Your Guide to Jackson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Your Guide to Jackson

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Dawn Dugle

Have you ever noticed that the older you get, the easier it is to stay in your rut? The rut isn't a terrible place. It's predictable. You know everyone there. You know how things are going to turn out.

Your rut is also known as your comfort zone. There are no surprises here, you have a routine, and that's OK, right? Well ... no.

Every once in a while, you may get this nagging feeling in the back of your mind, this little voice that says: "Can't we do something different this weekend?"

The answer is yes, and here's how you're going to do it.

I want you to pretend that you just moved to town. You know no one. You don't know where to take your dry cleaning or where to get the best glass of wine. You have a blank slate with Jackson, and you have permission to try new things.

During my time on Earth, I've lived in six different states and another country. Before I move to a new place, people often ask me: "Do you know anyone who lives there?" My answer is always: "Not yet." For some people, that's frightening. For me, it's invigorating.

Each time I move to a new city, I get to be an explorer. I try new things. I take different routes around town and discover new places. But I don't do this blindly. I research. When I moved to Jackson the first time, I Googled "best restaurant" and "best nail salon"—and the results that popped up came from the Jackson Free Press.

I also came across an out-of-the-way Italian restaurant that had fresh-made pasta. I found the place with a flourless chocolate torte that remains my favorite dessert to this day. I discovered the hole-in-the-wall taco joint where service was slow, but worth it.

It gave me a road map, a guidebook. It was a place to start learning about my new city and became a checklist of things to try that weren't the traditional "chain" restaurants and stores. These are places I never would have found just driving around on my own. And it led me to people I probably wouldn't have met.

Over the years, I have learned that many of my friends and co-workers grew up here. They went to school in Mississippi and returned to the Jackson area. They live close to their parents and have known many of their friends since elementary school. While it's wonderful to have such longtime relationships, it can also keep you in your comfort zone/rut. You see the same group of people all the time. You do the same things every weekend. It's easy. It's comfortable. But it gets old.

"There's nothing to do around here," they whine, while sitting at home binge-watching Netflix.

"We see the same people every time," they bemoan, while never leaving Fondren.

"Madison (or Flowood or Brandon) is too far to go," they complain, while driving to Oxford or Starkville to tailgate.

It's time to change your perspective. It's time to become an explorer of your home. See it with fresh eyes. Go to the places you only go when out-of-town guests come to visit. Set aside a Saturday and be a tourist for a day. Learn about the history of our city. Experience new sights, sounds and tastes. You may not love all of it, but you might find things you really like.

Let this Best of Jackson issue be your guide.

My challenge to you: Each week, check out or try one new category on the list. By this time next year, you'll not only have a better idea of what's going on in our city, but I bet you'll also have added some new friends.

Dawn Dugle is a Jacksonian by choice, twice. She is the CEO of Dugle Media, a business storytelling company.

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