guest posts

The Beauty of Remote Alaska and the Northern Lights – Guest Post

It’s neat to know your words and ideas are getting attention. That people across the country tune in to what you have to say. Neater still when readers approach you and ask if they can share their own thoughts in the space you have created.

So when Jon of No See Um Lodge in Alaska emailed to ask if he could share on my blog, I was thrilled. I have never been to Alaska, but the idea is certainly on my bucket list. I want to go see the big wilderness, the open spaces, and the lights.  Thank you Jon for inspiring me to stay committed to the dream of Alaska. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to come stay at your beautiful lodge. For now, I will bask in the beauty of the pictures you captured, and keep dreaming.


Words & Pictures by: Jon Clark of No See Um Lodge

Learn more about the lodge on their FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Beauty is always in more than the eye of the beholder. It surrounds us every day in so many ways. It can be the sound of children laughing or the fragrance of roses. The shaggy feel of a favorite four-legged friend’s hug is as beautiful as the loving look in those big brown eyes. From the flavors in a perfectly prepared homemade soup to the feelings evoked by a stunning sunset, beauty is an amazing sensory experience.

We also know that beauty can be a dream come true because it surrounds us every day up here in Alaska. The longing to live in a pristine wilderness became a wonderful reality for us many years ago. We’ve been fortunate enough to make our home in an area that defines beauty on an almost infinite number of levels.

When our kids laugh up here, it’s often at the sight of sea otters bobbing on their backs just off the shoreline. Suddenly, the otters roll over and spring into playing wild water games. They chatter and race and splash, and we’re all caught up in their fun. It’s beautiful music to our ears.

We do a lot of fly fishing on the crystal clear rivers up here, and brilliant blue skies serve as our back roads to favorite spots. When we take off with the rising sun, the views from our float plane take our breath away every time. Sailing just above the tree tops with rugged mountain ranges in the background, it feels as though we can reach out and brush our hands against the natural beauty all around us.

Hiking the backcountry immerses our spirits in everything that we love about this amazing great outdoors. We’re very lucky to live in one on the last places on earth that encompasses vast ranges of untouched wilderness. We take a deep breath filled with the smell of towering spruce and crisp, fresh air, and we know that beauty has an aroma.

All of these things make home here our slice of paradise, but nothing transports us to an otherworldly place of extraordinary beauty like our Northern Lights. When people visit, they’re excited about exploring the reaches of Katmai National Park and photographing brown bears. They want to watch whales, cruise past glaciers and dine on fresh salmon. But most of all, they want to see the Aurora Borealis. We understand.


The Northern Lights perform a ballet in our winter skies that always stops us in our tracks. An entire lifetime here in Alaska isn’t enough to take in the endless variations of colors that drape and billow across a backdrop of twinkling stars. What begins as a faint flicker in the distance slowly grows reaching farther and farther up into the night.

The incredible show peaks with a dance that fills the sky with gracefully undulating curtains of lights and ignites the darkness with reds, purples, blues and greens. A celestial glow reaches the highest points in the heavens and lights up our faces here below as we gaze up basking in this miracle that illuminates our nighttime sky. If we had to define beauty in Alaska with just one thing, it would be our Northern Lights.

One of the most beautiful things about living in the Last Frontier happens every time we greet someone who’s new to our part of the world. The look of wonder on a face and the excitement in a voice confirms what we already know. Alaska holds the promise of unforgettable experiences and delivers a lifetime of beautiful memories. We feel very blessed to be able to share it all.

A photo by Nelly Volkovich.

No See Um Lodge is a family-run operation that was established by Jack Holman in the early 70’s. Today his son, John, who is both a pilot and a guide, maintains No See Um’s well-earned reputation for pampering and pleasing its guests. John has been living, fishing, guiding and flying in Alaska for most of his life. He and his guides know the best fishing spots and how to get you there safely.

*If you are interested in contributing a guest post, please email me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com*


Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em – Guest Post by Teresa R. Funke

We moved this week. It’s been crazy – I will have updates for you soon.

In the meantime, I am thrilled to share this guest post by one of my mentors, Author and Writer’s Coach Teresa R. Funke.  Originally posted on her blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, this post reminds us to find things to love in the world, when there is so much going against us.

Author: Teresa Funke

Twitter:@teresafunke Blog: Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life


It’s not hard to find beauty in this world, if you go looking for it. It’s also not difficult to find things to complain about, if you so choose. I have friends who put a positive spin on everything, and I mean everything. At times, that feels disingenuous. Sometimes life really is hard. But I also know people whose thoughts go immediately to the dark side.  They are quick to judge, and quick to condemn.

One day, as I was thinking about what to post to my blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, I started thinking about how we, as a society, can be quick to judge too. We impose strict rules of social etiquette on people and criticize anyone who steps outside of those lines. And I started to think how ridiculous those dictates could be, going so far as to condemn people for dancing, singing, even laughing out of turn. How crazy is that?

So I decided to take apart some of those social rules and expose them for what they really are, joy killers. If we really want to see the beauty in our world, we must first see it in each other.

Here’s the post I wrote. See if you agree:

I love people who laugh at their own jokes. The harder they laugh, the better. Why shouldn’t we take enjoyment from our own creativity? Why create anything if it doesn’t bring us pleasure?

I love people who sing loudly and badly in church. Why? Because they are more concerned with giving praise than they are with what you think of them.

I love those people who take to the dance floor alone. They don’t wait for someone to hand them an opportunity, they go out and seize it.

I love people who stop a total stranger to tell her they adore her shoes. Our clothes are one of the ways we express ourselves. How nice when someone notices!

I love it when poets stand on a street corner and recite their verse. They have learned that we don’t need adoring crowds, we just need one person to listen.

I love it when someone says, “I don’t mean to brag,” and then they do. We work hard. Why shouldn’t we be proud of our accomplishments!

I love it when little kids ask, “Are you rich?” or “Are you famous?” or “How old are you?”  They keep us humble.

I love those students who always have their hands up in class. They have learned that everything in life is more interesting if we get involved.

I love those people who say, “That’s nice, but I could do it better.”  Go ahead then, show me. You either will, and I’ll be glad for it, or you won’t, and I’ll have lost nothing

Some days I even love people who drive the speed limit. They remind us that there’s plenty of time to get where we are going.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas with you on 52 Beautiful Things!  May you have a beautiful day!

Teresa_Funke Red ColorTeresa Funke embodies the modern artist/entrepreneur. She is the owner of Teresa Funke & Company and Victory House Press and the award-winning author of six novels for adults and children based on true stories from WWII. She is also a nationwide speaker offering keynotes and presentations and a popular writer’s coach. You can find more on her website, on Twitter, and Facebook.