This is 26.

My hubby took me to Hawaii for my 26th birthday. It was my first time in Hawaii, and his first time traveling to the island of Oahu, so it was a “first time” for the both of us. We were originally planning a luxurious trip to Turks & Caicos with my family, that had to be postponed due to heartbreaking hurricanes. I was sad, so my husband told me to stop moping around and chose Hawaii as our next destination, so two weeks before my birthday we booked tickets and got to packing. This trip was especially needed to distract me from well…the obvious. I was turning 26. But that’s a whole other story, for a whole other post.

Anyways, as soon as we booked our trip, I jumped on Pinterest and got to planning. And next thing I knew an Infinity Coup, driven by my friend, Julio, pulled up at the curbside of the Honolulu Airport, ready to whisk us away to the island life. When we made it to our hotel, I was shocked. It was so much better than the pictures online! Now, remember, we booked this trip AFTER we paid for our T&C trip, so we planned to ball on a budget, a small budget, might I add. But hey, this hotel, Aqua Aloha Surf, even has a spa and a very cute and modern lobby, oh and did I mention FREE continental breakfast, that actually tasted good? I could seriously get used to balling on a budget, and probably should get used to it, so that one day it’s not my only option.

 After we got settled in, we immediately hit the Waikiki beach. And let me just say that it had me questioning my whole life. Have I ever even seen real sand? Is this real sand? Who’s lying to me? The Oregon Coast, or Oahu? The sand was so soft, I still can’t really wrap my mind around calling it sand. So for now I’ll say “substance”. My feet got lost in the substance every time I took a step. The substance was so white and so fine, I spent a good 20 minutes sitting there playing in it letting it fall through my fingers. All I was missing was my pink bucket and lime green shovel that I left on the Oregon Coast 15 years ago.

Throughout the week we spent any moment of daylight out and about exploring, just the way I like it. From being at the beach, to snorkeling, eating lots of tasty food and walking around a ton, we saw a lot. We hiked to the top of Koko head, and let me just say, it was horribly wonderful. Let me explain. I am pretty sure I complained the entire time, like, the entire way up and the entire way down. And I would like to consider myself a hiker, I was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific NorthWest, but man was it rough! Now, after all my complaining I am still going to tell you that if you have the option to go on the hike, I suggest that you go ahead and just do it! Why? Because why not? It’s an adventure that you might not get another opportunity to go on. And at 26, I am all about seizing the moment and taking in as many adventures as I can. I will warn you that your legs will feel like jello afterwards, and it will be hard to walk in stilettos the next day, but who cares! And if you’re ditzy, you might have a sunburned scalp because you remembered to put sunscreen on every bit of skin but your scalp! Oh and lastly, I will warn you that your breath will be taken away by the gorgeous beauty once you reach the top. The view of the Hawaiian beaches and blue ocean will stun you. It will seem unreal, but it is real, just like the mighty Lord who created these breath-taking views!

We spent my actual birthday touring the North Shore, we searched for turtles at Turtle bay and “swam” in the Waimea Bay water fall, after we walked through a beautiful botanical garden. During our walk through the garden I saw flowers and trees that I never even knew existed. It was as if they were hand sculpted by Christ himself... because they were!  We ended our North Shore adventure by taking a tour of the Dole Pineapple plantation. And just like they say, "money doesn't grow on trees", apparently pineapples don't either. Did you know that??? I didn't! At the Dole Plantation we got their famous Dole whip ice cream, I liked it, my husband loved it. And preceded to talk about it for the rest of the trip. It was awesome because after going there we noticed a little shop next to Waikiki Beach that actually had a soft serve machine that sold the famous Dole Whip, so he got some every day for the rest of the trip.

My husband and mom teamed up to plan a really special birthday dinner for me at the lovely Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Even 2500 miles away, she found a way to be a part of my special day. And I am not sure if it was because I got to devour a pound of King crab legs, or if it was the garlic butter melting in my mouth, of if it was the fact that I was eating an overly expensive dinner that I’d never buy on my own, but that dinner was EVERYTHING.

How did I end my wonderful birthday celebration? I kicked my nude, patent leather, Jimmy Choos off and traded them for my old and faithful pair of Old Navy flip flops, I changed into my Zella leggings, a Topshop tee and my husband's oversized crew neck that I’d been holding hostage for the week, since I failed to bring a warm jacket of my own. I mean who packs warm jackets when they’re going to Hawaii? Not me. Needless to say, I wasn’t Instagram ready, but I was comfortable, and warm. We walked to the nearest ABC store. If you’ve been to Hawaii, you know that there’s an ABC store at every corner, so we walked past three ABC stores and then chose the nearest one. We came out with the “cheapest” and by cheapest I mean $12, personal sized bottle of champagne, sour patch kids and a bag of cheetohs, and we walked across the street and on to the Waikiki beach. I think, there on the beach, with the white, smooth sand in my toes, the waves crashing in the back, and my hands stained with orange cheetoh cheese, that I had my aha moment. I had replaced my iphone for my husband’s hand instead, and was on an island, literally surrounded by water (I am terrified of big bodies of water) and I just lived in the moment. This is contentment. This is self-love. This is my year. This is 26.