With 2017 ready to make way for 2018, members of the community are reflecting on what they hope to achieve in the new year.
“My biggest resolution is to be mindful of every moment,” said Sandy Layman, the development and marketing coordinator for The Arc of Greater Williamsburg and an instructor at Studio South yoga studio. “I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.”
It’s a goal that seems so simple, yet so often takes a backseat to responsibilities and distractions, such as the abundance of technology.
The coming year means big changes for Layman’s family. Her son, Cole, left for college in 2016, and her daughter, Logan, plans to do the same in 2018. That means an empty nest for Layman and her husband, Doug.
It’s a bittersweet moment, with all the joy that accompanies someone young and bright leaving for a new adventure and the sadness that comes with having to say goodbye. But Layman said it’s also an opportunity for her and her husband to reflect on themselves and their marriage. Together, they also intend to enjoy plenty of “steel therapy” on their Harley Davidson motorcycles.
“You’re very present when you’re on a motorcycle,” she said. “It really heightens all of your senses.”
Layman starts each day with a moment of meditation, grateful for the opportunity to experience whatever the day to come might hold. She also hosts meditative drumming circles on Tuesday evenings at Studio South to help others find a similar contemplative mindset.
“We’re in this fast-paced, quickened lifestyle. We don’t take time to breathe anymore,” she said. “People are finding out how good that feels.”
Layman has clinical depression and laments the taboo surrounding it. But she also tries to harness it to find a deeper appreciation for life. Without the darkness, the light would lose its impact, she says.
“When I feel the darkness coming, I love even more,” Layman said. “There’s beauty in every situation.”
Layman uses music and yoga as her main form of medicine. In the past, she was taking six depression medications each morning; now, she takes one.
She finds motivation in her yoga classes and her work at The Arc, which serves adults with developmental disabilities. There, she hopes to continue expanding the curriculum for clients. Reading is one of Layman’s favorite activities and she’s working to expand The Arc literacy program so clients might find the same joy in reading.
“I think people should always resolve to do something not just for themselves, but for the community,” Layman said. “Really, my resolution is just to continue on the awesome path that I’ve started on.”
Elizabeth Greaf’s paintings of Colonial Williamsburg and New York landscapes adorn the walls of the Williamsburg Art Gallery, where she also volunteers. She aims to use 2018 as an opportunity to focus more on her passion, and she hopes others in the community follow suit.
“Things get out of control,” Greaf said. “Williamsburg gives you so many opportunities.”
She plans to travel to Greece, where its beautiful scenery might harbor inspiration. Her time volunteering at the gallery also helps keep her mind active.
“As an artist, you can get isolated,” Greaf said. “I have these wonderful, inspirational conversations with other artists.”
Greaf also volunteers at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church and works with Daughters of the American Revolution; she recently helped organize a citizenship ceremony at Colonial Williamsburg. Much like those individuals strove to become Americans, Greaf wants people to persevere in pursuit of something they love.
“Look for the thing that you talk about, that matters to you, that you’re pushing aside. Make sure you get that thing that excites you into your life,” she said. “Engage yourself with something. Study. Really push yourself to do it well.”
A different take
Kendra Law, manager of Quirks gift shop on Prince George Street, offered a different take on the idea of New Year’s resolutions.
“I’m the worst with New Year’s resolutions,” she said, adding that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
After all, Jan. 1 is just another date on the calendar. Any time of year can be the right time to make a change.
As people recover from the hectic holiday season, Law just wants to continue her efforts to enjoy life.
“I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “I just try to have a positive attitude.”
Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.