Tag Archives: Women

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

Feminism: Awareness + Action = Change Part 2

Day 90 of 100 days of Blogging

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When it was first available on video in 2004, I bought a copy of the film Mona Lisa Smile and watched it many times with my three daughters. I loved how the lead character, the teacher, challenged the students to think. I home schooled my daughters from 1996-2006 with the intention to learn and teach in an environment that would stimulate creativity, problem solving, personal responsibility and connection to community. My focus was to teach them how to find and use resources and make decisions that would stimulate life long learning. It is my passion to cultivate learning and leadership and I LOVE seeing a teacher who is doing the same.

When the film crossed my path again a few days ago, it showed me a picture of something I have been thinking about since my Aunt Ellen died in September 2015. The journey for women who are challenging conventionally defined gender roles or challenging expectations of how a woman is supposed to live her life.

 

My Aunt and my mother both graduated from college in 1954.  My mother married my Dad. Raised three kids. Supported my Dad in his 33 year career with Pillsbury and packed the house and moved 20 times.

My Aunt married my Uncle, started working at Liberty Mutual where a man mentored her and opened a door to advancement that was normally opened only for men. She had the education, the brains, and the ambition. During her 30 year career, she rose to the ranks of Assistant Vice President. My Aunt and my Uncle never had children during their 60 year marriage but they loved and nurtured many, many children of their family and friends.

Two women: One chose career. One chose homemaker and motherhood.

 

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After watching the film once, I watched it the next day to reflect on the dialogue and the subtle messages and the obvious messages.

Mona Lisa Smile, a description of the film from Wikipedia:

In 1953, Katherine Ann Watson, a 30-year-old graduate student in the department of Art History at Oakland State, takes a position teaching “History of Art” at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, because she wants to make a difference and influence the next generation of women. At her first class, Katherine discovers that the women have already memorized the entire syllabus from the textbook, so she uses the classes to introduce them to Modern Art and encourages spirited classroom discussions about topics such as what makes good art and what the Mona Lisa’s smile means.

 

When the film begins, the faculty is inside the building and young women students are outside on the steps. The dialogue is between the President of the College (a woman) and the Student President (a woman).

 

President of College: Who knocks at the door of learning?

Student President: I am Every Woman

President of College: What do you seek?

Student President: To awaken my spirit through hard work and dedicate my life to knowledge.

President of College: Then, you are welcome. All women who seek to follow you can enter here. I now declare the academic year begun.

 

I could feel my heart skip a beat of excitement! I am Every Woman! Being asked what I seek. What I long for, desire. Being asked and then invited into the space. It stirs my heart. Women being acknowledged and seen as smart and valued!

 

In one of the early scenes, the teacher challenges them to look at art and tell her what they think:

 

Katherine Watson (Teacher): “Carcass”, by Soutine, 1925. Is it any good? C’mon, ladies, there’s no wrong answer. There’s also no textbook telling you what to think. It’s not that easy, is it?
Students:
Betty Warren: Alright, no. It’s not good. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it art. It’s grotesque.
Connie Baker: Is there a rule against art’s being grotesque?
Giselle Levy: I think there’s something aggressive about it. And erotic.
Betty Warren: To you, everything is erotic.
Giselle Levy: Everything *is* erotic.
Susan Delacorte: Aren’t there standards?
Betty Warren: Of course there are! Otherwise, a tacky velvet painting could be equated to a Rembrandt!
Connie Baker: Hey, my Uncle Ferdie has two tacky velvet paintings. He loves those clowns.
Betty Warren: There *are* standards! Technique, composition, color, even subject. So, if you’re suggesting that rotted side of meat is art, much less *good* art, then what are we going to learn?
Katherine Watson (Professor): Just that. You have outlined our new syllabus, Betty, thank you. What is art? What makes it good or bad, and who decides?

 

Contrast that scene to this comment from a teacher during the class called: Marriage Lectures:

“A few years from now, your sole responsibility will be taking care of your home, your children and your husband. You may all be in this class for an easy A. But the grade that matters the most is the one he gives you.”

 

After a student writes an editorial criticizing the teacher, she enters the classroom challenging them again:

 

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Katherine Watson: I give up, you win. The smartest women in the country, I didn’t realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging… what did it say?

[Walks over to a student and picks up her copy of the editorial]
Katherine Watson: What did it say? Um… the roles you were born to fill. Is that right?[Looks up at Betty who wrote the editorial]
Katherine Watson: The roles you were born to fill? It’s, uh, it’s my mistake.
[Katherine drops the student’s paper back onto her desk]
Katherine Watson: Class dismissed.
[Katherine walks out of the classroom]

 

******

 “The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.” – Susan B. Anthony

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I had a conversation with my mother this week while visiting her in Florida. I will be posting some of the things we discussed in Part 3 of this series.

What are your thoughts?

 

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Photo from Andrea Hylen

Andrea Hylen at Agape in Los Angeles

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.