When You’re Running on Empty {Using our Voices to Change the World}

Lisa Allen

By Lisa Allen, Blogger of the Month for February

Trying to change the world can be exhausting.

I don’t say that glibly. I mean it. If we’re honest with each other, our days can sometimes be longer than the energy we need to get it all done. There’s work, parenting, laundry, family members who need our help, faith/church, meals to prepare, carpool to drive, and probably a ga-bazillion other things that scream for our attention on any given day. Things fall through the cracks.

Life gets in the way.


If I’m being honest, I have to admit that at the end of some days I don’t even feel as if I have a voice left. Sure, I know that I do and if my kids or my family need something or if there’s a deadline to meet for work, I buckle down and do whatever needs done.

But it’s different, fulfilling an obligation like that and standing on our own, sometimes alone, and speaking or advocating for something that is close to our heart.  Even though sometimes our voice isn’t what others hear us say and is instead what others see us do, there are days when the well is simply dry.

What do you do on those days?

If you’re anything like me, you seek inspiration in other places. You look to your tribe; that assembled group of like-minded folk who speak your language, hold space for your success, and stand in your corner whether you’re energized or exhausted.  You allow others to refill your well, so that when you’ve rested you can again make ripples that effect change.

My tribe has layers. There are the close friends who are a text, a call or an email away. There’s a layer that consists of those who are happy to meet me for coffee and conversation or margaritas and “therapy.”  There’s a layer of those who aren’t part of my everyday life but are the social media equivalent of a stone’s throw away, at the ready to send virtual high fives. Then there’s the layer of people I’ll never meet but who never fail to inspire me if I just look.

This past week, I found inspiration in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook post that smacked of tough love and truth. I found inspiration in an interview of Elizabeth Gilbert by Maria Shriver.  I watched this video from Kid President about ten times after my oldest son sent it to me with a sweet note.

I found solace in this blog post from Dr. Michelle Robin.  And I danced in my seats—desk chair and driver’s seat—and around my kitchen to this catchy ditty.

Most importantly, I gave myself permission to rest my voice for just a bit, knowing that when I feel strong my voice is clearer, stronger, and more truly me. Life isn’t always bright and happy, and I truly believe in just recognizing that sometimes things are overwhelming or hard or sad. Embrace those experiences and learn from them. Pretending that we never struggle does nothing but muffle our voice. But acknowledging that we all share life’s ups and downs brings a clarity that only compassion can fuel.

How about you? What refills your strength and reinforces your voice when you’re feeling low?

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.