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In Search of Silver
Imagine there is a holiday event that you must attend, for some reason or other, and you really do not want to go. First, you could ask yourself if your perception of “must attend” is accurate. Will the sky really fall if you do not go? Will some relationship truly be shattered by your absence? Or, if you do go, will your disinterest in being at this event leak out so much that it might have been a better idea to forego the gathering? Perhaps the biggest gift packing the best shot of joy you could give yourself is permission. Imagine what joy you might experience if you allow yourself to align with what your heart, soul or body wants!
That said, sometimes “must attend” really is accurate. You put on your best holiday face and prepare to gut it out. You are already in trouble! The anticipation that you will have to gut it out sets you off on the wrong footing. What if, instead, you attend the event with the intent of searching for the silver (and I do not mean the host’s precious metal cutlery)? If every cloud has a silver lining, as the old saying goes, what silver can you find in an event that feels like a chore or obligation? A vegetarian might dread a meal that serves up a holiday ham but the silver lining may be that there is less chance of overeating. An introvert might dread a boisterous crowd but may find a quiet moment looking out the picture window at a gorgeous view. Etcetera.
It is more challenging to find the silver lining in painful life events, such as divorce, serious bodily injury, financial wobbliness, or other loss. The key is to summon the intent of finding silver. Without this intent, you might have tons of silver surrounding you but you will be unable to see it. Trust me, I have done plenty of field research on this. Set out each day to seek silver and I have complete faith it will present itself to you, eventually. That is where joy can be found even in the midst of tragedy.
Silver-Seeking Sentence Starters
If silver linings seem particularly elusive, I have two sentence starters to offer you: If you must go to an event you do not want to attend, start a sentence with: At least I will get a chance to see so-and-so whom I really enjoy. At least I do not have to spend the night there. At least this is only one day out of an entire year. At least I get to hang out with the host’s pets or children whom I adore.
This second option is useful in the aftermath of a challenging situation: BUT, I got to have a really nice conversation with so-and-so. BUT, I got to eat an awesome dessert. BUT, I got to see folks I had not seen in a long while, even though the circumstances were a bummer.
Where There is Silver, There is Gold?
May your days be filled with precious metal, even if you are grieving.
Your December 2013 Prompts for Joy
Click here for a brief history lesson that actually has some silver linings.
(With thanks to the solid golden Claudette Bergman)
Click here for a humorous take on the nativity story.
Joy-Gram for December 2013
There are times when we curse technology --- the router is shot, the online purchase gets aborted for no good reason, the private e-mail gets sent to your whole address book, etc. For this month, strive to see all of the silver linings amidst the curses. Example: I might like to curse the backlog of e-mail in my in-box but the silver lining is that amidst the ads, spam and other cyber-offers, there are notes of cheer or solace, shared photos, and great links to funny videos.
A silver lining of being back East in October while my sister was dying is that I got to see some amazing Fall foliage. I also got to spend a short while in Rockport, Massachusetts. This is just a random tree in front of a random house.
The collage is a creation of mine, inspired by recent losses.
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 ·