Monday, October 31, 2011


This week my seven-year old granddaughters came to my house for a sleepover.  The two cousins had a lot to twitter about (in the old style of twittering) since they both have a "crush" on the same boy.  Wow, I wondered, isn't seven kind of young to be so focused on one person?!  When I mentioned their precociousness to one of their Mom's, she said she had already been asked when and how she "knew" that Daddy was the one she wanted to marry.

Questions like that comes up in therapy from time to time:  how do I know he or she is "the one?"   New relationships often prompt that kind of inquiry.  Sometimes it happens once the relationship is more progressed:  did I make the right choice?  Is he or she really the soul mate I was destined for or am I supposed to be with someone else?

The curiosity of my little granddaughters is light and innocent, like their giggles and secrets.  But the questions raised in therapy about "the one" can be agonizing.  How indeed do we know whether we're on track or not?  Disconnected from intuition and inner guidance, we can flounder and lose our way.

I've lived both with intuition and with floundering.  We probably all have.  When people used to ask my husband and me how we first met, we each would tell the same story differently.  My story was more factual.  His went straight to the heart.

It was late in August, 1967.  I had just gotten on a bus heading west on Armitage Avenue, on my way back from a conference on "new politics" in downtown Chicago.  While paying my fare, I looked around and saw the usual neighborhood types, mostly Hispanic women with kids and a few assorted men.  A college student type was seated towards the back by a window, reading a book.  That was an unusual sight in this ghetto.

I sat down by the driver, close to the door, absorbed in my own thoughts.  When I began to feel what the controversial researcher Rupert Sheldrake calls "the staring effect,"  I looked up to see two penetrating eyes take cover behind the book. The book was Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse.

And this is the way my husband Tom used to tell the story:  He was sitting on a bus alone when a young woman (that would be me) got on.  Aside from the driver, they were the only two people on the bus.  She was the only one he could see.  (He only had eyes for me).

As it happened, we got off the bus at the same stop:  Sheffield and Armitage. We both waited for the light to change.  We were both heading in the same direction.

Could it be as simple as Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking?  In the first two seconds of looking - in a single glance - he knew!  Me, it took longer.  We crossed the street together.  I spoke first.  I asked if he lived in the neighborhood (he did).  He told me he was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago.  I told him my sister was a student there too.  We talked.  We talked some more.  He asked my name.  I asked his.  He said Tom Seghi.  In my mind I heard the words, "Laya Seghi."  It sounded right to me.

The rest of our story evolved.  I floundered and I knew or I knew and I floundered.  It took me three decades before I told him about hearing that inner voice on our very first encounter. (The "why" for that is a whole different story.)  I preferred hearing him tell about meeting the "love of his life."   Looking back now, this chapter of our story concluded, I marvel at his vision and my inner voice and at the power of first impressions. We both knew!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


For the last couple of months, I've been thinking about connections.  The person I've been closest to - my main connection - died, so I'm paying attention.  Death might seem to be the big disconnect, but I'm sensing that's not necessarily so.  Besides my connection to my now dead husband Tom, I've been noticing connections in general:  people I thought I was connected to that seem to have fallen away and others with whom the connection wasn't obvious suddenly showing up, as if to confirm that yes, there is indeed a connection.  The web of interconnections seems at once fragile and resilient.

The world-wide web is a technical reflection of the interconnectedness I'm talking about.  I can sit down to share my thoughts and feelings in a blog like this and within minutes, people with whom I'm connected can receive that message in their inbox.   As I've been processing my grief and new circumstances, I've used the internet and my writing as a way to stay connected and to reach out for even further connection.

But it doesn't always work that way.  My effort to connect can sometimes produce a reverse effect.  For example, I got the equivalent of a slap in the face when someone I'd known for decades and thought of as a friend responded with a "Fu*k Your Blog!" subject heading.  She took offense that I had communicated about Tom's death in a public format rather than directly to her. Her extreme response was the ultimate fulfillment of my long-held fear of negative judgment for putting myself 'out there' in writing.  Ironically, she presented me with a gift I couldn't have received otherwise.  Not only did her response clue me in to the quality of our friendship, but it helped me clarify that I write because I feel called to do so, whether others like it or not.   

Nevertheless, the disconnect there and the surprisingly strong connections that emerged elsewhere since Tom died suggest to me that his death created an almost electrical disturbance in the field, as if lightning had struck.

As often happens, my inner thoughts were mirrored in my outer world.  My personal experiences of connections/disconnections were being played out in a series of electrical problems that required my attention.  While preparing to sell the RV that Tom and I traveled in together, I was faced with a generator that wouldn't start, fuses that blew, and an electrical short circuit in the garage.  Disconnections.

Once all that was sorted out (believe me, I am unskilled and ill prepared to deal with any of it!), my electrical stove started acting up.  Stove top burners that I turned to the off position wouldn't turn off while the oven that I didn't turn on turned on by itself.  The problem climaxed with smoke and sparking from the control panel.  Finally a technician came to diagnose the problem and declared the stove beyond repair, in other words, kaput.  

Dealing with these recent events, I consider that the basic facts of electricity and human connection may be similar:  Particles with electric charge interact with each other through the electromagnetic force, creating electric fields and when they are in motion, magnetic fields. The electric fields tend to result in a repulsive force between particles with charges of the same sign, and an attractive force between charges of opposite sign.  (The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)
    As a metaphor, it works for me.  The enormous charge surrounding Tom's death and my ensuing grief may have created some kind of force field that repelled some - causing short circuits and even burn out - while attracting others, generating one awesome connection after another. What could account for the variability of the disharmony or harmony, the connection or disconnection?

    To answer that question, I look to the physical and spiritual heart. The heart is the physical organ that transmits the strongest electromagnetic frequency in the body and also the organ that has long been considered the source of compassion and wisdom.  When the mind is attuned to the heart, there is a measurable state of coherence that reduces stress and amplifies joy.  It's the resonance of the heart that allows for personal connection.  See:

    Because I'm familiar with the book The HeartMath Solution:  The Institute of HeartMath's Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart's Intelligence by Doc Lew Childre, Howard Martin and Donna Beech (HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 1999), I believe that the parallel of electricity and human connections is actually more than a metaphor.  For almost two decades, Heart Math research has contributed to our knowledge of stress, health and the emotional information encoded in the magnetic field radiated by the heart.

    As described in a Heart Math clip on YouTube:

    "The human heart emits the strongest electromagnetic field in our body. This electromagnetic field envelops the entire body extending out in all directions, and it can be measured up to several feet outside of the body. Research from the Institute of HeartMath shows that this emotional information is encoded in this energetic field. HeartMath researchers have also seen that as we consciously focus on feeling a positive emotion - such as care, appreciation, compassion or love - it has a beneficial effect on our own health and well-being, and can have a positive affect on those around us."

    [To download an e-book with their research findings, see:]

    Is it any surprise that tuning in to the positive emotions of gratitude. compassion and love can establish that heart connection?  When we tune in deeply, we can experience our interconnectedness, not only with humans but with the planet - humans as well as animals, plants and minerals.  The Beatles boiled it down to the ultimate:  Sing it Beatles...

    All you need is love. All you need is love.
    All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
    All you need is love (All together, now!) All you need is love. (Everybody!)
    All you need is love, love. Love is all you need (love is all you need).