Books to Know & Love…”I’m Still Standing”

I’m Still Standing: How One Woman’s Brushes with Death Taught Her How To Live by Kelly Standing.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I know Kelly Standing…at least in small measure. She and I were cohorts at Speaker University, a wonderful series produced by the Illinois Chapter of the National Speakers Association. For that, the keen observer will note my name in Kelly’s acknowledgement of “Supportive Colleagues” near the end of the book. I was surprised and humbled by the undeserved citation.

Having said that, I am often biased against books written by people I know. The reasons for that vary, but I had no difficulty overcoming my negative tendencies the moment I opened Kelly’s work and entered her world. Her writing is engaging and playful, her stories are well-told and extraordinary, and her wisdom is deep and thought-provoking. I cannot imagine what more I might demand from such a work of love.

The phrase “consider the source” comes to mind as I contemplate ways to describe this volume. We often use that phrase to dismiss insights and wisdom that make us uncomfortable, or those with which we disagree. But, because our worldviews emerge so intimately from whence we have come, I often long for deeper insight into an author than a few cryptic sentences crammed on the back flap of a book’s cover.

While any autobiography should offer such an “inside-out” view, I thought—or rather felt—that Kelly let us into her world in as unblemished a way as any author could. She is funny and self-deprecating. She is loving towards those in her life when they are deserving and brutally honest in those moments her relationships fell short. She accepts responsibility for her shortfalls and gently requests others in her life to examine theirs.

As for insights and wisdom…they are embedded in every page, paragraph and sentence. If her work made me uncomfortable, it was when I had the courage to allow her wisdom to call into question my life, and how I often fall short of the bars she raises by which I might measure my own struggles.

And while her wisdom and insights are everywhere in this work, my world shifted most dramatically near the end. Kelly tells of a young girl in Guatemala who became a beacon for her life, and she challenges us to find such a source of inspiration in our own. As I read those words, I recalled many young people who have inspired me. But one in particular came immediately to mind; one whose light was, as was the beacon in Kelly’s life, extinguished far too soon.

Thank you, Kelly, for your wisdom, insights and profound challenge. And thank you for allowing me to “consider the source.”

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