Money VS Passion: TRJ’s Quarter-Year Update

This post is my first update on my journey so far. If you have been following the journey, or just intrigued to know what I have been up to those past 5 months, then I invite you to read on.

First of all, this is not exactly a “quarter-year,” but I only thought of this post about two weeks ago or so, and I was either going to do it now and be a little behind on the “quarter” part, or wait for it to be like half a year update or something. But I eventually decided to just do it now.

I felt like I should have a post where I document what has been going well for me so far on this journey and what needs improvement. So that I can have an overview of where I am exactly.

I started this journey in December 2018, so this is currently my 5th month on the journey.

I have had some downs and a whole good deal of ups, and I’m working my way through this as hard and as fast as I can.

Downs

I’ll start with the downs first, so I can end this on a positive note.

1. No day job

So far, I haven’t managed to find any day jobs that would allow me to do what I love doing, which is writing.

I enjoy writing, whether it’s blogging here or writing fiction, and living to do just this was my ultimate dream. But, you know, it would have been nice if I managed to get paid for that as well. However, no luck so far in that area.

2. No more Redbubble

Another bad news is that my online store on Redbubble, which was actually bringing in some profit, got suspended for no reason about 2 months ago.

I figured it out by chance, when I was checking for broken links on my website here and found that my store’s link was one of them. I mean imagine finding out like that; not a very pleasant surprise.

I contacted them a dozen times, for about 3 weeks, and I received no answer. Until I eventually tweeted them and someone replied to me a week later.

They said my account seems to have had some kind of a “suspicious activity” that violated their rules or so and which has resulted in suspending it.

Now I have not logged into my account nor uploaded any new designs for over 3 months prior to this suspension. So, there is no way in hell I had anything to do with this activity.

When I tried to have a better explanation as to what kind of activity exactly that would be considered “suspicious,” to the point that they would suspend an account without even a notice; their reply was that they don’t know and they can’t tell me what it is exactly.

That was it. They literally shut down a person’s source of income with absolutely no explanations.

They shut it down and they don’t even know why it was shut down. However, they still banned me from ever using their service again.

I wrote a post some time ago about my experience with print-on-demand websites and I talked about how much I love and recommend Redbubble as a free online shop, I sincerely take that back now. Please do not use this service.

I wholeheartedly believed it was an amazing service at the time, but you can only judge something based on your experience and what you have seen, and at that time, I only saw a great service. But now and after how they’ve treated this whole situation, I honestly would just recommend you go for any of the other alternatives on that list.

3. No books read

So, I had a plan to read a book every month. One book that would help me progress and benefit me on this journey; and I would write a review about it here to share the best ideas discussed with everyone.

However, I only managed to read 2 books throughout the past 5 months.

I will try to get into the habit of audiobooks, because apparently having to stare at words on a screen 24/7 is not making me very enthusiastic about seeing more words on any other page.

Ups

Now to the good and productive side of the journey!

1. Investment

I mentioned in a previous post that I started my first investment in real estate through a local home construction company; starting with a very humble amount of money, the least amount they accepted actually.

This one is successful so far and is supposed to provide a little amount of interest in the next few days, as a quarter year profit, which will hopefully help with my saving up target for the year.

2. Saving Goal

Speaking of saving up, I’m sort of halfway through my annual saving goal, so this is good news as well.

I have been practicing a lot of ways to help minimize my spendings as much as possible, since my income is not that great at the moment. So, I follow these saving money tips religiously.

I still need to find some form of a stable job though, since it’s apparently the only way I will be able to progress a bit faster with my goals.

3. Retirement Account

I was in the bank a few weeks ago and I was asking about the available index funds to see if I could afford any.

And I found something else, that is a bit similar, which is a type of insurance that withdraws a fixed amount from your bank account on a monthly basis and provides a certain profit every year.

The profit percentage is not fixed and it is mostly connected with the economy, so it is sort of a similar thing to index funds; however instead of making one-time payment to buy a fund, I make smaller monthly payments, which kind of suits my current financial situation.

So, I opened an account there and this is considered my first long-term investment method. (If you are in Egypt and want to know more about it, just contact me.)

4. Knowledge

I have learned so many new things in those past few months.

Some things I have already implemented in my life and practice and some are things that will help me in a bit of a long-term, such as the various investment methods that would make it easier for me to see what exactly I would want to do with my money once I have enough of it.

5 months ago, I had absolutely zero knowledge in any and all of the below.

a. Making Money

  • I learned how to become a host and make money with Airbnb. I was planning to put that to practice a bit earlier, but decided to put it off for personal reasons. However, I still have it on the list of things I will be doing soon.
  • I learned how to invest in index funds, and I consider this to be one of the highlights of my accomplishments, if I say so myself. This is also the first thing coming up on my list once I have enough money to put in a fund.

B. Blogging

I have learned a lot of tips and ways to help with my blog’s performance, whether it be through applying SEO or other methods that I shared here to drive more traffic.

Learning this stuff and applying them gradually has made a noticeable difference in the way the blog has been performing.

Below is a graph of my views and visitors from December 1st until April 25th. And I will not be sharing any numbers, because my focus is not on the numbers at all, just as it shouldn’t be anyone else’s, as long as progress is being made.

The point is that this curve/chart is going upwards, not a flatline and not heading downwards. That is the only thing that matters in stats.

Blog stats (views/visitors) from the period of Dec 1st to Apr 25th

Since I learned about Google’s SEO and applied most of what I learned to my website, I’ve definitely started seeing a difference in traffic, in that, I have been gaining a lot more visitors from search engines, Google and others, in the past few weeks than I have been since I started this blog.

There is no graph I could manage to get from the WordPress stats to show this progress.

But here’s how my website has been performing as recorded on Google Search Console from Dec 29th till Apr 23rd.

Google Search Console stats for my website from Dec 29 to Apr 23

I learned a lot about Pinterest, too, and how to use it to drive traffic to your website.

I’m still working on seeing results from this one as I have just started; but I did see my very first few clicks from Pinterest last week, and my curve is also moving upwards. So, hopefully, I’m on the right track.

Below is a graph of the profile reach stats over the past few weeks since I started working on the account, from March 27th to Apr 25th.

Pinterest profile reach from March 27 to Apr 25

C. Wellbeing

I have also learned how to manage goals and set up clear and achievable plans.

I developed a lot of habits that has helped my productivity, such as creating lists for everything, which has hugely impacted my life, to be honest, and helps me achieve my daily goals every day.

Also, thanks to this, my house is always clean now, because I’m rocking those chores! That’s probably too much information for you, but I wanted to put this out there: Little accomplishments count, too.

I’m physically much better than I was a few months ago, too, thanks to a workout routine, a few detox challenges here and there, and learning more about physical health and ways to keep a good posture to ease my neck and back pain.

I’m also mentally motivated, blogging-wise, thanks to a great company of bloggers who have found and read my blog and granted me with nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award, the Blogger Recognition Award, and the Sunshine Blogger Award, which I am yet to publish a post about.

5. Great Company

Speaking of great company, last but definitely not least, throughout the past few months, I have met so many amazing people.

Some of them couldn’t have been more supportive of my journey and never seem to miss an opportunity to cheer for me and lift me up with their comments and feedback.

And some of them have inspired me in a lot of different ways, and maybe without them even knowing it.

But all of them are incredibly nice and friendly people with genuine personalities that have left a huge positive impact on me.

And I would like to take this moment to give them a shoutout, just because I can (in no particular order, websiteTwitter).

Erin@Erinbabysteps
A. Jackson@AMisanthrope1
Hannah‏@PagePlacePlate
Vanessa@TheWblogger
Sandy@sundaywithsandy
Mikaela@fit_blondie_mj 
Roger@mindandlove1
Syeda@Gurru_Says
Mama Robbins@MamaRobbinsLife
Alpana@chand_alpana
M. Lanen@lanendevries
Sophie Alice@prosateuse
Kenzie@MsKenzieMack

These people have been the cause of some of my smiles, giggles, or laughters; they either taught me something new or just been such great companions that made my journey, so far, a much more enjoyable one!

I cannot wait to meet more amazing people and learn more and, hopefully, achieve more of my goals to eventually reach the ultimate one: Becoming my own boss.

Till next week, happy days!

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Start Living Today (Workbook Review)

Start Living Today is a workbook to help you figure what your goals in life are and puts you on the path towards achieving them. I used this workbook myself and this is what I think about it.

Some time ago, I published a post about how to achieve anything you want in life, I shared how I had this awakening moment where I felt the need to make a change and decided I no longer wanted to be a passerby in my own life, but to live consciously and with a purpose and a plan in order to create the type of life I want to live.

And this week, I am going to share with you something that can help you figure out the kind of goals you need to have in front of you and which can help you put your feet on the first steps towards achieving them.

This post is my review of the Start Living Today workbook by one of my favourite bloggers, Vanessa C. Dias (The Wellbeing Blogger). It is “a 30-page e-book designed to help people organise their goals and life in general.”

This workbook was gifted to me to use it and share my honest thoughts about it here.

This review is more of my own reflection and my thoughts on some parts of the workbook. This post certainly does not contain all the material or all the ideas discussed in this workbook. You can jump to my conclusion here.

What does your life look like?

When reading the intro to this workbook, I couldn’t help but relate to every word. The motive behind creating this workbook was also my motive to finally stop wondering about what my life could have been like, had I been there or had I done that, and start taking actual steps towards creating the life I want to live.

“I craved real change and I was tired of reading and listening to hundreds and hundreds of inspirational messages without achieving any real progress in life.” Dias says in the intro.

This workbook is designed with the purpose of helping you take this step too. To define your goals in life and work your way through towards achieving them.

start living today workbook review. a page taken from the book: your life, your rules
A page from the workbook.

The book starts by first helping you figure out what your life consists of and what matters to you in general.

What does your life currently look like? What are the things that are most important to you?

In order to make real progress in life, you need to have a very clear and defined point of view which will help you create a plan, but you first need to know exactly where you are in life and exactly where you want to be.

Where do you want to be in life?

After you make a list of the most important aspects/dimensions of your life, the workbook helps you decide where you stand now in each dimension of life, and it then proceeds to take you step by step to see how you can achieve the progress you need in order to get where you want to be in each of these aspects you specified.

The design of the workbook itself is created in a way that helps you write down every thing. There are questions to lead you on and then there are spaces so you can go ahead and write down your thoughts.

This way you become more aware of each aspect of your life. You are able to have an overview of your thoughts on each aspect in an organized, written form, and this makes you see things more clearly.

What is the story of your future self?

Towards the end of this workbook, you are asked to write the story of your life, given that you have followed all the steps in the book and achieved all the goals set there. And this was my favourite part!

As you have documented the way you see everything in your life right now and what you wish to change or achieve. You will have a clear idea of what kind of life you would be having when you do all those steps and achieve your goals.

When writing this part, of what my life would look like, describing everything in detail and including every aspect of my life that I wish to progress in, it honestly felt incredible.

It felt real and doable. It felt like this is something that I can work through and achieve. It made me want to move and start taking more actions towards my dream life, and start taking them right now.

start living today workbook review. a page taken from the book: what you can see, you can do
Another page from the workbook.

What do I think of this workbook?

To be completely honest, when I first checked this workbook, I didn’t really feel like it could be of any help to me. I thought in my mind, “well, I already know this stuff,” and so I was skeptic that it was actually going to help me much.

But I decided to sit down and follow through and write down the answer to every question anyway, because I wanted to review it, and I wanted the review to be honest and based on my own experience with it.

After I went through all the questions and wrote the last answer to the last question.. I felt amazing! I felt happy and motivated.

There is a huge difference between knowing the answers to the questions in your head, and taking the time to sit down and write them in detail.

You may actually surprise yourself with things you didn’t even know were on your mind, or things that just slipped your mind due to the many other aspects of your life that you are juggling everyday.

The best part about this workbook, and why it is different from reading a self-help book, for example, is that it is something that actually pushes you to take steps as you go with every page.

So you’re not just sitting there, stuffing words into your brain that may or may not stick with you, you’re actually applying what you learn, and with every page you take a practical step forward towards your goal.

Final words on this:

If you already have your plan figured out and/or already took the first steps towards achieving your goals, it may still be helpful in the way that it was to me, helping me write down things I didn’t realize I had in mind, but I honestly don’t think it is mainly designed for you.

If you are someone who feels they are not living a life they are happy with, or if you feel like you need to make a change and you just don’t know how to start and you wish someone could help you and talk you through it, then this workbook will definitely help you.

It is going to help you have a closer look at your current situation and encourage you to think of different ways to make it better.

Till next week, happy days!


As explained by the creator of this workbook:

It’s may be a good alternative for those who don’t want or aren’t ready yet to work with a professional coach/psychologist and still want to improve their quality of life.

This workbook is currently available as an e-book.

The 5 Dangers Of Sitting In A Bad Posture For Hours

Sitting for too long is bad for your health. Sitting for too long in the wrong posture is A LOT worse.
Read about the dangers and what you can do to avoid them in this post.

A post on health might seem like an odd topic to find here given the theme of this blog; however, this topic is directly related to my journey. In fact, the entire thing is dependent on it.


Jump to:


Working on this blog is something I do while sat down. But it’s not just that, almost everything I’m doing, I do while sitting down starring at something, either reading for studies, writing assignments/homework, working on every single job I’ve ever had, watching TV, typing a blog post, researching a topic, or just scrolling through social media pages, etc.

That is a lot of sitting down! And this can be seriously dangerous if you are not paying attention to how long you are doing this and the way you are actually doing it.

I have been suffering from neck and shoulder pain for quite a long time, but only in recent months did it become so intolerable that I was forced to do a checkup, to find I have severe tight neck muscles and some kind of irritation in my cervical spine nerves (aka a pinched nerve).

An irritation in the cervical spine causes “pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand.”

I have been taking medications and getting ultrasound therapy. But it’s not like the flu; and it doesn’t go away that quickly or that easily. I have been getting treatment on and off for the past 5-6 months. And many of the medications I have taken had some nasty side effects. So this is no walk in the park, it is bad and painful.

And I must say that, for the most part, I have been entirely dependent on the medications alone to do their magic and fix this, without much effort on my part.

But I’ve reached to a point where I got sick and tired of always being in horrific pain whenever I have to use my arm to carry something or, mistakenly, lean on it when I’m getting out of bed and feel as if a power drill is punching a hole through my shoulder.

So, I started to do some reading into this to try and find things that I can do on my part, to help fix this along with the medications.

But, first, let me tell you how bad this can actually get and why you should pay attention too!

How Sitting For Long Periods Of Time Affects Your Health

Sitting is the new smoking is a study made in the US claiming that sitting for one hour straight is as unhealthy as smoking two cigarettes.

They explain that sitting still for over 6 hours a day is as unhealthy for your body as smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes in a day. 

And that according to a study focused on the causes of chronic diseases, it is found that sitting for long hours is the number one contributer to developing a chronic disease (in the US).

Another study conducted by a number of leading professors in the UK was made on sedentary behaviour and its effect on both young and adults. And it concludes that sitting for long durations of time can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death.

How To Avoid These Issues

It is highly advised that in order to avoid the serious health issues that accompanies sitting for too long, you should have a break every 30 minutes.

So every 30 minutes you need to get up for one or two minutes; you can do some stretches, walk to get a drink, or just do any kind of movement to break the idle position that your body has been in for the past 30 minutes.

There are some apps that are created specifically to help you do that, or you can simply set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes to work as a reminder that it’s time for you to move.

5 Ways A Bad Sitting Posture Affects Your Health

Image by medicaldaily.com

As per multiple studies and scientific researches made on the negative side effects of sitting in a wrong posture, it is found that your sitting posture can affect you in many more ways than just the way your body looks.

1. Back and spinal column

Starting the list with the more obvious problem that arises from sitting in a bad posture: back pain.

Sitting in a wrong posture can cause pain in the upper back, lower back, and the neck. The pain can also spread to include your arms, hands, legs and feet, depending on the part affected in the spinal column.

One of the medical conditions it can lead to is a pinched nerve.

Beside the fact that it causes a lot of pain, a pinched nerve, if left untreated, can cause chronic pain and permanent nerve damage which can lead to a disability, depending on the area controlled by the affected nerves.

And it is quite alarming to know that, according to this research, for every 2.5 cm your head moves forward, you add 0.45 kg of extra wight on your spine. A human’s head weighs between 4.5 and 5.5 kg.

So, if you are starring down at your phone, for example, that is about 13 cm of leaning forward which adds 5.85 kg of extra weight on your neck and spine. Adding to that the actual head weight, and you get an average of 11 kg of weight that is being dragged by your neck and spinal column. That is also the average weight of a 2-year old child.

2. Lungs and breathing

When you are sitting in a pitched forward position, the lungs slump forward and become compressed with the diaphragm moving up further in the chest which decreases the amount of oxygen entering your lungs by 30%.

Decreasing your oxygen intake, in turn, affects your energy levels and your ability to concentrate. It will also lead to feelings of fatigue and cause headaches.

3. Blood pressure

According to a study made in the UK, scientists found that sitting in the wrong posture where your shoulders and back are slouched is likely to affect your blood pressure.

The neck muscle cells signal the brain when sensing movement in the neck, to ensure adequate blood supply as the body changes posture. This system, however, breaks down when cells incur damage from poor posture, resulting in blood pressure either higher or lower than optimum.

4. Digestive organs

Sitting in a slouched posture compresses the digestive organs which can make them incapable of functioning properly. It slows the movement of your intestines which can cause digestion problems such as bloating or constipation.

This effect on digestive organs can also impact your metabolism.

5. Mental health

From my own take and what I noticed, when you are slouched in your chair, it creates a feeling of laziness and sometimes you’d feel down or easily irritated, unlike when you are straightened up, it feels like you are more open, awake and active.

And according to this research publication, the posture in which you are sitting does indeed affect your mood. A bad/slouched posture leads to being more prone to and easily affected by negative thoughts and emotions; while sitting in an upright position reduces stress and generally enhances the person’s mood and their mindset.

And as another experiment concluded, people that sit in an upright posture tend to easily remember more positive memories and have positive thoughts than those in a bad posture.

What Is A Good Sitting Posture?

There are a few things that you need to pay attention to when you sit down in order to make sure you are in the right posture.

  • Your feet should be flat on the ground with your knees making a right angle and are at the same level as your hips or slightly lower.
  • Your back is straight and chest is stretched so that your shoulders are not slouched/arched.
  • Your head is positioned where your chin is parallel to your hips and your ears paralleled to your shoulders.
Image by medicaldaily.com
A video by posture coach Michelle Janice showing how to sit up straight.

4 Things To Help Maintain A Good Sitting Posture

All that doctors have been saying over and over is that I should keep a good posture, “try to always sit with a straightened back and stretched
shoulders and don’t lean forward with your head.”

So, I am completely aware that this is what I am supposed to do. But how do I keep that posture for the entire 5-7 hours I am sitting on my laptop?

I’m only able to maintain this position when conscious about my posture, but then I get distracted with what I’m actually doing and, an hour later, I find myself back to the hunched-over-the-laptop position with slouched shoulders and forward neck again.

This happens because, to me, this is the more natural and comfortable position, where I don’t have to be all the way stretched. So, I needed a more practical solution.

Here are 4 things I do that can help keep a good, healthy posture for as long as you are sitting.

1. Sit on a cushion

Because sometimes the desk and chair I’m sitting on are not in good alignment where my arms and elbows are in a perfect straight line position.

In my case, it is usually that the chair is lower than the desk, and so I sit on a cushion which helps me maintain that position.

2. Roll pillow behind your back

This has been a real savior. Because, like I mentioned earlier, it can get really uncomfortable when I try to keep my back in a straight position for a long time, so putting a roll pillow* or roll cushion behind my back works as a support for the middle part of my back which both makes me feel way more comfortable and it sort of automatically enhances the way I’m sitting anyway without much effort on my part.

But even when I tend to slouch a little bit, it also works as a continuous reminder to get back to the right position.

3. Place the laptop at an arm’s length

This could be something that most people do already, but I only realized that recently and, oh my god, it is such a relief when I type now.

I have always had my laptop placed right at the edge of the desk and so my arms and elbows are usually just hanging the entire time I’m typing, which causes more pressure and therefore more pain in my shoulders.

How to make sure that you are in a good, comfortable posture where your arm is always supported is if you push the laptop far on the desk, so that your arms up until your elbows are supported by the desk itself and then type that way.

There is also a really helpful video that shows even more ways to help you keep a good posture, not just while sitting on a computer but when watching TV, playing games, or using your phone. You can watch it here.

4. Set a timer

Setting a timer to alert you every 15-20 minutes can work as a reminder to both move around or straighten up and correct your posture. There are even some phone and computer apps that can help you do this.

But if you are not interested in an application, you can simply create several alarms on your phone, or a timer every 15-20 minutes, as a posture reminder.

5. Stretches

One of the things that can help maintain a good posture at all times is if your body feels relaxed and comfortable at that posture. And one way to get your body to that level of comfort is if you do certain stretches that help with the back and upper body’s flexibility, so that keeping a straightened back and stretched shoulders no longer feels uncomfortable or weird (or, like me, makes you feel like a cyborg).

Below are some example stretches that I do. You can find more of them and information about each pose and its benefits here.

Standing cat-cow. Image by yoffielife.com.
Active child’s pose. Image by yoffielife.com.

Downward-Facing dog stretch. Image by forteyoga.com

Standing forward fold pose. Image by forteyoga.com

And eventually, if you are already suffering (like me), here are a few things to help with that too.

5 Things To Help Relief Back Pain

1. Heating pad

Placing a hot water bottle* or a heating pad* (this is the one I use) on the area of your back or neck that hurts can reduce the pain, because the heat relaxes the muscles and speeds the blood flow to that area. This is one of the things that I have been advised to do for my neck and shoulder pain and part of the physical therapy treatment I am getting.

2. Herbal cream

There are some herbal creams available that help ease muscle pain. They are made entirely of natural ingredients; however, you should still consult a doctor before using any.

You would simply take a sufficient amount of cream on the tip of your fingers and start applying it on the affected area. It can work even better if you do so after you have applied the heating pad.

3. Massage

A massage, especially in the neck and shoulders area, can work as a great pain relief because mostly the pain in this area is caused by the pressure put on those muscles to hold your head. So, by massaging that area, you help those tightened muscles to loosen and relax.

You can simply massage the area with your hand, go to a spa, or you can buy a massager that you can use at home or at work. (I found the latter to be a more convenient option and so I use a similar Shaitsu massager to this one*).

4. Stretches

Doing the same stretches above can also help relief back pain. But you can find more exercises related to relieving back pain in this article.

5. Medical treatment

This is of course an obvious step to take if you are indeed suffering from such pain, because leaving it untreated for a long time can cause even more damage which would take a longer treatment period or worse, could cause a permanent damage to your body.

So make sure you consult your doctor to get the right advice and treatment needed for your situation.

Till next week, happy days (and healthy bodies)!

*Disclaimer: Links with* are affiliate links. Meaning that, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through one of these links, you are supporting me to get a small commission from this sale.