Charyl Says

The Universe Thinking
October 2, 2015, 3:24 pm
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Within my heart
beats iron,
forged in the stars;
with time and distance
so unimaginable,
the elements that
bridge my synapses
can barely comprehend them.

The Universe thinking about Itself.
-C. Miller, 2015



There Are People…
September 4, 2015, 4:34 pm
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There Are People…

Every weekend I get a little piece of my heart ripped from my chest.  I bear the burden alone and then I come back to emptiness.

There are people who like every picture I post and reply with an encouraging word.

There are people who offer help on bills when I’m falling short.

There are people who want to fool around and hang out when it suits them.  Nothing more.

There are people who want to get together for a movie or whatever else every few months to catch up and talk about the superficial things of life; sometimes purely out of pity, sometimes because they simply have nothing better to do.

There are people who ask how things are going… to be polite at best, nosy at worst.

There are people—unhappily married—who crave the attention they think I can give them, but hide it from the rest of the world because they’re too afraid and they know it’s not right.

There are people who wish I lived closer because they’ve always wanted to be with someone like me… someday… when they’re ready for all that.

There are people who wish I would be with them not because they love me, but because they need someone to take care of them.

There are people—quite a few—who already have spouses and best friends and significant others and families at home that message every so often to check in and tell me they’re praying for me.  They mean well.

I am thankful for them all.

But where is my sanctuary?  Where is my partner, my best friend—the one I can come home to?  Where is the person I can count on to feel safe sharing a deeper, more intimate connection; the person with whom I can cry and share joy and travel through the years?  My life is half over and I’m tired of “someday.”

You begin to realize that no one really wants you… at least not that much.  There will always be something or someone more important.

No matter what I do to keep myself busy, to keep social, every weekend I come home from my daughter to silence, missing another little piece of my heart with no way to replace it.  Eventually it will be gone.



Then and Now

I’ve always found side-by-side comparisons of the past and the present intriguing. It sets the mind to contemplating time, history, and how we energetically imprint ourselves on our surroundings.  I could spend hours exploring sites like What Was There and have even attempted a few of my own “then and now” photographic representations.  Perhaps I’m biased, but this is one of my favorites: a house on the west side of Pana (Illinois) that has been in my family for over 100 years.  I spent my teenage years in this house and my parents still live there.  My grandfather is one of the boys sitting in the front; he was 94 when he passed away in 2010.  The picture on the left was taken in 1918 and the right in 2015 (click to enlarge):


Surnames associated: Denbow, Johnson, Jones, Castle, Mack, Tarvin, Beebe, Wolf, and Todd.

“What’s Next” by Dustin Pari, a Review

I recently had the pleasure of reading Dustin Pari’s book What’s Next: an Inspiring Autobiographical Tale of Insanity and Awesomeness (2015).  I first learned of Dustin through his addition to SyFy Channel’s Ghosthunters series several years ago. I enjoyed his presence on the show but I never really took notice of him until I saw an episode of Ghosthunters International (a spin-off of the original series).  In this particular episode—in some dark and stormy castle overseas—Dustin and a fellow investigator sat together talking in the middle of the night while waiting to attempt to document any paranormal phenomena that would present itself.  In hushed tones, Dustin began talking about why people were so interested in ghosts and the paranormal in the first place; why people sat in darkened buildings in the middle of the night—camera-ready—just to capture some glimpse of The Great Beyond.  I cannot recall the exact words that were used–but to summarize, he reasoned that ultimately the purpose behind the pursuit was to prove that something beyond the physical world exists… something that would point to the existence of a Higher Power and a reality besides our own.  I have had a life-long interest in the paranormal.  For many generic paranormal seekers or thrill-hunters, the deeper realization of what the spiritual world means to us does not occur to them.  That’s not the case for me.  When I heard this conversation between Dustin and his colleague, my ears immediately perked up and I began to be intrigued by the man behind the words.  I eventually came across him on social media and began to follow his posts.  I quickly found out he was much more than a superficial para-celeb.  He was (and is) a deeply spiritual human being with an excellent sense of humor and whimsy—and a passion for lifting up others.

What’s Next (edited and forwarded by Dustin’s friend, Jessica Jewett) begins in 2011.  Told from one airplane seat to the next over the years, each chapter contains Dustin’s unique brand of wordplay and delightful eccentricity.  It is his self-proclaimed “literary misadventure.”  Dustin gives a glimpse of his childhood and the single paranormal experience which piqued his curiosity in the paranormal many years ago.  He explains the random, spliced nature of his thought processes, how the love of music propels him, and how he acquired the moniker of “Paranormal Rockstar.” With boundless energy, he “hustles” through life normally working at least two (if not three or four) jobs at any given time—never losing his sense of wonder or gratitude.

Attending school and going into the television production, reporting, and videography fields as a younger man, he rose in the ranks at his local television station—and was living what felt to be a good life as a bachelor with ample pay in a successful position.  But as the world changed with the events of 9/11, so did Dustin’s outlook on life.   Wanting to get out of the ratings-driven field of television, he trained to become an EMT and firefighter; immensely enjoying the feeling of making a difference and of helping others.  He describes the struggle of forcing himself (or being forced) to make risky changes and the sometimes disappointing (but always serendipitous) results.  He writes, “Sometimes we think we know our destiny.  We think our dreams belong to us when in fact we are a small part of a much bigger picture…”

Dustin describes his disillusion with church dogma and his struggle to find faith and Christ.  He takes us to the time he first met his wife, the birth of his daughter, and the love and joy he has found in family.  His appreciation of donuts (D-O-N-U-T-S), pie, and other delightful treats is made loud and clear.  The reader is made privy to how Dustin initially became a cast member of Ghosthunters (and later Ghosthunters International) and his joys and struggles of being a part of that franchise—particularly the experiences overseas and away from his family and new daughter—and ultimately the reason he chose to be with his family over the fame and money of being on a traveling television show.

Ever the “hustler,” Dustin juggled his family responsibilities with his job in the medical field during the day and being a camera-man for Pawsox baseball games at night—adding in the occasional lecture or appearance. Spending days on the road, much of the time his slept in his beloved 99 B3000 Mazda, Angelina.  He tells the reader about the creation of his online ministry “The Patch Ministry” (in which he spends a great deal of time offering encouragement, love, and the teachings of Christ to his friends and fans) and the struggles and hatemongers he had to overcome because of it. He describes how he experienced the ups and downs of working for years to create his own paranormal television show with a spiritual bent in order to get more exposure for his ministry and help more people—and while doing so met quite the cast of characters.  But ultimately fate stepped in, turning the tides and leading him to the opportunities (including a limited return to filming with Ghosthunters), work, and family time in Rhode Island that he currently enjoys. He explains why he lives his life the way he does, “I always treat others as I want to be treated… I try to be inspirational in all that I say and do, not because I think I’m a big deal or that I should be a role model, but because I believe that is simply how we should all conduct ourselves, living lives of light, love, mercy, encouragement, truth, and peace” and, “I’m all about doing what’s right over doing what’s easy or what’s only right for me.”

While life may not have gone exactly as planned for Dustin, it worked how it was supposed to—and being a firm believer in fate over happenstance, Dustin makes it clear that he’s grateful and that life is good.  As most happy people do, he enjoys the little pleasure life has to offer. Fans even got to see a glimpse of Dustin in a Dunkin Donuts commercial last year (—another calling card of providence in his life.

“What’s Next” is an entertaining read filled with musings and silliness on just about every page–but more importantly, it’s a chronicle of a life being lived well, regardless of the proverbial roadblocks thrown in the way.  It is brimming with life lessons, inspiration, encouragement, the love of God, and a “Never Give Up” attitude.

While the book is more about this side rather than The Other Side, Dustin writes, “The unseen spiritual realm is around us at all times.  It is alive, more so than we are now.  It is boundless and glorious.  It is everything and then some.  I’ll see you there someday.  Look me up. We can grab a slice of pie at the malt shoppe with Frank Sinatra.”

When my times comes, make it Elvis and I might just take you up on that offer, Mr. D. Pari.

-Charyl Miller

To get your copy of What’s Next:

Dustin on Facebook and Twitter

The Patch Ministry on Facebook and Twitter   whatsnext

Old State Burial Ground (Illinois)
December 3, 2013, 12:28 am
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The small city of Vandalia in Central Illinois is one of the first capitols of the state.  It’s also one of the first places Abraham Lincoln practiced law and politics (before the capitol moved to the its current location in Springfield).  There are a handful of interesting and historic places to visit in Vandalia.  Probably the most well-known is that of the Old State Capitol building, as well as the Highway 40 monument and interpretive center; but another interesting spot that some may overlook is that of the Old State Burial Ground/Cemetery.

In 1823 a plot of land was set aside near the capitol to bury those who happened to die while serving in the legislature.   A handful of notable politicians, businessmen, and war heroes call this ground their final resting place (though most interred here are regular citizens).  For more detailed information about the burials here, visit:

Recently, I visited Vandalia (as I had done many times in childhood) and took a leisurely walk through the Old Burial Ground, examining some of the old and interesting stones.  What I found most fascinating about this spot, is that Abraham Lincoln was known to have attended the funerals of some of his colleagues on the very grounds I was strolling.  Though living in two completely different centuries… mine and President Lincoln’s paths seem to be crossing often lately!


Below are some pictures I took from the Old State Burial Ground, plus the nearby larger Vandalia community cemetery.  They are no where near representative of all the photos that could be taken of this spot, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.










Another Day. Another Storm.
November 28, 2013, 8:30 pm
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(Please be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post.)

Since childhood I’ve had a fascination with thunderstorms–especially those involving tornadic activity.  Growing up in the Midwest–and living for several years on the Atlantic Coast of Florida and in Texas (among other places)–I’ve experienced my fair share of these storms.  I know that a large thunderstorm in late Fall isn’t exactly what a person should expect to happen in this area of the country–but happen it did–on Sunday, November 17 of 2013.

It swept through a handful of states; Illinois being the hardest hit with the towns of Washington and Gifford experiencing devastating damage (to help, please visit this site: ).  Though a small tornado was confirmed (see the Weather Service’s picture below)–thankfully, other than a row of downed power lines and some outlying damage to cars and roofs–the small town I’m currently living in (Pana) received mostly minor cosmetic and tree-related damage.


Around noon the wind began to pick, kicking the Fall leaves upward into a frenzy.  The clouds raced by low overhead.  A scattering of rain fell from an ominously-dark sky.  There was word that a large tornado had flattened a town minutes before, just a couple of counties north.  Watches turned into warnings.  And then the eerie wail of the city’s tornado siren echoed off the houses and shot down the deserted streets.


I sprinted across the backyard to the garage to retrieve my teenage son, grabbed my special needs daughter, my purse, and all the pets I could find and secured them safely in the basement.  But there is something about a storm… something that draws you in and dares you to stay and watch.  I decided to leave everyone underground and sneak back upstairs for a few moments.

I stood at the front door–video rolling–and waited.  I didn’t capture an actual tornado, but you can see from the drastic change in the wind and rain the moment a funnel either passed over or very close by.  It may not look like much–but according to the Weather Service these winds were around 110 mph–and were strong enough to snap and knock over a half-mile of power-lines poles a couple of blocks away:


The winds were blowing parallel for most of the video, but at the end they suddenly shifted, coming directly at me.  It was enough to knock me backward into the house and slam the outside door in my face (no laughing at my reaction!).   I immediately shut the inside door and ran to the basement (nearly tripping over and yelling at one of the cats that had happened to sneak back upstairs).  This is partly because being suddenly thrown backward startled me—and partly over concern about the safety of the kids in the basement–but really, it was more than that.  This may sound like I’m a subscriber to animism, but every time I’ve experienced a storm–particularly hurricanes and those containing tornadic activity–there is a sense of an intelligent force; as if nature gathers its energy into an ominous, thinking beast capable of guiding itself across the landscape.  It felt like I had been watching a monster for several minutes–and at the moment the wind shifted, it turned and noticed me, charging with an almost supernatural ferocity.

For 25 years (since childhood) I’ve had variations of lucid dreams wherein I’m standing outside the house watching a storm.  Without warning, a funnel dips down from the sky directly across the street, heading right for me (and anyone else I happened to be with–which changes from dream to dream).  In the dreams, I always just barely make it underground before the swirling mass hits, destroying the house above me. In the video when the wind turned, there was an overwhelming sense that something was about to drop from the sky in front of me; that the monster from my dreams had noticed me.

Looking back I wish I had stood my ground, pushed off my instinct, and faced it.  The house was fine after all was said and done, and if I had continued to film, I may have captured the huge limb that snapped off the tree out front and covered the front lawn seconds after I shut the door.  But it is what it is.  Another day, another storm.

***As a side note… I got a call from my mother right as the storm was hitting that day.  My father was having chest pains and she had taken him to the hospital.  Most of the E.R. staff was in the basement!  They checked him out, but could find no explanation for what caused the pains.  Talk about an odd day!

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Coal Creek Cemetery

Recently my small brood and I decided to have a local mini-adventure.  There aren’t many truly adventure-worthy (and free) spots in this area of the state–but if one looks hard enough, places can be found; for us that place was Coal Creek Cemetery (AKA Mount Cemetery) a few miles outside of Pana, Illinois.  Only a couple of miles away from my deceased grandfather’s farm in rural Central Illinois, it had been childhood since I had last visited this cemetery.

A short, country drive toward the Rhodes-France Scout Reservation/Camp brought us to this cemetery.  (Click Here for a map.)  Once we arrived at the sign denoting the cemetery’s presence, we parked and began walking.  It was about a mile walk (one-way) on a grassy path between fields on a cool, but clear Fall afternoon.  The path gave way to woods which brought us to the cemetery, neatly tucked into a hidden treeline.  Even though the cemetery was overgrown with dried prairie grass, it was a beautiful place.  Old, discolored stones peeked up from the tufts of grass.  The late afternoon sun filtered through trees that were ablaze with orange and red leaves.  It wasn’t a huge cemetery–but fairly large as old rural cemeteries go.  Situated on a wooded bluff and hidden from the world, it gave off a magical feel.   I’m unsure if there are any paranormal stories associated with this graveyard (other than ones proliferated by nearby Boy Scouts sitting around campfires and teenagers out trying to find a secluded night-time spot)–but I sensed nothing untoward here.  In fact, it felt quite peaceful.   The last burial seems to have taken place in 1914, but most of the stones contain dates from throughout the 1800’s (including some war veterans).

While those buried here all seem to be ordinary folk and the stones are modest, a visit to this cemetery is a good way to get out and do something interesting, connect with the local past, get some exercise, and see some beautiful natural scenery.  Remember to be respectful of those buried here.  For more information about the burials and location visit: