How I’ve survived my first Alaskan Winter

For a girl originally from a tropical Pacific Island, moving to the sub-Arctic (Nome, Alaska) was a scary thought.

I had no idea if I could make it through the cold, dark winters or not…but I figured there’s only one way to know! I’m not an expert, but here are some of the things I’ve done to get through my first winter so far:

1. Find community, make lots of friends. We need community, and the warmth and love it brings, can stave off the bitterest cold! I love this family! And Carol, their amazing mother, is a fellow third culture kid!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Take Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Zinc supplements. For all the sickness going around, so far I’ve only gotten a head cold, but I overall have been well! supplements

3. Get out every day possible and come face-to-face with the Sun. I need the light, the warmth, the reminder that there still is Light. (that iceberg is 10-12 feet tall!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. If you can’t get out to greet the sun for whatever reason, get a SAD lamp. My favorites are: Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, White. You can set this one to slowly get brighter to mimic the sunrise, PLUS it has bird song that sounds beautiful (optional setting)! Phillips sad lamp

and NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp. It’s so bright–it’s enough to make you smile! Sad lamp smile

5. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits! Fresh produce

6. Find something creative that you enjoy doing indoors. I love art, and making things–I really want to learn how to knit cute things like these Eskimo slippers (made by a sweet Inupiat lady from Wales, AK): Eskimo slippers

7. Invest in a good, warm coat. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” I first heard this from my Norwegian professor at the University of Minnesota, and it’s a circumpolar saying that really is true. Buy a good, solid coat. even if it is expensive. After doing tons of research, and talking to people and lots and lots of outdoors people, I chose Canada Goose-the Mystique. I love it! I feel like I am crawling back into my comforter every time I put it on, and it makes easy to get up and brave the cold outdoors then!

Me and dog
8. Get other warm layers.
Like this wool sweater, hand knit in Ecuador. They know how to make warm clothes! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

9. Exercise regularly. My favorite now is candlelight yoga. Especially here, because it’s dark so much! I learned to do candle light yoga in Denver, and I am so grateful. Here it makes it feel like it is okay that it is dark–because the candle light validates the darkness…or the dark validates the candles. šŸ™‚ I do it when I get up, and it gives me something to look forward to, to get out of bed for!


10. Get some awesome videos about the place you are living, to relish it, to enjoy it and admire the history of the world you now inhabit. I have personally loved the 1922 film, “Nanook of the North”, “The Fast Runner. Nanook of the North

11. Get warm bedding–fleece sheets, electric mattress pad, microfleece blankets all help keep you warm and toasty at night!

11. You find your happiness and your peace wherever you choose it.

12. Live open-handedly–give freely to others.

13. Live open-handedly–let yourself receive from others. A gift from my neighbors.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

14. Get Bogs. Water-proof, insulated, warm boots, rated to -30 degrees is good. I like these McKennas, because I can also wear them to work! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

15. Make lots of warm drinks. For your soul comfort.

Evening tea

16. Know that everything is impermanent–the darkness, the cold, the ice and snow.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 12.27.46 AM
snowflakes that stay

17. Surround yourself with your favorite things, beautiful, fun things that you enjoy.
It is such a pleasure to eat from this plate!Talavera plate

And to drink from this handmade mug:

18. Be open to what is. Accept it, embrace it. this is hands-down the best advice that I received from some friends when I interviewed in Alaska. They said the people who stayed–and really liked it–were the ones who didn’t have any expectations of how things should be, nor were they judgmental about how things are; rather they just embraced it, as-is.

12 thoughts on “How I’ve survived my first Alaskan Winter

  1. Love your wisdom and attitude, happy to hear you have a local “family” to support you. Hope I can maintain that same optimism if I get the chance to transfer there.

    • Thanks, Marsha! I agree–I’m so lucky to have an adopted family. šŸ™‚ Yes, I keep learning every year in life that attitude is so much a choice. I love the quote: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. Plus, by focusing on the positive things, it draws and attracts and leads to more positivity. šŸ™‚ Hope you can come to Nome! šŸ™‚
      Shana recently posted…Spring collectionMy Profile

  2. Shana! I am loving your blog!! It looks like Nome is an amazing place and is teaching you a lot as you are giving back to the community. I love your adventurous spirit, your amazing photography skills and you!! Thanks for letting us follow along on your journey!

  3. Wow great blog. I have been dreaming of moving there for some time and especially after spending a couple weeks in alaska last year but admit I am nervous about the winter. Hope you are well. Stay safe. God bless.

  4. My wife and I and 3 kids finally had enough of the rat race in CA and made the move to AK in summer. Dreading the first winter like most do, we started buying cold weather gear, studded tires etc.
    The light deprivation has really been the worst part, sort of messes with your head, each person in a different way. But we are working our way through this winter I noticed an interesting side effect, as a family we have grown so close and loving, esp wife and I. This blog is amazing.

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