Life Lessons from Beauty and the Beast's Belle

  • March 20, 2017
  • Jenna Maxwell

The 1991 Disney animated classic, "Beauty and the Beast" has been reinvented and was just released as a new live action fantasy musical on Friday March 17. This latest adaptation of the classic Beauty and the Beast story features and all-star cast as well as an expanded storyline that features an empowered version of one of our favorite Disney princesses, Belle. Of course we're fans of the Beauty and the Beast costume characters. There are many facets of our beloved heroine that we not only love but can also learn from, in fact, we think Belle teaches us a lot about life.

Don't Be Afraid to be Different. In Belle's provincial, old-fashioned village she receives a lot of harsh judgment from her fellow townspeople. Belle is imaginative, inventive, and an avid reader with a huge imagination. Unfortunately in her world, some of these qualities aren't necessarily the norm and some of the stodgier, more traditional types look down their nose at feisty Belle who seems light years ahead of her time. The beauty of Belle is that in spite of the local naysayers, she embraces her differences and recognizes them as her strengths. Belle knows full well that there is nothing wrong with being smart!

See Beyond our Differences. Belle is used to being different than the other girls in her town, so perhaps this is why she has a natural ability to withhold judgment on the Beast when she first encounters him. Belle teaches us to look past a person's exterior and avoid initial, premature judgments. Belle's ability to see beyond the Beast's monstrous and frightening exterior allows her to see who he really is inside. Her intelligence and love of books gives Belle something in which to find a special connection with the heart of the Beast, thus demonstrating the importance of looking for the best in people.

Live Outside the Box. Because of her love for books and learning Belle recognizes that there is a great big world out there and wants to see it all. Belle is also a very open minded person which eventually allows her to form a deep friendship with her captor, the Beast. Belle speaks often about seeking adventure and seeing the world. "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell." When she first meets the Beast she probably thinks this is a little more endangerment than she really had banked on--but Belle is nonetheless ready to take on the experience.

Hold Onto Your Values. The true beauty of Belle is how well she knows herself. In spite of harsh judgment and peer pressures, she stays true to herself and follows her heart. Look what happens when she encounters the buffoon, Gaston. She immediately shuts him down because she recognizes his sexist boorishness and lack of intelligence. The Beast, however, has a depth and sensitivity that Belle can appreciate. When Gaston becomes enraged and comes after the Beast, calling him a monster, Belle exclaims one of her more profound lines." He's no monster Gaston, you are!"

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade. When Belle became a captive of the Beast, at first glance the situation seems dire. Belle quickly makes the best of the situation by trying to reach out to the monster and form a connection with him. What on first glance looked like the worst possible circumstance, eventually turns into an amazing opportunity. The Power of Love. Gaston and other villagers hated the Beast and even wanted to kill him. Belle staunchly defends her new friend and ultimately, it is the love Belle has for the Beast that saves him.

Believe in Miracles. Hope is what keeps both the Beast as well as Belle going, even when the situation seem completely hopeless. In the end, the Beast get the miracle he has long awaited, and so does Belle because the lovely friendship she has formed with the Beast is now miraculously transformed in the most stunning way by the power of true love.

Here's a link to view the Beauty and the Beast US Official Trailer

The Shocking Truth about St. Patrick's Day

  • March 14, 2017
  • Jenna Maxwell

This Friday, March 17, 2017 is St. Patrick's Day. You may think you know a lot about St. Patrick's Day, but not so fast! There are a few details about St. Patrick's Day that you probably didn't know, some of which may even surprise you!

Surprise, surprise--St. Patrick was not Irish. In fact, St. Patrick wasn't even named Patrick. St. Patrick was christened Maewyn Succat and was born someplace in England.

St. Patrick did not wear green. The wearin' o the BLUE may sound all wrong--but it actually may be a bit more accurate when it comes to the patron saint. Blue was the preferred wardrobe color for all of St. Patrick's robes and vestments.

Drinking on St. Patrick's Day used to be banned. Although in our current day, St. Patrick's Day is well known for celebratory drinking, believe it or not from 1903-1970, St. Patrick's Day was considered a religious holiday in Ireland, and for that reason, all pubs were closed!

Corned Beef and Cabbage is actually about as Irish as macaroni and cheese. Favorite Irish foods include traditional fare like Irish bacon, lamb, and soda bread and of course, Irish stew. The tradition of corned beef and cabbage likely came from Irish immigrants who had to make do with what food was available to them once they arrived in the United States. No, Shamrock Shakes aren't typical Irish food, either!

There's a good reason for all that St. Patrick's Day drinking! St. Patrick's Day falls during Lent, the six-week period of prayer and fasting observed by many Catholics. On St. Patrick's Day, the eating and drinking restrictions of Lent were put on hold temporarily. Thus St. Paddy's day became a celebration much like Fat Tuesday, with much eating, drinking and lots of merrymaking. On an average day in the US approximate 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed. On St. Patrick's Day, nearly 3 x that many pints are gleefully downed! Cheers!

Believe it or not, as popular as the shamrock is, it is not the officially sanctioned symbol of Ireland. This honor actually belongs to a musical instrument--the harp.

There are many more people of Irish descent living in the United States than there are in Ireland! Over 34 million people of Irish ancestry live in the US compared with the 4.5 million people that live in Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the US started during the 18-century, led by persecuted Irish immigrants who not only wanted to celebrate but desperately wanted to try and hold onto some of their Irish customs.

St. Patrick was absolutely not a snake exterminator although if you listen to ancient Irish lore, you may think otherwise. The truth is that weather conditions on the Emerald Isle make snake existence virtually impossible. Thus there have never been any snakes living there at all. The legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland is nothing more than a myth.

In his youth, St. Patrick was a slave. Kidnapped at age 16, St. Patrick was forced to take care of flocks of sheep until he escaped, after ten years of being held in captivity. St. Patrick went back to England where he hid out in a monastery. St. Patrick eventually became a priest, changed his name to Patricius and believe it or not, it then became his ultimate desire to return to Ireland to preach Christianity to the Irish people.

There are no girl leprechauns. Sorry, PC crowd, the leprechaun gig is for men only.

Shamrocks were initially considered to be a religious symbol. It is thought that St. Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to teach his parishioners about the Holy Trinity.

Now might be an excellent time to learn some basic Irish lingo. For example, what the heck is the meaning of the famous Irish phrase, "Erin Go Bragh?" Do you want to brush up on some St. Paddy's day jargon? Check out our posting on St. Patrick's Day terminology.

And now for what could arguably the best Irish news of all! Did you know that the world's best holiday, Halloween, came from Ireland? Modern day Halloween most likely stems from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. Thus it seems appropriate that in honor of upcoming St. Patrick's Day we would write a Halloween themed Irish Limerick.

There once was a monster of doom
Who invited a ghoul to his room.
They had a large fight
That went late into night-
Just who should be frightened of whom?

Perhaps we should stick to our day job.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from your friends at Halloween Express!