s not afraid to show vulnerability. She is that caring, nurturing soul. She holds space for people to discover what they need in that moment.” Rachell also admires the work of Brené Brown and has found the book Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead to be helpful. The quote by Brené Brown that began this post is one of her favorite quotes.

I asked Rachell if she has any tips for us. She said, “For women especially, you want to unapologetically own your feelings. You want to powerfully ask for what you want and need. Set and hold boundaries that support you, what you care about most, and your goals.”

Finally, I asked Rachell, “What do you attribute your strength to? What stops you from feeling like “poor me”? She said part of it is her faith, part is how she is made. “I may sit and lick my wounds for a minute, but then I’m able to catapult into a higher levels of energy.” As Kyah pointed out to her, one of her biggest strengths is her capacity to love. “I use it in coaching, relationships, and networking. God wants the best for us and for us to use the gifts He’s given us and that is the undercurrent of what motivates me. We have an obligation to use our gifts and to be on our best path.”

What traumas have you experienced? How have you dealt with them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: Facebook page:
This entry was posted in Bad days, Body, mind, spirit, Challenges, Empowerment, Inspiration, Intentional Living, Leading Ourselves, personal leadership, Running and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thriving . . . Not Just Surviving: Rachell Kitchen

  1. PAULA CROW says:

    Great article, Sue, giving me pause, even at this late stage, to heal some unresolved wounds that can, at times, uninvited, slip unsuspectedly into my consciousness disturbing my equilibrium and robing me of peace and joy. You’ve given me something to think about. 🤟 Paula Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Ekins says:

      Paula, you inspire me for your willingness to grow and work toward healing regardless of your age. Go, go, my friend! I have issues of my own that I keep trying to overcome as well. Thank you for commenting.


  2. It’s interesting and inspiring to read about others who have overcome obstacles and then have gone on to thrive. And there is no end to life lessons and the need to overcome our own negative self-evaluations. It certainly helps to become inspired by those who have transcended trauma!
    I’m tempted to make a couple of comments about women and their expectations and social limitations here, but I’ll just let that go for now.

    Liked by 1 person

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