The lecture series was established in honor of Welch, a 1939 U-M graduate, by her two sisters to bring speakers to the U-M campus who exemplify Welchs gifts of creativity, strength of character and illumination of vision. During her student days Welch was the rare woman in the artistic circle that included Arthur Miller, Mike Wallace and Jerome Wiesner. She went on to successful careers in broadcasting, publishing and retailing, and she was a patron of the arts.
Britt, whose topic was, In the Flow: Blending Career, Family and Spirit, is just completing a five-month sabbatical from her twice-weekly column, having decided to take a break from the frantic pace she was living to breathe on my own, as she wrote in her last column before beginning the sabbatical.
Nobody in this room has enough time, and that doesnt make sense, Britt said. I always assumed it was my inability to cope, but when I asked my mother about how she did it, she said it really is more difficult now. For instance, partly because of safety concerns, we drive kids everywhere. When my mother was raising us we walked everywhere.
Britt said that so much of her energy goes into being a mother and wife, loving and supporting her family, that she doesnt know how good a writer she is, another important part of her life. I wondered during my sabbatical whether I was in some way addicted to the rush. Our exhaustion has become a badge of honor. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where youre one-upping the other person on how tired you are? I have and thats really sad, Britt said.
In trying to balance home and career I often feel sorry for myself because I know I see things that my husband just doesnt see, Britt declared. We women pay attention to everything. We see the socks on the floor, the dust balls in the corner, and were aware of all of the familys needs. We need to be needed, but its tricky in a marriage when we want our husband to give back. If its our purpose to give, we need to find a way to be refilled, she said.
Britt said that what has gotten her to this point in her life, what has helped me get through my older brothers death and helped me to love white people, despite his being shot by two white policeman and my having suffered the discrimination all Black people experience in this country, is the spirit part of me. This part is more important to most of us than we let on because its not acceptable to talk too openly about it in this society, she said. Part of the reason we run around is that were fearful of confronting this part of ourselves. Britt agrees with Anne Morrow Lindberg, citing a passage from A Gift from the Sea, that it is spiritual isolation from our own selves that most separates us from other people.
Im scared of my spirituality, scared of God, Britt continued. Ive talked about it in my column, but I had to think hard about that because it was exposing myself. In the U.S. we get to choose how to live our spiritual lives and so often we fail to choose the spirit. Meditation has given me so much comfort and strength, its really a magical thing, but I still dont choose it sometimes.
Its critical, she said, that we schedule time to be alone as we schedule other important elements of our lives. The really magical thing is to love the person we are, she continued, and quiet time in solitude is essential to achieve that state. Its a cliche, but its true that we cant love others until we love ourselves, Britt concluded.