Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
July 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.
The Joy of Giving/The Joy of Receiving

I am willing to bet that you know someone who derives joy from cooking a nice meal or a great batch of cookies to share with others. Letís face it: meal or dessert preparation is often a lot of work, so why is it such a joy for some people? It can be quite satisfying to provide something delicious to a hungry or grateful recipient. People ooh and aah when they eat something tasty; this provides instant gratification to the cook. The joy is in the giving.

There are so many ways to give. There are so many ways to evoke oohs and aahs. But giving requires receivers. So why do the stoics among us have such a hard time receiving?

Perhaps you grew up in a family like mine where self-reliance was valued more than just about anything else. Perhaps you learned that by receiving, you were in a one-down or indebted position that was uncomfortable. Pride may be involved; a generous gift could be mistaken for charity driven by pity. And who wants to appear weak if they need help from others?

The silly thing is that WE ALL NEED HELP! We all have limitations; why not get help where we need it, and help others where we can? Itís all a nice cosmic barter, no? How about if we choose to derive joy from receiving if only because it provides the giver the joy of giving? (I know, it sounds like a brain twister, but think about it!)

  • Three months before my stoic 88-year-old mother died, she let me help her take a mid-October plunge in salt water. She needed my assistance because the ocean floor was very rocky and treacherous. By letting me hold onto her, she got past the scary part without falling, and she had what was probably the last delightful swim of her life. Do you know how much joy the memory of this moment still gives me?

  • Shortly after my brotherís heart transplant surgery, I arrived in Boston to visit him in the hospital. My instinct was to massage his feet. Years after his recovery from that life-changing event (for our whole family), he commented on what a treat that was. Oohs and aahs that still give me goosebumps of joy.

  • On the receiving end, someone gave me a bicycle to facilitate my commute to various work sites when I was an underpaid post-graduate. That bike still brings much happiness, and I suspect the giver still gets great joy from knowing this.

  • Less than a week before his death, my father uttered four words to my mother that transformed how she related to me for the last three years of her life. This was a priceless gift that brought heaps of joy. I trust my Dad is smiling.
I hope these examples illustrate the electric synergy of giving and receiving. I also hope this convinces you, if you are a stoic type, to receive with grace, and thereby give a gift of joy in return.


Announcement: Cookbook Contest

Do you have a favorite recipe and a great story that goes with it? Send your story and recipe for a chance to have your entry published in the annual Women Who Write Cookbook! This yearís theme is Home for the Holidays. For more information, click here. To order last yearís offering, Cooking Comfort: Stories with Recipes, which includes an entry by yours truly, click here. Contest deadline is July 31st.


Loss & Transition Workshop

I canít think of a better gift to receive, if you are in the throes of grief and loss, than this workshop offered twice a year by the Life Transitions Network (LTN). Clear your calendar for August 12-14 to travel to Santa Rosa, CA for an opportunity to process complicated feelings and reactions in a very safe space. Early-bird registration deadline is July 12th if you want to save $100 on the cost. Partial scholarships and payment plans available. For more information, check out LTNís website.

Your July 2011 Prompts for Joy

Click here to view a groomís gift to his bride. (Thank you, Bobbi Emel)

Click here for my favorite 2 Ĺ minutes of a Mary Tyler Moore show.

Joy-Gram for July 2011

Is there a situation where someone has offered to help you, and you have repelled the offer? Re-visit that offer, and allow for the possibility that by receiving, you are actually giving someone else a spot of joy.

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 ē 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ē

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