A Valuable Lesson from the Eclipse

Note from Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family:  This week’s post comes from Ziglar Family team member and family coach Jen Truitt.   Jen has been with Ziglar Family since its inception, bringing to the team both her expertise as a writer and her passion for helping people (and families) to discover and achieve all that God has intended for them.

In addition to teaching children and families for more than 25 years, Jen is a mom of two teenage daughters, which has provided her and her husband, Steve, a good measure of in-the-trenches parenting and family life experience. In her free time, she loves being outdoors hiking, biking, swimming, or just sitting on the back porch with sweet tea and a good book!


Where were you for the much-anticipated Solar Eclipse of 2017?

I actually live about 90 miles south of the path of totality, so my town of Huntsville, Alabama, was on track for a 97% totality experience, which sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Months before the event itself, our local stores started selling the safety viewing glasses, which prompted me to start thinking about what my family and I would do for the event.  Being admittedly non-astronomy intelligent — even though, yes, I do live in the city that is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and have a handful of neighbors who actually ARE rocket scientists! — I really didn’t understand what a 97% totality meant.

In my mind, it meant that we’d be 97% dark, kind of like a heavy twilight, and that’s the understanding on which I based my initial planning.  To my way of thinking, 97% darkness was close enough, so I didn’t see any real need to travel north to the 100% line, nor to make any special plans.

My husband, however, is a bit more of a science geek, so he really took a deep dive into all of the articles about what would be happening and started pushing for a family trip to see the 100% total eclipse.  Being the mom, I had all of the usual objections:

The girls will miss a full day of school, and with their new year just starting they can’t do that…

I’ve got a lot going on with work that day, so I can’t take that time away…

Two hours is a long way to drive for a 2-minute event…

Isn’t 97% totality close enough?

Hubby kept insisting, and as if a secret guy society had banded together, the high school  principal added to the peer pressure when he sent an email saying he’d excuse any absences for kids who were traveling to see the total eclipse.

Sigh.  FineWe’ll go.

We looked at the map and picked a small town in the path of totality that we could reach by sticking to the back roads, because by this time the eclipse furor was in full swing, and there were predictions of major traffic jams around the bigger cities in the path, like Nashville and Knoxville.  (Another reason that staying home seemed like a better idea to me!)

The big day arrived, and we traveled to tiny McMinnville, Tennessee.  It’s a cute little southern town, with a big town square and maybe two stoplights.  The town was putting on a family-friendly eclipse event, complete with live music, food trucks, souvenirs, and a live-stream from NASA in their one-screen movie theater.  The excitement was contagious, and my family loved it!

Finally, at 1:30… the eclipse.

I can’t begin to effectively describe how awe-inspiring it was!  Within a period of just about 4 minutes, it went from total daylight, to a strange — almost like someone turned off the stadium lights —darkness, to total eclipse, back to stadium lights on, and finally to full daylight again.

One daughter got so emotional she shed tears.  The other daughter couldn’t find words to express her excitement, so she just did a lot of jumping around and oh-my-gosh-ing.  My husband and I were pretty much running the spectrum of those emotions and more.

It. Was. Incredible.

And to think: I almost didn’t go.

I almost let the mundane, day-to-day obligations of life prevent this once-in-a-lifetime experience from happening for my family. Why in the world would I have done that?!

 It gets worse: come to find out the experience back home in Huntsville — you know, the 97% totality? — was nothing at all like what we experienced 90 miles north.  Not even close!

Evidently, as I now understand, even with just the tiniest sliver of the sun still shining through, it just doesn’t get dark.  Yes, people at home could see the eclipse coverage with their glasses, but the skies around them didn’t get anything close to nighttime dark.  And from what I heard, many people were expecting more (like I would have been, if I were home) and felt a little disappointed.

By the end of that day, I had learned a powerful lesson:  never, ever, pass up an opportunity to make memories with your family.

You’d think I would know that by now.  After all, I’ve been a mom for almost 18 years, and we’ve made plenty of fun family memories together.  BUT… now I’m wondering:  how many more would there have been if I’d have been more open-minded and willing to step out of our schedule and routine now and then?

What have I missed?

It’s kind of overwhelming to understand that if we had passed on this opportunity — if my husband and I had just worked and the kids would’ve gone to school — I wouldn’t even REALIZE what we’d have missed!  I would be completely ignorant of the family memories that could’ve been made, and now I can’t help but wonder how many more of those moments have passed without my notice.

It’s given me a lot to think about, and I’m sure it will shape my decision-making process going forward.  I’d encourage you to do the same:  be open to opportunities for your family to spend unexpected time together, even when — or maybe especially when — it means you have to step outside of your normal routine for a day.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” — Stephen Covey


Do you have any stories to share of family memory making happening in unexpected moments? We’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below!




  1. Nicola August 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    Im sorry to say, the first time I even looked for the moon was tonight.
    Ive seen many pictures on the internet.
    The best moments in your story was reading and feeling your experience with you. .
    Im sure it was unforgetable.

    • Jen August 27, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing, Nicola! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Theresa August 26, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    We had a somewhat similar situation, but we had traveled to Oregon to be in the path of totality. We were staying on the coast and there was a very high chance that it would be very cloudy. So my husband had me rent the biggest SUV possible. I sort of laughed about it all and humored him with the idea that we would get up in the middle of the night to drive over the mountain to where there was 100% chance of sun. We’d have the big Escalade to sleep in at Walmart if we needed. But I wasn’t really interested. The main thing that kept me agreeable was the thought of amazing memories my boys would have of us camping out in the back of an SUV in the Walmart parking lot, along with the eclipse. We argued a bit about what time to set the alarm. He said 4am, and I said 5am. In the end he woke us up at 3:45. That was rough, but worth all of the memories. The positive vibe and energy in that parking lot where other people were sleeping and some were listening to music and chatting to the people in nearby cars was awesome, alone. And that was hours before the eclipse. And that vibe continued into the McDonalds bathroom where the 10 or so people, in line, were all happily sharing what time they left their homes to get to Albany, OR. Some left the day before from as far away as LA. And then as you wrote, the eclipse was phenomenal. And I’m so thankful for my husband pushing us to do it. It’s one memory we will talk about forever.

    • Jen August 27, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      What I love so much about your story is not just the family memories, but the way there was the “vibe” with everyone, showing that our country does have the potential to come together again. Thank you for sharing that, and I’m so happy you had that awesome experience!

  3. Marci August 26, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Completely agree! I drove all the way from Virginia to Livingston,Tennessee (small town, huge hospitality!). The long drive was 100% worth the look of pure joy and awe on my son’s face at totality. We had just come home from 2 weeks vacation overseas and had just one day to do laundry before hitting the road again. The responsible thing to do would have been to get back to work, but I’m so glad I chose to make an epic memory instead! I WAS dragging my feet to go as I was exhausted. thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone in that.
    We are already making plans for April 8, 2024!

    • Jen August 27, 2017 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      Yay! I love to hear that we shared a similar experience, and I’m glad it was all worth it for you, too. Yes, we are making our 2024 plans too, as we will be within a reasonable drive again! 🙂

  4. Louise August 27, 2017 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your article and the comment. We live in Ontario, Canada, nowhere near 97%. But we streamed it from NASA. Thanks for reminding me to make memories when I can. My sister reminded me it was 40 years ago when we last had a total eclipse and it could be 40 years, beyond my life for the next. I’m taking my 23-year old daughter to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto this week. Those will be memories for a lifetime!

    • Jen August 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Louise! I know you will have a great time with your daughter this week making memories! Enjoy it!

  5. Tricia Prues August 27, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    One really neat thing our pastor shared today was just like 99% eclipse totality isn’t anything like 100%, when we’re 99% “in” with Jesus, we’re 100% off. Unless we’re all in with the Lord (full totality), we’re not living the life God has in store for us.

    What an awesome analogy!!

    Love this story you’ve shared, Jen. My family will definitely be traveling for 2024. And I think it should only be about an hour drive for us!!

    • Jen August 27, 2017 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      That is awesome, Tricia! I also heard another bit of an analogy, which is that even when the coverage was 99%, the light still shone through, and so that means that even if someone is experiencing so much darkness in his or her life, if we are that 1% of sun to them, it could make all the difference. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  6. Angelica Delgado August 28, 2017 at 9:21 am - Reply

    I discovered a long time ago that my husband has the ability to transform challenges and difficult situations into an adventure for our family! I believe that moms worry about the comfort and safety of the family, dads too, but they can make hard times memorable if moms give them a chance. I always tell my children I’m so glad they have a father! I believe we balance each other and our children benefit tremendously from our differences!

    • Jen August 28, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      That’s a lot of wisdom, Angelica! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Chichi Emodi August 29, 2017 at 7:46 am - Reply

    This is such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. I find my self also being the mum that finds the reason why we should save the money and not spent it. I have kind of found out that God uses my rather easy going husband to everyonce in a while set the pace for a nice family outing despite my protests and I find at the end We always have a great time. That Eclipse reminds me of the second appearing of Jesus Christ in the sky for the rapture of the saints. It can happen anytime and must all be prepared , no excuses.

    • Jen August 29, 2017 at 8:19 am - Reply

      Thanks, Chichi! 🙂 Blessings to you and your family!

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