By Lisa Allen, Blogger of the Month for February
I was excited when I saw that this month’s theme is “Using our Voice to Change the World.”
Then I freaked out a little bit.
It’s an awfully big topic, especially if we think of the world as actually THE World! It might even seem an impossible goal to reach everyone, everywhere, in such a way that we contribute conversations, influence issues or make differences that matter to people we don’t know or have little in common with.
Then I stopped for a second and took a breath. And I remembered this:
That’s right. My world right now is at once small and infinite. At this time in my life, my world is my kids, and it’s my voice they listen to day in, day out. It’s my voice they’ll hear in their heads as they move on to college and jobs and eventually have families of their own.
Sure, other voices will come and go. But whether mine is good or bad, helpful or hurtful, true or not; it will stick. I know it to be true because even though I haven’t talked to my own mother since I was sixteen years old I still hear her voice in my head, every single day, just as clear as it was in my teen years.
The beautiful thing about using our voice to change the world isn’t just that we can pick which world we influence at any given time; it’s that if we’re mindful and remember that our voice lingers long after the sound dies, we can choose our words to make a difference. It’s like the ripple in a pond after you skip a stone; it’s never just one wave but many, each bigger in turn, filling the space and lapping at the shore.
Your voice is that powerful.
I took a step this year to ensure that my daughter hears my voice not just at home, but in the world (her world, anyway). I stepped up to be a Girl Scout troop leader. This is definitely something that’s outside my comfort zone, and I won’t lie and say that it’s easy. It’s like another part-time job some days, what with the planning and the meeting times and the cookies and the projects and the snacks … you get the idea.
But I keep reminding myself what she’ll remember from this experience. It won’t be that I was up late working on schedules and badge plans, and likely grumpier than normal the next morning. It won’t be that the snacks aren’t home baked or that they’re not her favorites. It won’t even be that I padded her cookie order so that she could get the fun patch she’s had her eye on.
What she’ll remember from this time will be that I was there, in the trenches, helping her do things that matter to her. What she’ll remember is that her mom helped a group of girls reach some pretty ambitious goals in the span of one short year. What she’ll remember is that I took her seriously, and that I listened to her voice and encouraged her to speak up.
What I’m hoping she’ll forget is that I ate the all of the peanut butter sandwich cookies.
Truth is, I can’t genuinely speak about using my voice on a global platform to change THE World, but I can say from experience that, as a mother, my voice is sometimes their world. I get to choose what that voice says, and with some luck the ripples that I create will touch other lives as they grow, lives outside the confines of my own homes, through my kids.
Lisa Allen started her blog Back2Allen in 2007. She writes about life as a single mom and is slowly coming to grips with the fact that her babies aren’t babies anymore. She is a freelance writer, co-director of Listen to Your Mother: Kansas City, Girl Scout troop leader, volunteer, and stress baker. She prefers red over white and desperately wants to go back to yoga class.