CB028317I make no secret of the fact that I’m in the midst of a love affair with Venice. It almost didn’t happen.

My first visit was decades ago when I participated in a whirlwind tour of Europe. We zipped through Venice, were escorted to a glass factory store specializing in selling over priced goods to tourists and whisked away.

I was not impressed.

It wasn’t until 1999, on a short stay with my daughter, that I began to uncover the charms of Venice. Suddenly I understood why artists, poets, writers and musicians kept returning for fresh inspiration.

In its’ heyday, it was a rich and powerful center of trade and business. Poised between East and West, Venice became a city of merchants, many of whom ran their empires from exquisite palazzos designed to serve as their business headquarters, as well as the family home.

A typical Venetian house had an elaborate facade facing the canal since visitors and clients usually arrived by boat. The house was tall and narrow, with the ground floor serving as an office and, perhaps, a warehouse.

The second floor was used to entertain visitors, while family quarters were kept on the third floor.

Many houses also had additions on the street side that were used as offices, but frequently evolved into personal libraries.

So, you see, the homebased business movement isn’t such a new idea after all. The Venetians, who did it more elegantly than anyone, were running international enterprises from their homes hundreds of years ago.

Ponder that on your next trip down the Grand Canal.

It’s been two weeks since I put the last items in the POD, turned in my house keys, and left Las Vegas for my new home in Valencia, CA.  No one was more surprised than me that I find myself still without a new place to call my own.

I had no thoughts of moving this year, but when the house I’d been happily renting for four and half years was being sold, I had no say in the matter.

I decided it was time to reconnect with my family and join them in California. To say that things have not gone according to plan would be an understatement.

I’ll spare you the boring details, but this time without a place of my own has me thinking and examining my feelings about home. Those feelings have certainly changed over time.

For the first half of my life, a home was somewhere to return to after a day spent in school or at work. That all changed on the day that I set up the card table in my family room and opened my first little business.

At the time, I went to great lengths to conceal the fact that I worked from home. Who would take me seriously if they saw my unimpressive office?

At the time, there were no resources talking about being self-employed and working from home. Of course, I knew writers and some artists turned a spare bedroom into a studio, but I had no idea what other forms of enterprise could thrive in a domestic setting.

The exception to the conventional business start-up information was Supergirls, the book that gave me the notion that I could be self-employed. They had started out working from home, but moved into “real” offices as soon as their business began to grow.

At the time, I assumed I would do the same and set up shop in a rented space where I could have proper meetings and create exciting events. At the time, I had no idea how much I would come to love working from home.

So here I am decades later, a homeless homebased entrepreneur. I assume this is a temporary condition.

I am also keenly aware that the flexibility, mobility and independence this lifestyle offers also makes it possible for me to shift my focus temporarily from running my business to finding my next World Headquarters.

Last week, Judy Heminsley, who blogs at Work From Home Wisdom, from Bath, UK, posted  a wonderful gallery of home worker’s workspaces.  Check them out for yourself.

I admit I got a little envious—and even more eager to be settled—when I saw pictures of the smiling homebased entrepreneurs that Judy shared.

Then two-year-old Zachy runs up, throws his arms around my legs and yells, “Yeah, Grandma!” That’s when it seems perfectly okay to practice benign neglect a little while longer.

A few years ago, I noticed that I often felt as if I was on the verge of tears. Since I associate crying with sadness, I took a look at what might be causing me to feel this way.

There was absolutely nothing that was making me feel sad, so I kept poking around. What I finally realized was that I had just discovered my own Stress Response.

It was not a familiar feeling.

Running a homebased business has eliminated many of the causes of stress that plague other people. Running a homebased business that’s having a growth spurt brought stresses of its own, however.

Fortunately, one of the gifts of self-employment is the ability to be in charge of your own time. I had the choice of continuing to push myself or shift gears for a bit. 

I decided to shift and let my business run itself for a month. I also reclaimed my serenity by using what I already knew.

My own personal balance regulator came about when I decided that the theme for my life was going to be Roots and Wings.The inspiration for this came from the old adage that says, “The best gifts you can give to your children are roots and wings.”

I decided it was the best gift I could give to myself, too.

To me, roots are all those things in life that give us what Maslow called “a sense of belonging.” It’s more than just those people, things and experiences that are familiar.

Roots also come from within, from discovering who you are and what you want to do and then doing it with gusto. 

Wings, on the other hand, are all those things that keep you moving and growing, going beyond where you’ve been and what you’ve done. 

When I had my stress crisis, I took inventory and saw that the previous months had been filled with lots of Wings, but Roots had been sorely neglected. It was obvious what shift needed to happen in order to get back in balance.

In setting goals, making plans and scheduling activities, it works best for me if I have plenty of both. This often means creating opposites such as solitary time to work on creative projects balanced with collaborative activities involving other people. 

It’s not possible to divide time exactly in half to accomplish this, but it is possible to keep some of both in the mix. 

As Thoreau reminds us, “Good for the body is the work of the body, and good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for either is the work of the other.”

Any discoveries you’ve made about staying balanced that you’d like to share with us?

Nobody described the dangers of working from home better than author Jessamyn West who said, “Whenever I’m writing a book I never get out of bed, because if I get out of bed I always see something that needs dusting.”

I know the temptation all too well.

My way of dealing with homebased distractions is to cluster domestic duties on Saturday. Just as I have a different  business project assignment for each day of the week, personal projects have their day as well.

After being away from home for the past five weekends, my house was dangerously neglected. I decided nothing was a better use of my time this weekend, than putting things in order. 

I’m even throwing in some extra chores, things that only get done occassionally, like polishing all my furniture with almond oil (which smells delicious). 

And I’m tackling the bane of my existence–my stone tile floors. We drag in a lot of dust and dirt here in the desert and keeping up with it is time-consuming.

To get inspired for this undertaking, I’ve spent the past several evenings browsing a wonderful book called Where Women Create by Jo Packham. I first heard about this book a few weeks ago when Steven Pressfield raved about it.

Packham has  gathered interviews with 26 creative women who talk about their personal workspace. There are tips, favorite quotes and, most of all, gorgeous photographs.

I especially enjoyed the diverse opinions are being organized versus enduring creative chaos.

For further inspiration, there was Mark Fauenfelder’s piece in the Huffington Post today: The Courage to Screw Up–Why DIY is Good For You

Years ago, I was living in a dreary little duplex on a busy street in Santa Barbara. I was also frustrated and stuck. 

One day I had a thought—totally new to me at the time—which went something like this: “Barbara, if you don’t take care of what you have, how do you expect to get more?” 

I swung into action, putting my house in order. 

Then I grabbed a pruning shears and tackled the messy pepper tree by the driveway to our cul du sac which made it difficult for drivers leaving our street to make a left turn. As the pile of branches grew on the ground, I found myself smiling as I thought about how this simple task was going to make life easier for my neighbors. 

When I look back, I can see that the decision to care for what I already had, was a turning point in my life. New opportunities began to appear and before long I wasn’t living in this dreary house anymore.

So although you may be spending this holiday weekend in quite a different way than I am, I want to share this thought from Thomas Moore: “The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

After all, cleaning a house can be a dreaded chore—or an opportunity to practice genuine gratitude. I know which one I’ll pick.