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
Importance of Celebration
you one of those people who, upon receiving a compliment,
tends to respond with self-deprecation? Here’s
how it goes: a friend says, “wow, I really like
your haircut.” You say, “Yeah, with such
straight/curly/frizzy/thin hair, it’s the only
cut that works.” Or, “Can you see the grey?” Your
answer may be factual, but it fails to celebrate someone’s
appreciation of something about you. Perhaps you answer
this way out of reluctance to sound conceited. Modesty
is highly encouraged in many family value systems. But
if we’ve got conceit or grandiosity at one end
of the spectrum, and modesty at the other end, how about
striving for some middle ground? In the example above,
a middle ground response might simply be, “Oh,
thank you!” Period.
most prevalent (and perhaps most insidiously harmful)
form of self-deprecation I’ve observed is the
tendency to deflect celebration with some form of “I
should have figured this out years ago.” Here’s
how it goes: Middle-aged Joe demonstrates a newly acquired
skill or talent. His friend says, “Wow, good
for you!” Joe responds with, “Yeah, if
only I had known this when I was younger!” There
is an implicit assumption that we’re supposed
to figure everything out, master all skills and talents,
and “leap tall buildings in a single bound” by
the time we’re 30. SAYS WHO? As a matter of fact,
imagine how BORING life would be if we didn’t
have new challenges to face while we age!
there may be regrets about lessons not learned or
paths not taken at an earlier age but why cloud the
celebration about something you have done now? If
I ask you to celebrate the late summer bloom of an
exquisite pink rose (pictured above), you’re
not likely to say, “Gee, too bad it didn’t
bloom in March!” are you? No, you’re more
apt to say, “gorgeous!” Period.
are Perennials, Not Annuals
annual is a plant that has only one growing season. As
September’s cooler air arrives, the impatiens, an
annual, starts to get “leggy” and as soon as
there is a frost, it dies. If you believe you are an annual,
and that you only get one chance to blossom (most likely
in your youth), your potential for living a joyful life
is diminished. Perennials have multiple blooming seasons,
often interrupted by periods of rest or dormancy. A hydrangea
bush in winter looks pretty barren. The same hydrangea
bush in summer is all the proof you need that dormant time
ultimately bears great beauty. Folks go back to school,
pursue a different career, or fall in love with a new hobby
later in life. If an era of dormancy precedes such changes,
it’s quite possible it was necessary.
You Know a Blossom When You See It?
truly feels like you’ve never really had many ”blossoms,” you
may have amnesia about your previous achievements or advances.
Perhaps you didn’t allow yourself to celebrate them?
Perhaps others failed to recognize them. Perhaps you set
the standard of what counts as an achievement too high.
Well guess what! It’s never too late to make strides
in the department of celebrating both big and small, or
subtle and splashy things that have occurred in your perennial
life. It may be easy to acknowledge the vibrant rose that
others have grown, but what about you? Surely there are
areas of your life where you have the most amazing green
thumb. I hope you’ll take time to celebrate this!
like to call your attention to a website that has valuable
information. www.Caring.com is
dedicated to “Helping
You Help Your Parents,” and it has a wealth of
resources. In the name of celebration, I want you to
know I’ve signed on as a Caring.com expert. I respond
to questions posted by readers on the topics of grief
and loss, substance abuse, and caregiver self-care. If
you’d like to locate my responses easily, type “Martha
Clark Scala” in the Find box at the Home page of
Joy-Gram for September
you to send an e-mail to 5 or more friends with a message
that calls attention to, and celebrates, something you
etc. When you get a reply with congratulations, TAKE IT
IN. That’s part of the celebration.
terrific read somewhat related to this month’s
topic, I recommend Seasons of Change: Using Nature's Wisdom
to Grow Through Life's Inevitable Ups and Downs by Carol
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 •