Monthly Archives: February 2014

Beauty Inspires

This past weekend we took a short trip to Black Mountain and Montreat, NC., about 30 minutes from where we live in Asheville. In Montreat, we were entranced by a meandering stream trail that we followed. We learned that this region is only second to tropical rain forests for its biodiversity! Along the trail, we encountered hand made rock formations that reminded us of Stonehenge! It seems that the sacredness of this place has been confirmed by others that have walked this trail. Here is a pic of this beautiful place.

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The beauty of this place reminded us of one of the passages from Messages to the Heart.  

The world is full of beautiful landscapes and vistas, natural places that evoke feelings of reverence and awe. This natural beauty, what nature intended is also inside of you. When you understand that you are part of this nature, then you know that you have been blessed with gifts to express to bring out, to touch others with. All fear, shame, guilt, doubt is just conditioning built from fear that tries to undermine you from seeing this truth. When you see it, know it is false to you, and it will disappear as you no longer give it power.

After this beautiful walk, we went to the quaint town of Black Mountain, NC where we discovered a wonderful eclectic gift shop called Chifferobe Home & Garden.  This wonderful shop is now a new home for Messages to the Heart. Next time you find yourself in Western North Carolina, check out the town of Black Mountain and this beautiful shop.


May you find beauty in the simple things around you.

Elise and Phil

In The Spirit – Interview with Elise and Phil Okrend

1621828_417492958380867_1989983975_nThis interview with us was featured in the In The Spirit column of the Asheville Mountain Xpress on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. By Jordan Foltz.

WHAT: Messages to the Heart: Reflections of Beauty and Truth reading, book signing and art show with authors Phil and Elise Okrend.

WHEN/WHERE: Book reading and signing at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café, Sunday Feb. 9, 3-5 p.m. Art display at Hotel Indigo, Wednesday Feb. 12, 5-7 p.m.

WHY: Compiled by Asheville couple Phil and Elise Okrend, Messages to the Heart combines Elise’s pastel paintings with Phil’s poetic passages inspired by his years as a life coach. The Okrends spoke with Xpress about the book’s creation:

Mountain Xpress: What have you found that this book is able to convey through the combination of prose and imagery that your individual works were unable to carry on their own?

Elise: When my art is paired with Phil’s passages, we are asking the reader to go deeper. We allow them to have a feeling about the art, but we ask them to reflect about a part of themselves through the passage. How does it make them feel? How can they allow themselves to have a different perspective? How are they inspired? We consciously tried to match the passages to the paintings by sensing what feeling or emotion the art was calling forth.

Phil: If you think about a memorable song, the lyrics and the melody may stand on their own as an artistic piece of work, but it is the joining of those media that creates something lasting with more impact to the listener. … Together, the art and words carry more impact than if just left by themselves. I also love the idea of having my words not just as a book to read, but as an object of design and beauty that can be a part of someone’s home.

For more information, go to Messages to the Heart.


Sharing Our Story Behind Messages to the Heart


Here’s a great story, just released in the Asheville Citizen-Times about the creation of Messages to the Heart.  The book is an organic pairing of our different forms of creative self expression through art and words, and our desire to inspire and help others find their own authentic path.  We are so excited to have the opportunity to share our story and read from the book at two upcoming events in Asheville during Valentine’s Day Week.

Messages to the Heart events

•  Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe, 55 Haywood St., downtown Asheville, 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9th, for an author reading and book signing.
• Hotel Indigo, 151 Haywood St., downtown Asheville, will host a Valentine’s Day themed reception, book signing and art display with music, 5-7 p.m. Feb. 12.


Elise and Phil Okrend