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Katy Byrne
What's Up With That?
Katy Byrne

People problems

It’s 2020. What’s on our minds? Inside most of us there’s a conversation about relationships. Belonging can affect our immune systems, our hearts, and our wellbeing. There’s research about how important relating is for both humans and animals. We know connection is important and that it’s part of the inner scaffolding holding us up. But some relationships are like an itchy sweater. You just can’t get comfortable with them, so you put them in a drawer. This shunning or tendency to turn away from each other sometimes happens because we’re afraid of their traits or we don’t understand them. Other people’s views or abrasive habits can be perplexing or triggering. Our judgements can come from a natural instinct to survive. But, we also have to be careful not to miss who the person really is. This week I asked an acquaintance if I misunderstood a text that went between us. It hurt my feelings and I wanted to understand what it meant. It was scary to ask. But, it turned out she hadn’t intended to write it in a negative way. I was lucky that time! The conversation was easier than I feared. I was relieved but it struck me that I had carried that emotional hairball of beliefs around with me for three weeks! Putting up walls is bad for us and our community. It tears a hole in the fabric of our world and creates a disturbed connection, like a frayed garment.   Fight or flight is an instinct. So, when we feel rejected or unsafe, we withdraw or attack. “We all know what happens when we feel humiliated – we put all our energy into protecting ourselves, developing whatever survival strategies we can. We may repress our feelings; we may get furious and plot revenge. We may decide to become so powerful and successful that nobody can ever hurt us again.” (Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score.) But, when we shun each other we build fewer bridges.  Turning away from others or not talking about mixed feelings in relationships often means we lack the courage to face conflict. It’s not easy. Being brave enough to talk to each other about difficulties or to stop criticizing differences is important. (Sometimes I get this image of a globe that looks like a big round ball filled with stuck hairballs, with a huge sign saying: “I don’t like you and I don’t want to talk about it.”)  This has to change and it’s up to each one of us. Oh, I know that some relationships are just too abusive, challenging, or draining. So, we have to discern, not judge others, but make choices everyday about who or what we want to engage with or imbibe. And sometimes we have to let go of connections because they aren’t a great match for our interests or our energy levels. Still, as this important New Year starts, I encourage everyone to communicate more and give a little bit of slack to the folks who are simply different. Keep learning to stay calm as a cat and love the one we’re with.  
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Stories of interest from around the Web
PG&E will get to write off that $475 million in fire settlement money
> Forbes - January 24th, 2020
In the early 1800’s, they added lead to wine. Is that what killed Beethoven?
> Wine Spectator - January 23rd, 2020
Sen. Dodd wants new law to address PG&E’s ‘miserable’ power shut-off policy
> Se. Bill Dodd - January 17th, 2020
New York City outraged over mayor’s over improper bagel etiquette 
> New York Post - January 15th, 2020
The time-honored tradition of dodging the draft
> The Conversation - January 14th, 2020
How to support groups in Australia rescuing and treating fire-victim animals

> HALTER - January 10th, 2020
West County assault suspect can’t outrun K-9 cop
> Sonoma County Sheriff Dept. - January 3rd, 2020
2019 was a great year… to be filthy rich
> Fast Company - January 1st, 2020
Comedian Will Durst, a Sebastiani Theatre favorite, is recovering from a stroke
> Bohemian - December 31st, 2019
How to catch the first major meteor shower of 2020
> Smithsonian - December 30th, 2019
The iPhone 4 and the other 99 best gadgets of the decade
> The Verge - December 22nd, 2019
Jerry Brown shut down the state’s redevelopment agency system in 2011. The Legislature wants to bring it back. 
> Capital & Main - December 21st, 2019
A year ago, Whole Foods predicted the food trends of 2019. How’d they do? 
> Whole Foods - December 20th, 2019
He died without sharing access to $137 million. Now creditors want to exhume his body to make sure. 
> Wired - December 19th, 2019
What scientists are learning from a 5,700-year-old piece of chewing gum
> Smithsonian - December 17th, 2019
The coming coffee apocalypse 
> Modern Farmer - December 16th, 2019
Why astronomers can’t quite agree on what it means to be a planet
> The Conversation - December 16th, 2019
Jane Fonda rolls out ‘protest couture’ fashion line
> Journal of Unintended Consequences - December 14th, 2019
Hey bicyclists: what’s the most dangerous place to ride
> Streetstory - December 4th, 2019
The push for ‘grown in Sonoma’ cannabis branding 
> Bohemian - December 3rd, 2019
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