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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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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 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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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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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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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!