Meet Barbara Winter


Barbara J Winter is a pioneering self-employment advocate, writer and teacher who has spent the last twenty-five years pondering the question, “Why aren’t we all self-employed?” Helping others discover the Joyfully Jobless life is her favorite occupation. To readers of Read more

Benvenuto!


Buon viaggio….good journey. How nice to have you along. This blog has been a long time brewing. Hardly a day passes when I don’t come across a fascinating new business idea, inspiring story or useful resource and want to pass Read more

7 Easy Ways to Feed Your Curiosity

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When I was growing up, my incessant questions were often dismissed with a reminder that curiosity killed the cat. The message, intended or not, was that shrinking was preferable to exploring. This repeated warning has an impact that goes far beyond the deceased cat.

The death of curiosity is the beginning of a lackluster life. Without curiosity we avoid challenges, growth and new experiences. Our world gets smaller and smaller as our fears grow bigger and bigger.

According to researchers, curiosity is more important than intelligence. In fact, there’s nothing silly about it. Here are some easy ways to keep feeding yours.

° Pick a theme and do a photo essay. With everyone running around with a digital camera in their hands these days, it’s never been easier.

Why not create a story in pictures? How about photographing the evolution of your business? Or portraits of people who have made a difference in your life? You might even end up with a new product.

° Lighten up. Curiosity doesn’t do well in a cluttered environment. Taking a load of stuff to the thrift store or donating books to the library are great stress relievers—and open up space for curiosity to come alive.

Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t express the latest version of you. As you’re sorting through the things that fill your life, keep asking questions about what fits and what has outlived its usefulness.

° Make creative cross training a regular activity. When Georgia Makitalo began doing mosaic work, she discovered that her writing output increased as well.

Anything that stimulates your creative spirit will have a multiplying effect.

Yet it’s easy to let fear and self-doubt keep us from venturing into unknown territory. Get over it.

° Go on a Curious Excursion. You don’t have to go far, but it’s useful if you go someplace new. Of course, museums are perfect for such an exploration, but so is a large hardware store.

° Earn money in a new way. It’s as good for your confidence as it is for your bank account to expand your moneymaking repertoire.

At the beginning, the amount of money isn’t nearly as important as the experience.

It’s about building an Option Bank.

° Feather your nest. Even in a place where you’ve lived for a long time, nesting can be a creative opportunity.

I love Thomas Moore’s observation: “The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

° Adopt something. Whether it’s a cause, an orphaned animal or a fledgling entrepreneur, give yourself to something or someone that needs your support and live.

You’ll both be better for it.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

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Every year more than a million Americans—and thousands of people in other countries—embark on the entrepreneur’s journey. Yet this renaissance of self-employment remains a Quiet Revolution. It’s time to start making some noise.

Banners and bumperstickers will have to wait. This revolution needs to begin with getting informed. Get the big picture. Load up on facts. Make it your hobby to learn about as many entrepreneurs as you can.

Here’s a question I’ve been stumping my friends with lately: “What percentage of all businesses in the United States qualify as micro-businesses with 1-5 people working in them?” The answer surprises everyone—including […] Continue Reading…

My Love Affair With the Post Office

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I have had a lifelong love affair with the post office although it’s been sorely tested recently.

The fallout began late last summer when another USPS branch was evicted from their space and all their boxes suddenly took over the space next to the built-in boxes in my post office.

Of course, all those new postal patrons also drove cars so parking was also part of the chaos.

The service was also impaired. Days would pass with no mail in the boxes and then a week’s worth would be crammed in.

When regular patrons grumbled they were told it was a temporary measure and […] Continue Reading…

Word Power

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Several times a week, I grab a copy of  Seminar in a Sentence, a little book I published a few years ago that contains some of my favorite quotes. When I was tracking down a half-remembered bit of wisdom today, I reread the introduction to the book and decided to share it here.
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Although I don’t know when I began collecting quotes, I do know that I learned about the power of words early in life. As a student at Trinity Lutheran School, I began memorizing Bible passages as so as I entered first grade.

As I got older, I discovered […] Continue Reading…

Welcoming Serendipity

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After a conversation with a delightful stranger, I shared the experience on Facebook saying, “Oh, I love serendipity.” After I’d posted, I began to wonder if calling it serendipity was accurate.

While the common understanding of serendipity defines it as unexpected good fortune, it goes further than that. In The World of Serendipity, author Marcus Bach explains why some people enjoy a large measure of unexpected good while others rarely have such experiences.

He writes, “Once upon a time, there lived an Englishman named Horace Walpole. He was best known for his passion for writing letters. For most of his life, […] Continue Reading…

Plug In

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When my Aunt Marge was alive, I visited her as often as possible. She was eager to hear about my travels and recent adventures. Somewhere in the conversation, she would exclaim, “Oh, you meet the most interesting people.”

I totally agreed, of course.

While I have a long list of things I love about being self-employed, Meeting Interesting People is one of my favorite perks. People who are passionately engaged in what they’re creating are pilgrims on the road to Being More.

That may not have entered their mind when they began following their ideas, but it is a powerful bonus of […] Continue Reading…

Spooky Questions

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I know Halloween is long past, but I came across this piece I’d posted on my blog five years ago and decided it was worth another visit. I also shared it in Joyfully Jobless News in November. It’s a reminder that the learning never ends when you’re building a dream.
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My mailbox has been getting some truly spooky messages lately. It’s not the first time, of course, but I’m still startled when I get one of these cries for help.

The scariest of these messages goes like this: ”I think I want to start my own business. What should I do?”

I […] Continue Reading…

8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business

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It’s National Boss’s Day, a day that I celebrate heartily since I have the perfect boss. It took her awhile to figure things out, of course, but lifelong learning is one of the gifts of self-employment.

When I started my first business, I didn’t know another self-employed person who was creating something unique. There was no internet and not many books that were written for someone wanting to start a one-person operation. It was all trial and error…lots of error.

Today there are abundant resources, but some of the most important things I learned still aren’t being acknowledged. Here are eight […] Continue Reading…

Patiently Impatient

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This past weekend I did my first seminar series of 2016. In the nearly thirty years that I’ve been a gypsy teacher, this is a startling contrast to my previous years when I was teaching every month.

This unusual experience began with the evil virus I contracted in March. Not only did I have to cancel several events, I was unwilling to book future classes not knowing when or if I would recover.

As I headed to Sacramento I was filled with trepidation. Would I remember how to do this? Had I gotten rusty?

Fortunately, my classes had delightful participants and I […] Continue Reading…

The Gift of Delay

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After spending ten days with my siblings in Lucca, Italy, I planned to take the train back to Venice, have a bonus afternoon in my favorite city, then fly home the next day.

That plan began to unravel when I went to buy my ticket and discovered a 24-hour train strike was scheduled for exactly the time I wanted to travel. After making numerous telephone calls to find an alternative option, I was assured that some trains would still be running.

What I wasn’t told was that I’d be making a 5 hour sidetrip to Bologna. That little surprise didn’t arrive until […] Continue Reading…

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