Starbucks is my jam — however, today, — it’s my birthday (I just took a bow for stating the obvious) and I’m in the mood for something more than coffee. To be exact — I want a cappuccino crunch, yeast risen doughnut from Revolution. Thank you for the clarity 35 — I’m on my way!

As you can see — I know what I want — and not in the most general of terms. I know not (doughnut) JUST what I want, I know EXACTLY what I want — well — at least for breakfast anyways.

So ahem:

Hear ye, hear ye — I am claiming this doughnut as a symbol of Life Lesson No. 35. Leave all judgmental tendencies on the gram — you’re in for a treat!

All of my life (I had to fight lol jk) I have been creating my own reality. I figured out early in life — that I could escape my everyday through work, aka distractions, aka doing the most…and I can not go with out saying…it worked…temporarily of course. No matter how mighty I grew, and I am a very proud 36 btw, life found a way to one-up me. But today, I know, everything that I have tried to build to date, has been nothing more than a distraction.

As a rule of thumb, I would pretty much try anything that seemed out of reach. If I knew it would be all consuming, in my mind, it had my name written all over it. I did this because it was my way of compartmentalizing — those uncontrollable parts of my story that I never learned how to process.

I became so good at compartmentalizing, I made a bold move. As a kid, I told everyone in my classroom to call me Regina, and in turn set the stage for Natasha to handle all else that life would throw my way. As the years went on, I stopped having dreams and nightmares in the tangible sense. Regina took on the roll of turning dreams into reality, and Natasha dealt with the nightmares as they presented themselves. Despite being aware of the accumulating clouds, I decided to just keep chasing the sun. I secretly embraced out-running the storm as a badge of honor –especially since I did it with none other than, Integrity. That is — until Hurricane Natasha reached a category 5 this year and left me weathered to the core. For once, the chaos won — stopping me dead in my tracks. I no longer had school, or a project on an 8 month delay, or the terrible 3s to deal with. When people ask me how I managed it all, I know it’s only because they don’t understand the wrath that I always had waiting for me the day I stopped to think about anything outside of my over-commitments. You see — I would’ve much rather taken on a PhD and maybe even a law degree in tandem, than to stop…to stop running…to weather the storm…and rebuild…my grace was all used up on others.

It has taken me 6 months to truly understand the purpose in it all, not to give the false sense that it was a light bulb moment, but there was and continues to be an unfolding, that goes essentially like this:

  • Presence – WTF is that?
  • Margins – Like on paper?
  • Spell it Out – Yes, exactly. For the love of God please finally put all of those journals to use!

Earlier this year, my church announced a summer, women’s bible study. I thought YES! Sign me up, me me me me me, with all of my “free time”. YESsss!!! I had been praying for something local and communal to immerse myself in and surely this was it! I signed up, without a care in the world about what we’d actually be doing. I mean — I eat books for breakfast — so surely it was going to be awesome, easy peasy — Facebook, #motivationmonday , here I come!!!

In true Regina fashion, I missed the first class.

Not because I forgot or wasn’t prepared (I would never) but because with all of my “free time”, I skimmed over the fine print: childcare was only available during the day sessions – sigh. So — home I went, where I read ahead, and did all of the extra credit of course. In the midst of going through the individual assignment, I lost it. I mean boo-hoo-who is this person, LOST it. The exercises were from Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect series. Even at first glance, I just thought — cool. I mastered perfectionism a long time ago when I rolled up that all-black carpet my parents scoured the state for my freshman year of college. After having shared it with a red haired artist who shed like an Akita, I destroyed several vacuums yet grew to love her dearly. Surely I’d been healed from all of this perfectionism stuff back then — so — bring it on Shauna!

What I realized in the midst of the process, is that while it only took one fleeting friendship to drop the expectations that I had of others, the ones of my self were rock solid and going stronger than ever. So much so, that the hyper-reality I’d learned to create, was all that I knew. Without doing the work associated with the series, I might would have tactically admitted an occasional struggle with patience — but now I know, patience, is the least of my concerns. What I struggle with is — slow. Let’s not even try to take it to a definitive halt. I am a do-ER (I am LITERALLY waiting for that call from Nike any day). While we all have different things to acknowledge, for me, the revelation about presence was life changing. Presence was a dangerous place for me growing up, light years ahead of myself was always a safe place to be. This became most apparent as I began to realize that I was the epitome of the administrative mom. Phoenix and I — we tackled everything head on — no more bottles — no problem, time to drop the passy — boo-ya, time to potty train — cold turkey, sleeping through the night? We did that first. I was ON-it…but ask me to play with my son for half an hour in the pool on a summer day…skirrrr – excu’e me??? I say all of this in hindsight of course, there is not one person that could convince me I was doing anything slightly shy of winning the mom game. But when I stop to think, what do I truly want for my son, it dawned on me, and I cried, for a very, VERY long time. And guess what…after that…the nightmares returned. After me staring in the mirror and deciding to be more present, I had no choice but to turn and look at the storm. It was scary, and I received a vivid reminder right out of the gate. But the scariest part of it all — was that it was all interconnected and yet it had never occurred to me. I needed to sit in the storm because I am the storm — and I now know I will never be everything I plan to be without acknowledging that piece of me. It was time to dry my eyes and get real. 

Who are you?

What are you doing here?

Sure, these are things you’ve thought about before; it’s what’s been driving the hyper-reality. But who are you MEANT to be?

Like a timed GMAT, I wish I could say these were things I slam dunked in a day. Not so much. These questions require an immense amount of time, commitment, and a lot of grace when I digress to my old self. It’s a new a way of life I’d never know had 35 not brought me to my knees.

Fortunately Shauna didn’t leave us hanging without the main tool we’d need on this journey. Maybe it was my love for paper that made it resonate (I have a borderline weird obsession with stationary that I sometimes disguise in the form of bev naps) but dog-on-it, I saw the sign, cue Ace of Base.

When Shauna said margins, I said how high!

Sorry…that’s just my current excitement speaking…

What I really said was — huh?

Margins??? I just finished listening to the 12 week year for crying out loud.

I am literally trying to shove 4 years into 1 — just let me be great!!! I am ON-it.

Then I realized — if I really wanted to answer the big questions, in a meaningful way, I would need space. In the midst of the chaos, I would have to carve out time to just be. Blank space on my calendar — super weird — but that’s where I’m at these days. 

And while I don’t have all the answers, I see what’s necessary. It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty for me, myself, and I. It’s worthless to be a visionary on behalf of everyone else — none of which can ever truly come to fruition without knowing who you are and what your heart desires.

In general, I’ve always been able to tell you what I stand for: love, integrity, delivering value that out lasts me.

But let’s just dig into love for the sake of time: What will it look like to love myself — how will I be perceived, and how will I feel inside when I live a life that symbolizes self love — beyond “good”? What will a day in the life of Natasha Regina Chavis, loving herself, look like? Will I be alone, or in a crowded room? Will I be active or relaxing? Will I be an early bird or a night owl? What will my rituals be? How will I celebrate my uniqueness? Of course these are all questions that present a spectrum of possibilities but what 35 taught me, is that the true beauty of honoring the storm is being able to decide for yourself what you will make of it. And if you never stop to sit in it, or become too hurried to stay a little longer and make something of it, you will forever be running, forever be exhausted, and forever be in denial of who you were meant to me.

The storm is a part of our essence, the only way to impede the destruction, is to make something out of it.

35, I could have never earned my clearance into the second act without you. You weren’t my favorite, but you were necessary. 

I thank God for the necessary.

A few days ago I awoke from a dream, I was laughing so hard that it carried me through the day. I can’t recall the last time that happened. It’s been decades…but it’s all starting to come together now…

Normally I’d say I’m ready for you — but after allllllll of this — you better be ready for me 36



Author: Regina Chavis

Let go and grow -- I can help!

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