Welcome!

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.

What I see in Charleston — a Shero perspective

This morning, I delivered an address about what I see in Charleston from the Shero perspective. You can listen at the link below.

What I want more than anything is for the nine lives lost, and the countless more shattered, in Charleston to count for something, something as great as those very lives. And if I want that, then I must view these events as a personal opportunity and ask one very important question of myself…

What I see in Charleston — a Shero perspective

And here is the referenced link to President Obama’s address.

So… Please share with us what you find when you ask the question… Let us stand with you… And let’s all stand together for what those lives in Charleston matter.

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We are L O U S Y at valuing ourselves

This past week marked the beginning of my son’s summer vacation. He doesn’t really get what that means yet; he’s only four and went to school only a few mornings a week last year. But I’m excited on his behalf.

To commemorate this grand milestone (the first of many “schools out!” moments), we drove down to San Diego to visit dear family and friends, eat great meals, and best of all…. Legoland. (Sorry, no photos. I always long to share but when I’m in the moment, taking photos often feels intrusive.)

For me, it was a chance to unwind and enjoy my family in a concentrated shot in a place of beauty and fun…

Simply, it was food. And food felt goooooood.

So why is it so hard to let ourselves be nourished?

Why is it so hard not only to make time, but to insist on time that feeds us?

Why do we resist opportunities to be supported and sustained?

Why do we fight to maintain a status quo that feels crappy, or settle for tiny steps in a new direction?

I’ll tell you why (because I’m super familiar with it).

We do those things because, fundamentally, we are lousy at valuing ourselves.

Let’s let that sink in for a minute….

We are L O U S Y at valuing ourselves.

We are absolute pros at valuing everything else —  the people we love, our work, all the other responsibilities that fill our lives. We’re like strong men doing bicep curls with a small puppy.

But when it comes to gifting ourselves with support… with nourishment, attention, luxury, time, focus, intention, healing…. we are the 90-pound weakling struggling to lift her own arm.

It’s then that the limitations really come out to play. It’s then that obstacles appear their most real, their most intractable. And we are least equipped to challenge, much less scale, the wall rising before us.

But it felt good this past weekend. It felt good to put my computer down, open my heart to the sunshine, and put myself directly in the path of love and support. It felt good to let myself be nourished, to choose myself over the obstacles.

Were there reasons not to go? Good heavens, yes.

Could we have easily chosen not to? Yep.

Would it have made sense on some levels not to go? Yes!!

But I don’t want to be a 90-pound weakling when it comes to nourishing myself. I don’t want to be forever in the habit of choosing myself last. I don’t want to be sustained on a diet of raw nerves, obligation, fear, and immobility.

I want to be free. I want to be full. I want to be a Shero, who serves the world not by sacrificing herself, but by honoring herself so deeply, the rest of the world benefits.

So, I chose to work the muscle and we made the choice to go. And it was heaven.

I hope when the opportunity for nourishment presents itself to you, you’ll muster whatever strength you have and say yes.

Simply, you are that valuable. Maybe it’s time to put yourself directly in the path of support and love.

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It’s not too late to join the Group Shero’s Retreat. Nourishment, support, and healing are just waiting for you to choose yourself. Let’s talk, and start working that muscle. (Registration closes on Sunday.)

Click here for more info and to apply.

 

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In awe of her courage

Last week, a woman named Cheri reached out to me after participating in the virtual, mini Shero’s Retreat. Her story was powerful.

She recently became aware of great fraud in her marriage. Put simply (and without revelatory detail), her husband is not the man she thought he was. Now, she is facing divorce and a BIG reorganization of her life.

Trouble is, she’s not ready. Even if circumstance was supporting immediate divorce (which it’s not), she’s not ready.

She recognizes the old has to go, but she doesn’t know what the new is. She’s largely lost herself in that marriage. She can no longer find her own ground, no longer hear her own intuition.

So she reached out to me to investigate the Shero’s Retreat as a means to discover, define, and give birth to her next self, her new life. When the time comes to walk away from her husband, she wants to be ready.

That alone inspires me, and I live to support that kind of empowerment.

But here’s what left me in awe:

Her husband controls their money. He’s taken great care to keep her dependent and, as she says, “I’m not a victim…. but I’ve been a volunteer.”

When she expressed her deep commitment to herself and her passionate belief that the Shero’s Retreat was right for her, I got concerned for her. How would she access this opportunity if her finances were under wraps and guarded by someone NOT invested in her best interest?

Her solution? She would play the game with him one more time in hopes he would pay and if he didn’t, she’d take on personal debt (even without an income) to ensure she had this opportunity. Nothing was going to get in the way of giving herself this gift, this chance to soar.

I’ll tell you, I am deeply humbled by her faith in my journey’s wisdom and the Shero’s Retreat as a vehicle for that wisdom. But besides that, I am in awe of her courage.

Is she scared? Yes.

Is she nervous? Yes.

Can she see how this is all going to turn out? No.

But she knew that if she didn’t find a way to take this opportunity, she’d sink deeper into disempowerment and hopelessness. The “cost of not” outweighed the “cost of.”

So Cheri will be joining us for the Group Shero’s Retreat next month. And you better believe it’s my personal commitment to support, in every way I can, her rise from the ashes.

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How about you? Are you letting someone or something stand in the way of the support you need to soar?

Registration for the Group Shero’s Retreat closes in 8 days. Take inspiration from the story above and let’s have a conversation. I’ll help you get clear about where you are, where you want to go, and how best to get there (even if it has nothing to do with me or the Shero’s Retreat.) I’m here to help you, in whatever way I can.

Get the ball rolling, and empower me to support you, by filling out the application for the Shero’s Retreat here.

If you end up joining us, you’ll be in good company for sure!

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Some sweetness for your soul — Message from Guan Yin

Many years ago, I knew a man. We weren’t exactly obvious friends but, because the universe works that way sometimes, we became close.

Our friendship was complicated, a source of great comfort and also great pain. I wanted for him every goodness in the world, but I couldn’t give him what he wanted most.

One day, I carried my own heartache into my daily devotion to Guan Yin, the Buddhist bodhisattva, Mother of Compassion. And in Her exquisite grace, She gave me these words — not only to soothe my own aching soul, but as a gift I could give my friend.

I gave the man the poem and, years later, he became my husband and the father of my child.

Everyday, I still strive to honor Guan Yin’s message, to offer that sweet, safe place to my friend, in word and in deed.

Now, I’m offering it to you.

May your tender soul be soothed, your aching heart made whole.

Message from Guan Yin

In the depth of sorrow, I am with you.
Through the pain of regret, I am there.
When all seems lost, and confusion has enfolded you
Reach out to find my hand.
I am the silence following your cry.
I am the faith inside your hopelessness.
I am compassion
Dissolving shame, anguish, and fear.
The eye of judgment belongs solely to you
For my eyes see only grace.
I give you tenderness
To give to yourself.
I give you comfort
To give to yourself.
I give you acceptance
To give to yourself.
In every moment of every day
I am here.
I am always here.

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I invite you into sweet, safe conversation with me. If life has made you tender, turning everything upside down; if you are hiding in the shadows knowing you want help but fearing how; then take my hand and let’s find a way through together.

The Shero’s Retreat is closing registration in 10 days. Click here to empower me to support you. And let me….

Give you tenderness
To give to yourself
Give you comfort
To give to yourself
Give you acceptance
To give to yourself

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Called out by a dream

I woke up early Sunday morning from a sexy dream. The details don’t matter (“Wait, no. Details! We want DETAILS!!” ;)… What does matter is what I noticed.

The moment I was conscious, it struck me how available I was for the intimacy in the dream. Dream-me was relaxed, open, present… I was literally inhaling the connection being offered.

And it made me wonder how available we are for the things we say we want.

Dean and I both run businesses and we co-parent a child under the age of five who’s not yet in school full time. I’m sure you can imagine the challenge we face when it comes to finding/creating focused time for each other. So it’s true — more intimacy or connection is something I (we both) want.

But I couldn’t help but immediately notice the difference between dream-me and awake-me. And I have to admit, dream-me was WAY more available for this thing awake-me says she wants.

And here’s the real kicker — Awake-me THOUGHT she was available.

Until I had this dream, I hadn’t noticed parts of me that were holding back. I thought I was on board… Ready…. Yep, right here showing up.

And then I experienced true and total availability… and WOW! A totally different feeling.

It’s so easy to rail against what’s not going right in our lives, to lament what we don’t have that we so much want. And it’s incredibly easy to be fooled into thinking we are available for what we want… Afterall, we want it SO MUCH! We yearn for it, complain about it, think about it, dream about it, talk about it, get depressed about it…. With so much wanting, how can it be true that we aren’t actually 100% available for it?!

But it’s worth asking the question: Am I 100% available for ____________?

Because here’s the thing: When we’re anything less than 100% available, we are actually getting in the way. In addition to whatever external factors we might see and be aware of limiting us, we ourselves are acting as barriers. (Some might even say we are “creating” or attracting the external barriers, in alignment with our inner resistance.)

And that’s a total shame.

We have so little control over other people and we can’t force the world to behave as we see fit. Pretty much the only thing we have to work with when it comes to changing our lives… is ourselves. And if we’re not actually, completely available for what we say we want… well… there goes our best card.

I’m so grateful for Sunday morning’s dream. It really called me out. And now, I’m empowered.

It’s time to be 100% available. I choose to get out of my own way.

Look out, Deano. 😉

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Is it time for you to become 100% available for the life you say you want?

There are two spots left for the upcoming group Shero’s Retreat, happening July 13 – 17 in Central California.

If you think one of them might be for you, let’s have a conversation. I’ll help you see clearly what you really want, what’s standing in the way, and how you can move forward.

Maybe it’s time you finally got out of your own way.

Click here to apply.

 

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