Soulful Sunday: Life Lessons from Nate Berkus

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I have always liked Nate Berkus. He is adorable. He is talented. But never have I connected with Nate like I did when watching his 2 recent episodes of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. If you didn’t see it, you must!

Nate just moved way up on my list of favorite people much less favorite designers and maybe even fell into the category of spiritual teacher. I’m telling you he is one spiritual dude and I really had no idea how much our life’s philosophies overlapped.


Nate and I are the same age. He’ll be 42 in just a few days, me in four months. And though I have admired and adored him on Oprah and his own show and of course his work particularly when recently featured in Architectural Digest (his images from AD and his website are throughout this post), I just didn’t know how wise he is when it comes to life.

There were so many take-aways from Nate’s Super Soul appearances that I literally took notes. Yes, I’m a geek. My staff got a big chuckle, though they were not surprised, that I finished those two great Nate episodes on my DVR at 1:00 in the morning, with two full pages of ah-ha’s and life lessons.


One of the most lovely things Nate said is that “Everyday is the reason”, meaning every day is the reason to be happy, to live your dreams, to enjoy beautiful things. Everyday is the reason to love. Everyday is a gift.


And Nate spoke about how tragedy in his life has led him to find or create beauty in every moment. This was profound to me. It helped me to realize that in every moment, especially those that I am away from my daughter traveling for work, I need to make it count by creating beauty in EVERY SINGLE moment. If I am going to sacrifice time with her to do my life’s work, then don’t waste it. Not a single moment. Not being sad, being stressed or being less than present for those I am with…Not a moment. And then at home, the most simple things can be beautiful from doing the dishes to reading a book or having a cup of tea. Each moment is only as beautiful as you make it–it is our job to create beauty in our daily existence.

item2.rendition.slideshowWideHorizontal.nate-berkus-before-02Nate said about himself that he is “behind what (he is) doing 100%”–which to me meant he is 100% in the present and at peace in all that he is doing. He even said he was 100% behind his show going off the air–that it was a relief really because he had gained 20 pounds, was stressed, tired, and overwhelmed with it all. Seriously? I thought this only happened to us women, didn’t you?

This my friends was a HUGE Ah-ha for me as a designer and as a mom. The biggest disservice I can do to my daughter or myself is to not be 100% behind what I am doing. Otherwise, why bother? To travel and be away and not take care of myself and not make it really count is a bad idea. It is my duty to do my best, be my best, and be fully present and engaged with those I am with every day–in the moment. And if I can give 100% to what I am doing while I am working, then I will be able to be proud of my work and bring those blessings home to my daughter 100% when I return. And then I can be 100% present with her. WOW! All this from handsome Nate and there’s more…


I love that Nate also gave himself and all of us permission to love things, material things, and that loving them doesn’t mean we are materialistic. He said things are a part of us, because they remind us of people and moments that we love. So it isn’t wrong to cherish them. I just talked about this in a recent Tobi’s Book Club call with my Mastermind Group and E-coachers because I took the same idea away from Eckert Tolle’s great book A New Earth. Eckert says that we should even enjoy and cherish things while understanding that they are fleeting, so enjoy them while we can, but also that they do not define us—things are not who we are.


Nate’s thoughts that spirituality=art=beauty reminds me of a great talk this Spring by my designer friend Tim Campbell. Tim had the courage to stand up in front of a room in Berlin, Germany of many of the world’s top interior designers and say that he often designs purely for beauty. And that beauty matters. Beauty is important. Beauty makes life better. I think he and Nate share this amazing philosophy and are unapologetic about it. It is not superficial to value beauty. Life is Beautiful.


So much of Nate’s life story is defined by the loss of his true love in the Tsunami of 2004. And since I believe everything, even things that seem horrific at the time, happen for a reason it is amazing to see the “why” behind what happened to Nate. Nate and Oprah put the idea of death and it’s purpose so beautifully—they said “When the soul is done, when it has done its job, it moves on”—but in that moving on, our memories and experiences with the special person give us the strength to be what they would want us to be. WOW! In the passing of those we love comes the strength and even a presence in us that allows us to be all that person would want us to be. What a gift!


When I was recently at an amazing experience with Mastin Kipp, author of The Daily Love, he said “Imagine the people you love (dead or alive) walking into the room right now and saying all the things you need them to say about you” for you to be liberated from your self-doubt. So I envisioned my parents walking into the room and telling me all the things I think they are proud of that I have done, so many of which they have already really told me. And though my parents are still young and healthy and a big part of my life, I realized what a beautiful tool this could be to help us keep going when those we love are no longer here with us. We can still “hear” the loving things they would say about us. Amazing, right?


So ultimately Nate’s message was this…Life is short so “Amp up the volume and get busy living!”


And Nate and Oprah pointed out one of their favorite lessons from both Deepak Chopra and Eckert Tolle which is that “Life will never be what it was. If you resist the reality of what is, that’s where all the suffering comes from.”  So ask yourself…Are you resisting the reality of what IS in your life– your marriage, your career, your finances? Are you hoping that things will go back to the way they used to be? Resisting what is—your reality—is what causes the most suffering. Poignant, isn’t it.


And you know how just yesterday I spoke of Oprah’s question about “What is the gift you are supposed to bring to the world?”. Well Nate spoke of his duty to allow “Creativity to go through” him. He says it is his job to be creative, even when he doesn’t feel like it. It is his duty to bring beauty to the world. I love that!


And finally I felt connected to Nate because of many of his answers to Oprah’s final questions like “Where are you most at home?” He said, “I am comfortable and at home in every space in my house”.  And I so relate. I love my home. And I am working up the courage to leave my current home and move to a new one. Which for me, isn’t easy. But I will create a whole new place that I love and will soon feel at home in our new house. (Nate’s image above from Elle Decor)


When asked where is his sacred space? “The Sea”, he said. Me too, Nate…me too!

Happy Sunday Y’all!


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p.s. Speaking of Oprah, don’t forget to watch Oprah and Bishop T.D. Jakes tonight on Life Class and next week too. I was in the audience of the taping of these two episodes in Dallas last week and trust me, it was life-changing.


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9 Responses to Soulful Sunday: Life Lessons from Nate Berkus

  1. paige ward says:

    Two of my favorites, too! Love that burnt gold tête-à-tête ~ would love to sit & “tawk” with him in that gorgeous room. THX!

  2. Franki says:

    Validation is a “good thing.” franki

  3. Jennifer says:

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Amen and amen! Nate’s episode of Super Soul Sunday is my hands down favorite and I saved it on my DVR to re-watch again and again until I finally cancelled my cable subscription awhile back. So much of what Nate said resonated with me and I was so impressed with his transparency and candor. I find that when people get to that level, they often hold back but his experiences are so encouraging to hear! I love that he could be honest about the talk show, too…and I could go on and on about this episode! I too am a note-taker & I have about 3 pages of good stuff from the two of them. I always think about that piece on suffering and if I’m going through what I perceive to be a tough space I remember, I’m only feeling this way because I’m longing for what is not instead of accepting what is (and this, btw, is great info as it pertains to dating, too! lol). Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tobi…loved this.

  5. MaryBeth says:

    I have loved Nate since the first appearance on Oprah. I love his designs, he always seems to have a slow motion purpose to everything he says and does. Maybe it is his spirituality coming thru maybe not but what ever it is I want some of it. Self assure with out arrogance. Nothing, not a pencil or a sofa seems to be placed just for the sake of fill, they all have a purpose and a beautiful purpose at that.
    I didn’t see the show, I will have to see if I can dvr them or maybe hulu.
    Thank you for the post. It was 100% wonderful.

  6. Karen T. says:

    I love Nate’s designs, and agree with his statements and philosophy. I saw the Life Class show with Oprah and T.D. Jakes. How profound and insightful! I can hardly wait until next week.

  7. Kriste says:

    I’m glad I looked you up Tobi! Your work is amazing and this post was insightful and very well written…I’m in awe of how centered and authentic Nate is. It was nice chatting with you on the plane to Dallas for Lifeclass, and yes what a life changing experience that was. Thanks!

  8. Susan says:

    What a great post! Thank you Tobi, I love Nate and Oprah but I don’t watch Super Soul Sunday. Loved so many things you shared here. I recently lost my Mom and was very close to her. She will always be with me and her love, pride and words of encouragement come to me often. I am not going to feel any guilt about loving my things anymore, they are meaningful and hold memories and experiences. Also love ‘today is the reason,’ and doing whatever you do 100%. I am a mom of daughters and whatever I do that takes me away from them should be done with my whole heart. Again, thank you and all the best with your move!

  9. Real says:

    […] I get asked how I learned to cook.  Here’s the reason: I grew up on a dairy farm.  I hated (understatement of the lifetime) milking cows, so I dug in my heels and bawled like a baby.  My parents finally gave up and gave me another assignment instead: cooking lunch.  I also received a challenge to turn cooking dinner into a game, not drudgery.  So I’ve done that. It’s so much easier to cook dinner everyday when you make it different or fun, instead of dreading it.  Go in 100%, and life gets easier.  Another must read: Life Lessons From Nate Berkus by Tobi Fairley. […]