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Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform Hardcover – January 4, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Guest Reviewer: Marci Shimoff

Marci Shimoff is the New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason, Love for No Reason, and Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul.

As all who know me and my work can attest, I love anthologies, especially real-life stories of the hero’s journey, where ordinary people overcome insurmountable odds and share with us their most important life lessons. For it’s by sharing these stories that we connect to one another on the most fundamental level of our humanity.

In Epiphany, Elise Ballard has traveled the world and collected the life-changing stories of more than fifty people, including some of today’s greatest thought leaders, to show us the grace, the gifts, and the wisdom that life has to offer. I’m not going to give even one single story away, but I promise you, you will be moved, you will reflect, and you most certainly will want to share these stories.

Epiphanies are about transformation. They are the ”aha” moments that connect us with the Divine. In this impressive collection of true stories, we are invited to experience the transformation along with these fascinating and undeniably real people. Elise is a gifted writer and has done an excellent job in sharing her experience with each of her subjects. She portrays each individual with warmth and authenticity, whether they be a politician, a mother, a technical genius, a film producer, a doctor, a magician, or a student.

This is the kind of book that you keep by your bedside and read over and over. Each time you pick it up, you’re invited into the private life of another person’s tale of transformation. It’s a classic inspirational collection to be revisited time and time again.

I think this is a work of great importance. In this time of dramatic change, when so many of us must redefine ourselves based on a new reality, Elise shows us we can experience our greatest selves.

From Booklist

Ballard is a professional actress, independent filmmaker, and producer, so it isn’t surprising that she contacted people from the entertainment industries to share their epiphanies for her book. Contributors include producers, screenwriters, actors, even an ex-con turned mentalist and magician. But there are also testimonies from other kinds of public figures, such as Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, and Deepak Chopra. Each story contains a transformative experience that causes someone to act differently for the remainder of his or her life, with some of the best coming from everyday types, including a stay-at-home mom and a schoolteacher. At times participants indicate that the world seemed to conspire to support their actions, confirming that they were on the right track. Interesting and inspirational, this is for thoughtful readers, in whom it is likely to trigger self-examination and and the effort to listen to one’s own inner voice. --Susan DeGrane

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307716104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716101
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #468,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

More About the Author

Elise Ballard is the host and creator of the online community and website, Epiphany Channel, and the author of Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform (Random House/Crown Publishing), a collection of over 50 interviews with amazing people from all walks of life recounting the stories of their greatest epiphanies. She started her career in entertainment working as an actress and moved into independent filmmaking and producing in Los Angeles as a partner in a production company who had films distributed by Lions Gate and Monarch Entertainment. Her directorial debut, Lord of the Wiens: A Dachumentary, a movie about the annual Wiener Dog Races in Buda, TX, became a cult hit. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and the wildly popular website, Positively Positive, and she recently was invited to speak at a TED event where she delivered two talks - one for middle and high school kids and one for adults. Elise also had the privilege of being invited to attend and cover the 2011 Nobel Prizes, and she serves as one of the judges for the prestigious Humanitas Prize in Los Angeles, awarding writers for emphasizing and celebrating humanistic values in their work. She has created, directed and produced numerous projects including the YOU DVDs accompanying the YOU book series by world-renowned, bestselling authors, Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen. She currently is in development on several projects, including more for the Epiphany Channel, film and television versions of the Epiphany project, and future books for the Epiphany series.
Many of her interviews that are in her book were also filmed and excerpts of them can be found on the website as well as her two TED Talks. Her passion is hearing/writing/telling people's stories and she would love to hear about your epiphanies and/or feedback, too, which you can share at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mike Donovan on March 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed a lot of this book. Many of the stories are truly fascinating and helped kick-start my own thought process about certain things. An 'epiphany' also seems to mean different things to different people profiled in this book. It could have just as easily been called 'Inspiration' as many people tell their stories without any "aha" moment that most think of when they think of epiphanies. I was a little disappointed with that. But my biggest disappointment was the too big of a share the book focused on stars, famous people, celebrities, whatever. A book like this would have been just as good (better in my opinion) had it just been inspiring stories began with epiphanies from just plain regular folks. We live in such a state of celebrity-worship now that it seems sometimes like books such as these have to throw in all the celebrities to validate the book. Because, we all know it just doesn't happen unless it happens to celebrities and is chronicled by People magazine. That's my biggest gripe. With that said, as I said at the beginning of my review, much of this book was enjoyable and many of the stories were truly inspiring as they did grow out of true epiphanies and that 'aha' moment when we awaken to a new way of looking at things, doing things, etc. It wasn't a bad book by any stretch - it just could have been better with the focus back on Peoria as opposed to the glossy magazine lives of the stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Zmirak on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book offers something for nearly everyone. Ballard compiles epiphanies that range through all spheres of life and across all sectors of society. There are a number of famous people, especially those in the entertainment industry, which Ballard chose not because she's starstruck but because that's the world she knows. She's a film-maker based in Los Angeles. The industry people whose life-changing epiphanies she chronicles are interesting, but I was more struck by the heart-wrenching tales of people who faced life-threatening illness, disfiguring disease, the death of a child, or the collapse of lifelong dreams...and who were suddenly gifted with the insight to SEE A WAY OUT of their troubles, or find a more creative way to endure them. For me, "epiphany" will always have a religious connotation--the infant Christ and the Magi--and that sense of the word is not scanted here. A number of the people whose stories Ballard gathers had conversion experiences, or deepened their childhood faith. Others found more earthly answers to the conundra that had stumped them. Still others found the grace to forgive--such as the family who forgave the South African mob that lynched their daughter (herself a civil rights worker).
But my favorite story in the whole is that of the professional con artist who had made living robbing appliance stores and hustling other victims--whose epiphany led him to Evangelical Christianity. He now works as a professional magician, and gives seminars to well-meaning, often naive church members on how to recognize con artists and avoid them; in other words, he tells those who are "innocent as doves" how also to be "as wise as serpents." An inspiring and always entertaining read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Marks VINE VOICE on December 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An epiphany, according to Elise Ballard, is "a moment of great or sudden revelation, an illuminating discovery, realization or disclosure" - one that has a great impact upon a person's life. In EPIPHANY, a collection of personal vignettes, Ballard introduces us to the awakenings of over 55 people, many of them famous (e.g. Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Ali McGraw), and most of them professionally accomplished. Personally, I found this emphasis upon the stories and credentials of so many celebrities and high achievers to be somewhat irritating, particularly because the book is about moments of internal transformations - shifts in consciousness that were turning points in the lives of the interviewees, and not necessarily the gateway to notoriety.

However, many of the stories, each introduced by Ballard and told succinctly in 3-7 pages, are quite interesting, and easy to read and understand. Ballard divides them into six primary subject areas - awakenings, new directions, healings, miracles, callings. and comings of age. These epiphanies, she points out, share four important characteristics: listening to oneself and/or one's environment, belief or trust in one's experience, motivation to action, and the attraction of serendipity or synchronistic events that further confirm that one is on the right path.

I resonated in particular with Andrea Buchanan's admonition to "Share your shame", and Kristin Niff's learnings about self-compassion. I was most deeply moved by Laurian Scott's heartrending account of losing her two young children to a degenerative nervous disease, and how she regained her will to live.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paula Vince on July 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the premise of this book. The author made it her project to interview several subjects on moments of epiphany in their lives, when puzzle pieces seemed to slot into place and all became clearer. They are grouped into categories such as "callings", "new directions" and "miracles".

It wasn't the sort of book where submissions were called for. Elise Ballard hand-picked all the interviewees herself, and they are all high achievers in their chosen fields and have a lot of business acumen. Many are famous. A glance at the "About the Author" blurb reveals that Ballard is just such a person herself, an actress and independent filmmaker and producer. She writes how she connected with each subject as segues into their stories, and I couldn't shake the feeling that she lives insulated in her own world of VIPs, far removed from interests and habits of the common people. I wondered if this may have skewed the book somewhat, as there might have been valuable input lacking from the more unsung-hero type of plodder who many of us may find it easier to relate to, or even the thoughtful 'arty' type of person without get-up-and-go or connections, who has plenty of insightful thoughts but wouldn't have a clue how to put a business plan together or thrust themselves into the limelight. Because of this, the book may have lacked a little balance.

However, it did contain a variety of interesting stories from the subjects. It would appear we really do have our own paths to walk which are different from those of others. Diane Warren spoke about her passion for song-writing as part of her epiphany, while Nell Newman (daughter of Paul) discussed her equally great passion for conservation and whole foods.

Oh yeah, there's one other thing.
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