Moving Forward

I have what is referred to as a “pear-shaped” body, which is a kind way of saying that my upper thighs are a size bigger than the rest of me.  I complained about this for years before I finally lost the fifteen pounds that I was sure would give me the body shape I wanted.  It didn’t.  I still had the same body shape, just two sizes smaller.  Which meant that I still had an awful time finding pants that fit me, and I complained bitterly about that until a friend (who I’m sure was tired of listening to me whine about the same old thing) suggested I try having my pants altered to fit me.  So now I buy my pants on sale so that I can afford to take them to a tailor, who takes them in at the waist.  And just like that, my long-term wardrobe problem was solved.

I’m not going to lie:  I’m good at complaining.  Complaining comes as naturally to me as worrying, probably because they are closely related and tend to feed off each other.  It’s just who I am, and I’ve learned to accept that.  But what I have also learned is that the trick is to remember to move beyond complaining to actively trying to address the problem I happen to be complaining about.

It’s okay to recognize my worries and express my concerns as long as I realize that complaining isn’t going to solve a thing.  Complaining simply names the problem, but if I actually want to fix the problem, then that’s going to require some sort of action on my part.  Sometimes that’s as simple as finding a good tailor, while other times, of course, the problems are much more serious and complicated.

IMG_1157But even when the problems are huge and completely beyond my personal control, I can still do my part to try to make things better.  I can join groups that are working to change public policy, and I can volunteer with agencies that address the issues I care about.  For instance, I may not be able to single-handedly save all the homeless dogs, but I most certainly can spend my time at the local animal shelter, doing everything in my power to make the lives of the dogs there just a little bit easier.

It’s easy, I think, to fall into the pattern of simply pointing out the many problems we see around us and to believe that is as far as we need to go, or as far as we can go.  But I’ve discovered that when I do that, I end up feeling helpless, overwhelmed, and depressed.  Far better to see problems as something that need fixing, and to recognize that there is often something we can do to help solve them.  Not only does that make the world a better place, but it empowers us to discover that we really are capable of making a positive impact.

Moving from merely complaining to active problem solving is just as good for us as it is for the ones we are trying to help.  And in my case, it means that I finally have pants that fit.

59 thoughts on “Moving Forward

    • Me, too! I don’t think I will ever get over my habit of complaining, but now I try to think of that as simply, “step one.” Step two is working on solutions…. Thanks for the comment!

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  1. Great advice, Kim. There are people I used to work with who were very good at identifying a problem and bringing it to my attention. But when I asked about a solution they just stared at me. Most people can point out a problem but taking it a step further and thinking about how to correct the situation, as you did, makes all the difference.
    And now you have pants that fit..:)

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    • I know a lot of people who do that, too. They complain about problems, but never actually work toward a solution. I think I used to be like that, but then I got to the point where I realized that all it was doing was making me feel depressed. It’s empowering to at least try to make a difference, and sometimes I actually am able to fix a problem! And yes, in this case, that means I now have pants that fit! (I can throw away my belts…LOL!)

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  2. The first step in solving a problem is identifying it and hopefully, we can do something, no matter how small. I think all of us of a certain age have that pants problem (maybe we should switch to dresses). On a recent shopping trip, the clerk showed me “curvy” fit jeans. I don’t consider myself curvy, but they are bigger in the hips and smaller in the waist, and were a perfect fit.

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  3. As a designer of critical and complex systems, I learned early that once you accurately define a problem, the solution (or multiple solutions) will present themselves – and the best technique to get to the root of a problem is a whole lot of complaining. It is how we process.

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    • That makes me feel better about my complaining habit, thanks! I guess what I wanted to avoid was becoming one of those people who are always complaining, but never making any effort to actually fix a problem. I honestly find that much negativity to be overwhelming. But as for identifying and talking about a problem, that’s a good thing as long as my eyes are open to the solutions and I’m willing to try to implement them.

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  4. There is not much you can do about your body. But improvement is possible with a change in your self-image. Like it and you will be content. I don’t know whether the advice of a senior would help in this case. But giving well-meant advice is always worth a try.

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    • It is good advice, Peter, and thank you! I think once I lost the weight and still kept the body shape, I finally realized that this is just the body I have and I have to learn to live with it. Having clothes altered to fit makes that a lot easier, because then I’m not frustrated that the clothes I try on don’t fit right. I have to remember that while I certainly don’t have the perfect body, I may well have the body that is perfect for me, if that makes sense.

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  5. Yes, this is so true. I get so tired of hearing myself complain. But I also have to know my limits. I can take on too much, so I must set my own boundaries for myself and be proud of myself for what I DO already and not feel badly that I don’t do enough. Guilt is my big hang up also….

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  6. Wonderful empowering post Ann. We’re all a bit guilty of complaining and worrying but you’re right, it’s when we take action (even small actions) that we can make a positive difference. I love that you help those dogs.

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  7. Ann, first I have to say that while I can understand your frustration with a bodies tendency to seek out the pear form, I’ve found that after a few months away from the gym and the hiking trails, my body is becoming an overused, half-filled water balloon. At least ya’ll get to be a tasty piece of fruit. But, I better stop because this envy is the lowest form of complaining. You’ve reminded me of the importance of taking action. I’m gonna fix a big plate of pasta! It’s time to fill out these saggy curves 😉

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  8. This body aging thing is for the birds. I used to be bigger in my lower parts while my upper parts were smaller. Now, seems I’ve reversed gravity and my upper parts are bigger whereas my lower parts are smaller. Go figger! I’m not sure I prefer pear or M&M-with-legs shape, but at any rate, the diet has begun. I love that you work in a shelter (and dogs don’t care what shape we are). 🙂

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  9. Oh,Anne if you lived closer to me, you could come into my boutique – greenroom gallery and I would dress you, it’s what I do – YES, all body shapes. Anyway, I get down about ALL what’s wrong in this world. It overwhelms me and I agree with you. I know I can’t change it all but I can do something here and there and that makes me feel better. Like you getting involved with your local dog shelter. That’s wonderful!

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    • What a wonderful idea to have a boutique that recognizes the many different shapes we come in and actually has some options! That’s a huge gift to women!
      And I know what you mean, I often get a bit depressed by the endless problems we have in our world, and the suffering they cause. But I have found that it really does cheer me up to at least try to do some good, in my own small way. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. I try to find brands that generally fit me – but sometimes still need to take pants to a tailor to get them shortened. I’m too tall for petite – but apparently not quite tall enough for regular.

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  11. What would happen to so much of the internet’s content if we all stopped complaining?! 🙂 Thanks for the funny and friendly call to action. I think it would also help if we believed that the little we individually do really does make a difference.

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  12. See how with your complaining came a solution? Half the time when I complain, someone comes up with the solution for me. I love it. Sometimes it is not really a situation that needs a solution . . . it is just something in life that one goes through . . . but it sure is nice for others to share their stories or to give you a hug. I am a big time complainer . . . it’s what I do best! 🙂

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    • From one complainer to another: I like the way you think! And seriously, you are right that our complaints can often lead to answers, and other times allow us to blow off steam. The only thing I want to avoid is becoming a chronic complainer who refused to seek or accept solutions.

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    • I’m so glad you’re back, Alan! And I already found your newest poem. You manage to write about very complex and serious subjects in a way that makes them so easy to understand and to feel compassion for people who are doing things we (like to think) we would never do. Keep it up!

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  13. You always have a fun way of spinning your tales of ‘woe’! You Crack me up!!! 😁

    I have conversations like this with my daughter regularly. She comes to me with a problem and I say,
    “darling, you’re beautiful, and you also have an amazing brain, now put that awesome brain to work and solve the problem.”

    Then just like that she’ll begin brainstorming. I help her brainstorm because after all she’s only 5. But when I challenge her it forces her to think for herself. That’s what I want. I want her to be an independent thinker.

    My mom thinks that will work against me eventually, and sometimes it does, but that’s OK. I’m preparing her for the future. I’m teaching her to not make the same mistakes I did. I’m teaching her to not get by on looks alone. I want her to be loved for her heart, mind and soul. I want her to have the love I never did.

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    • I think it’s great that you’re teaching her to think for herself, and to learn to value herself for so much more than her looks. Yes, it will mean sometimes she’ll make choices you won’t approve of, but that happens anyway, and at least you’ll know they are actually HER choices, and she’s not just trying to “fit in.”
      You are much wiser than I was when my daughter was young. I was far too quick to try to give her answers, rather than encourage her brainstorm for her own answers. To this day, I regret that!

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  14. Love this post and when I find myself complaining, I stop as it’s so easy to do!

    Wow, you lost so much weight, very inspiring. I’m finding the older I get the harder it is to keep the weight off, even though I’m going to a gym. It’s almost as if I have to do all this exercise just to maintain my ‘normal’ weight, whereas when I was younger, I did all this exercise so I could eat whatever I liked!

    It’s also hard living in Southern Italy and trying to lose weight. The food here is really that wonderful! 🙂

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    • Well, as much as I’d like to claim credit for sticking to a diet or serious exercise, it was mostly stress-related. But having lost the weight, then I did work to keep it off. And I can’t imagine that I would be able to do that if I lived in Southern Italy, nor would I particularly want to. Life is for living, so eat and enjoy!

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