Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

December 2, 2011

Rudolph Rocks That Kick-Ass Blinking Nose

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 2:36 am

I don’t watch many Christmas specials.   I love the Grinch and Rudolph.   Am I the only one who cries when those little God-love-’em Whos in Whoville come out and sing even after all their presents have been stolen?   Or when Rudolph is at the head of the reindeer team blinking his sweet little nose off and says, “Ready, Santa!” and takes off into the night…

Shamelessly sentimental. 

I was thinking about Rudolph and how far that simple, sweet message reaches.   As brain injury survivors, a lot of us feel like Rudolph at one time or another.  Set aside.  Left out.  Without a place.   Like the forgotten souls on the Island of Misfit Toys. 

There’s no way around it.  Some of our trains have square wheels now.   We are spotted elephants and Charlies in the Box and fish that swim and cowboys that ride ostriches.

And a lot of us feel like Rudolph did when he and his buddy were horsing around and having fun and then his black fake nose popped off.    You catch their reactions.  Those first facial expressions.   That shocked look in the eyes.  That moment before they hide their reactions to us speaking or stumbling or any number of things that make us the ones who don’t get picked for reindeer games….

But the message that rings out louder than any ridicule, any laughing, any mocking…is the one that says:   Make it your strength.

Take that bad luck, that horrific moment, that twist of fate, that flippin’ blinking nose of yours and MAKE IT YOUR STRENGTH!!!

Recognize what it took to survive it.   Summon the courage and the determination that it took to mount a recovery.   Gather about you all that is good and right about you and the people you consider loved ones. 

And soar.

Santa went back to the Island of Misfit Toys and he gathered up ALL the toys because he knew they are all loveable.  WE are all loveable.  There is a place, a waiting and welcoming place, for every square-wheeled one of us.

And I will never believe any different for you.  For me.    For all of us.

The Whos in Whoville knew that it didn’t take fancy boxes and bows, blinking lights and ribboned wreaths to make Christmas.   What is worth and worthy and worthwhile….will never be found in what you lost.   But instead, in what you found.  In what you realize.  In what you recognize and determine important.  In what cannot come and go.  Cannot be stolen.  Cannot be taken.

It is an unshakeable strength.  An unwavering understanding that we deserve love and happiness and success.

Surely every one of us will have those moments when people shy from us and, worse, pity us.  When they are ashamed of us, embarrassed for us, maybe mock us.

But when that happens, you remember where Rudolph ended up.  Rudolph’s nose saved Christmas!!!   In that last scene Rudolph is leading the team, soaring.   Off into the night, leading the way.   Needed, necessary.   Not in spite of his nose.  BECAUSE of it. 

Don’t you ever forget that Rudolph rocks that kick-ass blinking nose of his.   Know it and own it.  Know it and embrace it.  Know it and positively soar.

Merry Christmas, my fellow misfit toys.   I love you guys.


  1. Great message Kara…

    Sometimes we forget how far we really have come since our injury. I try to make a conscious effort everyday to remind myself how stubborn I really am. Happy Holidays and yes Rudolph does ROCK.

    Comment by Natalie DeLuca — December 4, 2011 @ 9:02 am | Reply

    • You’re awesome, Natalie!

      Comment by karaswanson — December 5, 2011 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  2. Dear Kara, you are the most delightful, insightful and compassionate person ever to put words to paper (or blog, as the case may be). When I find myself foolishly feeling low about one thing or another in my life, I know I can always turn to you and all that you share of yourself to feel truly greatful for all I DO have. Have a most blessed Christmas and may 2012 be your best year ever!

    A Fan

    Comment by Jean — December 4, 2011 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

    • What kind, kind words. You really touched my heart. Thank you, Jean.

      Comment by karaswanson — December 5, 2011 @ 4:18 am | Reply

  3. This misfit is proudly wearing her blinking red nose. No excuses. Thanks for keeping it so real.

    Comment by Diane — December 5, 2011 @ 2:04 am | Reply

    • Rock on, Diane. I’m proudly blinking right along with you. :))

      Comment by karaswanson — December 5, 2011 @ 4:19 am | Reply

  4. Dearest Kara;
    Apologies for leaving you e-mail reading until now!
    YOU are NOT the only one who cries at those parts – I am the same way!
    Have been struggling with an attempt at re-entering the “World-of-Work” (Income Earning) and have been thoroughly discouraged!
    But … you are right … and I am going to focus on those ‘Neurologically affected”individuals who can appreciate added “energy& stamina”
    Promising to read your comments as they ‘fly off the proverbial PRESS, I remain,
    yours sincerely,
    Barbara (ALLEN) de CATANZARO
    Uxbridge, ON

    Comment by Barbara de CATANZARO — December 7, 2011 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

    • Hang in there, Barbara. Back to work is an exhausting, draining undertaking. Pace yourself and be kind to yourself. We are all cheering for you!!

      Comment by karaswanson — December 10, 2011 @ 1:07 am | Reply

  5. Thank you. I had a injury 5 years ago or so. Your story made me feel better. How old are you and are you fully recovered. I am still not feeling well and it is very hard. Thank you for your prospective. I try to stay positive.

    Comment by Dave — December 17, 2011 @ 2:50 am | Reply

    • Hey Dave, check your personal email for a note from me there. :))

      Comment by karaswanson — December 17, 2011 @ 11:20 am | Reply


    Comment by Barb — December 19, 2011 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  7. Kara,
    You don’t know me but I wanted to let you know that I posted a link to this blog post on my blog, http://www.maddisized.blogspot.com. I felt like you explained so cheerrily the way it feels as an insider to TBI that I wanted those reading my blog to hear it. I hope that is OK with you. My teenage daughter suffered a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury on Black Friday 2010, so though I am the mom I have a unique understanding of the journey to accept the change. I started my blog to get info to those who love her. As we have gone through recovery I somehow fell upon your blog. Thanks for putting it all out there.

    Comment by Bev — December 20, 2011 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

    • Hey Bev, welcome. I hope the link can help. Anytime we can help our loved ones understand a bit more is a good thing. I hope your daughter is recovering well?

      Comment by karaswanson — December 21, 2011 @ 11:53 am | Reply

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