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
When in Drought, Conserve!
California is experiencing an epic drought this year; the percentage of normal rainfall remains less than 50% in most areas. In times of drought, the admonitions get louder and more strident: conserve! To curb our usage of a precious and limited resource, we take shorter or fewer showers, strive to emphasize drought-resistant gardens, and install devices that utilize less water when we flush the toilet. Some people pray for rain and I have even heard of a few rain dances being performed. This is as close as we can get to making water drop from the sky. We are at the mercy of forces beyond our selves and our ingenuity. By this point, you may be asking if this month’s newsletter is just a weather report. What does this topic have to do with cultivating joy? Everything.
We all experience times of drought beyond that which the weather brings. It could be a shortage of other types of resources such as money, energy, enthusiasm, wellbeing, or the proper tool(s) to carry out a job or task. When these resources are in meager supply, or depleted, challenges abound, and joy can be quite elusive. It might take a while to recognize a drought that at a minimum impacts you, or at its worst, plagues you. For example, a shortage of cash combined with insufficient energy can be devastating. The first step in tackling this may seem obvious but I will mention it anyway: we have to recognize that we are suffering some drought-like conditions. If I refuse to believe or acknowledge my enthusiasm can be measured in drops, not gallons, how can I take steps to replenish? How can I even know that replenishment is what I need?
Next, if we take lessons from California’s response to water shortages, we must look at ways in which we could conserve. If you are suffering a serious lack of energy, this is not the time to start a new project that requires you being at your best. You may get back to your best but if you are not there now, conservation is what is needed. I know some of us are allergic to the notion of “doing the minimum” but in serious drought, this is an important strategy!
If you still want to take the occasional hot bath during a water shortage, you might get curious about how the gallons of water that fill a tub could be siphoned to some secondary use. In other words, the creative problem-solver gets activated. If the problem is lack of energy, you may have to ask others to be creative problem-solvers on your behalf. If your drought is due to the lack of proper tools to carry out a job or task, you could use your creativity (or again, ask others) to brainstorm how you might access resources in some out-of-the-box manner. This is why neighbors share gardening or power tools, and colleagues loan books, videos or other tools for their trade.
In times of grief, I have noticed the tendency to globalize. A drought due to lack of money might feel like a drought of all resources. Pay attention to those areas where deficits are minimal and abundance evident. For example, your energy levels may register as empty but friendships may be plentiful. You may be short on cash but full of get-up-and-go.
If we struggle to fill our personal reservoirs and get back to more joyful moments, perhaps we need ask just one simple, but challenging question: how will I fill this well? Others may be able to help but you are probably going to be the best expert on what your well needs.
When we conserve water, we are giving the reservoirs a rest. Facing more personal droughts, R-E-S-T is a key ingredient in both prevention and recovery. Without adequate rest (which includes enough sleep but is not limited to that), a drought may find its way to your doorstep. It has certainly stepped across my threshold many times! If you were raised to regard the need for rest and replenishment as wimpy, perhaps your best drought prevention strategy is to celebrate being a wimp and take the sting out of this pejorative word! Or you could just erase that word and replace it with resourceful, self-respecting, or joy-seeking!
A Lesson from the 8-Ball
A favorite toy from childhood was the 8-Ball which we shook while we asked it a question. The answer would “magically” appear, and thank goodness, almost all of them were benevolent. Thanks to Google, I found a list of the original 20 replies and was struck by how many ask the seeker to wait a while:
“Reply hazy, try again.”
“Ask again later.”
“Cannot predict now.”
The simple lesson? Have patience. Before you know it, you may have a full reservoir again.
Your March 2014 Prompts for Joy
Click here to see how two dogs and their owner deal with a limited resource.
(Thanks for sharing, Peyton Taylor!)
Click here because where there are rainbows, there is rain! This rendition of a favorite song is bound to fill your well.
(A big Aloha to Youpa Stein.)
Joy-Gram for March 2014
Fill your well with music. I will not suggest what to listen to (other than the above Prompt for Joy) because tastes in music vary so widely but I do have faith that you can replenish your pockets of drought with some kind of music that speaks to you. Take five and Listen!
To be mere steps from the ocean fills my well. Halibut Point, Rockport MA. (Photo by Bill Scala)
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 ·