Mardi Gras . . . mystery unveiled.

This post is the innaugal expose’ of a feature on this blog called What’s It Really Like?   People, places, and particular experiences will be exposed for real.  De-mystified and debugged.  Putting you there for the reality of it all.   Start a sentence with. . . have you ever wondered what it’s really like?   You get the picture.   Enjoy!

Mardi Gras

Green, purple and gold of Mardi Gras

Green, purple and gold of Mardi Gras

Most people think that Mardi Gras is about Bourbon Street and boobs.    Although in modern times plenty of bourbon and boobs can be experienced on the mad day known as Fat Tuesday, that’s not really what it’s all about.Mardi Gras’ origins can be traced back to the traditions of 17th and 18th century Roman’s in Venice with Carnivale.  Its French origins began with the French Bourbons and the “Boeuf Gras” or fatted calf.  This celebration followed the French to its new colonies.  Point du Mardi Gras was established about sixty miles south of New Orleans on March 2, 1699, when French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville landed there.  It was given that name by his men who realized they had reached land on the eve of the festive holiday.

In 1704 a French settlement near there established a Masque de la Mobile, named after the two forts there Fort Mobile and Fort Louisiane.   The secret society paraded with a large bulls head mounted.  In 1710, the “Boeuf Gras Society” was formed and paraded from 1711 until 1861.   However, in 1718 Bienville established the city of New Orleans.   As was now tradition in the region,  Mardi Gras day was celebrated.

The parades that we know today began with the society balls for the occasions which were established by the govenor of Louisiana at the time to benefit various charitable organizations.   Festive street processions with masked revelers on carriages and horseback dazzled onlookers with their extravagent costumes and gaslight torches called flambeaux.  An exciting air of festive romance and mystique of who was behind the mask was created.   The first official Krewe began in 1856 by six young men from Mobile.  The Mistick Krewe of Comus rode in on dramatic tableux creating more magic and pageantry.  The Krewe still rides today.

Mardi Gras has strong regligious ties.  The season actually begins with epiphany, the church’s feast day noting the arrival of the wise men at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.   On that week, the first parties begin with the king and queen of each krewe being named.   A king’s cake of sweet brioche with yellow, green, and purple icing is served.   A small replica, traditionally in gold of baby Jesus is baked inside.   Whomeve is lucky enough to be served that piece of the cake holds the next party.   That tradition continues each week until the day of the parade for that Krewe which culminates in an elaborate ball for the king and queen.

The festivities have grown into an entire multimillion dollar industry for the region.   The day before Mardi Gras and the day itself are statewide holidays.    Millions crowd the city of New Orleans to attend its parades.    The best views of the parades are not down in crowded Bourbon St. but out in the neighborhoods where the parades begin.  Street performers, musicians, bands, and elaborate floats can be best enjoyed on St. Charles Avenue, Napoleon, and Carrollton.   Krewes such as EndymionIsis, Zulu and Bacchus maps out their own routes and celebrate their unique theme and philanthropy.  To be selected to ride on one of the floats is considered an honor.   To be selected as king or queen, sublime.   The catch phase by natives is, “Throw me somthing, throw me something Mister.”   Or “Miss” as is the case for female Krewe members.   There are all kinds of beads, but the most valued are those in yellow symbolizing gold, green for good luck and purple for royalty – especially if you are lucky enough to get a medalion of the Krewe or some of their colorful coins, called deblues.

Zulu majesty

The season culminates on Fat Tuesday, thus the name Mardi Gras.  The day before the solemnity of lent begins.  Lent is traditional period of six weeks preparation ending in Holy week which recognizes the events leading to the crucifixtion of Christ, his death and resurrection on Easter.    But the day before it all begins, Cajuns and refined Lousiannes Les bon temp roulles.   Let the good times roll.

So now, you know what it’s really like.   It’s not just about Bourbon and boobs.   To enjoy a great story themed with Mardi Gras of the 1960s check out Flying Solo.

Belles of Steel – meet P.K. Scheerle one strong, dynamic woman changing the world!

P.K. Scheerle, RN

P.K. Scheerle, RN
CEO of Gifted Nurses, Inc.

A few weeks back, a search began for Belles of Steel. Strong, dynamic women who through  tenacious ingenuity, or sheer guts, changed the world with their accomplishments.   The are powerful mentors for those of us trying to “make it.”  It wasn’t very hard to find a litany of them.   For the most part, they are unsung heros.   Some are known publicly, but many remain obscure.   Until now.

It is a pleasure to present the first inaugural belle of Belles of Steel, who describes herself as anything but that!    Please meet PK Scheerle.   Ms. Scheerle, a Registered Nurse with a clinical background in pediatric intensive care, is a self-made entrepreneur who saw a need in the nursing industry to keep experienced and talented nurses at the bedside. By utilizing her remarkable vision and tremendous determination she created one of the nation’s leading nurse supplemental staffing companies.

P.K. Scheerle, RN, a graduate of the Executive Program of Harvard Business School in 1991, founded American Nursing Services (ANS), a privately held, highly successful nurse staffing company in 1982. Under her direction, the company grew from five employees to over 3,000 employees with locations in 12 states providing local nurse staffing, travel nurses, therapists and private duty nurses.   The idea for starting the company literally came one night after a group of nurses went out for early morning cocktails at Riverbend in New Orleans for a gab session.  She and her colleagues were watching fellow nurses leave the bedside in droves;  feeling powerless and voiceless in a healthcare system with no leverage.   Talking over drinks, her colleagues discussed  starting their own staffing agency with nurses who were the best at the bedside.  Nurses with passion and intelligence who wanted to be there;  providing outstanding care to patients.    According to P.K., she was the only one brave enough in the group to go to the bank and sign a note.  “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” she laughed, referring to the challenges and risks in running her own business.

During her 24 year tenure at the helm, ANS received numerous awards including the American Business Ethics Award from the Society of Financial Service Professionals, a Top 100 Business by New Orleans CityBusiness for eleven consecutive years, and America’s Top 500 Women Owned Business by Working Women’s Magazine.

Ms. Scheerle has and continues to serve on numerous for profit and not-for-profit boards. She has also received many awards for contributions to the community and the nursing profession including, but not limited to, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Southeast Chapter of the American Red Cross, induction into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, the Boggs-Bourque Woman of Distinction Award, and the New Orleans CityBusiness Women of the Year Award for three consecutive years. She also served as Chairman of the Young Presidents Organization for Louisiana and served on their Southern Regional Board.

In addition, Ms. Scheerle continues to be in great demand as a consultant and speaker for businesses, entrepreneurships and value creation. Additionally, she is regularly sought after and relied upon for her expertise by successful CEO’s.  P.K. is married to Bruce Bolyard and they have three daughters and a son.

P.K. attributes her success to the hundreds of incredible men and women in leadership who were “a little older and a little smarter” than she, but who were willing to share their kindness and guidance to a young pioneer striking out on her own.   “I never missed an opportunity to pay it forward with networking.   A hand written thank you note, a contact or connection for another colleague.  My shoebox full of business cards was never out of my reach.”

Ms. Scheerle doesn’t consider herself to be a Belle of Steel she believes that she is “just like every other self-made entrepreneur, blessed to create a better world.”  In her case, “better patient care for people I don’t even know.”   She remarks, “A rising tide lifts all ships.”   P.K. founded The Great 100 Nurses” Celebration in Louisiana – a program that recognizes and honors the top nurses in the profession.  It has now been modeled in numerous other states.

Five years from now, Ms. Scheerle hopes to still be running Gifted Nurses, Inc her current firm which provides programs by which nurses design initiatives to decrease costs within healthcare.  Yet,  increase patient satisfaction and quality of care.   She strongly affirms that our burgeoning elderly population needs to make informed choices about the astronomical and oft times futile healthcare expenditures which occur during their last few months in life.   “Nurses are high on the food chain.  They need to work collaboratively with physicians to reform models of care into best practice.  There needs to be an aggregation nursing’s expertise in this area.”  She remains committed to nurses designing and financing cost effective means to increase the dignity and satisfaction of patient care while limiting expenditures.   “It’s about basic human dignity, not 97 year olds suffering on a ventilator.”   Ms. Scheerle remains as passionate about the art of nursing today, as she did when her only goal was “to be a great nurse.”

For this and many reasons, P.K. Scheerle continues to be a shining beacon of what can happen when one doesn’t just talk or dream about an idea.  P.K. encourages women to think outside the box,  pull resources together, and makes it happen.   For her personal mentorship to me as a nurse and author,  it is an honor to select P.K. Scheerle as the first of 100 Belles of Steel.  I hope you find her story inspiring.   So much so that you take hold and begin your own metamorphosis.   Congratulations to P.K. Scheerle for being AgeView Press’  top, freshly pressed Belle of Steel.

Flying Solo Book Trailer

Check out the flavor of ‘Nawlins in this book trailer for my new novel FLYING SOLO.   The book is available on Amazon in print or Kindle.  In addition, you can get your own personalized copy by ordering from AgeView Press.    Order today!   All proceeds from the sale of this book go to purchasing medical equipment for my son Harrison who has Duchenne’s muscular dystropy.    We need a wheelchair van with airconditioning!!!  Thanks for your support!