Define Me

signpost to opportunity

“What’s your niche?”

It’s a question every blogger faces. Now I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic, but I find being catalogued creatively limiting. If you take into account my change of name, change of religion, change of country, amalgamation of culture, I think you’ll agree I’m kinda difficult to pin down.

I blog about whatever I feel a strong connection to. I don’t write to fit into a group – I write from a passion to communicate about something. I don’t schedule my blogs, they appear here as they materialise in my head. I just like sharing my thoughts with you.


My writing subjects tend to fall into three broad groups: Expat Life, Mental Health and Intercultural Relationships. I have experience in all of these fields that I can bring to bear on the general perception of them. I like to share what I’ve learnt.

I want to smash some of the myths and misconceptions that keep the crap in this world circulating.

So, I’m asking you, yes You, and you too – readers and fellow writers alike – for some advice here. Is there stuff you want to see more of? Is there stuff you just wish I would stop going on about? Do you think I even need a niche?

Same goes for those of you who, for whatever reason, don’t normally comment. I know you’re there and I’m glad you stop by, so go on…I dare you!! Make an exception just this once. It won’t take long and I’m asking because I want to know what YOU think. It’s your opportunity to make this blog reflect your thoughts too.

I can tell you one thing though… I won’t be making the mistake of sharing my thoughts on “Nude Yoga” again anytime soon. I’ve been getting more disappointed pervs washing up here than Japanese flotsam on a B.C. beach…

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. I always enjoy reading your blog, Aisha, and think you are doing a FANTASTIC job! I personally would love to hear more about your “change in religion”. It’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you about, but just haven’t! My own faith has taken a few “changes” along the way and so I am interested in hearing your experiences in this area of your life.

    Keep up the great writing!

    1. Thankyou Monica, you have been with me right from the beginning and I’m glad you’re still enjoying the ride! Having your support has been reassuring, especially in those early days when no-one even knew
      I was here! You’re not the first person to express an interest in the subject of my change in religious path. I do have ideas swimming around in my head I would like to express. I feel, as a Westerner, I might be a kind of conduit for exchange of information between East and West – and hopefully dispel some of the myths and stereotypes. What makes it tricky is finding the balance. Although I follow a particular faith, I believe it’s our personal business and we can’t expect others to cater to it in the wider world. I tend to steer clear of religiosity because I hate the preachiness. I have no more authority on how people should live their lives than the next person. Also, Islam is such a hot potato. Since the days of the outcry over “The Satanic Verses” anyone writing about it faces a great deal of aggression and persecution if they go against the views promoted by the proponents of the more fundamental sects. It’s got to the point now where muslims live under a form of censorship. Watch this space Monica, I’ll find the words…

  2. My philosophy is much the same as yours…whatever I feel a strong connection to. I think that is the point about blogs – why should you be pigeonholed? I especially like your posts on mental health – I find them enlightening and not enough is written on that topic in a honest way, as you write. Yes, key words like nude, sex etc do attract the wrong kind of followers! In short as the song goes, “I like your blog just the way it is”!

    1. Aaaahhh! Thankyou 🙂 I’m glad you’ve made a stand for the mental health stuff because that’s the topic that stands alone the most. Expat life and Intercultural relationships have the capacity to overlap but mental health is the outsider on this blog. I keep meaning to write a post on the psychological strain of finding yourself in a foreign environment… I have so many ideas but not all of them see daylight! I’m trying to make the most of what I have in my life at the moment and be patient. In a couple of years I’ll have mornings to myself when all the little people are at school – I’ll get a lot more written then! Thanks for your encouragement and compliments and for telling me your thoughts.

  3. lol. I just happen to come across this post. I think it is the same for everyone in term of getting comments. People like stalking instead of coming out from the dark to open a channel of connection.

    1. 🙂 Stalking 🙂 I know a lot of people don’t comment because it’s not always instinct to type your response to something out. Sometimes I’m reading posts and agreeing or disagreeing in my head and I have to remind myself to quickly put it down. As a blogger, I know what it means to the author to get that dialogue with the invisible audience out there! Nice to see you here, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  4. Okay, I think it’s good to have a niche, to have something to build a writing and blogging platform around. But I don’t think you need to have one niche so your three broad groups would seem fine to me. I tend to blog on general expat, sydney/australia, and writing topics. And I think it works. Focusing on just the one niche might be too constraining – and you’d need a lot of material to keep the reader interested over the coming weeks and months. So keep doing what you’re doing because I like it more than flotsam on a BC beach.

    1. Thanks Russell – that’s a good point; if I restrict myself too much I’m going to experience more difficulty in finding subject matter. Yours definitely works – no question! It’s my opinion that posts on writing are never out of place on a blog. It’s like the technical side of things – the workings behind every blog, so they marry well with your expat/aussie posts. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  5. As you say, your writing tends to fall into one of three categories and you do each of them well. For what it’s worth, my only advice would be to consider whether or not it’s worth separating them into two different blogs, e.g. the expat and intercultural stuff on one and the mental health on another. Obviously that means extra work for you in promoting and maintaining them both but it could be worth it depending on what you want to achieve.

    1. Hmmmmm, this is what’s been lurking at the back of my mind but I really don’t want two blogs. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal and I know that it sometimes takes a monumental effort – think writing through the noise generated by two under-fives – for me to get posts written, so doubling my workload is really not an option. The difficulty also lies in “what I want to achieve”. I’d like to build a platform of interest for the book I’m writing, but I also want to advertise my writing skills to potential clients, without being constrained by either – I know, I know, “cake” and “eat it”! Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate your help 🙂

      1. One possible alternative that you could investigate (no idea if it would work for you) is guest-posting or doing a weekly column on someone else’s mental health site with links back to expatlogue. That way you’d get a potentially wider audience without the extra work of maintaining an extra blog. Just a thought. Good luck, whatever you decide to do. I’m busy trying to make some serious decisions about my own blog / writing so I feel your dilemma 🙂

        1. A fantastic idea Julie! I’ll have to think about who to contact… I’ve been pestering the mental health facility just down the road from me, but enough of my personal life! lol, you’ve definitely given me something to think about, thanks 🙂

  6. Hi Aisha, I just stumbled across your blog and this post. The funny thing is, I’ve been struggling with the same issue, and just wrote a post about trying to find my niche a few days ago. I decided to forget about a niche and just write what I feel like writing. I recommend you do the same.

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment, and good luck with your blog – I popped over for a look; you have some great writing resources listed there. I am going to stick to writing whatever comes – it’s my space to express myself so it doesn’t make sense to put limitations on it.

  7. I’ve not read any of the other comments yet as I wanted to make sure I am not lead by others!

    I always enjoy what you write about, it is all really interesting and so well written. I think if you decided to write about custard (no idea where that came from) you would be able to make the reader feel empathy and compassion (if thats what you wanted).

    I like that is not all one subject and would urge you to stay as you are, there is no reason to be writting under one umbrella, your umbrella is big enough for all sorts of thoughts and subjects, please continue as you are.

    1. Thankyou for your lovely words! It seems a mix of topics is the strong preference here, which is fine by me as it means I can carry on as I am! I’ll get to work on that custard post asap! In the meantime,

      “Now that it’s raining more than ever
      Know that we’ll still have each other
      You can stand under my umbrella
      You can stand under my umbrella ella ella ay ay ay …”

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