Heartwell Institute, Worcester, MA, USA

January to July, 2016

Heartwell is a very special place to us. We were approached by the owners, Zayda and Bob, who had found our profile on a house-sitting site, to house-sit and they needed a decision fast. After speaking on the phone with them we drove to Heartwell 2 days later to meet with them on a Thursday. They would need our decision by Monday! At the time, we were living in a small but comfortable apartment above our work space and the commute would change from seconds to 90-minutes each way. On the other hand, the perks were that we would live rent and utility free and that we’d meet new people through the events that were hosted there and the airbnb guests (both of which we’d have a hand in facilitating) … it was a big decision but in a way it felt like the beginning of our travels, meeting new people, learning to accommodate to different situations, applying our skills and learning new ones…


However, our cat, Jilly, was a major consideration. She was 19 and her age was wearing on her.  She had been diabetic for the past 10 years, needing 2 shots of insulin a day. She had also suffered several strokes but had always pulled through but we didn’t want to stress her at this stage in her life and we went home to consider how or if this could work. Then, on Sunday morning Jilly had another stroke and it was bad – she couldn’t stand up for several hours and wasn’t eating. She rallied in the afternoon and even started eating but in the evening she had one stroke after another. It was a torment to see and hear her cry and it was obvious her time had come. We called a 24-hour animal hospital and they heard her crying in the background and confirmed what we already knew. At about 10pm we took the most painful drive we’ve ever had to take to have her euthanized – it was also the most amazingly heart-touchingly sweet, touching and gentle drive and experience.

A few days later we moved to Heartwell and began our 6-month house-sitting position. Bob and Zayda, the owners of the property called us the House Masters. Our responsibilities were to take care of the place, taking in the mail, watering plants, liaising with the owners, assisting where we could with events, booking and taking care of airbnb guests (one of our favorite aspects of this assignment). We also did some garden clean-up:

One of the highlights was taking care of airbnb guests – we really liked making guests feel comfortable, at ease and welcome. We enjoyed meeting people who came to stay from other parts of the country and the world, chatting with them about their lives, and ours. We made some very special connections during this time.

Categories: TRAVEL BLOG