This morning as I parked in front of the house upon returning from a Top-Pot donut run (funny thing about having kids, donuts re-entered my life – I know that’s not the case for everyone, but they’re just so yummy and life’s short and I have such fond memories of weekend donuts when I was a kid, and well, enough excuses/justifications just don’t judge me :) I noticed something that I so wish I had captured on video – integrity and doing the right thing at its finest.

Standing on my neighbor’s sidewalk, bent at the waist, staring at the grass stood a neighbor (TS) from a few blocks over (I know he lives a few blocks away because he’s our friend.) Behind him two leashed dogs sat, waiting.

He looked and looked. Stood up, scratched his head, then looked some more. He absolutely couldn’t find what he was looking for. I just watched while gathering my delectables before getting out of the car and heading into the house. It was such a cute moment, I didn’t want to break it with a Hey-there friend.

Up a little distance ahead an older gentleman walked another leashed dogs. TS called out to him, so he stopped turned around with the other dog in tow. It didn’t take long before the older man was at TS’s side, bending down, searching the grass while the dogs looked on, bored to high heaven. Of course they had no clue that the search was for something one of them had left behind.

By this time TS is literally on his hands and knees (I’m not joking!) inspecting the grass while his companion (I’m guessing father-in-law or dad) leans over doing the same. It was as if they were looking for some money or a set of keys or something of great value that had been dropped. When in reality, they were just looking for a pile of poop.

I can’t tell you how many times we have stepped in a pile in our yard – and we don’t have a dog. It drives Jon crazy – partly because its gross, mostly because its rude and, well – sort of thoughtless, not really taking into consideration the people that either live at the house or will come along behind.

I sneaked into the house not wanting to disturb them – it was just so sweet. I told one of my daughters about it. Her response? “I love how it mattered.”

“What difference does it make,” her brother asked. “I mean if you can’t find it, at least you tried.”

“It’s not about that,” she thought out loud. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

I agreed. “Thinking about the people who will be walking behind – putting them ahead of yourself. I mean I would have been embarrassed looking in the grass on my hands and knees. And those were grown men”

“Mr. S is the coolest,” my daughter concluded, letting the goodness sink in.

Doing the right thing, sticking with integrity –  not so someone else might see, but so you can care for the next person walking along who you will likely never see.

Integrity and personal-standards have been the hot topic around here of late. It think it might have started with someone who claimed they brushed their teeth but didn’t. And let’s just say, it was easy to know the teeth that have not been brushed. So upon sending stinky-breath to find some toothpaste I couldn’t help but opine:

“Your integrity has so much more value than any ease of life temporarily accomplished by lying. Do you realize that you’re literally sacrificing something of great worth when you lie or cheat or cut corners? And I don’t care what it is – but especially something a small as brushing your teeth – is NOT worth sacrificing your integrity.”

I think in today’s fast-paced world, we easily cut-corners, spin truth, say what we want, justify. And in the process, lose sight of integrity’s value, depth and critical importance to our deepest well-being. A little bit of ourselves is either lost or redefined each time integrity or self-standards are pushed aside. But why not herald instead: telling the truth (always), obeying the law (even those no one obeys), staying the course, following through, finishing well.

I recently bumped into an example of this while watching a recording of CBS Evening News. I was deleting recordings, bumped into it & wondered why we would have recorded the news – until I watched and remembered why. It’s a about Rozetia Ellis, a contract worker at a bridal boutique that had declared bankruptcy.

After losing her job, Rozetia went to work (FOR FREE!) altering gowns, completing the work that had been promised to customers – wedding gowns. Really, does anything need to be said about all the emotion, the hopes, the dreams sewn into the seams of these garments – almost more than any other? Imagine having finally made a decision on that all-important dress, dates are set, plans are finalized – and the boutique calls with an I’m sorry, you’ll have to find and pay for another. Not if Rozetia’s name is involved.

“You don’t have to do this,” the interviewer said to Rozetia.
“I do,” she insisted.
“Says who?”
“Me,” Rozetia firmly replies. “My integrity says I have to. When you have standards for yourself, you live up to those standards.

My integrity says I have to. Beautiful. An inspiring and terrific reminder. The high road offers more than a steep climb – it reveals some stunning scenery.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

– Kay

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