Tag Archives: Spiritual growth

Finding Guidance In the Unknown

Finding Guidance In the Unknown

About 2 1/2 years ago, we decided to move from Raleigh to Asheville. It was a creatively inspired move as my wife Elise Hodara Okrend was drawn here for the mountain landscapes, and interpreted them into her paintings. I also loved the vibe, musically, the progressive ideas, the beauty, the idea of expansiveness. It was also the perfect place to introduce our book, Messages to the Heart which was a joining of my writings with Elise’s beautiful art. So the reality of the move made sense on many levels, but hasn’t always been a straight line, where you can predict anything. Yet, Elise has found a home here to make art, to really be the artist that she has dreamed of. I think I came here for a sense of rediscovery, and to let go of ideas or preconceptions of my life that no longer served. That is a process in itself that is still occurring.

A New Chapter

Now after renting since our start in Asheville, we have bought a place in Black Mountain. Its beautiful here, but I feel a new phase, chapter is beginning, and I don’t even know what it will look like. I think it is the acceptance of this not knowing that has been most challenging for me. I am willing and able, and open to listen more and more, and to get out of what I think it will or should be. It is this sense of allowing that I think will make me happier, more fulfilled in this journey. I think learning to be grateful for all is key, whatever the experience.

The above reflection that I wrote shortly after my move drew me to the passage and art in Messages to the Heart that speaks to Trust.  The painting paired with the passage is Lake Fontana by Elise Okrend.

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What is it to radiate love? What is it to radiate peace? Let the clouds of illusion lift from your eyes and see that all the fears you thought were real were just distractions from you realizing your strength, your beauty, your purpose. Allow a sense of trust to rise above and lead you to a better way. The illusions you thought were real will crumble as you stop giving them power. They will melt away and you will see the path. Follow the sun and if you don’t see it right away, feel your way there, listen and trust. It will get brighter. It will get warmer.

As I go through my own journey, it is comforting to know that almost everything that I fear, love or need to overcome is addressed in this book. I know as well that whatever struggle I may be going through, others may be going through as well. If a piece of art or passage in Messages to the Heart has spoken to you at a time when you needed guidance, please let us know. We would love to hear about it.

Wishing you peace and comfort on your journey,

Phil Okrend, April, 12, 2016

 

Message For The New Year

All we have is this Moment. Make each moment Peace

12313966_704129576383869_6363620406300799895_nContemplation Pastel by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com

Thank you for your wonderful support since the launch of Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth.  We have heard how the book has touched you, and we are pleased that in 2016 we will be introducing a second edition of our book with larger art.   You can now follow us on twitter where we will be sharing art and words to inspire you.
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Wishing you a world of Peace and Happiness

Elise and Phil Okrend

Do We Need A New Story?

DO WE NEED A NEW STORY?

Do we need a new story for the world at this time? The world seems to be at a tipping point with terrorism and the fight against it gaining headlines.  If we react with more and more war, with greater violence, with more defensiveness, how does that define us as a people? Were we meant to live in fear, with suspicion of one another, or is there another way?  It looks more and more that our world is facing a choice point.

THE CHOICE

The painting and passage below from Messages to the Heart, Reflections on Unity, Oneness depict a sacred city, Tzvat in Israel, the birthplace of the mystic study of Kabbalah. This region of the world, The Middle East and the land of Israel represents a paradox. On one hand, the teachings of peace compassion, miracles, the connection to the divine spring from this land.  Judaism, Christianity, Islam all have origins here. At the same time it is a land and region reeling in turmoil and conflict, too often marked by violence. So this duality, this paradox shows that both love and hatred can exist in the same land.

But here is our choice. Do we want to continue to allow the divisions, the separations, the fears to rule us, to cause us to react to each other with judgment, suspicion, hatred? Or do we want to pursue a way of peace, of unity, seeing that we are one. I believe that most of us want the same things, happiness, peace, dignity, reverence for life. The passage and art call on us to walk through a doorway.  It calls for us to see another way to live and be with each other. It is through knowing that our old ways are not working, that we can choose again. Even if it means stepping out into the unknown, even if it means letting go.  The darkness can either move us to more darkness, or it can allow us to see the light that shines more brightly in contrast. Let us choose the light.

Phil Okrend, 11/18/15

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The Old City by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com

Oneness

Imagine a new story:
Instead of consumerism-humanism
Instead of greed- giving
Instead of competition- cooperation
Instead of conflict-coexistence
Instead of fear- love
Instead of sleeping-awakening
Instead of control-surrender
Instead of holding tightly- letting go
Instead of feeling alone-feeling that we are one.
The truth is that this story has begun! Let it live into our consciousness.

You can order the book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth through our web site  or on Amazon.com

To learn about Phil Okrend’s Life Coaching services, visit his coaching page at the Messages to the Heart Website! Take advantage of a 30 minute complimentary coaching session to see how coaching can move you forward in your life and/or career.

Living From Purpose, Thoughts On Wayne Dyer

Living From Purpose, thoughts on Wayne Dyer

We had the privilege to lead another Messages to the Heart Book Salon at Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe this past week.  In a way, it was a tribute to Dr. Wayne Dyer who just passed. The passages that were covered from our book were From Reflections on Following your Heart, Feeling Alive and Purpose. Dr. Dyer possessed those qualities. His words, what he expressed is how we desire to live, unencumbered by fear or doubt, learning to tune into your callings, finding your purpose and ultimately using your gifts to serve others. We carried a bit of Wayne Dyer’s spirit with us at the Book Salon and the discussions were moving. It almost felt like he was joining us around the table, smiling and nodding.

One of the passages we shared was on Purpose. The passage is paired with Elise’s dramatic pastel, San Miguel.  The passage reads as follows:

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 cannot prematurely put your actions into motion when the time is not right, for then it is just your ego wanting control. Listen for the time, and then act. You will know when it is time.

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San Miguel, Original Pastel by Elise Okrend. www.eliseokrend.com

I know that Dr. Dyer would agree that we all have a purpose, and as we truly listen, that purpose will manifest and happen in the right time.  We treasure the time that Wayne Dyer was with us on this planet. We are all better off for his ability to truly live his purpose and share that purpose with so many.  Thank you Dr. Dyer for all.

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Messages to the Heart Book Salon at Malaprops Books & Cafe

Do you want to go deeper, have a dialogue, contemplate what is possible in your life, in the world? If you are in Asheviile, or plan to visit this Fall, please join us at one of our book salons. We meet every other Wednesday through the end of October at Malaprops Books & Cafe from 5-6p.m. We welcome your presence and participation. The next Book Salon will take place on Wednesday, September 16th. Also, we would love your feedback on this blog. Please feel free to add your comments below. We look forward to connecting with you.

Phil & Elise Okrend

You can order the book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth through our web site , the retail stores listed there including Malaprops, or on Amazon.com

To learn about Phil’s Life Coaching services, visit his page at the Messages to the Heart Website!

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Are You Opening To A NEW PARADIGM?

Book Salon at Malaprop’s

We have been grateful to introduce our Messages to the Heart book salon at Malaprops Books & Cafe in Asheville, NC.  We have led two salons so far. The discussion, participation has been rich and vibrant.  Starting with the first chapter of the book, Reflections on Following your Heart, we talked about Letting Go, Forgiveness, Surrender and Truth.  What we have loved are the nuances others have picked up on. Looking at one of the art images, someone shared an observation that “a peek of light in a turbulent sky signified a new way to look at personal challenge.” There was a comfort in knowing that this light was always there trying to make its way through.

A New Paradigm

At the last salon, we discussed one of the passages that we believe is calling on us collectively. The passage, Surrender speaks to letting go of old notions of control to make way for a NEW PARADIGM that has been waiting for us to embrace.  The passage joined with Elise Okrend’s original pastel painting, Mountain Light is below. As you read the words and look at the art,  see how the words and image speak to you.

When you surrender to the calling of your soul, there is a relief as you let go of control. When the ego no longer calls the shots, the only thing that matters is trust, belief, faith, love. We are at the point when control over others, control to get money, possessions, status has been fully played out and leaves you feeling alone, in a battle. That way is tiresome, old and exhausting. The new paradigm, and it has always been at the core of you, is trust coming through and through. No fighting, no games, no manipulation, no impatience.  Just a calm knowing of your unique talents and using them to uplift others, to heal, to inspire, to give.  It is filled with a patience that it will all work out and each moment becomes alive with these things.

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Mountain Light, Original Pastel by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com

Do you want to go deeper, have a dialogue, contemplate what is possible in your life, in the world? If you are in Asheviille, or plan to visit this fall, please join us at one of our book salons. We meet every other Wednesday through the end of October at Malaprops Books & Cafe from 5-6p.m. We welcome your presence and participation. Also, we would love your feedback on this blog. Please feel free to add  your comments below. We look forward to connecting with you.

Phil & Elise Okrend

You can order the book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth through our web site , the retail stores listed there including Malaprops, or on Amazon.com

To learn about Phil’s Life Coaching services, visit his page at the Messages to the Heart Website!

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Living Well Radio Show Interview

Living Well Radio Show 

Messages to the Heart

We really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Messages to the Heart during a November 2014 radio interview with Dr.Bob Hanna on Asheville Free Radio.  Dr. Bob asked some very insightful questions about how we came to our individual paths in life, Elise as an artist and me as a writer and life coach.  We also discussed how as a couple we evolved to living from what creatively inspired us, from building a greeting card company to writing the book, Messages to the Heart.  We read passages from our book, talked about art, philosophy and how we see our mission as helping and inspiring others to connect to the inherent truth and beauty in their own lives. We hope you enjoy this one-hour podcast.

Phil & Elise Okrend

Listen Here!

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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.

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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.

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Tropical Belize by Elise Okrend, www.eliseokrend.com

 

Finding Your Yellow Brick Road

What is the truth about you?

One of my favorite movies of all time is “The Wizard of Oz.”

Find Your Yellow Brick Road

This timeless tale of Dorothy, her little dog Toto and her three friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion has touched generations of children and adults alike. I invite you to stroll down the Yellow Brick Road to share some insights that may be helpful in your own life journey. As we are introduced to the main characters on their journey to meet the Wizard, we learn about their beliefs.

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Dorothy believes only the Wizard can help her get back home, the Scarecrow believes he doesn’t have a brain, the Tin Man believes he has no heart, and the Lion believes he has no courage. They all look to The Wizard of Oz to obtain what they believe they don’t have or possess.

But is their perception of who they are, flawed?

But is their perception of who they are, flawed? If the Lion has no courage, how does he summon the will to help his friends when they are in trouble? If the Tin Man has no heart, how can he care so much for others? If the Scarecrow has no brains, how does he conceive of the plan to rescue Dorothy? Each of them shows that they already possess the qualities they seek. So if they had believed in the truth of who they were, they would never have needed to get validation from an outside source, the Wizard.

There’s no place like home

How may this apply in your own life? You may ask the following questions: Do some of the beliefs you have adopted in your life, about what you are capable of, represent what is really true about you? Do your beliefs about yourself serve to keep you empowered and on purpose, or do they keep you from authenticity and fulfillment? Do you need external approval in order to believe that you are talented, loved, strong or grounded? The more you ask yourself, “What is the truth?” the more you can consciously choose to release the limiting beliefs that no longer serve you. You won’t have to look much further than your own backyard to do so. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home”.

The following passage is from our book Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth. It calls on you to find your special place of truth within.

Reflections on Love Trust, Meditation Pond, Pastel Art by Elise Okrend.

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If you want love, look within.

If you want peace, look within.

If you want satisfaction, look within.

If you want to be in harmony with others, look within.

If you want to be free of distraction, look within.

If you want to honor your truth, look within
.

There is no reason to look anywhere else.
 All that you need is within. You were just looking in the wrong place.

Phil

Phil Okrend, Certified Life and Business Coach, transitioned from being an attorney, to the life of a creative entrepreneur, writer, speaker and musician. Phil is the author of the new coffee table book “Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth,” which pairs his mindful poetic writings with the art of his wife, Asheville based pastel artist Elise Okrend.  www.messagestotheheart.com  and www.steppingstonescoaching.com

 

Finding Your Path

Do you feel that you have a destiny to fulfill, a path to follow? Read our latest blog to explore this question.

Your life path.  It was present the day you were born, and it is there waiting for you. This path gives our lives purpose and meaning, and it is our job to find the path, connect with it and follow it.  It is what the  American writer, Joseph Campbell called the hero’s journey as it moves you from the known into the unknown.  Along the way, there may be temptations, circumstances, distractions that try to throw you off, but you may also find a mentor, a book, a synchronicity that will keep you moving along the path.  The following passage from our book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth outlines three things to help you realize your life path. The passage is paired with Elise’s Painting, “The Path.” Let us know how this passage and art speaks to you.

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These three things will help you on your journey: Heal the Past, Live the Present, Dream the Future!

Heal the past- See what the old stories and patterns are costing you in your life. You will know who and what you need to forgive, and you will see that dealing with pain and discomfort now is better than having the past own you for “What you resist persists.”

Live the present- Your life only exists in this moment, and the more you can place your attention on what is in front of you, the more you will be alive, energized and resourceful.

Dream the future- Imagine an inspiring future where you are at your best, happy, fulfilled, contributing, engaged in life. From that vision, you will know what steps will either lead you there or will take you away from it.  Practice these three things and you will find the life path that has been waiting for you

Elise and Phil Okrend

To learn more about the Coffee Table Book, Messages to the Heart, Reflections of Beauty and Truth, visit www.messagestotheheart.com