Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
January 2008
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.

January 2008

Taking Risks

“For every adversity there is an equivalent seed of benefit. You only have to look for it. Believe in yourself and get up if you fail….” - Evel Knievel (from his website)

Whether you liked him or not, you probably knew who Evel Knievel was. He died November 30, 2007 after a 3-year battle with lung cancer. The quintessential daredevil’s obituary states that “despite his well-known swagger of self confidence, the legacy he wished for most of all was simply to be an inspiration.” Think about the people you know who are or who have taken great risks. Evel Knievel’s risks were carried out in the public arena but there are others whose risk-taking is more quiet or private. What inspires you about these people? What qualities or traits do you want to emulate? What stops you from emulating them? Real or imagined danger or incompetency?

I Can’t

I’m willing to bet that at some point when you consider taking a risk, the “I can’t …” voice gets good and loud. People who take unexpected risks to rescue someone often do so without thinking. They just act. Is it improper logic, then, to conclude that we might take more risks if we did less thinking? I’m reminded of the wise advice: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” I’m also reminded of the observation that “fear is excitement without the breath.” So maybe if we breathe more, and think less, our actions taken will bring more excitement and joy! Don’t think about it too long, okay?


On the Other Hand …

If someone encourages you to run or walk a Half-Marathon, let’s say your first response is “I can’t.” This may be true, especially if you have disabilities that truly prevent you from being able to complete a test of endurance. But often, we say “I can’t” when what we really mean is “I won’t.” So the next time you catch yourself saying “I can’t,” take the time to ask yourself if this is really true. If it’s not, discover what’s uncomfortable about saying “I won’t.” It’s a more definitive “no,” and there’s nothing wrong with saying no, is there? Saying “no” when we feel the pressure to say “yes” may be a path to joy. Try it!


Our Fondness for Safety: Don’t Grab Hold of the Water

"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float." ~ Alan Watts

It is not entirely ridiculous to be concerned about emotional or physical safety! However, our fondness for safety sometimes sets us up to be so risk-averse that it squeezes life and vigor out of our lives. Given the choice, which would you choose? Safe and enervated, or risk-taking (within reason) and energized? For a variety of perspectives on the balancing act between risk-taking and safety, click here.


Joy-Gram for January

In order to work both sides of this topic: 1) Take a risk by saying yes to something that seems scary, but potentially thrilling. No one is exempt from failure. Confronting the fear of failure is a universal challenge, and often worth it, even if you don’t always succeed or get what you want. 2) Take a risk by saying no, rather than “I can’t,” when there’s pressure to say yes, but your heart of hearts really says “I won’t.”

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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