A Safe Place to Stand

by Karen Carlisle Ely



Writing A Safe Place to Stand has been a labor of love. First, because at its core, it holds the teachings of my spiritual mentor and dear friend, Bobby Brooks. Second, because it has taken me eight years to complete it, often requiring more commitment and patience than I knew I had.  After this long gestation period, I am now happy to release it to the world.

The book’s theme was whispered to me in the middle of the night: Only in looking back can I see the serendipity and magic of my life unfolding perfectly while I was lost in the minutia of the details.

This message came fully formed. I was simply the obedient scribe who turned on the light, scribbled it on a sticky note, and quickly slipped back to sleep. I have no idea who or what spoke these words to me. I only know that they intoned a deep and meaningful truth, and for that reason, I’ve never forgotten a single word.

One thing I know for sure is that the message is true for all of us. And if so, then all the tears and anxiety and sleepless nights we’ve experienced were not only a waste of time but were a huge and constant distraction; and, ultimately, they stole our joy in the process. For that reason, I wanted to share my awakening to the “serendipity and magic” of life and how I came to embrace its unfoldment in this book.

In reflecting back over my life, it seems there was a golden thread pulling me through open doors that suddenly appeared and past others not meant for me. I feel this way because my life has taken more trust and faith than I ever believed I had, and just enough to allow me to walk down some dark and frightening alleys in order to return to the woman I was born to be.


A Safe Place to Stand is a first person narrative that unfolds in three parts. It first recounts the story of my unraveling, then my spiritual awakening, and finally my worldly success as a global leader for women. In it, I express candidly and with vulnerability the events that gave my path structure and direction, laying it all out clearly for those who might be inspired and motivated by it. Practical tools in the form of reflections for journaling end each chapter, and my life’s “lessons learned along the way” are summarized in the epilogue.

Bobby’s quotes have all been taken directly from cards and emails he sent me over our years together.  Besides a few edits for spelling and punctuation, they are all his own words.

While I have completed A Safe Place to Stand in my 72nd year, the memoir takes place between my 40th and 64th years—all years deeply integral to the woman I am today.  However, like everyone else, my journey continues to have its own bumps and stumbles and successes, but I no longer see the challenges as something to cry and lose sleep over, and for that I am deeply grateful.

A Safe Place to Stand is my story, but in so many ways it is every woman’s story. We all have similar fears and hopes and yearnings. We want what is best for ourselves and our loved ones, but at some point in our life we wake up and wonder: Who am besides the roles I play?           

I wrote A Safe Place to Stand for one reason:  The belief that my story might inform, enliven, and give hope, inspiration and tools to yours. I hope that my story lets you know that you are not alone, that your struggles have been my struggles and that the challenges are common to all of us and therefore they can be manageable.

It is my hope that the lessons I’ve learned will give you guidance and tools, but equally important, a living example of what it takes to move forward in a conscious and meaningful way, standing in a safe place until you can stand on your own.  Because that is the gift that Bobby gave me. And I am paying it forward—to you.

CLICK HERE to read the Preface to A Safe Place to Stand

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