Introduction to Empowered Voices
Day 85 of 100 days of Blogging
An excerpt from the Introduction to Empowered Voices: True Stories by Awakened Women
Written by Andrea Hylen, Founder of Heal My Voice.
As I settled into my living room to fold laundry one cozy evening, I came upon a replay of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. All in black and white, the camera slowly zoomed in to focus on a husband cooking breakfast for his wife. They lived in a camping trailer and you could see the wife sleeping in the bed next to the kitchen. As the camera followed the husband carrying a tray of eggs, toast and coffee towards the bed, the wife began to yawn with cooing sounds of love and recognition and a soft “good morning,” stretch. He leaned down, carefully balancing the tray and kissing her on the cheek. Nuzzling her with his lips, cheek to cheek, he snuggled up to her ear, whispering softly, “Hey Worthless.” When I heard those two little words, I froze instantly, with an unfolded bath towel in my hands, standing stock still in disbelief.
What? WHA-WHAT? “Hey WORTHLESS?”
Those words had been offered as a term of endearment and a declaration of love. If I wasn’t so keenly aware of the power of words, I might have missed those two, slippery units of language wedged between the kisses and breakfast food. It was subtle. “Hey Worthless” was spoken with the energy of love, affection, a smile, a soft touch, a stroke of the hair and was accompanied by a tray full of nourishment.
It may seem like I am making a big deal about such a small phrase but the “Hey Worthless” message exploded in my ears like a trumpet blast. While we could debate the genius of Hitchcock and his cleverly disguised insult, the blasting in my ears created a frozen state in my body. This was one of the ways women had been programmed to think they were worthless, less than, not enough or wrong. This is how their voices were shut down. It began with one slippery, biting word at a time; demeaning, dishonoring, invalidating abuse intermixed with food, shelter, belonging, and “love.” From men, from women, from the media and more…
Growing up, we received subtle messages from loved ones and strangers: hey clumsy, she’s such a slob; don’t beat the boys at that game because they won’t like you. You’re too much, too loud, too intense… lighten up, have a sense of humor, get over it, don’t be so serious, go along with the crowd. And underneath the subtle words that were chipping away at our spirit and confidence, many of us had our innocence violated both physically and emotionally with physical and verbal abuse. We were told that we had caused it and deserved it!
It is no wonder that our voices were shut down and that we stopped speaking up for what we really believed in.
Women have something to say. It is time. We are visible and we are creating a wave of voices!
In the Spring of 2012, I was immersed in supporting and creating a safe space for the twenty-three authors of the powerful stories in this second, “Heal My Voice” book publication. One vulnerable word at a time, these successful women were reclaiming hidden aspects of their own personal power: writing to heal a story in their lives.
When a woman heals her voice, reclaims inner authority, it is not because she wants to rule the world and diminish men. It is because she wants to be able to use her personal power to make a difference in the world. She is not interested in power over you. She wants a voice at the table because she has something to offer. She may be leading the discussion or she may be a participant.
The authors in this book are a group of powerful women leaders who are passionate about leading, serving and making a difference in the world. Kerri in Australia, Marie in Sweden, Yana in Germany, Fiona in western Canada, Karen in Baltimore, Charlene in Chicago, Lynn in Colorado, Brenda in Oregon. In total, twenty-three women who live all over the United States and Canada and around the world.
These twenty-three women initially met through a coaching program including both men and women, and thus were accustomed to “listening” to one another, practicing the artful trade of supporting and empowering others.
Then, we shifted into a new sacred space. For many of us, the process of writing these stories helped us shed a layer of protection that was so worn, it felt like skin. We began to see each other and ourselves more clearly in the journey of writing our stories, building trust and hearing the wisdom that translates from one person’s experience to another.
In many of the stories, women wrote about the ways they had been diminished in religion, families, relationships, school, work and the world. Their confidence, feelings of worthiness, personal power, and open-eyed wonder had been chipped away and doused with someone else’s fear, manipulation and control. We had turned down the switch to our bright shining lights, to stay safe and hide our power to preserve and protect our hearts.
Sharing our stories with you is the next step in moving so far beyond the insidious “Hey Worthless” that it will hopefully become a notch of completion on our belts. We are carrying our wisdom and strength with us while we leave the rest of the garbage behind.
An Empowered Voice knows when to Listen.
An Empowered Voice knows when to Speak.
An Empowered Voice knows when to Stand on the Mountaintop and shout.
~ Andrea Hylen, Founder of Heal My Voice
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 and men 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. In addition to serving as Heal My Voice’s Executive Director, Andrea is an Orgasmic Meditation Teacher and Sexuality Coach.
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 supporting others in doing the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.