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
“In a culture that praises busy-ness, rest is an act of bravery.”
~ John Acuff
Some people wonder why I am such a sports fan. If I could take you back to the Clark home in my formative years, what you would see is a household that was organized around the start time of a ballgame. Whether it was a tossed basketball at center court, a dropped hockey puck at mid-ice, or breakfast at Wimbledon (R.I.P. Bud Collins), my family of five assembled in the living room to watch. I learned that it was crucial to scurry around to get all of your chores completed, be it washing dishes, sawing wood, house cleaning or homework, before the televised competition began. Mom and Dad always got the most comfortable spots on the couch or in an armchair but there was enough space for all of us to enjoy the game.
Sure, there were times when I had too much school work but the implicit expectation was that you would plan work on your obligations to maximize the likelihood of being there for that “Play Ball!” moment. I was surrounded by a number of sports enthusiasts; of course I chose to emulate them. There were delightful byproducts of our time huddled around the TV. The event brought five extremely different people together. It was a treat to share a feeling of unity in a family that certainly had its share of conflict and stress. The other plus was that as long as that game was on, permission to stop everything else and ignore all To Do lists was given. Sanctioned stopping brought both rest and joy. I highly recommend it.
Even though all of my family of origin is gone, I remain an avid sports fan. I still track what is happening with the teams we followed as a family but since I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than half my life, I admit my allegiances have shifted to the Golden State Warriors, and SF Giants, in particular.
My deeper allegiance, however, is to any pastime that provides sanctioned stopping. So relax, non-sports fans, if the thought of watching a game live or on TV is abhorrent to you, I do not advocate that you undergo a conversion! Instead, I ask what gives you permission to NOT DO? What helps you stop? Is it meditation, time spent in nature, solitude, a murder mystery, creative expression, or a marathon of episodes of The Good Wife? It does not matter what helps you slow your pace or steer clear of a list of things to do. What matters is that we all get sanctioned stops that will refill our tanks with the necessary fuel for all that this crazy modern life demands.
In the meantime, I better finish this up because there is a Warriors game on tonight!
Stops that Stink
Am I the only one amongst us who has a tendency to run on empty? It can be tough, even with ample sports on TV to watch, to ignore a constant state of overwhelm. You, like me, may be prone to a mindset of “carry on” despite all evidence of fatigue. That leads to an imbalanced strategy of continued activity without adequate rest. It can also lead to sickness. An illness gets us to stop, that is for sure, but who wants that? A scheme with a better balance of doing and not doing just might be an immunity booster. Perhaps if we frame it up as such, we will get better at sanctioning our much-needed stops.
If you happen to sanction your stopping by reading a really good book, I have a recommendation. Stopping: How to Be Still When You Have to Keep Going by David Kundtz is an excellent read. He describes three ways to pull off the desired halt: stillpoints, stopovers, and grinding halts. The ideas and suggestions are simple and effective. Believe me, I have tried many. The book also includes a nice sprinkling of quotes from others. Here is a gem from Emily Dickinson:
“To live is so startling it leaves
little time for anything else.”
Prompts for Joy
Guess what? If you stop long enough to watch a Prompt for Joy, it is more time on a computer or device so you may want to say No, and I respect that. On the other hand, if you take time to watch something that shares beauty, inspiration, or humor, that can be restorative, too. There is no right answer but for those who watch videos to help them stop, these are for you!
Click here for a feast of natural beauty, coupled with a lovely message about gratitude.
(Thank you, Karen Erlichman.)
Click here to hear a familiar piece of music with an added twist that I guarantee will make you grin.
(Great find, Kim Scala.)
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
Jasmine poised to bloom any moment in my neighborhood. Careful and curious observation of nature’s delights in each season can get me to stop.
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 ·