Q & A with Mom and Revel Designs Owner Vashelle Nino


Vashelle Nino is a mom friend I met while she was living in Hawaii. She is genuine, kind and super creative. In a word, inspiring. I’ve been stalking her jewelry on Facebook and had to know what inspired her. Here’s what she had to say about her business Revel Designs and life in Maryland with her husband, three kids and “feisty pooch.”

How long have you wanted to create jewelry?

I have been creating jewelry for myself for as long as I could remember. It is sort of the perfect hobby for me for a number of reasons. First, since I have always been thrifty and not one to spend a lot of money on myself and my appearance, I use accessories as an inexpensive way to look put together. I truly believe it is one of the cheapest ways to feel good about what you’re wearing! Second, I have always liked creating and working with my hands. Beading and braiding and working with wire and pliers is like therapy to me. It has a focused, calming effect the same way that yoga and meditation does. Third, it is one of the only things I am good at! Ha! I love creating just about anything, but I don’t think anyone would purchase one of my paintings.

How did you first learn how to do it?

I taught myself jewelry-making techniques long ago just by getting in there and trying it! I’m still learning so much, and there is actually a lot I have yet to learn. Recently, a friend made a custom order with materials I had never used before—real gold and real Tahitian pearls. It was so nervous making this fine jewelry, and I had to do a little bit of research on the materials beforehand. I enjoyed the process and am always eager to learn new things.

What’s your inspiration?

Cost of materials is what drives and inspires me 80% of the time. I love shopping for beautiful beads, stones, charms and accents when they are at their best price. It allows me to sell my finished pieces at a reasonable price. Again, I believe great style can be achieved through accessories—affordable ones at that—and I love being able to contribute to that. The other 20% is when I see materials so beautiful I cannot resist using them in a piece. I get an image in my mind of how I want to use it and I go for it.

That is my creative process.

But what inspired me to open my own jewelry shop to begin with is this: I met a lovely lady in 2014, back when I was living in Hawaii. Her name is, ahem, Brandi. She was a fairly new mom, a kindred spirit, and I saw her striving to live an inspired life doing what she was passionate about. It made me ponder, what do I love? What am I passionate about? And why am I not doing it? It took a while for me to figure it out. I had just had my third child and was about to embark on a cross-country move from Hawaii to Maryland. I did not have the time or stability to focus on that sort of thing right away, but once we settled down in our new home I was able to reflect on what I was good at creatively. I will always be thankful for the sweet serendipity that brought Brandi into my life and what her presence did for me.

Did you have any fears or challenges about creating it initially? If so, what helped you get through these obstacles?

I cannot say I was fearful of anything. I have failed enough times at other things not to care about my ego or embarking on another failure. I had gotten to the point of thinking what is there to lose so I pretty much jumped in!
My biggest challenge when it comes to creating is time. As a mother of three, spanning an age group of 2 to 14 years old, I have very little time set aside to create. I often pine for there to be more hours in a day, but don’t we all!

I often hear from friends, “How do you do it all so effortlessly?”

And I often reply: “I don’t! Would you like to see the mold in my shower, or the three baskets of unfolded laundry hiding in my laundry room, or the Easter wreath still on my front door even though it’s October?”

I think the idea of having it all or doing it all is an illusion. We parents are busier than ever—and I don’t believe that is a good thing. Did your mom do with you as much as you are doing with your kid(s)? Was she as sleep-deprived? Did she worry about the 762,983 things the media tells us to worry about? I doubt it. And I think we should let some things go for the sake of our own sanity.

What do you see for your creative future?

I hope I will still be creating jewelry and perhaps some other things. My love for creating is REAL. I am happiest when I am using my hands and getting messy. I love colors and shapes and textures and all mediums, and I have referred to myself many times as a “sensory whore.” Ha!

I hope to continue selling on Etsy, as it is a comprehensive, reliable and credible platform for my shop. I have had nothing short of a great experience using it.

I also hope to do more craft shows in my area. Incredibly, I moved to the most appropriate place to embark on my new creative venture, as the community in Harford County, Maryland celebrates and values local art and business. The opportunities to showcase my work are plentiful.

What are you most proud of thus far?

Sticking with it and not giving up too soon. My family and friends were the bulk of my customers at the beginning. While I am immensely appreciative of their support I knew they did not sign up to support my business forever, nor did I expect them to! So I remember how excited I was when I got my very first non-family/friend customer through Etsy. I was like What! Someone found my shop, actually liked something and bought it! It was an incredible feeling. And even though I’ve had many non-friend/family customers since that first one, I still get very giddy and humbled. I love the transaction process, knowing that many Etsy shoppers believe in supporting artisans. Even though it is a modernized process using technology and postal services, it gives me the wonderful feeling of being a craftsman vending at an exotic bazaar. I love that.

vashelle vashelle-ninohttps://www.etsy.com/shop/RevelDesignsbyShelly
Instagram: @revel.designs.by.shelly

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How a Freelance Writer Created Her Own Successful Musical in Hawaii

Marcia Money Talks Laugh Hi RezI first learned about Marcia Zina Mager in the most unlikely of places. Craigslist. It was last year and I was trolling the site for writing jobs when I came across her writing coaching services ad and I was intrigued, so much so that I asked if she could contribute to my writing blog. The result was this empowering post on The Power of Writing Badly.

After that, I hadn’t heard from her until a few weeks ago when I read a Midweek article about a play she was doing with her writing partner Lucie Lynch, an international singer and songwriter. She’s been so successfully busy since I last contacted her, I had to reach out to her again.

I wanted to know what fueled her, what sustained her through the ups and downs of her creative life and how she was able to accomplish so much so quickly. Most people talk about what they’d like to do, but never do it. But Mager managed to surprise me again! From studying with the likes of Alan Arkin and writing and performing in her own show, she talks about her successes, challenges and the things that continue to fuel her despite the obstacles every courageous creator faces. As you’ll read, her career has been filled with twists and turns that make for a good fiction story. I can’t wait for you to read it below!

TIB Q: What were you doing before you moved to Hawaii?

MM A: I was a freelance writer living in Manhattan.  I was also teaching my national writing seminar series, Write From The Heart.  I was also working as a volunteer in the marine mammal department of the New York Aquarium because of a burning childhood love of dolphins!

Q: What have been your recent successes and accomplishments?

A: I’d go back 10 years when destiny led me to meet Academy Award winning actor Alan Arkin. I took an improvisation class with him at UH and it launched me into an exciting unexpected phase of my career. Getting up and “performing.”  After decades of writing books, articles, etc. I really wanted a change. I was so tired of sitting alone in front of a computer. I wanted to bring my words up on a stage, so to speak.  That fateful meeting opened so many doors.  After studying improv with Alan and other teachers, I studied for 4 years with Mick & Tess Pulver, from Breakthrough Performance, which was all about breaking through your fears of singing in front of an audience! That led me to writing a one-woman show, Who The Bleep Am I, that included original songs.  And THAT project led me to my current writing/creative partner, international singer/songwriter Lucie Lynch from Germany.  Meeting Lucie has completely changed my life and rocketed my career into a new stratosphere.

Q: What hurdles and obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?

A: Lots – and they continue. I never finished college, never took a writing course! And I’m now 61 years old. So I have lots of inner voices telling me I’m too old to dream those big dreams, that’s it’s too late for me, blah blah blah! My whole life I’ve struggled with insecurity and fears and self-worth issues. But I’ve also come to see that I’m not unique, that this powerful inner struggle is absolutely part of the human experience. And I’ve always been able to find the courage to be honest with myself and others about it. Also, I seem to have this inner fire, this drive since childhood, this need to express myself in an authentic, creative way; a deep desire to move my audience, to inspire them. That’s what ultimately keeps me going.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to create, “Money Talks” with Lucie?

A: Crazy stuff! The extraordinary back story is that 24 years ago I moved to Hawaii from New York City. I was overwhelmed by the beauty here. Then a weird thing happened. The trees and flowers started talking to me. I wrote it all down. It was all about nature spirits and their wisdom to help humanity. In 3 weeks I had a manuscript but I was so embarrassed that I shoved it in a drawer. Seven years later I sent the manuscript to a British publisher who loved it. The book became a best-seller in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Believing in Faeries: A manual for grown-ups. Now let’s go to Lucie’s backstory. 15 years ago her mother gave her a book, in German, titled Das Feen Geschenk.  It was a book about nature spirits. It changed her life. She carried the book with her everywhere. Then she moved to Hawaii. Then Lucie and I met for the first time, 3 years ago, at Mocha Java Café in Honolulu through Mick Pulver from Breakthrough Performance. I was so excited to be meeting someone from Germany that I bought along the German version of my faery book. When I showed it to Lucie she turned pale. My book was Das Feen Geschenk! The book she’d carried with her for years. At that moment we knew we were destined to do something together. Lucie was a performer and singer, so we began talking about creating a 2-woman show together. We both discovered that we were struggling artists, trying to make it in Hawaii. So we decided to write a 2 woman musical show about that. But as we worked on it, it felt too limiting, so we decided to pretend we had a million dollar budget and write it as a Broadway musical. That exploded the story and our imaginations. We worked on the Broadway musical, KaChing, for 2 years. We wrote original music and lyrics, connected with a professional composer from Los Angeles. But we began to get frustrated, hitting walls, etc. The process was taking so long. So we decided, hey, let’s write a Ted Talk about our struggle writing this musical. But then we discovered that Ted Talks tend to be 18 minutes long. So then we found out that there was an upcoming Fringe Festival in Oahu where shows could be 60 minutes long. And we made the decision to enter the festival even though we had no script! We wrote MONEY TALKS in less than 90 days, including more original music, lyrics, even some choreography! We found a talented keyboard player to work with us.  But we had no idea if the show was really good because we had never let anyone see it. Not even our families. So we scheduled a dress rehearsal a few weeks before our debut at the Fringe Festival, for the folks at Habilitat, a residential drug rehab community in Kaneohe. The audience was about 100 male, Pacific islander recovering drug addicts! We were terrified they wouldn’t like it. We received a standing ovation! The men were moved to tears. Our families were blown away. That’s when we knew we were on to something.

Q: What inspires you to create new ideas and projects?

A: My collaboration with Lucie is a blessing. We are both powerhouses of creativity and inspiration. We feed off of each other, so we have no shortage of ideas. In fact, despite my money issues, I’ve always felt like I was a billionaire when it came to creativity! In the end, though, what inspires me to continue creating is this inner fire, this passion to make a difference in people’s lives; to lift people to their feet; to touch their hearts.

Q: What advice do you have for people who want to accomplish their dreams?

A: Probably one of the most important pieces of advice, as simplistic as it sounds, is to never ever ever ever ever ever give up! It’s okay to feel down, depressed, to momentarily give up, to crawl under your covers. Use that struggle to become more self-aware, to deepen yourself, to discover more levels of kindness and self-compassion. It was when Lucie and I wanted to give up on our big musical that we birthed our 2 woman MONEY TALKS musical that’s been so successful. And now we’re reinspired to go back to KaChing and finish it. And take it to Broadway! Everything that happens to you can become mulch for your creative garden. If it’s really an authentic dream, then it’s like a living being, a delicate, beautiful flower, that desperately needs your attention, your love, your nourishment. If you really have a dream that fires your soul, that lights up your heart, keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And always remember to be kind to yourself.

Marcia’s upcoming public performance of MONEY TALKS: But What the Hell is it Saying? will take place on Saturday, November 28, 7 PM, at the famous private entertainment venue in Kaimuki.  For details visit her website www.ilovemoneytalks.com.
MZM crop smileMarcia Zina Mager is an author, journalist, performer, award-winning poet & mixed-media artist. Her fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into ten languages. Her international best-seller, BELEIVING IN FAERIES: A Manual for Grown-ups, is now available as an e-book, along with the trendy 31 Words to Create an Organized Life. Listen to an excerpt from her latest book THE HIDDEN KINGDOM: Discovering the Divine Presence in Nature. Marcia is the founder of the original Write From The Heart, a national seminar series on creativity taught all across North America. She studied improvisation with  Academy award-winning actor, Alan Arkin which brought new energy to her writing career. This past November Marcia guest starred on Hawaii Five-O. She brings her diverse creative skills as The Write Coach to anyone with a desire to express themselves.            Find out more at www.321write.com.
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5 Insights from Deepak Chopra

Oprah's The Life You Want Tour

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Although I fret, gripe and grumble about the insignificant things in my life, the humid weather, too much work, not enough freedom, I’m always conscious of how lucky I am to be able to grumble about such things. In fact, if I were to spend even a minute consumed in how much I actually have to be grateful for, I would turn into a big soppy mess.

One of things I’m currently still grateful for is Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend tour to San Jose. I’m still reeling from the high from being the presence of her and her spiritual teachers including Deepak Chopra. Speaking of which, he shared 5 life changing lessons that I’m excited to share with you here.

1) Look at the world as the reflection of your inner state.

Things that set off a fire in you, good or bad, are personal. When something someone says sparks anger or passion, take time and ask yourself, “Why?” When you figure out that whatever is going on outside is a reflection of your own inner world, he says, your world will shift.

2) Understand the essence of relationships.

There are people we like and people we don’t like. Chopra says that the things that bug us about the people we dislike always has to do with something we need to recognize within our self.

3) Make sure your intention is not just for yourself, but for the common good. Not just you, but us. 

How can your dreams serve others? How can what you most want for yourself, also help the world? This, Chopra and Oprah, says is the key to true happiness, success and fulfillment.

4) Increase your energy through love and compassion.

The fastest way to change your mood, health and your life is by raising your energy through joy and compassion.

5) Free yourself from emotional toxicity.

When you feel separate, and isolated, that’s a sign you’re disconnected from source (e.g. God, universe, nature, spirituality, etc.). In a profound statement, he reveals what most negative emotions really mean:

Fear – is anticipation of the future

Anger – remnants from the past

Hostility – desire to get even and the most dangerous emotion

Guilt/shame – directing fear onto one’s self

Depression – depletion resulting form all of the above

Presence and connection, he says are key to healing all types of negative energy.


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Inspiring People: Q&A with Yoga Teacher Amanda Webster

Amanda Sunrise header image

People who pursue their passion inspire me. With their courage, determination and faith, they’re blazing the trail for other dreamers to follow their dreams.

In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a celebrity designer, successful author, Olympic medalist, and my favorite design bloggers.

Today, I’m featuring someone who I’ve admired for a long time. Amanda Webster is a yoga teacher and co-owner of Yoga Adventures Hawaii in Kailua, a business that offers yoga workshops and retreats. As a student in several of her classes,  I know she lives by what she teaches and I’m honored to have her here sharing her wisdom and path she took to follow her dreams.

Amanda Webster

Please describe what you do.

I teach heart-centered yoga classes, workshops and private sessions that range from upbeat to serious, restorative to powerful, and everything-in-between. I believe yoga helps us to identify the intentions, habits, and limiting beliefs about ourselves and others, and to recognize the value of consistent self-inquiry, growth, and expansion of universal awareness both on the mat and off. My strength as a teacher is building community and meeting people where they are by teaching from the idea of “vinyasa krama,” the breakdown of yoga into manageable steps to explore the gradual unfolding of the self in a way that reflects the intelligent unfolding of nature’s inherent rhythm. This is an awareness that benefits you off of the mat, too, which is where the real power of yoga exists.

I am also fortunate to co-host yoga retreats with my business partner Michael Graney. We make a great team, inspiring people to expand their boundaries and constricting beliefs, and to recognize how yoga can improve their welfare beyond the yoga mat!

Can you describe the journey that led you to where you are today?

I always felt a quiet pull towards yoga, but growing up in the Midwest, yoga was something that was just catching on in the celebrity realm. In college I ended up switching majors from pre-medicine to community health to behavioral psychology, eventually working as a behavioral therapist and case manager for autistic children. In 2008, after moving to Hawaii from Los Angeles and giving birth to my oldest son, I took my first class at the Windward YMCA and IMMEDIATELY knew yoga was “my thing.”

As an introvert, I hated speaking in front of people, though I recognized that this work would require me to make many essential shifts that could only make my life and relationships better. I often joke that diving deep into the yoga practice is like jumping into a rabbit hole, meaning it is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and once you jump there is no turning back! For me, as a student and teacher of yoga, that exploration is the journey….

What was the greatest obstacle/challenge that you had to overcome to get to where you are?

The most challenging part of this work, both past-tense and currently, is finding a balance between the finances/marketing side of yoga as a business and the philosophical components of yoga. This includes marketing events without feeling like a salesperson and earning enough money to make ends meet while allowing yoga to be accessible and affordable to your clients…all while upholding the heart of yoga as a non-dogmatic practice characterized by self-inquiry and unity through adherence to the eight limbs of yoga.

It’s like this: Yoga students often see great value in their practices and have much appreciation for their teachers. An amazing yoga experience is like the satisfaction you feel after eating a delicious, well-prepared 5-star meal. However, students would prefer to only pay fast-food prices for that meal, they only want consider the final product. For teachers, often the work is the reward, but we cannot sustain the 5-star quality on a fast food budget. Many of us who teach yoga as a living are like the fast-food employees making minimum wage and struggling to cover basic living expenses; we need to be paid for the work that goes into preparation in addition to the final product.

Basically, if yoga (or anything) is such an important component of your life, the amount of resources you devote to the development of your practice should proportionally reflect the value it has on your life. It feels taboo to even approach this subject, but there are some really inspirational people in the wellness industry beginning to intelligently bridge that gap. I’m still working on it!

What do you love most about you’re doing?

When we establish a practice (such as yoga) that routinely brings us to the state of connectivity through quiet mind, we see, speak, act and relate with more awareness, intention and love…experiencing this huge shift as an individual and developing a community as people practice together, THAT is why I love what I am doing.

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A True American Dream Fulfilled

I love having the opportunity to write about truly inspiring people. Small business owner Elsa Talavera is one of them. She’s not only uber successful, but she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve met:

“Elsa Talavera has a knack for achieving what she sets her mind to. Born and raised in the Philippines, she says, “When I was there, I used to think, ‘I’d love to go to America.’ ” In 1980, following her grandparents’ lead, she made a life-changing decision to immigrate to Hawaii.

She worked as a registered nurse on Oahu for several years before she accomplished her next dream: owning her own business. But it was no small feat.”

You can read more about her on the Hawaii Business magazine website here

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Designing Your Life With Expert Kelli Ellis


KelliEllisHSA few weeks ago, I received 2 emails that made me literally jump for joy. This was one of them. HGTV, TLC, and Bravo featured designer Kelli Ellis contacted me about her recently penned book on design inspiration. Do I Look Skinny in this House? How to feel great in your home using Design Psychology is set to release today on Amazon. She took time out to share some of ideas on how design can inspire your life. I’m so excited to have her here. Thanks Kelli!

The Inspiring Bee: If you believe a person’s home can be source of inspiration and creativity, can your home do the opposite? Can it be uninspiring and be un-motivating?

Kelli Ellis: Your home can absolutely “hold you down”… Imagine a room in your home that you basically walk by and do not really enjoy. Now, think about how that room makes you “feel” ..”Uninspired,” “blah,” or “it’s pretty but not functional.” Now imagine if every room in your home or the rooms that require energy, felt that same way. Can you imagine waking in a bedroom that is unrestful, working in a room that is a mess and dysfunctional, cooking in a room without the appliances you need? If you do not have the 3 F’s; function, flow and feel ..your rooms are holding you down. In simple terms, rooms that lack the 3 F’s are like computers that are 10 years old…Time wasting, energy suckers!

TIB: Can where you live bring more meaning into your life?

KE: Ask any person mountain or beach? view or pool? city or suburb? The visceral reaction one gives is based on a “gut feeling.” That gut is our internalized in our nervous system that tells us when we fight or fly and how we will react to most scenarios. If we do not honor our “gut feelings” we are wasting our time and energy trying to “feel” right and comfortable. Everyone is different but it is important to honor yourself and each other when deciding where to live.

TIB: What small things can a creative professional or someone who wants to be more creative do to invite inspiration and creativity into their home?

KE: First, eliminate clutter so you can find a comfortable place to find inspiration. You notice when you are on vacation and you feel revived, inspired, and relaxed. That feeling comes from being out of your everyday. Try to recreate that same feeling at home by clearing the visual clutter away and transforming a space to make it look new. Even a small corner in your home that you can claim to find some inspiration, is valuable.

Thanks so much Kelli!

{P.S. I’ll be interviewing her again soon with home office inspiration for small business owners and entrepreneurs on the Intuit Small Business blog.}

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People Who Inspire Me

2013 has already started with a few unexpected surprises.

One started with this little comment I wrote for O magazine. It was the second Q&A comment that got selected in the past few years only this time I was writing from Kailua instead of San Jose. And that’s not the only thing that was different. The first piece got a sweet compliment from my mom who generously bought a copy. But not much else.

This time, however, I was overwhelmingly surprised.

When it got published, I didn’t even know it made it to the January issue. In Hawaii, magazines take longer since they got to come all this way to a little island. It was the comment from a stranger, someone named Jan who left me this comment on my writing site:

“I am reading the current “O” mag and if you are the Brandi-Ann on page 20, I’d just like to say that your wish for a superpower that would allow you to respond to any situation with complete compassion had me saying “YES”, that’s the one I have been looking for also. Thanks for putting it so beautifully.”

The idea that this person took the time out to find me on the internet to leave me a note like that brought tears to my eyes. It meant that someone actually read what I wrote. But not just that. It meant that someone got what I was trying to say and was affected by it. As a writer, you couldn’t ask for a better response. I was so grateful for Jan, the random stranger who made my day!

And then yesterday, I got another love bomb. A personal card came to me via snail mail. It was written by a woman who also read my short letter. She wrote about how reading it was an “ah ha” moment for her and how it changed the way she saw her business. This was my favorite part:

Thank you card thank you card inside

“Thank you for the courage to be open enough to share with the rest of the world your innermost thoughts…Thank you again for helping change my life!”

I don’t know if the short paragraph I compiled for O really had that much of an impact on the lives of these two women. But I know this for sure. Their letters changed my life. I wish I could thank them the way they took the time to thank me. It reminded me why I write and it inspired me to keep going.

Has anyone inspired you lately?

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