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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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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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To be continued…

Have you ever watched a tv show or movie that had you sitting at the edge of your seat anticipating what is going to happen next? Then all of sudden it ends with “To be continued”.

You have all these emotions running through your veins and left wondering what just happened and why would they leave you that way? When will it be continued?

If you are like me I pull out my phone and search online to see when the next sequel or episode is coming out. Only left feeling more disappointed when there are no answers to those questions.

Have you ever felt like that about life? All of sudden things are going great and then something happens that alters your life, causing a pause. Either by a tragedy, loss of a love one, a separation or divorce or unexpected illness. Left wondering what just happened? What is going to happen next?

When I look back at some of the episodes of my life many have brought different emotions like pain and brokenness, while others caused a hardness of heart and bitterness! Left wondering will this pass? Some of those painful moments created self reflection and brought change within me or my situation. Learning from many of my “to be continued” series.

Just like the tv show or sequel it continues and shows you the next part of the story.

I am not sure what your facing today, but I want to encourage you that the things that have been left “to be continued” will be continued! You are building your story, your sequel, your next episode.

Every episode in your life builds upon the story that was created for you! Be encouraged today, this too shall pass! Then you will sit back and play the reruns of your life with others and those episodes will bring hope and encouragement to others as your share.

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing hope one life at a time.

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Who is coaching YOU?

What is a coach?  It is a coach who comes alongside you to see you where you are at and help you get to where you want to be. 

I recall watching a commercial with a well-known basketball player and thinking, “He was not always a great basketball player”.  He had to work with someone behind the scenes that showed him different techniques and calling out some of the areas where growth needed to take place in.   The coach had to come alongside the basketball player on the sidelines and outside the games calling out different plays to conduct and not conduct while being in and out of the game.  Even the best experts utilize a Coach. A coach will listen to your story without feeling judged, criticized and provided the greatest support during those hard times.

We all have blind spots in our lives that we are unaware of and need some guidance in.  In having coach or accountability partner, they help in areas that are challenging and approach beliefs that are crippling one from making genuine connections and have fulfilling relationships.  They help individuals to gain the courage, strength and discover some of the passions and gain the confidence needed in overcoming life challenges that come unexpectedly.  

A coach helps to work on self-confidence and explore obstacles that have kept an individual stuck and has enabled them in believing that they can move forward.  Especially if you have not identified them as blind spots or mental blocks.   With Coaching one can explore many different topics like personal goals and/or professional goals.  It is not just about dealing with the past but closing the gap of where one is currently at and where you would like to be in your ideal self. Together creating an action plan that the individual and the coach are held accountable to fulfill and achieve those goals.

When your sitting down with someone who is a coach or is holding you accountable that person is able to examine where you are at and learn what patterns have been good for you and not.  Honing in and taking a look at some of the life challenges and misunderstandings about yourself and others.  That has occurred throughout life and learn to follow through in trusting yourself to revisit those areas. A coach helps with your personal life, goal setting, and dealing with life challenges.  It helps an individual to get unstuck and create healthy habits, as well as learning how to have fun, unleash the gifts within you, and improve relationships.  Furthermore, it helps create awareness in identifying your life purpose and reaching your goals.

People that have chosen to have a Coach have been successful in life because they have chosen to do something different and together brainstorm and create a plan that will lead them to become a better individual. 

The role of a Coach is to help provide the tools needed to help achieve goals and carry out the vision for yourself at the same time holding you accountable.  It is a great resource to utilize that allows an individual to move forward in life where the life coach is there to motivate and supports individuals that face roadblocks along the way.  Everyone has life challenges but it is what you do with them that matters.  With each challenge, there is always a solution that eventually becomes part of your story.

Where we get to explore and face those areas of life that have been challenging and help shape you into a stronger, healthier and empower the person within you.  It is a place where we provide the tools to help empty the garbage out. The goal is to gain new tools to deal with life challenged one has experienced as well as prepare you to cope effectively with the stresses and challenges that life brings. 

Life Application

Do you want to achieve happiness and true fulfillment in your personal life? Do you want to begin let go of any fears and concerns? It is time to seek after a coach or accountability partner, as we all need in our lives.

Carrier’s 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!