Pondering the Pavement

October 5, 2016

Signs of the Father

“Oh, I believe in coincidences. I’ve just never seen one.”
Dannion Brinkley

I AM NOT, NOR WILL I EVER BE, A SOCIAL CREATURE. I’ve never been comfortable with any form of mingling. I’m more than just the brooding form huddled safely in the corner of a room. I prefer to just not show up at all. I’m that oddly placed dish of pickles on a dinner table. You don’t know why it’s there. Yet you pass it around to other equally disinterested guests, all the while knowing no one would miss it if it just wasn’t set out in the first place. I dodge most social functions with a Gold Medal Winning Flair. I can get out of just about any social situation with nearly zero effort. It comes naturally. For example, I once had three separate invitations to Thanksgiving dinner. I got out of all of them scot-free by explaining, “Oh, how thoughtful! But I’ve already been invited to dinner! Thank you so much for thinking of me.” Of course, I didn’t attend anyone’s dinner. I didn’t have to go through the motions of idle banter AND I didn’t have to share leftovers. Win / Win all the way around.

Even someone as expertly gifted at dodging social interaction as me gets painted into a redbaroncorner from time to time. The most recent of these losses came in the form of a wedding aboard The Queen Mary last June. Of course, when I initially received the invitation, my reaction was “Oh, HELL no!” But when I realized the wedding was taking place literally within walking distance of my home I figured I was pretty much screwed. Since the best man was traveling all the way from the east coast, I couldn’t really play the “It’s too far for me to travel” card. Curse you, Airline Travel! Curse you and your commercial conveeeeeeeenience!

Admittedly, my lack of interest in socializing was even lower than usual. My birth father, Everett, had passed away unexpectedly less than three months earlier. I was still dealing with the fallout from that, both emotionally and physically. As the executor of his estate, I had to juggle a wide array of things during that time including, but not limited to, his home & personal effects, fragile overblown egos, high-strung banshee-like emotional outbursts and why he had a plastic container filled with keys that fit absolutely NOTHING in his house. I had to push my own feelings aside (who knew I partook of such things?) and dive head-first into business mode. Which is, of course, a most clever way to not face the music (which, in my dad’s case, would be performed by a trio playing a mouth harp, a set of spoons and comb kazoo).

fullsizerender_1As is my custom in social situations, I rallied a friend to join me for the festivities. The key to surviving this sort of circumstance is to find an extrovert to ever-so-slightly mask your own preferred wallflower existence. However, I could not locate such a individual. Instead, I turned to my dear friend, Mona, who may never speak to me again after reading this. Mona is not just an extrovert. Oh, no. Mona is an extrovert on crack. To the tenth power. With a dash of caffeine. Twice. She gets super excited by anything and finds everyone just gosh darn fascinating:

“Oh, my God! Tell me MORE about your masking tape collection!”

Thanks to Mona and her Perky Persona, I have met people I would have never encountered, seen things that would have stayed hidden from my farsighted baby blues, and experienced situations that would have been passed on to someone else like the aforementioned dish of pickles. I personally prefer to watch such things unfold on TV but, hey, live a little, right?

We donned our gay apparel and made our way to The RMS Queen Mary, permanently dry-docked here in lovely Long Beach, California. Mona was fluttering around like an ADHD kid cut loose in a candy store while I was mostly uncomfortable and bewildered. You see, I was in a situation where I had to wear long pants. LONG PANTS! And, to add insult to injury, I was informed by some misinformed fashionista that Hawaiian shirts do NOT seem to be acceptable attire with a tuxedo. I was in a foreign land where no one spoke my language.

I should mention that Mona is also a medium (we travel in gaggles, you know?). So it shouldn’t come as a shock when I tell you things are bound to happen when you toss two mediums onto a haunted ship. I must admit that the vessel really is a playground for we sensitive sorts. It’s where energy & ectoplasm go on vacation. Mona and I have spent a lot of time aboard the Queen Mary over the years. Mona’s time on board has included taking several ghost tours, mediumship classes, and even photography field trips. In my case, however, I just get lost a lot and have a bitch of a time finding my way to an exit.

dscn0118Mona was dragging me all over the ship like a six-year-old on the search for Santa at Macy’s. She was excitedly pointing out different items of interest while I kept kicking myself for not leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the corridors. Who’s to say if they would have been a device to find my way out again or just a convenient snack for later in the evening…

At one point during our meandering, we encountered a tall gentleman who is the acting Commodore on the ship. He was smartly dressed in white from head to toe. (FYI: When a medium encounters someone all in white our first inclination is to poke them with a finger to ensure that they’re real. That little stunt has helped me keep my Christmas card list at a VERY manageable level, let me tell ya…) Mona, as is her custom, squealed and hugged the Commodore. They exchanged pleasantries while I mentally marked all the EXIT signs within sight.

He was kind enough to chat a bit and even give us a tidbit of history of the ship—Lord knows I’m a sucker for sugar packet trivia—even though he was wrapping up his shift for the day. While he was talking I happened to glance at his name tag on his smartly pressed lapel: EVERETT. I chuckled to myself as I thought, “What a funny coincidence!”

Oh, Charles, you silly monkey. When will you learn?

The wedding was held outside on the stern of the ship. Despite no one wanting to do The Wave with me as the bride walked down the aisle, the ceremony went off without a hitch—acknowledge pun at your own discretion. All seemed right with the world as we thankfully moved inside for the reception. The groom, who is a writer among other trades, devised a deliciously unique literary theme for the reception. Each party had to search for their place card in a library Dewey Decimal card file. The names of the guests would be at the top, last name first, of course. Below the name one finds the title of a book. This tells you at what table you will be seated. Our table happened to be the Dracula Table (and it did not suck!). We made our way to our table to see the book Dracula by Bram Stoker prominently displayed as part of the centerpiece. Behind the main event was a stack of other seemingly random books. There was a Frankenstein table, a Wizard of Oz table, etc. From my point of view, the setup was nothing short of Nerdy Nirvana.  Of course, the risk of possible paper cuts looming over our fingertips added a flair of exhilaration to the festivities.

dscn0121The best man and his wife sat at our table. Bob and I have been close friends for nearly 40 years. That makes his wife, Shannon, my friend by default, like a step-sibling. Both of them are writers, and more, just like the groom. At one point, she sat down next to me and started talking to me like some kind of normal person. Very weird if you ask me. She said, “Remember those old photos you sent to me?”

I blanked for a moment as I searched my memory banks. All I came up with was some loose change and a green Lego. I shook my head. “Noooo…” was all I could muster.

“You sent me some old black and white snapshots,” she continued, her hand delicately cradling a wine glass. “You found them and thought I’d find them interesting.”

Then it dawned on me. There were several shots of some unknown small town and they were stapled together in one corner. The cars captured in the images clearly eluded to the 1950’s, the era of The Fonz. I had unearthed them while cleaning out one of my mother’s closets. She had no idea why she had them or even where they were taken. Shannon is very interested in West Virginia history so I figured she’d get a kick out of them. Passing the buck for the cost of a couple postage stamps. What will I think of next?

She said, “Well, I’m using one of them in a book I’m writing so you get a photo credit.”

“And I thought I’d never amount to anything!” I replied. She laughed, having no idea I was not even remotely kidding. “Do you have any idea where those pictures were taken? Or are you just using them as generic filler?”

She looked up at me as she sipped her wine. “Yea,” she said. “They were taken in Everettville, West Virginia.”

If I had been the one drinking I would have done a spit take that Danny Thomas would envy. EVERETTVILLE? SERIOUSLY?

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A little while later, as Mona was running around befriending everyone on Facebook, I decided to look through the other stray books piled on our table. The ultimate wallflower looking for a book to read at a wedding reception. Jeez… how sad is THAT? I picked the first one up and opened it. I found the name of the previous owner along with a date: Carol Lundly, April 22, 1972. Everett’s youngest sister goes by her middle name, Maxine, but her first name is actually Carol. And April 22nd?  That just happens to be the month and day that I met my birthfather face-to-face for the very first time. I hurried and picked up the next book. The name scrawled inside of it was ‘Helen’, which is the first name of Everett’s oldest sister.

I just sat back in my chair and began to laugh. FYI: No one thinks twice about it if you’re sitting alone and laughing at a table scattered with empty wine glasses. By this time Mona had rejoined Dracula’s Lair. I explained all of the connections to my dad that had popped up throughout the day. She just sat there, smugly grinning. Then I committed the ultimate sin. I asked another medium, “Do you really think it means anything?”

Mona may be tiny but she moves quickly. Her hand slapped the back of my head in a rapid cadence that gave passersby the impression they were hearing The Gettysburg Address in Morse Code. Then, in that angelic little voice of hers, she shrieked, “Do ya THINK?”

Mona’s known for her sensitivity.

Or so I’m told. Ahem.

Leave it to my dad, who collected wives like some people collect stamps, to make his presence known at a wedding. What else should I expect from a man who dared pass away on April Fool’s Day?

If someone had come to me with this exact same story, I would be alongside Mona screaming, “DO YA THINK?” No questions asked. But when it comes to my own signs, my own connections, I end up doubting every single time. Why? I’m always leery that I’m reading too much into something. I don’t want my vivid imagination to run away with me. I don’t want my experiences to be simply ‘wishful thinking.’ That’s one of the reasons my Crew tends to go over the top and slap me around. They want to make sure they have my full attention. The other reason is that they just enjoy abusing me. I think I’m their cardio workout.

The lesson? Simple: acknowledge the signs, the feelings, that you get. Even a simple “coincidence” can be your loved one’s way of reaching out. Give your peeps a shout-out, a thumbs-up, for a job very well done. And know that your loved ones NEVER forget. They NEVER stop loving you. And, most importantly, they NEVER die.

Thanks, Dad, for the reminder… and so much more.

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With my brother, Markis, and our dad in Las Vegas, 2011. The timing of my writing this entry is most fitting as today, October 5, is his 78th birthday. Well, how about that?

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius

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January 5, 2016

Playing with Mediumship

11613010_sHaving grown up as an only child, my so-called social life consisted of mingling and hobnobbing my toys. As any only child will attest, you are always on a constant search for new-fangled ways to entertain yourself. Personally, I became very adept at playing most board games as a lone player. I could objectively play games of chess, Monopoly, Life—even Sorry—against myself. I’ve always had a strong love of board games simply because they involve two of my favorite pastimes: concentrating and sitting. Sitting is underrated. It really is. Die-hard sitting takes commitment and determination. Ask anyone with ADHD. One day I will have a pillow embroidered with these soulful words:

“If It Shan’t Be Done Whilst Sitting
Then ‘Tis Not Worth Doing!”

Despite my adoration of those geniuses at Milton Bradley, my favorite toy of all time was my odds-and-ends assortment of various plastic figures. I had accumulated, over time and by no intended purpose, a green draw-string bag filled to the brim with an ill-fitted bevy of cowboys, Indians, astronauts, soldiers and even Presidents. Yes, you read that correctly. I had John Adams and Abe Lincoln in full living color and a plain white Dwight Eisenhower (accurately depicted, I do believe). They stood approximately 2 ½” in height. I have no vivid recollection of how they came to be a part of my collection. They were just always there. Eisenhower’s head was lopsided because, early on, I discovered that I could write on the sidewalk using his Presidential cranium like a piece of chalk. Clearly, I did not like Ike.

I would spend long hours, day after day, immersed in the world I created with my plastic playmates. Each one had a name and a very specific role in our world. There was a band of heroes led by The Professor (an old west doctor holding a medical bag). He was assisted by Alex and Jane (both being Native American figures, red and blue respectively) and Hans (a confederate soldier separated from his regiment when he was caught up in the aftermath of a time machine the Professor had invented—who hasn’t had THAT happen at some point?). A reoccurring character was a Viking named Thor (I pride myself on the originality of names). He was another victim of one of the Professor’s time machine mishaps. Later plots revealed that Thor and Hans had actually been brothers in a previous life. They fought various Batman-Inspired villains such as The Evil Bozo (where DO I come up with these brilliant names anyway?). He was a bendable Gumby-Like Bozo the Clown who had his arms torn off in some freak undisclosed accident. This once beloved circus clown was now engulfed by his hatred of the world. Quite the diabolical mastermind, lemme tell ya.

The point? Each and every one of them was as real as any flesh and blood person in my life. I could retreat myself into them and their plane of reality effortlessly. Some would say that action was a defense mechanism, that I was hiding from something and ignoring reality. I’m sure there is some truth to that notion—what 7 year old doesn’t get their reality and imagination mixed together? Looking back through my trusty Hind-Sight X-Ray Specs, I can “see” how my frolicking imagination was preparing me for my future, both at the drawing board and on the platform.

First is the unfaltering believability of it all. I didn’t think my toys were alive and real. I KNEW it. There wasn’t a doubt in my little, open mind of this. Do you remember your favorite childhood toy? Your doll, teddy bear or train were each a part of your posse. They were your peeps! They had your back! How many of us curled up with our favorite stuffed animal at night KNOWING we would be safe as we slumbered? Our toys were really our first experiences in having faith, the all-knowing sense that it “is”.

Second is the open unobstructed dialogue. I did not just talk FOR my toys, I talked TO them. They heard me and would speak with me in return. The Professor and crew had their own distinct voices and personalities so I could easily tell one from another. I knew how each would react to any given situation. I knew their strong points and weaknesses. I definitely knew one from another.

Finally, I would merely allow the adventure to unfold before me in whatever way it needed. I gave up control of the moment and allowed it to just be what it is. This simple act enables the enjoyment while eradicating the expectations. I discovered that relinquishing control is liberating. Quite the statement for an adult diagnosed as an Early On-Set Control Freak.

In cartooning, my truest love, I have to believe in the characters that I draw. In order for them to make sense to the reader, they MUST make sense to me. They. Are. Real. Then comes the dialogue between creator and character, then character to character, and ultimately character to reader. But, in order for the reader to “hear” them, the initial connection from the creator is an absolute must. In the end I simply let the cartoon draw itself. I may have an initial idea of where it SHOULD be going but, more times than not, I find it going in some other direction. The work always speaks loudly and comfortably on its very own when I allow that to happen.

Nearly verbatim, the same philosophies can be said about mediumship. I truly KNOW the connection is real. I trust The Creator and the connection within. Those in Spirit are as much alive as my toys of yore and my current creations sprawled crossways over Bristol. Once that initial realization is embraced, I latch myself onto the dialogue. Whether it is between me and a Spirit Guide or a “Deceased” Loved One, the exchange, in whatever form it is in, is vital. I allow them to speak their minds, their souls, as they “see” fit. And, finally, I just toss up my hands and do my best to release the control to “Upper Management”. I watch AND listen as it is merely played out.

A trail of breadcrumbs is sprinkled before us from the onset. There are times when the path is crystal freakin’ clear—but rarely. Most of the time it’s a blissful blur of wonder and (alleged) confusion. However, on those cool summer nights of reflection we are given the reward of reasoning. Out of the blue it suddenly makes sense. We finally find the reason ‘why’ dancing right in front of us in a well-choreographed Busby Berkley Extravaganza. “Now I understand,” you’ll say as a smile of knowing, of faith, spreads across your lips.

Make a point, when that AH-HA Moment strikes, to offer your appreciation to all parties involved. The medium and the cartoonist in me are certainly grateful to that imaginative little boy from not so long ago. His daring diversions cast a firm foundation through his misinterpreted monkey business. Through his unplanned playing, I was led to a life of wonder, joy and continual healing laughter. It is misunderstood by some but it has never been, nor will it ever be, misGUIDEd.

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The Professor & Crew join forces to battle The Evil Bozo one more time…

 

 Copyright © 2016, Charles A Filius, All Rights Reserved

November 21, 2015

Gabriel’s Return

GabeDanielleApplesI’ve easily read thousands of people over my years as a working medium. And, by sheer logic, I’ve connected with even more spirits. For the most part the souls I’ve encountered—both of the pulse-steady and pulse-impaired variety—have melted into one colossal blob. It’s nothing personal, I assure you. Seriously, do you remember each and every person, upright or not, that you encounter?

I always explain to my sitters that I rarely retain any information brought forth in a reading. It’s the difference between telling your own story as opposed to telling the tale of another. You recall the vivid details of your own life but only bits and pieces of the tale of another. Some highlights will stand out along the way. Something that strikes your funny bone, makes your stomach turn or even makes the hair on your neck stand on end, turn white and then fall out. Our lives are the Main Feature while everyone else’s is merely a pre-matinee trailer. I bet THAT realization makes you feel so gosh-darn special.

Don’t let this worry you. The vast majority of the ones I remember are because it’s something really funny, weird or, honestly, just plain stupid. What’s that? You want an example? Well, OK, if you insist…

I vividly recall a time when I informed a sitter, “Your father is here.”

She immediately jumped in feet first to correct me. “No, he’s not!” she exclaimed. “He’s dead!”

After a very well-timed pause, I said dryly, “How closely did you read my business card?” Trust me when I tell you she turned a shade of red that I will never forget.

I once connected with a man who passed tragically at only 50. He was engaged and already to start another chapter in his life as a married man. I felt a huge slam in my chest, the sign given to indicate a massive heart attack. I relayed this information to his fiancé. She exclaimed, “Oh, yes, he DID have a heart attack! He was sitting on the toilet and just fell over dead!”

I heard the Spirit say, “Oh, great. You had to tell him THAT, didn’t you?” At the end of the session he showed me an innocent looking item—I won’t say what—indicating it was something he loved and it meant a lot to him. I was clueless as to what he was really saying. She screamed, “Oh, my GOD! I can’t believe he’d bring THAT up!” She was laughing so hard I thought she was going to have her own coronary. The mysterious item in question, while a commonplace thing, is also slang for a very specific sex act. One, I then discovered, was a favorite in his repertoire. As she calmed herself down, her late fiancé said, “That’ll teach her to tell people I died taking a crap.” I’m not forgetting that one no matter how much I try.

So, as you can see, some stick out in my mind. There are also a few who make quite an impact on me. Not only on my career as a medium, but simply as a human being. They go beyond the call of duty to remind us of the strength of unconditional and unending love.

I have had those in Spirit assist me in readings for individuals they didn’t even know in life. They have helped the other spirits make a better connection with me. They have shown up to serve as an example of what another soul was truly about in their own life. In essence, I help them and they help me. And, of course, all connections originate from one place and for one purpose: Love.

Out of all of the Spirits I have happily encountered, I have to say that a man by the name of Gabriel has claimed a secure spot in the top five. Look up “determination” in Webster’s and you will likely find “See Gabriel” as the singular definition.

I first encountered Gabriel on a flight to Wisconsin in 2014. He literally stalked me across half the country, making his presence unmistakable time and time again. He kept piling it on until I finally found myself with his fiancé, Danielle, and her mother at one of my group demonstrations. I wrote about it all so others could absorb the experience and his powerful message. You can refresh your memory by clicking here to read it once again.

* * *

I am often directed by Spirit to purchase small trinkets and bring them to my group demonstrations. I never know who will receive the item. It is soul-ly up to “them”. I’m Spirit’s Vanna White. They turn on the light and I just reveal the letter. Fortunately, Spirit makes this very affordable by leading me to area Thrift Shops or homes of vacationing families who don’t bother turning on their security systems. They send me off on these little scavenger hunts in my hometown as well as cities and centers where I am traveling. I merely walk into the brick and mortar building and wander around until something strikes me. I am not sure how I know what to pick up. I can’t describe it any better than saying, “I just know.” I don’t get anything clairsentiently or clairvoyantly. It’s a feeling of all knowing that I personally refer to as “Clair-YuhHuh.”

My annual trek to Wisconsin has made me quite familiar with the Dime and Dollar Thrift Store, a fun little shop in Stevens Point. I know the lay of the land quite well now. If my cast-in-stone routine was any more predictable, the world would use it, and not the sun, to check their clocks. My normal route takes me through the glass door and passed the display case doubling as a checkout counter on the right. My first stop is a rack of bric-a-brac on the left. I circle it with the same dogged determination as I hover over a bin of chocolate pudding at any semi-respectful buffet.  Something will just grab my attention and I grab it in return. It’s almost as if it flashes at me, like one of those Instamatic Camera Cubes from the 70’s. I then circle off to the right to graze through any CD’s that have, for any range of reasons, found themselves there. Retreating to the back room, I swoop down on every book I can find strewn over a span of several mismatched bookshelves. Then I flip through a bin of LP’s just so I can feel really old. A walk on the wild geriatric side will bring you right back to earth whenever you’re feeling exceptionally good about yourself.

With the Bay City Rollers echoing in my head, I will meander through small electronics and kitchen accessories. Then I wrap everything up looking through a hodgepodge of tumblers and coffee mugs. I see everything from #1 TEACHER to DOLLYWOOD OR BUST spewing before me like a marquee on crack. I will then take my haul, no more than 2 or 3 items, and amble my way back to the checkout counter. A couple bucks later and I’m the temporary caretaker of the bounty until each is passed on to the intended recipient.

My latest sparing shopping spree, however, paid no attention to my well-crafted routine. Upon entering, I made an immediate sharp left and found myself immersed in a jungle of book bags, clothing and doilies. I was in foreign territory. Clothing? Really? If you know me then you know my sense of fashion makes no sense. I own two pairs of shoes for crying out loud. TWO. And I cannot, for the life of me, fathom why anyone would EVER need a third. I buy a pair of sneakers. I wear them every day so they last about a year and a few months. When they show their signs of wear-and-tear, I buy an identical pair to replace them. I own four denim long-sleeve shirts. They’re identical. Variety is not in my spice rack, lemme tell ya.

So, completely out of my element, wondering if I need a passport, I took a 360 degree view of my surroundings. I figured I was there for a reason so off I trudged into the sea of racks and hangers. Turning a corner, I spied a backpack on the floor leaning against a chrome set of shelves. This grabbed my attention because my own needs replacing. I picked it up and gave it a once-over. I placed it back on the floor while making a mental note to ponder the purchase prior to my departure.

I returned to my traditional pathway and, indeed, was lead to two items along the way. Remaining true to myself, I sought out the backpack once more. I placed my soon to be purchased items on a shelf in front of me, paying no attention to its contents, and turned my focus on the backpack once more. I picked it up and inspected it with more scrutiny. The bubble of my initial inspection burst with a deafening dose of disappointment within a few seconds. Holes, frayed straps and a cracked coating joined in a rousing harmonious chorus of the “Don’t Buy ‘Dis, Dufus” Boogie.

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I shrugged as I bent down to return it to the floor once again. In mid-bend I glanced up to see a stack of well-worn satchels staring me down. I dropped the backpack as my jaw fell open. My eyes widened as I remained frozen in the hunched over position. I then uttered the only thing an enlightened sort like myself can in a moment like this… “Well, son of a bitch.” Emblazoned in black marker across the side of a bag was the name GABRIEL. I straightened up and just laughed aloud. Of all the bags in the stack of 10 or more, only ONE had a name written on it.

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I knew Danielle was planning to attend my second group demo the next evening. I loved the fact that I already had a story for her. Sometimes Spirit just makes my job all the easier with stunts like this! I snapped a photo of the bag as I said, “Thanks, Gabe!” I then retrieved my other items from the shelf above my head. It was only then that I realized that I had placed them on top of a large crystal dish. Not just any dish, you know? It was in the shape of a heart. I picked it up and gazed into it, slack jawed. Then I heard Gabe say, in a most serious tone, “Give it to her with my love and my blessing.”

I shook my head in wonder. No matter how many times I experience moments like this, I am always blown away. There’s nothing routine about this! I nodded and said, “You got it, dude.” My California Surfer Guide sneaks out from time to time…

I take my responsibility to Spirit very seriously. Unlike many mediums, however, I manage to have a lot of fun with it. I gave Gabriel my word and that IS my bond. If my tongue happens to be firmly planted in my cheek while I carry out my welcomed obligation, then so be it. (Cue diabolical twirling of my mustache) Little did I know at the time, but I was going to have to really work a bit to pull this one off. I hate when They make me sweat.

Saturday came and went. The sold out demo was a rousing success. An evening of both healing laughter and tears brought everyone together. There was only one little hiccup in this otherwise perfect evening: Danielle was a no-show. I was quite perplexed, as was Gabriel, I’m sure. Danielle’s punctuality was never questioned. If she said she was going to be there, she was going to be there. She may burst through the door at the last second but, by Golly, she was THERE. But not this time. Once I returned to my lodging, I emailed her just to ensure all was well. The email went unanswered. So, I lugged her heart to my next group demonstration. Again, she didn’t show up. I drove to my home away from home, entered my room and was immediately greeted by Gabriel’s tell-tale cigarette smoke. “Dude,” I said aloud, “Get her here! I don’t know what to do!” The smoke dissipated and I finally calmed myself enough to catch some Z’s.

I took a couple of days off from my rigorous schedule to visit a dear (live) friend near Chicago. While there, I received an email from Danielle. Way to go, Gabe! Something came up at the last minute and she was unable to attend. She asked for info on my other appearances and events. She assured me that she would attend one of them.

Again, she was as visible as Big Foot. And, yes, I found myself accosted by cigarette smoke. Oh, joy. The dead are, if anything, determined…and dead. After my final group gathering, on November 3, I sent her a text asking if she could meet me for breakfast the next morning. I told her I only had one day left in town and it was imperative that I see her. I didn’t tell her, but I really didn’t want to continue my journey with this Pig-Pen cloud of smoke hovering over me the whole time. She promptly agreed to our getting together over syrup and powdered sugar at ten the next morning. I had reached the end of my patience with Gabriel’s second-world-second-hand smoke. I guess you can say I just couldn’t HACK it.

Ahem.

I snagged a table in the back of the South Point Restaurant. I love this local diner. You get a gluttonous mound of food nearly obliterating your plate from view for a price that makes you look for the Fonz in the corner. They’ve also dedicated an entire wall to the miracle of bacon. I’m on board with anyone who worships Meat Candy.

Danielle dashed in with her twinkling eyes and a smile that can make you forget ANYTHING has ever been wrong in this, or any, life. After a hug and a laugh, we scanned the menus and placed our orders (both of which would piss off any cardiologist worth their weight in lard). Once the formalities were cast aside, and I knew we wouldn’t be interrupted by a waitress hell-bent on refilling any and all containers on our table, I proceeded to the heart of the matter. I ran through the whole story. My trek to the Dime and Dollar, my diverted route inside, the backpack. Everything. Her doe-like eyes widened even more when I showed her the photo of Gabriel’s bag (I honestly didn’t think they COULD get any wider!). Then I saw the very same windows of her soul glisten slightly when I handed her the crystal heart. I didn’t permit my gaze to linger beyond a cursory glance. That was their moment, just between them.

GabeDanielle01aShe sat there, looking at it, running her fingers around the edge, retracing the shape in her own heart. Then she smiled. She looked up at me and said, “You have NO idea what this means.” She nodded her head slightly. “You see, I collect cut crystal exactly like this. And, in my whole collection, I don’t have anything like this one.” She held it up with her right hand and waved it slightly. “I understand the message, too. His telling me he gives his blessing…you see, I met someone. I met him ON Valentine’s Day.” She smiled again. “I’ve always said I knew Gabe sent him to me. It ALL makes sense.” She returned her smiling eyes to the crystal heart and, for a moment, to Gabriel. And I haven’t smelled his smoke since.

Again, we don’t die. And, logic tells us, that if WE don’t die then our love certainly can’t, either. For whatever reason, Gabriel chose me. He sought me out and entrusted me, of all people, to help him help his lady love. He has an open-door policy with me. This sort of access is my equivalent of joining the Five-Timer’s Club on SNL. He has joined the ranks of other Spirits that I hold near and dear. I’ve never met any of them in the physical but I sure feel like I know them now. Gabriel is now hobnobbing with Jason, Alex, David and, my forever #1 gal, Dana. They have all allowed me to observe such perfect examples of unending love and I am grateful beyond words. And I cannot think of a better time to acknowledge that gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches.

Take a moment to acknowledge the loves in your life, both here and there. They never leave us. As long as there is love there is that eternal connection. Send them your prayers, your gratitude, your hugs, your laughter, your high-fives. Express it in any way you want and it IS received with open arms and crystal hearts.

It’s an honor, Gabe. Truly an honor. And I thank you.

 

Copyright © 2015 C A Filius, All Rights Reserved

December 18, 2014

Savoring It

“Christmas…that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance…a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.” – Augusta E. Rundell

‘Tis the season, or so I’m told. I didn’t receive this announcement via the Town Crier or a band of bubbly Carolers. It’s the Retailers, accosting us door-to-door with their singing circulars, laying claim to the origin of this ideology. They have been preaching the Joys of the Glory of the Season for not only too long but far too soon. I find it a bit overwhelming to wander into a store when summer is still romancing us with beaches and barbeques, only to discover Christmas has already thrown up all over aisle four. Seeing pipe-cleaner trees and the plastic head of a decapitated Rudolf, when I should be eyeing beach blanket bingo cards, does nothing for my already weakened sense of reality.

It is said that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space. While not documented, I am convinced that my neighbor’s home, three blocks down, is just as noticeable. The two-story brick & mortar Vegas Strip Wannabe is a sight best left unseen. Someone really needs to explain to the Home Dwellers that “gaudy” does not refer to anything of a spiritual nature. Every single palm tree surrounding the home is wrapped tightly in multi-colored lights. The dwellers of this electrical Partridge Family Bus clearly loved this stroke of engineering genius so much that they applied the same fetching theme to the posts along the front porch, the mailbox post and even the little wooden fence separating the lawn from any leering passersby. In fact, no slim vertical objects were safe from being encased in those little tiny florescent pokes in the eye. God forbid a lean, lanky telephone repairman would innocently happen upon this place. One can only shudder at his inevitable fate. And, God save us, all of the lights blink. Ouch.

The once normal front lawn now plays host to an inflatable colony consisting of a far-too-larger-than-life Grinch, Frosty the Snowman trapped inside of a snow globe, two largely distorted gift-wrapped boxes and something that I believe is supposed to be either an elf of an anorexic Cabbage Patch Doll. The individual motors join together as one off-key grating, chugging hum. The Grinch bobs to and fro as if trying to escape what I’m sure is hopeless humiliation. The large abstract packages reach for one another, like an old pair of windshield wipers, to only be jerked back in the opposite direction once more. The scrawny Cabbage Elf Thing seems like an afterthought. He’s peering around one of the brightly colored boxes as if praying no one he knows spots him. The one that really freaks me out, however, is Frosty. Here you have a snowman trapped in a large snow globe. In essence, he is being bombarded with bits and pieces of snowmen that, in all probability, he knew. Creepy. And, on the porch roof, there’s an inflatable Santa flying an airplane. One can only assume he’s planning on dive-bombing on the atrocities below.

The entire frame structure of the house is lined in lights. Running, blinking, winking lights. Strands of green flashing bulbs are stretched and tangled within the shrubbery lining the porch. Ribbons snake in and out of the handrails. Two large Nutcracker Soldiers are guarding each side of the front door, scaring away any potential call from Avon. A large silver tree, covered in blue bulbs, stands tall within the frame of the main window. A multi-colored rotating light somewhere out of public view gives me the impression the tree is going through a barrage of radical and rapid mood swings.

To paraphrase, “This isn’t what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

I’ve always been a believer in the adage, “Less is more.” Of course, that’s pretty funny coming from someone as over-the-top as I am, but that’s for minds far greater than ours to sort through at a later date. My eyes are always drawn to the delicate, subtle touches. The small home with a lone candle in the window, a diminutive wreath upon the door, the hint of a humble tree peeking through some lace curtains. Something done or given with genuine warmth and sincerity means so much more, don’t you think?

My taste in shirts in the early 80's was a mere glimpse into what was coming down the pike...

My taste in shirts in the early 80’s was a mere glimpse into what was coming down the pike…

My second cousin, Blanche, had a larger than life and, at times, abrasive personality. (This isn’t the time to analyze family traits, either…) She wasn’t exactly ‘for just anybody.’ Like me, you liked her or you didn’t. There was no middle ground when it came to her. I found her wickedly funny. She shot from the hip, made no qualms of who she was, and lived her life with a very clear idea of what was right and what wasn’t.

Blanche, a spinster, didn’t have much in a monetary sense. She sewed quilts to provide for herself. And, let me tell you, her quilts were quite the prize! She did beautiful work. Word of mouth brought her work as she needed it. Of course, she wasn’t overflowing with work. But she had enough to get by. She was a true artisan. Not quite the starving artist but meals could be skimpy from time to time. That is, of course, the time when family and friends would help out. One’s hand reaches for another in need and so on and so on. You get the idea.

Every Christmas we could count on the same present from Blanche. One could set their watch by the welcomed predictability. Each and every year, instead of joining the masses and ordering from catalogues and standing in line at a department store, Blanche would bake homemade Christmas cookies. She filled tins that had once imprisoned countless fruitcakes with her cookies. Honestly, they melted in your mouth. I’m assuming they were nothing but two-thirds butter and one-third sugar. She cut them in the usual holiday shapes: stars, trees and bells. She heavily sprinkled them with red and green sanding sugar—she didn’t slouch on the ingredients by any means. One bite and you could actually hear the granules of sugar crunching between your molars, much to the chagrin of dentists everywhere. Like her quilts, her cookies were top notch and done right.

cookiesSome would say, “Well, that’s all she could afford to give” and just gloss over it. They would be prone to turn away and focus on something else like new clothes, hundred dollar sneakers, or the electronic gadget of the moment. You know what? I’ve lived through 53 Christmases already and, in all honesty, Blanche’s cookies stand out ahead of so many other things that I’ve seen under the tree. Sure, it probably was all she could afford. But, the thing is, she was giving the best. HER best. It came from her heart, her kitchen, her very being. It was a part of her. She shared herself, her blessings, with her family and friends in a very personal way. We should all be so lucky.

Give of yourself, for the betterment of all, this Christmas and each moment afterwards. Then just sit back, prop your feet up, and have a cookie or two. You’ve not only earned it but you’ll know to cherish every…single…bite.

Merry Christmas.

Copyright © 2014, Charles A. Filius

September 11, 2014

Even In the Darkest Times We Will Shine Through

Filed under: spirituality — cfilius @ 3:26 pm
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Copyright © 2001, Charles A. Filius

You will always remember where you were on that September morning more than a decade ago. That morning when all of our lives changed. The maddening range of emotions, the realization of the devastation, the quiet mourning both public and private.

As the anniversary approaches it is truly safe to say that emotions are running high. It’s hard not to experience the need to reflect on what has happened over the past decade, not only as citizens of the world but in our own personal lives as well. As I hear all of the stories regarding the events of 9/11 I can’t help but wonder about those that we are NOT hearing. We hear reports of the phone calls to loved ones with a final “I love you.” How do you sum up so much passion in a few short moments filled with uncertainty and fear? Why do we sometimes only return to a place of love when we face some form of finality?

What about those that did not get that last comforting message? Take a moment to think about the ones who, sadly, had cross words with a loved one prior to that morning or the individual whose last words were merely routine and indifferent. “Don’t forget to pick up milk on your way home.”

So many times we forget to let our loved ones know what they mean to us; how we cherish them in our lives and the fact their voice can be as sacred to us as their touch. How often do you whisk out of a room or end a telephone call with a habitual, “Later!” We assume we will be seeing that person again. September 11, 2001, made us realize that that isn’t always the case.

Not on this level of existence anyway…

This thought pattern lead me to a note written to me several years ago by a past love. Although written well over 20 years ago I find it most fitting considering the circumstances and I want to share it with you now. I hope she doesn’t mind…

“My soul needs to see you, to hear your words, feel your touch. It’s been a lifetime since we’ve exchanged voices. Come to me; find me and tell me you are thinking of me just one more time.”

Don’t let a lifetime pass between exchanges. Cherish those you love and make sure they know it. And, never, under any circumstance, ever lose your humanity.

God Bless the World. No Exceptions.

Peace.

 

 

“We think too much and feel too little.
More than machinery we need humanity.
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without those qualities life will be violent and all will be lost.”

– Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin

April 13, 2014

One Ella of a Ride

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 3:43 am
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I take great pride in being the problem child under the rolling eyes of my disembodied caretakers. Robert, my Master Guide, has told me in no uncertain terms that I have driven him to drink. I’m convinced my Guides gather together in a pub on the Other Side and do nothing but complain about me. “Whose idea was it to start talking to him?” one will say. “It was so much quieter then!”

Yea, well, guess what? I wonder the same thing. Whose idea WAS it to start talking to me? I’m convinced They only connect with me for Their own entertainment. I am just a way for Them to pass the immeasurable hours.

I was first introduced to Robert within my second attempt at automatic writing. Laura, my Protector Guide, came in a few weeks later, as did Martin, my Life Guide. From time to time, I would sense something new in the air and a new Spirit Guide would join my already growing firm. The number finally rounded off at a nice even ten a few years back. I honestly figured that was the maximum room occupancy for this fiasco of a ride. Ten is a nice even, comfy little number. It’s quite popular in rating scales and it’s the core of the whole metric system. All was set in stone and I was snug as a bug in a rug with my Spiritual Entourage.

Or so I thought.

A few weeks ago I felt “it” again. I was vacuuming of all things (domestic God that I am) when I stopped in mid-glide. Turning off the vacuum, I looked around the room and I knew I was not alone. And this wasn’t one of my well-established peeps. Not by a long shot. I felt someone was circling me, slowly, assessing me with every step. “All right, who’s there?” I’m known for my originality don’cha know? My radar darted about my surroundings as I felt eyes of some sort focused on me. “Yesssss?”

I felt someone say, “Listen.”

My initial thought was a female energy. This would be refreshing for Laura and Pamela as they make up only twenty percent of my male dominated support team. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and heard “Ella.” Short, sweet and to the matter-of-fact-point. My eyes popped open and the other eyes were no longer upon me. I sensed nothing else so I brought the vacuum back to life with a quick click of a switch. “Ella, huh?” I thought. “I’ll take a side order of proof with that.” The roar of the vacuum drowned out Their collective ‘sigh’.

Like the menu at the Soup Plantation, the events didn’t matter and it faded from my mind shortly afterwards. I just chalked it up to the aftermath of too much swirling dust clouds emitted from my Red Devil. Late one night, while being slapped around by one of my dominant bouts of insomnia, I caught one of my favorite movies, IMPACT, on TV. This 1946 film noir gem stars Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines. I was about 20 minutes into the movie when it hit me (I’m quick on the draw, aren’t I?). “Too coincidental,” I quipped. “I need something more.” I envision my crew just standing in a semi-circle behind me shaking their heads in unison.

Admittedly, I am a bit of an Ella Raines fan. I’ve snagged a few photos of her over the years at some Hollywood memorabilia shows (yes, I am THAT big of a nerd). So the name Ella DOES have a personal significance for me. That being said, I’m thinking I could have easily allowed my own subconscious feed me the name in the beginning. My love of old movies would dictate that I would select an older film to watch at that hour. I pride myself in my logic—a polite word for ‘bullheaded stubbornness’. Once the movie was over, and I was not even close to renewing my citizenship in Slumberland, I jumped on eBay and gave a cursory search for Ella Raines memorabilia. One of the first items up for bid was an autographed photo! Well, how about that? I’ve seen a few autographed pieces over the years and the bids are almost always nearing the triple digits. Too rich for my cholesterol tainted blood. But this photo was different. It was being offered at a mere $18.00. While the black and white photo itself is not one of her best, the signature was billed as being authentic. Upon inspection my heart stopped, started again, skipped a beat and then began to swing dance. The photo was endorsed, “To Charles…”

Yes, once the feeling came back to my brain, I bought it.

ImageBut, once again, I doubted. It’s no wonder that I have a Guide named Thomas. Doubt is my Native American surname.

Later in the week someone on a Movie Memorabilia list to which I subscribe, posted a set of autographed photos he was selling. He was clearing out an enormous collection of photos from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I glanced over the treasures, ranging from Bacall to Ball and Cagney to Cotton, and found myself coveting each and every one. However, the only one that really jumped out at me was that of Colleen Moore. She was a popular actress in the 20’s and 30’s until her early retirement in 1934. I really knew nothing about her. I knew the name and that was about the extent of it. But I found her photo absolutely captivating. Honestly, there wasn’t really anything special about it but, on some level, it spoke to me. I emailed the seller and asked for the price. I was told it was $50, non negotiable. Too much for me at this point but I just couldn’t get the photo out of my mind. So, like any good geek, I started researching Ms. Moore. I wanted to find out why I found the portrait so enchanting. I soon discovered that her most famous role was in a 1926 modernization of Cinderella entitled “ELLA CINDERS.”

Oh, come on… Seriously?

Like a dog with a really juicy steak bone, I began gnawing even more. It seems that Ella Raines and Colleen Moore were both born in the month of August. My spiritual journey began in August, 2001. Both women passed away in 1988, which is an “8” in numerology and, yes, kiddies, August is the 8th month.

But, yet again, I’m just not buying into it. (Yea, save it, I know what you’re thinking…I am psychic after all!) I still hadn’t felt anyone or anything since the drop-in while I was channeling my inner house frau some days prior. Oh, sure, I could have just taken the time to simply meditate and tune into this new energy but, c’mon! That would just be silly! In case you haven’t noticed, I wear my pigheadedness like a letterman’s jacket.

A couple of nights ago, when insomnia and I were once again having a staring contest, I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures by watching an episode of MYSTERIES & SCANDALS on YouTube. This was a 30-minute syndicated TV show that was produced in the late 90’s. It made up of hokey reenactments and “investigations” into various Hollywood scandals throughout the years. And, thankfully, the vast majority of them are stockpiled on YouTube. I looked over the program listings and chose, for reasons unknown to me at the time, the episode devoted to the tragic murder of actor, Sal Mineo. I was never a fan. Like Colleen Moore, I didn’t really know much about Sal. But this is the only episode I opted to watch that night. As I clicked ‘play’ I actually said aloud, “I have no idea why I’m watching this.” I discovered the answer 4 minutes and 4 seconds into the video. It seems that one of Sal’s earliest acting jobs was a guest role on what I’m sure was a riveting program entitled ‘Janet Dean: Registered Nurse’. Television in the 50’s was just so simplistic, wasn’t it? The title character, Janet Dean, was played by none other than Ella Raines.

Oh, Sweet Mother…

I just sat there, nestled somewhere between numb and awe. Admittedly, I didn’t want to believe that I had yet another Guide. It seems silly, I know. But I honestly did not want to face this all too looming reality. I’d dodged it for quite a few days by this time and I was hoping my agile footwork would help me evade the entire event. Eleven Guides? Good God…Eleven? I must be a lost cause to them so does that now make me a charity case? Ella is my eleventh Guide. My Guides frequently use the number eleven in their spiritual shorthand. It’s like a “thumbs up” from the Other Side in my reference manual. That’s when I realized Ella even has an 11 in her name… “Fine. You win,” I laughed. I spread my arms wide, and said what I always say prior to giving a reading… “OK, let’s do this!”

I sat at my desk, stilled myself—a rarity let me tell you—and Ella officially spoke through me, via paper and pen, for the very first time:

“It is what it is but only if that is how you choose to leave it. Something is before you at all times—a task, a choice, a pathway to take or ignore. Analyze it to your heart’s content but, ask yourself, is this part of your action, your solution, or is this another excuse to not move onward? You always know the truth but are you strong enough to admit it aloud to yourself? Anything can be improved upon, anything can be enhanced and extended beyond its original conception. If your completion of each level is done to your true satisfaction then it IS complete! If it is only reached in order to give the delusion of execution then you are living, breathing and being a LIE. Please be true to yourself, respect your potential, honor your capabilities and be the LIFE!” – Ella

I can tell you she’s going to be quite the taskmaster. She has an accent but I am not sure of the origin at this point. It may be British, possibly Irish or Scottish. Her diction is quite exaggerated to the point that she even rolls her “R’s”. Her voice projects with great self-assurance. Her strong presence makes me think she may have even been on the stage during a lifetime or two. It’s going to be an interesting experience as we get to know one another.

I can’t help but wonder, of course, just how long it’s going to take me to drive Ella to drink…

 

Copyright 2014 © Charles A. Filius

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