Tag Archives: Transitions

Living my Life as a Research Project

Day 100 of 100 days of Blogging

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Life is naturally designed to be a research project. We are born with desire and curiosity. A child is naturally interested in exploring; naturally playing with their senses to create experiences. See. Hear. Taste. Touch. Play.

I like to observe, analyze and process what I notice and feel in the world. You could say that I am a born researcher, a data collector and  a writer.

For ten years after college, my career evolved from research assistant to project manager at Johns Hopkins to computer software trainer at a pharmaceutical company. I am a trained social worker and coach and an ordained minister. I like to study life, people and feelings. I have always been curious about people. Observing why they choose or don’t choose different experiences in their lives. Why they say they are happy when they feel sad to me. Why they say they are fine when they have tears in their eyes.

After working in the University System, I turned my attention to research life; my life and the world in and around me.

100 days of blogging has been a research project. The intention I set when I first started writing was to explore my voice. What did I want to write about? Where did people want to engage? What topics of interest to women and men in my community? What did I notice? Where did I have feelings of passion and intense desire to explore a topic?

Well, it turns out that I wrote about how I live my life. The topics included Living with Intent, Living in Flow, Living from Inspiration, Relationships, Connection, Writing, Grief, Healing, Consciousness Practices, Transformation and Leadership.

As this is the last day of 100 days of writing, I move towards integration. It is a necessary last piece of all research projects. Writing has transformed something so deep, that I need time and space, more of “the gap time,” to allow for integration and digestion to be able to use what I have uncovered.

And while I give the 100 days of writing time to percolate, I said yes to another research project. This one connects me to my Orgasmic Meditation practice.

 

For more details about setting up research with a partner, read on…

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To start off the new year, I decided to practice Orgasmic Meditation with an OM coach and friend in Crystal City, Virginia. We set the experience to be 21 days and to meet in his apartment every day.

Here are a few tips that can be adapted for different research experiences.

1. Enter at your own risk. I wouldn’t label 21 days of daily OMing as “fun.” The purpose of research is to turn a spotlight onto something and allow for release and purification and new awareness. Shadow and light will be revealed.

In the first week of the experience, I have noticed how each of us have had a day or two where we feel messed up before we start to OM or a day where we feel tender and cracked open after the OM. There is a purification and burning off of emotions and revealing of desires that emerge. There are also days that feel like nothing is happening which leads to days of bursting awareness and opening of power. In the first 7 days, I have laughed, cried, tapped into more of my power and last night I had nightmares for a few hours and woke up sobbing. I’m in it. 14 days to go.

2. Communication is Key.

a. Tune in to your desire and get clear on what you really want

b. Commit to a time period that feels “right” to you. If you already feel stretched and pressured before you begin, make an adjustment. 7 days can be just as powerful as 21 days or 30 days.

c. Communicate your desire with your partner (or with yourself, if it is a different kind of research that does not require a partner. Write down the desire and the expectation and the tools for communication. (One partner and I used a Google document for clarity and journal writing together. )

In my current research of 21 days of OMing, my partner and I both had a desire for daily OMing. When he shared his desire as a general idea of 30 days of OMing, it felt like our desires were a match. When I looked at my schedule for January, knowing it would require 2-3 hours of travel, as well as OM time, I was willing to commit to 21 days. The additional 9 days felt like overwhelm to me.

d. Set up a self-care regimen. Salt baths. Sleep. More quiet time for processing and integrating everything that WILL come up!

e. Notice everything. Subtle shifts. AHAs. Journal. Stay conscious.

f. Stay in the mystery of what is possible. There will be bumps in the road. Things you didn’t think about or even different perspectives that were not evident when you set the container. Part of the growth is the messiness that arises and new communication that is created.

g. Set up a foundation and structure for yourself. A way to have a beginning and an ending and a touchstone to remind yourself why you are called to do this at this time.

In my current research with an OM partner, we have the foundation of the OM practice and the 12 steps of OMing.

Tenets of OM:
1. Attention – noticing what is
ii. Simplicity – removing anything extra (romance, interpretations,
value judgments, accoutrements), goallessness
iii. Desire – making requests and adjustments in the OM.
iv. Connection – feeling the connection created between the stroker
and strokee (limbic resonance)

 

12 Steps to OM:

1. Ask for an OM  

2. Set up a space  

3. Sit in Position  

4. Noticing  

5. Safeport  

6. Initial Grounding  

7. Stroking  

8. Peaking  

9. Communicate  

10. Second Grounding  

11. Share Frames  

12. Clean up the space

 

And that’s all for now folks!

 

To the adventure!

 

 

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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 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.
 

Change and Transition: Give it Time

Day 98 of 100 days of Blogging

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In August, I had an inner calling to upgrade my life. I could feel that change was in the air but I didn’t know where I was going next. As I began to write about the changes and the uncertainty, I heard comments from other people who said they were going through the same thing. Endings. New beginnings and feeling like it was time to review their lives.

Tuning into the past year as a year of Transition and moving into 2016 as a year of Transformation, I had a thought about an outdated computer system.

Imagine that you decide it is time to upgrade the software on your computer. You commit to going through the process. You look at the options to upgrade the software. Purchase and install the new software. Turn off the computer to reboot it. That begins a new process. It feels fresh and new as you see the new screensaver or icon and you take steps to learn how to use the new features. Some of the old keystrokes are outdated and it takes time to learn the new keystrokes and features. You may even feel sad or revert to old patterns only to find out that your computer will no longer respond to those commands.

I was thinking about an experience a few years ago when I went into some deep, deep pain and transformation around my people pleasing behavior. When I finally reached rock bottom and began to make different choices, my whole body went into a frozen state whenever I tried to people please. I couldn’t do it anymore! My body refused!

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While I was visiting my parents in Florida last month after my Dad had a stroke, I noticed how my parents were putting new systems into place in their home. My mother had marked the dials on the Washing Machine and Toaster. The settings they use the most. My Dad’s medications were set out on the shelf. It was so easy for anyone to arrive, slide into the systems and help. My Dad also traded in the first walker for an updated model with a seat and brakes so he could increase the distance of his daily walk.

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During my visit, my Dad and I were watching a television program called Animal Misfits, I was fascinated by the adaptation each animal had made to it’s environment. That is what happens at each phase of our lives. Things change and we adapt.

Animal Misfits Link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/topic/animal-misfits/

One animal is best known for its very slow rate of development. To complete the life cycle from caterpillar to adult moth, it has to go through a process over 7 years:

The Arctic woolly bear moth, is found within the Arctic circle, in Greenland and Canada. It was once estimated that it had a 14-year life cycle from egg to adult moth, with the ability to withstand temperatures below −70°C. Subsequent studies have revised the life cycle duration to be 7 years.

The Arctic woolly bear caterpillars are unique in their combination of adaptations to the polar extremes. They spend nearly 90% of their lives frozen and only about 5% feeding on the tundra during June; the remainder is spent in summer protective cocoons.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynaephora_groenlandica

 

It reminded me of how change requires patience, adaptation and time for integration of the new.

In this year of transformation, slow down. Set up new systems. Reboot your life. Adapt to the new system. The transformation is happening.

Just wait and see.

 

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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 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.

Deeper Listening: Connecting Your Soul Purpose

Day 96 of 100 days of Blogging

 

Connecting with Soul Purpose…

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Two questions I ask myself at every crossroads.

1. Why am I here?

2. What does my soul want me to experience?

I know my Soul Purpose:  I am here to communicate and connect and participate in community. My soul purpose is focused on people and creativity and learning. Life long learning and teaching and writing.

I know I am a Warrior Goddess. Intensely committed to my personal growth. Going within to do the work first and then radiating the experience and what I learned from the experience. I am willing to go into the depths of a subject and topic and then share the gems in the world. I am willing to be vulnerable and to be a leader who listens to the guidance of spirit, steps off the edge, jumps into the unknown, and to encourage others to do the same. Like a guide who goes out into the frontier and comes back to report what I discovered.

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I know I am moving into the next phase of my life and it is time to mentor through more coaching, teaching, and writing books. I am ready to hold the lamp higher so you can see the path in front of you. I am a guide with almost 60 years of experience on the planet. It is time to own that at a new level and to step into greater visibility.

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One thing I want to share with you is I don’t always know, and none of us really do, what my soul wants to experience in the moment. It happens, this longing to know why I have co-created an experience which requires more personal growth. I demand to know the answers now! I want to know the why. I want to process it and move through it quickly. There may be a glimmer of an idea as I see a gift emerging but the answers do not come until later in the process when it is time to integrate all of the choices I made during a time when a new path emerged or life has whacked me with a challenge. Some of the gifts I received from my marriage to an alcoholic, a life threatening autoimmune condition, a son who died at 19 months or even a summer of 45 Jonas Brothers concerts that stretched us financially and physically, did not become clear until years later. The gifts appeared (and continue to appear) after processing and writing and healing.

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A few keys:

*Slow down

*Cultivate your inner authority

*Increase self-care and alone time so you can hear the answers

*Get support from people who can coach and witness you in process

*Draw on past experiences to remind yourself to be patient, the answers will come.

*Craft a few words or phrases that can be shared with family and friends that create space for your process.

*Give it time and space.

*Stay connected and awake to the feelings.

*Enjoy the adventure. This is your life. All of it!

 

 

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Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voice 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.

Crossing the Bridge: Change is in the Year

Day 91 of 100 days of Blogging

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It happens every year. December 31 ends one year. January 1 begins a new year. Then we all go through a transition of remembering to write the next year. Writing 2016, instead of 2015. It is part of the transition. It is part of change.

Transition is a part of life. We all have other endings and beginnings every year. Changing jobs. Moving. Deaths. Birth. Rebirth. Sometimes we choose endings and new beginnings. Sometimes we have change thrust upon us and sometimes change is happening that is so subtle we may not have even noticed it was happening.

When I was laid off from a job in 1990, there was a little bit of a warning but it felt like we were just going through a rough patch. I had no idea that our whole department of 20 people was going to be laid off. When it finally happened, I spent a week in disbelief. Then, took a week to sit in the uncertainty of it and did a few things like spend a day walking in silence in Washington, DC. Then, I went on job interviews. I was hired for a short term consulting job and then discovered I was pregnant. My second husband and I would be having our first child. I continued to look for work because I saw myself as a mother with a career. A mother who needed to find the next job. My first two children had been raised in a day care routine when I worked and I assumed the third would be the same.

And then a standard sonagram in month 7 of my pregnancy showed that our child was a son and he had a problem with his heart. With no job, it made sense that I would be the stay at home parent while he was undergoing heart surgeries. I never returned to a full-time job outside of the home. Life changed. New beginnings kept showing up. Nothing was ever the same again. My whole life path and expectation had been altered.

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Since the birth and death of my son, I have learned to feel when there is subtle change and early warnings in the air. I have learned through meditation, journal writing, Tai Chi, and other practices that have connected me to my intuition and awakened my “knowing” and trusting “feelings.”

I’ve learned to recognize the subtle patterns that appear when I am moving from an ending to a new beginning. There is a thing called the “in between” space. And when I am there, the recurring pattern gives me a clue.

The typical clues for me:

I feel lost.

I feel like a failure.

I feel like I am letting people down.

I feel like people are mad at me.

I become irritable.

I have a running dialogue of other people’s voices every time I make a move.

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When I wake up and realize that something is shifting and change is coming, the next part of the pattern is put into motion.

I start making different choices.

I spend more time in silence and writing.

I become a detective looking for clues in signs, conversations and bubbling desire.

I take baby steps.

I ask more questions.

I turn up the patience quotient and I wait…

 

So, here we are on the precipice of a new year. Follow the steps and move into the new year with wide, open eyes, and notice what is subtly calling out to you.

Ready…Set…Go!

 

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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 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.

Phase Transition: Make Space and Let Yourself BE Empty

Day 74 of 100 days of Blogging

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There was a moment yesterday when I could see and feel the changes that are happening in my life. And in that moment I felt a little empty like the train had arrived at the station, dropped off all of the passengers and everything stopped. The conductor (me) pulled out the map and sat there figuring out what to do next.

I have arrived at the station after six months of releasing and allowing the space to be empty; To BE instead of DO. I see the beginning of the next phase. More glimpses of what I have been working toward creating. Balance of family, play, work, relationships.

This is one phase of the process of change. I have been through this so many times at different intervals in my life and this is what I notice in this type of phase transition, change and the in-between space:

*I begin to have new or reawakened awareness.

*I make some changes in my life. I experience frustration from some people in my life when I am in this period of change because I am uncomfortable when people ask me questions and I don’t have the answers. They mirror my internal discomfort. Or I notice that when I plan a weekend of pleasure, someone in my life has a crisis and there is an expectation that I need to stop everything to help them, even though they have other people who can help. I am torn between being a good friend or mother or daughter. In that moment, I am in a dilemma of what choice to make. Do I choose to focus on my own needs and desires or put everyone else first. It is uncomfortable and can feel restrictive. I can feel myself frustrated and angry.

*And then it happens, the changes begin to happen and I have what I want. Or I have the beginning of what I want. I have made some changes. People around me have adjusted. I am in a new stream of flow. I know when to help someone or when to practice my own self-care.

*Now, it is up to me.

*Am I going to sabotage the new way of being in subtle or obvious ways? Am I going to do things to pull people into the space where I just got free? Or can I sit in the stillness? In the unknown, uncertainty, unfamiliar space and slow down. Feel what it feels like to be in this next space and continue to let it unfold.

*I remind myself in this phase to stay empty.

*Fill myself slowly and consciously.

 

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An example of a day:

I had a whole day to focus on myself. No appointments or schedules. A day when I could tune in and let my intuition guide me to play, rest, work, have an adventure. Infinite possibilities and choices in this present moment.

I started by connecting with people in the house in Brooklyn where I was staying during my visit to NYC. There were five additional guests for two nights. We ate breakfast together and shared some of the details of our lives.

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One of the women asked me about my coaching fees. She is a screenwriter who was hired to write a script for a film. She is experiencing some writer’s block and wanted to work with a coach to connect to the soul of the film. After a brief conversation, she hired me for three sessions and sent me the script draft. We will focus on story development and the connection to the soul; one of the things I LOVE to do in coaching.

After breakfast, I wanted to write and read and hang out in coffee shops and bookstores in Brooklyn and the East or West Village in New York. So, I googled coffee shops and picked the first destination.

I had a conversation with my oldest daughter and let her know I was available to babysit at their home in Queens in the evening so she and her husband could have some time together. We decided to connect later about the timing. I offered because I like to spend time with my granddaughter and it felt like the last time I could offer babysitting in the next few days before going back to Washington, DC.

Text from my daughter: Thanks for the offer. I am going into the city. I need to check with Jesse after he auditions the directors. Will let you know later this afternoon.

 

Now, it is late afternoon. I have several desires. The Strand Bookstore. A coffee shop in West Village. Regal Cinema in Union Square. I find myself moving in slow motion. I am not clear on my desire. I go slower so I can listen and feel connected to what I really want. I stand in the Regal Cinema lobby looking at the film choices and timing. I want to see The Danish Girl but if I babysit, it doesn’t look like I will have time. After ten minutes of standing there in uncertainty, I decide to move onto the busy, streets of New York.

The Strand Bookstore is in the next block. It is packed. Holiday and weekend shopping. I slowly walk up and down the aisles and move back onto the street. Too crowded. Not the right place for me today.

I walk around the block. Feeling. Thinking. Noticing. Letting myself feel empty and uncertain. I am in unfamiliar territory. It is a new place inside of me. A bubbling well that must be emptied to cultivate the next…

The key to discover the next path is to slow down.

I pause in front of a story and remember I have been craving pizza for a week. I feel a Yes inside of me. I notice the store right next to me is called Pie by the Pound. A restaurant that specializes in gluten free pizza. I pause for a moment and stand there checking within to feel my desire before going inside. I choose 4 different kinds of pizza. 4 small rectangular slices. Eat slowly. Enjoy this new experience. Gluten free, flat pizza. I eat until I am full then save the rest for later.

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I look at the movie choices at the Regal Cinema again on my iPhone. Brooklyn is the next film showing. I am staying in Brooklyn so my curiosity piques. Film Description: An Irish immigrant in 1950s New York. She moves to America for an opportunity. When something happens at home in Ireland, she returns and must face a choice to stay in her old life in Ireland or return to her new life in America.

I feel a synchronicity. Letting go of the old. Making room for the new.

I purchase my movie ticket. Get settled in my seat and just as I reach to turn off my phone, I see a text from my sister: “Spoke to Dad this afternoon. He is so happy to be home. They had a health care professional visit and Dad is able to get all of the services he needs. He was really excited and happy. The health care person went around the house and made sure it was all safe for him.”

There is a moment when I feel I am not needed and I feel a loss. It is a blip on my emotional screen. I notice it. A moment of feeling: what is my value in the family if I am not there? I take a deep breath. Appreciate that I am connected to my family and that I do not have to be the caretaker. I CAN live my life and create new experiences. I CAN schedule time for me and know that everyone else is already cared for!

The film was perfect. I can feel it deeply. I recognize the feelings of letting go of one place to receive the next place.

Text from my daughter: Mom, thanks for the offer. We are exhausted from the auditions today. Jesse and Lucille sound asleep.

Another blip of loss. I am not needed. And then I feel the freedom.

 

It is 8pm on a Saturday night and I am in NYC with crazy, drunk Santa’s running around. Literally, throngs of people dressed up in the masculine and feminine versions of Santa with costumes, hats and bells. I walk slowly. I notice how other people are spending their Saturday night. Two drunk people weaving down the street brush up against me. Couples laughing and hugging. Groups of women with full shopping bags. Families huddled together, holding hands. A motor home with Hanukkah songs playing music on speakers intermingled with Christmas music. A police mobile station and people inside with ice packs on their heads.

This is a new beginning for me. What do I want to do right now?

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I see THINK Coffee and decide to get a latte. Be silent. Reflect on my life before children. Reflect on my life before marriage. Reflect on the new desires that are emerging.

I dive into reading the yummy script of my new client.

I notice I am happy.

Me. NYC. Latte. Reading and writing in a little nook in THINK Coffee. Doing exactly what I want to be doing and being, right now.

After a few hours, I walk 1.3 miles to the M Train, choosing to walk instead of riding another train and transferring. The weather is gorgeous. NYC feels so good. I feel so good.

I arrive back in Brooklyn around midnight. Ten minutes later the house is filled with people arriving back from a class and dinner.

Briefly checking in with people before heading downstairs to my bedroom. Climbing into bed with a smile on my face.

The end of a New Day.

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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 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.

Feminism: Awareness is the First Key to Change

Day 68 of 100 days of Blogging
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A friend of mine, a man, shared a post in a Facebook community of men and women who are exploring the new masculine. His post began by stating how his knowledge of feminism has increased 1,000 fold in the last few weeks. He decided to learn more about the feminist movement and do some research about what rights (money, property, marital and more) women have received since he was born almost 50 years ago.
Women were not allowed to take out a business loan without having a male relative cosign until 1988! Think about how that impacted women and what they would believe about their ability to start a business or be a business woman. They needed a male relative to cosign for them. Think about how men would be conditioned to think that women were incompetent to run a business without the support of a man.
I was eight years out of college at that time, working as a Project Manager in Epidemiological Research at Johns Hopkins and the mother of two daughters. And if I had wanted to start a business, I would have needed my father or another male relative to cosign on the loan!
My friend who posted this information has a new awareness and is awakening to the male privilege he didn’t even realize he had. He wants to take more responsibility for his role in the perpetuation of old standards and he is asking questions so he can change his perspective and learn how to support his teenage daughter as she grows into her power as a woman.
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After reading his post, I wrote this comment.
Your words really stirred something in me. My whole body was buzzing as I tried to sleep last night. First, thank you for posting. I know I have so many layers of feelings. I feel like I could write a book in response to your question about asking women to share the hate they feel towards men.
 
For now, I will begin with this. I was born in 1956. I know you asked women to express the hate they have towards men. More than hate, I would say that I feared men. My mom stayed at home and we depended on my dad for our survival needs. Food, shelter, clothing. We were taught to behave and be quiet when he was home because it was his castle and his money. The message I received was to be good and quiet and not to upset him. Many experiences reinforced that message and that was enough to anchor the childhood fear and teach me to go underground with my voice.
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One of the ways I have worked on healing this personally and in my work with women is to look at how the history of not being able to own property or have our own bank accounts is in our lineage. Women were property still ripples into our relationships with women in the form of competition for a man. It is the gossipy, back biting, passive-aggressive communication when women feel they have no voice. As much as men, that has involved healing with women first and building trust in our relationships. Understanding the roots of our lineage and the changes that have been taking place step by step and how we still are in a process of changing that old conditioning.
 
One of the ways I have healed is by practicing Orgasmic Meditation (OM) for 3 years and by living in an OM community with men and women for one year. I see men in a new light. I have a lot less fear and increased love and compassion. Both Robert Kandell and Ken Blackman, the leaders in this secret Facebook group and two of my teachers in the OM community were instrumental in me learning how to tap into more of my power by supporting me in claiming my personal power, owning my desires and breaking through to reach into the power of my sexuality. That is where I have the deepest desire for living life fully and the “nice” girl had to move to the side. In this OM practice, everything changed. The way I run my business, my writing, the claiming of my sexuality and power.
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As for my daughters who are now 32, 30, and 22, I have worked with educating, changing patterns, encouraging their voices, and teaching them how to connect with men. The process of changing my own interactions and focusing on my personal growth began when they were born. I taught them to listen, to speak, to stand up for what they believe in. Leaving my husband in 1987 and breaking that pattern of accepting abuse was the way I demonstrated for them. Things are shifting. New legislation is one thing. Changing the mindset and re-callibrating to that change can take a generation or two.
When I was about to graduate high school in 1975, my mother told me I could do or be anything. Saying that and modeling it or providing guidance for that was another thing. It was assumed I would go to college but I received zero guidance for that and there was still the expectation that I would find a husband in college. I got married. Worked full time. Gave birth to two daughters. Maintained the home. Cooked, cleaned, found child care. Took off from work when my kids were sick. It was insane. Now my oldest daughter is married and has a two year old. She wants her husband to help more at home. They run a business together. I can see that some progress has been made in expecting they both take care of their child and I also see the brunt of the home stuff falls on my daughter. Now, I am her coach. I have been teaching her to specifically ask for what she needs on a daily basis with her husband and I can see the shifting for the next generation. More communication. More teamwork in a marriage. More connection. Her generation will take it to the next level and so on…
What are your thoughts about feminism? What are your thoughts about the changing roles for men and women? Please share your voice in the comment section.
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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 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.

 

The Power of 3: Supporting Elderly Parents

Day 63 of 100 days of Blogging

My Dad had a stroke a few weeks ago.

Quick update on physical details: He can talk. He is numb on the left side. No blockages in his arteries. He is in rehab and working really hard to recover. My niece is a speech therapist and she told us that the first six months are vital to the best recovery. He is working hard and making progress and has a positive attitude.

My Mom and Dad have been married for sixty years. She is balancing taking care of herself and their home and going over to spend every afternoon with him.

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A few more details:

I have two living siblings.

My sister, Joanne, is 57 years old. A preschool teacher. Parent of 3 adult children. She has been taking the “first shift” of support. She lives the closest to my parents, 90 minutes away, and her lifestyle allows for regular visits right now.

My brother, Rob, is 52 years, a carpenter. Lives in New Jersey. Divorced. Co-parenting three kids who are in public school. His daughter needs someone to be with her at the bus stop every day. He is willing to take a shift and for now he is talking with our parents daily.

I am 59 years old. Entrepreneur and Coach. Parent of 3 adult children. Currently living in Washington, DC area. Teaching a variety of workshops in person and on-line. Working with the Heal My Voice Board President and holding in person meetings to build the 2016 Board of Directors. I will be flying to Florida and staying for a week at the end of December.

 

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There was a time in my life where I would have dropped everything to be there for my parents immediately. I homeschooled my kids and had the flexibility to go on the road during most of their education.

At this time in my life, it means cancelling meetings and events and putting my life on hold.  I go in and out of guilt about not dropping everything in my life to sit by my Dad’s bedside, help my Mom and be there to support my Dad’s recovery. I see many of the women around me right now in this struggle of wanting to care for and support their parents and questioning how much of our own dreams do we put on hold. And for many of us, the youngest adult child has just left the nest and we are building streams of income to support ourselves financially for the next part of our lives.

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So, the decisions my siblings and I are making are practical. Who is going to help them? Even being real with each other. When is it “convenient” for a loved one to need additional support? My parents have always lived full and busy lives with many interests, and service work and community. So, of course, we are all the same. Living full lives with commitments to other people.

First, our conversations centered around the shock of the stroke which was sudden and unexpected.

Second, the assessment of his health and…to be blunt, if he was about to die or live.

Third, once we knew he was stable, what are the long term care needs.

My siblings and I moved into more practical conversation. You take this shift. I will come down for that shift. Then communicating during each step.

There are layers of internal processing here for me. I have already lost a son and a husband to illness. I have already watched two people I love die. I was the caretaker who sat by each of their bedsides. This experience is familiar and my heart is heavy thinking about it. Knowing what I have learned from losing so many loved ones and letting myself stay in the discomfort of feeling like I am not doing enough right now.

From the loss of a brother, son and husband, I have learned to live more in the present moment. And each additional time I get to spend with loved ones is a bonus. I have learned to keep my heart open and to love fully in the moment. I have to let go when I leave not knowing if I will ever see them again. All we have is the present moment.

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Today I am feeling grateful we were all together at my Aunt Ellen’s funeral in Boston in September. My Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother and Me with various generations. Conversations. Photos. Connecting with Relatives and Sharing Memories. It was a beautiful weekend. Lots of sad feelings about the sudden death of my Aunt and so much joy around all of the times we spent together. Love. Gratitude. Appreciation.

What I know today is I have my plane ticket for Florida. Flying at the end of December. Spending New Year’s Eve with my parents and ringing in 2016. Creating more memories. Until then, we have the phone and computer. I have a text thread with my sister and brother. And I have made a commitment to stay in the present and live for today.

Today I am grateful that I have two siblings who are a part of this journey with me. I am appreciating the Power of 3 and how this time, I don’t have to do it alone.

 

 

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Photo from Andrea Hylen

Andrea Hylen at Agape in Los Angeles

 

Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voice 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.

Anniversaries: Feeling a Wave of Grief

Day 60 of 100 days of Blogging

It is amazing how unexpected a wave of grief can appear. Right there. Feeling it in the gut. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, how much I have processed and transformed the grief, or how I have moved through layers of feelings to create a wonderful, new life. Grief comes back in unexpected waves. It is part of a cycle that continues to expand me.

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If my husband was still alive, we would have celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this week. Although he died 10 years ago, there is something that just touched me with sadness when the day appeared on my calendar. I sat by the fire and gave myself some space to feel it.

My reflective question: Why did this hit me so hard with waves of grief surfacing throughout the day?

I come from a lineage of people who have been married for 50, 60, 70 years. My first marriage ended in divorce after we had been together for 10 years. My second husband and I navigated huge challenges during our fifteen years together with the final challenge, his cancer, that ended his life. I have every confidence that if we had beaten that challenge, we would have celebrated this silver wedding anniversary together. So, this was another marker of time, another dream that was lost, another reminder of his absence.

Still I explored the feelings even more. I felt the loss of not having the opportunity to…what?…accomplish this goal? Something is tangled up in here. Value? Worth? Love? Challenge? Accomplishment?

What if I never have a relationship where I celebrate 25 years together? Do I still have value as a person? Can I love myself without marking a wedding anniversary with a man?

In the exploration, I noticed once again how complex loss and grief is and how the timing of feelings arrive as a clue to something that is deeper.

I noticed as the day went on that other memories began to dissipate the feelings of sadness. After my first marriage ended in divorce, I didn’t want to get married again. I was interested in partnership and I wanted to have another child, but I was disillusioned by the ceremony and vows that flew out the window when things got tough in my first marriage. I only married my second husband for the practicality of health insurance for our baby. I loved him. I was committed to our relationship and I wanted this union. I agreed to marry him with the condition that we would write our own vows and continue to use them as a tool to stay connected and grow together. He agreed and we did use them for fifteen years.

Every year when our anniversary rolled around, one of us would remember days later. We debated the actual date because we were married the day after Thanksgiving. So, of course, the date was always changing! Neither of us were really “anniversary type” people. Celebrating moments of connection throughout the year was more important to us and we had daily rituals to remind each other.

This week I continued to feel the feelings and to remember.

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After a lifetime of processing and studying grief transformation, there is one piece of advice I would give to everyone. When you feel a wave of grief, no matter how many years have passed, give yourself some space to feel the feelings and explore.

By the end of the day, I was clear that partnership with a man is a part of my growth on the planet. Part of the sadness around the anniversary was reminding me of a desire to be in some kind of partnership. I miss having a man in my bed. Pillow talk, sex, cuddling. I can feel that it is time for deeper exploration around that and to turn up my desire by taking more action.

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A course I have been teaching called Carving the Next Path is opening me to what I truly desire to create. Walking side by side with the women in the course one of my desires is to co-create a new type of relationship with a man. Changing patterns. Embracing new ideas. Getting to the core of what I really want. Creating new pathways of possibilities.

Feelings, including grief and loss are clues that point us in the direction of our desires. I am stoking this fire.

What are you noticing in your life?

Feelings, desires. infinite possibilities. Surrender.

Share with us in the comments!

 

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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 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.

The Power of Connection: Waking up and Seeing Each Other

Day 58 of 100 days of Blogging

 

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Some memories of childhood came to me this week while reading a book. The words, “I discovered people are alike in many, many more ways than they are different,” rang true.

I moved 12 times by the time I was 15 years old. We lived in the West, East, North and South. Different states all over the U.S. My Dad was in the Marines when I was born. My mom was a homemaker. Then, my Dad was hired by Pillsbury in sales for the refrigerated section of the company. Think Pillsbury Doughboy. Every promotion meant a move to a different region. My Dad continued working for Pillsbury for 33 years and then retired to a golf course in Florida with my mother.

Belonging to a group is a fundamental need on the Maslow chart of Self-Actualization. So, of course, as a kid, I wanted to connect and belong to a peer group. Moving so much meant I had to keep starting over and find new ways to connect. While living in Dallas, Texas, in elementary school, we lived in a neighborhood with kids and activities connected by an alley way and rows of back yards. Easy to belong. Show up and play. Everyone was included.

By the time I was in middle school in Edina, Minnesota, I was lost. I could never find my place in either of the two schools I attended there. There were moments of fun and connection with Girl Scouts and singing activities in school. But, I never really felt like I belonged in the day to day classroom interactions and it was hard to find friends for weekend activities.

We moved to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania when I was going into the ninth grade and by 10th grade, I felt connected with a purpose. I felt connected to every group. You could say I was “popular” but not in an obvious way. I knew People. People knew me. I was in many clubs. I was Secretary of my class. I was visible. I felt like I belonged. I was well liked and included in activities.

IMG_0769The memories that surfaced this week included a flash of me as a school girl in high school. I reflected on why things changed and when? How did I come into my own in high school? What happened? And then I remembered a choice point and an awakening.

In ninth grade, sometime during the month of November, I decided to stop trying to get people to see me and instead, I saw them. With the holidays all around us, I decided to create an individualized holiday card for every person in my class. I spent weeks, cutting photos and words out of magazines that I felt represented something about each person. Sports, fashion, dogs, cats, nature. Taping the pictures onto construction paper, I folded each sheet in half and wrote a personalized note, a gratitude, something that reflected something about the person; something I had noticed about them. I spent the whole month creating the cards and observing each person. Some of the the cards were easy and some of them took me longer to really see the person under layers of protecting who they were. My intention was to give them something uplifting and my desire was a moment of connection.

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Something happened that I did not anticipate. This was the awakening. I stopped trying to get people to like me or notice me. I was so absorbed in this project and watching people and really falling in love with each of them. I could see and feel the beauty, the vulnerability, the tenderness in each person. I started to interact with them differently. I stopped feeling this screaming voice inside of me: SEE ME! DOES ANYONE SEE ME? And instead, I saw them. I felt connected. I felt like I belonged. The natural essence of who I am emerged and was seen by my being.

There is a quote by Maya Angelou that has been paraphrased in a variety of ways, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

That holiday season I received the gift of seeing others and allowing them to see me and it changed everything. I became a better listener. I learned the power of silence and observation. I learned how to wait patiently and allow the connections to happen in organic, vibrant ways. I learned who I am.
Do you have a moment of awakening that was stirred by this blogpost? Please share it with us in the comment section.

 

Lots of Love,

Andrea

 

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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 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.

Happy Thanksgiving: To eat or not to eat…

Day 57 of 100 days of Blogging

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.

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Earlier today, I had a little bah humbug going on and I know it was because I said no to attending a Thanksgiving celebration. Somewhere inside of me there was discomfort and guilt, like I should just suck it up and be social and eat tons of food. I have so much to be grateful for, so why was I pushing this holiday away with an outstretched hand?

This year I wanted to stay away from the food frenzy that happens with Thanksgiving. I have been really focused on my own health care over the past few months. Rest. Walking. Eating healthier. Eating less. Losing ten lbs. Feeling connected to my body again. Going to the University of Maryland Dental School every week. Community Acupuncture at Revive in College Park. Finishing some creative projects. Decluttering my life. Dreaming and visioning for 2016. And then Thanksgiving was getting closer and it felt like a pressure, an inconvenience to be endured.

Up until a few years ago, Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays because it felt like there was no pressure. Strangers, friends, family could all come together to say a prayer, a gratitude, eat food, share conversation, crafts and games.  It was always an easy, fun holiday. I loved to cook for it.  I loved the social gathering. I loved inviting people to my home or going to someone’s home. This year was different. I wanted to do something else. To write. To walk. To be.

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So, I did. And once I gave myself permission and compassion and acceptance, the day flowed beautifully. I talked with my Dad who is in rehab in Florida, recovering from a stroke and to my Mom who was at their home preparing to go to rehab and eat dinner with my Dad. My niece got engaged in Atlanta and I congratulated her through text. I texted or talked with all 3 of my daughters and one of them challenged me on Fitbit to walk 10,000 steps. I spent time writing and reading and walking outside on this gorgeous 63 degree F, sunny day. Even walked the labyrinth at University of Maryland, College Park.

During the day, I remembered a few happy Thanksgiving memories:

One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year after I separated from my first husband. My two little daughters were with me that year, a few close friends and ten other people who were invited one by one because they didn’t have a place to go. For a few weeks, I had walked around the office, around church, around the school my children attended and asked people what they were doing or where they were going for Thanksgiving. If they said, “No plans,” or they weren’t sure, I invited them to my home. We had six people who said yes and then a sudden snowstorm was predicted in the forecast. Four more people who had planned to drive from Baltimore to New Jersey or New York were looking at a grid lock on the highway so they came to my home at the last minute. Of course, I had a ton of food. The house was decorated. We had plenty of room and that year I had Swedish crafts and candle making as part of the day. Music and singing rounded out the event. We all had a blast.

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One year I made so many different dishes that three of the dishes never made it to the table. I had a goal of cooking everything in the Girl Scout Cookbook (our fundraiser that year) I made so much food it was gluttonous. I didn’t care. It was the first Thanksgiving after my husband died. We had a table filled with dear friends of all ages and I poured my heart into the cooking and sharing and eating.

Writing this blogpost, I feel a little lighter about my decision. I can feel the fun memories and I don’t have to discount the beauty and connections from those years just because I wanted to stay away from the celebration and the food this year. I can feel the gratitude for all of the support and the love.

I know there are people who are sad today and who spent the holiday alone. Whether it was your choice to do something different for Thanksgiving or a year of circumstances when you were alone, remember, next year is another year. Decide if you want more connection and spend the next year exploring that or like me, consciously choose and create the day you want.

I had a great day. I am filled with the gratitude to be connected with amazing, loving, caring people all over the planet. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voice 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.

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