O’ahu, Hawaii Recap: Aloha to Renewal

Your boho Barbie is back from an incredible visit to O’ahu, Hawaii. Some work, a lot of play, and true relaxation, renewal, and joy! Don’t miss my hot tips from locals at the end (because food is my love language).

Renewal of Energy to Continue the Mission

The Mission

The first part of my trip was a leadership retreat!

One of the most inspiring part of the trip was with Hawaiian natives and residents: Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environments and and sponsor of the Hawaii sunscreen bill; Representative Darius Kila, House Committee on Finance member, environmental champion and sponsor of the various environmental-protective bills; and Lisa Bishop, President of the Friends of Hanuama Bay and nonprofit sponsor of the Hawaii sunscreen bill. The work they are doing for their people is unwavering and so inspiring, and what a gift that the work I do has contributed in any small way to protecting people and planet. As was said, “It gets me going when I’m tired because it reminds me time is finite and we need to appreciate what we have and push for the change we want to see.

watch or listen to an excerpt that hit me in the feels here

Additionally, while I don’t like idolizing any human or thing, but Gregg Renfrew is back as our CEO. Her excitement to be back and take our mission to the next level is inspiring. As was mentioned on an incredible mission panel “you can’t go green without green”. I’m so proud to partner with a company using commerce as an engine for change.

The energy

The final evening of our retreat was a great way to celebrate an incredible accomplishment last year: we helped support the passage of four health-protective laws—the most we’ve ever helped pass in one year. And, to dream big for what’s ahead – into the future with the vastness of a star-filled sky above us.

The last night of the leadership retreat ended with a dinner under the stars with a really cool telescope for some unreal views.

And while the ambiance is always stunning, the company of like-minded community is always the best part! I am so grateful to have a seat at the table of this retreat and advocate for you and your communities. Together we have sent 236,000 emails to members of Congress – and change is finally starting to happen. It is because of the energy of incredible women (and a few good men folk) like you and the friends I love seeing at these events that we’ve been able to make such a difference!

In 2023 alone,   I wrote a 2023 health protective legislative recap here and Forbes recently wrote an article detailing the work we’ve been doing. I truly can’t wait to see what we can do (with all of you!) in 2024!

Vow Renewal

You can’t go to Hawaii without doing more than work, so Matt joined me mid-trip to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. It’s the first real vacation we’ve taken (with each other) in at least 5 years with just the two of us!

Matt had a terrible travel day to meet me in Hawaii with over 26 hours of travel! But it was worth the wait…

The surprise

After some rest, a day date, and some relaxation, I was overcome with the magic of the moment and surprised Matt with a spontaneous “proposal”! But at first he had no idea what he was walking into.

The ceremony, like our life, was full of laughter and tears.

My vows: The past 7 years pushed us and changed the deepening of our love, from losing a brother who lived with us to adding a family member during a global pandemic, if we can get through that, we can do anything together. Because we are surrounded by SO much love here, I wanted to take the moment to memorialize this time in our lives.

His vows: We have changed and grown so much together, I can’t wait to spend the next 22 year with you!

I can’t even describe the magic of Madi Rowan offering to be the photographer, Audrey Vargas enthusiastically offering to officiate, Becca Roses gathering up all the “bridesmaids” and finding a bouquet. I briefly looked out during the vows and saw so many people cheering us on. We felt so loved!

We also opened cards that attendees wrote to us at our 10 year vow renewal! It was such a special thing to do, to remember how much our lives have grown. I’m so glad we thought of that years ago!

Renewal of Joy & Friendships

Our lives have changed so much over the last decade! The work we put out into the world has changed a lot from our “paleo days”. But while both ours and Russ Crandall’s content looks very different, our friendship is just as wonderful! And, how lucky they let us crash at their place after our fancy pants resort stay, for some “real” Hawaiian exploration with locals!

We were very close with Russ (formally of The Domestic Man, now Retro Game Corp) and Janey when they used to be local,  but living in Hawaii the distance and time change makes that hard to maintain. Enjoying time with them made it feel like no time had passed!

Kualoa Ranch

They suggested we explore Kualoa Ranch; we opted for a UTV and it was the perfect way to view Hawaii’s lush landscape! The weather was amazing and the views were unbelievable!

We saw countless movie site backlots (like Jurassic Park)!
But really, the views were the best part.

The experience was an incredible journey, and I’m so grateful to have a job I love, a mission I believe in, a partner to go through all the part of life with, and friends who support and encourage of along the way. Here’s to a year full of laughter, adventure, and fighting the good fight!

We also did a day of education and local food with Russ & Janey, visiting the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace. Heartbreakingly, so many colonizers took over and utilized Hawaii for their own purposes. I definitely think any O’ahu vacation needs to include stops to learn more. It definitely helped me appreciate, respect the island(s) and their people even more.

Joy Through Food

And if you made it this far, here’s a local hot tip: the best places to get Poke and Shaved Ice (which you must do daily) are Food Land (yes a grocery store – but trust me), and Waiola Shaved Ice. If you’re not a drinker, MonkeyPod has the best mocktail menu I’ve ever seen – the MaiTai was UNREAL! Skip the garlic shrimp and instead check out Helena’s Hawaiian Food, it’s is a MUST!


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