Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
April 2012



Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

Swept Away: Embracing our Emotional Palette

The other night, I had the absolute privilege of seeing a San Francisco Ballet performance of RAkU. I had read the program notes so I knew this would be an emotional presentation. Well, that was an understatement. When the curtain went down, I knew that Yuan Yuan Tin had just danced her heart out and there was no doubt she had been completely immersed in her tragic role. Heading to the restrooms during intermission, I caught an usher’s eye, and all I said to her was a breathless “phew!” The usher’s reply: “Wasn’t that something?” My reply back: “Oh yeah,” and it was only two words because I was downright wobbly with a mix of tears and surprise that the drama in this brilliant performance had pulled me in so deep. Quite simply, I got swept away.

The next day, while I walked to my office, I re-visited the visual, auditory and emotional feast of RAkU, and felt such gratitude for the gift of getting swept away. Then, I flashed to a memory of going to see Wait Until Dark with my mother when I was 11 years old. If you have seen this movie, you know just how scary it is. There I was, totally wrapped up in the suspense, when my Mom leaned over to me and said, “Remember, it’s just a movie.” Of course, this was a mother’s best attempt to alleviate building fear and tension in her highly sensitive daughter. I don’t fault her one bit. Nonetheless, I pose this question to you: Does it serve us to try and prevent full-blown emotional reactions to something? How much joy do we swipe from ourselves by trying to keep a lid on our feelings? It’s kind of like sneezing: why stifle it? Have you noticed how much more satisfying a sneeze can be if you hold nothing back? A silent sneeze is an oxymoron if you ask me.

All of these thoughts and wonderings led me to recall an observation attributed to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She noted that if you just allow the average child to have a tantrum, it lasts about eight minutes. With complete reverence for the concept of anger management, I don’t think the answer is to stifle ourselves. Rather, as adults, we are called to express our anger constructively, with respect for others’ rights and safety. This is a tall order, and few people really find the sweet spot between passivity or suppression of anger and disrespectful, aggressive rage. But it’s a great spot to strive for, no?

So we have the sadness and grief of RAkU, the fear and dread of Wait Until Dark, and rage (justified or unjustified) over unmet needs or demands. Given a choice, most of us might say we would rather not sign up for any of those emotional states. But what if our joy quotient relies on feeling the whole palette, not just some colors?

A P.S. about Wait Until Dark

In my freshman or sophomore year of college, Wait Until Dark was shown on a big screen in the auditorium. Some might call me a glutton for punishment but I just HAD to see it again! This time, I was with a friend who got swept away, and you know what? I got a contact high off her fear. I knew what was going to happen and I was still quite scared, too! But whenever someone reminds me that “fear is excitement without the breath,” I remember that scene in my college auditorium. By being so scared, we felt more alive. And when you feel more alive, you get to feel more joy, too. Perhaps this is why many people are so fond of roller coasters.


Out is Through

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying “What’s the big problem? Let’s just feel our feelings and we’ll get a nice big byproduct called joy.” This isn’t necessarily so. Sometimes, the surge of sorrow or anger or terror is so overpowering that it can disable us. But what I do want to suggest is that sometimes the somersaults and handstands we do to avoid feeling difficult or scary emotions is chewing up more energy than it is worth! Check out the first Prompt for Joy below to hear how singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette incorporated the age-old concept of “the only way out is through” into a stirring song. May we find our way through, again and again.


Joy-Gram for April 2012

Expose yourself to any form of art or sports or kids/adults at play and allow yourself to be swept away.

Your April 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here for “Out is Through” by Alanis Morissette.

Click here to celebrate our wonderful world.

Thanks so much to Margot Hand for sending me David Attenborough’s voice!

Grief FAQ

You can find my responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the grieving process at the website, www.caring.com by clicking the Grief FAQ link at the top of this page.

Pictured Above

Dogs are good teachers because they can’t hide their emotions. This is my friend, Otis, who has shown me terror, joy, hunger, and contentment, and who makes me laugh whenever I have the pleasure of spending time with him.

Archives Now Available

To re-read or share past Out On A Limb newsletters, click here, or type the following url into your browser: http://www.mcscala.com/html/EZineArchives.html.

By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •

To unsubscribe from this list please send an email to info@MCScala.com