Author Archives: Andrea Hylen

Remember to Dance

Originally published on Consciously Woman: January 23, 2019

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Okay, so we are calling out the underbelly, the monster in the closet, the thing that holds us back from creating or having what we want.

A few weeks ago, I shared my words, my intention for the year, and how the thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the underbelly, the negative, shows up first. An example is: set an Intention for Patience and the thing that shows up are long lines at the bank, traffic jams, delays in being paid. In essence, pray for patience and all of your impatience shows up first! Then, you Practice Patience and you Become the Patience. It doesn’t just magically appear without practicing a new behavior.

One of my words for this year is Redefine: What is the role I am playing as a mother, daughter, sister, friend and business owner? What is shifting and what needs a redefinition for me to fully embrace the next part of my life? The thing that is surfacing is ageism. I was excited to turn 30, 40 and 50. When I turned 59 a few years ago, the anticipation of turning 60 brought up a lot of fear and sadness.  Sixty years old had become a marker of the end of life. My husband and two close friends died in their 60th year. So, claiming my age at 62 and claiming the wisdom, the resilience, and desires for this next part of my life requires letting go of something.

It’s two weeks into the new year, tuning in, I am aware of a few things that are rising for redefinition. One of them is:

Body movement

The first thing I noticed is that my mind has been overactive for a few weeks. My thoughts are so loud and are filled with chatter that is defensive, limiting, self-defeating. Whoa! It’s like a major mind f**k of insecurity and defensiveness and regrets.

My youngest daughter and I have been clearing boxes of photos and memorabilia, fifteen plastic bins to be exact, and it is a minefield of opportunity to clear the mental garbage. So, much old garbage is surfacing. Yuck! People have died. Dreams have died. Expectations were not met and resilience and imagination were ignited. More of my hair is grey this year. Digging into the photos and the feelings is revealing the mind chatter.

My practice has been to listen and write down what I am hearing. Then, to reach a point, where I go into the bathroom, look in the mirror and say, “Enough!” Looking myself in the eyes to remember who I am. Using tools for clearing. Staring into my eyes. Listen, clear. Look at the feelings head on. Return to stillness.

Reviewing memories and releasing photos, has tuned me into the body and caring for myself. I have a 20 lb weight fluctuation that is normal for me and I’m currently at the top of that weight. The practical part of this weight fluctuation is clothing. Living house free and traveling to different locations, I have to be able to fit into my clothes! There is no closet to go to for different choices. I have a wardrobe that fits into my suitcase and those are the clothes, I’m wearing. Okay, it’s time to look at what I’m eating. How I’m moving. What emotions am I holding onto? What is the inner and outer of this weight? How is this distracting me from creating more fun?

(I have learned that with living house-free and travel to so many different places, that the extra weight serves me emotionally sometimes. I’ve learned to notice but not judge. I recognized that ten lbs were gained in the last month without any extra food. I didn’t eat holiday food this year so the weight feels like emotional protection. That is true. It is also true that I can look at ways to feel safe without the weight. I am redefining what I need for safety.)

In the Spirit of Redefine, it is time to redefine movement. Coaching on Zoom instead of the phone means I sit more than I used to. Writing and researching and creating for 8-12 hours a day, is exhilarating and it is my passion! But, it’s not good for my body to be so inactive. I can be like a plant sitting in bed or on the couch and not moving except to get up for food, drink and to pee. Even though I walk about 5 miles every day, that isn’t enough exercise for my muscles and my belly. I have never been someone who focused on exercise, as much as moving naturally. Going places. Cooking. Cleaning. Organizing. Lifting. Standing. Walking. My awareness right now is to make movement a priority. Work less on the computer and get out and move for several hours a day. Pull myself away from writing and find ways to move. The movement is important for my body and mind. It helps to process emotions.

In the redefinition, I am conscious of setting up structures for support. That is the key for me: “What structures do you have in place to support the shedding of the old and embracing of the new? What voices from the past are surfacing in my inner space?”

My current motto is: Move the body and remember to dance!

 

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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Wonder-Wander Love

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When I was three years old, my father wrote a six-page letter to his brother about our travels from California to Minnesota where my Dad had received a promotion for his work at the Pillsbury Company. Most of the letter is about the national parks we stopped at (my mom, dad and sister, age one) and the beauty of nature, an imprint that I have carried throughout my life. Many trips to national parks. I love it!

And there is something else. Interwoven in his letter are comments about things I was doing and saying on the trip. At age three, he painted a verbal picture of who I was meeting, my curiosity and the things that fascinated me. The cowboy hats, the wooden sidewalks, the cows in the middle of the road. My wonder-wander love is present.

            My favorite days are spent wandering. Wandering is a practice like yoga, meditation and writing. It involves wiping the slate clean. Sitting in silence. Listening for an inspiration. Asking the question: What does my soul want to experience today?

Sometimes wandering is a solitary practice, where I allow myself to be empty in the anticipation of what will cross my path that day. Meeting people along the way. Observing my surroundings. Taking inspired action. Sometimes wandering includes a dog I am pet sitting or a day with my five-year-old granddaughter. I surrender and follow their lead.

The funny thing about wandering is that sometimes it leads me to explore in different ways. Sometimes I am inspired to nap or go to a movie or write or even create a newsletter or webpage for my business. Wandering is a surrender that helps me to connect with desire and inspiration. It is a connection to body wisdom. And at the end of the period of wandering, there is clarity about my life.

Last week, I was inspired to go to Restorative Yoga. Tuning in, I felt a rush, a push to leave the house immediately and walk to the bus stop on Main Street. I felt shot out of a canon, only grabbing my purse and saying a quick good-bye to the cats. Walking quickly to the corner, I am at the bus stop, just as the bus was arriving.

After yoga class at Naam Yoga-Santa Monica, I felt inspired to start walking the two miles back to the condo instead of taking the bus. I knew I could change my mind along the bus route. After walking for a ½ mile, I looked down at the sidewalk and saw a wallet. I looked around and wondered if I was on Candid Camera. Was this a joke? No one was around so I picked up the wallet, looked for identification and started walking down the street looking for the owner. A half block later, I saw three men, frantically looking through packages and pockets and looking around on the ground. I said, “Did you lose a wallet?” One man starts nodding his head up and down. I hand it to him. Smile and walk away. I was thinking that maybe that was the inspiration to walk instead of take the bus. I was there at the exact right time to assist this man from a foreign land. A reminder of how connected we all are.

…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.~ The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

Wandering helps me remember who I am.

 

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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Push the Pause Button

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(Originally published on Consciously Woman: January 31, 2018)

https://consciouslywoman.com/enjoy-the-adventure/

 

“If the bamboo is carefully tended, watched over and nurtured, in the first year it grows two inches, in the next year it grows two inches, in the third year it grows two inches, in the fourth year it grows two inches, and then in the fifth year it grows eighty feet!” ~Mary Manin Morissey

I was thinking about the question. How do you work smart,” when I remembered this quote about growing bamboo. You tend it, water it and wait. You don’t dig in the dirt, and pull the roots, and pull the top of the plant to make it grow. You tend it, water it and wait…

Coming from a family of doers who value productivity and tangible results, I was conditioned to work hard and that led me to burn out a few times in my life. Why? Because I thought that my value was in the doing, the working, the long hours, and in truth, the suffering. The more I worked, the harder I worked, the more value I had. One of the things that changed my life was a lay off from a job, and an illness that led to more time for meditation and writing. I had to stop and see all of the ways I added in busyness, when what I really needed was something else.

The magic in my life started to appear when I learned to push the pause button and create space for daydreaming and wandering. I learned that you can’t push the river, there is a time to climb the mountain, and there is a time to stop and look around at what is on the mountain. To breathe the air, to taste the sweetness, to hear the birds singing, to watch the clouds drifting.

Pushing pause for me now is stepping away from the computer and taking the dog for a walk, or staring out the window to see what I can notice in this moment. It means walking 250 steps every hour when my Fitbit vibrates and says, “Ready for a stroll?” or the computer voice, Alex calls out the time change every hour. These are reminders that time is passing and I press pause, even for a minute or five minutes to see it, feel it, and tune into my body wisdom.

Yes, I have a flip chart in the corner of my room with goals, lists and checklists. Yes, I do like to work and I am super productive. But the real power in working smarter is the breath, the pause in between the “doing.” I close my eyes for a moment and notice what my body is telling me. What am I feeling? What am I experiencing in this moment? Is this the best use of my time right now?

I know that the answers I seek are encoded into the cells of my body. To hear the next awakening, the next inspiration, I must create the space to listen and to witness what is happening within and around me. It takes slowing down long enough to hear. Pause. Listen. Reflect. It is a practice like meditation and yoga. Finding the balance in being and doing.

My mantra: Enjoy the adventure.

My life is an adventure and I want to enjoy every minute of it! A hot cup of coffee. A smile exchanged with a stranger. An idea for a blog post. A coaching session with a client. And even a check mark on one of my to-do items that sets off a pause to celebrate and dance!

 

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Developing the Qualities of Feminine Leadership

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It was 1974.  I was in the 11th grade at Phoenixville Area High School and I was chosen to be the Captain of the show flags in the marching band. Right before our last local parade of the season, and before the band camp started where I would receive guidance on show flag routines and leading a squad of girls, the current Captain had a family emergency and was not available to lead us. I was thrust into leadership with no idea what I was doing! My first thought was to lead like a man using the stereotype of a platoon sergeant in the Army. I yelled at the 12 girls to straighten up, to present their flags with more precision. Stand tall. Straighten up. Sharper moves. Get in line. I was yelling the orders during the whole parade and I was exhausted by the end. I felt terrible and it wasn’t fun at all. I can remember feeling defeated and unsure of myself, questioning my ability to lead. The current Captain had always made it feel so fun. How could I lead like that?

At the summer band camp training, I learned new routines, observed the leadership and marched all day for a week. The fun returned. When our high school band camp started the week before school, I was eager to share what I had learned with the girls. While the other marching band groups: batons, rifles, and musicians, were practicing in their separate groups, I decided to try a different approach to lead. Instead of focusing on precision and marching in straight lines, I told the girls I wanted to share new routines I learned at the training camp. I focused on having fun, team building and connection, seeing us as collaborators and asking for their ideas. This was why we were on the show flag squad. It was fun to be part of a team and we wanted the challenge to learn the routines.

In the afternoon, when all of the groups came together to learn the choreographed routine, we would perform at every football game intermission this fall season and in competitions with other marching bands, we were ready. The show flag girls were connected and focused. We had filled up with fun all morning, connected with our purpose and now we worked hard to become the best squad of all time.

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It was the first time I could feel the power of working as a team and leading in a way that invited every voice into the circle. Seeing and valuing each other. When I think about feminine leadership, I remember that moment in time. The elements included creativity, connection, team building, collaboration, intuition. I have used this experience in work, raising children, and leading women’s circles. This is what it feels like to lead with the feminine leadership style.

Feminine Voices Front CoverFast forward to 2013, and the Heal My Voice feminine leadership project. In an on-line circle of twenty women, in the dead of winter, we began to ask the question, what does it mean to be a feminine leader? The women in this writing circle ranged from a football player in a women’s league, to a woman who worked at NASA, to a woman who had adopted children from Russia, to a young female entrepreneur, to a woman who was homeschooling her children. We began to unravel all the ways we had been leaders. Student council President, Mother, Team leader, Engineer, Adoption Pioneer, Girl Scout Leader and Teacher. Our discussions focused on how we had been leaders in the past and how that was changing with new awareness. Who were we as leaders? What mistakes had we made? How had we corrected those mistakes and shifted? How did we want to lead now? Many of the women in this group had graduated from college in the 70’s and 80’s. We had enthusiastically entered the workforce, but we had been expected to lead like men. Even the clothing we wore, suits with shoulder pads, were to look like men.  We had to cover up femininity which was seen as weakness. For those of us who had defined ourselves as volunteers, caregivers and mothers, we didn’t even acknowledge the leadership roles and qualities we were using because we were not paid a salary. We now know that leadership has nothing to do with a salary. It is in the choices and decisions we make and how we live our lives by example.

 

In our circle conversations, we defined feminine leadership as a balance of feminine and masculine qualities. We defined masculine qualities as structure, risk and action. We defined feminine qualities as creativity, empathy, holistic and intuition. Women and men can lead this way. So, why use the words “feminine leadership” if both women and men can use this balanced style? We are unraveling the toxicity and dysfunction around the words, “leadership” and “power.” Step into using personal power, inner wisdom, inspired action and feminine leadership: A balanced approach of doing and being.  It is time to find a new authentic way to lead.

 

I leave you with a few questions to explore:

 

*Do you see yourself as a leader?

*What are the qualities you use to lead?

*What are your strengths and weaknesses?

*How do we lead together?

 

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

 

Andrea Hylen is the founder of Heal My Voice and the Writing Incubator, on-line writing communities with coaching support. www.andreahylen.com

Birthing Your Voice

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I began attending On Purpose Woman meetings in January 2007 when Evolutionary Women Retreats were coming to Maryland. I had a booming voice when it came to speaking on stage to 1000 Girl Scouts or organizing community events in Catonsville, Maryland. But, my voice in a room of 25-50 women who were networking “business” ideas was a trembling whisper. For six years, I practiced using my new voice in a safe space in the On Purpose Woman Community which ultimately helped me birth Heal My Voice. I became a speaker at meetings and was awarded Woman on Purpose in 2013. This community has continued to be a space that holds, encourages, and celebrates women, including me. Thank you to Founder Ginny Robertson for creating the organization and for being a mentor and friend. She is one of the women who has cheered me on and I am filled with gratitude!

 

This year, On Purpose Woman has become a global movement. There is an on-line magazine, on-line meetings through Zoom and in-person meetings in Maryland and Virginia, USA. Every time I hop on a Zoom meeting, I connect with women from all over the world. http://onpurposewomancommunity.com/

 

After a two year pause, On Purpose Woman Magazine is back and is available on-line. Kathryn Yarborough is the Creative Director for this new venture. She has created a beautiful publication. The covers are works of art by women!

 

From Ginny: “On Purpose Woman Magazine is A Force for Good, a place where women’s voices will be heard and an important piece of the On Purpose Woman Community Global Movement. Each month we’ll share ideas that inform, inspire, motivate, encourage and support you to be an On Purpose Woman.”

My men friends have told me that reading the articles by women have also provided inspiration for them.  So, check it out!


Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OnPurposeWomanMagazine/

 

My articles are in the first Six issues of this year.
On Purpose Woman Magazine:
January Issue: The Qualities of Feminine Leadership
February Issue: Liberating Your Voice
March Issue: Healing Your Lineage
April Issue: The Power of Personal Awakenings
May Issue: Intuition: Cultivating and Trusting Your Inner Voice
June Issue: Do you feel Empowered?
So, click on each month and check out the issues, then subscribe for future issues.
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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Intuition: Cultivating and Trusting Your Inner Voice

Originally published in On Purpose Woman: May 2019

(Illustration: Stefanie Weigele)

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“It’s time to move.” Those words, communicated to me in a feeling, stopped me in my tracks. I asked, out loud, to no one in particular, “Am I moving?” I had been living in a house with seven people for ten months. Everything about it was fantastic! I loved the people, the activities, community living, sharing a huge kitchen, and loving my bedroom. I hadn’t really thought about moving.

The day I first heard the words, I was clearing things out of one of the bathrooms; old toiletries in a bathroom cabinet I rarely used. As soon as my hand touched the facial cleanser, I felt a ripple of energy go through my body and I heard the words, “It’s time to move.” The feeling and the words were subtle, barely a whisper and yet, I was familiar with the way my Higher Self communicates with me.

When I asked the questions, “Am I moving? Are we all moving together?” No answer. An hour later, I was in my bedroom going through some papers when I had the same sensation. A ripple of energy running from my hand, up my arm and through my body. I heard another whisper, “It’s time to move.”

I asked questions in meditation several times over the next week, continuing the conversation with myself by asking, “Are we all moving? Are we moving together or separately? If I don’t live here, where will I live? Where do I want to live?” My intuition was on radio silence. The only piece of information was that same feeling, that I would be moving. So, I paused and reflected on what actions I would be taking if I knew that I was going to move. I knew I would go through all of my physical possessions. Everything I had in my bedroom, in the house and in my small storage unit in Los Angeles. I would want to de-clutter before moving to a new location. And that is exactly what I did. For the next month, I went through everything I owned. I got rid of 14 boxes of stuff, eight bags of clothes and recycled three boxes of paper.

By the middle of April, the next piece of information arrived. The owner of the house was selling the house and we would all have to move when the lease expired at the beginning of June. My intuition had guided me to take action in preparation. I was ready. There were numerous conversations as a household. In the end, we all dispersed: four people stayed in Los Angeles, two people moved to New York while my intuition directed me to live on the road for a year and stay with Heal My Voice Authors and Board Members. The guidance was to have conversations, to live life, to finish three on-line projects and to collect ideas and wisdom, for the next step. I wanted to remember the beginning of Heal My Voice, where we started, and reflect on what was next.

 

Some of the keys of cultivating intuition are:

 

  1. Create space to listen. Meditation, walk in nature, drive or cook your meals in silence. Your intuition requires empty, silent space.
  2. Pay attention. When you get a feeling, a knowing, or when you hear words or feel a ripple of energy, acknowledge your intuition by asking questions or writing down the insight.
  3. Take baby steps before you have the whole picture. Everything will be revealed in time. What’s the next step?
  4. Intuition will bring connections, gifts, surprises. Let people help you.

 

When I announced my intention to friends and family the response came back with words like gypsy, nomad and free spirit. There was excitement, envy, fear and judgement in their eyes. What was I doing now? To some it looked like I was a wanderlust who was lost in an adventure with no goals, no purpose. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was living in flow as a daily practice, open to where I would be led next. Trusting that I would be guided.

People asked questions and they wanted answers. Where are you going? How long will you be there? What are you going to do? At first, I had no idea. I was listening and waiting. One day, I thought about my friend, Lucky Sweeny, and wondered about the possibility of staying with her for five days in Santa Barbara. I had a class to attend in San Francisco in a few weeks and wanted to stay on the West Coast for that. A few hours later, Lucky called me unexpectedly. She had been thinking about me and wanted to check in. I asked if I could stay with her June 1-5. She said yes and how the timing was perfect. And that is how it began. I had breakfast with my daughter, Hannah, then boarded a train in Burbank and took one step.

Five years later, I am still living house-free and living in the mystery of what is next. After living with Heal My Voice authors and family and friends, during the first year, I have now expanded to a membership with Trusted Housesitters, a free exchange of housing and office space for pet sitting. This  gives me the space to write and coach on Zoom and explore creativity. Living with friends and family is my connection and community.

What’s next? All will be revealed when it is time.

 

 

I leave you with a few questions to explore:

 

*How do you receive guidance from your intuition?

 

*What practices do you use to create empty space?

 

*Write about a time when you experienced guidance from your intuition.

 

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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

The Vulnerability of Writing

 

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“Being Vulnerable on the Page: Our words tell the truth about more than what we’re writing; they also tell the truth about us.” ~Judy Reeves

 

When I began to write my story for the ninth Heal My Voice book, I remember sitting in the living room, hands hovering over the computer keyboard and feeling hesitant to type any words. The book was called, “Sensual Voices: True Stories by Women Exploring Connection and Desire.” All of the women wrote stories about a woman’s journey with her body. Stories of menstruation, pregnancy, breast feeding and swimming in a lake. Some of us wrote about a journey with our sexuality. I knew that was the story I was compelled to write and I could feel the fear of writing about my personal experiences and revealing secrets. At first, I was afraid to even write it for myself! Then, I was afraid that if I published it, my reputation would be tarnished. I felt that people who had different experiences would judge me. I felt that everything I had committed to and built with Heal My Voice would be destroyed, including harming the women who had written stories in all the books. I even had a back lash from my mother one night, when she saw the description of the Heal My Voice project on my website. Sensual Voices: True Stories by Women Exploring Connection and Desire. She said, “Who are you to lead that project? What qualifications do you have? Why is this on your website?”

Whoa! I got whacked emotionally for about an hour. Luckily, she sent this through email and I read it while I was sitting at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, Maryland with a cup of coffee and a delicious meal. Pausing to eat the piping hot food that had just arrived at the table, I waited to respond, until a feeling arose in me and I wrote her back and claimed my voice. It was a huge breakthrough AND it was the 9th Heal My Voice book. I was not new to writing and not new to expressing feelings and emotions for all the world to see. I had experience with the vulnerability of my inner writer voice. (And FYI: I have a background in women’s health, social work and had recently taken a year long program about women’s sexuality and I am a writing coach.)

But here’s the thing. Every time, I reveal something about myself in a blog, on a radio show or in a book, a wave of vulnerability comes. I feel it is a part of the writing process to uncover and feel the feelings. For this project, I had support, experience, I felt the feelings and I moved through it faster.

As a writer and a leader of groups of women writers in The Writing Incubator, I know that vulnerability arises as a part of the process:

“Why aren’t my words flowing?”
“I don’t have time to write.”

“I feel lost in this program.”
“I’m behind everyone else.”
“I’m doing it wrong.”
“I’m scared to be seen.”

I see it all the time in the on-line writing programs as well as experience it myself. There is a desire that rises because you feel compelled to write something. There is a “yes” to “The Writing Incubator” space that comes with a layer of vulnerability of being seen in community. Then, there is the vulnerability of writing feelings or a story on paper or the computer. And THEN, the idea that you would share this with someone else! The vulnerability of the truth that is your life, the exposure of how you describe your feelings and words, the fear of rejection, etc…

The feeling of vulnerability is always present. Every story I have ever written in a Heal My Voice book, or a blog (especially being a guest blogger) or in my books on Amazon, trigger the voices in my head that are telling me I shouldn’t write.

Underlying all of these fears, maybe women are also afraid of a collective energy. Call it the fear of being exposed for book burning or the burning of witches at the stake. Or a myriad of other ways that women have been burned physically and emotionally for speaking up. It can be a deep imprinting from the past. I encourage you, as you begin to write, to find a safe place to express yourself, to be witnessed and and to practice sharing your voice. Build the muscle by sharing your voice in community.

One more thing. I have also felt or heard women say:

Hasn’t someone already written this story?
I’m not an expert.
Who am I to write this book?

You are here to write what you are compelled to express and share. It begins with writing for yourself. That may be in a journal. You may write to redefine your work. You may have a program to design or a blog to start or a book to write. You are the only person who can write a book in your vibration and with your exact experience. The possibilities for self-expression are infinite.

 

A few writing prompts for your own reflection:

*Turn up your awareness, every time you write or every time you think about writing.

*What are the words you are hearing in your head?

*Are they stopping you from writing?

*Find one thing you can say to yourself whenever you hear the words. Create an affirmation. Or write a few words on a sticky note that will help you remember who you are. “I am Writer and I have something to say.”

 

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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Liberating Your Voice

(Originally Published in On Purpose Magazine February 2019)

 

  (Photo Credit Liz Lemon,

Women’s March 2017)

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 2.36.03 PMBy Andrea Hylen

In a song called Liberation, Christina Aguilera begins by asking, “Where are you? Are you there?” Her words are barely a whisper. A calling out to a part of her that lies dormant. The rest of the song is a soft melody with piano and violins and other string instruments, until the end when she whispers, “Remember.” I don’t know what her personal intention was for the song. For me, it was a call out to a part of   myself that had been suppressed for too long. After listening to her song today, I had a remembrance of a time when I had things to say and no place to say them. It reminded me that when I started to blog in 2008, I started every writing session with. “Dear Listener.” The subtext was, “Dear Listener, Are you there? Can you hear me?”

 

Liberation is one of those words, like power, that can bring up feelings of discomfort. Liberation means “setting free from oppression.” In order to heal and liberate your voice, you have to be willing to admit that you are, or have been, oppressed. As the artist and activist Judy Chicago, recently said on the Netflix film: Feminist: “liberation in the 70’s meant ‘you had to be disobedient.'”

 

For a moment, let’s push aside any feelings you may have about suffragettes and the second wave of feminism, the liberation movement in the 70’s.  Separate from that, I want to ask you, “Were you ever taught to be a good girl?” Feel that for a moment. Did someone ever say to you, “Be a good girl.” What did it mean to be a good girl? Could a good girl have a liberated voice? Did she have to be disobedient to be free?

 

A deeper clue about the conditioning around being a good girl came to me recently when my mother read one of the stories I wrote in, “Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey.”(As an aside, this article is not about bashing my mother. I understand that being a good girl to her meant that I would be safe. If I didn’t challenge anyone with my voice and I was a good girl, I would be safe. That is a huge discovery in itself.) My story in the Heal My Voice book evolved around a moment when I yelled at a housemate in 2014, the year I shared a house with seven people in Los Angeles. My mother said she couldn’t read that story because she didn’t raise me to yell at people. She raised me to be “a good girl.” In the story, I talked about how I had acquiesced to someone for 4 months because she was having a hard time adjusting to sharing a house with so many people. I shut down my needs and desires and did anything I could to avoid conflict and make it easier for her. Although everyone had some private space of their own in the house, she was having a hard time with the shared spaces. Everything came to a head after I returned from a three-week business trip and she had set up her acupuncture office in my bedroom. Setting boundaries and asking her to remove her stuff from my bedroom by a certain date didn’t work. And on the final night, when her massage table blocked my ability to get into my bed, I snapped. All of the suppression and holding back and acquiescing finally boiled over and I screamed at her. The other housemates clapped and cheered that I had liberated my voice. My “good girl, people pleasing, community building” persona was stretched to the limit. I couldn’t repress my feelings any longer. To really claim my space and stand up for myself I had to break through the nice girl my mother had taught me to be.

 

The only problem with that scenario was that I didn’t have enough practice with my voice to use it firmly and directly before reaching that boiling point. There was no place in my childhood or in adulthood where it was safe to be messy emotionally. No place to express anger, fear, hurt, or anything else that felt uncomfortable. No place to practice expressing my thoughts and feelings and practice trying on different hats or different ideas. It took that moment with the roommate to help me break free from oppression. My liberated voice can now express feelings of anger, hurt, fear, as well as upliftment, joy and confidence.

 

As we watch women liberating their voices at the Women’s March and in the #metoo and #timesup movements, we are going to witness women with feelings. Feelings are clues that are connected to intuition. Feelings and liberation are a super power.  It is time. We need your voice. We need your voice to create a ripple effect of liberation in the world. When you follow your heart, when you listen to your intuition, when you show up because you know in your heart that this is where you are meant to serve to offer, to lead, you are using your liberated voice.

 

 

I leave you with a few questions to explore:

 

What does liberation mean to you?

Where do you feel you have the freedom to speak, to express your thoughts and feelings?

Do you feel liberated at the dinner table, in your business, in your community, in the world?

Where do you feel your voice is shut down or not welcomed?

What is one step you could take to liberate your voice?

 

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Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Mothering and Daughtering

(Originally Published on Consciously Woman: May 16, 2018

https://consciouslywoman.com/seeing-life-as-an-artist/)

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Flying from Baltimore to Seattle, I reflect on Mother’s Day, the mother-daughter relationships and the circumstances which occurred recently. During the last month, I spent time with my youngest daughter, Hannah, in Los Angeles, while helping her move to a new apartment. Flew to Baltimore to see a play conceived and directed by my son-in-law, Jesse, for his MFA thesis. Spent 10 days with oldest daughter, Mary, her husband, Jesse, and my granddaughter, Lucille. Spent 24 hours with my mother who flew to Baltimore from Florida to see the play and along with my daughter, Elizabeth, took me to breakfast and drove me to the airport.

My mother. Three daughters. One granddaughter.

Lots of laughter, inspiration, fun, and love. Lots of vulnerable sharing and the magic ingredient of sandpaper. Sandpaper is when we rub against each other and there is discomfort, helping us to find clarity about who we are and what we want that is separate from the other person.

My mother.

Spending 24 hours with my 86-year-old mother uncovered moments of tenderness and inspiration. One of our conversations was about how most of my mom’s friends have a spouse who has ill health. Some have had strokes, like my Dad, or another illness like cancer or Parkinson’s Disease. All of the women are the primary caretakers for their spouses. They are love warriors, who handle the details with vigilance and determination. In this vulnerable sharing, my mom talked about the conversation she had with her friends about what they would do with their time, if they become widows. On mom’s list is playing golf, going to movies, traveling to see her adult children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

As I listen to her, I can see so many of the qualities I have inherited from her:

Curiosity. My mother is curious and always learning new things and asking questions and reading. She may not have information on the latest app on the iPhone, but she is tuned in to books and education and national parks and wildlife and current events. She reads the Tampa Bay Times, every morning, and clips out articles to send to her children, grandchildren and friends.

Artist. There is a mixture of sandpaper in here because of something she said when I was young “Andrea and I aren’t artists.” It took me 60 years of unraveling to claim the words, “I am an artist and my creative expression is words.” Artists see the connection between things. She is a master seamstress. She is a genealogist. She has expressed her art through a variety of arts and crafts and flower arranging. In the curiosity of reading the newspaper and sending articles, she is seeing life as an artist. Reading articles and seeing the connection to family and friends. It is in all of us.

I wonder why her definition of an artist is so limited. Maybe no one opened her eyes to see that she is an artist. Seeing this, I decided to send her a Mother’s Day card, and to tell her that she is an artist and how she has influenced my artistic expression. Our definition of artist is different. And maybe no one encouraged her and told her that she is an artist!

Pragmatist. My mom, the pragmatist, has organized all of the information we will need, when she and my Dad die. Long term health care options. Memorial service arrangements. Last will and testament. It has been organized and reviewed every five years since she and dad were in their 40s.

This is one example of many. She demonstrated how to stay focused in a crisis, and in tackling any job in the home: stay focused, work hard, do what needs to be done. (I am sure it is why I have been able to self-publish 14, 200+ page books in eight years. Stay focused. Work hard. Get it done!)

Nature Lover and Environmentalist. Walking through the neighborhood, my mom stops talking to point out flowers and acknowledge their beauty. Our conversation meanders with the pausing of our love for flowers and trees. She calls them by name and with affection. National Parks and road trips are memories from childhood.

Without a word, she stops to pick up a piece of paper on the sidewalk and hands it to me to throw away when we return to the house. Her actions are my actions. Her love of flowers and plants and trees has been passed down. Picking up litter is normal.

Sandpaper

During our 24 hours, there are moments of discord. I remind myself that the sand in the oyster is the irritant that creates the pearl. She sighs and longs to see me more. She laments that no one has time for them because they are old. I sit with the discomfort of that. Last year, they flew to California for Hannah’s graduation and we spent a week together. A few months earlier, I flew to Florida and we were at a family wedding. I stayed with them for a week. Then, there is Facetime. Email. Texting. We live all over the country. The communication is different. I feel her trying to pull me into her world and her wants.

Daughters

I turn my attention to the time I have spent with my adult daughters in the last month. I see the impact of my mothering, and I feel the push and pull of the sandpaper when they want my attention, and when they want space to live and explore their own lives. I feel pulled in. I feel pushed out. I want to spend time with them and be available when they need me. I’m conflicted about creating a life separate from them. A life where I would not be available to drop everything and come to help them.

Mothering Myself

Feeling guilt, the push-pull, the loyalty and love, I turn my attention to me. It’s my turn to mother myself. This summer I am house sitting for three months. Setting up space for writing and self-expression. Mothering myself. Self-care. Spiritual practice. Feeding myself with artistic expression. Wandering in Seattle to farmer’s markets. Placing the attention on myself. Good food. Art. Music. Walks in nature. Writing. Creativity.

Appreciating what my mother taught me, I know that I have to travel this next part of the trail without her. Creating space and distance allows me to hear my own voice once again. I turn all of that love and attention inward. And when I come out again, there will be more of me to share with others.

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

Why Partners, Family, and Friends Can Be Hazardous to Your Health by Carolyn A. Brent

Across All Ages

DEEP BEAUTY International Blog Tour 2019

Today I have the great pleasure of being the first host here in Santa Monica, CA, USA on Day 1 of the Virtual Blog Tour of author Carolyn A. Brent, whose book, “Transforming Your Life through Self-Care: A Guide to Tapping into Your Deep Beauty and Inner Worth” is celebrating its big Worldwide book launch on May 8, 2019.

 

CAROLYN A. BRENT is an award-winning bestselling author and a National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters Women’s Figure Champion at age 60. She is an expert on both self-care and caregiving; she is the founder of Across All Ages and two nonprofit organizations, CareGiverStory Inc. and Grandpa’s Dream.  Carolyn’s written works is in the Library of Congress the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and numerous other medical centers and universities.

 

Today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I had with Carolyn when I got to ask her on the subject of Why Partners, Family, and Friends Can Be Hazardous, Setting healthy boundaries and Relationships. I hope you enjoy it.

 

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ANDREA HYLEN: How do we maintain and grow relationships with partners, family and friends when we may also feel a need to protect our tender heart?

 

Carolyn A. Brent: Thank you so much for asking such an important question. Before I delve into the answer, I like to discuss matters of the heart.

Yes, it’s natural for a person to want to protect his or her tender heart especially when there is a sudden and unexpected family emergency, and everyone should be united–right?  In short, we want everyone to be on the same page.

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But, the truth of the matter is–when trauma, loss, and grief come our way–each person will handle and deal with their pain and stresses very differently.   Whether if it’s a spouse, parent, child, loved one or close family friend often, everyone is seeking for the other person to see, and feel the same as they do.

 

Just be aware, some family members and loved ones may not “ever” be on the same page at the same time. The best practice should take place way before there is sudden and unexpected emergency comes.

 

I will forever say and believe, that families and loved ones should have those tough conversations way– before there is an emergency. We all have experienced stress, and we know by first-hand experience– that it is a crazy and nerve-wracking time in one’s life.

 

Years before my dad got sick, I tried to have the crucial family conversation with my adult siblings. Needless to say, they were just not interested, and never took an active role in the care of our dad–until they thought our dad was dying, and there was money to be had.

 

My family experience was so tragic until most of my healthcare professionals, and psychologist refer to my heartbreaking family experience in one word. Chilling!

 

In my case, it took me years of getting help– weekly from a remarkable psychologist who understood my family drama, and helped me to transform my life through self-care, and tapping into my deep beauty and inner worth. When I practice this method–my life changed drastically and continues to evolve to this day.

 

I firmly believe that the only person we can change is yourself. We cannot force our beliefs and ideas on anyone which includes the people we love the most. If anyone you know and love is toxic or hazardous to your health, seek professional help immediately. Don’t wait; it may save someone’s life.

 

I also want to strongly remind everyone that any form of abuse is never okay. Anyone from any race, sexual orientation, age, gender, or religion can be a victim—or perpetrator—of abuse. Abuse can happen to people who are married, living together, just dating, friends, and family members. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Learn more: Chapter 2: Why Partners, Family, and Friends Can Be Hazardous to Your Health.

 

ANDREA HYLEN: Do you have suggestions for setting boundaries and also keeping our hearts open?

 

Carolyn A. Brent: Yes, it’s best practice to have healthy boundaries and know that your peace of mind, joy, and tranquility comes first. The following are some substantial things to consider:

 

  1. Let go of things you cannot change.
  2. You can’t force someone to love you.
  3. Love yourself.
  4. Have compassion.
  5. Practice acts of forgiveness.
  6. Lead a purpose-filled life.
  7. Help somebody.

 

 

ANDREA HYLEN: Please explain more about how our closest relationships can be hazardous to our health.

 

Carolyn A. Brent: I know what I am about to share is shocking. But sometimes the truth is worse than fiction. On September 19, 2007, my dad had a massive hematoma, bleeding on the brain. While I was dealing with the agony of seeing my dad’s health take such a rapid turn, my siblings decided they wanted to take over his care. They had never taken any time to help in all of the twelve years that I was his caregiver.

 

I wish they had acted out of concern for my dad and me. They did not. When family members think there is money to be had, you may find yourself taking out restraining orders and spending time in probate court. That’s exactly what happened to me. I was served with restraining orders in three different county probate courthouses. At each court hearing, as we stood before the Judge, the plaintiff would drop all charges she had filed against me.

 

With the legal battles and everything that was happening, I had no time to process or recover. I was angry, depressed, and in astonishing physical and emotional pain. My life was spiraling out of control.

 

Then came the final blow: My beloved dad died. A distant relative notified me two weeks after his internment. My siblings did not even tell me that he had passed or where he was buried. Can you imagine the devastation, shock, and excruciating emotional pain I experienced? Learn More: Chapter 1: Becoming An Authority of Your Life… (When Dreams Come Crashing Down)..

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I hope you enjoyed this interview with Carolyn A. Brent and that you’ll check out her book on May 8, 2019:

 

Join us on the 2019 International DEEP BEAUTY Telesummit: May 6th, 7th & 8th

Details here: http://bit.ly/2W3K69a

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SPECIAL OFFER direct from Roman & Littlefield

30% DISCOUNT OFFER OFF LIST PRICE PLEASE ORDER USING THIS CODE: RLFANDF30 978-1-5381-2084-2 • Hardback $28.00 list price (discount price $19.60) 978-1-5381-2085-9 • eBook $26.50 list price (discount price $18.55) For more information, please contact our Customer Service Dept. at special.sales@rowman.com or by phone at 800-462-6420 ext. 3023.

Buy Direct from Publisher  at their discount special.

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Amazon Regular Price: https://amzn.to/2YqFQTj


Catch Carolyn’s Book Trailer… click here!

 

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

 

AND… be sure to follow Carolyn tomorrow when the next stop is in London, England with the Ben Salmi family where 3 youngsters and their grandma will be interviewing Carolyn on the subject of Living Your Divine Purpose, Rejoice in Your life, Purpose in Your Soul and The Health and Money Connection. To visit the Ben Salmi family, go to http://bit.ly/2IMWuY1

 

 

DEEP BEAUTY Wellness Retreat Summer 2019

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