Who: Alexa Linton
What: Horse whisperer, Fire starter, Equine Sport Therapist, founder of BalanceWorks Wellness, Kinesiologist, BodyTalker, Animal Communicator, Author, Teacher.
Where: Vancouver Island
JR: What is your life’s work?
AL: Nothing like starting off with a bang! Big, beautiful question. My life’s work finds different definition at different levels. I am hopelessly in love with animals, their well-being, their magic, and the exploration of our fascinating connection with them, what makes it tick. I could watch them for hours, their interactions and way of moving through the world, how they show up, what they show us. I live to forge connections with horses, to relieve their discomfort, share their stories with their loved ones, open the door to reconciliation and deep healing and connections like the world has never seen.
It is what wakes me up in the morning and keeps me up at night putting together endless pieces, like a giant puzzle, and then translating what I’ve experienced into words and teachings. Which leads me to the other facet of my life’s work which is, like you, to write it all down, story and share the raw and the real.
I am in the process of finishing my first manuscript, writing several other books, plus building and writing new courses and programs and I can’t seem to stop! And on a more personal level, my life’s work is to just enjoy and experience this crazy ride around the sun with the ones I love. That sounds like an easy task, but sometimes life can just be plain hard and we need to dig deep to find the ourselves in it all.
JR: How long have you been doing your life’s-work?
AL: It all started a little over twelve years ago, although really, the seed had been growing in me for a good long while. But one horse, a big thoroughbred named Dancer sealed my fate. He was a beautiful guy, but his body was not doing him any favours. He was constantly sore and out of alignment. At the time I met him I was in my last term of a five year Kinesiology degree at the University of Victoria and I realized that despite all my years of eduction I had absolutely no idea how to help him.
And so began my two-year training as an Equine Sport Therapist, and the rather rocky start of my own personal rabbit hole into energy medicine and the exploration of consciousness and all things energy and woo-woo. It’s worth noting that at the beginning of this wild adventure I had absolutely no concept of energy or spirituality at all, save for one class in the philosophy of religion in my 5th year and I resisted all of it with a passion that was only exceeded by my love for deeper understanding. I often joke that this dynamic has made me the teacher that I am – I have met no one yet that is as skeptical and full of doubt as I was. But the horses I worked with and my own mare Diva kept me on the path, becoming my main teachers and impossible to ignore or refute. They don’t debate well really or need to. They just lay the wisdom down and let you sort out your end of it all, hopefully into embodied understanding and a life lived with ever expanding awareness.
JR: What was the first animal you fell in love with?
AL: My hamster Squeaky. I was seven or eight and he stuck it out for five years, eons for his little frame. He was a trooper, being carted around on every sort of adventure that a wild child embarks on. Not that he had too much of a choice. But to this day, I do believe he enjoyed himself. I loved that little guy deeply and grieved for days and days when he passed on. He’s has a big part in the book I just wrote talked about navigating the transition of death and dying.
JR: What other careers have taken you to where you are now?
AL: I had a brief but fun stint as a personal trainer, as a terrible hostess and busser and an even more terrible server. I was actually lovingly fired after working part-time for four years at John’s Place in Victoria. That was a very funny and frankly, relieving moment. Apparently I’m not cut out for the service industry. Then there was the never-ending two weeks selling security systems door to door. And of course, I was a camp counsellor, not really a career, but I think it also made me more fun to be around. And awesome for my story collection.
I have also mucked out thousands upon thousands of horse stalls and paddocks and spent many a summer caring for horses, a great skill to have now that I have my own. I can muck a paddock with the best of them!
JR: Can you describe the moment in which you met your career you are currently in?
AL: Hmmm…I think when my career and I met, I wasn’t really looking for one. Which is the best way to meet I’ve come to see. Because it just happened without much thought. I was in Equine Sport Therapy school which required that we worked with 20 horses a month and after about a year I just started charging because it seemed the obvious thing to do. And that was the start of BalanceWorks. By the end of my two-year certification I was teaching groups of 30 and had a strong clientele going so I just kept following the flow of it all.
It wasn’t easy – that flow was against everything I’d ever learned about getting a “real” job and having a “real” career. But I couldn’t seem to help myself and my love for this work and who it helped. And after a while my clients started asking if I could work on their dogs, cats and after another while, themselves. I just said yes. I was fascinated and all I wanted to do was learn. Every day I wake up and ask – “am I still meant to be working in this way?” – and every day the answer is a resounding yes. And every day I learn about a hundred new things about life and myself from this career of mine.
JR: Why Vancouver Island?
AL: After high school in Burnaby, I needed to get away from the city. In my heart of hearts I knew I wasn’t a city girl and would never be. I would seek out trees and nature and animals and just retreat into the forest. Victoria seemed the obvious choice for university – smaller, more nature and just far enough away to feel substantial, but not too far to come home when I needed.
I fell in love with this stunning little ocean-hugged city and it’s nuances and sweetness. I remember dressing up and going out on my own to a club to dance all night or window shopping for hours on Johnson Street. It just felt safe, comfortable. It’s an ongoing love affair with the island, moving eight years ago with my horse, my dog and some big ass dreams, to the beautiful Cowichan Valley. And I have a different kind of love for the Cowichan, one that has come on slow but has tremendous staying power. I wonder often if this is my forever place, my home and I feel more and more that it is.
Somewhere to rest my hat and build my dreams, which are huge and cool. But, most of all, I love the big-hearted expressive people of this island who move through life at a pace and in a way that feels just perfect for me. Not too fast, not too slow, just right. An island of creatives and innovators and dreamers suits me just fine.
JR: What else do you wish to create in this lifetime?
AL: This question is one of those that constantly dances on the periphery of your experience and the choices you make in every moment, at least it does for me. We live in a time where we can dream big – a rare and beautiful thing – and actually live out those dreams in physical reality. Whoa. It’s mind boggling and perhaps a little daunting. Because what I want to create is big, at least in my eyes. My canvas for my creative vision is land, a place to build out a space for exploration of the inner and outer, for giggles and brunch and late night jam circles, galloping madly through the forest and fields and dancing naked under the full moon.
I see my mare Diva there, living out her hopefully extremely long and vital life and a herd of our choosing. And many many powerhouse, super cool animals, all ready to help others learn and grow. I’ve had a vision of a white horse who shared with me that I am here to help horse women to wake up to the incredible potency of their equine partnership – that seems a rather large task but I’m willing to give it a go. Then there is the writer in me, the part of me that yearns to create and write and write and share. I think you might get this more than anyone. I can’t stop and I don’t want to. So creating the space and time and deeper understanding of the cosmos to create masterpieces that transform.
JR: Where do you go when you burn out?
AL: Where do I go? To bed. To rest. I know now my body and my adrenals need a break and potentially a long one. But it doesn’t happen much anymore. Being prone to burn out this was something I had to get sorted. The crash burn cycle is crazy annoying and I constantly felt like I was climbing a mountain and then rolling back down to the bottom to start over. Not fun. And a very ineffective way of doing life especially if you have big stuff to do.
So I got clear about where my energy was going. And I cut out a lot. I simplified like crazy. I stopped travelling and driving so much and concentrated on building a clientele who come to me or I work with on the phone. I stopped under-charging and got clear on my money stuff so I wasn’t constantly in survival mode. I set boundaries around my time and my schedule and started the process of becoming efficient – thank you Jeff and Careerhearted for that! I stopped spending time with people who drained me. And I added in a whole lot of self-care. Baths, riding, gardening, hiking and downtime.
JR: What is your self care?
AL: I still have some gaps in this area – I’ll be the first to admit it. But, man, am I a whole lot better than I was. To be honest, that right there is a huge piece of it. Giving myself credit, treating myself gently and with love. It’s the inner stuff. It’s being loving to myself on the inner landscape. It’s firing my inner critics and setting clear boundaries about how I need to be treated. It’s exhausting to fight yourself all day so that’s always my first priority.
From there I make sure I eat lots of good food because my metabolism burns through things and I get hangry. I take baths. I sleep for eight hours minimum. I follow my intuition as much as possible (because it just makes life way more fun). I move, dance, walk, swim, ride daily. I breath consciously as much as I possibly can. And I make sure I’m grounded all the time – otherwise I end up being a sponge for everyone’s stuff and that is never any fun. I try to pay attention to what is happening in my body, my posture, my tension levels, my emotional situation, any discomfort that’s coming up. These are all clues to the bigger picture and I can usually shift things quickly just by paying attention.
JR: How can you play bigger in the work you’re already doing?
AL: The last little bit I’ve seen the path stretching out before me with a vibrancy I’ve never experienced before. There’s at least two years of creation out there waiting for me. To be honest, it doesn’t daunt me – I’m stoked. I love work, especially if it’s work I love. The thing is, people are almost there, so close to ready for the bigger work in this area. So I get to just roll things out in the perfect timing and see what happens.
In the works right at the moment is an 8-month apprenticeship program, a collaborative book, a trip to Australia to teach, several more e-courses on energy medicine and animals and a membership program for conscious horse women that I’ve been wanting to do for years. And then there’s the personal work – getting in front of a larger audience, with speaking up and speaking my truth, my comfort with being seen, all of that. A coach once had this saying, new level, same devil. Ain’t that the truth. And then I just sit into the knowing that it’s all rolling out, it’s all happening exactly as it needs to, for my own growth and for what I need to bring into the world. So relaxing to have that knowing deep in my bones.
JR: Favourite song to shake your tush to?
AL: Oh man. That is the hardest question on here! I have several girlfriends who’s playlists can’t lose. So good! Mine, sadly, sucks. Don’t get me wrong. I love music and dancing is like chocolate. But, I really need to get sorted on this playlist thing! You know what though, if Uptown Funk comes on I still can’t stop grooving. And anything salsa or bachata or kizomba – little known fact that I love latin dance and I’ve spent the last two years on a performance team. I can shake to that anytime. And right now I can’t stop playing Michael Franti’s new one Rise up. That is some catchy inspiring stuff.
JR: What country do you wish to visit, just for the food?
AL: If we’re talking food then Italy. It’s gotta be Italy. I love me some amazing cheese, wood-fired pizza, fresh pasta and the culture, the tradition around it all. And the countryside looks just divine. Beautiful and it’s got my mouth watering.
JR: What advice do you have to give to others who may not yet be brave enough to begin doing what they love?
AL: It takes courage, truckloads of it. For me, my need to follow my heart and do what I loved outweighed everything. It outweighed my need for approval and my need to fit in and be liked. I couldn’t not do it. But, there were many times I tried to convince myself to take a different path. To just do something normal, to be normal. To get a 9-5 job. To trade love for security.
It was tempting, I won’t lie. And every time I started to take the steps something would happen to say, keep going, keep doing this. I feel incredibly blessed that I kept getting the nudge and those nudges got me here. The truth is, noone can tell you how to live your life. You know best. But if your heart is nudging you, or smacking you in the head with a 2×4 listen. It won’t steer you wrong. It might feel that way but it won’t. It loves you and it wants you to live the life you want to live, to grow, to expand. I love the expression greater than imagined and I try to remember it, especially when I can’t see how something is going to happen, how it’s going to work.
Remember that you can’t even comprehend the cool stuff that might happen – our human minds are limited like that. Follow your nudges. It’s your heart taking your hand. And leading you to something so cool, so powerful, so mind-blowing you can’t even make it up.
JR: What has been the most rewarding moment in your life’s work?
AL: They keep coming. Daily. Like yesterday. I got the call that a long-time client had delivered her twins, from first contraction to last one out, in two hours with no complications. The last time I saw her one was fully breeched and the other was sideways. We worked with it. And I get to be a part of magic, I get to share the love.
There’s nothing like that feeling. I have felt so much love in this work. My clients are my friends, we hug and say I love you at the end of a session and mean it. I get to help them live the life they have dreamed of. Do I feel blessed. So blessed. I get to talk with animals and share their stories, heal their hearts, hold space for their healing and how they want to move forward – every day my mind gets blown by the depth of these incredible beings.
If I was to narrow it down to one moment, which feels almost impossible, it would be the moment that my little mare Dream was chosen by her forever person. She hated people when she came to me, she hated life. We spent two years together healing each other, connecting, being quiet, diving into the scars and the rage and the betrayals. She softened more and more and more, as did I.
She became the horse she always was, under all the hurt. She sought out Carmen, a long-time client of mine, in her dreams and her sessions. I put her on the trailer, sight unseen. Several months later, Carmen was ready to commit forever to this beautiful little mare, her heart horse. That moment was one I will never forget. So beautiful, greater than imagined for all concerned. And now Carmen’s little boy is riding her and their connection is beyond precious.
JR: What could you live without?
AL: There are many things I could live without. I like simple. I could probably live without the three pairs of stilletos in my closet but they are just so darn fun for photo shoots. And the sequined mini-dress? Questionable. Here’s what I can’t live without though. I can’t live without animals. I actually cannot imagine my life without them ever. Morning snuggles with my dog Kia, the sounds of galloping horse hooves, an evening ride bareback with Diva to catch the sunset, my cat Parker drooling all over me as he gives me a trachea massage.
Everything else I could probably go without. Well, except chocolate. I would probably be miserable without chocolate.