Author Archives: Andrea Hylen

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

Book-Cover

SPECIAL OFFER direct from Roman & Littlefield

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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

An Artist Date: January 2019

(For more Artist Date Inspiration, go to Consciously Woman: Click Here)

My Life is an Artist Date. That’s a hashtag I use on Instagram and other Social Media Dates (#MyLifeisanArtistDate.). The Artist Date is one of the tools that Julie Cameron invites us to use to experience the world with open eyes and to breathe in something that sounds like fun. A solo expedition to spark your imagination.  Over years of practicing the artist date, it has become a way of life. What can I notice in this moment? My Artist Dates are a 30 second moment or an hour, a day or a long weekend. Reading Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist Way, opened me to the importance of spending time cultivating my creativity and my spirit. It was in a circle of women, in 1997, that I began to discover the importance of taking time for myself. In our circle, we shared our personal experiences in the backdrop of The Artist’s Way and Vein of Gold. Brilliant books written by Julie Cameron. We shared food and conversation and inspired each other with creativity projects.

 

My latest pet sit in Venice Beach, California, last week, was filled with four days of rest, reading, writing, movie watching on Netflix, beach walks and reconnection with myself. Mimi, a 5 lb. Maltese tea-cup, was my companion on morning walks of listening to the sounds on the beach. Seagulls with their huoh-huoh-huoh, choking call. The man with his guitar singing Bob Dylan songs, “How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man? . . . The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Passing the new Starbucks on the boardwalk there is a throng of people protesting corporate America taking over the independent locally grown coffee shops. Venice beach is like a blast from the past. It feels like the 60’s and 70’s. Make love, not war. Free spirits. Strong voices. Alternate lifestyles. Art. Dream. Be You!

In addition to the sand, sea and seagulls, I notice the people I pass on my walk

*A woman with hoop earrings, a long skirt and shawl, holding a toddler, sitting on the sidewalk with her sign saying they are hungry, and could anyone spare a $1 for food.

*A man dressed in bright green scrubs, with a marijuana leaf print, inviting you into the Medical Marijuana Clinic.

*I hear a brief conversation from a man jogging by, plugged into earbuds, “If we move the bed to the west side of the room, we will have room for the new dresser. I’ll be home in 30 minutes”

*A woman exclaims, “Oh, she’s so cute.” Mimi thinks that is her name, she hears it so much on our walk. This 5 lb, white, fluffy doggie IS cute!

*A toddler in a stroller, points and calls out, “Dog, dog, dog.”

*I notice a sign from one of the artists, “No photos allowed without purchase.” A reminder that the artist is protecting her livelihood and setting a boundary. This is how she supports herself.

 

Craving lunch on one of my afternoon walks, I opt for the small food stall with a hand-made sign advertising tacos. After I order the pollo taco, the man disappears behind the sign into a tiny kitchen. I wait with my mouth watering from the smells of garlic, onion, cumin and chili powder. He hands me two, steaming hot tacos on a paper plate.

In the evenings, I inhale inspiration from film on Netflix. Every night a different theme: Feminism in the 70’s: Women fighting for equal rights and equal pay. Dancing to Taylor Swift’s concert: Reputation. Thinking about how she went to court this year to testify against a man who had sexually assaulted her. #metoo. On Netflix, she is a woman with a commanding stage presence. One night, I watched films about the AIDS epidemic and the leadership that emerged from individuals who stood up to the government and drug companies. Finally, on the last night, foreign films with subtitles: films from Nigeria and Mexico, feeling other cultures and languages.

On my last morning, I reflected on the weather of the four days. Days One and Two were a mixture of stillness and aliveness. Calm ocean. Restaurants, boardwalk and beach filled with people who were still on vacation after The New Year. Day Three: The clouds rolled in with an increase of wind and a prediction of rain. I walked an almost deserted boardwalk with shop owners bringing in chairs and merchandise and boarding up windows.  On the final morning, the air was crisp and clean. The sun was shining brightly. The ocean roared with waves. Shop owners opening up for business and clearing the debris from palm tree leaves and trash. People returning to jog, ride bikes, do yoga on the beach and enjoy nature.

As I walked on that final morning by myself, I chose a seat on the sand at the water’s edge watching the tide roll in and the waves coming closer and closer to my feet. I remembered the many times I have been on this beach, at this time of year, pondering what is next. In 2010, I spent a day walking on the boardwalk and napping on the beach as I prepared for the final radio show of that holiday season. Show 44: A Summary of 44 days of Grief Transformation. I was asking, God, Spirit, the Universe, what’s next? A few days later, I sent an application to the State of California to register, “Heal My Voice,” as a non-profit organization. This stretch of land has birthed many dreams and ideas. I wonder as I wander on the beach this year, what will I learn and discover in 2019? I pass a man who is offering “shitty advice” for $1. I laugh out loud. I know I don’t need that. I have cultivated inner guidance. The answers are within.

There is one thing, I do know. I am curious and open to what is to come in 2019. With one last deep breath, I feel the ocean and gratitude for this space. I’m alive! #mylifeisanartistdate

 

If you want to explore writing as a process or you are working on a book or developing a program, the next Writing Incubator begins on April 1 with early bird pricing until February 1. Check it out! You don’t have to do it alone.

The Writing Incubator

 

Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership and the Writing Incubator, an on-line writing community with writing prompts and writing labs, for women. She is author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey.

Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She follows her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about coaching, current projects and on-line writing circles go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.

Week One: What is the Story You Want to Tell?

This is a 30-week series with topics and questions from Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey by Andrea Hylen. Available on Amazon

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Question 1 of 30: What is the story you want to tell?

“When I started working on women’s history thirty years ago, the field did not exist. It was not recognized. People didn’t think women had a history worth knowing.” ~Gerda Lerner, On Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove, August 2010

When I read about Gerda Lerner recently in Carol Lee Flinders book called, “At the Root of This Longing,” I started to realize something deeper about what we are doing and being in Heal My Voice programs and in The Writing Incubator. Women are writing their stories and recording Women’s History. This is why it is so important for women to flood the market with their stories. Not just our theories or steps to success but the raw emotion of awakening. Writing our history.

It’s time to tell our stories. You are a history worth knowing.

Let that idea wash over you today. Your voice, your stories, your writing, your programs, your books are a record of Women’s History. Your voice is so important!

We all have many stories in our lives. So, which one is bubbling in you right now? Which story would serve you to write?

While writing my first story for publication, in 2008, for Conscious Choices: An Evolutionary Woman’s Guide to Life, I thought I was going to write a story about the birth and death of my son, Cooper. That was the story I had spent time feeling and processing and I wanted to share my experience with other women. But there was another story that was bubbling inside of me.  It was a story that began when I heard a song playing in my head. “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor…” I recognized the song as something Mister Rogers sang on his PBS Children’s Show.  “Okay,” I said to myself.  “Why does this song keep playing in my head? Why am I waking up hearing it when my kids are all grown up now? I haven’t watched Mister Rogers in years!”  I started to remember a really low point in my life when they were both under the age of 2. I felt unloved and unseen by my husband. Nothing I did, nothing I said, was “right.” I felt criticized and then ignored. As I started to write about things I was feeling during that time, I discovered a moment in that story:

Friday morning was the day I was at home with my daughters, catching up on the laundry, cooking meals for the next week an getting the house organized before the weekend. We would watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. There was always a moment when Mister Rogers would say, “I love you just the way you are.”

And just like that, when I remembered the feeling, I knew that that was the story I needed to write. It was a story about a low point when I felt hopeless. Mister Roger’s words gave me hope to find a way back to myself.  Writing about that low point helped me connect the dots of when my healing and transformation began.  It helped me to see my strength and personal power.

An exercise:

Think back to a time in your life. Let’s pick high school, as an example. Notice if there is a memory of pain or pleasure. Now, think about your first boyfriend or girlfriend. What is a memory? The first thing you may experience is a feeling. It might be a tightness in your chest or bubbling joy in your belly. There may be a variety of emotions, even if there isn’t a specific moment you remember. Begin there.

To inspire and ignite your writing, begin to ask the question, “What story do I want to tell?” Start asking it out loud to yourself. Maybe you ask it before you go to sleep at night. Or you ask it first thing in the morning. Don’t grab for the story. Just wait and allow it to come to you, like the Mister Rogers song came to me. It could be a feeling. It could be an emotion. And when you feel the memory rise, write it down! Acknowledge the moment, even if you don’t want to write a whole story right now. Write it down and wait for more inspiration to follow.

 

cropped-Screen-Shot-2013-11-29-at-12.20.41-PM.pngAs I re-read the quote by Gerda Lerner, it seems hard to believe that there wasn’t a program to study women’s history, right? Or does it? Gerda Lerner introduced the first official women’s history program in 1972 at Sarah Lawrence. 1972!! I was just entering high school. No wonder I was confused about who I was as a woman. There were very few examples of women in our curriculum or our conversations.

That was then, this is now.

When I published my book this summer, I gave a copy to each of my daughters. The book has fourteen of my personal stories of challenges with triumph. It is a path of how to awaken and evolve, as a woman. I told them that I didn’t expect them to read it now. But some day, they would want to read my words and share them with others. It is the history of their mother. It is the history of a woman: Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey.

Write your stories. Share them with others. Your life is part of the History of Women.

A few reflective questions:

*Have you ever doubted that it was important for you to write a book or to share your stories in blogs, programs and social media posts?

*What does the critical voice inside your head tell you about why you shouldn’t share your stories?

*Write about why it’s important for you to share your stories. Tune in to your inner wisdom and see what surfaces.

What is the story you want to tell now?

 

If you want to explore writing as a process or you are working on a book or developing a program, the next Writing Incubator begins on April 1 with early bird pricing. Check it out! You don’t have to write your stories alone.

The Writing Incubator

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership and the Writing Incubator, an on-line writing community with writing prompts and writing labs, for women. She is author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey.

Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She follows her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about coaching, current projects and on-line writing circles go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.

 

 

Dedication HMV-EWJ

A Choice

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 4.00.55 PMA few weeks ago, I purchased a domain name to point to my existing website. The domain name is the url. For example: www.andreahylen.com is a domain name.

Within 30 minutes of making the purchase, my phone began ringing and emails poured in with people offering website services. My first reaction was annoyance and then I put my phone on silence and turned my attention to other things.

By the end of Day 1, I had received over 25 phone calls and emails. When it continued into the next day, I stopped for a minute and reflected on how to bring more peace into this situation. Like a flash, I had an idea. What if this was an opportunity to send love?

Starting with the next phone call, I looked at the phone number and the words, St. Cloud, Minnesota. I placed my hand on my heart, closed my eyes and consciously filled my body with love. When I was full, I placed my attention on all of the people in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I sent all of them love. I sent love to the company that had set up the robocall. I sent love to the people who worked for the company and who would have been on the call, if I had picked up the line. That day another 25 calls came in. The phone was silenced but I turned on the notification setting on my Fitbit. Every time a call arrived, my Fitbit buzzed, I looked at the phone, felt the love and sent love to India, Fresno, California, Las Vegas, Houston, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland and so on.

The Choice to send love started with filling my body with love. Instead of feeling irritation and annoyance and frustration, my body was bathed in love. After a few days, the phone calls stopped. At first I felt disappointed. It felt good to send all that love. I shifted to social media and turned up the love there. Whenever I read an article or watch a video or read a friend’s post, I send them love and I notice where they live or where the article was published. I fill up with love and point my arrow in that direction to all the people in that town or city. Radiating Love is a Choice.

What is a choice you made recently to shift the energy in a situation?

 

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Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that supports women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership. After ten years of facilitating a nine-month book program for women to write in community, she started The Writing Incubator: an on-line community for women to receive support to write a book, develop a program, start or restart a blog or write to process their lives. With the on-line Writing Labs, community calls, writing prompts and Secret Facebook group, women are tapping into their creativity and voice to send their wisdom into the world. Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She follows her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects and on-line writing circles go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.

You Have Restored My Faith in Humanity

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.10.16 PM

I was taking a walk in a neighborhood in West LA over the holidays when I passed a woman who was walking a dog, a Corgi. The Corgi’s tail was wagging so I stopped and stretched out my hand for the dog to smell me before beginning to pat his head and stroke his fur. The woman began to talk about how unfriendly people are and how amazing it was that I stopped to say hello to her dog and to her. I listened and shared a few words about how we’re all in this together and taking time for connection is important. She gushed the words, “You have restored my faith in humanity. My wish for you in 2018 is that you receive everything you desire.” I thanked her and told her I receive that blessing and I wish the same for her.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 6.40.48 AMLater that day, I saw the film, “Lady Bird.” Before the film began, something compelled me to tell the person next to me that I was going to move one seat over to make it easier for people who were looking for seats in the now packed theater. The woman in front of me turned around and asked if she could sit in that seat. Her neck was already hurting and she felt sitting one row back would be better for her. She was at the film with friends and was about to leave the theater and sit in the car because she was in so much physical discomfort already. (Hmmm…that must be the reason I was intuitively, body-wisdom compelled to move.) During the film, I began to cry during one of the scenes and the woman reached over with a tissue for me. We talked after the film which led to a conversation about women telling their stories and using their voices in the world. She asked for my business card and hugged me and thanked me several times.

The most interesting thing about the two interactions was that I had started my day by writing three questions in my journal:

*Who am I?
*What do I have to offer the world?
*What does my heart desire?

In the experience of asking, slowing down, noticing, listening to my intuition, I received a glimpse of who I am, what I have to offer the world and what my heart desires. It is the reason I take time to pause and write and connect in on-line communities with deeper conversations.

What I also saw and know is our voices are needed, our voices matter, our voices are being heard, and the culture around women and men is in transition. I want you to know that you restore my faith in humanity every day.

 

A question for you:

How do you want to add your voice to the conversation and the transition? Where are you receiving support? Where are you connected to deeper conversations for exploring and connecting with your inner GPS?

 

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

If you want to explore writing as a process or you are working on a book or developing a program, the next Writing Incubator begins on April 1 with early bird pricing until February 1. Check it out!

The Writing Incubator

 

Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership. Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband.

She is following her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects and on-line writing circles go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.

International Women’s Day 2018: Slowly a New Path Has Emerged

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 4.56.08 PMSpoken at the Academy Awards on Sunday night, March 4, 2018:

“This year, many spoke their truth, and the journey ahead is long, but slowly a new path has emerged,” Annabella Sciorra

“The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying ‘time’s up,” Ashley Judd

″So we salute those unstoppable spirits who kicked ass and broke through the biased perceptions against their gender, their race and ethnicity to tell their stories.” Salma Hayek

Watching the Academy Awards in the living room, by myself, on Sunday night, I found myself cheering, holding my breath, jumping off the couch with a Yes! and feeling the winds of change. We have reached another tipping point. There is momentum and there is a lot of work to do to keep this going. It is about speaking up and holding for change and giving time and space for the culture to change, too. That is what is required for change.

Change takes time.

There was a moment last week when Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the Oscars, was asked about #metoo being talked about at the Oscars. He was quoted as saying, “This show is not about reliving people’s sexual assaults — it’s an awards show for people who have been dreaming about maybe winning an Oscar for their whole lives. And the last thing I want to do is ruin that for someone, by making it unpleasant.”

When I first read his words, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, a feeling I have had many times in my 60 years. Being told to keep my mouth shut, not to make waves, to turn down my light and not to mention the things that would make people feel uncomfortable and of course, not to be unpleasant.

Jimmy Kimmel later clarified that #metoo conversations would be a part of the show and that his words were taken out of context. There is a culture change happening and it is going to be uncomfortable for women and men as we make changes. Let’s remember that.

Change takes time.

When I saw the Time magazine cover from January, with photos of strong women and the words The Silence Breakers, I felt a rush of gratitude and hope for the future. It’s been a long time coming and now that the door is open it is going to take all of us to keep it open and find our way into this new world. There are moments now, when I feel the relief of what is being uncovered. There are moments when I feel impatient  and frustrated that the process of change is so slow. And then I remember…

Change takes time.

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 5.32.20 PMMy personal story is, I left an abusive marriage in 1987. I had to fight for my children and go for psychological testing because no one in my family or his family could understand why I would leave this marriage. No one understood what the abuse had done to me and how broken I was at that time. The abuse and alcoholism were accepted as normal. I was supposed to accept that I “made my bed and I had to lie in it.” I was shamed and shunned for using my voice. Looking back, I can see that the creation of Heal My Voice began during that time but it took 30 more years of personal growth and experiences of trauma, loss and grief before I could start the organization and hold a space for women to write and heal and step into greater leadership in their lives.

Heal My Voice was started in 2011 as a way for women to break the silence. For seven years, we have been meeting in secret Facebook groups, behind closed doors, healing our voices and writing 200 stories. Each story was written over a 9 month period in a community of women. The women had the courage to go down into the emotional basement of their lives to tell the truth of what happened to them. By shining a light on the shadow, they have emerged ready to step into greater leadership in their families, communities, businesses and the world. We are ready. It is time.

Change takes time.

How many of you have been the silence breakers in your family and business? How many of you have been chipping away at a broken system for years? How many of you have been a part of the women’s liberation movement and the mankind project and using your voice?

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 5.30.36 PMWe are entering a time of even more chaos that will allow us to break free from an old broken system and to rebuild together. There is a climate for change and change takes time with an upheaval, a feeling of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” or a quiet, compelling pull from the Universe. “It’s time.”  The next steps for change come with a plan and a structure and the willingness and courage to do the inner work, as well as, the outer work. The next steps involve consistent action, rest, perseverance, patience and courage.

Change takes time.

It is our time. If you don’t see the impact immediately or you see the old culture raising it’s ugly head, keep going. Let’s roll up our sleeves and use the momentum and timing to implement more change. Women and men together. Let’s do it!

 

 

315353_10201052497332086_1044127686_nAndrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership. Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband.

She is following her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.

Landing on Your Feet with Sherry Burton Ways

FinalCoverBack (1)Landing on Your Feet and Putting Down Roots:

21 Rituals to Transform Your Life and Interior Space

By Sherry Burton Ways

Today is Day 5 on a 9 stop virtual book tour. From July 14 – July 28TH. Sherry is visiting Nine Websites on a virtual book tour. You are invited to follow the tour, visit a new blog each day, meet some wonderful new friends and experience something new. Go to this page to see all the stops and to enter and win prizes:

http://sherryburtonways.com/landing-feet-putting-roots-virtual-book-tour/

Review of Her Book:

Through adversity and challenge, we heal and awaken to our desires, talents and skills. In her new book, Landing On Your Feet and Putting Down Roots, Sherry Burton Ways shows us the story of reclaiming her life, her space and her personal design style voice after the ending of her marriage. Her book is filled with ideas and inspirational ways to step by step restore your spirit and bring beauty, intention, and YOU into your living spaces.

Change of any kind can be stressful and life altering However, if you begin to look at changes and how your environment can respond and support you, it will be a process that you can begin to enjoy Rituals can be so easy, fun, and -empowering as ways to stay connected to source, to manifest and decorate your moment with ease” ~Sherry Burton Ways

Twenty-one rituals from journaling and setting an intention to meal preparation, bathing and essential oils, Sherry inspires you with an overview of each ritual and specific action steps to help connect with who you are and what you want in your space.

And let me tell you, dear reader, the photos are gorgeous. Gaze upon them and use them as part of a sitting meditation bonus. They are calming, healing and inspiring.

I had the opportunity to interview Sherry and ask her to share some personal details. To read the Q and A, go to this link:

 

http://healmyvoice.org/landing-on-your-feet-with-sherry-burton-ways/

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