Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

January 15, 2016

I Choose

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 2:32 am

I tried a couple different titles before I selected this one.  We are past the Midnight hour and I’m welcoming a new birthday.  I’m so excited to be here.  Excited for the day.

I’ve been thinking lately about how last year I was crowning a new decade.  Turning 50.  This year, as I slide into 51, I realize that I was tempted to think this one wasn’t as important.  Not as glittery.  Fewer trumpets.  Less confetti.

I was wrong.

It is deliciously true that, as we age, we are gifted the opportunity to paint our lives with more brilliant colors than, perhaps, we had in our palette twenty, thirty years ago.  We have access to more subtle hues and, hopefully, the willingness and daring to use every medium and to try funky things and color out of the lines and cast caution to the wind as we fill in the masterpieces that are our lives.

I’ve found that, even as I acquire a little savvy to go with the crow’s feet now dancing around my eyes, I’m reminded that, often, age doesn’t so much give us new lessons as it clarifies the old ones.

I may strain to see that young Kara now in the mirror.  At five, at seven, at ten….Sometimes the truths we were given so far behind us are as elusive as those bright eyes and white teeth and smooth skin are now.  We forget sometimes.   We forget amidst the drama and the drama-makers.  We forget amidst the chaos of the every day and the screaming headlines of the moment.

We forget that a happy life is simple.

Sometimes it seems that everyone has forgotten, too.

Share.  Play nice.  Tell the truth.  Give it your best.  Work hard.  Learn.  Continue to learn.  Forgive everyone, including yourself.  When you know what the right thing is, it’s hard not to do it.  Don’t hurt anyone.  If you hurt someone, apologize.  Pick up after yourself.   Don’t stay with someone who doesn’t treat you well.  Decide whether or not to have sex when you are standing up, sober, with the lights on.   Dream big.  Go for it.  Call your Mom.  Dance with your Dad at every chance.  Get up early enough, even once in a while, to appreciate a sun rise.  Aim for balance.  The only thing you can count on is change. Everything in moderation.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Actions speak louder than words.   Don’t assume.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.   Laugh every day.  Don’t go to bed angry.   Dare to love.

Too often, I think, we are waiting for answers we already have.  We forget that the truth is the truth, even if we don’t like it.

Because this is my brain injury blog, often I wait until the end of any January because that is the anniversary of my brain injury.   Now twenty years ago, I’m not waiting for that day any longer.  Not waiting for that milestone to tell me…..anything.

I have some favorites in that list of life lessons.   Because it’s my blog, I can add my own.  LOL.  That is, don’t be the same because nothing and nobody is the same.

Seems a lot of our drama and our angst and our disappointment and our anger is because something changed that we didn’t choose.  People in our lives evolve, make decisions, move, add other people, change the roles we preferred they play….

A lot of tears have been shed over sentences that begin with, “I used to….”, “You used to….”, “We used to…..”

“Used to” implies that something changed.

Something always does.

If you’ve seen me lately, you’ll know that my New Year’s resolutions haven’t been about dieting and working out in quite some time.  But I am thinning and trimming and moving, nonetheless.

My mind is in high gear and fine shape and running circles around my old one.

My goal is to really start gardening.  Gardening my life.  Pulling the weeds of missed opportunities and bad choices, regrets and failed moments…Removing all that continues to suck up the water and starve and strangle the healthy blossoms.  Blocking out the sun… I’m planting new seeds, new bulbs….

New ways to define me.

Are you?

We don’t have to be just one thing.  That’s how we get stuck in stale jobs and relationships.  Old habits may die hard but we don’t have to wait for them to die.  We can be off and on to a fabulous new adventure long before they go.  Not waiting for change to come.  Not waiting for life to happen.  Not waiting for someone to save us.

Now waiting at all.

Let’s not allow one thing to define us.  Not a person, not a relationship, not a job, not a title, not a skill, not a place.

All those things can go in a second and strip us our identity.

Let’s, instead, remind ourselves and each other that there are a hundred things on a menu.  There are hundreds of instruments to play.  Thousands of jobs to pick from.  A million places to call home.  Billions of people to choose from.

And countless paths to happy.

I’m in a great place in my life.  Twenty years after my injury.  Fifty-one years in to an amazing journey.  We can be a gazillion different things and live our lives that many ways and more.

It’s our choice.  That’s what I have learned.  It’s our choice, every day of it.

I choose happy.  I choose blessed.  I choose love. I choose recovered.  I choose peace.  I choose music.   I choose great people.  I choose dessert, sure.

It’s my birthday, after all.  😉










  1. It’s our choice. That’s what I have learned. It’s our choice, every day of it.

    I choose happy. I choose blessed. I choose love. I choose recovered. I choose peace. I choose music. I choose great people. I choose dessert, sure.

    And I Choose Life. Well said and Happy birthday Kara. I’m sure you had a good one. You’ll be catching up to me soon (lol)

    Live, Love, Laugh.

    Comment by Kym Taylor — January 18, 2016 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Kym. Big smiles here

      Comment by karaswanson — January 19, 2016 @ 12:45 am | Reply

  2. Do you have an about me page about your injuries, symptoms, experiences, ignorance from ppl, etc? I’m trying to find someone who can relate to my brain injury symptoms.


    Comment by TM — January 23, 2016 @ 6:08 am | Reply

    • Hi, Tim. Thanks for writing. I have my book. That pretty much sums up my early TBI experience. You can find the book for just a couple bucks used on Amazon. It’s not in print at the moment but it’s a great intro for people and I’ll bet you could relate to a good bit of it. It’s been twenty years for me now so my experiences are vast and my blog reflects my recovery more than my injury. But we all share some commonality, even as our injuries are diverse and specific to each of us. We all got our lives rocked sideways and that you will find here throughout all the pages and blogs and comments from people all over the world. I hope you’ll stay and share yours. Welcome. It’s great to have you here. Kara 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — January 23, 2016 @ 10:23 am | Reply

  3. I am TBI out over year and a half still my life dr appts
    Pain headaches dizziness nausea not to mention memory loss , cognitive issues. I can’t seem to get my feet on the ground long enough to know where I’m going or who I am. I feel lost most of the time . Not much support , or distant no one sees why I’m not my old self by now. I don’t even remember that person anymore . I do want to go forward I just don’t seem to know how or where to go . Im pretty sure I’m not going back to nursing anytime soon or at all. I definitely need someone who has been there before me to tell me at least it gets better than this .

    Comment by Jamey — February 12, 2016 @ 12:31 am | Reply

    • Hi Jamey! I’m so sorry you ended up here and so happy you ended up here. You are not yet two years into it and that’s a huge, pivotal year. I am one who cheers and hopes and anticipates recovery. I encourage people to leave the window open for healing while they get busy creating recovery. Usually we get down because we’re trying to replicate our old lives but with these new elements that we haven’t made space for. It ends up leaving us feeling like failures and, often times, like we should be all better by now. My suggestion is to attack the symptoms. Focus on the specific trouble spots. Most of the things we are challenged by have some form of help for them: adaptive equipment, medicine, therapy, change of routine, etc. If you can break down the actual things that are making you feel overwhelmed by your injury, we can begin to help you identify how to make them better. Most of the changes themselves are smaller than the HUGE decision to embrace them. The willingness to change how you succeed. My changes are about not counting on my memory anymore so I don’t get so frustrated by forgetting when I can rely on notes and such. I have changed my routine and I make my plans around the time of day when I’m most cognitively efficient. I have set up my entire new being around making myself successful. One of the problems you mentioned is not having much support. Well, we’re going to fix that right here. I’m in your corner!!! This blog literally reaches every corner of the globe and we are all cheering for you and here to vent with and encourage and suggest and feel compassion for. Let’s leave the door open for continued healing but let’s start rocking the recovery!!!! Starting today, Jamey. :)))) Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — February 13, 2016 @ 2:00 am | Reply

  4. I too am blessed, it all starts with self acceptance, once you get to know and understand it’s how you get to roll these days.
    It is what it is, you can go through life pissed off along the way, or you can be happy enjoy life and hang on for the ride. I prefer to be happy as the other possible life outcome is pretty bleak.
    Great article by the way. Remember me? When your book was new you sent me a copy to share with our Colo. BIA office.
    Life is good in Colorado…

    Comment by TBI Insider — February 23, 2016 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

    • It’s been a long time 🙂 Nice to see you. Glad you seem to be doing well. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — February 24, 2016 @ 7:21 am | Reply

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