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

Year-Round Giving

If you belong to a church, synagogue or other place of worship, you are more than likely asked to tithe by donating one-tenth of your annual earnings. I have no idea how many parishioners actually do this. I do know that people grumble about it, though. Why? How else are these vital community centers that promote good living and social responsibility to thrive? How do other organizations, also vital to the community but not faith-based, survive from year to year? They rely heavily on support from individuals, groups and businesses. If you do not belong to a faith-based organization, how do you tithe? Does it even occur to you? I ask these questions with no intent of guilt-tripping! Rather, I ask these questions because I believe giving, be it with cash, goods, skills, or time, is part of the equation that will bring joy to your life.

Examples abound. Several folks who have raised money by doing the 7-day AIDS/LifeCycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles report it was one of the best highs of their life. And that is saying a lot because it sure sounds like a grueling journey to me! If you are not feeling flush, it can shift how you feel about your own situation to make a difference in someone else’s. A memorial gift sometimes helps to ease the powerlessness of mourning a loss, or it demonstrates empathy for someone else who is grieving. A Big Sister donates her time to a young girl who needs this gift more than she needs seven presents under the Christmas tree. Do you think it is just the young girl who is receiving something? I don’t. In some cases, the payoff is “just” a nice tax write-off. In other cases, no tax advantage occurs but there is the satisfaction of knowing you have made a difference.

I really cannot see a downside to giving. Yes, you may have to make some sacrifices but there is no rule that says you must give so much that it threatens your financial health. And of course there is the old saying, “you can’t take it with you!” Or “one man’s trash is another person’s treasure!” A bag of used clothing donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army is indeed a gift! December is a month of gift-giving and gift-receiving but why not plan on giving all year around? I have no doubt your gifts will give back to you. To tithe is not to writhe. To tithe is to thrive.

The Judge

Let’s say you get an appeal to help the homeless.  Watch out for the voice inside that wants to justify your decision to refrain from giving.  That voice might say, “they made their bed, they have to lie in it,” or “ah, they are just a bunch of drug addicts living off other people’s kindness.”  How can we know if this is true? Usually, there is a story behind the story that could make your compassion swell. 

We cannot ignore our judgments, no matter how well-founded they are (or not) but we can still give.  In this example, you may not like it that someone is homeless due to rampant addiction, but if that person is hungry, can you have compassion for that?  Can you give something to make a dent in that?  Hope so.


Notching it Up

Secretly, we may seek credit by wanting someone (or the world!) to know of our generosity.  Why do you suppose non-profits and universities send out newsletters with lists of donors in various categories?  I know I like seeing my name on those lists!  But what if nobody knows? I found this challenge imbedded in a brief pamphlet distributed by Al-Anon Family Groups that is called “Just for Today.”  It contains numerous ideas aimed to better one’s life.  This is the one that catches my attention every time I read it:

“Just for Today … I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out: if anybody knows of it, it will not count.” 

I call this advanced tithing: what a great challenge for the New Year! 

Joy-Gram for December 2012

If you have not seen the movie, Pay it Forward, rent it!  It’s not a stellar movie but its message is beyond stellar. 

Your December 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here for what might be the funniest video I have seen the entire year.  (Forewarning: this does include some coarse language.)

Click here for a quick run through many holiday songs. 

Many thanks to Bobbi Emel, for the Cold Water video, and to Joan Boyken for the holiday humor.

Pictured Above

This is my friend, Gerry Gardner, who gave me so, so much without ever spending a dime. I dedicate this month’s Out on a Limb to Gerry, who died shortly after Christmas in 2010. Miss you, Gerry!

Do a Daily Dance: Bring on the Joy!

I have added an inspiring dance video to the D.D.D. playlist. Besides the great dancing, this is a rally-call, especially for women, produced by 1 Billion Rising. It’s a must-see! Click here then click on the 1st video in the playlist. Please share widely!

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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