Finding hope in chaos.

Finding hope lately has been a challenge.

My memoir, which I’ve not finished writing, has been given an unwanted sequel.

Not by Matthew, my 31-year-old son, diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was eleven. By my sister, Mary Beth, who just received the same diagnosis (although her tumor is different). I can’t give more details yet, but as you might imagine, my own brain is reeling.

The prognosis for my sister is good, as it was for Matthew. But recovery will be long and arduous, as was Matthew’s. My heart is breaking all over again.

As for my own chronic health problems, last year I wrote that I was “open to the possiblity” that some surprising blooms in my garden might be a “sign” that my issues would resolve. 

This year, my health is the same, and those plants didn’t bloom. And now my memoir has a sequel.

Finding hope is tough for me right now.

I’m “rumbling with vulnerability,” as Brene Brown might say.

In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brown talks about the value of digging in to negative emotions–“rumbling” with them–in order to achieve growth. This speaks to me “whole heartedly” (another of Brown’s famous concepts).

When I’m feeling blue or discouraged, I don’t try to push those feelings away. I’ve found the more I allow myself to sit with negative feelings, express them by talking with someone who really listens without interruption or judgement (a rare person, indeed), and to cry or cocoon in my bed, the quicker the feelings pass.

I’m not a follower of toxic positivity–the belief that people should be positive, no matter what.

And I’m not suggesting that wallowing in negativity for days and days is healthy. Those with clinical depression or mental health diagnoses have to especially careful not to get sucked into a negative downward spiral. 

But for those normal bummer days, I embrace the fully human state of being sad and discouraged. I accept that sometimes, finding hope is hard. Sometimes, embracing the in-between is what we need when situations are unable to be unresolved. 

And I remain open to the possibility that hope will return.

Being open to the possibility of finding hope, of happiness returning, of goodness ahead is my key to life.  Click To Tweet

I bet by the next time you and I cross paths, hope will be sitting on my shoulder waving at you.

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  1. Jack Herlocker on June 20, 2018 at 4:44 PM

    Oh, Karen! If anyone deserves to NOT have sequels of this sort (but does deserve pretty flowers!) it would be you! I hope your garden wakes up in blooms, your memoir progresses, and you discover an unexpected bit of happiness in an unanticipated way.

    • Karen DeBonis on June 20, 2018 at 6:57 PM

      Thanks Jack – you always know the right thing to say. It will all unfold as it’s meant to – the flowers will bloom, or not, my memoir will get done, this year or next, or the year after. The most important thing is that my family member will recover and for that I’m happy.

  2. God's Whispers of Truth on June 20, 2018 at 5:18 PM

    Hugs Karen! I’m continuing to keep you in my heart and prayers.❤🌱🌹

  3. Elizabeth Browne on June 20, 2018 at 6:27 PM

    Karen, you & your family continue to be in my heart & prayers. Take heart💜
    Although those two words may seem shallow, know that you touch many hearts & give people the beauty & strength through your heart & sharing. Many lives bloom because of your touching their lives.💝💐🦋

  4. judy lawless on June 21, 2018 at 7:42 PM

    Perhaps those blossoms were a needed reminder to not give up hope. Some days we need that more than others. They will bloom again. Wishing you the best in your newest quest for improved health, and that of your family members.

  5. Karen DeBonis on June 21, 2018 at 9:30 PM

    Thanks Judy. I do have other blooms to keep me inspired, so I will draw from them. I appreciate your good wishes.

  6. bburrell60Beth on June 26, 2018 at 2:03 PM

    Karen, I’m sorry for your family member – I hope things improve quickly and as much as they can. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and writing. I like the idea of “open to possibility.” As for the gardening angle, my favorite flower is the rose campion – I am constantly on the lookout for it at plant nurseries and consider the day a good one when I find a rose campion in bloom in my yard. The color is awesome.
    Take care,

  7. Karen DeBonis on June 26, 2018 at 7:53 PM

    Thanks so much, fellow gardener Beth! First, my family member is recovering slowly but steadily, after a tumor the size of an orange was removed from her brain. We have much to be grateful for, as she hasn’t lost any cognitive function and her prognosis is excellent. As for rose campion–also a favorite of mine –it didn’t come back this year either! How can that be, as its brilliant magenta blooms are always popping up somewhere? But what IS about to bloom is another fuzzy silver-leafed plant–a monstrosity that I didn’t plant and haven’t yet identified. Maybe I should do a follow-up post on that, as a reminder to focus on what we have, rather than on what we don’t.

  8. Happy Positivity Day! – Karen DeBonis on July 13, 2018 at 3:54 PM

    […] this new designation. One month ago, on an unlucky Wednesday, a family member called to say she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was too early to reveal her identity, but now I’ll tell you that it was Mary Beth, my […]

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