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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!

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"You may bend, but you won't break."

So many times in our lives, things happen that are out of our control and make us feel like it is going to break us. Well, mine started at the beginning of this year and has been steadily moving daily. This year has been a year of change, pushing me to face fears, insecurities, and tons of self-discovery. I realized that things that are taking place are forcing me to be more of a well-rounded individual as a wife, mother, leader, and friend. I had to step back and look at it from a different perspective. It is recognizing that this season is refining and positioning me into my calling. I am learning to embrace the process, no matter how overwhelming it can be.

One of my professors said, “You may bend, but you won’t break.” This season is realigning me into the person I was called to be. I am learning to visit those areas that have been stagnant or that have been hard to face. By evaluating what has been beneficial and getting rid of the things that are choking me out. Those things have kept me from change. I am learning to put those things by the waste side as they are not supposed to be part of my life. That is where they need to go. I have started to prepare for the harvest that is coming my way. Excited and reflecting on how this season has brought good change and pushed me forward of what needed to happen within me.

So, I want to encourage you today and ask you:

  • What area in your life do you need to stop putting off and face?”
  • What do you need to put by the waste side?
  • Do you need someone keeping you accountable?

Reflect and reevaluate where you are today. Sometimes sharing those challenges will help us because that individual will ask you how you are doing? It keeps things shaking in our lives. It may be challenging what you have to face, but this may be the season to do that. Trust me; I get it sometimes we have to go backwards to move forward. Which can be very painful or exhausting. It will push you but yet bring renewal and refreshment to you. You will never know until you step forward and face it. Learn to trust the process and remember, “You may bend, but you won’t break.”

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time

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“Did I just say that?”

In the line of work that I do, it requires me to speak, address, and encourage. At times this can be a challenge for me, especially when you see someone making the same decisions over and over again, knowing that this has not been beneficial for that individual or the situation.

I have been guilty of saying something that I did not utilize wisdom in the way I spoke towards myself, with my children, spouse, and my influence of friends. Where the words just came spewing out of my mouth. You know that feeling you get when you were wanting to kick yourself and are saying, “Did I just say that out loud.” Knowing that no matter what, I said, it wouldn’t change anything, and I can’t take it back.

I am quickly learning that I have to use wisdom in the things I say and that my tongue can steer what direction I want to go in and not. It is like a rudder on a ship in how it determines the direction a ship will go. My tongue has the power to steer a conversation in a positive or opposite direction. I have been guilty of hitting many avalanches, and my ship quickly sinking like the titanic.

Our tongue has the power to produce life and death. It can speak words of encouragement to people and their circumstances or can crush an individual’s spirit and create discouragement and the will to fight the good fight on their growth. It is so easy to spew out words out of frustration.

I am becoming more conscious of watching what I say. Asking myself, “Is this going to edify or tear down whatever that is that is that I am facing.” I am completely transparent here at times I want to go straight to tearing down whether it is to myself that I am speaking to or speaking of others. Then the light bulb begins to flash, and I have to ask, “Is this helping the situation,” and I do walk away feeling any better? The answer is, “No.”

So I want to challenge you today to come on this journey with me. To be conscious and watch what you are saying and then ask yourself, is this helping the situation or tearing it down? Let’s speak life into our situation and whatever it is your facing today. There is already enough negativity in this world; let’s be the light and shine in the midst of those dark moments of our lives, so we can help others shine the light on theirs.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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I can’t take it anymore!

There I was in the middle of the night my chest felt tight, my left arm became numb. I did not know what was going on and never felt this way before. Little did I know I was having an anxiety attack. There was a lot of late nights and that particular night I had many things on my mind. Things that I had to get done or that were not done. On top of all of that I was in the middle of a research class.

That day the signs in my body were telling me, this is too much and it is time to slow down. Lately, I have been reflecting how certain things in our life can be so crippling. The busyness and hustle to get things done. The endless to-do-list can be very exhausting and create so much tension and anxiety.

I am learning how anxiety is so dangerous for our bodies. It can weighs us down enabling us from moving forward.
It was time to take a step back and reflect on what was going on and how to minimize the anxiety and stressors. Figuring out a way to let go of certain things and being okay with that process.

I have identified something that has helped me along this journey with anxiety and my ginormous to do list. I like to call it the “dumping site”. Where I grab a sheet of paper and write down what I am feeling at that moment and/or things that need to get done. This allows me to reflect on what is on my mind and decide what to let go of, delegate or postpone for another day. Then I speak to myself and say, “Sandy, you can do this, or it is okay that it did not get done or this is something you have to say “no too”. If I am having negative self talk and being hard on myself, I replace those words with encouraging words and speak life into that negativity. This has empowered and has allowed me to continue moving forward.

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up! Learn to be kind and speak to yourself when your having those paralyzing moments in life. They will come, it’s just a matter of finding out what you do once it is here.

So, if you are struggling with anxiety or the stressors of life I want to challenge you to try visiting the dumping site. Write down your feelings in that moment and rewrite any negativity.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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The Bully Within

Throughout my upbringing, I recall having two physical bullies at my school. Every day they would find a way to pick at me, steal my lunch, or push me around. It was terrifying not knowing what was going to happen on any given day.

Until one day, I said, “No more, no more am I going to allow this.” I confronted those bullies. It was terrifying and I knew there was a risk of getting beat up. To my surprise, they were quite shocked that I took a stand, and from that day, they never bothered me again. I couldn’t believe that all those months I allowed them to bully me and push me around.

Those bullies left a scar on my heart with all the hurtful things that they would say to me. It was tough to shake those things off, and eventually those became a part of me.

Some of my bullies within have been “You are not enough, your not smart enough, and what makes you different from anyone else? Those bullies taunted me my entire life until I learned to face those bullies as I did in High School.

How often do you confront the bullies in your mind?

These bullies nag, criticize, judge, and take you down just if it was like a physical bully in front of you. Every day they show up to pick and fight. Those messages tear down our self-esteem and security. If we do not fight those bullies within, they hinder our emotional well being. We can remain stuck in life.

So what are some of the inner bully messages that keep you stuck and hamper your well-being?

Take action and stand up and fight that bully within.

Carrier’s of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time

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The other side

Have you ever had that feeling where you felt paralyzed and felt your heart racing Where you feel the hairs on the back of your neck, and your hands begin to shake? All of a sudden, there it was on the other side.

I was sitting outside on my patio, taken back by the beautiful skies, embracing the fresh air, and feeling the temperature starting to change. My cute boxer was excited that momma was coming to spend time with him. I watched as he began to jump around and took full advantage of our backyard as he ran from side to side. When all of a sudden, we heard a roar on the other side of our fence. I was taken back by the noise and felt threatened. I watched the hairs of his body stand up, and he got into position as if something was coming at us.

Have you ever gotten that sudden call where you are so disoriented by the news? Engulfed feelings of fear and unsure of what to do. Saying, “No, no,no, please, do not say that almost anticipating what they were going to say next. I recall receiving that call in 2014 that one of my loved ones had tried to commit suicide while away at college. I was confused and taken back by the details. All these emotions came full force of anger, fear, and I thought, please wake me up from this bad nightmare.   

As a mother, how does one cope with such news? No matter what anyone says,you are left with those feelings, wondering how did we get to this point?  You even begin to reflect on your parenting skills and ask where or how did I miss these signs? How many times in life have things happened that you felt paralyzed by the sound of the roar? That its sting makes you question everything you have ever known or even believed.  Maybe still feeling in shock and succumbed by waves of denial.

I am not sure what you are facing today, but I have had many of those roars try and take me out. Some were hard.  Others I had to stare at the aftermath of those and figure on how I was truly going to cope with those.    

The critical thing here is that you face those things and not allow the boom to paralyze you. Sometimes in life, we do not understand certain things that come our way and are out of our control. Just as my dog stood stout and prepared for what was coming, you do the same. If you are uncertain on how to deal with what has happened, call a friend or a loved one. Where you can process and speak about the situation. I know many times with me that was not enough, I had to ask God to help and guide me through the process, and I know he can do the same for you. 

By the way, the roar on the other side was a German shepherd that sounded like a lion. Today my adult child is whole and now has a family of his own. I even have a grandbaby, and I have fallen into a new title of being called, “A Glamma,” too young and hip for any other terminology.  So, no matter how loud the roar is or what this may look like, know that this also shall pass and do not allow it to take you out.  

My prayers are with you today and know that whatever is roaring on the other side cannot take you out! It may feel like it at first but stand stout and look at in the face to let it know you see what is happening, and you will overcome this! 

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time 

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Slowly dying..

How many people do you think we pass by every day that is contemplating whether they should live or die? Here is something that will blow your mind; about 44,000 people try to commit suicide each year. As sad as it is people use different measures to get through life, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or sex or hide behind certain things, so they do not have to face or deal with what is going. Sadly, even suicide becomes an option.

I find myself wondering how does someone get to this point in their life that it becomes an option. I believe it begins with our thoughts, especially when things seem like they are falling apart and no longer have the energy to fight or do not know what to do to change their situation. We all struggle with our thoughts, and at times, the challenges we face can feel unbearable that the circumstances are destroying the very life of them slowly and are crying out for help and do not how to get it. Becoming a prisoner to whatever they are facing and give themselves their sentencing. Life gets hard; people begin to believe that there is no escape and that their situation will not get any better.

My heart is heavy and sadden as I was reading about a Pastor in California that committed suicide a few days ago, leaving behind a wife and two beautiful children. I can not even imagine what the wife and children are experiencing — lingering with unanswered questions.
Everyone asking the same thing why did their friend, child, parent, spouse, or sibling take their own life? They felt enough despair to want to die, but why did they think that?

A person’s suicide often takes the people it leaves behind by surprise. In 2013, I lost a loved one to suicide and can still feel the sting of that. Left with so many unanswered questions and wanting to know the same thing, why? I knew challenges were going on but never envisioned not seeing that person again. We think to ourselves all the could of, would of or even feel guilty that maybe we were not their enough for that individual because we have so many other things tugging on us. We may genuinely never know what all was going on in that person’s life that made them make that choice. But it does make you pause and reflect when you hear about it or occurs in that person’s life.

Today, I find myself reflecting on how life gets busy and passes by so quickly. Not knowing if that person in front of you is struggling and contemplating if they are better off no longer being here. Going through their battles and killing them softly inside, crying out for help, in hopes that maybe someone will notice, recognize, speak to them in giving them an encouraging word, prayer, or hug. Let’s slow down and pay attention to who we are passing by each day. Maybe at the grocery store, or the gas station or your neighborhood or community of people that you come across. Especially our loved ones, sometimes they are the ones that need us the most.

My prayers go out to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Let’s embrace them and let them know we are there for them. Take some time to reflect and pick up the phone, text, or visit with someone that has come to mind that you can uplift. You never know how much life can bring to them and how that can be the shift that they needed.

Sandy Cortes,

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at a Time