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Life Through a filter.....

These are goofy black-and-white pictures I took with my phone. I'm sort of smiling, my eyes seem bright, I look happy, right?

Filters… and I'm not just talking about Instagram filters, but life filters. We show others most of the time, what we think they want to or expect to see from us.

So back to the picture… what you can't see is the amount of pain I was in physically. And if you have ever experienced chronic pain of any kind, you know it automatically wears on you emotionally and mentally. You can't see just how deep those dark circles under my eyes are from lack of sleep. You can't see that my smile is not real, but rather me pretending (fake it till your make it) and trying to remind myself that even in the midst of a hard battle there is a lot to be thankful for. You can't see the person I had just talked to who said "Aren't you better yet?".

You can't see the tears I cried before deciding to take these pics to lighten the mood.

Sometimes the filter isn't what we offer the world, but rather what they choose to see. It's far easier to believe that a person is happy and ok than to face the reality they may not be. It's far easier to just avoid talking to someone than to tell them the truth that you don't know what to say.

Shawn Mendes an artist I love and respect and one of the kindest people in the industry, one of the hardest working (especially considering he's been doing this for a decade and started at 15 with little to no time off) announced the cancellation of his world tour today. He stated he needed to take the much-needed time he's never taken to heal and work on his mental health (and I pray also to have a life he hasn’t really been able to experience). I saw so many floored by his decision, to do that out of nowhere when he seemed fine. But was it out of nowhere? Did he seem fine?

Because I'm used to masking pain, I recognize it in others. Nothing about the canceled tour took me by surprise. First, he's talked about his anxiety and mental health struggles for years (did anyone listen to In My Blood or any of the interviews he's done about it?) Second, it was visible on him. A smile that doesn't quite reach the eyes, little mannerisms that showed he was struggling. A disconnect appeared on his face when the lights would be lower at the few shows he could do. He's human and just like all the rest of humans, he hurts, he struggles and sometimes he just can't push past it. Sometimes it's crippling and if you don't step back and deal with it, it can cost you everything.

I have lost more than one friend to mental health issues and have struggled off and on myself. So, I 100% support anyone doing what they have to do to be okay. To get help. Help looks different for everyone also. For Some therapy alone works great, for others therapy is painting, walking, and working out. For me, therapy alone doesn’t work and that’s okay. I majored in psychology perhaps that makes me more stubborn about it lol. My therapy is writing, singing, nature, and my puppies. My therapy is a morning gratitude walk where I just say out loud everything I can think of or find to be thankful for. The sky, the birds singing, the trees, the sound of the wind, my breathing, anything I can think of.

It all made me stop and think not just about the trauma each of us has faced throughout our lifetime (which we all process and deal with differently), but also the collective trauma of three years of a constantly changing, less secure by the day world. The collective trauma of a global pandemic and watching a man murdered by a peace officer on the news in real-time. The collective trauma of social media which screams at us we have to be all these things to matter, we must share everything but only the way people accept it and want it shared. We must be subjected to ridicule, humiliation, and online bullies who deliver hate for no other reason than they can without consequences.

We are bombarded with one trauma after another, constant bad news (why again is there no good news network on tv??) I’m pretty sure we need that just as much if not more than we need to know what is going on around us. But it’s a lot, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

I'm so proud of Shawn Mendes for being brave enough to say enough. Enough giving people access to how you live your life. Enough being treated like machines instead of human beings. Enough trying to be enough when the truth is we always were enough. You cannot pour from an empty cup. We were never designed to kill ourselves to create. Art in all its forms is a flow. It's a messy, beautiful, chaotic flow. Its imperfection is what makes it the most valuable because the imperfection is a little of us in each painting, drawing, song talk, etc.

So Live each moment and be thankful for each breath. There is so much beauty around us, but we have to allow true healing and true processing of trauma to see and experience that beauty.

It's okay to not be okay, but don't stay that way. Ask for help and find the things that truly inspire you. Art, music, faith, dance, writing, cooking, cleaning, Christmas, party planning, Halloween, or for celebrities living your actual life instead of the one paparazzi and the public try to force you to live. Human nature seems to be to judge first, but none of us truly has any idea what any other human being is going through. Even if we are experiencing the same trauma, it will always be through our own unique lens. You are you because this crazy world needs you in it and no one else can fill your shoes. So do what you need to and leave the world's judgments in your past, don't carry them with you into your beautiful and miraculous life.

Love and blessings

Be honest, Be real, Be you

Bobbie De Leon


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