Something Else to Think About

Dear Friends:

I stopped writing my blog a year ago.  I told myself that I wanted to concentrate on finishing my second book. That was true.  The book is coming along, by the way. Slowly, but it’s coming along. The working title is The Messenger II: The Well.

But that wasn’t the only reason I stopped writing. Something happened in my country in a town called Charlottesville that shocked me. It conjured up a vision of my ancestors, sad and disappointed, and I rushed to their defense. As if they needed me to defend them. No, they are safe. They are fine. But I was finished with my blog.

I know now that that was right. I needed to take a break. Regroup. Back away from the very thing that held me and my country in its grip: The Fight.  The toxic, righteous fight. I withdrew, feeling helpless to do anything about anything.

Until this past Sunday. I was sitting in a spiritual center in Sedona, beautiful and festive with Christmas decorations, a fireplace crackling against the far wall, listening intently to the voice of an inspiring spiritual teacher, when a voice within, as clear as day, told me to reconnect.   


We are in somewhat of a dark night right now. All around the planet. And everything around us seems to be conspiring to make it darker, especially the news. It affects us in ways we can’t even imagine. It is selling sadness, worry, fear, and anger with relentless regularity. We’re drowning in conflict and rage. It’s enough to make you lose hope.

The little voice that spoke to me on Sunday said, Go back to your friends. Write. Say that there is something else to think about.  


First Entry:  January 1, 2019

Full disclosure: I’m a news junkie. The addiction started when I was a little girl. I watched my father read three newspapers a day. There was the morning newspaper, and the late edition, and God only knows what came in between.  But my father read them all, and he was the smartest person in the world.  

Much, much later, I had a career in Washington, D.C., the spiritual mecca for news junkies.  For forty-two years, I read the Washington Post from cover to cover. Including the obituaries. I mean, you had to know who died, right? The Post was required reading. I also read the Wall Street Journal. I read news releases from all the federal agencies, and countless publications thrashed out by non-governmental organizations, like the one I worked for and even wrote for. NGOs, we were called.  

I read other things, too – like the Federal Register, the holy bible of wonky nerds who thrived on the esoteric threads and minutiae of regulation. There was also the Congressional Record – the daily report on the comings and goings, the actions, and the thoughts of Members of Congress—C-Span on steroids. I read every Congressional Bill that was introduced that was remotely relevant to my non-profit, scientific community, and I was doing that before anything was online.  My office was lined with piles of printed news.  I don’t apologize for it.  That was my job.  That was everybody’s job in Washington. News. Information. Insider stuff. Connections. The more you knew, the more you were valued—by your employer, your clients, your colleagues, and your friends.  No wonder I became a junkie. Knowing stuff equaled value. Think about that for a minute.   

Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with information. There is nothing wrong with news.  I believe that being a citizen in a democracy is not just a privilege, it’s also a responsibility. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people should be directed by an informed people. So there’s that.

But what we have today in the form of news is, well, a lot more than information. News has become a soap opera. A crime novel, filled with suspense, horror, and fear. The train wreck we cannot look away from.  I’m retired, and I don’t have to read this stuff. I don’t have to watch it on television. But I’m wired for it now. I read the New York Times online every morning. I read portions of the Washington Post, and every week, the editorial and as many articles as I can of the New Yorker.  And every night, I watch Rachel Maddow. Okay. So right there, I have given away something about myself. Put that aside for a moment, if you can. We’re all biased.  

I’m not suggesting that you abstain from the news. I’m not. My own new year’s resolution, however, is to not get drunk on it.  What I am saying is, Take a Break. Take a moment to think about something else.

Feed your brain some oxygen. Give your mind some light.  Take a deep breath and let it in.  Stay with me in the year 2019, and every once in a while, let’s think about something else. Together.  Love’s first kiss. The smell of coffee in the morning.  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Whatever.

It will change your energy, and you’ll change somebody else’s energy, and the Universe will notice.


Coming up in the next blog:  How my cat, Dorian Gray, had cancer and then didn’t.

Unfollow me, unfriend me.


Just three days ago, a friend asked me why I stopped writing my blog. One of the reasons, I told him, was that I just didn’t believe in talking unless I had something to say. I told him that I had run out of things to say, and that I just couldn’t bore my friends for the sake of maintaining a blog. Besides, I wanted to turn my energy toward my second book. That was three days ago. That was before my ancestors came into my consciousness and nudged me in their ever-so-gentle way. The way spirits do.   


I have never expressed my personal political views on this blog or any public media outlet because I saw no value in it. My position was that people will believe what they want to believe, and that my political views, no matter what they were, would attract anonymous, angry people with nothing better to do than to sling mud from behind the safety of their darkened rooms and backlit computer screens.  I don’t enjoy conflict, online or off, and so I kept my views to myself. But now, I’m done. I’m done, because I am here, alive in my body, in this country, on this tortured night, representing my ancestors.


Let me introduce them: My maternal grandmother: Her name was Sarah. Her father was German, her mother African American. Her husband’s mother, my great grandmother: Her name was Elizabeth, and she came to this country from Syria. I’m sure that wasn’t her name when she stepped up to the immigration official to be registered. Then, there is my paternal grandfather. His name was Edward and he was all or part Native American. Cherokee. His wife, Helen, came from a family of Irish indentured slaves. My parents were the “mixed blood” children of those I have named. They lived in South Carolina before and at the turn of the last century. In this country, they were all either indentured whites (in our case dis-owned by their families), or Negroes. I’ve seen the census reports.


I cannot imagine the bravery, courage, or the depth and breadth of love it must have taken for them to raise families of seven, eight children. Or just to stay alive. I also represent their children, uncles who fought in both World Wars, my father, who wore a policeman’s badge in Philadelphia for 35 years, a man of color who could not rise in the ranks but who nevertheless served and protected all the citizens of that city, my mother, who broke ranks with her family to come North with my father so that I and my brothers could live a life that was free of harassment, degradation, fear, and sorrow. Or so they thought.


When a black man was elected President of the United States, my husband and I sat before the television set and watched Barack Obama and his family write a chapter in history unlike any before it, except, perhaps, the one written by Abraham Lincoln.  At last, I told my husband, the tears running down my face, our country has become what it said it would. It has marched steadily toward its own ideals. It has kept its promise. My husband, who was Irish American, nodded, tears blinding his own eyes. We were proud of our country. We were proud that the idea of freedom, that the experiment in equality, the stumbling, difficult climb into a true democracy, and the repudiation of all things indecent, had made us the most powerful, important nation on the planet. We were not to know, on that night, that it was only a moment in time.


We have taken a step backward to a place my ancestors would recognize. My tears tonight are ones of grief. I am not proud. I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I must accept sympathy from my friends around the world. I am ashamed that our doors are slamming shut against people like my ancestors, and that all sense of generosity, compassion, and conscience seem to be absent from the hearts of those who could make it different. I am ashamed that once again, my ancestors are the subjects of hate and derision. No wonder they won’t let me alone.


And now, I’m done. I can no longer be quiet. I speak for those who came before me, those who gave me life, and for my children and my grandchildren. Today and ever after, I disavow the indecent, hateful bigotry that is despoiling my country and the man who is the face and the voice of it.


And I say to you, whoever may be reading this blog – if, after what has happened in the past two days, indeed in the past year, you can still support the man in the White House, his ideas, his language, and behavior, you support everything I, as an American, as an African American, as an Irish American, as a German American, as the great granddaughter of a Syrian woman, and the granddaughter of a Native American man, abhor, and I ask you to unfollow me. If you are a “friend” on Facebook, I ask you to unfriend me now.  


This is the time to take a stand. It is time to speak clearly. No more excuses, no more mealy-mouthed explanations.  No more burying heads in the sand. It’s over. The President of the United States is a racist. I repudiate that hateful concept, and I repudiate him.  


Matthew said it: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Choose your camp.







Dear Readers and Friends:

Thank you for following this Sunday blog and writing to me over the last two years. I began this space with the launch of The Messenger, the story of how a spirit guide saved my life after the death of my son.

I am now working on the sequel, The Messenger II. For those of you who  read the first book, you must know that the story didn’t end there. And so, I have decided to take a hiatus from a weekly blog and concentrate on finishing the second book.

I will write something in this space from time to time, just to keep in touch. Thank you again for all your wonderful notes and encouragement.

As we walking the earth plane will, from time to time, take a hiatus from our work, so is it with our spirit friends, guides, and loved ones. They are not gone – just taking a hiatus.

With love and light,

Helen Delaney


The Messenger can be found on For a signed copy, go to





All You Need Is Love

For many years, I put great store in my ability to “get things done.” I had to. I was a single mother (even when I was married) of four children, with a job. And, as the jobs got better and better and more and more demanding, I prided myself on keeping up. I set impossible goals for myself. I demanded that I become a better employee, housekeeper, cook, nutritionist, pianist – better and better at whatever was put on my plate. My value system was based on achievement. I was self-reliant, I was delivering, and my self-worth depended on it.

It didn’t help that I worked in Washington, D.C., that famous breeding ground of over-achievement and brilliant performance. I was in a place where I could  watch others doing it up close, and when I could, I emulated it. No, that’s not quite accurate. I admired it. Sort of. But climbing that particular ladder required a healthy appetite for competition and the ability to thrive on conflict. I wasn’t wired for it. I was lucky in that, except for a few years in the competition pit, I worked for people who believed in consensus building. That I loved. That I believed in. Still, in the areas where I pitted myself against myself, I was relentless and driven. The more I could get done, the better I felt about myself. As a woman in a man’s field, I prided myself on outworking the boys, and I got a lot done. But no matter how much I got done, it was never enough. Nothing in Washington stands still. And at home, the clean house got dirty again, the full refrigerator was emptied routinely, the beds were unmade every night, and the kids got hungry three times a day. I had no help, and there was no conquering the unending work. Eventually, it became depressing and exhausting. Not because I couldn’t accept the impermanence of everything, but because I thought I was what I did.

It took a traumatic event to change my mind – the death of my child. Everything I thought was important faded into the mist in the face of this shattering experience. Winning, conquering, being right, being better, doing better, doing more, seemed trivial and insanely secular. Death will realign your perspective. The death of a child will reconfigure it altogether.

I write about this not because I can’t forget it – and I can’t of course – but because of the profound change it brought about in my understanding of life. It’s a long story, and it’s in my book, but the bottom line was – I had to learn something entirely new or die from grief.

I learned that I am not what I do. I am not the body that works itself into exhaustion and ages and dies anyway. There is more to me than that. I am life itself – never ending. I am a Spirit in a body, ageless and perfect. Nothing I do causes that or changes that. Everything else is ornamental. Window dressing. Costumes and makeup. A play. And all the world’s a stage. When I can remember that, “doing things” is much more fun, because the “things” are put into perspective. I was reminded of that this afternoon when I went shopping at Target. For my international readers, Target is a massive general store with supposed competitive prices. I was seriously intent on getting what I needed and getting back on the road (It’s an hour’s drive from where I live but why I was in a hurry I don’t know) when I passed the electronics department. There, high on the wall, on a gigantic screen, were little cartoon characters singing the Beatles’ song, All You Need Is Love. I just had to stop and laugh. Then I drove home slowly through Oak Creek Canyon, one of the most spectacular places on this earth, and let my Spirit take the lead.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to


My Friend Will

I’ve known a few artists in my time, among them my son, my daughter, and my brother. But one particular artist entered my mind as I sat to write this. He was a friend of years ago, a professor of art and a prominent artist in my native city of Philadelphia. He would have a show once a year and sell it out on opening day. Every year. Some of his paintings are part of the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His work appears in other museums around the country too. On a fellowship once, he met Salvadore Dali! He taught my daughter and my brother in college and, lucky us, he became a friend of the family. His name was Will Barnett.

In the summers of that time long ago, Will would share his New Jersey beach house with us – me, my husband, and my four small children. This was an unbelievable treat, since we lived packed into a small, un-airconditioned city apartment while my husband was going to law school. Will, a bachelor, opened his house and stepped aside, allowing us to make it our own. He took us out of a hot, crowded apartment and we gave him a family. Sometimes our friends came, and their children, and the house was a noisy, joyous place. Will, bless him, seemed to revel in it all.   He would get up early, while it was cool, and paint on a giant easel in his sun-drenched living room. He let me sit and watch him while the kids and my husband slept. I asked him if I could because I wanted to see how those hands and brushes and palette worked together to create the other-worldly things he put on canvas. I sat still and silent, trying to be invisible and unobtrusive, but it didn’t matter to Will. When he painted, he was somewhere else, mindless of everything but what was before him.

One day on the beach, I asked him if there were times when he felt as if he were not in control of the painting, if it felt like something other than himself would take over, mix the colors, make those strokes, and create. He looked at me and said something like, “Oh, sure.” His answer was so matter of fact. And then he looked at me as if to say, “Doesn’t that happen to everyone?”  I suspected that happened with artists and musicians, but I didn’t expect his answer to be so ready, so…matter of fact. I had never discussed spiritual matters with Will. I never thought of spiritual matters in those days. I was busy, overwhelmed with raising a family, working at a job, and trying to make a go of a failing marriage. I lived in survival mode. Only later would life make room in my life for spiritual thought.

Will had no religious affiliations as far as I knew. His father was a Russian Jew who had come to this country and changed his name from Baronet to Barnett. Will was just a good, kind man with amazing gifts. Besides being a visual artist, he was also an accomplished pianist and violinist, talents he wore like a loose garment. He did not take them, or himself, seriously.

Those days at the beach were years before my son Eddie died, and my own life became a nightmare and then a long spiritual search for meaning. Now, I think Will’s secret was that he knew how to get out of his own way and let the painting and music flow through him. I don’t know if he believed in God or not, but he sensed a Force that painted and played through him, and he let it. He let it. It has taken me years to learn that this is the sign of a true spiritual master.

It has taken me most of my life to understand that God is content, not form. It can come through us, whether we are religious, spiritual, enlightened, unenlightened, atheistic or agnostic. The Force is something we sense, something we feel, not something  intellectually captured. It cannot be forced or controlled. It is something we surrender to. It doesn’t matter if we name it or not. It has been given to us. It is ours. We only have to let it work through our minds, our hands, our deeds.

I saw this Force again in Will when, years later, he was dying of leukemia. He and his wife (he had found love later in life) were living on top of a mountain in California. He was near death when I got a beautiful letter from him. It was all about the joys of living on a mountain. Leukemia was an afterthought. When he passed, I got a letter from his wife, who had also become my friend. Will died peacefully and gently, she said. I was not surprised. Like the spiritual master he was, he got out of the way one more beautiful time and let the Force flow through him.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney.  Find it at For a signed copy, go to

Joy, Not Grief

I talked to a friend a few days ago, and she told me that in the last few months, she has lost several friends. Two she cared for in their last days.  And yet, this woman is one of the happiest people I know. It bummed her out for a time, but she didn’t stay there. I have another friend in Belgium who volunteers at a hospice. She, like me, has lost a child. Her only child. And yet, she is the epitome of cheer to souls who are ready to depart this world.  She had her dark time, too, believe me. But both of these friends can cheer the dying and come away with their own joy in life intact.

It took me many years to find joy after my child died, and I am still not known for my cheer. But joy? That I have. Could joy be the companion of grief?  One state of being that somehow, however inconguently, is joined to the other? If so, then that must be the definition of hope.

Some of us don’t want to let go of grief. It binds them to the one who is gone. For a long time, I felt that if I lost my grief, I would lose Eddie. Again. Eventually, though, visions of Eddie started to come to me that let me remember him in another way. I started to remember how funny he was. Sometimes, when I was seriously deep into practicing a Bach Invention, Eddie would slide into the room and dance to the music, pirouetting around the piano like a disjointed ballet dancer, abolishing my seriousness, doubling me over with laughter. I remembered more about the cool things he did – his painting and his martial art. I remembered all the friends who adored him, how they cheered when he crossed the stage to receive his high school diploma. Those are the things that live with me now. The precious, joyous things. Now, after all these years, I know that that is what stays. Not the grief. Not even when you want it to.

It is almost eight years since my husband Bill died, and I am beginning to think of him the same way. Bill, like Eddie, was a funny guy. He was loving, and kind, and irreverent.  He was also cool. New York cool. Although he never quit his daytime job, he was an actor. Many is the time I sat in the dark, watching him onstage, or cheered when he appeared in a snippet in a movie. I was a fan.

I remember one day in particular.  Bill had gotten a job as an extra in the movie, “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise. One evening during the filming, he burst through the door exclaiming – “Guess what? Today I was directed by Steven Spielberg!” That stopped me. And then he said, “You know what he said to me?” “No,” I said excitedly. “He said, ‘Could you please move over there, out of the way, sir?'” Those are the kinds of things I remember about Bill. Somehow his joy in life and Eddie’s joy in life have found their way into my spirit. They have infused me with it. Their joy has traveled from their spirits into mine.

I don’t try to understand how the Universe works. I don’t question the imponderable – things like the connection between loss and life, grief and joy. I just accept them. And I am grateful for the joy those beautiful spirits brought into my life. That is what they left me. That is what lasts. Not grief.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, go to