The Importance of Examining BELIEF


unnamed-1Our epiphanies reflect how we are all so very different and yet so very much the same.

That’s why I love that tonight, Oprah Winfrey and OWN are airing the first episode of a mini-series called BELIEF, a television series exploring faith and spirituality around the world that will air seven consecutive nights on OWN, from October 18 to 24, at 8 p.m. ET.

Like our epiphany stories, a program like this explores the aspect of humanity being made up of individuals who are incredibly unique with different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences, yet we all can relate to the truth and underlying meaning of any one person’s story, no matter who they are, what age they are, where they come from or what they believe.

What do you believe and why? Do you truly believe in yourself and in Life? What about the Life you’ve created and the people in it? To go deep and examine our own beliefs and why and how we’re going about consciously taking action on them is something that is imperative to living an authentic and fulfilling life.

Here are some exercises from my book to help explore and bolster BELIEF in your life. I encourage you to think about watching BELIEF on OWN this week or exploring other ways to go deeper in your examination of your own beliefs and what they mean and how they’re expressed in your life.

• We can strengthen belief in ourselves and the way life works for us. Become aware of the meanings/perceptions you are attributing to things. Are you slanted positively or negatively in interpreting happenings in life?

• Is there anything you would you like to have an epiphany about? Study/research/immerse yourself in those subjects—which might even be yourself. (Take some time for introspection.)

Self-belief is learnable. We can all develop and bolster our self-belief in numerous ways. Here are a few:

• Deal with the inner negative voice. Remember, that negative voice and talk wasn’t yours originally. Develop a practice of self-compassion. Act like your own best friend. (See Kristin Neff’s epiphany.) Do you catch yourself talking to yourself in ways that you would never speak to another person? What are some of the negative mantras you might be telling yourself?

• Reflect on your strengths and accomplishments. Also think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths. Write them down.

• Educate and immerse yourself in what you love and are drawn to. Seek out tools to help you develop your gifts and talents as well as help remove negative beliefs and blocks. These tools include books, classes, retreats, workshops, life coaches, therapists, religious and spiritual leaders/teachers, and groups you can join to develop your interests and receive support.

Have a beautiful week, dear readers and Don’t Stop Believin’!

Here’s a fun clip of Oprah talking to Stephen Colbert about BELIEF vs. FAITH.


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All-Natural Sleep Remedies That Work

7af18aed4f7e09cbfa40b94a77afb50fWho can have epiphanies if you’re so sleep-deprived you can’t think clearly? (and it definitely doesn’t add to our attractiveness factor…case in point to your left, poor guy.)

Have you noticed how many people are complaining about sleep problems? In my life, besides me, the people having troubles with sleep range from my mother in her 60s-ish ( “No need to define one’s age,” she says. By the way, so does Dr. Christine Northrup) to guy friends of mine in their 20s, so it doesn’t seem to be an age or a gender thing anymore. This blog is mainly for me to send to people who I end up telling about these sleep remedies I’ve found (that’s how many people I’ve talked to about this!) but I decided to make it public in case it’s helpful to anyone browsing around. Epiphanies and sleep are definitely related.

Understanding sleep patterns and interruptions is a different journey for each individual and if you’re having problems, please do research for yourself. It can be caused from many different things such as diet, cellular phone and electromagnetic radiation, sleep apnea, hormones, and stress, to name a few.

In the meantime, as you’re trying to get to the root of the issue, you still need those 7-8 hours of sleepy time and if you’re like me, you don’t want to take a drug to sleep. I tried Ambien – it gave me the worst hangover and I always woke up exactly 5 hours after taking it. So after months of research and supplements and trial and error, I’ve finally found TWO, that’s right, TWO all-natural sleep remedies that actually work!

Epiphany Central on the Zzzz…

1.) SOLID EIGHT by Herbalogic

Herbalogic_Solid_Eight_Herbs_for_Sleep_Insomnia_Sleeping_Issues_grande_9ef5b812-b5dd-47ac-b485-e3f53860aa50A Homeopathic Pharmacist at People’s Pharmacy in Austin, TX uses Solid Eight and told me about it. You take the prescribed dosage before going to bed and then if you wake up in the middle of the night, just take more according to how much longer you want to sleep. No hangover or bad side effects.

I’ve bought this at homeopathic pharmacies, online and at Whole Foods.


2.) DEEP SLEEP by Herbs Etc. 


This stuff is amazing. I learned about it at Whole Foods when I went to get more Solid Eight and they were out. The Whole Foods salesperson said this is their best-seller of “sleep-helpers” and I can see why. I take two before bed and usually sleep through the night.

Deep Sleep is available many places online (this link goes to Amazon) and at Whole Foods.






I’m not the only one talking about sleep helpers – one of my favorite podcasters of all-time, Mr. Tim Ferriss, has a blog + podcast devoted his Top 5 Tools He Uses for Faster and Better Sleep. They don’t include my remedies above so listen to it if you want recommendations of gadgets, eye mask + ear plugs, how to hang upside down, and tea. He also recommends watching an episodic television show or playing Tetris for 10 minutes, but I find reading is more effective. I’ll stay up later watching a show rather than if I read. Listening to an audio book or meditation is also super-effective for some people.

91hV5ciHLeL._SY679_Tim’s podcast reminded me about the tea that I’m never without anymore: Trader Joe’s Well-Rested Herbal Tea(It’s MUCH cheaper in the store if you have a Trader Joe’s near you.) I sleep more deeply when I use it.

By using these remedies – sometimes alone and sometimes together – I beat insomnia when it strikes and am always ready for my epiphanies!

Wishing you great sleep and the sweetest of dreams!


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Epiphany: How to Heal From “Takers”


You know what’s amazing? Most of the time when I go searching for epiphany-sparking or reaffirming pieces to post on my Facebook wall, I inevitably come across the thing I need to see/hear/embrace that day. (If you know me and my work, you know how much I love and embrace Serendipity.) I needed this one.

When someone takes and uses your ideas or work and doesn’t give you credit or compensation and even claims the credit for themselves, it’s so easy to let that deflate and cause you to feel unmotivated – not only to generate ideas but also to help and trust others.

But we can’t let that happen. We have to keep going. We have to believe that there are many wonderful people out there and not everyone is a taker. This particularly strikes a chord not only because of some of my own experiences but because of the meme below I posted that went way viral having to do with givers vs takers:

“Givers need to set limits because takers never do.”  57385db4b02f684f93f17a4be089e24a

The reaction to this was visceral. It seems to be a bit of an epidemic and I plan to write about my thoughts on it and some tips of how to deal with narcissists and sociopathic behavior later.

For now, one of the main things “I know for sure” is that  that we must continue to live what we want in our lives. (i.e.: Generosity, Honesty and Trust).

We just need to work on being more conscious and “pickier” about who we choose to hang around, work, and share (and possibly even live) with and start understanding and observing our boundaries.


1.) Start with looking at an instance of how you were “taken,” forgive yourself (because I know you’re beating yourself up about it) and let it teach you.

2.) Start getting super-clear and set intentions about the kinds of people you do want to work and spend your precious hours here with.

3.) Do what it takes to heal and trust yourself and others again – research, take classes, get in therapy, visit/talk to spiritual teachers and focus on your spiritual practice if you have one, read books, reach out and spend time with like-minded people you admire.

4.) Always be vigilant about embodying and ever-developing those qualities and attributes you most value.

Build your tribe. Develop yourself. Live the qualities you want to attract. Press on and thrive. (It’s the best revenge on takers anyway. )

EPIPHANY: Someone who takes without gratitude has shown you who they are. Their actions don’t change you, they teach you. They teach you boundaries, acceptance and to trust yourself.

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Epiphanies in the Zeitgeist: How to Coax an AHA!

Psych Today Cover -FBLive Happy EB


How do you coax an epiphany? Why should you take action on your epiphanies? What are some ways to spread happiness and well-being in the world?

Answers to these questions and a lot of other valuable information awaits in the cover story of Psychology Today and are part of the discussion in Live Happy Magazine this month. 

I’m honored that I was asked to weigh in for both articles. Both are highly informative and I encourage you to check them out.

I’ll also be speaking with Live Happy as part of their “Wake Up Happy” Campaign, April 13-17:

Beginning Monday, April 13th  through Friday, April 17th, Live Happy magazine is giving their magazine subscribers and database of connections the opportunity to listen to a 30-minute, upbeat, energizing interview with an accomplished, knowledgeable and inspiring expert. The discussion is going to center around the things the expert does personally to enhance his or her own happiness and insightful recommendations they have for others who want to live a more fulfilling and happy life. Each day a different expert will be featured for the 5-Day Wake-Up Happy campaign.

So make sure you go sign up and get connected with them if you want to participate!

I’ll also be speaking on Friday, April 10 in Dallas at a CONNECT event from 11:15a-1:15p. To join us or for more information, please email: 


Below are excerpts from the “epiphanous” magazine articles. 

From Psychology Today:

How to Coax an AHA!

To trigger an insight, the best strategy may be to try generating a preparatory state of mind. The idea is to lower your resistance to breakthrough perspective shifts, which often just means easing your grip on the wheel – concentrating on not concentrating, if you like. Here are nine approaches to laying the groundwork for an aha moment and helping it emerge. (Note: only ONE approach is below – go check out the article for the others!) 

Practice Taking Action:

Over the course of hundreds of interviews conducted for her book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight, Elise Ballard discovered that everyone has hunches, but they rarely become full-blown epiphanies because one of a few things happens: Noise drowns out the signals, we don’t take meaning from them, or we fail to act on them. Ballard concluded that each part of the process is a developmental skill: * We can listen better, trust ourselves, and take action even if we can’t yet see the whole picture. We all have little insights, she says. The difference is that some of us treat them as messages, almost as marching orders. 

* Patterns of Life-Changing Epiphanies: Listening; Belief; Action; Serendipity  (the link goes to the introduction of the book so you can read about them and more about these steps can be found in the new paperback.) 


Live Happy Q&A with Author/Writer 
and Epiphany Expert, Elise Ballard

(There is only a piece of this Q&A that appears in Live Happy so I’ve included the whole interview below for you.)

LH-How do you define happiness?

EB- Through my work, interviews and studies of epiphanies, I’ve discovered the basis of happiness could be defined in one word:

Fulfillment (n.): deep satisfaction as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.

When you are living a life feeling for the most part fulfilled by your work/career, personal relationships (romantic, family and social life), and spiritual and/or creative pursuits and growth, you are energized by life instead of drained by it. When challenges come your way, because they do and will – no one gets out of here unscathed – you have a strength, baseline and support system to get through them. During the darkest times, you can still see beauty and maintain hope and a knowing that there will be “light at the end of the tunnel.” Likewise, when your moments of great joy and achievement happen, you are able to fully embody, enjoy and appreciate them. You also are energized to reach out into the world in bigger ways when you have a strong baseline of fulfillment, which cultivates even stronger feelings of fulfillment, love and moments of joy and satisfaction. To me, fulfillment is the deeper, grounded state of happiness. It allows for normal feelings and states of being such as sadness, grief and even anger, but at the same time you can still be fulfilled in life and get through those kinds of feelings and experiences more quickly and don’t get paralyzed or stuck by them.

LH- What can we do to help spread and foster happiness to each other?

1.) Smile. Look at people around you (instead of at your phone!) and look people in the eye when you speak and when you listen. People need and want to be heard. And this is big – truly listen. Master the art of listening. It will serve you in every area of your life and is one of the keys to living a fulfilling, successful life. It is also the first step of having an epiphany!

2.) A great question to ask people in your life- especially after listening to them tell you about a hardship or problem: What can I do to support / help you? (But if you ask this, mean it and follow up.)

3.) A sure-fire way to foster happiness in others is to notice something wonderful, fun, positive, attractive, GREAT and AMAZING about them and tell them so. I don’t care what anyone says, a sincere compliment and a smile can change a person’s life – if even for an hour or day but possibly forever. I know of many-a-life-changing epiphany because someone took the time to notice and express it.

4.) Work on your own personal levels and capacities of fulfillment, self-compassion and love. When you are in a positive, energized state of living, you will spread that loving energy and happiness on accident. You will affect everyone you come into contact with in positive ways.

LH -Why is important for people to act on their “Aha!” moments?

Our epiphany “aha” moments are what I call life’s wake-up calls. Whether you believe they are the Divine or our innate inner intelligence or both calling us to our greatest selves and paths, I guarantee if you don’t take action, life will call you a little louder, and then louder, and even louder still if you keep ignoring them…until you can’t anymore. That’s why a lot of people don’t have epiphanies that they take action on until they’re in absolute crisis. If you get into the practice of listening and taking action on your “aha” moments, you will find you are much more “in flow” and in alignment in every area of your life and you won’t need a major crisis to occur for you to create positive change in your life. The most successful people I’ve interviewed over the years in terms of fulfillment as well as those with great worldly prestige always listen to, believe, take action and honor their epiphanies and “aha” moments. Always. I believe taking action on our “aha” moments is key to living our best lives and helping others do the same, not to mention the major breakthroughs and the positive ripple effect they can eventually lead to for all of society. Please take action on your “aha” moments – if not for yourself, for your loved ones and the rest of us! :)


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Epiphanies on Writing, Love, Death + Never Telling the Same Story Twice – EVER (?!): An Interview with Cindy Chupack Part Deux

Cindy Chupack - Epiphanies Definition

As promised, here is the second part of my interview with the award-winning writer, Cindy Chupack.

Just in case you missed Part One (don’t miss out, you’ll love it!), below is a little about her and then you can read on to experience more of her epiphanies about writing still being a meritocracy (Fellow Writers, you’ll really love this one), losing a loved one and how to go on, and finally, a Q&A that contains an epiphany about never telling the same story twice – EVER. (Yes, supposedly, this IS possible according to Buck Henry – who is now on my wish list of “People To Interview.”)

Plus, (and this will be exclusive to EpiphanyChannel) see whose epiphanies Cindy would like to know about and why, and more epiphanous tidbits.  So without further ado…




Cindy Chupack is best known as an Emmy-winning TV writer/producer whose creditsinclude Modern Family, Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Author of New York Times bestseller “The Between Boyfriends Book,” her new comic memoir about marriage “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife” was released by Viking in January 2014 and just became available in paperback.


as told to ELISE BALLARD 


“Writing is still a meritocracy.
Great writing will always open doors and will find its way to the right people.” ~Cindy Chupack

I didn’t know anyone when I sent my first piece into a magazine.

When I moved to New York there was this magazine called New York Woman that I always read and loved. It doesn’t even exist anymore, but there was always a last page, first-person essay, and it was always in straightforward, plain English, really funny and always smart. I wrote a piece about New York and sent it in to them, and my boyfriend at the time said, “Don’t be disappointed if they don’t publish it. A lot of people try to write about New York, and you’re a girl from Oklahoma.” But I had a good feeling about it, which is unusual because I’m a very insecure writer, but I just felt like I knew their kind of writing and I felt good about this piece. I wrote it overnight and then sent it off – not that it usually comes that easily, but I just have a lot to say about New York.

That piece started everything for me, because New York Woman did publish it, and a comedy writer saw it and asked me to think about sitcom writing, and then a magazine editor saw it and asked me to think about writing for magazines. The essay is in my first book, Between Boyfriends and is called The “Real” New York Marathon. This one little piece that I wrote in my voice (even though I didn’t know what that even was at that point), with my sense of humor and my take on New York, got me noticed and started my writing career.

Once I met someone who came up to me and said, “Oh, my gosh. That piece, that New York Woman piece…” – she had it on her refrigerator! Which for me, was bigger than a Nobel Prize. My magazine piece was on someone’s refrigerator, someone who didn’t know me. She just read it and loved it and put it on her refrigerator. That made me so happy.

After that, when I was called by editors to pitch new ideas, rather than get crazy trying to figure out what the magazine wanted, or what should I write, I would just think about the stories I’d been telling my friends and ask myself, “What are the funny stories I have going on right now?” because that’s what I’d done with this piece.

Then later, whenever I got stuck I began asking, “What would I write to Marie?” Marie is one of my best friends and former college roommates and whenever I write her emails or even talk to her on the phone and tell her stories, she just gets and loves me, and she always laughs. I always tell her my stories in the funniest way, because I know she’ll love certain details, so when I’m stuck in an essay, instead of thinking of the wide audience, or the magazine editor, or whoever it is I’m writing it for, I just imagine I’m writing to Marie.  So a writing epiphany for me, and advice I give to other writers is: “Find your Marie.”

Even though things started happening after my New York Woman essay was published, it wasn’t like I was in huge demand and had a booming career. I moved to LA and began taking screenwriting classes at UCLA Extension, and I was up for a job reading spec sitcom scripts for Disney TV Animation. They tested me to see if I knew how to read a script and do coverage on it, but of course, I had no idea what I was doing. So they didn’t hire me, but they had this big pile of scripts they were way behind on, so I offered to just try to read them and give coverage until they found someone. They were desperate so they let me do it and after reading them for a while, I started to learn what made a good script and what didn’t.

This really changed the way I looked at Hollywood, because I wanted each script I read to be good. And when it was good, when it was really good, I’d get excited to share it with people and would pass it on, completely confident. I saw the difference between a good script and a great script. A great script takes on a life of its own and it starts traveling around. A great read is like a great song – people want to share it and it spreads.

This process made me feel that, even though I was a girl from Oklahoma, it didn’t matter – that at the end of every script pile and at every agency that is looking for a script and at every production company — if the writing is great, it will find its way to the right person and open doors and find a path for you. I don’t know how many writers feel that way, but I feel at its core, writing is still a meritocracy.

Writing in general – whether it’s scripts or books or magazines – if you are writing things that are true to you, it will find a path and open doors for you, so put something out in the world that’s true to you. Take some risks. Your work will find its way to the people that will hear you.



Cindy Chupack - Ripple Effect

“The lives you touch and the memories you create have a ripple effect. Everything that moves and teaches you, everything you do and say to move and teach others… that’s how we live on, and that’s how friendship and love live on after friends and family are gone.”
~Cindy Chupack

 My friend Padma, who was a dear, dear friend, died from a very rare form of cancer at age thirty-three several years ago. Padma was so positive, and I was so positive when I was with her. I mentored her, but she also mentored me. She was such a cheerleader for me when I needed it, and I still need it a lot. It’s hard to find someone who is fully happy for you, but Padma was one of those friends.

She and I used to go to yoga and spinning every Sunday. Whenever I go to yoga now, I feel like I can talk to her. I’ve had a lot of strange conversations in my head with her.

For example, the other day we were doing that upside down pose in yoga, the anti-aging pose, and she said, “You know what’s anti-aging? Cancer!”

It was as if I’d heard her say it – the thought was in her voice and funny, like she was. It was something I’d never considered before: Why are we always so upset about aging? Aging means we are still here!

Recently I felt overwhelmed with work and wondered how I was going to do it all — which project should I bet on, how will it all get done? And Padma said, “Just water everything.” This really helped me. All I have to do every day is “water” everything, see what grows and trust… and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I have said to Padma in these kinds of moments, “Am I really talking to you, or is this what I think you would say to me, because I knew you so well, and I’ve missed you so much?” I felt like I heard her say, “Does it matter?”

And I realized, it doesn’t matter, does it? If you love someone enough, and they’ve made such an impression on you that you feel like you can have a conversation and hear them after they’re gone – the love, information, and wisdom that comes to you through that relationship is the same – it’s just as good, just as valid. I feel lucky to have had Padma in my life, because I still have her in my life and always will.

I remember when I was growing up, wondering about the afterlife. Is there an afterlife? Is there heaven and hell? There was a sense in Judaism that the lives you touch and the memories you create have a ripple effect.  That seemed like not enough to me at the time, but now, as I get older, I feel the ripple effect.  Everything that moves you and teaches you, everything you do and say to move and teach others… that’s how we live on, and that’s how friendship and love lives on after friends and family are gone.



“It is possible to never tell a story twice (?).
(We Can’t All Be Buck Henry—But We Can Try
).” ~Cindy Chupack

In my book, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife, I talk about how my husband and I noticed we tell the same stories to people over and over again – you know, “your “go-to-get-to-know-me” stories and how they start grating on you when you’ve heard them a million times, and it made me think about what the director Mike Nichols said to me. He was going to maybe direct a movie of mine so we were working together, and he told me that Buck Henry never repeats an anecdote.

Elise: What? In his whole life?

In his whole life – that’s what Mike Nichols said. [laughs]

Elise: How is that possible?

I don’t know, but I saw Mike again months later. We were talking about something and he told me, “Did you know that Buck Henry never repeats an anecdote?” I kind of looked at him and he realized, “I’ve told you this before?”


And he goes, “And scene!” [laughs] And now, I’m repeating this anecdote to you. But it’s astounding to me. When I was trying to do stand-up, I had maybe five minutes, and I was working my material over and over. And even now with my book, I read the essays that I’ve written time and again, but some people go out there and read new stuff, and try new stuff all the time. Those are the people I really admire – the ones who are gathering and observing, are super-present to life and are exploring new material and information all the time. They aren’t always revisiting something they know works or a story they know people will laugh at.

It’s a high bar. We can’t all be Buck Henry, but it did make me think, “Wow, that’s a working mind.” I always dream of being that person who only speaks up a little and when I do speak up, it’s profound. But every day, I’m like, “Oh, I already said too much to do that today.”

Elise: Whose epiphany you would want to know if you could ask anyone in the world?

I feel I need to know Buck Henry’s epiphany now! [laughs]

Michael Patrick King. He ran Sex and the City. Even though I get to talk to him a lot and have had lots of conversations with him, I’ve never had that conversation with him. I feel like his answer to this question would be fascinating. He’s someone I admire, he’s an amazing storyteller, so wise and creative, and just such a lovely soul that I would be very interested to know what he felt were the epiphany moments in his life.

I would love to know Obama’s or Michelle Obama’s epiphany.

Do you know Steve Earle the songwriter?  He’s Texan and writes beautiful, sad songs. He’s been in jail, is a great artist, and there is such a deep sadness to his writing, so I’d be curious about his epiphany.

David Sedaris, because he’s so funny all the time. I would be interested to hear a real epiphany of his. I know he has one. He’s deep as well as funny.

I’d love to know Anne LaMott’s. She has a lot and has written about some of them and I love what she has to say.

Elise: Those are all amazing. Thank you – they will all go on the Epiphany Wish List. What is coming up for you? Is there anything you want us to be looking out for?

Well, the paperback of my book came out December 2014. I am also hoping in 2015 to direct my first film – it’s the film adaptation of a book by William Sutcliffe called Whatever Makes You Happy, and we have a great cast assembled, but it’s like, “Just water it.” That’s my motto. [laughs] I’ve been watering it for a while, and I’m hoping it happens.

Elise: You would be a great director — you really understand story, and you know performing.

I hope so. I feel I am ready. I will say, after having a child, something happened with me where I feel a little more fearless now.

Elise: You’ve always been brave from what I can tell. “I’m going to send this off and no one knows me. I’m going to ask for this job, and read scripts I have no idea how to evaluate. I’m going to write for television, I’ve never done it.” But you’ve always just jumped in. You’ve always gone for it.

I guess, in hindsight, but I still don’t feel brave. At least as far as writers go, I feel the closest kinship with writers who are insecure, because I always feel insecure. And whenever someone tells me, “I wrote this thing, it’s so great, you’ve got to read it.” It’s like, “Really? I’ve written a lot, and never feel like it’s great.” I never know for sure if something’s great, so I would never just say that like that. [laughs]

Elise: Oh, good. I’m so glad you’re like that too, because I always think about anything I write, “This is horrible. I still need to keep editing it.” I never feel like it’s finished. So that’s normal?

That’s normal and healthy, and very positive. I think all writers are insecure. [laughs] Or should be.


Behind-the-Scenes of The Interview 

I met Cindy when she was moderating of a panel of women television comedy writers for the Writers Guild Foundation and HUMANITAS in Los Angeles. (She is on the Board of Trustees for HUMANITAS and I am one of the judges for the HUMANITAS prize.) I knew of her because of Sex and the City and loved her first book, Between Boyfriends, but she’s one of those people who is even better and more full of light than you’d anticipated when you see her in action and meet her in person.

We met in the apartment that she uses as an office in Marina del Rey – gotta love that she likes to write on a laptop on a bed – and talked for over an hour. She is one of, if not the, most prepared subjects I’ve ever interviewed, and our conversation ranged from epiphanies to childhood, career, Sex and the City, therapy, marriage, fertility, adoption, non-profits, her latest book (which is hilarious and poignant, in my opinion), and finally Buck Henry. Learn more about Cindy at her info-filled, one-page website and at

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