Martha Scala
Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
December 2007
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. To Subscribe, click here.

December 2007

Here is Your Prompt

In a writing class or workshop, a “prompt” is given to suggest a starting point for the writer. Let’s say the prompt is to write something about a tree or forest in your childhood. If you write about the old oak tree in the front yard, or a penchant for climbing trees, or the treehouse club you once belonged to, or living on a tree-less street in the city, the prompt has worked. Think of it as a creative nudge: the kindling that often gets a fire started.

Some people sit down and write beautiful poems and stories without any external prompts. A voice, feeling, reaction, memory or idea emerges from within, and that is enough to get the writing started. Others rely on external prompts to get their pens moving across a page that might have remained blank without that creative nudge.

Likewise, some people seem to tap into joy without external assistance. Others need a prompt or reminder. If on any given day it looks like your glass will be perpetually half-empty, you may need a prompt to turn your perspective around. You may already have some prompts that are uniquely yours. If so, GREAT; my prompt for you is to use one of your prompts, as needed, and keep adding more!

If you feel like you are prompt-deprived, it may be too overwhelming if I suggest that you think about things that have brought joy to you in the past. So, my prompt for you is to think about each of your senses. Is there something that, when seen, lifts you to a better place? The picture above (with thanks to photographer Bob Kato) reminds me of the luminarios in El Paso, Texas at Christmas-time, when I was a young child. Is there a sound in nature or in music, made by you or others, that is particularly uplifting? What would taste really good right now, and how might it alter your attitude or mindset? If you could sniff something that would transport you to a joyful memory, what would it be? And finally, I bet your fingers or skin have touched a beloved plant, pet, object or person that gave you joy. Hopefully, these questions, have set your pen in motion across the page that might have the following heading: Prompts for Joy.

Drawing a Blank?

There is no way I can give you a list of prompts that will be tailored to your needs, preferences, and sensitivities. That said, my holiday gift to you is the following list of sights, sounds, and clips that just happen to bring me joy. (With thanks to YouTube!) Most of these are 2 minutes or shorter so please don’t say “I don’t have time for this!” Either click on the “click here” or cut and paste the url into your web browser. You may take a look at them and say, “not for me,” and that is just fine. But perhaps, even in knowing what is “not for me,” you will be prompted to remember something that is totally tailored to your needs and who you are.

Something Funny: Click here for a baby’s infectious laughter:

Something Moving and Inspiring: Click here for Paul Potts’ rendition of Nessun Dorma on the TV show, “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Something That’s Creative and Clever: Click here for a music video by OK Go that you won’t forget:

Something That Evokes Great Memories: Click here for a brief clip from a recent trip to Portugal. This video was shot with a digital camera, while riding a bicycle, by my husband, Bill. The song of the sheep bells, alone, is a magnificent prompt.

Something to Make You Laugh Out Loud: Click here for a weather report that made me laugh so hard, I cried.

For Red Sox Fans, Only: Click here for Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox’ no-nonsense closer, celebrating sweet victory with a Riverdance.

Joy-Gram for December

YouTube may be fun, but there’s nothing like the great outdoors. Turn off your computer, get outside, and remember the sights, sounds, touches, smells, and even the tastes that are available in abundance. Add to your list of Prompts for Joy.


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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