Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
January 2013



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.

Smile Sources

While working out at the gym the other day, I saw a petite, elderly woman walk up to a man who turned out to be her husband. I did not hear what she said to him but her smile spoke volumes. Her husband immediately reached out his hand to give hers a very firm shake. As he congratulated her, this woman used her left hand to strengthen her right hand’s grip on her husband’s hand. At this point, she realized I was eavesdropping on this tender scene. She fixed her smile on me and explained, “We are celebrating the fact that I just walked a full 30 minutes on the treadmill. (pause, pause) And I didn’t even fall down!” I felt like I had just won the “contact high” lottery!

That woman’s smile of celebration not only got me through the remaining pieces of equipment on the weight training circuit that day, but it stayed with me well into the evening.

Later, I remembered that this same woman had walked up to me on a previous visit to the gym and said, “Thank you. Thank you for your smile; it really helps me.” That smile I had given her cost me nothing but as those credit card commercials like to boast: the benefits are priceless.

So sometimes we are the smile-er, sometimes we are the smile-ee, and what fabulous joy-medicine this is. It behooves us to identify the “smile sources” in our lives as they could be our best antidote to chi suckers. (For those new to this newsletter, I wrote about chi suckers a couple of years ago, and you can read more by clicking here.) The example above illustrates a person who is a smile source but it is helpful to rely on non-humans, too. Why? Because no one can consistently deliver a smile when you might need or expect one. Trust me: my nickname used to be Happy! Do you think anyone is capable of being happy, joyous and smiley all of the time? I sure hope not! But other smile sources abound: what music, sounds, sights, movements, smells, scenes, pets or movies are likely to get a grin on your face? Please do not hesitate to seek out your smile sources often. Don’t forget about the ever-growing list of Prompts for Joy, or the Do a Daily Dance Playlist! They are FREE. Now that ought to put a smile on your face!

But …

When we are grieving, we may not even want to smile. We may not realize that a smile would make us feel a little bit better. That is why I wish we could incorporate a daily practice, as necessary as brushing our teeth, that gets us to tap into a smile source (or three) whether we are aware we need it or not. After all, we don’t always brush or floss our teeth because we are making a conscious decision that we need to do so. Sometimes we do it because it is just part of the routine. When it is a routine, it is almost as if we jump over or past any ambivalence we may have about doing it due to grief or sorrow or just a really bad mood. We just do it anyway.


No gets to be No

Reading these words, is there an inner protest getting pretty loud? Does it say “You can’t make me smile if I don’t want to,” or “This is the corniest idea I ever heard.” Well, there is no point in doing what you do not want to do, right? All you can do is continue to check your willingness to see if it wants to loosen or not. If what stops you from being willing to smile or seek out smile sources is some kind of loyalty to the deceased or the grieving process or even to your right to be in a bad mood, remember that it is not only okay, but normal, to experience conflicting feelings. You might be utterly grief-stricken but I would bet big money that the deceased would still want you to smile. One does not have to cancel out the other.

Joy-Gram for January 2013

When the spirit moves you, practice being a smile source to others. Pay attention to the good feelings you may be eliciting.  

Your January 2013 Prompts for Joy

Click here to see how compliments are such a smile source.

Click here to smile at one person’s fun with mis-heard lyrics.

Akaya Windwood and Carol Campbell are the Prompts for Joy contributors this month. Thanks, gals; that makes you a smile source for me!

Do a Daily Dance: Bring on the Joy!

The 1st video on the D.D.D. playlist wants to be a Prompt for Joy, too. Many thanks to Nancy Clark for sending me the link to this fun bit of creativity from Zimbabwe! Click here then click on the 1st video in the playlist.

Pictured Above

The Big Sur coast in all its splendor, here in California.

Archives 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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