The Joy of Being: Designing Your Life

The Joy of Being:
Designing your Life

Discerning the design of your core
8:00 am - 5:30 pm each day

The Joy of Being is a deep, profound, and rigorous conversation for discerning the design of your core, of your essence, and, from that commitment to living the expression of that “thread” in the world, designing a life that forwards your original and unique essence fully manifesting its expression in the world.

We are all being asked to re-set our lives, to re-design our lives. That is our current, “required,” curriculum. Let us do so, consciously, lovingly, and intentionally, through the rigorous conversation that The Joy of Being is. In our next offering of The Joy of Being, in 2022, congruent with the times we are living in, we will engage some new conversations that highlight the distinctions that we must embody as we connect with our thread, as the rudder which steers us through this new life of ours, a life in which we must learn to navigate impermanence, constant change, and, even upheaval, with equanimity and joy.

The Joy of Being is three days in a row, and a fourth day three weeks later

Dates in 2022 TBD


Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Every human being comes to earth with sealed orders.”

The Joy of Being is a pathway for finding ours.


There’s a thread that you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

-William Stafford

“You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

Given the current threshold crossing we are all making in our lives, and the upheaval, changes, turmoil, and teaching we have all been moving through, The Joy of Being now, perhaps more than ever, is an essential conversation.
The thread that “does not change,” can be seen, and then followed. The Joy of Being provides space for us to listen to our heart, to listen to our inner wisdom speaking to us. We weave that thread through the design of our lives, connecting our inner and outer worlds as one. Married to our soul, we find meaning in our lives.

George Bernard Shaw said, “You use a mirror to see your face, you use art to see your soul.” The Joy of Being is just such an artistic conversation.

A crossroads conversation for some, and a profoundly deep dive into courage, vitality, authenticity and passion for all, through engaging The Joy of Being conversation, we move through life, ongoingly truing ourselves to that core, allowing the natural joy, which comes from fulfilling our purpose, to be available to us like a deep river running beneath the surface of our everyday life. Living a lifetime of meaning, of Belonging to the World “in the particular way we were made to belong to the world,” as David Whyte says, allows for a great deal of resolution to the existential or spiritual dilemma. The conversation opens us to the joy of Being.

As Dawn Markova says, in her book, Wide Open: On Living with Passion and Purpose,

“As It’s not pain that is so hard on our souls, but rather the meaningless suffering that comes from feeling disconnected from a sense of purpose. Purpose is like a constellation: it can only be glimpsed in darkness, but it is always there as a homing device. Just as geese have an internal capacity to follow coastlines and the magnetic resonance of the Earth to tell them where to go, we need to follow the yearnings of our heart and soul to find our way. We need to stay faithful to the quest for what is original and authentic in ourselves. Ultimately we have nothing else with which to make or unmake the whole world”

From Dawna Markova’s
Wide Open: On Living with Passion and Purpose

The Big Question:

In Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, she asks the question, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This is an enormous and beautiful question; perhaps THE question of a lifetime, and the question that we address fully, to the depths of your being, in this program.

The Joy of Being is a Life Design conversation like no other.

This conversation provides you with the opportunity to “discover your sealed orders” – that which brings you alive – and then, to shape, author, design a life which makes manifest and expresses that unique thread and purpose that is at the heart of who you are. Through addressing a series of thoughtfully crafted questions, each building on the previous, and through distinguishing, coaching, being in dialogue, exploring, reflecting deeply with yourself and with others, you find what brings you alive, and create a structure for fulfilling it.

Through this deep work, you 1) come to discern your own, individual, unique purpose in life, your “thread,” your Essential Selfhood; 2) come into communion with that Self and fall in love with that Self; and 3) design/author your own life in such a way that your purpose is realized on an ongoing basis. Your embodied purpose then becomes a homing device that allows your soul to “enter the gravity field of its own destiny,” as poet David Whyte says. Only in a relationship with silence and emptiness, two essentials, can the kind of depth of conversation occur. The Joy of Being, both in person and virtual, provides that environment. After engaging with it, you move into living “in your true inheritance,” that which is a Source of Joy, where “living” and “being” are one.


Who is The Joy of Being For?

For The Heart of Leadership and The Joy of Being graduates who—

Long to drop down deep into a reflective space to create a new perspective on and new possibilities for their life

Are aware that it’s time to, given the recent upheaveal we have all been subject to and moving through, re-look at their lives, re-set, create and re-create the design of their life

Want to imbue their lives with deeper meaning and purpose

Wish to heighten their sense of designing and connecting with a life, a world, which works for them, sparking and kindling their aliveness

Are out to discover and connect with ever more profoundly the essence of their own originality, and articulate that in a way that they can embody and live that “joy of being” themselves across all domains of their life

Sense that discerning their life’s purpose and Essence of the Core will contribute vastly to living a full and meaningful life

Are open to creating and re-shaping the environments in which they participate in their lives so that those environments pull for living a “lived life,” where their core is expressed in the world, a life full of vitality, belonging, and meanginfulness.

Wish to explore, and embody, the guiding principles for creating resilency, well being, fluidity, gratefuless, non attachment, commitment, and whole heartedness

For graduates who consider that they “I’ve already taken it,” I invite you to consider there Is no such thing, and gift yourself with taking new dive into creating a new future worth living

What am I committed to, for you?

I am committed that you have discerned ever more deeply the design of you such that you are released to live and manifest your unique power and your unique gifts in each of the domains of your life, in tandem with what Life and Spirit are calling for. I am committed that this conversation gives you a new access to leading your life in the present with a powerful sense of ease, effectiveness, and fulfillment. I am committed that the breakdowns in life occur for you as a revealing of new pathways for fulfilling your soul’s journey. And, I am committed that through this conversation you fall in love with a new sense of your self.

When you become one with your own essential Being, and live out of that, Joy naturally follows. “When we live out of who we are, in a sacred connection with ourselves, wherever we are, we cultivate a reservoir of self — a trust – a touchstone we can return to again and again for nourishment and guidance,” Kristi Nelson says, in her book, Wake Up Grateful.

Because “the calling can change” through time, I, personally, stay current with my own leading edge, my own life, through participating in The Joy of Being, myself, each time I lead it. The Joy of Being is for graduates as well as first timers.

What are the Particulars?

The next Joy of Being will be offered in the Fall of 2022, dates to be determined, 8:00 am – 5:30 pm each day.

The tuition is $2,195.00

Here are a few comments from people who have participated in offerings of this program:

“I just want you to know that I feel my soul is bursting today. I am filled up and the joy in me is spilling over into my conversations, my thoughts, and my vision for my life design. I am so grateful to James (whom I have let know, of course) and you Amba for creating these safe spaces for growth. 

This course came at a time of great uncertainty and darkness for me and I feel I have the tools necessary to handle what is ahead. I’d reverted lately to a stone in a stream, unmoving, stubbornly still as the water flowed around me, slow erosion steadily wearing me away. Now I feel like water, able to fluidly flow past–or over– obstacles in my way, as an amorphous, infinite being. 

Bless you! And thank you so very much!”

Alex Fascilla, Zoom course, 2020

“When I first learned that my Joy of Being course was going to be by Zoom, I wanted to pass on the opportunity. I have been to many Gale Leadership courses and the connection to Amba and the group is key. I was thinking that there is no way you can get that form of deep connectedness via Zoom, I was proven wrong! I felt engaged and involved from beginning to end with Amba and everyone in our course. The Zoom experience made me feel more connected to the conversations that were taking place, being face to face with each person speaking. I was so impressed with moving from group work to one on one sessions and then back to the group. The course was so well set up and my experience from start to finish can be summed up in one word – AWESOME!!”

Steve Vadset, Zoom course 2020

Market Manager, Town and Country Market

“I took the course in January and it brought so much of my life’s pattern into one cohesive thread and really moved me into high gear.
This course is about YOU; and I mean the capital YOU. It is about your life’s purpose and becoming very clear about what it is and how to fully develop it. It is not a conversation in narcissism; it is about bringing your gift to the world… and it is about how to make sure it (your company) and what will follow are your most authentic expression.”

Rich Duncombe, Hewlett Packard

“Things have been going really well. The time spent at Alderbrook was exactly what was needed. Leading up to those days in May it felt like I was on a non-stop roller coaster making my way through each day being physically present in conversations with others but not mentally. My mind was always two or three relationships ahead of who was in front of me. There was no depth, just surface contact. The pleasure that I once found through connecting with others was missing. The joy of being… being with others was missing. The time spent at Alderbrook allowed for the time of reflection into my previous stands. These stands reminded me that I had a choice in who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. There was no one placing obligations on me but myself.

I left the course continuing my inquiry of what is truly my “thread” and what really gives me joy in my life. The whole topic of “just being” as I move forward has been one of the most powerful concepts for me. It has allowed me to once again stand in my commitments and fully embrace my mission… Nurturing Love.”

Jim Huffman, Town and Country Markets

“What has shifted for me on occasion is the ability to be present … to just “be” and not to be always thinking about the next thing on my list.  Now, I’m still stumbling through and having many “whoops” moments, but I am seeing the power of my “being” and its effect on those around me.  Perhaps what has shifted in my thinking is that I have value in the present. 

One thing that broke open for me was the paradigm I’ve been living in regarding my work, family, health and wellness, time and so on.  This paradigm is driven by my fears and not joy, light and love.  I want to change that – magic happens when I do.  I’ve seen and experienced it.  I know when it happens and it is truly beautiful.  I need to invest in being prepared to receive the wonderful gifts God has provided for, to live in gratitude and to serve.  There is an ease when I think of this.

So, what I am committed to is managing my thinking (and therefore, fears).  A few weeks ago I was searching for a book and one practically fell off this shelf.  It is called, “As a Man Thinketh” and my dad gave it to me back when I was 12 or 13.  I never really made an attempt to read it until adulthood but I read it once again and this time it really spoke to me.  As I think .. so I am. When I stand in love and light, I see that in my world.  When I stand in fear and judgment that is also what I see.  The power is in the choice and that is my challenge.”

Susan Allen, Town and Country Markets

“The Joy of Being a Life Worth Living,” or as I refer to it, “The Joy of Being”, was a powerful experience for me.  Your previous workshops and retreats prepared me to be fully open to the Joy and to understand how to do the work.

The course set up was brilliant, sequentially leading us to the promised land!  I loved the solitary work… I went much deeper than I ever have in any other course.  The domains concept was easy to understand and at once useful and powerful.

Something amazing happened to me during the Joy course; I re-membered that I am a Human Being, not a Human Doing.  There’s no turning back and it is awesome!

Amba, you have created a masterpiece, this was a beautiful, joyful piece of work.”

Angie Aliabadi, South Tacoma Auto

“With the terrific exercises Amba designed for the Joy of Being a Life Worth Living, I was able to spend time with myself engaged in a sorting out process I have never done in this way. There is something about owning that I am a teacher – and that I was chosen to be “trainer,” “coach,” “manager ” “thinking partner,” and even “leader” in many respects because of my gifts as a teacher – that has enabled me to really step up to more opportunities to honor and use those teaching skills in my current life.  I have taken on a major project that includes sharing from my many years of business experience and skills to help reshape the operational side of a business I care deeply about.  I have also taken on three new coaching relationships in behalf of leadership development, all of which came to me as requests.  Coincidence?  I don’t really think so.  I believe that finally standing in the space of what being a teacher means and owning that has attracted more opportunities for teaching into my life.

So I am grateful for the inspiration all of you provided during our three days together, and to Amba for her magic with course design, and for the gift of life that enables me to share that legacy I mentioned during our work together – my real legacy of giving away the gifts I possess while I am here to share them, not the list of items contained in my Will.”

Susan Keith, Coach

Two people who are married to one another wrote the following two letters. He had taken the course previously, and then they took it together:

“After witnessing the transformation that Ryan had gone through after taking HOL and HOMD, I knew that I needed to be a part of this transformation as well. Taking Joy of Being and Heart of Leadership expanded our marriage vocabulary and tools of communication with each other. By finding my own purpose in life I could see where we needed to be as a team, and I could be that support for Ryan in his purpose in life.”

Adrienne Joy

“Joy of Being is an intimate course all about personal discovery and creation. To be in that place together—it was special. There’s no doubt it changed the way we see and hear each other. There is also an action-oriented side to the partnership of marriage; learning to live together, to clarify requests, to watch for hidden expectations and to be patient with each other through it all. Where Joy of Being provided a space for us to solidify and deepen our foundation, Heart of Leadership provided a context, awareness, and tools to sharpen our day-to-day ways of relating with each other. It’s actually hard to imagine our marriage without both of these courses.”


Ryan Joy


“Why take the Joy a second time? Because to journey in life is to navigate an ever changing shoreline. I see the conversation of The Joy as THE conversation of our lives, a continual honing in on what brings us joy and what outward expression of our Selves and our WORK fulfills us in every moment. Without purposefully placing myself into this solitudinal conversation on a regular basis, having a rigorous conversation with myself, and continually correcting my course so I’m headed to my true north, I find myself adrift in the circumstances of life. And these days, we have circumstances galore that can have us crashed up against the rocks of life, waiting for a life boat!”

Denise Kelly Ballweber, Coach


“We are in the midst of redesigning and transforming our company to create a future for the leadership that fulfills their passions and dreams both professionally and personally.  It occurred to me recently that the process we have gone through would have been enhanced had the leadership all taken Joy of Being.   I think had they completed Joy of Being, they would have already identified what was really important to them relative to their careers and personal lives, which in turn would have lent clarity to the design of the future of the company.  I say this because, upon completing Joy of Being, I had a much clearer focus on what was important to me, what I wanted to do, and when I wanted to do it.  Frankly, for me, Joy of Being, has been the most impactful piece of work I have done with you.”

John McGowan, J.R. Abbott Construction

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