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Invisible vs Visible

Have you learned to live with your mask? Or maybe you wear many different masks? Because your hustling for worthiness and continue to numb yourselves so that you do not feel or show your vulnerability to others. By holding a mask at all costs, because what if they would discover the real you? 

Who is the real you? Have you been hurt due to someone shaming, putting you down, or downright did something to you? It is so exhausting to live an unauthentic life and hide behind a mask. I had many masks and a tendency to put on at times, even now, as your reading this blog. Why? Because then people would read or see my pain, and then I would have to hear the criticism of showing my vulnerability to others. People can be downright mean in this world. I understand how hard it is to be vulnerable. Society teaches you not to show vulnerability as it is a sign of weakness.

I was raised by a father never to show any feelings in front of others. Anything outside of that was considered a weakness. So, do you understand now why I had to wear a mask? There was enough criticism to paralyze me for life and continue on this path of always wearing a mask. Eventually, I had to look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “Why are you hiding behind this mask? I knew it was a matter of time where it would call for me to put down my mask. There was an enormous amount of fear within me. Risk of people not liking me if I shared my vulnerability or them having thoughts of being messed up. I had to do some soul searching and figure out why I was so afraid of people seeing the real me. Of always remaining invisible, yet I was visible in front of others. I even had these twisted thoughts of somehow my father finding out and hearing his disapproval voice.   

I had to learn to lay that all down and be free to be me. One of the things I recall God telling me one day was, “Whatever you do, remain true to who you are and keep things real.” Being authentic to yourself and in front of others. That is hard to do in this day in age where there is this plague of comparison, not enough or vulnerability is such a bad thing you can see it in magazines, reality shows, and even social media.  

A mask is usually worn on the face as protection and to disguise yourself, so no one sees the real you. 

Life Application

  • Do you love the mask you put on every day?
  • Why do you wear your mask? 
  • Do you not want to be visible in this world? 
  • Or do you feel like your going through this world as invisible? 

Therefore, you put on your mask? Those are some big questions right, but a great way to cause some self-reflection on why you are wearing that mask. No more pretending and being invisible, choose to be visible to the world, and allow them to see how beautiful you are.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes 

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Dig up the root to find the truth!

Have you ever wondered why we do the things we sometimes do? Maybe you are unaware that you are doing it! Sometimes the things we struggle with is rooted in something that might seem unrelated to the behavior itself. 

I have been guilty of saying, “I’m going to stop doing this. As if it was that easy, right. These approaches are helpful, but in reality, that particular challenge does not just go away or was not created overnight. I have not seen problems successfully stop; they continue to sprout back up. It’s like cutting a weed off at the top without ripping it up from the roots. It is going to continue to happen and grow back. 

In our lives, we have to get to the root of what may be going on. Before even touching the challenges or behaviors. Let’s take a look at our belief system and not at the behaviors but the roots of those. As he/she thinks in his/her heart, so is he. 

So how do we begin this process?

  1. You start with the one lie.
  2. Then you locate when this lie first gave birth. Ex. For someone to love me, I have to perform. Growing up, my parents only acknowledged when I would do good, and then they showed me love and acceptance.  
  3. Asking God to help heal that hurtful place in your heart. 
  4. Make a declaration statement. Ex. I am loved for who I am, not by what I do.
  5. Focus on that declaration statement for the next 30 days, have someone hold you accountable and ask you how you are doing. Whenever the lie comes up, remind yourself that you are loved.  
  6. It may take some time for you to adjust and believe that you are loved, but if you practice this, it will become ingrained in your heart and mind. Continue to chisel the lie with your truth.
  7. I believe in journaling as it keeps inventory of all that is taking place in your life. This is where you can reference and review if your growing in that particular area. 

Remember to find the root of your truth. You will quickly discover that it is a lie and needs to be uprooted. Fill it back with the truth and learn to love it again! I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Feel free to share this with someone who could use some encouragement.

Carrier’s of Hope, 

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Authentic Self

Have you struggled to share your authentic self with others? Do you even know who your authentic self is?

When I think of being authentic, I think of a person who wears no makeup. I am not saying that a person who wears makeup is not genuine. I am saying this is what comes to my mind. A fresh, clean face with nothing on it to cover it up. No highlighters, foundation, or concealer are covering up the imperfections or flaws.

So many times in our lives, we try to cover up our authentic self because of rejection, acceptance, or fear of being judged. So we create a counterfeit of who we think people will accept and approve. Or show up as a person we believe will fit in and be liked.

In some of my own experiences, people have ridiculed me for being authentic. Either when I have shared my heart on a matter, or my feelings got hurt, and I have expressed it to the offender. Or when I have been wholly misunderstood.

2019 has been about self-discovery. I had many counterfeit moments before embarking on this new journey. I thought if this is the response I get for being real? It’s better to be fake! But is it really? Your only cheating yourself!

Being authentic comes with a pretty hefty cost. There is a risk that comes with being authentic. That not a lot of people will buy or like you for it. Many years ago, God reminded me, whatever you do, Sandy keeps things real.” So this was brought back full circle in 2019.

What I discovered is that not a lot of people can handle someone being authentic or showing their vulnerability. It is like a mirror reflection of themselves, of them being counterfeit, hiding behind all the fluffs, titles, and whatever other concealers and become threatened. People, including myself, can say hurtful things that can scar us if we are not careful when we see our true reflection.

So, are YOU being your authentic self? If you have been a counterfeit, then its time to come out of hiding and get around people who are willing to take the risk and be authentic with you!

“Staying real” is one of the most courageous battles that we will ever fight.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life At a Time!

Take off the old self and grab ahold of the new!

This week I had a young man tell me that his soon to be mother-in-law didn’t want him to marry her daughter. I asked why, “He said, she still sees me like the old person I use to be”.

A few months back, this young man began to recognize things in him that he was no longer happy with. He began to focus on those areas and began to create change little by little.

When your in transition and someone still sees or remembers you as that old self that can be discouraging. No matter what you say they still define you as who they once knew. Which is understandable because they have never met the new you!

I know there are areas in my life that I struggle with and that I am working on. Some days are harder than others but I continue to press toward the goal.

Self reflection: Are there areas in your life that you are struggling with? That you no longer want it to define you as. Let’s hone in one thing at a time!

I said to this young man, “You do not have to prove that your a changed man. Allow others to see your behaviors and actions of who you have become”. Watch your thoughts and attitudes in your mind and continue to throw off the old self when it tries to creep back in and embrace the new self!

The key is continuing to move forward even if your afraid of embarking on the new you that you have never met. But do it, even if your doing it afraid!

In order to be world changers it has to begin within us. Here is quote I want to leave you with:

You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending- C.S. Lewis

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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What are you afraid of and how does it affect you?

It’s interesting to me how the word “change” means and affect people in different ways. One of my clients once told me, “That she wanted to apologize for the miscommunication she has had, but when she speaks to me that it is excellent, but it’s intimidating. She stated when she sees me; I represent change, a pleasant change one she feels she needs. But she knew this meant having to go within herself and do some changes which would be a tough task for her.

I realize that we are all trying to get through life with those fragmented pieces of our lives. Unknowing why we act a certain way or don’t know how to bring change. For many years, I believed I was damaged. I was comfortable with those fragmented pieces of me that weren’t healthy and thought those pieces would keep me safe. Until I couldn’t do it anymore, I was going down a destructive path of self-hatred and sabotaging and should have been dead. I could relate to my client and what it meant to change and had so many different fears towards change.

Change can be challenging and emotionally draining. Old patterns and habits are hard to break. I read this quote by Socrates, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Focus on what you need to do to orchestrate change in your life. For example, I began to allow someone to have access to my messiness and hold me accountable. Someone who would not judge or condemn me, but that would let me have a “brave space” that I could trust and be willing to facilitate change.

This is where change began to take place within me, and yes, a lot of times I would be kicking and screaming and felt very much like the witch in Wizard of Oz, melting away. It was hard to face those fragmented pieces of myself that I had been so comfortable with. Someone came alongside and walked through those fragmented parts of my life that needed healing and change.

Even today, I still have someone who holds me accountable whether a new season in my life has come that seems unbearable or challenges that I may be trying to walk out. Accountability has become part of my life because it is easy to get complacent and allow old patterns in. Decide to let go of some of those fragmented parts that you are tired of living with. I want to challenge you to evaluate where you are at today.

Are you afraid of change, ask yourself these questions:
-What if I change this part of me what will life look like?
-What will people say, if that is who I have been and change?
-What will I do, if that change is gone?
-Who will I be?
-Has this been part of my identity?
-Will people still love and accept me?

I am so passionate about helping and encouraging others, the same I was. I speak hope into the lives of those that are hopeless, stopped growing, and are stuck in defeat, believing that this was the life they were meant to live-assuming that they are damaged and that is the path of heading towards destruction. It is easy to hold onto those parts of our lives that we believe help keep us safe or prohibit us from growing. Remember the meaning of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Choose today to want change and you will get the results you have always wanted! You are worth it!

Sandy Cortes

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Imperfect Being

Lately, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. Wondering where did this fragmented part of me called “perfectionist” come from? In my early years, I was all over the place, and “order” did not exist in my life. Not until I had children and got my first corporate job is when I started to understand the importance of order and how it needed to become part of my life. Then I began to notice that if there was something that was not in order or that was not done right; then I would come undone. I would become frustrated, or the little lie would whisper, “You could have done a better job at that.” Honestly, I never paid attention to why I would respond to certain things like that.

Growing up, I knew my parents always wanted the best for me and loved me. They wanted me to have a good-paying career, and an education which who doesn’t want that for their children. Both parents were hard workers. My stepfather was strict and had a lot of “do’s and “don’t.” So whenever something was not up to his standards, he would vocalize or demonstrate how disappointed he was of me and my behavior. It could have been the smallest things, like not washing the dishes properly. Then the harsh comments would come, “You can never do anything right or “You are so lazy, you will never amount to anything or my least favorite, “You will always be a failure.”

Earlier this year, I began the journey of self-discovery and started to search in places that had always been there but never had I visited. I have been on a quest of trying to connect the dots of why I do certain things or why I allow certain things to bother me. There is where I found that fragmented part of me called, perfectionist.” The connection in why things had to be a certain way. Whenever I would hear those words in my head, “You can never do anything right” the actions would follow right after where everything needed to be perffect for it to be considered right, how twisted is that? What saddens me the most is that I spent many years in that vicious cycle.

I even introduced this fragmented part of me to my children as well. I did not vocalize it but by giving a cold shoulder or my disapproval look, that said enough. I am quickly learning to extend grace and forgive myself and be an encourager to them when they have their moments. I find myself praying that they too will get the same revelation I have; not called to perfect. It is okay to want to have things in order, and it is reasonable to want to strive to achieve a specific goal for personal reasons that are healthy or that will help you grow. But when you attempt to be perfect or hard on yourself for falling short, that’s when it becomes unhealthy.

That is where that fragmented part gives birth and creeps in and eats at even the best parts of you. Everyone is imperfect, and there is not a perfect being on this earth. So why continue to strive after something that no matter how much you attempt to perfect never happens, and waste years achieving something that is a dead end. Everyone is flawed in their way and has challenges that they may or not recognize in them. But when you begin to get stressed out, or it becomes compulsive in reaching an absolute perfection, this becomes a weakness, and now that pesky little guy has gnawed his teeth inside of you and seeks to suck the life out of you, which hinders you from living a life of being content, fulfillment, and happiness.

So beloved, I want you to ask yourself what you are striving after? Who or what have you allowed to creep in that resides and is continually eating away at you?

I pray that you would know that you are enough and are loved. That you would know God sees you as his beautiful masterpiece and made no mistakes when he created you.

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time.

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The importance of having friendships

Having friends in our lives is a necessity and can positively impact our lives. You can have acquaintances, which are more casual friends and than there are those that are worth chasing after to have a strong friendship. Some are closer to the heart. Those are the ones that have created influences in your life, are ones you can rely on and make time. Friendships take time to build and require effort. As long as your willing to put in the time and effort, those friendships can bless your lives.

I was one to never really have friends growing up. Maybe a handful is what I recall. I realized I needed to have friends. In meeting new people, this can be very hard and uncomfortable. It requires putting yourself out there and at times can be hard just to let loose. Will requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Some of the ways that you can step out are by joining a book club, or going to a social event and inviting a casual friend that you may have and want to grow the relationship. Alternatively, talking with people from your job or school.

My eyes have been enlightened to watch how people struggle with being rejected by others. I once was a product of that and would be quick to reject before someone would reject me. I am a grad student, and I have observed how people can be standoffish and to themselves. That I have purposely made it a point to conversate with my classmates and invited them over to my home, remember the part that I mentioned in having to step out of your comfort zone, well that is a huge stepping out for me inviting them too “Casa Cortes.” The more you share and spend time with one another the more it will blossom. You also begin to create memories. The other day I was thinking to myself, “It would be so awesome to have a slumber party or making a one day trip together. These are some ways to bond while doing some of the things you all can enjoy.

When making a new friend, take some time to get to know them. Ask about their family and things they like to do for fun. You are going to want to spend time with them and make plans together. This is how people begin to form bonds- by sharing experiences. The more time along the way the more the friendship will grow. It may take time, but it is worth it. Remember it is not about the quantity but about spending quality time with them and building relationships.

One of the most necessary things about friendships is being open and transparent without having those fears of being judged. The more you share with an individual, the more likely they are to share with you. If something is upsetting you call your friend and share with them. Alternatively, if your friend is bothered or upset make yourself available and express your concern and be that listening ear. It is vital to make sure you have a listening ear and avoid judging them as well.

Lately, I have begun practicing on my school nights acknowledging others and expressing, “How thankful I am to see and do life with them.” Especially those classmates that are harder to express their emotions, I go the extra mile to let them know I appreciative I am for them. One of the best things that you can give a new friend is making sure you are being authentic and keeping your word in what you tell them. Shows that the person is reliable and trustworthy and helps make the relationship stronger.

Lastly, be quick to reconcile versus allowing things to simmer within the friendship. Friends fight and have disagreements, and this is normal. It is okay to agree to disagree. It is essential to take the necessary step to reconcile and keep accounts short. As a friend, one must take responsibility and apologize and share your heart in the manner and finding ways to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Throughout my journey I have learned many things about myself and was one to be on my own island. Realizing that there were people across the island mingling. Friend that came along the way that God brought to my life to help, encourage and provide something in me that I was missing, to be loved and accepted and to feel apart of a community. It has been a blessing to have friends in my life that I consider my family. That I am able to be authentic and share from the heart still being friends after so many years.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time