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Monday, January 4, 2016

This New Year Resolve to Find a Better You Right Here In Fort Thomas

Autumn view from Tower Park Trails.

People have a love/hate attitude toward New Year's resolutions. I've always liked them. Like the turning of a calendar page, the opening of a blank journal or waking up on a Monday, they mark a fresh start.

American essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie once wrote, "New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights." 

One can't help but think about the days ahead, the new year. We plan to do more. Or, perhaps, we plan to do less.

Given that many families in Fort Thomas run generations deep, I'm new to the city having lived here only 10 years. And as I look back at 10 years' worth of my own resolutions, I've realized I've worked toward many of them with thanks to Fort Thomas.

The Campbell County YMCA offers many great classes for adults and children.

The Y also is a great place to learn how to swim.

• Strive to be healthier. Many options exist, including Fit Philosophie, CrossFit SOTO, Orangetheory Fitness and Barre3. I've long been a member of Campbell County YMCA. I've worked out on my own and in classes, and learned that the twice-weekly gentle yoga class is equivalent to therapy. All three of my children have taken the gymnastics classes and the free-with-membership ballet class, and they've played soccer and baseball through the Y. Having never put our name on the waiting list for the Fort Thomas Swim Club, we've come to find that the Y's pool suits us just fine. Another element to overall fitness? Massage. Contact Tiffany Maple, owner of Anointed Touch Massage. Customers become repeats.

The Fort Thomas branch of the Campbell County Library offers books and so much more.

The Secret Garden behind Blue Marble is a lovely place to explore—and read!

• Read more. The Fort Thomas branch of the Campbell County Library is well-loved in our family. In addition to books we've checked out DVDs and CDs for car trips, participated in the summer reading program and attended various children's programming activities. I've used a library table and chair as an office, and have found amazing used books for sale for $.25. And then there's Blue Marble. Both Peter Reynolds and Dave Richardson have been so helpful in helping me choose books for loved ones, including my children. We've visited the Great Green Room, attended author signings, spent birthday and allowance money, and more recently have spent afternoons reading in the Secret Garden.

Miles of trails are available for hiking at Tower Park.

• Reconnect with nature. Every time I'm hiking the Tower Park Trails I marvel at the fact that we can access Cincinnati by car in less than 10 minutes, live in a city and still walk to a park with miles of trails through woods. They're rarely crowded, wildlife is plentiful and you feel far from home, even though you're not.

• Shop local. For Christmas my husband took my children to Fort Thomas Central to buy me small gifts. Owner Barbara Thomas delighted in helping them, and even given their low budget, the gifts were incredibly thoughtful. Thomas has helped me find many wonderful gifts for family and friends. Visiting Monera Chic Boutique (I regularly get complimented on a bracelet purchased here) and Faded Finds after eating at Cobblestone Cafe is always a treat. Fort Thomas Coffee sells t-shirts, mugs (I've purchased two), art (I own one), jewelry (there's a necklace I've long had my eye on) and other goods on a rotating basis. Polished Pearl sells exquisite handmade goods with profits helping those rescued from human trafficking. Fort Thomas Jewelers offers gorgeous jewelry as well as repair services. I recently spent one lovely Sunday afternoon solo, with a glass of white wine in hand, shopping antiques and handcrafted goods at Fort Thomas Antiques & Design Center. It was lovely. And did you know that you can just show up at Fort Thomas Florists for a bouquet? I've done this several times when wanting gifts for friends.

Part of the charm of Fort Thomas is the ability to walk and bike everywhere.

• Get outside. Walking and biking our city is so easy. I smile every time I see the bike rack overflowing at Woodfill Elementary. Sidewalks are plentiful, drivers are respectful and side streets reveal beautiful homes. I also enjoy walking St. Stephen Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery. And then there are our fantastic parks, shelters and fields.

• Support local artists. Artwork by Beverly Erschell. Wooden bowls and ornaments by Jerry W. Warner. "Quirky Art for All" by Tanith Smith. Paintings by David Klocke. Pewter miniatures by Kevin Heekin. Glass art by Joe Drury. Pastels by Lori Wendling. Personal baseball cards by Gary Cieradkowski. And then, of course, there's The Art House, which offers a treasure trove of work by local artists.

• Give yourself a new look. Tami Root, owner of Studio Root Skin Care, has done wonders with my eyebrows. If you haven't stopped into North Avenue Salon lately, you should. It's gorgeous. Also check out On the Bend Salon, Connie's Salon, Salon 602 (I don't know how many times they've fit me in last minute), The Nest Salon, Platinum IV SalonVanity Salon and the newly opened The Perfect Space. Local loved barbershops include Smitty's Barber Shop and Jim O'Neill's Barber Shop.

Fort Thomas Coffee is the perfect place to work and eat on rainy days.

• Eat healthy food. Perhaps the best thing you can do is shop one of several Fort Thomas farmers' markets that start popping up weekly in the spring. Other options include the delicious salads at 15 North (think roasted beet and cucumber panzanella) and Cobblestone Cafe's homemade salads and soups. Of course, there is joy in just eating out, period. And that can be a resolution, too. The burgers at The Midway Cafe and 915 Pub and Grill are delicious. Fort Thomas Pizza & Tavern is a long-loved local favorite. I highly recommend the sweet potato roll (for only $4.25!) at New Garden. The Olde Fort Pub offers great bar food. And many don't realize that Sarelli's isn't just a catering business. I love their chicken salad sandwich on a pretzel bun, and my kids love their cookies. I've also ordered many lunches while working at Fort Thomas Coffee—in addition to my cafe au lait. And then there's Highlander Coffee House's Sunday mornings bloody mary buffett, omelette and waffle bar.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. There are so many ways to better yourself in Fort Thomas this year.

See a concert at Tower Park.

Go sledding at Winkler Field.

Attend the Fourth of July parade.

Perhaps most importantly, get out. Support your community by simply being in it. For some, this is doing more. For others, this means being more present at home and, perhaps, elsewhere in life, doing less. For if we all did that, not only would we better ourselves, we'd better our city as a whole. And no matter if you love or hate New Year's resolutions, I believe that the good that can come from simple participation is something we all can agree on. Take a walk in the Midway District. Choose a local shop over Target. Hike the Tower Park Trails. Read a new book. Try a new restaurant. Say "hello" to a new neighbor. Be.


  1. Great article!! Really enjoyed it

  2. Another wonderful family class is Kindermusik, music and movement for preschool children.

  3. Wow that was a nice write up and promotion of the community. I have lived here 16 yrs and really enjoy it.