The Year Ahead: Voices From Arlington
Wellness coaches, artists, business owners and an ER doctor share their thoughts on how they plan to approach 2022.
The past two years have been riddled with monumental challenges, from a global pandemic, to the ongoing fight for racial justice, to an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. So, we recognize that adopting a positive outlook toward 2022 is no easy task.
And yet, we’re surrounded by individuals—small business owners, a musician, an ER doctor—who make regular contributions toward the betterment of society, and manage to remain optimistic.
We connected with 10 notable members of the local community and asked how they plan to approach 2022. Here’s what they said.
Interviews were conducted via email and have been edited for clarity.
Colleen Avis | Wellness Coach
Avis—a life coach, yoga and mindfulness mentor, and author—spoke to Arlington Magazine in 2021 about a common byproduct of the pandemic: overwork and burnout. She advises clients to develop a tool kit to help nurture the “six pillars” of wellness: sleep, mindfulness, emotional well-being, nourishment, movement and nature.
“My 2022 mantra is ‘lead with love and kindness,’ with my intentions focused on cultivating sacred spaces filled with compassion,” Avis says. “We are all struggling somehow, and more than ever, practices that offer more love and kindness to self and others are needed, like sharing smiles with strangers—smiling with your eyes counts!—catching your negative thoughts, replacing them with a heartfelt ‘lead with love and kindness’ mantra, or just letting others know you appreciate them. Even ending the day with two or three positive words toward yourself creates a significant ripple benefiting our entire community.”
Irma Becerra | President, Marymount University
For nearly four years, Becerra has led Marymount University, a private Catholic university with three Arlington campuses. When we spoke to her in 2018, she characterized the university’s relationship with the local community as a “commitment to service,” and noted that many of the school’s graduates remain in the area.
“As we head into 2022, I am focused on continuing to lead Marymount successfully through the pandemic in spite of the new Omicron variant, and keeping our students and employees safe, while still delivering the personalized, high-quality Marymount education that we are known for,” Becerra says. “These difficult times have shown us the importance of being grateful and positive even as we continue to navigate many challenges.
“My personal resolution for 2022 is to continue to share leadership lessons through my own life story and inspire others. I also want to continue to focus on all of my blessings, my health and my family and friends, and to make time to enjoy them!”
Betsy Frantz | CEO, PathForward
Frantz took on the role of CEO at PathForward (formerly A-SPAN) just weeks before Arlington, and the rest of the country, shut down in March 2020. The former founding director, president and CEO of the Leadership Center for Excellence says PathForward “built the plane while flying it” as they worked together to continue providing housing services amid a pandemic.
“Our intention for 2022 will be to practice and express gratitude—for PathForward’s tireless staff, our generous donors and volunteers, and for the Arlington community who has embraced our mission and partnered with us to ensure all people live free from the threat of homelessness,” Frantz says.
Jasmine Gillison | Musician
Gillison, who spent hours strumming Jason Mraz and Nelly Furtado covers in her bedroom years before performing at her first open mic, has continued to push her career forward as a singer-songwriter. For more than a decade, the gifted storyteller has toted her guitar and her tranquil vocals to shows throughout the D.C. area.
“In 2022, I’m seeking a lovely partner, the perfect electric guitar, and more quiet—funny, right?” Gillison says. “I want to hush some of the extraneous noise in my life—get rid of things I don’t need, stop compulsively checking social media, eliminate stress where possible. You better believe the guitar will be loud though!”
Damion Moss | Personal Trainer
Moss is a holistic strength coach whose wellness options include budokon yoga, nutrition guidance and breath work. This year, he plans to open an Arlington wellness space called the Sukha Center, named for a Sanskrit word that roughly translates as “bliss,” “ease,” or “good space.”
“In 2022, I’m looking to help my community break through mental, physical and emotional barriers,” Moss says.
Moss says he is inspired this year by a quote from the book, You Are a Circle, by Guillaume Wolf: “If there are no opportunities around you, create them. Ask yourself: ‘How can I help them? How can I surprise them? How can I create smiles on their faces?’”
Richard Peabody | Publisher, Paycock Press
An accomplished author, poet, publisher and teacher, Peabody has been active in the D.C. literary scene for decades. Last year, he published an anthology of more than 150 poems by 87 Arlington writers. At 71, Peabody says he’s looking forward to investing more time in his career as an author.
“I plan to focus on my own writing in 2022. Finish a novel. And nudge Gargoyle Magazine online,” he says.
But don’t expect Gargoyle Magazine—which debuted in 1976 and was revived in 1997 after a several-year hiatus—to fold. The publication, which spotlights lesser-known authors and poets, will release its 75th issue this March.
Joe Ressler | Co-Owner, Rewild
Ressler, a former professional poker player, launched Rewild, a plant boutique in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, with his business partners in 2018. The shop expanded to Ballston last year.
“2022 is the year of education! I want to continue my education as the leader of a growing organization. For our team, we are investing in new and exciting forms of professional development,” Ressler says.
“In the community, we want to continue our commitment to plant education in the form of new workshops that expand upon our experiential product offerings.”
Mike Silverman | Chair, Emergency Department, Virginia Hospital Center
As the chair of emergency medicine at Virginia Hospital Center, Michael Silverman has not had much time to slow down over the past two years. The 2021 Best of Arlington winner (for Covid Straight Talk) has been posting “Friday Night Updates” to his personal Facebook page since early 2020, offering frontline perspectives on the state of the pandemic.
“I want to expand my public education efforts on Facebook and beyond, continuing to write about Covid and life in the ER, but also covering other health topics that are important to our community,” Silverman says.
“I’m so proud of our team in the VHC Emergency Department, and look forward to continuing that work, while constantly evolving our process to provide the best-possible patient care. At the same time, I’m also hoping to strike a better balance between work and family life, and have high expectations for the year ahead.”
Rahul Vinod | Co-Owner, RASA
Vinod and childhood friend Sahil Rahman opened Indian fast-casual concept RASA in D.C. in 2017, and unveiled a National Landing storefront last year. When Vinod looks to 2022, he’s focusing on these four words: “Be kind, stay positive.”
“The past two years have been rough for many of us—both mentally and physically—as we adapt to an ever-changing situation tackling COVID-19, an insurrection and government-mandated shutdowns. Our team continues to pivot as needed on a daily basis, and it has been vital for us to keep a positive attitude to stay sane,” Vinod says.
“Unfortunately, many of these struggles will continue into the beginning of 2022, and I think it is important for everyone to assume positive intent through any interaction with others. We were humbled to be able to do our part in helping feed thousands of medical workers, vaccine clinic volunteers and Afghan refugees in 2021. We will continue to provide meals to those who need them in the new year.”
Ginny Wright | Owner, BbG Fitness
Wright has taught group fitness classes in Arlington for nearly two decades, and she also advises clients on nutrition and mindfulness. She’s also an avid volunteer and fundraiser for local nonprofits, including The Clothesline and AFAC.
“In 2022, I will continue to spread the important message that being strong and healthy is empowering, and that exercising, especially outdoors, not only greatly improves our health but is the best natural mood enhancer,” Wright says.
“My word for 2022 is ‘open’: open to change, open-minded, open to the universe and all that it has to offer!”