Decision:

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher.

Around 16, 17 I started to get awkward around younger kids because I wanted to fit in and be a cool kid and coloring at the kids table while everyone else talked about which movie star did what that week just isn’t cool.

So I just stopped playing. I forced myself (consciously, subconsciously, doesn’t really matter at this point…) to forget. To forget how much fun it is to play and dance and laugh and make a fool of myself and learn all the lessons of life through that playing and falling and getting back up.

Now, I’ve learned to take myself a lot less seriously.
Now, I remember.
We have to play.
We have to dance.
We have to sing and twirl and make messes and fall down and get bruised and learn how to get back up again because man, this life is not an easy one and the sooner we learn how to deal with the imperfectness of our lives the easier it will be to deal with the pain that is still to come.

So I’ve decided
I want to be a teacher.

Because seriously, sometimes adults just make me want to scream.
Can we just stop taking ourselves so seriously? Please?

Life is messy. And that’s really okay.

There’s a lot to be learned in making messes and cleaning them up.

(Cuz think about it
That’s kind of what life is about
We make messes,
We clean them up
We try to create something beautiful in the process
And if we make someone smile along the way
Then that day is a good day
This is life
It’s *supposed* to be messy)

The thing we have to learn
The most important thing
(at least the way I see it)
Is how to clean up our messes after we make them
(because we all make messes. Everyone. Cool kids DEFINITELY included)

We gotta learn how strong we are
And how the happiest people in the world
Are the ones that aren’t afraid to make messes
Because they know how to clean them up
AND they know
they are strong enough to take on that mess they just made
Because they’ve already cleaned up so much

They’ve worked on their mess-cleaning muscles
So they know
Whatever life throws at them
They’ve got this.

I’ve got this.

So.
I want to make messes
And I want to clean them up

And I want to dance and play and sing and be silly and never ever take myself too seriously because I am far too human to ever think in a million years I could ever achieve perfection
(whatever the hell perfection is anyway)

I’ve tried on a lot of masks over the years
Tried to be a lot of different people
Done as much as I can to figure out who I am
By trying on the masks of the people
I admired
The people
That seemed to be happy

I wanted to see
How to be happy
If I lived like them
Then maybe I could be happy too

Tried to be someone I’m not
Tried to fit in with the cool kids
The ‘mature’ kids
The ‘adults’
Well, that mask is frickin’ suffocating
And I am sick and tired of not being able to breathe

So

I’ve decided

I’m listening to my younger self
Before the cool kids
Before the trying-to-fit-in-the-box
I’m listening to little Anniella
And I’m going to be a teacher.

We adults take ourselves way too seriously.

I’d much rather hang out with kids all day and paint pictures and make card castles and play with toys and dance around and plant seeds of kindness and love and gentleness and knowledge and growth in every single interaction I make.


 

I still have a lot of research to do on how to make this happen. I know I have quite a few friends that are teachers and/or work in childcare – if anyone would be willing to let me pick their brain on what they had to do and the certification process and degree and everything, please please get in touch.

Also, I don’t have any experience really babysitting on my own or doing childcare, but I love hanging out with kids and I know kids love hanging out with me. Once I get my first aid/CPR training I absolutely want to do some work as a babysitter. I know I also have lots of friends that have kids so if you ever need a babysitter or even a tutor definitely let me know.

Honestly, I don’t even know the process for getting first aid/CPR certified but if anyone knows of any programs that will help you get trained for free or through a scholarship program or something please let me know. I am in the negative in my bank account right now so any training I have to do will have to be funded in some other way.

Also. If you know of any daycares or child care facilities that are decent places to work that don’t require a TON of physical exertion, please let me know. I start back up at Burgerville tomorrow, and I love the people I work with, but it’s a hard job to do, especially as someone living a mostly-vegan lifestyle, and with my physical pain issues right now, I honestly don’t know how long I will be able to last.


 

Alright.

Long-term goal recognized and acknowledged.
Intention sent out into the Universe.

…I should probably eat breakfast now.

Have a great morning, friends! 🙂

Anniella Nicole Levitt
Vancouver, WA
December 20, 2015

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My “Please Help Me, Because I Can’t Do This Thing Called Life Alone” List

We may not have it all together, but together we can have it all.
-Wookiefoot, “All Together”

Backstory – I was originally going to post this just on Facebook, but then it turned into this giant thing that I just kept writing over the course the the last three hours so I figured I ought to post it onto a blog to make it more accessible. So, here it goes…

Okay friends, so here’s the deal. I am of the belief that, collectively, everyone living today has the resources and knowledge we all need to take care of each other and build a better world. I also think that a lot of us want to help others, because deep down I really think we’re all just really good people, but we don’t know how to move from that desire to help to truly taking the time and energy to help someone without expecting anything in return, without condition. Now, I’m going to try to put this belief into action through the magic of the internet, and I hope that all of my wonderful friends on Internetlandia and Facebooklandia will help me make this work!

So, here’s my idea. I am creating my own personal “Please help me, because I can’t do this thing called life alone” list. I am currently in the middle of quite a few of transitions in life, and there are certain things I am simply unable to do/acquire/change/build on my own. I’m thinking it’s going to kind of be like those “Honey Do” lists my parents would make for each other (maybe they still do…? ) – things that need fixed, or moved, or bought, or whatever other actions either one of my parents just could not do on their own, individually, by themselves. I’m creating this list, and I am putting it out there into the Internet World in the belief that someone, somewhere, will be able to help me acquire the knowledge, tools, (hu)man power, and/or various other resources to help me create the life I know I deserve, so that I have a greater ability to help others build the same for themselves.

If you don’t really get what I’m saying, and/or you think this is just a bunch of hippie nonsense, here’s a metaphor that might help give ya a little perspective: if you’ve ever been on an airplane, one of the first things the flight attendant shows all of the passengers is what to do in case of an emergency. If the oxygen masks are released, the flight attendant instructs, passengers with small children need to put the air masks securely on themselves first, and then on their child(ren) or anyone else that needs help. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, or even a little selfish (“How could I not put my children first?”), but when you think about it deeply, it actually makes a lot of sense. The reason we’re told to put our own oxygen mask on first is because, in case of an airplane emergency, we need all the strength we can get so we don’t pass out from lack of oxygen if we were to try and save someone else first.

The thing is, I may know that I’m strong enough to help the world, but without allowing myself access to what I need so my body/mind/spirit can function properly, that strength goes (mostly) untapped. This is what (I believe) the beautifully wise writer/activist/wonderful human being Audre Lorde, meant when she wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” (I’ll find the source for that in a bit – I just want to get this written and posted so I can wash my uniform before work tonight!)

So, without (much) further ado, here is my “Please help me, because I can’t do this alone” list. I appreciate any and all help anyone is able to offer. Also, please feel free to share this list – not necessarily for my own direct benefit (although that is definitely appreciated!), but because I know I am not the only person out there that has things they need help with and just don’t know how to ask, or more likely don’t feel like they are worthwhile enough for someone to take the time to help (that’s something I’ve felt quite a bit during my 26 years alive thus far). But see, here’s my thought on that particular I’m-not-good/worthy/kind/loving/beautiful/whatever-enough-to-help feeling: All of us, everyone reading this, everyone talking about this, everyone you pass on the street without ever making eye contact, everyone sleeping on the streets, everyone making billions of dollars on the top floor of the tallest building in New Work City, everyone that comes through my drive-thru at Burgerville with an especially grumpy attitude, everyone hiding their hearts behind a police badge and riot gear, everyone trying desperately to distance themselves from one another but never truly feeling at peace, ever, anywhere… We are all alive. We are all breathing, living, coexisting on this planet. And that means we still, all of us, have the capacity and capability to share kindness, to share hope, to share love.

So share. Be kind. Love. Give whatever you can, whenever you can, freely and with no expectation of immediate or direct reciprocation. Because, in this painful, disconnected, fear- and catastrophe-driven society, we have to remember that kindness, compassion, empathy, and Love are the most powerful forces in the entire universe.

Okay. Here’s my list. I bolded the specific things that I am asking for, because I know I have a tendency to write a lot and some people do not necessarily want to read everything but still want to see if they can help. Please let me know if you are able to help or know of anyone that can – my email address is iamanniella@gmail.com, or you can contact me on Facebook (if we’re not friends yet, you can find me by searching my full name – Anniella Levitt). And I absolutely encourage everyone to make their own lists; you’ll be amazed at how much all of us already have to share and give to others, and how much others are completely willing to help us!

  • I’ve lost around 100 pounds over the last two years or so (I’ll post about that whole adventure later, but basically I just started paying more attention to what I put in my body and how I felt afterwards; if it doesn’t feel good, I cut back on it, and if it feels good, I’ll do more of it. Because of that, I don’t eat meat anymore, and I drink tons of water, and whenever I feel sleepy I dance around in my living room or go for a walk or eat something green, rather than pump myself full of caffeine until I crash). I feel a lot better physically and emotionally, which is awesome and wonderful and beautiful, and here’s where I need help: I need clothing that fits. Essentially none of my old clothes fit. I have a closet full of 2X and 3X shirts and skirts and dresses and pants and none of them fit me anymore (I’ve given away quite a bit of my old clothes already, but I’ve held on to the ones I can wear if I absolutely need to, even if I look like I’m wearing a pillowcase…). I’ve been making do with what I have, and I will for as long as possible, but honestly I have exactly one outfit that I really feel good in (I splurged and spent $20 at Value Village the other day on a really awesome skirt and top). I think I wear between a XL and a Large in tops and dresses, and I’m somewhere between a 14 and a 12 in women’s pant and skirt sizes right now, depending on the style. If you or anyone you know has any extra clothes they don’t want in those sizes, I would love to take them off your hands. If they don’t fit me or I can’t use them for whatever reason, I’m sure I can find someone that will appreciate the gift!
    • So, to sum that all up – I need clothing that fits because I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight in the past two years, and I do not have the financial means to go purchase anything for myself. A gift card to Value Village, or Goodwill, or Spanky’s, or some other secondhand clothing shop, and perhaps a gift card for somewhere like Fred Meyer or a smaller local shop for new bras and underwear would be super wonderful and very, very much appreciated.
  • My partner and I are in the middle of moving right now, and we need to figure out how to move our washer and dryer from our old apartment to our new townhouse. I have no idea how to disconnect anything or even try to move it, and we cannot move the appliances just the two of us. If you or anyone you know might be able to help us with disconnecting, moving, and reconnecting our washer and dryer, I definitely appreciate it!
  • Our old apartment has roaches, and I have the bug bombs that our landlady there gave me to deploy, but I have not set them off yet because I don’t know how that is going to affect everything else in the apartment. We’ve got the majority of the big stuff (aside from the washer/dryer) at our new home, and our three cats have been at our new place for a week now, so there shouldn’t be any serious danger with the bombs. The thing I really need help for with this is advice/guidance on exactly how to deploy the bug bombs with the least amount of damage to the stuff that is still left over at our old apartment.
  • A few household things we need for our new home:
    • A comfortable couch (preferably from a home without cats, but as long as no other cats have sprayed or marked it I’m pretty sure our cats will be able to adjust)
    • Two or three standing lights
    • A coffee table
    • A working shower head

So that’s my list, for now. Needs, like people, evolve and change and transform over time, so I’m sure this list will change also. If you are able to help me in any way, with any of these, please feel free to contact me on Facebook, by phone if you already have my number, and/or email me at iamanniella@gmail.com.

From my experience, it’s a hell of a lot easier to give without expectation than it is to ask for what we need and be able to receive it without feeling guilty or getting wrapped up in the urge to reciprocate immediately and directly – which is pretty much exactly why I haven’t asked for help in this way, or posted a lot publicly about this stuff before. It’s really, really hard for me to receive help. I recognize that, and I am choosing to acknowledge it so that I can move through it. It used to be like, there are so many people out there suffering through so, so much more than me, so who the hell am I to ask for help and think I deserve it? A lot of my life I’ve felt like I’m not good enough, like I’m not doing enough, like my struggles aren’t worthy of getting help from other people. But what I’m realizing now, finally, is that I need to take care of myself first, and through that, I will be more able and willing to help others. I need to put my oxygen mask on first, before I can help the person next to me with theirs – so that person next to me can help the person next to them, who can help the person behind them, and so on and so forth.

Please know that I’m not just writing this list, or this post, for myself. We need to allow ourselves to ask for what we need, and we need to realize that everyone needs help sometimes, and most of all we need to remember that everyone needs, and deserves, help. No one can do this thing called life alone. I am asking for help so that I may give more to the world in the long run.

I believe that kindness is love in motion, and the only prerequisite for love is life. If you’re reading this, you are alive, and therefore worthy of love and kindness. Remember that. We must always remember that.

When was the last time you took a break?

calminthestorm

**I wrote this in my journal five days ago, on June 30th, in what felt like ten minutes, but ended up being about an hour. I hope it helps you, just as I was helped through its inspiration.**

There is something very beautiful and magical that happens every time I open a new word document, or turn to a fresh page in my journal. It’s like, I get to start anew, fresh, rejuvenated, working through a thought or problem or homework assignment or just to be present. Listen to the birds chirping outside my window. Smell the patchouli incense burning, feel the sweat accumulating on different parts of my body in the heat. And through all of this, I learn. I learn how to stay present, how to not worry so much about the little – and big – things.

I think that is our purpose in life, at least in this moment. We are such a future-driven, progress-thriving world, that we forget to just sit down, sit back, and BE. When was the last time you took a break? When was the last time you were able to take a break? And by break I don’t necessarily mean a ten-day cruise through the Bahamas. I simply mean, when did you last sit down, lay back, close your eyes, and just breathe? Staying present, not worrying about what you’re not doing in that moment, not stressing about the bills that need to be paid, not focusing on the fact that your fiancé and your father cannot stand to be in the same room together… Just breathing, with intention, with peace, with tranquility. To be peaceful does not mean being calm simply when it is convenient. Being peaceful requires discipline, and it requires maintaining tranquility while being in the midst of a storm. It means finding the eye of the storm, the calm, tranquil space within that storm, and riding the storm out in this space.

This is all a metaphor, that much is obvious. Because there will be no physical “eye of the storm” when you face a catastrophe. There is no physical “never-never land” where you can disappear out into while the shit hits the fan. No, there is no easy answer – which is why this inner peace requires so much discipline. It requires time, and effort, and energy. But this peace, this staying-present-ness, this inner calm in the face of tragedy… It is truly, deeply worth it. And I believe that it is my purpose, at least at this point in my life. My purpose, at this moment, and the reason I am facing so many hardships in the physical realm right now – poverty, stress, heartache, physical ailments – I think is Spirit trying to teach me how to deal. I need to learn how to be peaceful in the chaos. I need to learn how to stay present, and not obsess and get lost in the trivialities of our physical lives. Not to say that being able to pay rent on time is a trivial thing, but I do need to learn how to experience that stressor without giving in, without living in that extreme anxiety.

And, let me clarify – this inner peace, this inner tranquility… It does not mean that I am not “allowed” to, or cannot, feel my emotions. It does not mean that I cannot experience deep sadness or insecurity or pain or anger or any other difficult emotion. It simply means being able to experience that feeling, and to not dwell in it. To simply give it the time that it needs, nothing more, and then move through it.

Because somehow, I know, I deeply know that I am being taught this for a reason. I am meant to be a teacher, a healer. I am meant to help others through their own journeys in this world. I get the most gratification out of helping others learn, and grow, and expand their consciousness, their awareness. And, through that process, I myself grow as well.

Tears are the heart’s way of saying hello

Some background:

  • I am the kind of person that cannot browse through the card aisle at a grocery store without shedding at least a few tears.
  • I am the person that has to stifle my sobs in class when the professor shows an uplifting video clip to illustrate the concept of altruism.
  • I am also the person that has to always remember to bring an old bandana in my purse at all times, just in case I need something to wipe my tears with.

The topic of the sermon yesterday at the local Unitarian Universalist Church was a question I’ve asked myself many, many times in this process I am going through – of waking up and getting off my medications and fully embracing the wonder and magnificence that the Universe contains, and as such, that I hold within my spirit.

The question was, “Why do we cry? Is there a purpose? What makes some cry more than others?”

Or, in my case, “Why do I cry so much, all the freakin’ time?!?

The sermon was beautiful, and I started crying the moment she started speaking. Not, necessarily, because of what she was saying – although, the message did pull at my heartstrings (and my tear ducts) many times. No, the reason I was crying in that moment was something deeper, something more complex, something I’ve always known but have long forgotten: I am not alone in my tears.

I am not the only one that feels the way I feel. I am not alone in my emotional rollercoaster, and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling this way, for feeling this intensely.

There is nothing wrong with me.
There is nothing wrong with me.
No, there is nothing wrong with me.
In fact, there is everything right with me.

Tears teach us so much, and all we must choose to do is listen. Feel. Embrace. Love your tears, for they are tiny little drops of the Universe, manifested in liquid form and warming your cheeks with their descent.

Love your tears, for they are only your heart saying hello. 

Listen.

I used to think that I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t have the imagination enough for fiction writing. I wasn’t good at coming up with ideas, not unless they somehow related back to my life, back to my little plane of existence on this earth.

Now, though, I realize that all life is connected, that there is no such thing as a story without a purpose, without a lesson. If you cannot find the lesson, the “moral,” so to speak, then either you have not experienced the particular phenomena or remembrance that the story is touching upon, or you are simply not open to receiving its message yet.

(And I will add, neither of these experiences with not understanding literature are necessarily “bad,” or “wrong” – it takes a specific mindset and openness to receive and/or understand certain messages, and one cannot force themselves to be open – or closed – enough to receive any particular message)

All literature, in my opinion, has a point (read: a lesson), just as all life has a purpose. The only thing that distinguishes “good” literature from “bad” is the ability to convey any particular experience/lesson to a wide audience of people, all while making it (the literature in question) entertaining and accessible.

Any literate person can be a writer. More importantly, anyone can be a storyteller. One must only find their purpose, their path, and share it. Share their life. Share their stories, and their lessons, with enough people, and someone is bound to pay attention.

I am learning how to listen – to truly listen – without judgement, without giving advice or help or worry. I am learning to listen to the stories of the people and other living creatures around me, because everyone has a story: the person that lives next door to you that you’ve never met, the spider outside your window, the trees surrounding your house… Even little orange kittens that show up on your doorstep one summer’s day 6 months ago and end up being a lifelong companion.

So, if every life, every living thing is valuable, it only makes sense that this value is, in part, held within the lessons we can learn from one another. We are, all of us, each and every living thing, teachers.

The spider, delicately and patiently spinner her web outside of my window… She is my teacher in patience.

That little orange kitten, running up and down the apartment at 2:00 in the morning, staring intently at the squirrels and birds outside the window… She is my teacher in observing the world around me, and also in playfulness, and in appreciation.

The frogs, singing nightly a chorus of melodies, deep and powerful and wise… They teach me how to harmonize with others, to listen, and learn, and sing.

The tree outside my window, barely beginning to grow leaves after an especially freezing winter… That tree teaches me resilience, and joyful growth, and new beginnings.

Everything, every living creature on our wondrous Mother Earth, they all have lessons, wisdom, hiding down deep somewhere, or perhaps right there in the open. All one must learn to do, all we have to learn is how to Listen.