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The incredible beauty of the Rocky Mountains on a crisp fall day, hiking with my best friend, surrounded by landscape shots at every turn that were both mesmerizing and irresistible – my camera was forever in front of my face! – and the peace, calm and stillness of this amazing place has implanted a powerful urge to return there again and again, to experience ever more of this magnificent natural arena.

I am forever changed by what I encountered there.

SWARM Definition: Move somewhere in large numbers. Synonyms: flock, crowd, throng, surge, stream.

This describes the atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum after Iowa State beat inner state rival Iowa last December in a thrilling display of Cyclone domination! Students rushed the floor and arms swayed to and fro in time with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.

Victory was indeed sweet and seeing all the fans rushing the floor at the buzzer was a perfect way to seal the deal!

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A sunny afternoon, blue skies overheard. Glorious weather. Reconnecting with my son after several months apart, getting to know his new lady love. Enjoying the wildflowers that gently swayed in the breeze. The rush and warmth of a mellow glass of wine feeding the exuberance of running through tall grasses. The sense of calm. Feeling relaxed. Freedom and joy, laughter and delight.

Elements, all, in creating a defining moment, a fond memory, a good time to remember and cherish. These are things that always make me smile.

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TargetShooting

While this ‘shot’ might lead one to believe I’ve worked to accomplish a tight cluster of marks at the shooting range, I view this instead as an achievement of another sort entirely.

Not so long ago I would have easily dismissed any notion that I might ever find myself handling, let alone shooting or owning a firearm. However, when my husband began researching and shopping around for a handgun a few years ago, I asked – on a whim – to hold one to see what it felt like in my hands. It was a huge sucker – a.50 caliber monster, that made me look and feel foolishly like Dirty Harriet but I was intrigued. When Bill and his brother enrolled in a class in order to get their permits to carry, I signed up as well.

Not long after that, I purchased a .22 caliber Browning beauty and we shot a few times – even joined the local Ikes that first year – although it’s been several months now since we have fired our pieces. Time is always a problem and while we enjoy target shooting it often takes a backseat to other interests. No matter. The important thing for me is that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and participated in something I would have written off before without having made any real attempt to understand or learn what it was all about. I’m no NRA, gun-toting, enthusiast (another discussion entirely but thank you – no); however, I do pride myself on trying something new and opening myself up to new possibilities!

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On our trip to Colorado in September, we had the privilege of experiencing what it’s like to hike Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from the magnificent beauty of this amazing place, it was awe-inspiring to contemplate the forces of nature that molded and shaped this spectacular landscape: the tectonic plates and the crush and rumble, the slow grind of rock and sediments and water and ice, the featured players in creating this most incredible terrain in all of the natural world.

And so, stumbling upon this smaller rock wedged – just so – beneath this large boulder (or perhaps the little guy is really only propping up the bigger fella?) gave me pause to consider how, after all that geological activity had exhausted itself to create the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us, seen and not yet seen, these two rocks would end up in just this manner.