Pondering the Pavement

April 1, 2019

Carma: What Zooms Around Vrooms Around

“The little old lady from Pasadena
(Go granny, go granny, go granny go)
Has a pretty little flower bed of white gardenias
(Go granny, go granny, go granny go)
But parked in her rickety old garage
Is a brand new shiny red Super Stock Dodge…”

– Jan & Dean, ‘The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’

 

MY COUSIN, GEORGE, HAD A SERIOUS SWEET TOOTH.  Over the years, his passion for candy & pastries left my own in a cloud of powered sugar. It got to the point where all he would eat was sugar in nearly any form. There were bowls of M&M’s in every room of the house (God love him). You’d also find a healthy mix of Reese’s Cups, butterscotch and peppermint hard tack candies, and even a scattering of the “fun size” Milky Way bars just to shake things up. The kitchen was home base to nearly every variety of mass-produced cream filled snack cakes you could think of and then some. He lost all his teeth several years earlier, so what was the harm in living primarily on candy? A Willy Wonka wet dream in the making.

CandyDishNear the end of his life, another staple of sweetness found its way into his home and bloodstream: spearmint lifesaver candies. Those little individually wrapped suckers (see what I did there?) were sprinkled all over the house. After he passed away in 2018, his wife carried on this tradition. When she passed away, lacking 2 days of being 7 months later, we found a nearly endless supply of those candies in every nook & cranny of their home. In addition to two glass bowls full of the little breath-freshening morsels, they were also strewn throughout the house like loose change. As a matter of fact, one side of one of her purses was stuffed to the seams with ‘em. This particular pocketbook played host to her driver’s license, a rain hat and about 4 dozen of those little lifesaver candies.

They were both tough old birds (said with the best of intentions) cut from the same racing checkered cloth. They shared a love for sweets, cars, stubbornness and one another. Once either of them dug their heels in, there was no force on earth that could budge them. Trying to dissuade them from a decision was the equivalent of trying to find a vegan with any functioning taste buds: you can try but why waste your time?

Here’s an example: Marjorie had difficulty getting around in her later years. She was getting stooped over more & more each year and she needed a hip-replacement. Despite her growing list of limitations, she still forced herself to get up and go as best she could. After my mother, Mildred, bit the big one in 2017, I gave Marjorie one of Mom’s three canes. It was adjustable, so I knew it would be ideal for her shrinking stature (she went from 5’6” to 4’9” over time). I took it down to its lowest level and showed it to her. She wrapped her well-manicured fingers around the handle cautiously, sizing up both the cane and what it represented. She politely thanked me, assuring me that it would be beneficial to her “down the road.” She then asked me to place it in the corner of the living room. I did as she asked and, as God is my witness, that cane stayed in the corner, collecting dust, for nearly two years. She never once used it.

Flash forward to 1:11am on February 12, 2019. Marjorie had passed away less than an hour earlier. The intimate gathering was silently waiting for the arrival of the funeral director. We had convened in the living room, quietly immersed in our own moods and memories. There wasn’t a single sound outside of the sporadic sniffle or sigh. We were all startled back into the present by a loud unexpected crash. The unused cane had just toppled to the floor. A communal gasp filled the room, followed by a ripple of stunned silence. Never one to miss a beat, that’s when I started laughing. Either my mother was swinging by—just making her (unwelcome) presence known—or it was Marjorie letting me know that she still had no need for that cane! I’m sticking with the latter because I just stubbornly refuse to give mom any more credit than I absolutely must at this point.

If Marjorie had a theme song to her life, I’m convinced it would have been “My Way.”

After the funeral, the executor offered me the opportunity to purchase Marjorie’s car from the estate. It was being offered to me at the Kelly Bluebook value. A heck of a good deal on a 2006 Dodge Charger with only 10,607 miles on it. Yup. You read that right. A 13-year-old automobile that had averaged nearly 816 miles per year. It was literally a car that was driven by a little old lady once a week. She had to stop driving it because she could no longer see over the dashboard. It had been kept in a garage and was in pristine condition. George & Marjorie were extreme car enthusiasts. They had both been stockcar racers in the 50’s and 60’s (and had plenty of trophies to prove it). They owned a highly successful Chrysler dealership for nearly 30 years. You could say motor oil raced through their veins. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, the car would be in excellent shape.

Of course, as is my custom, I hesitated. While still a helluva deal, it would take a noticeable hunk out of my savings. But, in order to go beyond my home to expand my work base, I would have to go beyond my means, not to mention my overall comfort zone. How friggin’ poetic. As usual, I found myself asking for a sign. Fun Fact: in storytelling, this is referred to as “foreshadowing.”

Something I almost always do is check any form of numerology connected to an event. Later that evening, I stepped out of the warmth of their home into the brisk winter West Virginia air. And by “brisk” I’m referring to single digit temps. I firmly believe “six” should NOT a temperature. At best it’s an amusing misspelling of “sex” or the number of days in a week I wish to dine on cheesecake. Nothing more. I stepped into the garage and added up the license plate. It totaled a five. In numerology, five is the number of big ass change. Sure, most numerologists leave out the ass, but I feel it accurately gets the idea across. Getting the car would most certainly be a big ass change in my life. One for the Other Side.

However, my mother was also a five. Shit. I shook that one off, sticking valiantly to the idea she has nothing to do with this (OR my life) on ANY level.

Stubbornly, I checked the vehicle identification number. This number, a distant cousin of pi, is a long rambling series of digits composed of numbers AND letters. I reached an 11 by totaling up the numbers of the VIN alone. This made me quite happy. My peeps often use an 11 as a “thumbs up” from them. But something/someone was nudging me to add-in the numerical equivalent of the letters, too.

Well, shit. Five. (insert intense stare accented by furrowed brow here)

I turned on my nearly numb heel and went back inside, the sound of the garage door descending in the background. I sat at the kitchen table for quite sometime pondering my situation. The only sound in the house was the monotonous ticking of a clock. At least that’s what I assumed it was. After awhile I realized the tick-tick-ticking was my own forefinger on my left hand tapping the table. I just sat back and laughed.

I do that a lot these daze (not a misspelling BTW).

I shook my head and said, probably aloud, “What should I do, Leigh?” Asking advice from a dead person is a pretty normal activity for me these days. I almost said “paranormal activity” but I opted to avoid the pun. Damn friggin’ mature of me, don’cha think?

I was to give my decision the next day. Prior to calling in my choice, I bundled up like Ralphie’s baby brother in ‘A Christmas Story’ and walked to the local McDonald’s. This was the only location where I could sign onto the internet. My cell provider has no cell towers in the backwoods area, so this was my only option to discover what was still going on in the world. After thawing out, using the steam of my hot chocolate to spring my metacarpals back to life, I checked my email. After scanning through a mercifully small assortment, my eyes and heart stopped when I saw an email bearing the simple subject line of LEIGH.

It was an email from one of Leigh’s daughters. Stunned does not even begin to cover what I was feeling. I have not heard a peep from any of her children since the day of her funeral 12 years earlier. The day after I nonchalantly tossed Leigh’s hat into the ring of the situation, this girl—nay, young woman—decides to reach out to me. Holy Expletive, Batman. She opened the email with this:

“I’m not sure why I feel nervous to reach out to you,
I remember you being a very warm and welcoming person. 😊
I’ve wanted to contact you for a few years now.”

I sat there, dumbfounded, on the verge of tears. My emotional upheaval must have been more noticeable than I thought because a fellow patron asked me if I was ok. I just said my nuggets were especially good that day and waved them on… Leigh was always one to insist on going after the brass ring. Taking chances was as commonplace as inhaling and exhaling for her. So, with a lump in my throat and its twin in my gut, I bought Marjorie’s car.

Right after signing the paperwork, I drove the car to the cemetery where George & Marjorie are buried. I wanted to offer a simple ‘thank you’ for this opportunity. As a medium, I know I don’t HAVE to go where the physical body is located. I know that’s not them. That’s simply the outfit they wandered around in, nothing more. But the physical part of me needed to be humored. George & Marjorie are buried, alongside their own parents, in the back part of the large graveyard. However, my great-grandmother (George’s grandmother), is in a lone plot just as you first enter the property. I stopped the car, parked, and walked across the crumbling roadway to her gravesite. I couldn’t just drive on by without saying “HELLO.” That would be rude, and I was raised better than that.

LoneCandyI gave my silent tribute to my great-grandmother as I wiped away some wet leaves from her flat marker. I then turned to head back to my car (admittedly, it still felt awkward thinking of it as “my car”). Something caught my eye as I returned to my car. Something small and white to the rear of it reflected a glint from the sun attempting to peek through the rolling winter clouds. I walked over to it and was simply dumbfounded. As God is my witness, it was one of those lifesaver mints! Keep in mind that the mint was on the ground several feet behind the car. When I got Car&Candyout of the car, I walked directly across the street to my ancestor’s burial spot. I did not walk BEHIND the car and then across. There was no way one of those mints could have fallen out of the car when I opened the door, nor could it have fallen out of my pocket as I crossed the road (sans the chicken). Upon seeing it there, all wrapped up in its cozy cellophane wrapper, I had no choice but to just burst out laughing. That’s pretty much my custom for just about everything these days.

I drove back to their now all-too-silent home. I steered the Dodge behemoth into the garage, my face still aching from all that non-stop smiling all the way back. I glanced at the clock and realized for the first time that the time was no more accurate than a lackadaisical dieter’s weight log. I opened the glovebox to retrieve the owner’s manual. It’s a thick novella filled with far too many mechanical instructions for my taste. My general knowledge of the workings of an automobile is as follows:

1) Slip key into ignition.

2) Turn key.

3) Magic elves make it work.

I thumbed through the index but, alas, there was no mention of elves, gnomes or lawn fairies to be found. It’s always sad when a long held belief system is drop-kicked to the curb. My chubby index finger found its way to the page number that would allegedly provide me with SIMPLE EASY TO UNDERSTAND steps to setting the accurate time on the clock. I didn’t WANT to duct tape a Timex onto the dashboard, but I was most certainly not above such a solution if painted into a corner. I thumbed through the pages, but my plight was halted by a bookmark of sorts. My lips pursed as my eyes bulged out of their respective sockets as I realized what I had found. The bookmark was a Christmas gift tag that read, “To Marjorie From Mildred with Love.”

XmasTagI did the only thing I could do: I bounced my head off of the steering wheel a few times. Try it. It’s surprisingly refreshing.

So, yea, I’m willing to bet on the fact that George & Marjorie set the whole thing up. And, apparently, they had a wee bit of help. Ahem. There’s no doubt in my skeptical mind that they’re all three gloating about it. Honestly, I can’t say I blame ‘em. With that being said, “Thanks, George. Thanks, Marjorie… (insert heavy sigh of semi-defeat here) … and thanks, Mom.”

 

 

 

 

 


Car

“MY” Car.

“Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down,
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town.
When something comes up to me, he don’t even try
‘Cause if I had a set of wings man, I know she could fly.”

—The Beach Boys, ‘Little Deuce Coupe’

December 1, 2016

The Magnitude of Gratitude

“Thanksgiving is an emotional time.
People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year.
And then discover once a year is way too often.”
— Johnny Carson

49339309 - thank you comic bubble retro text pop art styleThis Thanksgiving didn’t stand out over any other—at least on the surface. I spent it by myself, which is ALWAYS my preference. Yes, I am a loner, as most of you know. But the main reason for this holiday isolation of mine is two-fold. First: I don’t have to share leftovers with anyone. Those turkey milkshakes are ALL mine, baby! Secondly: I don’t have to bathe. It’s a Win/Win all around. Sure, I made a few obligatory calls to family (curse you Alexander Graham Bell for this disruption in my expert flow of pie consumption!). The calls were well-timed so all were about to sit down to eat their own gluttonous meals. Therefore, the calls were short, concise, over & done so I could get back to adding even more whipped cream to the pile atop what I had already dubbed “Mt. Pun’kinPie.”

I always go through my check list of gratitude in this current year and life. Again, it’s something I prefer to do on my own. It’s just my way. Once upon a time, I foolishly spent Thanksgiving with friends when I still lived back east. They actually went around the table exclaiming their thanks ALOUD for review (and, we all know, judgment). My turn brought forth a simple, yet sincere, “Microwave ovens.”

After a beautiful, blissful sliver of silence, someone took the bait and asked, “Why are you thankful for microwaves?”

“Because we’ll have a way to quickly reheat all of our food,” I said. “This ritual is taking far too long and the food is getting cold.”

No, I wasn’t invited back the following year, which was, of course, my plan all along. The best part is they gave me a leftover platter to take home. SCORE!

Admittedly, this year has been a roller-coaster of a ride. It has been quite the amusement park for many of us, I’m sure. Losses, gains and, my favorite, some good ol’ fashioned status-quos. I enjoy the even-keel days. There are so few of them anymore so I try to savor them, like that last morsel of stuffing on your fork at the end of a holiday meal.

I always joke (somewhat) that I am fortunate enough to meet some really awesome dead people. Their dispositions are always pleasant, joyful and refreshing (especially after dodging flying Nike shoes amidst a Black Friday Apocalypse). But I have to say, I am SO blessed to have some of THE greatest clients imaginable. I learn and experience SO much through them. Every now and then, someone will reach out with a simple message of appreciation, inspiration and even motivation. Interestingly, these “out of the blue” (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) missives arrive at just THE best time. Proving, once again, it IS all orchestrated. Sometimes we forget to tap our foot along with the music.

For example, I was recently feeling a bit unsure about my life’s path in general. Questioning it is scheduled regularly on my Google Calendar. It happens to us all so no big whoop, right? Well, as I snuggled oh-so-contentedly in my comforter made of equal parts down and doubt, I received this unsolicited email from a client:

“I’ll always know you are a refreshingly very frank, humorous, tender-hearted, innocently gifted and sensitive medium just trying to manage your world and talents in the best way you can, being of service to people, and following an honorable code and method.”

Needless to say, I’m most grateful for her kind words AND the ideal universal timing of their arrival.

While I’m on the subject, I am always appreciative of the exchanges within any reading, private or platform, that I am privileged to perform as well. Each and every one presents a learning opportunity for me. Even the ones that do not meet my fanatical standards. Spirit always, without fail, will pass along lessons of insight, love, healing, encouragement, understanding and, of course, laughter in whatever mixture they see fit. They demonstrate the brightest of lights in the deceptively darkest of times. The ultimate night-light. Those who sit before me will—more times than not—serve up a buffet of eye-opening coaching as well. Just hand me a spork and a Wet-Nap and I’m set for a fine-ass meal of enlightenment with a side of finely chopped slaw.

There is a unique mixture of gratitude and fascination when it comes to group platform readings. Group readings, in my experience, always have a theme to them. Forgiveness, suicides, loss of a child, guidance, misunderstandings—you name it. I once conducted a crowd filled with a cluster of spirits who LOVED to bake! Needless to say, everyone was starving by the end of that one! You’re wondering what could possibly be “learned” from a batch of bygone bakers, aren’t you? Well, try these on for size: a reminder to do something you love. Remembering the sweetness of life. Rising to the occasion. You’re the co-creator of your own destiny. The list of ingredients go on-and-on. See it as you wish. Make a point to serve up what is best for YOUR best.

Another no-brainer, which is great for us but not so much for a band of zombies with the cranial munchies.

There’s always something to be thankful for within the mechanics of the tidings Spirit allows me to share. I have to say, however, this recent Thanksgiving served up a refreshingly large reminder of gratitude. Not so much in what I do BUT those that I encounter along the other 364 daze of days. I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with a student/client/friend just two days prior to Let’s Wear Belt Buckles On Our Hats Day. She had just completed her first Spirit Guide class with yours truly. For some reason, this shattering of her eardrums didn’t deter her from swapping ideals over pancakes and scrambles in a public forum. Yea, it struck me as odd, too, but who can really understand women?

Oh, dear. That was a tangent, wasn’t it?

I have read her several times over the years. After awhile you do develop a bond, an understanding, with long-term clients. You get a better understanding of them as a person through their own actions & reactions to just about anything. People, living or living impaired, never cease to amaze me with their ability to surprise and astound. This oddly timed brunch was certainly no exception.

When you spend any time with any medium, ‘death’ is bound to pop up in idle chit-chat. It’s the nature of the beast. She and I have known one another long enough to just let the conversation flow where it needs to go. She told me of her own life, in and out of the realms of her own metaphysical interests and gifts. I always enjoy discovering new aspects of people. I already knew she had lost both of her parents by the age of 21. It just doesn’t seem right, does it? Someone so young should not have to face such losses. Events of that magnitude are bound to leave holes. Holes, I am sure, that are not easy to fill. Honestly, to unearth this piece of her background, the subject has to be broached. Otherwise, you’d never know it by merely observing. It’s masked in the same incognito way that you’ll never suspect which of my pockets is stuffed with cheesecake unless you really pay attention.

I lied. The cheesecake never lasts long enough to make it into a pocket. Curse those tangents…

browneyesonlyShe stared at her slowly shrinking stack of pancakes for a moment in silent reflection. Then she turned her deep, dark, doe-like eyes up at me. Her eyes met mine with a silent force that, quite frankly, pushed me back into my seat a bit. It was gentle, straightforward and purity at its finest. She didn’t just look AT me, you see. She looked right into me and I FELT it. You don’t forget gazes like that, you know? You rarely see them seeing you. She flashed her naturally easy smile and said, oh-so-simply, “I often see the loss of my parents as a great gift.” This was something I did NOT know about her. I’m sure the subtle raising of one eyebrow gave away both my bewilderment as well as my nerdish desire to one day channel Leonard Nimoy. She continued, “It was their loss that led me to my path of spirituality. It really did change EVERYTHING.” Her warm smile never wavered as she said, “I’m so grateful for that. Every day I am grateful.”

Well, shut my pie-hole. Talk about a powerful statement. I greatly admire anyone who can turn a negative into a positive. But this one really takes the cake, or the pancake as the case may be. I am a firm believer in the fact that all that we go through is what leads us to who and where we are today. It’s our individual choices that carve it in stone. Some choose a higher path, others take the tunnels leading to what they believe will be an expressway of sorts. Welcome to the Free Will Toll Road, fellow drivers. Turn on your headlights and make sure you’re reading the signage up ahead.

I can relate to the loss of parents, but in a totally different way. As an adoptee, I lost my parents before I even knew they existed. I lost my adoptive father through divorce and then death when I was 6. At age 33 I finally met my biological mother and father only to lose them after 18 and 22 years respectively. My Bastard Heritage certainly carved out a large part of who I am. It’s a huge part of me and I am proud! I’ve always said I was a bastard before being a bastard was cool. I believe it even helps me with aspects of my mediumship. I’ve always been a rather detached person for the most part. I connect that with my ability to easily push emotion aside in order to make the connections required for any session. However, unlike my lunch companion, I have always had a parental figure of some sort within reach. She had lost both of hers before I had even found the second string of my own. And here she was, unequivocally stating, that this double barreled loss has emerged as a blessing.

She filled the holes in her heart, her spirit. But not with sorrow or self-pity. Oh, no. She filled them with seedlings from which great trees and beautiful flowers have grown. Her intention was to fill the darkness with something reaching for, and living within, the Light.

If that’s not a lesson in gratitude, pal, then I don’t know what is. I am so thankful for such a powerful reminder as well as a chance to share it with each of you. Cherish and be thankful for it all: what was, what you’ve made it and where it will possibly lead you tomorrow. Losses are NOT permanent. Love IS permanent. When situations are getting you down keep reminding yourself that this, too, shall pass… just like a gravy boat.

Thanks for… well, you get the gist.

 

 “I want to say thank you to all the people
who walked into my life
and made it outstanding,
and all the people
who walked out of my life
and made it fantastic.”
– Author Unknown (but certainly appreciated!)

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius

 

September 3, 2016

Connection Detection

Filed under: Inspirational,mediumship,Self Reflection — cfilius @ 4:50 am

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY if I told you that Donna Mae Wold recently passed away? In all likelihood, without knowing her, you would offer any array of generic condolences. “I’m sorry to hear that” or “Rest in peace” are perfectly fine responses, for example. While you may not know Donna, you can relate to any personal loss in your own life which provides your empathy for this situation. Loss does strike a louder chord when you do know the woman, like I did. I didn’t know her personally, but I certainly did know her. Her passing stirred up a lot of emotions for me. I found memories resurfacing like bubbles bobbing to the top of a freshly poured glass of pop.*

After hearing of my own connection, you may feel inclined to put a more personal touch to your offered condolences. “I’m sorry for your loss” is a classic stand-by. The affirmative “Is there anything I can do?” is a sure-fire crowd pleaser. But, I assure you, there’s no need for these or any other platitudes. While appreciated, of course, it’s not THAT kind of a loss for me. Someone, absolutely, but not me.

Interestingly, you (yes, YOU) know Donna on a certain level as well. You’re looking at your screen with a quizzical expression that is simultaneously questioning your own memory and my dwindling sanity, aren’t you? There’s no need to mull on either topic for any duration. There’s no reason for you to realize that you somehow know this mysterious woman. And my sanity is NEVER worth a second thought (this coming from the guy caught in the eye of the perfect storm that is my mind). Just allow me to slightly rephrase the initial question:

What would you say if I told you that The Little Red-Haired Girl passed away? Uh-huh. NOW you know her. I sense a universal “AH-HA!” as the window blinds of your mind zip up, spinning wildly with a never-ending flipity-flipity-flipity-flipity. Yes, THE Little Red-Haired Girl, the object of Good Ol’ Charlie Brown’s affections.

Donna Mae Wold and a young Charles M. Schulz dated once upon a time. He had proposed to her and, after some deliberation, she turned him down. After her rejection, he walked around for awhile collecting his thoughts. After about half an hour or so had passed, he returned to her home to see if she had perhaps changed her mind. But, alas, she had not. Unbeknownst to both of them, one of the most prolific stories of unrequited love was born. Sparky went on to immortalize his heartbreak by sharing it in ink with the rest of the world. I’m sure it was therapeutic for him and, honestly for his readers, too. We all have our own Little Red Haired Girl, don’t we? An unanswered love that didn’t blossom as fully as we’d hoped. But that missing flower can also help us appreciate the beauty of the rest that surround us. Love, won & lost, is truly a common denominator that connects us all. There’s nothing like a common experience to connect total strangers in a heartbeat.

We all “know” one another on some level. We’re all connected and, in round-about-ways, we have an impact of some sort on each another. There’s an ongoing ripple effect—the proverbial pebble plunking into a pond—that gives us the chance to continually overlap with someone else. A moment in the life of one can trigger something within another and another and so on.

An action triggers a thought that accesses a memory which awakens a heartfelt awareness once believed long passed. There’s a Rube Goldberg line of realization if there ever was one.

For example, you may read a newspaper article—for those of you that still read actual newspapers—about a local teacher who is retiring. She has worked for 50 years and never missed a day. While you do not know this person, the filler on page 6 of the local tabloid can still strike a chord. You may immediately flash to your favorite—or least favorite—teacher. The array of memories bombarding you rivaling a rainbow roll of Lifesaver’s; just one after another, splashing into your memory like a line of kids waiting their turn on the diving board at the local Y.

My favorite teacher was, oddly, my high school band instructor. He was truly the only teacher I had in the first 12 years of my alleged education who ever dared prepare me for life beyond that wretched brick building that imprisoned me for so many years. He taught me to never settle for second best. He taught me to constantly put my all into anything I do. He taught perseverance, determination. And, because of him, I instinctively walk in-step with anyone I happen to be strolling with at any particular time. Talk about awkward.

Side note: My old high school was torn down a few years ago. I just happened to be in town visiting my mother when it happened. You know what? My face still aches from smiling as I watched it come down, brick by brick.

You want to hear about my least favorite teacher now, don’t you? Can’t say I blame you. Tales focusing on a least favorite anything are generally far more entertaining. She was a scrawny little shrew who dominated my Third Grade year. She was the physical embodiment of an anorexic Far Side cartoon character, complete with a beehive hairdo and cat-eye glasses. Miss Sole—who ironically had none—had a lot of mean stuffed into such a tiny frame. The class was assigned a Thanksgiving art project: draw something you are thankful for. Simple enough, right? Several of my classmates were shouting out a number of ideas.

“Mommy and Daddy!”

“My dog!”

“Bunnies!”

I’ve never been one to wrangle my wandering thoughts. I’ve always preferred that they just run amok, free flowing and void of filters. So, with that in mind, I suggested, “The World!”

Miss Lack of Soul’s pompadour whipped toward me as she firmly stated, “NO!” She adjusted her pointy jewel-encrusted frames, her nearly reptilian-like eyes enlarged behind the Coke-bottled lenses. “You can ONLY be thankful for the United States!” I drew the world anyway. She gave me an “F” on the project. Ya know what? It was totally worth it.

Side note: She was eventually elected to the Board of Education.

blockhead

“There is a point… Is there a point to all this?
Let’s find a point. Is there a point to my act?
I would say there is. I have to.”
— Bill Hicks

The point being we are ALL connected, both here and “there”, one way or another. By memories shared or related, through our own lives or the similar experiences of others. I often relay experiences of a spirit and the sitter before me in mediumship sessions. If I am unable to grasp the situation the spirit will access something similar in my own life so I can better understand it. Our souls are intertwined here so why would that change just because some have passed on? If you think of your grandmother in spirit, she will know it. And on those days when you SWEAR you can sense your late aunt around you… well, why do you suppose that’s the case? She thinks of you, too. Love never dies. Love cannot be shut off. Love and Life are on-going. If they continue then it’s only logical that our connections do as well.

Charlie&RedHairedGirlDonna Wold and Charles Schulz went their separate ways. They married others, had families, and were very happy in their chosen lives. Yet each held a special place in their heart for the other one. Each of us have done the same. Life goes on. But, somewhere deep within, nestled in a place that only you can reach, that Little Red Haired Girl still resides. I know mine does. We aren’t together and never will be. But, in a certain time and place, there was that chance. I’ll never forget that sense of bliss, contentment, love. I can only hope she won’t, either. You’re lucky to see the beauty of a Tiffany Lamp but truly blessed are the select few who can have it near and feel the warmth of the light it emits onto their very own heart.

Stay connected.

*Yes, ‘pop’…not the inaccurate ‘soda’ so many people incorrectly toss about so readily. ‘Soda’, I’ll have you know, is a glass of ‘pop’ with ice cream in it. Get a grip, folks.

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius, All Rights Reserved

July 31, 2016

For the Laugh of Me

“Life is the ultimate joke and the Dead ‘get it’.”
Pretentiously Quoting Myself

AndersonCAF-editOn the afternoon of August 2, 2001, I was a blissfully ignorant sack of meat that didn’t bother to give a hoot (whole or half) about anything in this world or any other. I was living right smack-dab in the middle of Bliss-Town with a 90210 zip code. Then, later that night, I was drugged, rolled up into a carpet, stuffed in the trunk of an Eldorado and relocated to a place that I was convinced did not even exist. I didn’t end up with just egg on my face, but a whole omelet bar with all the fixin’s. But, of course, most of you already know that. If you don’t then you can just click here and catch up with the rest of the kids.

As the 15th Anniversary of my Boot to the Head into mediumship looms, I find myself waxing philosophically about it. Not so much the workings of it all or even the ponderings of how I got here. I’ve done that far too many times over the past decade and a half. Old news, ya know? I find myself focusing on the on-going WHY of it all.  Specifically, WHY do I do what I do? Talking to the Dead: what kind of person decides to do this sort of crazy thing? I assure you Madam Olga was never a Career Day participant when I was in high school. One day you’re just sitting there, chatting with Great Uncle Hugh, and then he just keels over. Anyone else would assume the dialogue would end as quickly as he did. But not me. Noooo way. I just  continue our conversation despite the fact that most assume Hugh was no longer in a position to be much of a conversationalist. Diving into discussions with the dearly departed does have its downside, lemme tell ya.

I suppose you can say the initial seeds were planted in the very beginning. Since childhood I have had an intense interest in death. No great news flash there. Some would probably term it as an “obsession.” While I can understand this judgment call, I am honestly not sure about the accuracy of it. One man’s obsession is another man’s Sunday afternoon. Admittedly, I’ve blurred the line separating “interest” and “obsession” so much that the Hubble would have difficulty getting it in focus.

My revered love of cemeteries is my go-to example of this fascination. I’m intrigued how individuals handle death. I’ve always wondered whose idea it was to dress the deceased in their “Sunday Best” and then throw a huge party for them on the one day their absence is an absolute guarantee. Why do people tend to whisper in funeral homes? It’s not like they’re gonna wake anyone up. It really makes me happy to see so many are turning away from the traditionally solemn funeral and embracing the idea of a true Celebration of Life. I love how some will include personal items in and around the casket or urn. No pun intended, but it does seem to bring the person to life. For example, my niece slipped a bottle of Pepsi into my birth mother’s coffin. My birth father’s box of ashes was crowned with a stylish pair of Minnie Mouse ears with DA-DA stitched on the back. Leigh was buried clasping a lapel pin emblazoned with the Bastard Nation logo. I like to envision some yet unborn archeologist of the distant future stumbling upon her crypt one day. The archeologist, upon unsealing it, will exclaim, “Now, THERE is one proud Bastard Goddess!

Memorials, I feel, should be made more personal. Do not rely on some cookie-cutter format with an “Insert Name Here” approach. I feel the same way about grieving. Death and grieving are very personal things and they should be treated, and respected, as such. Everyone handles them differently. Some linger and dwell while others boldly, while some think coldly, move forward. Mourning isn’t a race, people. We’re all going at our own pace. My readings over the years have taken on a life of their own (puns are just falling like rain, aren’t they?). They are, for the most part, made distinctive by the personal enhancements from Spirit. So, yea, it all tends to tie in together.

 

Family

(L-R) Lil’ Ol’ Me, Carletta (sister), Jay (brother-in-law), Markis (brother) & Fred (my family funeral fella)

There’s no doubt about it… I’ve always found the whole kit n’ caboodle pretty interesting. Not necessarily dinner-conversation interesting for most, but interesting just the same. I excitedly discovered, when my birth father passed, that I actually have a cousin who is a mortician. How remarkable is THAT? You have no idea how I wish someone would instate an annual “Take Your Cousin to Work Day.”

 

Cousin Fred makes ‘em up while I chat ‘em up. That’s a sit-com just screaming to happen, folks.

Our presents and futures are always affected by our pasts. The more you analyze your own the more you will uncover. Seemingly random recollections can, one day, bring forth a great epiphany. Attending my great grandmother’s funeral, when I was barely 2 years of age, stands out as one of my earliest memories. I can’t say I understood on a conscious level, but I assume there was a familiarity on a more subconscious one. Over the years I’ve heard how many commented on my being so well behaved during the funeral. I’ve been told I just sat on my mother’s lap, looking around with quiet curiosity. Things have changed, of course. I no longer behave OR sit on anyone’s lap. One would need major medical for the latter.

I have honestly met many-a-relative ‘round a casket—if not IN one—over the years. As a kid, I would stare at the Over-Dressed One on display with equal doses of morbid curiosity and imaginary terror. You see, I survived on a steady gluttonous diet of horror comics, movies and television shows at that age. Tales from the Crypt, The House on Haunted Hill and Dark Shadows were massive influences on my already overactive imagination.

As the adults would flock around the box, I would stand and stare at its contents. I would just stand there, my tiny hands grasping the side of the coffin, with my nose resting on the puffy, rippled material like a little morbid Kilroy. I would bide my time and, eventually, I would see it: an almost undetectable rise and fall of the chest! Young Kilroy’s eyes would widen as his grip would tighten. I would mentally scream “HE’S ALIVE!” (In my head I sounded exactly like Colin Clive, by the way.) This was very plausible to me. Hell, NO ONE at Collinwood EVER stayed buried so why would Late Great Uncle Hugh?

I was convinced the cadaver in question was still alive. And, of course, I was correct in that assumption… just not in the way that I thought. There were no catatonic zombies, armies of the undead or even a colony of vampires. They were very much alive—not flesh-and-blood alive, like you and me currently—but alive in their natural state. Energy. Light. Life-force. Spirit. However you wish to categorize it is fine. I’ve discovered The Other Side isn’t nearly as obsessed with labeling as we seem to be.

My imagination fueled me as a child and, in return, I sought out ways to stimulate it. It was an on-going vicious circle that even Mrs. Parker may have envied. I believe imagination is a key ingredient to successful mediumship. I’m not saying legitimate mediums make things up. Not by any sense of the absurd word. A vivid imagination is what allows your mind and common sense to just let go. This openness lets you welcome whatever passes by without judgment or rational thought. Of course, I had NO clue that all I was doing was adding more logs onto the roaring mediumship bonfire awaiting me. S’mores, anyone?

Time has taught me that this trail o’ mine was blueprinted quite some time ago. It was being built piecemeal over a period of several years and it’s STILL under construction. I was oblivious to it for the vast bulk of that time-frame. I was 40 when I realized there was a path in the first place! My construction crew, I assume, consists of Union laborers taking full advantage of their regulated breaks and work hours. Of course, as with most contractors, they never finish on time, let alone come in under budget. (I’ve just managed, in two short sentences, to completely alienate any union workers AND contractors who may be reading this. Note to Self: Hire a PR Manager.)

So, my background, my varied experiences & interests, have a bit to do with why I’m a medium. Tick that one off the list. So, what else? Someone recently said to me, “I bet there’s a lot of perks doing what you do.” Perks? Seriously? It’s not like mediumship comes with a benefit package. I’ll be honest, living a life as a medium does come at a cost. You can kiss what is perceived as normalcy goodbye. There is an alienation about this field so I hope you enjoy your own company. You have to often rely on the sound of your own voice to drown out the others echoing in your head at the most awkward of times. Predictability is predictably nonexistent. You will see things from such unusual angles that you’re life will begin resembling a Dali painting. You’ll even find yourself listening to someone who insists her cat is her reincarnated great grandmother who now advises her on her love life. (You have no idea how I wish I was actually making that one up…) It can be draining in all ways imaginable. And, after awhile, when you allow the voices in your head to speak over your heart—your higher self—you begin to doubt the blueprint, the contractors AND the architect.

It’s at that very moment, my friends, when one can expect to be the “soul” target of an onslaught of divinely guided cream pies. Thus proving that God IS the undisputed King of Slapstick.

Tossing the realistic reasons around like a cat with a ping pong ball is not only tiring, but monotonous. This leads to dwelling on the physical, or business, aspect of mediumship. How practical is this field, really? What about doing the things I WANT to do? I do not want to rely on romantic recommendations from Tabby Grammy to fill my thoughts, let alone my schedule. So, I began looking for answers. I devoted too much of my time to turning over rocks searching for a morsel of wisdom with subzero results. What’s funny about the whole thing is that my searching for the WHY had made me FORGET the why. That’s like

eating cheesecake as you work out on a treadmill.

(Mmmmmm… cheesecake… Oops. Sorry ‘bout that. Focus, Charles, focus…)

Tidbits of wisdom can be found everywhere you choose to actually look AND listen. But you can look with such scrutiny that you don’t see a damn thing. The whole “forest / trees” scenario, ya know? Sometimes—or, in my case—MOST of the time wisdom is hurled at me through the words of another. Why? Because figuring it out all by myself is obviously just too damn difficult. One of my favorite quotes is “For when the disciple is ready the Master is ready also.” Another is, “Seek and ye shall find.” And, finally, the be all and end all, “Two people kissing always look like fish.”

DoctorIsOutI do not, by any means, consider myself a Master. Mediumship, like life, is just one gigantic learning curve and we’re all cruising on it. I’ve taught some psychic & mediumship development classes over the years. Reluctantly, of course, but I’ve done it just the same. Teaching is not a suit I prefer to don, even though it does pop up in my wardrobe with an unsettling frequency. Like anyone else, I find myself going through the motions instead of being aware of each and every step. Instead of paying attention, I’m paying no mind to my inner and outer surroundings. I start feeling comfortable where I am in the scheme of things. Too comfortable. I end up being far too complacent in my little You-Are-Here Map. The dotted lines direct me to the rest room, any fine establishment that serves cheesecake and the Hawaiian Shirt Depot. No need to stray from what works, right? I still manage to get lost even when the dashed lines are clearly sprawled out before me. Sometimes I do it by simply standing still. Now there’s a skill I need to tag onto my resume

In the midst of my chasing my own tail from the cozy comfort of a Barcalounger, my most recent Master showed up in the form of one of my current students. Talk about adding insult to injury! He really is a very gifted medium and channel. Well, he is once he gets his own head out of the way (thank God that’s NEVER the case with me… Ohhh! Lightening!). The arrow hits the bullseye and he does great… for awhile. Then he thinks and the next arrow wedges into the hillside. Eventually, he spills his quiver on the ground and stifled mayhem ensues. The battle between what the mind THINKS and what the soul KNOWS rages onward ever onward. I’ve told him time and time again, “You can do this!”

After relaying a rather amazing experience he had with Spirit—one that exhibited so many “coincidences” that he could open up his own museum—he wrote, “So I just wanted your opinion Charles… Is this spirit stuff real?  I’m not sure if I’m fully convinced yet.” At that point my head tilted to the right as my left eyebrow rose in silent sarcasm. He continued, “You NOW have the right to SMACK me during circle if I’m showing doubt or not giving the information coming to me. My guidance approves.” Before I could begin oiling up my boxing gloves he allowed Spirit to work through him just a little bit more. “I feel I just have to do my homework and be available for Spirit to work through me,” he realized. “It’s not about ME trying to be a great medium… you may have to remind me of this from time to time…”

“So, he CAN do this,” I gloated to no one in particular. Then it hit me. The little dweeb—grumbled with love—not only was handed an amazing slice of proof from Spirit for his own doubting ways, BUT they also used him to deliver a much needed sucker punch to me as well. It was even conveyed in my usual irreverent tongue-in-cheek manner. Well, goodie for them.

See? There’s always reinforced construction taking place in the background. Seeking & Finding. This is much better than the usual Cease & Desist requests that I get, but I digress. It had been right there in front of me, mostly clear as day. I just refused to admit it was there all along. I caved to the voices of doubt. I gave in to the fears, and what happened? Spirit provided me with yet another array of Spiritual Wedgies and Purple Nurples.

The reason I’m a medium? The reason I allow my life to be purposely flipped upside down? The reason why I choose, every single day, to walk a path that is the equivalent of playing hopscotch in a minefield? The reason I do this work? It’s simple: because I can.

Because. I. Can.

33254357 - typewriter with special buttons, because i can

Honestly, I’ve never been a purveyor of normalcy. I naturally keep as many people as I can at a very comfortable distance that would overload any GPS. And routine has never been my forte. New perspectives keep an artist interested as well as interesting, don’t you think? And, frankly, hearing tales of a reincarnated grand-ma-ma speaking amore through a feline is bound to make anybody’s day.

I had allowed myself to shorten my naturally short-sightedness. When in doubt we tend to return to what is familiar. The same spoke, even after all these years, comes back up every now and again. Why? Is it because I haven’t finished this lesson yet? Or is it because I’m digging my nails into a piece of driftwood because I’m afraid I’ll drown if I let go? Fear of the unknown is a pretty funny affliction for a guy who talks to the dead.

This is where the last quote comes into play. Andy Warhol was right. Two people kissing DO tend to look like fish. But what are you actually seeing? Are you seeing a couple of mackerels making out or are you seeing a physical representation of love? Perception is the key. It can go either way but what does your natural intuition tell you? Trust what you receive. Trust what you perceive. Trust Spirit. Trust yourself. And trust the experience. I’ve thought, all along, that I keep repeating this serial doubt because I’m not finished with the lesson. That’s the easy way out. What it boils down to is that I’m afraid to let go and trust (yet again). Well, I WAS. My anniversary gift to myself this year is making a conscious effort to let go of that driftwood and trust the waves are taking me where I need—and want—to go.

To each of you reading this, I thank you for not only trusting my connection with Spirit, but for entrusting me with the responsibility that goes with it. I am grateful for being able to do what I do. I am blessed to hopefully help you see or sense something that will bring you comfort, understanding, peace and a solid dose of healing laughter. I assure you, and myself, that I will continue to do what I do because I can for as long as I can. And, more than anything, thanks for sharing the joke with me. Laughter doesn’t just lift the spirits, ya know? It lifts ALL Spirits.

So, two dead guys walk into a bar…

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Photo by Alexander Drecun © 2016

 

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