The everyday life of a New England woman.

"What a long, strange trip it's been." ~ Grateful Dead

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One Step Closer…

The last time I wrote about life in general, I spoke about school, my summer class, my internship, my 2014 walking goals, the Appalachian Trail, and my general anxieties about what the future holds.

The spring semester is done as of this week. I’m beyond excited to be graduating soon! I was initially not the happiest about having my summer class moved from May to July, but now I’m pretty happy about it, because it gives me two months off to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and go into that last class (Domestic Violence, which I’ve registered for) with a clear head.

This past Friday, I completed my internship. 560 hours DONE. While I was actually slightly sad about leaving because I like the people there and I got so used to being there, I am more happier than sad that it’s over. My agency staff gave me a nice little breakfast at my last staff meeting and presented me with a boatload of coffee and a nice engraved mug that says my name with the title “MSW” (Master of Social Work), and “Class of 2014″. It was a thoughtful gift that I’ll treasure. Now it’s time to get this graduate degree done and move onto the next big thing, which will hopefully be a 2015 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail! I hope to try and find out by late June about my student loan payment, if not it won’t be until later.

Walking has been much better since the weather turned better.  Last month, I walked 27.6 miles, this month so far I’ve walked 21.6. My knee with the IT band problems had gotten better for a while, but then took a turn for the worse again. It’s not excruciating, but it can be painful, and I need to try and get it figured out if I’m to hit the trail. I need to reweigh my backpack items on a friend’s farmers market scale, but according to my current weight I have my pack weight down to 28.8 pounds with four days of food and two liters of water. Not too bad, but perhaps not the most accurate. Still, if I can keep my pack weight at 30 pounds or less, I’d be very happy.

Speaking of the future, I am trying to be less anxious and, dare I say it, neurotic, about what the future holds. I know how hard I’ve worked to get where I am today, and I have to believe that everything will work out as it should.



Top 10 Fire Starters

Campfire/bonfire season is here! Here are the top 10 best ways to start yours this season!


Brit Floyd Concert [VIDEO]

I went to a concert last night at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. Brit Floyd is a Pink Floyd tribute band, and they were fantastic!

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How to Survive Hypothermia


Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

I’ve had outer left knee pain when I walk or hike any kind of distance (besides just walking to the mailbox or car or whatnot). For the longest time, I thought that my problem was my knee joint itself. I started taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, to no relief. Finally, I figured out that my pain was Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome. Here is some great information I found about ITBS:

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common causes of knee pain, particularly in individuals involved in endurance sports. It accounts for up to 12% of running injuries and up to 24% of cycling injuries. ITBS is typically managed conservatively through physical therapy and temporary activity modification.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)?

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when excessive irritation causes pain at the outside (or lateral) part of the knee. The iliotibial band (ITB) is a type of soft tissue that runs along the side of the thigh from the pelvis to the knee. As it approaches the knee, its shape thickens as it crosses a prominent area of the thigh (femur) bone, called the lateral femoral condyle. Near the pelvis, it attaches to 2 important hip muscles, the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and the gluteus maximus.

Iliotibial Band-SmallIliotibial Band Syndrome: See More Detail

Irritation and inflammation arise from friction between the ITB and underlying structures when an individual moves through repetitive straightening (extension) and bending (flexion) of the knee. Typically, ITBS pain occurs with overuse during activities such as running and cycling.

ITBS involves many lower extremity structures, including muscles, bones, and other soft tissues. Usually discomfort arises from:

  • Abnormal contact between the ITB and thigh (femur) bone
  • Poor alignment and/or muscular control of the lower body
  • Prolonged pinching (compression) or rubbing (shearing) forces during repetitive activities

The common structures involved in ITBS are:

  • Iliotibial band
  • Bursa (fluid-filled sack that sits between bones and soft tissues to limit friction)
  • Hip muscles

ITBS can occur in:

  • Athletes performing repetitive activities, such as squatting, and endurance sports such as running and cycling
  • Individuals who spend long periods of time in prolonged positions, such as sitting or standing for a long workday, climbing or squatting, or kneeling
  • Individuals who quickly start a new exercise regimen without proper warm-up or preparation

Signs and Symptoms

With ITBS, you may experience:

  • Stabbing or stinging pain along the outside of the knee
  • A feeling of the ITB “snapping” over the knee as it bends and straightens
  • Swelling near the outside of your knee
  • Occasionally, tightness and pain at the outside of the hip
  • Continuous pain following activity, particularly with walking, climbing, or descending stairs, or moving from a sitting to standing position

Pain is usually most intense when the knee is in a slightly bent position, either right before or right after the foot strikes the ground. This is the point where the ITB rubs the most over the femur.

How is It Diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will ask you questions about your medical history and activity regimen. A physical examination will be performed so that your physical therapist can collect movement (range of motion), strength, and flexibility measurements at the hip, knee, and ankle.

When dealing with ITBS, it is also common for a physical therapist to use special tests and complete a movement analysis, which will provide information on the way that you move and how it might contribute to your injury. This could include assessment of walking/running mechanics, foot structure, and balance. Your therapist may have you repeat the activity that causes your pain to see firsthand how your body moves when you feel pain. If you are an athlete, your therapist might also ask you about your chosen sport, shoes, training routes, and exercise routine.

Typically, medical imaging tests, such as x-ray and MRI, are not needed to diagnosis ITBS.

Can this Injury or Condition be Prevented?

Maintaining core and lower extremity strength and flexibility and monitoring your activity best prevents ITBS. It is important to modify your activity and contact your physical therapist soon after first feeling pain. Research indicates that when soft tissues are irritated and the offending activity is continued, the body does not have time to repair the injured area. This often leads to persistent pain, and the condition becomes more difficult to resolve.

Once you are involved in a rehabilitation program, your physical therapist will help you determine when you are ready to progress back to your previous activity level. He or she will make sure that your body is ready to handle the demands of your activities so that your injury does not return. You will also receive a program to perform at home that will help you maintain the improvements that you gained during rehabilitation.

Exercise for ITBS that I Personally Use

Side Leg Raise


Lie on your left side, rest your head on your left arm, and place your right hand on the floor in front of your chest. Your legs should be straight with your right leg on top of your left leg. Without moving any other part of your body, slowly raise your right leg as high as you can. Pause, then return to the starting position.



How to Sleep Warm


How to Estimate Remaining Daylight

What Does the Future Hold?

I didn’t realize it’s been so long since I posted here. It’s been tough to even catch my breath with everything going on in my life right now. So what’s been going on?

Well, I’m officially half way through the semester. I’m pretty burned out with writing and such. I’m really quite ready to be done, and I have a six week summer course to do. Unfortunately, I found out that the summer course is in Session B, which runs July 7 to August 15; instead of the preferred Session A, which runs May 19 to June 27. This is apparently going to delay the date in which I can find out about my student loan payment plan and then make plans to either thru-hike the Appalachian Trail next year or start looking for a job.

My internship is nearly done. I have a month and a half left, but out of that month and a half, I only have approximately 16 days of actual interning left. Today I transitioned from Family Services to Permanency, which is my final transition. Before Family Services, I did Assessments. The internship has been great, and I sort of feel bittersweet about actually leaving the agency, now that it’s so close to being over. I got used to getting up in the morning and going there, but it’s all part of changes in life.

I’ve been keeping busy in my personal life, as well. I’ve got quite a bit going on, and that’s OK, but it’s nice to be able to get a breather once in a while too. My goal to walk more in 2014 has been pretty shoddy due to the relentless New England winter. Too cold. Too icy. Snowing. It’s ridiculous. I know it is what it is, but tomorrow is the first day of March!

My mind has been running non-stop with thoughts of grad school coming to a close, interning coming to a close, the terrifying thought of being up to my eyeballs in student loan debt, worries about finding a job, worries about my car lasting until I get a job…I’m trying to train my brain to not worry about stuff that I have no control over. In the meantime, I’m walking the trail to where I want to go both personally and professionally. I’ll do my part and give my 100%. The rest will be what it will be.

Back In the Saddle


I made a “New Year’s Resolution”, of sorts, to walk more in 2014. In 2013, I walked 222.8 miles. So far, 2014 has been brutally cold (below-zero temps) and dangerously icy, so I haven’t been able to walk! In four days, I’ll be heading back to Portland for classes. I’m pretty excited to get this degree done and be able to focus on other things in my life. I’m especially looking forward to finding a way to make a 2015 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) a reality.

Some of you may recall that I was going to do this hike back in 2012. For a variety of reasons, primarily self-doubt due to medical issues, I backed out at the last minute. While I have since been cleared of the then-unknown (now stress-related) medical issues, I still have medical issues that I have to contend with on a chronic basis: migraines and stage IV endometriosis. I currently manage my conditions through medications, but I am experimenting with other ways to manage these chronic conditions. For more information on endometriosis, check out my other blog at

My other main issue (which is why I have yet to make any official announcement regarding plans to hike the AT) is my student loans, of course. I have to wait and see what kind of payment plan I can make with my lender(s). If my payment plan is too high, I won’t be able to hike. If it’s affordable…WOO-HOO!

While I wait, everything else is going well. I’m keeping busy interning, being given more responsibilities and projects and essentially just enjoying the whole experience. I finally did some major work on my LinkedIn profile in preparation for the big job hunt after I’m done with school (and hopefully the AT!) and am always looking for folks to network with there (hint, hint!). I’m back in the saddle, riding into a brighter future!

Ready, Set, Go!

Mt. Chocorua Winter

Mt. Chocorua In Winter

It’s pretty much the end of my two week vacation. Despite having the stomach bug during the first few days, it was a great vacation. I was glad to have that portion of my “winter illnesses” out of the way so that I wouldn’t have to take any time off from interning. My vacation was very relaxing…I was hoping that it would be more adventurous, but we got one snow storm the first weekend I had off and an ice storm just before Christmas and we’re expecting another snow storm Sunday into Monday, so I wasn’t able to do any small road trips as I was hoping.

I’m ready to get back into the swing of things, and get my graduate degree done. It’s scary to actually sit here and think about it, but it’s time to be done with school. So why is it “scary”? Well, because I live in eastern-central New Hampshire, where there aren’t many social work jobs.  If I didn’t have the student loans encumbering me, I could surely open my own private practice, but that’s not really realistic with the black cloud of loans. As for now, I have 272 hours left of my internship and one semester and a quick six week elective left to go (the spring semester starts January 15th).

It’s funny how life takes you in many different directions from the path you thought you might take. All through my childhood, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve also wanted to be a teacher, physical therapist, biologist, and police officer. I went as far as getting my criminal justice degree and I went to work as a security officer as a “stepping stone” (it isn’t really a stepping stone, per se), but then I realized that I liked the social interaction involved in helping people rather than just telling them what to do. Thus, the social worker in me was born.