IT’S LIT(ERARY)!

IT’S LIT(ERARY)!

Slaughterhouse Five

Alright, so I FINALLY read Slaughterhouse Five. (Insert fellow bookies’ gasps here.)
It was one of those books that I knew I would eventually read but it kept getting bumped further and further down my ‘to-read’ list by exciting new fiction. The book I read before this one (In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware- bit of a thriller, fun read) mentioned Slaughterhouse Five in it and I made the decision to finally bite the bullet and friggin’ read it already.

Here’s what I knew about this book before cracking the spine: Funny… Maybe about war? Seriously.

I’m a firm believer in books coming into your life at the right time for specific reasons. This was absolutely one of them. I recently lost my Nan, who was always a huge part of my life and have been struggling with the usual: Sadness, confusion, shock, anger, questioning the meaning of life, etc, etc, etc.

TINY SPOILER ALERT: What stood out to me from this book was Tralfamadore, the planet which the main character thinks he was abducted to, and the thoughts that the aliens (or Tralfamadorians) had about life and death. Here’s what stuck with me:

“The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moment, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a sketch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes.'”

This has been floating around my head since I read it and I’ve sent it to my family members who are also having a hard time with Nan’s passing. What a beautiful concept though, eh? How lucky are we to have these memories that we can go back to whenever we want? It’s much easier to focus on rather than the crappy few weeks we’ve experienced.

If you haven’t already read it, I highly suggest doing so. There are little beautiful nuggets like the one above sprinkled throughout the entire novel and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud then probably realizing what you’re laughing at is horrible and that you absolutely should NOT be laughing. My favorite kind of humour. Dark.

Next up: I Hate The Internet, a useful novel against men, money and the filth of Instagram by Jarett Kobek… Will report back soon.

Vicky

 

The Mountain Story

Obviously having a title with the word ‘mountain’ in it caught the attention of this Hike Addict. I honestly don’t remember how I came across this one. It wasn’t a recommendation which is rare for me because I’m constantly asking friends and family what they’re reading to add to my never-ending “to-read” list. It probably came up on the “If you like THIS, you’ll definitely like THIS” part of Indigo.ca. That sh*t works, I tell ya. I’m such a sucker consumer.
ANYWHO, this book pulled me in pretty early on with a giveaway straight off the bat that 4 people started a hike and only 3 came back. WHO DIED? WHAT HAPPENED? I needed to know. This isn’t a spoiler, by the way, it’s on the back of the book. Chill.
Without going too much into detail, I’d describe this novel as a gripping outdoor adventure with family drama that’s all too relatable and sentimental memories from the past.
I really enjoyed the writing style of Lori Lansens too. Anyone who can write in a way that sparks your imagination to be able to smell the damp moss after a rainy morning in a forest gets points in my book.
Mountain Story gets a solid 4/5 star rating because it’s a good mix of some of my favorite things while still keeping my interest with adventure and mystery. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars would be because about halfway through I put it down for a few weeks, which is totally unlike me.
Yes, life got in the way but I think we all know that you don’t get “too busy” for a REALLY friggin’ good book. You make time. You don’t binge-watch old episodes of The Office on Netflix for the 1000th time.
Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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JOURNEY TO KILIMANJARO: OUR FIRST TEAM HIKE

JOURNEY TO KILIMANJARO: OUR FIRST TEAM HIKE

Yesterday was a big day for us HikeAddicts; We did our first team hike with Dream Mountains! Mary Anne has been meeting and training with this group since the Summer but since I’m a late comer, this was my first time meeting the team and going on a hike with them.

We took on Wolf Trail, a favorite for both of us, and completed it in about 2.5 hours, which was a lot quicker than I had expected with it being WINTER and all. This was my first dead of winter hike and got to break in  my crampons that I got for Christmas- WOOHOO (it’s the little things, friends).

The best part of the morning was getting to meet the people I’ve been in contact with for weeks now and realizing just how dang small Ottawa is. Almost every single person I met knew someone I know. All it takes is “Oh, you play touch football too? Do you know ___?” or “You ski at Mont Ste. Marie? What’s your last name? I know your Grandad!” (anyone in my family can relate to that second one; my Grandad is the most popular guy on the planet).

(Mary Anne took this on our way up)

The actual hike was a chilly yet refreshing one. The first 15 minutes in the parking lot were definitely the most challenging since we were all just standing around shivering but once we got started the blood began to move and I think we were all okay and dressed warmly enough. When I checked the thermostat in my car it was -9 degrees (Celsius, of course) but that didn’t factor the windchill so the best way to describe it would be face numbing with a touch of slow-motion texting fingers. All Canadians know what I mean by that… Except maybe Vancouverites, you guys will never know. 😐

Luckily, there’s not much texting to be done in the middle of a hike.

It was sunny and bright which kept our moods and confidence skyrocketing. Kilimanjaro will be a cinch… Right? JK JK.

We took a break at the half way point for a snack where I learnt that “PACKS OFF” meant you have no choice- you take your friggin’ pack off. I didn’t bring snacks, thinking it’d be a quick and easy hike but my new friend, Bob, shared his homemade dehydrated strawberries with me. Aw man, now I need to buy a dehydrating machine.
(Photo cred: Harry Binks)

(HikeAddicts, baby!)

We began our descent after about 15 minutes of chatting/ taking pictures and I noticed the way down was a lot quieter as I think we were all getting a little more chilly with the lack of incline workout warmth. It went by super quickly though and before I knew we were high-fiving Kristi (one of our team leaders) in the parking lot.

(Snagged this shot on our way down)

Overall, the hike was wonderful and I’m counting down the days until the next one!

Vicky

 

 

 

 

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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MUSIC TO CHILL TO

MUSIC TO CHILL TO

 

Going for a solo nature walk? Driving? Hanging by the fire with a glass of wine and need some musical ambience? Here’s a quick list of some of my all time favorite songs to chill to as well as a few new goodies that I’ve recently discovered.
Enjoy!

Hold You In My Arms- Ray Lamontagne
(Ray’s voice is what I imagine drinking scotch is like for people who actually enjoy scotch.)

All My Days- Alexi Murdoch
Breathe- Alexi Murdoch
(I love me some Alexi Murdoch.)

Library Magic- The Head and The Heart
(Shoutout to my BFF, Meisha, who introduced me to now one of my fave bands at Osheaga in 2013.)

The Trapeze Swinger- Iron And Wine
(For whatever reason I ALWAYS listen to this song when I travel. Plane, train, whatever it is; this is my jam.)

Perth- Bon Iver
(I was late on the game with Bon Iver but got SUPER into their latest album, 22 A Million, this past Summer. Perth is from their self titled album.)

On The Nights You Stay Home- Donovan Woods
(This one gives me feelings of nostalgia. Not sure why.)

Lentil- Sia
Breathe Me- Sia
(I couldn’t make a playlist without my all. Time. Favorite. Artist. Breathe Me always makes me cry and seeing her sing it live in October turned me into a complete basket case. It is, however, an insanely relaxing song. Same with Lentil.)

You Will Become- Glen Hansard
(Swell Season, anyone? Another one of my all time fave voices on the planet. I could honestly do a never-ending blog post on this man alone.)

High By The Beach- Lana Del Rey
(Can’t go wrong with a little LDR. Shout-out to my soul-sister/skeleton twin, California!)

Helicopter- Deerhunter
(A newer find for me. Super relaxing song.)

Coffin Nails- MF Doom
(Super weird/cool band I just discovered this past Summer through a YouTuber I follow.)

Home- Gabrielle Aplin
(I used to listen to this when I was travelling and feeling homesick to apparently torture myself- What’s wrong with me?! Still a beautiful song.)

If you’re a Spotify user, you can find this playlist under my account!

That’s all for now, folks!
Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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CRYSTAL HEALING

CRYSTAL HEALING

I’m the kind of person who can easily get overwhelmed by my racing brain. It’s how I’ve always been and I’ve come to terms that it’s okay because as I’ve grown, I’ve taught myself different ways to be able to take a step back, quiet my mind and calm the F down… Or attempt to balance my chakras (shout-out to those of you who read my post last week!).

Crystals are one of my go-to’s.

Three years ago I found myself looking online for another outlet to help with my struggles with anxiety. Music and reading have always been a huge escape for me but for whatever reason they just weren’t doing the trick this time. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m stressed or overthinking it’s hard for me to focus on a book without reading the same page 27 times and it’s super easy to tune out music and not even hear it anymore.

So I stumbled upon crystals and how each variety has different healing properties. To be honest, I think my first thought was: “Okaaaay, (eye roll) sounds like a bunch of hippy-dippy BS” but after digging a little deeper and reading into it more, I quickly became enthralled and started looking for places in Ottawa that carried crystals; purely out of curiosity.

That’s when I found The Crystal Dawn, a store on Dalhousie Street that carried not only crystals but lots of informational books on them too- JACKPOT.

The Crystal Dawn is exactly what you’d imagine it to be. Upon walking in the front door, you’re welcomed by the sweet scent of incense, a warm smile from the person behind the cash and an overall feeling of relaxation. This place was my jam. I bee-lined for the bookshelf and found a book called ‘The Crystal Bible’ by Judy Hall, which is exactly what it sounds like. It could also easily be called ‘Crystals for Dummies’ because it’s written in a style assuming the reader knows absolutely NOTHING about them. Naturally, I bought it and it’s sitting beside me right now for reference points.

Alright, enough babbling… Here’s a list of my personal top 3 with a quick explanation of what they’re meant for and how I use them in my life. If you’re interested in a more in depth, detailed description of each crystal, I highly recommend picking up ‘The Crystal Bible’ or ‘Crystal Healing’ by the same author; both are great!

Clear Quartz
Colour: Clear to a little smoky

Clear quartz crystals are the most common types of crystal in the world, making them very easy to find in stores. They can bring clarity, energy and power into our lives and are a great tool in meditation.

Personally, I use them in meditation to assist in grounding and I own lots of jewellery (most of which was gifted to me because I have a wicked family and friend group who know about my love for crystals).

Fun fact: Because of it’s known ability to strengthen auras, clear quartz is also thought to stimulate the entire immune system. Who needs Cold FX?

img_9414(Here’s my clear quartz that I use almost daily)

Smoky Quartz
Colour: Smoky grey with shades of black or brown

Smoky quartz is yet another grounding gemstone that promotes strength and stability with properties that are thought to be connected with Mother Earth. This crystal pretty much acts like an anchor so naturally I’m obsessed.

Fun fact: There are some varieties that are used to communicate with GHOSTS! WHAT?! Cool, right?

img_9399(One of my all time favorite pieces given to me by my Momma)

Amethyst
Colour: Purple to lavender

Amethyst is a natural tranquilizer that blocks negative environment energies. It has strong healing and cleansing powers and enhances spiritual awareness. When used in meditation, it turns thoughts away from the mundane into tranquility and deeper understanding.

I have amethyst crystals EVERYWHERE. From my keychain, (found a beauty on a trip last year to Tobermory) to my jewellery to my apartment where they’re randomly scattered around… This purple gem surrounds my life. For me, they’re used as a reminder to chill out. They’re also super pretty and happen to be my favourite colour so that’s just a fun little bonus.

Fun fact: Amethyst fades in sunlight so if you want to keep it a bright purple, keep away from windows!

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(My Tobermory find. This baby never leaves my side when I’m out and about.)

Happy trails and namaste,

Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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CHAKRAS FOR DUMMIES

CHAKRAS FOR DUMMIES

Our 7 chakras, explained by a rookie.

WTF are chakras and why do hippies keep talking about them? Simply explained, chakras are 7 centers in our bodies where energies flow through. Blocking ‘em up can lead to illness (psychical AND mental) or an overall feeling of “yuckiness”.

There are multiple names for each one but here’s what I call them and my broken down explanation of what each one represents. Again, I’m a rookie. This is what I’VE experienced. Everyone’s different and we’ll all have unique reactions to blockages but here are my 2 cents:

Crown
Location: Top of head
Wisdom & enlightenment
The center of connecting to something that’s bigger than oneself.
When our crown chakra is balanced we feel strong, focused and joyful.
When our crown chakra is imbalanced we feel loss of self and lack of connection to the universe.

Intuition
Location: Forehead
Imagination & perception
When our intuition chakra is balanced we feel a mentally strong connection to ourselves.
When our intuition chakra is imbalanced we tend to over-think and experience mental blocks.

Throat
Location: You guessed it…
Creativity, expression & communication
When our throat chakra is balanced we easily express our feelings, ideas and thoughts.
When our throat chakra is imbalanced we feel a sense of rejection as well as selfishness and difficulty expressing ourselves.

Heart
Location: You guys are getting good at this
Sympathy, empathy & love
When our heart chakra is balanced we feel love and connection to self and others.
When our heart chakra is imbalanced we feel depression, loss of connection and lack of caring.

Power
Location: Solar plexus
Motivation & desires
When our power chakra is balanced we achieve goals and feel self-confident.
When our power chakra is imbalanced we feel impatient, nervous and have low self-worth.

Sacral
Location: A couple inches under your belly-button
Vitality & sensation
When our sacral chakra is balanced we feel alertness and an acute connection to all 5 senses.
When our sacral chakra is imbalanced we feel repressed and disconnected from our senses.

Root (my personal fave/I tend to give the most attention to)
Location: Tailbone
Grounding
When our root chakra is balanced we experience good energy, a sense of security and total body awareness.
When our root chakra is imbalanced we feel lethargic, resistant to change and the urge to slow things down.

That’s all I’ve got, friends! I hope this helped simplify what chakras are and that you learned something today. Come back next week to learn super easy life changes that I’ve personally made to make sure they’re properly balanced!

-Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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About Us

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Vicky
Hi! My name is Victoria but I’ll also respond to: Vicky, Vick, Tor, Toria, Ricky, Rick, Rickster and Ricky-Bobby. I’m a cottage kid at heart, an outdoor enthusiast and I have a healthy yet real addiction to books. One of my all-time favorite things is when someone who knows me well suggests a book to read. YASSS, THANK YOU. Born and raised in Ottawa, I’ve seen the progress this city has made over the years and feel personally offended when I hear someone mutter the words “Ottawa’s boring”. There’s so much to offer in this country’s beautiful capital; go explore! My areas of “expertise” (HA!) I’ll contribute to this blog will be: hiking, running, reading, meditation, crystals and overall relaxation. Welcome to the smorgasbord!

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Mary Anne
I’m just a small town farm girl who ended up in the beautiful city of Ottawa . After moving several times, I call Ottawa home along with my boyfriend Matt and amazing dog Bruce. I took up hiking 6 years ago, after my sister took me up a grueling (for me at the time) hike up Moose Mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Ever since then, hiking has been my happiness, clarity, and passion as I escape to the Gatineau Hills as often as humanly possible. My equal love to hiking is my career – afternoon drive radio personality on Ottawa’s New Country 94. I’m incredibly lucky to have found something I love doing every single day! My areas of wisdom I can’t wait to share include: hiking, workouts/training, healthy recipes, hiking gear, mindfulness and being a badass.

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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MOUNT MARCY

MOUNT MARCY

Location: Lake Placid, NY, USA
Starting Point: Adirondack Loj, Lake Placid
Elevation: 5,344ft (#1 Highest Peak)
Ascent: 3,166ft
Route we took:  Start from the Log parking you with go by Marcy Dam, along Phelps Brook, up to Indian Falls to summit. Return.
Total Distance:
 24 km
Time: 8 hours
Level of Difficulty: Tough long day

 

Mount Marcy is a hike that has been in the back of our minds for a while now. It’s the highest peak in New York State and an easy 3-hour drive from Ottawa.

We thought this would be the PERFECT debut for our blog. A quick roadie across the border, a relatively challenging hike and some exceptional fall foliage views at the summit. What more could we ask for?

Turns out it wasn’t quite as exceptional as we had hoped.

We drove up Saturday afternoon and stayed at an Airbnb (which was a yoga studio by day) in Saranac Lake, a 30-minute drive from Mount Marcy’s trailhead. Mary Anne kicked off the weekend with a nasty cold so we decided to take it easy and climbed into bed at 9:00 pm. Couple of party animals, eh?

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(Our digs)
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(These trees surrounded our Airbnb- COME. ON.)

After a quick yet energizing breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe, we hit the road and arrived at the trailhead by 9:00 am, knowing there was a long day ahead. Our confidence was quickly shaken, however, after warnings from four different sources telling us to consider a different mountain. We were deadset on Marcy and agreed on a 4.5 hour turnaround time as sunset was around 6:00 pm.

(The only sunshine – at the beginning of our hike)

The trailhead was right off the parking lot at the Adarondak Loj, making it VERY easy to find (always a bonus for us HikeAddicts).  The air was an unusually warm 18 degrees for mid October, and the skies were cloudy and threatening to rain.

We followed the blue circle trail, which was overall easy to follow, except for close to the peak where it turned into yellow lines on the rocks.

The first 3/4’s of the trail are a total breeze for an experienced hiker. That being said, the length of the trail, altitude and difficulty at the top makes this hike not beginner friendly. We had two big confidence boosts along the way: One from a solo hiker named Alison who was on her descent.  She had no doubts we could summit in time and was a total badass in our opinion for doing it alone.  Another was a group of young guys from New York who sped by us and said we better see them at the top. We chatted with them for a little bit and it was reassuring to know that we now had someone looking out for us on the mountain.
The last 45 minutes were not exactly fun. Due to fog, we could not see ANY of the views we were promised of the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains. At this point we were trying to summit based on pure merit, not for the view. The last half hour or so consisted of scrambling, trying not to be blown away by extreme winds and silent nods to the few people we passed along the way.

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(If you look closely you can KINDA see my eyes. WHAT A VIEW EH?)
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(Mary Anne walking into the Fog… Scary movie, anyone?)

When we were about 15-20 minutes from the peak we ran into our New York buds who were super proud of us for toughing it out. Then the funny request came. Apparently their buddy, Keith, had bailed on their hike at the last minute and being a bit of a ladies man would have loved to meet us. They took a quick video of us basically telling this Keith guy that he wussed out and that we’re tougher than him. They laughed throughout the whole thing and thanked us as we continued our ascent.

(Can’t you see the pure excitement in our faces?!)

By the time we summit the mountain, we could barely see our hands in front of our faces. It was insane. The wind was tearing across the top of the icy mountain and whipping our hair sideways. Since there wasn’t a view to capture, our mission to find the Mount Marcy plaque for a picture became our obsession. There needed to be some proof that we actually conquered this B, for our sake but also for the sake of our first blog post! After frantically searching for 10 minutes we came close to giving up (out of pure frustration, Mary Anne threw her iPhone off the side of the mountain- JK, the wind whipped it out of her hands) but we FINALLY found it with the help of a few other crazies who had summit that afternoon so we quickly snapped our pic and began our descent.

(Sidenote: We didn’t even read the plaque)

About one hour into the descent we both agreed that we were over it. Mary Anne’s cold had gotten worse and my struggle with altitude sickness was kicking in again. Not gonna lie, it was rough and knowing that we still had a solid 3+ hours to go was pretty daunting. For 2 girls who chat about everything and anything while out in the wilderness, we became uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the hike. We were making good time though, ripping down the mountain in anticipation of the tea, snacks and heated seats in my car for the drive home.

The last hour consisted of us chatting and laughing about how little we had talked in the descent and pointing out areas of our bodies that were achy (typical for us). We’re not whiny girls, but our hips and knees aren’t in the same shape as they were in our teens. It was about 5:00 pm when we saw the trail-head and started celebrating another successful yet challenging hike.

After a speedy costume change into head-to-toe sweats and a pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for some hot drinks, we were on the road again headed home. Being in my car meant endless Bon Iver, Iron and Wine and Donovan Woods for a relaxing cruise back into Canada.

HikeAddicts blog entry #1: Complete!

-Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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