To Infinity and Beyond

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Looking up at the night sky, here at home, the stars seem so far away…..and so few of them can be seen with the city lights around us. Though, here we can see more than some of the other cities we have lived in. 

As a young girl I was fascinated by the night sky, imagining the “other” worlds out there, wondering if there was life somewhere else, and amazed by the twinkling stars in the sky, twinkling just for me. I used to love to lie in the grass at night and just watch the stars, letting them create images for me. 

And then I was told that science and math were “a boys world”, that girls weren’t smart in those areas….so I let go of my fascinations and my dreams of discovering what was beyond those bright stars.

Last night my curiosity was reawakened as I sat atop Kitt Peak and stared at the night sky.  It was dark there, really dark and I could see thousands of stars….all there to remind me of the dreams I once had and to spark my curiosity about the world I live in and the universe my world was in. 

This night was possible because my husband loves space and astronomy and he wanted to celebrate his milestone birthday at Kitt Peak National Observatory.  We arrived before sunset, had dinner and then we were taken by the guide to a viewpoint to observe the sun setting on the horizon.  Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!  The colors were vibrant, painting the sky in hues of red, orange and blue…..and even a green glow just as the sun disappeared.  Atop this mountain we could see forever.

Then it was time for the night viewing and boy was it dark. We were taken in smaller groups to view the stars through the telescopes.  We sat in an open air observatory watching as satellites, or maybe just some space junk, slid across the sky, sparkling as the sun glinted off of the metal and we were in awe of how many we could see while sitting there in the dark. 

 And then it was time to look through the telescope…..we saw star clusters, nebulas, and two different galaxies….all unable to be seen with the naked eye. I was amazed and somewhere deep inside me I could feel that excitement again….I wanted to see more, learn more, explore more. 

And when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. We viewed Jupiter and four, yes four, of its moons.  It was one thing for me to see photos of Jupiter and to imagine what it must be like when I see that bright “star” in the night sky.  But standing there, seeing Jupiter with my own eye through the lens of the telescope, I was thrilled, ready to go into outer space and explore all that we know is there and all that is still to be discovered. 

And then we saw the moon through the telescope lens……every one of us, as we stepped up to the telescope and looked through the eye piece, gasped excitedly…..the moon that we see every night with our naked eyes was huge through this lens…..the shadows, the craters, the terrain, all felt within reach. It was spectacular.  This was why man wanted to walk on the moon, to see it in person.  I can only imagine how exhilarating that must have felt. 

The rest of the night tour was spent finding the constellations and stars with the help of one of the guides and viewing some of them through binoculars….aiding us in seeing that some of the “brightest” stars are really more than one star.

This night brought back my curiosity about the earth, our galaxy and the universe. I cannot wait to see what more is out there, what new discoveries we make and am looking forward to more nights spent atop a mountain, looking to infinity and beyond.

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Someone’s Life is on the Line

As I had written last month, my mother had been killed by a drunk driver. Sadly, that was not the only time that drinking and driving has affected my family.  My husband’s brother, his only sibling, was killed by a drunk driver in 1995.  19 months later, while we were living on an Air Force Base in Turkey, my husband was asked by his boss to write an article for the base paper that would share his story of how drinking and driving had affected his life and the life of his family

It was 21 years ago today that we lost Rob….my husband lost his only sibling, his parents lost their first-born child and my boys lost their beloved uncle.

Today I share with you the words that my husband wrote for the base paper—

 

Someone’s Life is on the Line

Drunk Driving destroyed a part of my life.

March 11, 1995, started out as a day like any other. I had just wrapped up a few things at work and was preparing to spend a casual Saturday with my family.

Then the phone rang. My brother, my only sibling, had been killed in an automobile accident. 

As my family and I made the long trip to Washington State, we called to tell my folks where we were and consoled each other as best we could over the phone.  During these calls, they shared the details of the accident as they came from the state police.

By the time we arrived at my brother’s apartment, we had learned that he and his fiancée were returning from a friend’s house after catching a late movie at the local theater. It was a little after midnight, and a pickup truck traveling the opposite direction careened off a guard rail, crossed the center line, and hit my brother’s car almost head-on. 

My brother was killed almost instantly, and his fiancée was seriously injured.

The other driver suffered only minor cuts and bruises. He was legally intoxicated and had been arrested just a week prior for driving under the influence of alcohol.  This drunk driver had taken away all that my brother had and all that he was every going to have—a wife, children, a long life.

On March 13, 1995, I spent the morning writing my brother’s obituary. March 13 is also my birthday.

To drink and drive is to risk losing everything you have and to risk destroying the lives of those who may have just begun to live.

Is this a simple matter of being responsible for our actions? Yes, it definitely is. And what about our responsibility to others?  Do friends allow friends to drive drunk?  No, not real friends.  Responsible people do everything they can to prevent others, even strangers, from driving under the influence.  When it comes to preventing someone from drinking and driving, remember that someone’s life is on the line.

 We miss you, Rob.img991 copy

Finding Adventure

Adventure can be found in the extraordinary and in the ordinary, it can be found in the day-to-day and in the once-in-a-lifetime. 

This week, where I work, we have been discussing “finding our adventures”, which has me focused now on just that and has me asking what “adventure” means and how to find it.

Most of my life I have felt that I am cautious….I am NOT a huge risk-taker and I am definetly not an adrenaline junky.  I have my fears and I often feel that those fears hold me back from adventures, maybe keeping me from the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime moment.  So, I found myself surprised at what I have discovered this week about adventures and how they fit into my life.

I have decided, for me, that adventure does not mean I have to jump out of an airplane, with only a parachute to keep me from death (really, I can’t think of any reason to jump out of a perfectly good airplane), it doesn’t mean that I have to ride the fastest and scariest rollercoasters (I did that at Universal Studios in Florida in 2004 and I am good for at least 20 years), it doesn’t mean that I have to take risks at every turn.

For me, adventure is in the every day happenings of my life and in the special occasions, it is found in my travels, on date’s with my husband, exploring places near my home, in my day-to-day life–work, chores, hobbies, and it is found when I slow down to live in the moment, cherishing all that I am blessed to have in my life. 

I realized this week that I find “adventure” every day, in one form or another.

Earlier this week, my husband and I went exploring, trying to find the wild horses that roam the Salt River near us.  We didn’t find them…..but we did find the unexpected beauty that made us smile and filled our souls……an adventure we enjoyed together without any fear for me.

And this past week I found a new (rather an old) activity that I have been enjoying….another adventure for me.  I rediscovered how much fun the hula hoop can be.  And yes, that is an adventure!

Adventure, for me, is discovering new things to do, new places to explore and returning to explore previously visited places.  It is enjoying the songs that the birds sing for me when I am out walking.  It is the found in conversations I have with strangers that I meet.  It is watching the sunset turn the sky fiery red.  It is reading a book that I cannot put down. 

Adventure to me is finding joy in the ordinary that life offers and the extraordinary, and sharing it all with my family and friends.

And sometimes, adventure means stepping outside my comfort zone, taking a chance, taking that leap of faith and seeing where it leads. 

Some of my greatest adventures come from just trusting, taking the leap and being grateful for all that God has blessed me with in this life.