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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.


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!



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: and

PowerHouse 2014 Summit: Authenticity and Community

Day 98 of 100 Days of Blogging

Authenticity and Community

“The more in vibrational sync you are with who you really are, then the more you are allowing only those things that you’re wanting, and the less resistance there is. And the less resistance there is, then the less delay between the idea of the thought and the receiving of it.” – Esther Hicks & Abraham

Last week, I was on the beach thinking about what it means to be authentic in community. I was thinking about how many things we keep hidden from each other to “save face”, to hide shame and guilt, to pretend we have it all together and to keep our deepest desires hidden. Sharing our lives, our hearts and our secrets can provide beautiful spaces for connection, trust and healing together. Sharing secrets can free us individually and collectively. When we have the courage to be real and connect with others, it frees everyone.

I am excited to be a part of this Video Summit on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. (Every day from January 6-10, 2014 there are several speakers. Nine women total.)

Powerhouse 2014 Summit: Authenticity and Community.

If interested, you can sign up here for free.

Watch the short video and share a secret or two with us. A hidden desire, a hidden fear, a hidden passion…

Fearless Voices Introduction by Andrea Hylen

Day 95 of 100 days of Blogging

Heal My Voice is an organization committed to empowering women to heal a story in their life, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership at the dinner table, in their communities and in the world.

Fearless Voices is the first book in a series of three books published in 2012 and 2013.

Introduction by Andrea Hylen, Founder of Heal My Voice (March 2012)

During the last nine months, twenty-two women gathered in a circle in the form of a secret Facebook group, with weekly phone calls, and in-person gatherings. The focus of our connection was to write a story that would heal an experience in our lives.
In the writing, the gentle reading and editing, the listening and support, using vulnerability as power, our voices emerged clearer and stronger. 
There are a lot of details I could write about our time together and I am on a mission. I don’t have a lot of time to bring you into the story. So, I am going to get right to the point.
Women are only using a small percentage of their voices. 
I don’t have any scientific proof like the studies that have been conducted on the brain. You know the studies, the ones that say we are only using a small percentage of our brains?
I will venture to say that women are only using a small percentage of their voices; a small percentage of their infinite potential; a small percentage of their unique, beautiful gifts and wisdom. My proof comes from being a woman, working with women, gathering in community with women, raising three daughters, volunteering as a Girl Scout Leader and a Destination Imagination Coach and witnessing women in all areas of my life.
I have witnessed their brilliance, their hearts and seen how powerful they are when no one is looking, when no one can see, when no one can hurt them and when someone believes in them. I have seen them stand up for other people but rarely for themselves.
Here is what I have also seen:
We apologize when we have done nothing wrong. We are afraid to ask for what we want. We are afraid to take up too much space. We think that other people have the answers for how we should live our lives. We hold on too tight. We give up too easily. We call each other names, put each other down, gossip instead of having direct, honest conversations. We whine, use passive-aggressive behavior, we learn to manipulate, back stab and hide as we go around the back door to try to get what we want. 
It is time for that to change and many of us have made the choice to do that. We are courageous. We are fearless. We are healing an old story and we are practicing with our newly discovered voices until it becomes a natural way of living, of speaking, of honoring our words, our wisdom and acknowledging and celebrating each other.
It is time for women to heal their voices in communities where they can practice, feel safe, be seen and heard and heal from the wounds from trauma, loss, grief and abuse. And from that newly healed, grounded place, we are learning to fully express who we really are.
In the Heal My Voice book circles and letter writing projects, we believe healing an old story leads women to a richer expression of their unique gifts and leadership and gives them more access to the full expression of their voice. 
When a woman is nurtured in community and given a space to speak about what she feels, thinks and wants, she heals her voice and begins to speak from a place of wisdom. She learns to listen to her inner guidance. She asks for support when she needs it. She taps into her vulnerability and uses it as power. She discovers her innate wisdom.
Why does it matter now?
Things are rapidly changing in the world. We are in a time of breakdown. The old structures are crumbling. And we have the chance to rebuild, rethink, and release things that no longer work. Women standing together and standing side by side with men is what is needed. We need the full expression of who we are. Connected to our hearts; Listening to and acting from inspiration; Joining together to lift humanity. We can’t heal the planet when we ourselves are emotionally and spiritually wounded. 
The mission is to empower a community of women who heal a story in their lives, reconnect with their inner authority, and discover the next steps in leadership. Women in community expressing vulnerability, supporting each other, encouraging, laughing, connecting, collaborating and celebrating life.
As Marianne Williamson wrote in, “A Return to Love:”
“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
We are no longer just saying the words. We have gathered in community, healing our voices, giving each other permission and liberating each other. We are living this now.
This is the first of a series of books that are being created in communities of women around the world. This is a series of Voices individually and collectively breaking through into new territory and a new world.
We begin with Fearless Voices. We are ready now.

Book of stories is available on Amazon:

Intimacy and Vulnerability and Going to the Dentist

Day 94 of 100 days of Blogging

I am leaning in and posting this as a blog because I refuse to run away and hide.

I spent a few hours chatting on FB the other day with a FB friend who I recently met in person. We were talking about desire, sharing some of our stories, becoming more  and intimacies.

He wrote, “Can I ask you an intimacy?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “What about your teeth?”

I am so grateful for the gentle way the intimacy was delivered. I am so grateful for all of the feelings and emotions that have come up and for the action that it inspired me to take.

Up until 4 years ago, I regularly went to the dentist. My teeth have always been a weak area in my body system and during my 4 pregnancies and the 19 months of my son’s birth and death, I always lost one or two teeth. In 2009, I was having some major restoration work done and then someone’s bankruptcy that year wiped out $200,000 which was all of my money. All dental care stopped and I just learned to deal with the unfinished work and missing teeth.

I am just getting back on my feet financially this year. Two weeks ago, one of my housemates and I were talking about finding a dentist and I was still procrastinating. Then, I cracked a tooth and I have been self-conscious about it. Getting my teeth fixed is one of the things on my desire list for this year. It has been an example of where I put my own self care last and this is the year I am changing that.
The feelings that came up in the intimacy are intermixed with shame and compassion. My mind is like a wild animal with it sometimes. I feel a wave of shame and I think “I can’t see him again until all of the work is done on my teeth. Until I fix them all.”

And so I have decided to do the thing that I know is the stretch, the through line, the way to change. I am posting it publicly. I am saying it out loud. I am going to start smiling the way I used to and love myself in the process while I am still getting my teeth repaired.

The day after the intimacy was delivered, I found a dentist. I have already had my teeth cleaned and scheduled an appt in October to get the first tooth fixed. My goal is to get something repaired every month and within a year have all of the restoration work complete.

Boom! Take that shame! Throwing you out the door and living life as I am today.

Thank you Facebook friend.

Drop Out, Unplug and Enjoy by Ann Quasman, Guest Blogger

Day 92 of 100 days of Blogging
Guest Blogger FRIDAY!
Drop Out, Unplug and Enjoy
By Ann Quasman
For the past several years, I’ve been on vacation and it’s always nice to get away.  But, one part of me never went on vacation. The autopilot part of me that still needed to get work done and take care of business – even if I was several states away, and had people lined up to take care of the most important things – the had-to-do “stuff” that needed to get done.
So often, after a full day of playing, seeing things, doing nothing…. you know, vacation “stuff”, I would stay up late at night doing work “stuff”.  What’s wrong with this picture? 
Well for one thing, I was on vacation.  For another, in the grand scheme of things, would it really make a difference if I slowed down for a week or two?  I think not.
This wisdom of realizing that it’s really ok to slow down has not been fast coming for me.  I dream about it.  I drool about it.  I even scoff when I see many men and women on vacation with a cell phone glued to their ears – obviously in touch with the office.
But who am I to scoff?  It’s taken at least four decades (assuming I did not have this disease when I was a child or teenager) for me to say, “Whooaaaa.”  I am sure that a psychologist would have a good time with me and pinpoint the root of it all.  Perhaps something in my pre-natal development.
But, I don’t need that analysis any more because some light bulb went off about a month before this last vacation.  Some voice from somewhere said, “TAKE A REAL VACATION.”  And, it was LOUD.  That’s why I used capital letters.
So, I did.  I must admit there were some feelings of guilt and shame that popped up that first day or two.  But, I got on my bicycle and road.  I road long and hard, ate great food, took long naps, laughed a lot, and soaked up the incredible beauty of Vermont.  And, it was good.  Real good.
Guess what?  My little world had not fallen apart or been flushed down the toilet while I was gone.  Now, I did have twenty gazillion emails to buzz through when I returned.  A small price to pay for a REAL vacation.
I urge you… if you have the “must get work done at all costs” disease, try to do something about it now.  Don’t wait until you’re a “more mature” woman like me.  Get your work done during your work time.  When you go on vacation… go on vacation.  When you need some down time… make space for it.
You’ll be amazed at what blossoms within you when you do.
Would love to hear how you “get away” – really get away and take care of yourself.

Ann Quasman is a woman on a mission. Her goal is to encourage and facilitate conscious conversations that will help women connect with and rely upon the wisdom within their hearts as much as they do the wisdom within their minds. As host of WomanTalk Live Radio on Talkradio 680 WCBM Baltimore and the Creator of Conscious Conversations Café, Ann brings women everywhere deeper into topics that both inspire and inform and she provides women a platform to share their voices and be heard.  Ann’s mantra is, “I’m available.”  She knows that when you say those words and mean it, magic happens.

12 Peace Prayers: #7 The Shinto Prayer for Peace

Day 91 of 100 days of Blogging

As the Authors of Heal My Voice are writing their stories for the next book: Harmonic Voices: True Stories by Women on the Path to Peace, I was inspired to post 12 Peace Prayers and a little bit of the history from an event in 1986 in Assisi, Italy. 

The 7th Prayer for Peace:

“Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us, I believe, are all our brothers and sisters, why are there constant troubles in this world? Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I only earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds which are hanging over the tops of the mountains.” 

From the website: The Peace Abbey traces its roots to the Day of Prayer for World Peace which took place in Assisi, Italy during the UN International Year of Peace, 1986. For the first time in history, the leaders of the twelve major religions gathered to pray for Peace of Earth.

The event took place on sacred ground at the Basilica of Saint Francis, and was the occasion for the handing down of the prayers for peace. The Sacred Office of Peace, which these prayers comprise, is the text around which we established and maintain our fellowship as well as pursue our global peacemaking. 

The Peace Abbey
at Strawberry Fields
Two North Main Street, Sherborn, Massachusetts 01770

A Memory of the Jonas Brothers: I’m Burnin’ Up for You Baby

Day 89 of 100 days of blogging

Listening to this morning, the shuffle linked me to a Jonas Brothers song that I hadn’t heard in a year or two.

Burning Up was the featured song and name of a concert tour that my 16 year old daughter, Hannah and I saw 45 times during the summer of 2009. That summer I drove 24,000 miles in 11 weeks weaving back and forth across the United States of America and Canada for an adventure of a lifetime. For me, it was also a “Hero’s Journey,” and a “Dark Night of the Soul” experience. A summer of deep questioning and listening and releasing of physical, emotional and mental clutter.

I was compelled from the inside out to go for it! Day and night. Night and day. When we started out we had enough money for three concerts. We lived on the edge financially and it forced us to look for resources and support in a new way. Unexpected jobs came that we could do on the road. A loan from a relative and a friend. Free housing, tickets and food. Out of the box thinking.

The timing had seemed so perfect when this began because my house was for sale and we had a buyer. It would be a rent free summer and a time to plan our next steps in life. Right before the trip, the buyer lost her job and the financing to buy the house fell through.  I was left with the decision to step off the cliff or close the door. Would we stay or would we go?

As soon as I heard the opening chords of the song this morning, my body started tingling with excitement. I could feel my heart opening. The anticipation of a new adventure. A feeling of freedom. An experience where every day was filled with challenges that cracked me open to be more of who I really am.

That summer catapulted me forward to move from Maryland to California with my daughter and two cats. It led to a year of youth hostels, sleeping on couches, extended stay hotels, sublet apt spaces and living in uncertainty and trust.

The song this morning was a touch stone that reminded me to embrace unlimited thinking. To open to infinite possibilities. To step through the next door without hesitation.

I can feel the rumblings of an adventure waiting for me.

I am Ready!

Bring it on!

I’m Burning Up for you Baby…

12 Peace Prayers: #6 THE BAHAI’ PRAYER FOR PEACE

Day 87 of 100 days of Blogging

As the Authors of Heal My Voice are writing their stories for the next book: Harmonic Voices: True Stories by Women on the Path to Peace, I was inspired to post 12 Peace Prayers and a little bit of the history from an event in 1986 in Assisi, Italy. 

The 6th Prayer of Peace. The Bahai’ Prayer for Peace

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be fair in thy judgement, and guarded in thy speech. Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a home to the stranger. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility.

From the website: The Peace Abbey traces its roots to the Day of Prayer for World Peace which took place in Assisi, Italy during the UN International Year of Peace, 1986. For the first time in history, the leaders of the twelve major religions gathered to pray for Peace of Earth.

The event took place on sacred ground at the Basilica of Saint Francis, and was the occasion for the handing down of the prayers for peace. The Sacred Office of Peace, which these prayers comprise, is the text around which we established and maintain our fellowship as well as pursue our global peacemaking. 

The Peace Abbey
at Strawberry Fields
Two North Main Street, Sherborn, Massachusetts 01770

TECHNOLOGY: Inspired by a Granddaughter

Day 86 of 100 days of Blogging

I am going to be a grandmother within the next few weeks. One of the presents I bought for my granddaughter is a book called Flat Grandma. The book shows the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter through SKYPE. You see, she is going to be born in NYC and I live in California.

I was greatly influenced by both of my grandmothers. And even though I only saw them once every year or two, the things I heard them say and what I saw them do impacted many of the choices I have made in my life. Including living in California.

I’ve wondered some times about the things I missed. Watching the relationships they had with my grandfather’s (their husbands) and their friends. Everything felt crammed into a short amount of time. I want to have more time with my granddaughter. I want to pop in and read her a story and share ideas.

And as much as I want to connect and share myself with her, I want to be inspired and influenced by her. I want to see her latest creation, to listen to her read to me, to hear her perspective on the world around her. I want to remind myself every minute of every day that the actions I take and the choices I make are creating a world for my granddaughter.

iPhone Facetime, SKYPE, Groupme Applications, Instagram, Facebook and more!

Welcome to planet Earth, dear One! I am prepared with technology and ready for your arrival!

Any other technology grandparents here?

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