Discover the transformative power of grief as Nature Rooted, Transformational and Leadership Coach, Ryan Conklin, dissects the complexity of grief, and the importance of intentional community building for personal and professional transformation.
From personal experiences to life transitions, Ryan explores diverse forms of loss, the fear surrounding grief and the misconceptions of “getting through” it, and how you can honor and celebrate these thresholds instead.
Tune in and learn the role of grief, the consequences of suppressing it, and how when embraced, it becomes a catalyst for personal growth!
- [01:12] What makes a life transformation
- [10:54] Ryan’s experience with fear
- [14:47] Why you should honor grief instead of suppressing it
- [22:57] Different forms of loss, and ceremonies for life transitions
- [27:54] Grief and uncertainty about what’s on the other side
- [32:09] The concept of “the land”, and the role of community
- [38:27] The importance of intentional community building
- [41:40] On creating ripples of transformation
- [45:08] Where to find Ryan Conklin
Links & Resources
🟢 @TheDylanBain on Instagram
🟢 @TheDylanBain on Threads
🟢 @TheDylanBain on TikTok
🟢 @TheDylanBain on YouTube
🟢 Intuitive Finance on Facebook
🟢 Intuitive Finance on Twitter
[00:00:00] Intro: We’re saying goodbye to the rigid numbers and strict budgets and putting relationships back at the heart of personal finance. This is more than a podcast, it’s an invitation to reimagine your money story and journey with us through a landscape of intuitive strategies and abundance. Join a community that nurtures transformative financial mindsets.
[00:00:25] Welcome to Intuitive Finance, I’m your host, Dylan Bain.
[00:00:40] Dylan Bain: Mr. Ryan Conklin, welcome to the podcast. I am excited for our conversation.
[00:00:44] Ryan Conklin: Thank you. Great to be here.
[00:00:46] Dylan Bain: Fantastic. Well, I wanted to bring you on in–everything we talked about on this podcast, it’s all about trying to build a financial revolution. That’s putting relationships back at the heart of the conversation.
[00:00:57] And when we talk about that, we’re like, one of the things that always comes up is what is relationship even? And how does that transform your life? And I wanted to bring you on because I am just kind of enamored with your life transformation story. So I want to start off by asking you, what makes a life transformation?
[00:01:15] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, that’s a pretty open question. So let’s see what comes here. You know, the quote that comes to mind straight away is, and I’ll probably butcher this, but you know, “It’s not so much what happens to you, but what you do with it.” And so I’ve had the opportunity to go through a couple of really big transformations in my life, three or four careers, willingness to pursue relentlessly dreams that I’ve been unwilling to let go.
[00:01:48] And I think for me, what might really define those transformations is a willingness to be changed by them, a willingness to be in the fire, to be cooked.
[00:02:01] Dylan Bain: Tell me more about that process for you. I mean, especially when you talk about career transformations and I’m somebody who’s had my share of career transformations starting coming out of college, going into mortgage banking 2008, obviously not a great time for that, then becoming a teacher, leaving the teaching profession, becoming an accountant, now being a podcaster. I’m not a man who’s unfamiliar with transformations, but I would love to know more of your story of that transformation, what that even looks like.
[00:02:28] Ryan Conklin: So is that question taking me to one of the specific moments of transformation or transformation as a whole?
[00:02:37] Dylan Bain: Well, I think about when you’re trying to put conversations, the relationship back at the heart of the conversation, I think people get wrapped up in identities and say “Well, I am a teacher. I can’t be anything but a teacher. Who am I if I’m not a teacher?” And having to look at that, and when you talked about being in the fire, like that just so resonates with me to say I have to be allowed myself to submit to this period of time in my life to forge something new. And I know for you, there has been situations where you were doing a lot of sales and then suddenly you’re not doing sales anymore and you’re looking at it and going, “I’m looking for something deeper.”
[00:03:17] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, I think the identity piece that you really planted there is what really, really resonates with me. When I have allowed for my work or my pursuit to become my identity, that’s what seems to set up the greatest opportunity for transformation and also the greatest opportunity for shattering when your work is so deeply tied.
[00:03:44] So there was a time when I would say, “Hi, I’m Ryan. I’m a snowboard photographer.” Then there was a time when I’d say, “Hey, I’m Ryan and I’m an event coordinator and spirit specialist, event planner, community builder.” And then there would be a time when I’d say, “Hey, I’m Ryan Conklin, I’m a media director.”
[00:04:03] And to be honest with you, I’ve watched myself grasp that identity, grasp at that being a place as I redefine myself and feel like I finally got into a place where I can say, “Hey, I’m Ryan Conklin”
[00:04:17] Dylan Bain: Just Ryan Conklin.
[00:04:25] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, and I do things. I love things. I’m in pursuit of things, but the identity is no longer there now. With what I’ve just said, does that set me up to no longer be transformed? I’ll be curious. Maybe it’s a forever transformation at this point, but the last one was three years ago, and it was a time when the world was really wildly unpredictable. And I had been in pursuit of this dream, and it was literally right here in my hands and then it wasn’t and all at once everything changed and I had the opportunity to just really ask myself, who am I? What am I doing here?
[00:05:00] Dylan Bain: Are you open to sharing what that was?
[00:05:04] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, sure. I was a spirits educator. I was director of spirits education for a very large distributor. My job was to be in eight bars a day before 5 p.m. Constantly entertaining, educating, being just all about facilitating fun in the context of alcohol and hospitality.
[00:05:26] And my office beyond those eight bars a day was literally a bar, you know, I worked with architects to build this bar at our office. It’s at 40 people. It had media to broadcast my educations out across the state or across the globe and I could literally go from my desk to my office, which was the education bar.
[00:05:51] And so for that to all be what I had a chance to create and then all go away, the community knew me as that. And then there was nothing, you know, I’d look at my phone and there’d be no messages. And it was almost as if I vanished. It was almost as if I was a ghost. And that was really hard, man. Like, to put so much into what felt like establishing, nourishing, building, creating, fostering community, and then to feel invisible gave me a real, real galvanizing opportunity to just find my reflection again.
[00:06:32] There was a moment when I stood in front of the mirror and I didn’t recognize myself at that point. I couldn’t look myself in the eyes, not because I was ashamed of myself, just because I was so sad. And it was a moment of “Okay, look, bring your eyes up, make eye contact as long as you can. Remember me. I’ve been here with you this whole time.”
[00:06:53] Dylan Bain: That is some powerful experience. I think about it in just in terms of what is our relationship then with the things that we’re doing and how much it can consume us. And just that process of entangling yourself from it to say, “I’m going to reestablish a healthy relationship such that I’m not defined by this relationship,” that I can be in relationship with it without having it be a piece of me, and if it goes away or that relationship shifts or the relationship changes, it doesn’t say anything about Dylan, doesn’t say anything about Ryan. It doesn’t say anything about Doug, right?
[00:07:30] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, it offers me the question. How do you give yourself so fully to something without giving yourself away?
[00:07:38] Dylan Bain: Oh, say more about that.
[00:07:41] Ryan Conklin: I think that there’s a deep longing in us to be creators, to be of service, to be in purpose of, to be bringing a vision to life, and when that isn’t realized or when it may be taken away, who are you? Are you still there? And I think maybe that is one of the great conundrums of my experience. I imagine it might be others. Potentially it’s even greater than I’m giving it credit for, but is it why people are so afraid to live fully? Because if it fails, then who are they?
[00:08:15] Dylan Bain: So in your conception on this, would you say that this is creating like a risk aversion of, “I am afraid of the desolation of self, so I’m unwilling to reach my highest height,” or is it something deeper than that?
[00:08:28] Ryan Conklin: I haven’t really considered this until we’re talking about it specifically, but I talked to a lot of people in coaching relationship about fear, and there’s fear of failure, there’s fear of success, there’s fear of judgment of others, at least that’s how a lot of people define the three types of fear. I also think that there’s fear of greatness, fear of our power, fear to trust our power, that it’s actually safe. And the fear to trust that we will actually be here if things don’t go as planned.
[00:09:06] Dylan Bain: Well, it’s okay that it’s messy, right?
[00:09:09] Ryan Conklin: They say that, but it’s hard to believe it.
[00:09:12] Dylan Bain: I get that. Even in my own journey, like when I left teaching, my principal calls me and asked me to commit fraud, threatens my job when I said no. Something that I had, I dreamed about when I was in the mortgage industry, something that I had dedicated eight years of my life to build, this identity of I’m the math teacher.
[00:09:30] I’m the math teacher who teaches math like a language and then to lose that, and then to have to ask the question of, well, what am I going to do next? What’s this next step that I need, I want to try to get to? And why didn’t this work, right? Was it my failings? Or was it the failings of something else? Or is this just me being in the river of life, so to speak, and I don’t have as much control as I wish I had?
[00:09:58] I think that those questions are what haunt people. And whenever, you know, I have clients in my coaching practice, and you have clients in your coaching practice where they’re looking for a transformative event and there is that fear there because they’re afraid if I make a mistake, if I screw this up, if I’m unsuccessful in my first attempt, what does that say about me as a person?
[00:10:17] And I think we wrap ourselves so heavily in the you have to be perfect 100 percent of the time rather than I have full permission to make as many mistakes as possible so long as I’m starting to make new ones. And I think that’s a huge learning curve because, in my own life, I’ve always found myself gravitating towards the top of my profession whatever I’m doing. I get to a point where people are like, “Wow, you’re so dialed in,” and I have to say, “Well, yes, but that’s because I failed far more than anyone else.” I just continue to make new mistakes.
[00:10:53] Ryan Conklin: Yeah.
[00:10:54] Dylan Bain: I would love you to tell me more about that fear piece. And the fear of this, of being in a transformation or making a change in your life, and what your experience with that fear has been.
[00:11:07] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, I come back to the idea of being in the fire and being willing to be cooked.
[00:11:11] You mentioned people coming to you or coming to me seeking a transformation, and at the same time, it also feels as though they’re oftentimes not willing to be transformed or willing to be in transformation to willing to be changed. The being in the fire really means the being present with. It means not looking away. It means not thinking your way out of it or figuring anything out, but just being with the pain, being with the opportunity, being with the unknown, being with the mystery, and saying, “I’m not, no, I’m not okay,” and looking to your community, sitting with someone and letting it not have to be explained.
[00:12:02] And you and I have talked at length about different ways of doing that, whether that’s through being outside or being with grief, being expressive through art and creativity. So much of it is just not looking away, not numbing yourself to your experience. And I think we’re so impoverished with the courage to stay with that suffering and know that is part of the magic of our journey.
[00:12:30] Dylan Bain: Wow. As I’m listening to you talk, I’m just suddenly flooded with a lot of like thoughts and feelings. Mostly feelings, but a lot less thoughts, but, you know, step one, when I’m working with somebody with finance, this is always like, “Well, we have to look at this.” And this is where I’ve always seen people like they’re more likely to talk about their sex life than they are to talk about their bottom line.
[00:12:51] And I’ve always told them if we don’t know where we’re at, it’s impossible for us to chart a way to where we want to be. And I think, I know for me, particularly as a man, like I’m the solutions guy, right? Like I’m supposed to know what to do.
[00:13:06] So the idea of just being with this thing is just looking at it and be like, “I’m not okay,” because that’s already scary to admit. Will my kids still respect me? Will my friends still like me? Will my wife still fuck me if I’m not okay? Then to have to just look at it and be like, “And I’m not going to touch this. I’m just going to look at this and get really intimate with this thing.”
[00:13:26] And I would love for you to say more about that because I feel like what you just said is so profound, but also so unbelievably alien to most people operating in our modern economy.
[00:13:36] Ryan Conklin: Yeah. And let me just first say, this is not an easy thing for me. Like I can speak from my experience and if it sounds like I’m proficient, that’s not the truth. It takes work. So let’s just start there, you know? And it takes me being present with my community and saying, “I’m not okay.” It’s doing the things that I said previously. So it’s not unheard of for me to tell somebody, “Hey, I’m not okay.” And they’re like, “What if you didn’t have to do anything about that?” I’m like, yeah, but it’s not that time.
[00:14:05] Like I have to do so much and the blood pressure comes up and my fight response comes online. And I’m just like, “You have no idea. I have this going on, my parents aren’t well, and I have no money and trucks are breaking down. I have to fix all this,” yeah but what if you didn’t have to do that right now?
[00:14:24] What if it was just time to find beauty and be still, and it just calls you back to not having to fix it, not having to do something and just say, “Okay. Where are you? What’s present,” Okay, your heart is breaking and that means you have a heart. You feel lost. That means that you loved something.
[00:14:47] Dylan Bain: Amazing. Well, and I imagine that there’s a grief part that goes with this too, and I’m somebody who, in my personal life, I’ve had a lot of death visit me throughout my years. And I remember being handed, as a child, basically spiritual bypasses, right? There’s process to grief, there’s stages of grief, but the end stage is acceptance.
[00:15:11] So wherever you’re at, just go straight to acceptance and be done with it, and let’s move on with life. That was what I was told to do. And when I left teaching and I made that career transformation, I remember when my principal threatened my job and said, “Hey, either you do this or you’re not getting a contract for next year.”
[00:15:27] And she also told me that I should go home and think about what type of man my daughter needed me to be. And so I went home, I got a bottle of whiskey, it was Jim Beam, so I guess technically bourbon, and I wouldn’t found the bottom of it because I just couldn’t handle the threat, the idea that I couldn’t make rent, that I would let my daughter down. And then it just hit me that this was the end of teaching for me, no matter what else happened, I was going to figure out something different because the man my daughter needed me to be was a man of integrity, and that would mean that I’d have to go back the next day and explain to my principal that no, I was not doing this, and yeah, I get it, do what you gotta do, honey, but I’m doing this.
[00:16:10] And I remember after I had that, I burst into tears, and my wife had gone back to her school to study, and my daughter was asleep upstairs, and I was on the floor of my kitchen in my shitty apartment bawling my eyes out, and just having to like face this idea that I’m done teaching. Everything I’ve built for eight years is now gone. And I cried. I cried and I cried and it was hard. And so I imagine that grief is part of this transformation process for you as well. And I would love your experience with it because as you brought up grief.
[00:16:43] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, and I think it’s relevant, really relevant just to notice the energy that carries for you in the moment, truthfully, because the thing that I’ll say first about grief is it’s never done and grief has to stay moving. It has to stay warm or it solidifies, becomes stuck, becomes cold and congealed and it becomes blocked.
[00:17:12] And so in your question, your listeners can witness someone actively grieving themselves because that loss is still real for you and you are in new relationship with it every time you tell that story because it’s true. Two things there are true. One, that was very important to you and it was taken away. You had something that you loved and you lost it and both things can be true. Both things must be true because grief is not just about what was lost but also what was love, so I can speak from my experience, but I think it’s–
[00:17:51] Dylan Bain: Well, I very much want your experience. One question that’s always haunted me about making the career transitions and there have been more than just career, right? But the career ones are easy to see. Do we have to do this? Is there another path through this or do we have to learn how to properly grieve? As you said, keep it warm.
[00:18:14] Ryan Conklin: Well, you get to and grief is patient. It will wait for you. It will linger in what feels to be a building pile of rocks for the things left untended. So you can be in relationship with them now, or they will patiently wait for you until your end of days. And you’ll be at your final days with a large pile of rocks to tend to.
[00:18:39] And what I’ll tell you is a really healthy way to be with it is through honor. Something that we don’t do in the West, something that speaks very deeply to me and how I came to the gates of grief is it’s through the idea that these losses are our initiations, the rites of passage, and in the West here, we don’t truly honor these. It’s, “Okay. I lost my job. Okay, tomorrow send out some resumes. Let’s keep it moving. Let’s fix this.”
[00:19:09] And we go through, continually, our entire life is a grand rites of passage and we go through small, medium, and large ones throughout our life. For example, you will never not be a man without children. You will never not be a man without–like you will never not be a unmarried man. That was never married died in order for you to be a married man. That unchildhood man died the day your child was born, and those are truly rites of passage and moments where we have an opportunity to grieve what is dying in order for what is being born to truly come to life fully.
[00:19:57] Dylan Bain: That’s a powerful thing because in my mentoring and my coaching, I have a number of men who are about to become fathers, a startling number, actually. And they’ve asked me, “As a father yourself, Dylan, what’s the one piece of advice you could give me?” And I said, “Well, just understand that when your child is born, a mother is being born as well. And she’s no longer a wife. She’s a mother who’s also a wife. And that you will have to relearn what it’s like to be with this person in relationship to this new thing that’s come into your life.”
[00:20:29] And I feel like that’s an underappreciated piece. I feel like here in our modern economies, I don’t make the East-West distinction, I take modern economy versus traditional economy because it’s not profitable for us to make those transitions. They want us to remain the same. They want us to remain hungry. This is why you’re in businesses and they tell you, “Keep an entrepreneurial mindset.” Like why? I’m a father now, right?
[00:20:54] Like my time to take high risks and earn high rewards are over because I now have children who are depending on me. And I feel like, particularly when you start looking at birth rates and how they’re declining, I feel like that’s a failure of helping people understand that transitional period that it’s okay to say goodbye to that former part of yourself. This is, in fact, celebrated. Congratulations, time is marching on for you and you’ve made it here, rather than people going, “Well, you have that kid and your life is over.”
[00:21:25] Ryan Conklin: It’s arguable that it’s essential that you must honor that, passing a transition.
[00:21:30] Dylan Bain: Well, then what would be the argument for that it’s essential. And I say this because I feel like a lot of men specifically would say, “It is what it is,” right? There’s that thought-terminating cliche. “It is what it is. All thought needs to stop. We don’t have to think about this any further.” And to me, that’s never been a satisfying answer. I’ve never been okay with that. But I’ve also never considered that grief is the essential part to move beyond that thought-terminating cliché.
[00:21:57] Ryan Conklin: There’s a lot of reasons why this could be argued or even just the conversation of it. But the idea that you can’t suppress things selectively really speaks to one reason why it’s essential. Because if life is full of these rites of passage, then we’re experiencing these losses.
[00:22:19] And if we’re not honoring them, not paying attention to them, asking them what they have to teach us, telling them what we need to say and hearing back from them, what they need to tell us, then we’re suppressing them. We’re ignoring and any ignored child, they get really loud or really quiet. And with that, they take parts of us with them.
[00:22:43] And so if we’re suppressing our grief. We’re also suppressing our joy, our love, our curiosity, our playfulness, our exuberance, our magic, our wisdom, our relatability.
[00:22:57] Dylan Bain: So our ability to grieve is intimately tied then to our ability to feel and to experience life.
[00:23:05] Ryan Conklin: Yeah. And our ability to feel and experience life is intimately tied to our ability to live. And so it couldn’t be said that our ability to be with death is crucial to our ability to live fully.
[00:23:21] Dylan Bain: And it’s not just death in the physical sense. It’s death in the life stage sense. It’s death and the experience is over, right? It’s the letdown at the end of a vacation. It’s the graduation from high school. It’s all of those things, isn’t it?
[00:23:35] Ryan Conklin: Yeah. It’s the first time you lost a pet. It’s the moment, for some reason, I was just thinking about this week of like when was the last time I pulled out of my high school parking lot? I’ll never, likely never go back. Why is that pulling on me right now? ‘Cause you didn’t say goodbye.
[00:23:54] There was no marking of that threshold. It’s still patiently like, “Hey man, you never said your peace here.” I didn’t get that with my childhood home and I’m having this constant lingering, like far-off longing call back to the deserts of Tucson to go and just say goodbye to my childhood home, to light some smoke, to say a prayer, to offer it all the beautiful memories that were created there and say, “Hey, I never got to say goodbye to you and I need to, so I’m here to make an offering,” and tell it like, “If I need to, I’ll be back. If not, you’ll always be with me.” Grief is a conversation.
[00:24:37] Dylan Bain: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of like childhood homes. I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I like to joke that my family’s got so much street cred, they put our name on the signs. There’s actually a road named after my family, and there’s a park named after my family. There used to be an elementary school named after my family. And I remember, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this, of the day after I graduated from high school, right?
[00:24:59] We had the graduation ceremony, then my parents threw me a party. And everyone left and we cleaned up. My mom turned to me and said, “Well, make sure you mow the lawn.” And so I got out the lawnmower and I was mowing the lawn and I couldn’t help but stop and cry. And I didn’t understand why, but it felt so incomplete.
[00:25:19] It felt like we had gone through all the actions, but there are people that I said goodbye to. It was just like, “Hey, we’ll see you later.” Later has never come. That was over 20 years ago at this point. And then of course I left Kenosha and actually, I left the day after that. I left for my first adult job.
[00:25:37] I moved to another town in Wisconsin and went to work, and every time I go back, it’s this weird, like it almost feels like there’s unfinished business, but all the business is gone, if that makes sense. I’m not sure what to do anytime I’m in my hometown. And when I’ve talked to people who stayed and they say “Well, you’ve lived such a charmed life.”
[00:25:58] What? I moved to Milwaukee and then the economy collapsed and I had to move to Taiwan because that was the only place I could find a job. I sold everything I had, got on a plane, helped, you know, crossed my fingers and went, “I hope I have a job when I land.” It turned out it worked. Those transitionary periods were as much traumatic as they were joyous.
[00:26:16] Now, looking back at it. And I wonder what would happen if we actually had some sort of initiatory ceremony or some recognition to say, “Yes, I’m moving from one stage of life to another.”
[00:26:28] Ryan Conklin: You’d be surprised how powerful they can be. And they’re not always fully missed. Yes, do them in the moment, and you can also still do them, can also be with the goodbye that was needed to say to your lawn, to your childhood home, to the community.
[00:26:49] Energetically, if it’s in you, it’s also out there. And so you can sit with that and you can ask yourself, “What do I need to say?” You can set an intention. You can ask that question, “What do I need to say?” And cross into a space, set a threshold, cross over a threshold, be in that ceremony, that speaking of unfinished business, and give thanks. Close the ceremony, step over that threshold again, and notice what shifts in you.
[00:27:22] And that can be for you, Dylan, your childhood home. It can be the economy collapsing and moving to Taiwan. There are thresholds all over our life. I mean, you don’t have to close your eyes without feeling the threshold you stepped across when you boarded that plane. Something physically changed in your body. I can feel it in my body imagining it. And when those things are unhonored and celebrated and mourned and grieved, they patiently wait for us.
[00:27:54] Dylan Bain: And wait they have. So what’s on the other side of this? And I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day about his relationship with grief and losing a spouse and stuff like that. And saying, “You know, at some point, you’re going to have to grieve this.” And his response was, “I don’t want to do that because I don’t want to lose myself in the grief. I feel like I’ll dissolve. And I don’t feel like there’s anything on the other side.” And so when we look at what’s going to be on the other side of this transitionary period, like that’s always the great unknown, right?
[00:28:26] When I left teaching, I didn’t know what was exactly going to be on the other side. I didn’t know what that was going to look like when I got on the plane when I boarded the flight in Chicago. I didn’t know if I’d have a job when I landed. I had applied to a bunch of places, I’d interviewed a bunch of places, but I got on the plane and just kind of hoped for the best.
[00:28:45] And I feel like that’s the stumbling block that people have of what is on the other side of this grief? What does that even look like? Do I ever get to a place where I get to feel joy again if I actually go through and I grieve this thing? Do I ever get to find love in my life? Do I ever get to find peace in my life if I go through this grief ‘cause it feels like such a storm? What would you say to somebody who’s afraid to step into that for that reason?
[00:29:10] Ryan Conklin: There’s a lot in that question. One piece is maybe it’s a hard truth that there is no through, there is no finishing. What is on the other side of grief is more connection, more life, more access to the heart.
[00:29:26] And just as I mentioned, one side of grief is loss, and one side of grief is love and praise and honor. So it’s impossible to be with loss, wholly to be in grief without being with joy and praise and love. And so one of the things that’s often crucial for grief is for it to be witnessed, not to do it alone. To be held by a community, to be held by sacred other ship. Some of that other ship can be loved ones or friends. It can also be the wild outside. You can take your grief to the land and let the greater-than-human beings witness you. The stones and trees, the mountains, soil, and you can be in relation to that where our body truly is home.
[00:30:22] This industrialized world of steel and concrete is so foreign to the human body. We know it because that’s our life, but our bodies, our bones, our heartbeats, they know the wild. And so when you take your body out into the wild, things come alive. There’s a primal, there’s a divine part of you that society doesn’t make space for.
[00:30:45] And when you bring that energy, that grief, that love, it truly has an opportunity to be full and big. There’s a lot to be said about through moving with grief allows us this access to joy, this access to laughter. I think there’s some fear that if we grieve, that we let somebody go and we’ll never know them again, or we move on.
[00:31:16] And the grief I speak of is truly the opposite direction. It’s not a letting go of, it’s building a new relationship. As we talk right now, I’m sitting in front of an altar that I’ve created for my father. This altar, I sit at to be in communication with him, to be in conversation with him, to honor him as I lose him, and it’s a way to be in new relationship. And I get to sit with him as a young boy on the baseball field. I get to sit with him as a young man in high school, but the different gifts he’s given me, the different things I didn’t get from him. Grief has given me a new relationship with my father, something I’ll have forever, and so it gives me access to joy and laughter and love and praise, and to honor the things that I never got, the things that I’m letting go.
[00:32:09] Dylan Bain: It’s interesting that you talk about the land and community in terms of grief. I feel like there’s a lot of times people want their grief to be concealed. And they’re going to go through this transformation period.
[00:32:21] They want everyone to see the end result, but they don’t want to see anyone to see what they’re going through, and what I’m hearing you say is “No, it’s the exact opposite is true. There are people who are going to walk this path with you. There are people who are going to be able to hold what you bring to them.”
[00:32:25] And sometimes it’s not just people. It’s the earth. It’s the wild places. It’s green space. And I feel like that’s a foreign concept to a lot of people when they’re like, “Well, how is that going to help me budget? How’s that going to help me with my career? How’s this going to help me find the next show I’m going to watch on Netflix?” And it sounds like what’s being advocated here is once you’re able to just be with these things, once you’re able to exist, this is unlocking a greater sense of being that enables you to be able to drink more fully from those other fountains and be able to kind of removing out some of the obstacles to being able to be fully present with those things that are giving you joy.
[00:33:15] But the land piece is interesting because I feel like a lot of people don’t even understand what–when we say “the land”, they’re like, “Well, like my backyard?” So is it their backyard? Is it a park? What does it even look like?
[00:33:31] Ryan Conklin: Well, there’s a piece that’s really kind of present to me at the moment. And it’s that like with grief, people want to heal from their grief. They want to heal from their loss, but with going to the land and being with our grief, there’s a holding that happens of being more whole, being ever more whole. And that is in that if you don’t allow for what is there with loss, then you can’t be with love.
[00:34:01] And that means that you’re truly only giving yourself access to part. And so through taking this on and being in relationship with loss and love, the praise and the joy that comes with all of that gives you greater access. And so is it the backyard or is it this old-growth forest? Yes. Yes. It’s being in connection with soils. Your soil. You don’t have to go far. Yeah, sure, privacy is really nice if it’s something you don’t want neighbors to be passing by. And one thing that’s wholly true for me is that I didn’t know how to do it until I saw it, until somebody modeled it for me. And so if somebody sees it, that’s a gift they’re witnessing.
[00:34:48] Somebody sees you building an altar and takes a minute to peer over the fence and say, “Hey, what are you doing there?” I’m being with my grandmother right now, telling the story to the stones and this old tree that’s in my yard. I’m being with my grief, honoring my life, and that speaks to a lot of other places of fear of what if people think I’m nuts? What if I’m not accepted? And this is an ever-growing fullness that when you do that, you’re more home than you’ve ever been in your body. And I think, you look at the trends that are happening through social media or advertising, all of it is about really becoming more well. When the conversation of mental health comes up, I advocate to change the conversation to emotional fitness, spiritual fitness because it’s not a destination and we’re not going to think our way out of it, ever-evolving relationship and it’s a process, it’s a practice, you can only do so much on your own, you can only do so much alone.
[00:35:56] Dylan Bain: What really strikes me in that conversation is it’s a practice. And I was having the conversation with my wife who has a PhD and about her relationship with her career and where she’s going with it and what’s happening and all the things. And she was saying that she felt like she was told and was promised that once you do the thing, the rest of everything else is easy.
[00:36:20] Go get your degree and you’re set. Go get the job and you’re set. Nothing has to change. In fact, it shouldn’t. In fact, if it is changing, then you’re doing something wrong. And I think about this. I have an aunt of mine who looks at it and goes, she will tell anyone who will listen that I can’t keep a job.
[00:36:36] And the reason she says I can’t keep a job is like both of her boys have been at the same company since they graduated college. They’ve never changed careers, whereas I spend maximum four years at a place, and I move. And what the trade-off there is they have this stability, this rootedness, and I have an average of an 18 percent increase in my income a year.
[00:36:56] I have increased my income since 2015 by almost 97,000. There is something in that to say. We have an expectation that things shouldn’t change, but in fact, no, it absolutely needs to. And in fact, if it’s not, we’re just stagnating and not progressing into being able to live more fully.
[00:37:17] And I think that hearkens back to what you were saying about, “I’m never not going to have kids for the rest of my life.” Like the man who didn’t have children, the Dylan who didn’t have children, he’s gone. He’s never coming back. I’ve changed. And pretty soon I’m going to be the man who’s never not had a teenager. Of course, that means my daughter is going to be making her own life transition. If she goes from girl to young lady, and that’s a point of separation as well. So I like what you’re saying. And I think it’s really profound because even with finances, it really ties in of well, this is what it’s always been and that’s how it always has to be. And if it changes, then what’s going to happen, right? This familiar hell is preferable to the strange heaven that you’re offering me. And so I don’t want to go through the grief. I don’t want to have to look at this. I don’t want to have to face up to–I’m in this situation because of choices I made or didn’t as the case may be.
[00:38:11] And that’s hard. And then, of course, the idea of well, you shouldn’t do it on your own. And in fact, that’s what’s keeping you right where you’re at. You need a community. For somebody who’s looking for a community, what would you say to them in their journey, how to find that community? Where is the community?
[00:38:27] Ryan Conklin: I’ve had this really revealing conversation with somebody on my team. And when I say team, I mean, like we all have teams, whether we are willing to acknowledge or own that. On my team, I have an antagonist. I have somebody who is willing to get in there and destabilize my outlook and I shared with him one day, “I need to build more community.”
[00:38:50] He looked at me. He’s like that’s so cute. I’m like, what are you doing here? He’s like, “Oh you want some more toys? You want some new people in your life?” I was like, “Dude, what are you doing? It’s like your life is so full of people, how are you engaging with them? Activate your community, check in with your people, ask them about what they’re doing. Tell them about what you’re excited about. Collaborate on something, connect on something.” The simple answer to your question is community lives within participation. It lives within connection, lives within activity in the sense of activating. It’s not a place, it’s not a more, it’s a with.
[00:39:35] Dylan Bain: That reminds me of a statement of, and I forget, it’s not my thought, it comes from someone else, but we always look for the answers outside of ourselves, we never look at the answers at a prayer mat. And the idea of like they’re all around us. I know for myself, personally, looking at it and saying, looking at the people around me and going, “None of these people are going in the same direction. We’re all playing the same pantomime game, but in the end of the day, we’re not going in the same direction.” And having to be like, I need a new prayer mat, and being willing to switch it up.
[00:40:05] So activating a community, that really speaks because there’s plenty of people in my own community I’m not activating and I also think there’s a point of if you want to get into the grief space, you want to make a transformation, you look around and be like, “Everybody here is just desperately trying to cling to whatever scraps of comfort they can find.” Then it’s time to see what else I can activate, see where else I can pull on, and pull myself to. That tension really is hard for me because on the one hand, use everything that you have right at your feet, and the other hand of but if you don’t have the tools, you don’t have the people, you kind of have to go find them. And I feel like that’s hard. They say that the greatest of Jesus’s miracles was making friends in his thirties. On some levels that feels really true for me.
[00:40:50] Ryan Conklin: Yeah. And I think it’s because we had convenient community and now it’s time to be intentional with our community. We have to be ourselves instead of being a doing. For me, my community was soccer. It was college, it was high school, it was a restaurant, it was the hospitality community. But now I need to just be Ryan. I need to be present, like you mentioned, present on your prayer mat. We’re sitting here talking about grief because I was present with my grief and I went to my prayer mat and you witnessed me there and people in your life are now more present with grief because of how ripples travel.
[00:41:40] We have a community between you and me. Now that speaking about grief, we have a grief community because I was present with grief, I was activating my grief.
[00:41:52] Dylan Bain: It’s amazing. Yeah, it is increasingly entertaining to me how that works. The conversations of one person deciding I’m gonna go do this thing is actually starting to ripple out.
[00:42:04] I have observed myself making ripples, but I’ve also observed ripples going through me where it’s, “Oh yeah, I picked this up somewhere, it rippled through me, and then I passed it on to the next person,” just like you were saying with grief. When I first had to face my own grief that has been patiently waiting for me for 35 years, you were there. And I remember thinking to myself, oh, I’ve never actually looked at this thing and said, “Hey, I should probably sit with that.” And at the time the word sit with would not have made sense to me because I was very much a doing–I used to say, “I’m the guy who that happens to things. Things don’t happen to me.” And all that shattered around me, looking around, be like, “Oh, I need to be a human being, not a human doing. I need to be part of nature, not a force of nature.” Even that was a transformational shift for me personally, and a loss of identity in that moment.
[00:43:01] Ryan Conklin: Yeah. And if you can’t wholly be present to what has shifted through that, allow me to just acknowledge you that from that day of you sharing that grief, of you sitting on the edge of the woods, you gained access to far more of yourself, snd with that, far more of life is simply saying, “I see you, I hear you.”
[00:43:21] Dylan Bain: Yeah. And it has brought us to this podcast talking about intuitive finance, where we’re trying to look at relationships because as I integrated more of that into how I show up in the world, the more it started to become very obvious of “Oh, the problem isn’t spreadsheets or rigid numbers or any–it’s the humans.” The humans aren’t okay. We gotta go talk to those people. I can spreadsheet you out the perfect financial plan, but if I failed to look at the humans and failed to look at the grief that they’re not processing, if I failed to look at where they haven’t alchemized things if I failed to look at what emotional stories they brought into this, then it’s not gonna matter.
[00:44:06] Ryan Conklin: Yeah, you can make small changes, but they won’t be lasting. And something you touched on I feel is potentially where the big conversation goes as people step away from the podcast and go into life is transformation does not live in the comfort zone. Growth, as you mentioned, with your family, cousins perhaps, does not live in the comfort zone. Growth and transformation happens in the willingness to be changed by.
[00:44:40] Dylan Bain: I can’t think of a better way to put a pin on this entire conversation. And I think that’s an amazing takeaway that growth is not going to happen in the comfort zone, especially when we talk about grief, because that’s the ultimate uncomfortable zone. So, Mr. Ryan Conklin, I’m so grateful for you and I’m so grateful for this conversation. If people are looking to get more Ryan Conklin in their life, where can they find you?
[00:45:08] Ryan Conklin: The easiest place to find me is on LinkedIn. Pretty simple, Ryan Conklin, Nature rooted coach. I’m also available on Instagram, you know, where I most want to be is in conversation, and so please reach out to me, share with me what you’re doing, and if it’s a fit, let me support you.
[00:45:30] Dylan Bain: Fantastic. We will link all that up in the show notes. I encourage everyone listening, go read Ryan’s posts on Instagram. They are heartfelt to the extreme. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
[00:45:43] Ryan Conklin: Pleasure is mine. Thank you so much.
[00:45:47] Outro: Thanks for listening. The conversation doesn’t end here. Please share the show with friends and make sure you keep up with all the latest updates on Instagram and Threads @TheDylanBain, and dive deeper into the world of finance with me at DylanBain.com where you’ll find insights, resources, and strategies to reimagine your money story.