August 5th, 2009

Wish Granted: A Cramp-Free Period

I have a *girl* announcement to make.

My periods are now cramp-free. :) Let me say that again – I HAVE CRAMP-FREE PERIODS. On my last two cycles, I didn’t suffer the debilitating stomach cramps I’ve associated with my monthly flow for the past 20 years or so. Yay!

Happiness is cramp-free period. Yay!

I really, really never thought that this day would come. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s like discovering something for the first time or finding out that there’s a better way to do something you’ve been doing your entire life. “This is how it should feel? Life doesn’t need to come to a screeching halt every month? Fantastic!”

I went out about town meeting customers the other day and  was on my feet, during my heaviest flow day for 5 hours. Ha! What liberation! Just months before, I would be doing my routine of  sitting on the chair the whole day crying the pain away.

How did it happen? Well, it started with me trying to find a vitamin supplement that comes in soft gel capsule form for my mum (she has difficulties swallowing large hard tablet ones).  I ended up buying the only one that fit the criteria (it’s called Vykmin). I bought the bigger box because I thought I’d give them try too. (I’ve been on and off various supplements for a while now.) After about 3 weeks of taking them, I had my period. Amazingly it was without any cramping. It was so unbelievable that I didn’t tell anyone about it, in case it was a fluke.  So I continued and lo and behold! no cramps again this month!

I have not made any drastic changes to my diet or lifestyle. I drink the same amount of water as before. I had no increase or decrease in physical activity or stress levels. Unless the government has been tinkering with the water supply here, the only difference I could think of in the past two months is the red and black gel capsules I’ve been taking daily.  Have I, despite my attempts at eating copious and varied amounts of fruit, vegetable (and milk, among other things), been lacking in the vitamins and minerals department all along?

Whatever it is, I am very, very thankful this wish came true. I’ve spent so much time away from school and work due to the pain and so much money at the doctors and pharmacists to try to fix it. I feel for you girls who are still suffering as I once did. I hope that this post would give you some hope in finding your own cure.

PS: Although I am without cramps now, I am not without pain. I have major headaches 2-3 days before the onset of period. I’ve never had this before, at least not with this intensity. The headaches were very, very painful and even after 3 rounds of Panadols Extra, the pain would still be there. I can’t sleep properly because I’d be dreaming of having my head drill throughout the night.  One of the nights, I had a dream of a soldier bashing my head repeatedly because I coloured the battle scene wrongly (pink and green leaves?), it was kinda funny. LOL

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December 4th, 2008

Aiming for the World

When I’m presented with the question, “What would you like to do before you get too weak/retire/die?” I’ve always answered “travel around the world.”

Earlier this week I was spending some time setting goals for 2009. One of the things I did was to list out a few countries I’d like to visit next year.  After I’ve done that I decided to expand this exercise by listing out all the countries I’d love to visit and realised that I don’t really want to go to every country of the world like what Chris is doing. I only really want to go to 30 (plus 20 more that would be “nice but are not must go’s at the moment”).  What a revelation! I’ve always thought the number would be closer to 100 but 30 sounds very achievable. So I went on to list done the feasibility of visiting these 30 countries.

List of countries to visit

If I were to visit a country each year, I’d achieve my dream in 30 years. That’s alright, but that’s not very efficient. I could tackle the countries by regions, dividing them into the following: Western Europe, Scandinavia, Northern Africa, North America, Latin America and Eastern & Southern Asia. After working out a very rough estimate, I reckon I’d need about $6000 per one month trip to a region (it is possible to go on a much lower budget but I’m not planning to rough it out. Yet.). Quite a bit of money, but if I were to aim to cover a region say every three years, that would work out to less than $170 a month or under $6 a day.

Can I actually save $42 a week? Let’s see… My once a week cafe time costs $5. Our weekly movie date, $40. Magazines? $5. And I also have a habit of buying huge amounts of snacks each week – up to $25- worth. That’s a total of $75. If I were to save a little over half of that, I’d still have more than enough change to rent a film and get some popcorn. Of course the other question is, can I afford to take leave off work for a whole month? At this moment, the answer is no, but I think I’ll worry about that later. I realised that when you set a goal and work towards it, things have a way of working out in your favour unexpectedly and faster than you’d imagine so we’ll see. :)

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June 19th, 2008

Itching for Relief - Living with Eczema

This morning, I took my mother to see the doctor — the third time this month and the 6th doctor we talked to regarding her condition.

EczemaFor the past two months, she’s been itching day and night and covered from head to toes in hives. It’s quite debilitating — affecting her sleep and limiting the time she spends outdoors. The docs had ruled out other possibilities and concluded that she’s suffering from severe eczema (common with asthma sufferers like herself). The treatment prescribed: cortisone creams, injections and anti-inflammatory pills that zonk her out of scratching.

Why now after all these years? According to the doctors, her age is a big factor because as people age, their skin gets thinner and more prone to drying and flaking. My aunts (my mum’s sisters) have the same problem and so did my late grandma so this is something I’ve unwillingly inherited – eczema-prone skin (guess I’d better start liberally slathering myself with moisturiser now).

We’ve made a number of adjustments — we’ve changed the soaps that she’s been using to one recommended by the doc, she’s forbidden from touching the cats and she’s stopped eating cheese, milk, meat and seafood. In fact, she’s only been eating wholemeal bread (plain) in the morning and vegetables and tofu at night for a week now to rule out foods that may cause the flare ups.

The creams and pills provide temporary relief but there hasn’t been much improvement otherwise so if you guys have some valuable suggestions or personal experiences to share, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear them. Thank you!

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June 4th, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For!
Of Losing Weight and Wishing Well

Dear Secret Law of the Universe,

When I weighed myself this morning I found that I’m nearly 3 pounds more what I weighed in January. What happened? Was it the mindless snacking? Not enough of exercise? Water retention? All the above? I was mildly shocked but instead of planning to exercise more I decided that the best method to lose that extra weight was… to wish for the extra pounds to melt away. Not only that, I asked the powers of the secret law of the universe to reduce my weight by tonight.

Weighing machine under great pressure

At about 6pm, I had a funny feeling in my stomach and at 8pm I started having a bout of explosive diarrhoea that lasted for nearly 3 hours.

While groaning in pain in the the bathroom, I actually made time to appreciate your wicked sense of humour. Yes, I asked for this, yes, you granted my wish, and yes, you did it before the end of the day. When I weighed myself again just before the stroke of midnight, I was indeed 3 pounds lesser than I was in the morning. Very well done.

If you don’t mind, please automatically include the following addendum to all the wishes I’ve made and will make in the future:

  1. No one is hurt — physically, mentally, spiritually or any other means possible– in the process of granting the wishes (and that includes me!);
  2. The wishes are granted through means that are legally-, morally-, environmentally-, ethically-correct;

In return, I will do my best to:

  1. remember to be grateful for all the wishes granted (lest I forget, I’d appreciate it if I’m reminded gently) and
  2. have patience for the wishes that will be granted — I’m sure you’ve not forgotten my Macbook Air wish in January ;)

For that, I’d like to thank you for today’s lesson: be careful what you wish for — it might get your bum burned.

Gratefully yours.

Tomorrow, I’m going for a 2km run! :)

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May 27th, 2008

My Blog Traffic Generation Story
Techniques I Used to Generate and Increase Web Traffic

I started this blog, in the middle of January 2008 and currently have a readership of more than 3000 a month, a decent number for a blog that just turned 4 months last week. I thought, I’d share how I got here:

JANUARY - Setting A Goal

My goal was to have 3000 readers a month by 15th April 2008.

The Big Goal - 3000 Readers

I had a very strong believe that it was an attainable goal. At that time, I didn’t look into actively promoting my website. I just I thought if my writing and drawings were good enough, my blog traffic would come naturally. I was a naive blogger! :P

FEBRUARY – Give Some Feedback (And Get Some Back)

In mid-Feb, Growing Happiness turned 1 month old with 3 visitors a day. It felt kinda lonely writing for myself but consoled myself with that fact that the blog is only a month old.

Feedback - Give some, Get some

I had a shift in mindset at the end of month. I used to think no one would really care about what I had to say on their blogs but then I thought, “if I wanna hear people’s opinion on my blog, surely these people would want to know what I had to say too”.

I started commenting on other people’s blog regularly (about 5-10 blogs a day). I didn’t consciously pick blogs within my niche, just blogs that I was reading at any given time. If I had something to say that would add value to the blog I’m reading, I’d leave a comment.

MARCH – Social Networking

By the end of my second month of blogging, I had about 360 readers or about 12 readers a day. At this rate, my goal of 100 a day readership by the next month looked like an arduously uphill task. I decided to be more active in the blogging community in order to make my presence felt.

Social Networking Butterfly

I joined NaBloPoMo, a community in support of daily blog posting. It was a good way to kick start a daily writing habit. Although I didn’t get a lot of web traffic from there, I did get quite a few visitors coming for my free HTML badges and the WordPress and Blogger tutorials that came with it.

I also became more active in StumbleUpon. I did a lot of stumbling, wrote reviews of sites I enjoyed and made a couple of friends.

APRIL – Traffic Surge

I joined BlogCatalog a social blog directory and was moderately active in the discussion forums. I made a number of good friends there and, despite my initial resistance, started to enjoy this community thing greatly! The friends I made from BlogCatalog are fantastic. They are probably my most loyal readers and active commentors. Thank you guys! :)

As regular comments started coming in, I became a confident blogger. People reacted to what I wrote and I enjoyed the interaction. My blog traffic improved to about 25 visitors a day in the first week of April. Despite this very modest number, I still held strongly to the believe that I could achieve a 100 a day average readership by my third month (ending 15th April).

On 14th April, the eve of Growing Happiness third month, I had… 18 visitors. It seemed nearly impossible that my traffic would increase to 3000 the next day. However, I chose to be a positive blogger.

My Web Traffic Surge

On 15th April, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I checked my stats — I got nearly 7500 unique visitors through StumbleUpon overnight for my post “The Best Cure for Hiccups“!. That was about a 400 times increase in visitors to my blog within a single day! However, the traffic died down quickly. Within four days, it went from thousands to about 30 visitors, proving the volatile, unpredictable and non-committal nature of web traffic driven from social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Technorati.

A week later the same post got featured on Tipnut which saw my blog traffic jump to the hundreds range. But my winning streak didn’t end there. The week after that, the “how to stop hiccup” article got featured in LifeHacker, seeing my blog traffic jump to the thousands again.

MAY – Planning for Future Expansion

While I enjoyed BlogCatalog, it took a huge chunk of my time. I decide to limit my participation there to a few times a week to concentrate on writing articles for my blog (and of course, work!)

I joined Doodle Week because doodling is something I enjoy greatly. It was a really fun exercise and I even made a couple of new friends from there.

I also submitted two articles to Blog Carnival, and the post Specify Your Ideal Job Today was selected to be featured on the carnival How To Make Money Doing What You Love at Inspired Moneymaker.

Next Up, World Domination!

I am on the look out for other ways to expanding my readership so here are some other blog traffic generation methods I may experiment with in the coming months:

Posting Frequency

Damien Riley of Postcard from the Funny Farm (and a friend from BlogCatalog!) suggested, against convention, that posting frequently can result in increased traffic to your blogs.

At the moment, I post about 3 times a week. One of these weeks, when I’m not too busy, I might try posting a few times a day and let you guys know the result. :)


Ades of Adesblog mentioned in his post “Twitter is increasingly becoming one of the top sources of web traffic to many people’s blogs”

Since I will be embarking on an exciting project that would require me to be away from the computer for long periods of time, I’m very keen to explore other ways to keep my readers updated and Twitter seems to be the answer.


What conclusions about blog traffic generation can I draw from my blogging experience so far?

It takes work – Promote yourself and accept that you need the community.
Being part of a community or network such as BlogCatalog is a great way to make new friends and expand your readership. I’m thankful to have so many friends from the web!

Always be grateful.
Only 3 readers? Those 3 readers are your best friends and cheerleaders. There are millions of blogs out there and they choose to read YOUR blog! That’s a great honour!

A post that addresses a need or attempts to solve a common problem appeals to the masses. The popularity of my “how to stop hiccups” post was due to its timeless, universal appeal — everyone has hiccups now and then and would like to know the easiest, fastest way to stop it. The more timeless, useful posts you have, the more blog traffic you will get. Which is why so many professional bloggers promote the writing of “pillar posts” (See “What are Pillar Articles?” below for explanation).

You need to have patience.
Unless you have a large marketing budget or count a blogging celebrity as your drinking buddy, you have to start from scratch. And it takes time to build something from scratch.

Never underestimate the importance of having goals and the power of positive thinking.
As my experience outlined here show, it is important to have clear goals and remain positive. You’d never know what can happen overnight!

All the best!

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What are Pillar Articles?

Pillar articles are not your average blog post. They are comprehensive posts which offer great value to readers and are timeless in nature. The posts are usually longer with well-researched and original content.

Pillar Posts Definition and Tips on Adesblog
Characteristics of Pillar Articles on Daily Blog Tips

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May 23rd, 2008

Things To Be Thankful For
That Winning Feeling

Things that made me smile in spite of my painful migraine headache:

The joy on my mother’s face when David Cook was announced the American Idol winner

The joy on my mother’s face when Manchester United were crowned winners of the UEFA Champions League

Finding a sachet of instant coffee at the bottom of the snack drawer

The smell of magazines with uncoated pages

My geriatric cat giving me the “I love you so much” gaze :)

My Cat Loves Me

A group of teenage girls was sitting next to me as I was eating lunch at a fast-food restaurant on Wednesday. They were talking about their schools assignments, boys, mobile phones and er, boys.

20 minutes later, the group left and a gang of 3 teenage boys took their place. The topic of the boys’ conversation moved from girls to mobile phones to Friendster accounts and then back to girls. Ah…the priorities of youth! I’m glad I’m no longer a teen — such a stressful and confusing period!

I remarked to B a few days ago that I’m in a comfortable position in my life where I’m glad for the lessons of the past and look forward to the fruits of the future. Guess that’s one more thing to be thankful for! :)

What are you grateful for today?

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