5 Lessons I Learned In Alaska

This past year, I had an opportunity to move to Petersburg, Alaska, located on the small island of Mitkof in the southeast part of the state. I quickly decided to go, knowing it would somehow change my life. It did. I also learned some valuable lessons I may not have learned had I stayed in beautiful San Diego.

1. I learned about finding love

I learned that love experiences are like snowflakes, each experience intricate and unique. To follow some kind of love-finding formula is naive. So who’d have thought Facebook would be valuable in my love life? About a month before I left for Petersburg, I found myself being teased by an intriguing, facetious man via comments on my friend’s page. Immediately this man and I became friends, this friendship evolved into becoming very good friends, and now that I am back in San Diego, we are really good friends, if you know what I mean? *wink wink* Had I stayed in San Diego, I know that we wouldn’t have taken as much time to build our friendship first (especially at our ages, 33 and 44). The hours and hours we spent on the phone, emailing, and instant messaging, just to feel close to one another, were incredibly valuable. Now, I find myself happy and in love with my best friend.

2. I learned how valuable family and friends are during the holidays (and every day, for that matter)

I spent a normally busy and social time of the year alone and bored. It was one of the hardest holiday seasons I’d ever experienced. I made a few friends in Petersburg, but they spent their holidays either out of town or with family. From this experience, I gleaned two things: 1) I need my friends & family, and I don’t want to live without them, and 2) people who are away from their loved ones on the holidays need friends who are more like family. Hopefully, I can put my experience to good use and be there for someone who’s away from their family during the holiday season.

3. I learned how important Vitamin D is to our well-being

I knew when I left for Petersburg that there would be sparse sunlight, but I had no idea it would affect me the way it did. Dark days made it difficult for me to get out of bed to go to work, and when I was out, I was incredibly lethargic and sad. Then, I found out that anyone living North of Oregon should take at least 1000 milligrams of Vitamin D daily. I started by taking 2000 units, and within a few days, I felt normal again.

This was an important find for me not only in Alaska. I realize now that, even in San Diego, I may suffer from slight Seasonal Affective Disorder due to our weather being overcast during the winter.

4. I learned that wool socks are God’s gift to anyone who is regularly cold

When your toes are frozen, nothing warms them like a good pair of wool socks and warm boots. On New Years day, I decided to do the Annual Polar Bear Dip. The air was in the high teens, there was ice on the ground, and the water was a toasty 39 degrees. I jumped with about 30 other people into South Harbor. It was an amazing experience. But, as I toweled off, my toes started to freeze. I swear to you, my wool socks and boots kept me from loosing my toes to frostbite. As God is my witness I will never go without wool socks again.

5. I learned about ice

There was something so inviting about ice that I kept wanting to walk on it and slide around. Sometimes I fell, sometimes I didn’t. I skinned my knees, hurt my wrist, fell on my back or bottom, and even fell in front of strangers. I never learned my lesson, though. I still wanted to walk on ice. I thought I was alone until I saw some kids sliding around a large frozen puddle. I was so happy that I was not the only one who was enticed by the substance. Sure, I might have been the only adult left wide-eyed by the glittery sparkles of ice, but whatever! There were worse things that could fascinate me.

These are just small examples of how my life was changed while living in Petersburg. I will forever carry with me the confidence I found by taking a chance and moving out of my comfort zone. Even if the growth I experience is minute, I still know that I cannot grow without change. I will continue to look for ways to change, even if that change makes me homesick.

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Traci Lopez

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6 comments

  • First of all I really love the Photo or (pic)and second of all the
    5 areas of comparison to life and who we are and where were going in
    life was GREAT. I give you 5 stars. Plus now I can say I know a author.
    Can I have your autograph? So this way when your first book is published
    I can say I knew her first. Great words.

  • Love it. The wool socks made me grin – so true! In the bit about nearly losing your toes: you mean to frostbite, not hypothermia. However, the Plunge seems a good way to acquire both so I suppose one’s as good as the other. For the life of me, I cannot fathom WHY a person would voluntarily jump into icy water like that! You have amazing spirit and determination. You are an inspiration.

    I am inspired to go put on a jacket and drink hot tea.

  • Thank you ladies for reading and leaving comments, I appreciate the sweet things you had to say. Thank you Margie for catching that. šŸ˜‰

  • Five Things I Loved About Your Article

    1. Your snowflake simile.

    2. Your use of the word “gleaned”.

    3. The accurate description of warm footwear as God-given.
    (The little known the forth magi came bearing woolen socks.)

    4. Your fascination with ice.

    5. How you used leaving your comfort zone in the conclusion.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Bosworths-Catalog-of-the-Unsane/213058014121?ref=ts

  • Your experience makes you grow and all that you have learned cannot by taught by book, I have also learned of the call to the snow as I found out when Grama T. was sitting at the big bay window looking out, seeing Robbie, Ashlie and me playing in the snow, as we were all playing when we turned around we had all of the assistant living looking out the window and laughing, They felt the love and also that litle old me and my kids took them back to when they could play in the snow. The Power of the Snow

  • Jennifer Hamilton

    Missing family and friends every day…how true. I’m on a 3-year adventure, in a not so frozen, but very cold and wet part of the world. It rains and stays at about 40 degrees from October to March, and our apartment isn’t terribly warm. My *sexy* Italian lingerie consists of wool socks, long underwear and hoodie. And I take Vitamin D.

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