Becoming the Person My Dog Thinks I Am
Contributed by Anita Howard
One summer day in 2012 I happened upon a Ted Talk by Adam Baker entitled, “Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.” In that talk, Adam challenged his listeners to one important question, “What does freedom mean to you?”
There are certain moments in life that can be traced back to true turning points, where you begin to reconsider, unravel and evolve. This was one of those moments on my path.
I’m a self-described “Earthy” girl wild about plants and animals and living in harmony with nature on this planet. For the past 15 years, I’ve followed my heart and volunteered with various animal care and conservation organizations including a wildlife refuge on the Emerald Coast of Florida, a wildlife conservation center in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia and farm sanctuaries, an equine therapy center, City Dog Country Dog and the Oregon Humane Society here in the Pacific Northwest.
So I asked myself, what does freedom mean to me? This was the answer that I kept coming back to…
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
This passion for animals and the environment ultimately drove me to create an eco-friendly tiny home to minimize my footprint which now advocates for my chosen lifestyle. The house utilizes solar, rainwater catchment, composting, and wood heat. It is approximately 10% of the average-sized home in Portland. As a happy herbivore, I grow much of my own fruits, vegetables and herbs. Between whipping up nourishing smoothies and cultivating my meditation practice, I’m rooted in the belief that the earth freely offers the resources to sustain a balanced life.
What is my work?
I am becoming the person that my sweet rescue dog Kingston thinks I am. I became certified in naturopathic animal care at the Northwest School of Animal Massage in Seattle, WA, retired from my desk job and recently launched a full-time practice nurturing happier and healthier tomorrows for pets through therapeutic small animal massage, holistic aromatherapy, and gentle Reiki energy work in addition to pet sitting.
Living lightly with natural resources and ultimately choosing to do what I love as a vocation is the happiness that Mahatma Gandhi spoke of.
Happiness is my freedom.
How do I practice Mindfulness in my community?
I created a “Paw It Forward” program to further my commitment to community service and donate therapeutic massage sessions to hard-working service animals and shelter animals in need.
What’s the best advice I’ve ever heard?
“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.” – Denali, the dog (and his human Ben Moon)
Why do you do what you do?
To put it simply, I live for the benefit of all sentient beings on this beautiful blue-green world.
Today is a very good day to ask yourself…
What does freedom mean to you?
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Anita Howard is a lover of the natural world, animals, plants, stargazing, altruism, Rumi poetry, open hearts, gypsy meanderings, enchanted forests and is naturally drawn to benevolent spirits that swim against the current. She is a Master Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui System of Natural Healing known as Usui Reiki Ryoho and the owner of Now and Zen Pet Massage & Natural Care offering pet sitting and holistic pet care throughout the Portland metro area. To learn more, visit: http://www.nowandzenpet.com/
If you would like to follow her journey on Instagram: @nowandzenpet or find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nowandzenpet