Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today I lost one of the most important women in my life.

My grandmother “mimo” Toyce Francis Smith was an amazing woman with a heart of pure soul and gold. While growing up, Mimo lived about seven hours away in Louisville Kentucy so I only saw her once or twice per year. When we would go down there and stay with her, it was usually Thanksgiving time and be a whirlwind of food, family and of course “day after Thanksgiving” shopping trips. Due to the hustle and bustle, I never really appreciated or heeded the grandmotherly advice that Mimo would attempt to offer. Sure, like any young person and teenager, I would listen but not necessarily comprehend what I was being told.

Fast forward to 1992 when I was faced with no summer job in Central Illinois after attending my first year at Eureka College. Since money was a necessity and I had nothing to lose with very few options, I called Mimo and Coy to see if I could come live with them for the summer knowing that job prospects would be greater in a big city. Luckily they opened their house to me and the re-education of Wade would begin. Due to a job that required me to be at work from 5AM-2PM, I had most of the afternoon off and would spend a majority of that time discussing life with Mimo and Coy. We discussed my failures in Pharmacy School and my triumphs at Eureka College and I was searching for myself trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

That summer I realized just how deep Mimo’s faith in God ran. She spend many an afternoon teaching me to trust in God’s word, look for his signs, make the right decisions and follow my heart. I learned more about Mimo and more about myself in those two months than I had in the previous 21 years. We prayed together everyday and before I left her house that summer to return to Eureka, she told me that her prayers had told her that I would be introduced to a very special girl soon that I would settle down with. Of course two weeks later I meant Jeanne before classes even started at Eureka. When I took Jeanne to meet Mimo for the first time, I believe Mimo was more smitten with her than I. After that summer, I started to talk to Mimo on a more frequent basis and the jokes began that we believed that Mimo had the “direct uplink” to God. Her faith ran so deep that she would know things before they happened being told to her by God himself. While I have to admit that at first I was very skeptic, after it happens time and time again, you really start to believe in higher callings and higher beings.

While I got to know Mimo so well that summer of ’92, I was fortunate enough to live with her and Coy again for a short time in 1996. This time they opened their house to both Jeanne and I. While we only lived there for three months until we both found jobs and were able to move out onto our own, those three months changed our lives forever. Again I was blessed to spend more time having my chats with Mimo and Jeanne was able to experience chats with Mimo as well. Even after we moved out, for the next three years, we went back at least 1 or 2 days per week to just hang out and talk with her. Jeanne and I’s life together really got its start in Louisville thanks to Mimo.

Since moving away in 1999, there have been very few times that I haven’t talked to Mimo on the phone at least once every two weeks. She got me through Jeanne’s father’s passing, many relocation decisions and most importantly through our experience with pregnancies, miscarriages, and adoptions. She knew Paige was coming into our life before we did (again told by God). One of my favorite stories to tell involves Mimo. Jeanne was about 7 weeks pregnant with JD when we heard his heartbeat on a Thursday. We hadn’t told anyone yet about being pregnant since this was our 7th pregnancy and didn’t want to burden our friends and families with another miscarriage. Since we had never heard a heartbeat in the previous 6 pregnancies, we were extremely excited to share the news so naturally one of the first people I had to call was Mimo. After telling her the great news she didn’t seem to be as excited as I was and very seriously said, “honey, what would you do if you got a call about an adoption in the next week?” Of course I brushed it off and said “Mimo, people usually wait months, if not years, to adopt so I am not too worried about that happening”. Her answer was to “just think about it”. Fast forward to TWO DAYS later and what happens?? We get the call from doctor that Paige had been born and we had four hours to make a decision to adopt. Mimo knew all along that this was going to happen and claims that Paige was very special to our family and chosen by God specifically for us. Paige has a very special place in Mimo’s heart and will be watched over very carefully. A talk with her a couple years ago made me realize what she has experienced throughout her life. Some of the major events she was fortunate enough to witness:

First commercial radio transmissions to satellite radio
Creation and destruction of the Soviet Union
1st Winter Olympics
Birth of Mickey Mouse
Great Depression
WW II/Korean War/Vietnam War/Gulf Wars
Birth of TV to Color TV to Cable TV to Satellite TV
Creation of commercial airlines, first helicopter flight, space travel and moon landing
Creation of the Interstate Highway system
Personal Computers, laptop computers and internet
Cellular phones

Mimo always told me how special I was to her and how much I meant to her. Even though I told her on more than one occasion, I don’t think she ever comprehended how much she meant to me and how much of an impact she has had on my life. I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without her wisdom, knowledge and belief in God’s work. She’s gone to finally meet the man that she spoke with daily and lead a better life now. I know she will check in on me from time to time and I only hope that each time I make her smile and filled with pride to see what she helped create.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Updates again and what the hell was (am) I thinking?

First, i want to knock out a couple updates.

1. my stepmom is still going through her chemo. she has 2 treatments left and then 25 radiation treatments. I really hope the radiation treatments treat her better. The meds she has to take after her chemo has really made her miserable for the past 6 weeks or so. She feels really tired and has constant flu like symptoms making her not even leaving the house for much. We haven't been able to see her due to our illnesses so hopefully things will turn around soon. My dad seems to be holding up pretty good but i can tell in his voice that there are times that he is concerned for her.

2. Jeanne's dilemma - what to say here...same situation. She is strongly considering going back into teaching full time and puting the PhD on hold for a little while. I hope she can figure it out soon for her sake.

3. working out - Jeanne and I joined a new gym that is really nice and it seems to have finally got me off my fat ass. I have been working out 5 days per week for the past 3 weeks and started a new diet today that seems to be a diet i could keep with for life rather than just a 6 week or 12 week thing. The working out feels great so far so i hope the diet works out to be sustainable and i lose a lot of weight before my 20th class reunion in July. I signed up to do a triathlon in June but not sure yet whether i will make that. The new gym doesn't have a pool so i am not sure i will be able to train for the swim. We'll see..

Now onto the What the Hell was (am) I Thinking???

1. My 20th high school class reunion - well i plan events for a living so it seemed to me that since i was VP of my senior class and no one else is stepping up to plan the event that naturally I should plan it. I can plan events with the best of people BUT what i didn't plan on was how hard it was going to be to track down everyone from my class (and we ONLY HAD 63 PEOPLE). Between people moving away and girls losing their maiden name, it has been hard. Not too mention it seems that most of my classmates don't talk to each other still so the ones that I can get in touch with aren't able to help me with any new numbers. so now i am asking myself, what the hell was I thinking in volunteering to plan this thing???

2. Marathon - a couple guys i have dinner with every Wednesday night have talked me into running a marathon in Las Vegas in December. I have tried to train for a couple 1/2 marathons that take place in the Spring and never make it because i just can't get motivated to train on treadmills all winter long. With the spring, summer and fall ahead I think i can actually plan on giving this the old college try. I will be able to run outside more and Vegas is very flat. There is a 6 hour time limit so my goal is 5:58 at this point. Again I ask myself what the hell am I thinking so keep checking back here to follow my progress once my "official" training starts. I want to lost about 20-30 pounds before I start the official training so it may be a little while.

3. Moving again - We just arrived here in Champaign in August 2007 and already we are discussing moving again. This time for the long haul. We have always talked about moving back to Tennessee and that is still an option. We are going to a teacher fair in Murfreesboro TN in April to test the waters. HOWEVER, we are also seriously considering moving back to my hometown area of Varna or Lacon IL if Jeanne could get a job there. Some of the houses for sale are extremely inexpensive allowing us the affordability that if my clientele ever left my company, I should be able to find some other career that could still pay the bills. There are many days that I really miss living in a small town and I know that my kids would love growing up there just as I did. So am I crazy?? What the hell am I thinking???

I just have to put my faith in God that he will lead us in the direction that he has planned for us and then follow his lead. Until next time....keep on keepin on

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life Can Be Crazy Sometimes

Well it's been a long time again for me to post here so here go the updates again

1. My stepmom Sharon is doing ok with her Chemo treatments. She's had some rough weeks but she's staying strong throughout it. The doctor is still telling her they got all of the cancer out and that the chemo and the radiation to follow are just precautionary and she should be playing golf by May.

2. Job in Louisville - Whew where to start!! Since my last posting I have been to visit them twice and in January during my visit it seemed we had everything worked out for me to work for them on a contract basis while stayin in IL and working from home. They even introduced me at their big meeting to the entire staff. Unfortunately the contract seemed to start changing shortly after I arrived back home and the communication started to break down between us. Also the realization of how much travel was going to be involved started to put a lot of stress on Jeanne and I. With Jeanne working fulltime and the kids going to two seperate schools with different times it's hard for her to take care of them when i am out of town. While I was in Orlando last week, it became very obvious that this new client was going to be more challenging than I thought so I withdrew the contract. They were very disappointed and really tried to talk me into staying but I just couldn't do it. Chalk it up to bad timing. They really have a great company and I know they will succeed with or without me. The bad part is that I walked away from some pretty good money but realized along the way that money wouldn't be worth the stress on my family's daily life.

3. Jeanne's dilemma - Jeanne still hasn't figured out what she wants to be when she grows up, LOL. She is looking at a different track for her PhD and considering going back into teaching when she is done so she can spend more time with the kids as they grow up. The goal is still to get back to Tennessee when she's done so we haven't taken our eye off of the prize yet.

4. Working out - Man, I don't know where to begin anymore. I am just miserable with myself. I am almost at my heaviest EVER and can't seem to get motivated to eat healthy and start working out. You know that 1/2 marathon I was scheduled to do in April? yea, that ain't happening. I have registered for a triathlon on June 6th so that's my motivation to get my fat ass off the couch and start training. By turning away the new client and just having my 1 client I have no excuses. My family doesn't have the greatest heart history so I have to get started for the sake of my wife and kids.

5. The kids are having a good winter thus far even though they haven't gotten to go sledding yet. Right after Christmas we took them to an indoor waterpark in Indianapolis that was a lot of fun for everyone. We plan on going back again before it warms up. Man if I had the money, i would open one of those waterparks here in Champaign or Bloomington and make a fortune.

Even though i have been blessed lately I have a couple friends who have been hit hard by the economy. One of them is one of my best friends who was laid off from his job a few weeks ago. I know he received a severance package but not sure he is having much luck finding a new job yet. Please help me in praying for him to find something new that he will enjoy. I would love to find the right client to add to my company that he could work with me on. My other friend is about to lose everything they have. Their company shut down and is about to lose their house. He is trying to find anotehr job as well and looking to move anywhere so I am praying hard for them as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Updates, Updates, Updates

Well, it's been awhile thanks to many things happening around the Koehler household.

Updates from my previous posts..

1. My stepmom is doing pretty good so far with her treatments. She had her 3rd round of chemo this week and the day after she has to get a shot to help offset some of the after effects. She can't taste anything that she eats or drinks any longer due to the chemo and the shot makes her have flu like symptoms on the Saturday after. She started losing her hair a couple weeks ago so she decided to shave it off rather than deal with the mental images of losing it. I don't blame her, I would do the same thing if it were me. Due to the cold weather and the time of year where it seems everyone has a cold or something she's not getting out much which i hate for her. I wish her and Dad could fly to Maui tomorrow to soak up the warm sun. This will be the first year in probably 18 years they havent gone to Maui for a month during the winter and I know it must be wreaking havoc on them. Please keep the prayers going for her so she can beat this thing.

2. Job in Louisville - well the company in Louisville offered me a full time gig but I had to turn it down. It was quite enough money and the thought of trying to sell our house and relocate in this market was pleasant. There hasnt been a house sold in our subdivision since July. The good news is that the company and I are still talking about a partnership. I may go to work for them on a contract basis and work from home here in IL. If things work out well and the economy rebounds, who knows, maybe we will end up in Louisville in the next couple years.

3. Halloween - I hated missing my kids halloween. I had so much fun taking them around our neighborhood last year. Jeanne took them around her mom's neighborhood this year but they didnt get as much candy. I will have to make it up to them next year and really hit the jackpot on the candy front

4. Jeanne's career - Jeanne still isn't sure of her future path. In the meantime she is going back to work full time at the UofI in her dept. It's a good job that pays decent and allows her to continue to take 2 classes per semester as well as get us good health insurance. She still has some DEEP soul searching to do to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up :-).

5. 1/2 marathon training - SUCKS...i havent even started yet and I can't figure out why. I have gained all of my weight back and now feel like complete dogshit. I can't seem to get motivated to eat clean and start working out again and I know I NEED to. I have really even become somewhat depressed about the state of shape I am in. I am going to find a good nutritionist after the first of the year to try and help me eat better and to quit eating out so much. I fear that if I dont get this in check soon I am putting my health and life in risk and I want to make sure to see my kids grow up.

Speaking of growing up. My former stepdad, Jim Frawley, passed away this week at the age of 69. He was married to my mom when I was 6 years old and they divorced when I was 17. He was a police officer who eventually became sheriff of our county while I was growing up and taught me a lot about life. Obviously he was a big part of my life during the impressionable years and did a great job of helping to raise me with the right morals. Even though I had only seen Jim a few times over the past 20 years, the news hit me a little harder than I thought it would. I went to the visitation last night and got to see my ex step brothers and sister which was glad to see. I wish it had been under different circumstances and we had a few moments to chat and catch up with each other. I am grateful to them for sharing their Dad with me for the 11 years. I hope he is looking down upon me and proud of what I have become of myself since he had a lot to do with it.

Unfortunately we lost another very important Jim in our lives recently as well. Jeanne's Uncle Jim passed away the Monday before Thanksgiving. He died suddenly while still sitting in his lay-z-boy chair with the TV on at the age of 64. Jim never married or have any kids so Jeanne, her brother and sister along with her cousins Keith, Bruce and Peggy were like his kids. We flew down to Tampa on Thanksgiving Day with Jeannes mom, brother and sister to attend the service and to also clean out Jim's house and belongings. Man was he a packrat. It tooks us a few days of cleaning out old papers, clothes, etc. and the dumpster was full when we got done. His passing makes me again thank God for everything I have been blessed with and how short life can be sometimes. The trip was enjoyable (so to speak) though since we don't get to hang out as an entire family often and the kids got to play at the beach with their dress clothes on after Jim's service which they thought was so cool of me to let them do. It was the first time for them on the beach and they loved getting the shells and picking up the crabs crawling around. We plan on going back this Spring under better circumstances to really enjoy the area.

It's Christmas time and I just recently finally got in the spirit. I am really looking forward to next week as the kids make this holiday more enjoyable each year. Merry Christmas to everyone reading this and may God bless you for the holidays as well as in the year 2009.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Chaos

Well, things are still a changin....

My stepmom Sharon went through surgery with flying colors. The tumor was a little bigger than they anticipated and one of the 3 lymph nodes tested positive so they took out another 11 lymph nodes but thankfully all of those tested negative. They still want her to go through a round of chemo and radiation. She meets with the oncologist this week so figure out her chemo schedule and her radiation therapy will start in January. Due to the treatments, this will be the first year that i can remember that her and my Dad won't be going to Maui during the winter.

I met with a client on Friday expecting an offer from the company and ended up spending most of the day in meetings with them. During the last 20 minutes they started to talk about an offer but couldn't give me a formal offer yet. Monday was suppose to be the final offer but nothing yet. I have no idea what to expect from them so i will wait and see.

I have to miss my kids halloween this week which i am a little bummed out about. I have to fly to New York this Friday to meet with another client and won't get home until 9pm Friday night. I had a lot of fun with them last year but since Jeanne had to miss last year she will get to have the fun this time.

Jeanne has decided to change course a bit and switch to a E.D.D degree instead of a Ph.D. The EDD degree is more corporate based and I think she will enjoy it much more. She is also looking at going back to work full time at UofI since we may end up needing the additional income.

For those of you that see my Facebook page, you can see that I enjoyed Beijing more than I thought I would. The city was amazing and the great wall was incredible. The long 13 hour flight still sucked but at least it ended up being a good conference event. If you want to see more pictures please visit my picassa page...

Emily Guderjan has stated that she plans on running the 1/2 marathon with me in April here in Champaign. THERE...its been stated publicly, now you can't back out Em!! The worst part is that her skinny little ass will barely train for it and STILL end up beating me.

I received some sad news Saturday. My former boss Phillip Cooke (76 years old) passed away from a sudden heart attack in Chicago while riding on the "el". He and his life parter of 44+ years were going to a party when it happened. I feel really sad for his parter Daniel to have to go through that ordeal. It's horrible when it happens but even worse when it happens in a public place like on a subway train. Phillip was kind enough to hire me into the association management/event planning industry when i had no experience and this industry has treated me well over the past 12 years.

Finally..since I have lost some income it's time Jeanne and I got serious about our finances. We are going to look around to find a good financial advisor to help us figure out our future and pay off some debt. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Things, they are a changin

Ok, I am out of my funk now.....

since we have rearranged the home office, things have been going crazy. I can't say much about my career right now but i have 3 things a brewin. Hopefully as soon as I return from China I can put some more clarity into my future. Now that I seem to have some things moving forward, Jeanne is going through her midlife career crisis. Her phD program is not going as well as she hoped. She's doing great in it but it's taking more time away from home and the kids than she realized so she's struggling with what to do next.

Some random thoughts and observances lately......

1. Mike and Cheri Boles posted on Facebook about the movie Fireproof which i had never heard of. After viewing the trailer, I had this sudden urge (so strong that i can't explain) it to go see this movie. I took an afternoon off a few days later and went to see the movie by myself. WOW, what a strong message for a movie. Luckily my marriage is very strong so i didn't have to relate to the plot but it made me realize that i don't put enough into my marriage and my life with God. If anyone reading this (anyone???) is married (happily or not) i strongly suggest going to see this movie. It's got a very strong christian theme to it and it's a low budget film with Kirk Cameron but i promise you if your marriage is struggling (and i know one of my friends who is REALLY struggling) please go see this movie. The message is very strong and believable.

2. i am leaving for Beijing China Thursday and for the first time I am nervous about my travels. I think mainly its the 13 hour flight from Ohare to Beijing. I don't like being cooped up for that long but i downloaded the first season of Burn Notice/Iron Man/the Big Lebowski and Forgetting Sarah Marshall as well as 2 books. I am sure Beijing will be amazing and i will take plenty of photos. I am helping host an event on the Great Wall of China next Thursday night which should be amazing. They are even letting us fly our conference sponsors flag on the wall for the evening. How cool will that be??

3. When you don't really have a portfolio or even a retirement account you really don't care what the stock market is doing.

4. I ran again for the first time Sunday. It felt great and painful all at the same time. I am planning on running a 1/2 marathon here in Champaign in April. Who's with me?? C'mon, let's do this together!!

5. My stepmom Sharon recently discovered that she has breast cancer. Luckily she caught it early and it having surgery and radiation therapy starting this week. Please say a few prayers for her and my Dad. I am not sure who's more freaked out about it; her or my Dad. Oh and btw, if you are female and reading this, do me a favor and give yourself a self exam or at least have your husband do one for you. (that means you Em!)

6. I LOVE Facebook. It's so great catching up with old friends. Even if you aren't talking to each other you at least get to see photos of their life and families.

7. Speaking of friends....Lately I have realized how fortunate I am to still be best friends with three guys from grade school and high school. I think sometimes I take them for granted since we've known each other for so long. Recently talking with new colleagues and newer friends it seems that most people don't stay in touch with people they went to high school with let alone grade school. Eric, Jim, Jon and I have known each other since 2nd grade and have gotten each other through good, bad and indifferent times but I love the fact that we still constantly talk to each other on the phone and it's nice to know that I could call any of them at any given moment and they would drop everything to help me out just like i would them.

8. Also, speaking of newer case he's actually reading this....Joel, we still owe you and your new bride a night out on the town. I promise I am not going to forget about it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In a Funk

Ok, so I am in a funk right now and need to get out of it. My job is not steady right now; bordering on finished and I am not working out. I really haven't got back to working out regularly since the triathlon.

Jeanne and I rearranged the house over the past 2 weeks moving the kids to the same room with a new bunkbed which they love and moving my office to Paige's old room. We also rearranged our master bedroom and cleaned all three bedrooms and upstairs bathrooms. Hopefully we can start swinging some good Feng Shui toward my career and our finances.

We have some pretty hard decisions to make over the next few months if the worldwide gig falls through. Jeanne is talking about going back to teaching or finding another corporate job while she continues to get her PhD (at a slower pace of course). I can honestly say I have never been this unsure of my future and it stinks. Those of you that know me well know that I am somewhat of a control freak (ok, MORE than somewhat) and an endless planner. This career phase I am in right now is so out of my control that it's killing me. I have busted my a** for the past two years to increase sales for my client, been successful to the tune of raising their income by a little over 20% and now being tossed aside due to a change in their daily management that I have no control over. I have been doing a lot of praying and hope that God gives me some signs soon of what he has in store for my career future. In the meantime I HAVE to starting working out again. At least working out relieves SOME of the stress that I am under right now.

I know things will work out in the end and God will take care of me and my family and i just have to keep reminding myself of that. Keep us in your prayers and hey, if you know of any sales or event planning jobs out there that would possibly allow me to work remotely from home, let me know.

Until next time....