Elise Ballard Interview
I am honored to have spoken with author, filmmaker, actress, and generally just a fabulous human being, Elise Ballard. From the first moment I spoke with Elise I was inspired and filled with energy and enthusiasm. This powerful woman has boundless energy, creativity and wisdom for manifesting authenticity in the world. How is she doing that, you may ask? Read on…
Wf1: Can you define authenticity in your life and your world for our readers?
Elise: I would say that authenticity is truly expressing your real self. It is about truly showing up and sharing your real self with everyone you encounter. We are all so very different, but at the same time we are all the same. Authentic people’s uniqueness is expressed so we are inspired. But at the same time, each person discovers how similar we are to one another. Being authentic means you are giving a gift to everyone you encounter.
Wf1: Through the evolution of writing your book, Epiphany, how did it change your life and your world?
Elise: The evolution of my book is its own story. People always ask me what my biggest epiphany has been and I would say I have had many epiphanies throughout this project and that the entire project itself has been my greatest epiphany.
The entire idea around “epiphanies” began for me when I decided to leave my marriage. I was an actress and I had also been making documentary films. While I was filming, I started asking people if they had ever had an epiphany about anything in their life and I received an incredible response. The information and knowledge I received was very compelling to me. I found myself always thinking about the experiences that people had shared with me and I began applying their wisdom in my own life.
After a while, I came up with this idea for a film. I wanted to create a documentary and film people talking about their epiphanies and what they gained from having these “aha” moments. Then a production company wanted to develop it as documentary or a television series so I started interviewing people on the phone and writing the interviews out to develop a treatment for the film/show. In doing this I realized that the interviews were not only powerful to watch, but they were just as powerful in the written word. I had never written a book before, but by a series of wonderful occurrences, I got a book deal and published the series of interviews with many different people throughout the world.
I also created the Epiphany Channel website as a vehicle to share these epiphanies and have others share theirs as well. I am excited by success of the project. I never was a writer before and now I am deep into a career of writing.
Additionally, one huge gift I received from writing this book was witnessing the faith people had in themselves and others. The people I interviewed had enough faith in themselves and in their epiphanies to take action – no matter how nuts it might seem to anyone else or even to their own rational minds. Everyone had tremendous faith in what their epiphanies meant to them. This was very inspiring to me. Somehow others’ courage and faith spills over and gives me strength and courage. It’s such a gift. They also had faith in me to courageously share their stories with me. This trust and faith encouraged me to keep writing and complete the project through the ups and downs of a large undertaking.
Wf1: What is your favorite epiphany or story in your book and why?
Elise: Many people ask me about what my favorite story or epiphany is in my book. When I was first asked this question, I realized that every single story has affected my life positively in some way or another. There are 58 stories in the book and I had to leave out some great ones that I hope to use in the future.
Additionally, what’s interesting about epiphanies is that depending on where you are in your life, different stories will mean more to you than others. They will impact you in different ways at different times. I am so grateful for all of the stories as each story contains wisdom that has deeply enriched my life.
I would say, however, that the most important theme I have learned through listening to and reading people’s epiphanies is simple: self-love and self-compassion. Before this project I didn’t really know what either of these terms meant to me at my core. I began to understand the meaning of compassion and self-love at a very deep level. As I practiced loving myself and others, I began to really shift as a person. My outlook on life shifted more positively as well. This was, yet, another epiphany that I had while writing the book.
Wf1: What happens once you have an epiphany?
Elise: Based on my work and experience, there are four things that always happen when people have a life-changing epiphany.
I think it is best summed up in the beginning part of my book:
(Excerpt from Epiphany, page 8)
1. LISTENING. Whether they were calmly contemplating the sky, meditating or praying, clinging to hope in a crisis, desperate to heal, or searching for an answer, people were listening and paying attention to signs and what was going on around them. I say “listening” because many of the epiphanies, especially the more miraculous ones, almost all had to do with hearing a voice, either an inner voice or one from a Higher Power.
2. BELIEF. When people had an epiphany, they never doubted for one instant that whatever had happened was real for them. They had absolute faith and trust in their experience and themselves, knowing the action they were taking because of their epiphany was right for them, regardless of what anyone else thought.
3. ACTION. Every single person whose epiphany positively changed his or her life took action. All of them took the first step toward whatever the epiphany compelled them to do, even if they had no idea what would happen after that.
4. SERENDIPITY. After people began to take action on their epiphanies, circumstances seemed to fall into place so that they could take the next step. It is as if the world conspires to support your decisions and actions, to confirm that you are on the right track. Many (not all) of the people I talked to felt the hand of God or some other mysterious, benevolent force in their lives after their epiphanies.
I continuously encourage all individuals to think and write about their greatest epiphanies and to contemplate their meanings in their lives. It’s amazing how powerful and valuable that exercise can be.
Wf1: What are some ways your book and website have inspired others?
Elise: There seem to be many ways my book has impacted others. I receive letters of individual epiphanies from my readers as well as people thanking me. Some people do not tell me what their epiphanies have been, but communicate to me that they have shifted into action from gaining awareness around the epiphanies in their own lives. Some people speak about moving cities, changing their lives, connecting with people from the book to help with their various non-profits or causes or to get advice, and some even told me they were going after lifelong dreams that they never thought was possible.
People have not only had epiphanies sparked by the book, but a big thing that has happened is that often people have recognized or remembered their own former epiphanies. They have either started thinking about them again and it’s renewed something for them that they can use in their life now or they finally have taken action on them. This action has been a big aspect of what happens after reading the book, it seems. The other part that is exciting is that people that read the book begin to become more aware of epiphanies and actually start searching for them throughout their daily lives.
Wf1: What are the future plans for the Epiphany Channel (Elise’s website)?
Elise: Currently, I am re-charging my batteries and writing my new book, which is a fictional memoir. It’s been hard, but also a lot of fun to write. I also am working on the possible follow-up book to Epiphany which is a little different than the first one and was inspired by the ripple effect that is caused by epiphanies – I talk about it a little at the end of one of my TEDx talks.
Regarding my website (www.epiphanychannel.com), I want to collect more epiphanies from all different types of people throughout the world. Eventually, I want people to be able to post their own epiphanies and their experiences around the awareness of them. I always saw EpiphanyChannel.com as one day evolving into a web channel for not just epiphanies and possibly an Epiphany show of some kind, but also into a channel of uplifting, fun, entertaining content in general. I have a lot of ideas about different projects that would fit into that description and would love to put them into action. We’ll see if I end up attaining this original vision but that is how I’ve always envisioned it going.
Wf1: What one piece of wisdom would you like to share with the Women For One Community?
Elise: Believe in your epiphanies, believe in yourself, take action and watch the world conspire to support you. The world is truly conspiring to support you in each moment you are here. There is so much synchronicity in each person’s life. Notice it, enjoy it, be grateful for it and be aware of the serendipitous nature of your life daily. Having fun, truly laughing, really enjoying your life and doing things that inspire you and “feed your soul” – whatever that may be for you – and noticing and appreciating the magic in life can make all the difference.
Wf1: Thank you Elise for your time, your work in the world and your authenticity. You are truly an inspiration to women throughout the world.