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.