Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Apr 01

Progress with Pictures

Chronic pain is generally defined as being in pain longer than 6 months;  some doctors say as little as 3 months.  I’m well into month number four with my bad back, so I’m just going to call it like I see it.  I currently have chronic pain. 

For the Hate Loss Challenge in January if you remember, we decided to keep a gratitude jar for the month. Though I did very well in writing down what I was grateful for every day that month, I admit my enthusiasm began to dwindle around mid-February.  After my birthday I pretty much stopped adding to my jar altogether. I still thought it was a great idea, but I began neglecting it for the same reason why I deleted my Twitter account:  I am a visual person.  To me, pictures capture what tweets cannot.  That’s when I realized I needed something visually appealing to keep my grateful attitude going.

I honestly feel better when I can physically account the good things that are happening in my life.  It makes my back pain seem less ‘in my face’ if that makes any sense. Now, with my Twitter account a thing of the past and my gratitude jar sitting in Idle Mode, I’ve decided to capture gratitude with my camera and acknowledge it once or twice a week, here on my blog. 

You’re in luck, because today is Day One.  I’ll be tagging these photos Progress with Pictures until I can come up with a catchier phrase.  lol



Yesterday was Easter so I realize I’m a day late but I really wanted to begin my exercise with this particular photo.  This was the table setting I’d created;  laying out dishes for the first holiday I’ve ever hosted at my house knowing from that day forward I’d no longer feel an obligation to involve myself in a situation that would cause distress because of a disruptive family member. 

Because I made certain boundaries clear and because I’d made up my mind that I was entitled to make my holidays what I envisioned them to be, my guests enjoyed a lovely lunch with great food, conversation, and we all ate together at the same table – something our family has rarely accomplished because of the usual chaos, angst and disruption.  I’m actually looking forward to hosting Christmas – something I have never, ever said in my entire life.

I am forty-three years old.  It’s taken my entire life to realize that I have a right to say what happens in it.  I guess we all fill our buckets at different speeds.   As they begin to overflow, that’s when we must decide to get a bigger bucket or stop holding the damned thing altogether.   I got tired of holding my heavy, burdensome bucket and because I let go I feel lighter than ever. 

I hope those of you who celebrated Easter had a great time with your family and that you enjoyed your weekend.  I also hope you enjoy this new series of gratitude photos. 




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  1. Lisa p says:

    Your table looks beautiful! Glad you enjoyed your holiday:) Sometimes it’s so worth it sticking up for yourself and saying no more! Have a great week. Maybe Instagram would be up your alley for your thankful project. Just a thought :)

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Lisa. Instagram is a great place to do that kind of thing – thank you! I might have to create another account specifically for that :)

  2. Roxie says:

    Adorable tablescape! Creating the table top is my favorite artistic endeavor. Your words are very wise – it seems we do have more choices than we ever thought. Great job and I’m so glad you had a nice holiday.

    Looking forward to your photos!

  3. vickie says:

    lovely photo and I think gratitude pictures are a wonderful thing.

    I said a couple days ago: Boundaries are such an important part of THE process for most all of us. But they are rarely recognized, discussed, applied.

    I am not sure if anyone but me REALLY GOT what you have been saying. But I assure you – I understand and think this is fantastic work and really valuable sharing – thank you.

  4. Kyra says:

    I’m glad you had such a nice Easter :) Good for you! I’m visual too, but I didn’t think that might by why I don’t like twitter. Hmmm…

  5. I’m so glad you set down this bucket, Ellen. I’m working on loosening the grip on one now. :)

    Your table is lovely! And I think ‘Progress in Pictures’ is a very apt title, because that’s how we view them in our mind.

  6. Lisa Stalsworth says:

    Your table is lovely! Congratulations on setting your boundary and making it a joyful rather than stressful day. I bet you weren’t the only one there who was happier.

    With the pictures you could make a collage and hang it in a prominent place for glances in stressful situations.

    • Ellen says:

      Lisa, that is a very good idea. I like that!! And yes, everyone had a really good, relaxing time. Very, very different that what we’re used to.

  7. tree peters says:

    wow. Having “read” your holiday stories for a while now, I’m so happy to read this and to know that you’re excited for Christmas. You’ve made a huge change that some people never manage to make.
    I like “progress with pictures” too.
    …and my gratitude box has been neglected as well…

  8. didi says:

    My gratitude jar has also gone dormant in the last couple of months. I like the idea of gratitude photos. I may start snapping pics with my iPhone. I still love the gratitude jar idea, but it has evolved into other things. Nothin’ wrong with that!

    Glad that you took charge of your holidays. I did that this year too. Though I have lovely supportive family elsewhere in the country, in town that isn’t the case. I’ve felt like I am invited to holidays, and expected to go due to family obligation, but have never felt welcome or wanted there. It’s an awkward, tense, out of place sort of thing, and holidays are supposed to be joyful and full of mirth and good cheer, right? Holidays are what we want them to be! So I said to hell with it, had my mom come over, and we cooked whatever we wanted and had a great time.

    Here’s to reinventing our own holidays.

  9. Lynn B says:

    Lovely picture! As you know, I am also a visual person and try to capture moments in time…often taking the “mundane” and trying to capture the magic that is always there if we just look with a different eye. This practice has done wonders in helping me gain a better appreciation for so much in my life. I love the new project and your words have inspired me to be more diligent in capturing those moments.

  10. Laura N says:

    I love this: “I am forty-three years old. It’s taken my entire life to realize that I have a right to say what happens in it. I guess we all fill our buckets at different speeds. As they begin to overflow, that’s when we must decide to get a bigger bucket or stop holding the damned thing altogether. I got tired of holding my heavy, burdensome bucket and because I let go I feel lighter than ever.” Amen to that.

    • Ellen says:

      I get the feeling that you have also experienced the weight of a heavy, burdensome bucket, Laura. I hope you’re feeling lighter these days…
      Thank you for your comment :)

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