I don’t care what kind of rose-coloured glasses you sport, the reality remains that the world has just about as many assholes as it can handle. The guy that cut you off this morning in traffic AND then gave you the finger, that guy who makes inappropriate comments every time he takes a breath, the lady at Starbucks who spills her coffee on your new shoes and doesn’t even look back and all the power-tripping buggers with mama issues and well, let’s face it, Donald Trump.
We all know them and we all love to hate them, spending countless hours plotting our revenge, our fabulous comebacks, and how to orchestrate that one thing that will hurt them back just as much as they have hurt you. Hold that thought. Because you and I both know that there is no comeback in the world that is going to make an asshole magically turn into something else, like a gentleman or a saint. And this is the most annoying, verging on infuriating, part of it all. So if your revenge plots, wickedly awesome comebacks and semi-serious murder fantasies aren’t going to cut it, how are you going to deal with the assholes in your life in a way that actually works?
Over the last twelve years as an Equine Sport Therapist, I’ve spent the better part of my time diving into what makes the best horse-human relationships tick and how to help horse women everywhere cultivate this kind of stunning connection with their horses. A connection based on trust, communication and relaxation, where the horses are balanced, healthy, willing and full of life, and the rider is intuitive, trusting and having an awesome time.
You might get glimpses of this garden of Eden in equine form, but does it stay? Can you maintain it?
Speaking from personal experience, there are countless factors involved in creating a horse-human partnership that is beautifully harmonious, a dance. My mare Diva and I fought for a good long while at the beginning of our relationship, with tiny glimpses of relaxation and harmony, and you know what? A lot of the time it sucked – I spent a whole lot of time questioning myself, my methods and what I was doing there in the first place. And then, with a whole lot of work and learning, we found our groove and remain besties in and out of the saddle to this day.
In a little less than a month, I board the ridiculously long flight to the big down under. Today, I bought one of those airplane pillows and a very grown up but still cool carry on bag and thought, holy crap this is trip is real. It’s really happening. And by it I mean this: My first time in New Zealand and Australia (a dream come true!), the southern hemisphere launch of my first just-me book, a straight up guide to navigating your pet’s final transition, a first for a brand new 2-day offering – Death Sucks – an essential workshop for animal lovers to cultivate the skills to move through this inevitable transition with their animals as gracefully as humanly possible, a first for a master class with One Spirit’s Laura Bird for animal professionals and practitioners to support those who midwife this powerful and challenging transition.
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.