On her website, www.opentoinspiration.com, author Andrea Hylen says “I am a writer, speaker, minister of spiritual peacemaking, mother, daughter, friend and lover of life. I am here to learn and grow and share. I am here to observe, reflect, participate and wake up. I am here to wake up to the fullness of who I am.”
In the nearly four years that I have known her, she has proven time and again that she is all of those things and more. And as an author, she has made it her mission to help others wake up to the fullness of who they are, too.
In September 2008, the name “Open to Inspiration” came to Andrea in a dream. Those words eventually became the title for her book, which details her summer of self-discovery during a 10,000 mile road trip with her teenage daughter, Hannah, as they went to a series of Jonas Brother’s concerts. The trip began as Andrea’s wish to help Hannah heal after the death of Hannah’s father. It evolved into a trip that healed Andrea’s heart, too.
Late last year, Andrea sold her house and everything in it and moved to California with Hannah. They are currently living in Los Angeles…and they are open to inspiration.
Shelly Rachanow: You're involved in a very exciting writing contest right now! Tell us about it.
Andrea Hylen: James Twyman (an internationally renowned best-selling author, filmmaker and musician) and Robert Evans (from the Messenger Network) came up with an idea to help spiritual authors get their message and books out into the world. The contest is called “The Next Top Spiritual Author” and Hampton Roads Publishing will publish the winner’s book. They winner will also receive a $50,000 promotional package, including things like a website to promote his or her book.
There will also be a prize for three additional people: James Twyman will pitch their book to several other publishing companies, opening the door to other possibilities.
As I watch the unfolding of this journey, I personally think Hampton Roads will publish more than one book.
Over 3,200 authors entered the contest. In Round 1, the authors created a short video or audio pitch to tell people about their book idea. The concept in Round 1 was to test the authors’ ability to promote their book idea. 75% of the score was popular vote. 25% was a review of the author’s video/audio by one of the other authors in the contest.
Round 2 is going on now, and 271 of the 3,200 authors are in Round 2 of the contest. In this round, the authors posted a book proposal, the draft of a chapter from their book and the video/audio from Round 1. The scoring is 50% based on popular vote and 50% from a book committee selected by Hampton Roads Publishing that will score the book and the proposal.
The name of my book is, Open to Inspiration: The summer a woman discovered herself with a teenage daughter and the Jonas Brothers on a 10,000 mile road trip.
Voting for Round 2 ends on June 24. Here is the link to my voting site. http://www.NextTopAuthor.com/?aid=49
Only 50 authors will advance to Round 3.
Shelly Rachanow: That’s so exciting! What inspired your book idea?
Andrea Hylen: The story started with one concert. It was a FREE Jonas Brothers concert in Philadelphia, a two hour drive from our home in Maryland. It was also the 2nd anniversary of the death of my husband. My youngest daughter, Hannah, had requested an afternoon of pop/rock music instead of another sad ceremony to honor the death of her father. As I watched Hannah laugh and dance and connect with people again, I was immediately hooked on the Jonas Brothers.
Eight concerts and eight months later, Hannah asked if we could go to ten concerts during the summer of 2008. I was hesitant until I had an experience in the 8th concert during one of the songs. I discovered that the concerts I was going to, with the hope of helping my daughter heal her heart, were also healing mine. I was beginning to feel alive and in love with life again.
The book is the demonstration of an experience of opening to inspiration. What does it look like when you listen to your heart, step into action, trust and let go and enjoy the adventure? I share stories that happened along the way in my relationship with my daughter, myself and life.
Shelly Rachanow: What are some of the most important things you learned along the way?
Andrea Hylen: I remembered the essence of who I really am. I began a process of peeling away layers of the words I used to define who I am – mother, Girl Scout leader, teacher, Destination Imagination coach, homeowner, 51-year-old woman and more. They were only words I used to give myself value and definition. Without them, who am I? Experiencing who I am without all of the labels, listening to my inner voice, and watching my daughter discover her own uniqueness were the greatest gifts.
Shelly Rachanow: How are you using your experience to help others and make a difference?
Andrea Hylen: My deepest passion is to encourage people to live life and follow an inspiration within them. I do this by living open to inspiration and sharing my passion through speaking and writing about it.
I have created a series of monthly spiritual audios on topics like grieving, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. I have 4 e-books that will be available this year called An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey series.
I have a blog where I share an ongoing journey of opening to inspiration. My daughter and I sold our house and everything in it to move from Maryland to California in 2010. We have been living in hostels and hotels and sublet apartment space. I share the wide variety of emotions and experiences at http://www.andreahylen.blogspot.com/.
Shelly Rachanow: What's the most important thing you want to share with people to help them feel happier and more fulfilled?
Andrea Hylen: Feel everything. Embrace feelings and let go of the labels of bad and good. When the door is closed to feeling sadness or disappointment or conflict, the door is also closed to more joy, more fun, and more experiences in life. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Let go of figuring it all out before taking a step towards your passion.
Most of the sadness I feel now is when I don’t take a risk and follow the guidance of my heart or when I follow someone else’s path.
Imagine it is the last day of your life. Look back and think about how you have lived and what you have experienced. Are you happy with what you see? Did you take the time to look in the eyes of the people around you? Did you listen to your heart? Did you stop and look at roses, a bird flying, the land and nature around you? Did you listen to the words of a song?
It is the little moments that are the most meaningful. Wake up to what is right in front of you.
Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?
Andrea Hylen: I would add classes of inspiration to school curriculums. The classes would teach students to connect with their inner voice. There would be guidance and self-reflection to discover the true calling and purpose of their lives. No matter what job they had for work, they would always know their underlying gifts. Learning how to stay connected from the inside out will help in learning and living. Add 10 minutes onto the first class and spend time in silence connecting to their inner self.
So much time is spent trying to get someplace. It can sound so cliché to say enjoy the journey, but that is the truth. I would teach this to the children. Every day when my husband would go off to work, I would kiss him, look him in the eyes and say, “Enjoy the adventure.” Every day is an adventure in your life. I would like children to remember this throughout their lives.
To connect with Andrea, visit her:
Website is http://www.opentoinspiration.com/
To vote for Andrea’s book, visit http://www.NextTopAuthor.com/?aid=49.