Pondering the Pavement

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

 

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…

FiliusHeadstone_100

Photo by Alexander Drecun © 2016

 

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

April 8, 2016

Heaven’s Kitchen

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 12:11 am
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I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe our dad. My mind reels at the wide array of adjectives swirling through my head. Do you know what I’ve discovered? It’s not an easy task to just “sum up a person.”  Summarizing our dad is like saying the Himalayas are just a couple of hills. When I was a kid, Reader’s Digest—the IDEAL publication for those with ADHD—ran a regular feature entitled, “The Most Unforgettable Person I Ever Met.” Well, let me tell you, if Everett Kitchen is ANYTHING, it is ‘unforgettable.’ His warmth is an inferno. His generosity extends beyond a vanishing point on the far horizon. I could go on and on about his loyalty, his genuine heart, his devotion to family and friends, his sense of humor. All of the traits that we already know so well, and are already missing.

There are several things I will miss, of course. His hugs, for example. He would just engulf you in those massive arms of his. You’d struggle, but only in jest. Once there, you just didn’t want to leave because you were home. Another thing is his “seal of approval.” I’m sure we’ve all heard it at one point or another.

Jpeg

Everett “Kitch” Kitchen (1938 – 2016)

Someone would ask, “Hey, Kitch, how’s that bowl of chili?”

He’d answer excitedly, “WOOT! I mean to tell ya!”

 “Is this OK?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

“Isn’t that funny, Kitch?”

“Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

He is his own man with his own style.

His surname couldn’t be any more appropriate. Seriously, what that man could do in a kitchen was something wedged between a miracle and a masterpiece. A stove and a spatula were his brushes while an empty plate and stomach were his canvases. As you can see, I’m quite the accomplished art collector… He did everything in his power to make sure no one left his home hungry. And, if he went to YOUR place, he’d bring the food to you or make it there himself. And, if by some freak of nature, you DID go away hungry… well, it was your own damn fault.

Kitch brought a lot to the table, both literally and figuratively. Whether it is the dinner table or to whatever relationship you had with him. Parent. Family. Friend. Co-worker. Partner in Crime. It didn’t matter because any table setting with him was as beautiful as it was memorable. It overflowed with all and more than you needed, let alone expected. And, if by some random hiccup in the Universe, you couldn’t find what you wanted, then he’d find a way to get it for you.

017He was a father and an unconventional one at that.  He didn’t raise us as a traditional Ward Cleaver sort. But his love for all of us was never hidden or denied. He bubbled over with love and pride for his kids. He was always willing to offer a helping hand, a kind word, a flick on the back of the head if we’d wander too far off the expected path. He gave us room to breathe, to falter, to experience life as WE saw it and to learn from our successes as well as our failures. He always encouraged each of us to stand and evolve on our own, and that included falling as well. He graciously and generously offered advice, encouragement, and unending love. He also had absolutely no problem serving up his completely unedited opinions. His views, like his love, were given freely, without hesitation or reserve, whether you wanted it or not. If you asked him a question you’d better be willing to hear the answer!

I am an adoptee. My birth mother was not in a position to care for me properly. She felt I would have a better chance if she put me up for adoption. My mom who raised me, who is a hair shy of 93 and feisty as ever, has always been upfront with me about my adoption. She was very supportive when I began my search for my biological families—my roots—over 30 years ago (By the way, I began my search when I was 8…). I was 33 years old when I spoke to Everett the very first time. I first spoke to my birth-mother three weeks earlier. I was welcomed by her, and her family, with open arms. However, I honestly believed I would NOT have a relationship with my birth-father. I expected to be denied and turned away. In my experiences, birth fathers are more likely to shun the whole idea while birth mother’s are pretty much the opposite. I had a great reunion with my birth mother so I certainly did not expect lightening to strike twice.

Kitch proved to be the wild card. Lightening struck with a blinding intensity and started a fire that burns brilliantly to this day and beyond. Way to go, Dad…

The first five minutes of our initial phone conversation were cordial. Friendly, but understandably guarded. I explained I didn’t want anything other than some answers, a peek into on my own history. He told me that he would be happy to tell me what he could.

He then asked, “What’s your blood type?”

I fully understood why he asked. We did not have the luxury of having Maury Povich exclaiming, “Everett! You ARE the father!”

Well, he asked so, being the naturally born smart-mouth that I am—thanks, Dad—I simply replied, “My blood type? Red.”

Then we both howled in laughter. This disruption of the sound barrier was immediately met with our abrupt silence. For the first time in my life I heard my laugh echo back at me.

If you know Kitch, you know THE LAUGH. That garish, glass shattering cackle that has been known to make babies cry and land masses shift.

After a moment of silence Kitch said, “This is real, isn’t it?”

I merely answered, “Yea. I guess it is.”

That ended any discussion of blood type right then and there. Paternity proven through laughter. IN YOUR FACE, MAURY!

04_FamilySo, yes, I have the laugh. My brother, Markis, has the laugh. My sister, Carletta, has THE LAUGH. Hearing this laugh spew upward and outward from someone standing a petite five-foot-four is, honestly, just plain spooky!

I don’t mean to stand here and tell you he was perfect. He wasn’t and he’d be the first to admit it. He didn’t even meander in a suburb of the gated community of perfection. He was bull-headed. The man took stubborn to a height that any accomplished mountain climber would covet. He was a cut of the ‘my way or no way’ jib.

On my first visit to his home in Colorado, he had the gall to announce to this City Boy, “We get up at 4 o’clock in the morning around here.”

I replied, “Good to know. When I get up at 10 be sure you tell me all about it.”

See? I got a little more than just his laugh.

If he didn’t like something, whether it be a situation or tuna, he’d let you know about it. He wouldn’t shirk away from his opinion and he respected anyone who did the same. He shot from the hip and ricochets be damned. He told me, more than once, “I always speak my mind… when I can find it.”

He had zero tolerance for anyone who wallowed in their own self-pity. “If you aren’t willing to help yourself,” he said, “how can you face yourself in the mirror?”

I looked at him and said, “I sold my mirrors. They were defective.”

Once again, that laugh echoed in stereo.

He didn’t believe in regrets. Instead, he preferred to own up to what was, focus on what is, and look forward to what may be. An eternal optimist wrapped in a tortilla of sarcasm. Again, unforgettable.

He was a giver. He didn’t ask for anything other than honesty and love in return. He received so much more joy when giving to another than getting a glamorous holiday gift himself.

IMG_1812

In order of appearance: Carletta, Sandra, Charles and Markis.

Honestly, if I had to sum him up, I’d have to say our father is about laughter. He instilled that in all of us. He is about joy. He is about giving. And, I mean to tell ya, he is about food! Preparing AND eating! He is about bringing people together. The turnout today surely proves that. He even managed to wrangle his kids together for the very first time. Talk about being a control freak!

His passing has been such a shock to each and every one of us. How someone so full of life—even BIGGER than life—can be gone so quickly is just a mystery. We’re all still trying to wrap our minds around referring to him in the past tense. My sister, Carletta, summed it up best a few days ago. She stepped groggily out of her bedroom one morning and said, “Do you know what I was supposed to be doing today?”

“What’s that?” I asked.

She simply said, “Not this.”

Boy, Sis, ya got that right.

It’s only fitting that Dad passed ON  April Fool’s Day. If anyone would appreciate the humor it that, it would be him. The real kicker for me is that the very next day, April 2nd, marked the 22nd anniversary of the very first time he and I spoke. The first time I ever heard OUR laugh.

Because of my work as a medium, I know that life never truly ends, that we don’t really die. We simply move on. With that in mind, someone recently asked me, “Where do you think he is now?” Honestly, this is how I picture it: Dad makes his way through a field of billowing clouds of dry ice like we see in so many Hollywood movies. After walking for awhile he finally sees a glowing light off in the distance. Instinctively, he begins to walk toward it. As he draws near the light he is is immediately greeted by a multitude of hyperactive drooling black labs. Amidst the jumping, licking and yelps of excitement, they manage to lead him to this massive set of pearly gates. The gates open effortlessly because they have WD-40 over there. The opening gates resemble what can only be described as large arms reaching out for a loving, long overdue embrace. The kind that he, himself, always gave. As Kitch’s brown eyes adjust to the intense bright light, he finds himself standing in His presence.

The Big Guy standing before The Bigger Guy.

So, Kitch just flashes that crooked smile of his, and simply drawls, “So, did I do OK?”

And God, in whatever form you see Him, in whatever way you believe, looks at Kitch, reflecting that same crooked smile that He, Himself, created, and exclaims, “Woot! I mean to tell ya!”

We love you, Dad.

Eulogy Delivered Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wayne, WV

October 3, 2015

It’s All in the Cards

Copyright Thomas Coyle

Copyright Thomas Coyle

* * *

“A deck of cards fans out. You do the same, you know?
Your aura, your energy, fans out to others.
The people will reach in and pull out what they need from you.
But always remember this: what they take is only what YOU freely give.”
– Pamela

* * *

Of all of the inquiries I receive, I have to say that the topic of Spirit Guides is in the top three. I have a very strong, and obvious, working relationship (or on-going feud, depending on the day) with my ensemble of enlightened ectoplasm. I’ve been fortunate enough to have connected clearly with them from the very beginning. While it seemed like a grand idea at the time, I’m willing to bet they’re kicking themselves now. Some of my Guides tend to be more prominent than the others. You know this just by skimming over my Facebook page or thumbing through my book, DAILIES. Some just seem more talkative. So I thought I would begin writing about some of my ‘lesser known’ Guides. They all assist me in my readings, meditations, writings—not to mention that daily routine you hear so much about—so I don’t want to give the impression that some are more important than others. There’s no Warren G. Harding or Chester Alan Arthur in my line up. Each stands out in their own way with their own Divine Purpose. The one common denominator is they have all improved on their golf swing whacking their clubs up against my cement abutment of a skull. God love ‘em.

In April, 1909, Pamela Coleman Smith was commissioned by A.E. Waite to design arguably the most recognizable tarot deck in history: The Rider-Waite-Smith Deck (now known as The Rider-Waite Deck). At the time it consisted of 80 drawings and by 1911 black and white prints would appear with Waite’s book entitled The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Thus ends the lesson.

IN MY EARLY DAYS OF DEVELOPMENT, I was introduced to a new Spirit Guide by the name of Pamela. She was my fifth spiritual sidekick right after Christopher, my Tibetan Monk with ADHD (Ya can’t make this stuff up, people). Pamela gave me a swift glimpse of her physical appearance, like Christopher, in the very beginning. I saw a young woman with olive skin, dark eyes & hair, with full lips. She was dressed, in my best description, like a gypsy. I almost expected her to conjure up Larry Talbot (note the seasonal, nerdy reference). I’m also convinced she is an avid smoker but she denies it. She insists she is a reformed smoker. Oh, c’mon, Pamie. You can’t be helped until you’re honest with yourself first. Ahem.

She informed me that her role was to help me learn the Tarot. I knew nothing of the cards at the time and just accepted it for what it was. Our relationship began as a shipwreck beaten on the rocks and escalated rapidly downhill at a heart-skipping pace. Tarot and I did NOT get along from the git-go. The deck and I just didn’t mesh. I would stare at the cards and they simply stared right back at me. It was about as uncomfortable as an obligatory holiday family dinner.

Poor Pamela’s pet project was pretty much a pratfall. Of course, in those early days of my development, Pamela was still a wide-eyed entity chock full of determination and hope. Now, thanks to me, she’s bitter, broken and buzzing about bygone days of bliss. But she stays because she either has no place else to go or she’s a masochist. Probably a little bit of both.

Yeaaaaa… she’s gonna slap me down a rabbit hole for that one.

At one point along the way I found out about the artist of the Tarot, Pamela Coleman Smith. Needless to say, my jaw came crashing down on the tile. Could MY Spirit Guide be THE Pamela? I have to admit I was both impressed and intimidated. It seemed for a moment that Spirit had brought out the Big Guns. I had a sudden feeling I needed to really toe the line. And nothing creeps me out more than obligation. I put it out there and, in an automatic writing session, she answered my question. In her already familiar, snarky tone she wrote, “No, but I had you going there for a minute, didn’t I?” It was at that point that I proposed marriage, as is my custom in such situations.

Her moniker provided me with an amazing validation. Of all the names I could have been given, I receive the very name of THE illustrator of THE Tarot Deck. Coincidence? Not by a long shot. The odds are just too high for that to even be considered.

She is brutally direct and she refuses to put up with my crap. She calls me on it all the time and, honestly, I’m grateful that she does. I can’t get away with anything with her. Excuses are unacceptable, end of story. I recall, once upon a time, when I attempted to take a beginners Tarot class in Anaheim. The class description boasted it was for fledgling amateurs who didn’t know squat about the Tarot. LIES! ALL LIES! It seemed to me that everyone in that class, minus myself of course, had been reading the Tarot prior to leaving the womb. While I was only comfortable with knowing which side of the card to have face-up, everyone else was tapping into the deep corners of the Universe and revealing the secrets of life to any and all.

“I got a rock.” – Charlie Brown

It was a four week class and I lasted two of them. After that first night I was enraged. I stormed out of the building like a rabid dog. I was storming down the street toward my car, ranting and raving the whole time. I went on and on about what a joke this was, how I was too stupid to understand this undecipherable language, and on and on and on. When I FINALLY had to pause to take a breath, I heard Pamela oh-so-very-clearly ask, “Are you through?”

I hate when a woman asks me that.

Undeterred in my own lavish self-pity, I screamed, “How can I expect to see anything hidden in a damn card when I can’t even see YOU?”

Keep in mind this conversation was out-loud on a busy, bustling street around nine o’clock at night. Of course, it IS Southern California so passers-by were assuming I was either talking on a hands-free phone or I was schizophrenic. Both are equally common out here and, for the record, I lean more toward the latter of the two.

Pamela, in her already familiar Angelic tone oozing with love, replied, “Don’t give me that whinny ‘I can’t see you’ shit. Do you want to do this or not?”

Yes, dear.

Pamela realized that this relationship was just not working. I’m no stranger to that, but that’s beside the point. So, like any adaptable enlightened being, she switched gears. She began working with my understanding of symbolism in general. My readings are often a rapid-fire bombardment of images, one after another, like psychic flashcards. It’s a quick form of shorthand that is designed to keep my physical mind happy to have a puzzle to solve while my connection to Spirit gets to jump over the fence of so-called reality in order to ‘hear’ the true message. After that slap in the back of my noggin, the clarity of the symbols has been staggering. It was as if I had learned a new language almost overnight. I don’t know how she did it—what wires she crossed—but, by gum by golly, it worked. I find myself connecting dots that don’t seem to be related…until I discover that missing key. Once that key turns in the lock a whole new level of understanding is revealed to all parties involved. And, honestly, it’s a trip.

She has also helped greatly with my seemingly natural connection to oracle cards. Why I can’t relate to the Tarot is beyond me. I’m sure it’s my own mental block at this point (a polite expression for ‘bull-headed flibbertigibbet’). I’ve just accepted it for whatever it is. I suppose I should give Pamela credit for the Oracle Connection, but the last thing I want to do is to give my Entourage a reason to feel good about Themselves.

Pamela is the one who prompted me to officially offer Oracle Card readings in addition to my regular sessions. Prompted, by the by, is a refined euphemism for ‘bullying’, in case you’re wondering. She is also the Mastermind behind my occasional “Card of the Day” postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (for the 9 of you who follow all three venues). On occasion, whenever she is feeling like banging her head against a cement barrier, she attempts to sneak a Tarot lesson or two in the mix. And, as expected, it’s never really met with great verve.

I bought a Rider-Waite deck several years ago. Even after discovering my ineptitude with the cards, I kept them around like that odd uncle that no one really understands but, yet, you find comforting to invite to Christmas dinner, even if only for comedic relief. That’s MY goal in life, BTW. I placed the deck of cards in a wooden box and kept it on my altar. A photo of Pamela Coleman Smith stands guard on top of it. I like to have little trinkets, if you will, to represent my Guides on my altar. I don’t have items for all of them—yet—but I’ve found things for a little over half. It helps, in my mind’s eye, to solidify their presence in a physical sense.

Over the years, and throughout a handful of relocations crisscrossing the country, they ended up packed away in a box in my storage unit. It’s a wonder Pamela even continued speaking to me after that shun. A few months ago, while rummaging through my mountains of yard sale fodder, I unearthed the deck. Something told me to bring them home. So, after a hiatus, they’re residing once more on the altar, hopefully collecting more energy than dust.

September 18th of this year marked the 64th anniversary of the passing of Pamela Coleman Smith. I wanted to post something on my Facebook page about her. So, I simply did some snooping on line and found an intriguing illustration that was part of an art exhibit in New York in 1907.

She inscribed it to Alfred Stieglitz, the owner of the museum where her exhibit was held. She wrote:

“To one who appreciates what this means.”
With good wishes from Pamela Coleman Smith.
January 24, 1907.

She wrote it on MY birth date in 1907. It was written 54 years to the day before I was born and I “coincidentally” found it 54 years later. There I am, smack-dab in the middle of things. Again, “To one who appreciates what this means.” Those words vibrated more deeply within me than a tuning fork in an earthquake. When my peeps want to make their presence known they don’t hold back.

A couple of days later, I was preparing to post one of my CARD OF THE DAY messages.  I couldn’t quite decide which deck to use. I picked up a couple and my energy flat lined. Nothing there. Then I was drawn to the Daily Guidance from your Angels Oracle Deck. I shuffled for quite awhile. Finally, a card flew out…

“PERFECT TIMING. Now is the perfect moment for you to act on your inspirations. The doors are open, while you walk through them with us by your side. Don’t delay or procrastinate, as all of the ingredients are ripe for your success. Everything and everyone is on your side, supporting your positive outcome.”

That resonated strongly within me and, by the response to it, several felt the same way. Excellent! Time to clock out early and grab a Corona! Of course, it didn’t quite go that way. It never does.

Craig, a friend in Florida, emailed me:

Okay, so I pulled a card, too. Just because you did.  MOM, CRAIG IS COPYING ME AGAIN! (Note: You can clearly see why we get along)

The Six of Wands. Generally speaking, when the Six of Wands appears in a reading, the querent will find that obstacles will be overcome with ease and advancement in their life will occur quickly. They seem blessed at this time, with people praising them and offering them golden opportunities.

This reminds us that when we believe in ourselves and have confidence in our own abilities and character, we have already won the hardest part of the battle.

The message goes hand in hand with the Oracle Card I had drawn as well as what is going on within my own life at the moment. Once I saw his email I was “told” to draw a card from MY Rider-Waite deck. Again, I have not touched this deck in YEARS. That deck was boxed up when I left Arizona in 2009, untouched and nearly forgotten. So, I pushed Pamela’s picture aside, blew dust off the box (my maid hasn’t shown up to work since I politely pointed out the fact that she just doesn’t exist) and opened it. I slid the deck out of its cardboard packaging and into the palm of my hand. Care to take a guess as to what card was facing me when I slipped the deck out of the box?

The real kicker? I’m a six in Numerology.

Then IT happened. My beloved cohort, my partner in crime, my twin from another mother popped in for a visit: DOUBT. Seriously, people, what is wrong with me? If They club me over the head any harder my dome will pop like a ripe gourd on a hot summer day. (My apologies if you happen to be eating right now) Whenever I teach I always pound TRUST into the brains of my students. I all but beat them with the word. (Hurt me, beat me, teach me trust!) Trust what you get, what you feel, what you hear and sense. Then I turn around and pull this stupid stunt?

“Idiot.” – Michelle

I can talk myself out of nearly anything. It’s a gift, really. A useless one, like an alarm clock for an insomniac, but a gift just the same. I can easily accept the many amazing experiences of other people. But, when it comes to my own, I have to chew that jerky just a little too much, beat that dead horse long after its drawn its final breath. I actually spent more time than I’m willing to admit trying to convince myself that the chances of two people across the country from one another drawing the exact same card is an hourly occurrence. Keep in mind I consider watching reruns of The Love Boat to be quality time so I’m not much of a gauge. My favorite expressions with my Guides seem to be, “This can’t be real” and “What does all of this mean?”

My Guides have a couple favorite expressions for me, too. But it contains far too many expletives to share here.

On my way home from running errands the next morning, all snugly wrapped up in my big, ol’ burrito of doubt, a car zipped out in front of me as if driven by Speed Racer. Once the driver secured his place at the head of the line, he then felt compelled to drive at a speed that can only be represented as a negative number. I’m grumbling the whole time, of course. We were coasting along through the streets of Long Beach at a rate that would make The Poky Little Puppy seem like The Flash. As I shot death rays out of my eyes, I realized the car had a vanity tag. I had to blink a time or two in disbelief as my jaw began swaying in the breeze.

Want a good laugh? PAMIE C, in Numerology, is an 11. A big “thumbs up” from my Guides.

“Holy—” was all I managed to say before I burst out laughing. Staring back at me from the back-end of a car—in big, bold, DMV lettering—was a license plate boasting the name, ‘PAMIE C’. Whenever I’m pissed at Pamela I always call her “Pamie.” And “C”… well, that’s so self-explanatory that even I get it. Once the realization slapped the doubt outta me, the damn car sped up. “Oh, that’s just great!” I screamed to no one in particular. “He decides to run amok NOW?” I chased it down, like a deranged stalker, in order to snap a quick shot. The car went off in a different direction at the very next intersection after I took the picture. I have to admit I don’t blame the guy. If I saw a man in my rearview mirror laughing like a maniac and snapping pictures, I’d drive like a bat outta hell, too.

Keep that little tidbit in mind the next time you’re stuck behind a slow driver.

It looks like I need to rethink my expressions. ‘This can’t be real’ has become, ‘This IS real.’ As to what it all means… well, that’s the juicy one. It means several things. First of all, it means I need to practice what I preach and teach: TRUST. My Guides always let me know they are there, working in the background, just doing what they do. I know they are—I can feel them—but the physical reminders are always the ones that truly blow me away. It’s the same for you, you know? Trust that your Guides are right there, by your side, supporting you at every turn. You don’t really need to know their names. I know, in my heart of hearts, that the names they give me are just to appease my silly mortal mind. Call them what you will. If a name pops into your head out of allegedly nowhere, then go with it. Or just call ‘em, ‘Hey, You!’ They’ll still answer.

You must understand that they cannot make your decisions for you. We’re here living a physical life for a variety of reasons. Actually living that life is in the forefront. We make choices and we live through them the best we can. For example, I choose to be a blockhead. I do that of my own free to reasonably priced will. But my Entourage continues strengthening Their connection with me and They do their best to chisel away at my cement-lined stubbornness…and thank God they do. Thanks to Them, I have been blessed to be a part of something for the past 14 years that can only be described as miraculous.

What is Pamela up to? What message is she sending me? I honestly do not know. First and foremost, she is making her presence and participation in my life blatantly obvious. Perhaps my wanting to bring attention to her namesake on the anniversary of her passing brought it all on. Or maybe I was supposed to honor Miss Smith in my own way so Pamela could wave me down with her semaphore flags. The chicken or the egg? Who knows? I have to TRUST that it’s OK that I do not know. There’s always a reason. Always. So, again, what does all of this mean? It also means that despite my faults and flaws, my peeps won’t give up on me, my destiny, my path, my work… my very being. If THEY aren’t about to give up on me then it would be rude if I did not return the favor. I will simply continue through the clouded confusion of, as the Guide of a client of mine says, ‘this glorious life.’

Thank you, Pamela, may I have another?

* * *

“You cannot take the hand of another without extending yours as well.
In order to be a part of the chain—the link—you must take part in the chain.”

– Pamela

* * *

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius. All Rights Reserved.

July 3, 2015

The Eagle Has Landed (Part 1)

[As the 14th anniversary of my spiritual journey approaches next month,
I have opted to write about one of those early, faith-altering moments of mine. Enjoy the Enlightenment!]


“Have faith. For faith will carry you above the clouds of doubt and despair
providing a view that is more breathtaking than that of the highest eagle.”

– Robert

 

Perception is everything. If you don’t believe me just let your eyes dance over the brilliantly mind-numbing artwork of E. C. Escher. Sometimes it’s enough to drive you to drink. Is the glass half empty or half full? Or, in my case, it’s simply not what I want because I am craving a cheeseburger. Yup, it’s all a matter of perception. For example: there is an enormous difference between ‘waking up on your own’ and ‘being awakened’. Light sleepers have it easy. It doesn’t take much to get them to a waking state. A simple nudge will suffice. A slight shake of the shoulder or even a polite clearing of the throat will do the trick. Then there are people like me: the ones who can sleep through a hurricane while a marching band storms through the room blasting any given high school ‘fight song’ and not even flinch. To get me out of my hibernation I have to be bombarded with noise. Not once or twice but a multitude of times. It’s the same process used to rouse me spiritually as well. Lately I’ve had my guides working overtime with chisels and mallets on my skull. They’ve been pounding day in and day out until I finally ‘heard’ them. They’re either a relentless and devoted crew or they get paid a lot for overtime.

I had spent the first seven months of 2003 attending Psychic and Mediumship Development classes in Port Charlotte, Florida. Under the watchful eye of several skilled teachers, I discovered—along with my fellow ‘classmates of life’—that my own abilities ran far deeper than I ever imagined. More importantly, I discovered the normalcy in what I do. We, as a whole, are psychic. It’s not a matter of tapping into it as much as it is allowing yourself to tap into it and accepting it as a part of who and why you are. It’s also great fun at parties and it keeps you entertained when the cable is out. Think of it as shadow puppets but without the physical exertion.

On the Saturday evening after our first class of the month it was customary for one of the instructors to host a group platform demonstration. This is a group reading before an audience of individuals nestling into overactive anticipation of hope and curiosity. The intimate group varies in size and can last anywhere from two to three hours (depending on the chattiness of the Spirits who join us for the evening’s brouhaha). The one thing that is totally predictable with these school sessions is that the medium always picks up on my Spirit Guides. It’s practically a tradition worthy of depiction by Norman Rockwell. While others are being comforted by their great Uncle Hector and Cousin Penelope, I’m getting descriptions of my spiritual entourage. Don’t get me wrong: I have found a lot of comfort and validation in these readings. First and foremost, these experiences have proven to me that I am not schizophrenic. Being bombarded by a deluge of various energies and personalities is overwhelming when you’re not accustomed to the idea. I have to admit that I was questioning my own sanity in the beginning. My first contact with my spirit guides was the equivalent of walking into a bar where everybody really does know your name.

This particular Saturday night was certainly no different. The medium paused in front of me and said, “I hate to do this but I’m seeing another guide.” He took a deep breath as he said, “He’s a Native American.” I was told he was sitting on a rock overlooking the desert facing west. I chuckled and told him that I was planning a trip to Sedona, Arizona, later that month. I had not mentioned this trip to anyone. Well, no one on the physical plane anyway. The woman next to me started laughing. She was wearing a T-Shirt that read “SEDONA” in big bold block lettering. He also described, in great detail, a building that I would find while in Sedona. He said it was vital that I visit this place known only in his vision at this point. He described a large A-Frame log building with a green roof. The front would have very large windows—practically all glass. And there would be a lot of green surrounding it. He said I ‘needed’ to go there. Travel advice from the dead. Who knew?

01_cabinI did some snooping on the Internet later that night and, low and behold, I found the building described to me. It was a place called “Michael’s Vision” which was inspired by the Archangel Michael. I have a special connection to Michael (which is another story unto itself) so it all fell into place. I like to think of Archangel Michael as my personal archangel and I just happen to be generous enough to share him with the rest of the world. I also like to think that Michael pretends to find me funny. Yeaaaaaah. Sure he does.

I downloaded the photo from the website and showed it to the medium in residence the next morning. The first words out of his mouth were, “Are you going to buy that place?” I didn’t tell him but the property was indeed up for sale. Location! Location! Location!

Just prior to my trip to Sedona one of my guides, Oliver—who is usually a man of few words—chimed in with one lone simple sentence that ended up dominating my every thought for over a week: “Eagles. Go with the eagles.”

I asked, “What does THAT mean?”

He replied dryly, “You’ll find out.” I couldn’t see him, of course, but I just knew he was smirking. Well, yee-haw, Katie bar the door ‘cuz we’re gonna have some fun now (said in my best trailer trash accent)!

* * *

I arrived in Sedona late on a hot Tuesday night in late July with nothing more than bewildered anticipation and a bottle of sun block. I didn’t know what to expect and, frankly, I liked that idea. I’ve always hated planning and structure. I find the surrealistically whimsical approach to be best for me. Reality just bogs me down. Why balance my checkbook when I can create? Of course I was keeping an eye peeled for ANY references to eagles. I figured I would either find some earth shattering revelation connected to eagles or I would discover that Oliver has one perverse sense of humor. At that point in time both seemed utterly plausible.

Wednesday morning was spent at The Angel Valley Ranch in Sedona, which is home to the creator of “Michael’s Vision” described earlier. My connection to the Archangel Michael took me to that place. I found myself quietly surrounded by the watchful protection of Michael for quite some time now and I’m always excited when other connections to him present themselves. Since Angel Valley was dropped in my lap and who am I to say ‘no’? I was raised better than that and my Momma didn’t raise no dummies. My grandparent’s helped.

My guide on the ranch was the man who put the whole thing together and his name is—as hard as this may be to believe—Michael. Well, go figure. Michael, a slender man matching my 6’ stature, has a very calming presence about him. It’s as if he is ‘tranquility’ personified. He didn’t even seem upset that I was nearly 30 minutes late. My tardiness was a result of my inability to find my own ass without a detailed map. I could get lost in a phone booth. Upon my arrival, and after introductions were made, we began walking. I assumed he knew where we were going so I blindly followed…the whole time mulling over whether I should leave a trail of bread crumbs.

I said to him, “I don’t recall the last time I heard this much quiet.”

“You don’t have that in California,” he said. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact that was based, I later found out, on personal experience.

“No, there isn’t,” I replied. “My idea of a quiet evening is when I don’t have to listen to my neighbor’s car alarm.”

He smiled. “And yet you’re still there.” He led us to the left toward a small bridge. “You’re the one in control, Charles.”

“I like California,” I said, “but I feel I need a change.”

Again, he said matter-of-factly, “You’re the one in charge.” Then, out of the blue, Michael asked me, “What do you want, Charles?”

Silly mortal that I am, I replied, “I want to find out what’s next in my spiritual growth.”

Michael was kind enough to not laugh outwardly at me. We walked to a circle of rocks beneath a tree near the bridge and a stream. The tree seemed to envelope us within its limbs, like a mother protecting her young. We headed for a small circle of rocks near its trunk. He asked me to sit on a rock that ‘spoke’ to me. After pushing images of Jim Henson’s ‘Fraggle Rock’ out of my mind I did so and he sat on my right at a 90 degree angle. We sat for about an hour-and-a-half ‘just talking’. It was honestly better than any therapy that I’d ever had (and trust me that’s been a LOT—not wanting to brag). After a while he asked me again, “What do you want?” He made me really think that time. After a pause I was surprised to find myself answering, “I want to feel.” Michael smiled and said, “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

I turned myself off physically years ago. I became an extremely cerebral being at a very young age. For example, I don’t FEEL that I’m in love. I KNOW I am in love. I don’t FEEL tired. I KNOW I’m tired. Get it? There is a simple variation of the descriptions—replacing one word for another—but it is a massive difference. At the risk of repeating myself: perception is everything. It’s also one of the few things that I simply do not think about. Physical emotions get in the way. Thoughts are far more logical. Not to mention far more satisfying.

Michael and I discussed the importance of the opening of the charkas, especially the heart. This is, of course, one of the two that I feel I have the most difficulties. I’ve noticed that even during chakra meditations my mind will wander off during the exercise covering the heart chakra: My conscious and subconscious working together to avoid that little demon. Nothing like teamwork, eh? When it’s time to work on the heart chakra my mind goes off into an infomercial for the ‘Amazing Space-Age Insta-Juicer 2000 Buttering Wand and Candle Maker’ (or something equally intriguing) then returns in time for the throat chakra exercise.

“What excites you?” he asked. “What do you really love to do?”

“Obviously, I like drawing…” I began to say.

“Not ‘like’. Listen to me: ‘what do you really love to do?’ See what I’m saying?” I nodded as he began telling me his own personal story. How he realized that he didn’t really have anything in his life that ‘excited’ him. Once he realized this he ventured out on a cross-country trek. With what little he owned in his car and seven dollars in his pocket he drove from California to Pennsylvania. When he arrived in The Keystone State he had thirty-two dollars in his pocket…and a lot more faith. One tale in particular stuck with me: as he was driving through one state he noticed he was not only nearly out of gas but in the middle of nowhere, population zero. He kept saying to himself, ‘I need money. I need money. Where am I going to get money?’ Finally, he said he heard a ‘chorus of angels’ say to him, “You dummy! You don’t need money! What you need is gas!”

Again, it’s all a matter of perception. I have to admit I’m a bit jealous. I really would love to have a chorus of angels call me a dummy.

He realized they were right. Once he made peace with that idea he came upon a farm house just off the road. He said he considered it a miracle. He pulled into the road leading to the home and prayed for ‘the kindness of strangers’. The farmer had seen him turn onto his property and was waiting for him. Michael explained he was almost out of gas and definitely out of money and hoped that the man could spare him a couple gallons so he could continue his journey. Without hesitation the man began filling the fuel tank from his own supply. After a few minutes of friendly banter the man asked Michael, “What does your gauge say now?” The tank was full. The man said, “Now that didn’t take long, did it?”

“Like I told you, Charles, you’re the one in charge,” Michael said. “There comes a time in your life when you need to change patterns. You must want this. I faced that moment myself and I just told the universe ‘I’m done!’ and I meant it. When you accept that you are at that place in your life the Universe will work with you and in the time frame you desire. Do you want to change in a week? A month? A year? It’s up to you.” He smiled knowingly. “Finding what it is that truly excites you is part of that change. Find it and do it. Stop saying what you think people want you to say and say what you feel.”

There’s that infernal “F” word again.

And then that bastard had the nerve to ask just one more time: “What do you want?” I briefly considered knocking him in the head with a Twinkie and running for my car in a flurry of dust and gravel. However, my disdain for physical exertion, combined with my overall almost religious devotion to mass produced cream-filled pastry, prevented me from taking that blasphemous route. So I had no option but to tell the truth. I said, “I want to own what I feel.”

There. I said it. Happy now?

Michael sent me out on my own to ‘just go where your excitement takes you.’ No expectations, no rules to go by. Just do…whatever. As I started off on my odd quest Michael asked, “What brought you here?” Without thinking I replied, “I’m here on a wing and a prayer.” He smiled and said, “That’s all you really need.”

After climbing to the top of a hill I was most pleased to see that I could appreciate the beauty all around me before dying of a massive combination heat stroke and coronary. I decided to do some breathing exercises and meditations. I then announced to the Universe that upon completion of this exercise I would have a better insight to this eagle ‘dilemma’. Once the exercises had concluded I opened my eyes and what did I see but an AIRBORNE EXPRESS van driving through the valley below. As is my custom in these situations, I simply burst out laughing.

02_creekAfter traipsing around in 108 degree heat I found a most inviting creek. Without rationalizing in any way, I wandered out into the middle of it, beneath a waterfall, and plopped myself down in it. It was WONDERFUL! I just sat there for about an hour just letting the waterfall soak me from head to toe. So, as this ‘city boy’ was communing with nature he was totally unaware that the contents of his back pack were being ruined. This included his small art portfolio that he had placed in there and had conveniently forgotten about its existence. Twelve years of work GONE.

The screaming that came with the discovery of this mistake later in the day has been rumored to set off seismographs in a 550 mile radius. Tides altered. Animals ran from the forest in a panic. Natives in the mountains made up songs about it. A group of tourists were lost in an avalanche in the Grand Canyon. However, they were all lawyers so no one really noticed, or cared, that they were missing.

Was this a sign that I would NOT be moving to Sedona? Was it a sign to say that I was there to grow spiritually and not focus on my artwork? Perhaps it was meant as more proof that I need to change everything. Or it could be just my own obliviousness to the reality that I’ve created around me. A friend of mine told me ‘Sometimes we have to throw out what we think we know in order to really learn something.’ You know what I learned? I learned that I was pissed! How’s that for a friggin’ life lesson?

I tried meditating Wednesday night but had no success. My mind was everywhere… except where it should have been. My first full day in Sedona had proven to be, for the most part, a major disaster (or so I thought at that moment in time). I had HVincentoriginally planned to have lunch with a woman named Heather that afternoon. She is a fellow artist and psychic who also happens to be the niece of the very first psychic I ever met. I had been talking with Heather’s Aunt Donna for a decade yet she NEVER had the urge to speak of Heather until I had made my plans to visit Sedona. The fact that I had an interest in psychic phenomenon coupled with my being an artist was never enough for Donna to drag Heather into the conversation. But, once I made the plans, Donna just couldn’t shut up about Heather. I couldn’t just shrug it off as a mere coincidence.

However, as things were going from bad to worse, Heather and I did not get together as planned. I spent more time than originally planned at the ranch so, by the time I called her Wednesday evening, she seemed ‘disinterested’. She said she would call me back later that night and we’d finalize plans for the next afternoon. The phone did not ring again the rest of the night.

The next morning I was livid. Tossing aside the wealth of self reflection I had attained at the Ranch on Wednesday I was considering this trip to be nothing short of a farce. I was disgusted beyond belief. My life’s work was ruined. Heather, who I thought would be a great connection for me, was a no-show. I was spending money that I did not have. I exclaimed, “SCREW IT” (in far more descriptive terms than I care to post here) and decided right then and there that I was going home. If I could not get my ticket changed at no charge I was going to just live at the airport until Saturday and sulk.

“Pity Party of One? Your table is ready!”

I’d had it. I was walking away and not looking back. The instant I made that poorly chosen mock-decision the telephone rang. It was Heather apologizing for not getting back to me the night before and asking if we could meet on Friday instead of Thursday. I took a deep breath, kicked myself for doubting and enthusiastically agreed. I hung up the phone and just muttered to anyone within earshot, “Well, I guess you told me, huh?”

There’s no way to prove it, of course, but I’m convinced Archangel Michael was, at that very moment, muttering something along the lines of, “Neener neener boo boo.” Remember that whole “I like to think Michael finds me funny” comment earlier? I hope he does, too.

I walked down the street to a local Denny’s for lunch. It would be rather absurd to walk down the street to a non-local Denny’s wouldn’t it? “I’m going to Albuquerque for a bite. See you on Thursday!” It just doesn’t work. I was served by a lovely young lady named Brooke who was in possession of one of the most radiant smiles I’ve ever seen. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with apple sauce instead of fries. Brooke asked, “Are you on that weird Atkins Diet?” I looked at her, shaking my head ‘no’, totally bewildered how anyone can accuse me of being on any kind of diet. She said, “A lot of people come in here that are on the Atkins Diet and they will get applesauce instead of fries. Then they will eat the burger but not the bread, ya know?”

I smiled and said, “I just happen to really like applesauce.”

She smiled and said, “Well that’s a better excuse than being on Atkins! That’s just wrong!” I had to admit I agreed with her. Then she asked, “Are you traveling?”

“You have no idea,” I said dryly.

“Where are you headed?”

“Here.” I paused for a moment. “Sedona. Not Denny’s.” Sometimes it’s best to clarify.

She laughed and asked, “Where are you from?”

Chatty little thing, isn’t she? I told her I was currently hailing from southern California where everything should be stamped AS SEEN ON TV.

“That’s funny. Most people leave here to visit there instead of the other way around. What brought you here?”

My first instinct was to say “an airplane” but opted against it. I thought, “oh what the hell?” and I said, “You could say I’m here on a spiritual pilgrimage. No real rhyme or reason. I’m just traveling on a wing and a prayer.”

She said, “Oh, really?”

Then I decided to ‘go for broke’. I said, “I’ve discovered I have this wacky ability to talk to the dead.” I paused. “They talk to me, I talk to them, and wackiness ensues.” I looked at her fully expecting her to scream “HERETIC” at the top of her lungs while dousing me in holy water. I had a straw poised for action just in case. I was parched.

She flashed that smile and said, “Oh, I understand. My whole family is like that.”

I was dumbfounded. I’ve had several friends who have packed up their old kit bag and got out of Dodge when they found out I was getting into mediumship. I’ve even had one in particular tell me that she was afraid I was losing my mind. She went on to tell me she would do ‘anything’ within her power to get me help if it got ‘out of hand’. And here was a total stranger telling me it was as normal as ordering applesauce in place of fries. Sometimes you just have to change your diet. Replacing fries with applesauce doesn’t take away from the meal as a whole but merely changes it. The nutrition is there—even enhanced—and it just takes some time to stop craving the fries. You don’t have to stop eating all together. Just alter your diet. As Michael told me: “I’m done!” I never knew wisdom could be found in a Denny’s. Gum under the tables, sure, but not insight.

moving2To Be Continued…

June 15, 2015

The Blue Set Me Free

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 3:47 am

MeetYou“I ask that you look within yourself for the strength and focus you are seeking. It is said that the best way to hide something is within plain view. I assure you this is the case with you. It is right there before your eyes, within your heart.”

— Robert

We often focus on all of the huge monstrosities of life but, when push comes to shove, we always come back to the things we think should be insignificant. Have you noticed that thinking generally leads to trouble? We can fail to remember some remarkable things but find ourselves focusing on that playmate unseen since the second grade. Why is that? I think that on some subterranean level we know that the big things are, indeed, made up of all those small things. When I hear from a Spirit I find that their ‘regrets’, for lack of a better word, are not those of overwhelming tsunamis. I have yet to have someone relate to me something along the lines of, “I wish I had ignored more people” or “I sure wish I had six cars instead of the four” or even “I so wish I had spent even more time at the office and less time with my family.” What I am told is that they wish they had truly stopped and smelled the roses along the way or that they had spent more time being aware of those around them. Sounds like something out of Jacob Marley’s mouth, doesn’t it? Let me tell you there’s a lot of truth within the quill of Charles Dickens. I have been told, on more than one occasion, how they wish they had taken the time to simply smile and greet a total stranger while passing on the street.

Once I hit the infamous “Big-Four-Oh” I have made a point, each year, to take a trip to mark my birthday. I’ve never been one to acknowledge my birthday in the past. As a child I would literally run and hide in a closet while the party-goers caterwauled an ear-splitting rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”. It didn’t matter if it was my birthday or someone else’s. The song would get my feet moving and my heart pumping. Is it because I’m an adoptee and my birthday somehow reminds my subconscious of the ultimate personal rejection? Or is it because I’m just plain weird? I’m sure the therapists reading this are just salivating over the prospect of writing a thesis on me and my phobias.

I had decided to celebrate my 45th in The Emerald City of Seattle for a few days stretching over the day my peephole was opened, as Mr. Vonnegut would say. However, my plans were sidetracked by a sudden and unplanned illness so I had to postpone my flight. I was infuriated at the prospect of being stuck at home for my birthday. After all, this was the obviously larger-but-never-gets-the-same-press “Damn-Big-Four-Five”. With notoriety like that under my belt I had no intention of celebrating at the local IHOP. I don’t have anything against IHOP. It’s just this isn’t the venue to write about my obsessive, bordering on the perverse, love of Boysenberry Syrup.

I boarded a train bound for Santa Barbara and, from there, planned on renting a car for a two-and-a-half hour tool up the highway to Morro Bay. I’d never been there so, what the heck? Different scenery, different attitude, and all that hype. But there was a method to my seemingly aloof madness. All the best divine madness has a basis; an epicenter. Just 30 minutes further north from the coastal paradise of Morro Bay is the quiet little town of Cambria. And it was there, not Morro Bay, that I had marked the true X on my map.

Cambria was where she had lived. Her turf. Sherlock Holmes referred to Irene Adler as The Woman. A title that was given by Mr. Holmes out of intellectual respect for Miss Adler as well as personal emotional heartbreak. My Irene Adler went by the name of Michelle. Yes, her. The woman. The nightmare. The train wreck in stilettos. I had one last bit of business with her and the time for the stockholders meeting had arrived. I dared tell no one what I was doing because I knew I would get a series of lectures accented with an avalanche of rolling eyes. This was for me and, I assume, for her as well. OK. Who am I trying to kid? It was all about me. By the way, if anyone would appreciate this narcissistic streak it would have been Michelle.

The Amtrak ride to Santa Barbara was uneventful which was fine by me. The sprawling Pacific stalked me on my left most of the way up only to be obliterated from time to time by various islands of billboards and warehouses embellished in graffiti. I dozed, as is my custom, so my visual memories of the ride were almost a panoramic Morse code of images and sounds. After retrieving my suitcase—I was the only passenger who checked luggage (a tribute to my own divine laziness)—I embarked on the quarter-mile stroll to the car rental agency. I take great pride in my ability to correctly select the car I will be given nearly every-single-time. My slate blue eyes scanned the lot and fixated on a small red sedan off to the left. “That’s it,” I thought to myself. And I smiled smugly knowing that “Super Psychic” had done it once again.

I was knocked down a few pegs within seconds of entering the sparsely furnished lobby of the rental agency. The clerk behind the counter, who couldn’t possibly try harder if his life depended on it, slammed a lone key attached to a plastic tag onto the counter encased in genuine fake paneling. I saw the word WHITE staring up at me from within the cozy rectangular key chain. The Universe: 1. Psychic Boy: El Zippo. Upon further examination I discovered that I would be, for the next three days anyway, the proud legal guardian of a Chevrolet Cobalt. Cobalt: as in the color. Leave it to me to get my hands on a white car named after a shade of blue. It’s sad that I find little snippets of information like that even remotely interesting or amusing. Just take my word for it when I tell you that it is a vital sliver of this tale.

* * *

I entered the city limits of Cambria just after eleven on the morning of my 45th birthday. After some thought I’ve decided that there’s no better time to seek a rebirth than on your own birthday. The best thing about that idea is that I won’t have to remember a different date in order to celebrate. Enlightenment and ease make great bedfellows. This is the same logic used when a man insists his upcoming wedding be on Valentine’s Day: the chances of forgetting are virtually nil. Laziness cleverly described as romance. You’ve got to love that logic.

I was actually somewhat stunned to find that Cambria is quite a rural community. From the way Michelle had described it I was expecting anything but what I found. Finding that this upper crust snob was actually living within walking distance of cows was nothing short of astonishing. If she were still alive I would have called and heckled her. Well, actually, I’m pretty cheap. I would have just sent a post card.

With directions gripped firmly in one hand and the steering wheel of my misnamed white rental car in the other I drove straight to her former home. I have no idea why I needed to see this house. I felt the overwhelming urge to see some physical representation of her brevity here on earth. I wanted to see, once and for all, the place she had spent so much time with me (via the telephone or computer). Is it possible to return to an unknown home? I couldn’t figure out why but, for one of the few times in my life, I really didn’t care about the ‘why’ of it all. ‘Why’ suddenly became replaced with ‘Why Not’. What a kick. Rebirth brings on change whether it is big or small. Come to think of it there is no such thing as a ‘small’ change. Change takes courage, desire and determination (none of which deserves any form of mockery). Any type of change is definitely anything but small. Remember, my friends, ‘small’ is never to be confused with ‘insignificant’.

I found the home with ease. This is, of course, quite a surprise, since I get lost more frequently than an amnesiac. Even with directions I can still get lost. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, honestly. So I just do both. It keeps people talking… I parked the white Cobalt across the street, slowly stepped out of the car, then just stood there and stared. I began to slowly shake my head in disbelief as a half-laugh fell from my throat. The first thing that caught my eye was the front door of the house.

The cobalt blue front door.

* * *

I spent, at best, ten minutes there. I figured I should leave so the neighbors wouldn’t call the police thinking I was casing the joint for a future burglary. I tried to imagine Michelle pulling into her driveway and sitting on her deck like any normal person. But I suspect that there were more fireworks going on in that house than on the Mall in DC on the Fourth of July. Normalcy, in her home, as in her life, was probably quite the rarity. It was difficult to view a home that I was, at one time, planning to share with the woman I loved. If things had worked out—if she had actually been the person she pretended to be with me—that would have been where I would be parking my car. I would have been sitting with her on that unspectacular deck under the stars. My life—our lives—would have been completely different. Yes, when I first heard of this home in 1997, I fully intended to be standing before it but not as I am at this writing. I barely remember the person I thought I was going to be at that time and place. But he did, and on some level, still does exist. And the time had come for him and me to meet once more and then, for the last time, part company. There is no animosity between the two of us. Why would there be? But we do share the regret of what had been promised and knowing now, full well, that it would have never turned out that way.

I silently bid her farewell, returned to my temporary car, and left. I left the memories and the realities of her waded in a ball dropped on her former doorstep. I left her energy and her memory behind… I left the illusion of us behind… I left her behind. Or so I thought. It was barely twelve noon and the day had only just begun.

* * *

As I drove away with Michelle Estates diminishing in my rear view mirror I found myself muttering, “OK, now what?” (When will I ever learn?) Before I could give myself a chance to answer—yes I admittedly not only talk to myself but often consult myself on a great many topics—I made an abrupt left turn off the Cabrillo Highway and headed straight into downtown Cambria. Once again the classic ‘why’ had been replaced with the Perry Como Mellow ‘why not’. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bulk of downtown consists of antique stores or, as I like to call them, ‘Expensive Flea Markets’. I pulled into a parking lot of one of these fine touristy establishments and waltzed inside. I was immediately enthralled with more useless junk than I could ever imagine. I was in nirvana. I wanted to own virtually every single item within my sight. It really would be pointless for me to win the lottery because I’d blow the bulk of my wealth on inane bobbles. Case in point: I spent nearly 30 minutes talking myself out of buying a walking stick that was made of a pool cue. The handle was an 8 ball. I have absolutely no use for that monstrosity but, ya know what? I almost bought it. This is a perfect example when ‘why not’ is not the best attitude!

WimpyBankInstead, my eye was caught by a piggy bank of all things. I was drawn to it as if it owned me. It stands eight inches in height and weighs nearly five pounds. What is this antiquity that screamed ‘take me home with you’ at the top of its imaginary lungs? Wimpy. Yes, Wimpy, of “Popeye” fame. As a small child my grandmother—Mamaw as all three of her grandchildren called her—dubbed me ‘Wimpy’ because of my cult-like devotion to the almighty hamburger. “I will gladly pay you Tuesday yadda-yadda-yadda…” The instant I saw the bank I just laughed. The same giggle one expects from a child or the Pillsbury Doughboy. After the morning’s excursion into the memory of Michelle I needed a boost and Wimpy certainly provided just that. The instant I saw it I felt as if it was already mine. Of course, since the proprietor would probably not go along with my instinct, I felt it was best if I paid the $32.50 plus tax. In all honesty it was this purchase, and not my common sense, that prevented me from swaggering out twirling a pool cue cane in my chubby hand.

Wimpy called shotgun as I slid under the steering wheel. For a brief moment, as I snapped my seat belt, I thought that maybe Mamaw had her hand in my newly found treasure. I shook my head and laughed, as is my custom in most cases, and shrugged it off. Despite my working with Spirit I still have a hard time believing that they will take time out of their daily schedule and mess with us in the oddest of places, such as when we wander through an antique store. When will I learn? (My Guides have asked that very question countless times…)

So, off I went, with Wimpy at my side. I swear I fully intended to leave town at that point. But that thought burst into flames when I saw a sign with one word printed upon it; one word that could make me salivate in a Pavlovian response that only rivaled my love of mass produced cream-filled pastry. The word was “Cemetery”. Without even a flash of hesitation I turned the car up the winding hillside road leading to the structured resting place of several unknown souls (well, to me anyway). Another why/why not moment.

If you even vaguely know me you know that I’ve always adored cemeteries. As a small child I would want to stop at every single one that we would pass in the car and, of course, cry if they would not do so. It goes without saying that I cried in the car a lot. I feel a history beneath my feet as I walk through the rows of stones bearing names, dates and messages. I find it nothing short of totally fascinating and, interestingly enough, calming. Calming to my body, my mind, my soul.

Congratulations, Charles. You’ve just become a psychiatrist’s wet dream.

* * *

I parked the Chevy Cobalt beneath the spreading limbs of one of those tree things that nature-folk seem to go ga-ga over. Maple, oak, Norwegian moss dangler—I have no clue what kind it is. It was big and leafy; that about covers it. It’s a good thing that Euell Gibbons isn’t one of my guides. He would have torn a hole through the veil and bonked me over the head with a box of Grape Nuts for that.

As I got out of the car I was mesmerized at the beauty displayed before me. This was certainly a graveyard that was treated with great respect, love and honor. It’s not one of those generic cookie-cutter corpse farms. You know the kind? The ones where all the head stones are flat plaques so the minimum wage ‘landscaper’, who usually boasts a monosyllabic surname, can easily roll over them on his John Deere while guzzling a brewsky wedged in his beer helmet. The tombstones in the Cambria Cemetery range from old and ornate to stylish and new. Flat, upright, carved statues, you name it. And the flowers! Oh, the beautiful flowers! And so many of the graves were decorated with statues, windmills, personal belongings… Each individual resting place was an extension of not only the person laid to rest there but of their loved ones as well. It was moving. A lot of care went into this sacred place and it showed. Of all the beauty sensed and demonstrated in this small cemetery the one item of note that blew me away was that even the unknown graves were not forgotten. If a simple rock marked the resting place of one known but to God it was embellished with some flowers. Someone was making a point to honor the memory of these individuals, even if we had no conscious memories of them. Some were marked with a simplistic verse: “Lost in name but not in spirit.” Simply put: ‘wow’.

Mae HarrisonI was immediately pulled, harshly, to a small headstone off to my left. I learned a long time ago to just go with the flow in times like this. It was the resting place of a woman by the name of Mae Harrison. Mae had lived well into her 83rd year on this side of the veil. Neither the name nor the dates meant anything to me. But the other inscription on the simple marker stopped me in my tracks. Mae was forever honored with the title “Loving Mother & Mamaw”. Yes… Mamaw.

So, I was right. Mamaw had, indeed, directed me first to the metal Wimpy bank and now this cemetery, and then specifically to this grave just to let me know she was pulling the strings. What could I do but listen and watch? You know, I honestly believe I have spoken with Mamaw more now than when she was alive! I could feel her around me. The aroma of Murphy’s Oil Soap often accompanies my grandmother when she’s with me. Not this time, however. I only felt her. There were no parlor tricks or her usual barn-storming techniques she usually utilizes to snare attention. She was a bit of a ham in this world and, by golly, it’s only been enhanced on the other side. She wants to get her point across and she will not stop until she succeeds. However, I can honestly say, she comes through with complete love and support. There is no doubt about that. She’s been quite adamant about her desire to keep me on my spiritual path and she’ll stop at nothing to make sure I do what I’m supposed to do.

“OK, Mamaw,” I said aloud, “what do you want?”

I heard, or more accurately felt, “Talk to her.”

Talk to her? I thought I was talking to her! I looked around and then I knew. My reason for being there in the first place… Her. I took a deep breath, centered myself, and asked, “Michelle? Are you here?” And, low and behold, she, indeed, was there, just behind me and to my left. Ya know what? I think this was the first time the woman ever did something she was asked to do.

In my mind’s eye Michelle pointed to a tombstone ahead of me. “That’s me,” was all she said. I approached the marker and found this inscription:

“I am not gone
My soul lives on
But in a better place.”

 I nodded and smiled. “I understand,” I whispered. She then pulled me to another stone that read:

“A soaring spirit
A peaceful heart”

Then I ‘heard’ her say, “Now.”

I had written a memorial for her in a newsletter catering to an organization in which we both held lifetime memberships. I had written, in part, “She was a classic tortured soul who, I pray, has found the peace she dodged so readily here.” So, ‘now’, she has that peace I had written about. I could feel it, too. She was an intense woman—and some of that energy is still flowing strong—but there was a tranquility seeping through. She then directed me down the grassy hillside to a wonderfully decorated gravesite. This headstone bore the personal tender title of “My Beloved” and then this eloquent message:

“Surrounded by this light of God
In all his glory and grace.
Life was a grand adventure!”

 And then I heard her laugh. God, but she had the greatest laugh I have ever heard. It was loud, heartfelt and oh-so-very-real. That laugh was perhaps the most real thing about the girl. Yes, for her, life was truly a grand adventure. But, like an idiotic poster child for tom foolery, she made every action and thought a risk. Risks that she, more often times than not, lost. And it’s because of those foolish risks that she now rests in the terrain of Oklahoma. As beautiful as these ‘messages’ were I had to blow the whole thing by letting our friend, Mr. Doubt, creep in the picture. Could I be leading myself around and just finding meaning behind random epitaphs? After all, how many graveyards are void of anything spiritual or moving? Give me a break. This could, after all, be the result of my overactive imagination. Right? Of course, right.

“Idiot.”

Michelle would always call me an idiot when I would let my brain wander off in that kingdom of negative realism. For all of her shortcomings I will say that she had zero tolerance for self-pity or self-loathing in others. There was a tone that would emit from her; a sardonic pitch that was the audible embodiment of rolling your eyes. I don’t know how she did it. In one word she could speak volumes. Sort of in the same way that a southerner can add eight syllables to the word ‘shit’.

I was abruptly turned around as I heard, “Look!” At that moment I saw a bird resting on a bench. It was a bright surreal blue that nearly glowed. This bird was the brightest blue I had ever seen. As I took in this picture about 30 feet away from me, the bird soared into the air and was gone. I immediately hiked toward the bench, grass and sticks crunching beneath my feet. When I approached the small concrete bench I stopped—dare I say it?—dead in my tracks. The surface of the bench was covered in a wide variety of small, brightly colored stones.

Cobalt blue stones.

Right next to the bench was the final resting place of Dr. Henry Lee Wintz, Jr. According to the epitaph he also held the esteemed titles of ‘Farmer, Philosopher, and Writer”. It was one of the loveliest headstones I’ve ever seen. It depicted a large graphic representation of a tree on a hillside and it bore this quote:

“Life is fascinating
when one is conscious.”

—Lee Wintz,
Notes from the Hills, 2003

Wintz

I didn’t know what to say. I must have read that verse twenty times. It was her past and present summed up in seven words. At the risk of sounding redundant: ‘wow’.

But we weren’t done. Not but a long shot. Once again I found myself being directed to yet another spot. This time my energy was focused on the far end of this once small cemetery which, by now, seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds. Off in the distance I saw a grave that was more decorated than any I had seen. The only thing missing were search lights. So, still reeling from what I had just gone through, off I went to the adorned stone on the nearby horizon. When I reached our latest destination I felt my heart leap up into my throat. It was the grave of a baby; a sweet young boy who had passed away just days shy of 14 months of age. He had only been on this earth for this go around less than a year and a half but his family certainly went headfirst into truly celebrating his short but momentous life. Toys, flowers, personal items, and notes, among other things, were scattered about the plot of land. Nothing was held back. I could feel the joy and love despite the sorrow. How amazing! My eyes immediately went to the epitaph on the headstone that was larger than the child himself. But, of course, that is only in the physical sense. The stone read:

“They say it takes a MINUTE to find a special person.
An HOUR to appreciate them.
A DAY to love them.
But then an entire LIFETIME to forget them.”

I chuckled and said, “I see you haven’t lost your vanity over there, Michelle!”

I almost felt her slap me in the back of the head as she said, “That’s for youidiot!”

As I laughed—at her attitude or the absurdity of the overall experience—I noticed something else. Something that I had overlooked as I approached this message in marble. To the immediate right of the headstone was a simple yard ornament perched above the ground on a dowel rod; something you would see displayed in just about any average lawn or flower garden. It was a simple wooden bird. A simple brightly colored wooden bird. But it wasn’t just any color, you know?

It was a bright, brilliant blue.

Blue BirdMy laughter ceased almost instantaneously as the reality of the day hit me. And then I cried. Hard. Sure, I had cried when I lost Michelle so long ago. But that was over and done with by now. This was different. This was the first time I had actually cried since I had heard of her death. In her memorial I had written, “Personally, I am wrestling with exactly how I feel about her passing. I feel a need to grieve in some way but I am, at this writing, bewildered on how to go about it. There are no external tears.” Well, that reaction, or lack there of, had certainly changed. This cry came from my heart and soul. I cried a cry of understanding. A cry of joy. Even a cry of love. But, more than anything, it was a cry of forgiveness… and release.

I had been toying with the idea of including some of Michelle’s own words in this writing. I couldn’t make up my own mind as to whether or not it was a good idea. As I wrote the above paragraph I received my answer. Near the end of my typing the above text I heard a loud crash behind me. I turned around to find that a book had fallen off a table. My cat, Max, was sound asleep on my bed so I can’t blame him. There were no fans turned on and the windows were shut so I certainly can’t point my finger at a breeze. What makes this so interesting is that the book fell directly on a box that just happened to contain Michelle’s letters. Well, how about that? I opened the box and, right on top, I found the perfect words needed. Michelle was never lacking in personal commentary and I believe it’s safe to say she hasn’t changed. Well, at least not in that way.

I’ve learned a lot from her. And I’m quite stunned that I can say that with complete sincerity. When she left me I truly wanted to die. I was broken in a way that I had only experienced once before. I cursed her name as well as her memory. I wanted to literally forget everything about her—about us—just as she had obviously done. But now, with so much that has changed within my own mindset, I see the value of her in my life. I see the significance of the brevity of the good, the overwhelming tragedy of the bad and the ugliness of the soul searching. I see and understand that everything has a reason for being. Individuals walk in and out of our lives and none of them do so on a whim. Don’t try to figure it all out—the mystery is half the fun—but make sure you take the time to be aware of those around you. Smile at the total stranger and move on to the next. The supply never ends.

Happy Birthday, Michelle. I love you and, more importantly, I offer you a simple, yet eloquent, thank you.

* * *

“This is THE all-time, numero uno letter of all time. I have NEVER been spoken to like this. Almost makes me afraid I’ll disappoint you and lose you… There is nothing on the planet sexier than this letter. Nothing. Besides what it did to my soul, it actually affected me physically. I cannot elaborate on this detail without getting REALLY crass. Nuff said or your damn head won’t fit through the doorways…”                                

—Michelle
A letter to the author, 1997

May 8, 2015

One Mother of a Day for Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 4:34 am
Tags: , , ,

Twice the Moms, Twice the Fun

10494314_sWhich came first? The chicken or the egg? The age-old quandary. Either point can be argued. There’s no doubt about that. And, honestly, I don’t believe either answer will ever fully win out over the other. Therefore I’d like to toss my own theory in the philosophical ring o’ fire: no matter which one it was I’m willing to bet that a mother was behind it. Mom’s always there, on some level, within each of us. So why should a chicken or an egg be any different? All signs point to mom, mother, mommie dearest, maw, mumsy… call her what you like but we all know who we’re talking about, don’t we?

As Mother’s Day leaps from the calendar once more, I can’t help but mull over my own mother and her own attempts at steering a nearly rudderless boat through a multitude of choppy seas. Being the mother of an anti-social nerd with a mindset bordering on the unexplainable would have driven anyone weaker to drink. Honestly, I don’t know how Mom got through it. She’s a gutsy broad who loves a challenge and, boy oh boy, did she get one in me. She herself has told me that, as a child, she wasn’t a fan of cartoons. Then her only child becomes a cartoonist. Who says God doesn’t have the wackiest sense of humor EVER? But she pulled it off with a minimum of gray hairs. If she had any nervous breakdowns she had the decency to have them quietly and without fanfare. I once asked her how she managed to not kill me during my teenage years of angst and agony. She simply replied dryly, “Fear of prison.” A wise woman. As the saying goes, “Patience is what you learn when there are too many witnesses.”

Upon reflection that often resembles that of a fun house mirror, I have chosen a couple of my mom’s parenting decisions that I rate as her best and truly wisest. Two moments, plucked from far too many to list, that truly stand out to me as life altering, as well as affecting, moments that helped make me who I am today (Now you know who to blame).

The family—meaning Mom, myself and my grandfather—vacationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia in the summer of 1975. This was our first big trip since the passing of my grandmother just over a year and a half earlier. Needless to say it was a bit odd for all of us. We were still adjusting to the absence of one of our immediate own. The film JAWS was released while we were in Virginia Beach. I begged, pleaded and groveled before my mother in order to let me go see this movie! I all but bribed her but, since I only got a $2.00 allowance every two weeks, I didn’t have a lot of leeway. “If you let me go see this movie now,” I’d say, “I’ll give you a dollar and then another dollar when it’s over!” And that’s how the Wolf of Wall Street was born. Despite throwing myself on the mercy of the court, Mom would have no part of it. “We’ll see it when we get home,” she ruled. Needless to say, I was livid. She was SO MEAN! She never let me do ANYTHING fun! Waaa Waaa and Waaa some more. I pouted, brooded and sulked like a paparazzi that just ran out of film. I’m sure my mother, on the other hand, simply enjoyed the silence. So, as ordered from the Powers Upon High, I waited until we returned home to see the movie that everyone, but me, was talking about.

Oh, Sweet Mother of God. Best decision EVER. In all of history, my mother’s verdict to not let me see JAWS in Virginia Beach ranks right up there with the decision of the first life form to crawl out of the primal ooze in order to walk upon dry land and the universal choice to end disco. If I had gone to see it while AT the beach, I would have NEVER gone NEAR the water again let alone actually IN it. I probably would have stayed on the boardwalk with my grandfather. Who am I kidding? I would have just moved into the backseat of Mom’s Dodge Dart and waited until we went home.

Well played, Mom. Well played indeed.

You must be wondering how she could top that flawless parental veto. “It can’t be done!” you exclaim. “Oh, yes it can,” I coo. And here it is…

My mother was always, from Day One, completely open with me about my adoption. I do not know of a time when I did not know I was adopted. She has told me that she talked to me about it when I was too young to even comprehend what she was saying (yet before my teenage years when I just tuned out everything she said). This simple act of honesty truly made THE biggest difference in my life. This seemingly simple act encompassed my past, my present and my future.

I doubt if I can fully explain the significance of this to someone who is not an adoptee. Little things like recognizing that you have grandma’s eyes to knowing the exact time of your own birth, are just run-of-the-mill snippets of your life that are rarely given a second thought. I was 33 years of age before I found out the time of my birth. I had always been told it was “around five in the morning.” At 33 I discovered it was 4:42am. Big deal, right? For me it was. I stayed up until 4:42am when my 34th birthday—the first after finding my birth family—rolled around. And I’ve met many adoptees who have done the exact same thing.

I was even denied the classic parental lament, “I was in labor for 18 hours with you, ya know!” The best my mom could offer up was, “I got writer’s cramp filling out all of those adoption forms, ya know!” It just doesn’t have the same effect.

Mom easily and effortlessly passed on what little information she had regarding my biological parents. Sadly, the bulk of what she was told, other than the name of my birthmother, was nothing but a tapestry of intentional lies and bullshit. To the state of West Virginia, I was not a human being. I was a product that needed to be moved off the shelf. It’s a wonder that I didn’t have AS SEEN ON TV stamped on my forehead.

Mom gave me all of the paperwork that she had regarding my adoption. This was the first time I saw my birthmother’s signature. Again, something that so many would take for granted. I remember running my finger over it, tracing the line of her pen, thinking this was my first connection with the woman who actually gave birth to me. She had, at one time, touched this piece of paper I now held in my own hands. Shivers went through me. It was finally real.

Less than two months after my 33rd birthday, I spoke to my birthmother for the very first time. Two weeks after that came the first face-to-face meeting and the first barrage of hugs, tears and, of course, laughs. Later that year, my mom hosted a dinner in the home I grew up in for the woman whose home I never knew. Mom played hostess—a roll she has always cherished—to a gaggle of my blood: my birthmother, three of my four siblings from her side, and four of my nieces and nephews. An undertaking that would be both physically and emotionally daunting for your average bear, but not my mom. For her it was just a celebration of a life long journey for, frankly, both of us.

I will tell you this, however… having Dueling Mothers at the dinner table is a bit spooky. I was half expecting to hear “Why aren’t you a doctor?” and “Why aren’t you married yet?” in stereo.

What stood out for me—and still does to this day—is a very small, nearly undetectable moment that I almost didn’t witness. The brood was leaving and saying their goodbyes. The siblings were all outside wrangling kids and insulting one another, as good siblings do. I was standing on the porch, just outside the front storm door. The Mom’s were on the other side of the door, in the living room. I glanced over my shoulder, looking at them through the mesh screen. My birthmother, Joyce, thanked mom for a lovely meal and, of course, my mother thanked her for coming. They hugged and Joyce softly said through tears, “Thank you for taking care of my boy.”

My mom, in a choked voice, replied, “Thank you for having him. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

Not a dry eye in the house…or on the porch, either.

As a medium, I am privy to some pretty amazing things. I have witnessed countless reunions and connections. I have seen love and humility come together in emotional bursts of light that defy description. But what I saw, and heard, that day truly ranks as the single most beautiful experience of my life. At the time, of course, I had no idea it was only a precursor to what I would observe along my life path as a medium. I often reflect back on that exchange during my own readings. My memory helps ground me. It helps me better understand what is taking place between the sitter and their non-physical visitor.

Spirit always utilizes the card file of memories in my head in order to help me better understand their messages, their intent and, of course, their never-ending love. And, I gotta tell ya, I love it when they bring that particular memory back up to bob around on the surface.

Even my mother’s decision to not let me see JAWS has its own place in the roots of my spiritual work. Spirit gives me what the sitter can handle and nothing more. Spirit passes along information and insight intended for the best of all parties involved. In the big scheme of things my mom was doing the same thing.

I guess you can say Spirit is just one big mother. Wait. That sounded better in my head…

Moms In Stereo: my mom is on the left and my birthmother is on the right.

Moms In Stereo: my mom is on the left and my birthmother is on the right.

I am where, and who, I am today because of the generosity and love of two different women (who eerily look alike, but that’s beside the point). One was brave enough to give me, what she felt, was a chance at a better life than she could provide. The other was strong enough to open her heart to, literally, the unknown, in order to enrich both of our lives. I, on the other hand, just sat there like a lump and bobbed through the waves.

I have two mothers. One is here, the other is in spirit. But, without a shadow of a doubt, both reside within me, my actions & thoughts and, most significantly, my heart. Because, as with the chicken & the egg, “Mom” is always a part of me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom(s).

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius, All Rights Reserved

April 2, 2015

Inner View with a Medium

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 11:31 am

19626460_s

I’ve always been an inquisitive sort. I am a ‘nuts and bolts’ kind of person. I want to know how things work and why. Although my mother insists my first spoken word was “MA-MA” I am convinced that it was actually “WHY”. I assure you my attitude with my Spirit Guides is no different. It’s as if my guides are driving a car and I am in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Huh? Are we?” Point to ponder: Is it ethical for a spirit guide to spank you at the side of the celestial highway? With this attitude it is no wonder that I am continually bombarded by questions from my clients. I am often asked about my background and experiences as a medium. The top three questions I usually get are:

  • What is it like being a medium?
  • Do you see dead people (thank you Sixth Sense)?
  • Seriously, who picks out your shirts?

I was going through some old files in my office recently and I happened upon an interview I had given in the Spring of 2008. I was interviewed by fellow medium and my dear friend, David Baker. Since I’ve always thought of my life as an open book, or a large print leaflet, I thought I would share it with you. Thanks for reading this blast from the past and helping me clean out my filing cabinet…

Medium’s Forum

In this month’s newsletter we present guest Medium Charles A. Filius from spiritual and famous Sedona, Arizona. Charles will offer his insight on what it is like to be a Medium.  I have also put Charles on the spot because he is also a Cartoonist and Comedian, or as he calls himself, “Comedium”.  So with that, go ahead Charles, the floor is all yours!

DB: What is a medium?

XLM: We’re merely a bridge connecting the physical world with those in the spirit world. The go-between between the living and the living impaired. Personally, I like to think of it as being an individual who has no social life in the physical and they can only get dead people to talk to them.

DB: When did you first discover that you were a medium and how did it affect you?

XLM: There’s no real easy answer to that question, actually. I had no idea I was a medium (or an extra large medium) until I turned 40. Looking back over my life I had many instances that were definite sign posts directing me down this path but I never put two and two together until much later. I’ve always been half a bubble off plumb.

In 2002, I took my first psychic development class ON my 42nd birthday. Interestingly enough, 42 is a 6 in numerology and I am, of course, a 6. Even at that point I had no idea I was a medium. I had finally begun to wrap my mind around the fact that I was somewhat psychic and that was a HUGE step for me. I began my first studies in mediumship in April, 2002. When I gave my first mediumship reading in class I can honestly say I’m not sure who was more shocked: me, the sitter or the stunned dead guy peering over my shoulder.

It totally changed my life. My outlook on life altered. My belief system — or lack of one — was obliterated. I was at the point in my life where I didn’t believe in an afterlife let alone that a God of any sort existed. I was in a dark place. I had lost not only hope but interest in anything. But when I was suddenly hurled onto this new path as a medium I had no choice but to look at life through a totally different periscope. Talk about having egg on my face…

It flipped my life upside down and, admittedly, for the better.

DB: Do you always see spirits everywhere you go?

XLM: I don’t actually see them with my physical eye. But I sure do feel them! They’re all over the place! I do my best to turn it off when I’m not working. I can’t be “on” 24/7. No one can. It’s too draining. I’m very protective of my private life with the living so the dead are no different.

If you go into a restaurant do you walk around to every table and speak to each and everyone there? No. So why would I do that to spirits in a building. Just because they are there doesn’t mean they want to talk.

I always let it be known that I am open to any spirit communication — providing it comes from those in the Divine White Light — when I enter a place I suspect to have a lot of paranormal activity. However, when I leave, nothing can come with me. It’s like last call at your local tavern: “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.”

DB: When or what made you decide to use your abilities as a medium to help others?

XLM: Honestly, I made the decision when I realized I could do it. It was truly a no-brainer for me. I’ve been given this ability for a reason so I must utilize it the best way that I can. It’s that simple. I can’t imagine NOT doing it.

DB: What was your greatest fear being a medium?

XLM: I always have “stage fright.” It worries me that I may not be able to connect. And that has happened on a handful of occasions. No medium is 100% dead on (acknowledge pun at your own risk) and everyone has a bad day at the office. There are all sorts of different reasons why the connection wasn’t made. I try to learn from those rare instances. No matter how much I try to rationalize it I find it’s still upsetting when I can’t cross the gap.

I want to emphasize, however, that I do NOT fear this work in any way. I surround myself with prayer, defense and the White Light of the Divine Source so I know I’m protected. I will occasionally have a sitter who admits to being scared. I just laugh and tell them there’s no reason. The dead guys have the hardest job: filtering their messages through my concrete encased head!

DB: Can you share a brief story of a fascinating encounter you have experienced with the paranormal?

XLM: It’s hard to pick just one! I sound like a potato chip commercial, don’t I?

One year ago I lost a very dear friend, Leigh. I was asked to deliver her eulogy so I had to fly from my home in Arizona to Chicago to attend her funeral. In order to make the flight I had to leave my house at three o’clock in the morning.

Leigh was one who would not, under any circumstance, fasten her seat belt. This was a source for an on-going feud between us. I would always pick her up at the airport in Phoenix when she would fly out for a visit. For the two hour trek home to Sedona I had to listen to the constant PING PING PING of the seat belt alarm. In order to shut me up she would fasten the seat belt then sit on it. The noise had stopped but she just wouldn’t wear the belt.

I got in my car that morning and started my trek to the Phoenix airport. As I was backing out of my driveway the seat belt alarm for the passenger seat started to go off. I slammed on the brakes and just stared at the presumably empty bucket seat. After a few seconds I just yelled, “OK! Fine! Don’t wear your seat belt! See if I care!” The alarm “pinged” a couple more times then fell silent.

Welcome to my world, folks.

DB: Have any of the famous mediums from the past or present inspired you?

Mrs. Leonard

XLM: Oh, yes. Gladys Osborne Leonard. She was a British trance medium who passed away in 1968 at the age of 84. I’m convinced she is helping me in my mediumship from her residence on the other side. I have a rather intense respect for Mrs. Leonard. I cannot refer to her as “Gladys.” It is always “Mrs. Leonard.” I don’t know why but it just is. I will often call my Master Guide, Robert, “Bobby” when I’m upset or annoyed with him. I’ll even refer to Archangel Michael as “Mikey” from time to time. But Mrs. Leonard is ALWAYS “Mrs. Leonard.” She once came through to me in a reading and told me the formality was not necessary. “I’m not the Queen of England, you know?” she said. But she’s still Mrs. Leonard. Go figure.

I’ve also been quite inspired by Leslie Flint, a direct voice medium from England. William Stainton Moses, who I personally consider the Granddaddy of Automatic Writing, is another I have studied extensively.

If someone wants to learn more about mediumship I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to read the older books, from the latter part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, on the subject. Mrs. Leonard wrote 3 books herself. Moses wrote four books (under the penname M. A. Oxon) and Leslie Flint wrote one (one of the best autobiographies of a medium I’ve ever read). The information is invaluable.

One of my favorites today is Hans Christian King. He has a beautiful combination of humor and divine wisdom that continues to motivate me daily. Others that positively influence me are George Anderson, John Edward and John Holland.

DB: Have you met any famous mediums?

Yes, I have. I’ve met George Anderson—and was blessed to receive a reading from him. It blew my mind! He is a crystal lens. His messages are clear and concise. I’ve also met James van Praagh, Peter Close, Robert Brown, Brian Hurst, Hollister Rand, Tim Braun and John Holland. I encourage anyone interested in mediumship, either as a calling or as a student of sorts, to see as many mediums at work as possible. You can learn SO much just by observing.

DB: You are also a cartoonist.  Tell us what you do and how this relates to your role as a medium, if at all?

XLM: As odd as it seems they truly go together hand-in-hand. I have been drawing comics for nearly as far back as I can remember. When I was about 8 years old I saw a TV special about Charles Schulz, the genius behind PEANUTS. As I watched him draw I immediately knew that was exactly what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Humor is vital to my existence. It’s key to everyone’s life in my opinion. You have to laugh. Laughter is healing. In my opinion laughter is the physical manifestation of absolute pure joy.

I began drawing funny pictures then moved on to writing and speaking funny words. When I give mediumship demonstrations, or just in a private reading, it takes on a life of its own. A reading with me can often have the feeling of a stand-up routine. My Guides have delightfully off-the-wall senses of humor and it shows. What burns me is when someone accuses my use of healing laughter to be disrespectful of Spirit and the work itself. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The humor is a tool for healing, pure and simple. I take what I do very seriously but I have a lot of fun doing it. Laughter won’t replace grief; it won’t make you gloss over your loss. But it can start the ball rolling toward healing. If you cannot wrap your mind around that then do not get a reading from me.

I also do Spirit Drawings. This is when I channel messages and images from your spirit guides through my art. They often have a whimsical feel to them. The energy of the drawing is contained within the pencil lines. I rarely do them for clients anymore, however. I tend to utilize this form of communication as I am preparing for a session and, sometimes, even during the session itself. It is second nature for me to have a pen or pencil in my hand so I just allow the energy to flow through me as it needs to and I do my best to not get in the way.

I draw silly pictures and I talk to dead people. My folks are SO proud let me tell ya…

DB: How does being a medium help you and others?

XLM: I learn from every reading I am honored to give. Hopefully the sitter will take home the healing and love that comes through in the reading. This seed that’s planted will flourish into a beautiful garden as time goes on. I receive the beauty of watching the miracles take place firsthand. I get a glimpse into the process and I get to feel the love that gushes forth from those in spirit. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I firmly believe that what I do is a gift. It’s not because I do this or I do that. Not at all. It’s a gift because I get to witness this miraculous process up close and personal. It still amazes me. Each session, each client, each event all offer me a glimpse into something so extraordinarily beautiful. It’s a gift and a blessing to be a part of it.

Admittedly, it’s even better if I get to do this and nibble on chocolate at the same time. But I digress…

DB: You have just published a book, “Selections From On a Wing and a Prayer.” Can you tell us a little about it? 

XLM: The subtitle of the book is “Early Jottings of a Befuddled Medium” and that really explains the whole thing. It’s a collection of essays that attempt to document my own spiritual journey—laughs and all—from my bewildered point of view. I want to push aside the stereotypical “woo-woo” that is associated with New Age. It is actually an excerpt from a larger book currently in the making. It continues to be written as my own story unfolds before me.

Being psychic is a very natural state because we are ALL psychic! There’s nothing mystical about it. Nor does it require some trek to the top of a mountain peak in a far off land with a name no one can pronounce. It’s in each and every one of us. It’s as natural as breathing. Or eating cheesecake.

This book brings to light the fact that if a dork like me can discover his intended pathway as a medium then by-gum-by-golly everyone can. The journey has been funny. The journey has been moving. The journey has even been draining. And let me tell you it’s been worth every step along that road. My Master Guide, Robert, has told me, “The dust beneath your feet is made of remnants of not only your journey but of those adventurers before you. It is a sacred reminder of where you have been and the Divine Inspiration to move onward, ever onward.”

And he’s right. It does inspire me each and every day.

DB: Thank you Charles, that was wonderful.

baker_header

David Baker is a fabulous medium residing in San Rafael, California. I urge you to visit his website and contact him for a reading. His sincere kindness, as well as his personal and spiritual generosity, know absolutely no limits.

March 12, 2015

Grief Relief

Grief is an odd little thing, isn’t it? It continually changes and morphs. It is something very personal with each variation stamped with a unique moniker. Everyone handles it differently. I once had a neighbor who hit on women at the funeral of his wife of nearly 40 years. I know a woman who lost her husband, the love of her life, over 20 years ago and she still grieves to this day as if it just happened. I know of another who immediately closes the emotional door on anyone who passes away the instant the last breath is drawn. “I don’t dwell on the past,” he says. I know yet another who lost her husband nearly 30 years ago yet she visits his grave several times a week. Yes, grief is as diverse as the individuals it affects.

My Uncle Bill had a particularly putrid loathing of cemeteries. A highly practical man, his disdain stemmed from frank, lucid logic. “I can go into my backyard, stare at the ground and have the same memories of a person as I would if I drove to where they’re buried. Why make the drive?” He then looked at me and said, “If you ever visit my grave I’m going to come back down here and kick your butt!”

<gulp> Yes, sir.

I attended his funeral, of course. The man was like a father to me. One year later I revisited his grave for the first time since his interment. As I stood there, staring at the grass now blanketing what he used to walk around in, I flashed back to that conversation. And, as is my custom in most situations, I began to laugh. It started as a chortle and climaxed into a glass shattering guffaw. In fact, I laughed so hard that I had to lean on his headstone in order to keep from falling over. I’m sure I was quite the spectacle for any nearby slack-jawed mourners. Upon regaining composure, or in my case the next best thing to being there, I said aloud, “OK, Uncle Bill, you win! I’m gone!” More than 20 years passed before I returned to his gravesite. Same grass, same stone, same memories, same love. Yup. We’re good.

So, yeah, each of us handles it differently. While some internalize it, I tend to wear it on my sleeves like matching cufflinks. I wasn’t like that in my youth, or even semi-youth. But when I finally accepted my mediumship, and the gates opened wide, EVERYTHING changed.

At this very moment my friend, Suzie, is gloating and laughing her head off. Shut up, you big, stupid dumb-dumb face.

According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the noted psychiatrist, there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. Each of us checks off that list at our own pace. Some fast, some slow and some just come to a screeching halt somewhere in between. I believe many individuals fear that achieving acceptance means you’re over the loss and you’ve forgotten your loved one. Nope. Not even close. I believe acceptance is simply the clinical term for that blessed moment when the sorrow moves to the back seat and the fond, loving memories call shotgun and move to the forefront.

I’m often asked if my being a medium makes me numb to grief and loss. I answer that with a resounding, “Oh, HELL no!” If anything, I think it makes me even more sensitive to it. Sure, on a spiritual level, I have a different perception of death. But the physical emptiness is strong and dominant. I cannot take a clinical approach to loss. I do my best to remain detached while giving a reading but I don’t always succeed. The all-too-human emotions are sometimes so strong that it will bowl me over. I’ve been known to shed tears alongside the sitter from time to time. But I do not regret it one iota. Emotions are part of what makes us human. And, whether you like it or not, we’re all human this time around. Do not try to raise yourself above it because it won’t do you one bit of good. Face it down. Stand with it. Embrace it. Unlike a priest offering marital advice, I am speaking to you from first-hand experience. There are no assumptions here, kiddies. It’s all far too real.

I have always tried to work through my personal losses to the best of my stumbling abilities. And, like anyone, I don’t always succeed. The most severe example of this was the sudden death of my dear friend, Leigh, in 2007.

Gloating over our complete obliteration of a poor, unsuspecting dinner.

Gloating over our complete obliteration of one of many poor, unsuspecting dinners.

Appropriately, I began penning this on her 8th Angel Day and wrapped it up on the eighth anniversary of my receiving the news of her death. Each year without her still rattles through me with a haunting echo. She was my left arm. We were joined at the hip, thinking and reacting as one at times. The sun and moon often ran complete cycles during our marathon conversations. We once spent a good four hours sitting on the balcony of a hotel in San Diego doing nothing but conversing as if we were on police radios. It began, innocently enough, when a police officer on the sidewalk far below was apprehending a fleeing person of interest. The officer, upon tackling the lad to the sandy floor, radioed for some assistance. So we decided to offer our half of the unheard conversation. This improvisation lead us to creating approximately 8 or 9 different characters, all with distinctly diverse voices, evolving into a barrage of subplots and subtexts that would leave the bard himself utterly speechless. We were in tears. Never in our lives had we (or anyone else for that matter) been so brilliantly funny. Amaretto can do that, you know?

For the most part I have worked through her passing. But, as usual, I hopscotch to my own beat. I never work on my cartooning work in sequence. I just go where my whims take me so why should my handling of grief be any different? Denial was pretty quick. I just ripped off that band aid with a fast and furious jerk. There wasn’t much time spent within the bargaining column. Whenever anyone dies my first response is, “And yet we still have Carrot Top?” I’m willing to trade him in on anyone. “Bring my hamster back and you can have Carrot Top!” I’ll exclaim, but that’s another story for another time. I know I’ve accepted that she’s gone. Well, physically, anyway. As many of you know she does tend to pop up from time to time, thankfully.

If you’ve attended any of my group readings I always have a chair reserved on the front row just for her. She always gives me a sign at some point during the evening that she really is there, with one lone exception. Due to the space and configuration of the room I placed her chair in the back row instead of in the front. She made it perfectly clear to me that this was NOT acceptable by giving me absolutely no hint of any kind that she was in attendance. So, to this day, her chair is always in the very front no matter what. Yeah, I’m whipped.

It is eight years later, and I am still angry about it. Yes, depression is a small zit protruding on the forehead of anger. I’m the first to admit that. But it is anger that, like Leigh herself, takes a position in the front row.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you…

I have been very blessed to be a part of an amazing process. I have been honored time and time again to help connect those in Spirit to those here in the physical. It really is a gift. The gift isn’t so much being able to do this work as much as it is being fortunate enough to be a part of it and to witness it firsthand. I do not do it myself. Nope. I’m just the middleman, the bridge. I don’t lay claim to being some kind of oracle or anything equally outlandish. I am simply where I need to be and doing what I need to do. End of story. I have experienced miraculous reunions between parents and children, brothers and sisters, dear friends from both long ago and recent days, even pet owners and their “fur babies.” Time and time again I am mystified by the whole process. I have been given the chance to help so many individuals throughout my years of service with Spirit. Most of these individuals are complete strangers to me. Some return for more sessions while others go on with their lives, sharing their healing with those who will listen. It’s all just so breathtaking.

My anger stems from a very selfish place: I have helped so many strangers but why couldn’t I help someone who was so close to me? Why wasn’t I given a heads up so I could prevent it from happening? WHY? I get to tell someone to watch out for an upcoming auto repair. I’ve been given information on the much needed repaving of their driveway. But I am NOT able to save a life of someone I truly love, a piece of my very own heart? Sure, I know what you’re saying… “It was meant to be.” Do you really think that makes it any better? Nope, it doesn’t. I am perfectly aware I have been having a major temper tantrum over the whole thing. I feel like I want to take my mediumship ball and just go home.

So, as you can see, I grieve just as anyone else. There’s no Get Out of Jail Free card for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still working and I will until I draw my last line or breath, whichever comes first. But every now and again the anger barges through and that’s when things get bad. How bad, you ask? I had two heart attacks in 2006. They were nearly 5 weeks apart. There was nothing on TV so I thought, “Hey, let’s try something new!” FYI: NOT a great way to kill some time. Just sayin’.

In the beginning I followed my cardiologist’s words as if they had come down from upon high. I was walking the walk and talking the talk. And let me tell you Leigh was holding me accountable on everything. She demanded I give her my doctor’s contact information, a list of all of my meds, the diet I was following, you name it. It’s a wonder she didn’t have a chip imbedded in my skull. (Note to self: inspect your scalp for any unusual scars in the bathroom mirror later tonight) She was my task master and I towed the line, no questions asked. She took no prisoners while she was here and that trait hasn’t changed on the other side. She always shot from the hip, ricochets be damned.

Then, one horrible morning, she was gone. And I have to say I just stopped caring at that point. I didn’t give a damn about much of anything. Everything seemed pretty pointless for the most part. It wasn’t like a light being turned off. It was more like *I* turned the light off myself. I didn’t care to see what was around me. And I just stayed there… Not good, Charlie, not good.

This year is different, however. It feels different. Leigh always called me on my crap. I couldn’t get away with anything with her—and I did the same with her. She was direct. There’s no doubt about that. She once gave me what I consider to be the greatest compliment I have ever received. Out of the blue she called me and said she HAD to see me that weekend. She was flying from her home in Chicago just to see me so I was ordered to drop everything and prepare for her arrival. Fortunately, I never had anything to drop so it was all pretty effortless. Over dinner I asked, “Why the urgency to visit?”

She looked at me over her wine glass and said simply, “I needed to be with the one person who knows my bullshit is nothing but bullshit.”

It doesn’t get any better than that in my book.

Well, you know what? I had forgotten that MY bullshit is exactly that, too. Bullshit. But she wasn’t here to call me on it. Or so I thought. She found little subtle avalanches that would get my attention throughout today’s anniversary. I always welcome these signs. It always amuses and amazes me how they can find a way to get through to us. I rarely get direct messages from my loved ones, however. They almost always rely on signs and/or reaching out to me through what I term as a “disinterested third party.” I don’t trust myself to get out of the way when it comes to personal communication. I have a vivid imagination—it is my livelihood after all!—so I just leave it to someone else.

But sometimes, when it is needed, they kick down the door and just yell at me. Today was one of those days. I was picking up a few items from the local market when I found myself being lured by the seductive catcalls of the bakery. Donuts and I have had a long-lasting affair for decades. As my eyes grazed over the glass display case I heard an all-too-familiar voice scream in my head, “CHANGE IT, DON’T BLAME IT!”

I spun around and, of course, she wasn’t there. (But, of course, she was.) She called me on it one more time.

So, yeah, it’s time to change for good, literally and figuratively. I’m going to change the anger, the reasons, the emptiness. It won’t happen overnight and I’m good with that. But it does have to change. Blaming gets us nowhere. I was angry and rightfully so. However, it was not right STAYING that way. It’s a discredit to her memory, her soul, and it is incredibly disrespectful to me. If you don’t allow someone to disrespect you then how on earth can you allow yourself to do it? Do as I say, not as I do is NOT a way to live…it’s an excuse. You can’t live in the anger…you have to wade through it and come out on the other side in order to accept THEY are on their other side.

But, God, what a blessing knowing they break through connecting their never ceasing hearts with ours so we all truly beat as one.

You know what? As I finished writing this piece the song “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin started playing. What an ideal seal of her “it’s all about me” approval! And she’s right, you know? I never have had a friend like her but I know she will always be with me. 10-4, Leigh…I love you, too.

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius, All Rights Reserved

February 5, 2015

Intention Intervention

“Be your own face value, the living embodiment of your word. Your actions are not merely a reflection of your intentions—they ARE part of you, no different than a limb or muscle. Every move, every reaction, every intention speaks volumes. Do your part to ensure that what you are saying is indeed what you want heard.”

– The Collective

  * * *

I don’t make many demands in my life. I just have a small handful of requirements in order to make various experiences more enjoyable, tolerable. Never serve me a sandwich with mayonnaise on or near it. Never put lemon in my tea for any reason because no good will come of it. Never, under any circumstance, sing along with the radio if you’re in my home or car. And, finally, just leave me the hell alone when I’m traveling. Don’t talk to me, approach me or, if possible, even exhale in my direction. I have a particularly deep intolerance of chatty taxi drivers. Drive, don’t speak, and we’ll get along famously. I have no idea why I’m this way. I’m completely fine with Joe Shmoe Stranger striking up a conversation with me if I’m standing in line at my local post office. But if I’m in an airport just get away from me as if I haven’t bathed in a fortnight.

My Guides are always nudging me to get out of my routine, to shake things up a bit. Nudge, in this case, is an all-too-polite euphemism for treating me like their own personal Whack-A-Mole. So, against my better judgment and instinct, I gave their advice a shot when a moment of so-called opportunity presented itself.

I was dragging my sleepy self onto the commuter tram in the Pittsburgh Airport after enduring a redeye flight from LA last December. The sparse pedestrian population in the terminal told me that my flight was probably one of the first to come in that morning. I made my way to the tram quickly and quietly with absolutely no interaction. When I boarded I was most pleased to see that there was only one other person on the train. There’s nothing like open space after being stuffed in an overly populated flying sardine can for several hours. My fellow traveler looked up at me from her newspaper as I stepped on the train. She simply said, “Good morning.”

HateXmasI responded in kind. Then, after a moment, I thought I’d push that envelope Robert & Crew are constantly throwing up at me. So I added, “Merry Christmas.”

Boy, was that a mistake. She whipped her head up from her newspaper as her eyes widened. “I don’t celebrate Christmas!” she hissed.

Without missing a beat I replied, “And Christmas is the better for it.”

She turned her self-righteous nose back into her periodical as I rolled my eyes. Bonding ceased at that very instant.

So what was the point of this delightful experience with this human Care Bear? Well, for one thing, it’s given me a great story. But it is also a damn fine lesson in the simple power of intent.

OK, so she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Big fat hairy deal. No one will ever accuse me of being Father Christmas. Scrooge’s philosophy of the holiday being a poor excuse to pick a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth day of December resonates deeply within me. However, I do understand the sincerity of passing along to another the simple, heartfelt wish for a Merry Christmas. I have Jewish friends who wish me a Happy Hanukah every year. I’m not Jewish—my covered dish encased Methodist upbringing proves that—but I am quite happy to receive their sincere wish. I can pass a Merry Christmas on to them and they, too, are good with it. Why? Because it’s the intent, the sincerity, that rings true.

I understand that our opinions and beliefs are sacred to each of us. But why does one feel compelled to throw them in someone else’s face in the most inopportune times? Why attempt to fill the big scheme of things with something so selfishly and insignificantly small? The woman doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Fine. But what’s the harm of replying with a simple ‘thank you’ instead of an impassioned stance atop a portable soapbox? How can a simple seasonal salutation be regarded as offensive? What’s next, people? Saying ‘hi’ to someone to only have them pummel you as they scream how they only accept ‘hello’ as an appropriate greeting?

Pick your battles, plan your platforms, and stop sweating the small stuff. We’ve taken ourselves far too seriously. We keep our heads buried in our own backyard and cringe at the idea of the different perspective of another. Think before you speak, before you act and react. Your intent will go farther than you may realize.

 * * *

“Words may seem like feathers, virtually weightless as they blow along your way. But, when accumulated, the feathers can soar to the heavens… or they can blow apart and plummet. Where do your words and intent go? That, dear child, is up to you.”

– The One Who Soars with Eagles

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius

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