It's Only My Opinion

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

Archive for the tag “life”

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.

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+

Eighteen is not the same

There is a picture on my computer desktop. It’s been there all day. It’s not supposed to be there. It is supposed to be there for 20 seconds and then vanish- to be replaced by another picture.  But it hasn’t gone away. The picture is of me and my parents. I am flanked on the right by my dad and my mom on the left. We are happy and smiling. We are dressed up.  It is a picture that was taken when my parents took me to Sweden for my high school graduation trip. I am 18 years old.

Image

Dad, me and Mom in Sweden, 1982

My son is graduating this month. He is 18 years old. He is as old today as I am in this picture.  He is the same age,but not nearly as prepared for what the world will hand him as I was. In my opinion, a lot of kids his age aren’t prepared. I am going to sound like my mom right now and I can’t believe it but I am going to say it anyway. Thirty years ago 18 year old kids were more responsible. They were more mature. Our communication skills were more defined. How do you really learn to communicate and connect with others today when your mode of  “communication”is texting in 70 characters? Or typing out life events in a sentence or two? What happened to eye contact and firm handshakes and listening? We could barely do a decent job of  listening back then. Do you really think kids are going to be better at it today? Please don’t think I dislike technology. I work for an online marketing firm for goodness sake. I know how important the internet and technology and social media is to small and large businesses today. That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about people skills.

That is my fear (besides going to jail and losing one of my kids) that my children will not know how to communicate as well as they could with others. That they will go through life not being able to explain and excite and inspire and enthuse and share as well as they could with someone else in a meaningful way. Heck, when they want my attention at home, they call me on their cell phones.  Sometimes they text me.

I look at that picture with my parents when I was 18 and there is a little sadness in my heart.  In my opinion, for all the advances we’ve made in all areas of life in the world, in some ways- we’ve gone 3 giant steps backward. Eighteen is not the same.

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