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Michael Powell is a creative mind who thrives on looking outside the box. He has had the fortune of having his works published in art magazines, Huffington Post, and a host of other sites. His writing versatility makes him a skilled and capable wordsmith who enjoys being personable and raw in his pieces. To Michael, writing is a gift, one he takes every opportunity to use.
OUT WITH THE OLD…
January 2021 Issue
Though there is a sense of relief that this year has finally passed, and we get to start off 2021 with a vaccine for the virus and a new President, many of us are walking into 2021 without our loved ones.
I did not have anything specific to talk about or any news on which to pontificate, but I did have a desire to spread a feeling of positivity and of hope, while offering up some words to create dreams.
The soon to be past President has done a great job of turning his four years in office into a downward spiral of fear, disappointment, division, and isolation. The pandemic was the icing on the cake as we were just starting to find some sense of balance and change; but we are still among the many pushing for that change.
Moving on from 2020 means leaving behind the craziness that it has been, but for many of us, it means leaving behind the last time we saw that person no longer here or going into a new year with less certainty and no clear path to stability.
It is in this small window of time, the little space between “out with the old and in with the new”, that we can start preparing our minds and spirits to walk into the New Year with the anticipation of great things coming our way. I know it sounds a bit naïve, as if I have lived in a beautiful rainbow while dancing with unicorns, but I assure you that starting with a change in your mind is the beginning of creating a demand to the universe for what you wish to come.
I cannot promise that our 2021 will be wonderful but the way you think of it and feel about it will be. So, I wish you a Happy New Year and nothing less than a spectacular 2021.
May you and all our readers joy and love be abundant for us all.
TO BE, OR NOT TO BE…
December 2020 Issue
I look into my son’s eyes with wonder and fear. We did not give birth to the antichrist or anything crazy, but I still have this lingering sense of dread that clings to me like a shadow on a sunny day. Among my peers and family, I am the late one to the party of fatherhood. Though I enjoy being the center of arrival anticipation, this is a party that I wish I had been better prepared for. Having a child was my superego’s chance to shove my ego’s face in the mirror and scream, “look at what you’ve become damnit!”
If my life played back as a movie, I would be disappointed at the money I spent on the ticket. It’s a harsh critique, but an honest one. I kind of got hung up on what I wasn’t doing and now find myself looking at my son wondering what kind of influence I will leave behind for him to admire and emulate-but that is where the trap is. The truth is I was thinking of how to now live my life in a way that would reflect what I hope for my son to become instead of living a way that reflects what I want for myself.
I’ve never been one to care about the world outside of my bubble but now it was almost obsessive. I would find myself scrolling through social media, living out a self-deprecating voyeuristic fantasy. I wanted their life. That’s when I had to snap out of this and hurl expletives at my superego in defiance.
The world has become obsessed with watching what the next person is doing instead of living and in doing so, many have become unfortunately comfortable in their unhappiness. Yet, that unhappiness is not truly theirs, but is placed there by societal standards of what you “should be.” My son, without saying a word, reminded me that the only way to feel proud of my life was to live my life and live it intentionally, with blinders on. We are made to believe that life is a race to the finish line of success with some grand trophy given to the most successful person upon their death, but that is not the case at all. We forget that life is a beautiful journey of self-discovery and we are joining each other for the ride. We don’t need to be anything more than who we are, everything else is icing on the cake.
Once we accept ourselves and live our lives with the gratitude and joy it deserves, we will begin to experience a new level of pride for ourselves.
You would think being alive if I have been, I would have already understood that, and maybe I did, but it took someone enjoying life for the first time to remind me of that.
HOW TO SAY GOODBYE
November 2020 Issue
I deleted several paragraphs and sentences to this piece feeling that none would do it justice. What I am writing about is something that shattered me in a way I could have never anticipated, but has also been a source of inspiration and strength. It is a struggle to find the right words to express what you feel when you reflect on the loss of a loved one, and for the most part we want to recognize it as a void left in our lives and an ever- present acknowledgement of how our lives have now shifted in a way that cannot be recalibrated.
Earlier this year before the Pandemic, my best friend died suddenly, leaving this world in a way that would break the heart of anyone. The how is not what this is about, nor is the why, it is the what happens next that is the focus of my piece today.
When he died, I was in shock for weeks since I had just hung out with him and had plans to see him again in the next week or so. I could not accept he had left us, even after his funeral. I found myself staying up until the witching hours listening to our favorite music and drinking our favorite libations. That is when I realized I was grieving in a destructive way. Not letting him go was doing more damage to me than giving honor to his memory.
I had to take a moment to release the part of him I was trying to keep here and begin moving into healing. Reflecting on my best friend, not just for our memories, but for the values and dreams he had, awakened in me a new way to honor him. It became more important to me to be sure I was living my life with parts of the love and dreams he had while pushing to be the best me I could be in this new role of father/husband.
We can get lost in sorrow so easily, especially during these times of isolation, separation, and overall stress. It is easier to lock your mind in a rehearsal of whatever moment of joy you shared with that lost loved one but it traps them in a loop of denial and doesn’t let you open up to all that made them so special to you. I found that once I allowed myself to feel happiness in his memory and be inspired by his character, it became less about what I lost and more about what I gained.
Find that joy and inspiration, find that connection with that loved one no longer here, and you will begin to see that void filled and their energy still very much a part of your world.
BREAK A LEG
October 2020 Issue
In my earlier essays I have spoken about facing our flaws and admitting when we have fallen short of the potential our gifts have granted us. I have spoken about the fear of being unable to provide for my family, especially as a new father, but in this essay, I want to leave you with something simpler, yet just as meaningful.
With the unrest that has spread across the globe, one thing has been called back to our memory: time is short, and nothing is promised. When the curtain drops and the show is over, will you walk off the stage knowing you gave yourself to the performance of your lifetime?
This year has been an obstacle course of challenges, one that no one was prepared for. I don’t want to overly personalize this Writer’s Diary essay, but I am compelled to do so as I look back over my year knowing that someone out there reading this has experienced the same heartache, anxiety, and loss – emotions that can feel like milestones dangling from your neck.
During this live “life” show, we forget how often we overlook the experiences of others, in doing so we build a wall of separation and minimize the human experience. Sometimes we close ourselves off from everyone else and find that the only thing left is the thing we wanted to be free from; and so, we identify ourselves by that.
As Fall and Winter approach and the nights become longer and colder, we could very well see the resurgence of the virus that has crippled the world and brought some of the most vibrant cities to a dim lull, I am reminded that these times can be the dwelling place of our nemesis, depression. 2020 has been the perfect partner of one of the most debilitating mental and emotional conditions that effects more people than you think. Some are not even aware of the shadow that covers them and drains their smile. With so much happening around us, to us, and inside of us, we can forget to take the time to look in the mirror and really see ourselves. The sudden shutdown of the country and the isolation that followed dismantled our walls of security, but also provided us time to reconnect with the most important person in your life; you.
How many times have you said, “I love you” to yourself? This is not a rhetorical question, you should have an answer, but I am sure many of you do not — including me.
September 2020 Issue
I lied there, freshly awakened but still in the dream like world of quarantine. My son opened his eyes in the same state but far more enthusiastic for the remainder of the day that was ahead of us. I had already missed the virtual staff meeting by some hours so there was no hurry to gather myself and look less like a sweatpants and loose t-shirt kind of dad. I was trying to avoid facing the reality of the staff call. I heard of so many being sent home and then being told to find a new source of income as their place of employment counted its losses and cut them from payroll. Now I could be one of the many wondering what the rest of 2020 will look like with only a percentage of their paycheck.
A numb feeling came over me when I read the email that was a recap of that staff meeting. After this month, things would be re-evaluated and there would be furloughs or lay-offs to come. I felt a wave of dread come over me as I re-read the email to be sure I was not over-reacting or misunderstanding, but the words had not changed, they just became clearer. I have stood at this edge before, walked gingerly alongside it as I reached my new job, all while avoiding that fall into depression and destitution that can come from realizing how you poorly mis-managed your bi-weekly income. I looked at my toddler son and realized that what I feared so much about this situation was not the loss of the job but the loss of insurance. I felt terrified of losing the best healthcare options for my son who still needs vaccinations and checkups, how finding affordable healthcare takes ages on a phone call that is more like a game of hot potato; guess who is the big steaming hot starch ball?
I wanted to think that living in a country such as this we would have already found a way to make the issues of healthcare something no one should have to face but as I near the end of the month I possibly come closer to the chopping block and now must prepare myself for what could be a trying winter.
As we come closer to the election with dominant parties’ candidates already decided, it may be time to allow this pandemic to shift some of our values; recognizing that no matter what political party you stand with (or what societal view you have), we all get sick – how much you make should not dictate what kind of care you receive.
August 2020 Issue
The pandemic came like a cold splash of water in the face after partying all night. Nobody could have anticipated the debilitating vice grip it would have on the world and all the functions that kept society moving. We were not ready for the demand for change and what it meant to our own private lives. Businesses are now wondering if they need to have so many people on payroll and the employees are wondering if this job feeds their desire to feel purposeful in their existence. Relationships are being challenged, personal images have been shattered, and I have realized how I have procrastinated my way to the edge of obscurity and failure. Harsh but this stay at home edict has made me have to face the lazy and often negative version of myself more directly than just a simple nod of acknowledgement in the mornings before work.
I’m a writer, not by profession, but by one of the most fortunate means you could ask for, talent. I was always a writer, creating my first childhood stories as soon as I could spell. I captivated my readers, and once they got past the poor grammar and misspellings they fell in love with the stories. Now, as I have been kept at home for about 4 months, not working but still receiving my full check every week, I realize how much time I have wasted not moving in my creativity. Being a writer is not just about writing, it is a lifestyle, a way of thinking and being, something I think I have down for the most part, just not the part that matters the most, the actual writing. I find myself sitting to type up something with this fire of creative fervor that will burn for a couple of weeks before starting to die down and then completely extinguishing. I would love to say that life itself has robbed me of my opportunity, but that would be a lie. I often wrote for a purpose, for it to go somewhere, instead of writing to just write. I was abusing my gift and not appreciating it. You don’t use your legs only when you have somewhere to go, sometimes we just like to walk without direction. Writing, or any talent, deserves the same appreciation.
This time watching as humanity tries to rediscover itself and come to grips with its own reality, no matter how ugly, has demanded me to see these mistakes in my own life and now, hopefully, move in a better direction. I want to be more than a wannabe writer. I guess that starts with, well, writing.
What are your passions? What are your gifts? Are you feeding them? I will need to ask myself this regularly and hold myself accountable. In some way this pandemic has made us all accountable, just hope I stay dedicated to the process.