Somewhere Only We Know

Header image provided by Marcus Emerick

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since we last added to our collection in the Curiosity Cabinet, hasn’t it?

Since then, I’ve talked a lot about managing energy, emotional labor, and working through emotional funks.

So… you’ve probably guessed I’ve been having a hard time keeping up my energy, and that I’ve been struggling with emotional drain and the like. But I’m okay. I’m figuring out what does and doesn’t work for me.

And even if I’ve been a little quiet, I have found some amazing things on my latest travels through the worlds. And many of those were thanks to you!

Continue reading Somewhere Only We Know

Building Your Safe Creative Space

ROBYN BECK/Getty Images
We’ve talked about self-care, and we’ve talked about pampering our brains when they’ve decided, “Nah bra, I can’t deal with the world atm.”
Because we do need to do that. We need to take time to give ourselves extra love, because honestly, the US is kinda a dumpster fire right now, and that makes existing a bit exhausting. Not to mention if you want to do anything creative.
But while ennui deserves to be acknowledged, it is a rather selfish emotion and sometimes it takes up more time than we can deal with. Or, it doesn’t leave after it’s been tended to.
And creating, as we know, can be its own form of self-care. So how does one engage in that life-giving endeavor if they’re too emotionally exhausted to begin?
This is where making a Creative Safe Space comes in. And we do it by tending to the five senses as needed. You may find you don’t need all of these every day, or even any day, but I’ve found soothing each to be a profitable endeavor. In carefully considering each sense and how it can best be tended to in order to give you a safe space to create in, you can create routine, and even use sense memory to your advantage.

Sound is a huge factor in how we relate to the world around us. Countless studies have dedicated time and effort to investigate how various sounds can soothe or irritate our mental states. Some can help us focus, some provide erratic distraction. So this is a huge one to consider in regards to creating your creative safe space. What do you need in terms of sound to do your art?

For some, they need absolute silence, for others, they work best when mentally tuning out the din of a busy coffee shop.

For me? It’s a storm. The sound of downpour and thunder soothes me into a place of contentment and introspection. Whatever the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder is, that’s me. Shut out the summer sun, I find it exhausting. Depending on the auditory input, I can get overstimulated and overwhelmed, but given the right ingredients, I can tune out the rest of the world, and with a storm and some music to set the mood of the scene I’m writing, I’m good to go.  Of course, I can’t actually summon storms (I was just as shocked as you are), so I use a handy little tool like Noisli.


Even if you’re ultimately just going to be staring at a screen, or a page of paper, the visuals of what’s around you are incredibly important. Are they too bright, too dark, too garish? Is it cluttered, is it cramped, is it too open?

These are all things to consider regarding your comfort level. I personally have a very hard time working in a cluttered space. If the area around me is full of unorganized junk, my brain is also similarly discombobulated. I’ve found I work best in a clean well-lighted place.

Though “well lighted” can mean many things depending on the person. For me, it’s soft natural light in through my window. And if it’s too late in the day for that, I respond best with soft twinkly lights about my room that give the illusion of candlelight.


Where are you sitting when you create? Are you better standing? Are you comfortable, or does your back hurt? Do you need a straight back chair, or a cozy nest of pillows? It’s important to consider longevity in regards to this as carpal tunnel and back trouble are no joke, and can create future hinderances to your creative work.

Also I have come to the realization that I REALLY need to get ready for the day, even if I’m not leaving the house. I need that shower and I REALLY need to be wearing real pants. Not cozy pants! Real, I could go out into the world and look like a regular human (within reason) pants. Otherwise I feel like I’m just drifting about until I nap/sleep again. This may not be the case for you, but there’s something about the feeling of ‘ready for the day’ clothes that helps me get to work on my art.


We all know a little about our olfactory senses and how smell can strongly link us to certain memories or emotions. So creating a scent-scape, essentially, that is you “gonna make some art now!” can be very helpful. For me? I tend to light incense before I get to work. I’m pagan and a bit of a hippie, so I will often use some “banishing” incense to send away any current anxieties or mental distractions. This ritual in itself is helpful to me but I’ve done it often enough that the scent of incense gets me in a ‘let’s get to work’ sort of mindset. Perhaps for you it’s a particular kind of scented candle you light, or perhaps you just avoid this sense all together because you find it distracting.


This may also be a back burner sort of thing for a lot of people, because it tends to have less of an impact. But for me, routine and ritual are often very  helpful in coaxing my mind into a state it may be reluctant to go. So I always make myself a nice pot of tea before I dive in to writing or filming. Maybe you need that cup of coffee. Maybe it’s a hearty breakfast or meal etc. Again, you may not need it, but it’s good to take some time to think about it.

While you shouldn’t need any of these to create, and maybe you can only bring your music with you if you’re on the go, these tools can be helpful. Because when I’m in a state of absolute ennui, I’m then able to create an environment that shifts that point of view. We’re able to sort of exploit our own sense memory into pulling us out of a numb state of defeat. Because even though you might be feeling ‘blah’, your five senses say… ‘wait… no, we gotta wake up.. it’s time to do some art’.

Irkadura – Review

Healing from trauma is a non-linear ever-continuing process. I did not expect this book to become one of many tools in my collection to aid that process, yet here we are, and I’m still at a loss for words, even after days of letting my thoughts digest.

I was warned I would weep.

But, I did not. I wish it had been that simple.

Reading Irkadura, I felt inspired, and heartbroken. Hollowed out with an old wooden spoon, and frayed at the edges. The sort of sadness where you wish you felt like crying, because then it would release, and be gone. Instead it lingers in you like cold on the bones after standing in the chill too long.

Beautifully ugly.

I didn’t find the horrible events described triggering so much as a tool to look at those moments from a distance. Irina’s view of her abuse lends the reader a detached point of view to be able to view their own trauma, and while possibly not intentionally, provides a sort of language that eases the difficulty in speaking of it. A set of some kind of linguistic training wheels for those not yet able to muster the strength to speak so bluntly.

Dark, and grim, but laced with threads of hope in places you’d never think to look, it bleeds vulnerability.

In a few months I might read it again.

And maybe then, with my new set of tools and perspective, I’ll be able to cry about it.

Pulled from my Goodreads Profile.

Emotional Labor

We don’t often give a lot of credit to emotional labor. We sort of shrug it off as this thing that’s really nothing because we don’t have a tangible result from it.

It’s not.

I have to remind myself of that often.

Reason being is I probably do a lot more emotional labor than the average person per day, and it’s an exhausting process, but because I’m without a resulting product, I feel guilty. I feel like I still should be able to write, I should be able to film, I should still have energy to create and clean, and do everything else.

But you don’t.

Continue reading Emotional Labor

Mana Management

Image by WTB Potions

It has come to my attention that I do a lot on an average week. I usually have a lot of things going on at once, many projects in the air, and have been asked a few times how I manage to do it all. I’ve jokingly responded “By systematically sacrificing my social life”, and while that’s true, it’s not entirely the whole story. So I’m going to attempt to talk about that and hope what I’ve learned may be of some use to you.

First, it’s important to realize I don’t get done everything I want to. I’m still learning. For instance, this week my Wordy Wednesday will be late. My Curiosity Cabinet was unable to go up on Sunday like I planned due to a tragedy that struck last week when many of us in the Geek community lost a dear friend unexpectedly. But this happens. Because there are many things we can’t control. And one of those things is time.

Continue reading Mana Management

Very Good Advice

First of all, have I told you how much I appreciate you? I really do. I honestly can’t imagine how bleak my day would be without you in it. Thank you for being you. Always. Of all the worlds I’ve visited through the centuries, I’m very certain this one is my favorite.

Because of you.

And tea. Tea is quite glorious too.

But mostly you.

Announcement: This Halloween, Alys will have been with the wonderful folks at Doce Blant for a full year! What shall we do to celebrate?

This week I got to hear such wonderful things from the Curiosity Community, and I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to capture some of my favorite moments and share them with you.

Here’s what you might have missed this week:


Doctors vs. Nazis

Roald Dahl, Storyteller, Screenwriter, Spy

What Started the tension between Spain and Catalonia?

The Art of Being Yourself




6/7 B&w #nocontext

A post shared by Kiri Callaghan (@kiricallaghan) on


I threw out a lot of questions this week, but this one had some of my favorite answers. There were so many, it was hard to choose!

What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Taken?

“Jiggle the handle” –

“When confused, draw a diagram. If still confused, draw a BIGGER diagram. Repeat if necessary.” –

“As long as you’re not hurting anyone then love who/what you love and never be afraid to find your own happiness.” –

“Be your own hero.” –

“Embrace change.” –

“Be ready to give up everything you have to become who you are.” –

“Don’t play games (in affairs of the heart) no matter how harmless it seems.” –

“One Day at a Time” – 

“Don’t just tell people about it. Do it.” –

“Rewrite the book from scratch.” – 

Never regret any decision made with all the info you had available to you at the time. Results may not be expected, but can never be regrets as long as you had all the info. – 

Forgive the language, but everyday you take a shit is a good day. – 

“Confidence is quiet, insecurity is loud. Let’s your actions be your proof, not your words.”  –

“Blood may be thicker than water but even family only get so many chances!” – 

Go and talk to a therapist – 

“Only work with people that are excited to work with you.” – 

“Fail. Fail again. Fail in flames. Fail better.” –

“Be intentional” – Liam Conway

“You’re depressed, get help.” – Darren Vallance

“Embrace who you are.” – Dominic Grancitelli

“It’s okay to not be okay.” – Aaron Burke

“You must unlearn all that which you have learned.” – Ren Cummins




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Things that were done:

Participating in Realm FM on Hoopod!


Wordy Wednesday

The Writing Habit

A dear friend recently reached out to me for advice that I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to give. They were feeling overwhelmed with the world, distraught, and finding it difficult to focus on art through their medical struggles and wanted some wisdom on how to push through it.

Every response I can think of honestly feels rather trite.

But perhaps that’s okay. Perhaps things are overused for a reason, but we overlook them because it seems so commonplace and useless. We’re all familiar with “tried and true” but perhaps there is value in the idea of “trite, but true.”

And that’s all I can really offer you during these times of artistic constipation. A small piece of trite but true advice.

Sit down and just do it. Just vomit it out, as if it were no different than doing a dish or tying your shoe. It doesn’t have to be clever or pretty, it doesn’t have to be anything worth anything–you just need to do it. Just put your fingers to the keys or pen to paper and write. It doesn’t have to be relevant, it can literally be just a string of words that aren’t even relevant to your current project–or even ones that don’t make sense!

It’s a bit like jumpstarting a car. When you’ve left it alone for a while, sometimes you need to give it a jolt simply to get it back on track.

And sometimes the best way to do this, I’ve found, is to bleed everything into ink. I had a bad day? I write about it. I have a moment of elation? I jot it down. Sometimes they’re useless little notes in my phone, recently I’ve taken to carrying around a Field Notes journal because it’s small and fits even in my useless girl pockets (truly, why is it the pockets in pants made for women can’t seem to hold anything? What is the point of a purely aesthetic pocket? Yes, the detailing helps keep the garment from looking too plain, but one does want for some utilitarian purpose.)

The point is, if you want to push past the fog, I’ve found the best way is to literally write about everything. The mundane things, the excruciating things, the “wow no one will ever believe me this happened” things, and once you’ve gotten back in that habit–and it is, I’m afraid, a habit–the rest will be much easier. Not easy, mind you, I’m fairly certain anyone who says writing is ‘easy’ is an absolute liar but… easier.

Because you’re training your brain. You’re starting an almost Pavlovian experiment. You have a thought, your impulse is to write it down. You hear a joke? You write it down, without thinking. You are struck with a heart-wrenching, absolute soul hollowing feeling?

You. Write. It. Down.

It may feel crass at first, you’re likely not going to feel very good at any of it, that’s for certain for quite some time. Hell, at this point I’ve been writing for years, have put up a live performance of my work, published works through self-determination and traditional press…

And I’m still not sure if I’m very good at it.

But it’s become a habit I can’t break. It’s become a compulsion that I feel uncomfortable if I don’t follow through with it.

Perhaps that’s all a bit trite and cliche. But it just so happens that I know it to be true.