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Linda Carlson watches intently as Rob Manierre's three Arabians canter about the small corral, their tails aloft and sailing behind them like banners in a breeze. When the equine trio finally stops, Carlson, owner of the Boulder firm Equi-Sense, makes her way through the mud and manure to the seven-month-old bay, Miykalah.
"I've been worried about my baby," Manierre says, pointing to the filly, the first horse he's raised from birth. Manierre has asked Carlson to come from Boulder to the Aurora farm where he stables his Arabians to help pinpoint a health problem that's been bothersome to Miykalah.
Manierre believes Carlson's advice is straight from the horse's mouth. At Equi-Sense, after all, the specialty of the house is clairvoyant communication with the animal.
No one can talk to a horse, of course--unless it happens to be Carlson, who until five years ago made her living as a Chicago-based business consultant. All that changed in 1989, she says, when the rhyming business started--writing in rhymes, speaking in rhymes, giving prophesies in rhymes. Then angels began invading her dreams. Things just steamrolled after that. Now the 47-year-old Carlson makes her way in the world as a horse psychic and "rhyming angelic clairvoyant" who provides insight to clients primarily via Shakespearean verse. Her professional name: Linda "Sonnet" Carlson.
Once reluctant to accept her psychic "gifts," Carlson is building an extrasensory empire based on advice from her own personal angels--spiritual guides, she notes, that "never shut up." She's started a mail-order catalogue featuring her own line of "angel cards" and stationery. She has three books in the works. She also conducts psychic readings, at a new-age Boulder bookstore and over the phone, through her own 800 number and a 900-number psychic line. What she really wants to do, she says, is conduct workshops to teach better business techniques.
Says Carlson, who may break into rhyme at any time:
"If you take the basic principles and teach intuition to flow,
It will work regardless, whether you're in the mailroom or a CEO."
Back at the ranch, and without fanfare, Carlson places her right hand a few inches above Miykalah's neck and slowly strokes the air, attempting to pick up psychic vibrations. "She has a lot of potential," Carlson says of her four-legged client. "Very high-spirited. Almost hypersensitive--like an overly bright child. She needs a lot of gentle handling." Carlson continues her exploration, frowning slightly as her hand hovers close to the animal's rump. "Her right hindquarter is a little sensitive," Carlson says. "She has a hot spot back there."
When the filly runs off, she appears to have a funny loping gait, one that favors her right side and is apparent only by watching her from the rear. Manierre promises to phone his vet.
Carlson then walks over to Manierre's three-year-old chestnut mare. "I'm hoping she can read their personalities," says Manierre, who makes his living as a sales rep for a Fortune 500 company that he does not care to name. "Joi is not as friendly as the other two. I'd like Linda to help me in terms of getting Joi to trust people."
Carlson's places her hand above the mare. "She's a little spoiled," she says. "Definitely on the spunky side." That's as far as she gets. The session is cut short as Joi, who apparently doesn't care to lend her vibes to "intuitive communication" just now, trots back to her stall and the hay she's left behind.
Carlson's Midwestern roots are apparent as she speaks, her flat vowels proclaiming her origins as surely as if she wore a sign. She was raised in Michigan, a good Lutheran girl from a good Finnish family. There was little talk of psychics and such when she was growing up, she says, but people in her family just seemed to know things. Sometimes they'd see things, too. Years ago, according to Carlson, one of her aunts was startled by a friend who suddenly appeared in her bedroom, beseeching her to take care of the woman's child. Later that day, claims Carlson, her aunt learned the woman had died.
Carlson says her mother took those sorts of everyday psychic events in stride. But she was taken aback when her daughter began speaking like a medieval minstrel and told her she was communicating with angels. "Nobody in our family ever rhymed," she told her daughter pointedly.
It wasn't as though she had a choice, Carlson claims: When she was 42, it just kicked in. By then, she'd married, had two daughters, adopted two more children and been divorced. She'd had a stellar career, first as a partner with her husband in an insurance brokerage firm, and then as a sales rep, teaching financial planners to use specialized computer software programs. A 1991 newsletter published by the Elgin, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce listed Carlson as one of the best-paid saleswomen in America.
Dan Urban, one of Carlson's former co-workers at MAI Basic Four computer company, says her personal style set her apart. "A lot of account managers, they've read all those self-help books about being goal-oriented," he says. "They're more intense. Linda was friendlier, softer. She had a more intuitive approach."