Pondering the Pavement

October 5, 2016

Signs of the Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jpeg

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

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

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

Mona’s known for her sensitivity.

Or so I’m told. Ahem.

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2016, Charles A. Filius

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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

February 12, 2016

Speak It, Teach It

AlgebraI helm a weekly mediumship development circle every Sunday in Signal Hill. Some of you are, in all probability, scratching your head over this one. If you know me, you also know that teaching is not one of my favorite pastimes. Teaching ranks right down there with holiday family dinners, raisins and Country Caterwauling that some insist is music. I’ve always assumed my dislike for teaching stems from my lifelong loathing of school in general. I often feel like the character in the Far Side cartoon asking his teacher, “Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.” I was bored to tears the vast majority of the time back in my school days. And it wasn’t because I was some unearthly genius, either. Good heavens, no. I just resented anyone telling me what to do. (A delightful quirk that I clutch onto with a stubborn death grip to this very day.) Even then I knew the path my life would be taking. I was going to be a cartoonist and that journey would not involve algebra or geometry. I guess you could say, upon reflection, that little snippet was one of my earliest psychic predictions. Move over, Psychic Twins, there’s a new Criswell on the block.

I’ll let you know if Terry and Linda ever speak to me again after that comment…

So, why on earth (or any other plane of existence you prefer) did I decide to take on this class? That’s a damn fine question. Honestly, I did it out of sheer boredom. I was looking to shake things up, do something different, so I put that desire out there to my Guides. When will I ever learn? Once again, Robert and the Gang opted to take me at my word and toss me in head first. Way to go, Guys and Gals. The class had originally been taught by someone else, but he moved out of the area. A couple of his students approached me and asked if I would be interested in stepping in as their new teacher. Great Googly Moogly, what were they thinking? SERIOUSLY? That’s like putting me in charge of the dessert cart. You just know nothing good is going to come from it.

When I teach, I like to push the envelope, test new ideas, take students down unfamiliar pathways. It’s fun to dive into the deep end of the pool without an inflatable clown-character raft. Not knowing what will happen is a great spiritual aphrodisiac.

My personal theory is that your connection with your own Spirit Guides is singularly the most important aspect of this work. The stronger the communication, the personal connection, the clearer the corridor. This connection can take you to uncharted places with unbridled passion. The more I discover, the more I want to know. The more I know, the more I want to share with anyone within a somewhat interested earshot. I’m not one for rambling lectures. The learning—the excitement—is in the doing, not in the humdrum listening and waiting.

So, to keep things lively, I’ve opened the door to channeling for my band of students. I’ve shown them exercises in meeting with their Spirit Guides—hobnobbing with them if you will—and even their Higher Selves. I’ve taken them to the next stage of conversing with them through Automatic Writing (a true passion for me). Channeling seemed like the logical next step along the way. This builds trust as well as comfort in your connection to your Spiritual Peeps, your Crew. I assure you that channeling is NOT for everyone. But it will allow you to better feel, and understand, the energy of your own Guides. This comes in especially handy for those times when you think, “I can’t feel my Guides around me! Where are they?” We all do it from time to time. Trust me on this. You will, by merely raising your own sensitivity and awareness, find that statement will all but completely vanish from your daily diatribe. And how cool would THAT be?

I know what you’re saying… “Hey, Charles, it sure sounds like you’re teaching right now!” Yeah, whatEVER. I’m doing it at two in the morning while nibbling on a cold frosted strawberry Pop-Tart and sipping an ice-cold glass of milk. My class, my rules.

The class had some major breakthroughs this past week. I was extremely proud of my students and their accomplishments (Pop-Tarts would have improved the experience but, hey, you can’t have everything). Some very intense messages, emotionally as well as philosophically, came through each student. There’s nothing like a good dose of self awareness to wake you up in the middle of the afternoon. Normally, I will go into channel first in order to set the tone of the exercise. It is also good for students who have never experienced anything like this to see a bit of the possibilities lying ahead for them. Last week, however, I was told in no uncertain terms, I had to wait until the end. While unhappy about being told what to do, I begrudgingly admitted that They are always right. Just like my editor, but I digress… So, like a good whipping boy, I waited.

When I channel, privately or in public demonstrations, I discover there is a protocol. Robert always opens and closes the session. He has a ritual that he has gone through since day one. Then he will move onto whatever topic he deems necessary for those in attendance. Once he takes care of his agenda others may, from time to time, pop in for more commentary. It is interesting to hear the view points of the others. They merely offer their take, their spin, on Robert’s initial message. Once they are finished Robert will pop back in with a quick summation or message and then off they go. Robert, and Robert alone, always opens the floor for a Q&A when I am giving a public channeling demonstration. He doesn’t bother with personal questions (“Should I move to another town,” etc). He is looking for questions of a Universal, a more spiritual, nature. “If you broaden your mind you will surely enhance your intentions,” Robert says, “Imagine the possibilities within THAT!” The ONLY time this protocol was broken was during a demo at The Owl’s Lantern in Fullerton, CA, a few years ago. Robert had taken a couple of inquiries from those in attendance, as is his custom. Then one woman asked a question and, much to everyone’s surprise, Robert stepped aside and allowed Dondi to speak! This was the first and, as of this date, the only time that has occurred.

A little background on Dondi. He is a three-dimensional version of the comic strip character by Irwin Hasen. He is about 5 or 6 years of age. His love of life is contagious. It’s really fitting because I am a cartoonist, as you know, AND I’m an adoptee. The whole package is once again wrapped up neatly and beautifully. Realizing that my Joy Guide is a 5 year old REALLY explains a lot about me, doesn’t it?

Anyway… Dondi answered her question and then Robert returned to continue. I later discovered that the woman who asked the question had a daughter whose name is Dondi AND she was named after the comic strip character! So, once again, proof that the interaction is never random. There’s always a reason. ALWAYS. We may not get it at the time but, trust me, one day it will all come together.

You’re wondering what Robert had to say this past Sunday, aren’t you? Well, speculate no more, for here are Their words. Happy mulling!

 

ROBERT

“I am here, Charles. I am Robert. I will answer your questions at this time. I am here, on your right, as always.

“Lovely to see you. More lovely to see your experiences today. Intoxicating, isn’t it? This is to be understandable. For some, it is very new. And, with the newness, comes intensity, fascination, sadness. But not [sadness] in a sorrowful way. Perhaps a sadness of what you may have missed by not pursuing this communiqué sooner. A sadness for missing emotion of the heart. Sadness of not really believing… not mentioning any names. (Whispers) Is Kevin listening? (loudly) HAHA!

[FYI: Kevin and I are both life-long members of The Bull-Headed Skeptics Club. We have a secret handshake and everything.]

“Your ways are not foreign to us [Kevin]. If you had to work with this (pointing to self) you would understand. HAHA! It is true. He HAS driven me to drink. HAHA!

“Right now, the levity felt in your hearts, in your consciousness… do you feel that? (Snaps fingers 5 times) The guards come down so you may see. And what you see, my friends, is but merely the beginning. If you never do this again you will always have this experience. But, since you have touched it, taken it, you want to try it again, don’t you? Again… intoxicating. Allow the excitement, the wonder, the curiosity to lead you, entice you and, most importantly, BE you.

“Your soul craves the connection of ‘home’. The body knows it is home but you understand, now, the duality. What you see is not always what you get. For what you are seeing is always a little more complicated. Look beyond what SEEMS in order to see what IS.”

 

PAMELA

“Oh, he’s not going to be happy that I’m here. (Long sigh, as if exhaling smoke)

“Hello, my friends. I… am… Pamela. I am, as my host would say, a bit of a smart ass. But would you expect anything else? (Whispers) I don’t think so.

“Robert speaks of what is seen, what is felt, what is processed (she pronounced it as PRO-cessed). *I* understand the individual versions of what your eyes, what your mind, tells you. Rebeka, Love, first word that comes to your mind when I say the word, ‘Radio’?”

Rebeka: Frequency.

“Shawn… same question.”

Shawn: Transmission.

“Two different answers! Which is correct? Both! ‘Frequency’ for Rebeka, ‘Transmission’ for Shawn. Each of you has a set of, shall we say, encyclopedias in one’s mind, in one’s heart. Rely on these. Rely on these.

“One continually asks for a sign. We are not in the billboard business! But… but… beyond the billboards you seek—or THINK you should see—that is where the signs ARE. That is where the signs are. If you do not understand what you are feeling, focus on what you are seeing. How does THAT make you FEEL? And your answers can be there. It will not always be black and white. WHY? Because you have to work through it. THROUGH IT.

“Why? Why not? Think about that. WHY NOT? To desire knowledge, to crave knowledge, you must first dive into it. Play with it. And let it be whatever it needs to be for you. Each of you.”

 

ROBERT

“I am Robert. With our collective hearts, our collective thoughts, our collective intentions, and, of course, our collective love, you are thanked, you are appreciated. And, until next time, I am done.”

 

With those three little words—I AM DONE—Robert was “gone”. I know he wasn’t truly gone but his focus, his energy, was hurled back from hence it came. I always feel an odd emptiness when he has stepped back. I mean I’m plugged into this intense generator when, all of a sudden, the power source is shut off faster than he can snap my fingers. What never ceases to amaze me is the depth of Their brevity. The messages are always deceivingly short. But, if you re-read them, over and over, you’ll discover such complexity and influence within the few sentences that have been given. I’m always left in a state of awe. I know my own words. I know the pattern and rhythm of my own speech. I stare at the messages given and my first thought is always, “That is NOT me!”

If They can provide words through me that are not my own, then they can just as easily push, poke and prod me into other things that are not necessarily my own preferred actions, such as teaching. It isn’t fully me at the podium. I know that. But, if I truly did not want to teach, I would not be doing it (as much as I hate to admit it). I have had, from the onset, this simple philosophy regarding mediumship: I will quit the instant it stops being fun. The same can be said about teaching, too, I suppose. I like to push my students out of their comfort zone because I know they’ll learn from the experience. My Guides enjoy doing the exact same thing to me. What a friggin’ shock.

The lesson here? You need to embrace each and every part of yourself. The dark and the light, the cozy and the discomfort, the chocolate and the broccoli. It’s all there for a reason. As Pamela asked, “How does THAT make you FEEL?” Mull it over, kids. Class dismissed.

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.

Jpeg

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

February 5, 2015

Intention Intervention

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

– The Collective

  * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 * * *

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

– The One Who Soars with Eagles

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius

January 10, 2015

Ruth’s Rainbow

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 5:36 am
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18410007_mMy mother saves pretty much everything. Asking her to part with a pack of shoestrings or a mismatched handful of thumbtacks is the equivalent of spontaneously listing the highlights of the presidential administration of Millard Fillmore: It’s a noble and even challenging endeavor but it’s just not gonna happen. “I’ll be able to use that one of these days,” she’ll say. So the item is filed away again until some yet undetermined later date when a use can be found. While not proven, I am fairly confident that Amelia Earhart’s plane is tucked away somewhere in the back of my mother’s hall closet.

While rummaging through a few boxes my mother had tucked away for some future archeologist, I recently found the remnants of one of my first grade art projects. It was a large sheet of manila paper, now yellowed and brittle with age (much like myself, whereas I’ve gotten fatter and the sheet of paper seems to be the same size). I had cut two pictures of a car, front and rear views, from some long forgotten magazine and glued them on the piece. The front view, over the years, had fallen off and gone on its merry way, leaving only an ancient dried glue Rorschach test in its place. A band of blue sky was scribbled in crayon across the top of the sheet, a blazing yellow sun beaming from one corner. The empty space between the blue sky and the cars was dotted with a healthy dose of “M” birds in a rainbow of Crayola colors. Beneath it, in black crayon, I scrawled:

RainbowGraphic

Dorothy Parker moved down a chair as I laid claim to my rightful place at the Algonquin Roundtable.

Ruth&CAF

My first photo op with Aunt Ruth, August 1961.

“Her graham cracker pie is the best.” There’s a sentence that’s simplistic in both structure and truth. The truth is always simple. It’s just the way things are. Trust me when I tell you her graham cracker pie was truly the best, hands down. And it, too, was very simple. It consisted of a homemade graham cracker crust which was finely crumbled and held together with melted butter. The pie shell was then packed with a rich, sugary vanilla pudding filling. This round batch of gooey goodness was then topped with a billowing mile-high mound of homemade meringue light enough to host a communal congregation of cherubs. The meringue was browned oh-so-slightly and speckled with little beads of vanilla. My aunt told me the vanilla was “little dots of heaven” and I had no reason to disbelieve her. Everything she created included a little dash of heaven.

Aunt Ruth’s kitchen was an odd vortex, a window into another realm. It was a tiny room, so small you had to look at it twice to make sure you saw it. But whatever she conjured up in that small space was large enough to nourish a Kingdom and its surrounding territories…and, honestly, it often did. Her sugar cookies danced like the Rockettes on your tongue. Each and every one tasted of sheer synchronized perfection. Her chicken pot pie was so astonishingly good that, after years without it, I finally broke down and asked her to send me the recipe. She was tickled pink that I asked and promptly popped it out in the mail. When I opened the envelope I discovered it neatly written on a white index card that boasted a heading across the top: “From the Kitchen of Aunt Ruth.” That was so her. Things had to be done a certain way, the right way, and everything with a little flourish.

My favorite culinary nirvana that emitted from Aunt Ruth’s kitchen (other than her graham cracker pie, of course, which was so good it deserved its own “best of” list on which it was the only entry) was a delectable little morsel she simply called “brown noodles.” What’s that, you ask? Egg noodles cooked in beef broth. That’s it. Seriously, that’s all there was to it. Just egg noodles and broth. But you know what? Only she could make it right. My grandmother made them for me once and it just wasn’t the same. I don’t know HOW one can screw up cooking noodles in beef broth but it happened. My grandmother cooked it and it was “meh.” My aunt cooked it and my tummy petitioned to have a national holiday named in her honor. She had a knack, a special touch perhaps, that defies description.

Again, Aunt Ruth always wanted things to be done in a very specific way. She was always striving to make something lovely even more so. And not just in the kitchen. No, her abilities expanded well beyond the boundaries of the kitchen. While a lone flower can enhance a vase on a table just imagine what a handful of carefully arranged flowers would do! If you gave her a few strands of hay, some sticks and a bucket she would walk away with a beautiful bouquet while anyone else would just have a mound of mangy mulch. A new pair of shoes can accent an outfit but toss in a purse and matching earrings and you’ve got a fashion statement! The lady had style. She had a certain look about her and it spread to anything and everything she enhanced along her way. She could have marked her handiwork by posting a sign reading “RUTH WAS HERE” but it wasn’t necessary. You just knew.

If my aunt and uncle’s home was a living, breathing entity, then the kitchen was the heart. Its pulse could be felt, sensed, in every nook and cranny of the house. There’s a seemingly endless stream of photos of family meals. Countless celebrations recounted and collected via Kodak. The flipping of photos gives an astonishing timeline of fashion, family and mashed potato presentation through the decades. While the faces age and styles change, the look of satisfied happiness does not. And, at the center of it all, was the flawless handiwork of my Aunt Ruth.

Everything had to be done just so. Nothing could or would be discarded or dismissed. Just like her sister, everything was useful. And everything had to look a certain way. From table presentation to personal appearance to the placement of refrigerator magnets. There was no escaping it. She herself often admitted her own concern over what others—strangers included—thought about, well, everything that she did, cooked, cleaned or wore. But, with her distinctive style, the only thing anyone could honestly think was, “Wow! That’ the best!”

AuntRuthBirthday_smAunt Ruth was my partner in crime as I was growing up. She would help me sneak surprise holiday gifts for my mom into the house right under Mom’s nose. Mom was often mystified how her 13-year-old son was able to attain items only available from a store 20 miles away. Clearly, I was already flexing my telekinetic muscles. Aunt Ruth would encourage me to try new selections on a menu. She planted the seeds of my odd love of obnoxiously loud shirts. She encouraged my art, my writing, my theater work in high school and college and, eventually, my own mediumship. After seeing me give a mediumship group demonstration for the first time, she said, “You were born to do that, you know? You were just born to do that.” Yup, she got me. I could be myself around her, eccentric faults and all, and never be questioned. She would encourage me to push the envelope in order to pursue my anything-but-normal dreams. Like a home away from home, she was my Mom away from Mom.

My aunt and uncle’s home was the first family home I entered when I was adopted. I was in their living room before the one I would be sharing with my (NEW & IMPROVED!) Mom and Dad. Hers was the second phone number I ever memorized. Some of my fondest memories growing up were when I was allowed to spend a few days with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill without my mother or grandparents! Oh, the juvenile nirvana! My stays there always had a particular formula: a visit to Hill’s Department Store and Ace Hardware because they had the best toy departments in town. Mom would give me a spending allowance of $3 for these mad shopping binges. Yes, kiddies, you could get some pretty cool stuff for three bucks back in the pre-Amazon days. This venture would be followed by lunch at either a burger joint or pizza place. This was long before ordering mass produced chemically enhanced food through a flashing marquee from the coziness of your SUV. Then we’d go home where we would play whatever game I bought. She would then make dinner while I read a comic book or watched cartoon animals parade across the TV screen (clearly a precursor to what was lurking down the road for me).

UncleBillBirthday_1971smMy uncle, a local truck driver, often worked late. Sometimes he’d have dinner with us, sometimes not. When he’d come home after I had gone to bed, he’d make a point to come into the room I had commandeered, sit on the bed and talk with me about my day, his day and everything in between. I’d enthusiastically gush over all we’d done that day and he was seemingly hanging on my every blabbering word. He, too, always made me feel not just welcome, but one of his own family.

What seemed like such mundane things then now have such great significance. Funny how that happens, huh?

I always loved watching my aunt and uncle together. My parents divorced when I was very young so I didn’t have the experience of growing up in a two-parent household. Although I grew up in my grandparent’s home and saw them together every day, it just wasn’t the same. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill were of my mom’s generation so they gave me clearer idea of just how Team Parent worked. My mother had to pull double duty as both mom and dad so I found my aunt and uncle quite intriguing. I often ogled them as if they were my own little science experiment or a set of sea monkeys I could order from an ad in a comic book. They coordinated and worked together as a team with some duties overlapping and others being separate. The raising of the children was, of course, a team effort, as was care of the home. Uncle Bill handled the mind-numbing task of mowing the world’s biggest backyard from my adolescent point of view (I swear it was so big it could have had its own representative in the senate!). While he took great care in keeping a neatly trimmed yard, Aunt Ruth made a point to doll up the interior. The beauty of the home they shared was only enhanced by the same grace and love they had for one another. Sure, they squabbled like any couple, but their love was always evident no matter what the situation. She often referred to him as her sweetheart both before and after his death. She had each and every love letter my uncle had written to her while stationed overseas during WWII. Each one ended longingly with, “PS I Love You.” Even at 95 she would blush like a lovelorn teenager when talking about him.

Uncle Bill left us in 1985. Twenty-nine years later I watched his wife draw her last breath in order to rejoin the sweetheart she’d had since she was 15. A love for the ages if there ever was one.

It was fitting that she left us within the cozy confines of the home she established and ran with such love. It is where she wanted to be and, therefore, we did, too. She was surrounded by those she loved—her son & daughter-in-law, her baby sister, one of her six granddaughters & her husband, and an uncharacteristically quiet nephew donning an Hawaiian shirt that could be heard across the street. She was always one to think of others. She would place the comfort and wants of another ahead of her own. That’s why it is particularly fitting that her final act of coherence was to tell each of us, “I love you.” Once again, she did it her own way. The best way.

Her funeral service was held two days before Christmas in the church she loved nearly as much as her own home. Again, her command of doing things “just so” was fully evident. The sanctuary was decked out in full Christmas Pageantry. The serenity and beauty literally defied description. Rows of red and white poinsettia’s lined the alter. Every single petal was perfectly poised and positioned. The lights twinkled in a silent chorus from upon high. Sunshine glistened brightly through the stain glass windows illuminating the church interior as well as its inhabitants. Everyone was bathed in 61 degree sunlight. Yes, 61 degrees in late December. Unheard of in West Virginia. Leave it to my aunt to arrange the best weather! The service and surroundings were, as she often said, “a picture… it’s just a picture.”

Admittedly, I did not focus on the service itself but, instead, the energies joining us. I know she was there — I cannot tell you how often the guest of honor will give me a review of their own funeral — so I did my best to “listen.” It was, of course, difficult. It’s hard to take a clinical approach to a passing when you have such an emotional investment. At one point, I thought, assumedly to myself, “I wonder what it’s like for her right now…”

As clear as a bell, I “heard” Aunt Ruth’s all too familiar voice. In a tone of absolute awe, she simply said, “It’s a rainbow!” I was so stunned at the clarity that I believe I actually gasped. And then I smiled. Leave it to her to give the best answer.

So, like her graham cracker pie, her attire & attitude, her outlook & outreach, Aunt Ruth is, and shall always be, the best.

Copyright © 2015, Charles A. Filius

November 20, 2014

The Impact of Brevity

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 6:04 am
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On November 19, 1968, my mother, her friend Madeline and I were out for the day. Well, they were out and about for the day and I was dragged along because, like any 7 year old, I had no choice in the matter. The M&M’s, Mom & Madeline, sat on the front seat of Mom’s white Chevy Impala, with my mother’s usual death grip on the steering wheel. I lodged myself just below the lone radio speaker awkwardly implanted in the middle of the back seat. Every time she’d hit a pothole the back of my head would bounce on the hard plastic speaker casing and I would just giggle to myself. That explains a lot if you think about it… I wasn’t wearing a seat belt because it was the 60’s and seat belts were more decorative than anything else in those days. It was a unique era. Smoking was still oh-so-very-cool, cat-eye glasses were all the rage, Adorn Hair Spray was best bought in bulk and seat belts were just a quaint fad that would go, one would assume, the way of Stretch Armstrong and the Kodak Flash Cube. Jeez, I’m showing my age.

ANYWAY…

For whatever reason, we ended up at the home of friends of Madeline’s. The Kniceley clan consisted of a husband, wife, and a passel of kids. The husband worked the night shift as a coal miner at the Farmington Number 9 Mine. I played with the other kids as Mrs. Kniceley played hostess to Madeline and my mom. At one point, while nursing a glass of milk, I walked into the family living room and saw Mr. Kniceley resting on the sofa. The TV was on but he wasn’t facing it. He was dressed in his work clothes, his feet clad in heavy light colored socks, and his work boots were placed neatly on the floor by the plaid sofa. He lifted his head, smiled and said, “Hi” to me. I responded in same and toddled out of the room. I was clearly the same engaging conversationalist at that age as I am now…

One of the Kniceley kids, over the course of the evening, gave me a silly football player doll-like-thing. It was about 9” tall, FarmingtonFootballlean & lanky with totally flat feet. It was encased in a soft cloth uniform supported by a flimsy internal wire skeletal frame which allowed me to bend him into absurd positions, sort of like Gumby. It couldn’t stand on its own. I don’t even remember why they gave it to me. I assume they found it as useless as I did, so they dumped it onto some unsuspecting kid.

In the early hours of the next day, November 20, the Farmington #9 Mine blew up. It was worst mine disaster in the state and one of the worst in the country. The explosion was felt where I lived, in a town about 12 miles away. I remember our house shaking in the wake of the blast, the windows rattling in unison. 99 miners were initially inside. They managed to rescue 21 but 78 were lost. Mr. Kniceley was one of those who perished. This tragedy occurred in 1968 but his body was not recovered until 1972. There are approximately 19 still entombed in the old shafts.

I still have that football player doll. I would never want to part with it. That moment in time truly hit me hard. I only saw the man for a brief minute but I can still remember him in vivid detail. Whenever I hear of a mine disaster anywhere in the world my mind flashes back to that night and that man. The speed in which a life can be taken is a solemn reminder of the brevity of it all. Life can be staggering and overwhelming at times. No doubt about that. We have to remember that, no matter what, life is a precious gift. It may not always seem that way, of course. There are days when you’re handed a stupid football figure but, when some time passes, you realize it can still be cherished even among the tragedies. My recommendation? Embrace it all.

KniceleyTombstonePhoto courtesy of Katina Peters

Copyright © 2014, Charles A. Filius

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.”

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