Tag Archives: Baltimore

Mothering and Daughtering

(Originally Published on Consciously Woman: May 16, 2018



Flying from Baltimore to Seattle, I reflect on Mother’s Day, the mother-daughter relationships and the circumstances which occurred recently. During the last month, I spent time with my youngest daughter, Hannah, in Los Angeles, while helping her move to a new apartment. Flew to Baltimore to see a play conceived and directed by my son-in-law, Jesse, for his MFA thesis. Spent 10 days with oldest daughter, Mary, her husband, Jesse, and my granddaughter, Lucille. Spent 24 hours with my mother who flew to Baltimore from Florida to see the play and along with my daughter, Elizabeth, took me to breakfast and drove me to the airport.

My mother. Three daughters. One granddaughter.

Lots of laughter, inspiration, fun, and love. Lots of vulnerable sharing and the magic ingredient of sandpaper. Sandpaper is when we rub against each other and there is discomfort, helping us to find clarity about who we are and what we want that is separate from the other person.

My mother.

Spending 24 hours with my 86-year-old mother uncovered moments of tenderness and inspiration. One of our conversations was about how most of my mom’s friends have a spouse who has ill health. Some have had strokes, like my Dad, or another illness like cancer or Parkinson’s Disease. All of the women are the primary caretakers for their spouses. They are love warriors, who handle the details with vigilance and determination. In this vulnerable sharing, my mom talked about the conversation she had with her friends about what they would do with their time, if they become widows. On mom’s list is playing golf, going to movies, traveling to see her adult children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

As I listen to her, I can see so many of the qualities I have inherited from her:

Curiosity. My mother is curious and always learning new things and asking questions and reading. She may not have information on the latest app on the iPhone, but she is tuned in to books and education and national parks and wildlife and current events. She reads the Tampa Bay Times, every morning, and clips out articles to send to her children, grandchildren and friends.

Artist. There is a mixture of sandpaper in here because of something she said when I was young “Andrea and I aren’t artists.” It took me 60 years of unraveling to claim the words, “I am an artist and my creative expression is words.” Artists see the connection between things. She is a master seamstress. She is a genealogist. She has expressed her art through a variety of arts and crafts and flower arranging. In the curiosity of reading the newspaper and sending articles, she is seeing life as an artist. Reading articles and seeing the connection to family and friends. It is in all of us.

I wonder why her definition of an artist is so limited. Maybe no one opened her eyes to see that she is an artist. Seeing this, I decided to send her a Mother’s Day card, and to tell her that she is an artist and how she has influenced my artistic expression. Our definition of artist is different. And maybe no one encouraged her and told her that she is an artist!

Pragmatist. My mom, the pragmatist, has organized all of the information we will need, when she and my Dad die. Long term health care options. Memorial service arrangements. Last will and testament. It has been organized and reviewed every five years since she and dad were in their 40s.

This is one example of many. She demonstrated how to stay focused in a crisis, and in tackling any job in the home: stay focused, work hard, do what needs to be done. (I am sure it is why I have been able to self-publish 14, 200+ page books in eight years. Stay focused. Work hard. Get it done!)

Nature Lover and Environmentalist. Walking through the neighborhood, my mom stops talking to point out flowers and acknowledge their beauty. Our conversation meanders with the pausing of our love for flowers and trees. She calls them by name and with affection. National Parks and road trips are memories from childhood.

Without a word, she stops to pick up a piece of paper on the sidewalk and hands it to me to throw away when we return to the house. Her actions are my actions. Her love of flowers and plants and trees has been passed down. Picking up litter is normal.


During our 24 hours, there are moments of discord. I remind myself that the sand in the oyster is the irritant that creates the pearl. She sighs and longs to see me more. She laments that no one has time for them because they are old. I sit with the discomfort of that. Last year, they flew to California for Hannah’s graduation and we spent a week together. A few months earlier, I flew to Florida and we were at a family wedding. I stayed with them for a week. Then, there is Facetime. Email. Texting. We live all over the country. The communication is different. I feel her trying to pull me into her world and her wants.


I turn my attention to the time I have spent with my adult daughters in the last month. I see the impact of my mothering, and I feel the push and pull of the sandpaper when they want my attention, and when they want space to live and explore their own lives. I feel pulled in. I feel pushed out. I want to spend time with them and be available when they need me. I’m conflicted about creating a life separate from them. A life where I would not be available to drop everything and come to help them.

Mothering Myself

Feeling guilt, the push-pull, the loyalty and love, I turn my attention to me. It’s my turn to mother myself. This summer I am house sitting for three months. Setting up space for writing and self-expression. Mothering myself. Self-care. Spiritual practice. Feeding myself with artistic expression. Wandering in Seattle to farmer’s markets. Placing the attention on myself. Good food. Art. Music. Walks in nature. Writing. Creativity.

Appreciating what my mother taught me, I know that I have to travel this next part of the trail without her. Creating space and distance allows me to hear my own voice once again. I turn all of that love and attention inward. And when I come out again, there will be more of me to share with others.

Andrea Santa Barbara Starbucks Aug 2016

Andrea Hylen: Author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey. Creator of The Writing Incubator, on-line writing community. www.andreahylen.com

A Phase Transition: Following the Clues

Day 97 of 100 days of Blogging

I spent a year living with Heal My Voice​ authors, Board members and community members. It was a year filled with adventures and new ideas and time for integration.

Then, three things happened right before I was scheduled to move back to Los Angeles.

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1. I had the desire to go to the Maryland Film Festival​ in Baltimore and attended nine films with my friends Karen Porter and Dotti Drumm. The Festival was two weeks after the Baltimore protests.

2. The Baltimore Protests began on April 18. In an organized protest on April 25, the protest ended in rioting in the streets. The mayor stated:  “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”

3. The Parkway Theater in Baltimore is reopening and with it comes a declaration of creating an International Film Center in Baltimore.


Something began to stir in me that felt like I needed to move back to Baltimore which had been my home for 28 years before I moved to Los Angeles 5 years ago. I didn’t know why. It was a feeling. My passions: Writing. Film. Creativity. Community. Connection. Healing may have been a clue.


I flew back to Los Angeles for my daughter’s graduation from Santa Monica College and while walking on the beach in Venice, the idea of moving back to the East Coast felt even stronger. So, I followed this “intuitive” hit to leave things in my small storage unit, fly back to Baltimore and live with my friend, Kate. All of my friends wanted to know what I was doing and why so I told everyone I was going to make Baltimore my home base for three years and told them I was giving myself six weeks to “land.” I would have more answers by then. For now, I was BEING in Baltimore.


I set an intention to be a detective in my life. To carry a notebook and to begin to notice what was crossing my path. I wrote down 10 things every day that were interesting to me; Anything with a spark of energy and recorded them in the notebook.

The first clues:

Red Emma’s Coffee shop. Words: cooperative. social activism. shared economy. Social Responsibility. Baltimore Free School

Maryland Film Festival: community. innovation. visibility for the 200 Heal My Voice women’s stories.

Guided to reading and write more. Reviewing email. Noticing everything that was crossing my path.

Bookstores in Baltimore.

Living in community.


And then suddenly the feeling of needing to live in Baltimore ended. I questioned the strong intuitive hit. It felt like everything was shifting and changing and falling apart. Baltimore was not going to be my landing pad. I was confused and shocked. Thank God, I have experienced this in other situations. A strong feeling of guidance compels me to take action and make a move towards something, away from something and then there is a pause and a course correction.

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I heard Nicole Daedone use the phrase: grappling hook. When things end, we need something to reach for, something that will get us to the other side. Something that will move us away from something and towards something else. Something to hang on to while you walk from one side of the bridge to the other.

Sometimes the Universe sets it up for you and sometimes you have to take conscious steps. For example, if you know your last child is leaving the nest and moving away or a relationship has ended and you know your partner is moving out, set up some things to support you. Take a new class that is fun! Set up a few movie and coffee dates with friends. It will give you some purpose, fill some time and begin to carve the new path with social activities.

Also leave empty space in your schedule to listen to your intuition and room for following guidance. Pause and wait. Do not fill all of your time. Integration and space is important, too.

The grappling hooks that were set in place for me were pet sitting jobs I had arranged in Maryland while still living in California. The jobs gave me a temporary place to live, make money and begin a period of recovery. In every household, I had animals that needed care and that kept me focused on a few tasks every day. I had time to rest and think and read and write. All things that fed my soul.

After finally landing in the Washington, DC area where I have been living for four months now, I can see some of the journey from the past. I did need to come back to Baltimore and to live with an old friend so I could complete a cycle. I had time to appreciate all of the love and experiences in a community I had known for 30 years. I could feel how the day to day activities were an indication of changes and knowing it was time to move on. There was enough discomfort that I moved quickly so as to preserve the friendships for the future. The discomfort felt like I was wearing clothing that I had outgrown and I needed to find a new place to live where I could shed my skin, try on some “new clothes,”  and fly. I was in a state of active surrender. Waiting and resting. Making adjustments when the next action step was clear.

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Recently, I was walking in my new neighborhood and I looked up to realize the main street outside of the complex is Baltimore Avenue (not Baltimore City)

As more ideas and a new direction is revealed this year, I have to chuckle at how we all receive intuitive guidance and the importance of surrender. I was compelled to move back to Baltimore and that has morphed into a location off of Baltimore Avenue near Washington, DC.

Messages and signs and clues need to be interpreted and allowed to evolve into new pictures. I feel like God was having a good cosmic chuckle about how I could only see what I knew from the past. Waking up, I see there is something on the horizon and I can laugh with God. Very clever. Good one, God.





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.

Using the Feelings of Failure as a Tool of Exploration

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.31.13 AMFlying home to Baltimore, I had a sudden flash of fear and sadness ripple through my body. The feeling and thought was, “I am a failure.” Ten years since my husband died. Five years of living in Los Angeles and traveling to different parts of the world, why do I feel like a failure?

I can make a list of some of the things I have accomplished since my husband died ten years. Organized and sponsored Evolutionary Women retreats and mentored a group of 44 women to write stories in a book called Conscious Choices: An Evolutionary Woman’s Guide to Life. Ordained as a spiritual peace minister in the Beloved Community. Studied and completed two different year long coaching programs. Completed the homeschooling of my youngest child who graduated from Santa Monica College and is now enrolled at UCLA. Sold a house and my husband’s business and moved from Maryland to California. Drove over 40,000 miles in the United States in a three year period.  Traveled to several countries. Started an organization called Heal My Voice with nine published books of true stories by women, two of the books in Swedish and developed and launched several other programs. Became On Purpose Woman of the Year in 2013. And there is much more I could add to this list.

Looking at that list, how can I even think I am a failure?

It comes down to internal and external expectations. It means I am focusing on the things I haven’t accomplished. It means I am trying to measure myself by the standards of society, family and friends.

This is not the first time I have felt like this. In 1980, when my 5th High School Reunion rolled around, I didn’t attend because I had this feeling of not having done enough. I had graduated from Temple University with a BSW and was immediately hired by an organization focused on working with teenagers. I loved my job and my life. I was living with my boyfriend. We had been together for four years. But we weren’t married and were not engaged and I wasn’t pregnant. It is so crazy to think about it now as my 40th reunion is approaching. Why did I think I should have accomplished all of that in 5 years?

I was caught up in the inner critic and the expectations in my head and noticing the life that other high school graduates were living in my town. I now have moments of feeling incredulous about that because it feels so crazy! AND…here I am once again with this idea of expectations of what my life “should” look like and what I “should” have accomplished instead of asking myself if I am using the time I have on the earth to experience and explore life in ways that are meaningful to me. Am I living the life I want to be living?

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 9.43.03 AMLife is a journey, not a destination.

Even that statement is limiting, it is more than that. Life is a series of experiences where we learn about ourselves in connection to people, places and things. A moment of intimate connection, a moment of laughter, a moment of sensation with smell, touch, seeing, hearing, feeling. It is the moment in the experiences. It is many journeys with many twists and turns and many destinations. Stops along the road.

So, noticing the feeling of failure in my heart and soul right now, I have been using the feelings as a tool of exploration. Noticing the depth of this feeling inside of me and noticing how it is being reflected in the comments of a few well meaning family and friends. For the last six weeks, I have embraced this feeling of failure as a teacher. I let myself sit in the feelings; Giving myself a day here and there to just feel shitty. No pushing through it to find the silver lining, to give myself a pep talk, no putting on a happy face or listing all the ways I have impacted hundreds, maybe thousands of people in the world.

Feeling all of the feelings is helping me to unravel outdated beliefs and get to some core or root issues. It is helping me to identify my “expectations” and the societal pressure to be anything except me. It is helping me to get in touch with my desire, to love myself more, to redefine my life and let it come into form with newly discovered desires. It is helping me to notice where I have impacted the world around me. It is helping me to find questions to ask and explore. I am writing, meditating, listening, reading, watching movies, having some conversations with people.

What do I want to create? Who do I want to spend time with? Where do I want to live?

At the age of 58, there is an expectation that I should be looking to retire, slow down, live in one place.   Instead, I am continuing to live what may seem like a radical life. I listen to Spirit and I follow the beat of my inner guidance. I do not own a home or a car. I have been asking myself if I want to change that and how will that serve the expansion of the work I am passionate about. Do I need my own home to do the things I want and feel guided to be doing in the world? Or is it better to be home free?

The question I ask myself regularly is: “What does my soul want to experience and how what gifts do I have to share with the world?”

This is the experience I am choosing right now. Living in temporary spaces by house and pet sitting. Working out of coffee shops. Writing and listening.

I am curious. What is the question you are exploring right now? Post in the comment section and share it with us.



I wrote this blog post in August 2015. Nine months later there were new ideas and a new program I created that helped me excavate and alchemize my experiences into supporting women on the same journey.


11221663_10206695548965486_4428285337577975775_oAndrea Hylen received the 2013 On Purpose Women award by the On Purpose  Networking for Women (OPN) organization in Baltimore, MD in recognition for her work to empower everyday women and girls all over the world. She founded Heal My Voice through her own experiences with grief, trauma, and loss which lead to living from greater inner authority, purpose and leadership. Andrea’s journey with grief includes the loss of her brother, husband and son.


With more than thirty-five years of training and teaching experience, Andrea is a coach, author, speaker, and parent, with expertise in grief, and healing from sexuality and trauma. Her training includes, BSW from Temple University, Ordained Minister in the Beloved Community, Enwaken Coaching System and OneTaste Coaching program and ongoing trainings in energy healing.

In addition to serving as Heal My Voice’s Executive Director, Andrea is an Orgasmic Meditation Teacher and Sexuality Coach. She thoroughly enjoys connecting through social media, blogging and hosting radio shows.


Spiritual Gifts: Living a Charmed Life

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 2.21.42 PMMy friend, Kate and I were drinking our morning coffee on the deck of her beautiful home in Baltimore, Maryland last week. The sun was shining, birds were flying from one tree to another. A family of baby blue jays were learning to fly. The flowers were in full bloom, filling the yard with red, orange, yellow, purple and pink. Kate and I were sharing the latest stories from our lives. It is one of the things I treasure in life. Moments like this with family and friends.

In one of our stories, the idea of someone living a charmed life came up. I told Kate that I feel like I have lived a charmed life.

Now, someone looking from the outside might disagree. The definition of a charmed life: “extremely lucky or prosperous.” I have also heard it described as someone who has lived without “hardship or challenges.”

Of the top 20 stressors that can trigger anxiety, depression and sadness, I have experienced 16. And many of them, I have experienced more than once. Here is the list:

Death of a family member

Terminal illness (family member)

Physical incapacitation, chronic pain, or chronic illness

Drug or alcohol abuse (family member, partner)



Loss of job or job change

Moving house

Change of school (primarily for children or teens, but this can effect adults, too)

Primary relationship problems (spouse or parent/child/sibling)

Persistent Relationship Problems, non-primary (difficulties with other family members, conflict and loss of friends, difficulties with coworkers)

Victim of abuse

Victim of crime

Criminal actions towards others

Extreme loneliness/lack of community membership or friendships

Severe financial problems


So, why do I think I have lived a Charmed Life? Because my life has been filled with rich experiences where I have discovered things about myself that I did not know were possible. I feel blessed that even in moments where I was hitting bottom, there was always a gift. I have been surrounded by signs and messages and people who were students and teachers. I have been surrounded by spiritual gifts.

And at the foundation I have a belief that my life is to be lived as an experience with a wide range of feelings. It is all in the perspective.Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 3.51.10 PM


One of the foundational teachings of my spiritual journey has been The Course in Miracles.

The Course is a unique process for teaching forgiveness and how to remove barriers in the student’s mind to the awareness of love’s abiding presence.

Lesson 25:

I do not know what anything is for.

“Purpose is meaning. Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning”

Some of the things I have learned from this lesson.

Be present to the moment.

Let the little things delight me

Feel gratitude for everything

See life as a series of experiences

Feel the interconnectedness of life


For more about the course go to this link: https://acim.org/Lessons/lesson.html?lesson=25


I would love to hear about your charmed life and the spiritual tools and resources you use in your practice. Post in the comments and connect!




 IMG_1306Andrea Hylen believes in the power of a woman’s voice to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, a Writing and Transition Coach, Orgasmic Meditation Teacher and co- author of Conscious Choices: An Evolutionary Woman’s Guide to Life. Andrea has discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to celebrate life after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She currently lives in Los Angeles following the inspiration to collaborate with women in organizations and to travel around the world speaking and leading workshops. Her passion is connecting women to support each other in the full expression of who they are.

Hurley Cox

Hurley Cox. 4 years ago today. Died peacefully in Baltimore in Hospice. For hours, people came to express their love and share their stories. The garden was alive with hummingbirds that day. All singing the joy of Hurley’s arrival back home. Live a Life Worth Celebrating. My husband certainly did! (Bottom left hand corner of picture)

This is what I wrote on my Facebook status today and on the Jonas Watch Facebook status. I can’t really write about anything else today. It is here. The remembrance of the day, the man, the years I was married to him, the year he was sick with cancer, the day he died, the four years since his death.

During our 15 year marriage, we packed more life and death into 15 years, than many people experience in a lifetime. Here is a list of a few of our experiences together

1. We had a son who lived with a congenital heart defect through two open heart surgeries and died of cancer at the age of 19 months.

2. We gave life to a beautiful daughter, Hannah who, at the age of 5, nicknamed herself, “running princess who finds diamonds.”

3. We had joint custody of my amazing daughters, Mary and Liz and raised them to adulthood.

4. We moved into a house with three falling down ceilings and 27 boarded up windows and did most of the renovating ourselves.

5. We home schooled our daughters.

6. We installed an in ground pool together (amazing we stayed married during that adventure!)

7. We celebrated life with go karts in the front yard and kite flying on the beach.

8. We had a house full of animals with 2 golden retrievers and three cats and canaries hanging from the ceiling, and aquariums of exotic and every day fish and 2 leopard geckos.

9. We planted a huge garden with a 4-H club, provided space and guidance to many children through Destination Imagination and Girl Scouts and home schooling classes.

10. I recovered from a life threatening, autoimmune condition and Hurley did not recover from multiple myeloma cancer.

Today I AM:

Sad: I miss our pillow talk, late at night, early in the morning. Our best time of the day.

Happy: Thinking about his booming laughter. You could hear him wherever he was with his out-loud, booming, body shaking, head thrown back laughter.

Grateful: For all I learned about myself because we were in a relationship together.

Determined: To live a life worth celebrating with joy during ALL of the ups and downs

Awake: To everything I can see, hear, feel, taste and touch and to live in the now of life.

I AM Living a Life Worth Celebrating.