Spain Bound (Toledo, Madrid, & Barcelona)

My friend has been living in Spain for the last seven months teaching English. This provided me with the opportunity to visit her when her school was on vacation for Easter! I am so glad I made the decision to go and visit her, as I finally got to tick of “go to Europe” from my bucket list!

Here’s a few highlights from my visit, not everything is listed but it provides you an idea of my trip:

Toledo – Day One to Three

Taledo is the City of Three Cultures with major architecture influences from Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It was lovely to be able to go and see the Old City and be able to visit Cathedrals, Mosques and Synagogues. If you ever find yourself in Toledo, I recommend purchasing a cultural pass that allows you to visit 7 of these religious spots (available at purchase directly from the attraction).

Museo Del Ejército – This is the Army Museum of Toledo which is free on Sundays! Lovely views from this museum that is built from the city’s historic castle.

Museo Del Greco – El Greco Museum is a small museum which celebrates the work of the painter El Greco. It was a pleasant surprise we came across that was organized as if you were walking through his home.

We also went on a hike around Toledo. The landscape of Toledo seemed to include everything; so picturesque. Valleys, Mountains, and many historical ruins that just existed along the trail. You are also able to see a gorgeous view of the fortress and the many bridges that connect the city.

Madrid – Day Four and Seven

We went to Museo Nacional del Prado which is an art museum. The museum has many sections covering mostly Renaissance paintings from Spain, but also includes Renaissance paintings from Italy, Germany, Britain and France. The highlight of this museum for me was seeing the Goya collection – amazing collection.

The other highlight for me in Madrid was the Real Jardin Botanico. The Royal Garden was spectacular! Loved going into the greenhouse and seeing the variety of plants they had from all continents. Fantastic collection.

Barcelona – Day Five and Six

Visiting Barcelona was much different than Madrid and Toledo. English seemed more prevalent within the city and much more liberal.

There were two highlights from Barcelona worth noting. We went to the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site. The building is a pre-existing hospital that was functioning up until 2009. It appeared not many visited the site, however it is definitely a place worth checking. The hospital consists of several different buildings that were connected by underground tunnels (haunted af). Architecture is unconventional and the murals within were astonishing.

The other highlight was visiting Park Guell which was a residential complex planning project between Guell and Gaudi. They wished to revolutionize the way the elite lived and change their connection to nature.

We were unable to visit the unfinished Temple de La Sagrada familia as it is obviously a main attraction for tourists visiting Barcelona. If you plan on seeing this Temple, be sure to purchase tickets online!

Barcelona also has a Picasso museum that hosts many of his originally works that were donated in 1970. The collection is extensive and includes many pieces from his earlier works to his later pieces. I did not know he painted more realistic pieces during his earlier years, and it was amazing to see the talent he had at such a young age.

There is also a small Egyptian museum we just had to visit given that Cady loves everything Egyptian related. We had perfect timing when visiting the museum as it was not too busy and they current had a King Tut exhibition on.

Overall a great trip!

 

June Self-Care

May was the month of Mental Health. And it’s okay for me to realize that my mental health is not where I want it to be. My thoughts have become negative & obsessive, I am unhappy most days, I’m lost with what I want out of life, and feel that everything has become too repetitive that I need to change something.

So for the month of June I’m working on slowly getting myself out of this slump. Here’s how:

Go for more hikes & walks.

It’s amazing how much your mood will improve just by getting out of the house and hiking/walking in nature. So, I will try to go on at least two hikes this month and walk on the trails surrounding my house when I can’t make it to the conservation areas.

Limit technology one hour before bed.

You know that endless scrolling before bed. And it’s damaging our psyche. No one posts their real life on Instagram. They post the moments that make them happy and it’s not helping us mentally because we feel we are not achieving the ideal lifestyle that THAT person has. To get over this, I am cutting off technology around 9pm at night. Airplane mode: ON.

Read More

Which brings us to #3. I will aim to read three books this month. Let’s cut the technology out and read before bed! Going to finish Thrive by Arianna Huffington, Beartown by Fredrick Backman and Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz.

Start Journal-ing again

I used to journal almost every day and I remember that it did help me mentally. You are able to write down your stresses and what felt good about the day. Let’s get back into that habit Victoria.

 

We shall start with those four self-care tips for June and see how it goes.

Be Kind.

I’m glad I kept a journal from when I was younger. But it also upsets me. The thoughts I had from when I was in elementary school are enlightening. One’s own perception of themselves develops at a young age, isn’t that sad?

May 19th, 2004 I was eleven years old when I wrote (original spelling & grammar kept):

“Thanks a lot to J.K. I’m now self concions of my weight because he kept calling fat in pizza things”

Not sure what the pizza things refers to, but I knew what it meant to be self-conscious at this age.

It doesn’t get better. One year later I wrote:

“No one is going to like me, I’m fat and ugly. U-G-L-Y ugly and F-A-T FAT! I’m probably going to marry…. No one. Date… no one. like… no one.”

Those perceptions of myself were unfortunately reinforced by what others were saying around me. Middle school kids are mean. I may be 24 now, and “should” be over the words that were said to me. But, I’m still working on getting over them. How does one get over being called “a piece of blubber?”

So please. With everything that is currently going on, let’s start by being nicer with what is coming out of our mouths. Be careful what you say to one another. Even in a moment of complete frustration, words stick with someone. No matter how many apologies that are said later, in the back of their mind, you said those words in the first place. You said those words in the first place because you knew they were going to hurt.

And that’s what the person will always remember.

 

To the little girl in Grade Five that lost herself for a while. You’ll come back. You’ll get lost again a few years down the line, but we’ll end up finding our-self again. Don’t you worry.

Winter Brewfest 2017

Second year for attending Winter Brewfest: Saturday Session. Last year I summed up the event as follows:

They definitely have work to smooth out for 2017, if they want to be successful. This would involve ensuring volunteers show up, hosting in a larger venue, trying to have tokens at a reasonable price, and switching the cups to plastic. Booths for the breweries should also have better displays, felt too tight and you could not appreciate the beers they had to offer.

First Impressions

While the organizers advertised that it was in a larger venue, it was actually in the same room at the Enercare Centre from last year. They did however cut back on the carnival games which opened up some more room for vendors. Were there still lines? Yes. And despite switching to a cashless system to “make lines quicker,” I felt the lines were actually longer this year. Did we let that stop us from having fun? Heck no.

Our game plan was to get a sample, then once acquired, move to another line and drink our sample while waiting. When we were near the front of the line, we were usually finished with our previous sample! Genius.

The organizers were also smarter this year and switched the cups to an enviro-plastic cup to cut back on the shattered glass. While the cups were not nearly as cute as the mason jars from last year, it was nice knowing I could not shatter this glass as easily in the event a good song came on.

Last Thoughts

At this point, I’m not too sure if I will go in 2018 as the organizers are still relatively new and – despite changes made this year – they still have work to do to make the whole event enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a grand ‘ol time. I’m glad I was with people who were just as ridiculous as me. We made the concrete our dancefloor, when everyone was too serious standing in lines or sitting down to eat. They were so concerned how they presented themselves to others, it made us laugh.

This life is for living, and if I feel the need to dance? Boy, you better be ready because I’m going to dance.

Overall, I give the event three beersteins out of five. I had a fantastic time, there were improvements, but it felt that with the improvements that were made, did not actually change much from last year.

[2016] reflection

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Formal Introductions

Last year I wrote “[2015] reflection,” so in effort to make this a tradition, here’s my review of 2016. To add to the reading, play this in the background. It’s my top ten songs of 2016.

Now, by looking at all the memes of 2016 – it appears that 2016 was a crazy ride for everyone. We lost many iconic musicians, there were numerous questionable political events (notoriously Brexit & Trump), the scandals, etc. But let’s not focus on the scary portion of 2016. That’s not what a reflection is supposed to achieve. No. My reflection is to remind me the growth I have accomplished over the year and to bring positivity.

A Taste for Adventure
Ottawa

I started the year off right by overcoming my fear of driving, by deciding to make my first real long-distance drive to Ottawa. May not seem to be much, but for a first-time car owner, a long-distance drive is a huge accomplishment. So with ten+ hours of driving in the snow, this helped elevate my confidence with driving. Now the QEW & 427 commute is a piece of cake.

Ottawa was a great decision to ring in the New Year surrounded by the good ‘ol Marshall crew.

Yukon

From long-distance driving transitions to first-time-flying-by-yourself-all-the-way-up-North trip. I would like to thank AB for allowing me to visit her in The Yukon in May. I came back with a new sense of purpose and other clichés. But seriously, Yukon has given me that much-needed push to add more adventures to my life. The Yukon is so beautiful that I encourage all to visit this magnificent place at some point in your lifetime. I miss being surrounded by mountains. For my full telling of the Yukon, continue reading here.

Cuba

The next step? We go from flying within Canada to flying outside of Canada sans-parents for the first time. And to Cuba! Cuba was just the escape I needed in November. And it will forever be memorable, as of course I went when Fidel Castro passed away. It’s one thing to go for the all-inclusive, but it’s also important to leave your resort bubble. Havana is a beautiful city with so much culture imbedded. I am glad we were still able to visit Revolution Square the day before Castro’s ashes were brought for mourning. It’s one place I would definitely visit again.

Concerts & Festivals

Compared to last year, Miss Victoria Chiasson went to the most amount of concerts and festivals. Although Mumford & Sons did not make the list because TicketMaster did not come through, I still went to four other great musicians (and probably for the price of one Mumford & Sons ticket).

Experiences, my dear reader, is what you need to focus on. Here’s a sum of what added value to my 2016:

  • Winter BrewFest
  • TSwift Dance Party
  • Drake & Rihanna Dance Party
  • Bread n’ Honey Festival
  • KONGOS @ Velvet Underground
  • BeerFest
  • Cider Festival at Yonge-Dundas Square
  • Dan Mangan @ Union Station
  • TURF
  • Nuit Blanche (first time going!)
  • Adele Concert
  • July Talk Concert
  • Christmas Market at Distillery District (first time for this as well!)
Reading

Came short on my reading challenge this year, as I am still learning to balance work and life. I am still pleased that I managed to read 12 books. Also by looking at my stats, my books equaled 4043 pages, which I’m happy with. My top books of 2016 you should get around to are: Missing, Presumed and A Year of Marvelous Ways. Both well written with life lessons that stick around.

Follow my life of reading over on goodreads.

2016books

Conclusions & Other Rambles

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I did not set a resolution for 2016 when I wrote my first reflection. Rather, I went into the year with a general attitude. I hoped that 2016 would be a year of transformation. I think from this general reflection, that yes. I have grown as an individual by focusing on experiences and creating memories. I have gained confidence in some places, but I know that I still have work on gaining confidence in other areas.

2017 will be the year of no excuses. No excuses to making things happen, achieving dreams, and moving forward. No excuses for those around you and for yourself.

Dear 2017. I’m ready. Bring it on.

Getting Back to Happy

gettingback

 

Here’s something different, a brutally honest post, because as humans: why are we so scared to talk about our mental health?

Having now been out of University for over a year, I have been having difficulty coming to grips that this. is. it. University made me feel like I was working towards something; I had a goal in mind – my diploma. Now with being in a full-time job, what is it that I hope to accomplish?

Changes

The first big change was moving back at home. Which – don’t get me wrong – has been great as I’m seeing my parents more, my rent is cheaper than it would have been if I was on my own, and I have a support system. But then there is the flip side, you are seeing your. family. more.

The second big change was my circle of friends became further apart. Instead of waking up and them being there, they aren’t. And it gets weird, because you shared a house with them for THREE years.

So that is where “getting back to happy” comes from. A way to remind myself that living isn’t quite so scary if you keep doing things that make you feel good.

Classes, Classes and oh! More Classes

For starters, I started signing up for leagues that would keep me active and allow me to step away from the house. This first started by signing up for volleyball, which was an excellent way to step out of my comfort zone. Sure I had gone to Olympia for volleyball for multiple years, but I never played on an actual team. I then started to incorporate yoga back into my life. Attending yoga really helped bring my mental focus back into place. I have even started to attend more challenging power yoga classes. Next was getting back into soccer, again a way to challenge myself. Leagues & fitness classes are a sure way to push yourself. I find that if I just go to the gym, I will take the easy way out since I don’t have others to overcome obstacles.

In order to fill the time outside of work, I have also been working towards a certificate in Digital Marketing Management. By doing online courses I have in a way forced myself to keep learning. It is so easy to go to work and then come home watch television. I was doing this routine in the first few months of my new job. Was that particular routine benefiting me in any way? No. Signing up for online courses helps add value to my skill set.

Final Rambling Thoughts

Am I unhappy though? No. I’m just unsatisfied. I realize where I currently am in life is not where I want to be indefinitely. There is so much more I want to accomplish.

A Defense for “Today’s Music”

DSC_0155_edit_bfWho’s tired of the overused phrase “music just isn’t as good as it used to be?” Raise them, raise those hands high.

This past weekend I had the most pleasurable experience of engaging in conversation with an older gentleman, let’s say late 50’s to early 60’s. He thought it was best to – in his beyond drunken state of mind – to argue that my generation won’t get to appreciate music, as we have no defining icon to represent us. He then continued to explain how Rihanna receiving an MTV Lifetime Achievement award is fallacy and how artists stick to music for a year – tops – have a single, and call it quits.

Of course it was at this point in time, after many attempts to explain how we should not dismiss “my generation’s” music that I called it a day. There was no use getting through to someone who was not going to listen to the points I had to express.

As you can see, I’m still bothered. It’s best to write and get this point across:

It is with each generation that they will complain about the younger generation, this is nothing new.

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

This is a quote from Socrates. Yes, Socrates, and yet did you not just resonate with the statement centuries later? Don’t tell me you haven’t complained about an 8-year old owning a cellphone. Heck! I just did that today.

Oh my reader. Do not give up on me just yet, keep pushing through my rambles. This quote still applies to music, don’t rush me now. It relates in that with each new generation comes a new wave of sounds. The generation preceding will complain of the new wave of sound, as they are accustomed to the sounds that define their own generation. A GENERAL overview would look like: 70s – disco, 80s – rock, 90s – age of boy bands, etc. (Of course within each decade is a mixture of even more sounds depending on the crowd you associated with.)

Going back to the nameless man, if we look at his generation, he identifies with the sounds of the 70s-80s. If we look at his parents, they would not have appreciated the sounds of the 70s-80s and enjoyed the sweet melodies from say 40s-50s. Both groups – as you will – have different ways in which music was organized. 70s-80s we get into more of the classic rock guitar sound, while 40s-50s was more focused on the frontman with a band behind.

Overall, for the case of “today’s music” it is really a matter of how it is presented to the masses. Unfortunately there has been an increase in top40, as it is obvious that there is a formula to successful songs. Does that mean that there is no good music for my generation? Hell no. There are so many musicians out there that are still undiscovered just because it is harder for them to get airtime. My generation is dealing with an increase in content that we have to spend more time sifting through what is presented. As an individual, you just have to put a bit more work into finding the great artists. Once you start getting into the digital world and looking about, you will realize all the amazing sounds that are readily available to your ears.

Right now I suggest: “Shake” by The Head and the Heart, “Tornado ‘87” by The Rural Alberta Advantage, and “Giant” by Banks & Steelz.

The Head and the Heart

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Banks & Steelz

Masks Protecting Identities, but Hindering Resistance

This piece was written for my Visual Communications class taken in Third Year.

Masks Protecting Identities, but Hindering Resistance

Victoria Chiasson
20 November, 2013

People are driven to anonymity because they are scared of their government’s power over their futures. As a result, these protestors use masks to conceal their identities, in hopes to change the system without revealing who they are. Two noteworthy examples in today’s society are the Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous, and the balaclava that is worn by Pussy Riot in Russia. Nevertheless, this paper proposes that these masks actually hinder the resistance movement both groups hope to achieve. In order to illustrate this thought, the masks will be discussed in two perspectives. First, this paper will use Karl Marx’s concept of the “Commodity Fetish” and how these masks – because of popularity – have become a trend within society. Next, the masks will be examined through Slavoj Žižek’s notion of how disguises are dangerous because they are embedded with an idea. However, since both groups have a variety of ideas, it is difficult to distinguish what central cause they are fighting for. Therefore, the de-individualization that stems from the use of masks is actually ineffective for protestors, because their activism is lost through the emergence of fads, overwhelming scope of ideas, and lack of humanization.

The Guy Fawkes mask and the balaclava were never initially created to become masks for protestors. They were appropriated by select individuals, and through their success in culture industries, have become a symbol of opposition and resistance. The origins of the Guy Fawkes mask derive from Alan Moore and David Lloyd in their graphic novel “V for Vendetta.” Continue reading

Sarah Dessen “Saint Anything”

There’s something comforting in Sarah Dessen’s writing. Easy-reading for the summer.20160712_211216

Who doesn’t love some chick-lit?

Saint Anything regards all sorts of relationships. Family, friends, love, personal. This is laid out through the life of Sydney, who has always felt invisible. Her brother Peyton won the attention of many throughout their childhood. Peyton, however, begins to spiral out of control and finds himself in jail after a drunk-driving incident.

This leads Sydney switching schools and meeting the Chathams family after deciding to visit the local pizza place after school one day. There she learns more about herself and begins to realize that she too deserves to be heard.

The novel is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and easy ready.

“How a song can remind you of something specific in your own life, like it belongs to you. But how personal can it really be if a million other people feel the same way about it? It’s like a fake meaning, on top of a manufactured meaning, divided by a true.” page. 159.

BOOM. hit the nail on the head with this quote. cough “Do I Wanna Know?” Is the perfect example of this. scratch that. The whole AM album cough.

Follow my reading adventures over at goodreads!

KONGOS @ Velvet Underground

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Last night I went to the Velvet Underground to see KONGOS. It was my first time at this venue, and it was a pretty good setup. The only thing needed for the venue considering it holds up to 500, was A/C. The club gets pretty warm, so keep this in mind for dress attire.

Ascot Royals opened for the band, and they had a good set. They were able to get the crowd ready and have a style classified as “dance rock.” Their style kind of reminds me of the Boys Like Girls, Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional genre. Good sounds to dance and be ridiculous to.

KONGOS went on after 10pm. They opened up with “Hey I Don’t Know” off of Lunatic which is one of my favourite songs! It was a good start to the show to get everyone headbanging. They continued with a few more tracks off of Lunatic, then started incorporating new music from their newest album Egomaniac.

Egomaniac has allowed the band to explore new sounds, which I’m glad they are doing. There are too many bands that once they have a successful single, they become narrowed in on that sound. It’s clear Egomaniac drifts away from “Come With Me Now.” The whole album is supposed to be a commentary of their success anyway! The strongest track from Egomaniac is their single “Take It From Me” which reflects on the band making leeway into the music scene, followed by “I Don’t Mind.”

“Autocorrect” is a social commentary on the future of society, and adds a bit of humour to the world of the digital. Whereas, “Underground” is just a good groove-to song. The album is definitely better live, so I would recommend catching a show with them!

Ending conclusions: I loved the take on “Come Together” with Moezart, he is a super talented rapper. And the encore from KONGOS was great, loved that they played tracks from their father, John Kongos.

Long-live small venues. It gives a more personal and intimate setting where you can actually see the band and feel the vibes! Great night, great music.