Ten Pieces of Inspiration #5

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.

1. A sick baby on the mend

This winter has been really hard on our infant son, as he’s come down with a series of colds. It seems as though as soon as he has one licked, he has maybe a week of good health, then he’s fallen with another one.

A sick baby on the mend

This week, he was fairly ill again and Sarah and I spent three days being his nurse. On the last of those days, he was beginning to feel a little bit better and we were having fun together playing with the camera. Most of the pictures were awful, but there was just something about this one.

I’m inspired by the boy’s perseverance. If a little baby can take it and keep on rolling, so can I.

2. Confucius on frugality

“He who does not economize will have to agonize”
– Confucius

A reader sent this to me this week, and it truly sums up how I feel about frugality. If I can regularly make decisions that don’t really have a big impact on me, like not buying a new game until I’ve played the ones I already have or using the library or making a meal at home, then I forego the stress and worry that comes with having difficulty paying bills or going into panic mode if my income falls.

3. Iowa State University’s central campus

The Campanile at Iowa State

I spent a bit of time this week on the campus of Iowa State University. As I was walking out of the Memorial Union on campus, I saw the campanile (a large clock tower) that sits in the center of campus, shrouded in snow. It reminded me of many winters I spent in college, trudging across a freezing campus with a load of books on my back, hoping my toes didn’t freeze by the time I reached the far side.

Thanks to Dirk Hansen for the image; unfortunately, I didn’t get a good one with my own camera.

4. Chili in the oven

A couple days ago, I tried a different approach to making chili, far different than I’d done before. It involved cooking it by baking it – putting the whole pot in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for two hours.

Not only was the chili delicious, but the aromas filled the entire house, making the whole house smell gently of delicious chiles and tomatoes.

The mere thought of that aroma makes me want to experiment with our meals.

5. Jacque’s speech from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It

We only have one life, and in that life we go through stages. We shift from one to the other, not realizing what we’ve lost until it’s too late. There is much to celebrate about where we’re at right now.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

6. Self-made and off-the-cuff music

More and more, I’m in love with the ability of people to just grab an instrument and perform something amazing. One example of this is this video of Joni Mitchell performing “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Another is when I walked along Main Street in Ames, Iowa and came across a music shop. I stuck my head inside for a moment to find someone playing an amazing ragtime song on the piano, basically off the cuff without any sheet music.

That’s an amazing and inspirational skill.

7. George Burns on failure

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.”
– George Burns

This is a philosophy, eloquently stated, that’s beginning to shape how I parent my children. I’m happy to help them into adulthood if they’re actually chasing a dream, but if they’re just working to goof off on the weekends, I don’t have much interest in assisting that.

8. Van Gogh’s Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers

Vincent van Gogh - Still Life: Vase with twelve sunflowers

This has been my desktop wallpaper all week long. I yearn for the return of summer. Thanks to Steve Dorrington for the image.

9. Ray Comfort on recovery

“Never let the defeat of the past rob you of the success of your future.”
– Ray Comfort

Everyone has made mistakes in their past. While it’s good to reflect on them to help yourself to improve, you’ve always got to keep in mind that things are moving forward, not backward. The mistakes you made in the past are in the past. You have a clean slate today, one by which you can prove yourself and build up opportunities all over again.

10. Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor

I spent a lot of this week listening to the soundtrack to the film Amadeus while I worked. This is the highlight of that soundtrack for me.