|On making habits, brushing, and JKD.
||[Jun. 25th, 2017|12:20 pm]
Half a lifetime ago, I had poor dental hygiene. I also lacked insurance, and wouldn't go to the dentist unless I had dental pain. I would occasionally try to get into the habit of brushing and flossing nightly, which would last for a week or so, but each time, the first night I skipped (sometimes with good reason) would make it much easier to skip subsequent nights. Then I'd have to start from scratch the next time.
I inherited a small (but significant to a poor young adult) amount from a grandparent, and used it to get the dental work I needed. (By that time, I had a broken tooth which didn't hurt, but which I couldn't ignore.) This became a wake-up call, due to all the time, money (most of the inheritance), and discomfort this cost me. I knew that I could not afford to put myself in that position again.
I started getting regular dental exams, and filling cavities before they became bigger problems, paying out of pocket. (A visit every six months didn't cost that much.) More importantly, I was determined to brush and floss regularly. Armed with knowledge of previous failures, any time I was tempted to skip hygiene, I would think, "Yeah, and then I'll skip it tomorrow too, I'll get out of the habit, and in a few years, I'll need a ton of dental work again." Then I would grudgingly go brush my teeth.
After two years of this, I had a night when I was crushingly exhausted. I made a conscious decision to skip brushing and just collapse into bed: I gave myself permission to do it just this once. Thirty seconds later, without having made any other decisions, I found myself standing at the sink, brushing my teeth.
Now that's what I call a habit.
Now I have my Jeet Kune Do class, which I love. For the first several years, I was the one who showed up to every single class. In the past year, various commitments and responsibilities have eroded that. Then I was sick for most of February (it was like a nasty cold that lasted all month), still had no energy in March, and was badly out of shape after that. Once I could, I resumed hiking a lot, to rebuild my endurance so that I could deal with the workouts in class. Various circumstances continued costing me sleep and energy (not all of which are to be complained about; we recently had three days on Long Island for a wedding, for example), and the best days for hiking often coincided with class days, so I missed a lot of class. (But on the up side, I finished hiking every part of every marked trail at Grafton Lakes State Park, which has way more trails than I had realized! I found many (endangered) Karner blue butterflies there, too.)
This week, I've had two days when my energy was balanced on the border of what I felt I needed to attend class. It could have gone either way. So the old pattern recognition kicked in: "I've missed way too much class lately. If I choose not to go when I can, it will endanger my good habit. So go." I went, had a great time, and knocked some rust off my skills. I think I'm going to be sore for two weeks from something I did to my pectoral muscle on Friday, but I'm still glad I went. JKD is important to me, and while I occasionally choose to miss it for other opportunities, responsibilities, or recovery, I never do so lightly.
This entry was originally posted at http://blimix.dreamwidth.org/144355.html. ( comments there.)