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
Thank you, Harvey
Years ago, I made a photocopy of a short article by nationally syndicated columnist and bestselling author, Harvey Mackay. Harvey Who, you might ask? Harvey Mackay is the author of such bestselling books as Swim With the Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive), and Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty, and a popular motivational speaker for the business world: an unlikely hero for the likes of me! I wound up carrying the column around with me because I liked some of Harvey’s one-liners. Little did I know how useful his words would be years and years later as I think about what it takes for us to muster courage at a time when we would rather go and hide under a rock. Courage is called for in situations that range from mundane (such as just getting out of bed, or making a difficult phone call) to mountainous (such as saying yes to a lifetime commitment or preparing for a medical procedure). Brief sentences from Harvey can provide ballast in the wobbliest of times:
“You don’t quit trying when you lose; you lose because you quit trying.”
“The person who wants to do something finds a way; the person who doesn’t finds an excuse.”
“You don’t have to know everything as long as you know people who know the things you don’t.”
I find that last sentence especially comforting as I bet I am not the only one prone to the belief that I must know what to do or how to behave in any rocky situation. Take Harvey’s words to heart, and you can breathe a little bit deeper, expectations might ease up, leaving more room for joy to co-exist in the mix.
One of the most courageous and liberating things we may need to do is admit we do not know what to do, or that we need help. I watched my mother attempt to be the sole caretaker for my father when he grew more and more disabled, both physically and mentally. She believed she had to do it all. If I tried to advocate for her to get a break, she replied that my Dad would not accept help from anyone else. I have no doubt that he preferred her care over anyone else’s but I also have no doubt that her unwillingness to get a respite shaved a couple of years off of her life, and that is unfortunate.
I have heard folks say they believe it is wimpy to take a break from attending to someone who does not get to take a break from their illness or infirmity. What if the exact opposite is true? What if it IS courageous to take a time-out from something totally taxing you? Not only is it courageous, it results in a re-charged battery. Re-energized, we can come back to the next round of caregiving more refreshed, rested and relaxed. At the beginning of every airplane flight, you hear something like this: In the event that oxygen masks drop down, put your mask on first before you help others, even young children! How can you help others if you have no oxygen for yourself? So please, summon the courage to take care of you. You can thank Harvey once you are more oxygenated!
Thank you, Eleanor
Eleanor Roosevelt is a more universally known heroine, and you have probably seen her words before but I feel compelled to include them here:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Thank you, Eleanor. This may be the next quote I place in my courage kit.
Do It Anyway, Or Not
Where fear is present, courage is needed. Perhaps that is why the phrase, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway,” is so common nowadays. This phrase may help you push past some real or perceived barrier BUT any of the quoted words I have shared can morph into a bit of a bully. If the quote forces you to take action by discounting or minimizing your fear, is that really the right action at the right time? There are no 100% reliable answers to this question, but it is still a question worth being asked. Do I want to do this or am I being bullied from without or within? Doing it anyway is often a good thing, but not if you are just trying to appease a bully.
for July 2013
What wisdom are you carrying around in your wallet or purse? Do you have words or symbols to give you courage when you need it? If you don’t have anything, what could you add to your courage kit? The possibilities are limitless.
Your July 2013 Prompts for Joy
Click here to see a penguin who will tickle your funny bone. (Thanks, Margot Hand!)
Click here to relish how funny it can be to be a true scaredy-cat. (Thanks, Bobbi Emel!)
My parents, in the prime of their lives, in Rockport, Massachusetts. My parents were married, believe it or not, on Independence Day, 1942. How ironic is that? Photographer unknown.
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 ·