High Steppin' Back Into JOY!

by Jaclyn McCabe February 23, 2022



Oh Carnival, I have missed you the most! What pure JOY to get to parade through the streets again! And while y'all know this time of year is near and dear to my heart, I'm showing up a little differently this year. 

The past couple of years have given me the amazing gift of not only discovering what my deep values are, but having the ability to practice standing in those values―making value-based decisions in all of my affairs.

One thing I've discovered is that while I may be super outgoing, being around too many people tends to drain me. And simple things like laughing with girlfriends as we pour love into each other, tending to my little plot of earth, and creating art bring me more profound joy than my extroverted parts knew existed.  

But how do I both embrace my favorite thing––loud, people-filled, waste-producing Carnival season––and my introverted parts at the same time? After all, Carnival is the number one reason I choose to live in New Orleans. 

What that looks like for me is slowing down and doing things with more intention. Instead of doing my usual––participating in five krewes and creating unique costumes and/or throws for each––I'll be parading twice. That way I get to check in with myself every day of the season and show up wearing joy more like a caftan than a pair of Spanx. 

I let go of participating in some krewes that didn't fill me up, and I joined a new krewe, The Trashformers. Led by Grounds Krewe, it fits more in my value system than throwing plastic trinkets into a crowd does. We passed at the end of KreweDelusion and collected cans from the crowd to recycle. We filled 24 thirty-gallon recycling bags while having a blast! 

My introverted creative bits had so much fun creating my "disco-bottle-ated" costume out of discarded bottles from New Orleans soda brand Mr. Big Shot. At the same time, my Aquarian bits felt like it was a win-win to get to parade and be part of a greener solution. Plus, I got to do it with some old and new girlfriends who always make me laugh.  

Admittedly, I started to second-guess my decision to participate at all while standing on Franklin, a little hungry and tired, waiting for the parade to start. “Why am I here? This isn’t fun,” my inner mean girl taunted. But the second the brass band started up, my entire body came alive. Dancing down Royal Street, I soon realized I had also forgotten exactly how exhilarating being in a parade was!

The crowd looked so pretty (well, until the end anyway), and everyone was excited to be reveling again. People were thanking us for just being there. Chants from the crowd to the krewes filled the air in every direction: "We missed you!”

Even a few plus-size lady krewe members recognized me, shouting, "Jaci Blue!" At that point, I got to experience the rare moment when the introverted bits bump up against the extroverted bits––resulting in me smiling VERY awkwardly and trying to let the love in, while fighting the urge to run. 

Even though I was exhausted by the end and needed an entire day to recover, I’m so damn happy I got the chance to step back into wonderment, amusement, and joy in a self-honoring way. 

Throughout the season, I've had a few run-ins with my inner mean girl, who likes to pull out the FOMO card. But if I dig underneath it, I have plenty of evidence from Mardi Gras past to show me that when I act from a FOMO place, I don’t have nearly as much fun. That’s because FOMO hooks me into trying to fit in with what my younger bits perceive is the cool thing to do, rather than belonging to myself and not worrying about what other people think of me. And also, there’s just no possible way to do all the things.

If basic self-care is "doing things today that your future self will thank you for," I'm very content with my decision to slow down, find a way to experience Carnival within my value system, spend time only with friends who fill me up, and do it all at a pace that feels good. 

So hit reply and tell me, how are you embracing joy right now in a way that feels self-honoring? Whether you are a local stepping into Carnival season again or not, joy can be all around us if we let it. 

Lastly, if Carnival season or other large crowd gatherings feel overwhelming right now: that’s perfectly understandable, considering the toll the pandemic has taken on our nervous systems. Hit reply and we can talk about that too. 

PS: Follow me on Instagram to see my first ever bodycon costume I'm creating for Mardi Gras Day. After two years of "health stuff" that often made me mad at my body, pouring myself into a white lycra bodysuit feels like a healing response. I'll be costuming as Chiron in Taurus, which is a point on my astrology chart I've spent a lot of time with recently. Chiron teaches us to turn our wounds into gifts by showing up in acceptance and compassion.

PPS: If you want to join in on the greener carnival experience, Grounds Krewe could use some support. Both donations and uptown parade route volunteers are needed for this year. 

Jaclyn McCabe
Jaclyn McCabe