I woke yesterday after my presentation at the Morris Thompson Center the previous night with one quick, piercing thought: “Wow, Cheryl, that was a lot of sharing.”

I showed photographs in a time line of my life and explained how my upbringing as a military brat had shaped my life and my career..and led me through war zones and jungles, across deserts and borders, witnessing the full spectrum of the human condition: suffering, depravity, compassion, bravery, tenderness and sorrow. I told some hard truths about myself. And I woke surprised at how much someone as private as I am had dared to share about my feelings and my experiences.

And I woke to an equally surprising although slightly more mundane truth: my little black skirt was a little bit snugger.

When I accepted this fabulous position as Snedden Chair at University of Alaska Fairbanks, I left a lot behind in Oregon…and quickly. I resigned from my job as the higher education reporter at the Corvallis Gazette-Times and I forfeited my darling downtown apartment that I adored. (I lived a block from the river, with a view of the squalling winter weather moving in from Coast Range and the long lingering summer sunsets.) Usually, pulling up stakes and setting off for a new adventure is easy for me; I barely look back. This time was different.

With five years in one place, I’d set a personal record for the longest I’d ever lived anywhere. I had established friendships and rituals. I did yoga three times a week, swam twice a week, played golf at least once a week and walked miles and miles every single day. I had good friends in my yoga group, my ladies golf league and my swimming class.

It’s been a scramble to get settled in Fairbanks and stay ahead of the pressing winter weather and shortening hours of sunlight. I arrived with precious little outdoor gear or experience weathering harsh winter elements. I’m acquiring knowledge and advice about dressing for the Fairbanks sub-freezing, skin-piercing cold; however, the weather is gaining on me and I’m gaining weight. Not a good combination.

This morning I woke and realized I need to establish new rituals and adapt to my new life in Fairbanks.