Birthday reflections, 2016

Birthdays and holidays have always been tricky for me. These are occasions where we indulge in the pleasure of being remembered by those we love, times we can feel a bit special and pampered. Or at least that’s true for many women I know, some givers to the point of exhaustion.

But here’s the quandary: for many years, my husband has borne the brunt of my disappointment, whether in him or in others who have occasionally failed to display requisite feedback. While on one hand I love celebrations, when paired with expectations they surely lead to disappointment. Chris is a practical guy, one who demonstrates devotion on a day to day basis. An earnest man, he is quick to assess, slower to process, yet inevitably one who seeks forgiveness when words or actions are out of line with his noble heart.

What my partner grants me every day I draw breath is priceless: the freedom to be, to explore, expand and contract, to write, reflect, take photographs, go back to school and embrace whatever each new day presents. In my personal history, freedom has always arrived with chains around its ankles. Too often it padded in on the heels of betrayal, jealousy and unspoken bargains and entitlement. I hardened myself early on, beginning by telling my father he could stuff his inheritance back into his bank book. I was not for sale, never would be.

Two faithless husbands followed that early family life, along with two blessed daughters. This duality did not escape me, for what was given always seemed to demand equal sacrifice. I worked both inside and outside the home, proving to an oblivious world that I was not a helpless, hapless victim. Still, lessons continued as they will. Clearly relationships were where my mettle was tested, but this did not become summarily obvious until well into my fifties.

Through no calculated means whatsoever, I got lucky. For over twenty years this man has stood by my side, and though our early days were fraught with growing pains, the peace we finally attained is beyond measure. Only in the past year or two have I begun to truly and utterly comprehend the scope and meaning of freedom, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with things money can buy. Which only goes to show that a media-driven society that equates purchases with love is juvenile, piteous and damaging to anything so fragile as the human heart. I wish I had learned this sooner, but am grateful to the core I learned it at all.

2014-11-23 13.34.21


27 thoughts on “Birthday reflections, 2016

  1. I have found it takes a lifetime to understand what some gifts truly are, Bela. It does sound like you are fortunate in that your partner has given you what most never have or if they do, they don’t realize it. My lifetime has been one of care giving…yes, to the point of exhaustion at times…and only after my close encounter with death last year have things begun to change, albeit slowly. Better late than never for some things in life. I assume best wishes are in order and thank you for sharing as always. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aloha Renee, and first, thank you for your well wishes. Very much appreciated.

      I am sorry it took a brush with death to sharpen your senses. And happy you did not give up on life, for it is so very precious. Better late than never, indeed.

      You know, somewhere along that lifetime learning you so keenly pinpoint (somewhere in my 40’s, as I recall), I learned to Receive. This was huge, as I didn’t realize how much this was harming me. I so loved to give, feeling guilty if anyone gave anything to me – anxious until I could ‘repay the debt.’ I am certain that put them on edge, as well. What happened was this: all at once, or so it seemed, people were coming out of the woodwork, showering me with gifts and offerings of all sorts. Leaving stuff on my doorstep if I wasn’t home. Many of these were clients and certainly did not know one another enough to conspire to plot this out. And there was no way I could ‘even the score’ on that kind of scale! Yet being an open minded, introspective sort, I ‘got the message.’ Truly I did. I realized that, as much as I loved giving to others, I was robbing them of the joy of giving to me, in turn! Plus as I mention in the post, I had an unconscious agenda, in that I felt wounded if people I loved, people I gave to more than most, forgot me on ‘special days.’ Even though, mind you, I was not that open to receiving.

      And I was observing myself over the years, asking myself why, on one hand i was saying, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal, really!’ when inside, I felt crushed and sad. Well. Perhaps I’m not the only one raised to deceive in order to play the Martyr!

      I would not trade where I am today for 10 years off my aging body, nor 20, nor 30 or more. I am so gratified to be who I am in the here and now. I hope the same is true for you, dear Renee. Many blessings on this beautiful day! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well stated. It, too, is hard for me to receive. Last year when I had to depend on others for my care in and out of the hospital, that was a humbling experience. I so worried about people doing for me. My world was turned upside down. Adjusting is still ongoing and as it has been but little over a year…well, a lifetime of change cannot be done overnight so each obstacle I overcome is a really good day, indeed. Blessing to you as well.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Such deep thoughts here. . . I am wishing you so much more time, hope your celebration was everything you wished for. (Yes, we deserve to be the center of attention sometimes! 🙂 ) I treasure how you compare life there with what it was like in New England. I wish you a very happy birthday, dear Bela! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aloha Robin! And thanks for the birthday wishes. After 34 years in New England and over a dozen on the Hawaiian Islands, I can say I did my real ‘growing up’ in both these places where I could, of my own volition, indulge in the quiet and healing of nature. I am indeed blessed. Be well, my friend! ❤


  3. Well articulated Bela! Happy Birthday.
    I learnt the meaning of freedom from my husband who gave me the wings, nurtured them and has been the wind under them. We have been together for 38 years and each year he took an off from work to be with me on my birthday.
    I have written about birthdays…I hope you will like it. here is the link:

    Stay blessed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, Balroop, that is super sweet. I loved the story, and went to comment, but perhaps due to the age of the post (2014), I was unable to do so. I am thrilled you discovered, after an early life of neglect, a partner who gives you that special day in a way you appreciate. In our lives, Chris was the one who suffered neglect in his childhood – I witnessed volatility in every corner of mine. Knew what fear was almost daily. Yet in the end, we both love quiet and the lack of drama in our lives. And this is the kindest man one could ever meet. Everyone loves Chris, and for good reason.
      What I was addressing in the post was my own immature internal process, my expectations of … and sometimes even I didn’t know what I expected! Aye-yiyi! Growing pains! Aloha, Balroop, and as always, many thanks for your comment. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy Belated Birthday Bela.

    I think Bela, as we gain years of maturity we see how fortunate we are. I was fortunate in having a hubby who like the one you have partnered for 20 years has allowed me my own freedoms to BE.. That is not saying Life has not had its turbulences or differences..

    You share your birthday with my Daughter it was hers on the 28th 🙂

    Many Happy Returns dear Bela xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks, Sue! Actually my birthday was on the 14th.
      You and I are fortunate, indeed. In my opinion, to find a good life partner is as much luck as it is the willingness to hang in there on both parts, to humble oneself when in error, and to dedicate onself to love above all else. It is as much spiritual practice as solitude and takes the same strength as athletic competition! Inner discipline, willingness to grow, practice, practice. And yes, life definitely gives us challenges until it’s over, I think.
      Thanks as always for your kind wishes, dear Sue. Blessings on the day! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post for so many reasons, Bella. First…I think it sounds like a big Happy Birthday is in order ❤ If your BD is the 28th then you share it with someone very dear to me 🙂 Next…I love that you GET IT! Really get that freedom and love have nothing to do with money and that you held out for the real thing. I love that YOU GOT THE REAL THING!!! This life we are given is full of choices and it sounds like you had some tough ones. I’m so happy that you are fulfilled and loved and above all else, that you allowed yourself to have all of this. I stood in my own way for so long and it is a process that I believe will continue until we leave this plane. Oh…and I love the photograph…so much!! It tells a story, Bella. I have been gearing up for my first self portrait…which is exciting mainly because I feel I have learned enough to do my first one!! Much love to you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorrie, you’re very sweet and thank you so much. Yes, it’s amazing how we stand in our own way, not even realizing it sometimes. And this receiving thing most definitely changed my life. Changed who I attracted into my life, as well. It’s one thing to refer to people as ‘users.’ It’s quite another to remove that ‘use me’ sign from one’s back 😉 I can’t wait to see your self portrait! Cellphones make it so easy, really, to take one’s own photograph.Still, I don’t do it often, and almost never with my Canon Power Shot, even though I could. I am captivated by reflections. I’ve taken my own in a laundromat while visiting someone – in the big ol’ dryer’s glass front. Unintentionally captured it in this and other images. Until I download the images to Dropbox, I never realize I’m in the photo until I do. Then I can’t help but smile 😉 Peace and love to you, dear one. Hope you are enjoying your week! ❤


      1. Oh…Bela…yes…the ‘use me’ sign!! Similar to the ‘kick me’ sign kids used to play a joke in grade school. And just like that sign, the wearer is not usually aware that the sign is THERE!! I think, for me, it has been an unfolding of realization for the past five years. But the final blow was very recently when a friend I thought was a true friend…a lifetime friend…used me up for her benefit and started to verbally abuse me. It was almost too much to handle…but it did the job!!! I looked at my back and there it was…the giant sign…worn and tattered for years of use. The universe had been giving me signs and when they were not heeded the big guns came out. I am sad to have lost a friend to the process…but I am so grateful…BLESSITUDE..for the understanding…for the growth.
        I love how you said you are captivated by reflections…it resonates with me…literally as well as figuratively…the photograph and the learning. And I feel this exchange with you is helping to shape what my eventual self portrait will be 😉
        Thank you, Bela. I’m so grateful for your soul ♡

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lorrie, isn’t it amazing, this little WP community?! I marvel at it, really, that a few of us have found one another across the miles.

        Mindfulness is key in life if one really wishes to transform the less savory aspects of it. For all of it so largely depends on our perceptions of ‘reality.’ People are people; life goes on with or without our participation in it. How we view it all shapes our experiences of it.
        Wishing you blessings and peace on this beautiful day! Aloha ❤


  6. A good (female) friend of mine whom I have known in her early twenties is 70 this year. She says she feels truly happy for the first time in her life. She has had good periods in the past but nothing like this: happiness with peace of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marriage is the most difficult dish to cook that anyone will ever undertake.

    Let’s begin the recipe by blending two people who are totally different. Mix in a generous portion of expectation. Season with demanding careers. Add a heaping tablespoon of needy children. Pour in a pint of personal growth. Sprinkle with a dash of aging parents. Bring to a boil.

    A prize winning dish? Let each individual be the judge.


    1. Aloha, and welcome, Al! I’ve only begun to explore your own writing and look forward to a space in time where I can pursue it further 😉

      What you say is true, for sure – I don’t think many of us, especially when young, walk into a relationship withOut expectations. Stars in our eyes and all that. And yes, people Are different, try as we might to rally to the best version of ourselves as ‘a couple.’ We all fail/fall from time to time, because we are human, and because we are growing as individuals – and it is only right to do so! And yes, oh man, add the needs of children and careers in those early days! It’s amazing any of us survive it, but when we do, if we remain open and not simply harden into patterns, what growth we are able to achieve!

      I am grateful that I didn’t have to deal with aging parents, being one of seven kids who moved thousands of miles away from the rest of the family right out of high school. So there were plenty of others who took up that particular mantle – though I was there when and as needed, in whatever capacity. My husband is a bit younger than I, so his parental issues haven’t yet emerged.

      Best wishes to you in the New Year, Al, and thanks again for dropping by! Aloha.


  8. Happy New Year to you as well, Bela.I forgot to thank you for following my blog. I fear you will get far less benefit from mine than I will from yours.

    As for marriage, I will be celebrating 49 years next April. Ours has been as rocky as anyone else’s, but the rewarding parts have far outweighed those difficult patches. Our love has grown stronger throughout and I suspect maybe the tough times are more responsible for that than all the rest. At any rate, here we are, enjoying our so-called “Golden Years.”

    For what it’s worth, since you are in Hawaii, when you get a chance you might want to read this post I wrote about my father-in-law at Pearl Harbor.

    See you in the blogosphere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 49 years! Congratulations! I’m glad you feel the struggles contributed to your deepening love. This is how we feel as well. Of course we’d have preferred not to have gone through the pain at all, but that’s a pipe dream on Planet Earth. Humans learn (the most important lessons anyway) through adversity. Blessed be! And thanks for the link, Al. Will go there now. Aloha.


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