I’m Normal?!? (and the Mini Heart 5K walk)

screenshot_20180320-0932491289093212.pngRecently I had my yearly health screening for my work insurance. They take some blood, your weight, waist circumference, and then give you a basic lecture on being healthier. If you fall out of any of the norms for the categories you have to jump through hoops to “earn” the points back to receive your HSA money. This is the first year ever that not only have I been in the norms for all the categories they award points for but that my waist circumference was within normal range! The lady who was giving me the mini lecture was going on about how they would like my weight to be closer to the normal range for my height, not realizing/ knowing my history. Meanwhile I’m internally jumping for joy!

Above I’ve included a chart of my health screenings from years past and a few extra values from blood draws for the weight loss management office, just to show the trends.

So looking at the numbers my blood pressure has improved, not that it was bad before, as well as my cholesterol, HDL, and LDL. Pretty much everything! The couple that haven’t improved have been consistent, neither going up or down for the most part.

So why do we care about the size of our waists and such? The website that explains the reasoning behind the categories lists them as follows: “Waist circumference helps assess your risk for chronic diseases that are associated with overweight and obesity. An excess of body fat, especially abdominal fat, increases your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.Glucose, or blood sugar, is the body’s primary source of energy. When there’s too much sugar in your diet, or your body isn’t efficient at using it for fuel, blood glucose levels can rise. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood used by the body for energy. While you need some triglycerides, too much can raise your risk of heart disease.HDL Cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps to remove “bad” cholesterol (LDL) from the bloodstream, lowering your risk for heart disease. HDL Cholesterol that is too low may increase your risk for heart disease.”

One way to raise your HDL is through exercise. I like that you can see quantitatively the change in the numbers as I started working out from 1 month post-op.  You can also see my food funerals reflected in my triglycerides and cholesterol values for the pre-diet numbers.


This past Sunday my Dad and I joined some of my coworkers and 27,000 of our closest friends at the Mini Heart 5K Walk downtown. Over the course of the day there was a half marathon, 5K race, 5K walk, 1K steps for stroke, and 1K kids run. Last I heard about 3 million dollars was raised for heart disease and stroke research and education.

The walk wasn’t a timed race but of course I couldn’t not figure out our time. We finished it close to 1 hour and 14 minutes. That was walking at a leisurely pace around people that were truthfully walking quite slow. Dad even got frustrated a couple of times at the lack of speed of the people walking in front of us. Still, all things considered we were only 10 minutes slower than our finish time for the Thanksgiving 5K, which is really good! Since it’s gotten cold we haven’t really done any training and this was the first course we’ve done with hills. Not too shabby.

Our next challenge is the Flying Pig 5K in May. Dad now has a fire under his butt to train more for it, not only to improve his speed but to improve his recovery time from it. He was a bit sore after Sunday. I was thinking of trying to completely run, or run as much as I can. I’m curious just how fast my time could be. Though I don’t want to leave Dad to walk on his own. We need to find someone willing to walk with him so I can run off.

The Saturday before the Mini Heart there was a health expo at the convention center downtown that I went to. They had booths from all the specialties within healthcare with free screenings, as well as booths from the different running stores selling their wares and booths from future marathons/runs. There was a couple future events that caught my eye, one in particular. There’s a local canoe rental place that’s putting on a tough mudder of sorts. 40 obstacles with mud over 10K on their property. Crazily I think it sounds super fun! I just need to find someone to do it with me so we can keep each other motivated. Dad is not the least bit interested, which I don’t really blame him. Any takers?? Bueller??


Fancy shoes and Purim


Last weekend Dad decided he was tired of his feet hurting and so we ventured to a fancy running specialty store for him to purchase fancy gym shoes. It was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend if you’re looking for a higher quality running/walking shoe.

We went to Fleet Feet in Cincinnati. They has awesome service, super nice, and were very knowledgeable. The store itself had more than just shoes. It had just about any running paraphernalia you could want. When I have a bit of extra change in my pocket I’ll likely go back for one of their super duper exercise bras ($60ish).

After putting your name on a waiting list, you wait and wonder. They were so busy that they were about 4 people ahead of Dad, which meant waiting probably 20 minutes. Once they called his name they asked what he was looking for in a shoe, what he actually plans on doing in it, any issues with his current shoes, and what size he’s been wearing. Then they do a cool 3D mapping of his feet, and watch his gait while he walked up and down the store barefoot. Combining all this information they brought out several shoe options, socks, and insoles for him to try out. Each pair he was encouraged to walk, or even run, around to test out as much as he wanted. There were several people literally running the sidewalk outside the store testing out their shoes.

Once Dad landed on a pair he liked we learned that he’s been wearing the wrong size shoe! Plus he’s lost all of his arch to the point where he’s completely flat footed and his ankles are turning in to compensate (hence the insoles). All in all he probably spent close to $200 between fancy new shoes, socks, and insoles. Over the next week he said it was like walking on air and his feet haven’t hurt once! Though his knee has been hurting more than usual. I attribute that to his ankles actually in a neutral position again, which is forcing his knees to a more neutral position again. In theory that should work itself out. Hopefully anyway. Our next 5K is in a week.

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I also wanted to wish you all a belated Happy Purim!

“Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus/Achashverosh (presumed to be Xerxes I or Artaxerxes I of Persia, “Khshayarsha” and “Artakhsher” in Old Persian respectively) planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim).

Part of the celebration of this holiday is the wearing of costumes. According to my husband, so take this with a grain of salt, the evolution to wearing costumes on Purim came about from the story. Each year at the party the story of Esther and Mordecai is retold via a play of sorts. The actors act it out in costume. There’s a fair few characters so a good number of people at the party would be in costume for the play. This evolved to everyone at the party wearing whatever costumes they want, or so the husband says.

Last year we went as crayons (our labels had become unpinned by the time the picture was taken). This year the girls went as medieval witches. I went as Emma Watson, combining Belle and Hermione.

Our Temple does a good job with the party every year, hosting a kid version in lieu of Sunday School.  Included is a decent lunch, lots of crafts and activities, and learning opportunities. Everyone involved had fun 🙂 And I managed to only eat two hamentashen (cookie. look it up. seriously yummy).


Dad’s best NSV yet!

This past week Dad had his best NSV (non-scale victory) yet! His primary doctor took him off all of his diabetes medications! He’s still a type 2 diabetic, but now he’s considered diet controlled. Not too shabby at all for a guy that was well on his way to dialysis due to kidney disease resulting from uncontrolled diabetes. He’s been an insulin dependent diabetic for at least 15 years that I can remember, though that number is likely bigger. His results from this whole journey has made it all worth it. Even though I’ve had great success from it so far, I’m more excited for his success than my own.

This past week my husband and I have been on a stay-cation, celebrating his 34th birthday on 2-25. We did absolutely nothing and it was glorious.

I demolished my normal sleep schedule. Stayed up incredibly late each night. Slept in every day, temporarily getting up to take the girls to school and then back home to bed. I binge watched many a show and watched several movies I’ve been wanting to see. Aside from transporting the girls to and from school, and going to the gym with Dad, we only ventured into the outside world twice the whole week. Once to go see Black Panther (If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.) and once to go to lunch at the birthday boy’s favorite restaurant, Benihanas. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and I barely left the couch the whole time. No chores were done by either of us. It was glorious.

I know I’ve gained back a few pounds as a result but I regret nothing. It was a very much needed mental health vacation. Though I will admit that today I’m struggling in the sleepiness department due to my altered sleep schedule and inability to sleep normal hours last night, but that was more than expected.

Holy Shit Balls! I made goal!




Holy crap and great balls of fire! I made and surpassed my self-appointed goal today! I have officially lost 101.5 lbs! This means that I’ve now slipped into the next BMI range and am no longer considered obese. I merely overweight now. Which I find a little funny since everyone keeps commenting on how thin I’ve gotten.

It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on you. Even though I’ve now officially lost over 100 lbs I still don’t feel that thin, and occasionally actually feel like I haven’t lost any at all. My fluffy-girl brain has yet to catch up to my hot-momma body.  The rolls of loose skin don’t help matters either. Without support garments I kind of look like a melting candle. Though I’d much rather be the melting candle than what I was at the beginning of this journey.

Again, just have to say holy shit balls! Teehee…

Thinking about what my next goal should be I’m thinking maybe I should strive to be in the “normal” BMI range. That would be 24.9 BMI which equals 140 lbs. 26.5 more pounds. Potentially doable but may not be that fun in the journey to get there. I’d have to hunker down quite a bit more than I’m doing now, I think, to achieve that. Maybe I’ll do a smaller one to start. 10 lbs? I don’t know. I’ve been saying this entire time that any loss after 168 is just gravy, but I’m thinking I might need a goal so I don’t float aimlessly. At the same time I don’t want to set an unachievable goal, especially since my loss has slowed down significantly. Though that is probably in large part to my letting sneaky habits back in. Things to think about….

Holy shit balls!

Dad’s 9 month post-op

So I realized that when I posted Dad’s 9 month post-op appointment results last month that I didn’t include a picture to go with it. They always say it didn’t happen if there’s no picture to document! So here it is 🙂

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He and I are both “slow losers” in comparison to some. Both of us are occasionally disappointed in the speed at which the number on the scale is going down. That’s why taking progress pictures is so important though! Even though he “only” lost 16 lbs from July to February the visual difference is very noticeable. We’ve been doing more strength training and more cardio, so we’re building more muscle. So who knows how much fat he’s actually lost compared to how much muscle he’s gained.

Speaking of exercise I’ve learned a new fancy thing in the gym from our trainer. She said she usually doesn’t teach her weight loss management group these particular exercises due to the difficulty level. She doesn’t like to set people up for possible failure and frustration. Dad and I are two of the handful of people that have been coming to the group exercise class outside of our allotted timeframe, so we’re on month 8 (I think?) when usually people only come for 3 months. Therefore occasionally she gives me a few more challenging moves to do just to mix it up.

A few of my favorite things in the gym to do have nothing to do with the machines. I love to work on the Pilates reformers, exercise ball, and the TRX (bands with hand loops, see video). All of these are a lot more versatile than you would have ever thought and give a great workout if you know more of the moves that you can do with them. Basically you’re using your own body weight with them and working on core strength a lot, though other muscles groups are obviously used as well.

I had Dad take a video of me doing two moves that I just learned on the TRX. I needed a visual reference of how high my feet were. They ended up being a bit too low so if you choose to try this at home raise up the loops a bit so you’re in a better plank position. Also I just want it known that that is not the top of my buttcrack you can see there but the tag from my pants sticking up. I’ll do another video later on the exercise ball for comparison. The same moves on two different pieces of equipment can change up the difficulty level exponentially and give variety.

It’s very weird to me how much I actually enjoy working out and going to the gym now, though I am very much looking forward to it getting warm so Dad and I can resume our weekly hiking outdoors.


9 months Post-op!

Last week I had my 9 month post-op appointment. In the 3 months since my last appointment I’m down 13 lbs, which my surgeon’s nurse practitioner seemed pleased with. I’m still loosing slowly but surely. That puts me down to 170 lbs, just 2 lbs shy of my goal of 100lbs loss.

It seems each post-op appointment I have I’m just shy of my self-appointed goals. 3 month appointment I wanted to be under 200. I was at just at 200. 6 month appointment I wanted to be at 180. I was at 183. 9 month I wanted to be at 168. I was at 170. So close! Oh well. As my mom has always said: Close only counts with horse shoes and hand grenades.

The above comparison photos my 6 month pic was taken a bit late. My 1 month preop pic reminds me of this meme though 🙂 fb_img_1515449635878-36676698.jpgNo wonder my back always hurt!

I had my second session for my celebration tattoo! It’ll need a few touchups once it’s completely healed though. I absolutely love it! It came out so good. Lindsey over at Studio 85 is soooo talented! img_20180118_2148041652883351.jpg

Last month there was a health fair put on by my work and a local specialty grocery store. In addition to a bunch of health food samples, they also had various health screenings and demos of yoga and zumba. Dad and I participated in the yoga demo, doing it for the first time. We both really enjoyed it and will probably do it again in the near future! fb_img_15164771171031616409930.jpgI was a lot more flexible than I thought, able to get into positions that the belly and boobs would have prevented before. Dad had a bit of an issue with his balance but kept on trying and didn’t give up.

We both aced the lung capacity screening. We both were a smidge high on the blood sugar screening but we had been snacking our way through the health food booths so that wasn’t too surprising. Dad’s cholesterol screening was normal range and mine was so low that it didn’t even register on the machine, which is good. And both of our blood pressures were on the higher side of normal but they were taken after the yoga, walking around, and in a very warm, crowded room so not very surprised at that either.

A couple of other Non-scale victories have happened recently related to my flexibility. I found that I’m able to sit cross-legged in a desk chair and that I’m able to comfortably cross my legs while in a restaurant booth! Didn’t even realize I was doing either of them till a few minutes had gone by.

This past weekend I had a very much needed girls weekend with some friends. We’ve all been friends since elementary school. We hung out, drank, ate, pampered ourselves, saw Fifty Shades Freed. It was a very nice weekend, very fun! I discovered that I’m much more of a light weight than I used to be once upon a time. I also had to pay more attention to drinking and snacking. They kind of go hand-in-hand and I can’t do that anymore. All in all I only mini-dumped (flushed, overheated, sweaty) maybe twice, which really isn’t that bad considering all that I ate and drank.

I also recently dyed my hair again if you can’t tell from the pictures 🙂 It’s bright purple this time with darker purple roots. Life is too short to not have fun hair!






Flex with me!

Last Thursday Dad had his 9 month postop appointment. He’s officially down 75 lbs, 12 lbs since his last appointment at 6 months. He’s not too happy about the number, wanting it to be bigger. In my book though a loss is a loss. It’s more than he would have lost before this process. My 9 month appointment isn’t until January 31st.

We’ve officially registered for the Mercy Mini Heart Marathon 5K walk. There’s a team developing from my work and we’re walking with them. This is the 5K Dad actually requested we join. We’re doing the Couch25K app program to prepare for it, and to prepare for the Flying Pig in the spring. The day before the walk there’s a whole health fair/expo at the convention center downtown that looks like it’ll be fun too. If you feel so inclined to donate to our fundraising efforts the links to our pages are below:





The American Heart Association uses the walk, marathon, and expo to raise money for heart health and stroke research. Many of you know that my mom suffered a major debilitating stroke over 5 years ago. We’re walking in her name 🙂

On a happier note of sorts, my wedding ring doesn’t fit! Truthfully it hasn’t fit in over 6 years. I stopped wearing it when I was pregnant with the girls. My fingers swelled like sausages and I weirdly started reacting to the metal of the rings themselves. After I had the girls and was no longer swollen I then became too fat to wear them, so I just didn’t. 3 years ago I had a ring tattoo done that mirrored the shapes and sapphire in my engagement ring. I missed wearing them but was too cheap to get them resized, plus I was ever hopeful that I’d lose the weight and they’d fit again. Well the other day on a whim I put them on and now they’re too big! With very minimal hand flapping they slide right off!

Also note the brand new Fitbit Flex2 my left wrist is now sporting. My loving husband gave it to me for the holidays. It’s weird feeling to have something on my wrist again. I haven’t worn a watch for the same amount of time as my rings. Now I have this thing on my wrist that I’m supposed to only take off to charge every 5 days. It’s waterproof so I can even shower with it on if I so choose. It tracks my sleep and everything! If you want to friend me on there we can challenge each other. Flex with me! 🙂



Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from my family to yours! Dad and I rocked the themed sweaters this year.

I kind of felt like I was dressed up in a costume as my mom. I even was wearing some of her old jewelry to add to the feeling.

Looking back at old photos I’m still astounded at how big Dad and I were in comparison to now. When I was that big, it felt completely normal to me, completely fine. There wasn’t anything wrong. Yeah I couldn’t really keep up with my kids, but who could? They have never ending energy! I was in such denial really. I love what my tool has given to me. That’s the true Christmas gift. Just yesterday I was rolling around on the floor with my girls practicing and teaching them gymnastics. I wasn’t winded, hurting, or self conscious at all! Here’s a comparison from last year to this year:

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Christmas eve I wore some kick-ass leggings that I’ve fallen in love with:


Aren’t those awesome?! I got them 75% at Joann Fabrics of all places. Only $5! They’re super soft too. I love being able to buy clothes wherever and not having to worry about if they’ll be big enough for me.

To add to that love, I recently discovered that I could fit into the “normal” sized lead aprons at work. In the past I’d always had to hunt down one of the two aprons intended for those of the fluffier persuasion. Often times I wouldn’t be able to find them or they’d be in use. At those times I’d have to resort to wearing a normal one and tying the straps in the back since they wouldn’t fit around me to Velcro in the front like intended. Now not only do I fit in the normal lead, but I fit in the two piece lead! This is huge. Not only are they more comfortable but they’re easier on the back if you have to wear them the whole day. Yay non-scale victories!


Happy Chrismakkah!

Happy Chrismakkah and Happy Birthday to me! We actually celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our house, hence Chrismakkah. The girls basically have none stop gifts and parties from Halloween through New Year’s: Halloween, their birthday, Thanksgiving, my birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s a never ending party up in the Greenberg house!


Saturday was my Dad’s company Christmas party. I was his date per usual since Mom’s no longer able. I talked him into wearing an awesome ugly Christmas sweater. He was adorable. I was going to get an ugly sweater dress but couldn’t decide on one so I ended up just borrowing a Christmas-esque dress from a friend. My necklace lit up and blinked though, so there was that. Below are some comparison photos from last year’s party and this year. At last year’s party we were on month 2 of the 6 month preop diet. I think we’d both maybe lost 5 pounds at that point? We look just a tad different.

There was an open bar at the party. I learned I couldn’t get my usual! I usually get a Dirty Shirley, basically an alcoholic Shirley Temple. Sprite, grenadine, cherries, and vodka. It’s the sprite that got me, the carbonation. I hadn’t really thought about that before. No worries though. I figured out an alternative 😉 I also talked Dad into doing a shot of Fireball with me! He hasn’t drank hard liquor in probably 30 years or more. His reaction was hilarious! I think I’ve also managed to talked him into getting a tattoo with me for father’s day/our 1 year surgeriversary next year.

Last Monday was my 33rd birthday. My husband and I both took a stay-cation for the week, though I did work Monday to cover for a coworker. It was a really nice week and a very much needed break. I also had to get a new driver’s license this year.

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This was the first time, ever, that I put my actual weight on my license. When I got my original at 16 I lied even then. I have had 130lbs listed for my entire driving career. This year I put my actual current weight and felt really proud of that fact!

While at work on Monday I had a bittersweet victory moment. A surgeon that I haven’t worked with in a really long time didn’t recognize me! He then ruined the victorious moment by telling me that I cheated by getting the surgery when I explained how I’ve lost the weight. -_-  Gee, thanks Doctor…. -_-

Tuesday I had my tattoo as planned 🙂 I was there for a total of 8 hours, with 6.5 hours of it being active tattooing time. The longest I’ve even been under the needle for a tattoo was maybe an hour, if that. This by far tested my endurance and pain tolerance. I would have been happy stopping at 5 hours and calling it a day. The last 30-45 minutes I literally couldn’t hold still. My leg was twitching all over the place. My face was buried in a pillow and I was saying some not nice words. The husband came and hung out with me for a good 4 hours. Entertained me and the tattoo artist. Helped make small talk since I suck at it. Even got me food at a nearby restaurant and brought it back for me. He’s awesome 🙂

After we stopped for the day/night I then was “forced” to stand for what felt like endless pictures. Lindsey, the tattoo artist, is a self admitted obsessive picture taker. I can relate 🙂 She was trying really hard to get the colors and details to come out in a picture to post on the shop’s website at some point. After laying so long my left hip surprisingly was really sore. Lack of padding combined with a not so comfy bed/chair/bed thing equaled a left sore hip for almost 2 days.  While waiting for Lindsey to get the perfect picture I actually got pretty light headed and had to sit down. Hadn’t felt like that in a really long time. I think all my adrenaline was spent, plus limited food/drink and getting up too fast. I have to go back in January for her to finish up the tattoo. I still have 2-3 hours worth of coloring to do on it. I learned from this experience to ask for more breaks next time for sure.


I love how it turned out! At our next session she’s going to color in the kimono, umbrella, and background. My pictures aren’t as good as the ones she took. When she eventually posts them I’ll repost them here. If you’re ever in need of an awesome tattoo artist you need to go to Studio 85, specifically Lindsey. All of the artists there are super talented though, so you’d be in good hands with any of them. (https://www.studio85tattoo.com/)

The last picture of the above collage is from the next morning. They had put a clear dressing on that was supposed to stay on for 3 days. Unfortunately for my sheets it leaked at some point in the night. All that lovely fluid is just extra ink, sweat, and natural inflammation response that normally would cause my leg to swell if it hadn’t escaped through the now very pretty open wound on my leg.

A week later it’s still sore but nearly as much. Right now I’m dealing with my scrub pants rubbing it. I know, first world problems. I managed to go a whole week without wearing long pants. My legs were very cold when we went out.

Oh! and an adorable thing that happened: my daughters gave me their tooth fairy money towards the tattoo. They usually choose to put it in the tzedakah box (charity) at Sunday school, but they randomly decided they wanted to contribute to my savings money jar. Now they feel they have a bit of ownership in it I think 🙂





“Just like a tattoo…”

Next Monday is my 33rd birthday. If you’ve read any number of my previous posts you know I’ve been talking about getting a new tattoo. Well I officially have an appointment Tuesday afternoon/evening to get it done. This way it’ll have time to heal during my stay-cation. The tattoo has 3-fold celebratory reasoning: to celebrate my birthday, to celebrate losing 100 lbs (not quite there though. at 93 lbs right now), and to honor my mom (who loves all things panda and geisha).

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to get a Panda Geisha. It’s a tad more complicated than that though, because I can’t just be easy. I want a maiko, which is an apprentice geisha. They’re characterized by longer obi, longer kimono with longer sleeves, red under-collar, taller okobo (shoes), and red silk in the center of their hair bun. When a geisha graduates, so to speak, she becomes a geiko.


It is said that geisha inhabit a separate reality which they call the karyūkai or “the flower and willow world”. Before they disappeared, the courtesans were the colorful “flowers” and the geisha the “willows” because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.

Their jobs consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen or the koto (traditional Japanese instruments) for visitors during feasts. They emulate culture and grace.

World War II brought a huge decline to the geisha arts because most women had to go to factories or other places to work for Japan. The geisha name also lost some status during this time because prostitutes began referring to themselves as “geisha girls” to American military men. Since the war though they’ve gone through a resurgence and modernization.


On the obi tail, instead of the normal geometric or flower pattern, I’ve requested a lotus unalome.


The Unalome is originally a hindu symbol that graphically recalls Shiva´s third eye and it represents wisdom and the path to perfection. The spiral shows the beginning of the path, without knowledge or a given direction, that leads to discovering the world through inevitable errors (the knots along the line, or yak), each being a teaching moment, and finally becoming a straight line leading to enlightenment, often represented by a dot or a circle (the sun).

In the Buddhist tradition, Unalome represents the path each person takes throughout their life. That road can be straight, circular, or winding. It might be filled with anxiety, fear, terror, happiness, or love. This path begins at the center of a spiral, which represents the way we’re trapped in our own weakness, fear, and uncertainty. As the path unfolds, the mind finds clarity, eventually freeing itself from the cycles of suffering. When you learn to see yourself from a more objective standpoint, you’ll realize you’re attached to a web of emotions that cloud your mind. However, since we are merely human beings who tend to commit the same mistakes over and over again, it is not easy to abandon that cycle. That’s what the spiral represents, that inability of letting ourselves go completely. The pursuit of enlightenment is what straightens the line of the spiral. This symbol is a visual metaphor of that journey: the ultimate goal and culmination of our search for awareness. Finally, the dot that appears far away from the rest of the Unalome represents the uncertainty of life. We ignore the final truth. And even if we can’t perceive it, it does exist. This is the ultimate reward life can give us.

The lotus flower symbolizes overcoming adversities towards perfection, thus perfectly integrating the meaning of the Unalome.

The lotus has been a symbol of purity since before the time of the Buddha, and it blooms profusely in Buddhist art and literature. Its roots are in muddy water, but the lotus flower rises above the mud to bloom, clean and fragrant.

The mud nourishing the roots represents our messy human lives. It is within our human experiences and our suffering that we seek to break free and bloom. But while the flower rises above the mud, the roots and stem remain in the mud, where we live our lives. This plant is known to be associated with rebirth. This is a consequence of it supposedly retracting into the water at night, and emerging afresh in the Sun the next day. The breaking of the surface every morning is also suggestive of desire. This leads to it being associated with spiritual enlightenment.


And finally, why a panda you ask? Because my Mommy loves them. Growing up our house was covered in panda figurines, pictures, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. When she went into the nursing home after her stroke 5 years ago, you seriously don’t even want to know how much panda stuff we had to find a new home for. Also, the panda is kind of my (and hers) spirit animal, or Patronus if you will.

The panda is a powerful spirit animal inspiring tranquil strength and determination. Under its soft and fuzzy appearances, this animal totem brings forth the importance of strong personal boundaries to feel safe and grounded in life. Symbolic of the ability to find a balanced and nurturing path through life, it will encourage those who have it as totem or power animal to integrate different aspects of their personality in an harmonious whole.

The panda is a symbol of gentleness and strength. The general meanings associated with this animal are:

  • Gentle strength
  • Peace
  • Good luck, positive outlook on life
  • Connection with Eastern wisdom

The symbolism of the panda also encompasses personal and spiritual qualities, such as:

  • Integration of polarized aspects of yourself, such as feminine and masculine energies
  • Heart-centered energy, nurturing ability
  • Importance of emotions
  • Calm determination, ability to take time to reach your goals
  • Importance of private space and personal boundaries

This animal is characterized by its very high sensitivity to its surroundings and can quickly become stressed when there is too much movement or noise around. If you identify with the panda totem, you’re likely very aware of your environment and the energies around you.

The totem of the panda has affinities with bear energy. Despite its gentle appearances, it is a strong animal with an unstoppable determination. Like the bear, it provides powerful support for those who need courage and steadiness in their endeavors. Those with the panda totem tend to be able to be firm and gentle at the same time and demonstrate a gentle strength in any circumstance. The wisdom of the panda teaches us to move through life calmly and with determination. You can call this spirit animal to help you maintain a steady pace and direction. In the Eastern culture, this animal is symbol of peace and harmonious resolution of conflict.

So basically, after that very long winded, detailed description of my future tattoo, there’s multiple hidden meanings in it for me. It represents that, like a maiko,  I’m still learning, constantly learning, not only in life but on my weight loss journey. That I’ll hit bumps along the way but with determination I’ll eventually get there. I need to have grace, courage, patience, and perseverance to rise above any obstacles. This is my story of rebirth, into the person I’m becoming. I’m not only changing physically, but mentally as well. Finally, it’s also to honor my mother. At an early age she instilled a love of learning, and a love of reading, in me. She taught me to always want to know more, and gave me the strength and courage to seek it out.


I won’t see the tattoo artist’s actual design till I physically go to the appointment. She’ll be working on it right up until then. I went in and talked with her last week, told her all my wants and desire, and she measured my leg. After that I just had to leave it in her capable hands to interpret my spew of information overload into something amazing. There’s time built into the appointment if we need to tweak her design at all though.

I’ll, of course, do a post chronically the whole thing. As of right now my loving husband is going to go with me and entertain me/feed me. I could be there upwards of 6 hours, depending on how fast she works. Since there’s going to be a fair amount of detail and color work I fully anticipate being there the whole time. My previous 3 tattoos are just small things that took less than 45 minutes. I’m hoping I can last as long as I need to before tapping out.