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


I have heard about sleep deprivation from just about every new Mom or Dad I have ever met. The baby wails at some middle-of-the-night hour and it usually means change my diapers, feed me, hold me, or all three! The parents’ sleep is interrupted and the chances for solid, restful sleep are diminished. If this only occurs once or twice a week, the cumulative effect of such deprivation does not get too bad. But unfortunately, babies don’t get this memo so they are not concerned with how often this happens! This is when you hear about young parents sleepwalking through their days like zombies.

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” ~ Leo J. Burke

The memo I didn’t get was about sleep deprivation when you are NOT a new Mom or Dad. It seems like most middle-aged folks I talk to have some issue with getting a decent night’s sleep. They either cannot get to sleep, can’t get or stay comfortable, or they can fall asleep easily but if disturbed, they cannot get back to sleep. It all adds up to insufficient rest and replenishment. This issue seems to have a dramatic effect on our overall outlook. If we had reliable measurement tools for “can do” attitude, I believe most of us would score much worse if tested the day after a lousy night. Likewise, I bet our ability to cultivate or derive joy is deeply compromised by lack of shut-eye. And then there is the frustration of knowing that your outlook is affected by not enough sleep but not being able to change how you see things until and if you have a better night. Quite confounding, eh? I wish I had some amazing new solution to offer but you have probably heard about most strategies already out there:
  • Improve your “sleep hygiene.” Your bedtime habits may not be conducive to optimal rest.
  • Get out of bed if insomnia persists. Do some quiet activity until you feel sleepy again.
  • Try over-the-counter sleep aids such as Melatonin, Valerian Root, or Calms Forte.
  • Consult with your doctor about non-habit-forming sleep medication.
  • Eliminate caffeinated drinks after Noon.
  • Eat magnesium-rich foods.
  • Examine your beliefs about how much sleep you actually need.

“I was unable to sleep and I would stay up and draw these little cartoons. Then a friend showed them around. Before I knew it I was a cartoonist.” ~ Lynda Barry

Agree With Reality

I first heard this phrase from a friend of mine who was unhappy with her current circumstances but trying, at the same time, not to resist what was happening. Perhaps this is what we need to do about sleep deprivation: it is what it is, and if we allow ourselves to agree with that reality, perhaps we will place less pressure on ourselves to come up with a foolproof remedy. It doesn’t have to be a reality that we like! It may, however, be the reality we must learn to agree with more readily. A useful question might be: how could this wakefulness be serving me? Crazy, isn’t it?


Lower Your Expectations

A night with little or no sleep calls for compassion and understanding. Wide awake at 3:14am (digital clocks can be such a curse), maybe we need to say to ourselves, “tomorrow I may not be at my best,” or ask, “what absolutely MUST be done tomorrow, and what can wait until I’ve gotten some sleep?” If you plan on having a compromised outlook, perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised! Sometimes being in a sort of la-la land, zombie-like state isn’t that bad, especially if you can pull off the challenge of lowering your expectations of yourself. A tall order, I know.

Joy-Gram for August 2012

Start searching for a reliable lullaby. You don’t have to play it out loud when you are lying awake in bed, but maybe if you carry the tune in your head, it will be a resource you can have access to at any time of the night.

Your August 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here for a furry tip on how to stop a nightmare.

Click here to get yourself to the beach, virtually.

This months Prompts for Joy are made possible by suggestions from Roberta Gelt and Nancy Clark. Thanks much!

Pictured Above

Cats are such incredible sleepers, even with their heads upright! This was Noggin (formally named Wampanoag) basking in the sun at my parents’ house. Photo by Geoffrey Clark.

Do a Daily Dance

I have added a handful of dance videos to my D.D.D. Playlist, including a delightful scene from the joy-inducing movie, The Intouchables. Check it out!

Archives 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 •

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