Shortly after I met Chris Utterback, I was having a difficult day loaded with disappointments. I decided to see if my new friend could cheer me up so I gave her a call.

When she answered the phone, I said, “This is Barbara. Make me laugh.”

To my amazement, she calmly replied, “Let me get my cartoon folder.”

When she returned to the phone, I said, “You keep a folder of cartoons?” She admitted that she had done so for quite some time and had a fine collection.

I loved that idea and promptly started one of my own which I labeled Make Me Laugh. Whenever my spirits drooped, I knew exactly where to go to get a boost.

Several months later, Chris called  to share a Ziggy cartoon that had her giggling. The punch line was, “My definition of prosperity is a checking account with commas.” I loved it, too, and that became a new target.

A checking account with commas. At the time, it seemed a far off goal, a big stretch, but in less than a year, my checking account regularly sported a comma.

So today I’m suggesting that prosperity may be easier to achieve when we lighten up a bit. Fussing and fretting about a sluggish cash flow has never, ever fixed the problem for me.

On the other hand, going for the comma has produced stellar results.

As has the reminder from Moneylove author Jerry Gilles who taught me that anything worth having is worth having fun getting.

Organizing guru Peter Walsh says, “You can’t have more books than you have bookshelves.” I totally agree with him—in theory. Let’s just say I won’t be inviting him over for tea anytime soon.

Every room in my house except the bathrooms have bookshelves and, still, there are piles of books on the floor of my office, living room and bedroom. I’ve made a serious attempt to weed my collection, but find that most of the books I’m willing to pass along are unsolicited review copies or something I ordered without doing proper research.  The rest refuse to budge.

I look at the English literature textbooks I taught from decades ago and would no more throw them away than I would my daughter’s baby pictures.  Libraries built over time tell stories of their own about where we’ve been and who we were. If we’re doing it right, our libraries also speak about the person we are becoming.

As if to reassure me that holding on to old favorites is a good thing, I recently took two books off the shelf that I hadn’t opened in ages. One of those was Jerry Gilles’ Moneylove .

As I browsed through the pages, I had a strong urge to reread the book that had opened my mind to a more prosperous way of thinking and behaving.  That book has been in my library for about thirty years and has accompanied me on several moves around the country.

Clifton Fadiman, booklover extraordinare, once said, “When you reread a classic and find more in it, it’s not because there’s more in the book. It’s because there’s more in you.”

As I reacquainted myself with Moneylove, I realized that it wasn’t Gilles’ words and ideas that had changed, but I certainly wasn’t the same person I had been when I first encountered the book.

The other old friend that I spent time with was a woman named Faith Addis. I’m not sure if I got her books here or on a visit to London.  At any rate, I do recall that my Aunt Marge had heard about Addis’ book Year of the Cornflake and was so amused by the title that she urged me to track it down.

As I was heading out on a trip, I scanned my bookshelves looking for something to read on my flights. I had wanted to take a novel, but none of my fiction collection seemed right.

Then I spied the Addis books on my business shelf and rather reluctantly grabbed Taking the Biscuit, the final installment of her Down to Earth series.

It turned out to be a perfect choice. I was struck on this reading by something that I hadn’t recognized before: although I’ve read numerous business biographies, I can’t recall any that made me laugh like Addis does.

The series begins after Faith and Brian Addis,  who were bored to tears running a florist shop in London, decided to sell their house and move to the Devon countryside where they embarked on a number of entrepreneurial ventures.

At the time of Taking the Biscuit, Faith had built a booming business as a mobile dog groomer. That might not sound like much of an adventure, but in the hands of this skillful storyteller (and observer of human behavior), it’s fascinating.

This book also includes tales of their start-up project turning several glasshouses into a nursery. Faith also has visions of becoming a worm tycoon.

As I shared these adventures, I kept thinking that more people would jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon if they only knew how much fun people like the Addis couple were having.

Although I had contemplated pruning these books, I decided they were keepers.

So I’m going to continue my attempts to reduce my book collection ever so slightly,  but it could take years as I rediscover old friends I’d forgotten and decide to spend time with them again.

To justify doing so, I’ll stop listening to Peter Walsh and instead remember Anna Quindlen’s  observation: “I would be most happy if my children grew up to be the kind of people whose idea of decorating is to add more bookshelves.”


Years ago when I lived in Santa Barbara, I observed a weekly ritual—the Friday migration north which was followed by the Sunday migration south. I’ve often wondered if such traffic jams inspired Loverboy’s Working for the Weekend.

For too many of us, work and fun have occupied separate territories.  In my family, there was a frequently quoted German adage that translated to “first you work, then you play.” The implication was that never the twain shall meet.

No adults I knew growing up suggested that I should discover what brought me joy before I began to think about choosing a career—and I certainly didn’t see many folks who seemed to be having a great time going about their work.

When I realized that I would be spending a huge amount of time working, an occasional fun weekend didn’t seem a fair tradeoff for days of drudgery. Although it was done in private, I began my own Joy Quest to see if I could get paid to have fun.

Along the way, I heard Moneylove author Jerry Gilles say, “Anything worth having is worth having fun getting.” It seemed like an idea worth testing. I decided to go for joy all along the way.

Some of the things I discovered were downright startling. I found that as my own boss, with a new vision to create, I could tackle things on behalf of building my own business that would have driven me crazy had I been doing them as part of a job.

Working with joy seemed to spill over to activities I might previously have dreaded. For instance, if someone had handed me thousands of newsletters to label and stamp, I’d have tensed right up, but when that pile is Winning Ways, and I’ve put it together myself, I can’t wait to share it with my subscribers.

When our work is also a source of joy and fun, it leads us to become more creative, more engaged, more masterful. Those rewards are much harder to obtain when we’re only working for money.

So during March, we’ll be exploring the theme of Money for Fun. I’d love to hear your stories about the most fun you’ve ever had earning money. Since I made that request in the last Joyfully Jobless News, people have been sending me delightful examples which I’m going to be sharing throughout the month, but I’d love more inspiring tales.

As poet David Whyte reminds us, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”

I’m pretty sure that includes work.