When I first started Equine Sport Therapy School, I was optimistic, naive even. To be honest, I had no idea what I was in for and was caught unprepared, not by the subject matter, not by the people, but by the horses. You see, every month, after spending the weekend cramming my brain with information, I would head out to practice my newfound skills on the horses in my area. That first month is still etched in my mind. We had learned to massage the neck. That’s it. But when I went out to try it, I was baffled. Not a single horse would let me even put my hands on them. You better believe that two year program looked like a life sentence right then. Back at school, I approached my teacher with my problem, holding back tears. His simple response, “Alexa, I think it’s time to teach you how to ground.”
As I’m writing you today, a forest fire is burning nearby and has been for about a week. The smoke is in the air. It’s an eery feeling. Here on Vancouver Island, normally a lush rainforest, we are in the midst of quite the drought. Water restrictions, trail restrictions, evacuation plans…changes. It’s an easy time to react, to stress, to live in a seemingly perpetual state of on-edgeness. And it seems perfect timing for unpacking the emotion of fear.
As a long-time rider, I’ve gone through phases, periods of almost fearlessness (not so safe) fluctuating into periods of almost paralyzing fear and back to states of ease and flow. Thankfully, my obsession with horses shows no sign of fading and keeps me in the saddle, despite many falls and scary experiences. The truth is, the chances of something unnerving happening when you spend time with horses is astoundingly high. They are, after all, when we get down to brass tacks, 1000lb plus prey animals. I’ve seen many leave the world of horses forever after a dangerous incident or a series of experiences left them feeling everything from trepidatious to terrified of horses and riding.
Last week was one of those weeks I dread as a horse mom. It started when my mare Diva stopped eating, snubbing her hay and leaving her entire bucket untouched. Not good. Then the glassy eye, out of it, lowest of low energy. Belly sounds ok. Under her lip. Wet. No rolling. No biting at her belly. Good. And then, of course, what only horse owners do, the searching of the paddock for her poops, and examining consistency and number, not easy when she lives with two others horses. Poops were harder than usual and littler. Hmmm.
I am not a neat freak. In fact, when I was a kid my bedroom contained a very distinctive purple shag carpet. If you could actually see said carpet, which was a rarity, considering the piles of clothes and stuff, there was a rising fear of what could possibly start up a colony or a little village in a carpet that hadn’t seen a vacuum cleaner in a terrifyingly long time.
A few weeks ago, I walked in the door from a healing session on my mare Diva and myself and I couldn’t get my butt planted at my computer fast enough. If you know me, you know that my relationship with my horse is, well, unusual, deep, fascinating. After eleven years we are best friends, partially because of the passing of much time, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You see, Diva and I are connected in our purpose and our soul journey.
It’s a big question when it comes to pets. Just how connected are you to your animals? If it came down to it would it be the big juicy steak or you? That pasture full of grass? Now that’s tough competition! Stomachs aside, connection is one of those things that we all strive for as animal owners whether we know it or not. The mere act of asking your dog to come or your horse to listen to your aids is based in connection. The more tuned in they are to you the easier things get and the more fun you have together. But what do we need to do get tuned in? What are the steps of connection?
Comfort zones are exactly that, zones of comfort, or more accurately, the areas in our lives where we feel a sense of ease, competence and understanding. We’ve all had the experience of moving out of a comfort zone. Most of the time it feels, well, uncomfortable. Which is why we like staying inside them. You might see this in your animals when you find yourself in a situation that is unknown to them. There is a natural tendency to want to return to what is comfortable. The inborn problem with this strategy is that it can make it difficult to learn, grow and integrate new skills and information. And these are some of the things that make life fun and fulfilling.
Let’s get a little better acquainted with the idea of a comfort zone. What rules this aspect of our human and animal nature anyways?
Somedays I write before breakfast. Today is that day. Just to get something out. Move it. Shift it. Empty. Before putting anything at all back in.
Today is the day. This morning I hurt. All over. It doesn’t feel worrying, more a dull, constant ache greeting me into Sunday morning. A sign that there is tiredness in me, that something is asking for attention. Somewhere in me wants noticing. And I’ll give it in a second. In the dance. But first, to write.
What is it to write? What does it do to the chemistry of us? The mood? It changes the ambiance perhaps? Brings life into more brilliant focus? Shifts and settles some of the uncertainty twisting around inside? I think it might just do all of that. It might just align me. It might just get close enough to the pain to dissolve it. Sometimes it does that.
Permissions open a doorway, a pathway into a new reality, a plethora of possibilities…
So often we don’t. Don’t give ourselves space, room, the opportunity for potential, for growth. Don’t let ourselves explore the vastness of what is ours to explore. (PS. uncensored. swear words included…)
I say it’s time….
I give myself permission…
It’s a sparkle fest in here! On sunny days my house is literally filled with rainbow sparkles. Yes, there is my fair share of disco balls in here…because who doesn’t want a house filled with rainbow sparkles? Isn’t it funny how we tone that sort of stuff down because we don’t feel totally comfortable being “too” sparkly? For today, I give you full on permission to be get your disco ball sparkliness (is that even a word?) on. And I want to remind you just how lovely you are…
This past week was pretty darn surreal. Did you see it? The book that I contributed to, beautifully named Choosing Happiness became an international bestseller. And I became a published author (yep, that’s been a dream for a very very long time) What!?
It’s a big question and one that most of us promptly answer with a big resounding (and perhaps slightly defensive) NO! But, before you give your final answer, hear me out. Because before this week, my answer was no too. What changed? Well, let’s just say I took one of those good hard looks in the mirror of life – an adventure I like to take every so often, an uncomfortable but necessary step in the process of unwinding and revealing. And what was looking back was not the angelic, loving, beautiful, rainbow-sparkle being that I’d hoped for. Instead, I got a chance to gaze on one of those parts of me that I keep well hidden and for good reason – she’s a bit of a bitch and she’s sneaky too.
I don’t have to tell you that life is a very “interesting” adventure. By interesting I mean everything from weird to painful to are-you-kidding-me to downright cruel. And sometimes all we want to do is make it all stop – to cut ourselves off from all of this “interesting”, stick our head in the sand, eat lots of chocolate and watch Netflix for the rest of our days. The general feeling is along the lines of “please stop this train I would like to get off now” and then the terrifying reality that actually, you can’t.
For years, shutting down was my main coping strategy. Can you relate? And it worked like a hot damn. Someone would say something mean, off I’d go into my dissociative fantasy land in the sky. Get a bad mark? Off switch activated. Death? Checking out now. Anything uncomfortable at all? Yep, gone. Well, you get the picture. It seemed like a great idea at the time and it was only when I started working with horses as an Equine Sport Therapist that I realized that it was actually a really dangerous coping mechanism.
There is a certain mystique to it. There is a definite misunderstanding of the use and design of the equipment . It’s about Balance. Feel. Centeredness.
What is this thing that I am speaking of? It is the years long development of a True Bridle Horse in the Traditional Californio Style. It requires the horses to be started in the Bosal/ Hackamore then into the two-rein and finally straight up in the bridle. Of course, it is the bit that causes the greatest degree of concern to those who may not understand how it works and why. While I don’t profess to be an expert on the evolution and execution of this fine method of being with and working with horses, I am nonetheless a keen student and a fine appreciator the philosophy, intent, grace and connection that it represents.
This Saturday, at 10:30am to be exact, I take the stage. One hour. All me.
Life has been surprising and weird, particularly since February, the launch of my new website at www.alexalinton.com, a new focus (which feels amazing), a whole lot of new clients (who I love!). Waking up one morning to a phone call from a power-house visionary inviting me to speak at her tele-summit. What? Really? Being interviewed twice. Huh? Cool! Turning my whole way of doing everything on its head. Being a bit of a hard-ass when needed. Taking care of this body of mine. Wearing gorgeous, head turning dresses and fabulous heels. Addressing the big stuff. Getting all business-like.
Anyone else out there with lessons, ah-hahs and ideas coming at them at the speed of light? We are officially in summer warp speed! A time to get a little quieter, a little softer and a little stiller, even when the energy of things wants to whip you into a frenzy. I feel a horse metaphor or two coming on. But I digress.
Untitled designThis week, I seriously was having an impossible time sorting through all the stuff coming into my poor head. Titles, taglines, chapter names, product ideas, tweets and on and on. So much! Eventually, I just had to set my foot down on my brain (well, not literally, because that would probably hurt a heck of a lot) and say stop it! (PS. what do you think of these wacky Diva-licious shades? Yes, just a little distractable at the moment :))
If you have animals you know that there is a lot they can teach us. So let’s chat about that and find out how you can take a few those simple lessons and start living a much more fabulous life…
As I was lying in bed this morning, gazing adoringly into my cat Parker’s eyes, I had a thought. This thought is not brand new, but it sparked a new idea, which is now being written down by yours truly. You see, being an empath, meaning someone who feels pretty much everything felt by everyone and has done since time began, I have a tendency to burn out. Since you’re here and reading this post, I have a strong feeling you can relate.
It’s funny. For years and years I spent a good part of my energy being “tough” and “together”, well, to be completely honest, more like pretending to be tough and together and meanwhile failing miserably (which felt a lot like feeling miserable). When my mom gave me the book “Highly Sensitive Person” I admittedly took it personally, re-iterating that no, in fact, (even though I’m having a hissy fit about this!) I am not a “sensitive” person. I denied it at this turn and at that, displaying bravado and acts of endurance, loading ridiculous heavy bales into the barn and taking on physical feats beyond the means of my slim frame. All to prove that no, I am not a f%$cking sensitive person!