Welcome to It’s Not About The Chair. I’m Lyena Strelkoff, a storyteller, performer, speaker, and coach. I believe our stories — the ones we’ve lived, that we can’t believe we made it through, or can’t stop laughing about, or just can’t stop thinking about —  are the greatest source of healing we have, for ourselves and especially, for each other. I started telling my own stories after I was paralyzed in a fall. My hope is that this blog will be a place to laugh, learn, heal and grow together. Because, ultimately, it’s not about the chair, or any other obstacle we might face. It’s about the choices we make, the spirit we bring, and helping each other thrive. I’m so glad you’re here.

When the dog eats your glasses…

So Dean, Aidan, Reba and I are in Maryland visiting Dean’s family. Good god, it’s cold here. I don’t actually own clothes for this kind of weather (why would I, living in a place where fall means low 70s?!). So at this moment, I’m wearing about half of my entire suitcase. I’ve discovered three layers of thin add up to about one layer of thick. That plus a sweater, a blanket over my legs, and my hat is more or less keeping me from shivering while I type. Oh, and I’m sitting directly next to the heater. Pathetic.

For all the frostbite though, my family is having a blast. Aidan has a cousin here who is a little less than a year older than he, and they get along swimmingly. In fact, ever since we arrived two days ago, he’s been pretty much out of sight, independently playing with her. When I do see him, he’s happily running with a princess something or other in his hand, his cousin, Sophia, close behind.

Reba, too, has a playmate: a 70 lb. puppy named Oaken who is as thick of frame as his name implies. When he wants to play, he jumps with both front paws on Reba’s head. Like the impeccable service dog she is, Reba ignores him for a moment. Then she dives for the jugular and the tussle is on.


It was Oaken who brought about this morning’s shero opportunity.

Yesterday, my glasses went missing. Everyone remembered them being on the table in the morning but by evening, they were gone. We looked everywhere. Under the furniture, in cupboards, drawers, in the fridge. Four adults and two kids scoured every inch of this house. Nothing.

Well, this morning I went into the kitchen to get some water and there on the counter was the lid to a tupperware holding bits and pieces of brown plastic and broken glass. Yep. My Ellen Tracy prescription glasses. Demolished.

Our best guess is that one of the cats knocked them off the table and Oaken stashed them somewhere until sometime during the night when he ATE them.


Thankfully, he seems none the worse for having eaten glass, plastic, and metal. The vet has been consulted and he is positively the exact same Oaken he was yesterday, woofing at anything he doesn’t understand, bopping Reba on the head every few minutes.

Certainly, the same cannot be said of my glasses.

However, staring at their remnants on the kitchen counter, I could hear this faint dinging in the back of my mind. Ding…. ding…. ding, ding, ding. “There’s an opportunity here,” a little voice sang. “Remember? The Shero’s Way!”

Ah yes, a teaching moment, for you AND for me. I’m 3,000 miles from home with 1/3 of my designer prescription eyeglasses in shreds on the counter, the other 2/3 making its way through the digestive track of a dog. What would a shero make of this little adversity? (And what can we learn about how we face much bigger ones?)

The first thing I did when my shero habit kicked in was marvel. Actually, no, wait. The VERY first thing I did was feel. Shock, disappointment, a twinge of worry. THEN my shero habit kicked in and I started to marvel. I’d never seen something that was still existing and identifiable, be as utterly decimated as those glasses. It was impressive actually.

Then I laughed. Humor is DEFINITELY a shero’s dear friend. Nothing keeps victimhood at bay like laughter.

Then (a little slow on the draw), I wondered about Oaken and his belly.

Once I knew he was ok (at least for the moment) and that there was nothing to do but watch him and wait, I thought well, I’m due for an eye exam anyway. My prescription has probably changed so it’ll be good to update it, and hey, now I can get cool, NEW designer glasses. Yea!

That’s not just making lemonade, by the way. It might just be an example of something happening for me rather than to me.

But as soon as I had that thought, I could feel there was something more. So next I wondered what this all was reflecting to me. If it was happening for me rather than to me, as is the shero perspective, and if just maybe I had led myself here, what was here for me to learn or see or understand?

I remembered the day before having a vague thought that I wasn’t caring for my glasses very well by leaving them on the table. Of course, I was thinking I might lose them or they might accidentally get broken or scratched, not that they would become someone’s hazardous midnight snack, but still. It had occurred to me to do something different. I just hadn’t heeded that impulse.

And the truth is, I have a tendency not to care properly for things I value. I don’t mean people and the like. I mean literally “things”: jewelry that’s important to me; my computer; my phone; my favorite boots. I’m actually quite careless with things like that and, often, they get ruined or lost.

I can’t say I totally understand what that’s about but I suspect it has to do with how I value myself. It’s an outward sign of the level of care I’m willing to give myself, maybe even the level of care I think I deserve. And it’s probably worth a deeper look. Thanks to Oaken (and my shero habit), I consider myself alerted.

So let me be clear about something. I’m not telling you this story in order to suggest that we all start scrutinizing every inch of our daily lives (though this whole process took less than 5 minutes for me). I’m just hoping it’s an easily digested example (sorry, Oaken) of what the Shero’s Way might look like when really hard things happen, and what we might stand to gain from choosing that path.

So just to break it down, here’s how it went (the Cliff notes version):

I felt; I marveled; I laughed; I cared; I made lemonade; and I looked for meaning.

That last one is really critical when it comes to facing the big challenges or (maybe more importantly) AVOIDING them completely. I’ll talk more about that next time. But for now, what’s important is that those steps empowered me — whether we’re talking about my broken glasses or my broken back — to be propelled forward instead of held back.

Can’t be too mad at Oaken for that!

(And did anyone else notice that I fell out of an oak tree and my glasses were eaten by a dog named Oaken?? Tee hee.)


“Well done one and all. It really was incredible. I look forward to more.”

That’s a note I just received about the Shero Summit. Did you catch it? Now’s your chance to relish your favorite Shero story, or make a custom collection of stories to lift you up and renew your faith whenever you need it. Individual interviews are on sale for only $10. Visit http://sherosummit.com/shining-shero/


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Is life happening TO you?

So. What’s up with this Shero’s Way thing?

Honestly, I’ve been asking myself the same thing. My work of the last two decades is coalescing so quickly, I can hardly keep up. And I’m not exactly sure where to start in sharing it with you. Maybe the best place is to wonder, what serves you best?

And ironically enough, the best way to answer that is to wonder what has served me best. Because I am, after all, just a reflection of you (and vice versa!).

So let’s start with why this matters.

Doesn’t it feel often like life is happening to us? Whether it’s the traffic on the freeway, the plumbing nightmare, the job that fell through, or the scary diagnosis — big and small things are happening all the time.

And to be fair, in a very real way, they ARE happening to us. Jobs fall through for reasons that have nothing to do with us.  When some dude runs a red light and causes an accident twenty minutes before we get on the road, the traffic jam we encounter has nothing to do with us.

So it’s totally natural that we relate to these events as independent from us. It’s also kinda unfortunate.

You know, shortly after I was injured, I noticed something about the way we typically deal with adversity. Actually, I didn’t exactly notice it. It was indirectly pointed out to me.

I was on stage. It was seven months post-injury, and I was sharing for the first time publicly the stories and insights from my newly established life with paraplegia. And during the Q & A after my “performance,” my stepmother, who’d been earnestly absorbing nearly two hours of content from me, finally stood up and said, “Aren’t you mad at that stupid tree?!”

My truthful answer was, “No.” I wasn’t then, nor have I ever been, mad at the tree. But her question surprised me. The way she asked it implied that it was normal to be mad at the tree. And I swear I saw people in the audience nodding when she asked (though I’m not entirely sure that really happened; maybe I just felt like they were nodding).

In any case, it got me wondering — Why wasn’t I mad at the tree? In fact, why wasn’t I mad at all?? In one giant thud, I’d lost the things I treasured most: my ability to dance, my ability to run, walk, climb, and hike. I mean, for god’s sake, I’d lost entirely my sexual sensation. I had VERY good reasons to be mad!

Now, some of that anger showed up later, directed at me or at god. And just to be transparent, some of the lack of anger is probably because I’m not very good at being angry. I don’t like it and, in general, I probably avoid it more than I should. But there was something else going on too, something important and unique.

I didn’t feel victimized by my fall.

I was heartbroken, and scared. Even devastated at times. But somewhere deep inside I knew I had “chosen” this experience, that I had led myself here, and I knew I had a good reason, even if I didn’t always see it clearly or understand it.

Now I know that’s hard to swallow for a lot of folks. God knows, I’ve gotten that reflection time and again (my mother nearly bit my head off when I told her!). And actually, there are good reasons why it’s hard to swallow. As an idea, it’s threatening to some things we hold very dear. We’re gonna talk more about that but, for now, hang with me and just trust that it’s true. Because here’s the deal:

It’s my belief that that perspective served me enormously. It took a tiny bit of the edge off my feelings, I think. And it left me fundamentally empowered instead of feeling victimized.

That empowerment is important. It didn’t save me from pain or fear or even anger. But it did fortify me. It gave me strength and courage. Not only did it fuel my will to survive, but it made it possible to go further and actually thrive.

It also opened me to extraordinary truths I would otherwise have missed. Truths about myself, about life, about the way I was walking in the world. It opened me to a new vision of how the world could be and who I could be in it.

Looking back now, that empowerment was pure liberation from a circumstance that could have stolen my life. It made everything my life has become possible.

For me, that’s the heart of the Shero’s Way. It’s an approach to life’s challenges that is, at its core, empowered. And somehow, we are sustained, whether we are facing our greatest tragedies or the quiet ache of life gone wrong for just too long.

It’s such a normal thing to feel victimized when crap happens, and it’s reasonable too! It’s a completely understandable response. And certainly, when “crap” involves actual perpetrators, it’s appropriate. It’s just that it’s also profoundly limiting. It’s like being taken out at the knees and trying then to face life from the ground.

So whether it’s some huge, life changing event or a pesky, recurring annoyance, the Shero’s Way is an opportunity to relate from a place of empowerment. It’s a method and approach that gives us a chance to thrive no matter what the hell is happening.

That’s pretty priceless, as far as I’m concerned. What do you think?




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It’s ALWAYS a leap of faith

Boy, there’s nothing like a fresh, fall day to get the blood moving. In LA, that means low 70s, clear skies, crisp breeze. (I know. Rough.)

I needed to take a break from work and I have a new wheelchair I’m adjusting to, so I took Reba out for a little jog in the neighborhood.


And now I feel all… I don’t know…. buzzy. Like my brain has more oxygen than it’s used to. You know you spend too much time at the computer when a 30 minute walk jangles your nervous system a bit. Guess I need to do that a little more regularly, right? Reba will be pleased.

So, the Shero Summit came to a close. It was a lot of work and I’ve been really distracted by it, but it was totally worth it.

You know, you get an inspiration. If you’re lucky, all the pieces sort of play out in your mind in one swift, beautiful, heart-stopping picture. If you’re not, they don’t. Either way, you wrestle your fear and doubt into your back pocket (for later examination as needed); you lean into whatever courage you can find; and you take a leap of faith.

But it’s ALWAYS a leap of faith. No matter how inspired the idea feels, no matter how pretty the picture I receive, it’s still a leap of faith. We just don’t get to know how things will go until they’re done. Those are the rules.

So working for weeks to produce the Shero Summit, sending it out into the world, watching the “clicks” climb as people start viewing the interviews…. I really could only trust that it was meaningful. No matter how valuable it seemed it would be, no matter how much potential I knew it had, there was no guarantee and nothing to do but wait and see.

Can you imagine, then, how thrilled I was when the feedback started coming in?

“It’s been such an incredible experience and every story resonated so powerfully with me! It’s funny how well timed all those healing messages are!”

“Thank you so very much for reigniting my own hope and inspiration in so many ways.”

“[The Shero Summit] reaffirmed the truths I have started to acutely realize myself, and propelled me further on my journey to a complete alignment with myself.”

PHEW!!! (And hallelujah!) Such a blessing to know it landed right where I hoped it would.

And I love that phrase — “complete alignment with myself.” That’s what it’s all about, what I’ve been dreaming of, all of us living from that place.

So I suppose it shouldn’t surprise that the Shero Summit actually caused that for me, too.

The time I spent diving REALLY deeply into my concept of the shero’s journey has refined my understanding of it in a really striking way. It started as a vague awareness 12 years ago and then evolved into a personal story with universal implications. But today, it has become an actual philosophy, a way of life, duplicable among others and carrying the same gifts and benefits. For now, I’ll call it The Shero Way.

And as it gets clearer to me — how it works; what it can do; how I might share it with others — I am filled with inspiration. Which can only mean one thing:

It’s time for another leap of faith.

Soon I’ll be sharing more about The Shero Way and the ways I’m dreaming of exploring it together. I’m excited, nervous, and humbled by the whole damn thing. Because as you know, there are rules. For all the inspiration I’m receiving, I can’t know how it will land or the impact it will have until it’s done. I can’t know its true value until we walk together and you share your experience with me.

So I’m wrestling my fear and doubt into my back pocket (for later consideration as needed); leaning into what courage I can find; and taking that leap of faith.

Wanna leap with me?

Stay tuned for more on The Shero Way.

And if you missed some or all of the Shero Summit, it’s not too late to get some hope, inspiration, and courage for yourself. Individual interviews are on sale now for only $10, or you can buy the whole pretty thing for $49. Details are here.

Thanks for walking with me.

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The Shero Summit — Stories to nourish the soul

Are you looking for some deep inspiration, the kind that rattles your bones and feeds your soul?

I find myself, so often, wishing there was a radio program or a television show that gave me the kind of stories my heart really longs for — honestly, the kind of stories I myself tell.

In the on-line world, there is plenty of content but I’m getting a little tired of the “top 5 secrets to blah-blah-blah.” I mean, don’t get me wrong. There’s a need for great information and, in the past, I’ve created exactly that kind of content too.

But my soul is longing for something else, something that really nourishes, that cracks us open in the best possible way and shines a light in the dank, dark corners.

I’m not alone in this, am I? I think a lot of us are hungry for that kind of nourishment, something we can rest into, a place where we can remember who we are, really, at the core, and just what life is all about.

Well, my longing recently gave way to some inspired action. (Hallelujah!) I’ve spent the last two months working on this, and I’m eager to share it with you.

It’s called The Shero Summit and it’s not like anything you’ve heard or seen before.

The spirit of The Shero Summit rose from one simple fact: Twelve years ago, I was paralyzed in a climbing accident… And it turned my life to gold.

As you know, I’ve been sharing stories from my “shero’s journey” all around the world since then, and the result is always the same: People see themselves in these stories. They find strength they didn’t know they had. They refuel their faith. In the humor and heartache, they find new hope and, sometimes, profound healing.

Well over the years, I’ve come to believe that when we tell the stories that make transparent our deepest moments of transformation in a way that is vulnerable, authentic, and given from a place of love and spiritual generosity, magic happens. So, I set out to create a platform for just those kinds of stories told in just that kind of way, to inspire, heal, and bring us all closer to purpose.

The Shero SummitWomen Risen from the Ashes.

The Shero Summit is a wholly unique, on-line, storytelling series featuring seven “sheroes,” all of us brought to our knees by life at one time or another in various ways, only to find our true essence and soul’s purpose.

It’s free to participants, and can be enjoyed at your convenience from the comfort of your home.

Beginning October 31, we’ll bring you a week’s worth of transformational stories: moving video interviews with women living into their purpose after being brought to the edge. All you have to do is pre-register at The Shero Summit.

The heart of the “shero’s journey” is the idea that hidden within our most profound challenges are the keys to our most inspired being. It was true for every woman speaking on this summit (including yours truly!). And I suspect it’s true for you, whether your dark time was years ago or is happening today. Wouldn’t you like to have that inspiration reflected to you?

Because every darkness has its medicine, those gems in the cold, hard rock which, when excavated by a brave soul and brought to light, have the power to sustain, inspire, and transform us all. Who knows what medicine is waiting for you in the folds of these stories. I hope you’ll register today.

To see who’s speaking and get more information about The Shero Summit, click here.

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The cost of not

Last week I told you about the Shero’s Retreat and, in response, I got an email from someone saying in horror, “$6,000 for five days… Was that a typo??” (Hi Andrea!) Well, the very next day, I got a message from someone else saying, “Wow. That’s a great deal.” (Hi Lisa!)

Clearly there’s no objective standard for what transformation should cost. But rather than explain or argue the merits of a program, I’m MUCH more interested in talking about the cost of NOT.

I’m talking about the cost of not investing in those services or programs that speak to your heart and the requirements of your personal transformation.

(And what I’m about to say is true for ANY program or service, with ANY coach or provider, that speaks to you… So listen up! ;) )

If I look back on my own process of transformation (in this case, stepping into my soul’s purpose), here’s what I see:

Years of floating along feeling restless and just kind of lost. Then growing dissatisfaction with my life. Then chronic depression. Then making poor, very out of character decisions. Then my long time partner decided to pull the plug on our struggling relationship. Then I nearly got hit by a car. Then I did get hit by a car. Then I fell out of a tree and broke my back.

Only then did I begin to invest, in earnest, the time and money to engage my transformation and step into my purpose. Only then was I finally willing to stop tolerating what wasn’t working and start treating my life as the precious, finite experience it is.

Listen, I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you this to wake you up.

It’s actually quite comfortable to stay stuck. We know it; it’s familiar. And it doesn’t scare us as much as taking bold action to move forward. So when we’re faced with an opportunity to do exactly that, it’s easy to think we can wait.

That’s what I did. Over and over again.

It’s true, getting skilled help to move through where you’re stuck requires investments of time, money, and courage (lord-y, don’t forget courage!). But while you’re considering the cost of getting help, don’t forget to consider the cost of NOT getting help.

Believe me when I tell you, it’s higher than you think.

If the Shero’s Retreat is calling to you (but you’re feeling a little short of time, money, or courage), here’s an opportunity to get some help with your transformation at NO COST (avoid the “cost of not” without incurring the “cost of” — win-win!).

I’m giving away three (3) Soul Purpose Breakthrough sessions to women interested in the Shero’s Retreat.

During a one-hour, private session, I’ll help you identify what exactly is standing in the way of claiming your soul’s purpose and create an action plan for you to move forward. Then we’ll see if the Shero’s Retreat is truly a fit for you (because I’m not taking anyone on this retreat who isn’t a perfect match.)

WARNING: The complimentary Soul Purpose Breakthrough sessions are only available until July 10 and I’m only giving away three. So snap one up now if it’s calling you.

You got nothing to lose except the “cost of not.”

Click here to apply for a complimentary Soul Purpose Breakthrough session.

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