Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
February 2011



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.

An Alternative Valentine: Silence

Consider silence as a reliable route to joy. I know this suggestion will appeal to the introverts, but I happen to know several extraverts who have found silence quite transformative, too. There is simple silence, such as biting your tongue before you say something nasty, or taking five to ten minutes out of any given hour to be quiet rather than talking on the phone, texting a pal, or listening to the news. Planned silence, such as sitting in meditation, can be done either solo or with others. Finally, there is extended silence, such as becoming a hermit or monk, or going on retreat. No matter what silence you give to yourself, it will always ultimately be a gift.

Here is a random list of gifts available to you in silence. You might:

  • Notice your surroundings more, especially the beauty found in nature.
  • Listen with all of your senses, and be touched by simple sights, sounds or gestures.
  • Feel more attuned to what you want, rather than what others want or need from you.
  • Experience more gratitude or contentment, and less stress or anxiety.
  • Forget, temporarily, about your To Do lists.
  • Get a delightful vacation from caretaking.
  • Tune into the peaceful rhythm of your own breath.
  • Connect with your creative self, with less internal or external nay-saying.
  • Worry less because in silence, the volume of new data assaulting you is greatly reduced.
  • S-l-o-w down, rest, read, reflect, get perspective, contemplate.
  • Access an array of feelings less apparent to you when you are busy or schedule-driven.
Just in case you are not sold on the merits of silence, here is my Valentine’s gift for you: Click here for about nine minutes of immersion into a special place that promotes silence and contemplation. While the location emphasizes fairly traditional worship, you need not be a religious person to garner the benefits of spending time in a sacred place. So, don’t keep reading or convince yourself that you’ll come back to this later. Click here, now, and give yourself a glimpse into sacred silence. You can spare nine minutes; I just know it.

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” - Mary Oliver

Sweet Solitude

You can observe silence alone or amongst others. Novices might prefer the latter option at first. However, when people are nearby, you can actually break silence without saying a word. In solitude, this is less likely. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke offered this advice for solitude: “Walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours.” Enjoy!



Silence Within

If you go to great lengths to lessen the outer noise of your life, you may still find it hard to experience silence within. Inner (often critical) voices can get very loud sometimes. If you maintain outer silence long enough, the inner voices might tire and need a nap. See if you can persevere long enough to listen for the quiet that ensues.

Your February 2011 Prompts for Joy

Click here for a G-rated Pole Dance that is bound to get an awwwww out of you!

Click here for a geography lesson that will make you want to dance.

With thanks to Cindy Mohr and Judi Larson for telling me about these videos.

Joy-Gram for February 2011

Pull out your datebook, be it electronic or the old-fashioned bound paper variety. Make a regular weekly date for silent time with yourself, even if it is for only ten minutes, to unplug from people, computers, and To Do lists. And if you feel like sharing about your experimentation with this, I’d love to hear from you!

About the Pictures and Video

The photograph at the top of this page was taken at the New Camaldoli Hermitage by Bill Scala. The amateur video (one last chance: click here, to view your Valentine’s gift!) is a collaborative effort. The video shots and most of the stills were taken by yours truly at various times of year, also at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Lucia, California. The photographs that are less blurred were taken by the pro in this duo, Bill Scala.


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 •

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