What's Up With That? ~ Katy Byrne

Katy Byrne Katy Byrne, MFT is a Psychotherapist in Sonoma, editor and animal lover. Her private practice specializes in: life transitions, couples communication, eating issues, moving forward, conflict resolution and the kitchen sink.


A sudden need for polka dots

Posted on July 1, 2022 by Katy Byrne

We’re all a little worn around the edges these days. It’s been a ride being alive in these unfathomable times, but it’s made me jump up and down with glee lately to see some of you and chat. Hello Sonoma! 

I wonder if you feel a bit like me – with a need for relief from the pummeling of politics, pandemic, news, and personal issues. I believe we have to keep defending justice and liberty, climate change, etc. Dahlia Lithwick wrote about our wearying condition, of “being ripped apart, heartsick and furious, stabilized to the point of near-sanity, before launching back into the fight, shattered but still awake and still committed.” 

Sometimes we just need to revive, inhale! She adds, “This is just what life is now. We take care of one another and ourselves to go on to do the work. We can bike, read, plant our gardens, organize, vote, march, donate, and be kind. We can call it ‘pain’ or ‘politics’ or ‘self-care,’ or tzebrokhnkayt. But the fact remains that the future depends on this ‘infinite succession of presents.’ Finding ways to marry the brokenness to the work is a part of the work itself.” 

Courage is required in order to create a safer world, but I also needed a break from reminders of destruction and death. It was “enough,” as Steve Kerr said. To be honest, I was overcome with an overwhelming urge to shop for clothes with polka dots on them, very large polka dots. I was hungry for joy. This decade has been demoralizing, agonizing to hear how a shooter in Uvalde slipped into a fourth-grade classroom and fired more than one hundred rounds.

It’s been too much, a world muffled with masks, housing crises, and increased hatred everywhere. And if you’re aging, there’s an inevitable end in sight, sort of like waiting for a knock on the door from the IRS.

Anyway, back to the polka dots. I needed to have a ball. I was sick from hearing about abortion threats, fire season, and the ugly in – sure – erection. Feeling isolated, getting slammed by the horrors in Ukraine and all around; my mother would roll over in her grave. I suppose I will too someday if freedom and liberty keep failing.

I needed to re-boot, not to avoid facing challenges, but to ping the refresh button. 

The dots freed me from feeling uptight, clamped in. I found something harmless that resembled the first lick into a luscious caramel, chocolate Oreo, and peanut butter ice cream cone. I craved a safe swim away from the unpredictability of the stock market plummeting, or the changes in social relationships. 

I wanted awe and spaciousness, innocence, giggling, fresh perspective, new ways around old problems, pickleball, trying a hula hoop, ping pong, recycling clothes back to the thrift store, dancing a jig. 

You know, Einstein came up with his theory of relativity after imagining himself riding on a streetcar traveling at the speed of light. Sometimes you have to think outside the box.

The preciousness of play revived me, resurrection from duty and despair… somewhere over the rainbow, far above taxes, terrorists, and going to the dentist. 

And while pounding my forehead over Roe Vs. Wade and hearing about more guns allowed everywhere, I am having huge hairballs that even shopping can’t quell. It’s time to march. 


Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Sonoma and the Bay Area for 35 years. She’s written two books: The Courage to Speak Up and The Power of Being Heard. Conversationswithkaty.com. 707.548.8982. 


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