Birthday Wish to all of you

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but it’s not what ships are built for.”

Today is my birthday. In the past 10 years of my life, I cannot believe the “outside of the harbor” choices I’ve made. Ironically enough, given the quote’s nautical nature, I do not consider “moving across an ocean” to be one of the most trans-formative choices.

I learned a new language (something one can do anywhere). I changed my career path (you can also do this where you are, and consider that applicable to all below). Together, my parents and I mended conflicts well before it was too late (today, they are two of my closest, most treasured relationships). I maintained a healthy physical lifestyle and weight, which wasn’t easy when I couldn’t walk. I published a book. I became “Aunt LaLa” to the Ayres Little Men and added a new family (my “Henry” carries their family name). I gave my hair to make wigs for children with cancer…four times. I faced, and continue to face, my fears (crippling stage fright and fear of heights). I watched marvelous sunrises in gratitude and walked through challenging sunsets in humility. On this day in 2011, I converted to Catholicism, which was the single-most authentic decision I have ever made.

Perhaps, some of the most trans-formative trips out of the harbor are those we simultaneously fear and welcome? Though we are afraid, we know we truly have to go – into the vast, seemingly-unending expanse. Someone calls and says, “I have the perfect job for you, but it’s in Lichtenstein” or someone writes you an email and begs, “Can you please take in this rescue dog?” or even “Marry me, my love?” Life changes in one … Augenblick.

One of mine happened on January 22, 2016 when I saw and heard a strong heartbeat from a machine in Bern, Switzerland. It took me about a second to process that was his (Christopher Henry) heartbeat. Sometimes, I guess, that second is all it takes to pick up the anchor and set sail. Fear be damned. Best decision I ever made, pulling up that anchor.

I know it’s tough and scary. Many times in the past 10 years, my ship has ventured out into the sea only to return battered and bruised. Heartbroken. Sea voyages can be treacherous and arduous. There are literal ups and downs that either propel you forward or crush you. It’s difficult to leave the comforts of a tranquil and serene harbor. Ah…but, that’s not what ships are built for.

I like to imagine wisdom from my four grandparents, as I push away from the harbor each time. They have four simple rules for each journey.

“Be bold, Lulabelle.”

                                                                 “Be authentic, Sweet Girl.”

                                    “Be brave, Granddotta!”

                             “Be peaceful, Princess Wawie.”

 You can do it, too.

Be bold. Be authentic. Be brave! Be peaceful.

Switzerland doesn’t want your Grand Big Mac, Ronald.

Color me red and white in prideful appreciation for the current Swiss backlash against the Grand Big Mac.

God bless your cholesterol-heavy heart Ronald, you knew that wouldn’t be popular here, didn’t you? You’re little tag line on the advert “only for a limited time” almost seems like “I am really sorry to have to advertise this in your exercise/recycling/good health-focused country. They are making me.”

Page two of the daily paper yesterday (this is the paper everyone reads, for free, while utilizing public transport, which the vast majority of us do) had this to say, “Criticism about the new jumbo burger.” The article then went on to tear the not-so-Grand Big Mac to shred(ded lettuce…ha ha, I couldn’t help myself). First attack was not on the ingredients or daily fat intake or anything a bit intangible.

They attacked the size. Simple, concise, efficient attack. The Grand Big Mac is 45% bigger than the regular one.

It was so Swiss and so brilliant. They go on to attack different aspects, but the crux of the argument is simple: this company is trying to make us 45% bigger like this burger. Eww. Gross.

Someone refers to the burger as “scandalous.” Someone else refers to the McDonald’s spokeswoman as representing “the calorie bomb.” Damn! The only redeeming component appears to be the half a head of lettuce we see in the Grand Big Mac’s debutant photo, but that is left out. No, every sentence is loaded with burger-busting explosives. Bravo.

This is why Switzerland has 90-year olds who hike in the mountains. This is why it’s fairly normal to see people on crutches throughout the year. These people are active and they are moving. They don’t want to add 45% to their meals. They want to be moving in a year, five years, fifty years. Also, they also like their meals; so they wouldn’t want to waste 3/4 of their daily food requirements in one go.

Go back and look at this blog post. Read all the things that contribute, daily, to the good health of the inhabitants in this country.

1) Utilizing public transportation – moving ourselves around keeps muscles functioning, oxygen flowing, and encourages social awareness (though some people fail miserably in this last area)

2) Recycling – keeps us from being a wasteful nation, focused on consumption without consequence. They don’t give us a choice here. You’ll recycle or you pay more because trash bags are expensive here…on purpose. Recycling is made easy and it’s just part of our daily lives.

3) Size control – ha ha. This is a bit of a sensitive subject. But, yes. Switzerland is hyper-conscious about keeping the, ahem, portions small. (Even of the portions of foreigners.)

4) Daily news – twice a day, we read the daily news. Why? It’s free. It’s presented to us not only via the web, but also in our hands. I cannot imagine Swiss transport without newspapers scattered here and there. This contributes to global, regional, and local awareness. It also makes for a well-informed society that is READING. Not bad.

5) Fresh vegetables and fruits – I have never seen people eating vegetables and fruits more in my life. Granted, we are spoiled. We have fresh veggies and fruits at our disposal all the time. You buy them on the run and you don’t even think twice. For example, I would never walk into a fast food place and grab fries for a train ride. I do, often, grab an apple and/or some carrots.

I’m not anti-McDonald’s. I am a huge supporter of the work done at the Ronald McDonald houses, by the way. But, what is the overall cost? For every Ronald McDonald house, doing amazing work, there are probably thousands of cases of coronary disease attributable to bad health habits encouraged by the first “McDonald’s Happy Meal.” Taking care of sick kids is really important. Keeping kids from getting sick…can I be so bold as to say it’s MORE important?

Nevertheless, I don’t think Switzerland was a great launch site for the Grand Big Mac, Calorie Bomb. Our golden bodies are a bit more important to us than your golden arches, in this case.