What’s The Connection Between INTEGRITY and LITTERING?

I spent last weekend in New York City (NYC), I was attending a leaders course in Manhattan with 350 of the eastern seaboard’s most brilliant, inspirational beings, like no kidding – this powerful group is up to big things!

While we were out and about enjoying our lunch break, we spent some time walking about Madison Square Garden, walked up to the Chelsea High-line and had a awesome chat about “getting your life” in front of The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick.  During our strolls, however, I couldn’t help but to notice all of the refuse that littered the ground. Like, it was everywhere and I could’t help to think that all of this trash was caused by “civilized” human beings.  And, to be frank, it infuriated me.

And then I got to thinking about the different places I’ve had the pleasure of traveling and about the different cultures, the way we all live our lives.

I visited Japan 2 years ago and I tell you (if you haven’t been), it’s one of the cleanest, most organized, respectful places to visit, and live apparently.  I have two friends who live in Japan and the love it – they are both Canadian – and they both suggest we have a lot to learn about different issues of our Western societies.

This is what my friend Linda has to say – she lives in Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo.

“Living in Tokyo Japan for over 2 years and it still surprises me that a city of over 35M is so clean with such a big focus on recycling. Similar to most residents, I often carry my recycling back home with me for proper disposal, and as a foreigner still learning the Japanese language, I have received notices from the recycling officers when my recycling doesn’t meet the proper standards. I am grateful to be living in this beautiful country”.

I don’t understand why people litter, honestly I don’t, it’s just not necessary.  And, I’m not making anyone wrong here, I’m looking more for what’s missing, rather than what’s wrong.

Could it be a lack of integrity?

So what is integrity?  The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition is:

  • in·teg·ri·ty : “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness: “he is known to be a man of integrity”

Could it be the level of integrity in which we operate in life?  Could that be out?  Of course it can be! And, what I’m really present to is that WITHOUT INTEGRITY NOTHING WORKS! Literally, nothing works!  Now, integrity is not morality nor is it ethical – they are not colapsable.

I started taking a hard look at the level of my integrity, I always viewed myself as a rather integrous person.  I always try keep my word and when I can’t keep it, I try to honour by letting the person know ASAP that I cannot keep it.  I’m never late (my philosophy is that if you’re on time, you’re late) and people have always said that they can count on me to be there.  I’ve always made that a priority in my life, then I started looking at what’s missing – where is my integrity out? And, I had to actually say to myself  “Self, admit it you have no integrity” and I was like boom – face slap!

I got real with myself, confronted myself with some real truths — for example, I am pro-environment yet I still continued to use plastic utensils and don’t use carry a reusable coffee cups = lack of integrity.  I had a terrible falling out with a friend, because I was a drunken twerp last year and took MY crap out on her and I never got complete with that.  I never called her to apologize, I sent her a quick text and then left the friendship slide, complete lack of integrity.  I had convinced myself that these things were fine, and that I was ok with it.

Everywhere I looked I came to see that I had things I needed to clean up with people in my life and what that allowed me to do was have true authentic conversations about where I was out of integrity and being really committed to cleaning up the “messes” the better I felt – like a weight had been lifted off of me.  I started by apologizing to people, by connecting with people I had lost contact with, by buying reusable bamboo cutlery and napkin and keeping them in my purse (I also gave a set to a friend of mine – and enrolled 2 other friends to start using bamboo or carrying their own metal cutler.  Another friend agreed to purchase bamboo toothbrushes).  I literally started restoring integrity with velocity.  Folks, I literally have never loved being so wrong (to be clear my actions were wrong, I wasn’t making myself wrong and holding onto it) LOL – it really was empowering to get complete with things.

And, you know what I got out of cleaning up this LACK OF INTEGRITY? I really got the impact on the other person, I really got to see what it was like over there with them. And when you really get to get what’s it’s like for someone else, it’s empowering and you start to change the way you want to behave.

“An important aspect of my word to myself is my word to others. For example, when I give my word to someone to meet them at a given time tomorrow, in effect I have also given my word to myself to be there tomorrow at the appointed time and place. Likewise with any time I give my word to others, I have also given my word to myself to be good for my word.
If I hold myself up as a person of integrity and do not honor my word to myself, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to be in integrity with others”.

~ Werner Erhard 

So, What Does Lack of Integrity Have to do With Littering?

Everything!  Integrity is what you do when no one’s watching.  It’s when you do what’s right, even when it’s difficult.  It’s in taking a stand for what you believe in. It’s throwing your trash in the litter bin.  It’s recycling your bottles, paper cups and newspapers. It’s in taking your trash home when there isn’t anywhere to properly dispose of them.  It’s in picking up the trash when you are able, tidying the public washrooms counter before leaving them and by leaving the people you talk to better than when you met them —  it’s about being an extra ordinary human being!

📷:  from last weekend in NYC

And, just like that, without even realizing it – I managed to intertwine two of the things I love and that I’m passionate about – integrity and the environment – and the ability to be fully self expressed! WOW!

What would your life look like in the space of living a life of more integrity?

How freaking powerful of a human being would you be?  

Who are you going to go clean up with right now?  

Oh, and PS:  as human beings, we’re never 100% in integrity – there’s always somewhere in our lives that integrity is out or missing. The difference is, we can always live life more integrously.

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Farewell Bright Lights, Big City!

One of the biggest decisions I made in the betterment of myself shaking up the status quo.  Having grown up in a decent sized city in South Western Ontario all of my life, I decided to move to The Big Smoke (a.k.a. Toronto, TO, Tdot, The Six – ok well you get the point!), population 6,054,191.  At that time I wanted fun, excitement and a change from what I thought was a boring, same ol’ same ol’, mundane life.  Millions enjoy living in Toronto, it’s an amazing city. It has bright lights, culture, history and diversity.

It was a blast for the first 2 years, Toronto is a great, vibrant city with so much to see and do, high end restaurants, cool bars, top of the line lounges, great shopping, tons of concerts, sporting events, live music, comedy festivals and a lot of amenities are 24/7.

Like I said, it’s all great … in the beginning.  It’s always fun being new to someplace … I remember when I would drive home after being out of town (which was quite regularly as the majority of my family and friends were still back home) and see the CN Tower lit up in all her splendour and think “wow, I still can’t believe I live here”, and honestly, I thought that till the very end.  I loved my house, a cute little 1000 sq ft two story I scored while the market was still relatively low and sold 5 years later for a pretty decent return on my investment (less the cost of renovating). Like most houses in Toronto it went into a bidding war and sold over the listing price.  I had a large backyard (with a pear tree, raspberry bushes and a massive hydrangea bush), which is very hard to come by (especially in Toronto, not one of its boroughs), I had 3 car parking, when most houses in my neighbourhood had permit street parking.

The reality of living in Canada’s second most expensive city set in after a short while, that is, once the novelty starts wearing off and you have to pick up your big girl pants!  Things you don’t know like: there are two land transfer taxes when buying a house in Toronto, the cost of housing is through the roof (purchase or rental), you pay for your garbage bin and you have to pay for extra garbage bags if you go over your limit.  The traffic is insane, it’s not uncommon to take 45 minutes to drive 10 kms.  Downtown is filled with a ton of one way streets.   There’s no parking and no stopping in the core between certain hours or you’ll get towed (yep, got towed one day after a live taping of The Social at Much Music), Event parking is a great price at $25.00.  If you don’t have the IMG_4957luxury of having parking at your house or your condo, the cost of a parking spot can cost you as much as $15k to $100k.  Congestion and construction are crazy, and there are so many road closures in the summer for either construction or some type of community event (Taste of the Danforth, Salsa on St. Clair, TOLI, Corso Italia to name a few).   Factor in the crime rate and that the cost of living is more expensive making it difficult for about 90% of the average Torontonians to live day to day,  I felt it was time for a change –  for my peace of mind and for my poor pocket book.  One of my favourite sayings is “the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” (unknown).  Pretty basic right?  I recognized that I wanted something different; I wanted contentment and financial stability.  Ironically, the quest for that change unfolded after a drive to Home Depot that should have taken me 15 minutes took me an hour and a half!

If you don’t like where you are change it!  You’re not a tree ~Jim Rohn

Enter Dauphin, Manitoba.  Population 8,200.  After what seemed like little or no discussion, my fiancé and I decided to lose the stress and get a better bang for our buck and move to his hometown. Some people said we’d have been better off throwing a dart at the map.  It really wasn’t a difficult choice to make.  I’ve always been a big believer Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.59.33 PMthat we are the creators of our own destinies.  If you want something; make the choice to make the change to make it happen.  Period.  You have to start with identifying your WHY.  My why was tranquility, less stress, putting ourselves in a position for financial success, and getting the most out of our lives (I learned the hard way that it taken be taken from you in the blink of an eye, but that blog is for another day).   Before moving here, I’d never been, never visited and didn’t know much about it.  But, I did know that it was a huge downsize from my 6 million neighbours and that I didn’t have to spend hours driving to the beach (yes, Toronto has beaches, but, you don’t actually swim in them, they’re more for tanning and people watching!) and that within 30 minutes I could be at one of the most beautiful places in Canada (Clear Lake).  I’d get to be surrounded by the great outdoors, and it was nestled between two small mountain ranges (what? I had no idea the prairies had mountain ranges!) – the Riding Mountains and the Duck Mountains. So,  we loaded the contents of the last 5 years of our lives into a moving truck and set off on a new adventure.

It’s been 13 months since our move and, other than adjusting to some small town idiosyncrasies (like things closing at 6 PM and not being open on Sundays), it has been a change that I would strongly encourage people to make if you’re on the fence on whether or not to do something you’ve been debating about … whatever the change, whatever the reason.  The first thing people we meet say when we tell them we’ve moved here from Toronto is “why on God’s green earth would you do that”?  and I get it.  But, we all have choices to make every single day. Life is all about choices — choosing to feel blessed, choosing to feel grateful, choosing to be thankful, choosing to remaining the in status quo or choosing to make the decision that you need something different and to create a more fulfilling life for yourself.  We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is a choice.  I consciously chose happiness and went with it.  I figured “you can always go back home, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain”.  I thought,  what if we fall? but quickly replaced that with what if we fly?

We’ve settled in well to our little community.  We’ve met some really great friends.  For the most part, the folks are friendly.  We can get anywhere in about 5 minutes (8 minutes if the train rolls through town).  We have a much better work-life balance.  We purchased a 2500 sq ft home for a fraction of the cost, the cost of living is much more reasonable, we volunteer, we go on hikes after work, go to one of the lakes on the weekend, take a lot more trips now than we ever have and … we even spend time doing nothing!  Heck, this year alone .. I’ve kayaked,  snowshoed, cross country skied, and saw a real bear, moose and bison all for the first time and I read 9 books!

It is possible to have what you what out of life, you just have to be gutsy enough to challenge the status quo and chose to live YOUR best life.

Although I’m still feeling much love for the Tdot, we are quite enjoying our new life.