Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

January 11, 2014

If the Whooping Crane Can….

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 8:52 pm


Not even a decade ago, the Whooping Crane’s numbers had dwindled to around fifty.  They were on the verge of extinction and in very real danger.

Some fabulous people got together.  They brought a compassion and a determination and a willingness to think outside the box that we can all applaud.

They designed and created a fake “Mama Crane” that would guide and direct orphaned young cranes out of Wisconsin before the punishing winter and get them safely to Florida before they died.  From the time they were in the egg, they were treated to the sound of the engine from Fake Mama Crane and were literally taught to fly by following these awesome people dressed all in white, running down a runway, showing them how.

When they were ready, Fake Mama Crane flew and so did the young cranes.  Fake Mama guided them all the way safely to Florida, just as a real Mama Crane would have.  Instinct would show them the way back to Wisconsin’s wet lands after winter.

I marvel at the dedication and pure determination to save these beautiful birds.  I giggle at the thought of them dressing as cranes and running, themselves, down a runway and leaping into the air, teaching these little crane babies to fly.  Imagine the sight!!!!  🙂  Big smiles here.

When it comes to any of us learning to fly again after devastation in our lives, I don’t know if I’m more inspired by the fake cranes imagining a new way to lead these orphans to safety or the young cranes themselves, running, running, running and finally trusting those sweet wings.

After traumatic brain injury demolishes what we had created as our normal, our chosen…we have to find a way….

Find a way and make our way to that runway again.  We have to trust people determined to assist us in staving off our extinction.  There are people out there, many cleverly disguised, who have that one simple word, that unexpected hug, that chance given, that door opened…who will help us change our lives and steady those wings.

If we let them.

Make no mistake, the enormity of TBI in a life threatens to extinguish a beautiful flame and it’s up to us to keep feeding it, to keep it burning.  

Nobody could take that last step for those young orphaned cranes.  Nobody could force them or do it for them. 

They had to lift off.

And so do we.

Today the Whooping Crane’s numbers have grown over four hundred.  Slowly but surely these magnificent birds and the people determined to love and to save them have created a miracle of hope.  A beautiful story of inching so dangerously close to history and then soaring again.

Choose to soar.  Run down that runway.  Ten times.  A hundred times.  A thousand….

Keep leaping into the air.  Towards the sky.  Towards the sun.  Keep trusting that the next dream, the next step, the next attempt, the next path, the next morning….will be YOURS!!!!

Happy New Year, all of you.  Can’t wait to see you soar!!!!

Have you checked out my new site yet?  Stop by, take a look and grab a BYTE!    http://karaswansonsforkbytes.com/



  1. Inspirational and timely as always. Happy New Year to you. Live, Love, Laugh.

    Comment by Kym Taylor — January 12, 2014 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Kym! Happy New Year to you, as well. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — January 12, 2014 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Kara, thanks for sharing with us so beautiful a piece; “If the whooping crane can…”. One thing I appreciate most about these processes of recovery ( TBI and addiction ) is an opportunity to both give and receive help / feedback / support to and from my peers / friends / support system…my team. The table at which I sat this morning for an AA meeting was a women’s group and I told them of your recent blog. Doing my best, I hope that I adequately summarized it – relating it to us and the importance of / the necessity for helping each other cope with the struggles of addiction and recovery. Gratitude is always a fond topic in many of my groups, and today I want to express to you how thankful I am for your story of some beautiful birds and the dedicated people who are saving them from extinction. Our cohesiveness, our creative problem-solving, our commitment to each other are what will help us learn to form stronger wings that will enable us to soar above our addictions / above our disabilities. We are stronger because we have allowed others to help us. We gain strength from our unity which gives us the willingness to help others. Thank you, Kara for your blog; it really felt good to share your wisdom with my friends.

    Comment by Hilary — January 31, 2014 @ 9:13 am | Reply

    • You are a delight, Hilary. I appreciate the kind words and you know how I am cheering your winning streak as you make your new way, one glorious step after another.

      Comment by karaswanson — February 1, 2014 @ 8:33 am | Reply

      • Hi Kara, thanks !!! I’m finding that the neat thing about recovery is finding new things that delight me ! I’m doing art therapy; writing poetry and puppet shows. I am volunteering at a thrift store and an art supply store…these are things that I know I wouldn’t be doing with drinks, ( yes, intentional plural ) in my hands. You know what the neat thing was today that I just recognized ? I’m finding that a lot more of what I write nowadays is centered primarily on my recoveries and my hopes rather than on my addictions and my handicap. I remember when I first started this substance abuse treatment about a year ago, I would write as if there was still kind of a longing; missing my decades of drinking and using. I now write with more hope for myself, with much less emphasis on cravings, using fewer words related to alcohol and drugs. I’m finding that there is glory to be found in writing and in this beautiful world of recovery. Thank you for your encouragement as I delightedly take these new steps toward my recoveries.

        Comment by Hilary — February 5, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

  3. That is so terrific to hear. Makes my day. I love that you said you are writing now with hope. Big smiles here. I’m so happy for you. You ARE doing this!!!! Rock on, Hilary!!!! You’re really doing it. :))))) Kara

    Comment by karaswanson — February 6, 2014 @ 12:29 am | Reply

    • Big big big big big smiles here !!!!! Thanks, Kara !

      Comment by Hilary — February 7, 2014 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

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