How Acknowledgments and Gratitude Can Bring Unexpected Revelations

Today is the first day back from summer officially as it the day after Labor Day and it’s as if the weather wanted us all to be aware of this in Los Angeles.  It is overcast and chilly after days and days of sunny summer heat.

Today is also the day the “first pages” of my book are on their way to me, meaning they will arrive tomorrow in hard copy format the way it will look on the page when it is encased in its exclamation-pointed hard cover, and this is the very last time I have to look at the manuscript to make any edits.  It’s all a bit surreal that I am actually at this point and that in not even 6 months, this manuscript will actually be a book, with a bright blue cover, on shelves in stores, and hopefully in more than just my friends’ and family’s hands.

As I look back over the summer, it was primarily one of work.  June was about finishing the book – my finalized first draft was turned in July 2.  July was about resting from those weeks of no sleep as I raced to the finish line.  I am a world-class procrastinator of the absolute highest degree, which has proven to be not a great attribute at all when writing a book with a deadline – I don’t care how anyone tries to spin it.  I also began the revamping of the website (it will launch with a new look in the next couple of months to coincide with the book launch so stay tuned!), and then August was about copy-editing the book, and I had NO idea how intense that would be.  I didn’t know that we actually still copy edit in pencil on the page instead of using computers!  I thought that was fascinating.  I have discovered that I am in love the book publishing business. Sometimes it’s just still so old-school and civilized in so many ways – especially the people whom I’ve found to be extremely gentile and smart – and how the entire industry basically just shuts down the entire month of August while everyone takes their vacation…that just seems so retro to me (or European) for some reason and reminds me of how our grandparents, and maybe even our parents and us when we were little, went away for months at a time in the summer and there were no answering machines, voice mail, email, cell phones or even pagers…and somehow life seemed to move forward quite nicely…anyway, I digress…

I write all this because I realized, literally, in the final moments when I was banging out the acknowledgments at 3am the day the book was due in my editor’s inbox – that finishing this book also brought me to the finishing a chapter of my life.  This journey began with an epiphany I had 5 years ago and it ended with my hitting ‘Send’ on my computer with an attachment titled Epiphany Manuscript 7-2-10.  I hadn’t realized that until that moment.

It’s rather mind-boggling to me that a year after introducing and the Epiphany Project to the public, a door in my life’s journey has closed and a new one has opened.  As I quoted Kristin Neff, a psychologist and leading authority on self-compassion and one of my interviewees, in the epigraph of the book:

The epiphany was like life opened a doorway, and my job was to walk through it. I didn’t know what I was going to find. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But in life, you don’t ever know what’s going to happen. What I do know is that as life continues to open these doors, I feel safe enough and trusting enough to walk through them.

—Kristin Neff

This pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about epiphanies and this project and life now.  I had the realization on that late night/early morning while writing my acknowledgments, thanking the people who had helped me make this project a reality, that this project has been my greatest revelation, my greatest epiphany in life.  Acknowledgment, paying attention and having and expressing gratitude will open you up and bring about the most amazing and unexpected revelations.  You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but if you want epiphanies regularly or even sometimes, go to gratitude and expressing it and see what happens.  It helps you pay attention and be present – the first condition required I’ve found in the patterns of great epiphanies.  (I’ll discuss the 4 things I’ve discovered to be part of every life-changing epiphany that I know of in a future blog and it’s talked about in the book.)

As I look forward to the fall and we head “Back to School,” I’m not sure where this new door, this new chapter, that is beginning will lead, but I am very, very excited to go through it and want to acknowledge you here as well.  Thank you for finding your way to my blog, perhaps my site and eventually maybe even my book and for being part of this next phase of the journey with me.  I wish us all the best as we begin our “fall semester” of 2010!

(And in case you never read acknowledgments either, the paragraph I wrote when I had my “acknowledgment revelation” is below for fun.)

acknowledgment : thanks, appreciation, recognition, gratitude, obligation

“The journey is the reward.”

– Chinese Proverb

Once upon a time, I embarked on a journey called Epiphany.  Fortunately, the age-old maxim “Ignorance is bliss,” applied in this case instead of my trusty “Knowledge and understanding eliminate fear,” because had I actually known and understood what this journey would involve, I probably would have chickened out and missed out on the most extraordinary, life-affirming experience I’ve ever had.  This book represents the ending of chapter for me.  In writing it, I came realize it is my greatest epiphany and, in fact, has been an awakening, a new direction, a healing, a miracle, a coming of age and a calling.  It’s been an absolutely amazing ride, and one I know would not have completed (at least in one piece) without the support and encouragement of so many people.

About Elise Ballard

Elise Ballard is the author of Epiphany! a book of inspirational stories, aha moments and exclusive interviews from Random House Publishing
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