Out of all the revelry of Mardi Gras, nothing beats sleeping. Not during the night. Or the day for that matter. I’m talking about the post-Mardi Gras nap. The greatest nap you’ll ever take in your life. This isn’t just any nap though. You need to prepare.

It all starts on Friday. Don’t camp out on the parade route, lose your car keys and fill your backpack until it’s ready to burst; you’re going walking. Start out bright and early and get a solid two miles in, preferably in the cold. You need to start out sore and miserable or you’ll never get to where you’re going: The greatest nap of your life.

Once Friday’s parades are done, you might notice that the weight has shifted. Your backpack is empty, but your neck is so covered in beads that you can barely turn your head. You keep all that plastic jewelry right there until you get back home. Remember, no pain no gain. Feel free to sleep tonight. You’ll need it if you’re going to nap come Tuesday.

Saturday you might think is just the same thing, but that’s just because you’ve never achieved the post-Mardi Gras nap. Today is the day you realize you’re out of food. You’re hungry, desperate and broke. So thank God people are throwing it at you. But if you’re going to get those tiny bags of weird off-brand chips and potentially dangerous Saran-wrapped sandwiches you’d better work it. As the B-52’s once said “shake it ‘til the butter melts,” lest you starve.

You’re not going to feel so good by Sunday. But if you want your reward, you’ll stand on the edge of the neutral ground and take it like a pro. Continue amassing beads and other trinkets, they’ll come in handy at the end of it all. Sunday is more about endurance than anything else so keep on keeping on.

Finally, we hit Lundi Gras. I say finally because from here on out you won’t sleep. Any parades that got rained out will end up right here and you won’t miss any of them. They’ll go into the wee hours of the morning and it won’t be worth walking back only to wake up an hour or so later for Zulu.

Once you’re finally at Rex you know it’s over. The masked men riding horses are only blurs of color and all you can think about is jambalaya.  Sweet, spicy jambalaya. Get some, you’ve earned it. Walk back through the truck parades and get home. Behold your treasure trove. Now is the time. Prepare for the nap. And by prepare I mean fall face down into your unmade bed. If you hit some beads just leave them. It doesn’t matter at this point.

If you’ve done as I’ve instructed and survived, you’ll wake up about 20 hours later in a state of pure euphoria. You’ll be surrounded by treasure, filled with memories and parts of your body you thought would never feel right again feel like they’re brand new. This is the moment where it all comes together. This, my friend, is the post-Mardi Gras nap. In my opinion, the greatest part of Mardi Gras.

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While dancing around my room to Martina McBride, I began to think about the many different Mardi Gras parades, krewes, and throws. Every parade that I attended during Mardi Gras 2012 was elaborate and unique; however, my favorite parade was Muses—an all-female parade. They roll on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday– February 7th is the date the parade will fall on this year. I would advise getting to a spot along the parade route early or coming up with a strategy to catch… a SHOE!

Regular heels and shoes are transformed into unique throws that every person should see for themselves. These shoes are handed out by the women of Muses, and the floats are equally entertaining.

After watching the Muses parade, I researched the Krewe of Muses, and found out valuable information about the Krewe’s activities on the other 364 days of the year.

According to their website, “Since its inception in 2000, the Krewe of Muses has always viewed community involvement as an important component of its mission.” One way the Muses are very active off of the parade route is by giving back to the community every year.

As an all-female Krewe, they emphasize putting women first in their selection of a charity. In accordance with their mission, The St. Bernard’s Project, New Orleans Musician’s Relief Fund, and Shades of Praise have been recognized in recent years.

Also, the shoe has inspired charity from within the members of the Muses, and they have put together shoe incentives for needy women to join an area literacy program. This program was extended to men and children in 2007.

By reaching out to the less fortunate, the Muses organization has exhibited the Catholic value, Preferential Option for the Poor, and this charity work concreted Muses as my favorite parade.

Although, Muses is my favorite parade, another all-female Krewe, Nyx, paraded for the first time in 2012. They are at the top of my parade list to catch this year.

What is your favorite parade? Will you be enjoying the Mardi Gras festivities this year?

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Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve been doing the Mardi Gras thing my whole life. King cakes in homeroom every Friday during the season, people in beads roaming the streets, really bad traffic, and not seeing my dad, who is a police officer, for about two weeks because he has to work his normal shift and then the parades.

My family lived on the parade route, so just looking out of our living room window we could see everything. I got the best Mardi Gras experience out of anyone because I didn’t have to go anywhere, I could go inside to get food or use the restroom, and there was no need for me to wait out in the cold for the parade to come. I would walk outside when the first float got to our corner and go back inside after the last float. The parades came to me, it seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me but as I got older I grew out of the whole thing. I didn’t even go outside and I might look out the window to what the floats looked like, but that was the extent of it.

When Mardi Gras season rolled around last year and I saw how excited everyone from out of state was for their first Mardi Gras experience and it just made me chuckle. All of my new Loyola friends were so excited to stand out and wait for the parades and they appreciated everything about the experience, which seemed so simple to me. In a sense, I had taken Mardi Gras for granted, it’s something that is so unique to New Orleans and it should definitely be cherished. Being from here it is just one of things you don’t fully appreciate because it means constant traffic, streets being shut down, and really the only perk is a few days off of work or school.

However, getting to experience out of state people experience Mardi Gras made it something special again. It truly reminded me how great my city is and how lucky I have been to grow up here in the rich culture and now that is my favorite part of Mardi Gras.

What is your favorite part of Mardi Gras?

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Mardi Gras, it’s that there is absolutely no way to be prepared. You can pack your backpack with an extra jacket, a spare cup, some sandwiches, sunglasses. You can look up parade routes and start times. You can check the weather a hundred times. You can wear shoes you think are comfortable. And still, you’ll be missing something essential. You’ll arrive super late for a parade. You’ll get blisters. And you’ll be rained on.

Last year, I was with a group of about 10 people trying desperately to get to mid-city to watch Endymion (the most beautiful parade, in my opinion). We had called at least three different cab companies but no one was answering! Driving ourselves was out of the question because of what a nightmare parking would be. And we were running so late… 30 minutes until the parade started to roll!

We FINALLY managed to get down there and meet up with our friends. What do we find out? The parade has been postponed an hour. Ok, that gives us time to settle in, find something to eat and drink, set up our seats, and make our social rounds. That, my friends, is when it started pouring rain.

It rained for an hour. And there was no where for us to go.

There we were, soaking wet, and the parade hadn’t even started yet. The sound of cop sirens came towards us down the street, followed closely by the first gorgeous float. Endymion is special because of the way each float uses light. It’s one of the most expensive parades and really, they spare no expense. Each float is equipped with hundreds of LED lights. The throws are unparalleled. The beads are top notch. And because of the rain, the route was pretty empty! We caught so much that night.

The excitement of the parade kept us warm, but once the last float rolled past the cold set in. Still wet, we started trying to get a cab. At least a dozen rolled past us- no luck. We jokingly tried to get some of the cars going past us to pick us up. We started walking down Carrollton, away from the parade route, hoping to have better luck. Nothing. Not a single available cab.

We made it to a corner that had a Burger King and decided to cut our losses. A fast food hamburger has never tasted so good. We managed to get a hold of a friend who gave us a ride back to campus. The parade finished at 9. It was midnight by the time we all got home.

Clothes? Soaked. Stomach? Full. Shoes? Soggy. Neck? Full of beads. Backpack? Stuffed with Mardi Gras goodies. It would take a lot more than a little rain to ruin Endymion! Here’s my Mardi Gras advice for you: try to prepare, but know that even the best laid plans might unravel. Pack light, bring cash, always use the restroom before you leave your house, and bring your rain jacket. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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A new year, a new me! This is a bold statement made by men and women at the beginning of every year. Resolutions that many adults choose to make include categories from a new healthy diet to losing weight. After the days and weeks pass, many people find themselves turning to their old habits. After all, “a new you” requires change. An example can be found in our University Sports Complex.

An easy way to keep any resolution is by having a consistent schedule. The Loyola University Sports Complex has a new Spring 2013 Group Schedule to fit many interests. From Boot Camp to Zumba Sentao, a solid workout can be found across the board. Too little time? No worries, the Sports Complex is open every day to fit any busy schedule.

the hours include:

Monday – Thursday 6:30 am – 10:00 pm

Friday: 6:30 am – 8:00 pm

Saturday: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm

Sunday: 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

If the pool is more appealing to your workout, pool hours include:

Monday – Friday 6:30 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Sunday 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Spending weeks in the University Sports Complex may become monotonous, so a change of scenery could be important in fulfilling your New Year’s resolution. Audubon Park is very close to campus, and it is a beautiful place to exercise. Another way to keep a New Year’s resolution is to personalize and individualize your exercise plans to fit your unique lifestyle. Many women and men find Audubon Park a great place to walk, run, roller-skate, and play golf.

In my past experiences, I have discovered all the New Year’s resolutions that I have kept throughout the entire year have a common factor—fun. I have found a way to make the change in a fun and therapeutic way. Exercise will bring a positive change in a person’s life, but it does not have to be a chore. Run with friends, listen to music, or create games with your exercise plan.

Remember the average exercise requirement as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention differs based on many factors.

The average adult needs “2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and 2 days of muscle strengthening activities every week.”

Or

“1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activities every week.”

Are you starting to see the benefits of your New year’s resolution?

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I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. In all honesty, I think they’re something Weight Watchers made up to boost subscriptions.

Every January, without fail, I suddenly hear people talking about how much they’ve worked out and how much weight they’ve lost already. That’s great, but every February it suddenly stops. It’s obvious why: You’re still a little pudgy, so why not just eat some cake and take a break? Well, that’s not good for you and it’s definitely not fun for me. I want you to keep talking, tweeting and just generally updating me on your failures.

Riding the high of being praised for those couple pounds you dropped is great motivation at first, but when things slow down most people don’t have any motivation to keep going. That’s where public shame comes in. If I had to hear about every single salad you ate you OWE ME all the juicy details about that entire king cake working its way through your colon. More importantly, you owe it to yourself.

Think about it: Would you rather your parents yell at you or be genuinely disappointed in you? Disappointment hurts. A lot. Use it.

I know I’ve only mentioned losing weight as a resolution, but this method works for everything. It’s not just about pointing out how fat you are, it’s about pointing out how you still reek of cigarettes, are too stupid to read for class and how your liver is going to give out if you even step into another bar.

It’s not as mean as it sounds either. This should be welcome criticism. There are plenty of people that will never give up smoking, eating unhealthily, drinking crazily or ignoring their homework because that’s who they are and they love it. That’s cool, more power to you. But if you’re part of the resolutioner-crowd who thinks they need to change, then you’d better start looking for criticism before you start relapsing.

I’m not just saying this as a bully either (don’t get me wrong, making fun of people is way more fun than it should be). I’ve got my own resolutions. I’m finally getting into better shape and I’m not planning on missing a single reading assignment this year. Unfortunately for me, it’s king cake season and I swear to God I can smell that frosting from across campus and track it down like truffle hog. Fortunately though, every time I’m king cake bound I get my love handles poked by just about everyone I know. One of my friends actually pinched my cheek and called me “Chubby Bubby” while I was looking at desserts in the cafeteria. I’m a grown man damn it. It’s brutal (and a little demeaning), but I’ve been sticking to my resolution this year better than I ever have in my life because of it.

So don’t just open yourself up to criticism, beg for it. It’ll keep you on track just to prove those jerks wrong. Do it for yourself, but more importantly do it for me because I’ve been sitting on all these fat jokes for years.

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So, we’re two weeks into the new year and how many people are still going to the gym everyday or not eating chocolate? I told myself this year that would give up a bad habit like procrastination. And like everyone in the world, I also said I would lose some weight this year. I haven’t curled up with a pint of my favorite Ben and Jerry’s but I also haven’t quite made it to the gym yet, I’m going today actually. (I promise!)

The new year is a time to start fresh, and resolutions can aid you in becoming the person you want to be in the new year. Resolutions aren’t a requirement or something that we make just to break. The resolutions are supposed to help you better your life.

There are the typical resolutions like I’m going to lose weight, and change all my bad habits, but what about adding things or doing something better. For instance, what about organizing one thing a week in your house, work, or school work? Resolutions don’t have to be radical changes that are going to be so difficult that you give it up within a week. What if you gradually changed whatever you wanted a little bit every year and steadily made a difference?

This year do your best to stick to the resolution, not because society or someone else tells you to, do it because YOU want to make a change in your life. It will make you happier and you might keep that resolution.

See some of y’all at the gym this afternoon!

Have you ever fully completed a resolution you made? What are your resolutions this year?

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Every New Year’s Eve, I make promises to myself. I will be healthier. I will wake up early. I will use social media less. I will, I will, I will. And then… I don’t. Knowing that I struggle with follow through in such a real way, you might think I would stop making these promises. You’d be wrong. I made more resolutions this year than any year, but they aren’t the typical New Year’s goals. I only have one semester left at Loyola and I need to live it up, not get bogged down by rules! With these remastered resolutions, TwentyThirteen will probably be the best year ever.

Resolution 1: Do not feel guilty about getting “White Trash Fries” at Datdog. They taste so good! Stop worrying about it!

Resolution 2: Sleep in. It’s great to wake up early, but you know what’s even better? SLEEPING. This is my favorite resolution.

Resolution 3: Look at my phone less. Seriously, no one is texting me anything that exciting. Twitter isn’t that great. Facebook is a little TMI. Look up! Look at the world! Smile at people in the elevator! This could be life changing.

Resolution 4: Splurge on fresh flowers for my res hall room. Did you know daisies are only about $2 a stem?! Every once in a while, I will buy a few just because they are beautiful and they make me happy.

Resolution 5: Try to refrain from rolling my eyes. It was recently pointed out to me that I do this frequently, and that it can be a little condescending. That’s not the kind of person I want to be! So…. be conscious of it and do it less.

Resolution 6: Be a “yes” girl. If someone asks me to go on an impromptu bike ride- say yes. Antiquing on Sunday afternoon? Sure thing. Exploring the Aquarium? Definitely. Do not use “I’m tired” as an excuse. Will staying and falling asleep create memories? NO. It won’t. Get out there an make some mems!

These are my resolutions, carefully designed to encourage a fun, funny, and generally unforgettable semester. Today marks the two week point after New Year’s, and I’m still going strong! What kinds of things did you resolve to do differently this year?

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To Do List for a Perfect Christmas:

1. Finish Finals Week

If I survive the week, I will be able to completely focus on the task at hand—the perfect Christmas season.

2. Shopping

  • I would be lost without the perfect Christmas tree.
  • Dad, Mom, Sophie, Sam and Steven need gifts
  • Make sure to get enough cards to send to all my family and friends
  • Wrapping paper, glitter, and bows are a must
  • Stocking stuffers should add the perfect touch

3.  Follow up on Traditions

  • Hang ornaments on the Christmas tree
  • Open presents early on Christmas morning

4. Cooking

  • Baking cookies and gingerbread houses
  • Hot cocoa and Egg nog
  • Pasta

5. Watch Christmas movies

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas

2. Elf

3. It’s a Wonderful Life

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas

5. Home Alone

6.Venture around the neighborhood

Singing Christmas songs

1. Have yourself a merry little Christmas

2. Jingle Bells

3. White Christmas

4. Silver Bells

5. Rudolph the Red- Nosed reindeer

  • Look at Christmas Lights and Decorations

7. Snow on Christmas day

Every year since I was five years old, I made a special Christmas list, and I convinced myself I needed everything on the list for a successful Christmas. I was always too distracted by the gifts, lights, and shopping trips to see the true beauty of the season.

Christmas is the day Jesus was born, but this holiday can lose focus with the thought of Santa Clause, reindeer, green and red cookies, and shopping sales.  These things may be a part of the American commercialized Christmas, but they do not represent the true meaning of the holiday.

Jesus Christ, our Lord Savior, was born. The most important event in history should be recognized in an enormous way, but Christ must be the center of the celebration. Scripture is able to capture the beauty of this holiday.

Isaiah 9:6 states, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Many people have heard the phrase, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” and this phrase is significant because the closer Americans move towards dependence of worldly possessions, the farther away they are from the meaning of Christmas and from God.

So…. Sing the festive Christmas carols and watch the Christmas movies

Drink your peppermint coffee and egg nog

Shop away your paycheck

But

Remember Jesus Christ was born to save all of us.

How would Christ want to be remembered on his birthday?

 

 

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Nobody loves Christmas like my dog Sally. She’s our calendar every year. Before we even think about a Christmas tree, Sally plants herself in our living room right where we set up every year.

We all love Christmas, but I guess we’ve gotten a little less enthusiastic over the years. My brother, sister and I were always the first up before the sun had even begun to show on Christmas morning, eagerly waiting for my parents to get up so that we could run downstairs and get the party started, but we’ve all gotten a little old. At 22, I’m the baby, so none of us get moving in the morning without a little coffee first, making getting up early a little anti-climactic. But Sally gets up at 4 a.m. sharp every Christmas and if you don’t beat her down there she’ll open everyone’s presents without you.

Every year Sally opens just about everything under the tree, a lot of which is actually hers, and she does it with tender care and surgical precision. Sally’s love of Christmas has always been reverent, never greedy, which makes it especially sad that she never got what she wanted. Sally died two years ago while I was here at school and the holidays really haven’t been the same sense.

The emotions that I’m sure every dog owner feels after losing a pet that they love so much are there year round, but on Christmas things always seem worse. It’s hard to remember Sally laying under the tree or eagerly running around sniffing packages figuring out which one she wanted to unwrap first. Instead, all I can really see is the way she would toss toys, treats and everything else we bought her aside. Sally never got what she wanted for Christmas.

What kind of dog doesn’t want piles of stuffed animals and dried meats? Most people would probably think a stupid one, but Sally might’ve had one up on the rest of us.

Sally had one other habit that sticks with me: she liked to take in animals from the outside. Every year sally jumped the fence and went around the neighbor hood to play with deer and rescue baby birds that had fallen out of the nest. Nothing made her happier than coming home and dropping a baby bird into her bed to take care of until someone caught her and brought it back to it’s nest.

I’m from Connecticut and though my family came out of super storm Sandy mildly inconvenienced, there are people who still don’t have a place to live less than an hour away. Just as much as I want the new Wii U for Christmas, something still won’t be right even if it is under the tree.

I think what Sally really wanted every Christmas was a baby deer whose mother got hit by a car or a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest. She had a lot of love to give, but she never got the chance unless she jumped the fence.

Sally might have had the right idea. It’s easy for me, you and just about everyone else around us to talk about giving to those in need, but for some reason it’s always harder than it should be. Sally couldn’t talk, so she never got to do what she wanted on Christmas, but we don’t have any excuses.

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