The Landscape Designer – Cool People I know

landscape designer

Each week I share some of the cool people I know and have been so fortunate to meet. People in general are so interesting. We each have a story to tell and a message to share with the world. The individuals I feature in this series are truly special. They share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael in Los Angeles in July. Within minutes of meeting, we had an opportunity to share some pretty intimate stories and events in our pasts. Upon our first moments together, despite the initial awkwardness of sharing personal details with a stranger, we connected. And after that moment, each time we ran into each other, we greeted one another with a knowing look. Ever felt like someone just understood you right away? Yup, that’s what I felt with Michael.

So here he is, meet Michael.

I am Michael Bernier from Los Angeles, CA, a Sustainable Landscape Designer, I create outdoor living spaces. My company, Bernier Design Group, specializes in Xeriscaping, which is the practice of utilizing water-conserving landscape designs – where plants whose natural requirements are appropriate to the local climate are emphasized, and require less maintenance than a regular lawn.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

I spent the first 20 years of my career as a designer and creative director, mostly in advertising. Over the years, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the work I was doing and the corporations I was doing it for. About 10 years ago, I knew I needed a change and have my work be in alignment with what felt to me like my life’s purpose. So in 2005, I discovered Landscape Architecture and went back to school to get my certification. My love for nature combined with many years of design experience is perfectly married in landscape design.

Calm, content people make better choices, and better choices make for a better planet. 

What inspires you?

In a word – Beauty.

Beyond aesthetics, the deeper side of my job is to show people that we are intimately connected to our environment, and the simplest way to do that is through the garden. People relax and breathe deeper when sitting peacefully in their tranquil gardens, they can feel their innate connection to nature. Calm, content people make better choices, and better choices make for a better planet. I really just want to make the world a more beautiful place.

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

When you get to the place in your life where you can finally clear away all the distractions and discover your life’s purpose – that thing that is most important to you – then CHOOSE IT and live your life from it! The Universe will support you and bring you everything you need, when you need it, to help bring your passion to reality.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

Wow… there are several…

Regarding my career, I’d have to say the big one happened one day while working as a Creative Director on an ad campaign for a major soft drink client. In the middle of it, I just looked up and said to myself “Why am I doing this? Is this really all that my life is about? I can’t do this anymore…” That was the beginning of the shift for me.

Live it from your Purpose. Whatever that is to you, however you discover it for yourself – DO IT, NOW! Until then, it is all pretend…

What is your proudest moment?

I’d say it came after completing my first landscape design project. I stepped back and was amazed at how beautiful it came out – I was happy, the client was happy, the plants were happy. It was definitely a chest-pounding moment of “Me Do Good!” I have to add to this that some of the most satisfying moments I have doing what I do, is when I go back to a project months after I’ve completed the installation to see how it is all growing in, and witness when nature comes in and takes over what I’ve started – new sprouts pop up, bees come to pollinate the lavenders, hummingbirds feed on the nectar of a flower, lotus blossoms seemingly appear out of nowhere. It is truly miraculous, and extremely satisfying knowing that I am contributing to the propagation of the natural order of things, as opposed to taking away or destroying it.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world yet?

I would go back to my answer to question #4 above, regarding the most valuable thing I’ve learned. The only way, that I have found, to live a truly happy and internally peaceful life, is to live it from your Purpose. Whatever that is to you, however you discover it for yourself – DO IT, NOW! Until then, it is all pretend…

Powerful! One thing I have to note – as I was reading Michael’s answers, I noticed that any time he mentioned the word nature, it was capitalized. That truly communicated to me how much reverence and respect he has for the beauty and power of nature. It is simply captivating learning about someone who is so passionate and in-love with what they do. That is what this life is all about right? We didn’t just come here to exist. We came here to find our purpose. To live it or to die trying to find out what that is. For those of us who are so lucky to realize this, we can’t spend another minute doing anything else – otherwise, it’s like Michael said – all pretend!

To learn more about Michael, visit his website or follow him on Facebook. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments, or reach out to Michael and let him know.

We’re Not Savages – Funniest Tweets of The Week

Just because I was on vacation doesn’t mean I stopped looking for the funniest tweets. Here are my picks this week. And because I missed a week – I’ll throw an extra number of tweets – you’re welcome!

Want more hilarious tweets? Check out the previous round-up.

The Love Doctor – Cool People I Know

barry selby

I love sharing with you some of the cool people I know through this series. These individuals are truly special. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

Meet Barry:

My name is Barry Selby, and I am known as the Love Doctor among my friends – although I go by The Love Confidant more officially. I am a passionate teacher, student, and guide about matters of the heart. I facilitate groups and individuals to more love and healthier relationships. I am a published author, love coach, and professional speaker too. I live in Los Angeles although originally hail from London, England by way of Germany and Belgium. I’ve had a varied career path that included computer programming, professional photography, graphic designer, prepress management for print shops, and a few more steps on my journey!

Yes, I’ve been single and celibate for over six years while I unraveled and resolved what I had missed.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

As you can see I have had a varied career path. At the same time, I have been invested and passionate about my inner journey – so I spent over twenty years immersed in the personal growth and human development arena. With all that insight and learning, when it came to the arena of love and relationship, I was no better than anyone else, in fact worse than some probably! I have had my fair share of dysfunctional relationships and failed romance. I have endured a broken heart more than once, and yes, I have also broken a few hearts.

My last three relationships had a common theme though. I had experienced the same pattern and same breakup experience three times in a row. This was with different women, by the way! It was insane according to Albert Einstein who I quote often – “The definition of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” How could this be? I had a learned so much from my immersion in the personal growth world. In addition to many seminars, modalities, and teachings, I had earned my Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology, and I have also been licensed as a Professional Spiritual Counselor for the past 14 years, as of this writing. 

Yet, with all that learning, I was missing something. So, what did I miss? What did I need to change? I was the common denominator. So to stop the insanity, I intentionally took time off from dating and relationships to really understand what I was missing – and this detour took some time. In fact, this choice took me on a six-plus year journey. Yes, I’ve been single and celibate for over six years while I unraveled and resolved what I had missed. Not something you would normally expect to hear from a relationship expert perhaps, yet this journey is what makes me so passionate about helping others attract the love they want, and to remove all the obstacles in their way.

These past six-plus years have had a distinct focus. It has been my intentional study of the embodied authentic masculine and feminine polarities. I realized rather quickly that it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me (and it is for many singles and couples too). Embodying and understanding the differences and importance of these polarities has changed my life. Learning and seeing how the partnership and polarity of masculine and feminine does and doesn’t work in relationship and romance is vital and what I have become very passionate about. And one particular learning shifted my self-understanding, which I attribute to one of my teachers, David Deida. In his seminal book “The Way Of The Superior Man,” he writes (and I’m paraphrasing) that a man’s purpose must come before his relationship for his life to work. This chapter (7 for those keeping score) changed my life. Getting clear on why I am here, what I am about, and how I can contribute to the world became priority number 1. This birthed my true calling and mission. And I included that message in my own book (Chapter 38 just so you know!).

Getting clear on why I am here, what I am about, and how I can contribute to the world became priority number 1.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is authenticity, passion, and purpose. My passion and purpose is inspiring individuals and groups to live authentic lives, and specifically in the arena of relationships. I also support individuals to live purposefully and authentically, to live their highest potential.

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

It all comes back to self. Self-love, self-respect, self-confidence, self-approval, self-support. No one else will do it for you until you do it for yourself.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

Choosing one experience? My first experience in a personal growth seminar almost 30 years ago changed my life, by opening me to discovering who I was, and learning that there was so much more to life and living. It was the first time I learned that I was lovable and able to express love for myself. And I learned that those I put on pedestals and made superior were no different than me.

Self-love, self-respect, self-confidence, self-approval, self-support. No one else will do it for you until you do it for yourself.

What is your proudest moment?

There are quite a few moments I am proud of, including speaking and leading an audience of 2,500 people and being loved for it, jumping out of a plane (while wearing a parachute of course), and of leaving home and moving 7,000 miles west to an unknown land known as California! Currently, my proudest moment is launching my work into the world – which included publishing my first book and launching my coaching program. It is a huge risk and a huge feeling of trust in myself and my message.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world?

Your message, your purpose, your reason to be here is important. You are necessary. I learned after a very circuitous route that I had to discover my gifts and live my passion sharing them. You must do the same, you are needed. I help others do that as part of my work. As we awaken, we must awaken others.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach from Illusions – “There’s a way to discover if your mission on Earth is complete. If you are still here, it isn’t!” Get busy and find out what your mission is and live it.

I love Barry’s message. You have to believe in yourself, believe in your mission or purpose – no one else is going to do it for you!  I too had the privilege of learning more about female and masculine energies, specifically related to my marriage, and it was a complete game-changer.

To learn more about Barry, visit his website or follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of his book, 50 Ways To Love Your Lover. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments, or reach out to Barry and let him know.

L’Occitane En Provence Visit

Sponsored Post 

L'Occitane Store in CityPlace

Earlier this week, I was invited to tour the L’Occitane CityPlace store. I was familiar with the brand, but I had never used their products before, so I was curious. I usually don’t respond to emails from PR companies, but this was right up my alley – beauty products from a reputable brand – sure, count me in!

When I arrived, I was greeted by the store manager, Dionne and another employee, Stephanie. They were both gracious hostesses, and proceeded to educate me on the history of the brand, their product lines, and upcoming events. I simply love connecting with people who are passionate about what they do, and these women were no exception – they knew their stuff!

When a guest walks in to any of their stores, they can opt to enjoy a mini facial, a hand massage, or a fragrance ritual – in which you are taught how to lay fragrances. 80% of their products are paraben-free, and they do not test on animals. I’m also happy to report they carry deodorants that do not contain aluminum – more on this topic in an upcoming post – but guys, that’s a big deal.

Here are other highlights from my visit:

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  1. When you receive a facial, they test skin’s hydration level using a hydration pen. I was relieved to discover my face was in the normal range.
  2. Did you know their best-selling product is their hand cream? One is sold every 3 seconds around the world!
  3. They just launched the Aromachologie Relaxing & Revitalizing Body Collection last week. The relaxing collection uses soothing lavender, perfect to use after a long day.
  4. On September 4th, all L’Occitane stores are hosting a Party in Provence event. The event includes specialty refreshments, complimentary beauty rituals, and a special gift with any $65 purchase.

The ladies at L’Occitane were kind enough to gift me a Divine Cream and an Essential Water toner. I began using them last night, and I must confess, I am obsessed!

I was pleased with everything L’Occitane had to offer, I am so glad I accepted their invitation. I will probably be using their products for a long-time to come, and will definitely be returning to stock up on some beauty essentials.

If you have a L’Occitane store near you, I suggest you stop by on September 4th and join their Party in Provence event. If you’re in the West Palm Beach area, stop by their CityPlace location or give them a call to book an appointment for a beauty ritual. Dionne or Stephanie can be reached at (561) 835-1361.

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I received promotional consideration such as gifts, samples, content, or other incentives related to the brand mentioned in this post. My review of the store, products, and overall experience is 100% honest. I will not mention or support a brand I do not like or believe in. 

The Photographer – Cool People I Know

kiki water truck

This series is all about sharing with you some of the cool people I know. The individuals you’ll meet here are truly special. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.

Meet Christine:

My name is Christine Johnson. I am a photographer, mother, traveller, and seeker of what genuinely makes me feel happy and at peace with myself and that which surrounds me.

What circumstances led you to your profession?

Sixteen years ago, I found myself in a place I would never have expected. I was pregnant, single, a little spoiled, and faced with the fact that was about to dig myself out of a very difficult reality. Before that, I had been a model for many years and did tons of different little jobs – all in search of my passion. I never found it until I was faced with the fact that I was about to become a mother with no husband, a truckload of debt, and no apparent options. I started shooting. I learned from my mentor, John Hall. He taught me that there were no short cuts. I listened, I made the same mistakes over and over, then out of the blue, I would get it. I did this for years. I always underpriced myself, so that I didn’t add the stress to an already stressful situation – I was not always sure of what I was doing. To my absolute surprise I paid off all my debt, juggled my son beautifully between my mom, sister and his dad, and became an in-demand photographer making more than I would have dreamed. All doing something I love!

At one stage you are the best, most important, most sought after, and then you wake up to discover that you just made way for the new best, most important, most sought after.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by so much. I look and listen as much as I can. I am constantly reminding myself that when I’m in a conversation, to really listen to what someone has to say.  It is super obvious when someone does the same, it’s a nice exchange.  Visual inspiration? I’m from Phoenix, and while I appreciate the desert, I live in a city where inspiration isn’t thrown at you at every corner. You have to look for it and I like that. It’s more work, but maybe more satisfying. I also love to travel and I do it often. I have learned to establish clients all over. I love moving around.

What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?

I have learned that there are cycles to everything. At one stage you are the best, most important, most sought after, and then you wake up to discover that you just made way for the new best, most important, most sought after. I’ve experienced it in my business, through getting older, and a ton of smaller equally significant ways. My goal is to embrace the change rather than fight it. It’s tough, not holding on to the old and embracing the new. That is something I really am working on at this moment.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The fear of the disease was far more intense than anything I have suffered physically.

Name one experience that has completely changed you.

In 2008, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The fear of the disease was far more intense than anything I have suffered physically. I spent a couple of years totally depressed and full of fear about the future. What would this mean for work? I’m single and probably would be forever, etc. Today, my priorities are so much different. I’m not even sure that in the past I had specifics I was working on. I was crazy busy, making lots of money, always in a rush. I don’t live like that anymore. I really do stop and smell the roses. By the grace of God, everything is working out. As I write, I am here in the Hamptons in New York, photographing families on the beach for a couple of weeks. I would never had guessed this opportunity would have presented itself. A friend said it perfectly…believe in the magic of the moment!

What is your proudest moment?

My proudest moment, or moments, all revolve around my son. He is fifteen now, and one of my favorite people on the planet. As most parents hope for, all I want is for him is to be happy and kind. When I see him laughing or holding the door open for someone, it genuinely makes my heart sing. When I was younger, I would have answered this with success I had at work – but the people you love are really what matters.

Everything you do will lead directly to what you are supposed to do. It’s about accepting that cleaning out a garbage can for someone else, will serve you in ways you cannot anticipate. You never know who is watching your performance, no matter how insignificant it feels.

What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world?

Absolutely everything you do will lead directly to what you are supposed to do. It’s about accepting that cleaning out a garbage can for someone else, will serve you in ways you cannot anticipate. You never know who is watching your performance, no matter how insignificant it feels. I didn’t find my way until my thirties, under challenged circumstances. I don’t get disappointed when a job doesn’t come through or someone doesn’t like me. I have figured out that I probably dodged a situation that wouldn’t be good for me financially, creatively, or emotionally. Almost every time I have done something for the money, I regretted  it. If a choice is only for the money, it is sort of a sell out.  In work, like dating, you attract what you like and when you force something, its a bad fit and it brings a lot of heartache. Always be humble, and you don’t have to apologize! :)

Mind-blown! So many takeaways, it’s hard to choose only a couple of sentences to place in quotes. I simply love everything she said about not selling out for money. Also, when she mentioned emptying a garbage can, and not knowing how that will serve you, I strongly agree with that. Sometimes you just have to let yourself be led – trust that the rest will be orchestrated on your behalf. Thank you so much, Christine!

To learn more about Christine, visit her website, follow her on Instagram or Facebook. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments, or reach out to Christine and let her know.

What’s In Your Bag, Nastassia?

Whats in your bag?

I’ve known Nastassia for over two years. We share similar interests – we dork out on cool outfits or accessories, awesome images of Friday Kahlo or Edie Sedgwick, and pop culture banter. She is someone whom I consider a friend. The funny thing is we’ve never met, and up until a week ago, I didn’t even know her name. You see, we’ve developed this amazing bond and friendship on Twitter and Instagram.

It’s simply crazy when I think about all of my friendships on social media – these friendships are real! To think I wouldn’t have some of these awesome women in my life if it weren’t for these networks.

But I digress. I happen to think Nastassia has great taste, so I thought it would be fun to see what’s in her bag. Here it is:

  1. Lanvin Happy flap bag
  2. Prada wallet
  3. Prada sunnies
  4. iPad Mini
  5. A copy of Porter magazine
  6. And a USB cord.

Check out Nastassia’s Tumblr or follow her on Twitter or Instagram to see her day to day musings.