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

Facing the Grief Bully

In the December issue of Out on a Limb, the focus was on holiday-related shoulds. Another particularly damning should is some version of this:

“You should be over this by now.”

We say this to ourselves, and we hear or sense it from others. It may be about grieving the loss of a person or pet, a relationship, a job, a privilege, financial comfort, or anything else. Why not reply back to yourself or the person sending you this message, “Says who?” To the best of my knowledge, there is no rule book that universally states the correct amount of grieving time for any loss. “Says who?” may seem a bit flippant but perhaps this is what is needed when we are under the influence of an oppressive should. You may need to challenge the apparent authority of your oppressor, even if it is some part of yourself! This is about not letting yourself be bullied.

A lot of people don’t like to talk about death or loss. They complain that it is a downer. They would much rather turn the focus of attention back to joyful topics. Hence, the overt or covert should messages. It is much easier to make you wrong for not being “over it” yet than it is for the oppressor/bully-type to acknowledge their own discomfort. Perhaps the wisdom expressed in the following will embolden you:

The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep. ~Henry Maudsley

Time is a physician that heals every grief. ~Diphilus

Grief expressed is freeing and grief held in only makes us want to join the dead ...in trying to protect ourselves, we hurt ourselves further. ~ Mark Nepo

If you resonate with the above quotes, perhaps you will conclude that to stay present with grief is actually a healthy decision. When you get flak for not being “over it,” trust that going through it, even if it takes a while, is actually a more rapid path back to joy and wellbeing.

Another Challenging Should

Loved ones might say “You should get some help.” It might temporarily satisfy you to say “You should stop should’ing me!” but that probably won’t be productive. Try to assess whether this suggestion is truly well-meaning or if it arises from the advice-giver’s discomfort with your grief. Each person’s threshold for suffering varies. You may be one who needs help to weather your darkest sorrow. It’s your call, no one else’s.

The Invisible Club

You may conclude that it serves you best to minimize what you discuss with those who should you about taking the express train through grief. This is unfortunate but often necessary. Your most reliable listeners will likely be members of the invisible club: those who have experienced challenging loss and who are very willing to hang out in the discomfort of grief-talk for as long as you need. There are club members everywhere.

Your January 2011 Prompts for Joy

Click here Click here for a 20-minute talk that will start your New Year out well.

Click here for a creative film about Yellow Sticky Notes and the last decade.


Joy-Gram for January 2011

It will only take 20 minutes. Please. Watch. This. (Yes, it’s also the first Prompt for Joy listed above.)

Pictured Above

This photograph of hibiscus blooms was taken at the Botanical Garden in Bermuda by Bill Scala. My Mom’s favorite flower was the hibiscus and one of her favorite places was Bermuda. We lost her three years ago, this month, so the photograph is in her honor.


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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