Photo Challenge: Giving Thanks for Our Military Lives


November Photo Challenge: Giving Thanks for our military lives“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
Henry Van Dyke


  • Take one photo every day between now and Thanksgiving that represents something about military life for which you’re grateful.
  • Express thanksgiving by sharing your photos with the InDependent community and your family and friends using Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other sites. Use the tag #IDgivingthanks and share this post with your friends. This will help other participants find your photos easily, explain what you’re doing, and encourage others to join in.

Here is some inspiration to help get you started:

Nearly two years ago, a photographer friend invited me to join a Project 365 challenge on Facebook. The challenge was simple. Post one photo every single day for a year. I wholeheartedly signed up because I wanted to challenge myself to be a better photographer. I occasionally got my big camera out to work on skills, but most of the time I took photos of everyday life with the iPhone that lives in my back pocket…my daughter walking home from school with a friend,

 thankfulness: walking home with a friend

a pretty sky,

Thankfulness: A pretty sky

what I made for dinner.

thankfulness: what I made for dinner

When the year was over, I didn’t want to stop.

I found that through this simple daily activity, I started looking for special moments. All day, every day, I looked for things that were special…pretty light,

Thankfulness: pretty light

happy faces,

thankfulness: happy faces

captivating colors.

thankfulness: color

Those moments that make up a life…the cup of tea with a friend,

thankfulness: tea with a friend

the restaurant food that hit the spot,

 thankfulness: hits the spot 

the new puppy we brought home.

 thankfulness: new puppy

The simple activity of choosing a photo a day to publish on Facebook, helps me cultivate a deep sense of gratitude and in turn offer thanksgiving by sharing moments with others. Some moments as a mom and a military spouse are unpleasant, no good, and lousy. But, when I look back over my years in photos I realize that the exercise of taking a photo a day is meaningful because:

My world is constantly changing.

After I’ve moved, it feels good to go back and see photos of the streets I walked to pick up my daughter from school,

thankfulness: the way to school

the trails I ran,

thankfulness: trails I ran

and the way the morning light hit our neighborhood as my husband walked to work.

thankfulness: walk to work

Some days are bad.

While saying a tearful goodbye to the good folks in our German village who weren’t used to people leaving them, I was able to look for the special moments and realize that we were loved.

thankfulness: special goodbye

Life is busy.

It’s nice to have an excuse to take a moment to acknowledge beauty. There have been times when I have pulled the car over because a sunset was spectacular,

 thankfulness: acknowledging beauty

or because the light was hitting a field of sunflowers just right.

thankfulness: light on the sunflowers

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed.

Sometimes I don’t want to go out to do something fun with my family because I feel like I need to play catch-up at home. But, I realize I still need a moment to capture so I go and don’t regret it.

 thankfulness: unforgettable images

Looking back over my daily photos from the last couple years, I feel truly thankful that I have the opportunity to live such a rich life full of love and adventures.

Accept the photo challenge! Begin looking for your own moments. Cultivate gratitude within yourself even if you’re not sure where it’s going to come from. Express thanksgiving to deeply root your gratitude and inspire others. Perhaps like me, you’ll find that this is a practice you want to continue.