New Year New Decade

The first time I heard that phrase I froze. OMG, it is. The acknowledgement kind of makes 2020 a bigger year. And you think about the significance more when you’re adulting up a storm, trying to live life to the fullest while also doing a hundred things a day.

AarikaNew Year New Decade
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The Multitasking Problem: Part 2

Multitasking. A constant push to Do More, Do Better, Do Faster. In Part 1, I hit on a few things… Our rigorous society, juggling to deal with busyness and the problems with “multitasking” – most notably losing incredible amounts of mental time each day switching between tasks and the stratification of our attention that leads to likely inferior results. Here goes Part 2 with some of my own insights.

AarikaThe Multitasking Problem: Part 2
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The Multitasking Problem: Part 1

Multitasking is common. All day, every day. We listen to podcasts while riding the train or driving. We do dishes while also cooking in the kitchen. We use the toilet while brushing our teeth. We plan coffee and lunch meetings for business. I literally see 3 people in front of me right now at Starbucks each using a phone and a laptop at the same time. 

AarikaThe Multitasking Problem: Part 1
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Why I Travel

I recently took a trip to New York City that brought a lot of notions about “travel” to the forefront. The expense, the absence, the stress… Is it worth it? I suppose, from my previous situation of more means, I had never thought of it in such a make-or-break way.

AarikaWhy I Travel
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Active Pup

Detective Leonard Briscoe Johnson. My pup. My super active pup. His second birthday is in October, and he is still very much a puppy. Boykin Spaniels live to be up to 15 years old, so they must just really enjoy their puppy-hoods, right? I keep hearing that he’ll be more mature at age two. And, I’ve said from the beginning as a joke (as the truth is said in jest) that “he’ll be a great dog when he’s four.”

AarikaActive Pup
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Aging: Part 3

I accept that I am older! Part 3 is about understanding the angst that merely the idea of aging brings to our lives. The key is finding contentment in where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.  😉

A friend of mine has been 30 for a few months, and she recently admitted it was weighing on her. My response was, “Shut up. I’m 32.” In essence… I’m older, so if you say you are struggling with being old that makes me EXTRA OLD. But, I almost immediately regretted the statement.

I can’t write off aging like “woe is me / woe is all of us.” That’s not my style. I had to acknowledge that I felt that way too, that turning the big 3-0 was tougher than I imagined, that I still wonder if I’m doing well enough, if I’m as wise as I should be.

You have to ask why. Why do we get all bent out of shape with age 30? What significance does it really hold? Isn’t age merely a number?

I suppose 30 is THE AGE we are fearful of as we all approach. It’s the age that children reference as “old.” Literature, movies and music present a skewed reality. Industry and the workplace are certainly agist. Science says the body starts to decay at age 30 and keeps us fearful of reproductive decline and disease.

Top of the heap… Age 30 may be the “official adulthood” of recent generations. It’s the benchmark we achieve and then review our stats.

  • Domesticity – Partner, pets, kids, house?
  • Ownership – Property, cars, boats, furniture?
  • Liquidity – Travel, dining, apparel?
  • Work – Steady job, real career?
  • Fulfillment – Love, peace, joy?

Whoa, I did not mean to make matters worse right there. It’s just mind-blowing what all you start to measure about yourself, gauging if you have lived up to potential and if you are succeeding.

Anyway, the connotation means nothing. The real meaning of being a thirty-something is in the eye of the beholder. Take comfort in the rationale and positivity I am about the spread!

#1 A few of my own happy thoughts…

32 Years Young > I am taking great care of myself and have a goal to live to 100. I have 68 glorious years to go.

You Are As Young As You Feel > Yes, siree, I agree with this. It really shouldn’t matter what my birth certificate says or what I look like, if I feel like a spring chicken at heart.

Young As Your Heart Age > This quantifier has been all the rage in medicine today. “Heart age” refers to your body’s physical fitness. Movement is the fountain of youth.

#2 Some famous insights…

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” — David Bowie

“My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?” — Diane Von Furstenberg

( More quotes about aging from Senior Planet >> )

#3 To end with another personal story, this one more heartening…

When I was 10 years old, I was over at my grandparents’ house. My Papaw and I had walked to take the trash can up to the road. Headed back toward the house, and gleefully young, I asked Papaw if he wanted to race. He said, “Sure, first one to the house wins!” On our marks… Get set… Go!

We took off full force. Papaw on the inside. Me on the outside. I had a great stride, and I cut over to tag the corner of the house. I startled Papaw, and he tripped and fell down. I was so ashamed I hurt my grandfather. He got up okay, brushed off. We discussed the “house” finish line in detail – he thinking we were to just run past the house and I thinking we needed to touch the house.

We hugged, and no harm done. He said, “I know I’m 65, but (pointing at head) I still feel 45.” That exchange has always stuck with me, and means a lot more as I get older.

*This photo is from my wedding two years ago, about two months before I visited the dermatologist.


AarikaAging: Part 3
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Aging: Part 2

Welcome to the new anti-aging regime! Part 2 is about the information I gained with much research and testing. It’s still a very personal experience, but I hope I can make all you old people’s lives a bit easier.  😉

Yes, I got the Retin-A Micro. The instructions said to use it every day, or every other day if causing irritation. Well, my sensitive skin was not a huge fan. Using the prescription cream, my face got really red, felt dry and peeled later. For cell turnover, the price is kind of looking like a hot mess. I used at night before bed. But the next day, even a slight amount of sun exposure would burn the baby skin. I determined I would only use such a strong retinol twice per week.

This did not feel like an all-encompassing approach to anti-aging. So I went in search of more details about what my skin needed to be rejuvenated and protected.

I did not become an MD overnight. However, I did spend a multitude of hours online reading every article from experts on the subject. Day after day I was curious about something else – beauty myths, what a TV commercial promoted, the stuff in my products I couldn’t pronounce. I basically realized that all my old products were doing diddly-squat.

Next, I bought several items to try. The initial testing of each lasted weeks or months, depending on what it was for and the quantity – cleanser, lotion, serum, etc. I am not rich nor a wasteful person. I used every drop in my experimentation.

Overall, I surmise… Quality counts. Consistency pays off. Maintenance is way better than overhaul.

I may one day resort to Botox. But for now, I’m satisfied with topical solutions. What follows are my own opinions on skin care. Take with a grain of salt!


  1. Learn and form an opinion about what your skin needs.
  2. Remember your list of ingredients, what you’re looking for.
  3. Take time to read product labels. Seriously, all of them.
  4. Buy and try until you find products that fit you.


  • Hyaluronic Acid (moisturizing / look for “hyalu”)
  • Ceramides (cell bonding / look for “mides”)
  • Retinol (cell reproduction / look for “retin”)
  • Neuropeptides (cell functioning / look for “peptide”)
  • Vitamin C (brightening & tightening / a.k.a. “ascorbic acid”)
  • Vitamin E (antioxidant / a.k.a. “tocopherol”)


> Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum (day)

> EltaMD Renew Eye Gel (day)

> CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream (night)

> Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum (night)


There is a difference in products for eye area. They are made with special ingredients – not harmful or irritating to the eye, and usually a consistency that can be gently applied to avoid rubbing or tugging of delicate skin.

Sometimes I mix products for my own concoctions, like adding a bit of argan oil to a Vitamin C serum to prevent drying.

In an effort to minimize forehead activity, I began doing facial exercises. Holding the forehead muscles still while moving other parts of the face to condition the whole situation!

I also began watching myself in the mirror during the daily beauty routine – to prevent lifting my brow and squishing wrinkles for no reason while combing my hair, brushing my teeth, applying mascara and more!


AarikaAging: Part 2
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Aging: Part 1

I just had a birthday. I turned 32. Each year I think about the same thing now – getting older. It’s about time I write about my journey. So I decided it should be a three-part series of humor, research and enlightenment.

Don’t tread on my ego! Part 1 is a funny story about my thirtieth birthday, that all my close peeps know because I never miss an opportunity to tell of the shock and to get any scrap of affirmation about looking young.  😉

Upon turning 30, I felt an inclination of responsibility. There are certain things a person must now do in life when reaching this ripe age, no? I decided to go to the dermatologist for the first time ever and get a skin check. I got a recommendation for a local, reputable specialist and scheduled.

At the appointment, I did like the doctor’s personality. I explained why I was there – concern over early years of sun damage, new moles, preventing cancer. I was all geared up, swathed in the medical gown, for a thorough inspection.

First blow… The doctor quickly perused. “Hmm, hmm, hmm. Nah, you’re good.” I’m sure I made a disconcerted face because I felt barely observed. She simply said my skin looked fine, and that new moles will continue to appear until well into my forties, so no need to worry. (I guess she was saying she would not take my skin checks seriously, nor would I be at risk for cancer, until after I turn 40???!!!)

I was getting over the laissez-faire assessment and considering, “Cool, no issues. Great news.” When she began with the second blow…

Doctor: “I hope you won’t be upset. And I don’t normally say this, but in your case I feel there is a noticeable need. Or, I wouldn’t say it.

Me: “Okay.”

Doctor: “You have a very expressive face, and that’s awesome. But you also have a very active forehead. It moves a lot, and, unfortunately, that is creating premature wrinkles. See… [hands me a mirror]

Doctor: “Have you ever considered Botox? We do that here.”

Me: “I’m not saying I would never try Botox. But can I just start with a cream or something?”

Doctor: “Yeah, I can write you a prescription. But it really won’t stop the muscles from moving and doing damage, ya know?

Me: “Well, I would like to try that first.”

I left that office baffled and sad. Did she really say I needed Botox? I have a very active forehead? I have premature wrinkles? [sigh] [worry face] [cry]

My husband was incredibly kind to assure me that I was beautiful and look younger than I am and that he lost respect for that doctor and that she was only trying to sell some Botox. My family and friends were equally encouraging. I still got the Retin-A Micro at the drugstore within days.

I cannot even describe fully what an impact this encounter had on me turning 30. I have literally been talking about it for two years. Maybe I’m okay with aging in theory. But maybe I’m not okay with someone saying I look so old I need to inject botulism into my face to stop the deformity and hideousness!

I know. So Silly. I’m laughing now retelling this. (Oh, no, more lines!)

AarikaAging: Part 1
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First Week

Like many people, I took advantage of a lot of opportunities to indulge over the holidays. Nearly every event was centered around food. The wine, beer and cocktails runneth over. My rambunctious brother was visiting and stayed at our house for a week. So yeah.

I think we all “give ourselves a break” during the holidays. Normal lives may be filled with order, boundaries, regime. Especially if your routine changes, like you are off work for a week, you are kind of vacationing from reality. You feel entitled to freedom, freedom from standard “proper” actions and freedom from guilt in your own mind. Like I said, I did it. Celebratorily. Gladly.

For the first week in January though, I came up with some “get back on track” rules for myself. (I know this could sound silly to some, but creating these rules on a weekly or monthly basis have been truly crucial to my personal health and fitness, the key to goal-setting.)

The rules for January 1-7 were simple:

  • No candy
  • No soda
  • No fried foods
  • No alcohol

One could certainly set stricter rules, and in the past I have. But in this case, I only wanted a solid week off from the top four offenders in my diet. These were the specific foods and drinks I noted I was consuming too much of in weeks prior. I had to cleanse!

Tuesday, January 2, I came home from work after a hazardous day. Here was my thought process…

  • Gosh, today was tough, and I’m exhausted.
  • I wish I could treat myself, to feel better, as consolation.
  • I really want two mini Milky Way bars that I got in my stocking.
  • I had a good day by the rules, did not have soda, fried food or alcohol.
  • Maybe that’s what I should do instead – just allow myself one thing from the No list each day.
  • Cool! I will have the candies.
  • Chomp. Chomp.

A minute later, I felt terrible. I had just set these rules for my First Week, and I broke one immediately. I thought, what the heck is wrong with me? I realized I wanted to write a blog post about this experience right then. I wanted to document my own journey and failure. If this happens to a health and fitness expert, then it most definitely happens to those unpracticed and unaware. My problem was talking myself into that candy. I rationalized why I could have it, why I deserved it. This thinking was not in line with my goal. The person who lost here was me.

This is what my clients go through every day when trying to be active and eat healthy. They set goals. They make themselves promises. They welch on the deal. Because behavior change is not instant. It takes having “I want the candy” moments followed by “I ate the candy,” “I know eating the candy does not get me to my goal,” and “I resolve to not do that next time” moments.

We are all learning more, all the time. The better we recognize and analyze our behavior, the more likely we will change it and make positive, healthy lifestyle decisions.

< As written for Doctor for Life >
AarikaFirst Week
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Resolve to Succeed

It’s that time again. We can’t believe it’s December. Christmas is almost here. We recap our year, taking stock of the best times and worst times. We evaluate, how did 2017 go? We think about a new year and a new beginning. It means something to us, somehow.

Self-improvement is a shared hobby. It is estimated that greater than 40% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. But only about 8% achieve them.

People have good intentions. The problem lies in goal-setting. Say the first thought is “I want to lose weight.” A person may decide on a goal of losing 30 pounds.

“Losing 30 pounds” is an Outcome Goal. It’s what you accomplish after a series of steps. You have to work to get there. Instead, a person should focus on Behavior Goals – what, when and how you are going to do something in order to lose that 30 pounds.

I found a Forbes article that breaks down how to be successful with New Year’s Resolutions nicely, that is worth re-reading every year. Borrowing the sections…

Keep It Simple

We tend to set a huge goal or create a long list for ourselves. We are daunted from the start, which can lead to failing to launch at all or getting overwhelmed early. Instead, set small, attainable goals… “I am going to walk in my neighborhood.”

Make It Tangible

The more vague your resolution, the more vague your results. We have to be specific with our goals, and we have to measure the method. “I am going to walk in my neighborhood every Sunday for 30 minutes.”

Make It Obvious

Track, track, track! The pure idea that you have to document what you do (and don’t do) will affect your choices. It becomes real then. You have to admit it. Another great tactic is sharing your goals with other people – family, friends, social media. You are then accountable to more than just yourself.

Keep Believing You Can Do It

Simply setting a goal increases your chances of actually achieving something by 10 times (according to Statistic Brain). Yet average people get discouraged easily after a couple weeks or months. They feel defeated and at fault. Yet confidence is key. You have as much willpower as you think you have. So boost that willpower supply with some self-love and positive influences.

< As written for Doctor for Life >
AarikaResolve to Succeed
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