Debbie’s Story

June 28, 2022

Debbie’s Story

By Amba Gale

I am creating a special edition of my blog posting this week, as I have had the privilege of being in a particular conversation that I’d say is vitally important at this time, a time of shifting sands, beneath our feet, a time of importance for intentionally crossing thresholds. This posting points to a potent distinction that allows such a threshold crossing.

The painting, above, was created by Debbie Hulbert, a participant in our fall 2020 virtual offering of Crossing Thresholds, a course that was based on my newly published book, designed to facilitate participants in crossing their next threshold.

If you had been in that class with her, you would have remembered her sharing about this painting, inspired by one of my poems, named Superior Symphony Storm. During the course, participants are forwarded in connecting with their Muse, as a Wise Inner Guide. Some people have muses that appear for them when they write or listen to music, or play music, or exercise, or meditate, or run. During the course, Debbie re-connected with her Muse, which led her to re-connect with painting.

During the four week course, Crossing Thresholds, Your Next Opening, she picked up paint and brush, and started a beautiful painting. She and her husband even created a separate room in their home for her to paint! She shared with us this painting, above.

Read on! Here’s where the story becomes incredible.

Between the end of her course and now, Debbie received a Cancer diagnosis, of a very aggressive form of cancer, and, while the doctors told her she only had a 10% chance to live, she did not entertain that at all. Instead, she created a vibrant future for herself — one she knew she would experience, in the future, and it was that future which kept her alive, and which pulled her through.

In The Heart of Leadership, I share with people that Victor Frankl, the philosopher, writer, and Holocaust survivor, interviewed all of the survivors of Auschwitz to see if they had anything in common. He found out they did. What was it? They all felt like they had, in their future, something important for each of them to do.

Debbie’s future that pulled her through was a culinary one: a culinary journey to Italy with her daughter. She could smell the food, the garlic, the tomatoes, feel the sun on her shoulders, experience the taste of the wine, the food — a total sensory experience of a future waiting to be lived. It was real, it was authentic, it was visceral. She knows it is going to happen.

Debbie, after two years of an extraordinarily challenging journey, is now cancer free. And, while she still has two more operations to go through, that future lives for her as a sacred magnet, pulling her towards it.

Debbie will be taking The Heart of Leadership for the first time in March 2023, our next public offering.

When we first reconnected about two weeks ago after not having talked for a while, I asked her if she had been painting. She had not. Not at all, all the way through the cancer.

After our call, she picked up her paintbrush and completed her painting.

This is the painting she sent and what she said to me. “After our call, I was filled with such a deep yearning to paint, but more than that, to process all of the feelings of this experience. The darkness, the uncertainty, the silver linings, the love, and the JOY! Thank you for helping me really dig into all of this deeply visceral stuff and for creating the opening for me to find my way toward expressing it. IN PAINT! Here is “Surviving the Storm” with heartfelt thanks and love to you, Amba, always!!!”

And this is what she shared with her “buddy” from Crossing Thresholds when she shared it with her:

“I wanted to share with you my massive threshold crossing/ breakthrough over the past year. You may or may not know that I was diagnosed with a very aggressive and advanced state of Triple Negative Breast Cancer last summer. I believe I had just started a painting while I was working in partnership with you. That, of course, stagnated. But it became something more, eventually. So here is my sharing: I have not been in painting mode for quite some time as I have been battling this cancer. Here’s the piece I started so long ago. I think it’s finished. The colorful background is me before my diagnosis. The dark clouds are cancer. They have covered so much of me but not all!! I’m still present, peeking through. The water represents the emotional journey, and the green/yellow bit towards the bottom right of the sky at the horizon is my fresh new beginning. I am cancer free. I am calling it: Surviving the Storm.

My breakthroughs or crossings were many-fold. I released fear (didn’t know I was carrying so much) and instead I grabbed fully onto life. I released my “I’m not worthy/good enough to be a ‘real’ artist” belief. I have stepped over the threshold and now see myself as fully capable of creating art – real art. That makes me a bona fide artist.

My cancer diagnosis really threw me for a loop. I was given a 10% chance of surviving. I grabbed that 10% and held on for all I am worth. I fought tooth and nail to survive and here I am. I may not have breasts anymore, or shortly ovaries…but that does not define me. I am liberated. I am free. I am ALIVE and cancer free! Woot!

Here’s the painting. Thanks for listening.”



This inspiring story has been living with me through my days. I now want to share it with you, and, like Debbie, thank YOU for listening.

May you live with it, and may it bless, inform, and contribute to your days, your life.

You might also ask yourself, “What is the current future you are designing for YOUR life that pulls you into it?”

Please know our next Offering of The Joy of Being: Designing Your Life makes available a rigorously designed pathway for designing your Life from the Core of your own Essence. Stay tuned for the dates for the next offering of The Joy of Being!

Additional Posts

February 13, 2024

My Daughter, My Teacher

Four Sundays ago, I came to my office early, before my family was awake.  Seeing my desk cluttered with papers, I passed right by the meditation corner where, every morning, I meditate, write poetry, or frequently read Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening before tackling anything. I saw all the papers on the desk just begging to be sorted into notes that, if touched one by one and placed on a calendar, or a list, or committed to, would provide me with clear openings for action for my life.  Since having gone to Indonesia for the month of November and having…

January 30, 2024

The Perfect Storm

Sometimes we get what we want, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, I like to look at it like this: no matter what life serves us, it is always what we need. Eckart Tolle, one of my favorite teachers/authors, puts it like this: “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.  How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” When last week started, I had many plans. I had a humongous list of what was to be done and to be…

Return to Blog >

Join Us!

Subscribe to receive my weekly blog, news, updates & more.

Join The Joy of Being Wait List

Subscribe to Amba's Bi-Weekly Blog and Poetry Email