Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
March 2012



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.

Grace on a Limb

Someone recently asked me, “How DO you keep coming up with topics for Out on a Limb?” I sent back a short reply but this month’s offering will attempt to show you not only how I arrive at and work on a topic, but address the March topic as well!

If I haven’t already decided on the next month’s topic by the time I send out the current month’s Limb, I activate my radar to pick up stuff that people are talking about or telling me, both personally and professionally. Sometimes, a month carries particular significance. Considering the month of March, my brother Nick, who died 16 years ago on the 18th of March, always moves to the front burner in my mind. As Nick was six years older, he often gave advice or made emphatic suggestions. Shortly before his death, I remember being puzzled when Nick said to me, “You’d do well to have more grace in your life.” I never exactly knew what he meant by that, which is why I decided to make grace my topic to explore.

For starters, I have no doubt there is a positive correlation between grace and joy. Throughout the entire month of February, I have had this question rattling around in my brain: “But what exactly IS grace?” The word conjures immediate images of a top-notch ballerina. I don’t think Nick had this kind of grace in mind when he delivered his directive. Or maybe he did. Was it a touch of grace when someone sent me a link with one of the most unbelievable performances from Swan Lake? (And of course, I knew it would be one of my Prompts for Joy in March.) Take a look at the ease with which the ballerina executes a performance of utmost difficulty. Ease. Ease under pressure. Ease while undergoing something very challenging. That is grace, isn’t it?

Was it a touch of grace when a colleague shared what she was preparing for a presentation on assessing, accessing, and accentuating our strengths? The catch-phrase she passed on to me was Act – Learn – Refine. As I digested this wisdom, it occurred to me that this could be a prescription for grace. We start out clumsy, we act, we learn from our mistakes, and then the real step-up to the potential for grace is when we refine, based on what we have learned.

The synchronicity continued. In an e-mail exchange with a pen pal in a foreign country, we talked about the human tendency to pick at the proverbial pimple rather than just letting it be. My pen pal offered the word, lightness, as a close approximation of pimple-picking’s opposite. Lightness. Having the ability to access lightness when darkness surrounds you. Now if that isn’t grace, and if that isn’t a strength, I don’t know what is!

Quote Garden

About two years into this Out on a Limb adventure, a lovely young woman said, “try Quote Garden if you are looking for cool quotes” so I go there at least once a month when I am preparing these words for you. I found this gem in anticipation of March and this topic:

Learn to... be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not.
                                 ~Henri Frederic Amiel.

This brought to mind a short prayer that I heard in Christiane Northrup’s fabulous CD, The Power of Joy (SO worth the $12 investment). I heard it first in January but stored it for “some future Limb” which turned out to be this one!

Oh God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.
                                 ~ Macrina Wiederkehr.


Oh yeah, the dictionary

Being the reluctant researcher that I am (as you can see from this newsletter, I collect data via synchronicity more than anything), I had to convince myself to look at the dictionary definition of grace. I admit that I yawned through such words as ease, charm, elegance of movement or form. By this point, these words were not news. I woke up a bit when I read the antonyms such as stiffness, awkwardness, and clumsiness. Sometimes we don’t know what something is unless we fully understand what it is not! It dawned on me that what Nick saw as a lack of grace was my awkwardness and lack of elegance as I stared down the very real possibility of losing him way too soon. Perhaps his call for grace at that time was an impossibly tall order. No grace, no joy. Sixteen years later, I am very grateful to say that neither grace nor joy elude me. And Nick, both in life and death, has had a primary role in that outcome. Miss you, bro, somethin’ fierce.


Joy-Gram for March 2012

Pick a word, or a topic, or a quality that intrigues or mystifies you. For the following month, pay attention to the “data” that comes your way to help you deepen your understanding of the topic. Try not to Google, Wikipedia, or www.dictionary.com it, either.

Your March 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here for an astounding performance of a scene from Swan Lake.

Click here to awww and giggle over a lovely friendship between a kitten and a dog. (Not sure if grace is evident, here, but not all Prompts for Joy have to coincide with the topic!)

Applause, applause to Dee Vogel and Bobbi Emel for their timely submissions of links for this month’s Prompts for Joy!

Grief FAQ

You can find my responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the grieving process at the website, www.caring.com by clicking the Grief FAQ link at the top of this page.

Pictured Above

Sometimes I pick a photo that has relevance to my topic. I think it is fair to say that Nick and I are demonstrating some grace (and a few missing teeth) in a backyard tree, don’t you? I also love an opportunity to share photos taken by my Dad, Geoffrey Clark. This was taken in El Paso, Texas.

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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