Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
September 2011



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.

Tracks That Matter

Human beings thrive when someone is tracking them. Tracking is a term often associated with hunting and trapping animals for the purpose of capturing or killing. In the human realm, tracking is a heck of a lot more benevolent! It is an act of caring that implies “you matter to me.” The best example of a tracker is a parent because in most cases, parents want to know what their young or adult offspring are up to, how they are faring amidst all of life’s challenges, who they are seeing, who they are not seeing, and so on. A surly adolescent might protest with “Ma, stop bugging me,” or “Dad, you’re asking too many questions,” or a refusal to even answer those questions. Nonetheless, that teen registers, at some level, “I matter” to someone. Knowing that you matter to someone increases the likelihood of joy in your life even if it may embarrass you at times. (The paternal character played by Robert De Niro in the movie, Meet the Parents, and its sequels comes to mind. Click here for an exemplary scene between DeNiro and his future son-in-law played by Ben Stiller.)

Tracking is not limited to parents. We track our friends, partners, co-workers, neighbors, pets, buddies at the gym, etc. With the explosion of social networking, we can follow people’s blogs and twitters, or indicate that we like their posts at Facebook or celebrate professional announcements via Linked-In. Tracking could truly be a full-time job! For some, it is a challenge to stay connected, as both tracker and trackee, without getting overwhelmed, overstimulated, or overburdened. If this happens, the potential for joy decreases. No doubt, each person’s capacity for tracking and being tracked varies. As a result, only you can arrive at a healthy equation that brings more joy than pain.


Agony and Ecstasy

Tracking is not for the faint of heart. In one of this month’s Prompts for Joy, you have an 8 ˝-minute example of this. Sometimes those whom we track are imperiled. It can be positively excruciating to stand by and watch. Notice whether you want to stop watching the video before its happy ending. As they say in 12-Step Fellowships, “don’t stop before the miracle happens!” Tracking will toss you around like a swimmer in turbulent waves because if a person or animal matters to you, both their ups and downs will impact you, too.



The Tracks of Your Tears

Let’s say you’ve got loved ones who are tracking your creative or career success. Piece of cake, right? The cheerleaders abound. But do you allow equal access when you are in tears, or have suffered a setback, or a lousy diagnosis? You may not want to overwhelm those same cheerleaders so you hold back, go underground, or refuse to share the hard stuff. This is when it is so important to remember that you matter to others, and as a result, you can let yourself be tracked! Easier said than done, but it may hasten the return of joy.


Your September 2011 Prompts for Joy

Click here for 8 ˝ minutes that may make you cringe at first, but I promise, joy prevails.

Click here for a brief but hysterical glance at a lamb in pursuit of a voice.

These suggestions for Prompts for Joy were sent by Margot Hand and Bobbi Emel. Big thanks!


Joy-Gram for September 2011

To practice letting yourself be tracked, make one phone call or send one e-mail to let someone know when you are having a hard time with something.

Pictured Above

I learned so much about both the agony and the ecstasy of tracking from my mother. Here she is, tracking my sister Margo. Photograph by Geoffrey Clark.

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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