Screenshot of the world Integrity out of the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster defines integrity
As the quality
Of being honest and fair
As having a firm adherence
To a code of moral values

In layman’s terms it means
To tell the truth even when it hurts
To face the consequences of your actions
To own your mistakes
To apologize and make amends

Integrity is prized by everyone
Yet very few have it
Quick to disappear
From your life
Until they need something from you

They get angry
When you call out their bullshit
Stand your ground and refuse to budge
How dare you have boundaries
And self respect?

The ones with integrity
Own their mistakes
Change their behavior
Apologize for wrongs
Then work to never
Make the same mistakes again

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Integrity by Idgie Stark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


When most people think of azaleas, they think of large, usually red, flowering bushes. This is not the case for mine. It is a little thing, even after being here for almost 9 years.

It isn’t actually *my* azalea, it is my mother-in-law’s. When we bought this house, we invited them to move in with us for reasons. She asked if she could bring the two azalea bushes from their old house to plant here. I didn’t see a reason why not, they were beautiful at their old house. So, my husband dug them up  and planted them here in our new flower beds.

Not long after, one of the bushes died. The root system was damaged when they dug it up to the point it couldn’t be saved. This one wasn’t faring much better. It was important to me to save it since these azaleas belonged to my mother-in-law’s mother. She had dug them up from her mother’s yard when she had passed and planted them in her own yard. This would be their third home.

Determined to save this one, I researched and made a plan. I ended up cutting it so far back that only two little sticks – branches less than 12in tall that had green leaves – were left. We bought special azalea food for it and I religiously pruned and weeded it for years trying to encourage new growth.

Two years ago, it began to bloom once again. It started to fill out and now it looks like it is just a new bush, not one that should be decades old. This year I realized that it is saved, it is thriving and growing. It will be here long after my mother-in-law has passed and I will be able to tell the story to my children and maybe even my grandchildren of where it came from and how it survived with a little love and care.

It isn’t much to look at now as spring is just starting. In a few months the leaves with be a jewel green and ruby flowers will open up their faces to the sun. I have no doubt that in another 9 years it will be closer to its former glory and be a show piece of my flower garden.

I am sure there is a metaphor here, somewhere. Maybe a better writer than me could tell how just a little time, attention, patience, and kindness can help a struggling thing thrive and grow.

But, there is only me and so I can only  tell how I am looking forward to the flowers.