Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
July 2009
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.

The Joy in Four

Have you noticed how many nuggets of wisdom are offered in 4’s? From Angeles Arrien’s The Fourfold Way to The Four Agreements by Dan Miguel Ruiz to The Seasons of Change by Carol McClelland, there appears to be something symmetrical and magical about the number four. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ Life Death and Transition workshops urged us to evaluate the four quadrants (physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual) of our life. And the famous acronym from the 12-Step fellowships that prescribes the necessity of a time-out is … you guessed it: four letters! (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired … or H.A.L.T.!) I did a little bit of google-ing to find out about the significance of this number, and learned that 4 is often associated with Earth, due to its 4 directions. Elsewhere, I noted that it often signifies completion, wholeness … and diversity. All good!

When I asked myself what 4 activities bring joy, it turned into a P Party. The Four Pearls!


Pearl #1: PONDER

Socrates said “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Wendell Berry wrote: “The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” It sure seems like a failure to contemplate and reflect could hamper your access to joy. Unfortunately, joy doesn’t always come first. Sometimes your pondering will bring up pain but if you persist with it, you may end up somewhere more pleasurable.


Pearl #2: PURPOSE

Erma Bombeck said: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’" To figure out your purpose is no small assignment. There’s no rule that says your purpose can’t change or multiply as your life evolves. I’m willing to bet, though, that the purpose that hums will be that which is closely aligned to your gifts, and as a result, the fulfillment of your purpose will make a difference in the world.


Pearl #3: PLAY

Who was it who pointed out that few people on their deathbed express regret for not working more? There are so many ways to play: solo or with others, athletics or word games, finger paints or flying a kite. If your list of playful activities is too short, you no doubt know someone who could urge you to try some of the activities that work for them. The key here is to recreate: re-create. Laughter is often a nice by-product.


Pearl #4: PAMPER

This may seem like a frivolous Pearl but it’s included because of what it represents. If you carve out time, energy and financial resources to take extra-special care of yourself, it means you value the divine-ness of your being. And if you balk by saying, “WHAT financial resources?” Consider bartering! Pampering need not be a retail experience!


Pearl Partners

It’s hard to stop at 4! What follows is a list of partners to the Pearls listed above:

Pray (partner to Ponder): You don’t have to be religious to pray. Light a candle. Think good thoughts. Send out requests to the Universe. You get the idea …

Praise (partner to Purpose): It’s always nice to receive recognition but when you see someone else’s face light up after you’ve praised them, this will bring YOU joy.

Pets (partner to Play): Even if you don’t have pets, you know someone who does. Pets, especially the young ones, are great teachers on how to play.

Pause (partner to Pamper): Busy-ness is epidemic! I’d just like to point you toward 2 excellent books on this topic. Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going by David Kundtz, and Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller.

Prose/Poetry (partner to all 4!): I can’t deny my bias here! There’s something for everyone in the written word, isn’t there?


Joy-Gram for July 2009

Add to this list!  Or, pick another letter and come up with your own list of 4 elements that bring joy. 


Pictured Above

I’ve got a thing about clouds … This photo was taken in the Narragansett Bay area of Rhode Island


The website, www.Caring.com is dedicated to “Helping You Help Your Parents,” and it has a wealth of resources. If you’d like to read a short FAQ response I wrote on When Am I Going to Be Able to Stop Grieving and Start Feeling Better?, click here: http://www.caring.com/questions. If you’d like to locate my responses to questions posted by readers on the topic of grief and loss, type “Martha Clark Scala” in the Find box at the Home page of this website.


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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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