When Teflon is Needed

March, 2020


Getting Joy Back After Taking Flak

“Expect flak!”


Thirty years ago, a caregiving professional blurted out these words in a seminar I attended. She repeated it again and again just in case we didn’t hear her the first time: “Expect flak!”


She explained that we should expect flak as a natural consequence of our growth.


Why? Because most people don’t really like change. When we receive flak, the subtext is “change back!” And it often comes across as more of a demand or expectation than a polite request.


The person sending the flak may be a boss, co-worker, friend or family member. But sometimes we may send this message to ourselves. Either way, it takes strength and Teflon to fight our way back to joy . . . just as it takes immense strength and courage to make major changes in our personality or in how we live our lives.


A few examples:


John is a hard-working employee who regularly puts in way more hours than the required forty per week. During his precious weekend time, he’s got a list a mile long of things he needs to do around the house. If it has been a particularly grueling work week, he just wants to crash on Saturday or Sunday, and binge-watch The Queen on Netflix. If he does this, some part of him finds this unacceptable and criticizes him for being lazy. John is so not lazy! But he’s giving himself a load of flak. A weekend of chill-time is out of character for him and it is a growth spurt for him to claim that.


Shayla’s brothers are giving her flak for being less available to kvetch with them about age-old family dynamics. Shayla loves her brothers and wants to please them but she also needs to do what’s best for her. Having noticed that gripe sessions about family stuff give her headaches and sap her energy, she chooses to take better care of herself. Like John, she has an internal voice to contend with, but she’s also got both brothers essentially saying, “Change back!” The guilt-tripping is immense.


How do John and Shayla find their way back to more joy than guilt or self-criticism?


One choice is to buy into the protests and do anything to quiet the flak. Not a good choice! It’s a recipe for resentment and anger. It’s also a set-up for retreating from a growth spurt rather than advancing.


Another choice is for John and Shayla to flip their reaction to the flak. If they don’t answer the call to “change back,” they are endorsing their growth. And when this happens with any regularity, I’m willing to bet that more joy will come their way.


Instead of changing back, try changing forward. Towards joy.


Upcoming Event


"There's Gold in Those Boxes in the Attic!"


Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 7:00-8:30pm

Writers Helping Writers at the San Carlos Library


I will demonstrate how items that link us to the past (such as photos, scrapbooks, music, home movies, and newspaper articles or other documents) can help us access vital information that will enrich our stories.


Would love to see you there!



Why Assemble a Life? An Interview with Author and Artist, Martha Clark Scala


This video reveals what motivated me to write Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself). My totally biased interviewer is a dear friend since college days, Sue Murphy Murray. Comments and feedback welcome! [NOTE: If you have trouble viewing this video here, use this link.]


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Prompts For Joy

This month’s Prompts are in celebration of International Women’s Day (a couple days late) and the immense joy that youngsters bring to our lives.


Click here for a Bossanova breath of fresh air.

(Thank you, Kelly Cressio-Moeller!)


Click here to see a nonchalant but bravissimo Boogie-Woogie performance.


Click here for all previous Prompts for Joy.


Pictured Above


Top: Spring Pinks. Palo Alto, CA.




"What is most unusual and clever is that she discusses her process in this book to let her readers know how she is progressing. I especially love how she talks to and about her internal critics . . .


So, as Martha Clark Scala says: 'If you have any desire to honor a departed loved one by exploring the past to tell their story, read this book first.' If I do, Assembling A Life will be my Bible."


~ Madeline Sharples, Author

Papa's Shoes

Leaving the Hall Light On


To purchase the premium softcover or e-book versions of Assembling a Life, click here.




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