Thursday, February 03, 2022

In case you were wondering...

 Hey y'all. 

Deep breath. I've found myself holding mine at times so sigh that shit out. 

Ok! I wanted to get real with y'all about where I stand on the pandemic these days and why that could even matter to you ("you" being people who want to know, and no hard feelings if you don't care). 

First off, I have fibromyalgia, which means I have chronic pain, chronic debilitating fatigue and a host of other symptoms that I won't go into. I also have a few other diagnoses that complicate things, but that's perhaps for another time. What you need to know is that I have been and will always be careful because if I catch Covid, it'll be twice as painful for me. That's how my illness works. A classic cold? I feel it twice as hard as I did when I wasn't chronically ill. 

What's more, my partner is immunocompromised. Before Covid, I've taken him to the hospital for simple things like a flu or food poisoning, unsure if he'd make it out. Most of us don't need hospitalization for flu or food poisoning but he has. So yes: I support vaccines and I'll be as careful as I can around Covid. My mom and stepdad are also in their 70s and both have health conditions that would make Covid or even the flu dangerous for them both. 

So. That's why I am careful. 

That's also why I can't stand nor tolerate staunch anti-vaxxers. Staunch anti-vaxxers are the result of fear, privilege, misinformation and wilful ignorance.  This blog isn't for those people. To you, I simply say: "Next!"

This blog is for those people who are partially vaccinated and perhaps confused about boosters, or angry or frustrated or exhausted about how the pandemic is being handled by our government and public health officials. I haven't been open to many conversations about vaccines and health care because I've been busy trying to survive, vigilant in keeping myself and my partner safekeeping up with personal growth in healing trauma and antiracism education. I also have wanted to amplify the science of vaccines and the life saving benefits that the vaccine has afforded all of us. 

However, there are very valid concerns that a lot of you are having about health measures, lockdowns, government action or inaction and you have nowhere to put that concern. Some people reacted to their concerns by aligning with the freedom convoy; which, by the way, the convoy was never about truckers and never about freedom. It was about white nationalism. Period. Covid caused supply chain issues and inflation. Not vaccines or vaccine mandates. Almost 90% of the truckers are vaccinated and haven't been affected by mandates in the way the convoy has spun the narrative. 

But many people did NOT align with the convoy for white supremacy "freedom," and are simply exhausted, scared, and unsure what to do. Who can blame you? We've been told we all matter by the government, yet the most recent wave of omicron showed us that workers were expected to suck it up and go back to work without extra sick pay or support. We've been told that we're all in this together, yet vulnerable populations are still hit hardest by this virus. Those who identify as women or who have uteri, struggle with the implications of a vaccine and/or Covid itself on their cycles and on fertility. And we all know that health care loves to educate openly about women's health (enter sarcastic eye roll here). Small businesses that have NOT been high transmission locations were all but punished during subsequent lockdowns while big corporations and malls were privileged/prioritized over those small businesses. Mental and physical health were thrown out the window, even when the science said that it was ok to keep those spaces open in a smart, controlled way. It's frustrating as f*ck. There. I said it. 

So. What do you/we do about all of this? I know you feel powerless. We all have to some degree during this slog. I promise you, you're not powerless. If I can stay connected, engage in activism (petitions, amplifying advocates voices, calling campaigns, letter writing, email writing etc) than you can too. You also can work on owning your own emotions, practising self-compassion and grounding, and learning to be less reactive. What's more, there's information out there and people actually willing to listen about hesitancy and all of your concerns. 

For example, if you're women-identifying and worried about fertility or menstruation and the vaccine, check out Dr Jen Gunter on Instagram and her blog because she's a compassionate, badass ObGyn who has shared countless facts about the vaccine and health implications (hint, it's safe). Don't take my word for it though. Take hers, or better yet, the advice of someone else you trust. If you can't find someone, talk to a therapist (most are doing virtual appointments, which is super convenient!). Talk to a friend and make it your mission to search out sound, peer reviewed (scientific journals) on topics you're concerned about. 

If you're pissed about mandates, lockdowns, etc... get your typing fingers ready or arm yourself with a pen!! Write to YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS to lobby for change you want to see. I cannot stress this enough.

It helps to also get clear about what's actually bugging you, take some deep, grounding breaths, engage who you think is appropriate (your mp, your MPP, etc), and rest when you need to. Rest is not a luxury: it's a necessity.

Hell, if we're friends, you can talk to me! I may not be able to physically do a lot these days but I can listen and talk (within reasonable limits, of course :). Fibro does rob me of energy in many ways, but I can text like a mothereffer.).

I'm not open to or tolerant of someone wanting to school me on how vaccines are gene therapy, or how the pandemic is a scam, or that my calling the convoy racist is me being "divisive." I got zero space and f*cks for that nonsense. Calling out racism isn't divisive: racism and white supremacy are divisive. (that's right: I underlined, italicized AND bolded that shit!)

Conversations between friends or acquaintances can be incredibly healing and a powerful agent of growth in the human spirit and psyche. I realize I may seem closed off to some of you who have concerns about vaccines or mandates because I've been both vocal about vaccines and hunkered down because of my husband's and my health issues. This is why I'm writing this blog. I want you to know that I want to see you and hear you. 

Let me level with y'all some more:

I'm tired of racists and racist apologists not being held accountable

I'm tired of feeling scared for my husband's life when i see people who I thought were decent subscribe to conspiracy theories and throw all scientific integrity and recommendations out the window. 

I'm tired for the vulnerable people who don't have access to basic needs, let alone health care and who are being ignored because some loud, idiotic voices are being privileged over theirs. This extends to health care workers who are being blocked, harassed, assaulted and terrorized when trying to do life-saving work.

I'm tired of BIR (Black, Indigenous and Racialized folks'), small businesses and women-identifying folks being squashed under the weight of racism, misogyny, corporate greed, and unfair working wages and environments. And, for not getting any reparations even when there was supposed to be government assistance. 

So I'm sure I'm not alone in those tired things. We're all exhausted, and while we may not fit into the exact same exhaustion topic boxes, we definitely have overlapping Venn diagrams! 

My invitation is to the following people: people who are struggling with genuine concerns about Covid and the vaccine, people who believe in health mandates but are frustrated with how they're being created and implemented, people exhausted from racism and white supremacy, and people who are exhausted from being scared all the time of this virus.. I'm here. Not 24/7 because I've gotta take care of my own sanity and health (chronic illness is a full time job). But hit up my DMS or text me. Check out Dr. Jen Gunter if you're curious about women's issues and the vaccine (or women's health in general!). Read sound studies. Talk to someone you trust. Ground. All throughout the day. 

That's what we'll end on: let's ground together. This is something you can do multiple times throughout the day, and I HIGHLY encourage you to. 

  • Whether you're sitting, standing, in a wheel chair or lying down, focus on your feet
  • Breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth, imagine roots growing from the feet into the ground, through floors, foundation, the earth, the crust. 
  • Keep breathing, in through the nose out through the mouth. 
  • As you imagine these roots growing longer and farther down, they're growing stronger. 
  • You are growing stronger. 
  • Keep breathing. When the mind wanders (and it will :)), gently refocus on the breath
  • Clench the hands into fists a couple of times and release.
  • Take another yummy breath and voila
Thank you for listening/reading, and for being you. Stay safe and warm, folks. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

on turning 30

Turning...into what? Into who?
Ever-changing, and reaching this milestone--
stone that marks my aging cells and tells them
"you're a grown-up now."
Or so I'm told.
Not how I feel:
I feel like me and paradoxically I'm a stranger to the woman
in the mirror, who has more laugh-lines than I remember and 
tear-tracks scarring cheeks that used to hurt from smiling so hard
while talking, walking, watching, crying, living and loving with you.
Why. No longer a question, but a state:
this place I visit, most days. When I don't, I miss
you and who I used to be
with you.
Without you, the state is a memory, a ghosttown.
Without you, I'm turning. Into what? Into who?
Discovering not either-or, but both-and.
Laugh lines, worry lines--drawing their way
to yesterday, today,
even more clearly to tomorrow.
I'm scared to go there
without you.
Could you leave the state and come with me?
in another way?
Show up in the tracks of my laughter, and hold my heart while I walk along,
while I turn and turn?
Hold my heart, and I'll carry yours as we spin into each new age.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

What it's like to live without my best friend

No point in sugar-coating it: the title is about as clear as it gets.

It's been almost seven months since I lost my childhood best friend. She was a sister to me--and I don't say that lightly. It's not a sentiment I throw around. I have my actual blood sister, Kiki who I love to pieces. Then I met my Brigitte and she also became my sister in all meanings of the word except for the blood-relation part.

We met  when I was 11, in grade 7. We were both so young and shy. We sat beside each other and nervously made small talk until I accidentally flung my pen at her. From that moment, I would be deemed "pen-chucker" and we became instant friends.

She became the most healing, joy-filled, love-filled part of my childhood and life. I lost my father suddenly when I was little (7 years old), so my childhood and future was stained with trauma. I had my sis and some friends to fill life with some happy memories. Brig was my soul-twin and filled my life with meaning.

She had a physical disability, which meant that we knew that she wouldn't live a typical or necessarily long life, but there were no parameters or numbers available to us from her medical history. That dark notion was tucked somewhere in the back of my brain with my skeletons, gathering dust. Once you lose someone you love so suddenly and at such a young age, you learn a way of thinking in which nothing good will last. Anything meaningful and loving can and will likely be ripped away.

I didn't want to believe that with her. I couldn't: I loved her too damn much. And for years, I managed to not think about it often. She was my companion and soulmate. We knew each other better than anyone. We could just look at each other and know if something was good, bad, iffy, etc. We relied on each other. Yes, we had our problems or challenges. We'd get into "discussions" --never "fights"-- as uncomfortable as they were. The thought of hurting each other made us sick. But we'd talk anyway. It took time, but we always became stronger because of it.

She was there for me through a lot of shitty things and good things. And when something good happened, she made it seem like the greatest thing in life. Birthdays were epic celebrations and lasted for the entire month, Christmas was a time of extreme joy, even small successes like a good mark on a test would become a cause for celebration. That was her. Full of love, and completely selfless in her love.

I could go on for days about her--about her grace, her sense of humour, her incredible honesty, her genuineness, her endless capacity for love--everything. I love her so much.

But this is about what it's like to live without her.

I dealt (and still deal) with loss--with the disabling, mind-numbing, heartbreaking loss of my father. I dealt with the ramifications of growing up as a child with that loss: of learning dangerous ways of thinking and coping, then of deconstructing those to live a healthier, fuller life. All of that to be chainsawed down to how I "used to be" when I lost her.

It's been almost 7 months but it's paradoxically like it happened yesterday and years ago all at once. She was part of my every day: texting, calling, emailing, commenting on EVERYTHING on Facebook that I'd post, posting her own pictures or memories--we were embedded in each other's lives. My life included her and functioned only with her in it.

Yes, I have  my beautiful family and my incredible husband who is my soulmate in another sense. He embodies being my best friend, lover, companion, and my muse, all in one. That's different. She was my soul-twin and spiritual sister.

She went away every year with her amazing mom and mom's cousin. Long story short, during their regular trip to Florida, she fell ill with a stupid cold, which developed into double pneumonia and she died from complications. Her body couldn't take it. Her mom is one of the most reasonable, level-headed, loving people I know so when she called me to say that it was serious, I knew she wasn't exaggerating. She tells things like it is, just like her daughter used to. With support from Kiki, her boyfriend, my Momma, Step-dad, and with immense support from my husband, I flew to Florida for a few days. Longest few days of my life. I came home amidst the confusion of whether she'd make it or not. We all knew she wasn't going to deep down, but there were several instances of false hope: this procedure was sort of working, her temperature came down, etc. I left before it happened whereas her family members stayed. I was exhausted.

A couple of days later, the news came. My almost 29-year old best friend, my childhood, my soul's sister was gone. Poof. Pneumonia, of all things, too. Don't we have treatments for that?

I fell to the floor, couldn't walk properly, and I cried as if tears could exorcise my pain. There were so many loving hands to embrace me. I'll be forever grateful for that.

But after...the days, weeks, months after...I'm still raw. I'm exhausted. I'm changed. I've had to relearn life and all of its facets. Each celebration seems darkened. Every social event seems terrifying and dangerous to me. She's not there and neither am I--not fully. I hate that part of myself: the fractured parts. I luckily was already seeing a counsellor for a while so she was there for me, but everything seems tainted.

I withdrew over the summer and I'm not the same person I was before it happened. A few life changes (one of which was good) threw me for a loop before it happened, so I was reeling from that but healing. Then bam. This shit happened.

Muscle memory had me going to text her goodnight every night as per usual. What was the point, though? Facebook still suggested posts or pictures from her or featuring her which felt like salt in my wounds. Still happens, too. Making friends doesn't feel the same: I'm self-conscious, sad, and I feel as though there's no point. I don't want to lose anyone else.

I'm scared. Almost all the time, but it's getting slowly better. When people ask how I'm doing, I answer "tired," sometimes with a chuckle, sometimes not. I deal with things through humour sometimes, to disguise the terror, anger, and helplessness hiding inside. Others do that, too, I know. It's a good defence. I am tired. I'm exhausted. Normal things take so much energy for me. Hell, getting out of bed felt like an endless struggle for a while there.

School is a beacon, in a way: a positive focus for helping me grow and to help others. It's also that much more exhausting, though. I manage my feelings as best I can, I try to be mindful of triggers, and I try not to freak people out by crying randomly. That's the crux of this, though: the triggers are many and random as hell. She was part of everything: I would tell her about everything in my life. The inside jokes were endless. Now they're ghost-like in my brain. They haunt me instead of making me smile.

That'll change, I think. I know that painful memories and triggers shift into bittersweet ones eventually. Not sure when "eventually" is, really, but it'll come someday.

Until then, I'm the surly-looking 28 (almost 29-year-old) woman who feels older than I am. I feel exhausted and unhealthy but I hope that will change and be remedied with time. I'm passed the vortex of wanting to join her. I've never wanted to not live so badly in my life. As selfish as that is: with my incredible blessings and living angels like my sister, Mom, husband, step-dad. The darkness and emptiness caused by her loss and re-experiencing my dad's loss because of it marred life itself for me.

My birthday's coming up. It'll be fun, I'm sure. I have my amazing family and friends to thank for that. And it'll come and go as always--this time with more assignments and deadlines than I've ever experienced. That should be interesting :). But she won't be there. And for some reason, I'm allowed to make it to 29 years of age. She wasn't.

There's my stomach again. IBS is a bitch. I wish she'd shut up. She tends to act up a lot these days from stress and grief. It sounds so effing cliche to me but it's true. Grief and loss and trauma can cause IBS and other fun things. Woot.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not looking to make you sad. If you've experienced ANY of the feelings I've described from this past year, I hope you find some peace in knowing how normal it is to feel these things after something terrible.

am looking for understanding--grasping for it, really. I used to be outgoing, a partier, able to stay up late and get up the next day with no problems except for a plea for coffee, I used to make friends easily, and not freak out if one thing doesn't get done during my day because I'm too damn tired. I know some of this is due to getting older, but a lot of it... It's because a shotgun blast when through me.

So, if I seem distant, or altogether missing, know that I'm still here. I'll come back to being Ashley in some way or another, even if it means I'll be someone else different, yet again.

Thank you for your love. Thank you for your support and your grace. Thank you for listening. In the stillness of life after loss, comes the discomfort of not knowing what to do with all this pain. So, thank you for listening to my ramblings. I'll get back to learning to how to live now and make some dinner. I found a cool looking recipe on Pinterest.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

cognitive dissonance - poem

sometimes I'm awesome, sometimes I'm not
sometime's I'm an ice queen, sometimes I'm hot
sometimes I appreciate some space and some quiet,
whereas other times I want to throw an effing riot

sometimes I think I should just stop my musing
because poetic artistic crap can be really confusing.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Autumn - poem

I could feel your breath
haunting my skin
how daring of you to emerge today,
in light that soothes and tells me stories of days that will trump the night and all of its

sweet darkness--I remember, how it waned and flickered to the moonlight and seduced you and I into its paradoxical
lively death
killing the light seemingly on the surface then waiting as I  mourned the extinction of all warmth inside, forgetting what it's like
to feel the sunlight I stole from yesterday

arrested in the future for my past's missteps in dancing with you

you, who flashed your colours across every damn piece of my world's canvas, promising beauty and love and warmth and reflected light from all of your surfaces
but you rusted and shriveled up
you misstepped
allowing the icy blankets to take over and wipe out everything I held dear just moments before in the sun

Night paled in comparison to the work you did yourself and claimed all the glory in my dedication to your illusion of change

I fought you
I stepped aside
I denied the darkness its pull and pushed so Light could take over, even in the Moon's dominion

it was beautiful
I felt beautiful
I felt free
free to forget to feel
something until something emptied into seconds ticking away

until you became mass enough to touch me and push back the decay, the change, the colours that warn of the impending frigid void

I could feel your breath today
reminding me of whose music moves me
blindly through the days into nights and tomorrows
breathing you in
but how do I stop my feet and hold my breath for too long without stumbling
how do I stand still, with your seductive destructive promises of feeling beauty in dying green, watching as fire and rust and illusory lovely landscapes distract me, dizzying me until you win, able to stop the music

until you sigh

and wait for me to Fall

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Using the Sleek Lagoon palette, I created this colourful, "under the sea" type of look :).

-Nars Smudgeproof primer
From the Sleek Lagoon palette:
-Night sky (outer 1/3 of lid)
-Deep water (crease, and to blend Night Sky into lid)
-Underworld (middle of lid)
-Ariel (first 1/3 of lid)
-Sand dollar (inner corner of eye, to blend Ariel a bit)
-Reflection (over crease lightly)
-Emerald on lower lashline
-Sand dollar on lower lashline
-MAC Powerpoint pencil (black) on upper lashline and lower waterline
-MAC Extendlash mascara
-MAC Blanc Type and Golden Flurry for brown bone/blending any harsh lines

-MAC N5 Studio Fix Powder + Foundation
-MAC Harmony to contour
-MAC Springsheen for blush
-MAC light mineral skinfinish for highlight

-MAC Cherish
-MAC Creme d'Nude overtop (to warm and lighten a bit)

I'm well into my day now, so please don't mind the slight oiliness happening up in here! lol

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Interrogation - poem

What if I'm standing at the edge of the world
would anyone really care, or go about life saying
"there she goes again"

There I go, saying "what if," my trusty catch-phrase of temporary amnesia
of the faith I claim to carry close to my
murmuring heart

Who wants to read, consume, reorganize these words into some
of what they think it means to them?

Does it matter what it means to me? Does this typing, thinking, feeling, seething mass of grey matter-driven flesh mean something profound,
or is this simply posturing in the pseudo-poetic universe?

What if this is all I have left

Does grey turn to nothing when drained of purpose?

If not one more drop of creativity trickles onto the pages of my e-canvas, then
what point remains in neurons zapping each other anymore?
If my words are silenced, when attempting to describe the wounds inflicted on my
psyche and soul,
what point remains in speaking?

When would it be noted that I no longer say anything of value,
or worse,

when no words come at all?

How will someone know when my thoughts simply sublimate instead of pouring out of these tired lips, and

why not even sparks light the way throughout my brain?

What if I'm standing with the world in my fingertips, ready to drop it, along with the purposeful words tomorrow could bring?

There I go again.

composition - poem

rising to the brim--maybe it's there already,
sloshing back and forth from the edge
waiting, craving release but uncertain of how,
from amnesia of overwhelm, forgotten faculties,
forgotten its form and purpose to flow when frozen in
or moment, or then, here, tomorrow,

unable to recall knowing
how to fall
into acceptance of its composition, its liquid state of alkaline truth
instead, it yearns to burst through and over--
instead, it bubbles, and threatens sublimation

how can it create,
when, unwilling to ebb through
the darkness of resolve, it

destroys, waiting, blinded by white denial,
killing tomorrow's birth with its poison

decaying the prism of choices--
left only with sobering decisive



too late and yet

it discovers fiction in the story of inability to make something out of its nothingness, the fiction of its vaporous state as it was but a dream, provoked by yesterday's chemical lies,

the belated truth that its substance has been fluid all along

Seesick - poem

it's coming, swelling, vertigo dancing behind my eyes
tossing my head, rocking my brain until I'm
to stand, to breathe, to be
here at the eye
of the thoughts ebbing to and from my memory, playing out in percussion
against my weary heart,
knocking my rubber legs and stirring my caustic core

shipwrecked limbs, memories, faith, floating on the residue
of today's fears
awoken by the beats, the pounding, terrible music
of the minutes ticking by at tempos too quick for
still water to remain its true self

this is a mashup:
a decrepit concoction of confused imagery
and imaginings
from a place that brews a poisonous elixir,
enticing my ego to jump in--
to see blue when the world is painted gray, black, puce, and pain

can't I smell the noxious gas? the deadly suffocation,
threatening to end it all
promising to stop it

giving into dizzying visions
of what was, is, and may never be
but can never happen
or else I'll take it up, I'll shake hands and that will be
the final note, the bridge to no more minutes--
just weightless, poison-less, fearless floating
into the tomorrow I always wanted
but never knew
could be