In New Orleans, the shortest month of the year has amazing moments!  How many places in the country does work stop for an entire week of revelry?  A week dedicated purely to returning to childlikeness.  I know of absolutely nowhere that you get away with wearing a tutu and a hot pink wig to work; not that I do this, but many of my friends do.

It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon called Mardi Gras.  I love being a part of the “Mystic Krewe of NYX” and Carnival season is an important part of my NOLA experience.  As much as I try to resist bead clamoring, I go home many evenings wondering why my back hurts.  Is it the jumping up and down screaming, me, me, me…or more likely that I am wearing every big bead thrown in my direction?  To the dismay of friends and nearby children, I can snatch beads out of thin air!  To haul in a purse, a shoe, a coconut, medallion or doubloon, one has to be incredibly strategic as you follow the floats along St. Charles.   As a Gallup Strengths Based campus, I feel a responsibility to encourage you to use your “strengths” along the parade route!  Here is how I practice my top five strengths:

  • Strategic: Sidewalk or Neutral Ground? Always looking for alternative routes while snaking through the crowd.
  • Maximizer: Who can help me get the best beads?  Make sure to share the bounty!
  • Activator: Keep up with the ACTION, which means hydrate often; enlist assistance with guarding your stake along the route!
  • Ideation:  Remain fascinated by folks sharing in the Mardi Gras tradition. Pay careful attention not to jostle a ladder.
  • Connectedness:   Every event has a reason and Mardi Gras is a celebration of all that is distinctively NOLA.

Once again another season of Carnival is upon us, and too, we can begin to look forward to spring renewal.  For every Fat Tuesday, there is a welcomed Ash Wednesday.  This is a time for reflection on the gifts we have been given and the gifts we can give to one another.  I do not think of this as so much a time of sacrifice, but a time of cleansing mind, body and spirit.  May your Mardi Gras be festive and your Lenten season be a time of reflection, thanksgiving and love.