Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

April 10, 2013

Allow The Dream To Change

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 10:45 am

A good ten years ago or so, I was really hooked on this dream of building a log cabin in the woods somewhere.  Maybe in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  With a lake in the front yard and a fire pit outside and a big stone fireplace inside.  I’d have dogs and cats and I’d spend my time writing fabulous novels…

I just bought a condo in a residential section of a typical American city and there’s not a log or a fire pit or a stone fireplace.  No dogs, logs, frogs, nothing.  The cats are coming Friday.

And I caught myself thanking God that my dream had come true.   I was surprised.   I hadn’t realized.

The dream had changed.

I still get emails from the companies that I had contacted ten years ago.   They advertise deals on all sorts of beautiful log homes.  They can design them and bring them and build them.  Heck, I can even build my own.

But I am home now.  I am entirely happy.  Delighted and grateful.

The dream has changed.

I look at my life, now inching toward fifty (inching, not leaping), and I realize that each decade has been a life of its own.  There was the school and partying and coaching and working in my twenties.  There was the brain injury and writing my book and traveling to give speeches and starting to take care of my parents in my thirties.  There has been the goodbyes to my caregiving years and new love and a niece and a nephew and new jobs and a move in my forties….

As we change, so do our dreams.  We have to anticipate that and welcome it and embrace it.    New dreams mean the anticipation and expectation of new life and new adventures.

Allow the dream to change.

I can think of a handful of people I know who continue to chase a years-old dream long after it appears to have voted itself invalid, obsolete, awkward…

There is a fine line between respecting someone for continuing to hold onto a dream and hoping they come to realize that maybe they are ripe for a new dream.

I am not smart enough to know everyone’s place.  Nor is it my place to judge anyone’s dreams.

But I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to go in another direction without having to brow-beat ourselves as failures.   I think it’s important to say, “I have a new dream” and to enjoy the excitement that chasing it can provide.

Life is all about changing course, plotting new courses, meeting new people and opportunities, revealing and developing new facets to our shiny selves.

New dreams don’t mean old failures.  New dreams mean the open door to new successes.

“All he ever wanted to do….”

I’ve heard that phrase hundreds of times and, when that dream is realized, it’s a wonderful celebration of a sizeable investment.

But when the dream doesn’t work out….

There is something very true about the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

People who “fail” to realize that one great dream have often suffered personally in ways that are frightening and even dangerous.

Allow the dream to change or, at the very least, set that big one aside and give it a rest for a while.  Come back to it in a year and see if it still glows.

Even better yet, dream more than one dream.

I still dream of writing marvelous novels from a glorious log home in Michigan’s U.P.

But now it is going to be my second home.  🙂

We have to give tomorrow credit.  Yes, yesterday has her street cred because we’ve known her and we’ve gotten to a place where we depend on her for a lot of things.   Fond memories, experience, perspective….

But yesterday also can bring her baggage.  She can bring the weight of expectations and the memory of bad outcomes, regrets and poor decisions.  She can remind us of disappointments and heartbreaks which can make us gun-shy when it comes to dreaming of new love and new jobs and new friends and new adventures and new dreams.

Tomorrow is trigger-happy.  She is coming out guns-a-blazin’ and she is cocky and confident and fearless.

Get to know her too.

When I ask people how they are doing and they respond, “Living the dream,” we both kind of chuckle and it is understood that they are working to pay bills and meeting their obligations and doing what they need to do to stay afloat.

Are you living the dream?

I almost giggle when I say it or write it or think it to myself:

I AM!!!

I am living in a condo that nobody would confuse as a palace or a log home on the lake.  I am driving a car that is now 16 years old.   One of my jobs pays 8 dollars an hour.  I don’t talk right all the time.  I don’t remember right all the time.  I don’t walk right all the time.   And I won’t even tell you what size I’m wearing these days.

But I am talking and walking and remembering and working and driving and I have a home and clothes, regardless of the size.   I am loving and laughing and figuring and dancing and choosing and enjoying all the gifts around me shared by God and by talented people and beautiful animals.

I am living the dream.

Please allow the dream to change.  Please set a place at the table for tomorrow.   Don’t let yesterday take up all the space and eat all the rolls and desserts.

If you have 60 years to live, seventy, eighty….How many dreams can you dream?  There’s gotta be more room than just for one.

Allow the dream to change.   Allow yourself to dare dream a different tomorrow.   Maybe just for fun.  Maybe for all the fun in the world.

Hang the dream catchers by the dozens and choose to rock THIS life.   THIS day.  THIS tomorrow.

You know I am cheering for you guys!!!!!


  1. Ahhh!!! I love this blog today! My dream too has changed… One of the reasons I have had the courage to accept this new life, is YOU. Your example. Your encouragement.
    I bet your condo is a safe haven. That is all that matters! And in the true words of Mary E (!) “Home is where the Heart Is!”

    Comment by Barb — April 10, 2013 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  2. Wow! I Love this blog today & feel so much like it. Thanks for putting your feelings in writing & explaining “It’s OK to change your dreams even If 1 was not met”.

    Comment by Vonnie Kronk — April 10, 2013 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  3. Thanks for sending comments, Barb and Vonnie. I can feel your good vibes and good energy. That fills me. Thank you. xo

    Comment by karaswanson — April 10, 2013 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  4. Your book I’ll carry the spoon really was a help after my 2nd brain injury 7 yrs ago and so true how you do have to dream new dreams and learn to live a new normal! I have had the chance to live some new dreams in art festivals, adaptive skiing and even riding bike differently but have been great!

    Comment by Steve litzkow — April 11, 2013 @ 9:43 am | Reply

    • You sound great, Steve! I can feel your positive vibe. Sounds like you are doing terrific. Makes me smile. Thanks for writing.

      Comment by karaswanson — April 11, 2013 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  5. Wow, Kara! I am such a fan of yours and have read lots of your blogs, but this one has got to be my absolute favorite. You are different somehow and I can’t exactly put my finger on it except to say that I’m thinking all your minutes and hours and days and years of hurting and questioning and fighting through it all, have culminated in this bright optimism and cheer and laughter and sheer gratitude you are experiencing at this very moment. Thank you for sharing it all with us, your readers, and thank you for opening my eyes and heart each and every time I read what you have to say. So keep dreaming and achieving, Kara! And oh yeah. I passed a church today with a sign out front that read: “Don’t look back. It’s not where you’re going.” So that makes two things I read today that put a big smile on my face!

    Comment by Jean — April 13, 2013 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

    • Jean, your comments made me cry in the best of ways. You are so dear. Thank you so much for your words which entirely warm me. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — April 13, 2013 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  6. Kara,

    You are right. Dreams do change and they make new dreams. I stumbled on your blog today and was surprised to realize that I read your book in 2005. When in January of that year my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury, I searched for books to help me understand – to help me find answers. We were so new to the world of TBI then. Now coming up on nine years, with life so different, our dreams have changed. David was not expected to survive the three brain surgeries inflicted on him in less than two weeks. He did! It’s a new life.

    I, too, have written a book. I am searching for an agent and a publisher now. It’s a book that I believe will offer hope to patients suffering from traumatic brain injury and encouragement to their caregivers. Thank you for your book. It meant a lot to me. From your blog posts, it seems like you have come a long way. I wish you all the best.

    I also write a blog and I have a website. There are several posts on each about David’s TBI. Feel free to take a peek.

    blog: donnaodonnellfigurski.wordpress.com
    website: donnaodonnellfigurski.com

    Donna O’Donnell Figurski

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski — December 31, 2013 @ 12:41 am | Reply

    • Hey Donna!!! Congratulations to you, David and all those who love you for getting this far, making it through it, allowing the dreams to change….That’s fabulous that you’ve written a book also. Yay for you!!! 🙂 I’m really happy for you and wishing you and David continued success and much happiness. Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — December 31, 2013 @ 7:19 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: