In Living Out Loud,  Keri Smith’s a fun book of creative exercises, she writes, “In recent years lifestyle stores have become the rage selling products related to all aspects of living, eating, decorating, bathing, sleeping and dressing.

“If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?”

Here’s how I answered that question.

The first thing you notice when you walk up the stone path to the sprawling English cottage that houses Cottage Industry is that the front yard is a luscious garden where flowers and vegetables grow side by side.

Pass under the rose-covered archway and you’ll enter a large room that resembles a comfy old library. You’ll be greeted by the faint smell of nag champs incense and soft music.

There are shelves of books and inviting chairs for browsing. Each corner has a different subject:
there are personal growth books in the Taking Care of the Boss corner, and eclectic mix of favorite authors in the Kindred Spirits corner.

In another are helpful books for Making a Living Without a Job and in the fourth corner  you’ll find books to Feed Your Wanderlust.

Vintage travel posters hang on the walls and favorite quotes are painted over the doorways.

Shelves in the center of the shop hold a collection of tools for creative entrepreneurs. You’ll find arty file folders, kaleidoscopes and framed quotations to add to the decor in your own World Headquarters.

But Cottage Industry isn’t just about stuff. It’s also about stuff happening. Walk toward the back and you’ll enter a glass conservatory known as The Idea Room overlooking another garden. Tea and coffee and treats are served in this room that invites gathering to brainstorm ideas.

Another large room to the left, known as the Follow Through Center, serves as a perfect setting for classes and coaching. 

I like to think of Cottage Industry as a spa for your imagination.

Do you have any idea how much fun that was for me to write? Try it for yourself. As Smith urges, “”Make a list of what it would contain. Draw pictures of what it would look like. What items best represent you? Come up with a name for your store.”

Feel free to rave about your store in the comment section below.

As I was reclining at the end of my recent blood donation, a young nurse came to tidy things up. We began chatting and she asked me a few questions about myself.

I told her that I was self-employed, did seminars and (almost as an after thought) said, “Oh, and I wrote a book called Making a Living Without a Job.”

The moment I said that, she got tears in her eyes. “You were sent to me,” she said softly. She regained her composure and told me how she dreamed of quitting her job and traveling.

I grabbed one of my cards […] Continue Reading…

If you arrived at the end of the holidays last year saying, “Thank goodness that’s over,” you might decide to take a different approach this year. Although the holiday season is supposed to be a time of celebration, many of us find it the most stressful, even depressing, time of the year.

Since the holidays will go on with or without your participation, why not make them the happiest, warmest time possible? 

Begin by giving yourself a gift or two.

Here are some ideas for extra special gift-giving that will eliminate the hassle and expand the pleasure in the busy weeks […] Continue Reading…

Recently a Facebook friend inquired about self-help books and wondered if others found them helpful. There were comments on both sides of the answer.

It got me thinking about this short piece I wrote some time ago.
When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development there weren’t many titles to choose from. I read The Power of Positive Thinking, Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking over and over.
That’s all changed, of course, and today there are thousands of self-help titles. I always have a title or two in my current reading pile since there’s so […] Continue Reading…

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.

° […] Continue Reading…

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…

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…

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.
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…

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…

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…