Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform

epiphany: a moment of great or sudden revelation; an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking; an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure


What is your greatest epiphany in life? That’s the question Elise Ballard asked hundreds of celebrities and unknown extraordinary people after she experienced her own life-altering epiphany. Originally an idea for an independent film, the stories, illuminating discoveries, realizations and disclosures that Elise collected prompted the idea for a book.

Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform” (Harmony Books, January 2011) shares more than 50 deeply intimate stories of people from all walks of life, from public figures, to personal acquaintances and lifelong friends, to new contacts made in the most unexpected and serendipitous of circumstances. While the book includes revelations from recognizable names, there are also stories from non-famous people from all walks of life. Guest appearances range from Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Ali MacGraw, Dr. Oz, and Barry Manilow to teachers, homemakers, missionaries, and more. They all share about how one sudden moment of insight has the power to change lives.

I first met Elise in 2005 when I was making a short film. She’s one of those people who always smiles and is always happy and excited about whatever it is she’s doing. So when I heard about the book she was working on, I knew it would be something she would put her heart and soul into, and the result would be both rewarding and worthwhile.

The title of her book instantly appealed to me. I honestly didn’t know what I would think as I started to read it, and I didn’t know what kind of a reaction I would have hearing about epiphanies from other people.

But think about it … in order for an epiphany to happen, one has to be paying attention. You have to notice a sign, you have to notice something that’s encouraging or inspiring you, making you think about a possible change. This is the kind of book that puts a mirror in front of you and asks you to think about your own life. It makes you wonder about events or moments that have happened to you. Did you notice something? Did it make you think about changing directions? And did you? Maybe you thought about something differently, maybe you didn’t notice it then, but now you do.

If a book makes me slow down, wonder what might have been, or maybe replay the past in some other way, to me … that’s a good thing.

My favorites?

  • Linda Biehl – co-founder and director of the Amy Biehl Foundation in the United States and the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust in South Africa, a nonprofit organization promoting justice, peace, reconciliation, and equal rights for education, employment, and health.
  • Rabbi Shmuley Boteach – host of the award-winning national TV show “Shalom in the Home” on TLC and the international bestselling author of more than twenty books, including “The Kosher Sutra.”
  • Roger Birnbaum – co-founder, co-chairman, and chief executive officer of Spyglass Entertainment, whose roster of films has won 28 Oscar nominations and three Academy Awards.
  • Carol Lanning – formerly a fifth-grade teacher at Bradfield Elementary in Dallas; now teaching accelerated classes for gifted and talented students.
  • Kathy and Bill Magee – founders and CEO and president, respectively, of Operation Smile, a worldwide children’s medical charity whose network of global volunteers are dedicated to offering life-changing operations to children born with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities.
  • Lawrence Wright – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of numerous books, including “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.”

Each chapter starts with a quote from the person being interviewed, their bio, how Elise came to know them or get in contact with them, and their epiphany. Elise’s writing style is easy and comes across personal, as if she’s sitting at a table with you and telling you about some great experience that a friend of hers just had.

As Elise says: “You don’t have to be on a particular path, a specific personality type or lead your life in any particular manner. Epiphanies are very democratic: they happen at all ages to diverse people around the globe, who are engaged is a myriad of lifestyles and career paths.”

I’m happy to say that Elise is still at it, documenting epiphanies from more people all over the world. Visit her website at

The journey is the reward.

–  Chinese proverb

Thanks for reading.



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