It’s been ages since I’ve done a roundup of articles and resources that have been gathering in my files. Obviously, it’s time for a Weekend Excursion so you can explore them on your own.

There’s no real rhyme or reason or theme to this list of treasures except that they all delighted me in different ways.

Green and Growing

If you’re a subscriber to Winning Ways newsletter, you will recall that I recently did an issue exploring what gardeners have to teach entrepreneurs. Last week, I learned about an extraordinary English gardening writer named Beveley Nichols who chronicled his evolution as an amateur gardener.

After reading his book Merry Hall, I wanted more and came across a collection of his wit and wisdom called Rhapsody in Green. When I read the following passage, I realized he could just as well have been advising someone growing a business:

Gradually my impatient desire for immediate results, which is the besetting sin of all beginners, died down. I began to take a joy in the work for its own sake. Until you actually own a garden, you cannot know this joy.

Before and After

The other day, I received an e-mail from Connie Hozvicka sharing her excitement about taking the big step. Connie is a dynamic artist and her blog at Dirty Footprints Studio is always a visual feast.

However, her post I Want You to Hear Me took my breath away. Go read it for yourself and you’ll see why.

Expose Yourself

It’s no secret that I’m a raving fan of Seth Godin who constantly astonishes me with his regular blog writings. This one, called Expose Yourself, illustrates the importance of choosing your influences carefully.

Follow Your Fascination

I’ve been working on the next issue of Winning Ways and am writing about collectors and collecting. Everyone I’ve known who is a serious collector has a story to tell about how their passion for collecting perfume bottles or old coins or Disney memorabilia began with a mild interest and grew stronger as they explored farther.

So that was on my mind when I came across this short piece called  Innovation Begins with Fascination. Don’t miss the exercise at the end.

Loving a Writer

Steven  Pressfield has this advice for spouses, partners, and other caring folks who may be perplexed by their writer/entrepreneur/musician lovers. If you are feeling misunderstood, you may want to print out Loving a Writer to share with your beloved.

Just in Case

I’ve been raving everywhere about Sandy Dempsey’s amusing video about her adventures with Flat Barbara. You may have been within earshot.

However, if by some fluke this has passed you by, pay a visit now and see how Flat Barbara is learning about the Joyfully Jobless life. (Scroll down to see the video.)

It was a big occasion when Zoe lost her first tooth, one worthy of a Skype call to Grandma Vegas. I oohed and aahed as she preened and smiled. It was far more memorable than if she’d simply sent a picture.

Keeping connected to faraway family members is only one of the ways I use Skype. Nearly every day is a little brighter thanks to that bit of technology.

Yesterday I needed a small change on my Web site, so I Skyped Lisa Tarrant, my Web Wizard, who lives in Massachusetts. In the past, I’d have told her what I wanted and then checked my site when the call was finished. With Skype, I could see the changes as she made them.

I tune into teleclasses, consult with clients, and have regular conference calls with Alice Barry and Sandy Dempsey to plan the Joyfully Jobless Jamboree from my desktop.

Last week, Alice and I were trying to solve a Jamboree problem via e-mail and not getting very far. Alice suggested a call, we talked face to face and had the solution in no time.

On Saturday, I began my morning with a long overdue chat with my friend Georgia who recently moved to Sweden. Seeing her sitting at her kitchen table at her new home made the conversation more special.

Have something new I want to show my sister Margaret in California? Show and Tell is just a Skype call away.

Then there was the recent evening that Sandy Dempsey sent me an e-mail with a link to a video she had just spent three hours creating about the adventures of Flat Barbara. I could see she was still online, so I promptly Skyped her to congratulate her on the project.

(If you’ve watched the video, you know that Flat Barbara enjoys Skype too.)

Although my sister Nancy, who lives in Rome, had urged me to use Skype for several years, I was not paying attention. I remained unmoved when Maureen Thomson reported that she’d used Skype to keep her business in Colorado running smoothly while she was enjoying a home exchange in Spain.

Without any investigation (a bad way to make decisions), I assumed it would be difficult or would involve buying equipment. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What finally motivated me to check it out for myself was a Webinar that Oprah did with Eckhart Tolle. The two of them sat on a bare stage discussing ideas in his book  A New Earth while readers called in to ask questions or make comments via Skype.

There was a discussion group at a bookstore in Los Angeles, a woman from Connecticut, a couple from Amsterdam. It was obvious that the visual component added a dimension to the communication that isn’t present with voice-only.

I was sold. What I didn’t know, however, was that I was also about to save $500 a year since calls to other Skype users are free, no matter where they are in the world.

For the nominal fee of $29.50/year I added unlimited calling throughout the US and Canada to non-Skype users (i.e. landlines and cellphones). There was no longer any need for long distance service with my landline so I cancelled it.

Last year, Soul Acrobats founder Alvin Tam wrote about getting rid of his expensive voicemail—his costly cellphone—and replacing it with Skype. He discovered, as do many users, that not only was he saving money, he was motivated to call his family in Canada more frequently.

Yes, there are times when I hear a call come in and on my way to answer wonder if my hair is combed or if I’m properly dressed. Much of the time, however, calls are arranged in advance so I’m ready and waiting.

If you’ve been resisting using Skype for personal and business communication, I urge you to take a look. Not only is it a wonderful way to add a personal touch, if you’re planning to run a global World Headquarters, it is essential mobility support.

And if that’s not enough, let me remind you again—it’s free.