Lemons to Lemon Aide

Lemons to Lemon Aide

This is the chronicled adventures in starting over, moving on to new life in Alaskan Interior.

I was asked to write this article by chance.  This chance encounter happened last week because it’s almost August 1.  This is the time of year when my thoughts are turning to happy childhood memories of the Swiss Independence Day Picnic in Newark California.   The sites, smells and music filled the air while my sisters and I ran and played with other children in the picnic area. The laughter and singing often filled the air as the picnic visitors connected with the traditions of the homeland they left behind.

One way of feeling closer to my cultural heritage began last week with in search of local Swiss events in the Alaskan interior  The success was finding an  a Swiss restaurant and inn located in Talkeenta.  According to Google maps it will be a 4 and ½ hour drive from North Pole.

Now the craving hit for Swiss chocolate Specifically Bruggli.. These chocolates were sold at the magazine stands at the Swiss Train stations.  Sometimes these treats were given by relatives, as we traveled in the German speaking parts of Switzerland.  Sometimes they were passed out at the Swiss Club house in Mill Valley during Christmas and Easter.  The confections were freshly handcrafter by Phillip Myer.   He was a Swiss chocolatier that immigrated to the Bay Area many years ago.  I fondly remember noticing how his eyes lit up and the big smile that crossed his face during Easter Egg hunts.

My name is Karla Anderson-Weber. I am a first generation Swiss-American.  My childhood was spent growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  My dad grew up in Art Goldau my mom grew up in Schubelbach.

I left California in 1993 heading for Alaska.  I spent an extended time in Washington helping out on a friend of the family’s farm in Bellingham.

I ran out of money.  It was time to find work.  Life slowly began to happen.

In the last 20 plus years in Washington have brought much happiness and great sadness with the highlights having two wonderful two daughters ages 12 and 15.  The second is having the opportunity to return to college and obtain a bachelors degree from The Evergreen State College.  The third was living in the Olympic Mountains.

My total time in Washington was 22 years.  The last 10 years have some major success and some epic implosions this included loosing a husband to the meth epidemic that has hit the Pacific North West.

The economic recession made finding work difficult. I spent one year in post bachelor studies from 2011-12.  The best I could come up with was substitute work for the local school district in Olympia.  I was grateful for the work.

The work that I loved the most was being a Para Educator.  The time spent in the resource classroom helping non traditional learners grasp challenging concepts was the most fulfilling.  The exciting moment when the light learning is sparks in a young person is the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced.  However the income was inconsistent I needed full time work.

It was time for a change.

The opportunity for change came in October of 2014.   I received word of a solid job offer.  It was an Ameri corps Vista position at Access Alaska  working on resource develpment for the Youth in Transition program.  The program focused exclusively on supporting youth with different types of disabilities.

The first step and the hardest part was letting go of the wonderful  relationships we had developed over the many years in Washington.  Even though I am very grateful for the innovation of Face book bring closure was still difficult.

Alaska Wildlfires

The interior Alaska wildfires this last week have been epic.  The smoke was  so thick the sky was no longer visible.  When the sun did show through the billowing smoke it was shade of red and orange.

The dry spruce forest were  ideal conditions for the rash of recent lighting strikes to start many fires through out region.  The earlier snow melting and the more intense summer heat  resulted in large quantities of combustible material on the forest floor.  In addition the minimal tree moisture supported the ideal fire conditions  These weather changes and current fire conditions have been directly linked to global climate change.

The air quality as of this morning news check was rated as unhealthy.  The Air quality monitor had the particulate level at 2.5.  However late morning we have been blessed with rain. This will hopefully slow down the progression  of the larger nearby fires.

Interestedly enough  locals have spoken of the summer of 2004 being much worse. The fires destroyed even a larger area of forest. Some estimates  for  2004 have the total amount at over 1 million acres.   What has been evident through out this entire week is the unstoppable spirit of the local communities.  The people have been  supporting each other through the ordeal and getting out and enjoying life regardless of the situation.

Thoughts on Fathers Day and a Book Review

This father’s day I am sad for many different reasons.  Before I left California many years ago my dad was exited for me to be following my dream going to Alaska.  He planned on coming for a visit when I was settled in.  It took me twenty years to get here. He isn’t alive to see the accomplishment of this dream.  My dad was an avid camper in his younger years. He would have loved it here in Alaska.

This father’s day the Paternal Grandpa is too far to spend quality to spend time with the girls.  He has been sober for some time now and the girls have had wonderful treasured memories.  He is the type of Grandpa with unending patience and would teach the girl’s things like carpentry or planting lilacs in the orchard.  For the next few years we live too far away to make more memories on father’s day.

I have been divorced from the girl’s biological father for 10 and ½ years.  The reason for the dissolution of the marriage was his down ward spiral into   Meth.  This addiction was facilitated on an interactive pattern, long before we ever met, of his piers and extended family.  The need for this escape from living a sober life was perpetuated by a long ago trauma from his childhood.

Part of my job is to learn about different disabilities.  Lately I have been reading books on addictions.  The readings lately have made me sad. However the time spent reading is helping me understand more about the addictive process

The most recent book I have been reading is called, “Clean” by David Sheff.  He is an investigative journalist with first hand experience is addiction issues.  The first hand experience comes from supporting his son through a Meth addiction.

This book is a extremely detailed personal account of that journey. The reading also contains helpful information on questions to ask while seeking help. It gives reference to what’s possible what isn’t during the process of fighting for a loved one with addictions.  With in the writing he touches on different components of the healing process.  The author covers the in comprehensive details of the physical changes that happen with in the brain and the fusing of the brain changes that happen and how the thought patterns become distorted.

The book explains the detailed account the phases of rehabilitation process, comprehensive analysis on how the system is needs to be improved.  He gives detailed questions to ask while finding a right rehabilitation process for ones children.  This book contains a great deal of insight guiding others through the addictive process.  The journey of the addictive process is so unique and individualized.  Its highly recommended resource book to give guidance in that long lonely road.

Busy…

I started this blog with the idea of keeping people we care about connected with our experiences .   Alaska is magical and  wonderful.  The culture here is so  different from the lower 48.  The native influence of living more of a life of balance is simple in its philosophy but so much harder implement.   The lesson learned by focusing on the process allows stronger community bonds to form.      Ultimately the relationships that form within the process allow for a much stronger project to emerge.  This established connection creates an outcome that helps the entire community .

Culture of Disability

 

 

One of my job requirements is to research gain a better understanding of the culture of disability.  The readings have covered a broad subject base. The research topics have included Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Addictions, Autism, and much more.

 

The reading I am enjoying the most are authors that demonstrate a detailed understanding of the issues. They then offer formats for solutions and healing. One such author is Claudia Black.  Currently I am reading two of her books, “Changing Course, and Legacy of Shame in the Addictive Process”

 

Far to often individuals with various disability have been abused, neglected, and mistreated.  Her reading offers easy to read formats for healing and support.

 

However serious on the nature of the disability hope exist through the culture of recovery.    Recovery isn’t just about addictions.  Its the process of healing the human spirit.  The series of steps  create a new awareness’s, realizations, and release of emotional pain.

Animal Companions

It’s not secret that animals have been wonderful companion animals for thousands years.
This companion animal was one of the first to show loyalty, unconditional love, acceptance and protection during times of isolation.  Its fiber has provided warmth through its fiber.

Last weekend we were introduced to a new dynamic of human dog interaction in a therapeutic capacity. The interaction was experienced through the use of sled dog teams. The mushers and dog teams spent time supporting people with disabilities. The dog teams gave increased mobility and freedom to individuals with physical restrictions.

The concept of sled dogs is not new. The tribal cultures have used sled dogs as draft animals for approximately 25,000 years. Archeological evidence suggests the use of sleds started three thousand years ago. The sled dog races are still well celebrated sporting events in many cultures.

The non profit that is providing this service to different able individuals is called Noble Paws. They have custom designed equipment to meet the different physical challenges. The smiles of the individuals returning from this experience was priceless..

Thought for the day

The first day of work was wonderful. The co workers are awesome.  The recurring theme’s were resilience and living in authentic self..

The word for the day is Resilience.

  1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity:
    “nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience”
  2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness:
    “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
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The following excerpt are from Dr Phil’s web sight self matters
The authentic self is the you that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you not defined by your job, function or role. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom. It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression, rather than what you believe you are supposed to be and do.