Happy Lundi Gras! We're in the race to the finish, y'all. The homestretch. The climax of Carnival season.


This is Mardi Gras No. 4 for me as a New Orleanian and a lot has changed since my launch into virgin territory. For one, I now know that you are supposed to dress up in a costume. In year No. 1, I had no idea and felt like the only idiot in the French Quarter wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Also, like many of you I'm sure, I've learned how to pace myself, accepting the inevitability that I can't attend every single parade or event and still be able to function like a human being.


But the thing I'm still learning how to get over is the post-Carnival blues. For me, moving to New Orleans was the cure for the post-holiday blues that is so prevalent in other areas of the country. We have the fortune of living in an area that celebrates for weeks and weeks after New Years, so we really don't have much time to miss all the holiday cheer from December.


But for the past few years, on Ash Wednesday, I've been met with a sinking feeling in my stomach that says, "Well… now what?" After all the costume-planning and friends visiting from out of town and all the parades, after the stroke of midnight on Mardi Gras Day, how do we all cope with the cold hard truth that Carnival is over?


Here are the things that I intend to employ in my life to help muddle through the dark times ahead:


Get some exercise and some sleep. One of the big reasons for post-carnival-seasonal-depression, I'd imagine, is that all the drinking we tend to partake in during the endless parties probably contributes to serotonin depletion in the brain. It's time to start running again and get those endorphins going. Get back to yoga class for a nice bodily reset. A realignment. And get some actual sleep, not the few hours you've been getting while staying up all night, getting a few hours of rest and then getting up early again for the parades. It's an exhausting rinse and repeat. We need some serious REM cycles and hours of sleep to get back in the groove.


Eat Healthy. I'll be drinking my trusty green smoothies every day for some much-needed nutrients after subsisting on king cake and Frito's for two weeks.


Enjoy the fact that king cakes are going away for a while. I mean, we all love it when they come back around, but I'll be very glad not to have anymore internal battles with myself while hovering over yet another glittery cake at work… "Should I or shouldn't I? Oh hell, it's carnival, why the hell not!" And 25 king cakes later, you never want to see one again. Until next Twelfth Night, king cake!


Be thankful for the mild weather. Revel in the knowledge that even though Mardi Gras is over and it kind of sucks, at least you don't have to deal with the snow and ice like other parts of the country. Believe me, it sucks having to clean that stuff off your car every morning. Snow is cute in December, but it's extremely tiresome in February and March.


Get back into the swing of things. I feel like I've been neglecting basic daily routines, like laundry. And I've been eating on paper plates because all my nice ones haven't been unloaded from the dishwasher in about a week. I plan on taking a few days to do a little pre-spring cleaning. Clear out the cobwebs and sweep up all the random glitter and bits of feather boas strewn about my house.


Take stock of all the Mardi Gras throws you've acquired. I usually like to keep one or two special favors, but I'm a bit of an anti-hoarder. If something doesn't serve a purpose in my house, it goes splitsville. I have a nice collection of light-up rings from all the Muses parades I've been to and I like to keep the "fine china" that I catch to replace the older busted cups from years past, but everything else usually goes. As for the beads, I like to put a few strands on my gate outside, but I usually end up giving them away to someone who has plans to ride in a future parades or you can donate the beads to charity.


Take a break. I'll be giving my liver and brain cells a much needed break from Miller Lite and whatever random daiquiris I've been partaking in. I'll be abstaining from adult beverages for a little while (actually, I'll just stick to wine … but for purely medicinal purposes, of course).


Worry not. Even though Mardi Gras will be over, this is New Orleans. There is always something to look forward to on the horizon. From crawfish boils to Jazz Fest to catching cabbages at the St. Patrick's Day parade, things are never quiet around here for long. Enjoy it.


Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!