Six Blind Men

I have a little story to tell, its about a parable that I call Six Blind Men. I try very hard to keep my way out of politics and public news type topics. Not because I don’t have an opinion on them, but because I don’t think shouting those opinions is the most helpful way to approach the topics. The world needs less shouters and more listeners. I strive to be a listener. But something has been on my heart and mind recently that I feel compelled to share. I hope you stick with me through the end of this, I promise to keep it as brief as possible.

When I was younger (I won’t say young because I still feel young), I came across a parable that has stuck with me since.  To be honest I don’t recall how old I was, if I read it or a teacher read it to a class I was in, all that stuck with me was the story and the lesson from it. It is Indian in origin, thought I didn’t know it at the time. And it originated sometime around 500 BCE. I had to look it up to make sure I got the key details of the parable itself correct, but there are many versions of it. So here we go.


Six blind men wandering around a town, and as they do so they are reaching out to touch things in a market. One of them says “oh I think this is a snake” another reaches out and says “no, I think its a kind of fan”. The third man claims it is a pillar or a tree trunk. The fourth says its a wall. The fifth a rope. And the sixth says he has found a spear. They all start arguing over the thing that they are all touching, shouting at one another calling each other stupid. Violence erupts. Someone notices the scuffle and comes over to help the upset group of friends and laughs. He tells them they are all touching an elephant. The man that thought it was a snake had been touching its trunk. The man who thought he was touching a fan, was actually touching the elephants ear. The pillar was actually its leg, the wall was in fact the animals side, the rope was its tail and the spear its tusk. 

Everyone’s perception of reality is built upon the foundation of their lifetime of collective experiences. Every single person you come in contact with in this world is operating with a different set of information than you are. Does that make them stupid? Does that make you stupid?

It is incredibly hard to set ones collective experiences aside and see something from another persons point of view. It is so hard in fact that our brains protect ourselves from this by filtering out and dismissing information that doesn’t jive with the information we already have. This is called cognitive dissonance. Its real and everyone has experienced it.  And while this is a brilliant survival mechanism “a berry that looked very much like that killed Sam last week so many I shouldn’t eat this one”, it limits our ability to connect and have useful respectful discourse with people who hold different beliefs than us. And who are these people who hold different beliefs than us? Just another human being, so similar to you it would probably make you breathless, but with a lifetime of different information driving their reality. Maybe their Sam didn’t die from that berry last week because he cooked them first. Doesn’t mean he is wrong, just means he knows something you don’t.


But you know what’s even harder than setting your collective experiences aside to learn from someone who holds vastly different beliefs from you. So hard in fact it is probably statistically impossible. If you call them stupid. Even if its just in your own head. Because by calling them stupid or some other dismissive remark you are excusing away their opinions, convincing your painfully still very much not evolved brain (we all have painfully not evolved brains) that you are right and they are wrong and so nothing they have to say could possibly be true. And once again you have created your own reality, you believe their opinions are wrong, thus no matter what they say you will never fully believe it. You have already primed the pump to dismiss their ideas. I think we can probably all guess which recent news topic and the behavior that has become so prevalent because of it has me mulling this topic. But I am not going to say those words out loud or type them as it were because really this applies to any topic, any time, forever.

Now I say this as an imperfect human, who gets extremely frustrated when someone is refusing to process the information I am sharing with them. Who also from time to time is too easily dismissive of information that doesn’t compute with what I know. And every single time I do these things I think of the six blind men  and try to do better next time. That’s all I have to say this week.

Continue reading
Dingle Ireland

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine

Detoxing your cleaning routine probably sounds a bit like an oxymoron. After all aren’t cleaning products by virtue of existing, already clean? Turns out its super complicated and comes down to specific ingredients, how those ingredients react in an environment and how you interact with where those ingredients go.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Chemicals to Avoid
Over the course of the industrial revolution and decades that proceeded it human habitations for the most part have become increasingly cleaner. This is in part due to better understanding of hygiene but also better understanding of what it is that makes human sick, both of which are ever evolving as we learn more and more about ourselves as a species and the world around us.

House cleaning agents in general do an amazing job of killing off the germs and viruses that they are indented to eliminate. The problem is at what cost? Most products that go to market are tested to certain degree and then warning labels are adhered to bottles and then we all assume that these things are safe for human use.

Perchloroethylene (PERC) : Used in dry cleaning and carpet cleaners. Is a carcinogen and neurotoxin.
2-Butoxyethanol: Used in window and all purpose cleaners. Linked to pulmonary edema, liver and kidney damage.
Chlorine: toilet cleaner, mildew removers, laundry whitening, and even your water! Exposure can effect thyroid and skin irritant like eczema and psoriasis.
Formaldehyde: Is most often found in furniture and carpets (off-gassing from production) but things like 1,4-dioxane which is a common ingredient in laundry detergent has trace amounts of formaldehyde in it, which doesn’t wash out and builds in your clothes causing long term exposure. And is linked to ALS.
Sodium Hydroxide: Is used in oven cleaners and drain cleaners. This causes massive irritation and resulting in persistent burning eyes, skin, throat and nasal passages.
Ammonia: Used mostly for streak free cleaning products. And is known to slowly degrade the mucous membranes in your body, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Phthalates: Not a cleaning agent but exists in the fragrance of general household products including cleaning products. These are known endocrine disrupters and have shown in many cases to result in lowered sperm counts among other issues in human populations.
Triclosan and  Quarternary Ammonium Compounds: Is in ‘antibacterial’ products. These products create antibacterial resistant strains of bacteria (nature always finds a way), which in turn make these products less effective over time but also make bugs which are resistant to pharmaceutical grade antibiotics. These products also do not breakdown over time, and are being flushed down drains into lakes, rivers and streams upsetting natural balances in bacterial colonies.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Why Avoid Them
To be clear you aren’t going to keel over from using Windex once. The issue I will continue to bring up as I go forward with this series is the compounding effect of continued exposure to these types of chemicals as well as all the others that we are going to talk about throughout this series. In a nutshell, it ads up. And in a world where our bodies are already dealing with so much stress, exposure to pollution and environmental toxins which are out of our control wouldn’t it be a good idea to reduce exposure where we can control it?

There is also an environmental impact to be considered. Not only from the standpoint that these are used and then the bottles are thrown away to then be lying in a landfill eventually seeping out into the soil and ground water. But they are also being rinsed, flushed and washed down drains and eventually make their way into ground water, streams, rivers, oceans, clouds, rained back down on us, seeping into our soils and being consumed back up by animals and ourselves. There is also the environmental impact of manufacturing these products and the health and welfare of the individuals who are on the manufacturing floor of these production plants.

Detoxing Your Cleaning Routine – Safer Alternatives
The EWG is my favorite resource for research regarding safer alternatives, they post scientific articles and studies, ingredient lists, consumer guides and even provide the ability to look up products to see how safe they are. Their cleaning product guide is here. My favorite thing about their site is their transparency, they don’t just say yes or no, they include why they have rated a product a certain way so you can continue to do research to make the best choices for you and your family.

Additionally over the course of the last few years I can managed to clean up my cleaning routine quite a bit and love and trust the products listed below. I am in no way affiliated or make any money on any of these links. They are just things that I love and trust.

Baking Soda
Essential Oils
Branch Basics

That’s it! Boiling water and vinegar can unclog a drain. I sprinkle baking soda around showers, sinks, countertops and baths then spritz with vinegar, scrub and rinse with boiling water. Windows are cleaned with vinegar, floors are moped with vinegar and hot water. For things like windows and floors I do add essential oils just so my entire house doesn’t smell like an Easter egg coloring party. And for really tough stuff I use Branch Basics, they created a non toxic plant based cleaning concentrate that can be turned into pretty much anything you need. It works similar to Dr. Bronner’s but is rated slightly better because it is unscented.

As with everything I write on this subject, I hope you find this information helpful not hurtful. The intent is never to shame, but rather educate. Everyone tries to do their level best to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Unfortunately often this information isn’t brought to the forefront of our attention until its too late. I for one want to operate in a world of prevention, to prolong my health and life as long as possible. Every little change helps reduce that overall toxic burden that our bodies deal with everyday. Baby steps to detoxing your cleaning routine, and more in time with regard to other aspects of our life.

Continue reading

Oregon Trail Center

Right off I-84 in eastern Oregon is the Oregon Trail Center. Providing visitors a variety of experiences related, well, the Oregon Trail. I have very little reason to be approximately 6 hours away from my home, but this last summer as a part of my ‘getting to know Oregon better’ quest I found myself way out east. And knew I needed to make a stop at the museum.
Overview of the Oregon Trail Center
The museum itself lies just north of Baker City, which in and of itself is not a very large town, but it does happen to be a very important role in Oregon’s history. A lot of wagon trains passed through this area. After long harrowing journeys families were greeted with wide open pastures and the unfortunate realization that they still had mountain passes to traverse.

The Oregon Trail Center is an incredible museum maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.  It offers sweeping view of the area, as well as life sized displays, films, exhibits, presentations and more.

The buildings and views are well worth the drive, sitting on top of a large hill in the middle of BLM land, you get the opportunity to experience an unobstructed view of the valley and Rock Creek Butte. You can also hike all over this area, BLM lands are open for recreation. The types of recreation are always clearly marked or communicated on the areas website if you have any questions regarding land use.

The facilities also have a very nice walking path down the face of the hill and out toward some mines that are set up for educational purposes. I being terrified of ticks, did not choose to go tromping through the open lands and stuck to the path being sure not to brush up against any long grasses. We saw plenty of ticks just walking by. So if you choose to hike through the pastures be sure to come prepared and always check for ticks after being outside.

My Impressions of the Oregon Trail Center
We had been driving for quite a few hours by the time we got here, and having left Silver City behind (sadly) I think we were both a little dazed. And for some reason I had in my mind that it would be providing research materials to look through in order to locate names and dates of family members that passed through the area but it did not. And that is okay, it is a lovely area with a wonderful exhibit.
There isn’t really anything in the area of the museum, hence the beautiful sprawling views. But just down the road is an excellent steak house Haines and Baker City is only about 10 minutes down the highway so it is an easy jaunt into town for excellent hotels, restaurants and other museums.
I thoroughly enjoyed by time at the Oregon Trail Center in Baker City Oregon. One I highly recommend if you are interested in Oregon history and find yourself in the area.

Continue reading

An Bothar – Caus, Ireland

My last night was at the An Bothar guesthouse in Cuas Ireland. I honestly thought it was Ballydavid the entire trip, but I know little about Irish geography  so it isn’t surprising I had it wrong. Regardless the pub and guesthouse sits at the foot of Mt. Brandon. It is the last stop on Slea Head Drive and the Wild Atlantic Way. It is lovely and well worth the stop if you are in the area.

It was much larger and much more modern than most of our accommodations. Overlooking the farms we have walked through earlier in the day on one side and the mountains on the other. We ate our dinner here as it was really the only option but it was as expected quite good. We also got to meet the owner of Wonderful Ireland Walking tours and a few of the local sheep dogs while we ate.
I was sad it was my last night. But I had to get up so early I retired from the group so I could shower and pack for the flight. I left the window open all night and heard the lambs bleating from time to time. I woke up to them at 4am and ran out to meet my car which was right on time. The drive out was lovely, we drove over roads I had walked and some roads I hadn’t. My driver was kindness itself, as was everyone I met in Ireland. I got information about history, living there, his family (his wife had already driven me a couple of times), kids etc. It was a great way to end my trip, I nearly gave him a hug when he dropped me off. It felt like leaving an old friend.

Continue reading

Marina Inn – Dingle Ireland

Our dinner in Dingle was at the Marina Inn, which was suggested to us by a number of people. It did not disappoint. I had to have the fish and chips, not a lot of places along the peninsula had them and I was pretty excited to try them. They too did not disappoint.

We thought the South Pole Inn was crowded the night before, but we be wrong. The Marina Inn was CROWDED! And for good reason, their food was amazing, they had music and sporting events playing. The service was quick and that is actually saying something considering how crowded not only the Marina Inn was but just how crowded Dingle was. There were so many more tourists here compared to the other towns we had stayed in and as such the restaurants and pubs were all packed. We took our time, but did not linger for long given just how many people were trying to eat here.

Naturally I had to take pictures of the bar, though given how crowded it was I mostly got pictures of rear ends. Sorry everyone! They will never know anyway, I doubt they read Where Sasha Went. I also had to snap a shot of the decor above our table. Growing up the way I did I have a special place in my heart for all things nautical, and these were just too sweet. I might need to make one someday for the house.

Continue reading

Finglas House – Camp, Ireland

As I mentioned, the second we would get to our rooms after each day our bags would explode. The hiking bootes would come off, clean clothes found and often a quick lay down was needed before dinner. Hence the horrendous picture of our room. Aside from the thrown aside bedding and the opened bags, the point however is to point out that while our accommodations along the way were not always fancy, they were clean and comfortable. Which is exactly what we needed given the type of trip we were on.

Day two ended in Camp and as previously mentioned this is in fact the name of a town. This was also the first day we had experienced the baggage transfer done by our touring company and as promised our bags were awaiting our arrival in the lobby of our guesthouse. We were greeted by a very lovely woman named Kathleen who owns the Finglas Guesthouse. She showed up to our rooms and then the exploding of the bags happened. Then off to the Ashes Pub for dinner which I talked about in a previous post.

After dinner and a shower I set myself up in the lovely second floor lounge. There was tea and cookies provided by Kathleen, which I took full advantage of. The rest of the group congregated after their respective adulations and we spent a lovely evening planning our next day.

Thanks to jet lag I was up bright and early. Dressed, repacked and ready to eat breakfast approximately and hour before it was ready. C’est la vie. Breakfast was severed on time in the downstairs dining room that overlooks the bay. There were a variety of options, I of course chose the “Full Irish” plus coffee, toast and a little more coffee. It was perfection as expected from the quaint little place. We were also given a sack lunch again, this time a suspect sandwich and chips. My chips were cheese and onion, though there was a chicken flavor floating around in one of my groups sack lunches as well. Turns out the suspect sandwich was cheese and tomato which was quite good. Chips weren’t bad either.


Continue reading

Wonderful Ireland Walking Tours – Tralee to Camp Ireland

The moment we had been waiting for, for a year and a half, the first day of the hike! We started out in Tralee, which meant walking along the harbor toward the hills (which you can see in the distance in the picture below). It wound up being a lot of road walking for the first section which can be pretty hard on your feet. It was also extremely humid and warm. Don’t let those clouds fool you by the time we got to the trail head we were sweating and tired. And we still had a good 10+ miles left in the day.

Once we got on the trail our feet started feeling quite a bit better, but it was a lot of up and down and I at least wore out fairly quickly. It could not have been more gorgeous however. We could see all the way back to where we had started pretty much the entire day and walked toward what seemed like an endless stretch of fields. We went over a few rivers which were lush and beautiful. Though I expected nothing less. We took a few breaks along the way, just enjoying the view and the break from reality. We all work really hard long hours in our real lives so I think we were all very happy to just sit in the sun, disconnected from the world, looking at nothing but grass and ocean and the occasional wayward sheep.

Once we got toward the end of the day we got back down closer to the road and got into some more actively used fields. Enter the cows. No bulls, they are kept behind locked gates with lots of signs. But given the trail is made possible by the cooperation of local farmers, it wasn’t very much of a surprise to cross paths with our bovine friends. There was after all an awful lot of signs pointing to their existence, and by signs I mean poop on the trail. This larger group proved the most difficult, they were full on blocking the trail which was flanked by stinging nettles and blackberries so we weren’t terribly interested in going around them. Some of us, braver then others (not myself), tapped them on the bum so they scurried on, albeit very slowly.

Once free of the cows and over all the stiles we found ourselves back on the roads trudging toward our inn for the night. The end of the days walk passed us by a series of very lovely homes, my favorite of which was of course abandoned. I loved the peeling layers of paint and overgrown roses.

All in all it was a moderate level of difficulty in walking. Made mostly hard by the condition of the trail (very rocky) which thankfully were mostly dry. Most of the year it is more bog like, which would have created different difficulties with the added benefit of swarms of mosquitoes. All in all it was a terrific day and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Continue reading

Historic Balch Hotel – Dufur, Oregon

I had been wanting to stay at the Historic Balch Hotel for years, but given its location to myself it was always just too close and just too far away to drive out for a single night. Luckily this last year my mom and I decided to embark on a central Oregon road trip and I knew that without a doubt we would be finally getting to stay here.

Dufur is a small town in North Central Oregon, only a few miles south of The Dalles. It sits on the east side of Mt. Hood. I woke up extra early the night we stayed so I could try to get some pictures of the sunrise reflecting off the snow and clouds around the mountain. But it was a whole mess of private property between me and the view so I didn’t get a chance to get as clear of a shot as I had hoped.

The town was established in 1893 by Andrew and Enoch Dufur. The Dufur family were reglious refugees in early America, fleeing one of the many Huguenot conflicts in France around the time of the French Revolution, likely right before Louis XVI signed equal rights for Protestants in France. Andrew was educated at Pacific University in Forest Grove Oregon.  In 1872 the brothers purchased the land that is now Dufur.
The Balch Hotel was built in 1907 by Charles Balch. It was the height of luxury at the time with hot running water and electricity. Made popular by business men and individuals passing through town to and from The Dalles or beyond due to the Great Southern Railroad station in town at the time.
The hotel itself is a charming little place and beautifully maintained grounds. They are often host to small wedding parties, and concert goers as they offer coach service to Mary Hill Winery in The Gorge. They have a fully functioning dining room, dinner was delicious and breakfast is complimentary. They do not offer modern convinces like televisions but they do have wi-fi. As well as a fully functioning spa, and several lounge areas with a large selection of tea and books.

Continue reading

Ireland Hiking – Quarter Four

I honestly cannot believe that in in a month and a half I will be in Ireland. Every time I go somewhere new it feels so surreal that in no time I will be standing in a new place, looking at a part of the world that I have never seen before.  All the planning and research culminating in standing in the place I had been dreaming of.
But this time will be different, this time I will be standing in the place I have been training very hard for entire year. Without further adieu, the last of my Ireland training plan!
The weather turned again, but instead of turning my exercises from outdoors to indoors I just doubled down. I have been steadily walking my dog at least 6 miles a day since last summer. And on top of it I added an indoor exercise routine that you can do anywhere as long as you have the internet.
I decided to do a three month high intensity workout plan focusing on cardio and strength which will be ending here in a couple weeks. Then to get me through the last month and a half before the trip I am switching things up again to focus more on balance and flexibility.
All exercises are done once a week for a month, prepare to be very very sore.
Month 1:

This Hit and Abs workout is only 15 min, but I was doing it twice through.
Jessica Smith has some killer workouts, for a low impact leg workout I chose this workout which I did three times through each week.
Then to loosen things up a bit I did a dance heavy workout also from Jessica Smith.
I followed that up with a pilates workout focusing on hip strength and joint rotation.
Then did a killer leg day, again with Jessica Smith…I clearly really like her workouts.
After that leg day another dance heavy cardio was needed to stretch out the muscles.
Day 7 was stretching, relaxing and resting.

Month 2:

Low impact leg strength.
A full body cardio weights routine with PopSugar.
Abs with Fitness Blender again.
I kept the leg day workout from last month, it is a killer but so good.
Pilates for strength and flexibility.
Switching traditional cardio up for a good old fashioned core power yoga.
Day 7 stretch, relax and rest.

Month 3:

For AAA (*ss, Abs, Arms) I picked a PopSugar workout.
For Cardio Flow day I am keeping the trend of Core Power Yoga, so I chose this 45 minute Power Yoga.
LEG DAY! I got a little tired of the one I had been doing for two months so switch it up with a Fitness Blender lower body workout.
A new core workout for the month, once again with Fitness Blender.
Pilates for cardio core day!
And for booty day I am adding another Pilates routine but with workout bands.
Day 7 stretch, relax and rest.

Last few weeks leading up to the actual trip I am cutting back on traditional workouts and went strictly with Pilates and Yoga. So while I am getting a great workout, I am also trying to focus on flexibility and stability. All without risking knee injury which would put a bit of a damper on a hiking trip. So below is the series of workouts I plan to employ up until the day I leave!

Pilates with Jessica Smith.
Power Vinyasa for hips.
Full body Barre with Popsugar.
Full length Vinyasa.
Pilates for joint rotation with Popsugar.
Knee Friendly Barre workout with Jessica Smith.


Continue reading

Kelsey Anna Ruth

You know when you meet someone randomly and you just know instantly deep down in your soul that this person is one of those grand, kind, friendly, life loving, wonderful people. That is Kelsey.

I informally met Kelsey on the rainiest Mother’s Day that Oregon has ever seen. Ducking between drenched booth tents at a local craft fair with my mom. Both of us running around looking at the crafty wares, on sugar highs from our five pounds of cinnamon roll French toast from the Block House Café in Dayton.
I instantly noticed Kelsey’s beautifully hand lettered greeting cards and desperately wanted to touch them (I am the shopper that gets kicked out of stores for touching everything) but given the soggy weather I thought better of it. Instead I took a picture of her social media information and got a hold of her later.

I have no idea what she was thinking when I contacted her to meet up for tea. Likely, “who is this crazy person and will she wind up trying to murder me”. No, that is what I would think because I watch too many murder mysteries, she is lovely and kind so she probably just thought nice things.Either way, after a ridiculous amount of time we finally managed to find a mutual place and time to meet and so one very sunny Friday afternoon we met up.

We talked about all manner of things. Between our equal love of Oregon, deep seeded needs to travel and our passions of the simpler things in life. Kelsey hails from Oregon, the daughter of a musical family, who grew up knowing, loving and creating art. She left Oregon to attend college and not surprisingly wound up majoring in art.  When finished she came back, to be in the lush greenery of her home state and amongst her family. She currently works several jobs but is hoping to make her hand lettered cards a larger part of her life and income. Which I have no doubt will happen.

We talked a lot of about the importance of art in the world at large. She feels strongly and I am inclined to believe her that while technology has forged many new forms of art, there are still important lessons learned when putting actual pen to physical paper. In her words there is an intimacy to the hard work of written words. Which has drawn her to create her beautiful hand lettered creations. The act of creating physical art can be humbling, as you cannot just press undo. These lessons in learning to slow down and appreciate this often arduous but loving act are important ones that people could stand to take part in now and again in our current fast paced world.
Currently Kelsey only sells at Viv’s Vintage Market, a local market put on several times a year by the Vivian Lee Foundation to fund cystic fibrosis research. This market is the one I visited the day I met Kelsey and first noticed her artwork. At a recent event (not the one I was last at) Kelsey created a beautiful piece that was donated and auctioned off to aid the efforts of the foundation. This idea of creating art to not only serve as a personal outlet but to communicate and better the world was an idea that was born in part from her travels abroad.

Her most memorable trip, she recounts, took her to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva  which had on display countless pieces of art that were gifted from countries and groups that had been given aid by the organization. This and the community values that she learned from her travel abroad has kept her inspired to cultivating the values she wants to see in the world. To give back where ever she can.

Not only is Kelsey terribly kind hearted, well traveled and totally smitten with Oregon  (she suggest spending time in the gorge if you haven’t yet). She is also into vintage and fashion. A girl after my own heart! She suggested if you haven’t yet to check out Sweet Jayne on NE Broadway, it is her favorite local boutique which specialized in all things she supports, small batch, local artisan goods and hopefully, maybe someday soon you can find her cards there too.
But until then, you can find her at all the upcoming events for Viv’s Vintage Market. The next confirmed market is Saturday and Sunday, December 9th and 10th at the Red Berry Barn in Sherwood, Oregon. You can also keep up with Kelsey personally on her blog and instagram which I would highly recommend. All pictures in this post are her property and used here with her express permission. Thank you Kelsey for creating such beauty in the world, and allowing me to help share it.

Continue reading