Friday Roundup: Seneca, Attachment, and Beets

It’s Friday.

One great thing about this week is that after three weeks of fighting a cold I finally succumbed to an ear infection and….antibiotics.

First time in over five years!

And from an ear infection? I feel like a little baby. I thought only little babies get those. 

I blame it on the pathologist I was hanging out with. The issues began and ended with him, so I’m going to say it’s not just coincidence. Plus, I love placing blame on others.

antiobiotic pill on a plate


Good thing that’s out of the way.

Apart from hearing things as though through a tunnel, it actually has been a good week. For one, I’m not dead from an ear infection and for two, I’m alive. Plus I discovered things—cool things!

So let’s share some, shall we?


The Roundup!

  2. Seneca’s Letters
  3. Free Photo Bonanza
  4. Amelia Boone + Beets
  5. Becoming Attached

1. 99Designs

As some of you know, I’m working to finish a book on how to travel for free. It’s 75% how-to guide and 25% memoir and as you might’ve guessed, it will teach you about how to travel for free.

I’m self-publishing for the first time, so that also means I’m also having to learn how to do lots of stuff. Like get a cover design.

I found 99Designs through The Tim Ferriss ShowHere’s how it works: You supply as much information as possible on your design concept, then a “contest” is set up for designers to submit ideas. The winning idea gets the opportunity to work with you (and the money), and the losers get nothing, so most of the risk falls on the artists.

tack of three books no cover with twine

Book cover design pricing at 99Designs starts at $299 for about 30 designs, $499 for ~60, $799 for ~90, or $1,300 for ~60 from the “premium” designers.

There’s a money back guarantee if you don’t like any of the designs, but you’ll get more submissions if you guarantee that you’ll use one of the designers (meaning no money-back option). I.e., if artists know you’re serious about a contract with someone, they’ll be more likely to put in quality submissions.

I haven’t committed because I think my designer friend (Hi Amanda) would beat everybody in the world. Without her, though, I don’t know if I’d have the money to throw down on the best talent pool. From what I gather, unless you can spend on the pricier options, lower-tier submissions can be pretty hit or miss. Like five usable options out of 30 . . . which is a bit meh.

At any rate, 99Designs seems to be a great design resource overall and definitely worth sharing since it can be used for really anything that involves design: logos, business cards, website & app design, clothing and merchandise, etc. 


2. Seneca’s Letters

I’ve always been interested in Stoic philosophy but wrote it off as like, “Yeah, I get it, it’s about having feelings but not letting them get in the way.”

Which maaaybe is a way to view it (lightly), but as a person who is already emotion-disabled and mildly robotic, this was far too broad of a stroke to brush upon something that has the potential to be quite emotionally fulfilling.

In short:

No, I didn’t actually get Stoicism. Nor am I yet a pro who is going to try to give you the full course. What I will do is tell you that I’ve been reading a short letter per day from Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic and it’s become an invaluable part of my routine.

Larry Wallace’s essay in Aeon provided a rather great breakdown of Stoic Philosophy:

“Stoicism is, as much as anything, a philosophy of gratitude – and a gratitude, moreover, rugged enough to endure anything. Philosophers who pine for supreme psychological liberation have often failed to realise that they belong to a confederacy that includes the Stoics.”

greek marble statue of head

looking at something like this will make us feel like we do important things.

I’m always looking for new additions and ways to maximize those first wins for the day with the morning routineEach component is a little mental power bar to rev me up or chill me out. I assure you they work much better than a Facebook hit.

What I’m saying here is this: check out Seneca’s letters and try to read one of those little shorties per day. It’s a quickie brain massage, and you will like it. Or else.


3. Free Photo Bonanza

Years ago I had a blog documenting the time I spent traveling as a foodie and volunteer. One of the biggest hold-ups was finding and editing photos. With Roadwritten, I was lucky to find out that tons of free creative commons stock photos now exist all over the place.

This has been huge for me in terms of overcoming the mental weight toward the task of hunting down and editing photos from my own collection.

Sites such as and offer loads of selection for almost any keyword and they’re free as the blue sky. I prefer those two because of overall quantity and ease of search and download, but if you’re looking for artsier stuff, check out this post from Christopher Gimmer at Snappa Blog for a breakdown of 20 great sites for free photos.


4. Amelia Boone + Beets

This one’s a twofer!

Amelia Boone is what we can only call a badass. She’s a beautiful blonde successful lawyer, and she also may be the most decorated obstacle course competitor in existence.

No, it doesn’t matter that she’s beautiful and blonde, but I love knowing that she doesn’t let the way the world probably views her at first-glance get in the way of the powerhouse destroyer she is inside.

But I mean good type of destroyer. Destroyer of stereotypes, destroyer of obstacles, and destroyer of beets. That’s right, she’s a huge proponent of beets for nutrition.

cross section of red and yellow beets

I’m not planning on getting covered in scars from barbed wire mazes (yet), but I do plan on following her beet lead because just look at her

While I will plug her affiliated product: Beetelite beet root powder, it’s out of my price range, so I’ve just been throwing raw beets into my morning smoothie. Did you know you could do that?

Just a raw beet, scrubbed, unpeeled, and cubed. Right into your smoothie (I have a Vitamix; it might be a bit rough on weaker machines) or grated into a salad. No more roasting and peeling for this gal. Ahhh, simplicity.


2. Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love by Robert Karen

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about attachment, I guess because I’m not so good at it. The word alone causes my organs to freeze up and my throat to tighten. But that’s why I’m thinking about it, you know? To fix that. Or try.

How does that relate to the pursuit of creativity? The writing quest? Well, if I want to be a good artiste, I need to be vulnerable and I need to be able to access the scarier parts of myself. RoadWritten all the way.

In related readings, I keep coming across this study called The Strange Situation. It measures the way kids behave when they’re with their caretaker, then left alone, then reunited.

Turns out that a lot of the children’s patterns return to show up later in lives. Surprise, surprise.

a hand holding its other wrist

That lead me on the path to checking out Becoming Attached, which explores all sorts of ideas and experiments on the subject. It’s pretty history heavy, but laden with fascinating experiments and the conclusions thereof.

If you’re curious about understanding your relationship style and history of attachment, Karen’s book—though dauntingly large—is surprisingly digestible and even a bit exciting.

So there.

As ever, please allow me to leave you with what brought me the MOST joy out of all the things…

This video.


Thoughts? Discoveries? Ramblings? Leave a comment, make my day!   Happy Weekend 🙂


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