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Help! Want to lower and soften XR600!

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I have a 97 XR600 that I recently purchased, and I really want to lower it. I find myself unable to get my feet to the ground on just about any uneven surface, causing some serious awkwardness and crashes (I am 5'9" & 205# with gear). The height also makes the bike feel even heavier than it is, which is making me overwork it. Is there anyone who sells lowering links or some type of lowering kit for this bike? I have tried out an older XL600, and it sits quite a bit lower, which also seems to make the bike feel much lighter and more manueverable to me.

Also, I am riding a lot of really rocky terrain with lots of hill climbs and slow, rocky decents. I have a hard time getting the rear tire to hook up on downhills regardless how far back on the bike I get. This is making rocky downhills overly challenging. I am wondering if I am not successfully loading the rear suspension, allowing the rear tire to lose traction and slide out? I am thinking a much softer setup might be beneficial here, as I have yet to bottom out on this bike, and I never jump it. I just want it to soak up harder mountainous terrain without getting spongy. I have ridden my friend's KTM 450 which he had lowered and softened, and I can absolutely fly on his suspension setup. While I don't expect miracles from the XR, any gains at all would be helpful.

Are these mods possible? What kind of costs are involved? Who do you recommend for parts/labor?

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