Featured

What are you giving birth to?

Do you know that everyone has a purpose and calling in their lives?

I was never one who believed that I had a purpose in life. My upbringing was a rough one and I did not like people, especially the religious ones. I was a person who was full of anger and could spit acid in how much bitterness I was holding inside my heart! I grew up with a religious and legalistic stepfather.

Religion was shoved down my throat and not in a loving way but more of a legalistic harsh way! Who wants to know about this so-called God after that right? This was my core reason why I disliked religious people. I felt they were over religious and hypocrites.

My perception came from what I saw in my upbringing. It was my reality throughout those years. Then came that place in life where desperation kicked in and it was time for a change, change within! I had to figure out why I was so angry.

I had to do my own research and search within my own heart. I began admitting some of my pain and issues that took place. Allowing healing and accountability and this where something was birth within me. This is how the name, “Carriers of Hope”, was birth from.

See from my pain came his gain. Today I able to share with people from all backgrounds, different walks of life. Knowing that the big guy upstairs sent me to share my story with others. To breathe life to into those areas that have died, are dying and breath Hope One Life a Time!

Just in case you feel like you have no purpose, reread this post, so it encourages you and reminds you that YOU to have been called for a purpose and that there is something birthing within that you need to deliver that the world needs to hear.

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life a Time!

Featured

What road are you on?

I like having control over things, like what my upcoming weeks look like or knowing when and how I am going to handle a particular project. Or how to get my kids or husband to get them to do something I want them to do. I can predict the outcome and prepare accordingly for attitudes and negotiation and even compromising. Yet there have been other things that I had no control over. I have mentored and counseled many individuals throughout life. But, how about when you can not control an unexpected issue like a terrible break-up, a divorce of a couple, a severe illness, a loss of a job, or a loss of a loved one. Listen to the news and hear all the things that are taking place in our day to day society. But what do you do when it happens and it mainly affects you?

I woke up thinking about the tragic accident that took place yesterday with Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other six passengers. I am a mother and wife, and my heart hurts for those families. I think of the call that was made to his wife and envision what may have gone through her mind to not only receive the news of her husband but then in the very next breath hearing that her daughter passed away too — the same with the other families. Life will never be the same for them. A part of them will be missing that will not be given back. I have no relationship with any of these individuals. However, I know the pain of losing a loved one. My heart and prayer go out to the families.

How does one deal when you receive news like this? How does one deal with all the emotions that come from those situations of trauma or tragedy?

With my own experiences, I recall being so angry when I got the news of good friends of ours that were killed by a drunk driver and when my mother passed away from cancer. Devastation kicked in, and I had all these mixed emotions. I did not know how to process what was said, yet let alone how does one grieve, and go back to day to day life without that person no longer being in their life. How does one hold and process everything that they are feeling, thinking, and wishing it was a bad nightmare? Then evenutally coming to terms, and realizing that it happened and that those loved ones are not coming back.

I wish I had those answers on what to do. I know for me, I was in a state of shock, and the world stopped at that moment. Nothing else mattered, and nothing could soothe the pain of losing someone you love. Then all the should of, could of the sit-in and you try to remember the last conversation or last thing said. For me, it took many years to talk about what happened, I went through a dark time of being depressed. I do not know if it was that I was just not ready to procesd and/or just trying to survive, in denial, or just not go there because of the pain I felt. Eventually, I had to learn to go to that place of torment. I am one who, when I begin to cry, and I am trying to express myself, all I can do is cry, and there goes the end of that conversation. That when I finally do share, it is ugly and hard. Yet it is therapeutic; it didn’t make the people I love come back but help soothe and made it easier to process the emotions I felt.

I have learned the importance of accountability. Yes, I did say accountability. It is going to require you to speak about those things that have occurred throughout life. You are not truly going to know how to process or handle what has happened. Having someone in your life helps hold your challenges, and that will guide and be there with you through the aftermath. Many times the risk of being accountable and authentic is hard for individuals. Being on the receiving side at times, we feel that we have to have the right words or have to say something, but it is okay to sit and just listen. Just being there for that individual can bring healing to their life. But one of the things that can help me help others is putting myself in their shoes and being in that moment per say in what they are vocalizing.

Beloved, I am not sure what you are facing today, I am hoping that you would be ready and open to share those hard places of your life. Reflecting on the importance of going to a friend or relative or yes, a counselor/therapist. That you feel you can share that brave space with and share your pain and sufferings with is so therapeutic. It is the first step forward in beginning your healing process. There is not a timeline of when to no longer hurt and mourn over the loved ones you have lost. Embrace each day as it comes. I know when the holidays come, I often think of my loved ones and become sad, and I embrace it and I know there in a much better place than I am. From these hardships, I have learned that life is too short and learning to be present at the moment with those loved ones that are still here. Life goes by very quickly.

There was a meta anayalis done and it stated, “The average person who received therapy is better off at the end of it than 80% of those who do not”. This is something I can vouch for as I have taken therapy and believe in it. It has help me to cope and heal and given me tools to utlize when those unexpected things come up. So take time out today and make that call and share those things that are holding you back and/or that have been hard to deal with. I promise you will not regret it!

Carriers of Hope,

Sandy Cortes

Breathing Hope One Life at a Time!

Featured

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 

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

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!

Featured

Confined and Uncomfortable

adult-art-beautiful-1437440

You never really know what you a scared of until you see something or are put in a situation where you to begin freak out in.  There I was getting ready to get an MRI done on my neck and shoulder.  Trying to figure out why I am still in a bit of discomfort after my accident in September.  As the tech began pressing the button and sliding me into the machine I begin to panic.  Thinking this a very confined space for me to be in.  So she began to speak to me through the speaker asking me “Sandy, how are you doing?”  My response as I was trying to be strong but yet really scared, “Yes, I’m Okay”, but really meaning I am freaking out right now, somebody get me out of here”.

I recall a time in my life when I was in a bathroom stall in Middle school and a girl came and cornered me in the stall and began to feel all over my body.  I did not know what to do nor did I know what was happening.  It was like someone was pressing the button and putting me in that confined space.  That day I walked around in a state of shock and wondering what just had happened.  Then it became a pattern, it was as if she was waiting and watching to see when I would go into the bathroom.  She would always tell me, “If you tell anyone, I will beat you up”. She would laugh at my facial expressions whenever I would see her as I walk through the halls.  As if it was some kind of joke.

I think to myself today, “Why did I never say anything or stick up for myself”.  All I can recall is that paralyze confined feeling.  Like that same feeling of when I was getting that MRI done. But the only difference was that there was no one asking me, “How are you, are you okay?”  Sometimes in life we don’t understand why certain things happen to us? Maybe those fears lead back to a trauma in our lives or something that really affected us and are paralyzed in, even today.  There was a violation that took place that day that wounded my heart and questioned, “Why didn’t  say anything”.  The only certainty had been that if I spoke I would get beat up by that girl.

Fast forward to that day of the MRI, those feelings of confinement were real and I had to pray.  Asking God to help me through this moment as it was a good 45 minutes of being in that confined space. So many times I would relapse with those feelings of being paralyzed, but I had to tell myself, ” Sandy, you can do this, it will be over soon”. I am thankful for the tech that day that checked in every 3 minutes.  This was a hard thing for me to expose once I realized what had happened.

How many times in our lives are we put in a position that makes us uncomfortable? Or that we feel confined?  Or that there is no one there or asks, “Are you okay”.  I am thankful that God was faithful in bringing someone along to help me talk and heal from it..  Maybe you’re a victim of sexual abuse and have had an encounter like I did or something similar. I want to stand in the gap for you.  I do not know if you are still in that state of being confined and uncomfortable.  Possibly paralyzed in that area that it has affected other areas of your life.

I want to encourage you to know that God is there for you and wants to bring healing.  I want to encourage you to know that God is there for you and wants to bring healing to your heart, soul and mind.  I pray that the healing balm of God reaches you right where you are.  That he will send someone who you can share this trauma with that can help walk alongside and bring healing.   Today, I have the honor and privilege of helping women who have gone through those traumatic events and are needing healing and closure.  That are wrestling with those feelings of being paralyzed and confined.

Thank you for reading and ask that if you know of someone who has gone through something similar or could use an encouraging word, I ask that you would forward that to them.  Help me a Carrier of Hope to that individual.

I want to leave you with this prayer.  Lord, I ask for you to go right where this person is and bring your comfort and love to them. That they may feel your presence and that they would allow you to bring your healing to their heart, mind and soul. Amen. Thank you and God bless you.

Sandy Cortes, Carriers of Hope

Breathing Hope one Life at a Time!