Nothing Lasts Forever


I live in Arizona and we’re having a heat wave. Imagine that – a heat wave in Arizona! It was 108 degrees in Sedona today. Phoenix, two hours away and in “the valley,” has been hovering between 118 and 122 degrees. Airline flights have been cancelled. Smaller airplanes can’t fly safely in that kind of heat. I didn’t know that. I’ve never lived in the Southwest before.

I have been in 120-degree heat before. In India. It was about three years ago, and my daughter Michaela and I were in Delhi. She went for business and I tagged along. One of the sights there was a not-to-be missed mosque. Of course, we had to take our shoes off before entering. There was a courtyard between the entrance gate and the interior. Running across the paved courtyard was like running on a bed of hot coals. Michaela, bless her heart, gave me her socks. We toured the dark, cool mosque and carried on. I mean, how many times in one’s life does one get to see Delhi? Arizona doesn’t seem so radical, when I think about it.

For the last week, I have hunkered down and stayed inside except for early morning excursions to the supermarket and my air-conditioned meditation group. Today, my outside cat became an inside cat. He has braved the heat for the past couple of days, but today I laid down the law.

Oh, yes, and did I mention the desert roaches are back? The people here tell me when it’s this hot, they come in looking for water. Of COURSE they do. So, I’m doing what people here do – I spray the insides and outsides of my front door, my garage door, and the door to my patio. For the past three mornings, I have come into my kitchen to find no roaches lying on their backs, wiggling their spindly little legs. I thank God, sincerely and fervently. But then, this afternoon, I found one who made it in through my patio door. (How do they do that?) And why do they always end up on their backs? Never mind. It’s better than having them run around.

These creepy little insects are part of the balance between the incredible beauty of the high desert and the things that live in it. I don’t like sharing this space with them, but they were here before I was – probably before anybody was.

Back in Maryland, where I lived before, it was rain. And mosquitoes. I lived in wetlands. My house was beside a gorgeous river, but when I opened the door in the summertime, the mosquitoes would eat me alive, and I hated the days when the sun didn’t shine. It doesn’t matter where you live. Wherever you are, the earth will be made up of beauty and beasts. It will be blazing hot or freezing cold. Wherever you go in this life and on this earth, there will be something over which you have no control. In the meantime, I spray. (I found out that Raid makes a lavender scented poison.) I try to distract my complaining prisoner cat with toys (that lasts for about a minute). I stay in my air-conditioned condo. I read. I work on my book. I binge-watch good things on Netflix. I eat a lot of ice cubes. And…I treat myself to ice cream. Without guilt.

When I really think about it, things are okay. And guess what? The monsoon rains are coming. They come to us in Arizona from July to September, to cool everything off and make the cacti bloom. And the sky will be dramatic and breathtaking. The roaches will disappear. (Yea!) And Dorian (the cat) can stay outside under the car port and watch the rain.

I like the way the Buddhists handle this. They see the impermanence of things in life – the good, the bad, the heat, the cold, the beauty, and the beasts. They know that nothing lasts. And they don’t sweat it.


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




Do you ever feel as if you are…watched over? Protected? I did, last week.

I went hiking on a new trail. It’s what Sedona people do. It’s also what people all over the world come here to do, not only because it is ravishingly beautiful and awe-inspiring, but you can enter a trail and in a few minutes, be in wilderness. Sometimes the silence (if nobody else is on the trail) is, as they say, deafening. I’m a city girl, and until I entered a wilderness, I don’t think I’ve ever “heard” true silence before. It is quite an experience. Oh, occasionally, you will get the sound of a bird, or the wind rustling a tree, but if no one is on the trail, there are no human sounds. That kind of silence can put you in an altered state, the state you reach for in meditation. That’s why a lot of us do it. You can feel something in that silence you can’t name, but it feels like God.

At the entrance to some trails, there are signs that warn hikers to watch out for snakes and bears. These signs never stopped me.  Maybe I didn’t really believe them (you should). The trails I usually hike are popular (by that I mean you meet humans now and then), and I figure the wild life avoid them. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen any wildlife on a trail except once – two gorgeous mule deer, a doe and a fawn, once looked down on me from a shelf above, and that was all. Well, until last week.

As I said, I was on a trail I’d never been on before. I’d read about it in our local paper. I also went on a weekday when the tourists are scarce. The trail was exquisite – not too steep as trails here go, and dotted with the most beautiful cacti and wildflowers I think I’ve ever seen. It was also shaded – lots of trees. Ideal. And I was alone in the blessed silence. Had the God place all to myself.

But when you’re in the wilderness all by yourself, something kicks in. Awareness, maybe? Some kind of survival mechanism? A little ways in, I became acutely aware of my surroundings. I watched where I put my feet. I stopped every now and then and looked around me. I felt the wild life there, even though I couldn’t see it. I began to feel a little wary, a little uncomfortable. This trail felt different.  It wasn’t the challenging climbing trail sought by tourists. This was a walking trail, a trail for the locals.  People who know what they’re doing. Not city girls.

At some point, I saw a dog, making his way toward me, and behind him, two couples, aged like myself. One couple was obviously showing the trail to the other – visitors, and it seemed, city people like myself. I began to feel a little better.

“I thought the dog would have noticed,” I heard the taller of the two men say. I came closer to the four of them, and they were stopped, looking at something. “Don’t worry,” the man said, looking at me, it’s just a king snake.” And I got a look at my first snake in the wild. He was a beautiful creature, not too large, decorated in green and black diamond-like patterns. We all stood still while he slithered across the trail, calm as could be, as if he were used to seeing people on his trail all the time. The thing that surprised me the most about all that is that I wasn’t afraid. “That looks like a pack-rat’s nest,” the knowledgeable man said, pointing toward a tree, “and I guess he’s going in for lunch.” Now that stopped me. A harmless snake is one thing. Rats are another. I couldn’t see it, thank you God. I wouldn’t know a pack-rat’s nest from a hole in the ground (that isn’t a pun, but excuse it anyway), and there are some things I don’t want to know.

As the two couples made their way past me and back to the trail’s entrance, one of the women stopped, looked back and said, “Don’t worry. King snakes are harmless, but if you see a snake with a diamond head, they’re the ones to stay away from. But,” and here’s where she got me, “isn’t it nice that we were along when you got to the snake?”

And there’s the miracle. Out of all time and space, I was to meet these people at exactly the point and at exactly the instant a snake was about to cross my path. I wouldn’t have known that it was a king snake, or that it was harmless. I would have freaked out, for sure. Maybe I would have stumbled and broken my ankle, like a friend of mine did on a trail.  I saw nobody else on the trail that day, coming or going. I had to look after those people to make sure they weren’t angels. Or were they?

This kind of thing happens to me too often for me to just dismiss it, or chalk it up to coincidence. Something or someone is always put in my path when I need help, and the timing is always perfect. It may be something I’ve “lost,” like records for my tax return. It may be stopping in traffic, not knowing why, just before another vehicle appears out of nowhere. Did God, did my angels, put these people in my path at just the right time? What do you think?

I went on my way, as far as my strength would take me on the trail and came back, back across the place where I saw the snake. The snake was gone. And I was unafraid.

I embarked upon a spiritual path years ago. The death of my son left me with nowhere else to go. After years of study and experience, I am now aware of small and large miracles, “coincidences” that were overlooked in the everyday busyness of my earlier life. I see angels where there were none before. Sometimes, they meet me on the trail and tell me not to be afraid.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psalm 91


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



Levitating and The Circle of Life


Last week, I wrote about my daughter Debbie’s recording of The Circle of Life from the Disney movie, The Lion King. Debbie sang the French version, L’histoire de la vie. Her gold and platinum record hangs on my wall. Can you imagine someone giving you such a thing?  That tells you a lot about Debbie.

I was asked to share her recording with you, and so I shall. Click on the link and enjoy the video.  Thank you Debbie, thank you Elton John, thank you Disney, and thank you to all the friends, guides, and loved ones who have completed the circle of life and have gone on to begin another.


I read a small article today on levitating. No, it wasn’t about actually levitating, but the exercise of rising above a situation that has you baffled or frustrated, in order to see it from another perspective. Notice, I said exercise. This is something you have to practice.
I encountered a situation recently that called for levitation. It involved someone who wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. Oh, I hear you chuckling. But honestly, haven’t you ever wanted somebody to do something they just wouldn’t do? It’s really frustrating, especially when what you want them to do would make their life easier – no, better than that – it would make their life pretty wonderful. And, like a wilful child, they just won’t do it. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out.
I spent a couple of sleepless nights arguing with someone who wasn’t there, giving them all the reasons why they should do what I want them to do. And while I was awake, angry, and righteous, I’m pretty sure that person was sleeping like a baby.  Come on, tell me you haven’t done the same thing.
Anyway, back to levitation. I’ve noticed that whenever I am in a state of suffering (because that’s what this was), the Benevolent Universe comes to relieve me. It sends me a gift. The only trick here is that I have to ask for it.
On the night in question, while in the throes of my wee-hours agony (I couldn’t get to sleep and I couldn’t stop arguing with the invisible person), I remembered to pray. I asked the Universe (I called It the Holy Spirit this time) to change my perspective, and a few minutes later, this thought came to me: Why don’t you try to see this person as God sees them? That’s when I levitated. I rose above my desire to control this person and tried to see them – not as I want them to be – but as they are in the sight of God – beloved, accepted and embraced for who and where they are at this moment, and endowed with free will. All the things I want for myself.  It was the next morning that I came upon the article. It was like a telegram from God, confirming what I’d received during the night.
This kind of thing happens to me a lot. It’s not because I’m lucky. It’s because I have been in the company of spiritual teachers, and every once in a while I remember what I’ve been taught. Plus – I don’t like to suffer. Trying to control somebody else is almost the definition of suffering. It feels terrible and it never works. What a relief to remember that I don’t have to manage anybody’s life but my own!  When I get a little out of line, my job is to levitate. Get above my ego and adjust my perspective. My perspective. Everything else will go as it will.
I can just hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Now wasn’t that easy?”
Actually, it was easy. It only took a minute.  I got to sleep and didn’t worry the next day. We are all on our own paths, and we have the right to our own learning process. This all reminds me of when Debbie was a baby. She was my first, and I hovered over her and watched her like a hawk. One day, when she was getting used to standing alone, she let go of the coffee table she was holding on to, and tried to take a step. She started to fall and I caught her. My then husband watched me do this a couple of times and said, “You know, if you don’t let her fall, she’s never going to learn to walk.” I suppose I levitated then. The next time she tried it, I stood by but didn’t catch her and she fell onto her bottom. It was more like she sat down. I think it was in that moment that she got the hang of it, because she got up and tried it again, and sat down again. But she learned to walk, and learned to sing, and learned to be a mother herself. One might say it was the Circle of Life.
Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at For a signed copy, order it at

The Complexities of Life

Life is up. Then it’s down. It’s happy, then it’s sad. It’s never wholly one thing or another. Life in human form is complex. The question is: can we get comfortable with that? Can we see that it is all right?

I was in Los Angeles last weekend with people I love more than anyone or anything on earth—my three daughters and my granddaughter. Debbie, my oldest daughter and Celine, my granddaughter live there. Michaela, the youngest, had come out from New York on business.

Debbie called me with a last minute inspiration and said “Why don’t you come out, too?”  And I got lucky. My cat sitter had a cancellation in her schedule and she was free to stay with Dorian.  Then we learned that Niki was flying out from Washington, D.C., to round out the group. It was a spontaneous, star-studded turn of events. Heartwarming. Happy. Joyous. It’s not easy to get us all together. These are incredible girls, all of them— women, I mean—with careers and commitments. But we made it.

In spite of our scheduling “miracle,” we weren’t completely rounded out.  My granddaughter Elenni (Michaela’s daughter) in New York couldn’t be there because of her job. We face-timed our missing link and she was “there” for a laugh with us, but do you see what I mean? Therein lay the complexity. Complexity doesn’t spoil the joy that is ours; it is just life. It’s the way it works. The question is, can we get comfortable with it? Can we see that it is all right? The girls are conscious people, spiritual and awake. They were fine. So was I. We took it as it was, we missed our dear Elenni, and were grateful for the joy that was ours.

The meal of the weekend was a cook-out in my granddaughter’s back yard. It was elegant – lamb chops and teriyaki chicken, no less, and other luscious tidbits, like grilled pineapple. The table was set beneath a canopy fashioned by God – a full, lush avocado tree. Celine’s orange tree was heavy with fruit, as was the lemon tree. Something blue on a large shrub (I don’t know its name) was in full bloom, as were crimson hibiscus. It was California at its best. The weather was perfect; the food was delicious (the girls are good cooks). We laughed a lot. I was overflowing with love and gratitude. We are a tight group. Still…there was that little piece missing. And then, there was Zoe.

Zoe is Debbie’s cat. I slept in her room and Zoe (who sleeps there too) commandeered my little weekender. The bag was just her size, and from the moment I put it down, she got on it to sleep and never moved from it, pretty much the whole time I was there. We had to move her when I needed something from the bag. Finally, I just took everything out, so that Zoe, seventeen years old, frail and ill, could have what she wanted. My granddaughter’s two dogs, on the other hand, were young, robust, and feisty. They’re pit bulls. Big. Commanding. Another little complexity.

On the last night I was there, I went to a real Hollywood party. A friend of ours, whom we’ve known for many years, is a film director, and a movie of hers was premiering on television. The “watch” party was at her house – a dream place that looks like you think a movie director’s house would look like—high on a hill with the lights of LA twinkling below. Glamorous food. Some of the cast members were there, humble, shy, and friendly. Not a sign of ego. Normally, I am not a big fan of parties, but I had a great time. Every once in a while, though, I thought about Zoe.

The next morning, I packed my things in bags and left my weekender for Zoe to sleep on. She looked so sweet, curled up like a baby. I couldn’t take it from her. I drove back to Sedona through the Sonoran desert. It is a breathtaking drive in the spring. The desert is in bloom and so spectacular that at times I was compelled to cry out loud, “Oh, my God!” But it takes about eight hours, with a stop or two for gas. Breathtaking drive, God’s beauty, long hours, fatigue. There it was again.

When I got home, I texted the girls – it’s what we do when we travel – and asked about Zoe. Debbie had taken her to the vet that morning. She texted back that by afternoon, Zoe was gone.  Amidst our great joy of being together, there were tears and loss. We had loved Zoe for seventeen years. She was family. She was also failing; we all knew that, and nobody wanted Zoe to suffer, but still. There it was.

Debbie is a singer, and she had a big hit a while back. While living in Paris, she recorded the French version of “The Circle of Life” (L’Histoire de la Vie) for the soundtrack of the movie, The Lion King. Niki found it on YouTube and sent it to all of us. And that’s it. The circle of life is life as we are able to see it, complexities and all.  But the complexities of life are not without purpose and meaning. I believe there is a Divine Order and that Love has created it. We are just in a place where we cannot see it with human eyes or understand it fully with human hearts. Yet, in those moments when we are comfortable with our limits and accepting of the complexities of life, we are in a state of peace. In those rare, beautiful moments, we know that everything is fine, and we are safe, and loved, and at home, as are those who have gone before us.

Zoe as we will remember her – young and happy


See the Sonoran desert in bloom at


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