Do what you thought you were doing

Sometimes I make little observations not worthy of a full-blown blog post, but noteworthy nonetheless. “Week back strong forward” looks back at my week to capture thoughts and observations that I believe make me stronger as I move forward.

Sometimes ‘deep pockets’ aren’t a good thing

In my line of work, “deep pockets” are what we hope our marketing campaigns will attract, as people or companies with “deep pockets” have the financial wherewithal to buy what we sell and make the world a better place.

week back strong forward (1) croppedBut this time when I heard the phrase “deep pockets,” I was sitting in a dentist’s chair, and my hygienist was measuring the gumline around each tooth.

“Four – four – three – six” was one of the combinations of numbers she’d spoken to the computer to record. I’d never had a six before, and I heard that new measurement more than once before she completed her tour of my gumline.

“Your pockets are deeper than they’ve been,” the hygienist told me. “This is going the wrong direction.”

I was disappointed because I’d done everything I was supposed to be doing.

“You’re still using your Waterpik every day?” she asked.

“Every day,” I responded.

“Is it the cordless version or the countertop one?”

“The countertop one.”

“Good,” she said. “Fill the tank the whole way each time.”

“I do. Are the deep pockets in specific areas?” I asked, thinking I could target those areas better going forward.

“No, they’re all over. No pattern.”


I’d been experiencing pain in my teeth when drinking cold beverages, and my hygienist gave me some sample tubes of toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

“Make sure you put a whole inch of the paste on your toothbrush, as the directions say,” she said. “A little dab won’t do.”

Wait, what? Toothpaste comes with directions? A light bulb illuminated in my head. This was a true eureka moment. Maybe I hadn’t been using enough toothpaste!

I looked at the box when I got home and saw directions that specifically stated I needed to use a full inch of paste.

What else had I been doing incorrectly?

I got home and began to put some lemon and strawberries into my water, as was my wont. Wait. Maybe adding lemon so often and drinking fruit-infused water had contributed to my deep pockets. What pleased my tastebuds likely pleased bacteria in my mouth, which I would pay for in decay and gumline. I nixed the fruit and drank water. Straight up.

What else could I improve?

Though I’d been using the Waterpik religiously (i.e. every night, not just at church on Sundays), I hadn’t used it systematically. I just willy-nilly went around my mouth squirting water wherever I felt I needed it.

That day I began using the Waterpik systematically. I divided my mouth into four quadrants and conscientiously moved the water flosser along the front, back and tops of teeth in each quadrant. I actively listened for the sound the machine makes to indicate it is time to move to a different quadrant.

I also put the full inch of toothpaste on my Sonicare toothbrush — and I got a timer from the kitchen so I could brush each quadrant (front, back, and tops of teeth) for a full 30 seconds.

This was different for me.

Previously, I’d multitask while brushing my teeth. I would walk into my closet and select an outfit for the next day of work. Or walk down the other end of the house to get something. Sometimes I’d rest my Kindle on my cup of (fruited) water and simply read while I went through the motions of brushing my teeth.

Of course, I hadn’t wanted to put a full inch of toothpaste on my brush then — because it would ooze and bubble out of my mouth while I was reading my Kindle or wandering around my house.

The difference wasn’t that I dramatically changed or added anything to my routine after my visit to the dentist. The difference was that I paid attention and actually did what I thought I had been doing.

By paying attention, I realized that I’d inadvertently been plying my teeth with fruit sugars all through the day. I learned that I hadn’t been using enough toothpaste. And I recognized that I hadn’t optimized my dental hygiene by multitasking.

What other areas of my life might I improve just by paying attention?

Of course, I don’t know that paying attention to my dental hygiene will remedy my “deep pockets,” but I’m going to attend to it as if it will. Then next year, I’ll report back. Maybe, and I seriously hope, I can eliminate the deep pockets from my mouth so I won’t need deep pockets to pay for extra dental procedures.

In the meantime, I am inspecting my life to see where else I could pay better attention and do what I thought I had been doing.

“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work…” (Galatians 6:3-4).

She called me “the yoga lady”

My latest fitness routine includes swimming every weekday. Sometimes I’m in the pool for an hour and a half; sometimes I’m in the pool for 10 minutes. It depends on my “real” workout for the day — and if I arrived at the pool later than planned.

Some days I follow a lap swim with an aqua class such as HIIT or Zumba; that allows me a 45-minute swim and a 45-minute class. Other days I do yoga or lift weights. On those days, I do a 10-20 minute swim, then shower and dress for my “real” workout.

My friends and acquaintances at the gym are somewhat aware of my varying routine. But those who aren’t are sometimes startled when I arrive, don my cap and goggles and get right into the pool to swim for 10-20 minutes — and then just as rapidly get out of the pool to leave.

On one such day,  a new swimmer was in the lane nearest the bench where I’d placed my towel and bag. She was standing at the end of the pool, needing something but not wanting to get out of the pool to get it. She was likely hoping for someone to pass because as soon as I did, she asked me if I could hand her the pull buoy near me.

“You aren’t leaving already, are you?” she asked as I handed her the pull buoy. “You just got here.”

“Yes, today’s my short swim so I can go to yoga,” I explained.

That was the extent of our conversation. A couple of days later, she was in the pool again (and needed her water bottle that was on the bench) when I arrived for another short swim.

“It’s the yoga lady,” she said.

I had to laugh as I handed her the water bottle.

Yes, I do yoga, but I would never call myself “the yoga lady.” Yoga is great for strength training and stretching but is one of the most challenging physical exercises I do. I don’t love it, but I do love its benefits.

People who know me might call me the “whining yoga lady,” but the emphasis would be on whining, not on yoga.

The lady in the pool doesn’t know me well. She is judging me based on what she does know: I’m good for fetching items she needs; I don’t swim long because my priority is yoga.

To her, I am “the yoga lady.”

It reminded me that people are watching what you do to determine who you are. What they see in your behavior, conversation and manners forms the basis of their judgment.

We all do that, don’t we? We accumulate information by what we see and hear, sometimes in person, sometimes by what another person tells us, and we form an opinion or judgment. It may be about a person, a place, a movie, a book, a store, whatever.

My behavior and conversation at the pool defined me to that swimmer. It’s somewhat inaccurate (because she hasn’t heard me whine about yoga — yet), but that’s life. While I’m glad the snippet of life she saw wasn’t worse, ultimately, my goal is that my behavior, words, and demeanor point to something greater than me. (And I don’t mean yoga.)

“… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

My strong forward takeaway

And with that, “the yoga lady” with “deep pockets” closes her “week back strong forward.” My goal going forward is to pay attention so that I do what I think I’ve been doing and live in such a way as to glorify God.


3 thoughts on “Do what you thought you were doing

  1. Glad you now put an inch of toothpaste on your brush! Electric brush??? I use electric brush, but no waterpik! Rinse mouth at night with floride rinse! It has helped my gums!!! I enjoy your blogs!!! Have a great weekend… Antique Claire


    1. Thanks, Aunt Claire! I discovered the Waterpik back in high school when I had braces on my teeth. My dentist recommends it for me instead of flossing. But it sounds as if you have everything under control. Thanks for reading and commenting!


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