It's Only My Opinion

Things I want to tell my kids that won't fit on Twitter

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Walking the Camino-What to Pack

I read at least 12 blog posts about what to pack for walking the Camino de Santiago before we left for Spain. Since I had never walked that far before or for that long, I kept adding to my list with every blog post I read. If the next post added something the last post did not, it went on my list. I knew I couldn’t prepare for everything but I would try and put as much as I could in my pack. Do not make this mistake!

Camino de Santiago details

My husband and I started in Leon, Spain on August 21. We had 3 weeks from start to finish. I booked all our sleeping arrangements ahead of time using the links in the book, Hiking the Camino de Santiago by Anna Dintaman and David Landis. Like everyone, we also bought John Brierly’s book but the book by Dintaman and Landis, in my opinion, was so much better from a practical perspective. The Brierly book is not the go-to book it used to be for most pilgrims today. Buy both and read them, but bring the one I recommend with you to Spain. It is worth every ounce.  The other resource I used to find lodging/alburgues was Booking.com. I only choose places on Booking.com that had an 8.5 rating or higher. I read the reviews and then I posted my own after a stay. I can honestly say that we did not have a bad experience in any of the places we stayed.  There was something special about each and everyone one of them! If curious, see the lodging list below. Note: We did choose to stay in private accommodations (our own room with a bathroom). Rates were $35-50 EU per night. Some of the accommodations also had bunk bed type accommodations for $9-11 EU per night. In my opinion, if you want to meet more people and have a community experience, stay in the bunk beds.

What to pack for hiking the Camino de Santiago

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you are traveling for 2 weeks, 3 weeks or 6 weeks or dscn0559more, the list is the same. My husband and I created this list after hiking while on the train back to Madrid and the airport back to the States. I had read one blog that suggested taking a luxury item and I liked that idea so I took one. The rest of the items are must have items as far as I am concerned. If you have never walked for more than one week carrying everything you need for day to day living, this is the list. Trust it. Bring less if you want to but don’t bring more.

One more thing

We met a wonderful woman the week before we left who insisted on having dinner with us. She was helpful and interesting and had walked the entire 500 miles by herself a few years before. We believed her advice carried much weight and made all the difference for our Camino experience. This is what she told us, ” This is your F—ing Camino. If you need to take a rest day, take one. If you need to take a taxi take one. If you need to take a bus- do it. This is your Camino.”

Besides this list, that will be the best piece of advice I can, will or should give you.

I am including a link to my public Camino de Santiago list on Amazon. I purchased many items on Amazon and at REI. Try to buy your items from REI within a 12 month time from of the end of your trip. I bought my boots at REI and trained in them all summer. After the first day on the Camino I discovered my boots were too small (walking with 17 pounds and in 94-degree heat proved it ). I purchased a new pair of boots the next day and shipped my too-small boots back to the Kansas City. I was able to return the boots to REI for the full purchase price. I recommend spending the $20 for the REI membership. They keep track of your purchases and you get 10% back on all full price retail purchases at the end of the year, plus many extra benefits. We took our backpacks on the plane. Do not check. Take your hiking poles apart, use zip ties to bind them tightly together at top and bottom and put them in your pack first and then pack around them. (F) is Female only

Backpack- I used an Osprey Tempest 40. My husbanDeuter Dueter ACT Lite 40 + 10
Hiking boots
Tevas- I suggest a style for hiking, showering and evening town clothes
Socks-3 pairs
Ex-Officio underwear- 3 pairs
Shorts- 2 pairs
Pants- convertible to shorts
Ex-Officio Skort (F- evening town clothes)
Dry fit short sleeved shirt- 2
Ex Officio short sleeved button down (evening town clothes)
Ex Officio long sleeved button down (evening town clothes)
Long sleeve 3/4 zip lightweight top (I used Nike)
Dry fit jog bras-2 (F)
Cami bra top (F) – to hike, wear during laundry times, as PJ’s
Spandex shorts (F) – wear during laundry times, as PJ’s
Buff
Full-brimmed hat (necessary for heat of the Meseta)
Packable down jacket
Raincoat
Waterproof, lightweight, backpack cover
Rain pants/gators
Sunglasses
Sunscreen
Headlamp
Nail clipper
Small nail file
Phone for photos and or small camera
Outlet converter- 2 (you will lose one)
travel toothbrush
toothpaste
deodorant
floss
3 in 1 washing bar (shampoo, cream rinse, laundry soap)
Travel razor (F – unless you like hairy legs and armpits. I do not.)
Duct tape around a small pencil
Moleskin – you can buy more compeed in the pharmacy is needed
Medical tape
Small scissors
Neosporin
Cloth bandaids
Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick
8 large diaper pins
4 zip ties to send poles back to U.S.(per person)
Money belt/passport holder
Carbon fiber hiking poles
Camelback Canteen
Lightweight folding back pack Kleenex
Poweraid Single Serve packets
Swimsuit/swim trunks
Ibuprophen (enough for 200-600 mg per day)
Perscription glasses or readers

Sleeping bag (do not need if staying in private rooms)
Towel (do not need if staying in private rooms)

Packing your items we used: (helps organize and slide items in and out of backpack easily)
2 gallon double close zip lock bags
1 gallon double close zip lock bags
Quart size double close zip lock bags

Luxury Item:
Chloe’ perfume (rollerball) I loved wearing perfume after hiking and a shower

You can do without but we did not:
Earplugs
ipod
Camera with NFC Technology

Our Lodging on the Camino de Santiago:

Leon Hostel- Ancha 8, León, León, Spain, 24003
Hotel Rural-Calle Sierra Pambley, 40, 24286 Hospital de Órbigo, León, Spain
Hostel La Senda- Calle Real, 27, 24722 Rabanal del Camino, León, Spain
Hostal el Palacio-19, Molinaseca, 24413, España
Hostel Burbia-C/ Fuente Cubero, 13, 24500 Villafranca del Bierzo, León, León, Spain
Casa de Lucas- Fonfria, 25, Fonfria, Spain, 27671
Pension-Albergue Lemos- Avenida de Castilla 24, Triacastela, España, 27630
Hotel Casa de Díaz- Lugar de Vilachá, 2, Gorolfe, Spain, 27635
Pensión La Estación- Matías López, 106, 2º piso, Sarria, España, 27600
A Fontana de Luxo, Fontedeagra n2 Portomarin, Puertomarin, España, 27170
San Marcos Albugue-Travesía da Igrexa, s/n, 27200 Palas de Rei, Lugo, Spain
Casa Teodora- Calle de Lugo 38 15810 Arzúa, A Coruña, Spain
Pensión Codesal- Calle Codesal, 17, O Pedrouzo, España, 15821
PR Plaza de Galicia- Hórreo, 22 4a planta, Santiago de Compostela, Coruña, A, Spain, 15702
Capitol Boutique Hotel- Concepción Arenal, 7, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 15702
Hotel Rústico Prado da Viña- Camino Barcia s/n, Fisterra, Spain, 15155
Emperador- Gran Vía, 53, Madrid, 01.Centro, Spain, 28013

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Buen Camino!

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Who voted No on The Gun Control Bill

I am very disappointed right now. Upset that the Gun Control Bill was voted down yesterday. I am sad because I thought electing someone to represent me in Washington, however flawed that system can be and is, at least worked in situations like this.

Abraham Lincoln at the memorialWe all knew that Gun Control and background checks were what the “people” of the United States wanted.  It was obvious that we, the people, wanted this protection for our kids, our schools, our public places, our family and for ourselves.  Are you kidding me? After what we’ve all been through in Colorado, Virginia, Arizona, Connecticut, Oregon(added 10.2.15), how can Washington vote and not represent us? As a mom, I am bewildered.

Elected officials are suppose have our best interests in mind. In my opinion, when they voted,  they may have had us in mind but the NRA had their ears and their minds and their bank accounts. Each of those listed below voted to do what was in their best interest. It was not in mine.

When they are up for re-election, feel free not to vote for them. With my vote I will let my senator know that Gun Control and background checks mattered to me. If he didn’t listen to me now, he won’t listen to me in the future.

The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As Gabby Giffords says, “Shame on you“.  The Shameful 45 who voted no on the Gun Control Bill are listed below. Use your rights and your power to do what you can if you choose. In my opinion, my vote is my way of expressing my opinions.

If you would like to get involved with Gabby’s American’s for Responsible Solutions, get connected by texting the word, “solutions” to 90975.

If you are compelled to do so, vote another way next term. Some of the Shameful 45 have been re-elected time and time again. Insanity? You get to decide.

I highlighted the Senator from my State. Share this blog and highlight yours and pass it on to your friends.

1. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
2. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
3. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
4. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
5. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
6. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
7. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
8. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
9. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
10. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)
11. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
12. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
13. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
14. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
15. Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID)
16. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
17. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
18. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
19. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
20. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
21. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
22. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
23. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
24. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
25. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
26. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
27. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
28. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)
29. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
30. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
31. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
32. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
33. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
34. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
35. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
36. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
37. Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
38. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
39. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
40. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
41. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
42. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
43. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
44. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
45. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Catherine Kolkoski

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Respect, Responsibility, Reputation

The world is an interesting place. As I sit down to write, there is talk of Nuclear weapons. My 10 year old is asking if we are going to be bombed. Of course, as a parent you want to calm their nerves, say the right thing, and inside you are hoping that what you are telling them will in fact, be the truth. The thing is, we don’t know the future. We don’t know what will happen because I cannot, they cannot, you cannot, control events like that.

RESPECT how we spell respect!So what can we control? We can try and control the way the world sees us, judges us, and interacts with us by teaching our children the importance of the Three R’s: respect, responsibility and reputation. In my opinion, we can consciously choose to help guide them in showing respect to others, taking responsibility for their actions- or being a responsible member of the family and making sure that their actions do not damage their reputation (or ours as their parents) in the process.

As adults, we see, better than our children do, that the road they are on based on the decisions and the actions they are making, may lead them. We can’t, with any certainty, predict what North Korea may or may not do, but we can see, based on what we have observed in and around our own lives, what may happen to our kids.

8 Keys to getting it rightThis is what I usually share with my kids. “Listen, do I know what may or may not happen if you do “this”? Absolutely not. But based on my life so far on the planet, I see that this or this or that may happen. You can continue to do this and you may get away with it. It may not hurt you or anyone else in the future. Or it might. Is that a chance you are willing to take? I am not here to tell you what to do, but I do feel like I need to share with you some of the outcomes as I see them.”

What I do know about (my) teenagers is this: they want as much control over their lives as they can get. They don’t want adults telling them what to do. If I present my insights as opinions and not fact, then they can sift through what I am saying and view it respectfully. I don’t tell them what choice to make; I simply offer outcomes as I see them. My husband and I want our kids to learn and practice the Three R’s. We point out the times when they are not being respectful, when they are given responsibility and how they show they have earned it and when their reputation is on the line. Blair likes to say that when you are responsible with the small things you will be given bigger things to be responsible for. For example, you teach your son about the value of taking care of his bike. You teach him to put it away, to wash it and not leave it in the driveway to get run over by the family car. When the time comes, he will know what it means to take care of a car. If they respect your authority as a parent, your rules and guidelines, they will know what it means to respect a manager or a boss a girlfriend or a husband. They will also recognize when others are disrespecting them (big bonus). If we teach them to make decisions and act according to their values, to protect their personal reputation as they grow up, they will know what it takes to build and protect a professional reputation as well.

Your reputationIf we have any chance is this life, with as much as we can’t control, it will be because our kids learn how to respect others, take responsibility and protect their reputation in the world. In my opinion, The Three R’s are just as important as all the other keys to getting it right. When our kids practice them with consistency, we know we’ve given them a huge gift. We’ve also given their teachers, coaches, and bosses and spouse a gift as well. Don’t you think?

1. Attitude is everything
2. Do the right thing
3. Do more than you are asked
4. Expectations = disappointment
5. Don’t make excuses
6. Everything matters
7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Everything Matters

Welcome to the 6th in my series of blog posts on “8 Keys to Getting it Right.”   ‘Everything Matters’ says just that, that ‘Everything Matters’. I try to instill this philosophy in my kids especially during times when they can’t see that what they do, the way they do it, the attitude that they do it with and the impending result may matter a great deal- they just never know when.

Everything Matters...I think that if you are going to do anything, you need to do it with everything that you have. You have to do your best, no matter what the instance or the task at hand. Whether it is making a bed, cleaning your car, taking a class, making a meal, running onto a court, setting a table, raising a child, or doing a task for a job, you give it your best because everything you do and the way you do it-  matters. And guess what? People notice. They notice the attitude and the outcome. They notice the commitment and the enthusiasm. Don’t like what you are doing? So what- do it better than anyone else. Take pride in the fact that it will have your name, your signature on it, no matter how banal it is to you, it may not be banal to someone else. In my opinion, if you want to be considered for leadership, a promotion, be captain of the team or simply keep your job- make every single thing you do matter;  have it make a difference. Have it make a statement and you will make a name and a life for yourself.

Maybe my kids/your kids don’t care. There is a possibility that ‘Everything Matters’ won’t matter to them. In my opinion, my job is to make them care. To open their eyes and help them see. Some kids are naturally responsive when it comes to knowing that ‘Everything Matters’, others are not. As a parent, it is part of my DNA to make it part of their DNA. I am not supposed to be their friend, I am supposed to help them make better choices and then to let them go when the time comes. I just looked up the word Parent in the dictionary.  (I was hoping it was a little sexier but it wasn’t.)   The definition of the word parent means: a person who brings up and cares for another. My husband and I are definitely in the process of bringing up our three kids  and of course, we care for them. For me, if I do care for them then I will always try and do what is best for them as long as I am in the position to do so. I will not hold or bite my tongue. I will take every opportunity I can to teach and train and share the insights and opinions that I have with my kids till they move out on their own. (ignoring the rolling of their pretty blue eyes if I have to.)

Is this an easy job? Nope. I want my kids to know that everything they do and everything they say is a reflection on them and their ability to do more and handle more or be offered more from those around them. Until they are in a position to write their own ticket, I have to help them see the path they are on and where it may be leading them. Will I always be right? Absolutely not. But I have more experience and I’ve either made those mistakes or watched other people make them to know that I have a better shot at guiding my kids then they do on their own.

If you don’t think “Everything Matters,” then look around you. Look at the news of late. Look at our leaders and our teachers, the athletes, the politicians and anyone who has any influence or our attention for a while in the world and tell me I am wrong when I say that “Everything Matters.”

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski

8 Keys to Getting It Right: Don’t Make Excuses

I am enjoying writing the series of blog posts, “8 Keys to Getting it Right”. I hope the people who follow my blog or choose to read it have found the information to be useful. As I think about the key that I will write about in this post, it is probably the one key that our son (who is 19), seems to have taken to heart the most. I know that because recently he quoted it back to me when a situation came up for him in his life. He said, “Mom, you said people don’t like it when you make excuses.” and he is right.

‘Don’t make excuses’ is not only a key that you can practice successfully in your personal life but it is also a key that, practiced well, can aid you in your professional life as well. In my opinion, people would rather not hear your excuses for anything. Excuses are another way of not taking responsibility. What parents, coaches, teachers and bosses would prefer is for you to take responsibility for the outcomes in your life. They rather not hear your reasons why you didn’t do well on a test, or why you didn’t come home on time or why you weren;t prepared for the game or why you didn’t get the sale. What they all want is for you to admit that you did not follow directions, that you choose to do it your way, that you made a conscious choice to disregard the rules or guidelines you were given. Those conscious choices you made then led you to fail. Your decision to abandon that which was specifically laid out in front of you as a way to help you achieve success, led you to the place you ended up.

What your parents, your coaches, teachers and bosses are looking to hear, dare I say, would be shocked to hear from you, is that you made a mistake. That it was your responsibility to accomplish a task and you failed. What would absolutely blow them away would be to hear you say, “I apologize. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again.” Wow!

You see, in my opinion, by not making excuses for your actions and the outcomes you have just elevated yourself in the eyes of the person who put their faith and trust in you. You have proven that you are that trust worthy individual they thought you were . You proved it by taking personal responsibility for your actions. Taking personal responsibility is almost counter cultural in today’s world of blame someone else, make an excuse, and argue your way out of your bad choice.

No matter what you do in life, no matter what guidelines and rules you choose not to follow, no matter what the outcome- don’t make an excuse for it. Fess up. Admit your mistake. Take responsibility for your choices and then apologize if it goes bad. I think an authentic apology goes a long way toward mending disappointment or hurt feelings. I read a really good book on this once called, The Five Languages of Apology. In it the author, Gary Chapman talked about the extent to which one may need to apologize in order for someone to accept the “I’m sorry”. For some it is simply, “I am sorry.” for others, “I am sorry, it was my fault.” or “I am sorry, it was my fault, what can I do to make it up to you?” more still, “I am sorry, it was my fault, will you forgive me”. The level of the apology may depend on the person or the seriousness of the perceived offense. In my opinion, the levels do not matter as much as the actual ability to take responsibility and then apologize for the mistake. My son has a very difficult time with the concept of apologizing. He believes that if he apologizes, he is admitting that he was wrong. Yes, you are wrong and what is so horrible about that? You are human. You an not perfect. You are wrong and your ability to take responsibility and possibly manage the effect your actions has on another human being by not making excuses, admitting your mistake and then apologizing for it can go a long way toward your success in life- even in your failures.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right: Expectation = Disappointment

Welcome to blog post four in my series, 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If this is your first time being exposed to the series, I invite you to go back to the beginning and read them all. One post does not build on the other, so if one of the Keys has no interest to you, skip it!

The key “Expectation = Disappointment,” was introduced to me when I was at The University of Arizona by my friend and Sigma Chi big brother, Tod Carson. Of course, I don’t remember the situation surrounding the reason he shared it with me, but the learning has stayed with me for a very long time and I think it so valuable that I have shared it with my children and include it here.

I do remember that Tod had rightly accused me of always expecting more than I should which led to many a disappointment. But hey, isn’t that life? You have X amount of expectations only to end of disappointed X amount of the time. So, what’s a girl to do?

Learn to just be.

Don’t expect people to act in a certain way. Don’t expect friends to be a certain way or for opportunities to pan out in my favor or events to lead to happiness. Expectations can, and usually do, set you up for disappointment. Think about the last time you went somewhere that you didn’t want to go (i.e. party, play, concert). Most of the time, that event ended up being the most fun, or the most valuable for you. Why? You had no expectations.

I bet you’ve heard this before: you never find love when you are looking for it. You find love when you least expect it. Why? You least expect it. When I approach a situation armed with my set of expectations, I increase the chance I will be disappointed.

In my opinion, it is hard not to have expectations. For control freaks, it is doubly hard. Control = lack of control. The tighter you hold on- the more things slip through your grip. The more I try to control things, the more likely it is that I will mess things up. Letting go of expectations and control is not easy. Does that mean I don’t have expectations of my kids? Of course not. I’ve spent the last three posts sharing the expectations my husband and I have for my kids. My Kids have disappointed me and will disappoint me in the future. My unconditional love for them is what gives them a “do over” every time they have disappointed me. As parents, you do that for your kids and in my opinion, we should. I want my kids to know our home is the safe place for them to fail and fall. The people you can disappoint and get a fresh start again. Our friends and our colleagues don’t always get the same privileges. The relationships we have with them are different. When our expectations have gone unmet and we experience disappointment, we may tally those let downs on the internal scoreboard we keep. A disappointment that can’t be forgiven or one disappointment after another can end up jeopardizing our feelings towards friends or colleagues (and sometimes husbands and wives) and we may choose to eliminate the situation, job or the person from our life.

Just to be clear, having expectations is not the same thing as having a goal. A goal is something you do for yourself. An expectation is usually something you have for someone else. I can’t set a goal for you but I can have an expectation of you. See?

In my opinion, Tod gave me a valuable gift when he pointed out what I could not see; that my expectations were leading to disappointments and those disappointments were making me miserable.

Tod invited me to a New Year’s Eve Party at his parents’ house when I was 20 years old. I met a boy that night and we were married a few years later. Would you believe I was not expecting that?

– This post is dedicated to Tod’s parents Ed and Nadine Carson, may they rest in peace.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectation = Disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right- Do More Than You’re Asked

I am now 3 posts into my series on the 8 Keys to Getting it Right. If you are so inclined I invite you to go back to the first and second blog to read them. These keys are the values that my husband and I are purposefully trying to instill in our three wonderful children (Happy Birthday Brielle on Monday!) As anyone with kids can attest, all you can do is try. In my opinion, my failure as a parent comes when I don’t try, when I don’t communicate and I don’t take the lead as a parent. Hey, I know it’s not easy. I know that there are days when they don’t listen to my husband and me. But that does not stop me from being the parent. I am still the parent right? I mean, if you live in the house that we pay the mortgage on, drive a car that we make payments on, and eat in our kitchen- then check- I am still the parent and as long as you are my child then I will do my best to make sure you know what is important to me.

Do more than you're asked Sliding by. Doing the bare minimum. Are these the actions or values of any successful person you know? Is this the goal when your coach or your teacher or your boss asks you to complete a task? If so, then a life of being ordinary and average may well be your destiny. When our kids leave the house to go to their jobs (one works for FedEx and one for Cold Stone Ice Cream) the last thing my husband says is, “do more than you’re asked.” He is telling them to do more than people expect. Surprise everyone around you. Give it your all and leave nothing on the table. Amaze them and let them know that you are someone that needs to be kept around. When you do more than you’re asked you become more valuable than the next person. The people in charge will look to you as a valuable member of the organization or team or class. It goes to your attitude. It goes to your ability to achieve success, whatever success may mean to you. See, I am an options girl. I like to have lots of choices. I like to ensure that more often than not there is a range of possibilities. When you do more than you are asked, you open yourself up for more opportunities, more choices, and the possibility that you will get what you want in your life.

I think anyone can do what is asked. But the extra-ordinary do more. They take the initiative to make more out of any situation and thus become more valuable, less replaceable in their spaces in life. Will their teachers and bosses and coaches always notice? No. What matters just as much is what you do even when you don’t get the recognition and the pats on the back. Doing more than you’re asked is about personal ethics and making purposeful decisions to be that better player, that better student or better employee. No matter who notices or applauds.

In my opinion, doing more than you’re asked may get you more than you can possibly imagine.

8 Keys to Getting it Right:

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectations = disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
  8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

8 Keys to Getting it Right – Do the Right Thing

A few weeks ago I started a blog series on The 7 Keys to Getting it Right. If you want to read  the preface of the story I invite you to go back to the first blog in the series called: Attitude is Everything. There you will also find the list of the 7.  Since the first post, I have decided to add another key. The 8th key, which is ‘Have a Spiritual Practice’.

Do the right thing The second Key, ‘Do the Right Thing’ used to be called, ‘Make Good Choices’. It dawned on us a little too late when the kids were in their later teens, that this was not specific enough. We heard an inspirational presentation by a former marine who was also an Eagle Scout talk about ‘Doing the Right Thing’. It dawned on me during the course of his speech that our definition of “Make Good Choices” and our children’s definition of “Make Good Choices” could be rather opposite from one another. You see, what they thought was a ‘good decision’ was, in our opinion, not a good decision at all. ‘Good’ seemed to be subjective. In fact, we were thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me? You think that was a good decision?” What the former Marine brought to light was the idea of right versus good. There is not a ton of ambiguity around what the’ right thing to do is’ versus what the wrong thing to do is.

We spend an awful lot of time telling our kids what we think is important and then following that up with our actions. Our kids have  called us, “old fashioned” and we have been chided  on numerous occasions,  “no one else does that or thinks that or believes that”.  My answer is always the same, “I could give a rats bottom as they are entitled to their own opinion.” When push comes to shove they will know, without any doubt, what we think is right and wrong. They will know what we believe. Doing the right thing is not always about doing the easy thing. Some days it is doing something or not doing something even though everyone else may be going in the exact opposite direction because it is the right thing to do. Many times the right thing is not the most popular. How much courage and individuality do you have to have to do what is right even in the face of pressure to do the wrong thing or to look the other way altogether? It takes more guts than most people, especially teenagers, have.

In my opinion,’ doing the right thing’ is not about making your life hard but surrounding yourself with people who won’t make it harder for you: your friends, people you work with, people you play with, people you pray with. Some people are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  As our kids grow into adults, as they discover who they are and what they stand for, I hope that they find themselves surrounded by people who will support their choices. Hopefully they will make some choices because of the values and morals that were instilled in them by us. Will they always choose the path that we would have them choose? Absolutely not. But I can guarantee you that their choices and definition of “right” will have a better chance of reflecting ours because of our willingness and commitment to make sure they knew what we thought the right thing was. Either way, I know we will love and support them because, Family is Everything.

1. Attitude is everything
2. Do the right thing
3. Do more than you are asked
4. Expectations = disappointment
5. Don’t make excuses
6. Everything matters
7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
8. Have a Spiritual Practice

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

7 Keys to Getting it Right – Attitude is Everything

It was the middle of the night and I was thinking about my kids and what my husband, Blair and I , are trying to teach our children. What is it that we think is so important that we say it over and over again? What are the statements, those declarations, we have been making to all of our kids from day one? You know. The things you say so much that one of your kids eventually says to you, “I know Dad. You’ve said that a thousand times.” Those insights you want to ingrain in them so much that, as the parent, you tolerate their eye rolling and the pleading, “I know. I know, you say that all the time.” What are those mantras that you hope will one day be repeated by your kids to their kids? One day it seems that they could have cared less what you thought, and what you thought was important, and now they are, in fact, repeating your words.

I’d like to share 7 of the things that I wrote in the middle of the night. They are, in my opinion, keys to getting it right in this world. My plan is to take some time over the next few weeks to address each one. Why we share them with our kids, why we repeat them and why we try with all our might, to get our kids to understand how important attempting to live by these statements may prove to be in their lives.

  1. Attitude is everything
  2. Do the right thing
  3. Do more than you are asked
  4. Expectations = disappointment
  5. Don’t make excuses
  6. Everything matters
  7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation

Attitude is everything

No matter what you do in your life, no matter what you believe someone else has done to you- you only have control over one thing- your attitude and how you respond. You can’t control what someone else will do or say, but you always have the right to choose your response- your attitude. The more positive your attitude, the more positive the energy you will exude. A positive attitude is infectious. If you have the chance to hang out or do business with a person who constantly complains or a person who is full of positive energy- you choose a good attitude every time (you may choose the complainer but that gets old and you eventually look for a way out).

I’m not saying that you should never be unhappy, that you should never complain or never be depressed. I am saying that you shouldn’t make it a habit. It shouldn’t be what defines you or how other people describe you. It should be a blip on the screen that is you. Make a conscious choice to have a good attitude, to be a person who has a positive outlook . It is a gift you can give to yourself and to others around you. Sometimes life is not going to go your way. Sometimes you will sit on the bench. Sometimes you will not get what you want. It is inevitable. The attitude you have, the attitude you decide to have, will be the difference between if you play the next game or ride the bench again. Whether you get the next job you interview for or if you keep applying to other positions in other companies, whether your friend stays by your side or decides your friendship has had its season. Believe it or not, you have a lot more control than you think you do. It’s only my opinion and I believe that attitude is everything.

Next time…Do the right thing

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

Fitting in

In my opinion, we all want to fit in somewhere. To feel like we belong. A part of life is spent finding a fit with someone else (partner for life) and  finding a  fit with other people (i.e. a church home or a team or a job).  My son is trying to find a good fit in his relationship. He has been dating for a couple of years now. He has been frustrated and hurt but also had experiences of happiness. I remind him that dating is like trying people on. You try on different people to see which one fits the best. He said that it is annoying because he likes one thing about one girl a lot and another thing about the other girl. Obviously, each one has something that the other one did not. I tell him that is what you discover when you date . You begin to find out what you value most. The characteristics that are most important to you. What characteristics you can live with and which ones are deal breakers. In my opinion, he is a lot like me. He is relationship-centered. At 19 he “wants” to be in a relationship. He treats a young lady like a lady- he respects women and wants to have a relationship with someone he can carry on a conversation with, someone who has goals and dreams for her life. In that respect he is a lot like his father. (A blessing for me!)

No matter how old I get, I still want to fit in. In a world where values seem to alter and flux a bit, I have been trying to fit in. As I was thinking about this and getting coaching from my husband about my ideas and thoughts about  “fitting in” ( and he shared a lot of great insights with me) I remembered a line in a movie I saw a long time ago, “Why am I trying so hard to fit in when I really feel like I was born to stand out?”

In my opinion, in order to make a difference in the world, you have to be different. You can’t do what everyone else is doing- that’s already getting done. You have to go another way, do something counter-cultural, in order to affect culture.

I am telling you this as much as I am reminding myself.

To find the new trail you have to get off the beaten path. Turn around. No one may be following you and you have to be OK with that. If it is right, someone might follow. Your goal may not be to lead; your goal may be to have a partner, someone who shares your journey. Maybe that’s what family is for. (Ironic, how it always comes back to family for me.) Maybe it’s that way for you. Family doesn’t have to mean blood related, it can be mean someone who is willing to walk with you, support, encourage and give you feedback when you ask for it. Someone who feels like family.  We all need someone who is as committed to an idea or a mission as we are- one other person we fit with. When you have that, you have what you need. I think that’s what my son is looking for. He wants to share his journey with someone and since he is like me, he won’t settle for anything less than a perfect fit.

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