A Bitter Balm, So Good

To block out the negative words

Like a symbiote attaching itself to your subcutaneous membrane

Until you disappear and resemble

Something else.

An ebony hued doppleganger, spewing venom as a survival mechanism.

As much as you may try to gain awareness

Awareness to pull the negativity off of you

It has sunk it’s hooks and tendrils too deep.

Where it ends, where you begin

Now blurry.


A remedy.


The pure sound of compassion

Empathetic words hurt so good.

Like a church bell, an interruption of communion.

Tender graces so sweet, ripping through vulgarity, through mislabeled assumptions believed

Oh the agony.

Oh the ecstasy.

Encouragement so offensive, a balm tasting so bitter.



Where does the negative words end

Where do we begin?


Where do we begin?



[After a particularly difficult…conversation, I made a cup of coffee, watched two YouTube videos, cranked up ye ole iTunes, and this poem came out.  Negative words are so…easy to say and hard to wash off. Usually, I swing hurtful words like a samurai. Today, it was like a nuclear bomb.

Venom the Marvel character immediately came to mind. A quick backstory: Venom is an alien symbiote which attached itself to Spider-Man and Spidey’s costume turned from red and blue to black and white. Venom was his costume, his everything and started to take control.  The only way to detach Venom and save Spidey was sound. Spider-Man used the ringing of a church bell to interrupt and weaken Venom.

Yeah, sometimes its like that in relationships. Sometimes, it takes hearing something pure vulnerable to heal us.]

You Are Not Your Situation Or My First Dialysis And Fighting Blood Ninjas

EscapeCreative Commons License Shane Gorski via Compfight


The first time ever I saw your face is a soulful ballad by the songstress Roberta Flack.  The first time ever I had dialysis, was far far from soulful. Or ballady. (Ballady?)

I was in the hospital at Henrico Doctor’s Hosptial, awaiting my inaugural dialysis treatment.  Having no prior knowledge of what to expect, I was feeling pretty good.  The birds were singing, the sky was just a bit bluer, all was calm, all was bright. 

Until the needle the nurse used infiltrated my fistula and it turned into a scene out of “Saw”.  Or “Saw II”, but not the rest of the series, which took an unfortunate turn into “Why are they still making these” territory.


What The What Is A Fistula?  

To clarify, a fistula is a when a vein and an artery in your arm or leg is merged together in surgical matrimony.  Over time, it grows larger due to the increase in blood and raises through your skin.  The two dialysis needles go into your fistula, one to pump your blood out into the machine, the other to pump the now clean blood back into your body.  When a needle infiltrates, it means the dialysis needle goes into the fistula and out the other side, as opposed to only going in.  

So the needle infiltrated, blood spurted out of my arm like a spankin’ geyser, and the nurse ran out of the room to get more gauze and whatnots.  When you are lying on a hospital bed, bleeding your own blood, your mind can tend to wander.  Mine drifted to music and comic books and “Wow, that is a lot of blood.  Maybe when I tell the story, I’ll say I had to fight ninjas in my hospital room because I had the files, and I was cut with a throwing star.  What, you never daydream fighting something and being the hero? 

The nurse came back in, patched me up and apologized profusely.  Bless her heart, it was no big deal, and it made for a good story. (Ninjas!)  


You Are Not Your Situation

Sometimes when the unexpected happens, it may seem dark and negative for a time.  Bad things happen in businesses, churches, your home, etc.  Sure, my attitude could have turned sour and rightfully so. Yelling at the nurse and complaining about my arm wouldn’t have changed anything.  Actually, the nurse and I bonded and she even brought me movies to watch while I was in the hospital.

You have your dark days, your “I can’t believe this is happening to me days,” your painful days.  Making the difficult choice to see the positive changes not only you, but those around you.  A deep breath, a moment to think on something you enjoy, a little grace toward what is happening to you can make such a difference.  Your situation may not change, but you change.  


What stories do you have when your life was infiltrated by something sharp and painful?  Share in the comments below and please be careful when in the hospital, your nurse is probably a ninja!

People Mean Well- Do This Instead Of Getting Frustrated When Someone Asks How You Are Doing

AAAARRRGGGHHHCreative Commons License Evil Erin via Compfight


You aren’t an aggressive person by nature.  You have a pretty genteel way about you, and you even slip the word genteel into conversation every now and again.  You know they mean well, but if one more person asks you how you are feeling or if you are okay, you may just hulk out and SMASH!


When I was on dialysis, people would ask out of sincere concern,”Hey Jermaine, how are you feeling?  You doing okay? You need anything.”  I know they meant well, but I found myself playing hopscotch with the truth, hopping around how I actually felt to give a seemingly polite answer.  “I”m okay. I’m fine. I’m hanging in there.”  Truth was, it took every ounce of willpower to have gotten out of bed, showered, dressed, and stand in front of you.  

So what was the alternative?  “Actually, I feel like I might pass out or vomit…or both which is just nasty.  My muscles are constricted so tight from cramping I don’t think I can actually move.  Excuse me, my brain is so clouded from the fatigue and the horror of I fell asleep on the drive over here I really need to have a seat.”

Does this happen to you?  Do you feel like lying as to not go into detail of how you actually feel?  Because telling the truth would invite a very awkward conversation you know you don’t wan to have, much less the other person in front of you. 

I came up with a fantastic answer in these situations.  I used it quite a bit, and I’ll share it with you:


“I’m not okay, but I will be”


This phrase helped so much it was amazing.  It acknowledges that yes, I am not doing well, which you could probably tell just by looking at me. It also gave an indication of the future because hey, I may just feel better in an hour or so.  I might just challenge you in the Cha-Cha Slide in a day or two.  (Everybody clap your hands!)

“I’m not okay, but I will be” can be applied even if you don’t feel sick.  If you feel depressed or lonely or really not in the mood for a conversation, you can use it and people usually pick up what you’re putting down.  

“But what about that person who won’t take the hint and insists you talk/share/spill your guts to them right then and there?”  

Well, maybe they are asking for them more than for you.  God knows, I’ve had a messiah complex from time to time.  A smile, a thank you for caring and removing yourself from the situation may be in order for Mr. Let Me Help You.  If that doesn’t work and you do SMASH, it’s okay.  If someone doesn’t heed the lion’s roar, they can’t get mad if they get the claws and teeth. 

Try it out and let us know in the comments how it goes for you.  You take care and try not to go off on someone, they mean well.  They really do. 

Why Fighting For The Intangible When You Are Sick Is The Harder Battle

Lets get this over with John Ryan via Compfight


Momma Lane told me when I first was diagnosed with my kidney disease: “Don’t get comfortable being sick. It’s called a dis-ease for a reason.”

When I was on hemodialysis, 4 hours a session, 3x a week, I remembered those words.  When I was in and out of the hospital so much the nurses began to recognize me, I remembered those words.  

Fighting against the disease wasn’t the battle.  The fight was for something far more important. 

The hard part, the borderline ridiculous fight is to have hope.  Esp. when you are so sick you can’t imagine making it through the spankin’ day.  You fight.

Sure, the disease or disability or whatever you may be going through would seem like the perfect enemy to combat. A different way to think of it is to fight for something.  Something you can’t touch, something internal.  It’s the internal, the intangible which will get you through the darkest times, the “I don’t give a ***** times, the “I just want to roll up in a great big ball and die”.  I fought for hope, hard.  It wasn’t easy, we’ll talk about it in the weeks to come.

Deciding to throw down with all your might, with grit and tears and violent determination to hold on to the intangible- hope and faith, is the actual struggle.  Our bodies follow where our brains/heart lead us. 


What do you think? What do you fight for?  Let us know in the comment section below.

Not Easily Forgotten: An Annual Review of 2013

Into the Clouds Wendell via Compfight


Twenty Thirteen.
With all of it’s highs and lows
Ebbs and flows.

We sit at the cusp of anew.
The blending of potential and kinetic
As we plan, as we declare changes resolute.
A moment, for me, of reflection.


Twenty Thirteen unfolded many things which went well.
The kindness of friends and our local church
To take in a family of four, displaced.
From mid-July to mid-October
My family was adrift on the stressful tides of transition.
Moving sucks. (No poetry for that, it just spankin’ does.)
Yet in the moving, people open up spaces
Three families lent their homes and love to a family in need.
Acts of kindness, compassion, and empathy which is not easily forgotten.
Transitions led to the mountains of West “By God” Virginia
Change and deer and biscuits everywhere.
And it is good.

A local pastor’s license received, onwards to seminary!
Baby boy and girl turning 2 and 1, respectively.
Home, introducing itself as family.
Not brick and mortar, these things fade and flood.
Home introduced itself in the from of my wife and bambinos
Where we are, home comes with us.
A new concept for me to breakdown and digest.

Twenty Thirteen, many things did not go well.
Creativity stopped, the writing well ran dry.
Grumpiness, disengagement, and numbing; and unholy trinity filled the vacuum.
And stress eating. I’ll just have one.  Or five.
A better husband, father, and friend I could have been.
My heart, beating yet not breathing or bleeding.
And a farewell to the fallen.
Four funerals attended in twenty thirteen.
Four too many.
Friends and family, gone too soon.
Not easily forgotten.

Life awaits, be it a new day or year.
Goals and revolutions are in effect
To move from complacency, to creating
To breaking deeper to vulnerability to serve.
To relaunching and relunching (Paleo here I come.)
To the lessons taught and learned from twenty thirteen.
You are not easily forgotten as we head into
A year anew.

A Better Question To Ask Than Why

good questionCreative Commons License Eric via Compfight


When “life” happens, we all what to know why.

Why did ______ have to happen?  Esp. to me.

A better question to ask is, “What.”

What can I learn from this?

What is God teaching me?

What can I do to help someone else

Esp. while all this drama is going on in my life.

What will my response be to this experience?

(What do the numbers from “Lost” mean?  For real, do you know?)


What trumps why when it comes to tragedy/pain analysis.  I learned this while I was on dialysis

While I was in and out of the hospital 17 times from Jan 2006 to Sept. 2010.

Attempting to figure out the why usually led to frustration and feeling depressed.

The what though, the what was a much better medicine.

I hope it will be for you as well.




The Handle Of A Hero


Firefighter Smoke Ross Beckley via Compfight

I can’t take it.
Not one more thing.
She said, watching her world, ignited.

Yes. Yes you can.

We will never know our full measure
Until we are measured.

A hero is not needed when everything is safe.
Superman is not needed when the world is calm.
Bruce Banner does not unleash The Hulk
When he is comfortable and feeling lazy.
A fire fighter won’t know what she is made of
Until there is a blaze.

“A ship in harbor is safe
But that’s not what a ship is built for.” -William She’d

No. Our character, our medicine, our inner shine
Comes out in the pain. In the darkness.
In the horrors of our wounds.

You are more powerful than you…
No, you do know, don’t you?
And it scares you sometimes, when your conscious mind drifts
Glimpses of you doing amazing things
Uncharacteristic of the box and labels others have put you in.
“I could never do that, or be that, or see myself in that world.”
You say to yourself, an assurance that everything will be alright
As long as I hide and not risk being vulnerable.

Discomfort affords us the opportunity
To see our real selves.
Our stretching
An exploration of our humanity, our faith, and a light for someone else.

You may feel like a mouse, until you discover you roar and are like the king of beasts.
Or a creek, which becomes an ocean.

You can handle this, you got this. You, the hero.



On Giving Up, Giving Out, And Giving

The Incredible Hulk IV Rooners Toy Photography via Compfight


Have you felt like, if one more bad thing happens, you will literally meltdown?  I’m talking about full on utter and complete hulking out and smashing everything around you. 

It’s been that kind of year for me, perhaps for you too.  It’s so tempting to just give up. Throw your hands in the air and cuss out life like you just don’t care.  From my baby boy being sick, to my granddaddy about to meet Jesus, to this and that and that other thing I really have to do but I feel bad I haven’t done it and the feeling bad is keeping me from doing it and I know that doesn’t make sense but that’s where I am right now and I’m going to eat this bowl of cereal because it will make me feel better. Whew, our heads can be a noisy place sometimes. 


Giving Out or Internet Overload

There is so much on the internet, so many sites that give out advice.  The productivity/get it done sites.  The man up or woman up and make it happen blogs.  The take a mental break you deserve it time vampire sites, etc.  The find your purpose that will only cost you x amount of money sites.  Oh internet, if I did everything you suggest, I would give out in 2 minutes. 

I find myself reading about doing much more than actually doing. Then, here is the kicker, feeling like I actually did something.  I wonder, if I read about feeling like a millionaire would money materialize in my account and I could buy all the things. But I wouldn’t buy a real green dress. That’s cruel


Giving For Rut Removal

Our lives are ouresponsibility, no one else’s.  If we are happy or sad or frustrated or productive or stuck in a rut, it’s on us.  My days are on me to create or waste away.  I think we all find ourselves at the point of where we are longing for where we want to be. 

What helps me when I feel the dreaded compare and despair, is giving.  Giving my time, my attention, my trust, etc. to another person or persons.  Getting out of my head and helping someone else, esp. offline, does wonders.  I start at my inner circle and expand out.

How can I help Boo?  What can I do for my family? Close friends. Friends. People I know but not that well but I feel I could ask them for a favor and vice versa, etc.

Moving outside of yourself moves you.  I don’t think there is a scientific study on that, but I would bet 4 out of 5 doctors would recommend it. (It’s always that one doctor who hates everything isn’t it?  4 out of 5 doctors recommend breathing for longer life. The one doctor would be like, “No, don’t breathe, I’m still not convinced!”)

We are all connected and our greatest accomplishments are in the people we connect to.

Perhaps we hid behind our productivity and our busy and our simulated connections to avoid looking another human in the eyes and engaging.  Our giving of ourselves is our remedy to feeling like giving up or giving out or giving the planet a piece of our minds.  Now if you excuse me, I think I will help someone and look for a fake green dress for Boo.



[ps. The irony isn’t lost on me that this is an article on the internet giving suggestions.  Oh internet, you’ve won this round!]




The Wait Of Shame

because you're worth it madamepsychosis via Compfight


You say

“I”m speaking the truth in love.”

It seems like

Your “truth”

Is hurtful, opinioned, saturated with pious dogma and fear

Which weighs on the soul.


The truth sets you free.

Not beats you down like a conformity jackhammer.

The truth is weightless.

Shame though?

The wait of shame is heavy around our necks

Like having the whole world tied to an upside down noose

Pulling our backs and our eyes

Down to the ground.


I wait.

To hide it all as my wait becomes heavier, and heavier still.

Your ears are turn inward, where you listen.

The volume turned to eleven.

I wait some more.


Your “truth”

Feels a lot like shame.

Your “love”

Tastes a lot like guilt.

Sorry, I found a new diet.

So I speak now, I release my verbal vulnerability

To wait no longer.

I don’t care if you hear me

It’s your loss.

I won’t let you shame me into changing

So you feel comfortable.


I speak my truth, waiting no longer.

I do it for her, for him.

So they feel wait. Less.


So which one of us is





[Author’s note: I’m so sick and tired of people saying they are “speaking the truth in love”.  It is rarely ever in love. Nor is it truth. It goes, “Well, to speake the truth in love…blah blah you suck…blah blah you need to change…blah blah here is piping hot bowl of shame made just for you.

If we listen more and stop disguising shame as “truth”, we may just learn something about other people. We may just create a space where someone can feel safe enough to be vulnerable, to release their shame and stop waiting, stop holding it all inside.]