#NoFilter

I am the rare breed (or like to think I am) who has not yet joined Instagram. But even I notice the lovely little hashtags flitting around those ever-shared Instagram photos. My favorite is #NoFilter.

Really? Are our photos so artificial now that we must point out when they’re not?

Or…does it say, “Look. This is beautiful. Without even adding a filter to it.”

I wonder about this in life. We often display the filtered, photo-shopped version of ourselves more than the real, nitty-gritty parts. Is it really so shocking to be a “natural,” non-filtered YOU?

The #NoFilter tag tells me that we honor real beauty. It stands out to us. We think, “This is so lovely, with such color, all on its own,” and we stamp it with #NoFilter.

#NoFilter says: This is rich. This is genuine. This is real.

This trend offers us a glimpse of what people search for. We want the deep colors that aren’t faked. We want a touch of awe, without the artificial touch. We look for #NoFilter, because that means it’s REAL.

Something to consider: perhaps this is what we want from each other, too.

How can you live your life with #NoFilter?

Why You Need a Lindsay

You need a Lindsay. And I’m going to tell you why.

The love of my sister Lindsay AMAZES me. She is one of the greatest gifts in my life. Do you know why? She gives me the most precious of things: unconditional love, and the complete freedom to be myself.

If you’re like me, you sometimes wonder if you’re really unconditionally loved. Yes, people love you: family, spouses, etc.  But let’s be honest. Do you ever feel like they only love you because it’s in their job description? Or perhaps you think they might love you NOW, but if they EVER discovered X, Y, and Z, they would turn and run as fast as they could. Or maybe you feel like if you stop living up to EXACTLY who and what they want you to be, then they will see how unworthy you are of love.

But that’s the thing about unconditional love. THERE ARE NO CLAUSES. There is no job description that they have to live up to. They might discover X, Y, and Z, or maybe they already know it—and it DOESN’T MATTER. And maybe you stop living up to who and what they think you should be, just to discover 1) They never thought that in the first place, and 2) They are just so glad that you’re being YOU that it doesn’t matter HOW you do it.

That’s the second part: freedom to be yourself. This is what I have learned from my sister Lindsay. ImageI can be the exact mess of a person I am, and she still somehow loves me. Not just loves me, but thinks I’m AWESOME. (No, I’m serious, she really does. No bribes or anything.) She thinks my silly words are brilliant and my lame jokes are hilarious. Some days I am depressed and moody and stressed. That’s ok with her. It’s just a good excuse to go get ice cream so we can eat it and talk, cry, or whatever. I can express my worst feelings and most terrible thoughts, and Lindsay listens and wants to hear more. That’s a GIFT, people. It’s hard to find.

But it CAN be found. So here’s your challenge: start looking for your Lindsays. You may not think you can find that love and freedom, but I believe you can. It may be someone you already know, but you simply haven’t realized it yet. Stop trying to fit into their “perception” of you and let them love your imperfections.

So risk some things. Be a little silly. Say something dumb. Let people see the real you…because very possibly, they will LOVE it. That’s what I’m learning from my sister.

I am praying you find your Lindsay, too. And then, be a Lindsay for someone else.

Finding a voice

In my writing, I am seeking to find my “voice.” Can I get a little existential for a moment? I have to say: I think we’re ALL trying to find our voices.

ImageA voice is for speaking. It is for singing. It is for communicating. And honestly, it’s about communicating our selves. When I talk to friends, I use my voice to find out more about how they are and to share about how I am. We learn to use different tones of voice depending on how we are feeling, who we are talking to, and what situation we are in. I have a hard time getting angry at people—or at least angry enough to show it in my voice, in my words. But sometimes finally I am so emotional that it comes OUT—

Ah.

There it is.

My voice.

So perhaps in trying to discover my voice—in you trying to discover your voice—we must find what evokes strong emotion in us. The strongest emotions are the ones that refuse to be unspoken.

And it is a beautiful thing, to speak. To share. To have a voice.

I lost my voice for a while.

No, I didn’t literally lose the ability to speak. Or did I? Yes, I could still speak out loud. But I lost the ability to say MY words, MY thoughts, MY innermost feelings. I was afraid of judgment, of non-understanding, of being vulnerable and sharing my voice—my SELF—and having it glanced at, only to find it undeserving of attention. Still, the thought of sharing myself, and having others turn away from it, is terrifying. Unbearable. So sometimes I sit in quiet. I hide my words and my thoughts deep inside myself—because if they’re not seen, then they can’t be judged. No, *I* can’t be judged.

But is a lonely place, to sit in silence. With silence, there is no communication. Without communication, there is no relationship, no community. In being silent to avoid rejection from others, I found myself lonelier than I could have been with all the rejection I feared.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to find the emotions that make me speak up. I want to connect. I want to hear what others have to say, and I want to share what I have to say.

It’s time to find a voice.