It's Only My Opinion

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

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.

I had S’More

Summer is almost over. Well, I always think summer is over the day school starts. Summer is almost over (for me) and I had one goal: to spend the night camping in the tent with my little one. Most summers I would have spent a few nights in the tent. This summer was a little different. For one, I was working. This is the first summer I have ever worked. Spending the night in a tent on Sunday- Thursday wasn’t an option so my available nights in the backyard were a little more limited. And it’s been hot, even at night. A tent in the heat is not much fun. I woke up this morning and it was 56 degrees. Bingo. Tonight would be the night I would accomplish my goal.

How many people know that it is was National S’More Day on August 10? (Girl Scouts first documented the S’More recipe in 1927 in the Girl Scout Handbook). My oldest, who is 16, now, was in Girl Socuts growing up. She had an outstanding leader who stayed with the girls through their Silver Award (You are wonderful Paula Birchmier), our experience with Girl Scouting was awesome. She and I had many camp outs together at a few different Girl Scout properties. My favorite meal was the one she made for me: a campfire pizza. It was my favorite because it was the first time the moms at the camp out didn’t have to do a thing. The girls cooked and cleaned up. It was outstanding. If you ever camped with little ones, you get it.

When my younger daughter started girl scouts, I volunteered to go through the certification for Camp Mom. I took 40 seven year old girls and their moms on a couple of overnight campouts. That was so special for me: making sure that little ones first experience camping would be so good that they’d fall in love with it like I have.


This summer, I wanted to do one thing. I wanted to spend the night in my backyard  in a tent with my little one, my 9 year old. Tonight, we built a fire together in the back yard. As girl scouts, we practiced camp fire safety rules: wear tennis shoes, pull your hair back in a ponytail, have a bucket of water by the fire just in case and never leave the fire unattended.  Brielle and I roasted hotdogs for dinner and then, in celebration of The National S’Mores Day we made S’mores. Yum. In my opinion, there is something so special about camping out in the backyard with my daughter.

London Calling: Olympic Inspiration

I like watching the Olympics with my kids. The Olympics are full of people with amazing stories. Stories of hopes and goals and dreams come true. From what I have seen they are people who usually knew, from an early age, that they were meant for something bigger. Most were encouraged by family and friends. When my kids were very young we turned off the TV for an entire year- no TV for 365 days and nights. That was an amazing year as my kids learned how to be creative. They did so many other things with their time and because of this opportunity they learned to create, to entertain themselves, to play together and to just- be. We turned our TV off for an entire year except for 10 days: when the Summer Olympics were on. We watched the games every day and then during the commercials the kids would run outside and pretend they were Olympic Athletes. They’d see how far they could throw a stick – the javelin or how fast could they run across the driveway- the 50 meter dash. They were young and carefree and creative. (Man, I would love to turn the “boob tube” off for another year. )

I want to watch the Olympics with my kids again because I want them to see what is possible. I want them to hear the interviews with athletes, to see what hope sounds like, what hope looks like. I want them to hear someone their own age talk about what happens when you decide to do something and then set your heart and mind and body to accomplish it. What sacrifices you have to make, what dedication you have to have, what obstacles you have to overcome. And then what success and triumph and glory looks like.

Lately,  I’ve been studying a lot about having dreams and setting and achieving goals. The one consistent  message  I have heard is this: Do not give up. Never give up. Never quit. Don’t stop.

In my opinion, every Olympic Athlete that is in London these next 10 days knows this- has lived this. Watching the Olympics, I am hoping my kids hear that message as well. That no matter what you want, if you want it badly enough, if you commit to it with all your heart and mind and body, and never give up, you can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want. Isn’t that part of what is meant by “The Olympic Spirit”?

That inspires me.

The Blessing of my Mother

I have scheduled this blog to post at the exact time we are sitting down for dinner. It is a very special occasion. We are celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. She doesn’t look 70 and I say that honestly. She is surrounded by her daughters, her sons-in-law, her 8 grandchildren and her husband. This is my gift to you…

Happy Birthday Mom

I have the blessing of my mother.      I have the world.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You are a blessing to me. You are my guide, my role model and my friend. If I am half of the mother to my children that you have been to me, than I am serving my children well. Growing up and still today, I  am braced by your grace, inspired by your wisdom and fortified by your unconditional love. Your ability to listen and share unbiased advice has been a compass to me.

You have been at my side for every important milestone in my life. And I mean every milestone. Piano recitals, high school volleyball games, professional presentations, getting married, having our children, their first birthdays, graduations and everything in between. I feel your presence in my life every single day. You provided the values (as old fashioned as my kids think they are) that guide my life and that I try, with all my might, to pass down to our kids. You gave me a love for running and exercising. You gave me creativity, freedom and confidence. You gave me kindness when I made mistakes and your dedicated ear when I needed advise. You gave me security when I needed to feel safe and supportive words when I needed comfort.

My husband loves you. All of your “sons” feel the same way that he does. You are a joy to be around. You are generous. You are intelligent (graduated sum cum laude the same time I graduated). You are strong. The worthy qualities I have as a person, and as a women, were established and then nourished by you.

You are a blessing to me. Although it is your birthday, you have always been a gift. The gift of life- the gift of spirit- the gift of acceptance and love. As your daughter, you gave me those gifts, those assurances, and because you did, it allowed me to go out into the world and accomplish what I set my mind and heart to do.

In my opinion, you gave me my world.

Happy birthday, mom. I love you and am so proud be your oldest daughter.

For Jo Capps on her 70th Birthday 7.7.12

Freedom

Today is the 4th of July. Independence Day. Our independence as a country from Great Britain.  So we celebrate. We eat a lot, some people drink too much. In most parts of the U.S. we light fireworks (sorry DE, MA, NJ,RI, NY ). I am older now and I am thinking about “my freedom.” What does that mean to me? What am I free from? What am I free to do? Not to do?

I’m a big believer that you don’t get something for nothing. If it seems too good to be true than it’s a scam and run the other way. If it is any good than it always costs you something. Take the price you are willing to pay for your freedom. The price you are willing to pay for it can be a lot like bidding on Ebay. You go in wanting it for a set amount. You get attached to it. You wait for the “time left” to inch down minute by minute. Then you enter your maximum bid. Instantly, you are outbid. You bid higher. You are outbid. You bid higher because you have to win. You have to have it. And before you know it- you’ve spent more than you were planning. Without a thought you gambled it all away because you were “in it to win it”. You had to have it and were swept away, even committed, to doing whatever it took to get it.

What would life be like if we were all committed to making our little part of the world we live in the best we could?  How much would you bid? How much would you sacrifice? How deep would you go? Would you get swept away because you had to have it and would give anything to get it? How much are you willing to pay for your freedom? What price did others before us pay for our opportunity to even consider this idea?

We need to treat our freedoms; our right to choose, to pray, to play, to work, to speak, to love, to even have an opinion, like something on EBay that we have to have.

In my opinion, we have a lot more freedom than we think we do. We just may not fully realize that we can’t have it for free.

Family is everything

I am spending the week in Iowa. I grew up here. My mom was the oldest of 5 girls and they all lived in the same city for a very long time. Her parents, my father’s parents and his sister did as well. I grew up celebrating holidays surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Santa always came at about 5:00 on Christmas Eve because we had so many places to go on Christmas day. It was awesome. I miss those times being around my family. There  many times I wish my children could be best friends with their cousins the way I was.

70 years of marriage…

My grandparents are 90 now. They have been married 71 years. Now that is an accomplishment. They are an example of how to live a great life. Their 5 daughters love being around them. Their grandchildren love spending time with them (I am one of them) and they have 24 great grandchildren (my kids are 3 of those). They still play bridge with friends (someone always beings desert after lunch so they have something to slam their stomachs shut), played golf until recently (got harder to find a foursome at their age) and danced every Saturday night at the supper club for years. I think they are still with us because they love and they are loved by their family. In my opinion, when you love like they do and you have the respect and admiration of your family, you have a reason to live. I am looking at the both of them right this second. They are watching Golf on TV.

I tell people I come to Iowa so my kids can go to Sports Camp here. I really come to Iowa to be with family, to be with my grandparents. I will not ever say that I regretted not spending time with them. My grandmother just told her husband of 71 years that she loved him. She asked him if he had a good Father’s Day and then she sees he has on bright green socks. He said he bought them at Kmart last week. He obviously bought them without her. She’s laughing at the socks he picked out. They don’t do much without each other so his buying bright green socks without her is a big deal.
We should all be so lucky:  to love and to be loved- surrounded by family. In my opinion, family is everything.

Catherine Kolkoski on Google+

Happy Anniversary baby- Got you on my mind…

In the About page of this blog, I mentioned that I have been married 20+ years. This month is our 21st Anniversary. The fact that we’ve been married this long, is not luck. It’s not an accident. It is a choice. I choose to do the things that it takes to have a successful marriage. What those ‘things’ are, from my observations of other people, are different for every couple.

My husband and I dated for 6 years before we got married. I knew that this was the man for me the first time I danced with him when I thought he was going to kiss me (I swear my bottom lip was shaking). It took him another 5 years , 11 months and 3 weeks to know this. The ‘things’ that make or will make your relationship successful will be different from the ‘thing’ that makes our relationship successful. We have discovered, as we taught marriage preparation to engaged couples for 8 years, all couples have different ‘things’ that are deal makers for them. In my opinion, one of the keys to a long-term, successful union is discovering what that ‘thing’ is for you and your mate as soon as possible. For you it may be date night, or listening to one another or laughing a lot together or cooking together or praying together. For us, our ‘thing’ we discovered early was- unconditional support. We support one another’s aspirations, dreams and interests. That means that even if I don’t agree with something or can’t see the point of it, and it is  important to my husband, I support it. No matter what. Tattoos are not his favorite and yet, I have 3 of them. He actually paid for the most recent tattoo (yes, there will be another one someday). He has supported my desire to get my personal trainer certification and my professional choice and dedication of late. I supported his ‘boy trip’ to Chile over New Years and his desire to start and have his own business . There have been many other supported choices over the years for the both of us.

That is the ‘thing’ that works for us. In my opinion, finding that “thing” for you as a couple, as soon as you can and then hanging on to it with everything you have, could make the difference between celebrating 20 years or or more (hopefully) of marriage or…not.

So happy anniversary baby, got you on my mind…. and in my heart and soul. You complete me. (What can I say?  He likes the Jerry McGuire movie.)

Your Decision – Your Consequence

The only parenting book I have ever read was, Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. When I find something that makes perfect sense to me, something that resonates with me, I stick with it. The philosophy of the book is this: kids like to have some control in their lives no matter how old they are (1-18). As parents, we should indulge them that freedom by giving them things to choose from that we, as parents, can live with.

For example, when younger kids want to pick out their own clothes to wear to school, you could lay out 2-3 shirts and 2 bottoms and let the little one choose between what is offered. The same applies to lots of kinds of choices.  The other concept in the book that I think is powerful is the idea of consequences. A child makes a choice and then, as long as he/she won’t hurt themselves physically, lives out the consequence of the choices they make. How many times has your child wanted to go to school without a jacket, thinking it was warm enough they did not need one. Why fight with them? Why argue? Let them go without a coat and let them experience being cold. Next time, they will make a better choice for themselves because the experience they had was based on a choice they made and also lived with the consequence. In my opinion, kids, no matter how old they are, need to make choices and then live with the consequences. That is how they learn.

I wish for, I pray for times when my children can make choices and then experience the consequences of their decisions- good and bad. The thing is, the younger they are when this happens, the smaller the consequences. The older they are, the more serious the consequences. I don’t eliminate the opportunity for them to make choices for themselves. I pray for consequences they can live with and learn from. My husband doesn’t always agree. Two of my kids are in high school and I believe that the grades they get are their grades. Not mine. I try and explain what I believe could happen in their lives with good grades and what options there may be with bad grades. Do I shirk my responsibility or punish for bad grades? Not really. I may take privileges away, things I believe are distractions (phone, Xbox, etc) but I don’t punish. I do not sit in their classes, I cannot study for them or take their tests. So I believe they need to be responsible for their grades.

In my opinion, my job as a parent has less to do with telling my kids what to do as it is to try and discuss their options, support their decisions and watch them enjoy or suffer through the consequences. So pray for consequences when they’re young. When they’re older it could mean the difference between keeping or losing a marriage, a job or their lives.

You are a reflection of your parents

When I was growing up I believed this with my entire being. I believed this because my parents said this to me. I thought that what I did and how I behaved was be a representation to the world of what my parents taught me. My parents communicated the expectations that had for me and I tried, in many ways, to live up to them. Was I perfect? Heck no. But I was pretty good.

Some of the things I avoided that other kids around me didn’t were underage drinking and drugs. I never went to jail.   I wanted to do the right thing because my parents shared with me what the right thing was.

Kansas City has a curfew law. It goes into effect the Sunday after Memorial Day through the Friday after Labor Day: anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult after 9PM. There was a women on the news this week who received a ticket last summer because her 16 year old son was out past his curfew. The officer issued the ticket telling her that ‘you should know what your kids are doing and where your kids are’. I agree and disagree.

In my opinion, parents should know where their children are.  Problem is, there some kids who try super hard not let their parents know where they are, what they are doing and who they are doing it with.  I am wondering, due to the economy, how many kids won’t be working this summer. Bored kids have a tendency to make excitement in other ways.  In my opinion, kids today don’t think about how their actions will reflect on their parents, i.e. what the neighbors will think.  Many parents have not put the “you are a reflection of your parents” mantra in the hearts and minds of their offspring, like mine did.

My husband and I let our kids know.  In my opinion,  I think your kids should know what you believe and what you expect of them.  You should verbalize it.  That way they know. They may still make choices and decisions that will fly in the face of “being a good reflection on us.” Mine  have already.  They are not perfect. But at least they’ll have a measuring stick to go by.  I knew what ‘being a reflection of my parents’ looked like. Do your kids know what you expect?

For my parents…. Thank you.

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