When I woke up on my first day in London, I was happy to have spent the night in a lovely hotel room, not on a park bench. The eleven-hour flight had not included much sleep so my day didn’t begin until mid-morning when the hotel maid knocked on my door.

My plan for the day included two of my Top Ten Favorite Activities. Fortunately, both of these pleasures were happening nearly next door to one another in Piccadilly.

I jumped on the Tube and headed to Waterstones Piccadilly,  a former department store that now is home to over six floors of books. This booklover’s emporium stocks more than 150,000 titles and claims to have eight and a half miles of bookshelves.

After browsing through several favorite sections, I decided to check out the business area. I was delighted, but not surprised, to see that interest in self-employment is alive and well and living in the UK.

Then I noticed a single copy of a book I didn’t know existed called a book about innocent. Since I adore companies that are run with large infusions of whimsy, I have been a fan of the innocent folks since I first encountered them.

For the next hour, I sat in a comfy chair and acquainted myself with the innocent story and things they have learned in building their business which includes all natural smoothies, juices and veg pots.

Their story is one worth studying since the business has grown by repeatedly starting small and trying lots of things. It’s also obvious that fun is a high priority along with bringing healthy products to the marketplace.

I decided to pay for all that pleasure and reluctantly left Waterstones when it was time for my next adventure.

As soon as I got to the street, I noticed the presence of butterflies…not the insects, the kind that accompany stage fright. I was scheduled to speak at 7 PM at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly at the weekly Monday evening event hosted by Alternatives, a lively program entering its thirtieth year of bringing mind, body, spirit speakers to the community.

In the past, I had been in the audience for several of these events listening to speakers that included Mike Dooley, Doreen Virtue and Philip Pullman. Mathew Fox had been there the week before me and Marianne Williams was coming the week after.

I did my best to appear calm as I arrived at the lovely church designed by Christopher Wren and built in 1684.  I was greeted by Tom Cook, an American expat I had met several years ago, who filled me in on how the evening would proceed.

My talk, Self-employment as Your Next Career, would take place in front of the altar which was festooned with enormous bouquets of flowers left over from Easter festivities.

The logistics were fairly simple, but I wondered if anyone would come. Although the marvelous Alternatives program had sponsored several of my seminars in the past, this was my first excursion giving a Monday night talk.

Shortly after 6, people began to saunter in. I sat “off stage” chatting with Richard Dunkerley and Steve Nobel who keep Alternatives running. When I turned around I saw that nearly 200 people had arrived.

Richard introduced me and I was off and running. When my talk ended, Richard brought out a chair, instructed me to sit down, and a long line of people wanting to talk to me formed.

Richard Branson, who knows a thing or two about starting a business, once said, “The world is a massively more hospitable place for entrepreneurs than it was twenty years ago.”

On this lovely London Monday, I had seen evidence of that everywhere.

Forty-five minutes later I was headed back to the Tube, thinking I had just auditioned for my Saturday Making a Living Without a Job seminar. My week was off to a wonderful start.



When I woke up this morning, I had a whole new idea about the August theme for this blog. The word that was shouting in my head was Alternatives. “That’s interesting,” I thought. It was not at all what I’d been planning to write about.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. For the past several weeks I’ve been weighing the alternatives of staying in Las Vegas or moving to California. So the process of decision making that comes into play when considering alternatives has been vividly playing in my life.

In case I wasn’t convinced that this was a timely topic, I picked up my latest issue of Afar magazine and noticed the Subaru Outback ad on the back cover. It said, “Buy map. Throw dart.”

That’s one way of selecting from alternatives, I guess, but not exactly what I have in mind for this month’s exploration.

Let’s begin with the dictionary definition: “offering or expressing a choice.” Technically, alternatives refer to a choice between two, and only two, options. However, the more popular notion is that alternatives include a number of choices, the selection of which eliminates the others.

Of course, alternative also is used to mean “different from the usual or conventional.” So we have alternative music, newspapers, lifestyles, education, medicine and so forth.

Since I never know exactly where a theme is going to lead me, I’m going to keep looking at both definitions of the word and what it has to do with the Joyfully Jobless Journey.

The one thing I know for sure is that it’s ridiculously easy to overlook the abundance of alternatives in every situation in which we find ourselves. Too often we limit our choices to far fewer alternatives than actually exist.

As I was considering that, I remembered something Swedish actress Liv Ullmann said in her autobigraphy, Changes.

“I had a life with options but frequently lived as if I had none,” Ullmann writes. “The sad result of my not having exercised my choices is that my memory of myself is not of the woman I believe I am.”

Ullmann’s recollection might have been different had she encountered this bit of advice from British general W. J. Slim:  “When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, choose the bolder.”

Let’s make that our starting point in this August excursion.