Make Art, Revisited


January, 2017


In her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on January 8th, Meryl Streep quoted words she heard from her dear friend:

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

~ Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher

I hope this directive galvanizes you. I hope the act of making art, of any sort, brings joy back to your life, especially if you are broken-hearted.

I have covered this topic before, but Streep’s potent speech made me want to say more. Our hearts can break in so many ways. The common thread, however, is loss. I know I am not the only person to have lost every member of my family of origin to death but really, all it takes is one major loss to make you want to collapse. Sometimes losses due to estrangement are even more haunting. Romantic or platonic relationships sour. Catastrophic events, be they due to natural causes, war, terrorism, or cruelty, bring multiple casualties, too. Is it fair to say that in America today, feelings of trust and safety are greatly diminished?

The losses keep stacking up if you have the privilege of growing to a ripe old age. If this truth is inescapable, what antidotes can we seek?

I came up with my tagline, “Invest in bringing joy back to your life,” a few years after my brother Nick’s death in 1996. I didn’t even know what a tagline was when I was encouraged to craft a brief statement of purpose. I’ll be honest: I resisted the idea. The mere concept of “marketing strategies” made me cringe. My radar for inauthentic marketing or hype was and still is very sensitive. Nonetheless, I did as I was told, and today, I am thankful. I had no idea this seven-word phrase would become my personal clarion call, especially as the losses started to add up after Nick died. We lost beloved cats in ’98 and ’04. Two of my clients were victims of metastatic breast cancer. My mother-in-law succumbed to multiple myeloma in ’94. Dad’s Parkinson’s diagnosis was devastating enough; his death in ’95 came too soon. And on and on.

As each loss occurred, it is not like I gave myself a pep talk and asked, “okay now, Martha, how are you going to invest in bringing joy back to your life?” In retrospect, I see how the most consistent thing I did to metabolize my grief was to make art. I do other things to invest in bringing joy back, such as getting out in nature, and going on silent retreats, but more than anything, I walk the talk: I take my broken heart and make it into art.

As we begin a year that has many people quivering with uncertainty, if not dread, about what lies ahead for our country (especially those who are disenfranchised), I want to know: what will you do to mend your broken heart? What tagline (or call it a motto if you are as sensitive to marketing-speak as I am) might serve as your antidote?


Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.


Making this collage was a pep talk for me. Maybe it will give you a good nudge, too.

Prompts for Joy

Click here to hear a beautiful collaboration expressing important wishes for a new year. (Thanks much, Roberta Gelt.)

Click here for a brief story that may help you cultivate hope. (Muchas gracias, Filiberto Garcia!)

Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.

Pictured Above

Recent collages created by Martha Clark Scala.


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