Ask Me Anything: Anxiety with unvaccinated family, Buckhorn building history

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Ask Me Anything is an advice column in which you are invited to ask columnist M.L. Flagel anything. Submit your questions online at The advice offered is intended for informational purposes only. This advice is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal or other professional advice.

Q: I asked an unvaccinated family member to find a hotel when her family comes to visit us next month. I know I should stand up for my values, but I feel badly about it. What can I do to deal with this anxiety?

This is an excellent question, and I am certain that you are not alone in feeling this way. First off, I want to recognize and acknowledge your courage in standing in your beliefs, setting healthy boundaries, and doing what you believe is best for yourself and your immediate family (or whomever you share your home with). I’m guessing that was not easy to do and you likely had anxiety about even bringing up the subject.

As you know, the issue of vaccinations can be very divisive and touchy, and we never know how people will respond when we assert our needs around our own security and safety, so good for you!

Now, on to feeling badly and experiencing anxiety. First, a word about boundaries… They are SO important, and we often forget what they’re about. Here’s a helpful reminder that you can read over and over until you believe it:

What do boundaries feel like?
By Unknown

It is not my job to fix others.
It is ok if others get angry.
It is okay to say no.
It is not my job to take responsibility for others
I don’t have to anticipate the needs of others.
It is my job to make me happy.
Nobody has to agree with me.
I have a right to my own feelings.
I am enough.

I also invite you to look at your feelings (including anxiety) as visitors in your body and not body-snatchers that take over your brain and life. While feelings are real and are stored in our bodies, we can engage in practices that help them move through us instead of getting stuck there. Realizing and remembering this can make a big difference in allowing ourselves to feel and experience feelings, which is a necessary part of getting to our healthiest selves.

Those feelings exist whether we acknowledge them or not…they’ll just keep knocking at the door asking to be let in when we try to shut them out. When we acknowledge them, however, and maybe even welcome them, treat them kindly with compassion and even some love, we allow for their natural progression, and they move through us with less disturbance and stress. This is easy to say and harder to do, I know!

Practices like meditation (especially guided meditation), yoga, visualization, breathing exercises, and soothing rituals help reduce our overall stress and help us be with our difficult feelings. Additionally, non-violent (NVC or compassionate) communication practices can be extraordinarily helpful in identifying the needs that are underneath our feelings.

Any time we are emotionally triggered, it’s a clue that an existing need isn’t being met. External stimulus throws us off, feelings rise up, and through NVC practices, we can learn to identify our needs and often get them met by others or ourselves in a healthy way.

Q: How old is the building that the Buckhorn is in? What other businesses have been there?

The Buckhorn Steakhouse building is older than anyone in Winters! It was originally built as the De Vilbiss Hotel 132 years ago in 1889 by John A. De Vilbiss, who was a prominent Winters rancher.

The first floor included an office, bar, dining room, kitchen, and two business rooms. Upstairs, there were 40 sleeping room and a parlor.

The hotel survived the famous 1892 earthquake that leveled most of Winters (from which our Earthquake Festival originates). Sadly, in 1915, the hotel’s cupola was destroyed in a fire.

Mr. De Vilbiss owned the hotel for 7 years, then he sold it to Mr. Hughes who continued to run for 21 years. The building was then turned into a grocery and hardware store after Mr. Fenley then purchased it.

In the 1930’s, Mr. De Vilbiss’s son-in-law Joe “Boggs” Griffin (another locally-recognized name) acquired the building and moved his bar into it. After the repeal of prohibition, Joe ran the bar with his son Griffin and there was a Chinese (and later Italian) restaurant in the building as well!

In 1951 De Vilbiss’s great-grandson Ben Stephens took over and became a fixture at the Buckhorn Bar for 25 years until he retired in 1976. During this time, Burma and Vic Mentink operated the Dining Room (1967-1977).

In 1980, John Pickerel acquired the business, and in 1991 Melaie Bajakian-Pickerel refurbished the De Vilbiss Room, bringing back the charm and décor of the original architecture.

This information was summarized from The Buckhorn Steakhouse’s website. For photographs and more details, please visit:

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