Perspective is a powerful thing, especially for those of us put in situations that can easily chip away at our resolve. That’s where Post-it notes came in handy for my family.
Over the past seven months, our family decided to approach a military deployment differently. We chronicled our days apart from a place of gratitude, rather than dwell on the obvious absence of my husband. The daily moments we found ourselves cherishing were captured on small colorful notes that became an Instagram project, called A Post-it A Day.
What the project entailed
Post-it notes were displayed on our pantry door to show the progress we were making during the deployment; a count-up instead of a countdown. I decided to share these special reflections online to inspire the idea that moments of gratitude are possible to find even during challenging days — and we had our fair share of those, too.
This particular deployment was plagued with illness after illness and the unexpected death of my beloved grandfather. On these incredibly taxing and downright sad days, it became increasingly hard for me to find that small moment of gratitude to write down. I struggled with fatigue by the end of the day, and a few times I had to really dig deep to find my words for that day’s Post-it.
Some of the examples that emerged on these especially tougher calendar spaces included my toddler’s belly laughs, a friend giving me advice, practicing the piano or watching all my girls play together. It may seem like simple things, but isn’t that the whole point of leaning on positivity? There doesn’t have to be a grand happening to turn around a day, but it’s opening our eyes to the simple things that merit an appreciation of what’s in front of us.
My military kids, on the other hand, never had a problem finding their ‘moment.’ They looked forward to our chats during their bedtime routine and would remind me if I forgot to ask them about their gratitude. They crafted their Post-its with watching old videos of themselves on my phone, using glitter chalk, the tiger lizard on our sidewalk or relaxing on the patio. On the days where I wanted to give up, hearing their perspective on the day gave me the little push I needed to keep moving forward. My girls always helped me see these times from another angle: at the end of the day we do not need much, just each other.
The home front’s experience on display
Our family became whole again in May when we reunited for homecoming. The girls and I have enjoyed showing our sailor the different Post-it notes and adding context to the days by sharing the stories. Weeks later, the notes from the second half of the deployment still hang on our pantry door. For me, each is a reminder of how far we have come as a family and what we accomplished together as a team over the past seven months. I am not sure if I am ready to take them down yet; they are so much more than just a colorful piece of paper that sticks to our door. These notes represent the strength, heartache, joy and success of this military family during the deployment.
Seven months is a long amount of life to endure being apart, especially from the viewpoint of a military kid. Still, the gratitude project allowed us to keep living and build memories out of each and every day. When my girls chose their Daddy reading to them before bedtime, snuggling together in his recliner or kicking a ball around after months away for their moment of gratitude, it reinforces the idea we do not always have to create extraordinary moments for our children. There is so much extraordinary in our ordinary life. For that, I am forever grateful.
As I write this, we are in the thick of the reintegration phase of deployment and we are all trying to show each other grace during the transitions we are now faced with. The pantry door full of colorful memories is the perfect reminder that we as a family have the ability to keep gratitude at the center of our day. The lesson of choosing thankfulness daily does not end because the deployment is over, instead it will become a new part of our family routine.Read comments