Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
November 2010
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 Agony & The Ecstasy

Picture this: The San Francisco Giants are winning Game 1 of the World Series. This under-dog team hasn’t won a World Series since 1954. I am sitting in the 3rd tier at AT&T Park, right behind home plate, with my friend Jana. I’ve got a contact high on sheer adrenaline. The crowd is loud, boisterous, and it sure seems like everyone loves everyone. I am grateful just to be witness to this, beyond words.

Now, picture this: Two seats to my left, I notice a middle-aged woman who has watched a few too many ballgames without sunscreen. I can tell something is off about her but I try to focus on the game. My attention is divided between the thrill of the Giants’ improbable win over a pitcher favored to win, and this woman I have never met before. I keep glancing at her and finally realize that she had a few too many pre-game cocktails. Her elbows dig into her thighs, her hands are keeping her head up, and she keeps nodding off to an alcohol-induced snooze. Her husband is clearly torn between wanting to relish every moment that is taking place on the field, and concern for his spouse.

Each time I re-live that glorious night, I see visual images of both the ecstasy of the game and the agony of a woman who was there, but missed it. I’ll admit that I’ve been upset with myself for not being able to forget about this woman and just relish the victory. But maybe we aren’t meant to forget or avoid the agony. Maybe we are meant to witness and stay conscious to the rough spots so the joy can be that much sweeter. This reminds me of that phrase you see on raffle tickets sometimes: “must be present to win.”

Being Present: “Bottom”

In a young adult novel about time travel, two kids discover that in the 1700’s, the word for courage was “bottom.” At first, I wasn’t sure if this was fiction or not. According to the World English Dictionary, “bottom” is defined, especially pertaining to horses, as staying power or stamina. The awesome filly, Zenyatta, comes to mind. It takes “bottom” to be and stay present to that which challenges us.

Being Present: Respite

It is easy to confuse stoicism with “bottom.” Stoics don’t seem to give themselves permission for a respite. The raffle ticket does not say “must be present 24/7 to win.” It needn’t be an all or nothing proposition! Respites allow us to re-charge our battery, process emotional responses to upsetting situations, and return with renewed energy or purpose. At the risk of being accused of hyperbole, I claim: respites can save your life.

My Good Fortune

In the spirit of Thanks-giving, I have some gratitude and good news to share with you:

1) The Compassionate Friends posted my article, “I’m Not Contagious” at their Facebook page recently. This is the third time this article has been re-printed; I guess it struck a resonant chord! If you know anyone who feels like people have forgotten that they are grieving, please encourage them to read this short piece. Many thanks to Madeline Sharples for telling me about this, and there will be more about Madeline in a future issue of OOAL.

2) Three of my poems were published in the September/October issue of the Sacramento Poetry Center’s Poetry Now. See pages 8-9. And speaking of agony and ecstasy, try to overlook the typos: those long dashes are supposed to be hyphens!

3) After Game 1 of the World Series, I lost my cell phone while walking to the train station. A teenaged boy not only found it but figured out how to contact me on my home phone so I could get my phone back. Proof positive, once again, that there are good people everywhere.

Your November 2010 Prompts for Joy

Click here for a precious rendition of Que Sera Sera.

Click here for a San Francisco Giants ad dating back to 2003. It still makes me giggle.

Joy-Gram for November 2010

What is your good fortune? What agony did you have to endure to experience the ecstasy? Share that story with at least one person at Thanksgiving-time.

Pictured Above

It was my utter privilege to attend the World Series game mentioned above thanks to a very generous friend.


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 •

To unsubscribe from this list please send an email to info@MCScala.com