It is a new year and time to do some planning.
Here are 22 things to consider — some fun and interesting things we could do, and some practical (maybe not so fun) measures we should take to keep our finances and home life in line.
Let’s start with the fun things:
1. Plan a staycation or a series of staycation outings. Nashville has become such a hot national and international destination. But there is no point in letting the out-of-towners have all the fun. There are so many classic attractions like the Parthenon, The Hermitage, the Nashville Zoo, Frist Art Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame that you may not have visited lately.
And there are also new places to check out like the National Museum of African American Music downtown and blossoming shopping destinations like Marathon Village in North Nashville and L&L Market on Charlotte Pike.
2. How about organizing a field trip for family or friends to go downtown and walk the streets to see the new restaurants, shops, hotels and attractions? It’s fun to approach downtown by walking across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to enjoy the growing skyline. Then make a day of exploring the new Fifth + Broadway complex, checking out the Avenue of the Arts (Fifth Avenue North) and seeing the reconstruction of Second Avenue after the Christmas 2020 bombing. www.nashvilledowntown.com
3. Enjoy a cold beverage in one (or several) of the legendary honky-tonks on Broadway, aka “HonkyTonk Highway.” Legendary establishments like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Layla’s and Robert’s Western World are open with live music all hours of day and night and do not ever have a cover charge. (However, they do have tip jars!) Visitmusiccity.com
4. Enjoy time in our beautiful Tennessee state parks either for a day outing or an overnight adventure. With a state park within about 30 minutes of almost every person in Tennessee, it is easy to find a good park to explore. All 56 of our state parks have wonderful offerings, from hikes to nature and history programs, to well-appointed lodges and cabins, golf courses, mountain biking trails and water sports. Admission is free, and many of the individual park programs are free. www.tnparks.com
5. Visit a local winery such as Arrington Vineyards, Beachaven Winery or Belle Meade Winery. Most have tastings and tours and other events. In the warmer months, Arrington and Beachaven have popular free concerts.
6. Head downtown for the monthly First Saturday Art Crawl, when as many as 20 downtown galleries host receptions and art openings. More than 1,000 people generally attend this longstanding monthly event. The next one on the calendar is Feb. 5. To keep up with dates and details about the crawls and other downtown doings, subscribe to the Downtown Partnership’s free “Downtown Details” weekly e-newsletter. www.nashvilledowntown.com
7. Visit the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library at 615 Church St. The space, which is surrounded by black-and-white photos from the 1960s civil rights movement, overlooks the Church Street-Seventh Avenue North intersection where the civil rights protests against segregated lunch counters took place. Visitors can sit at the symbolic lunch counter and read the Ten Rules of Conduct carried by the protesters during the sit-ins.
“The materials exhibited here capture the drama of a time when thousands of African American citizens in Nashville sparked a non-violent challenge to racial segregation in the city and across the South,” the library website says.
8. Read a good book. Getting good reading material on the cheap is easy, with our libraries, thrift stores and used bookstores like McKay’s and Half Price Books.
It is sad to read that “the average American will spend equivalent to only seven minutes a day reading. Overall, older people prefer to read but, with younger generations, the number gets lower and lower.
“Less than half of the population reads literature, and the number of those reading any books at all, ever, decreased by 7% over the last 10 years,” Cultural Daily says.
9. Take your own DIY mural tour. Nashville has an ever-growing number of murals on the sides of restaurants, shops, water tanks and even an old silo.
You can find murals by local and internationally known artists, featuring everything from “I Believe in Nashville” to “Good Trouble” to Dolly Parton and “Tennessee Tough.”
The oversized murals are a fun stop for selfies or other photos and a great way to explore some neighborhoods with which you may not be familiar. https://www.visitmusiccity.com/trip-ideas/nashville-murals
10. Take advantage of our beautiful college campuses. Take a walk around the historic Fisk University campus (don’t miss Jubilee Hall and the Van Vechten Gallery), as well as Vanderbilt, Belmont and Lipscomb universities. In addition to enjoying a nice walk and interesting architecture on these college grounds, our local colleges also often have free or super affordable concerts, art shows, lectures and other performances that are open to the public.
11. Become a volunteer. Hands on Nashville (HON.org) is a great place to look for year-round volunteer opportunities. HON’s calendar has dozens of offerings for all ages and interests — everything from helping with drive-thru COVID testing to helping out at ThriftSmart, to helping flood victims, to volunteering at a food bank. Get up a group or volunteer solo. Either way, you can check out a variety of volunteer opportunities to see what best suits you.
12. Take a day trip. Middle Tennessee is loaded with interesting nearby destinations that offer history, nature, shopping, eating and more. Some of my favorites are Sewanee, Rugby, Columbia and Gallatin. And there are some great attractions within an easy drive, like The Caverns in Pelham, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo. (Let me know your ideas for day trips from Middle Tennessee.)
13. Shop a thrift store. You know I love thrift shopping. And I predict that if you give this kind of shopping a try, you will become as addicted as I have. Bargain hunting is so much fun, and with the nonprofit stores, you can feel even better knowing that your purchases are helping others.
14. One of the perks of living in Music City is the number of wonderful free concerts at your disposal. Of course, the CMA Fest is loaded with multiple days full of concerts downtown, but there are plenty of others, with Musicians Corner in Centennial Park, the Live on the Green series and the free Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve extravaganza concerts.
15. Visit the Tennessee State Museum, at 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Admission is always free, and the museum is constantly changing some of its exhibits. You can always take a self-guided look at the exhibitions, but the museum also offers lectures, special programs and storytimes. With the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and Nashville Farmers’ Market next door, this could make for a full day of history, fun and food. Tnmuseum.org
16. Get to know our greenways. Nashville now has almost 100 miles of greenways, and you can find an online map at greenwaysfornashville.org or pick up a printed one at Metro Parks nature centers, community centers and at Metro’s public golf courses.
Almost all of the greenways have some water access (they are situated along creeks or the Cumberland River, etc.) and are flat and well suited for walking, running, biking and skating, as well as being stroller and wheelchair friendly. These walkways offer a great way to get outside and see parts of Nashville that you might not otherwise be familiar with. Greenwaysfornashville.org
Now for a few practical 2022 things to do:
17. Start composting. You can start small with a countertop composter and move up to a yard-sized pile or tumbler unit. It is a great project that will help you minimize food waste and create valuable materials to include in a garden. Composting is also kid friendly, and there are plenty of how-to resources on getting started.
Composting is a big part of the Metro Public Works waste reduction program. To see the “The Dirt on Composting,” go to YouTube.
18. Reevaluate your budget. This is a good time to make adjustments in your short-term and long-term budgets. The “AARP Bulletin” says, “A golden rule of financial security: Make sure your monthly spending is less than your monthly income.” This is a good time to review your expenses and try to see where you might cut. It is also a good time to look ahead and try to anticipate how much you will need for upcoming vacations, home improvement projects, medical costs, etc.
19. Now is also a good time to make copies of valuable items in your wallet like your driver’s license and credit cards, so that you have a handy record of credit card numbers and other details in case of theft or loss.
20. Another smart start-of-year exercise/chore is to document the valuables in your home — art, jewelry, musical instruments, antiques, collectibles, etc. It is easy these days to photograph special items and put the photos in a safe place, like a safe or lock box. This is not only an important record to have in case of a disaster like a flood or fire, but also useful to family members if something happens to you.
21. Set up an emergency fund. The standard recommendation is to squirrel away six to 12 months of funds for expenses just in case of a job loss, illness or other circumstance that interrupts your income stream. I think with COVID, a lot of people have found having this cushion to be a wise precaution.
22. While we are on the topic of getting organized, and staying on top of things on the home front, I am going to make every effort to never, ever, ever put any item in my freezer without labeling it with a description of what it is and the date that I put it in the freezer. I have failed at this in years past, making way for a few dinner disasters.
Hope these help you to have a happier new year!