Tag Archives: Healing Art

Wholeness In The New Year

How Do You Look At New Year’s Resolutions?

At the beginning of the year, it is commonplace to think about change, and to set new intentions. At this time, many people set New Year’s Resolutions. Normally this may consist of setting goals you want to achieve, your “To Do List.” Often as you move through the year, these New Year’s Resolutions seem to lose their sustaining power. You either feel a great deal of resistance in pursuing them or your goals get lost to the distractions and busyness of life. Did you ever think that the block to achieving these resolutions comes from the mindset that created them in the first place. The mindset tells you that you don’t have what you really want, that you are somehow flawed where you are right now. This mindset comes from a sense of lack or not enough. It takes a great deal of striving, effort, willpower and the overcoming of resistance to get anywhere. It simply doesn’t feel good to do it.

Why do people continue to set themselves up again and again for these disappointments and defeats. Statistics show that only 8% of Americans actually succeed in achieving New Years resolutions.

What If There Was Another Way To Look At The New Year?

What if you came from a place of abundance and wholeness. What if you knew that there was nothing lacking inside of you when you set your intentions for the New Year. Then the motivation to change would look different. It would come from “I have everything I need inside me.” “What do I do now?” Instead of feeling that you need to get something outside yourself to feel good, you already feel good. Then life would look more like a playground of possibility. You would be called by questions such as, What do I want to enjoy? What do I want to experience? What am I curious about? What are the skills I want to develop to enjoy the life I was given? What are the relationships that honor or compliment me? What is the work situation that speaks to my abilities, my potential? What am I here to contribute?

From this place of wholeness, you see that control, willpower, major effort and striving are irrelevant. What is highlighted instead is a sense of surrender to a higher calling. It is a sense that if you trusted the knowing of your true self, your authentic self, you will be led exactly to the situations that will contribute to your greatest growth, joy, wisdom and potential. You will still take steps, and action. However those steps will be characterized by non attachment to outcome, a feeling of lightness and enjoyment. Your life will also be lived in the present moment as you would not be driven by a dissatisfaction that would judge or make you feel bad for not having what you want right now.

Ultimately, as you look at your New Year, there are two paths you can choose. One is the Path of Efforting. The other is the Path of Surrender. Which one will you choose?

The following passage from our book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth. This passage on Empowerment calls on you to see your life from a place of wholeness. The passage is paired with the original Pastel Painting of  Artist Elise Okrend. The title of the painting is Into The Light.


There is only one essential assumption to make in life. That is You Are Worthy.
By understanding the truth of that, you understand that you do not need to prove
anything, control anything, force anything. All you have to do is share what you
already are with others and you will thrive. To believe otherwise is false to your
true nature and causes needless pain and suffering for you and others. When you
know you are worthy, you know that you do not lack anything and you are truly
abundant. You are here to grow, share, learn and love. All the other stuff is just
conditioning and learned behavior. All you need to do is let go of those falsities
and come back to the truth of your worth.

Phil Okrend, January 2015

Messages to the Heart Workshop

We are so pleased to invite you to our new Messages to the Heart workshop 

Our new live workshop, A Journey To Healing and Empowerment Through Art and Words is coming to the beautiful Om Sanctuary, Asheville, NC on Friday December 5th, 6:30pm-9:30pm


Artist Elise Okrend and her husband, Life Coach Phil Okrend, authors of the new coffee table book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth will lead you on a transformative journey of self–discovery. By using beautiful soothing art and mindful, contemplative passages from their book, you will learn to see your life through new eyes that will inspire, heal and empower you to connect to your inner guidance.

Register Now! Space is limited to 12 participants

You will be guided toward finding clarity on such issues as:

• Letting Go
• Finding Purpose
• Trust
• Self Worth
• Making Choices
• Taking Steps
• Finding Strength
• Living from Abundance

You will leave the workshop with tools and a framework to make positive change in your life.

Register Now! Space is limited to 12 participants

We look forward to being with you.

Elise and Phil


Vulnerability Is Strength

Reflections on Empowerment

This latest blog post was inspired by a passage from Messages to the Heart, Reflections on Empowerment, Self Worth. The art and passage appear below the article.

Being vulnerable is difficult for many people

Being vulnerable is difficult for many people. It can conjure up intense feelings such as fear of being judged, loss of control and weakness. When we want to project a certain image to the world, we may try to avoid vulnerability. It is as though being vulnerable will leave us feeling alone and abandoned because we will not be accepted for who we really are.

At the moment that we feel vulnerable, it presents us with a choice. The choice is one between acting from the ego or false self, or acting from your true or authentic self. While the ego may crave control, predictability and looking good in the eyes of others, the authentic self, wants to give and receive love, connection and compassion.

I think we have reached a critical point in our culture where many people are literally burnt out and exhausted from the demands of the ego. The ego is never relaxed or satisfied, and always wants control. It is getting harder to hold on to a sense of control when so many personal and world situations seem beyond our control.

Being vulnerable allows us to let go of the struggle for control

Being vulnerable allows us to let go of the struggle for control. It allows us the freedom to enter into relationships where truth and authenticity are valued, where flaws are not shamed, but merely seen as human. Vulnerability leads us to a shared connection with others because it allows us to have shared empathy with others. Vulnerability is then the place where true community building can occur. Vulnerability is in essence, the opposite of what we have been set up to believe. Vulnerability is not weakness, it is not shameful. Vulnerability is strength. It is real. It is connecting.

If we can understand that vulnerability is positive and life affirming, then perhaps we can learn to overcome our resistance to it. However, it means getting out of our own way and questioning habitual reactions.

Questions for you to consider

Here are some questions for you to consider that can help you examine your own perspectives on vulnerability.

What is it costing me to avoid uncomfortable issues? Where do I hold myself back? Where have I been unwilling to risk? In what ways will facing my vulnerability give me strength? In what ways will facing my vulnerability bring me connection to others? In what ways will facing my vulnerability bring me peace of mind?

This is the passage from our book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth, Self Worth with Elise’s pastel painting, Jane’s Meadow. It calls you forth to see your vulnerability as strength.


None of us are perfect, and yet all of us are deserving of love and understanding. We don’t let ourselves be who really are because we think others won’t like it. But the truth is that others won’t like it when they can’t tell who you are and that what you say really reflects who you are. That just leads to cynicism, distrust and fakeness over time. We need to give others permission to be exactly who they are so we can be who we are. No one is perfect, and yet we are all perfect in our imperfections. That is the human experience. We are here to love, learn, grow, be ourselves and know that our being here is our ticket to self worth. As we accept that and believe that, we build true authentic bonds of connection with others. All the striving to be something we are not in order to get self worth is a losing game that eventually catches up with people. You can only be an act for so long. It is your vulnerability which will make you strong and make you soar. Be yourself and be proud!


From the Head to the Heart

From the Head to the Heart

A few weekends ago, I had the privilege to attend a workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Omega is a wonderful retreat and educational center offering courses on personal and societal change from some of the leading authors, speakers and educators in the country. The title of the workshop I signed up for was “Reduced To Joy, The Journey from the Head to the Heart.” That title resonated for me because as an ex attorney, I was trained to live in my head. Even though I made some big changes in my life, transitioning from the life of an attorney to an entrepreneur, and now a writer and life coach, it was still hard to shake off some of the old patterns that seemed to come from my head. I was still grappling with issues such as trying to control outcomes, or situations, taking things personally, or striving to achieve goals that had little authentic meaning for me.

I felt that taking this workshop would serve to help me “Let Go” and really move into my heart, the place I really wanted to live.

From the beginning, the workshop, and the way it was presented started to work its magic on me. I noticed that the instructor had no written outline, there was no power point presentation. There was no agenda at all except to create an environment of presence where the sharing of experience would be honored. The instructor read from his books. He shared stories and poems about life that were about real things that happen to all of us. The heartache of loss, how an illness can shape us, how unexpected events can change one’s direction, and how through all of it, there can be a depth of joy regardless of the obstacles we encounter. Almost everyone in the room shared, and it was sharing from the heart. It was powerful.

I left the weekend workshop at Omega feeling moved and knew that I was entering a new period of transformation. I knew that for me to make the shift, I would still need to let go, but I also realized that I had already begun. By moving to Asheville after being in the same town for 19 years, and by writing and publishing a new book about healing and personal empowerment, I had entered a new phase of a journey. I embrace that journey, and am starting to trust in the more unknown but true path ahead of me.

Phil Okrend

I believe that the path for all of us to make true change in our lives starts with “letting go” of what no longer serves us. This is a passage from our book, “Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth.” It calls on you to “Let Go.”

If you don’t know what you want, then let go of what you don’t want.
Perhaps when you empty yourself of outdated notions, limiting beliefs,
what you thought you had to do from your conditioned mind,
then the fruits of a new way will have the room to penetrate. It is
much like clearing the dirt and debris to plant a new garden. We fight
with ourselves when we try to force ourselves to be a certain way,
live up to life standards that weren’t set by us in the first place. Feel
what makes you come alive and do that, but first, empty out what is
no longer true for you. When you let go, don’t feel that you need to
rush into a new way. Allow yourself to take the time to be. Trust, be patient.
The new way will come.



Tropical Belize by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com


Art Gives Hope Through Tragedy

This story, Art Gives Hope Through Tragedy is about one of my original paintings, and how that painting touched one family in a time of need.  The  painting, “Mountain Mist” below is one of the paintings featured in our book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth.


The story begins with the following email I received about a month ago:

Four years ago, April or May of 2011, we bought a painting from someone in the Kress Emporium and I do believe it was you. You were just setting up your booth that weekend and one of you, you or your husband, was injured (a sprained ankle or some such), which made the set up complicated. You were not really ready for business yet but we were heading back to Charlotte and knew we would never be back to Asheville. Does that sound familiar?

That afternoon, we bought a beautiful painting of the Blue Ridge Mountains from that particular artist, hopefully you … ( approx 16″x24″) Seeing your work on the Gallery’s website, your style seems very similar. Yes???
With that in mind, there is a sad tale to tell:

We bought the painting as a gift for our daughter (a Univ. of Virginia graduate and employee) so she could keep that breathtaking and beloved view with her when she moved up to Boston. It has hung over her bed these 4 years and she loves it every time she looks up!

Last week, there was a terrible and tragic fire in Boston (You might have seen it on the National News) that was her apartment building on Beacon Street. Fortunately she was at work, but EVERYTHING was lost, including the painting and the information about the artist that was taped on the back of the frame. Although we know that it is not possible to duplicate all of her belongings, this painting was one very special piece that we hope to replace with something similar.

Please let me know if you have any memory of that time or conversation (or injury!) and perhaps we can discuss one happy ending to this nightmare.

Art Gives Hope Through Tragedy

I was so honored that I was able to connect with this woman and was able to replace the piece, “Mountain Mist.” I will be shipping it to her daughter this week. Feeling grateful that I was able to help in their time of need, and that my art is touching people in ways that I might not even know.  For you readers out there who have a yearning to create, and bring your creation to the world, don’t hold back.  Bring your work to life. You never know how it will touch and inspire another.

Elise Okrend
Pastel Artist



Welcome to the Messages to the Heart Blog

1530336_402620499868113_1546710253_nWelcome to the New Blog for Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth. The book was conceived from our passion to inspire and uplift others through a creative pairing of art and words. Just released on December 15th, 2013, Messages to the Heart is making its way into the hearts and homes of readers.  We invite you to share your comments about how the book speaks to you, what touches you, the paintings and the words. How does it influence the way you can see making positive change in your life?

Starting this blog with purpose. What is your purpose?  Here is an excerpt from our book from the Chapter, Reflections on Following Your Heart:

Each one of us has a purpose, a destiny. We each have a time when that purpose will manifest. You can not choose that time, that time chooses you. It is your job to recognize when that time is calling you. You can not prematurely put your actions into motion when the time isn’t right, for then it is just your ego wanting control. Listen for the time, and then act. You will know when it is time. 



What does this passage and art evoke in you?

Original pastel painting titled San Miguel by Elise, www.eliseokrend.com