The Power of Pain w/ Abbey Smith

The Power of Pain w/ Abbey Smith

Posted by Daniel Griffith on

In this conversation, Abbey Smith talks with Daniel Firth Griffith, sharing her health journey and the challenges she faced in finding healing. She discusses the limitations of traditional medicine and the importance of functional medicine in her recovery.
Abbey also explores the concept of bypassing natural function in both healthcare and agriculture. She emphasizes the need for curiosity and trust in the healing process and the importance of balancing the physical and spiritual aspects of life. Abbey's story highlights the transformative power of personal pain in creating positive change.
They discuss the concept of trauma as a birth process, where pain and suffering can lead to transformation and growth, exploring the idea that trauma is not a return to a former state, but a catalyst for becoming the humans needed to heal the world. They also delve into the emergence of new narratives and the importance of slow, mindful work in a rapidly collapsing world. The conversation concludes with a reflection on the transformative nature of regenerative agriculture.
  • Functional medicine offers a more comprehensive approach to healing by considering the whole person and addressing the root causes of health issues.
  • The desire to bypass or manipulate natural function is a common tendency in both healthcare and agriculture, but true healing and regeneration require trust in the inherent wisdom of nature.
  • Replacing judgment with curiosity allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complexities of life and the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit.
  • Balancing the physical and spiritual aspects of life is essential for overall well-being and the ability to create positive change.
  • Personal pain and challenges can serve as catalysts for growth and transformation, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world. Trauma can be seen as a birth process, where pain and suffering lead to transformation and growth.
  • The concept of returning to a former state after trauma may not be as important as becoming the humans needed to heal the world.
  • In a rapidly collapsing world, it is important to engage in slow, mindful work rather than rushing to find quick solutions.
  • Regenerative agriculture is not just about producing food in a way that heals the environment, but also about the totality of moments and the transformative process.



Unedited Transcript

abbey_kingdon_smith (00:00.688)
And so that's who I call. He's like, Oh, I'm on it right away.

daniel_griffith (00:07.092)
Your neighbor provides your internet?

abbey_kingdon_smith (00:08.868)
Yes, yep. And he, yeah, he provided for the whole surprise valley. He like beams it all around, but he brought a fiber over from Lakeview. And yeah, I call Dirk. So it's much better than just calling like, I don't know, frontier or something. And yeah, it's awesome. But I did.

daniel_griffith (00:29.36)
We live in a very small town as well. There's 109 of us and I've often tried to describe to people how life changes in such a small and local environment.

abbey_kingdon_smith (00:42.965)

daniel_griffith (00:43.414)
The local diesel mechanic is my neighbor. The local butcher is my neighbor. The local anybody is my neighbor. But I think what you've now successfully done is top that. My neighbor, Dirk, is that his name? Dirk, excuse me, German. I can't get that right. But no, that's awesome. He just beams it all around. That's hilarious.

abbey_kingdon_smith (00:53.62)
Yeah, holy awesome!

abbey_kingdon_smith (00:58.033)
Dirk, yeah, he's German. Yep, yeah. Dirk, yeah, Dirk, yeah. Yeah.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:09.66)
Yep. So he was in software development in the Bay Area and just wanted to get a, he had no interest in all of the capitalistic kind of things. And so he moved to, you know, the edge of civilization here and then started his internet company. And he just drives around in old vehicles that he rehabilitates. And that's not the right word.

Anyway, he remodels old cars and drives them around and provides internet and he's really happy.

daniel_griffith (01:42.612)
There's so many different pathways to happiness. Thank you. Thank you for being here. I'll start the episode and then we'll dive in. Hopefully this works. If it doesn't, just call me and I can beam you in or something.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:45.772)
Totally, that's so true, so true.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:54.964)

abbey_kingdon_smith (02:02.028)
Okay, great.

daniel_griffith (02:06.906)
Okay, welcome to Denusion, the Daniel Griffith podcast. I have with me today a dear friend, Abby Smith. Abby is one of the holders of UV, a SAVIE Institute hub serving the Intermountain West Coast region of the United States. Abby is the Global Network Coordinator of the SAVER Institute. You are a mother of two. You are a brilliant writer. You are an amazing person. But I have to say when I was thinking about how to introduce you.

because I very rarely introduce any of my guests, or at least put any thought into introducing any of our guests here. This thought came to me, and I really don't want to lose this moment to publicly tell you this. So I'm really glad that in this moment, your camera is turned off due to low bandwidth. So I don't have to actually see you in your blushing response.

abbey_kingdon_smith (02:59.188)
blushing. Yes.

daniel_griffith (03:00.438)
But I really think you are one of the kindest people I've ever met.

abbey_kingdon_smith (03:05.685)
Oh, wow. Thank you.

daniel_griffith (03:07.202)
So I just wanted to tell you that. Like kindness is, I believe, a virtue. It is something, like I don't think a lot of people today go around cultivating kindness in their life. You know, I wanna be a kinder person. We have people that wanna be stronger, we have people that wanna be healthier, which I think what we're gonna be talking about here in this episode, but people walking around saying, I wanna be kinder. It is not something that I've experienced. And so as soon as I experienced it with you and was blessed by it, I said, you know,

abbey_kingdon_smith (03:24.94)

abbey_kingdon_smith (03:30.482)

daniel_griffith (03:37.214)
We will be good friends. I'm not letting you go. So, you have no hope! You have no hope!

abbey_kingdon_smith (03:41.56)
That makes me very happy. Thank you so much. No one has ever expressed that to me in that way. And I, yeah, thank you. I'm honored.

daniel_griffith (03:51.014)
It's an honor to share the space with you. I wanna begin. There's, I've all of these thoughts in my mind. You are a person to me of great interest because you're a deep thinker. And you've also been at this for longer than I have. And so we'll see where this goes. But I wanna start, let's just start at the very rooted origin of your life or your modern or adult life's journey, which as I understand it was in a very severe and long

health trial or trauma. Let's just start there, start however, wherever you want, and we'll take the conversation from there.

abbey_kingdon_smith (04:22.92)

abbey_kingdon_smith (04:29.76)
Yeah, it's interesting to revisit this because for a time in my life, I thought this would be my only story and the story of my life forever. And I feel like I've quote unquote healed. And so now I get to look back at it. And that's just, I never thought I'd be in this position. So it's really great to just honor that moment. Yeah. And so for me,

I really started with the birth of my daughter, so many things. I mean, she being a parent, as you know, changes your life. It changes everything. It's this huge wake up call. It's this call to be the best person you can be. And at least I felt that. And so on an emotional level, that's happening. On a spiritual level, that's happening. And then physically, I was degenerating. And I don't really know exactly the connection to her birth, but there was something in it that

triggered an autoimmune response. And so I had always considered myself a healthy person in a very mainstream way. You know, I went and got my sports physical at the doctor's and I always like, oh, healthy, healthy. And so I just, but I never really paid attention to anything, I wasn't in tune with my body. I did all the things I thought I was supposed to do. I took nutrition in college and you know.

ate whole wheat bread and did all those things. And I thought I was okay. Like I've, you know, I checked all the boxes, but something was really wrong with me. And I was afraid that I would not be able to take care of my daughter if this continued. And the way that the auto-immunity expressed itself in my body was with these debilitating migraines. And so I would be with my infant daughter. My husband worked as a, my husband at the time worked as a cowboy and he was out.

in the middle of nowhere a lot. I was alone with her and I was afraid that I couldn't take care of my infant daughter. And that really motivated me to get some, to really take care of this and figure this out. And so I went to the doctor and did the normal things. And quickly it became apparent that the tools in the toolbox that were available to me were surgery or drugs.

abbey_kingdon_smith (06:48.368)
And no matter which way I turned, it was that. And we did some early diagnosis with my OB-GYN because I was still seeing her because I had an infant child and doing the postpartum work. And something we discovered also is like my hormones had gone away. So sometimes women have a hormone imbalance with high testosterone and low estrogen or something like that. But mine were all just kind of flatlined. And so it's like, am I a human? Am I actually alive?

And so I had to do an MRI to check my pituitary gland. They thought I had a brain tumor. And somewhere looped in there was these debilitating migraines. And then of course the lack of hormones and then that led to no period. So I didn't cycle for nine years. I didn't have a period for nine years.

daniel_griffith (07:40.61)

abbey_kingdon_smith (07:42.224)
Yeah, and so do you feel like, am I actually a woman? Like, where's my physical femininity? And then that, you know, so I just feel, I felt like, you know, like I said earlier, very quickly I realized that within the traditional medical complex, the, you know, they just kept increasing my drugs. Like I was taking Clomid or something, way too much later I realized like they had totally overdone that.

trying to get my body to cycle. And it was like, and at some point, I remember her saying, well, we're just gonna bypass the brain or bypass something. Like we're gonna create these artificial systems that hopefully get things going to create the outcomes you are hoping for, which is a cycle, because I wanted to have another child. And, but we'll just cut out this part of your body, it, you know, bypass it. And I thought, that's just, something sounds really wrong with that. But I didn't know of any other alternatives. And so,

And again, because I hadn't needed to pay attention to any of this, I was healthy, I was normal. And then I remember one day I was at Rayleigh's standing in line to get my prescription yet again, and I looked at the people standing in line and they were so unhealthy. They couldn't walk well, they were pale and overweight. And it just happened to be the people that surrounded me at that moment, but it was this moment of like, I...

this isn't working, this whole thing is not working. These people are addicted to these drugs to support their life. And somehow that's acceptable. And we just think that's a solution. And I just realized like, I don't belong in this line. This is not for me. There is another way. I don't want anything to do with this. I don't want drugs propping up my life or bypassing parts of my body that don't work. And like, that's some sort of solution. So...

daniel_griffith (09:25.876)
So, I'm going to go ahead and start with the question. So, I'm going to start with the question.

abbey_kingdon_smith (09:38.748)
I started actually was through my chiropractor that I was seeing at the time and she had more of a holistic health approach and we started an elimination diet. So trying to get the inflammation calmed down in the body and in my body and I remember, I mean it was a 30-day thing and again all designed on cleansing the liver and reducing inflammation and

I, for the first time in my life, I cut out gluten and dairy and it was like this, it was like the sky, like the clouds parted and the sun came out and I had this energy level that I hadn't had forever. And I thought that, I thought my low energy was just because I had an infant and I wasn't sleeping and she was a really intense baby and I was taking care of her and, you know, all, all parents are somewhat sleep deprived. And so, but I think it was, yeah, right. But it was that.

daniel_griffith (10:34.146)
Yeah, ditto.

abbey_kingdon_smith (10:37.568)
and you know, this autoimmune condition where my body was also attacking my thyroid. So that was another expression of this. So I had Hashimoto's, which was zapping my energy, but just to have that little increase in energy was life-changing for me. And I think if anyone has ever lost their energy, you know how valuable it is and how much it matters. And to feel good and to feel like you can move and your body doesn't hurt.

is that it's just, it's such freedom. So that was the beginning, like that was the opening. And I went further into that. I started working with, doing a lot of research on diets that didn't include gluten or dairy. And of course I stumbled across the Paleo diet. I met Rob Wolf, I studied his work. He actually lived in Reno, Nevada, which is where I lived at the same time.

we were getting into starting the hub and he was really interested in that work. And so we connected, he came to our house, we had meals together, our kids played together. And of course, you know, my health issues became a topic of conversation. I can't even imagine how many people have told him their story. And he said, you know, you should look at this guy, Chris Kresser, he's a chiropractor and acupuncturist in the Bay Area. And he's really doing this work with

endocrine system and maybe could help you. And so it was through Chris Kresser and his network of functional practitioners that I met Dr. Amy Nett, who has been my doctor since 2015. And she and I have been on this journey together. And I really credit her with helping me heal. So we started with like functional medicine does a lot of diagnostic, they focus on that. And then

They expand their toolbox to, they do include prescriptions, like if that's necessary. Dr. Nett is an MD, so she has the right to, or she has the ability, the agency, to prescribe medication if needed. But it's just you have a bigger toolbox. So it included diet programs. You know, they short-term doing like a low FODMAP diet or doing a keto diet just to reset things, especially hormonally.

abbey_kingdon_smith (13:05.761)
looking at different supplements or different meditation and mind work. So a big milestone in that process was finding Dr. Nett, finally getting in with a functional practitioner that I felt could really help me. And she wasn't intimidated by this. I can't tell you how angry and how frustrated I was that the people who were supposed to help me couldn't help me. So it was shaking my

beliefs about the world and how things were supposed to be. And I knew early on in those days, it was gonna be like a kind of a lonely journey. And it was me and myself trying to figure this out. And so through Dr. Nett, we realized, you know, we got a full picture of what was going on in my body. And I had this just massive underlying inflammation. I don't drink alcohol.

and I had the liver of an alcoholic in terms of the inflammation. We were looking at how to deal with the migraines and get things calmed down, having my body stop attacking my thyroid. So we had a lot of fronts to work on and slowly, slowly over time, things started to get better. But they still weren't completely better. And that's the thing about functional medicine, it's like...

It's an endurance race, it is not a sprint. There's no silver bullet, so you have to change your mindset or your mind, yeah, you have to change the way you think about things to really do the work. And then she was, I could tell like Dr. Nett was stumped and it was, I think it was in 2017, maybe 2018. She said, you know, we're just gonna do this last ditch effort, we're gonna just.

I'm just gonna test you for heavy metals. I'm not sure, I'm not, you know, I don't think you have a lead toxicity or any type of arsenic poisoning or mercury or anything like that, but let's just, let's just make sure everything is covered. And so she, we did the heavy metals panel and sent it off. And by that point, I was so used to doing labs on myself, you know, like urine samples, stool samples, blood samples, like saliva, like everything that you can take, like they had been taken and tested.

abbey_kingdon_smith (15:29.124)
What's one more test? That's no big deal. So we get the results back and it's just off the charts on lead. Like I had this incredible, like, and I remember the phone call with her and she's like, where did you get all this lead? I don't know. And we still didn't know. So immediately my husband at the time and my daughter were tested also because if I had this much lead, like they could too. And they didn't, they were totally clean. So this is something I must've picked up.

daniel_griffith (15:35.67)

daniel_griffith (15:50.262)

abbey_kingdon_smith (15:58.58)
before they were in my life. So, you know, but there's so much exposure. Like I lived in old ranch houses as a child. I lived in old houses as a college student. They could have, I could have had lead exposure there. And it's just everywhere. It's in the snow, it's in the rain. It's just, maybe my body just doesn't filter it as well as other people's. But I ended up doing about in total, and I did my last one in 2020, about four different chelation. I don't even know what you call it.

detoxes. So, and that's a super intense process, but you're, you know, people talk about these like lemon juice detoxes and blah, for three days, like, no, this is serious. This is like massive supplements binding, you know, the idea is that it binds to the lead and then it flushes it out of your body. Yeah. So it's a process. And I remember the first time I took, took the, you know, the whole, all the, the supplements, I felt like I got hit by a truck. Like I literally had to lie down.

daniel_griffith (16:41.122)
Yeah. Extracts it, right?

abbey_kingdon_smith (17:00.708)
But part of what had happened to me over that seven, I think depending on how you count when it started, but seven to nine years before I actually started cycling again and my hormones returned and all of that, during that time, I was so determined to get better. And I have a real type A personality anyway, I'm very...

performance achiever driven, you know, like I want to climb to the top of the mountain. I want to do the thing. And I took that approach. And honestly, I think ironically, given the work that we do in holistic management, I think there was a reductionist approach in my mind. And we were trained in that. That's how we think. And so I try to forgive myself for that, but I was like, so focused on it. It became my identity. It became my...

My sense of worth was this journey, and that's all everyone wanted to talk to me about. You know, at holiday parties, oh, you're still not pregnant, what's going on with this, blah, blah. And it became so much of that, and I was so determined to do it well that I think I eliminated the complexity of things. And so, you know, a body, a human body is a very complex system, and so as soon as one thing is introduced,

everything changes and you readjust. And so something that's really good for a while suddenly may not be good anymore. So in my severe elimination of so many foods, I started to develop more allergies. So somewhere in my brain, the message was received of like, everything is going to hurt you. And so you have to react to everything. And so the last like,

puzzle piece of the healing was deep mind work. And it was this program created by Annie Hopper, who's Canadian. And it's about, she started by helping people with really severe chemical sensitivities. Because what happens is like there's a part of your brain that just starts over, overreacting. So.

abbey_kingdon_smith (19:19.784)
I mean, at one point I was like allergic to tuna and lettuce and garlic and eggs. And I mean, I don't need to tell you about what it's like to live in a, uh, with a really, really restricted diet, but, um, yeah, I would have to, like, I'd travel to Africa for work and I'd have to pack all my lead detox supplements and then all my own food so I could just get there. Um, and yeah, it was intense, but the, so the program that Annie Hopper developed is about.

retraining your brain and it's called DNRS, Dynamic Neural Retraining System. And that changed my life. And I was willing to try anything and I was so dedicated to the experiment. Like I had to do it perfectly to know if it would work because this was my identity, this was my value, right? And so the commitment is that you learn this like neural retraining program and.

you have to commit an hour every day for a year. You cannot miss a day, one hour every single day at least. And then if you're triggered and you have like an episode, you have to, you do the work. So some days you're gonna be doing it more than others. But the idea is to treat this kind of response as a brain injury. So people who've had a stroke or they have to do some sort of physical therapy to recover the use of a limb.

it's the same kind of dedication that you have to have. So for some people like learning to brush their teeth or getting like the motor skills to do that action takes a lot of practice and a lot of effort. And you have to go about it with that same approach. But there's a whole process of like shutting down the response and then refocusing the mind on something really positive. And you basically flood your brain with these positive chemicals.

and through the recollection of a really positive memory and then a really positive future vision. And the more you do it, the better you get, but you have to recall all the sensory components of that memory or that creating that vision. And the way that it works is like the brain doesn't realize the difference between past, present and future. And so when you relive that memory, your body literally relives it and you get to re-experience all of that. So for some people, it's like a memory of when they're

abbey_kingdon_smith (21:44.548)
their child was born, like that magical moment, or a time when you're reunited with someone you really love or a beautiful memory from childhood, and you get to relive it, and it just, it literally forms new neural networks in your mind. And so you change your brain, and you change everything in your life. Everything changed, and I didn't.

I was like, okay, Dr. Ned, I'll try this because everything you've done so far has been very helpful. So I'll just try this thing. And I remember one time, I had been about three months into doing the practice and I started to get a migraine and I did the work and it stopped. And I was like looking around, like, what happened? Something's missing and it just gave me the chills. And I just knew, oh man, we're onto something. This is really big. So that...

That was really, that was the last chapter was, was retraining or reforming my brain in creating these new neural networks. And it's since then, I don't, I don't do the DNRS practice every day because I don't need to, but I do have a daily meditation practice that is really powerful and has a really big role in my life. You know, pause there. I feel like I went.

daniel_griffith (23:06.585)
Yeah. No, I was trying not to interrupt you. I have a whole page of notes here. I fear we might be talking too long.

abbey_kingdon_smith (23:07.148)
quickly but there's a lot.

daniel_griffith (23:18.022)
We'll see. We'll see how it goes. You'll just have to tap out when your mind is spent. But so much to dive in. I want to jump chronologically through your story, else I fear that I might just get lost. And so I want to go back to one of the more introductory comments you made. You were talking about the doctors after getting brain scans and things like that. You had to negotiate through surgeries and drugs and drugs and surgeries and such.

abbey_kingdon_smith (23:18.183)

abbey_kingdon_smith (23:22.443)

daniel_griffith (23:47.082)
And you made the comment that you had to bypass, you know, natural brain function. Like that was what the drugs were trying to do. And when you said that, I want to now extrapolate this out of your story and apply it into the story that we're living in today. All of us, the, all of us, the holistic us, which is, um, you know, a food system that is crumbling, a climate that is desertifying and weirding and

abbey_kingdon_smith (24:03.727)

daniel_griffith (24:13.17)
a society that in my opinion is becoming less understandable. Maybe there's a more sophisticated way of saying that. But the question I want to pose to you as I extrapolate this thought out, which I know you were talking about yourself, but allow myself to extrapolate it is, do you think modern farming, and I mean that from a commercial, I mean that from a regenerative, I mean it from a totality of perspectives.

abbey_kingdon_smith (24:41.866)

daniel_griffith (24:42.11)
any sort of agriculture being done. Do you think agriculture in the sense of nature being the natural system, agriculture being a drug? Right? And I understand that it's not a perfect analogy here or a perfect one to one relationship. But do you think we as agriculturalists or agriculture in general has the tendency or the openness towards the tendency of that

abbey_kingdon_smith (24:49.01)

daniel_griffith (25:11.394)
Do you think agriculture can bypass natural function and see it as health in the same way that conventional medicine might via drugs bypass natural function and see it as health? Does that question make sense? It's deep and very complex. But

abbey_kingdon_smith (25:26.056)
Yeah, it does.

It is deep and it is complex and I do. I think that the desire to bypass or to manipulate is very, maybe it's just, it's human. I don't know, but yeah. And I think what I'm seeing in the regenerative movement because I think that's where I'm most involved or I spend a lot of time in that space, lots of conversations, lots of work.

daniel_griffith (25:43.474)
Yeah. Right.

abbey_kingdon_smith (25:58.692)
there is still the desire to bypass and just, you know, create the beautiful outcome without allowing for the messy work and allowing for the time and space that's needed for transformation. And that takes patience, it takes trust of a process, it takes kind of letting go of the ego, of not controlling the outcome. And those are really hard things for us.

daniel_griffith (26:11.438)
Yeah. Yeah, it's, you know, in my own health journey, which you know, and some of our listeners know, and I will not dive into it now. Your story is just...

abbey_kingdon_smith (26:26.412)

abbey_kingdon_smith (26:34.025)

daniel_griffith (26:39.106)
too beautiful not to keep as the highlight is my thought. But I think when I'm thinking about my own story, I've had functional medical, or a holistic naturopath type doctors, and I've obviously had the opposites, the very conventional minded doctors, and they're both humans, right? One is not a magic sorcerer, and the other one is some plain Western thinker. Like that's never the case. It's never binary like that.

abbey_kingdon_smith (26:54.4)
Yeah. Yep.

daniel_griffith (27:06.798)
They're both very interesting. They're highly trained. They come out of different perspectives, but the difference has always been to me, um, questions, like when, when I went to this naturopath or functional medical doctor, I forget exactly what, uh, the gentleman was up in Maryland, uh, a couple of years ago and it was a two hour introductory session and, um, he just asked questions, like to the point that I was so infuriated when I left, I was like, Morgan, my wife, as you know,

abbey_kingdon_smith (27:07.082)

daniel_griffith (27:35.222)
Like don't ask me another question for like a month. Like he probably asked me two, 300 different questions. Like he even asked me as a child, if I had a cat and if the cat ever had, um, fleas. Yeah, no, like he was asking questions that I was like, I don't, I, um, I don't know. Let me call my mom. You know, like he was like, well, when your mom was young, was she vaccinated with this or was she exposed to this? And I was like, I don't know. Or he's like, what about your great grandmother? And I was like, my great grandmother was in

you know, Poland or Czechoslovakia, which one are you talking about? Like, I don't, I don't even know. She didn't speak English. My point is, it's that questioning. And I think as we extrapolate this out, which is maybe improper to do, but I'm doing it anyways, as we extrapolate it out, you know, I think the difference between farmers that actually are like co-creating or nurturing, maybe managing abundance,

abbey_kingdon_smith (28:10.124)
Right? Wow.

daniel_griffith (28:31.566)
They're question askers, they're inquisitive, they're observers, they spend more time sitting and watching as opposed to, you know, walking and doing. Is that the connection? I mean, what do you think about this?

abbey_kingdon_smith (28:33.415)
Thank you.

abbey_kingdon_smith (28:39.06)

abbey_kingdon_smith (28:44.012)
I think that's so true. It reminds me of this quote by Gabor Mate. I love his work. That's kind of a side note. Anyway, I don't explain why I really love his work, but I came across it last year, listened to his book called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. And I remember so distinctly him. I was listening to the audio books. I was listening to his voice and he said that basically we need to replace judgment with curiosity.

And I thought, oh man, wouldn't the world be so different if we could do that? And so I've tried to do that in my own life when I feel like a judgment forming in my mind, I thought, how can I turn that into a question? And I try to do that with my children too about the actions that they take and the behavior that they exhibit in the world. Instead of saying you should or you shouldn't do that or da da, how do I change that into a question and make it an inquiry versus a judgment? And...

it opens up a whole new world to do that. And I completely agree with you. I don't think, and I see this in our work with EOV, ecological outcome verification on the West Coast is that a lot of times producers aren't allowed, they don't give themselves permission or they were never given permission to be creative and to ask questions. It's you do the thing.

Some people don't even have the space to ask themselves what they truly want. What do you want? Oh, I have no idea. That's such an uncomfortable question. I just do what is expected, what has to be done, what I was trained to do, because, you know, all of these things are on my shoulders and I have to make the payments. I have to feed the cows. I have to do the things. I don't have space to be creative. And it's really sad because

There is so much knowledge and so much creativity in these people that touch the land every day, so much unrealized potential.

daniel_griffith (30:44.234)
Yeah, in the last episode, or at least my last conversation, it was with Judy Schwartz, who I understand is a mutual friend.

abbey_kingdon_smith (30:50.488)
V? Yes.

daniel_griffith (30:53.31)
And she made this comment at the end of the episode. So if you're listening to this one, you haven't listened to the previous episode with Judah Schwartz. Maybe, you know, pause it here and go back or listen to this one and go back, but make sure you go back and listen to it. She made she makes the comment. That it's impossible, or at least very hard, or at least if you do it, it's on accident, meaning you can't do this on purpose. It's impossible to regenerate without trusting that nature can do it or she said it brilliantly. She's a

abbey_kingdon_smith (31:20.181)

daniel_griffith (31:23.042)
brilliant writer and brilliant thinker. But you have to trust nature that when it heals, when the opportunity for healing presents itself, that it can do it. Regeneration takes trust. Not in cows or systems or paradigms, but just trust that Mother Earth is a mother. And she wants to nurse and caress and rear

life, like that, that's what she does, that she's very good at it. And so it takes trust. Um, which I think is what you're saying, right? Like if you were in the functional, um, medical doctor, I forget her name, Dr. Net, if you were with Dr. Net and you didn't trust her, it would be a different, um, outcome. I mean, it would be, the means would be different. Maybe you wouldn't have done the lead testing. Maybe you wouldn't have done all the other things. Maybe you never would have considered mindset. Um,

abbey_kingdon_smith (31:58.571)

abbey_kingdon_smith (32:04.381)
Dr. Nitt. Yeah, Dr. Nitt.

abbey_kingdon_smith (32:15.732)

daniel_griffith (32:21.334)
But the outcome would most surely be different. I think we just go ahead, please.

abbey_kingdon_smith (32:23.888)
Absolutely. Yeah, I completely agree with that. Yeah. And oh, no, I just think there's a there that trusting there's a letting go. There's a you have to let go of control in order to hold that trust. And, and that again, I could think it's, it's hard.

hard to do. I struggled with it for sure. I had to rewire my brain in order to do it. So I'm not saying it's easy work. Oh, just let go and just trust. It's not, it's a process of transformation.

daniel_griffith (32:59.344)
Yeah, let's jump there. I don't want to lose this flow. This is because I think the same extension we're making between your story and the whole bypassing of the neural functions and the natural functions of your brain extending into regenerative agriculture. I think this same change in mindset also has a conversation to be had here.

abbey_kingdon_smith (33:17.237)

daniel_griffith (33:23.375)
Um, you know, maybe, uh, like, like when, when you were talking, you know, there's a, there's a, there's a movement today, which is a fine movement. Uh, it's a sub movement of, of what I believe to be the regenerative movement or the people who care movement, whatever you want to call it. Um, but it's like this, we're, we're re-examining the balance between spirit and matter, or maybe the connectedness, which then equates to a balance between spirit and matter.

abbey_kingdon_smith (33:39.747)
Okay. I think it.

daniel_griffith (33:51.234)
But I think there's a tendency to overemphasize the spirit, right? Just in the same way that it's a tendency for conservationists or rewilders, as I will speak from that side, to let go too much, right? We all have tendencies to overextend, right? And so it's not casting blame. Rather, it's when you, as a being of matter,

abbey_kingdon_smith (33:54.9)
Hmm. Interesting. Yeah.

abbey_kingdon_smith (34:12.176)

daniel_griffith (34:19.818)
right as a carbonic structure sitting here with arms and legs and skin and hair and such. Breath coming in, breath coming out. And when we learn about the spirit in this very physical and reducible and linear world, it's easy to get lost there because it's the opposite. And we're craving in many ways the opposite, right? I mean, very clearly.

abbey_kingdon_smith (34:35.604)

abbey_kingdon_smith (34:42.368)
Yes. Yeah.

daniel_griffith (34:44.15)
But it's easy to get lost there just in the sense that a rewilder is very easy to get lost in the side of wildness and forget about the whole harvest thing and nurturing thing and community thing. But your mindset journey to me is this really strange and peculiar middle ground between spirit matters, yes. Right. But matter matters just as much. I don't know. What do you think?

abbey_kingdon_smith (35:00.405)

abbey_kingdon_smith (35:09.932)
Mm-hmm, absolutely. Yeah, well, actually what's coming to mind is this interview I did with one of my neighbors, a Paiute man.

daniel_griffith (35:21.033)
Not the oh man I was gonna make a joke was it the fiber internet guy?

abbey_kingdon_smith (35:26.12)
No, I have not interviewed Dirk yet. He lives in quote unquote downtown. So Fort Midwell is tiny, but we have, there's a Northern Paiute reservation, which is called the Rez. And then there's downtown. So there's, you know, it's separated. So Dirk lives downtown. So my, anyway, what you said made me just remember this conversation I had with one of my neighbors who is, who lives on the Rez. And I was doing a project for Aviv.

daniel_griffith (35:42.259)
Got it.

abbey_kingdon_smith (35:54.568)
or as interviewing at least 25 tribal council members and community members to prepare for a holistic context for the tribe. So in preparation of that session, we were doing these interviews to deeply listen and to deeply get to know, look for patterns and trends across the community. And they were the most fascinating conversations and some of them were at least an hour, up to three hours long.

And because we would, it would just go, it would go so many directions. And I love, there's this saying called Indian time. Like it's not this, you know, like clock time, linear time. It's this like, let it be what it needs to be, this expansive thing. And I've also heard African time too. So there's, it means you're late. That's what I translated to. And I love it because I'm always late for everything. And I have this beautiful excuse. I'm like, well, I, you know, it's just, I guess I'm on Indian time. So the,

Anyway, so in this conversation, we were just letting the conversation go, and my neighbor was talking about his grandmother. And she taught him that we're 50% body and we're 50% spirit, and you have to tend to both. You have to make sure that you're healthy, that your body's taken care of, but then you also need to do the work to take care of your spirit and your soul.

and that your connection to the earth. And he talked about how she would, every morning, she would wash her face in water sacred to them. And so she would say a prayer to the water and she would say it in Paiute and wash her face. And to him, it was like, you're taking care of both. You're taking care of the body and you're taking care of the spirit. And I just, for some reason that it's so, it seems so obvious, like the 50, 50%. But I don't think that we operate that way, that we give, you know.

that we consider them equal and interconnected, but that there's this space for both, and that both need to be tended to equally.

daniel_griffith (38:05.85)
Yeah, equally, but with equal care as well.

abbey_kingdon_smith (38:12.744)
Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah, the same love and attention. Yeah, and I think, you know, in terms of people going too deep into something, I think it's a natural response when you get really excited about something, you go all the way out and then you end up reeling it back in. But that's okay. I think that response is more evidence of the imbalance that we feel. And we're trying, so it's all, I think we're all trying to...

bring back that sense of harmony and sometimes you have to go way to one other side to get back there.

daniel_griffith (38:50.243)
Yeah. That's a really good point.

That's a really good point. Um, I think, you know, when-

daniel_griffith (39:03.623)
I've asked others this. I even think in the season of Dnusian I've asked other guests.

daniel_griffith (39:12.406)
You know, so much of the change happening, like we're talking about being excited and we run so far and we learn and we reel it back and we find balance and harmony and reticence and such. So much change right now is happening towards a healthier lifestyle and more focused communities and you know, stronger family units and I don't just mean genetics. And and better food and better climate and better environments and

caring about the ecosystem. But most of that work is being spearheaded by people like you who have experienced deep and rich pain.

abbey_kingdon_smith (39:53.059)

abbey_kingdon_smith (39:56.214)

daniel_griffith (39:59.374)
How do we save the world or at least get out of the way of her saving herself or maybe become the world and thereby we co-create the saving of the world? Either one of those three, whichever language we want to use, how do we do that without your story? Is it possible? Have you thought about this?

abbey_kingdon_smith (40:21.88)
Yes, I thought about it. There's two things that come to mind. I remember when I was very young, so like in elementary school, I was riding the bus home with one of my friends, and we had a teacher who had been a nun with Mother Teresa, and she'd worked with poverty all over the world, India, Africa, parts of the United States, and she was the most beautiful

luminous person and she was such a good teacher and I know that she continues to impact every person that she encounters. I remember my friend saying, you know, I want to be like her, but I don't want to live what she's lived through. Can I bypass that and just get to the good, you know, the beauty and the richness that brought? And I always have thought about that and

daniel_griffith (41:11.877)

abbey_kingdon_smith (41:20.756)
That leads to my second point of something I've been pondering a lot lately and researching and connecting with other people who are in this space and in this work is this idea of trauma and then what trauma actually is. And I guess it's the most popular word of our decade. So, and like even saying the word trigger can be a trigger, like there's all these jokes about it. Not to say that maybe we are all not

daniel_griffith (41:42.326)

abbey_kingdon_smith (41:50.38)
collectively traumatized by what's happening to our world. And there is a collective trauma. And I'm not making light of it, but there has like, there's this other way of thinking about it as trauma as a birth process, and not something to recover from, but to live through and become a new being to help it. You are birthed into a new place, into a new way of being. They call it shape shifting. So I wrote about this, I did this workshop.

through this organization called Sand, it's science and non-duality. And it was Tyson Yonkaporta, who wrote the book Sand Talk was one of the speakers. And so I really loved his work and I wanted to learn more about it. So I joined the workshop and then I met this, or the head facilitator was this guy, Bayo, he's Nigerian and he was leading this conversation about trauma and collective trauma. And then what...

What is it really? And that whole part of the conversation about trauma as a birth, as suffering, as immense pain, as a birthing process really rang true for me. And it's such a different way to think of like, well, I'm now damaged because I've been through something traumatic. And so I won't be whole again until I heal to some sort of former state, but...

That's one philosophy, but another, and another thought to consider is, again, this idea of trauma and pain being, and suffering being a birth process to help us shape shift and become the humans that we need to be in order to heal our world and do the work, to take everything in a new direction. And I think that's more true than returning to some perfect former state.

daniel_griffith (43:50.278)
I like that, birth.

abbey_kingdon_smith (43:53.538)
And birth is a problem. I mean, birth is painful. I will tell you as a mother, that is not something that... Yeah, it's a lot.

daniel_griffith (44:06.476)
Yeah, now that's powerful. Yeah.

abbey_kingdon_smith (44:11.123)
I've had to think about it a lot.

daniel_griffith (44:18.206)
There's, I'm trying to think of which way to go because there's, there's so much here. You could say the thought is very pregnant in many ways, but it's, it's very true. Um, and he's been nurtured with care. I don't know. I think. Trauma, trauma as birth to me speaks to intentionality.

abbey_kingdon_smith (44:24.863)

abbey_kingdon_smith (44:32.087)
Thank you.

daniel_griffith (44:48.382)
Um, but it also speaks to, I don't want to reduce it down to natural process. Um, but you know, my wife, we have, we have three kids and have had them very openly. I naturally, it could be one word, but it's been a very open process with our midwives and our family. And, and, um, you know, and my, my wife, she speaks about like the final birth.

moments or the final moments in the birth, birth or birthing process to be, um, you know, I think I'm not a woman, so I can't speak to this, but very painful and like, you know, like, like you were saying, but like overwhelming from like a very holistic sense, meaning that like it's happening. You can't stop it. You can only go through it. Like you, you can't halt, right? Like, you know, I've

abbey_kingdon_smith (45:27.416)
Thank you.

abbey_kingdon_smith (45:33.216)

abbey_kingdon_smith (45:39.916)
Yes, yes.

daniel_griffith (45:41.99)
played sports at very high levels. And when you get hurt, you can play through it. You know, there's times like in the opposite direction, my grandfather, he fought in World War Two Vietnam and Korea and Vietnam. And he wrote this these memoirs, which we can get into at a different time. But he wrote of people in World War Two, on the beaches of Normandy, when they were storming the beaches, they were shot with literally hundreds of bullets, they were completely dead, their hearts are stopped pumping.

but they kept running and kept shooting. Like they were, they were still there, but they, they were, they were long gone. I mean, they weren't, they weren't there, but they were there. My, my, my point is birth though is not that death is one thing. It is gruesome. It could be very painful, especially in that scenario. Um, it's in some sense to total, um, but for some reason birth is, is alone as it, as it stands in this department.

abbey_kingdon_smith (46:14.876)
Ah, oh my god.

abbey_kingdon_smith (46:20.967)

daniel_griffith (46:41.654)
Right. You can't stop, right. You can't play through the pain or not play through the pain. Like you don't have a choice. Like those final moments are beyond human choice. And I think what, you know, I need a lot of time to think about what you just said, but my immediate response is it's almost like this idea of pain.

abbey_kingdon_smith (46:41.676)

abbey_kingdon_smith (46:58.761)

daniel_griffith (47:07.51)
being the impetus or inspiration behind a lot of this transition is thinking very, um, I don't want to say this, it sounds negative, but like reductionist, we're, we're reducing change down to matter, right? But if, if pain and it's trauma is really birth and birth is this continuous process, like a wheel that turns that you can't stop. It's continuous. It's, it's infinitely.

present, you can't halt it, then it's also as if there's a spirit pushing all of this. And now we're back into this very balanced world of spirit and matter 50-50. Wow.

abbey_kingdon_smith (47:43.732)
Mm-hmm, absolutely.

abbey_kingdon_smith (47:51.468)
Yes, yeah, absolutely. And what needs to come through, what needs what's trying to be to be realized. Yes. Now I need a lot of time to think about what you said. But yes. Yeah, it's. It's a lot.

abbey_kingdon_smith (48:16.544)
I keep thinking of the people that I met in the workshop and what beautiful people they were having gone through such horrible, ugly things. I mean, all of the things. So I don't wanna trivialize trauma or trivialize pain. Like you said, it's, but the post-

daniel_griffith (48:39.715)

abbey_kingdon_smith (48:43.624)
the post story, what happens after, who are we after, I think is the interesting part that could be reframed. And there's a new narrative coming in that, or at least new to me that I'm trying to understand. And it's a lot about what we're talking about now. But there's, in this workshop, it was like the idea of colonialism. So that was a lot of the things that use the word reductionist.

they use the word colonial, but this idea of oppressing other people, of categorizing nature, of categorizing bodies, you know, and assigning worth to that based on a category that is given. Yeah, and there's a lot we need to work through and perhaps we need a new framework for working through that than the stories that we have now. And so I'm really interested in the stories that are emerging.

from the people who have been by choice or not birthed out of the dominant narrative. And I feel like I'm one of those people through my experiences in my life. Like I was very normal and I tried to be, and I loved that. It was very comfortable, very safe. And through my life experiences, I found myself on the outside of that narrative. And I think that's where change happens is on the fringe, on the edges. And

I'm interested in that space now. I find that I'm paying a lot of attention to that and what's emerging in our new narrative.

daniel_griffith (50:15.478)

daniel_griffith (50:23.743)
Let me, if you will, let me dive into this idea of emerging a new narratives for just a second. You know, I'm thinking back to your DNRS, dynamic neural retraining system, DNRS. You know, you

abbey_kingdon_smith (50:28.908)

abbey_kingdon_smith (50:41.103)
Neural training. Yes.

daniel_griffith (50:46.95)
You made the comment that it's a slow process. It takes a year. It's an hour a day. And when you have episodes, you can spend more than an hour a day, but it takes focus. It takes time. It takes dedication over time. And when I'm thinking about, um, people, um, that I know that have, that have undergone, um, intentional healing for trauma, call it that, or I'm thinking of the conference that you went to and you know, it's a slow process. I've never heard it described as anywhere.

abbey_kingdon_smith (50:58.411)

daniel_griffith (51:21.926)
process. It's in many ways a quiet process. I would imagine in DNRS, you're probably not trying to do this work in the midi in the middle of Times Square or at a party, right, or, you know, you really want to create an intentionally quiet space. All of that, all of the thoughts and images that I'm building, um,

When I contrast that to a lot of the rhetoric and ideas being put out right now in terms of climate change and meat and water and desertification and such. It doesn't seem like we're talking about a similar space. It is it is we have only so much time. The deserts are encroaching. The time is now people are starving. Life is getting worse. I think when. You know, when I was growing up, when people were talking about.

abbey_kingdon_smith (51:59.636)

daniel_griffith (52:14.838)
desertification or droughts. They were comparing it, this is the worst drought we've had in, you know, a hundred years, but over the last 99 years, it hasn't really been that bad. Nowadays, it's like this drought is worse than last year's drought and last year's drought is worse than the previous year's drought. Like we're clearly in an impending crisis, regardless of the source, right? That's not the point here. And regardless of the solutions, we don't even need to get into those.

abbey_kingdon_smith (52:35.597)

daniel_griffith (52:41.57)
How my question is, and it's long in coming and I apologize, it if mindful work or work to heal trauma or to experience pain and the true beauty of birth takes time. And yet the world is bleeding ecologically. Let's just take out the economics in the social side and community in communities that are degrading and rural environments that are collapsing. Let's just separate that out for just a second to make this conversation a little bit smaller. Right. It's a huge subject.

abbey_kingdon_smith (52:45.249)

abbey_kingdon_smith (52:58.028)

abbey_kingdon_smith (53:07.528)
Whoa, yeah. Well. Okay.

daniel_griffith (53:11.338)
And let's just think ecologically. How do we put these two together? How can we do mindful work in time in a world that seems to be collapsing so fast?

abbey_kingdon_smith (53:23.188)
Hmm, Danielle, I think that is the question of our generation. I think it's the most important question of the moment. And so I offer my humble thoughts on it, but I think there could be whole dissertations on this question. I think that one, the first thing that came to my mind was something that Trey, our mutual friend Trey Cates from In Rhythm always said is that rushing is an excuse to do the wrong thing.

or to not do something well. And so even in this, I think there can be a response to everything you described to like run and create this activity, but activity doesn't mean results or outcome. It just means more activity, but you feel like you're doing something. And sometimes that desire is so strong to do something, but in this state that we're in of

daniel_griffith (54:04.458)

abbey_kingdon_smith (54:19.44)
just say let's just say collective crisis or collective trauma, it's very easy to lose your way and something that we in both to fear, to lose your way to fear, but then also to opportunity or ease or bypassing and I see both in the space that the temptation to

cut corners or bypass or just get there quickly, it's actually just a way of dressing up the same old stuff with a beautiful regenerative dress on. And it's nothing different. It's nothing truly different. And if we want true change, like true systems change, true change in thinking, we have to go slowly. That's just, and we have to choose our partners correctly. We have to build networks of people who have the same.

deeply held values as us and want the same things in the world and unite. I think that the answer to impact is not through one person doing more and running around more, but in connecting and uniting as humanity and all of us doing our own little part in our own mindful way. That's how we'll turn things around. But it won't change without a change in mind. And we can't change our minds.

by just doing the same things we've always done but faster.

daniel_griffith (55:54.046)
We can't change our minds by doing the same things just faster.

abbey_kingdon_smith (55:57.724)
Yeah. So, and like you said, I mean, it seems like a really ironic situation to be in. But when things do start to shift, they do shift quickly. You know, I'm...

abbey_kingdon_smith (56:20.004)
But I don't think there is any other way than to do the work to transform, and transformation is a process, and it takes work, and it takes time. It's just the facts, you know?

daniel_griffith (56:32.483)
Yeah. Yeah, and maybe similar to childbirth, painful but beautiful. If I as a man can say that, you know.

abbey_kingdon_smith (56:39.089)
Mm-hmm. Absolutely.

Yes, yes, I think you may. And yeah, and it's so much, it's not one or the other, it's and, there's so many both ands instead of either ors. It's the most painful of anything I've ever done, but it was the most beautiful moment and the most joyous. So they're not exclusive.

daniel_griffith (56:50.491)
Yeah. Yeah, I, I tell this to you because we're good friends and I realized that it's public so there's that but after to come so our son, our second was born.

abbey_kingdon_smith (57:08.584)

daniel_griffith (57:17.51)
his birth was not in any way what you would desire. And there's some details and skipping over, but after the end of it, there was so much beauty and like adrenaline's coming down and he was perfectly fine, but there was some intensity to the moments. And then our midwife, bless her soul, the strongest woman I've ever met in my life, she looked at me and she was like, Daniel, are you okay?

And I was like crying, you know, and I was like, yeah, I want to do that again. And at the time I wasn't thinking, you know, it wasn't, it wasn't a thought that came out of, you know, it wasn't a word that came out of deep and very conscious thought, but like never in my life had I had been in a moment that was so total. Never in my life have I been in a moment that was so total and like the totality of life was

abbey_kingdon_smith (58:07.4)

daniel_griffith (58:14.798)
all over the place. It was to your left, it was to your right, it was in front of you, it was behind you, it was like the moment was full. And I've never yet been in a moment that full, never until and never beyond that moment there. And it's my wife and I's joke, you know, like, let's do it again, you know? And she knows what I mean. But I think like that's, that's what I think of regenerative agriculture.

abbey_kingdon_smith (58:20.763)

abbey_kingdon_smith (58:36.486)

daniel_griffith (58:43.018)
If we can reduce this conversation down to just producing food in a way that heals the environment, um, but to make this tangible, this just seems to make sense if regenerative agriculture is about anything, it is about that totality of moments, right? That requires relationship, it requires time, it requires pain. It requires a little bit of trauma. Now, some of it was physical, some of it was spiritual, some of it was emotional. Obviously there's an entire physical component that is

abbey_kingdon_smith (58:58.892)

daniel_griffith (59:12.598)
shared only or witnessed only by or experienced only by one of this union. But it also takes a union. Right? Yeah.

abbey_kingdon_smith (59:19.929)
Right? Yes. All of those things. Yes. Absolutely. Again, I just have so much, so much to digest. But I think, I think that it's so important in our conversations as a community in regenerative agriculture, a global community in regeneration in general, that we talk about the work of transformation and the messiness and the pain, because I

I see so much of this desire to just focus on, you know, the beautiful outcomes, the sunlight streaming through the grass and the butterflies flying and all of that's really important. But there's also other parts that are equally as important that need to be discussed if we're going to really get there. And it goes back to your earlier comment about how we think the change will happen.

And it's not going to happen without death. It's not going to happen without pain and without decay and all of those things that are part of the natural cycle of life. But for some reason we've rejected them and we want to bypass them. And it's just not gonna happen. So I want to, in my own work, explore more how we can have those vulnerable, real conversations about what isn't.

working too as regenerative farmers that, you know, I'm really struggling with this and, you know, this happened and it's hard. It is hard managing com- or working with complex systems and trying to do that versus just fighting it and controlling it. And I think we need to be, we need to build community in that conversation of what is the real work of transformation. And I think that's the work that we're in. I think as

regenerative agriculturalists as holistic managers, we are in the business of transformation, is whether it's changing minds, whether it's changing the landscape, but it's not the outcomes that we all want are not going to happen without transformation, and transformation requires death and decay and rebirth.

daniel_griffith (01:01:30.858)
Yeah. A beautiful way to conclude an amazingly beautiful conversation.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:01:36.464)
Yes, thank you.

daniel_griffith (01:01:39.55)
I knew we wanted to start with your story. I feel like, I hope we've done your story justice. I feel like we've gone to heaven and back.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:01:49.846)
I think so. Yeah, I think there's some, I have so much to think about now. I hope that the most I could hope for our conversation is that it gives people things to ponder, to chew slowly and spit out if they want.

daniel_griffith (01:02:05.894)
Yeah. And be mindful about it and be mindful about it. Um, thank you for being here. As I said earlier, um, you are a dear friend. Your mind, um, is beautiful and brilliant. Um, thank you for leading this. Um, thank you for leading the regeneration is more.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:02:07.488)

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:02:17.236)

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:02:21.697)
Thank you.

daniel_griffith (01:02:36.274)
than what it might appear to be at surface level conversation. I think it's important. I really do. With that, I'm going to hit this record button and we'll be off. Thanks again.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:02:41.91)

Yeah, I do too. Thank you for holding space for this conversation, for caring about my story, for caring about all of these stories that you host. And I can't imagine this work without you, honestly.

abbey_kingdon_smith (01:03:04.757)
Thank you.

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