Learning and Unlearning

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ~Dr. Seuss

Today, I was having lunch with friends at McGilvra’s, a restaurant in Madison Park, an area of Seattle with a view of Lake Washington. Sitting at a table outdoors on this sunny day, Alan asked, “Is that the floating bridge?” None of us had heard of that so I googled, ‘floating bridge in Seattle,’ on my iPhone. Sure enough, Washington has a number of these pontoon, floating bridges. We were looking at the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge that connects Seattle with the eastern suburbs via Route 520. Reading a few paragraphs of information out loud to the friends at the table, we all took a longer, expanded look at the bridge in the distance and talked about bridges in other parts of the country. Isn’t the internet amazing? Answers to so many questions at the tip of our fingers! A dream from my childhood come true! And, how the access to information expands what we see and experience.

After lunch, we walked down to the edge of the water and looked at the construction of the bridge with wider eyes and a new perspective. This was my fourth time looking at the bridge from this view, this summer, and now I was seeing it with fresh eyes.

I am passionate about learning. When I was a kid, it was the library, encyclopedias, and television. Learning in school was fun until the third grade when Mrs. Riggs humiliated me by making me stand in the corner. I continued to like the social part of school and learned to observe, join activities, stay away from teachers like Mrs. Riggs, and find ways to get out of the classroom for further learning in life. I learned to endure the classroom, but that was not where my passions expanded. My love of learning became an independent passion connected to experiences I was having and seeing in the world. There are opportunities available for learning everywhere! I am a life-long learner.

When I home-schooled my kids, I learned a lot about the way we learn and the need for repetition, and different forms of learning: audio, visual, kinesthetic. Taking a cake decorating class gave me a metaphor for learning. When icing a cake, start with a thin layer of icing that is the foundation between the cake and the rest of the frosting. It is called the crumb layer. As each layer of frosting is added, the frosting sticks better because of the first thin layer of icing. It’s the same way with learning. Reading a book more than one time or taking classes on the same topics will bring new perspectives and awareness, and it sticks with you while also expanding what you see.

Now, to share my current learning of the summer, I divided the specifics into four categories. Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual. Here is my list:

Mental Learning:

“It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.” ― Albert Einstein

I am obsessed with books and information. Thank you, Google and Facebook for access to libraries, books, articles, and the internet. This summer I focused on:

  1. Learning to speak French and Spanish (just beginning!).
  2. Watching films and studying the different ways filmmakers tell a story.
  3. Reading about women in history and women who have been written out of history.
  4. How to write a novel.
  5. How to tell a story on Instagram.

Spiritual Learning:

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” ~Desmond Tutu

This area of my life is about cultivating the inner space and intuition and a connection to higher wisdom. Reading and spiritual practices:

  1. Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  2. Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender
  3. Agape Live on Sundays with Michael Bernard Beckwith (I sing out loud in the living room!)
  4. 21 days of meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey

Physical Learning: Learning and practicing with the body.

“Physical well-being necessitates listening to what you already know, and then taking it seriously enough to act accordingly. When you wake up and feel the impulse to arch your back, stretch and exhale with a loud sigh, for God’s sake, do it.” ― Darrell Calkins

  1. Forest Bathing: Daily walks in the Washington Arboretum and on trails along Lake Washington in Seattle. Noticing how my body feels.
  2. Researched and practiced yoga positions for strengthening my body.
  3. Public transportation in Seattle. Moving my body from one location to another via walking, bus, metro.

Emotional Learning:

Miracle Message #85: Let your intimate relationships be your greatest learning devices for spiritual growth and healing. ~Gabrielle Bernstein

This area of my life is about feelings. Learning and unlearning and unraveling while observing and witnessing others and cultivating the range of emotions I can feel. Learning when to take action and when to sit with discomfort and just be with the feelings. (Notice I have the most words and descriptions in this section. Emotional learning is a passion, obviously!)

  1. Watched a new series of conversations with men called: We Are Man Enough
  2. Deeper exploration of something I learned in a coaching program a few years ago. Nicole Daedone told me: “This is what it looks like when a woman makes a man a king for giving her 15 minutes of the kind of attention she gives him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” This summer, I found a few coaches in the area who experimented with me. My noticing and processing: “How does it feel when a man listens to my desire or request, and that desire or request is met? What does it feel like when that desire or request is ignored?” It can be something as simple as asking for coffee and being served tea. Or asking the bus driver for directions and noticing who makes eye contact and takes the time to make sure I understand, and who says a few words and waves me off. Or being asked a question and then the man doesn’t listen to the answer. Or noticing when a man confirms a meeting by text and has my ideal cup of coffee waiting for me when I arrive at the coffee shop. This has been an opportunity to learn about feelings of connection and disconnection. And, is also research for my book.
  3. One of the books I am writing now is about intimacy research I had with a man in 2013-2014. I wanted to heal the wounds from past relationships with men. I wanted connection and intimacy. I wanted a partner who would practice with me. Real feelings. Real connection. Research. We set up a Google document. We face-timed. We texted. We dissected our interactions to explore how to increase connection and unravel the old stories of the past about men and women. And, once a month, we met in person in San Francisco. He flew in from Germany. I flew from New York or Los Angeles. We created an experience. Currently, I am reading all of the journals and exploring the feelings to decide what I want to share in a book based on that experience and the continuation of experiences this summer.


“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” ~Doris Lessing

Writing is the place where I bring it all together. Experiences of noticing and feeling. Taking notes for the mental and reading them again. Feeling the feelings of the emotional. Engaging in physical activities to process through the body. Reflecting from a higher place of spiritual. Writing it all down in a journal, in a blog post, in a book. To process and understand myself and learn from others.

My Life is an Artist Date with layers of rich ideas, information and feelings!

Written by: Andrea Hylen; Heal My Voice

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