A Bitter Balm, So Good

Venom de Spiderman 3 Oscar J. Baeza via Compfight

 

Ugggghhh, 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.

So…healing.

 

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

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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

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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. 

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!]

 

 

 

An Apology And A Change In Publishing.

I’m sorry.  I could write about how life became full and how I didn’t handle it well and such and such.

But no, I am sorry I’ve been sporadic here.  I haven’t abided by the agreed upon commitment with you the reader, one post every Sunday and Thursday.

In coming out of a personal reset, a revival if you will, you gain perspective.  I say revival not in the spiritual, backflips and tent meeting sort of definition.  Revival in the sense I needed to be revived, my soul needed a reset.

One thing I feel I need to change is the days I update here.  My desire is actually to create more content to publish more often. A lot of thoughts and ideas grow when we take a pause. Or to say, when I spankin’ disappear to get my life together.

If you are new here, thank you so much for stopping by. My name is Jermaine Jay Lane, I am a writer, a poet, and hope artist.

I honor your time and more importantly, your attention.  Thank you for being here and for your readership.

The Dialysis Blues And How A Kind Gesture Changes Everything

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In March of 2007, quite a bit of life happened in a short amount of time.  I quit my job on the 6th, went to the hospital to start dialysis on the 7th, and scheduled for discharge on the 9th to start work at my new job two weeks later.  Then a whole lot of things went all kinds of wrong.

The fistula in my left arm was accidentally infiltrated with a needle by the nurse.  My very 1st experience with dialysis. Yeah!  Infiltrated means:  the needle the nurse inserted went through my fistula, vs. into my fistula for dialysis.  (Warning: it’s about to get real real.)

Blood shot out of my arm like a geyser.  All over my arm, sheet, me, the nurse, and the floor.  Her eyes were so big, and I was strangely calm. Staring as my blood kept making it’s debut I thought, “Wow, this is weirdly funny.”

The nurse panicked, friends of mine were outside my room chatting as I was bleeding out.  A call for backup, gauze and more gauze, “Mr. Lane I am so sorry”, “Where’s the spankin’ tape”, and I was patched up.  She held my hand and apologized profusely.  Her holding my hand made a huge difference.  Onto the next day, where again, I bleed my own blood!

 

 

The Next Day (Or “I Knew I Should Have Escaped”)

The next day, I was scheduled to have a a catheter placed in my spankin’ neck!  Dialysis had to happen to keep my 8 foot tall self alive, and since my left arm with the fistula was swollen like Popeye, my neck was the next option until my arm healed.

I can’t tell you how much I did not want anything surgically implanted into my neck, but apparently when medical science is trying to keep you alive, you don’t have much say so.

My man James came that day as they wheeled me into surgery.  “Oh, I’m going to be awake for this?”  “Oh, your going to stick the second biggest needle I have ever seen into my neck to numb me to the pain of the surgery.” Ummm, if I were wearing pants, I think I would have tried to make a run for it.  “Security, we have a naked black man wearing black dress socks with wires sticking out of his body running through the hospital. Be advised!”

I felt like Frankenstein as the Doc started working on my neck.  It took quite a while because, if you haven’t guessed it, I’m a bleeder and it wasn’t connecting correctly (part of the catheter went down my jugular into my heart. Fun!)

One of the nurses, of her own accord, held my hand during all this.  She had the nicest British accent and told me it was going to be okay.  This made me feel so much better.  My fears, calmed. Until…

 

 

A Bloody Timeout

An alarm went off, I was quasi patched up, placed in a wheelchair, put into a corner and was told not to touch my neck or move. An elderly gentleman was having a heart attack in the room next to me and everyone ran to assist.

There I sat, with apparatus sticking out of my neck, and then the blood came. Slowly, a crimson stream flowed down my chest and started collecting into my belly button.  “Don’t touch anything” the nurse had told me. Umm…

I started laughing at the craziness of the situation. Then I started singing to push back against the fear starting to overtake me.  Blood, laughter, and song, such a strange cocktail early on a Thursday morning.

The man was stabilized, I was removed from timeout and patched up.  I dialyzed through the catheter in my neck for the first time that afternoon, and I was discharged about a week later.

(Side note:  I was informed not to get my catheter wet because, like Gremlins, bad things would happen. Two months later, I was at a funeral in the rain and, yup, bad things later happened. Another story for another time.)

 

 

We Are Made For Each Other

All of our showmanship of disguise is peeled back in the face of whatever hardship we are facing.  Our humanity shines through, connecting us through our words, through a timely hug or outstretched hand.

We prepare in the quiet moments, in the peaceful times we become complacent or strengthen our resolve through faith, through connecting with ourselves and other people.  So many of my friends came to visit and sit with me during this 10 day hospital stay.  (Two of my friends, on two different visits, snuck me a Frosty from Wendy’s.  If you are admitted to the hospital, have your people hook you up with a Frosty. Trust me on this.)

Calm comes from a place outside of us to sit with us like an old friend.  A gentle touch, a friendly hand can make such a difference. That’s why telling someone to be calm is much less effective than being with someone, holding their hand and telling them it’s going to be okay.

Have you experienced something like this, someone holding your hand or you holding someone’s hand in the middle of a bad situation?

 

 

The Low Road, Being Right, And The Things We Value

LOOK at me When I'm Talkin' To You !Creative Commons License Anita Ritenour via Compfight

 

You’re right, you know this to be true. The People’s Court, The Supreme Court, the spankin’ Court of Owls would side with you. 

You stand, victorious. Both arms on your hips, chest puffed.  The cries of your enemies floating in the distance. All is great for about a minute.

Until those cries become louder. Closer. You look and have what’s commonly referred to as a moment of clarity. This enemy, this malcontent. This person is your spouse/brother/sister/father/mother/roommate/guy you actually don’t like but your conscious just won’t leave you alone about it.

Do we value being right or the relationship more?  Not a new concept sure, yet in the heat of the moment, there is little chance we can think straight enough for that kind of perspective.

I’ve gotten into some verbal slobberknockers in my day. Like a verbal cage match at Wrestlemania.

We have in front of us the choice: being right or valuing the relationship. Letting go of our position to let the other point of view breathe, take in the landscape, and live.

The low road of humility, vulnerability and grace.  Ever present before us, esp. when our tempers flare.  Baby steps right?

 

 

ps. The Court Of Owls is an astounding graphic narrative work by Scott Snyder on his remarkable Batman run. Check it out, it’s great stuff.

 

The Small Changes

dragon jade Shooting Chris via Compfight

 

You think this time it will work.  You’ll change, you’ll improve not because anyone thinks you should.  No, who do they think they are to tell you how to live your life. This time, this time it’s personal.

There are so many voices floating in the ether. “Write down your goals.” “Do less of this; do more of that.” “I did it this way and it worked for me so, you know, I can’t understand why it wouldn’t work for you.”

You think to yourself, “If I read this book or subscribe to this blog or only had more money, then I could change.  Then I could do ______.”

 

***

A month goes by.  Then three more. A year of research because knowledge is power.

Your frustration levels increase because nothing is happening, really.  Like a sponge, data is soaked in until you feel heavy from the saturation.  And that isn’t what a sponge is for.

 

***

This is me.  I’ve found it is so easy to hide, to convince myself, “I’m doing the work” when all is done is the opposite of change.  Perhaps  I’ve had a moment of clarity or I’ve spankin’ slapped myself out of it, but I realize that is not how change works.  Change involves movement, discomfort, pain, and a heaping tablespoon of “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Our…my comfort zone is such a powerful place to exist.  It’s like trying to break the gravitational pull of a black hole or the tractor beam of the Starship Enterprise.  Fear and comfort are so insidious, so subversive, it is hard to notice most of the time.  (Aside: I’ve found it funny that other people immediately know and feel the need to inform you about yourself. Yup. Back to the story.)

We all want change.  We all desire something, tangible or intangible.  It is the fear and desire for comfort that rallies against us.  Our old friend fear…

I did something about it, an experiment.  I wrote down everything that scares me.  No, not things like spiders or Zoot, but the intangible things that cause me to hide and not move forward.  I’m starting to do those things on the list.  The things that scare the manamana out of me.  Not to do things in big, bombastic ways.  I’ve been there before and found that fear loves and welcomes hype.

No, the small things that leave impact and value.  To go along with my theme for the year, “Initiate Vulnerability.”

The small things of change.  One day, one moment at a time.  I invite you to do the same and we can compare stories. :)