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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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

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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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Calculate your prey…

I was fascinated as I was watching a documentary about Lions. Did you know that a lion is a large cat and are known as “king of the beasts?” They are very territorial and truly defend their area against intruding lions and other animals. One of the ways a lion proclaims an area is by their roaring and scent marking on trees or different regions. Interesting enough the lions were calculating how to take down their prey, and then all of a sudden lunged at the neck and bit down until the animal was strangled.

This documentary was such a great illustration of how easily individuals can become prey and be killed. It made me reflect on how easy it is to fall prey to certain things in our lives. One downfall the lions have is that they do not keep track of the direction of the wind blowing. Which leads the bigger prey to them due to their scent marking. Reflecting on the enemies in our lives we tend to not see coming and are caught off guard.

I know one of my enemies has been “thoughts.” Did you know that we get anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day? Seems overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time. Experts say, typically it is more negative thoughts than positive that come and can change your whole outlook on life. Those thoughts usually come in at the midnight hours, while sitting dormant or when facing difficulties.

I know for me it is tough to shake some of those enemies off. I have watched people lose touch with who they were because this “enemy” crept in and took the life right out of them literally. Not realizing how damaging that “enemy” can be to our well-being. In the line of work that I do” thoughts” are the number one cause that enables people to remain stuck and from growing.

I have learned to decipher things and become a good listener, be more observant of where I am at mentally and watch my behaviors as well as others. At times it can be disheartening to see how people change due to the enemy that has come in and sapped who they were called to be versus who they are. We get so bombarded that one has to be intentional about deciphering what those enemies are so that they do not sap the life right out of us.

So I want to propose these questions to you:

What are some of the things that you did not calculate that have changed who you are?

Are you sitting with those feelings of defeat because you lost sight of the enemy and life has strangled who you are?

Learn to be alert and calculate how to take down your prey, so it does not take you out.

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8, AMP).

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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Are you letting your junk build up?

Have you ever felt like there so many things going on all at the same time?

Then that one little thing sets you off and you reflect on everything that’s not going right.  What do we do with that? Do you deal with things as they come up or are we just continuing to stuff things and tell ourselves I’ll deal with that later? Yet later never comes!

I know from personal experience I have been one to stuff what I was feeling and then never come to address it ever again.  Either because I was afraid of having to go there and relive that experience or those feelings of being angry would come up all over again.  What I have learned on this journey is that by holding on to things in and never addressing them it begins to create a hardened heart.  It begins to take away from who you were called to be.  You begin to become complacent and believe that this new journey is a part of you.  When in reality it is taking the life out of you.  You become hopeless in the process and start losing the fight.

Like the rest of the world we are all struggling with some type of brokenness, wound or challenges in our lives.  The suicide rate continues to  escalate or people begin turning to things that they believe can numb or fix the pain.  Then to circle right back around and stay stuck in the same place we  started.

I want to advice you to change your thinking and change the lane your on and head towards the path of bettering yourself.  Remember we are all a work in progress.  Learn to deal with stuff along the way or kill the pride and ask someone to walk alongside this journey so your not going at it alone!  Two are better than one!

Take time today to deal with one thing that you can change and have control over versus the opposite of that.  Your worth it!

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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What is your verdict?

Today I was convicted in how many times in my own life I have judged, condemned or looked down upon others. Whether they have done something that was not according to my standards. I have been quick to express my opinion, even when the person has not asked for it. Or I have turned my nose up at people. I know I’m not the only one in the world to do this, but the conviction I feel is real.

As I was sitting in class and was reading about different cultures. The chapter discussed about having self awareness when working with people and their culture. As a counselor I have to flow and know my audience and become familiar with their culture. By being open and understanding certain decisions and why they choose certain beliefs, lifestyles within their culture.

The more I read the more I was I raising my nose up as if I was better. I actually said, “Those people need to straighten up and that just won’t work for me”.

I had to quickly tell myself “Get over yourself”. In order for me to be an effective counselor, leader and friend, I have to be able to accept others no matter what”. By putting aside my own opinions, beliefs and not being bias. Or act as if I’m better than whoever.

A perfect example that comes to mind is with my Hispanic culture. Hispanics are known to be late. I’m not saying all hispanics so please hear me I’m saying in the Puerto Rican culture or community. Perpetual lateness has always been acceptable and this is one of pet peeve.

At that moment is when I realized, “What are you talking about sister? “You use to be late all the time and many times have been in a crisis situation that you couldn’t control not being late. I have also made poor choices throughout life that weren’t the best. I quickly said, “Sandy, get over yourself”. Just like that I had to shut down every time she tries to speak foolishness!

I was totally convicted by a book that I am reading called “What if we start over”, by Ricardo & Susana Rodriguez.

Here is what it said,”Keep in mind that by the way you respond to someone’s else sin you can either spark the process of restoration in their lives or create further pain and worsen the wound. Our words and attitudes are decisive. The worst mistake is to judge

My prayer today would be that we are quick to not judge or condemn. That when we do that we are quick to repent and ask the Lord to forgive us.

Jesus laid on the cross and indicated, “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. This is the same response we should have with others that we may not approve their lifestyle or decisions.

Let’s mimic Christ in this and ask the Lord to lead us to those who need that unconditional love and compassion as Christ has with us..

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing one Life at a Time!