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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!

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Being deformed rather than transformed

shattered doll

I recall back in my high school years I loved wearing high heels. Back then they were called pumps. This girl had a struct like a runway model always feeling ready for a show.

Several years ago I began having pain on my left foot, so I decided to see a podiatrist. I am embarrassed to be putting this out there for the world to read. He said, “Sandy, you have a bunion growing on your foot.” I quickly said, “A who, come again, an onion.” I’m laughing as I am typing this. He could see the puzzling look on my face. So I asked him, “What in the world is that, how did that happen and how do we get rid of it?” He mentioned, “It a bony profusion that forms in the joint at the base of the big toe.” Then it begins to put pressure on the big toe causing it to grow outward. I had this confused look on my face; it was not registering.

Here are some stats, do you know that about 8% of women over the age of 21 reports having this condition. I thought to myself, “I am not trying to be part of this girl’s club. The analytical in me kicked in and pondered on that percentage being low. Well, come to find out that it is about 18 million women, and I was one of them.

I was still waiting for how did it happen part, and he mentioned several things. Then the light bulb went off when he said that it could come from the high-heeled, pointy toe, poorly designed or ill-fitting shoes. Remember that runway model back in high school. The doctor recommended not wearing those cute high heels caused the bunion would continue to grow. My feathers were already ruffled and sprawled out like a peacock having to let go of the crown of my days as a runway model, and now all those beautiful heels pointed shoes to go away.

Then he said, “It is a slow process, and you have no control when it begins to a happen and over time the toe starts to shape itself to the right. Toes are not supposed to do that! That day I was not about to let not podiatrist tell me what to wear let alone take my runway crown. Then it began to happen as he predicted. Have you ever seen a bunion on someone’s foot? Let’s say it is not attractive no matter if you are wearing the prettiest sandals. Those beautiful heels became so uncomfortable to wear and would hurt. I quickly made that call when I began to notice this take place and wanted that ugly thing gone. I had to have surgery. Throughout the years, I have not worn those pretty heels as much I as would wish too; the doctor did state that it can come back.

Have you ever had something in your life happen that grew on you without having any control over it, as that bunion did for me? I can not tell you how many people I speak to that life took a turn that changed them: an unexpected illness, a divorce, or a loss of a loved one. Seeing the warning signs and having no control of what direction it’s going. That ugly thing did not have permission to be there.

As I was reflecting on one of my journal entries back in December of 2009, I recall going through such a hard time. I had recently lost my mother about two years to cancer and my neighbors were killed by a drunk driver, leaving behind three beautiful children. Life was hard, and I wanted answers, I was angry and felt like life was not fair. I was mad at people, God and did want no spiel of “only God knows or this is part of life, it happens.” So many emotions were taking place, and everything seemed so out of control. It began to deform a lot of areas in my life. To grow and take shape into parts of me that started to change who I was — not seeing it grow on me and then not knowing how to remove them.

I wish I can say, that I went back to the doctor and had surgery to get it removed. If only it were that easy, right? It took a lot of time to heal, and at times things still come up from those hard years. I had learned to permit myself to grieve those things, to allow the anger and hurt to be expressed versus keeping it bottled in or putting it in a file to deal with later. Then as time went on, I ask God, to help me heal and let it go. I was not allowing the analytical Sandy to want all the questions answered before moving forward. I was tired of being angry.

One of the most significant things that took place was that it brought a lot of transformation in my life. It allowed me to have compassion for those who are grieving the loss of something whether it was a death or not. Something was birthed in me in wanting to help others identify those deformities that take place. Then to begin to have surgery on callous areas and use those things to cause the transformation to take place.

I have had a lot of deformities take place in my life and eventually I became so tired of having them there. I was afraid to have to go and get them looked at. I want to ask a question, “Are you afraid of being deformed rather than transformed?” I am not sure what you’re facing, but I want to encourage you to permit yourself to feel those things that have happened in your life. To take a look at the deformities and ask yourself has this cause a transformation or is still deforming different parts of your life?

Beloved, know that you have a story to share just as I am sharing some of the chapters of mine. Begin by picking up the phone, or send an email or text and ask someone to help come alongside and help you with those deformities. How much longer before you have them removed?

Carrier’s of Hope,
Sandy Cortes
Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

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A death must take place

One of the hardest things to have to face is the death of a loved one. I know it is a part of life, but it is tough to go through. In 2007, my mother died of cancer, and there were so many different emotions that were taking place. I recall being numb and in denial, then came the outpouring feelings of rage and anger. The only way I know how to describe it is when you go on a rollercoaster and like it so much that you decide you want to ride it again and again. That is how I felt with my emotions, yet I had not permitted myself to go on that ride.

I am not one to go and visit the grave where my mother is buried. Every time I have gone, it brings pain that she is no longer here. I feel like she was buried before her time. I begin to reminisce of all our memories together some which are good and others that are not. I can hear her laughter and see her smile. It is a sad and hurtful experience for me. Emotions are raw, and technically her remains are there, but she is not. Even if I were to pull her out of the casket, it would not bring her back to life.

How about those emotional deaths that take place in our lives that we were not prepared for? The death of something that was done. Something that was buried before it’s time. Never taking the time to grieve the loss of whatever that was. Whether it was a betrayal, a relationship that ended or an unexpected loss of a home or a job, or a family member that decided to disown you at a young age. Do we ever really take the time to grieve the loss of those wounds. That pain is so unbearable that we disassociate ourselves from it and act like it never happened.

At the beginning of the year I decided to go back to school to get my Master’s in Counseling. Little did I know that I was playing two roles, the student and the client. You know that feeling of “Surprise,” but there are no balloons or party favors and realize this is not a celebration. Yes, that was my party and I was the only one attending! It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions that have been oozing out of my pores. Things that I had buried before it’s time and never grieved.

Brene Brown says, “One must grieve the loss of what that was for something new to be born.” In my mind, this did not make any sense to me. Until I started pondering on the meaning of this. When things happen in our lives, it creates emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that came from that death that took place in our lives. Somehow we recreate this new identity due from that death that took place.

Remember that part of not liking to visit my mother’s gravesite, well this has been the process for the past 12 weeks. I have had to go to the gravesite of my deaths that have taken place and pull out the casket and look at those things in the face and mourn, cry, and scream. At times it is as if I am revisiting those same deaths. It has been one of the hardest things to face, harder than the emotions of the actual death of my mother. Different waves of emotion that surface without an invitation. I am not sure if I have ever felt so broken and to my recollection, I thought I had buried those things for good.

What I am learning from my schooling, and the wonderful Brene Brown is learning how to visit those deaths in the face and grieve the loss of what occurred and then close the casket. As you are reading this, I am praying that this particular blog touched your heart today. I am not sure where you are in visiting those areas of your life that caused death to take place, but I do want you to let you know that it may be painful at first but at the same it is so liberating. For something to be born something must die in us first!

So I say to you, “Do it afraid!” Face whatever that is, whether it is fear, bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness and mourn the loss of whoever caused it and go back and close that casket for good! I promise you it will feel so liberating and bring freedom and something new will be born out of it!

Sandy Cortes

Carrier’s of Hope,

Breathing Hope One Life at Time!