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

To-Do Lists: Tool or Tyrant?

Most of us need some place, besides the real estate in our brains, to keep track of things that we want or need to get done. A To-Do List (TDL) can be a perfect tool if it is the place where you record all of those details. Place your list of things to do on a piece of paper or in a computer file that you have ready access to, and you may be saved. Saved from what?

  • From insomnia due to constant review and revision of the list in your head.
  • From frustration as you try to remember something you know you need to do but forgot.
  • From the embarrassment of unkept promises, unfulfilled expectations or unmet deadlines.

As a tool, your TDL could increase the amount of joy (and restful sleep) in your life. Unfortunately, the tool often transforms into a tyrant. What do tyrants do? They make your life miserable by oppression. A TDL is a tyrant when it:

  • Forbids you from having fun or getting rest until you have checked off enough items.
  • Fails to celebrate your accomplishments.
  • Fails to recognize partial progress i.e. its either all or nothing.
  • Relentlessly adds more items without consideration for your life circumstances.

If it is hard to imagine that a TDL could actually serve you, and increase your potential for joy, your TDLs have probably been tyrants. It is time to re-tool, and change your relationship to the tyrant.


Taming Your Tyrant

Tyrants are rulers who abuse power, and can get away with it. If a tyrant has seized control of your TDL, to what extent have you allowed this to happen? Rather than be upset with yourself for allowing it to happen, why not make a decision to change your relationship to the tyrant? Why not depose the tyrant and take back control of your TDL so it serves rather than slays you.



Add Compassion to the Mix

The goal of a Compassionate To-Do List (TDL) is to mitigate suffering. Set an intention to approach your TDL with tenderness and mercy, rather than judgment, impatience, perfectionism, or unrealistic requirements. Picture Glinda the Good Witch as your co-pilot, and there will be less turbulence. If Ivan the Terrible is sitting next to you in the cockpit, its time to eject! Read more...

Your March 2011 Prompts for Joy

Click here for an up-close-and-personal peek at a rescued hummingbird.

Click here for a song sung by a woman who needs a To-Do List to help her remember!

Allow me to check one item off on my To-Do List: Thank you, Nancy Clark and Bobbi Emel, for sharing joyful videos with me on such a regular basis. Keep em coming!

Attention: Psychotherapists and other Mental Health Workers!

Earn up to 11 CEUs on April 9th-10th, 9:30am-3:30pm in San Jose, CA. Patty Cogen, author of Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, will present on Understanding the Stress-Shaped Brain and Early Development (Day 1) and Early Intervention for the Stress-shaped Brain:The First Year Home Group for Adopted Children and Their Families (Day 2). You can sign up for both workshops or just the first day. To register, or for more information, contact Karen Wride at Associated Counselors, karenwride@att.net.

Joy-Gram for March 2011

Create a Compassionate To-Do List that includes fun or restorative things you want to do. For guidelines, click here.

OR... perhaps youd like to try this proposed TDL (author unknown): 1) Inhale, 2) Exhale, 3) Inhale, 4) Exhale, 5) Inhale, 6) Exhale. This is particularly useful for those whose life circumstances (such as grieving, fighting major illness, or full-time caretaking) make TDLs seem like Mt. Everest to climb.

About the Pictures and Video

Helen the Hummingbird has decided to nest on top of some wind chimes right outside our dining room!


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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