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. Fine. We’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!