How To Learn From A Roach

Fear is sometimes a survival mechanism. When I’m hiking alone in a wilderness area, for example, I don’t go off the trail. Who wants to disturb a rattlesnake? It makes sense to be afraid of a rattlesnake, but most of my fears are unfounded. The thing about unfounded fear is that it can drive me to do or think things that, in my right mind, I wouldn’t approve of. For example, I killed a roach the other night. Actually, I murdered it.

Just for the record, there are wild roaches out here in Arizona. I’m not kidding. These aren’t the everyday roaches that live in your kitchen. These are the ones you would see on a Nature show. These guys roam the desert and occasionally find their way into a house. And they’re big. Maybe not as big or as scary as the flying roaches I’ve seen in South Carolina and Texas, but they’re big enough. Here’s the thing. They don’t fly. They don’t bite, and as far as I know, they don’t carry diseases. They’re just creepy and unpredictable.

The one I murdered the other night still bothers me. I was on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, (isn’t that always the way?) and this roach was between me and where I was going. He was lying on his back with his legs twitching in the air. Ordinarily, when I encounter something in my house that belongs outside – like a spider – I’ll scoop it up between two pieces of cardboard and just put it outside. I hate killing things. I mean, they’re God’s creatures, aren’t they? Still, I murdered this roach in a most brutal way. He was too big to step on (ARRRGH), so I got out my can of RAID and sprayed him. Drowned him is more like it. And here’s the horrible part. The poor thing’s legs kept twitching until he died.

It was murder, all right, because I killed something that was on its back. In my mind, that is just unethical, but I was driven by fear – the stupid kind, the kind that has no basis in reason. What did I have to fear from something that couldn’t harm me, something that was so much smaller than I was, something that was helpless to boot?  What was I afraid of – that it was going to jump on me? Crawl into my bed? That’s highly unlikely. And even if it did, it wouldn’t hurt me. This is the kind of baseless, mindless fear that drives us human beings to do things that are against our better natures. It drove me to an act of brutality. I know it was just a roach, but the instinct to kill it – for no good reason – was in me. Is in me.

The actress Katherine Hepburn once said, and I am paraphrasing: A sin is something you feel remorse about afterward. Now I don’t happen to believe in sin as a concept; I prefer the concept of error. But whatever it is, if I feel remorse about it afterward, I know it was wrong. And I know it was wrong of me to kill that helpless little creature because I couldn’t go to sleep afterwards. It may not have been wrong for somebody else. It was wrong for me.

There is a lot of fear in the air these days, and you all know what I’m talking about. Some of it is justifiable. It has cause. Some of it is that survival mechanism activated. But I’ll wager that too much of it is based on a lack of something within ourselves. Faith, maybe?

I learned of an acronym for fear the other day: Forgetting Everything’s All Right. Way down deep inside (and some days it’s deeper than others) I know that everything really is all right. I know that everything that is happening has a purpose of which I may not be aware, and I know that a benevolent Universe is in charge, but I forget it constantly. It is in that state of forgetfulness that I can lose my head and do something that isn’t what my higher, believing self would do. It doesn’t have to be an act; it can be a thought, or a thoughtless statement. I am capable of directing my fear at a human being and thinking or saying dark things about that person, even though I do not know what living their life is like. Let me assure you, that is murder of a kind.

I have to recognize misdirected fear when it comes, understand that I am capable of it, and nip it in the bud. Name it, own it, and dump it.

That doesn’t mean I can’t speak or act to prevent bad things from happening. I can and I do.  Yes, I embrace causes and work on political campaigns. My country is my responsibility. But there are people I do not want to hang out with.  There are people who are mindless, ignorant, and mean.  There are people who are loveless and there are people who act out of fear and hurt others. God help them and their karma. But the assassination of someone’s soul out of fear is not something I want in my head, in my heart, in my energy field, or on my conscience. If they’re doing something dastardly, they are, in all likelihood, already on their back.

Sorry, little roach. Really.


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

Creating a Sacred Space

I have to admit I’m scared. I think a lot of other people are scared, too. There is a collective consciousness of fear in my country and around the world because of what is happening in the run-up to the United States’ presidential election. It’s a terrible feeling, because the collective consciousness can affect me whether I want it to or not, and it feels like something I can’t control.

Last night, I had a terrible nightmare. This is something that hasn’t happened to me since I don’t know when. I dreamed that an intruder was in my house. He had moved the washing machine to a place it shouldn’t have been, and water was leaking through the floor boards and onto the floor below.  I don’t even have a second floor. In the dream, investigators came and we found a large mound of partially eaten dog food on an old tin plate in the attic. Floor boards were missing and it, too, was in horrible disrepair. It was dangerous to walk there. I don’t even have an attic. Or a dog. Surely my cat would have warned me if a dog had entered our space, I thought in my dream! Also, in the dream, the lights went out in my house, and I went outside in my pajamas to see if others’ lights were out too.  Mine was the only house that was dark. I woke up screaming in fear. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. Analyze away, my friends.

The collective consciousness I am talking about is something like an allergy – another thing I’m experiencing here for the first time. The juniper trees are emitting a pollen that is so intense this year that many in Sedona are feeling miserable, especially those of us who are new to the Southwest. They say the first year is the worst, and that we newcomers will feel better next year. It makes you feel tired and sick. It’s in the air, and it feels like something we can’t control.

But this morning I realized that what feels like something we can’t control doesn’t always have the power we give it. The pharmacist I went to see advised an OTC allergy medication. I took it, and it dried things up, but I still felt tired and sick. And then, I did something wise. I looked to Nature. The place from which my discomfort was emanating also offered its antidote. I see a naturopathic doctor out here, like the one I saw back in Maryland. Naturopaths look to the causes of dis-eases more than to alleviating the symptoms. Their philosophy is that the body heals itself if you can give it enough support. I’m not talking about surgery for appendicitis here. I’m talking about things like allergies. So…I got a Chinese herb from her that supports the immune system, and a tumeric-based capsule that relieves allergies. Guess what worked?  After just a few days of taking these supportive plants, I felt like a human being again. I did not put any toxins in my body, (which those OTC drugs are full of) and yesterday, I felt well enough to drive out to one of my favorite sacred places. It happens to be full of juniper trees. And I was fine.


Today, despite the nightmare, I’m still feeling well. What seemed like something out of my control was not. I just had to know where to look for relief.

As to the collective consciousness of fear, I can either add to it, or I can create a sacred space for myself and add to a collective consciousness of peace. That also exists, even in this toxic atmosphere. I have chosen the latter. All the years of spiritual searching have taught me that there is something within myself that is sacred. Holy. Peaceful.  Yet, despite all the years of spiritual searching, more often than not, I have to be prodded to seek it. Fear usually drives me there. As it has done this time. For me, the first step toward It is prayer and meditation. It’s very much like returning to Nature for support of my spiritual immune system. As I returned to my sacred place among the red rocks, I returned in my mind and in my spirit to the sacred place I know is there. Inside. In my mind. In my heart. In my spirit. Both natural remedies – one for my body and one for my soul – are provided by a Power Greater Than Myself. It took a few hours and a nightmare, but I got there.

Finding the remedies and putting fear in its proper place takes work. I have to take my herbs and get enough sleep, I have to pray and meditate, and I have to keep working on the campaign of my choice. I am doing that, by the way, and have been for weeks. I can’t just cower in fear at home in my bed. I have to do the footwork. Literally. And it’s hard, believe me. Anyone who has done this knows the animosity you encounter in the field. It’s like pollen. In your face. People are tired of the race and they’re tired of people like me asking them to go out and vote. But tell me, what’s the alternative?

And so, my dear Friends, whatever happens, I will work hard to stay in my sacred space, even as the juniper trees happily and energetically emit their pollen (How else will we have new juniper trees next year?). Did you know that juniper berries were gathered by Native peoples and used as an aid in digestion? Everything has its positive side, at least in Nature. As the presidential election winds down to its cliff-hanging conclusion, I try to remember that it will be over soon. Whatever the result, it can have no effect on the sacredness that is inside me. It has been given to me by the Universe, it is untouchable, and it is always present. But I still have to create a space for it in my heart and mind. Sometimes by the hour.


Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. Find it at or

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Fear Is My Creation

There were a few moments this weekend when I felt a little fear. Not a lot, just enough to let me know that I am not immune to it. The dire predictions of a major snow storm on the East Coast have actually come true. I live there. It is Saturday night, and the storm is not over yet, but I am safe and warm, and obviously not engulfed in fear.

I did prepare. I have a ton of crock pot chili, made from scratch, spicy and delicious. I have candles and batteries and water. I have logs for my tiny fireplace. (They won’t do much, but they will give me the illusion of warmth.) Most importantly, I have a new espresso machine and plenty of coffee. All right, I have to have electricity for my coffee. But I won’t die without it. And I’ve eaten cold chili before. Worst case scenario? I have a monster puffy coat to sleep in. Fear did not prepare me. I did. The real me. The me who has a rational mind and a believing spirit, the me who can create fear and then banish it.

Finally, after all these years, I know that fear is my creation.

The part of me that can create fear is awesome. Here’s what it came up with this morning: Suppose a tree falls on my house? What if I can’t get out? People my age die from the cold. I’m all alone here!!! Suppose my street floods? (I live near a river.)

The other part of me is also awesome. Let’s meditate, it said. I’ve learned a new mantra from my acupuncturist/ meditation teacher, David. It is beautiful in its simplicity: I’m safe. Ten minutes of repeating that changes your mind and your physiology. You can feel your body relax. It’s a wonderful way of reaching out to your frontal cortex, the part of the brain that is more evolved than the brain stem, sometimes called the reptilian brain – the part that wants to fight or flight, or freeze. The part that creates fear. Nah. Forget all that. Meditation is magic.

It’s amazing what can happen when your mind becomes free of fear. You become ready for small miracles. I finished a tough writing assignment for my client. Met my deadline. I got a text from my next door neighbor asking if I was all right. Two guys showed up at my front door, asking if they could dig me out. They’ll be here tomorrow, when the snow has ended. I’ve been in touch with my daughters all day. (We text.) My friend texted me from GREECE to see if I was all right. How could I think I was alone? I made sure my ninety-four year old aunt had her cell phone plugged in. She can’t text, but she talks up a storm. (I really did say that!) In all her talk today, she never showed a sign of fear, and she lives alone. I’m impressed. I even took a moment to notice the beauty of the snow-covered trees that stand tall and strong outside my window.

I’m grateful. I am indoors. I am not stranded on a highway. I am not cold or hungry. Fear is my creation. And so is peace.


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Read The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney. It is available on