Resolution: Looking ahead to 2017

The new year is an ample time to reflect on our lives and look ahead to what might become. Our resolutions are almost always to better ourselves, the only question to answer is: How?

Gazette reporters spoke to both residents and visitors alike about their New Year’s resolutions. Here’s what they had to say:

Lifelong wanderer

Jenny Linn Loveland described 2016 as a year of culminations.

Loveland has always been an artist, in both imagery and words, but the Williamsburg resident said she put that part of herself "on hold" during 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. This year, after 15 years of painting and nearly six years of writing, Loveland saw some of her work bear fruit.

Her writing appeared in publication: one poem, published this year in the Armed Services Arts Partnership's Veterans Chapbook, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her artwork now hangs from a wall in Williamsburg Art Gallery, where Loveland worked a recent front-desk shift, and she's even sold some pieces.

Also an art teacher, Loveland taught a seminar two years in the making. Developed by the Armed Services Arts Partnership with facility and supplies donated by James City County Parks and Recreation, the "Drawing and Visualization Seminar" allowed Loveland to share with other veterans her dual-sided passion.

"Writers will create visual imagery on a page and painters create poetry on a canvas, and that's how I was able to kind of resolve my bifurcation," she said.

Though encouraged and feeling validated by everything 2016 held, Loveland, a self-described wanderer and day-dreamer, has no plans to settle in 2017.

"Explore and wander and never let that go," she said. "To me, a trap is to start doing the same thing over and over again, and I think that's a rut."

The reward, for Loveland, lies in the process of her art, not necessarily the outcomes.

"It's good to do the homework and be open to opportunity," she said. "That's kind of what my resolution for this year is."

She'll continue exploring, certainly, but Loveland has some specific plans in mind, too.

"I've got a lot of paintings and a lot of pieces of writing, and I want to consolidate those," she said. "I want to continue that culmination."

Michael Grillo: Hopes for a house

It's been 11 years since Michael Grillo has called a house home.

"We got a one bedroom apartment. We're crammed," said the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, who shares the apartment with his wife and 9-year-old son.

That's why, in 2017, Grillo looks forward to starting the search for a house to turn into a home. He and his wife hope to start looking late winter or spring, Grillo said.

"Eleven years is probably the last time we lived in an actual house," he said. "We just would like to get out of the city and move into the suburbs."

While Grillo's children, Michael and Sarah Anne, hope for good grades in 2017, Michael as he wraps up elementary school and Sarah Anne as she continues college studies, Grillo hopes for a success unmeasured by grades at work: as a museum educator at the Van Cortlandt House Museum, a 268-year-old house in Bronx, N.Y.

"We do have a big visitorship of students that come throughout the school year. I hope to increase that even more," he said.

Grillo embodies his passion for history. Wearing a bright red coat, navy cap and kilt, he stood out, even in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg. He said it was the uniform of an officer in the recreated 42nd Black Watch, or Royal Highland Regiment.

"I have 22 different outfits," he said. "If I feel like getting dressed, I'll get dressed."

Jonah Wilder: Growing pains

Jonah Wilder, 19, seemed relieved to part ways with 2016.

Personally, the year held some family hardships, and Wilder was further discouraged by everything else happening in the world.

"It felt like the universe kind of flipped, in all fields," he said.

All things considered, Wilder said 2016 was formative. The Jamestown High School graduate moved away and started pursuing a degree at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts.

"Just being on (my) own really changed my perspective, and I think the more that I do that, and the more people that I end meeting, the better my awareness is of that," he said.

His perspective will likely continue changing this summer, when Wilder travels to Europe to begin his area of study: filmmaking.

In 2017, Wilder resolves to be healthier. Mainly, he just wants to see where life, where growing up, takes him.

"When I make films, I don't just want them to be a story. I want them to incorporate meaning and symbolism, and with that comes understanding," Wilder said. "And I think that the more I grow up, the more I'll understand."

A home of his own

Glenn Potter was born and raised in Williamsburg. He went to Lafayette High School and works as a landscaper around town.

His goal for 2017?

"I want to get my own place," 56-year-old Potter said. "I want to buy. My kids are in Tappahannock but I hope maybe if I get my own place this year they'll move out here."

Right now he has a rental in the city. His daughter is a sophomore and his son is halfway through his senior year, but he hopes that they could finish high school at Warhill High School or even Lafayette, his alma mater.

As part of his resolution, he's working on finding a better job, he said. He spends hours at the Williamsburg Regional Library filling out online applications.

After some hesitation, Potter said he's optimistic about the New Year, but he's realistic too.

"Yeah, I mean if doesn't happen this year, I'll just keep grinding until it does happen," Potter said. "I'm not going to give up on it."

Determined to get a job

Seven months ago, 37-year-old Kevin Coch lost his job.

He's been wandering the streets of Williamsburg and York County ever since then, sleeping in homeless shelters, and spending his days at local libraries reading.

But 2017 will be different, he said. He likes to read mysteries and thrillers, his favorites are Stephen King novels. His resolution for the New Year is to find a job, and not just any job. Coch wants to be a private investigator.

"It's something I've always wanted to do, to help people," Coch said. "I'm going to get a job at a grocery store and pay for my certifications and my license."

He was a grocery store manager until he lost his job in July, and he said his first goal is to get a similar job, so he can fund his studies to become a PI. He said he's already researched the certifications required; it's just a matter of obtaining them.

Coch said 2017 will "be a major change." When asked if he's optimistic about the New Year, he said "yes."

"I'm optimistic about everything in life," Coch said.

Resolutions for all, even pets

Brittney Rakestraw runs her two dogs around Waller Mill Dog Park often, and as 2017 approaches, she's thought of resolutions for herself and her four-legged companions.

"I'm pretty stereotypical," Rakestraw said. "I think my New Year's Resolution every year is go to the gym more, work out better, eat better."

Do those resolutions ever work out? She gives a non-committal "eh." Among the things she said she'd like to do better is managing food and planning meals.

She is vegetarian and takes her larger dog, Percy, out running with her. She brought both dogs to the Waller Mill Dog Park on Wednesday.

In the new year, Rakestraw hopes to take Percy on runs more often, she said, as he eagerly bounded around her, spewing energy. Her other dog is a Shar Pei-pug mix called Prada.

"I would like to be able to get Prada to roll over," Rakestraw said. "We can get him to roll over, but not her so far."

Business growth

Ron Hoover has been visiting Colonial Williamsburg with his wife for the past 40 years. After all, it's her favorite place to visit without having to get on an airplane.

"I'm looking forward to an exciting year," said the Lancaster, Pa.-native. "I'm a business investor and the enthusiasm in the industry is improving. I think we made the right selection at election time."

Hoover plans to spend 2017 spending more time with his family and continuing to grow his business.

Hoover thinks the presidential election of Donald Trump will usher in a stronger economy for America, opening up new opportunities for his business.

Hoover said he will return home with 29 other family members enjoying good food as he waits for the New Year.

Upholding a tradition

Local restaurant owner Mark Wright also wants to spend time with his family and put more smiles on the faces of the employees and customers in 2017.

The owner of the Jefferson Restaurant on Richmond Road said he wants to focus on being positive in the upcoming year.

"Everybody in town is struggling with the economy hopefully now the election is over we can all climb the ladder together," Wright said.

2017 will mark the 60th anniversary for the restaurant.

Family first

Jeannie Knotts and her father, George Godby have a simple resolution in 2017: "I just want to keep on keeping on, that's what my grandmother used to say," Knotts said.

The Milton, W.Va residents were taking in Colonial Williamsburg on Wednesday afternoon

"I want to live to see another year," Godby said.

Knotts and Godby want to continue to spend time with each other and hope to return to Colonial Williamsburg next year.

Mom on her mind

Diane Strickland spends much of her work week in New Town as a Guidestar business operations specialist.

If she has her way, she'll spend more time on the other side of the country than she has in recent years.

Strickland's goal for the new year is a simple one: "To go see my mother more."

Getting to her loved ones from Virginia isn't exactly a hop, skip, and jump away.

"She lives in San Diego, and I haven't been seeing her enough. I could you tell you other stuff like working out, but we already know I'm not going to do that," said a laughing Strickland. "I really do need to see her more."

Keep it simple

Phillip Mann prefers to look at himself holistically. Instead of labeling his goal for the next year a new year's resolution, his logic is to take the same goal into every year and address his shortcomings as they arise.

"Just trying to be a better person," he said. "I really do try to be a better person everyday."

Mann said he does not usually make complex resolutions because he understands how the dynamics of making such a promise change as the year winds on.

"I don't always make these resolutions because I know I'll break them," he said.

By keeping his goal simple, Mann thinks he can move toward it without getting discouraged midway through the year.

"I always try to be better," he said. "Then sometimes I get out of bed and fail myself, but I keep at it."

Business as usual

Mark Welch became interested in comics as a teenager. As the owner of Comic Cubicle, Welch had an immediate goal that makes perfect sense.

"I want to keep selling comic books," he said.

Making a career from comics didn't immediately look like a viable path for Welch. He saw an opportunity years ago to start his own shop, and figured it was as good a time as ever.

He was originally in the Williamsburg crossing area of the city, and has since moved to New Town, which he says occupies a place in his heart.

"I gave it a shot, and thankfully it worked out," he said.

Fourteen years in the comic book business has shown Welch that one of the keys to creating a sustaining support is the idea that you fully enjoy the service a business provides to its customers.

"You've gotta live it, and you've got to enjoy it," he said.

Team goals

In his fourth season as the William and Mary women's head basketball coach, Ed Swanson has led the Tribe to its best start in school history at 10-1.

W&M has reeled off a single-season school-record 10 consecutive wins after dropping the season opener to St. John's and will open Colonial Athletic Association play Jan. 2 at Delaware.

The slate has included instate wins over Richmond, Old Dominion and Norfolk State, and most recently a victory Wednesday over a formidable East Carolina team.

Swanson said the Tribe hasn't discussed a New Year's resolution, per say, but he figures it is simply to continue making progress.

"I've said this before," he said. "I still don't think we're hitting on all cylinders and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to continue to get better on a day-to-day basis. So that would be our New Year's resolution: just each day to get better."

Cleaning house

Standing Thursday at the gates of the College of William and Mary's Sunken Garden, Jason and Amy McLaughlin of Rochester, N.Y. watched their young children run about the green campus grounds.

Amy, a W&M graduate, said her New Year's resolution is to keep the house clean.

Initially, Jason reckoned his resolution should relate to the responsibilities of being a father and husband. Then he gave it a second thought, although the second idea still deals with fatherly duties. "Mine is to find a new football team to root for," he said. The (Buffalo) Bills are just a disaster. My girls need to see a winner at some point in their lifetimes."

Jason's Bills are 7-8 with one regular season game left, fired head coach Rex Ryan earlier this week and haven't made the postseason since 1999.

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