Radikal Life S1E10: Nourish with Tyx Xyt Abel
Thu, Oct 13, 2022 10:07PM • 1:10:01
nourishment, nourishing, people, space, life, thinking, meal, pandemic, hear, food, community, share, kid, year, feel, eat, home, experience, folks, conversation
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP), Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him)
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 00:05
Hello and welcome to the Radikal Life Podcast. I’m Marina Patrice Vare. My pronouns are they them and MP. I’m recording for you today on the unceded lands of the Lenni-Lenape peoples. And today it is my absolute pleasure to be speaking with our Nourish Module Leader. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 00:25
Hello, welcome. My name is Ty, and I am my pronouns are he him. I’m here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is a traditionally the Miwok, the Plains and Central Sierra Miwok territory. And I’m here today in my family’s restaurant on a on a closed day. And I’m excited to be talking with you folks about my journey with nourishment and this exciting new radikal project.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 00:58
Awesome. I know that you have shared with me that you do some community organizing and pieces. And I’m wondering if you want to name any of that work and how it relates to nourishment? You know, before we dive too far in?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 01:11
Yeah, absolutely. So I started my journey with advocacy as a as a youth here in a rural region. I am transgender. So I was assigned female at birth and was involved in safe creating safe spaces on my high school campus. Back in 2000, we started one of the first few GSAs in the nation, I think there were fewer than 50 at that time. And in a in a rather conservative rural area that was a big deal. So I was public about my commitment to safe space on in school. And that was kind of my foot in the door to community organizing. I was lucky to get involved with great organizations like GLSEN and GSA Network that would connect educators and students with the resources to shift their school climate. And that is where my journey began as an as an advocate and activist and a community organizer.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 02:07
Awesome, and how does that relate to your work in the world like now?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 02:12
Yeah, so I moved back to my home region about a decade ago, to re infuse the area with, you know, with my values and my energy. So knowing that as a teenager, and really, as a child, I didn’t have I didn’t have great results with the adults in the community. So I was always being given sort of negative feedback on my presentation, my fashion, my even my vocabulary. And so being here as an adult, I’m focused on creating safe spaces for youth. And I facilitate a LGBTQ plus youth group that is housed here in the cafe. And we meet twice a month. And we have done art shows and outings. And mostly it is social support. So it’s an opportunity for youth in this area to get together and possibly meet other youth who are maybe experiencing similar challenges. Whether they’re trans or gender non conforming, or maybe are raised in a household with two moms. In a small town, that’s a big deal still. And so just having a place where you can come together and chat and feel like your experience of life is not just this controversial burden to communicate and convey to your classmates. It’s a really special role to get to play. I mean, even something as simple as telling a kid on the street, Wow, your hair looks so cool. That’s not the feedback I got growing up here. And so it’s really special to get to be an out queer adult trans male here in this in this region and just hold space for that.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 03:48
I heard several things in there that I think are really nourishing, right. One and you can tell me more about you know, if I’m on the right track here, but just the idea of being able to return to a space, when you are better resourced is the word I’ll use, right? We go away, we gather our resources, we come back right fortified and stronger. So that even if the places that we come from are still challenging for us, right, I think we come to them as different people. And so I’m hearing that in there. And then I’m also hearing this idea that I find really nourishing around social support. Right, especially social support for youth. Right. And, you know, I think that the climate in general, right for, you know, LGBTQ queer youth is really challenging, right? And it is just devastating in many places for trans youth. And so I’m layering in this idea that like I don’t have a lot of experience with about being in a rural community. And I’m thinking about just how tremendous it is to see someone else like you, right? And specifically to see a thriving adult, right to get to see like, okay, yes, like people we grow up and like, have healthy lives and, you know, get to go away and maybe come back if we want. Do you want to say more about that?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 05:17
Absolutely. It has been an incredible blessing to be able to return. When I left, I left the day after high school ended, this was not a safe space to be different. The journey of you know, nourishing myself and healing myself and, you know, finding the resources I need to kind of finished growing up after, you know, the traumatic experiences of being a queer adolescent in a conservative region. That journey led me pretty obviously back home, because here, I know who I am. And I’m the kind of person that’s going to do the work wherever I am. And that’s part of my family culture, that’s just, that’s just how I’m built. And so at some point, I think, in my late 20s, I realized, no matter where I’m where I am, I’m going to be doing this work. And when I take a break, I’m gonna want to go back home. And if no one’s doing that work back home, it’s not going to be that much fun to go back and visit, you know, and so really like weighing, weighing in the risk and benefit of where, where’s the best bang for my buck, if I’m gonna be organizing queer youth, it might as well be rural queer youth in my home region, because it is not only is it a really neat way to be able to give back, but it’s it heals me tenfold. I mean, the nourishment that I receive, sitting in a group of kids listening, you know, they’re teaching me new terminology. You know, and, and it’s just a really special role. And I know that, you know, I didn’t even know the word transgender until I was 18 or so. And so that was after I had, I cut my ID in half over the gender marker, I knew something was going on. And so to be able to, you know, sit in a room and the kids kind of gather, and then we do our check ins. And I usually kind of lead with an example, I remind them, like, you can share as little or as much as you want. But the more you share, the more likely the person next to you is going to share, you know, more authentically about what what their circumstances are. And so often kids come in, they’re the adults in their lives might know who I am, and know, oh, there’s this transgender man, he facilitates this youth group, but the kids don’t necessarily have all those pieces together. And so when I introduce myself, and I say, you know, Hi, I’m Ty, you know, I run this restaurant, I was raised a little girl in this town, you know, it’s like, oh, well, I want it, I want to grow up to be a man or, you know, whatever their, whatever their circumstances are. And you can just see, like, their gears start grinding, and they’re like, Wow, hey, so this guy, I mean, and yeah, he decided to live here. And it’s just, it’s really, it’s redeeming, especially after being kind of treated like such a threat as a teenager. It’s really nice to know that I am a resource. And just because someone is threatened, doesn’t make me a threat.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 08:10
Oof. Can I breathe with that last one for a minute? Because I feel like that one is like, an urgently important message, right? Just because someone feels threatened doesn’t mean I’m a threat. I think is we need t shirts we need you know, like, yes. And I really appreciate the language there of redemption, right of having this experience where home gets to be a place where you go back and come to feel like it’s home. I don’t I don’t know that I can find words for it, but I can feel it in my body. And it’s, it’s a little bit like, mmmm, like, all of my muscles have unknotted. Right? Like, I’m just like, oh, yeah, that holding that happens for a long time. I am curious, I know that, you know, another identity that is important to you is being a second generation restaurateur. And so I’m curious about the relationship, right, between coming home, right, and having the social space be actually in the restaurant, right. And I don’t know that I have a fuller question there. But I would love for you to tell me about how those intersect. I would also love if you want to share a little bit about the space, specifically that you’re sitting in in the restaurant now. And this quilt behind you is absolutely gorgeous. So if it has a story, I would love to hear that as well.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 09:41
Yeah, thanks, MP. So my family opened this restaurant when I was six. And so really even and always through every kind of hiccup in public education where I was kind of being reflected there wasn’t really space for me. There was space for me. I had a safe space and it was this cafe. And so as a young person, I got to come and work and feel useful and connected and part of a team. And that was not the experience of the classroom. And so, so much benefit came to me as a kid in being able to claim my, my autonomy and strength in this safe space. And so to come full circle and be able to host the youth here. And we’ve also done community potlucks, you know, for all ages, LGBT community potlucks here and just being able to really optimize the value of this space by opening it up to the community beyond the hours where our patrons are dining. It’s, it’s definitely a win win, it brings life to the space. And it gives us the family myself, you know, an opportunity to kind of expand on the love expand on the vision of providing this hospitality that is open and radically available to everyone. And so it’s it’s quite a fun place to play, whether we’re playing restaurant or we’re playing, you know, community action, or whatever we’re working on. This is a colorful environment. And you mentioned this gorgeous quilt behind me. My friend Jack Jett made that he’s a sign language interpreter down in the valley. And the youth group actually had the vision for an art show. And this was maybe five years ago now. And so we were brainstorming ideas and what you know what to call an art show that is celebrating an LGBT lives and arts. And so the youth came up with Safe Space. And this has Rosebuds has been my safe space. And so it kind of rang true. And we’ve we’ve done the show four years. And this last year, the we expanded to the two neighboring counties. So all three of our Regional Arts Councils were on board. And there was local LGBT artists featured in all three of our counties during the month of June and kind of on into July. And that was a really exciting opportunity to kind of expand out of Amador into the other two counties and really pull in that support and those arts councils, we’re so excited to be a part of it. So
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 12:14
I love this ripple effect. Right, that comes out of a well grounded space. Right, and the idea that continues to expand. And I imagine that the other counties that are near you are also fairly rural. Is that accurate? So really, like, sweet for me to imagine this like spreading, right? Because it’s really, I think it’s special that you have, you know, this space, but also the idea that what happens in a space can really like exponentially magnify. I think goes really, it’s really important to keep in mind, right, that there are there aren’t really any little actions, right that like they all sort of grow and the more folks they touch.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 12:31
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 13:03
Yeah. I am curious about in terms of what has shaped your understanding of nourishment I hear it’s the cafe I hear that it’s interacting, you know, and creating a social space for queer youth and also like families of all ages. Is there anything else in there that you want to share about what has shaped your identity or thoughts aroun being in particularly like a food service space for nourishment?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 13:36
Yeah, absolutely. So MP, I really was raised by waitresses and so that, you know, that kind of iconic, you know, swivel chair diner scene, and, you know, maybe she’s chewing on the back of her pen and just, you know, calling you honey and all that that is that was my, you know, my childhood was surrounded by waitresses and so that style of kind of good home, hospitality extended to everyone, the grouchy guy who’s there before you open all the way through to you know, your first timers. These days, I wait on people who have eaten here over the course of the last 30 years, you know, and anytime they’re in town, this is where they stop. And so that’s, you know, commitment to making hospitality accessible, regardless of kind of what’s going on for the individual coming through our doors. That’s really that really has shaped me and so whether I’m here or out, you know, out in the world, that that attitude of you know, of radical hospitality and, you know, accommodation because we’re all coming to the moment from different perspectives and that really does allow me to, you know, greet people where they are and try to be to be present with them without sort of stepping away from my center. I can I can still be rushed or frustrated or tired. And, you know, acknowledge that you have something else going on and here we are together kind have tried to figure out where those two circumstances meet up.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 15:06
I really love this idea, like just the language of radical hospitality. And I appreciated the way that you named that it not being you stepping away from your center, right? And so in my imagination that is radical hospitality extending in both directions, right? Like you’re extending it to yourself, as well as serving from that place and extending it to others. And that was really meaningful for me to hear, right. I worked for many, many years in a customer service intensive environment. And there was a lot of like, the customer is always right. And often the customer was wrong, right? So like you’re trying to, like, work that line, right? And so I’m just thinking about how much better interactions that I had with folks went when I was feeling in command of myself, right? And able to respond in a compassionate way, but not in a what’s the word? deferential is the word that comes to mind. And it’s not exactly the one that I mean. But like, where you’re not giving yourself away. And some of that, for me is important, because it means that you’re actually serving from a very whole place, right? And then people are getting that from you. So they may not always be getting exactly the answer that they want, at least in the case of I worked in finance, right? Which maybe is a little different than like, Yes, can you modify my order, but they were always getting an answer that came with the integrity of me being in yeah, in my own space.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 16:45
Right. And I really think the difference there is sacred commerce. So my mom and has committed this business to the concept of sacred commerce. And that means we value our staff as much as our patrons. And so and that extends back to ourselves, of course, because we, you know, we are part of that crew. And so if, if the balance is off in such a way that the labor is being exploited, you really can’t sustain hospitality very long. You can’t kind of run down your crew or yourself just at the expense of pulling off that perfect picture. And I think we have had a lot of opportunities to practice and pivot and redefine that over the course of the pandemic. Because, realistically, I wasn’t raised to say no, you know, when when a customer comes in and or, you know, maybe someone from another store on the street and they want to use the restroom, it’s you kind of have always been inclined to say yes, like, kind of, regardless of what the circumstances are, we can’t we can’t really do that we have to, we have to be able to say no, in order to have meaningful yeses, I think. And so we really have had to practice that over the course of the last couple years and kind of redefine, what do people get from us. And what it is we’re trying to convey what we want to provide and where the lines are on that.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 18:09
Two things there that feel like so important to me is this idea that I wish that like every person who managed staff in the world, including my past self, right, could hear you say. That we have to value our staff as much as we value our patrons or customers, because exploiting our staff, right is not a long term strategy. And certainly, you know, here, where I have most of my life experience in the US, right, that is not a value that is widely held. And we’re suffering pretty severely from it. The other piece that I shared this in the last episode, and I think that it is important enough that I’m going to say it again. Right. And I wish that I could remember who said it to me the first time. But it’s this idea around if I never hear your No, how can I trust your Yes? Right. And so, you know, that balance of the desire to which I think, you know, we’ve been trained into right, the desire to always be pleasing other people as a way to earn our worth, right? And so like that, yes, can get very dangerous and corrosive over time. So I appreciate you just naming that, right, that the desire to want to say yes to everything, and then also at the sacrifice of who, right or at the sacrifice of what I would love for you to tell me a bit about what happens for you when you consider the verb Nourish, right? We’ve designed all of our episodes, right and all of our content around verbs, and so we’ve got this verb Nourish. When you think about nourishment, what are we nourishing?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 20:02
Yeah, I love that because I am a man of action. And so the action is much more comfortable for me even maybe the concept or the emotional relationship with nourishment, and what are the actions there. And for me, one of the things that comes to mind immediately is human interaction, I am nourished by conversation, I come from a family of storytellers, when I get to disclose something that is real for me, and I can share it in a way where it resonates with someone, and then ideally, you know, then that kind of starts bouncing back and forth, they’re kind of sharing real life things that that then resonate with me that, that back and forth, and it can be as simple as a conversation about what side you want with your breakfast, you know, but if it’s real, and they’re like, Well, what are the potatoes, and then I get to talk about, they see my excitement, and I see their excitement. And it can be just simple stuff, it doesn’t have to be like the deep trenches of our, you know, most quiet truths, you know, it’s just real things, real moments, where I can see like, the cycle of human emotion, and, you know, we can sort of acknowledge mutual need. For me, those interactions are nourishment. And likewise, movements, I am nourished by action, I love to walk through the hills, I love to dance and listen to, you know, music, and just feel how my body responds to its environment. And really, that’s the same as in conversation, the nourishing part is that I’m sharing and it evokes a response within me, and then it kind of snowballs into this, this sort of verb, this verb, as you put it of nourishment we’re mutually nourishing each other by engaging that way.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 21:51
I love this, I started to write it down. But then I was also listening so hard that I lost a little bit of it, but feel how my body responds, I think is such a really beautiful idea in general about, like, why we do things, right. And if the, if the why could become more focused on like, what’s the experience I’m having, as opposed to like, the outcome I’m seeking, I’m just like, I’m gonna sit with that one in the back of my mind for a while and like, see how that perspective shapes things as I like, carry it forward. But I love that, you know, nourishment in a lot of ways, right is around food. Right? It is, it is a sustainer. Right? But I love that here you’ve named actually the interaction around food being more nourishing, I guess, is the word but also just more like, fuller, right? A fuller experience than simply like eating a food. Right. And I really, I was sitting there thinking, as you were like, sharing this example about, like, even just a conversation about potatoes, right? This the way that enthusiasm is contagious, right. And that like, yeah, just that like, you know, like I was I grew up in Maine, I’m like, picturing the potatoes. And there’s like a whole potato season and right. And I think that just that invitation to be in relationship. And this is sort of so the for me the same thing, how my body responds, right? Like, how am I like, moving through the world experiencing these exchanges. And I think that what I heard in there is that the exchange right of the energy between the conversation, the exchange of the energy, as you’re moving your body, either with the sound in the music or outside in the the environment, that that really felt like what I heard there as the core of what nourishment means. Is thete anything you want to add there?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 23:46
Yeah, I think that we do kind of compound the value of nourishment by sharing it with each other. I think a lot of us probably could see that in a new light during the early phases of the pandemic, when we were kind of eating privately alone with food that was dropped off while we weren’t looking. And it does it changes. I mean, I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know that it changes the physiological experience of nourishment. But it definitely changes the psychological and emotional experience of of having a meal, a meal alone, even one that you prepare for yourself, you can kind of get that same compounded value from if you’re being intentional about it. But when you get to sit down or even like, you know, at work, I’m watching people eat and I’m kind of not even with them. But you can see they’re laughing they’re enjoying themselves and like the energy around the table just is expansive. And there’s a lot to a lot of value in that when we don’t have time or the opportunity. Or maybe we’re far from the people that we like to you know, share meals with. It does shift kind of, it shifts from this sort of invigorating exchange to sort of just checking the boxes like Did I did I nourish this vessel today and in the ways that I’m able to?
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 25:04
I really, that last part there I heard was sort of like the transactional nature of right, like, I have to put the things in, in order to keep the body moving right, or, you know, to keep it functioning. But I’m thinking about, there’s a really lovely, you know, segment in your third class where you’re making a meal, right, and you’re sharing it with us, because you’re talking to us while you’re making it, right. But you’re also like, in your space by yourself, making it and you’re talking with us a little bit about, like, just how, you know, how you interact with food, when you’re preparing it for yourself. And I think it for me, it was such a gift to just like, consider that interaction, right. It’s also been a little while since I’ve been grocery shopping. So like, I often, like I’ll order online, and then like, you know, my partner will pick them up, and then like, my food will arrive. So not quite as like, you know, when people used to drop it off, but similar. And, you know, as watching the footage of you in that video, like, you know, purchasing food and like, interacting, and one of the things I love is you talk about walking through the store and seeing everything that’s available, like before you decide to purchase it, and I just like I just was like, Oh, I have not had that sensory experience in a little while. And I have to be honest, I don’t love shopping for food. So it maybe is not the place where I’m going to go and have that sensory experience, right? But it did remind me like, oh, that sensory stuff is really nourishing and that like, we lose something right of our fullness and our potential for joy. Right? If we’re always interacting at that transactional level, and you know, if we’re always I know that you mentioned busy and you know, for me, that’s a big one, like rest is my jam. Right? And so like making enough space to be able to experience things on that, like sensory level. I think that’s Well, I had a lot of thoughts there. Thanks for letting me get them out. I would love if you wanted to share with us an important memory that you have around nourishment. Yeah, so food was always a huge part of my life. We I was raised in the restaurant, I was here more than anywhere else. And so I think around my it was either my 11th or 12th birthday. And, you know, I wish I remembered where it started. But for some reason I got this idea, probably based around like the scavenger hunt type of concept or trick or treating. And I invited my friends over at you know, they thought they were coming to just your standard slumber party, Junior High ice cream sundaes, and a movie, something like that. But once they arrived, they found out that we were actually going around the neighborhood to collect canned food. And so we went out and I think a couple teams in different directions, and each went to probably a dozen door fronts, and collected cans, cans of food. And the and then we proceeded with the standard birthday traditions, you know, sundaes and a movie and a sleep over where no one sleeps, and that kind of fun stuff. But then in the morning, we got everybody piled into the minivan, and we drove those cans of food, you know, a good a good sized box or two, over to our local homeless shelter. And that was something that, you know, clearly that was not something anyone talked me into. It was my birthday, it was my desire, that was what I wanted to do. And I didn’t have the relationship that I have now with the local homeless shelter. I mean, obviously, I put a lot of work into connecting with that community since I returned. But just that was the spark of truth within me that at that age, I wanted to make sure that other people had access to nourishment, I knew that I had the ultimate access to food. And then I was aware that not everyone did. And so even if my peers kind of didn’t really understand what that party was all about, I think of it often because it was it came from within me it was a part of just who I am. And that that part is strong still today, you know, I come across people and I figure out what what way I can be a part of a good thing in there day that day. And we continue to do that type of sort of pay it forward process here at the cafe, we have very generous customers. And we have meals basically pre purchased. So if homeless folks in the community, or you know, someone forgets their wallet, you know, you just never know really what a person’s circumstances are locked out of the house but they’re hungry. So folks kind of know that if they come in and they’re not able to purchase their meal that that’s going to be taken care of, they probably don’t always know that it’s actually already been taken care of. And so it’s really need to be able to continue that and and make sure that the the quality of nourishment that we provide our patrons is extended to our neighbors regardless of their means. I love the through line there right of nourishment again and being something that is better when shared, right. And, you know, this took me back to a memory of like canvassing a neighborhood when I was in high school, right. And like, you know, I was like, Oh, I remember this, like going and asking for people for things. I was trying to remember the context of like, for canned goods, I’m sure it was like one of our service projects, or, you know, but I think it’s really it speaks to how nourishment is a core value for you that like, this is what you wanted to do for your birthday. And this is what you wanted to share with your friends, right? Like this is a, and I, I love that this is a gift that goes in multiple directions, right? Because you get to share nourishment with folks who you know, and literally are able to take this out into your community, but I’m also imagining the gift that you give to the other folks that show up, right, that maybe this isn’t in their awareness, right. And so like, just also the way that people, especially I’m thinking of myself about like in that like high school age, right. And I know this was a little bit earlier, but just that idea around the way that people around us are opening up our minds, right, and are giving us sort of little gems of like, the way that we interact with the world as we, you know, continue to grow up. So it’s really, it’s like heartwarming for me to like picture, like everyone sort of coming over to do a thing. And I love that, you know, you name like, and we still did birthday stuff, right? It wasn’t like, Oh, we did this in lieu of that. And you know, and it’s a sweet image for me to imagine the old like piling into the minivan, and then going to drop this stuff off. I’m also thinking about, you know, both these, these words that you’ve used around radical hospitality and sacred commerce, and how that comes together in this place where like, people are able to be nourished in your restaurant, regardless of their means, and that people are so generous, not just you and your family, which are, you know, clearly I can feel the generosity of, but that also the way that that exchange with your customers then causes them to also, you know, become more generous and to to care for, you know, other folks in your community. I think that’s really, I think that’s spectacular. And part of me also when there’s a cause that I think that only happens in a small town, and maybe I like I like to think that it happens in other ways, like in, you know, in other species, but I can imagine the particular dynamic of it being really special in a small space, small towns, I guess, maybe your space may be large, but the town is small.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 32:38
Yeah, I think that small communities have the opportunity to harness creative wins, that, you know, you kind of get kind of bogged down with logistics, the bigger the bigger the town, the bigger the circumstance, the way it had unfolded here at the cafe was the one of the local high schools did a relay fund a relay fundraiser, the track team, it was like a 24 hour, they were running for 24 hours. That’s not my thing. But they were doing it to raise money for what’s called the homeless student fund. And it was not on my radar. Even though as a kid homelessness and nourishment was on my radar. It was I was well into adulthood before I thought about what it would have been like to be homeless as a child, as a student, especially considering there were not a lot of safe spaces for me, and hiding in my room in my parents home was one of those few spaces that did feel safe. And so when the track team did that relay, that weekend, this was maybe five years ago, we talked to our servers, and we all decided that we would donate our coins because you know, servers make tips, at least in the US servers make tips. And you at the end of your week, you spent a bunch of time counting your coins up and exchanging that. And so though we’re not maybe at the socio economic level to be like sustaining donors for something, you know, like, you know, public radio or something, something you know, to match our values, being able to dump all our coins in a jar at the end of the week, instead of spending time role counting and rolling them which I do enjoy. That meant that we could be playing a part even though we kind of you know, it’s maybe it’s small so we we started there and we do we call the jar small change for big and probably over the last five years, we put somewhere between six and $10,000 back into this community. So it’s the coins from the servers if they want to donate those but when I finish a transaction with our with our patrons I offer would you like me to put your coins in the jar for the outreach ministry or something along those lines and so there’s again another opportunity to kind of engage with them and and kind of open up this conversation on on access and values and nourishment and it really is an interesting opportunity to see kind of what what they hear in that offer and kind of where they go with it.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 34:57
I think the first thing I want to pull out of that is, you know, the way our understanding of intersecting identities really takes a while to evolve, right? That like folks being unhoused, and like having access to resources was in your mind for, you know, even as a child, right. But that that hadn’t extended, you know, to like, what if I was a child, right, and that it took some time into your adulthood to see that. And I think that that’s really just important to name right. Because I know, personally, like, it still takes me a while to peel back the full layers of like, oh, this is what it looks like, with multiple marginalized identities or this is right. And so I also just really love the way that like, you have this awareness as a youth and then that young people came in and like, that I just confluence means a lot to me. I like synchronicity. So that really is like a beautiful idea to me that like that there’s this spark in you that then gets, you know, further ignited by the spark of other young people like bringing it together. And also, like, you know, I’m having memories of my own, like, of rolling coin, right, and of being someone who worked for tips, right. And yeah, and I think that when I think about, you know, my own time, as you know, a server that like that those were not days where I was especially well paid, right? Like, even if people were generous, right, it’s some of it is just the percentage on like, what you’re selling right is only so high. And so I’m just thinking about, like, really what generosity, that is to have your servers, you know, put that back into feeding more folks in your space. And that really feels. Again, I think it takes me back to this idea of sacred commerce, and knowing that you’re taking care of them within your community. And so they have that fullness of spirit, you know, to be able to give some of that back in return, not just in their interactions with customers, but then also in literally making sure that those customers are able to afford their meals. And I love this like language of like, with customers, hey, do you want to donate your coins to our outreach ministry? Because I do, I think it is such a spiritual service, to recognize that there are people who have needs that are different from our own in whatever direction, right, and to center them in being able to be of service in whatever way that we already have skills. Right. Yeah. Other thoughts you want to add there before I move to a new question?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 37:42
The jar has just been such a blessing, you know, and being able to keep it kind of direct. And not we’re not, you know, we’re not, it’s not a 501c3, it’s, there’s no board determining what action to take next. But if someone walks through my doors, and they, you know, that you can tell, sometimes you need a new pair of shoes, or, you know, maybe their, their animal was their service animal or their companion animal was injured. And if you’re living outside, that’s like your main source of nourishment is that relationship between you and your animal. And so we’ve been able to do some really creative act, we’ve been able to take action, you know, in creative ways to meet needs. Across the board, we’ve, we purchased a bunch of Spanish language, grief books are age appropriate children for the local hospice agency, their library didn’t have any materials in Spanish. And so as as we learn about things, we get to kind of say, like, well, what role can we play in this, and a lot of times, when you’re kind of locked into a niche, like I run a cafe, you think you know, your role, and you just kind of recreate that same role over and over again. And having this jar and being able to engage with our customers this way, has sort of opened that role up. And, you know, during the course of the the early phases of the pandemic, when this is a mostly senior population. So most of our community volunteers were sheltering in place along with mom, we sent her home. And so there’s a local meal that is long standing, that is two times a week, and it’s complimentary to the community. And mostly it’s unhoused folks and folks who maybe need the need the nutritional support, but folks also go just to socialize. Well, they, they paused those meals, right in March of 2020. And so we caught wind of that. And we kind of did some quick brainstorming and looked at what what we had and of course, our sales had dramatically dropped and it was just my brother and I here and trying to keep ourselves sane and occupied and and so we decided, you know, with the money that was already in the jar to go ahead and host those first couple of meals. And as soon as we made that decision, folks were calling the cafe and saying you know I’m saving three or $400 a month not driving to work, I want to put that towards next month’s meals. We, I mean, we didn’t have to put ourselves out, we didn’t have any surplus at that time, really, because we weren’t making any money. And so those meals were completely paid for by the community really, without even having to ask, when people find out what you’re doing. And this happens to me a lot with a youth group or, you know, someone will come into the cafe and say, you know, I grew up here in the 80s. And I’m LGBTQ, and, you know, here’s 200 bucks for your youth group. And that type of stuff happens, I think more in small towns, because there’s no question of who, you know, they don’t have to kind of go to a big center and say, What do I do I want to make a donation, they will say, Oh, you need to go meet Ty, he’s doing this and that and, and give, you know, put your money where you can get to work right away.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 40:54
There is so much in there that really like just made me feel joy, that I’m trying to backtrack to what felt like most like, I want to highlight. One, thank you for telling me more about where this small change for big goes. Because I was really imagining it as like meals in the cafe. And so it’s really lovely to see the extent to which it moves out into your community. And, you know, I’m thinking about, like, you saying that is raised like 6000 to $10,000 over this period of time. And that really goes places, right? Like that can actually, like I was thinking about you saying like, Oh, it gets someone shoes, it gets someone, right. Those are like, they’re large expenses when you don’t have the funds. But in terms of like what you can generate for expenses, like they you know what I mean, it’s I love this idea that it is, like smaller things that people really need in their day to day life to yeah, to support and sustain them. And that food is one of those things, right. But that I think what I felt in that was that being seen and witnessed is actually even bigger, right? And is it is often then we get the nourishment we need. And it’s not necessarily food, which I thought was really just powerful for me to like, I have a really like, vivid sense of what’s happening. Like, as you’re describing these exchanges, I can see. And I really want to highlight what you said here about, you know, making the commitment to continue this meal. And, and being in a place of like, we don’t actually have a lot of surplus, but like we’re here and we’re we need to do something to be in relationship, right? And hearing that, then people really were like, Oh, I can help with that. And maybe it’s not the same people that can come and serve the meal, right. But then it’s people like, oh, I have, like you said this extra money from not having to do this thing I usually do. And so here it is. And I think that that’s really, it is really spectacular. I do think that I can imagine how that is, in some ways a feature of a small town because it is people it’s like there’s a visibility that’s happening, right. Whereas I think in you know, a larger city, it’s often there are so many things that it’s hard that I don’t know that I know people to the extent that you do, right, like I and I am thinking about why that is, right. Like it’s really giving me a lot of food for thought. And some of it is also just that, like the sheer volume of people to interact with is much higher. But some of it is also like, oh, there is a place, there is something about being in a place, right? Where people come in and out that you get to have those ongoing interactions with. And I’m just thinking a little bit about that as well just for myself, like in this sort of pandemic times, right that I came to work at home. And then I also chose to leave my career and you know, shift what I’m doing right. And so I had not until really this moment realized like, oh, this project that we’ve been doing together really has bring it been bringing me that nourishment and like getting to have these podcast conversations. But it is wonder it’s making me think about like, oh, how do I extend that reach? So thank you for that because it was a it really was a gift for me to sit with that. I’m wondering if you want to say anything, I mean, I hear that there’s a lot of things that are nourishing you in your day to day life in this actual like, restaurant space interaction. But I’m wondering if you want to say anything else about what nourishment looks like for you in your day to day life and perhaps also how that shifted over time.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 44:43
Absolutely. So having kind of been socialized to give you know and cater. Turning that care back around to myself was not second nature. And for me, one of the kind of one of the ways that I kind of wound my way back around to self care was through direct outreach. So I had a good friend who was who’s no longer living, and she went by DaVinci Rembrandt, and she was living outside here in town. And it came to be that where she lived was where I parked, and what I felt, so I came to feel so much safer parking there, knowing that she was there. And not everybody maybe would have wrapped it up for themselves that way, but we struck it off, you know, we struck up a conversation or a friendship that evolved into a friendship. And there was just something very comforting about knowing that, you know, where I was leaving my car. There she was, you know, and I think that maybe maybe she felt a similar sort of increase in safety knowing that because when I pulled in, then her space was kind of behind that. And so there was sort of a symbiotic balance to her occupying this space and me occupying that space. And, and we got into kind of a pattern together. And I realized that mostly through her encouragement, because I’m always going to check in with people, that’s just how I that’s how I am. So you know, I see you, I’m like, have you eaten today? You know, and, and so she would turn that right back around to me, you know, and be like, Well, what did you eat today? Have you eaten today? And, and often? My answer was no, whether or not she had eaten, I, you know, it was like, Oh, you’re right. Okay, I’m gonna go inside, I’m gonna make myself, you know, I pretty much survive on salmon patties, it’s a really quick, like protein source, I don’t have to do much to it. And so I just, you know, put up a couple of salmon patties on the little, you know, foreman grill or whatever, and, you know, collect a few snacks and go back outside. I do better if I eat my meals, at least a meal or two, you know, every other day outside. And so I would get back outside, she was she would, she loved the salmon, we both like salmon. And so we would both get to eat. And sometimes we would just sort of, you know, our, we would take our food in different directions. And sometimes we would sit and eat together. But it was that reflection back. Like, she’s so obviously she knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep offering food to someone else unless I was nourishing myself. I didn’t I mean, I knew that on some level. But that wasn’t what I was paying attention to. I was paying attention to her and kind of reading you know, the the signs of if she was on if this is an up day or a down day, or kind of where things are going. You know, in, in community organizing, and I’m sure it’s small and large towns the same. There’s so much misinformation, if you’ve never experienced life without a home a home base, you don’t really know what that’s like, I feel like I’ve been blessed to stay happy to stay housed for a long time. But I do remember what it was like to not know where to be in the daytime, because you’re not supposed to be anywhere. And, you know, it’s all all of the struggles that go along with. And besides just not having somewhere to sleep, it’s a lot of pressure to keep moving and always checking, you know, over your shoulder and stuff. And so by kind of creating this pattern together, she and I really were able to support each other where we’re at, you know, her her life, nothing about my life really changed significantly changed her life. And I mean, she didn’t I think she had maybe more impact on my life than I did on hers. Because it really even still, and this it’s been I think two years now since she since she died. I still think I still hear her voice and like, oh, like you can’t really keep going unless you back up a little bit. And make sure that like did you have an apple this morning? Like, where you know when is when is your next meal? Like, where’s your water bottle like those type of things. When you’re walking, you know, she would walk miles a day she would I would see her down in Sacramento which is 50 miles away, walking back up, you know the way and you have to make a plan for that even if you have minimal resources, you have to make a plan. So you get to knowing, oh, this is where that hose isn’t turned off. I can take a shower over there when no one’s watching or, you know, this is where I can I can pop in and they’ll they’ll fill up my water bottle or, you know, this business will let me plug my phone in or something like that. There’s a lot of strategy, creative strategizing that goes into living through that type of experience. And so I really got a lot of wisdom from DaVinci and her adaptability and her tenacity. I miss her a lot. She was a good friend to me.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 49:48
I’m just sitting with the feeling of her for a minute. Yeah, I really appreciate the language of I she had more impact on my life than I had on hers. Because what I heard you describe there is an experience that I’ve never had. Right. And so you were able to give me a really good sense of, it takes a lot of planning, like this language about like, creative strategizing, right, in order to get your needs met was really helpful for me to like, you know, I think I’m ignorant of many experiences that I haven’t had. And so when you can give someone a fuller picture of what someone’s life looked like, looks like that’s a it’s a real gift to me, I guess I’m gonna keep using that, because I think that like gift really like nourishment, for me really is like giving and receiving of gifts. But so you know, I have a fuller sense of her life, right. And having that sense of the extent of the things that she needed to do to sustain herself, I think it is tremendous, that she still had the gift, you know, to give you to be of service to encourage you to nourish herself, and to reflect back to you in how much effort it took for her to do the things for herself, that you needed to do that to care for yourself as well, in order to have anything to give. That was a true that was really like a rich imagining for me, I was able to really get there and see that exchange. And, you know, I appreciated especially this moment where you said sometimes we took our food in different directions, right? That sometimes friendship is not about being Yeah, in each other space, right. It’s more about being seen and having the fact that you have needs recognized, and then you know, having a variety of ways to like meet those needs. Right, then it might be really being a deep conversation, but it also might be more spacious. Thank you for the gift of sharing DaVinci Rembrandt with us and I can feel how dear she is in your heart and I appreciate that. I just need another second I think to sit with her. Could we
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 52:29
If I may, she would always people always think that, you know, I do homeless advocacy. People who don’t think of all the things I must get asked for and they’re way off base. You know, like even like you I usually noticed like Dude, do you want new shoes because those those aren’t really what they used to be you know, rarely does someone say will you buy me shoes. It’s such a blessing when someone can get to that point where they actually know what they need and are willing to articulate that and so the types of things that she would ask me for were like a bucket a broom, you know that I think those were like the two things she ever really she liked a good burger, you know, but she would always offer to pay me and diamonds and I whether or not she had diamonds is irrelevant. But I don’t like diamonds I like just I’m very simple like I’d just saying yeah, I’m not really into diamonds you keep your diamonds and so we have that conversation a number of times where she would offer to compensate me with diamonds but I think that for me those you know the the diamond is a result of pressure and that she was the diamond she felt the pressure and that these you know, fleeting moments of eye contact or you know lucidity those for me I still I cherish those those were the diamonds. Absolutely.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 53:54
Thank you for adding that because the the diamond piece really is illuminating, right that like really she was giving you diamonds like Yeah. Yeah. We’re just gonna breathe with her for another moment. I’m not quite ready to move on to a question. So I’m just gonna take a second. All right. I’m gonna change topics if you feeling ready for that.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 54:28
Yeah. Thank you.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 54:30
So I’m wondering what you might recommend to someone who is maybe newer to considering nourishment, right or maybe has really thought of nourishment in very particular or like rigid ways. How might you invite them to engage in that in a different way?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 54:50
I think you know, MP I think that’s a really great question. And even for someone who’s been like in the trenches really evolved and really gone made great strides in their relationship with their own nourishment. I think that the answer for both both folks is the same and not like, I’m hearing my older sibling, they had said something a few months ago working on some art that like, we are all just big five year olds, you know, and we’re all just we’re whether you’re in a meeting with a bunch of adults, or whatever you’re doing, that’s really the table is really just a bunch of five year olds in big bodies. And, and so when we think about our own nourishment, I think that taking, you know, kind of peeling back the layers to that little five year old, or, you know, like, how would I coordinate tomorrow for Ty if Ty was a five year old that I was in charge of, you know, by all means, that kid would have all the healthy snacks and all the mental activities and all the social opportunities and everything that was available to them, because who’s not going to prioritize a beautiful little vibrant five year old. And so somewhere inside of all of us, there’s a probably a handful of five year olds, you know, a few that are getting their needs met, and a few that aren’t, and maybe a couple that, you know, just are in between and trying to figure things out. But I think focusing on that, that wisdom that I got from my sibling of that we aren’t really all just five year olds, and we’re all trying to get our needs met, and we’re all trying to figure things out. And so if, if you’re new on your journey in nourishment, and you’re trying to kind of see there’s so much material available, you know, and that it alone in and of itself can be overwhelming and kind of a deterrent. But just kind of blind blinding ourselves to all of the resources available. And, and really trying to get in touch with that five year old and it might be different for you. In Deaf culture, and in sign language, there’s this sign, and it’s like a hand at the belly. And it’s kind of like referring to your core, your essence, your deepest truth. And it’s this gut feeling. And so for me, I think my five year old is right there in the middle of my belly, you know, and they maybe are getting what they want with like a five year old would you know, and so if we can engage with that in our five year old and, and kind of have some dialogue, and maybe I mean, play it up, might as well just jump right into the role and talk to yourself, like you’re a five year old? And what kind of language would entice you to try broccoli for the first time or to, you know, to do that, that tactile loop around the grocery in the produce aisle before you make some choices? And, you know, I think that that type of relationship with ourselves really is an invitation to you. It’s it’s twofold, because you have you were a five year old once. And so somewhere in there, that five year old has an opportunity to sort of rewire things that maybe went awry. And then also you get to kind of move forward with that little guy and say, hey, well, where do you want to go? Like, what’s it gonna look like? How will you know that you’re growing up? How will you know that you’re taking care of yourself? I think that that’s a beautiful place to start. And if that’s something that that folks, you know, take take me up on, I would love to hear like what that experience is like for people.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 58:18
What a lovely invitation. I have a two year old. And so I do also often think about this and, and five year old, I think is a very relatable time, right? Because this is like, at least for many of us the first time we like consistently left the house to go somewhere away from the house for a long time, right? Like school is a very different environment than like being in a daycare center where there’s like people, right, like the so anyway, for me, I’m thinking about being five and being someone who’s like going away to school and like what kind of things do you need, right? Someone helps you pack your lunch, like you take a snack, right? You probably take a change of clothes, because who knows what’s gonna happen while you’re away? Right? Are these things that like, people, you know, many of us maybe had this experience, I won’t say all of us because I know that there were some of the five year olds in me also don’t have their needs met, right. But I think picking the way that I would want, like my vision and my dream for how a five year old would feel most held and protected. Right. The other thing that I think about with this image that I think it makes it so useful as like an actionable skill, right? Is that whether I’m thinking about my two year old are we thinking about a five year old there’s only so much information that they are like wired to process yet right their brains are still forming and they’re taking in a lot of information and so for me like making something like you know, child processable like child size in that sense. Helps me also think about like okay, like I tend to be somebody wants to like dive right and I want to know everything about right I’m gonna buy 15 books and then I’m going to also put a few hold. You know, I want to like check out everything So this idea of like, I wouldn’t overwhelm my child in that way, right? Like I know, what would have there would be like a meltdown of information, right? So I think it’s a really lovely invitation to think about what the five year old in you needs to be the most thriving person. And you did also like, name there are right this rewiring, right. And I think this is a really beautiful invitation. If your childhood was not nourishing in this way, to be able to go back and reparent and hold yourself, and, you know, get some needs met there as well. And I hope maybe folks will leave us some comments, you know, in the podcasts on our YouTube channel, about, you know, what happens for them if they try this. And I think it’s a really rich invitation that I’m going to take for it as well, because I’m also really deep right, right now, specifically, into the launch of our product in the next couple of like, you know, right. And so for me, that often tends towards like, overwork. And I forget to like, you know, we were talking right before we got on the call about how I had sort of a technological meltdown. And I was like, okay, like, I’m just gonna walk away, and I, you know, I took a walk, and I took a shower, and I practiced yoga nidra. And I really like, I stepped very deeply into the things that I like value in order to sort of move forward. And I’m thinking about how much like, kids need my kid, like, if they haven’t gone outside yet today? It’s like an itchy feeling. Right? And we all get it. So, yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 1:01:31
And, you know, MP, I was a very serious child. And so the rigidity and sort of like logic that adults tend to get weighed down by, I had that as a kid. And so I really had to start pretty young, like, unlearning my, my natural structured self, so that I could have a second, let that five year old play, and these type of exercises, whether it’s focused on nourishment, or play, that five year old has really carried me through.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 1:01:59
Yes thanks for naming the word play that’s come up for us a couple of times recently, as well, right? And just me seeing in the course of these podcast conversations, like I’m not getting enough of that, right. And I think maybe that’s because it is hard to get too much play, right. And that it is a thing I think that we are, to some extent wired to crave and just how nourishing play can be, yes. A lot of fun things in here for me to think about and take away and be like, Oh, what action do I want to you know, take with this nourish verb. So thank you for that. I am wondering, we’re getting close to my last question here. So I’m wondering if there’s anything that you want to add or share that, like we just haven’t touched on yet, if there’s anything that’s coming up that you’re like, Oh, I want to make sure people know that.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 1:02:56
I don’t know, this is such a wonderful experience, you know, to be invited to kind of take a closer look at what nourishment means to me, and how nourishing myself is manifesting in my life today. I think that a lot of the stress around the pandemic and trying to manage a business, you know, a legacy business, we’ve been open 30 years when the pandemic first hit, that my own sort of needs shifted from sort of proactive moving forward to like, self soothing and sustaining. And I think that we we have this wonderful life experience of taste and touch and, and, and everything about food can be soothing, if we let it. And so there is a there is definitely some play in that and whether or not you know, we’re sort of structuring our nourishment around best practices or something like that, versus just like, you know, where am I at today? And like, what does my body want? What does what do my taste buds want? What does my stomach say about yesterday, and, you know, all of that stuff is, is just as valuable as any kind of, you know, research based, you know, strategies for the living the healthiest life and, and so I think that for me over the last couple of years, thankfully, I get to feed other people, you know, even if it was just boxed up for them to take home for later. And that, that game of getting to sort of entertain their dreams about their nourishment and like meet those needs, gives me some room to play with my own, you know, nourishment and how I feed myself and, you know, being able to kind of accept the fact that we couldn’t go out into the world that we could have, you know, like, you know, we’re not we were saving so much money on commuting. We could buy the good ice cream, you know, and And I’m like, this is gonna do for now, because this is what we have available to us and, you know, celebrating and kind of sharing, even, you know, digitally like, you know, the family was having sort of family gatherings on on Zoom or whatever. And we would talk about, well, what are you guys eating for dinner, because normally, we moved together eating dinner. And it was just a really nice way to kind of calm the stress of the pandemic. And just remember that like, either way, we’re going to find ways to feel good. And one of those ways is playing around in the kitchen, trying new things, you know, figuring out kind of how much we can get out of one serving or something, you know, because we’re trying to reduce trips to the store. And there was a lot of room for play in nourishment over the last couple of years. And I look forward to kind of keeping that with me as I move, you know, move forward.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 1:05:54
I love this idea that something golden has come out of right, this, like learning to live through this, like challenging time. And that play and nourishment is the thing you’re going to carry forward. Thank you for that. I’m also thinking that the way that you were describing that is a really a beautiful bridge into my last question, which is, what’s your vision for a Radikal Life?
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 1:06:29
I am a product of a radikal vision for life, my grandparents, my mom her siblings. We are a radikal family. You know, and we are, I was sort of encouraged to take up space, which is radikal. And so as I moved through the world, you know, if I need to stretch in the middle of a meeting, I get up and stretch, or if you know, if I’m headed to a class, and the right thing for me is to be on the ground during that class, just to let you guys know, I’m gonna be sitting over here, I’m gonna be on the ground. And so however, I need to take up space, I feel empowered to do so at this point. And you know, you will have fleeting moments throughout life where we’re like, ooh, I don’t, I can’t actually take up space. But I try to get back to that as quickly as possible that actually the space I’m in benefits from me taking it up. And I’m not serving myself, and I’m not serving anyone, I’m not serving the universe by minimizing the space that I take up. And so whether that’s in my own home kitchen, at the grocery store, or out at a meal, you know, taking up space, having that dialogue, figuring out, you know, if, if I have specific needs, you know, I’m looking, I’m looking at what’s available, like, how can we get to the point where I’m gonna get what I need? And it’s happened, not being afraid of that communication. You know, there are times we’re asking, you know, is, is the soup made with a vegetable broth, you know, and it’s like, do you want to bother to ask like? I don’t eat meat. Well, yeah, I want to see I want soup, though, you know, so I kind of need to know, and so being comfortable enough to be able to take up that space and have those conversations and even if it’s a no, you know, the server learns something like, oh, like, you mean, you don’t have to use a chicken broth to make soup. And we all kind of get to just sit in the awkwardness of it. And that’s just as valuable as being able to quickly go in and get exactly what you want with no kind of, you know, no kind of compromise or deliberation. And so I think that taking up that space, and being as much myself as possible, is is my Radikal Life.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 1:08:39
Absolutely beautiful. I think even admitting to having needs right is radikal, but then believing that you like, it’s okay to take up the space and figure out how to get them met. Yes, yes. Yes. And I love the idea, right of your family just being radikal seeds, right, that are you know, yes. Thank you so much for spending this time with me. It really has been joyful for me. And so thank you for that.
Tyx Xyt Abel (he/him) 1:09:11
Thank you. This was a pleasure. And I’m excited about this project, and I look forward to hearing more from the other presenters.
Marina Patrice Vare (they/them/MP) 1:09:20
Thank you for joining us, head over to our website at Radikal dot Life to sign up for your free Radikal Life Starter Kit. Our website is R A D I K A L dot L I F E. The Radikal Life podcast is produced by me Marina Patrice Vare and edited by Cassidy Vare. Our theme music was created by Mark MeeZy. Radikal Life is a co-creation with Manjot Singh Khalsa and Radikal Healing. Connect with us on social media Radikal with a K. We’re on Instagram at Radikal underscore Life underscore 22 and Facebook at Radikal Life.