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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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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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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!

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Magnified

I found myself struggling with a situation that as the minutes went by it became magnified. The thoughts began to creep into my heart. I felt my chest becoming tight and was feeling a lot of anxiety.

I kept replaying the movie over and over asking myself, “Am I making the right decision? What if I’m not qualified? What if I am not chosen?

I had to ask myself, “What are you allowing into your heart and mind? This is what is keeping you away from the very thing that you’re longing to do. The situation becomes so magnified to the point that you become paralyzed and do not go into what you’re wanting to do.

That enemy is called “FEAR”. It becomes magnified in our lives that it keeps us away from the things that we’ve been called to do. It prohibits us from pushing forward and going after those things that God has placed in your heart. Those desires didn’t come from you, God placed them there.

So, I decided to go and face the very thing that I was most afraid of doing. I got in my car and begin driving towards that very magnified situation. I had to stare fear in the face and tell it to get out of my way! In this particular situation I knew there would be prestige people there with high educational backgrounds. I knew that they were going to be probing and interviewing me to see if I’m qualified to get into their program. That was the fear that was eating at me. It was telling me, “Sandy” are you crazy, they will not pick you! “You were not called to do this”.

Not only did I take the action steps to go but regardless of what they said I had to make a decision that if I was not accepted into this program I had to know God had something better. Regardless of the decision I was not going to allow it to dictate who I am. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, “There’s a lot of qualities about you that can help others. You were called to do great things and by allowing the leading of the Holy Spirit it will bring healing and hope to the lives of others. You have to know that if your not selected for this program, this is not the one God wants you to do!! That’s what I had to remain focused on”.

Typically the program will notify you in 24 hours with a decision. I thought to myself, “This is going to be a long 24 hours for me”. So what was suppose to be 24 hours later, came within 2 hours. I received an email that I had been accepted into the program to pursue to my Masters to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I quickly knew that God hand was all over this.

I thought to myself, “All the energy I was wasted prior to this! Did it make the situation come sooner? Did it help any by allowing fear to become magnified in my heart?

I want to ask you some questions:

• What is it that your most afraid of?

• What is it that you’re good at?

• What is one desire in your heart that you have wanted to do and haven’t done it due to fear?

• Focus on those things and those things will grow.

• Become more selective in your thoughts and more intentional on what you focus on.

• Stare fear in the face and walk into the very thing your afraid to do!

DO IT AFRAID!!!!

Carrier’s of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at Time


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Did you sign a verbal agreement on that?

contractsignedAs I was working with a client on her belief system. I had her identify what some of her beliefs were.  As we were working through some of the lies, we ran across one that indicated, “I’m not smart enough”.  So, I probed a little and asked where did this stem from?  She indicated to me, “I do not really know, but I do recall when I was a little girl I was always taken out of class and had to review certain concepts in another classroom by myself”. She had a slow learning disability and because of this memory she developed the lie, “She was not smart enough”. 

I recall a situation in my own life that I could identify the same lie.  I believed the lie because my stepfather would always tell me, “You’re not smart enough and won’t amount to anything.”  So, with this being my step father telling me, that knows me, then he is correct in what he is saying.  It was not until I decided to go back to school to get my undergraduate degree that I realized that this was not correct. I had to request my transcripts from my High school and a previous college I had prior gone to.  Once I received the transcripts, I was amazed at the grades that were on them.  I had called the school and asked them, “Are you sure this is correct, and are you sure there is not another Sandy Pagan out there?  The grades were all “A’s”.  

Our beliefs create patterns in our lives that can paralyze us. Our perception becomes our reality, our life experiences shape us in the good and in the bad.  Without even recognizing it we do not even realize why we’re acting a certain way.  Or why we continue to do the same things over and over again.  This is based out of our belief system. It is like we have signed a verbal agreement and are bound to it. 

Signed and said, “Yes, this is correct information about me.  By signing this agreement, it becomes a legal document in our minds that we feel bound to what it says.  I cannot tell you how many lies go through my mind on a daily basis.  It feels like torpedo’s being launched waiting to see which one will land and explode.  It can become exhausting trying to combat those lies.  Especially if you do not have truths to combat them with.  So the key is identifying the lies and combatting them with truth.  

So I want to ask you, “Are you living out what was spoken over you?” Have you signed the verbal agreement that makes it an official document that you’re bound to today?

Life Application

  • What is a lie that you have been challenged by and want to work on?
  • Create a truth statement and agree on that!

I want to hear from you, tell me what is a lie that you have been challenged by and want to work on?

And, YOU shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free! (John 8:32).

Carrier’s of Hope

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time.