How I Cope

I realise that “self-care” is bandied about quite often but I think so few of us really practice it in a way that is healthy.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t think the way I do self-care is ideal. Let me explain.

We all have issues – things that upset us, that makes us mad, that trigger us (I separated those things because I believe that people forget they are not the same. That is a completely separate post I have brewing.)

These last few months, maybe even longer, I’ve noticed myself pulling back further and further from things that I find distressing or harmful to my mental health. This means less news, less twitter, less tumblr, less getting engaged in any and all social media, I even find myself refusing to engage in person on things that are too sensitive for me.

After everything I’ve dealt with, am dealing with still, over the last few years – my health, rape, work, etc. – I don’t have room in my head or my heart to take on the extra stress. To fight the good fight as it were. I see people on social media who run headlong into the muck and mire day after day and I don’t know how they don’t burnout or break under the weight of the crap that comes their way.

In order to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other I need to look at puppies and shut out a lot of the ugliness in the world. I am not unaware of it by any means but I find my life is a lot more headlines than in-depth stories. I don’t want the graphic details. I realise there’s a lot of privilege in this approach. I can bury my head in the sand and pretend the horrific details don’t exist.

I won’t always be this way – but right now – caring for me, making sure I’m functioning as well as I can is how I cope.

State of my Union

Before I jump into the heavy topics I want to give a little life update for you:

Almost three months at the new job and I am still loving every minute. It is an incredible place and I feel like I’ve been there forever. I’m a part of a team there. My opinion and experience count for something and are validated. It is where I need to be and the best career decision I’ve made since I quit grad school. (oh and playing with puppies as needed to relieve stress helps.)

I finally have a car again after almost 5 years without one. FREEDOM!

Healthwise…I continue to struggle a little but the decrease in work stress has minimized my pain levels and Rheum activity but it’s still difficult. I’ve only had 1.5 sick days since I started which is an incredible improvement.My annual bout of SAD is back. Using my UV light, trying to “exercise” a bit, and all the vitamin D can’t save me, so I’m adding another anti-depressant.

Dating is the usual.

I’m trying to be more social and getting out there which is helping.

All in all I can’t really complain, life is good

YAYAYAYAY!

SINCE LAST NIGHT’S SAD “I HATE MY JOB POST” I’VE BEEN CONTACTED BY NOT ONE BUT TWO RECRUITERS!!

Ok I’ll stop screaming now.

I have a phone interview on Friday and a meet and greet on Monday morning before potentially moving on to the employer.

Today at work, wasn’t great, wasn’t not great, it just was. Blah. My boss makes me physically tense up when she’s near me trying to repress the anger but I digress…

I needed this boost.

I really needed it today to help keep the momentum of this weekend with me. I got to relax and have fun and see a lot of people (well a lot by my standards – mmm #wafflebacon) and having some kind of hope that I may not be stuck in this crappy job much longer is going a long way to ensure that.

***

Unrelated to work things. I walked pretty much all around the Toronto Zoo yesterday (except for the Canadian Domain) and I’m only mildly achy in the feet, knees and hips.

I’m holding on to my happy wherever I find it.

Fat Girl at the Gym

I’ve put on another ten pounds in the last year, at least 5 of those in my breasts, but that’s in addition to the extra weight I’ve been carrying around the last almost 10 years since my run in with the anti-depressant Remeron.

Some days I think fuck anyone who judges my weight. I try to carry myself well and dress in a way that flatters my shape and size. And sometimes I just plain don’t care – I happily wear my form-fitting sweater dress with horizontal stripes. I try not to think about how people look at me and my weight.
That said, I know I need to lose weight to help my joints. Losing 10 pounds reduces the amount of pressure on your joints by 40 pounds of pressure. With the way that my feet, ankles, knees and hips are feeling these days, it’s the least I can do for them.

Between not feeling great and worrying about pushing myself too much and using up my energy I’ve not been doing too much physical activity. I sometimes need to rest after a shower or washing the dishes or taking my laundry downstairs…this is life with Rheum.

I have a free gym membership to Goodlife through my job. I wish I used it more. I want to use it more. I need to use it more. I asked for a Wii Fit for my birthday to avoid the gym – that didn’t really work either.

Going to the gym brings out all my fat girl, self-conscious, not good enough issues. From the moment I step into the gym I feel like I don’t belong. I don’t have the right shape, the right clothes and I’m not even remotely “healthy” enough.

I know that many women like women’s only clubs – I hate them. Men at the gym don’t intimidate me or make me feel inadequate, it’s the women beside me on the elliptical who aren’t even breaking a sweat in their tiny Lululemon ensembles, who look like they fell off a magazine cover that make me want to run and hide. (As an aside who makes non “compression” yoga pants these days? My go-to used to be Old Navy but I don’t need my rolls squished when I’m already feeling uncomfortable thanks)

In my mind that woman and every other one is watching me, judging me as I plod along for 20 minutes, sweating, red-faced and puffing for air.

I try to cover up as much as possible at the gym. A form fitting tank to wick away sweat and smooth out the lumpy parts, with a baggy t-shirt over top and yoga pants.

I feel awkward.

I feel like a fat girl. I know the only way to lose weight is to get moving and the gym will help but I hate subjecting myself to that over and over again.

I went to a few Bodyflow classes with coworkers – it was still intimidating. Seeing those women who clearly attend all the time, who bend, and move and look graceful. Then there was me – modified movements, dripping sweat, watching how my rolls squished around in the mirror. It was humiliating in my head. The only time I managed to quell the nagging voice I’m my head was when I finally laid down and closed my eyes, thankful I was still alive.

I see people running outside and I get mad with myself. When I could have done that I didn’t. When I had the chance to get in better shape before my health was taken from me I never used it. I made excuses. I procrastinated. Tomorrow I’ll go to the gym and then tomorrow never came.

People who have seemingly endless energy and physical abilities make me envious (Yes people who constantly log all their gym/athletics are mildly annoying) but I wish I had a quarter of that ability. Truly.

So I start over. Slowly. Trying to remind myself that I am doing this for myself so other people and any judgement they might have can bite my fat ass! The biggest judgements are my own. I know this. I’m hoping that I can keep my self-conscious fat girl voice quiet when I hit the gym this week.

Rheum and The Single Girl – Sex

I haven’t dated much since my diagnosis but I have had sex a handful of times.

For me, rheum got my hands first. Not uncommon but when you’re dealing with swollen hands I guarantee you that one of the last thoughts you have is about how they will affect sex or your ability to pleasure yourself.

Like most health issues you focus your efforts and energies to getting a diagnosis, a treatment plan and hopefully getting well. Sex, depending on the severity of the illness may or may not factor in but when you are dealing with a chronic illness, well sooner or later sex does become a factor.

The truth is, in a lot of ways, I don’t feel or see myself as a sexual being anymore. It’s hard to when you’re being poked and prodded by doctors, pumped full of drugs with side effects like nausea, and your physical appearance shifts – swollen hands and feet, weight gain, and moonface. There is nothing sexy about any of that. Even worse, you might have sexual desire even for a moment but the pain and discomfort outweigh the value of pursuing the pleasure.

Manual masturbation isn’t even a consideration for me anymore. Even when pain levels are low, the dexterity and repetitive motion required becomes painful and causes hand cramps, wrist pain, elbow pain and shoulder pain. So toys. I’ve been a fan of them for years but now they are a necessity and not an addition to my sexual relationship to myself. It’s odd that for the first time, I view having to use my vibrator as distancing me from my sexual self.

In the last year, I haven’t had an orgasm that wasn’t accompanied by pain (and not the good kind either).

Sex = pain/discomfort

That equation is part of the reason I lack desire or pursue sex. Why would I want to do something that will knowingly cost me a pain-free day or three?

I was having sex for the first time after my diagnosis and my partner reached up and grabbed my wrists to hold me down – I yelped and the mood was broken because all I could feel was the pain in my wrists. I don’t blame him. It was something he’d done dozens of times before…it just isn’t comfortable anymore.

The second time I was ill prepared for just how much of my body was truly affected by my disease. I had taken extra pain medication in the hopes it would dull the pain. It did, ever so slightly. The truth was, I cut things off quickly because my body just couldn’t handle it. More pain than pleasure. For almost a week after that experience everything ached: shoulders, wrists, hands, hips, knees, etc…if I had a joint, it probably hurt. Again, my partner wasn’t aggressive and when I asked to change things up we did but my body wasn’t up for it.

But.

When the dust settles, when I’m having good days in a row, when constant pain and anxiety about this illness of mine subsides I want what any woman or man would want: intimacy, sex, and plain old human contact.

So there’s the constant struggle – what my body needs and what my body can handle.

As a single girl there are times when I just wish I had someone to snuggle or be close to without necessarily having sex. It’s kind of an odd situation to say to a partner you’re not in a relationship with or even really dating, “Hey wanna hang out and watch a movie together while I ice or heat various joints?” So instead I spend a lot of nights alone heating and icing while snuggling my duvet or my body pillow I jokingly nicknamed Lloyd.

I’m lucky, The Film Guy knows about my Rheum and my limitations and the last time we saw each other was just after my birthday so I got what I wanted. A lovely evening in Toronto – dinner, lots of snuggling while we watched a movie and then sex! It was the best sex I’ve had in a year for no other reason than I was able to participate in a much for active way than I had previously. My brief time on Avara allowed to me to have almost pain-free sex!

I bought a book on sex and disability last summer but it wasn’t what I wanted. I tried the Arthritis Society of Canada. Nope. What I wanted we’re suggestions to help minimize pain and discomfort during sex. Show me. Give me examples. I like to read to understand all aspects of life and this is no different. The only resource that gave me, what I consider practical advice was the Arthritis Research UK site. If you have arthritis, I think it’s a brilliant site no matter where you live.

It seems like the major arthritis societies shy away from talking about sex. And if they do mention it, it’s in the context of a relationship and the advice is seek counselling. Don’t get me wrong that’s great advice but it doesn’t apply to everyone and certainly not this single girl.

Selfish* condescending and unapproachable, that’s me!

Those are not words I feel as an HR professional should be written on an evaluation, and yet I’m staring at them on mine.

They were accompanied by a book on emotional intelligence.

I do not lack emotional intelligence. I lack giving a fuck. There is a big difference.

I am half inclined to just be more condescending, sarcastic and unapproachable because at this point getting fired would actually be a wonderful thing. Hell I’d quit if I could!

The gist of my appraisal is this: you’re a great employees but you’re sick and that’s too much for us to deal with so get better. If you get better we’ll let you do all kinds of things. Oh and we won’t accommodate you to let you work from home because a lawyer said not to but it’s your fault people have to pick up your slack.

Oh and apparently my coworkers offered feedback about me – I didn’t realize that was an option. I’m tempted to make lists and post them for everyone to read maybe suggest a few of them grow up and act like adults instead of telling my boss.

I am trying to vent all my hostility and anger so I can walk into work on Monday and not cut anyone. I am trying to vent all of this hurt and ager and frustration because I’ve had a headache for 24 hours not that Tylenol 3s, wine, coffee, water, sleep and a orgasm or two have no been able to shake. I am trying to get this all out because I cannot for the life of me figure out how the fuck I got here.

No one of the coworkers I work closely ever asks how I really am. The one person who does, is like my work mom. She checks in if I’ve missed a day, she actually wants to hear my answer if I say I’m not doing well…none of my immediate coworkers ever ask if I’m well. How I’m really feeling. How am I handling things. Do I need anything? But no, I’m the one who needs to put on a happy face and make everyone else think I’m warm and fuzzy. You know when it takes me 1.5 hours to get out of bed because I’m exhausted and I need to stretch just to be able to waddle to the bathroom in the morning, I’m not the most chipper. I try but I am in pain. I am always running on empty.

Instead of anyone trying to help me, I get piled on for not being able to be “reliable”. The ways in which that actually tears me up….

So I need to go to work on Monday, pretend that I’m happy about this shit that’s been dumped in my lap and smile.

Welcome to HR.

*sorry in my rage-writing earlier, I misquoted – I am “sarcastic, condescending and unapproachable”. I apologize for my earlier mistake. Selfish is implied by the way I put everyone else out.

Isn’t It Ironic…?

My life has reached epic proportions of ironic in the last few weeks.

My Passive Aggressive Coworker is ready to give birth any moment now. Somehow it has fallen to me to plan, arrange and organize her work baby shower. Now I will admit that of late, we’ve been getting along better. She’s been making an effort to be a little more understanding and compassionate since I came out about my RA and I suspect her pregnancy related troubles (carpal tunnel, etc…) are softening her to my difficulties. All that said, we aren’t the best of friends. There is at least one person who should have jumped all over this experience to offer her workplace bestie a nice send off. So instead I get to pretend like I’m the caring coworker and throw all this nonsense together.

The better example of irony, however, is that I act as my company’s Return to Work Coordinator. It’s my job to create accommodation plans to allow people to gradually come back to work once they’re been injured. That is only mildly ironic…the true kick in the ovaries is that I am also responsible for researching, developing, and implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act including creating the company’s policy on accommodating employees.

In case you’re missing it – I asked for a workplace accommodation about a month ago from my boss verbally. No response. So last week I escalated it to an email request:

When we spoke previously about my illness and attendance here at work I mentioned the potential for and accommodation with the option to work from home on occasion as needed. As The Company doesn’t have an official accommodation procedure as of yet, I am hoping this email will be considered as a more formal request and a follow up to our discussion.

Having reviewed my attendance from January 1, 2012 until today I realise that I have taken 15 sick days; most of them unpaid sick days. I realise that this impacts the department tremendously; it has also had significant impact on me financially.

Working from home, only when needed, would benefit both The Company and me.  It would allow me to be more productive and reduce the negative impact to the department and ease the financial impact on me. It would also reduce the amount of time I need trying to “catch up” after I have been away from work leaving me more time to take on other assignments. This is particularly important in the RTW Coordinator aspect of my role – there are things that need responses in a timely fashion and being able to provide a response as needed would help the process.

Through all of the challenges that I’ve had this year, I believe that I have maintained an exemplary standard of work and have always ‘produced’ while continuing to assume new responsibilities. I hope that if you have concerns about my work that you would let me know and I will work to improve them.

I have been making up the hours and time off I have been taking for my appointments and keeping track of it. To date, all my appointments have been made up through coming in early or staying late as needed. I try to schedule my appointments to lose the least amount of time from work but sometimes, because of doctors’ availability, this cannot be helped.

I am currently following all the medical advice that has been offered and working with my group of medical professionals towards remission but there are no guarantees and certainly no guarantees this will happen in a timely fashion.

There have been many days when I have come into work and pushed myself to be here to the detriment of my health because I can’t afford to lose anymore time from work and because, unintentionally, I feel pressured to do so. I do suffer quite a bit in silence. Pushing myself today mean I have less available tomorrow and the next day, which is why often at the end of the week I have virtually no energy left.

I realise that allowing me to work from home presents certain concerns/issues.

You voiced your concern about privacy with regards to having me work from home. I would certainly never take Company documents or files from the office to work on them from home but much of what I do in the course of a day can be done with access to my email and files from the HR and Benefits folders. I realise that this is sensitive information but it also the information I deal with daily.

I am also aware that this will set a precedent as far as accommodations are concerned and I expect that it will be monitored closely and reviewed as needed. I would obviously need to inform you as soon as possible when I will be working from home, the hours I will be working and figure out what happens if I do not work a full day while at home.

While there are quite a few details to work through I would appreciate if we could open the discussion to address this and certainly if you require more medical documentation to support this request I am happy to provide that.

Thank you

Keeping in mind that email was sent over a week ago now. My boss continues to ignore it. Coming by frequently to make chit chat and ramble on about nonsense. Since then she has “promised” we would sit down and discuss it before it’s not as “simple” to accommodate as I think.

She rhymed off budgetary issues and other employees wanting the same “perk”, “just ’cause”. I threw back immediately that this request is not “just ’cause”.

*crickets*

I am trying not to let myself get bitter or frustrated or spiteful but dealing with my boss who seems to be hoping that I “forget” my request or end up in remission before they have to accommodate me, it makes me want to scream. I am the first person to admit that advocating for me is not my strong suit but I’m not sure how much clearer I need to be at this point.

My frustrations are compounded by instances like yesterday at lunch. I wasn’t feeling great with the weather that had rolled in and I really just wanted to sit and have a quite lunch alone. Instead I sat with my boss the PA Coworker and her replacement, the new girl. During lunch our boss expressed her deep concern for the PA Coworker’s pregnancy related carpal tunnel. Now I don’t have a problem with that at all – I express concern to her as well. Her hands and wrists are far more swollen looking than mine. My issue comes in when listening to my boss basically faun over her. The PA Coworker’s doctor has said the condition will most likely fix itself a few weeks after she gives birth. She’s not dying, it’s not a permanent condition and the only thing she’s been advised to do is wear a brace. So I listened to that and said nothing. Then as we were leaving the lunchroom together another employee thanked me for the pen I gave her this morning. I’d meant to order a large grip pen but I’d gotten the wrong one and it was a slim silver pen that was pretty useless. Probably didn’t cost more than ten dollars total. When I relayed the story to everyone my boss quipped that she would have to increase her supply budget because I was special ordering stationary. It was a little, flippant comment but it was upsetting.

The reason I have to order a large grip pen is that when holding a normal one to write – and yes, when I am working on trying to flesh out a policy or reading long documents I like to make handwritten notes – my hand starts to cramp severely in just a few minutes.

I am completely disengaged from work at the moment. I spend the majority of my time finding ways to accommodate other people at work and I can’t get the time of day.

Yes, I absolutely have legal avenues I could pursue if they deny me accommodation but so far there hasn’t been a “no” just a delay in response while my boss thinks about it.

From the Ontario Human Rights Commission website:

“The most appropriate accommodation must be identified and implemented short of undue hardship. Deciding what is and is not an appropriate accommodation is a separate analysis from an undue hardship analysis. An accommodation will be considered appropriate if it will result in equal opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy the same level of benefits and privileges experienced by others, or if it is proposed or adopted to achieve opportunity and meets the individual’s needs related to the relevant Code ground. The most appropriate accommodation will be the one that most promotes inclusion and full participation, and effectively addresses any systemic issues.”

Nothing I have asked for would come close to meeting the “undue hardship” standard anywhere. And if there is a more appropriate accommodation, I’m more than happy to discuss it but like I’ve said *crickets*

The chances are, I will not pursue any legal action or file a complaint ever because that’s not my style.

Take note, this is *not* how to treat your employees with a disability.

Big Flare, Bigger Decisions

My most recent flare has unleashed never-ending questions and given rise to a level
of anxiety I haven’t felt in a long time.

– How much longer will I be able to live alone?
– How much longer will I be able to live in this apartment? (No elevator, just
stairs)
– How am I going to take care of my hair? Black hair is quite labour intensive
and requires different care at different times. This week, I’ve barely been able to
brush it
– Will we find medication that will help?
– Will I ever feel good again?
– Am I desperate enough to ask my Gay BF to help me clean this weekend (If you
could see my kitchen sink, you’d know I am)
– Am I desperate enough to ask him to seriously consider living together? (I’m
getting close)
– How many ice packs should I buy (two isn’t enough)
– Should I get another heating pad?
– Am I overreacting? (Then I yawn and feel the incredible pain in my jaw and
know I’m not)
– Am I being whiny?
– Should I even be dating now? Or trying to have sex with someone?  (The thought of someone touching me just seems so painful right now)

This past week was also the final nail in the coffin of whether I will ever be a
mommy. Until this week, there was a 5% chance I wanted to have kids of my own
and now that has been reduced to 0%. Between my depression, which has me
worried I’ll be that small percentage who suffers from postpartum psychosis
and now my arthritis which is making it difficult to care for myself, I can’t take
the chance. If I can’t care for myself properly, why would I bring a child into a
situation where I couldn’t be the best possible mommy I could be?

This decision has been a long time coming. And truth be told, I’m not really sad
about it. Actually, I feel relieved. I think I’ve been looking for a reason to justify
why I don’t want kids for a long time (I know I shouldn’t need a reason but
society isn’t quite there yet).

So Tuesday when I go in to talk to my GP about birth control, I’m going to talk
about a permanent option. I don’t know how she will respond to that thought but
she has been wonderfully supportive over the past year and a bit since she
became my doctor and I love her. Really. Especially lately when I usually end up
turning into a sobbing mess in her office. This appointment will probably be no
different. For now, I will probably go back on the pill until we can find a good
time to deal with surgery.

Some days

It’s no secret I’ve been struggling lately.

My body is warring with me and some days, like yesterday, I just feel defeated.

I woke up exhausted but I had a conference call with one of our consultants so I
pulled myself out of bed, eventually and made it to work on time but just barely.
I knew it was going to be a tough day but I couldn’t have foreseen what actually
happened.

Before the conference call I popped some Tylenol to help with my headache/pain
(this is on top of all the other medication I take daily and weekly). Once the call
was over I returned to my desk and then made a trip to the bathroom. I could
feel my face getting hotter and hotter. Looking in the mirror, I could see I was
flushed. Now my complexion means being pink isn’t uncommon but I was red in
the face like a tomato. Every second felt like an eternity as the pain in my TMJ
intensified. I composed myself, walked to the first aid room in search of a
cold pack. I took it to my boss’ office – I just wanted to let her know I needed a
moment to go take care of myself.

She was on the phone when I walked in an sat down. She ended her phone call,
looked at me and I started to bawl. I was so overwhelmed. I was in so much
pain. I was so exhausted. I couldn’t stop. She quickly got up and closed her door
and offered me a tissue. I eventually blubbered my face was hurting. She spoke
softly to me, got me a cup of tea and let me calm down while I iced my face in
her office.

I appreciate her compassion and her understanding. Currently, I’m taking my
8th sick day since January. I’ve never done this before in my life but then again,
I’ve never struggled with my health the way I am now.

I can’t explain it but my jaw hurting due to the arthritis is emotionally one of the
most difficult parts of this experience for me. I’ve been icing my hands, wrists
and ankles for months now. Yes, there was a certain amount of being upset but
having to ice my face, I just find it devastating and often it has me in tears. Yes,
part of it is the pain but mostly it’s a type of grief I’ve never experienced before.
My *face* hurts.

I’m not new to a chronic illness, I’ve suffered from depression for the last 12
years. Off and on my mood has always been changeable. But this is different in
so many ways.

So far we haven’t found the right combination of drugs to help me. The best
drugs available to RA suffers are biologics. Unfortunately, they are expensive,
averaging about $20,000/ year. Even with my health insurance at work,
$4,000/year is a little too steep for me to handle on a single salary. So we try
other combinations instead.

Beyond the expense and believe me, my pharmacist now knows my face now that I’m
there so often, it’s the limitations I am struggling with.

I’m left-handed in that I write with my left but it’s my right I use for almost
everything else. These days, however, the inflammation is starting to cause that
to change. My right hand, wrist and shoulder are becoming weak due to the
inflammation. Yesterday, lifting a regular drinking glass became too much, I had
to use my left hand instead. I’m thankful I have enough dexterity to switch as
needed but I worry about how long before too much damage is done due to the
inflammation. How long until I can’t do other things.

My rheumatologist, is concerned that my condition keeps spreading. Each visit
with her has seen me add more and more joints to those that are inflamed and
tender. It’s not slowing down. And to think it’s only been 8 months since the
onset. The only major joints that aren’t involved at this point are my hips and
my knees though I have started to notice some stiffness when I climb the stairs
to my apartment.

Part of the reason I don’t blog much anymore is because it’s too painful to type
by the time I get home from work.

Some days I pick and choose what I have energy for. If I cook, there’s a good
chance I don’t have the strength to do the dishes.

Some days holding my phone is too painful.

Some days brushing my teeth is a chore, even with my electric toothbrush.

Some days styling my hair is an impossible task.

Some days I crawl into bed as soon as I get home.

Some days I think it’s never going to get better.

Some days I feel like I can’t keep fighting.

Some days I have no other choice.

Some days I am scared.

Much more than a vacation

There are so many stories to tell. So much I could say but I feel like my words won’t do the experiences justice.

This vacation was a much-needed and well deserved break from my life and the stresses and the disappointments I’ve had recently. And, most importantly it’s been a turning point for me.

Self care has become my motto these days.

When I went to work two weeks ago Friday I was already in vacation mode (my boss went easy on me) and I tied up loose ends before I left. I was already thinking ahead to that night of drinking, food and new friends in Toronto with @metricjulie. That night deserves its own post. Suffice it to say it was awesome!

Sunday the Gay Boyfriend and I got in his car to make the 9 hour drive to Boston. It was an awesome road trip. The weather was perfect. Customs was a breeze. My stomach didn’t misbehave and most importantly we didn’t get lost. It would have been impossible to get lost – you hop on the I-90 and drive east until you hit Boston.

Boo! Go Habs Go!

While our hotel was a little odd – not quite your typical bland place – across from the TD Garden it was perfect for our stay. We were able to walk almost everywhere.

Cannoli from heaven inside!

The first night we took a stroll around the North End and stumbled onto Little Italy. Well actually I was hunting Mike’s Pastry boxes. We soon found it and I got my first of three (it’s vacation calories don’t count, right?) cannolis. We didn’t eat in Little Italy though because the soccer game had just finished and it was a crowded mess. We took our Mike’s box and continued to walk. We ended up at the Rose Kennedy Memorial Rose Garden.

Dinner was seafood…lunch was seafood…repeat.I ate three different kinds of chowdah. (I’m still mad I didn’t buy the silly giant cup that said Chowdah on it!) I had my first lobster roll (cold).

Chowdah & Lobster Roll

I didn’t schedule every moment of our trip. I took naps in the afternoon. Strolled at a leisurely pace and just enjoyed myself.

It felt like breathing freely for the first time in a long time.

One evening I was lucky enough to meet @Hubman & @VeronicaASM for dinner. Now if you follow them and their blogs you know they are open, sexy people. Honestly, their blogs don’t do them justice. My crushes on them have grown tenfold. Beyond the physical, they are possibly two of the kindest, friendliest people I’ve ever met. The conversation was easy and fun and best of all we went for cannolis for dessert! When they finally visit Canada I will return the hospitality!

For me though the most incredible experience was in the Atlantic when we went whale watching. While I’m not a big swimmer I love being near water. There’s something so incredibly calming about water for me. As we were making our way to the area where the whales had been spotted the day before, I was serene. Looking out on the water, feeling the cold wind blowing right through me…it was refreshing. Even as I had the chance to get in my head and unravel all of my stresses and anxieties, I realised there were none in there in that moment.

The Atlantic

Gorgeous creature

Momma and calf

I was worried that we might not see any whales but we got lucky there were two individual humpback whales, named Hancock and Orbit, and then a mom, Boomerang, and her calf that made an appearance. Seeing those beautiful creatures in their habitat, enjoying themselves…there are no words. I was running around on the upper deck of the boat trying to get the best view as they would swim around and pop up on different sides of the boat. It was incredible. Truly awe-inspiring.

I loved Boston the mix of the historical and the new. The feel. The people. The accent (most noticeable at Fenway Park). I wish I could be back on vacation…

The Green Monster