If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that the power of positive thought brought me the biggest blessings of my life.  And while that remains an honest answer, I am truly happy to tell you today that I have abandoned my dedication to this mindset.

Talk about exhausting.  Who needs that kind of pressure?

Yes.  I visualized what I wanted.  Yes.  I focused on love and acceptance and tried to be a good member of the public.  I controlled myself, I worked for it and I got what I wanted.  I tried to fit in here, I tried to be a good tattoo ambassador.  A good neighbour.  I tried to be a lot of things, for myself and for other people and none of that was ME.  I don’t fit in, and I don’t want to.  And I would be a terrible neighbour, which is why I can’t see one from my front door.  I require space.  I need to honor that.

I tried to see the best in people.  I started giving second, third chances.  I dealt with my anger via letter writing.  And don’t get me wrong, it was cathartic.  It let me sleep soundly.  But it wasn’t enough.

No doubt, there are people born happy.  Whose natural instinct is to gravitate towards the bright side.  And for those people, perhaps a dedication to “PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) is not a burden.

But that’s not me.  Never been me, isn’t me now and wasn’t me while I was using it.  It was not a sustainable practice.  Seven years was a good run, but I’ve used up my patience.  With curtailing my tongue, buttoning up, blending in.

This winter, I got into an altercation with some very impolite individuals.  After oh, about 7 years of putting up with harassment, of politely answering their ridiculous questions, and ignoring their insults.  When I talk about bullying with my children, I have always felt it a bit disingenuous.  Because the idea is, children bully.  Horse shit.  Adults do it, too.  And while positive conflict resolution is of course ideal, it is not always the best option.  You know, it was one of those mornings, I was running late, hadn’t had a coffee.  I wasn’t at my best.  They pushed.  Like they always pushed.  And finally, I pushed back.  I asked them what about me (the “Horrible Tattooed Woman”) gave them the impression that I might turn the other cheek.  Be a better judge of character, I told them.

And I meant it.

They hated me when I was being polite, and they hate me today.  Difference is, I don’t have to hear about it anymore.  Hallelujah.

This spring, someone I cared about passed away.  Another went into hospital and remains there.  No amount of positive thought would have improved their failing health.  No thoughts, no words, no actions could have changed the course that they had set sail on.  Positive mental approach, my ass.  There was no place for that in that new reality of mourning, of the morning after.  Not only would it not have been helpful, it would have been an insult.  Sometimes, the only way out is through.  Get mad.  Wallow.  Do it over and over.  As much as you want.  Sometimes there is no feeling better.

Sometimes the only way out for people is death. I have watched good people around me deal with extremely hard end-of-life care, and if I saw someone tell them to ‘keep their chin up’ or ‘visualize a better reality’, I would probably be moved to violence.  People need support from other people during dark times, to make hard and often dark choices.

I believe we can re-wire ourselves. Create new patterns, new habits.  Even new pathways in our brains.  Fake it ’till ya make it.  C’mon, get happy.  But unless you honour the core of your being, unless you are being honest with yourself, it’s just a facade.  Something that will get heavier with time, until it itself is a burden.

No matter what blessings it has brought.

You better be you.

While I better…. B ME.



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rip sdl



  1. Amanda · August 16, 2013


  2. Mom · August 16, 2013

    Your strength in yourself makes me proud (as always). Love you xx

  3. Amandette · August 16, 2013

    My husband practices The Law of Attraction/Power of Positive Thinking, big time. I love him for it, but I find a lot of it hard to swallow at times. Perhaps because of the depression I’ve lived with (unmedicated), since I was a very young child. Some of us *are* just darker, at times. Yes, there is nothing wrong being sad or angry at times, in certain instances it is actually a good sign! I just want my children to ‘see through me’, that life isn’t all about despair and lack of choice.
    Thank you for yet another great post. :)

  4. petrina · August 16, 2013

    Ash, I know little of you but I know a lot about façade. You are safe with me. I have all sorts of raw going on…the most attractive are the authentic. Awesome blog!

  5. JessicaLea · August 16, 2013

    Through my nursing career I have had the privilege of giving end of life care, it is so very hard. I know that if it is hard on me, a total stranger, it must be unbearable for family and close friends. I never judge the things people say or do during these times because everyone grieves and deals with death differently and is in a different place in their journey through life. Most people do not have a clue what to say or do so they lean on cliches. I wish we lived in a perfect world where we all could die with dignity and in comfort, these are the things I strive above all else to give my patients. Sometimes the comfort only comes after death and we have to find peace knowing that.

  6. Ivy · August 16, 2013

    Ah, good old ‘PMA’ – what an annoying little acronym. Easier said than done, in my view. Although I find I can apply it professionally (as a high school teacher) it rarely works for me on a personal level. Give me ‘practical’ over ‘positive’ any time. I think one of the problems is that we live in an instant world in which so many things can be accessed in the blink of an eye; unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think this applies as much to emotions as it does to an Ebay purchase. Earlier this year a close friend of mine lost her father. When she returned to work a few days after his funeral there were those who couldn’t quite understand why she wasn’t her usual vibrant self. As though the fog would have automatically cleared as soon as she’d left the wake. She’s gradually making her way through it, thankfully in her own time and on her own terms. Personally, I’m more for practicality, perspective and perseverance. Oh, and PG Tips. But that’s just me.

  7. Trailer repairman · August 16, 2013

    A lot of thought must have gone into this.

  8. Zayin · August 16, 2013

    I hear you.

    We don’t have to be positive balls of light at all times. Defininitely not practical.

    I practice something I like to call “focusing on the awesome”. The awesome isn’t everywhere. Some aspects of my life are hell. Insanely depressing. There’s nothing I can do to change that. But I can choose not to focus on it all the time. I (try) to focus on the things I can change. The good stuff, the awesome.

    BUT! The awesome is not everywhere. It is not in that wackjob person who is rude to you, abusive people, that soul destroying job or that life-destroying illness. A positive spin simply cannot (and should not) be put on some things.

    Sometimes the awesome just lies in the fact that you can tell some idiot off for being judgemental about your tattoos.

  9. Krissy · August 16, 2013

    I hope this comment sounds as supportive as I mean it. Text is hard sometimes.

    I have watched the dwindling number of posts with concern. I think you are a fascinating, interesting person. I think I experience a lot of the same kind of community pushback as you. I am not quite as heavily tattooed. :) But I have never fit in any where. Every community has always been hostile to me. I am just weird. *shrug*

    I am so sorry to hear of your grief and loss. You are right to process and deal with that. You don’t have to earn peoples love by being a door mat. Never ever. I’m glad you stood up for yourself even if it is complicated.

    I don’t know you but I have been reading what you put into the world for many years. I think you sound like a good person. I think you are very sincere about what you put into the world. I am glad that people like you exist. Even though I may never make it up to Canada I hope that if I do I can find a way to stop and have a cup of tea with you.

    I am very certain that you would not feel judged. I admire you deeply. Whatever you decide about your life going forward I know you will continue to live with your whole heart. You can’t let the bullies win. I know they never grow up.

    If you ever make it out to California be sure to give blog readers notice. I’ll drive many hours to meet you.


  10. Volkov · August 16, 2013

    Who you are is pretty badass, Ma’am. Absolutely, you be you.

    Positive thinking can be a useful tool. It can shield and it can be a way to get along when going against is counterproductive. But as you say, it is unsustainable as a manner of being. You sure as hell don’t owe anyone your silence if they are going to use it against you. Fuck that.

    I’m sorry for your losses. While grief rarely “resolves”..I hope it becomes less jagged over time.

  11. MissNomer · August 16, 2013

    Have you read ‘Bright Sided’, by Barbara Ehrenreich? If you haven’t, this post makes me think you might find it interesting.

    Unrelated, I found this on my Facebook page–is it your photo?

  12. kirsty · August 16, 2013

    Small town ontario can be hostile, but you’ve got a good little gang and scene there so keep blogging about homeschooling and your pretty farm life.

  13. freddy · August 16, 2013


  14. Keloide · August 16, 2013


  15. M · August 16, 2013

    Please come back :(

  16. Nikki · August 16, 2013

    Come baaaaccckk! I miss this blog tremendously. <3

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  18. Vicki · August 16, 2013

    I love the gritty honesty of this post. Just found your blog today and am really enjoying it. I am going to share with my 12 year old daughter. Every girl needs the positive influence of strong women ….even if it is an online blog….thanks for sharing.

  19. Anonymous · August 16, 2013

    I so wish I could post a pic in this comment.
    I found my spirit meme the other day, it reads, “oh so everybody likes you? That’s cause you’re fake as fuxk!”
    You’re awesome and beautiful. XoxoX

  20. Anonymous · August 16, 2013

    That’s kinda how I feel right now…

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