Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
February 2016



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.

Discernment: Befriend that Observer

I had a lively and lovely interchange with a dear friend after he received the January Out on a Limb on the topic of discrimination. He asked, “Is discernment discrimination in a healthier guise?” He suggested “there is a good side to discrimination that is about self care and self preservation.” I could not agree more. In fact, I told him that discernment is one of my all-time favorite words. My built-in computer dictionary defines discernment as the ability to judge well. Good judgment, common sense, wise decision-making: all qualities that are both appealing and useful.

Thanks to delightful synchronicity a few days after I exchanged emails with my friend, I heard an excellent talk about the roles played by the limbic and prefrontal cortex parts of the brain. This presentation helped me distill a lot I had heard before about brain functions down to a fairly simple distinction: our limbic brain (often referred to as old or reptilian brain) reacts. I think of it as the knee-jerk part of us. And to be fair, I suppose a knee-jerk response to some situations is in the interest of self care and self preservation at times. Our pre-frontal cortex, which I like to refer to as my Inner Observer, is more likely to take time before reacting, and tends to be more measured, rather than impulsive, in the realm of decision-making. As I listened to the knowledgeable presenter, it dawned on me that our pre-frontal cortex, an ever-evolving part of the brain, is the seat of discernment.

I took some time to review thorny situations in which I failed to pay attention to what that Inner Observer was telling me. Sure enough, the limbic response might have yielded some self preservation, but at a cost. What it cost me was a big dose of joy. I do not want to give the limbic part of the brain a bad rap but still, I hope all of humanity can continue to cultivate and listen to their Inner Observer. Perhaps if the knee-jerk and observer parts collaborate better, the byproduct will be improved discernment and bigger buckets of joy.

February 2016 Prompts for Joy - 1

If you do not have four minutes, and forty-five seconds to watch this video, so sorry! You will miss some beautiful scenery, and a stirring invitation to “live unbound.” I hope you can take 20 seconds and start watching at the 4:00 minute mark. May the young man’s urging that we “respect the dash” inspire the heck outta you. (Thanks for the link, Roberta Gelt!)  



February 2016 Prompts for Joy - 2

I am a little late for this month’s Valentine’s message but it is never too late to reflect on the agony and ecstasy of love. Travel to Batumi, Georgia to view a mesmerizing, moving sculpture that “performs” every evening at 7pm. The accompanying music plays a very seductive, supportive role. (Thanks much, Kim Scala.)


All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.

Pictured Above

On a day when my husband won the No-Belt Prize, I left it out on the floor by the front door so he could swing by the house and pick it up quickly. 


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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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