Ten Pieces of Inspiration #1

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I’ve decided to retire the Time Machine series (for now). Instead, I’ve decided to start a new series, highlighting ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Warren Buffett on long-term planning
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
- Warren Buffett, as quoted in The Real Warren Buffett: Managing Capital, Leading People, by James O’Loughlin

Right now is my time to plant trees. For myself. For my wife. For my children. Someday, we’ll be able to enjoy the shade of those trees.

2. Rubiaux Rising by Steve De Jarnatt
This is a short story included in The Best American Short Stories 2009, which I read this week. It tells the story of a severely injured Iraqi war vet trying to escape from an attic during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. It made me think quite a lot about what society owes to those that it harms.

3. Ted Williams, the man with the “golden voice”
This week, a video from the Columbus Post-Dispatch went viral:

This man, Ted Williams, has a gift. It’s a mix of a natural voice and some significant training. He made some personal mistakes, obviously, but he’s being given a second chance at life.

Here’s the thing: everyone deserves a second chance, provided (of course) that they make the most of that second chance. We are all raised differently, with different lessons and differing senses of right and wrong. Some of us fall into difficult situations that are almost impossible for even the strongest man to get out of.

This video made me think long and hard about some of the people in my own life that might deserve a second chance.

4. SimpliFried
This is a new blog just launched by my friend Erin Doland. I admire her ability to hop feet first into something completely different (she’s also responsible for Unclutterer, which I link to occasionally), particularly on a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: the integration of food and family.

5. Thoughts on experiences and material things
Instead of leisure being relaxed activity, it was transformed into an opportunity for increased consumption — even consumption of leisure itself (as in travel and vacations).
- Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

I’ve written about Your Money and Your Life many times in the past. Sometimes, when I feel the need for a bit of personal finance inspiration, I flip open the book to a random page and see what I find.

This week, I needed it. I was sitting in the living room trying to decide what to do with several Christmas items and some other stuff that had accumulated. I felt a bit overwhelmed, so I retreated to the office to write for a while.

I flipped open the book and right there, in the middle of the first chapter, was a quote hitting directly upon what I was thinking about.

6. Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles

Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles (1889)

Van Gogh is far and away my favorite artist. Different paintings of his stand out at different times for me. For some reason, this week, I could not get Bedroom at Arles out of my head. Comfortable and intimate and yet so far away. It makes me want to reach for more in my own life.

7. Prokofiev plays “Scheherazade”

One of the four musical pieces I want to work on this year on the piano is a (relatively) simple arrangement of a piano solo from “Scheherazade,” a symphonic suite composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888.

Here, Sergei Prokofiev (one of the greatest pianists to ever live, in my opinion) plays a piano solo from “Scheherazade.” This is so far beyond my level that I’ll likely never be able to play anything anywhere close to it, but the beauty of the music and his technical skill inspires me greatly.

8. Why I do this
An email from Heather:

I have meant to send this email to you for many months now. I cannot tell you enough how much your site has changed my life. I was already in the process of trying to pay off my debts when I encountered your website. I signed up for the daily posts via email and I think it was one of the main reasons I was so successful. Having that daily reminder of my goal-to pay off debt and have a healthy relationship with money-was what kept me on track. I also track what I spend and have for the last year and a half. I am now able to start seeing some trends!

Your site and your words made me feel that a change was possible-vis-a-vis the emotional reasons for spending. Not a week goes by that I don`t think of something you have mentioned or am reminded of something that you do, and this invariably helps me to make a good choice when shoppping. (EG. I needed warm waterproof winter boots (I live in Montreal, Canada) and most I had seen were over $300. I found a sale and was between two- one at 25% off 390 and the other pair 50% of 275. I LOVED the 390 dollar pair, but the 275 ones did the job-warm, waterproof, and black (needed to be black for work)). I thought of your post to do with choosing a new ipod or listening device and it helped me make the right choice for me (the other issue that i struggled with was the more expensive ones were made in Canada, while the cheaper in China, but in the end decided that was not enough for me to justify paying the higher price.)

I shall stop rambling and again just say thank you for your words that continue to inspire me.

This email sums up why I write this site/ An email like this makes me want to keep working on The Simple Dollar until my days are over.

There are days when this site utterly exhausts me. I’ll read through a bunch of emails, with half of them being extremely negative and the other half demanding attention to some detail that doesn’t make my heart take off. I log off and go curl up with my kids for a nap and try to forget about it.

All it takes is one or two notes from people like Heather to make it feel worthwhile again. Thank you.

9. Peas and Thank You
A family integrating vegetarian and vegan food into their normal family life has inspired me with my own dietary challenges and integration of those challenges with my own family.

Much thanks to Laura L. for pointing me toward this site.

10. Enough said

Baby boy

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9 thoughts on “Ten Pieces of Inspiration #1

  1. Thank you for retiring the rehash and giving us something thought-provoking on a Saturday morning. This is rich in substance, and it would be wonderful if you could keep it at this level all year. Good idea.

  2. Yes, way better than Time Machine, mostly because I always found myself saying, “Oh yeah, I remember that one.” Long-time readers will appreciate something new. Wonderful post.

  3. This series will continue to be successful at least as long as you have a supply of adorable pictures of your kids – so you should be set for a while :)

  4. Love this!! The mix is excellent – art, literature, music, family, etc. I am a pessimist at heart, so I always appreciate and welcome inspiration and positive energy. Thanks, Trent!

  5. It is ironic that Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles” inspired your comment about making you “want to reach for more.” I think you really mean that the simplicity and peace inherent in the painting make you want to reach for “less.”

  6. My children are always my top inspiration!

    And I wanted to let you know that reading your blog is like getting advice from that big brother I never had!

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