Pondering the Pavement

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

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

September 3, 2015

Love Lives

Filed under: Inspirational,life after death,mediumship — cfilius @ 4:59 pm
Tags: , ,

26480429_s“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” — Mother Teresa

I am the first to admit I have a lot of odd idiosyncrasies. No shock there, right? I cannot pour milk over my bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats until I turn all of the little morsels frosting-side-up. I hate bare walls. Always have. So I have framed pieces of art and photographs plastered all over mine. What’s so weird about that? They must be exactly 72” from the floor. And, for the record, they’re equidistantly spaced. I tend to have a wee bit of an obsession with order. Yet, whenever I am working on a book, whether writing or illustrating, I never, EVER, work in sequence. I’m a walking paradox, yet I have no boat, let alone two. (Think about that one and get back to me…) Upon reflection, each and every one of those peculiarities makes my talking to the dead seem pretty gosh-darn normal.

One item from my collection of quirks does tend to leap out off the psychiatrist’s pad, though. Every night, when I first go to bed, I always say, “I love you” aloud. No idea why, really. I don’t know why it started or how. I’m not even sure when. It’s just there. I don’t even have a clue as to whom I’m saying it. I could be saying it to God or Spirit, depending on your preferred terminology. Perhaps I’m saying it to a lover, past, present and/or future. Maybe I’m saying it to myself. No clue. Yet, every night, as my head and pillow become one, I blurt it out. No rhyme or reason, yet it feels out of place if I don’t.

Those three little words can have a massive impact, especially if whispered at the right time. Those words can ring through long corridors in your mind for decades. My dear friend, Leigh, and I always ended every conversation with those words. And, of course, when we were together, we did not go to bed without saying them just one more time. So, I can take great comfort and joy in the fact that our last words to one another, just one lone week before her abrupt passing, were “I love you.”

My beloved Aunt Ruth’s last act of coherence, just before she slipped away nearly a year ago, was telling each of us sitting with her those same magical words. Trust me when I tell you that is a moment in time that her son, daughter-in-law, sister and slightly anal-retentive nephew will never forget. And, of course, we returned those very same words in kind. You can’t ask for a whole lot more, you know?

To this day, some thirty-odd years later, I can still vividly recall the euphoria of exchanging those words with my first real girlfriend for the very first time. Giddiness isn’t the same without a big goofy grin implanted on your face for days on end, you know? I hope she can still reflect back on that time with the same soft-hearted mindset as I do. However, she’s pretty old now and probably senile. (God, I hope Dar’s not reading this…with her trifocals. Oh, yeah, I’m a dead man now!)

Of course, keep in mind I offer those same three words to a wide variety of people in my life: the waitress who brings me cheesecake, the pizza delivery guy, anyone who gives me cookies (unless they contain raisins or coconut). The list is quite long. Hell, I propose marriage to anyone who pulls their car out of a spot so I can park there. I just toss those ‘I love you’s’ around all willy-nilly like fertilizer. There’s an image for you. Of course, if you think about it, that reflection is quite right. Sharing an ‘I love you’ in hopes it will take root and flourish, spreading like wild flowers in the wind. Makes sense to me. But, then again, so does hanging things on a wall exactly six feet from the floorboards. I’m not really a good gauge for some things.

There are two things I truly adore when connecting with the energy of someone who has crossed over to the other side. The first is whenever they embarrass the sitter. Yes, I said it. I get the biggest kick out of it. They will, with great regularity, bring up some hysterically funny incident that the sitter (almost) wishes time would forget. The look of shock followed by red-faced embarrassment is priceless. But what REALLY puts the icing on the cake is the smile that follows. A smile of recollection, reconnection and reassurance. Of course, the dead guy gets the biggest laugh out of it. I mean, seriously, what are you going to do to ‘em? They’re dead for cryin’ out loud!

The second item on my two-item list is the insistence of the love between the one in spirit and the one sitting before me. Sure, when you get a message, you expect the classic, “I love you”. It’s a nearly worn out cliché. In all honesty, this Universal Message never gets old. Each of you knows it so why roll your eyes and deny it? Each and every Spirit that comes through is doing so out of love for you. Whether they say, “I love you!” or if they discuss the latest remodeling of your kitchen. Their very presence in your life, both then and now, is out of love. Eat your heart out, Hallmark. While you insist on a lone day in February, Spirit offers it 24/7 for a full 365. Hell of a marketing campaign if you ask me.

Oh, yeah, I hear you. “How is talking about my kitchen a sign of love?” Simple, ya big doofus. By talking about your kitchen they’re telling you that they are still active in your life. They are letting you know that they’re there for the big and the mundane, the highs and the lows, and everything else in-between, just as in their physical life. Some say “I love you” in different ways. Words, actions, thoughts… most commonly it’s a combination of those and more. A peck on the cheek, a tousle of your hair, a hug, a spin across the dance floor, preparing your favorite meal… the list goes on and on.

How do YOU let someone know you love them? Hmm? How do YOU let others know you care? Take a moment and think about it. For example, my uncle and I merely had to shake hands while placing our free hand on the shoulder of the other. That’s all we needed. He’s been gone now for 30 years and, let me tell you, I still miss those handshakes from time to time. There was so much wrapped in those simple actions. It was a genuine fondness, friendship and love. I know he’s still with me—that won’t change—but, every now and again, the physical side longs for what was. And that’s perfectly normal. You can’t risk losing the connection to your physical side, even the part that brings up tears. It’s all connected so allow it to flow. What is sad today can lead to happiness tomorrow.

The love of, and for, your loved ones is still with you. Why? Because THEY are still with you. Sure, it’s not the way we prefer or are even accustomed to, but they’re still with us. Love does not die, love does not fade or go away. It lives, it thrives and it never asks why. I’ll remember that the next time someone brings me a slab of cheesecake.

I would love to exchange an ‘I love you’ with Leigh again. I would cherish hearing Aunt Ruth say, “I love you, honey” just once more. I’d like the chance to tell Dar that I love her, for the sake of honoring the moment that was, without her slapping me in the back of the head with her trifocals. And, I can—and do—each night when I go to bed. I release those positive words into the ethers knowing they will, somehow, find their way to the souls who need it most, myself included.

In case you don’t hear it tonight, I love you.

“Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” – Franklin P. Jones

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius

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

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

October 15, 2014

Gabriel’s Flight

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 11:11 pm
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“Oh, I believe in coincidences. I’ve just never seen one.” – Dannion Brinkley

 

22973022_sI love to travel. I always have. I’m never really happier than when I have an airplane strapped to my butt. As much as I adore be-bopping around the country, the only thing that makes me happier is being left completely alone as I do it. I have less than zero tolerance for chatty cabin companions on planes or trains. Just because we share a seat does not mean we’re going to bond, become Facebook Friends or swap thrilling anecdotes of adventures in coupon clipping.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For example, several years ago on a flight out of San Diego, I found myself sitting next to a monk. An honest-to-Buddha-Monk decked out in full monk regalia. When God hands you a plate of cookies it is just rude to pass on it. I found myself uncharacteristically turning to my seat companion and saying, “So, what do YOU do?”

He looked at me for a moment blankly then burst out laughing. Another off my bucket list: Make a Monk laugh. Check.

I was making my way to my gate at LAX for my recent trek to Wisconsin, via Chicago, when I first spotted him. A bald man, slightly under my own six foot stature, clutching a large See’s Candy bag. “Ah-ha!” I thought to myself. “TOURIST!” He was clearly taking a large batch of various chocolate morsels for his family back home. I’ve noticed over the years that locals stuff their candy in their bags while tourists tend to flaunt their sugary trophy. I chortled at my nearly Sherlockian reasoning and ventured on to my gate. Once I secured a seat next to the closest electrical outlet—a highly coveted spot in any airport—I noticed See’s Man standing nearby. Seems I was sharing airspace with a tourist from the Windy City. How funny that I would spot him upon my arrival at LAX. What are the chances? I mean, out of all the airlines and gates and terminals at LAX I spot, almost the second I arrive, a guy going on the same flight as my own. Weird. I returned my nose to my book and happily tuned out the world around me.

I piled onto the plane with the rest of the herd all the while praying to any available Deity that I would avoid anyone even slightly enthusiastic about swapping verbs and pronouns. I made my way to my seat in the rear of the plane (seems fitting, doesn’t it?), slid into my adored window seat and then just waited. People kept filing on-board as I kept shooting small, unobtrusive death rays from my eyes at each and every one of them. It was working. No one was sitting in my row. Hooray. The boarding was nearly complete and I felt I could let my guard down. I sank into the nearly comfortable seat, sighed a self-praising relief, while whipping out my customary bag of Peanut M&M’s. Then it happened… One last straggler, panting, made a nearly Kramer-esque entrance onto the plane. It was none other than See’s Man. He made his way happily to the back of the plane, smiling at everyone who met his green-eyed gaze. “No…no…no,” I kept whispering to myself because, at this point, even my Guides aren’t listening to me. He stopped at MY row, took off his coat, and stuffed it overhead. He slid himself into the aisle seat, leaving an empty space between us as his treasure trove of See’s Candy went snugly under the seat in front of him. “Oh, just friggin’ peachy. He’s going to be friendly. I can tell…” I grumbled to myself.

He sat down, turned to me and gave me the renowned manly non-committal, “Hey.”

I returned the same all the while tightening my grip on my M&M’s. He was then kind enough to sit there and not say another word for over 4 hours. God love him.

The plane safely touched down in Chicago. See’s Man, and his coat and bag, ventured off the plane following another emotionless “hey” exchange. All is well and right in my world once again. I wandered off to my next gate with the same determination I have as I circle the Lo Mein bin at any Chinese Buffet. My gate companions and I streamed our way onto the Wisconsin bound aircraft in an almost Pavlovian-like ritual. My seat was, thankfully, a single one on the left side of the plane. There was absolutely no chance of anyone even thinking of starting a conversation with me this time around. Life is good…

Then I heard a voice. “Hey! You again!”

I glanced up and, by God Almighty, I’m facing See’s Man yet again! My eyes widened behind my tinted lenses as I said, “Seriously?” He just laughed and jutted his hand out to me. Well, I had to shake it or hand him my second bag of M&M’s. Since I don’t share, I went through the motions of being oh-so-gosh-darn friendly. We chuckled, one of us with sincerity, and he walked on by. Again…what are the chances of this happening? I stared out the window, asking my Guides, “What IS the significance of this?”, as I gnawed on a mutant two-fused-as-one light blue M&M. I got nothing. So, I just shrugged it off. There were, after all, M&M’s to explore.

I was standing in baggage claim playing luggage roulette by the carousel. Will my bag be within the first ten? Odd? Even? Who’s to say? I fill my time with weird shit. No doubt about it. I glanced over my left shoulder and low-and-behold, See’s Man was approaching me. I just looked at him, as he smiled, and said in my subtle, cellophane melting voice, “STOP FOLLOWING ME!” He laughed. He thought I was kidding. How adorable.

“So,” I said, realizing he was just not going to walk on by, “Come here often?”

He smiled, “I’m moving here.”

“Willingly?” I asked out of true bewilderment. “You DO realize they have REAL winters here, right?” The only way Californians realize it’s winter is when we have sudden urges to wear socks.

25451295_s“Yea. I know it’s going to be different but I like it.” He placed his See’s bag on the ground and extended his hand yet again. (I thought we’d already finished with this ritual!) “My name is Gabriel,” he said with genuine Midwestern sincerity.

I just smiled to myself and said, “Charles. Nice to meet you.” When in Rome, you know?

We chatted a few more minutes until my suitcase finally made its curtain call. I snatched it up and wished him well in his new life.

“God’s speed,” Gabriel (aka See’s Man) said as I hauled my American Tourister down the corridor.

As I made my way to the outside Wisconsin air, I thought it was pretty cool that I had an angel traveling with me. I figured it was just my peeps letting me know they were there. Awesome. I made a note to jot this down for a later date and then went on my merry way assuming that was the end of the story.

Assuming is, of course, the working word here.

* * *

Mediumship is, by no means, an exact science. Once the barn doors are open any and all animals within no longer feel a need to remain in their stalls. I may give a reading to someone hoping to hear from their loved ones when, out of the blue, a co-worker’s father-in-law may make a cameo appearance. This has happened far more times than I can count. This has nothing to do with my inability to add—I am just far too lazy to actually keep track.

I stayed at the home of Gregg & Dar, both clients and now dear friends. Yea, I question their tastes in friends, too. I just assume it’s based on pity. ANYWAY… During a reading for Dar last July I was faced with someone who was not in her own inner circle. The son of one of her high school friend’s dropped by to reach out to his grieving father. Outside of a few snippets of information, Dar wasn’t really able to confirm much of what the boy was giving me. She made notes of all that was brought forth and promised to later relay it to her friend. I provided her with a separate MP3 recording of his messages for his father as well. She contacted her friend who seemed somewhat intrigued but, as with many unfamiliar with the truth of mediumship, he was hesitant. He said he would get back to her once he made a decision. A couple of times afterwards he contacted Dar about possibly swinging by to hear it. However, on both occasions, their schedules just did not line up.

Flash forward to my October arrival. I doubt I had even been there an hour when, out of the blue, the man called and wanted to hear the barely 10 minute recording.

“Charles is here right now!” Dar exclaimed. “When do you want to come over?”

“Five minutes. I’m just down the street,” he replied. Sounds like one of those so-called coincidences, doesn’t it?

Through tears he was able to validate all of the information that came through via his son’s never ending love. In the midst of this emotional roller coaster, he made an off the cuff reference to his grandson, Gabriel.

I just stared at him. You have GOT to be kidding me…

***

Moments later I received a text message from a friend of mine in LA. He was telling me he’d just spent the day in the San Gabriel Mountains. He makes frequent visits there but, in the past, he has always referred to it as simply, “the mountains.” As in, “I’m going to THE MOUNTAINS” or “I really need to plan another trip to THE MOUNTAINS.” I have never known him to refer to them as the San Gabriel Mountains. Well, go figure.

***

After Dar’s friend left, I returned to my room to unpack. As I was mulling over this whole Gabriel scenario, I pulled my Archangel Tarot Deck from my bag. I was immediately given the short and sweet suggestion, “Look at the top card.”

Since I have no will power of my own anymore, I removed the thick deck from its box and flipped over the top card. It was an Archangel Raphael card. I shrugged. “Yea? So?”

Then I heard this exasperated voice whisper, “No. The OTHER top.”

Clearly the Angels feel the top of the cards should be the side with the angel’s picture and NOT the ‘back’ of the card. So, I flipped the deck over and dealt from what was once thought of as the bottom. It was an Eight of Gabriel. My shrug was now replaced with slowly widening eyes. For hoots and giggles I checked out the very next card: The Nine of Gabriel. To add just one more cherry on the proverbial Sundae, I was told to cut the deck. I did without hesitation and found myself staring at The Page of Gabriel.

It was at that moment that my jaw and the floor fused as one. This was more than Spirit letting me know they were with me on this journey. But, for the life of me, I had no clue as to what it meant or what was coming. Some psychic I am.

***

My second group demonstration of the week was held at Kindred Spirit Books in Stevens Point. (Happy to make a shameless plug for this wonderful store!) The second reading of the evening went to two ladies in attendance, mother and daughter. The Spirit drilling through with an absolutely hysterical personality was the daughter’s fiancé. He had passed tragically too soon in a vehicular accident on Mother’s Day of this year. His energy was nothing short of dynamic. His humor and love was so vivid! His energy seemed to grow with each validation that was given. His fiancé and her mother were laughing through their tears, just as it should be. The healing truly excels once the tears of loss are replaced by those of recollection and love.

In the midst of this intensity he told me to stick my tongue out at them. Isn’t it great that I can pull all sorts of immature stunts like that and blame it on the dead? I love my job, but I digress.

So, like an obedient medium, I stuck my tongue out at the ladies. There was a brief gasp of shock and then they both laughed so hard I thought they would fall out of their seats. They explained to me that he stuck his tongue out in nearly every single photo that was ever taken of him. His mother-in-law-to-be said, “We have more pictures of him with his tongue OUT instead of IN!”

His fiancé laughed, wiping a tear from her eye, and said, “That is just SO Gabriel!”

I stared at her. It was if time had literally stopped. “Did you just say his name is Gabriel?”

She nodded, “Yes.”

I was dumbstruck—emphasis on ‘dumb’. Unbelievable. I took a moment and told them the whole Gabriel story. I finished by saying, “That guy has been hanging with me since I left LA! He’s determined!”

His fiancé confirmed that. “You bet he was!”

Her mother added, “Honestly, on the way over here, I told her that with Gabriel’s personality, it would be likely that he would show up first!”

“I’ll be honest with you,” I said. “The way he felt in the beginning made me sense he was actually late for the demo tonight.”

Both ladies laughed again.

“He was late to everything,” said his fiancé. “I even told him he’d be late to his own funeral!”

A group guffaw erupted on that one.

***

This is a grand example of how our loved ones are not only with us, but they are with others, too! Gabriel didn’t know me from Adam, coincidentally the name of the son of Dar’s friend mentioned earlier, but yet he knew I was on my way. He knew his beloved was going to be there. And, most importantly, he knew he could trust me with this responsibility and, for that, I am honored. Our loved ones, just as the love we share with them, know no limits or boundaries. There are absolutely no time or space restraints on our connections with one another. We just keep going and going and going, never ending, always loving and living.

I’ve always said that once this work bores me, when I am no longer amazed or intrigued by it, I will just walk away. Well, kids, I can honestly say I just can’t see that ever happening. I hope Robert and the Crew are OK with that.

15461882_sCopyright © 2014, Charles A. Filius

June 3, 2014

A Getaway is a Great Way to Stay

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

It’s always nice to get away, isn’t it? It doesn’t really matter if it’s a short day trip, a weekend getaway or a full-blown two-week romp. Just having a chance to run away from it all to recharge the batteries is a blessing, a gift and, frankly, a bright shiny gold key to some resemblance of sanity. Where do you go to recollect yourself? Do you prefer to lounge on the beach with your toes burrowed into the granular mounds of sand separating you from the sprawling ocean before you? Maybe you’re solace is found on the wooden porch of a cabin high in the mountains as you look out over a sentry of trees staring silently back at you. Whether it is the hustle bustle of Vegas, a day at Disneyland, or a few hours visiting with your grandmother—each and every one of us needs to get the heck outta Dodge from time to time.

ImageI was fortunate enough to spend Memorial Day weekend in sunny San Diego. I was attending The National Cartoonists’ Society annual Reuben Award weekend. The Reuben, in case you’re wondering, is the cartooning equivalent of the Oscar. The only difference between the two is that no one really cares about the Reuben. In reality, it’s a great excuse to spend time with fellow ink-slingers. Cartooning is, for the most part, a fiercely isolated profession — as if being a medium fills one’s social calendar! This is nearly the only time we get to see one another—or anyone else for the most part—so we take full advantage of the opportunity. We spend hours hunched over a drawing table with nothing but the continual clicking of the deadline clock echoing inside our heads. So, getting the chance to actually talk to someone else is nothing short of euphoric. The most intimate relationship I have is the weekly drop off by my close personal friend, Whats-Her-Face, the FedEx girl. Yeah, we’re close.

I always have a great time at these yearly events but there was something special about this go-around. I completely let loose (now there’s a scary thought!) and had more than my quota of fun and frivolity. As odd as it sounds, I was completely stunned at this fact. Normally, I am one to socialize a bit, hibernate a bit, socialize a bit, hibernate a bit, and so on. This time, however, the hibernation was deeply dwarfed by the socializing. This character was totally out of character. After a day-and-a-half I realized that I had been in dire need of this vacation and I hadn’t even realized it.

It’s a tad alarming when you suddenly recognize how out of touch you are with yourself. After all, you’re with you 24/7. You really cannot escape it no matter how hard you try. But, yet, we tend to let ourselves slip by as we continually pile the daily duties and responsibilities higher and higher until we cannot see around them. We’re blinded by them. What happens next? We accept the limited view that we’ve invited into being as our only reality. I often envision myself as the guy on Sesame Street carrying an armload of pastries announcing, at the top of a long flight of stairs, “Ten banana cream pies!” And then, unable to see where he is going, he falls down the mountain of steps leaving a funny trail of meringue and crust along the way. As a friend of mine used to say, “I’m hopelessly lost but making damn good time.”

This point was driven home on my last night in San Diego. Our farewell soiree took place aboard the USS Midway. I have no clue who thought it would be perfectly safe to entrust a battleship to a bunch of overgrown adolescents, but that’s beside the point. As I was walking aboard the massive vessel I told my Guides that I would be totally open to any Spirit Communication that there may be aboard. After all, I was walking onto a virtual piece of history! You just KNOW there are many impressions out and about on the sprawling decks. Spirit, as always, had a different agenda. My request was answered with a resonating “NO.”

Admittedly, I was shocked at their response. Before I could question the reply I was told, “Just go and have FUN!” And, as God is my witness, They left. Every last one of ‘em (and you know that took some time!) I wasn’t there as a medium. I was there as a cartoonist, with my fellow brethren, left to my own devices. Not being one to disappoint my entourage too often—at least I hope I don’t!—I continued relaxing, laughing and just having a grand old time.

Yes, it IS good to get away. It’s even better when you’re able to realize just how vital any form of rejuvenation really is. Life is life, pure and simple. Responsibilities and that thing they call reality will be with us for the long haul. But we need to take the time to listen to ourselves, our souls, and understand when it needs a break from it all. It doesn’t matter if it’s five days or five minutes, but you have to take the time to treat yourself. A meal, a trip, a walk to your favorite park. Indulge in that personal “me time”. And if you’re thinking that you have no idea what your “me time” is then that, my friend, is a cast-iron giveaway of just how badly you need it. Body and Spirit both need a time-out.

“Time is precious, just as you are. Both need to be respected, cultivated, cared for and fully realized. Precious moments connect one by one to create a lifetime. How sad it would be to have breaks and stops through this pathway, this life, that are not required. Enjoy this journey, this purpose, this time. Be good to yourself at all times so that being good to others shall come more readily, more easily, more naturally.” – Laura

 

Copyright © 2014, Charles A. Filius

Photo above: One less item on my Bucket List: “Get Bunny-Eared by Weird Al. Check.”

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

March 27, 2014

On Your Road Again

Image“It doesn’t matter what you want if you do not actively seek it! A wish upon a falling star, the dropping of a coin in a wishing well in a picturesque grotto, the rubbing of a rabbit’s foot…all can be called symbolic but, in truth, it does not go beyond that! The falling star is beautiful to see, the tranquility of the grotto may bring you some peace, and the rabbit’s foot is soft and gentle to the touch. Ya know what? Big deal. These sensations are fleeting, momentary only. Pursuit, active participation, will enable you to walk your path.

“Totems, symbolic articles as well as rituals, are, of course, useful PROVIDING you do not soul-ly rely on them alone. Your dream will not come to your door—you must venture out and rap on a few doors yourself. Mingle with the Universe, exchange ideas and ideals. Learn from the stumbles as well as the solidity of assured footedness! Your destined goals can be enabled, as well as disabled, by active AND inactive participation. Care to venture as to which goes with which?

“Look outside right now—outside your window as well as outside yourself—and what do you truly see? Stepping outside of yourself and gazing impartially within takes time and nerve—no doubt about that. But do it! DO IT! Do it again and again and again for it never gets old. Each gaze can provide new insight aligned within each and every moment of each and every step as well as hesitation.

“You know what you are made of, what kind of person you are, what your true aspirations are as well as the perspiration that goes into it all. Some days of travel are far worse than others. That is a fact of all Life. But, do you choose to dwell on that OR embrace the obvious that the opposite is true as well? How many vacations have you taken—from a single day to several weeks—where SOMETHING has gone awry? But, overall, you look back on it with joyous smiles and the feeling of a good time had by all. It may not have seemed all that grand at the moment, but hindsight and reflection are great tools in achieving clarity.

“The negative, the frustrations, the struggles are temporary. They will soon be overhauled by positivity and purpose. Providing, of course, that YOU do something to motivate it, as well as yourself, onward ever onward.

“Do it, my Children, whatever IT may be to you. Continue along your journey so you can beckon others to follow their own convictions and drive with a simple, yet powerful, ‘Having a Wonderful Time! Wish You Were Here!’

– Thomas

Copyright 2014 © Charles A. Filius

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