Tag Archives: Self Help

The Storms Of Our Lives Revisited

The Storms Of Our Lives Revisited

I am revisiting a post that was written one year ago this month when Coastal Regions of the United States were facing another hurricane.  That hurricane did little damage but as I am writing this, Hurricane Matthew currently a Category 4 Storm is threatening the Florida Coast and has already brought destruction to Haiti and is now hitting the Bahamas.  In the below post  I contemplated on the storms of our lives and what they mean, whether they are environmental or not, for we are all subject to them.

I’ve been thinking about storms lately. As a Hurricane now blows its way around the Southeast and the Atlantic, there is a sense that these storms can be random. We never know where they are going to hit and who will be effected. These real physical storms are felt but storms are not all of an environmental nature. We all are subject to storms in our lives. These storms can take the form of a health, relationship, business or financial crisis that can land unexpectedly. What these storms do is put us at a choice point. The storm signals to us that something needs to change in our lives. Perhaps we need to make a change to really move forward in our lives, and the storm awakens us from complacency.

The Storm Offers Two Choices

I believe that the storm offers two choices. The first choice is to resist the need to change or remain stuck. The second choice is to flow and adapt to the change to become unstuck. The stuck choice is motivated by fear. Perhaps the fear is of an unknown future, a desire to cling to the past, or a lack of confidence regarding our ability to handle it all. The unstuck choice on the other hand is motivated first by an acceptance of the situation, of what happened. It is also marked by a calmness and a knowing that you have the ability and inner resources to deal with the crises. It is out of that calmness with curiosity, openness and belief that a new direction, a new course can be forged.

They say that it is darkest before the dawn and so it is with the storms of our lives. I believe that we are never given a situation that we cannot handle, and we have more ability and wisdom than we know. It is also within the storms of our lives that our greatest life purpose can be excavated. When Moses was a privileged Egyptian prince, he saw and felt the storm of a people in bondage. His exile from his known life, his storm, allowed him to hear the voice of his God to move into his life purpose as a leader and liberator. Whatever your life purpose is, pay attention to the storms you may find yourself in. It is those storms and the way you process them that may lead you as well to your greatest purpose and destiny.

The following is a passage from our book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth. The Passage from Reflections On Transformation/Change calls on you to see a storm in your life in an empowering way: The passage is paired with Elise Okrend’s original pastel painting, Southern Sky:

A Cycle of Change. A storm can free your desire, your calmness can free your wisdom, your actions can free your destiny.


Southern Sky Pastel by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com

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

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!


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



A Winter Reflection

I was speaking with a friend today who had gone through some trying times recently.  He had been in a car accident and was dealing with the breakup of a relationship. He said that he felt overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how he was going to handle it all.  As we spoke a bit, he talked about some previous challenges, and he realized that he had gotten through it all. The challenges had actually brought him to a better place.  He just he didn’t know it at the time. Our conversation made me think of the below passage from our book, Messages To The Heart.

If you could see your life as a perpetual place of learning and growth, then you can see that all your perceived setbacks, misfortunes, accidents, betrayals are merely signs to help you pay attention to what you haven’t been paying attention to. When you take the time to reflect, you will be able to learn and grow. When you react to a perceived negative occurrence, you just continue that pattern. Open your eyes to a new way of seeing life because as you change your mind, you change your life.

In the book, the above passage is paired with Elise’s painting, Winter Morning.  It is during the winter that one can reflect within the stillness and quiet of it all. It can be a time to absorb some of those greater lessons that can move us forward.  Life is always pushing us forward to our greatest growth. Do you agree?