Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
July 2010
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.
Stir It Up

If you have ever had the good fortune to be treated by an acupuncturist, you have heard the word, Chi, or Qi, as it is more traditionally spelled. Pronounced “chee,” the closest English translation of this Chinese word seems to be energy flow, or vitality. It seems to follow that if our Chi is flowing (as opposed to being blocked, or stagnated, as you might hear in an acupuncturist’s office) we are much more likely to experience joy, in addition to good health. Hence, the growing popularity of Qigong, an ancient Chinese physical and mental practice designed to cultivate energy, and Feng Shui, an aesthetic approach to design that seeks to maximize energy flow. But what if acupuncture, Qigong and/or Feng Shui are not available where you live? What if the cost is prohibitive? Or what if these practices just seem too “out there” to you? What could you do to attend to your Chi?

Well obviously, I’m not an expert on Chinese medicine but here are a few field notes from my experience with acupuncture:

  1. It is helpful to be aware of the “Chi Suckers” in your life. This could be people, places, things, or situations that suck the vitality right out of you.
  2. Recognize that you cannot always eliminate “Chi Suckers.” However, if you know what they are, you can take proactive steps to modify your exposure and plan for subsequent re-vitalization.
  3. Sometimes the slightest alteration in your own behavior will get the Chi flowing again.

    “Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.”
                                                                ~Joyce Brothers


I am willing to bet that without an expert’s consultation, you might already know where there is blocked Chi in your living environment. Piles are a big culprit. Piles of paper, files, clothes to be put away, laundry to be folded, to-do projects or lists, things that don’t really belong anywhere (yet), etc. You know what it feels like when something that has been piling up on you finally gets cleared, don’t you? The Chi has probably gotten loosened-up! That is the feeling to pursue. I know someone who just can’t start preparations for a meal until the clutter from the previous meal has been cleared. If it is clothes that need to be put away, there may be clothes to be given away first, to clear space (and Chi) for new stuff.



Change is likely to stir up blocked Chi so that may be part of your prescription for joy. Try listening to a different kind of music, for a change. If you typically read mystery novels, try a biography or poetry. Move old stuff into temporary storage so you can try new things in its place. Eventually, you may be ready to get rid of the older things altogether! Re-arrange the furniture in a room that feels particularly stuffy or flat. Open the windows, get some air circulating, get new plants or move old ones around. A fresh coat of paint really can make quite a difference. Try not to resist change; embrace it instead! Seek and enhance that which gives you energy, and minimize that which depletes you.

“When you are through changing, you are through.”
                                                          ~Bruce Barton

Bay Area Colleagues!

I will be offering a one-day workshop for caregivers (CEUs available for MFTs, MSWs and RNs) on Friday, October 15, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. Please mark your calendar, and plan on joining me! Click here for more information on A Very Full Plate: Nourishing Your Self While Treating Grief & Loss.

Your July 2010 Prompts for Joy

Click here for a good laugh, which is bound to get that Chi flowing.

Click here for an intriguing flight of stairs.

Thank you, Margarita Davison and Bobbi Emel for telling me about these Prompts for Joy.

Joy-Gram for July 2010

Take one of my suggestions for change, or think of one of your own, and try it. Pat yourself on the back for even being willing to change. (Some people aren’t.)

Pictured Above
I wonder if any studies have been done to determine the effects of a beloved pet on one’s Chi. That is 6-year-old Smarty Jones. Photograph by Bill Scala.


Archives Now Available

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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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