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30 Day Yoga Challenge & New Beginnings


When I started practicing yoga five years ago, it took me a while to get into the language of yoga. I giggled. I squirmed. When I think about it now, the giggles were coming from two areas. First, it was simply new. Everything was new. And if I were to only listen to a complete yoga class now (while thinking of it from a beginner perspective), I could still hear how silly some of it sounds. The rest of the giggles were coming from a place of uncomfortable new-ness. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t know what they were referring to 95% of the time. I would watch them and try to replicate it. Five years later, yoga has become a part of my life. I’ve gone through phases of more/less yoga – ranging from monthly, to weekly, to daily. But yoga is always there waiting.

Like most goals that seem impossible, (well not impossible, but almost unattainable) beginning is the most important step. You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to be the best. You just have to start. Just like when I started running this year. And then life happens, and days, weeks, months, years go by. Then you overhear a friend mention to another friend, “Olivia is really into yoga, so ask her”. You realize “yeah, I guess I am a yogi”. When did that happen? Slowly. Over five years time. As long as I continue to practice I will be a lifelong yogi. Fancy that.


My last 30 day yoga challenge was in 2010. I’d been thinking of doing another 30 day challenge this year. After I hurt my IT band and finished my half marathon, I took some time off from running. It was the perfect time to replace all that running with yoga. I had been doing a lot of short practices while half training anyway, for cross training and recovery. I ended my yoga challenge in Hawaii while visiting my sister. It was so fun to be able to practice with her again. As my first foray into yoga was also with her back in 2008! It’s also great to see how amazing the human body is. My sister just had her first child and so she hadn’t done much yoga since before the baby arrived. So six weeks post-baby she was up for some yoga again. She also loved the classes on yogaglo and the ability to search/filter based on area: (neck and back is where it’s at being a new mama).

Being in Hawaii for 10 days was a great time to finish out my yoga challenge. I didn’t work while I was there. I had a lot of time to think about life and where I’m going and what I’m doing with this one wild and precious life. I got to spend the most uninterrupted time with my sister since she moved to Hawaii a couple years ago. And I got to fall in love with my new baby niece! She’s going to grow up so quickly. Thankfully, I have another trip planned soon to meet her four month-old self.

I could get used to my Hawaii morning routine. Maybe this why I’m feeling a little reluctant with fall back in Portland. Morning yoga out on the balcony with 180 degree view of the ocean and Kailua bay (yes, I also have a little house envy). Followed by morning coffee while reading. Getting ready for the day and then a little quality time and ridiculous grins with baby Vi while her mama got ready. Oh, Hawaii.

In closing, one of my favorite phrases I have heard over and over in some of my classes is “Yoga is not your sport.” It’s so true – in life and sport we challenge ourselves and over-stretch. Those of us with a competitive nature might be even more terrible at this. So more recently in yoga, I’ve been learning to not over-stretch. To feel the stretch in less of a stretch. Meta! To relax into it instead of being caught in this tension of trying to hold a stretch you’re not quite into – simply because you can.

PS. While in Hawaii, I also made the decision to take the leap into self-employment! So I left my job at BootsnAll Travel and this was my first week being self-employed! I’m doing marketing consulting and digital strategy and my company name is Early Bird Strategy. I struggled a little with deciding how to split up my work and personal online presence and decided I wanted to keep Powered by Tofu as my personal blog. So I’ll still be focused on travel, life, fitness, things I’m learning, food etc over here. Then I’ll be blogging about marketing, social media, and fun productivity and process tips over at my new blog. Can’t wait to share a bit more about my decision to go freelance and some lessons I’ve learned already, but for now if you’re interested in streamlining your marketing check out the latest posts, including 5 Things You Should Be Doing in Gmail, and 8 Ways to Promote the Same Blog Post on Twitter (Without Sounding Like a Broken Record), and sign up for my free monthly-ish newsletter to keep up on the latest from Early Bird.

Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing


“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” –Helen Keller

This has been one of my favorite quotes for a while. I asked myself ‘Why?’… I love that adventure is a unique perspective – that everyone’s definition of an adventure is slightly different. Daring is also a loaded word. It’s a bold statement, and very absolute. It’s personal. It reminds me that life is extremely short, and to try new things.

I have the next two weeks off work, so I have decided to create or learn something new every day. I will blog about some days’ creations.

This design is something I’ve had sitting on my desktop, half-finished, since March. The photo was taken at Shark’s Cove, Oahu. Although this photo was taken in March of 2012, this is actually the first spot I ever went snorkeling back in 2007. I remember feeling a little terrified and excited, and since I’m not the world’s best snorkeler I still feel a little bit like that every time I go. It’s an adventure.

What was your last adventure?

Eat This: Hawaii {Oahu}


Hawaii has amazing food. While my brain typically goes straight to the beach or sunshine when I have Hawaii on the mind — this last trip has me missing the food. I was lucky to have a recent transplant & avid foodie as my host. While we spent most of our time on the Windward side, there were some great finds on North Shore and the Honolulu area as well.

What to Eat on Oahu – 15 Tasty Things:

1. Lilikoi everything

Liliko’i is Hawaiian for passion fruit. After a while, it starts to feel like you could find something lilikoi flavored on any menu in Hawaii.
EAT: lilikoi pancakes at Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, 27 Hoolai St, Kailua HI 96734Save to foursquare

2. Plantation iced tea

A simple mix of iced tea and pineapple juice. Super refreshing.
DRINK: order it on the flight over (if you’re on Hawaiian Airlines)

3. Hawaii food trucks

Oahu has their share of food trucks. Along with the ubiquites shrimp trucks scattered around the island, there are plenty of places to get tacos or BBQ corn.
EAT: fish tacos at Camille’s on Wheels, Uluniu St, Kailua HI 96734 and HonoluluSave to foursquare

4. Former food trucks

Ok this one isn’t really a category. Opal Thai used to be a food truck on the North Shore and has since opened a stand-alone restaurant. When the owner asks if they can order for you, you just do as they say. Fantastic.
EAT: Opal Thai, 66-460 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI 96712Save to foursquare

5. Fresh papaya

A papaya a day keeps the… rain away?
EAT: fresh papaya from anywhere you can find it

6. Malasadas

While a Portuguese-type donut, malasadas are also a popular Hawaiian treat. If you’ve been to Honolulu, you probably know about Leonard’s Bakery, but there are a few more places around the island to get your malasadas fix too.
EAT: call in an order for malasadas at Agnes Portuguese Bakeshop, 46 Ho’olai St, Kailua HI 96734Save to foursquare

7. Smoothies

While you might be dreaming about drinking an alcoholic bevvy on the beach in Hawaii, smoothies are the best post-beach fix – especially if you’re spending a lot of your day being active in the water and/or sunshine.
DRINK: Ginger Ono smoothie (or the pictured gourmet smoothie bowl) at Lanikai Juice, 600 Kailua Rd, Kailua HI 96734 or new North Shore location.Save to foursquare

8. Hawaiian Shave ice

Ordering a shave ice is pretty synonymous with a North Shore visit. While there are shave ice stands all around the island, and the ‘recipe’ looks pretty standard, I’ve been told that it can be done wrong. Word to the wise.
EAT: shave ice at Matsumoto Shave Ice, 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI 96712Save to foursquare

9. Plate lunch

Unless you’re a plate lunch aficionado, you’ll probably order it once, deem it ok or good, and then move on to all the other amazing meals Hawaii has to offer. However, there are some superb plate lunch-style menu items at many restaurants.
EAT: tofu plate w/Okinawa sweet potatoes & bok choy slaw and mint hibiscus lemonade Sweet Home Waimanalo, 41-1025 Kalanianaole Hwy, Waimanalo HI 96795Save to foursquare

10. farmers market

The Kailua Farmers Market happens on Thursday nights in a local parking lot. You can call it dinner and shopping, but get there early or all the tasty dinners will be sold out.
EAT: Lilikoi cheesecake OnoPops at Kailua Farmers Market, 609 Kailua Rd, Kailua HI 96734Save to foursquare

11. Japanese department store food

If you’ve traveled in Japan, you already know the beauty that is the Japanese department store. Most department stories have a floor in the basement that is all food. And it’s not your typical food court. You’ll find delis, snack stands, sit-down restaurants, markets, desserts, beer gardens — you won’t go hungry and it’s a great way to save on food. So if you find yourself near the Ala Moana Shopping Center go take a look.
EAT: Osaka-style okonomiyaki at Shirokiya Department Store, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu HI 96841Save to foursquare

12. farm stands

When you make the drive around Oahu, especially in the North Shore area, you’ll find plenty of farm stands, to get fruit, smoothies, and lots of treats.
Eat: fried banana bread with ice cream at Kahuku Farms, 56-800 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku HI 96731Save to foursquare

13. fish

You’re in Hawaii, surrounded by miles and miles of open water — it’s kind of a given that you’re going to find amazing fish and seafood here. :) Butter fish, mahi, ahi… if you like fish, you’ll be happy with the options.
Eat: Thai red curry Mahi on green papaya salad & garlic mashed potatoes at Uahi Island Grill, 131 Hekili St, Kailua HI 96734Save to foursquare

14. Coconut

If you’re lucky to have a coconut tree in your backyard, karma says you should drink and eat all the coconut you can.
DRINK: young coconut

15. Poke

Poke is a raw fish “salad”. It’s usually an ahi tuna base, marinated in soy sauce and spices, and you can also get many styles like a spicier version or with different ingredients. The key here is fresh, fresh, fresh.
EAT: fresh poke from the deli at a grocery store, served with white rice

All photos by Olivia Raymer, except papaya: janineomg, okonomiaki: hirotomo, malasads: _e.t, poke: greggman

Have you been to Hawaii? What’s your favorite Hawaiian food?

NerdPress + Lilikoi Pancakes = Weekly Love


You know what happens when you live/work from Hawaii for a month? You spend all of your free time outside — in sunshine and/or water — instead of blogging. Mixing things up is good for the soul. So without further ado, here’s a long overdue Weekly Love.

-NerdPress – In March, I decided to focus my tidbits of evening Internet-ing time on designing a WordPress theme. Ta-da! Fun and exciting process (which my mom termed NerdPress on Facebook).

-Being a Hawaii tourist – Our last weekend in Hawaii, we did a few of the more touristy things that I’d done my first go around on Oahu in 2007. Like visiting Pearl Harbor and the North Shore, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay etc. It was fun to revisit after five years. So we ended up having dinner at Opal Thai on the North Shore (used to be a food cart), and it was some of the best Thai food. Ever. The owner of the restaurant was super chatty and we started to order and then he was like “Oh, good choice. Have you been here before? I want to order for you. Would that be ok?” Unusual, yes, but an excellent idea.

-Back to Portland – My month in the sunshine is over, but I was so excited to get back to Portland and my little home, and my little cat, and the rain (I guess?). Looking forward to hitting up all my favorite places now that I’m home again.

-Hawaiian Air – I was loathing the fact that Hawaiian Air doesn’t have wifi on my way to Hawaii, but on the way back, time sorta flew. Said by me upon landing in Portland: “I could totally be on this plane for a few more hours. Could you?” Maybe it’s the mini cans of Dole Pineapple juice,  or the glee of playing Flight Control on a plane…

-Listening – M. Ward’s A Wasteland on NPR’s First Listen. Quite lovely!

Lilikoi pancakes – Oahu has nothing on the Portland breakfast scene, but they do have Lilikoi pancakes in Kailua. Heaven.

-Running – I had a brief love affair with running while in Hawaii. It’s so much more fun running in non-rain.

What are you up to this week?

Hawaii: Instagrammed


“Aloha” from Hawaii! One of my 2012 goals was to work remotely [ie. not in Portland] for 1+ month. After two months of anticipation of ditching Portland for warmer weather, we have arrived on Oahu. I must say, it feels great to finally make this goal a reality.

So here’s a little peak at my first five days of working and playing in paradise via Instagram.

First stop: the beach!

Day 2: Stopping by the Camille’s on Wheels food truck in Kailua for Ahi tacos.

Evening hike to the pillboxes in Lanikai. More like a “hike” compared to more recent treks.

Graffiti on the Lanikai bunkers

and back down to the lovely Lanikai beach

a house I could afford on Lanikai beach :)

Heading to the North Shore.


stopping at Malaekahana State Recreation Area on the way to the North Shore.

apparently it was an uncharacteristically calm day at Shark’s Cove for winter snorkeling. We’ll take it!

Post-snorkel treat at Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

Onward to Kaena Point for hiking, albatross spotting, and monk seal viewing.

Olomana 1 Summit hike – gorgeous trail

View of Olomana Peak 3 from the 1st summit

First night visiting Honolulu (“town” as the locals call it) for post-hike burgers at Burgers on the Edge and strolling along Waikiki beach front.

Are you on Instagram? I’m poweredbytofu, if we’re not already following each other. Aloha!

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

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