The Joy of Being: Designing Your Life Scholarship



Discover the DNA of your Soul

April 12, 13, 14 and May 11, 2021
8:00am – 5:30pm each day

To Register Click Here

Divided No More

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

We all feel a tremendous push from the past and a compelling pull from the future to step fully into who we are meant to be.  We need courage and time to reorder our priorities and consider this internal exploration as important as “work” and outward success.  We need to practice the art of stripping away false notions about who we think we are so that we can deal with what is real.  We need to release anything that is deadening to our spirits.  We need to stand for something that is greater than ourselves.

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


“To be human is to become visible, while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance.”

David Whyte, “What to Remember when Waking”, a poem in River Flow


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 discern your Core, your Essential Design — to remember what is hidden and real — and then, to shape a life which makes manifest and expresses that unique thread and purpose that is at the heart of who you are.

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, as a conversation, in tandem with a limited number of people, 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. 


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


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,” as Stafford writes about, that moves through everything, needs to be discerned, and then followed. It is at the heart of our well-being, at the heart of our living from our heart, and being at one with ourselves. It gives us the compass for our integrity, for discovering and inventing where the inner and outer worlds meet. George Bernard Shaw wrote, “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.

As we dive into being in profound connection with our foundation, we are able to move from that connection into “a life design conversation like no other” – shaping our outside commitments as an expression of our inner longings, our inner vows. This Life Design work forwards us in traveling into life from a future worth inhabiting, a self-authored, self-created future which is borne from our own authentic voice, and which we can befriend.

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, so that life, and our choices in life, are given by our deep and non-negotiable integrity/authenticity, allowing the natural joy (which comes from our connection with Purpose) to be available to us like a deep river running beneath the surface of our everyday life.

“When facing the lion of our potential, we are called to enter a journey of individuation and discovery through which we can find our core. Not surprisingly, at the center, our core and the Source reveal their Oneness. The strength realized from touching on that Oneness is the strength of the lion manifest in the world.” 

Mark Nepo, Facing the Lion, Being the Lion

We are living in turbulent times: times which present pragmatic and spiritual challenges and opportunities, and demand of us to be at one with our core as the optimal pathway for navigating the rapids of these times and contributing to the future of our own lives, others’ lives, and the planet. Living a lifetime of meaning, of Belonging to the World in the particular way we were made to belong to the world, allows for a great deal of resolution to the existential or spiritual dilemma. Following The Joy of Being is an entire curriculum, if one chooses to engage with it, which allows for the ongoing deeper development of our ability to live from our core, as we explore critical distinctions: Faith, Fierceness, Fluidity; Vulnerability, Equanimity, Intuition; Surrender, Open Heartedness, Intentionality; Love, Faith, Integrity; Compassion, Patience, Simplicity,

As Mark Nepo says, “The Culmination of one love, one dream, one self, is the anonymous seed of the next. This is very helpful when considering the many forms of self we inhabit over a lifetime. One self carries us to the extent to its usefulness and dies. We are then forced to put that once beloved skin to rest, to join it with the ground of spirit from which it came, so it may fertilize the next skin of self that will carry us into tomorrow. We live, embrace, and put to rest our dearest things, including how we see ourselves, so we can resurrect our lives anew.”

For many of us, the universe has been calling for us to shed some of our “dead” skin and resurrect our lives anew. For others of us, we know that it is time to be responsible for living a life and leaving our leadership legacy in a way that we can say, at the end of our lives, “I am complete. I am fulfilled. I have left the mark on the planet that I intended to leave. I have made a difference. I have lived a life worth living, a life that I can truly call my very own.” The fulfillment of living from that center, borne from co-partnering with Source, from an integration of your soul’s journey with your manifested expression in Life, gives rise to sustenance, nourishment, and the joy of being as you drink from and move with the current of Life. In Joy, you discern your compass, or your rudder: your own North Star.

Through addressing a series of thoughtfully crafted questions, each building on the previous, and through distinguishing, coaching, being in dialogue, exploring, thinking, by yourself and with others, and inquiring by yourself and with others, you engage in discerning your personal legend and creating a structure for fulfilling it. Emanating from the key question, what is the “skin of self that will carry (you) into tomorrow?,” you create and stand in front of a blank canvas designing your life through your colors, your textures, allowing yourself to “inhabit (your) own individuality and to discover which life-form (or forms) best expresses it.” As John O’ Donohue, master poet and philosopher speaks,

Behind each face there is a unique world that no one else can see. This is the mystery of individuality. The shape of each soul is different. No one else feels your life as you do. No one else sees or hears the world as you do. The creation of the individual is a divine masterpiece. We were dreamed for a long time before we were born. Our souls, minds, and hearts fashioned in the divine imagination. Such care and attention went into the creation of each person. Given the uniqueness of each of us, it should not be surprising that one of the greatest challenges is to inhabit our own individuality and to discover which life-form best expresses it.
John O’Donohue

Thus, we come to some core questions:

What is my personal legend that wants to be fulfilled?

What is the fulfillment of my leadership in the world?

What is my calling? What gives me joy?

What is my place in the world?

What does the future want me for?

What is the destiny that gives me access to living my life, in the present, with creativity, with joy, with passion?

What is my “house of belonging” that gives me access to a past, a present, and a future that is uniquely mine to live, fulfill?

What is my life in service of?

What is my unique soul’s purpose?

What is the name of my soul?

What is my personal mission?

What is the thread that is with me wherever I go?

What domains in living do I now eliminate?

What domains do I bring into existence?

What are the current commitments of each domain?

When we are leading ourselves through our everyday life, from the bedrock of our core, given by our commitment to fulfill our legacy, whatever that may be, many of the considerations, the limitations, the worries and self concerns, vanish in the knowing that we are settled into being who we are intended to be and living our own life, not someone else’s, shaped by thought and self love, nourishment, and care.

To what am I committed through this conversation?

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 and your unique flaws across all domains, 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.

What are the particulars?

The next Joy of Being is April 12, 13, 14, and May 11, 2021, 8:00 am – 5:30 pm each day.

The online tuition is regularly $1750.00 – $1450 for graduates of The Joy of Being, a $300 scholarship.

How do I register?

To Register Click Here

If you are interested in joining us in the next Joy of Being, please let us know by either emailing me and emailing the registration form at the back of this package, or registering on the website, https://galeleadership.com/program-offerings/the-joy-of-being-designing-your-life-scholarship/ .

“The nature of the calling can change over time, taking a person down pathways never anticipated. The calling opens new territories within the heart; this in turn deepens the calling itself. The faces of the calling change; what at the beginning seemed simple and clear can become ambivalent and complex as it unfolds. To develop a heart that is generous and equal to this complexity is the continual challenge of growth. This is the creative tension that dwells at the heart of vocation. One is urged and coaxed beyond the pale regions into rich territories of risk and promise.”

From To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donohue

(If you are interested in the entire piece on Callings from O’Donohue’s book, it is included in the next two pages of this document. It speaks very much to the core of what is illuminated in this course.)


John O’ Donohue

Someone asked me recently: What is it that haunts you? I said, “I can tell you exactly; it is the sense of time slipping through my fingers like fine sand. And there is nothing I can do to slow it.”

One of the Psalms prays: “0 Lord, help me to see the shortness of life that I may gain wisdom of heart.” As we get older, time seems to speed up. The sense of transience haunts nearly every heart. You feel that you could suddenly arrive at your last day incredulous that that was it; it was all over.

From time immemorial it has been one of the deepest longings of the human heart to strain against the erosion of one’s life, to find a way of living and being that manages to find some stable ground within time, a place from where something eternal can be harvested from our disappearance. This is what all art strives for: the creation of a living permanence. It is what we are secretly doing when we become parents: endeavoring to maintain our continuity beyond our own ending. The harvesting of transience is what we also are attempting in choosing the form of life we live. When we arrive on earth, we are provided with no map for our life journey. Only gradually, as our identity forms and we get an inkling of who we are, do possibilities begin to emerge that call us. It is one of the weightiest decisions: to decide what to do with your life. The challenge is to find a way of life that will be in harmony with your gift and needs.

Behind each face there is a unique world that no one else can see. This is the mystery of individuality. The shape of each soul is different. No one else feels your life as you do. No one else sees or hears the world as you do. The creation of the individual is a divine masterpiece. We were dreamed for a long time before we were born. Our souls, minds, and hearts fashioned in the divine imagination. Such care and attention went into the creation of each person. Given the uniqueness of each of us, it should not be surprising that one of the greatest challenges is to inhabit our own individuality and to discover which life-form best expresses it.

The great law of life is: Be yourself. Though this axiom sounds simple, it is often a difficult task. To be yourself, you have to learn how to become who you were dreamed to be. Each person has a unique destiny. To be born is to be chosen. There is something special that each of us has to do in the world. If someone else could do it, they would be here and not us. One of the fascinating questions is to decipher what one’s destiny is. At the heart of each destiny is hidden a unique life calling. What is it you are called to do? In old-fashioned language: What is your vocation in life? For some people, the question of their calling is very difficult to decipher; for others, it follows from an early intuition and practically unfolds of its own accord. For some, it can be the singular and exclusive direction their life takes; for others, it can change and follow new directions.

Again, some people never seem to find what they are called to do; this can burden them with a continual restlessness and dissatisfaction. When you find what you are called to do, your life takes on a focus and purpose. You come into rhythm with the deeper longing of your heart.

The notion of vocation is interesting and rich. It suggests that there is a special form of life that one is called to; to follow this is the way to realize one’s destiny. Following one’s vocation ensures that what you choose to do finds itself in harmony with your inner nature. It also means that this is the optimum way to unfold and develop whatever gifts one has. A vocation does not clear before you a smooth path through difficulties. Having a sense of one’s vocation does not in any way relieve one of the travail and turbulence of being human. Indeed, being true to one’s vocation can often require a level of generosity and risk that will cause great suffering, for more often than not there is no surge of light to clarify direction; the light on offer is enough to guide only the next step.

The nature of the calling can change over time, taking a person down pathways never anticipated. The calling opens new territories within the heart; this in turn deepens the calling itself. The faces of the calling change; what at the beginning seemed simple and clear can become ambivalent and complex as it unfolds. To develop a heart that is generous and equal to this complexity is the continual challenge of growth. This is the creative tension that dwells at the heart of vocation. One is urged and coaxed beyond the pale regions into rich territories of risk and promise.

It is devastating to feel trapped in a form of life where you feel utterly misplaced and all your effort is labored; everything you do is done against the grain. You take no joy or pleasure in what you do, and your heart is haunted by alternative lives you will never have. When you feel like this it can make for a resentful and bitter life – a life you are neither seen nor understood for much of the time – and your gifts remain locked away, never to emerge. It is clearly time to change what you are doing, perhaps sacrifice the familiar in order to find your true calling. Such change can utterly transform your life. It is such a relief and joy to find the calling that expresses and incarnates your spirit. When you find that you are doing what you love, what you were brought here to do, it makes for a rich and contented life. You have come into rhythm with your longing. Your work and your action emerge naturally; you don’t have to force yourself. Your energy is immediate. Your passion is clear and creative. A new calling can open the door into the house of vision and belonging. You feel at home in life, heart and hearth as one.


I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

I will not die an unlived life.

I will not live in fear

of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid,

more accessible;

to loosen my heart

until it becomes a wing,

a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance,

to live so that which came to me as seed

goes to the next as blossom,

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.


Dawna Markova


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

The following was written by two people who are married to one another:  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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