5 Clues You are Stressing Out

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It’s easy to say, “Don’t stress” but if we don’t understand how to put this into practice in our everyday life, this is a command that is not so easy to obey. That’s why I’ve been exercising practical ways not to stress so much (because there’s no such thing as not stressing…stressing is natural…we just overdo it).

Sometimes we don’t know we are stressing. This is not good because what you don’t recognize, you can’t change. No worries though, I got you covered.

Here are 5 Clues you’re stressing out:

Overthinking / Overanalyzing

One clue that you are stressed about something is if you can’t stop thinking about it. When you are going over a situation in your head repeatedly. You micromanage every possible scenario on how something can go wrong. You give it so much energy that you even have mental conversations with yourself on what could happen, what did happen, how it happened and even new ways it could have happened. You go to bed thinking about it and wake up thinking about it.

If this is you, you are stressing out and I am going to need you to chill.

Looking for Faults

If you find yourself looking for the flaw in things, you have a problem. Unlike being faced with a situation, you’re looking for one. Every single action is met with your own private investigation. The slightest issue is background checked for “possible” mistakes and mishaps. You even start to bring up old stuff, calculating how that situation and this one is connected.

If you’re constantly critiquing yourself or something/someone else, looking for problems that don’t nor have probably ever existed, you are stressing out and I am going to need you to just chill.

Whining / Complaining

What we think about will eventually come out of our mouths. If you find yourself complaining about every single itty bitty thing, you are stressed. You know that tone. When the inflation in your voice rises and the sentence begins with “but” or “why come” a whine is coming on. If all you focus on is problems you won’t see solutions. If you must complain all the time, you’re stressing yourself out and I am going to need you to chill.

Trying to Guess What People Are Thinking / Saying

This one is a lot more subtle than the others and is the cousin to overanalyzing. If you are having mental conversations about what you think other people are thinking and what they are saying, you are stressing. If you’re trying to find motive where it doesn’t exist, you are stressed because you’re worried about what others think and their reactions so you make up stuff. This is dangerous. Eventually, you will have convinced yourself you “know” what that person is thinking and start to interact with them based on the fictitious person in your head as if that’s who the person really is. You’ll start to look at everything they do based on the version of them in your head.

If you’re imagining what people must think or what they must be saying, you’re stressing and could push people away if your illusions ever reach the surface. Never assume you know what people are thinking. That’s what communication is for.

And oh yes, I am going to need you to chill.

Denial

It’s sometimes hard to see things about ourselves without someone pointing them out to us. This is when we need the help of family, friends, and people who truly care. You know, the ones who tell us exactly how it is… straight, no chaser. So, if someone says you’re stressed and your first response is to deny it or come up with excuses, that’s a big fat red flag that you probably are stressed out…

…and we’re going to need you to chill.

Writing Symbolism: The Secret Life of Bees

To write subliminally is to operate below the threshold of consciousness. Writing subliminally means to produce a work that gives a message strong enough to influence mental processes or the behavior of an individual in a subtle and non-obvious way. Subliminal writing works well for religious, spiritual, or political writers who want to give important information in a way that is not preachy.

What is Writing Symbolism?

Writing Symbolism is when a message is given to a person’s subconscious or spiritual self to influence positive change in their physical self. Not to be confused with metaphysical psychology, this skill allows the writer to open the eyes of the reader in a way that is easier to understand or to digest. It makes readers think and tends to stay with us past the entertainment factor.

The symbolical writer’s goal is to tap into that spiritual consciousness that exists in all of mankind, but that has been lost or hidden in the world we live in. To create a stepping stone to the consumption of greater spiritual awareness.

This kind of writing, again, is most effective for writers who wish to incorporate spiritual or political concepts in their writing without being preachy.

I caution that writing subliminally is not easy and does not always mean that the messages are positive. If done wrong one can easily confuse readers or influence negative behavior or thoughts.

Let’s look at an example of a movie that incorporates a considerable amount of subliminal messages, some positive and some negative, The Secret Life of Bees.

Warning: This post includes spoilers of the movie. If you have not seen the movie and you don’t want to be told the ending, I recommend bookmarking this post, watching the movie, and then coming back and reading beyond this point.

Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees

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The major theme of this novel is expressed in its title, which comes from a statement made by August:

“Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about (148).

In the movie, the viewer learns how most people are not what they seem to be on the surface. People’s lives are usually much more complex and complicated than they appear. The bees represent a community of people working together in a society that is represented by the hive and is symbolic of the Boatwright sisters and their community.

Mothers

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  • Lily is driven by her need to know about her mother so that she may learn more about herself. In seeking her mother, Lily finds mother substitutes. Rosaline, August, and the other women step into Lily’s life and provide the mothering that she needs so desperately.

 

  • The Black Madonna / Virgin Mary demonstrates each woman’s need to be mothered. The women’s devotion to the Mother shows the power and importance of a mother in the life of a woman.

 

  • On another level, the Black Madonna / Virgin Mary is also symbolic of The Sacred Dark Feminine, which is highly promoted by the movie. The women do not just rely on the idol for mothering, but they worship her. Queen Latifah, who plays August, also symbolizes The Black Madonna / Sacred Feminine. Latifah is symbolically the physical manifestation of the Sacred Feminine idol.

This is the perfect example of subliminal writing. The author doesn’t say this outright, but it can be inferred by Latifah’s leadership and her sisters’ admiration of her. The women depend on her (August), for guidance and motherhood. In one scene, she raises her arm in a tight fist and mimics the statue of the Black Madonna.

The Three Holy Women

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The days of the week and the months of the year are named after Gods and Goddesses. (Thursday = Thors Day). The intention of giving the Boatwright sisters names that are months of the year is because the three holy women are symbolic of three Goddesses. There is also a trinity overtone here.

  1. The Childlike May
  2. The Sensuous and Artistic June
  3. The Wise and Kind August

The fourth sister (May’s twin who died and doesn’t appear in the film) was named April.

Rosaleen

Rosaleen (Hudson) represents three symbols I could identify, but possibly more. While Jennifer Hudson seems the newbie on set– Dreamgirls (2006) being her first movie–within her role comprise several images. She is a mother figure, big sister figure, and more but first  she is “The Mammy Crone.”

“The Mammy Crone” is a caricature of the black woman that grew out of slavery. Enslaved black women saw their children sold or traded but they were required to raise white children. Enslaved black women fed white babies from their breast (called “Wet Nurses”) and treated them as if they had come from their loins. These black women were not the mothers of these children but they cared for them as if they were so they became known as “Mammies” instead of Mothers. This term, “Mammy,” was not an endearing one, though. This term was a derogatory one, a stereotype:

From slavery through the Jim Crow era, the mammy image served the political, social, and economic interests of mainstream white America. During slavery, the mammy caricature was posited as proof that blacks — in this case, black women — were contented, even happy, as slaves. Her wide grin, hearty laughter, and loyal servitude were offered as evidence of the supposed humanity of the institution of slavery.

This was the mammy caricature, and, like all caricatures, it contained a little truth surrounded by a larger lie. The caricature portrayed an obese, coarse, maternal figure. She had great love for her white “family,” but often treated her own family with disdain. Although she had children, sometimes many, she was completely desexualized. She “belonged” to the white family, though it was rarely stated.

The Mammy was a stereotype of the enslaved black girl grown old. She is elderly, fat, cheerful, and devoted to raising “Massa’s” children. She is often depicted as a heavy-set dark-skinned girl wearing a head-wrap that looks like a rag and caring for white youth.

But what is a Crone?

“In folklore, a ‘crone is an old woman who may be disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag.”

– Wikipedia

A Mammy Crone is a stereotypical enslaved black woman who cares for the affairs of white youth using her wisdom and supernatural instincts and abilities. She is like a fairy godmother but in a derogatory kind of way.

A powerful symbol in this movie is Rosaleen’s elevation from Mammy Crone in the beginning to Goddess at the end. This is seen by the changing of her name from Rosaleen to July. She has become like one of them.

Race

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Of course, we cannot forget the antagonistic issue of race in the 1960’s south that is interwoven into the everyday relations between individuals in this movie. The plot demonstrates two encounters between whites and blacks in which the black person is treated unjustly. Rosaleen, for example, is sent to jail for defending herself and Zach goes to jail for not admitting which of his friends broke a bottle on a white man’s nose.

On another level, Lily must personally navigate the delicacy of the racial difference between herself and the African-Americans she comes to love in Tiburon. White people criticize Lily for living with the black women, who treat her better than anyone ever has. Lily develops romantic feelings for Zach, who tells her that he could get killed for even looking at a white girl. Finally, for the first time, Lily experiences what it is like to be judged based solely on her skin color when June complains to August that she does not want Lily in the house because she is white. I love how Kidd did this, showing the intimacy of Lily’s education on race by literally immersing her into the shoes of the black women she comes to love.

Death Gives Way to Life

Throughout the movie, there is the theme of death giving way to life. It is sometimes good, but it is also sometimes bad. In the very beginning of the movie Lily tells us:

“People who think dying is the worst thing don’t know a thing about life.”

Here, we see how Lily’s life has been profoundly affected by her mother’s death. This statement suggests that living with someone else’s death can be more painful than dying. In this case, Deborah’s death has given way to Lily’s miserable life.

However, death can also be a positive force in the lives of the living that remain. Following May’s death August tells Lily:

“Putting black cloths on the hives is for us. I do it to remind us that life gives way into death, and then death turns around and gives way into life.”

The promotion of death as giving way to life is seen twice (or maybe more) in this movie as a positive force. The first instance is the way that May’s death propels June to marry Neil, thus establishing their new life together. The second time is when Lily finally reconciles with her mother’s death and is set free to truly begin her own life. But on a deeper level, the movie promotes the idea that life can also kill.

May kills herself because life is too much for her to bear. When Deborah learns she is pregnant with Lily she decides to marry T.Ray. Lily’s life leads to Deborah’s symbolic death on the peach farm, where she has a nervous breakdown because she cannot bear to live there. This new life (Lily) also leads to Deborah’s literal death when Lily accidentally drops the gun and Deborah is hit with a bullet.

Symbolic Writing is a challenge, but if done right is a powerful way to reach readers with a message. One thing to remember is that everything, like any good book, must connect. The Secret Life of Bees was well written with symbolism because not only did almost everything represent something deeper the author wanted you to see but it all connected and made sense. From the beginning of the movie to its end “The Secret Life of Bees,” is personified.

Even May’s death is representative of the secret life of bees. She is kind, smiling, and joyful. She cooks for everyone and is there for you. Only those who truly know her know how depressed she is. Only they can see her secret life with the letters and the wailing wall and upon her death, understand that everything is not always as it seems.

In her place is Rosaleen, the missing piece. Where there was once May, June, and August. There is now June, July, and August and yet again, death gives way to life in perfect order.

7 Thoughts on the New Roots

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When I first heard they were remaking Roots, I was skeptical. I thought, “Some movies do not need to be remade.” I admit, I was looking on the physical and thinking, “Maybe it won’t be as powerful as the first.” But after watching it I must say it remains one of the most powerful series on TV, followed by Underground.  But first, here’s a little History:

What is Roots?

Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a book published by Alex Haley in 1976 with a miniseries of the book that first premiered on television in 1977. During this post-civil rights era the show is about the ancestors of Alex Haley, particularly Kunta Kinte, who was kidnapped from his life in Africa and sold as a slave on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The Show was put out in a series of eight episodes to try and get it out the way as the networks didn’t think it would do well. However, the show proved them wrong, airing over the course of eight days and helping to galvanize a nation. See, to understand why Roots the remake is important in this day and time is to understand the history behind it and what it did to America. The TV series led to a renewed interest in genealogy from blacks who, due to slavery, felt robbed of their identity and cultural heritage:

If you weren’t there—if you’ve only known television in its post-Big Three networks era—it’s hard to understand the impact of the original Roots. Based on Alex Haley’s book of “faction,” the ABC miniseries’ 12 hours (with commercials) were spread across eight consecutive nights in January 1977, an unprecedented programming move that consolidated the show’s status as an event. The subsequent audience ratings were also unprecedented: 85% of television households, or 130 to 140 million Americans (more than half the U.S. population) saw at least part of the series; an estimated 100 million viewers tuned in for the two-hour finale on Sunday, January 30. – http://www.biography.com/news/alex-haley-roots-tv-show

1. Our Culture

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In the remake, it well represented the ancient culture of the African American. For centuries they have taught us we were animals running around naked with large hoops in our ears and swinging from trees. Taught that we were just Africans. While no TV show has gone as deep as to proclaim the unadulterated truth concerning our roots (not even Roots), I enjoyed the pieces of it sprinkled in the opening village scenes in the beginning because its an accurate portrayal of some of our culture. I loved that they showed the ancient garments, the head wraps and the midwives. Even the spreading of the palms to the heavens to pray. This is what we did and how we did it.

2. Stripped

By the time Kunta was on the slave ships he’s naked. Now we’ve seen this before in other shows, but what does it mean? This is highly significant of being stripped of your entire way of life. Gone is the beautiful blue garb, gone is the honor and the esteem, gone is the culture, and gone is the name that defines who you are.

3. Names

I don’t want y’all to sleep on the name part. Kizzy told Chicken George, “Your name is who you are. My daddy took beatings to protect his name”. Very powerful. People like to take names for granted. Often we look at them and they don’t hold any real significance but names are very important. Take away a persons name and you strip their entire identity. Your name is your character, and your persona. Your name is who you are. When we were stripped of our name, we were stripped of everything.
“People say what’s in a name? There’s a whole lot in a name. The African gets respect because he has an identity and cultural roots.” – Malcolm X

4. Biblical Insight

One of my most favorite scenes is when Chicken George introduced his mother Kizzy to his future wife and father-in-law and she said to him: “Massa don’t want you teaching about Exodus. About how the children of Israel walked across the red sea to freedom. He tore that right out the book.” Very powerful scene. Why? Because it’s the whole reason we weren’t allowed to read and write. Massa just didn’t say you couldn’t read because he thought you were an animal, an inhumane being. That’s only part of it. He didn’t want you to read because he didn’t want you to read the bible. Now why is that? Because the bible is black history.

5. Whites Persecuted

Another powerful thing this show portrayed is the persecution of Europeans who help blacks. This is also something they showed in the TV series Underground and I think its something that African Americans cannot sleep on. There are, and have always been, those of other nationalities who were wiling to help blacks to their deaths. Blacks were not the only ones lynched and maimed and murdered but also those who helped them.

6. Less is More

I didn’t like that they cut the series in half. I think it was too short. I also found it funny initially that Kunta’s character wasn’t switched out like in the first one so he looked the same throughout the series. However, I noticed that instead of going verbatim to the original they filled in those parts of the story that were missing from the first part. This was smart I think of the directors because this version has its own original feel. I thought this new Roots wasn’t going to be good compared to the first one but in truth they each are separate shows. While they tell the same story, the new Roots has a modern feel to it. Lawrence Fishburne, T.I. and Mekhi Phifer make their appearance and Kunta is a beast!

7. Now or Then?

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I don’t think the new roots can compare to the original. To me, the 1977 version will always stand as a classic. I also do not think the original could speak to today’s youth like the new one can, which makes it an original of its own.

We have to consider that 2016 is not 1977. It’s a different world and the new roots is a fresh way of introducing to new generations the legacy of Roots.