Ten Pieces of Inspiration #46

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

This past week, my oldest two children and I spent some time looking at public domain photos of different points in American history for an art project. Some of them really inspired me, so this week’s entry has quite a few of them.

1. Soldier’s Goodbye and Bobby the Cat (ca. 1939-1945) by Sam Horn
A friend of our family was recently deployed to Afghanistan, and at the same time, our son’s school is engaging in a “thank you” letter writing campaign to veterans of past wars. Because of that, the issue of people going off to war has been on our minds lately. This picture just grabbed us.

Soldier's goodbye & Bobbie the cat, ca. 1939-ca. 1945 / by Sam Hood

A beautiful image of love in a time of war.

2. P. T. Barnum on money’s value
What good is money if you don’t have anything that you otherwise value?

“Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience.” – P. T. Barnum

All money does is let you align your life with the things that you value. If you’re not doing that, then what value does it have?

3. Child in a swimsuit holding a basket of clams (ca. 1929-1932) by Vern Gorst
When we came across this picture, we started a long discussion about why this young child was working, carrying what looks to be a reasonably heavy basket of clams. This led us to a long conversation about how in some societies young children have to work to help out the family.

Child in a swimsuit holding a basket of clams, probably Washington State

We spent some time wondering about this child, particularly whether this child was working or was playing some sort of game with clam shells. What is this child’s world like? One can’t help but wonder.

4. Henry Ford on financial independence
Financial independence is the result of something else.

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.” – Henry Ford

If you work hard to build your knowledge, your experience, and your ability, you’re also building your independence.

5. Schoolchildren line up for free issue of soup and a slice of bread in the Depression (1934) by Sam Hood
Whenever I hear someone complaining about the sorry state of the economy, I think of pictures like this one, depicting people lining up in soup kitchen lines in the 1930s because there was simply no way for them to get food at home. Banks where people had their life savings vanished with all of their money. Unemployment reached 30% – and much higher in some areas. This picture inspired a long conversation with my oldest son about poverty.

Schoolchildren line up for free issue of soup and a slice of bread in the Depression, Belmore North Public School, Sydney, 2 August 1934 / Sam Hood

This picture inspires me because it reminds me that things can always be far worse than they are. We are all really pretty well off.

6. LooseCubes
There are times when it’s not convenient for me to work at home. When that happens, I try to work at the library, but that doesn’t always work out, either. Coffee shops can work, but if they’ve got a lot of people, those sometimes fail. A few times a year, I just need a cubicle somewhere for the day to just get some stuff done.

That’s exactly what LooseCubes helps with. It can tell you where you can find a desk somewhere to work without interruption. This site really helped during our Seattle trip when I had an emergency to deal with and needed a distraction-free place to work for a while. I left it bookmarked and recently found it again, realizing how useful it can really be for people who are self-employed.

7. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936) by Dorothea Lange
This picture is famous for a reason. The look on this woman’s face and the situation she found herself in as a post-Dust Bowl migrant with children is a painful one.

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California

My daughter looked at this for a long time and called the woman a “sad mommy” and wanted to know why the children weren’t trying to make her laugh. I gave her a hug and said, “I think they’re just hugging each other.” She put her arms around me and didn’t say anything for a while.

8. Andre Maurois on happiness and the past
Whenever I think about the past too much, I tend to feel melancholy. Similarly, whenever I feel melancholy, I tend to dwell on the past.

“The first recipe of happiness – avoid too lengthy meditations on the past.” – Andre Maurois

Today is a much brighter place than yesterday.

9. Thomas [in car] (ca. 1910 – 1915)
This last picture is a bit lighter in tone than the earlier ones. This led us to talk a lot about how much things change over a hundred years, from the car the man was driving to how he was dressed.

Thomas [in car] (LOC)

There are so many details that are so different today, yet the situation is also familiar. He’s a person enjoying a bit of freedom.

10. Jessi Arrington on the virtues of thrift stores
This is wonderfully spot on.

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