Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
September 2009
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S-T-R-E-T-C-H: Beyond the Fear of Jeer

As Fall rolls around, I am reminded of a unique birthday celebration that took place about 8 years ago. The party invitees, ranging in age from about 5 to 75, were assigned to two teams, the Blue and the Gold. We competed for points in such fun challenges as the Egg Toss, the 3-Legged Race, the 50-yard Dash, Tug-of-War, and the Softball Throw. At night, the Gold vied with the Blue at Trivial Pursuit. In the end, the Blue Team won with the most points. But the truth is … we all won because we had such a memorable, fun time enjoying an October weekend with the birthday boy and his assembly of loved ones.

For the athletes in the crowd, it wasn’t much of a stretch to do these activities. For others, it was a big old battle with that “I can’t” voice we all are capable of uttering. Non-athletes say, “I can’t run very fast” or “This is too hard.” Non-writers say, “I can’t even write a complete sentence” or “I haven’t a clue how to write a poem.” But we can! Perhaps the more accurate statement is “I may not excel” instead of “I can’t.” Have we placed so much emphasis on excelling that we can’t stretch beyond our comfort zone and just give it a whirl? Why does it have to be perfect? I threw the softball for the Gold team and I’ll admit it: I stunk! I still had fun, though, and am thankful I wasn’t ridiculed too much. Perhaps that’s the culprit that holds us back: the Fear of Jeer.

Disarm the Bully

Are you up against an internal or external bully? Are there lingering scars from what bullies once said or did to you as a kid? If so, it makes sense that the fear of being ridiculed would leave you feeling reluctant to do something at which you may not excel. But what the heck … why not do it anyway? Why not disarm the bully by saying, “Yup, you’re right, I’m not that great at this, but that’s not going to stop me from trying.” And then do it. Try it. Stretch yourself. If nothing else, you will connect with the discomfort that others feel when they try to do an activity at which you excel! Imagine if we all excelled at the Egg Toss, but none of us could drive a car? Yikes!

  Cultivate Resilience

We learned the “sticks and stones” wisdom when we were young. The suggestion that harsh words more often reflect how the speaker feels about him/herself is also useful. Resilience helps us take that blow, and not only refuse to internalize it, but also push back a bit.

Resilience also helps us fall off the proverbial horse, and get back in the saddle. The story of Ted Kennedy is one of resilience. Likewise, Martha Stewart. And it looks like Michael Vick may bounce back, too. So even if you excel at something, you could really stink it up in some other arena, and still survive. S-T-R-E-T-C-H.


Joy-Gram for September 2009

Read the following quote, and summon your inner Vincent!

                    "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,’
                    then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

                                                                                ~ Vincent Van Gogh


Grief Counsel

For my most recent FAQ responses published at the website, www.Caring.com:

Click here for: How Do I Interview a Grief Therapist?

Click here for: How Can I Speed Up the Grieving Process?


Pictured Above

I’ve learned quite a bit about resilience from my big sister. Thanks for the inspiration, Margo!


Archives Now Available

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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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