October 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Assembling Halloween costumes throughout the years energized me in a way other creative projects didn’t. My brain kicked into high gear whether Mike and I donned plastic garbage bags as the California Raisins…

or my sons announced “werewolf” (Matthew)

and “pirate” (Stephen).

The fun was bringing the vision to life.

I don’t miss those exhausting days, however. Now, I’m happy to put up a few outdoor decorations, buy a bag of candy, and call it a sweet day. Unless you know of a good Halloween party… 

Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived.  The clash between a woman’s naïve expectations of motherhood and her son’s crushing needs destroys her confidence and threatens her survival.
In memoir-related news, and speaking of bringing a vision to life, I decided to hold off querying literary agents until January to give me time to focus on building my author platform, especially my social media presence. Agents want to see not just numbers of followers, but engagement. I had some meaningful connections on Facebook and Twitter regarding motherhood and worrying. Some of my insights are in my October blog: 

Are Worrying and Anxiety the Same Thing? 

 You can help me build my platform by sharing my blogs and forwarding this newsletter to friends and family who might be interested. And if you don’t already, please follow me on Twitter,  Facebook, and Instagram. Thanks in advance!

As for my other writing, a cool thing happened: as a member of the Hudson Valley Writer’s Guild, I entered an essay in their nonfiction contest, and it won an Honorable Mention! I’ll be reading  A Tale of Two Tumors at their virtual annual meeting next month. I wish I could share it with you, but the guild doesn’t publish the pieces digitally or in print. However, this allows me to submit my essay again elsewhere, and, when it finds a digital home, I’ll be sure to post a link. 
Another way I build my platform is to teach, and to create space for discussion. Check out my current programs: Pleased to Meet You focus groups–one-hour, one-session opportunities to talk with others about their experience of being “too nice.”Wipe Your Feet Before You Walk All Over Me, a webinar to help you create a personal action plan for breaking free of people-pleasing. Mother-daughter interviews to explore family and societal messaging around agreeableness.

And don’t forget to check out the great resources on this page. I’m also developing a new writing workshop called Mining Motherhood, based on my premise that motherhood is one of life’s greatest teachers, and that writing about it can help us discover our deepest truths.

You can play a role in its development by answering one of these questions:

What is the greatest lesson motherhood or fatherhood has taught you?

For my non-parent friends: What do you imagine parenthood taught your parents?

Just reply to this email or send your thoughts to contact@karendebonis.com.

In gardening news…
Seeds from our compost pile produced these interlopers–kabocha squash, also called Japanese pumpkin–in a small garden in front of our house. I reluctantly cut the vine when it began to overtake my large hydrangea and destroy the deer netting. These fruits were too small to eat, but I keep them for their colorful markings. 

Books that inform my writing.
I couldn’t wait to read Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, MD. Similar in title to my memoir, it also has a common storyline of navigating the new world of a child with a brain injury. Gripping and unflinchingly honest.

 Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl is a lyrical exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, and what it means when people say, “You are just like your mother.” Mining the losses of both her marriage and her beloved mother, McColl finds a way to cling to the joy left behind.

[The book links bring you to Amazon, but please consider supporting your local indie book store. Also, if  you have a favorite book about motherhood, please let me know!]

People-pleasing and parenting on the web.
“I’m not trying to raise obedient children; I’m trying to raise confident, independent thinkers who can navigate and resolve conflict. “

“The psychology behind people-pleasing can go back to our very early years.”

“Having a mother who loves you is a lucky stroke, like being born beautiful or rich.”Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl.


  • Karen DeBonis

    Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, people-pleasing, and personal growth, the entangled mix told in her memoir "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" forthcoming in spring 2023. Subscribe today to receive Chapter 1: A Reckoning.

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