• Mark J. Keenan

Forgetting To Brush My Teeth


I have a morning ritual.


It commences with being woken by our black labrador, Ozzie, who, at 5am every day, can be found impatiently waiting for his morning ablutions and breakfast at the bottom of the stairs. It generally then proceeds as follows:


1. Take anxiety meds and asthma meds.


2. Turn on kettle and espresso machine. Put espresso cup under spout and teabags (always two) in mug.


3. Let dog out, take in the morning air while he does his business, let dog back in.


4. Open bucket of dog biscuits. Stop before scooping biscuits and ask Ozzie to settle down (usually he’s close to hyperventilating with excitement by this point). Feed dog.


5. Return upstairs to complete coffee and tea-making,


6. Carry espresso, mug of tea, and a banana downstairs.


7. Sit at desk, turn on phone and open meditation app.


8. Meditate for ten minutes.


9. Drink espresso.


10. Open daily “diary”. This is a modified version of a diary I was introduced to at a cognitive behaviour therapy course earlier this year.

  • Re-read yesterday evening’s diary entries*.

  • Fill in today’s “wellness plan”.

*I should be writing the answers in the evening and reading them again in the morning...lately I’ve been slack and not completing them until the following morning. Note to self: get back in the routine of writing them just before bed).


11. Open gratitude diary. Write, or sometimes draw, one thing you are grateful for today. Often, but not always, something from yesterday.


12. Turn on computer. Select some tunes. Start work on whatever it is I am doing today.


It’s usually around 530am by now and I’m awake enough to write.


At this point, I avoid opening emails, replying to messages (unless they are from my children), and other distractions (like looking up “how to print D&D character sheets” which I might have gone to bed thinking about).


Somewhere in all the above, I usually remember to brush my teeth. This doesn’t need to be part of the ritual, since I have been doing it since I was young and also because furry teeth have their own way of reminding me.


And that’s really the point. And, it’s why every day I repeat the process and follow the same structure.


Because I haven’t yet reached the point where meditating and writing in my diary is the same as brushing my teeth. And even though I am getting better at telling when my head feels a little furry, I don’t always recognize it or see the need to do something about it.


So, until taking care of my mental health becomes as habitual as brushing my teeth, I’ll keep my daily routine on repeat.


Underlined below are the questions from my “end-of-day” diary, which I re-read in the morning. After each question is my last response.

What did I achieve today?

A single play score of 52 in Scrabble.


What did I learn today?

How to export a completed D&D character sheet from the website.


What could I have done better?

Not skipped the day’s functional fitness training (though sleeping in was pretty good!).


What can I plan for tomorrow?

Head out for an early run and meet a friend for a coffee.


What skills and strategies can I try?

Active listening.


Underlined below are the prompts for my wellness plan for each day, with the last response included below.

Reading\writing

Write a blog about your routine.


Acting\doing

Actively listen to others

Self-nurturing

Choose your ten favourite 2020 albums and make playlist


Gratitude diary entry for today:

Spending time yesterday with my wonderful wife; eating Twisties, drinking ginger beer, and playing Scrabble.


My Favourite Albums Released in 2020 (in no particular order):

Legacies – Chaos Divine

Red – Devilskin

Sawayama – Rina Sawayama

How To Survive A Funeral – Make Them Suffer

Petals For Armor – Hayley Williams

Post Human: Survival Horror – Bring Me The Horizon

Ohms – Deftones

Child Soldier: Creator Of God – Greg Puciato

The Death Of Me – Polaris

Carnivore – Body Count


My Favourite Song Released in 2020:

Bagi-la-m-bargan – Birdz, Fred Leone






© Mark J. Keenan