April 18, 2019

What’s Inside the Heart of an Animal Advocate.


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As an ecopsychologist, I embraced animal advocacy wholeheartedly in 2009.

Ecopsychology is based on the wisdom traditions of Buddhism and indigenous peoples. It blends ecology with psychology to help cultivate mutual, reciprocal healing between self and nature.

After half a lifetime in law, I walked out of the constricted world I was in to align with my higher purpose. It has been a path replete with challenges, joys, demands, and most of all, expansion of self. For anyone embracing such a path, we all can appreciate just how much support and connection we advocates need to sustain the passion, cultivate the joy, and carry forth our work in this wonderful, mosaic world.

As a rescue dog advocate, I offer this up for anyone who needs to know there is at least one other spirit in the world sharing in the struggle.


Do it Anyway.

The world doesn’t want what I have to offer.

Offer it anyway.

The world doesn’t want to read what I write.

Write it anyway.

The world doesn’t value what it is I do.

Do it anyway.

Inspiration as sacred as this

doesn’t come from a letter received or a text on my phone.

It doesn’t hail from the direction of a stranger or a Facebook post.

Inspiration worth noticing,

creativity worth cultivating,

only comes from one source:

Divinely inspired, to care for the life already here.

Today, that is worth hearing.

This afternoon, that is the feeling worth sensing.

Worthlessness and despair

are the shadow side of beauty.

I am born into a world of fools;

It’s not for me to sort them out.

The job I’ve chosen to accept

is to serve with an open heart, in all ways known and not.

My work is to know the inside of patience

as a soldier on a battlefield.

My task is to know myself well

so that I may turn the soil of me, again and again.

The dung may be piled on deep on any given Tuesday,

but it is up to me to turn it into compost, so that it may flower this spring.

My favorite Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, says,

“If we all look deeply into the dirt and the compost, the waste and the refuse,

We will see the tulip blooming.”

It takes an open heart.

So today, just this moment, I call upon my wounded soul:

Stare not too deeply at the refuse.

Feel not too intensely

the despair or the wall.

Listen not to the voices crying,

“There’s no place for you.”

Use them only to know

the pain of the ones for which you speak.

Allow them to inform the longing

that the four-leggeds who are tossed away feel.

Empathy must be the hallmark of advocates—

it is up to us to see ourselves,

so that we may recognize the call of each other.


author: Denise Boehler

Image: @ecofolks/Instagram

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Denise Boehler

Speaking out on behalf of animals is what Denise Boehler was born to do. She inherited her father’s voice and passion for nonhuman animals, and has spent a lifetime cultivating ways to refine, deepen, and inform herself on the best way to do so. She believes in the empowerment of women everywhere, and that women are specifically gifted to sing their best songs on behalf of Nature.

Her Masters in Ecopsychology infuses her world view on how best to speak on behalf of the four-legged and winged ones. Her life revolves around animals and the world in which they live, how to help make their lives better and hers in return.

She believe in moments out in the beauty of nature, to expand the boundaries of her limited mind and to hear the voice within. She loves challenging herself with the mountains in which she is blessed to live, traveling beyond her borders to experience life at large, and cultivate gratitude for the life she has been given.

If you’d like to get in touch with her, send her a note on Instagram or via LinkedIn.