During my brief stint as an employment counselor, I spent all day every day talking to people about jobs. It wasn’t usually a cheerful conversation.

Not only did most of these folks arrive at the Employment Service in a state of frustration, they seldom had any idea about what kind of job they wanted. “I’ll take anything,” is the career plan of the desperate.

Like so many of us, these folks considered work a necessary evil. In this perspective, a job was the price you paid to get the money you needed to buy the stuff you wanted. And it lasted a lifetime.

This sad notion about work is still wildly prevalent. A new book, Dying for a Paycheck, explores the hazards caused by the peril facing job holders today.

What a contrast that is to this observation from Frances Mayes about her life after leaving her college teaching job and becoming a writer who shares her passion for living in Italy. In Every Day in Tuscany she writes, “I rifle through my four project boxes, dreaming of several books I will write…Work like this feels like play.

“From living in Italy and seeing how people live and love, I saw that play is something you don’t always know you’ve lost in daily life. So much energy poured into my job.

“Leftover time seemed full of a lesser reward: enjoyment. But not play, the exuberant rush of fun that comes naturally to Italians. At home, many of the activities I planned for fun seemed like summer reruns.

“Learning from another culture is one of those mysterious movements of the psyche. I think you learn what you need to unlearn.”

I think unlearning is a huge part of the joyfully jobless journey. We don’t even realize how much of our employee mindset we’re still carrying around. Unlearning was certainly on my agenda.

As Frances Mayes discovered, “Writing is play. You choose a subject and set out to learn and think as much s you can about it. Then you get to let your imagination loose in the arena.”

Sounds to me like the perfect way to build a business, too. That’s precisely what we’ll be doing in my upcoming Small, Sassy & Successful seminars

If you’d like to collaborate and bring this fun learning adventure to your part of the world, I still have time available later this year. Feel free to let me know you’re interested and we’ll explore the possibilities. Email me at barbara@joyfullyjobless.com.

Three months after my best friend Chris Utterback lost her battle with breast cancer, I moved out of my suburban Minneapolis apartment, disposed of about a third of my belongings, put the rest in storage, and set off on an eight month sabbatical.

I had decided that the purpose of my journey was Creative Renewal. That was about all I knew.

“What will you do when you get back?” alarmed acquaintances would ask. I’d shrug and answer, “I’m going with questions, not with answers.”

One thing I did know is that I was open to change. I would abandon my business, move to a new city (or country) if that’s what I discovered along the way.

My adventure began with a family reunion in Italy. After that, I was on my own.

I had no itinerary and for the first time in my life found myself getting up in the morning and asking myself, “Where do you want to go today?”

Even after weeks of exploring, I still had no clarity about where I would land once my travels were over.

Eventually, I headed to Greece to spend a week with my archeologist sister Nancy. When I arrived, I discovered that Athens was under a heavy cloud of smog which made breathing difficult so I spent my days alone in Nancy’s apartment.

One day I found a stack of Smithsonian magazines and decided to amuse myself with them. Little did I know that an answer I was seeking was awaiting me.

The article that caught my eye was about mobile home parks that were also intentional communities. Some were designed for senior living, others were even more specific, such as the one in Malibu for retired members of the Screen Writers Guild.

The author had interviewed all sorts of people about why they’d chosen this lifestyle. In one instance she said, “For them, a home is not a status symbol. It’s a rest stop between adventures.”

A rest stop between adventures.

The moment I read those words, I knew that was the definition of home that I’d been seeking. I also realized that where that home was located was less important than how it was created to nurture me when I was there.

After all, when we run a business from the spot we call home, it takes on a different dimension than it would if home was merely a place to sleep and store our belongings.

Several years ago writer Michael Shapiro came up with an idea for a book that would  interview travel writers about their lives and careers, but Shapiro decided to conduct his interviews in the writers’ homes.The result is a wonderful collection of stories called A Sense of Place. 

Rick Steves, Frances Mayes, Pico Iyer, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux thirteen other writers share their inspirations, why they’ve chosen to live where they do, and lessons learned on the road. Their personal visions are as unique as they are, but they each seem to have chosen a hometown that supports their visions and restores them for future travels.

My own definition of home has evolved a bit since I first encountered that description that inspired me. Perhaps it’s because I work from home that I want it to be more than a rest stop between adventures.

Home, for me, also needs to be a place that inspires adventures—whether I’m traveling or not. In many ways, creating such a place is more difficult than being inspired in a strange land.

After I had moved into my latest home, my daughter stopped by to see the progress. I was delighted when she said, “You’ve lived in such different places, but they’re always so you!”

If the place you call home isn’t a kitchen for your mind, how can you change that? And if it is such a place, how did you accomplish that?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you want some inspiration, visit the home office gallery gathered by Judy Heminsley.  You’ll see wonderful environments that bear no resemblance to a cubicle.