My Personal and Honest Reviews: Hostgator, A2Hosting, GoDaddy, and SiteGround

I already tried these four hosting providers and I want to share my personal and honest reviews about these because while finding the best hosting for me I found less honest reviews online about hosting providers. Most of the reviews I checked seemed to be sponsored. So here’s my own take to reviewing four of the popular hosting providers for small to medium websites. Take note that these are my own reviews based on my own experience.

Hostgator

My first self-hosted wordpress blog, The Muslim Bricks, was hosted on Hostgator. It was my first time self-hosting a blog. I bought the Hatchling plan which is good for only one website. It has unmetered bandwith and unlimited disk space. As a new customer, who was new to hosting, the price was a big factor for me and Hostgator was very affordable. So throughout the year, I had no problem with them. Amazing customer service and no down time. So, I assumed it to be the best provider for me.

The following year, I upgraded my service with them because I wanted to host more than one website. This Blog, By Najmah, and my other blogs happened. I upgraded from Hatchling to BabyPlan hosting package. On BabyPlan package, it’s not unlimited. So, it has limit to how much files I could host. At first everything was fine, but as my websites’ activity and traffic increased, I encountered more downtime and it’s what’s supposed to happen. I was told that shared hosting works that way. If you have more websites, more traffic, on a shared hosting, sharing resources, then there’s a tendency that they reach the limit of resources usage resulting to downtime and worse case is it may result to termination.

I didn’t blame Hostgator for that because it was the same thing that may happen to all shared hosting of any hosting company. When my websites and my traffic were less, there were no downtime. I got series of website downtime when I got more websites and more traffic. The solution is upgrading to a higher plan.

But, that was already the time that my freelancing business grew and I added hosting services to my clients. So, I thought of upgrading to a Reseller plan instead. On this plan, I could sell hosting to my clients without experiencing down time because (it is not a shared hosting) each one of my client had their own hosting (cPanel) — but with limited disk space and bandwidth. As part of the offer, I was also given a free account on ResellerClub. So, I was able to sell domains too. As my web design and hosting grew more, I needed to upgrade and upgrade to a higher plan. But that time my experience with Hostgator wasn’t anymore getting worth the price I was paying. The customer service was getting slow, the price increased, the security of my websites was weak, some of my websites were attacked, and there are better packages and offers that other providers are offering.

To conclude, my experience with Hostgator was nice especially when I was just a newbie when it comes to hosting. The customer service back then was nice and fast. My first year self-hosting my blog was not difficult because Hostgator was always helpful. But, as my websites grew I have to transfer to another host for a better experience, especially that there are clients involved. For a newbie with a small website, this hosting provider could be one of the good choices. But as someone with more experience with different hosting providers and have more websites, if I would be asked if I would ever consider going back to Hostgator, my answer would be no.

As a blogger, I’m constantly seeking for a better service for my websites and I found that in others.

A2Hosting

When I wasn’t anymore happy with Hostgator, I transferred my websites to a2hosting. I bought the reseller plan. Everything was fine then. There was 100% uptime, security, neat interface and many tools I used to manage my websites easily. I had no problem with them. A2Hosting does not offer Live Chat to existing customers, which was a bit disappointing at first. But, when I tried their support tickets, I got quick and helpful responses but their hosting is expensive especially the plan I bought. Recently, I’m reducing my freelance services to web design only which means I’m no longer offering hosting service to my clients. I’m joining med school soon and I can no longer handle hosting service to my clients. So, I don’t need a reseller plan anymore. I had to downgrade to a shared hosting again because I’m just going to host my own websites. I wanted to stay with a2hosting’s shared hosting but it is expensive and they don’t offer discount for existing customers so I though why not try a new hosting that is affordable and that provides best service just like a2hosting does. I tried GoDaddy then…

GoDaddy

As a new customer, I was eligible to the 50% discount of GoDaddy. GoDaddy is a popular provider especially when it comes to domain. It was one of my choices when I was self-hosting my blog for the first time, but HostGator was cheaper. So last week, I bought GoDaddy’s shared hosting to try it out. Gladly, they offer 30 day refund for customers who bought 1 year plan. Although I know how to manually migrate my websites from one host to another, I was expecting they would offer me a free migration but none. One thing I don’t like about GoDaddy is that they don’t have live chat, support tickets or email , they only provide support via call. And of all, that’s what I find very important. Ease in communication is a big plus. Not everyone could conveniently call abroad. I tried calling their Philippine number several times, it’s always not available or busy. That’s a big turn off for me. Another thing is that the packages isn’t promising. Just by transferring one website, I already experienced almost full usage of resources. I thought of upgrading to a higher plan so I can host more of my websites but I couldn’t contact them easily. So, I decided to cancel my service with them and get a refund.

After few days of finding the perfect hosting, I found SiteGround.

SiteGround

I’m already familiar with Siteground before, but I just got the interest to research more about the hosting recently. It has good reviews from my fellow bloggers, it is affordable and it is just like A2Hosting, which is the hosting I was most satisfied with. To add on that, it has more features and it has live chat even for existing customers which is a big plus for me. I already migrated 5 of my websites on my new hosting and hoping to have long term satisfactory experience with them.

Live chat
Great customer service
Affordable price 60% discount for new customers
Security
Free migration
Special cache tool
And a lot more

Among all these hosting I tried, I recommend A2Hosting and Siteground for any kind of websites. If you buy using my links, you’ll get discount and I’ll have a small commission from it.

Let me know your hosting experience and what hosting provider you’re hosting your blogs with.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

8 Things I Gave Up Before Joining Med School

I’m a multipassionate person. I like doing a lot of things at the same time. Aside from studying, I handle a lot of social media accounts for marketing, websites and online communities, I work as a freelancer and I blog on multiple blogs. During college years, it was kind of manageable but it was already tiresome and there were times I had to really set aside the other to complete the other. My med student friends have been warning me that in med school multi-tasking won’t bring me good. I was told that I really had to give up things to survive med school. As much as I wanted to keep doing what I used to do and live without pressures of following demands and detailed instructions (I used to do things on my own way since I work as a freelancer), I have to acquire a more disciplined, focused and goal-oriented lifestyle. I got a pinch of what med school is but I would not really know what it looks like unless I am already in med school myself. Before joining med school, I am preparing myself by reducing time consuming activities, getting rid of distractions, adapting a fit lifestyle and renovating the place where I live to become a minimalist, study-friendly, comfortable and relaxing place. By doing these, I am becoming ready to accept whatever demands and commands med school would require me. I would adjust less difficult because I already prepared myself to it. I ruined much of myself when I encountered burnout and I’m doing my best not to reach that point again. So here are the detailed list of things I gave up before joining med school;

Freelancing — as of the moment, I still am working on few projects that I already committed myself into. I’m not anymore accepting further projects as a solo freelancer. Freelancing is a time consuming job. I’m now focused on passive ways to earn online – monetizing my blogs.

Some of my websites — I’m managing a lot of websites before but now I’m only managing 3 fully developed websites, 2 parked domains. I sold and leased some of my websites. I still have many remaining but I’m not requiring myself to update these often. I have one for a religious purpose, one is a canvas of my writinggasm and the others are for profit and investment.

Some of my social media accounts — I’m using social media wiser now. I don’t demand myself to post often but just when I really need to especially promoting my blog contents. I also gave away some social media accounts that aren’t beneficial but are merely distraction.

Ineffective study habit — My current study habit won’t help me in med school. I am currently trying to figure out a study habit while I’m on my last academic trimester and while studying for my licensure exam.

Boxes of stuff — I decluttered my closet, and my entire place. I gave away and trashed boxes of stuff that I piled up in my 4 years stay here in Manila. I prefer to keep less things — those that I usually use. Too much stuff means more things to clean, maintain and give space to. I prefer a minimal home set-up since I’m living alone and med school may drain almost all my time. I want a place I can clean up easily and keep clothes I can wash without getting too tired. So, that I don’t have to spend too much time in household chores.

Sedentary lifestyle — Although I’m exhausted almost everyday, mostly of my work are sitting and not that heavy tasks. I’m more mentally exhausted. I admit that in the past year, I’ve been trapped in a sedentary lifestyle that did no good in my overall health. I can’t keep myself like this in med school. I’m performing better in academics and extra curricular activities when I’m fit and physically active.

Being introvert — I’d been in between introvert and extrovert but recently I’ve been more of an introvert due to low self esteem, life pressures and self-doubts. And, I’m not comfortable with this kind of set-up anymore. I want to lessen spending most of my time alone and start putting value in my relationships with family, relatives and friends. I have to be more vocal, exploratory and sociable especially that my chosen career is dealing with all types of people.

Fear of blood, surgery and such medical things — It came to the point that I doubted myself of being a doctor due to these fears. But, I had to get rid of these fears to open door of love with the medical field.

These are just few of the changes I have to accept before joining med school. I know there are more I have to change, give up, adjust and adapt in order for me to survive med school. It’s going to be a tough journey and I’m preparing myself to it as much as possible.

For more of my med school related blog posts, visit Med School Entries.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Why Blogging Is Like Painting?

While I was evaluating my progress as a blogger, I noticed one thing that made me realize that indeed blogging is like an art. We know that there are many forms of arts but I’ll compare blogging with painting.

We all learn art at school, even at college. We learn the fundamentals of paintings. But, at the end of the day, we are told to create our own craft with our own style. Although there are guidelines to follow, we are encouraged to break the rule and just paint freely. Just same with blogging. We were told a lot of guides and tips to blogging. We learned the same blogging 101, SEO, driving traffic ideas, marketing strategies and a lot more.  But still pro bloggers told us to be creative and authentic with blogging.

We learn the same thing and it’s really necessary to know the basic ones because it is where we all start. But, what really makes blogging an art is that your blog should stand out by having its own originality, creativity and a personal touch of who you are. Imagine if each one of us blog the same thing, and have the same blog niches. It’ll be boring but if you discover what you have, and what you’re good at and use that as your blog niche then surely your blog will have its own brand

Unlike those, who are just copying the art of other or the blogposts ideas of others…. it’s obsolete and it’s not that interesting.

So, treat blogging as an art. Be creative, and be expressive with your own originality and voice. Don’t adapt a niche just because you see it effective with others. I met a lot who started blogging about a specific niche just because they see others doing great in that niche, disregarding what they may be good at. Maybe they will have more potential if they embrace what they are good at and not what other people are good at.

So, at first… explore.

Blog about different things, and then you’ll discover a long the process what kind of niche you see yourself comfortable, expressive and creative at.

In blogging, we all must know the basic fundamentals but we have to add our authentic side on it to make it different from the others.

When you stop looking at what everyone else is doing and focus on your own thing.. although you may fail several times what important is, it’s yours. Just like every art, every person is completely unique. Your journey as a blogger, will completely be different from the journey of other bloggers. Two blogs can’t be the same. Give your blog its unique identity, and you’ll see it grow. Imagine if you just have a copied content from others, most probably audience may find your blog less interesting. But, if they see your blog completely unique, there is a high possibility that they won’t forget your domain name and will bookmark your site and visit again.

If you want to shine, I encourage you to have the courage to put blinders on. To stop looking around what everyone else is doing and just think of ways you can bring your readers more of what they want.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Today’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Reality

One of the greatest accomplishment that you can have is being true to yourself in this world that pressures you to be somebody else. It is a world of constant distraction that makes you believe in delusions. It tells you that you should meet certain qualifications to reach your dreams. It encourages you to imitate the legacy of others and lose yours. It tells you that those dreams you have won’t happen because they are too big to be accomplished by you. It makes you feel incapable of doing great. It tells you that you can’t.

Surely, you have those dreams that have been bringing excitement and inspiration to you but what stops you from making those come true is your doubts in your abilities. You let yourself listen to those voices that tell you that your dreams are too big to happen.

The truth is you are capable of making those dreams a reality. Don’t let those small minds tell you that you can not accomplish big dreams. Don’t keep those dreams you have live just in your mind, bring them out by working on them. They may sound impossible for many and even to yourself, but if you believe that you can, you will see that your abilities can make your dreams come true no matter how big they are.

The great things that you have today were just dreams of yesterday, of your younger self, of your parents, of your ancestors. All that are happening now were just dreams. They were merely ideas that people back then never thought could happen. But through belief and persistence of those dreamers, they now exist. So if your dreams won’t harm any, chase it. It may turn out to be a great project that will help a lot of people of tomorrow.

You just need to believe that it may not happen easily and quickly but it will happen. It may also not happen exactly how you visualized it because it may turn out better. You just need to believe in yourself and start to take tiny steps. You could start with brainstorming, talking about it with your chosen team or simply listing goals. Tiny steps will lead you to the reality of your dreams.

Don’t forget to be flexible. If things change and you need to change some things on your goals, don’t think of it as a failure instead consider it is part of growth. You learn in time, so you gain better ideas. The important thing is the wisdom behind every action you make and experience you encounter as you make your dreams happen.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

3 Google Chrome Apps You Can Use To Design Your Blog Without Coding

For those who want to make small changes on the design of their blogs, no need to pay blog designers. You can customize your own blog using these three Google Chrome Apps. These help in experimenting with designs because these apps allow you to see right away every customization you make.

No one told me about these apps, I just discovered these on my own. Also, I don’t see this technique shared elsewhere. I find now the perfect time to share what I know about these amazing tools to those who want to have their blogs uniquely designed by themselves. Take note that using these apps have limits. They don’t change the layout of your blog but can do minor customization such as changing fonts, colors, sizes, margin, padding, borderline, and many more.  Also, you need to install a pre-built theme of your choice first. You can choose among the free themes or templates and customize it using these apps.

Customize Your Blog Like A PRO With These 3 Google Chrome Apps:

ColorZillaThis app will help you get the exact color code you want to apply for your site. The app has a feature that you can use to know the color codes any website uses. So, if you want to imitate a website’s color combination, this app is your hero.

WhatFont — This app will help you know the font used by your ideal website. If you want to use the same font as your ideal website. Don’t ask them what font they use because they might not tell you. This app will find it out for you.

Stylebot — First thing you should do is to install and activate any free theme on your blog. It doesn’t have to be perfectly your ideal theme because customizing it is this app’s work. But, make sure the layout and theme should be something you almost like but needs more customization.

I know installing these apps are easy but how to use it might be hard for you. If you want to learn how to use these apps, just leave a comment below so I can create a separate blog post about how to use these.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

“I’m Not Good Enough”

You might see yourself falling again and again into trap that makes you falter and makes you do wrong. You might see yourself failing again and again even you exert effort to do good and better. Sometimes you lose hope, get disappointed and feel worthless. Sometimes you think that you are not good enough, that you are not good enough and that you are not good enough. Sometimes it keeps on playing in your mind like a soundtrack until it makes you believe it, until you feel it to be true, until even yourself says “I’m not good enough.”

You might be thinking that you must be different and better than what you were because what you were was worse. You feel bad. You really feel bad because you see yourself unchanged after years. You still see yourself worse, you might even see yourself worse than what you were. Despite having your talents, achievements, countless blessings, abilities, uniqueness, improvements, family, friends, you feel worse.

There are moments when a simple word hurts you so much. There are instances when a simple act makes you feel so bad. There are times when a very simple thing makes your world collapse. You perceive things negatively. Sometimes you are your own hater — you keep on telling negative things, about yourself, to yourself. Usually, that’s the problem. Even no one tells you that “you are worthless”, you tell it to yourself. When you should be your own best friend, hero, savior… you become your own enemy.

Everyone has their issues. Everyone faces problems. Everyone struggles. The only difference is some take themselves their enemies, while some take themselves their best friends. Of course, if you befriend yourself, you’ll feel good and you’ll do good. Don’t ever think that you are not enough, you might lose your track, you might get confused which right path to take, you might mistakenly do wrong but it won’t mean you are not good enough and that you can’t do better. Ignore what your mind keeps on telling you, sometimes it is really a convincing liar. Thinking negatively about yourself will just make yourself feel worse.

Telling yourself that you are a big failure will never make you successful, it will never make you happy and it will never make you reach your higher potential. You have to accept yourself and reject whatever that enemy living inside you tells you. When you succeed in doing it, just then you will be effective in reaching your goals. When you think that you are good enough, it is when you learn to stand up every time you fall and then you will learn to improve yourself more and more. Just keep in your mind that change starts from within.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Choosing Med School Again

My journey to dreaming, quitting and choosing med-school again

After years of thinking that I was just being forced to take up medicine and that I was deprived of discovering my passions, I gave up my medical dream to find out if I’m better doing something else. On my most confused point, I wrote about — Is Being a Medical Doctor my Calling?

My internship in Saudi Arabia is one of the big things that happened to me last year. I was an internee as a dietitian in Saudi German Hospital. I enjoyed everything about my training although I had a slight problem with communicating with some of the patients who are native Arabs. Despite the language barrier, I did my best to do my job and I enjoyed it a lot. The training exposed me to the hospital set-up and to the healthcare team. It opened a lot of opportunities and realizations — that include the realization that I want to become a doctor. It was something that I did not want to entertain because I already gave up that medical dream to discover something else. But during those moments I stopped thinking about being a doctor and started planning out something else about my future, my medical dream has become closer to my heart again.

After my internships in a food service facility and in a hospital setting, I spent the remaining 250 hours at HOPE — for exceptional needs in Jeddah which is a school/center for special children. During my internship there, I learned a lot about different medical conditions of special children and I observed how hands on the staff are in helping the children with various therapies and learning activities. That ability to help others is self-fulfilling. I was also exposed to different medical professions — nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, etc. They all play significant roles to the patients’ life. But, I found myself wanting to help others as a medical doctor.

After more than a year of giving up my medical dream, I end up back here. I’m choosing (again) the path to becoming a medical doctor. This time, it’s my decision. Aside from wanting to make my parents happy by pursuing the career they visualize me to take, I have a lot more reasons that pushed me to pursue medicine. My faith in Allah made me realize that my calling is to be a doctor and that I’m best to grow as a person in this field.

I arrived here in Philippines 3 months ago. Within 3 months, I already took up the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) and started the application process to medical schools here in Manila. There are more things that I need to do to officially enroll in a med school — graduating with BS Nutrition and Dietetics degree is first in the list. There is a long journey and a lot more challenges that I have to go through to get that MD degree.

My faith in Allah made me visualize clearly what career I’d be best at. Because of that, I’ll be work hard on becoming a doctor, even though it is only I am the one left believing in me and supporting me. As a young child, I dreamed of becoming a doctor for personal interest, the idea that doctors are respected, rich and inspirational impressed me. But now as a matured young lady, I still dream the same dream but now it is not mainly because of personal interests but to help other people especially the people in my province in Mindanao where there’s a scarcity of doctors, public and mental health advocates, and other medical services due to poverty. There’s really a lack of health education there. My grandfather made me realize the need of a medical doctor in my hometown and I hope to serve them in the future. I’ve not lived there yet and I’m planning to move there after med school and medical internship. May Allah make me an instrument to help people through medical and public health services/programs/education. I believe there’s so much to fix in my hometown and I hope I’d be able to contribute in my own way.

I entrust myself, and this journey of mine, in Allah. None of these plans is going to happen without His approval. I still am not sure with all the plans I wrote here because nothing is really certain for us to have but our present. But, the idea that I’m now close to my medical dream makes me emotional. Honestly, there were times when regret haunt me at night, what if I didn’t falter when I was a freshman college student and everything I visualized came true — graduating from college on time, joining med school right after, graduating from med school at the age of 23. But, things don’t go as planned and that’s alright. At the age of 23, I’m just about to start my med school journey. 4 years late than expected but the timing is just perfectly right.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

WordPress vs. Squarespace: Choosing the best platform for your blog

Recently, someone asked me about which is better between WordPress and Squarespace.  But, I couldn’t answer her question because even I am so curious about the potential of Squarespace. Seeing bloggers moving from WordPress to Squarespace made me think that there is something special with Squarespace.  I am eager to give an honest comparison between the two platforms. So, instead of giving conclusions based on others’ opinions, I tried Squarespace myself.
Surprisingly, I find Squarespace pretty, clean and another great platform. Squarespace is a platform that I may recommend to others depends on their needs. Squarespace has a great potential to be the platform that works best for many, but not what works best for me. Let me tell you why.

Why WordPress is the best platform for me?

As a blogger, blog designer, and someone who owns an online shop, I choose WordPress because I have  100% control over my blogs and websites. I have the freedom to choose which hosting and domain providers I prefer to host my sites. Also,  I can turn my websites just how I imagined it. It’s been too flexible as I expand my blogs and websites.

When WordPress is the best platform for you

If you are a blogger who loves to try different things and create big improvements as you expand your blog and business then WordPress is for you. WordPress can handle both small and wide range of  needs – forum, e-commerce, etc. In instances that you need to do a major change, WordPress can do the work easily. If you are willing to exert effort in learning, building and maintaining your website then WordPress is the best for you. But, having full control can be overwhelming so if you are confident that you can manage things, then join the WordPress family.

When Squarespace is the better platform for you

I love WordPress because it is what works well for me, but it may not be what works well for others. Although I believe that WordPress is the best choice in most instances, it may not be in some instances. WordPress is not an easy solution. If you are a super busy and non-techy blogger or entrepreneur, then you may not afford to spend more time in learning the how-to of WordPress. You may prefer a platform that can provide you the domain,  hosting and theme you need at one click. Then, Squarespace is that platform that works best for you.
I asked other bloggers who moved their blogs to Squarespace from WordPress about the reasons of their migration. They have similar reasons.  First, they find the wide features on WordPress distracting which make them unable to concentrate with blogging (I admit, sometimes I find Wordpress distracting.). Second, they have less time to spend in the learning-curve of WordPress.
To conclude, there is no better platform between Squarespace and WordPress.There’s no platform that satisfies everyone’s needs. In choosing a blog platform, check your needs, budget and abilities. It’s all about you and not about the platform. If you prefer full control over your blog and websites, and  willing to exert effort in learning the how-to of WordPress, then WordPress is for you. If you prefer an instant yet professional and pretty looking website that does all the work for you, then Squarespace is for you.
Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Crossing the Ocean

I was sitting in my boat with contentment. It was comfortable. It had all the material things that a person would dream about – material possessions, recognition, money, family, friends and a peaceful life. I saw a life in that boat just like how others taught me how life should be – full of wealth, health, joy, ease and fame.

Content as I was, there was something wrong. There was a hole in my ship. I tried to fix it with friendships, possessions and achievements. And, it did work. But, they were like pain killers that don’t really heal the pain but just makes us numb not to feel the pain for a while. They satisfy for a season but the hole would always return and sometimes the hole just gets bigger.

That hole in my boat was a discontentment that I tried to ignore and hide for I wanted to believe that I was okay with my boat. I didn’t want to admit that my awesome boat was not perfect.

One day,  the hole just got bigger and I knew it would break soon. I saw a boat that was made to fool me that it’s perfect. The more I tried to fix it by material possessions, the more the hole got bigger.  I saw my own lies that I wasn’t actually fixing it but hiding from the fact that the hole won’t be fixed ever for that boat was made with flaws.

The truth is we are all in that boat. We are all travelers. We should be heading to the same destination, but each one of us has his own belief of what that destination looks like and how to get there. That’s why, instead of reaching our destination, we end up wandering.

If we use that boat wrongly, the hole gets bigger until the boat breaks right in front of us. Then, making us drown in the middle of the ocean.

That boat is our dunya. We know that it’s not perfect but we ignore that fact. We hold on the boat because it’s what we think will bring us to our destination. But, actually it should be us leading the boat to where we should go and not the boat guiding us to our destination.

There are instances when we need to step out of the boat because the people in that boat aren’t guiding the boat to the right destination. They prefer to enjoy their journey by wandering around the ocean. So in that case, be brave enough to cross the ocean, even it means crossing it alone, and crossing it without a boat.

Remember that what will  make us cross the ocean is our faith in Allah. The more we fill our journey with His guidance and love for Him, the more the path to our destination becomes clear. And, the more we feel strong enough not to depend our journey on that boat.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

Let God Make You Whole Again

There are times when everything you thought you could achieve, people you thought you could be with, plans you thought you could turn into reality would just banish out of a sudden although you exerted your best and prayed hard for it. Sometimes, the only option left for you is to accept, to be patient and to let Allah guide you through what’s best for you. Sometimes, it’s painful to admit that what we worked hard for is gone or what you wished for will never ever happen. Sometimes, it’s hard to understand the wisdom behind every failure. Sometimes, it’s hard to admit that although you don’t see anything wrong; people would see it as if it’s wrong. Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that although all your intention was nice and for the sake of Allah, still it’s not what you deserve. But, in times like that, it is when we should connect more to our Almighty Allah because it is when He tests us if we are worthy of His good plans for us. It is the time when we should believe that our duas were answered but the answers weren’t yes. It is the time when we should remind ourselves that not all what we think are best for us, are the best for us. It is the time when we should surrender the broken pieces of ourselves to Him and let Him fixes us whole again. It’s hard and it’s painful but in time we will be whole again – reborn into stronger and wiser person.

We should not regret any good thing that happened to us. Even though they had to end, still we should value the good things and lessons those brought to us. Maybe today it’s hard to understand but soon we will. And, remember that Allah replaces whatever He gets from us with something better. Stop worrying and Trust Him. Allah knows best.

The thing that all of us have in common is that we all go through difficulties in our lives. Each day that we are given an opportunity to live, we often encounter struggles from simply how to start our day right to how to perform all our 5 daily prayers.

Some of us are strong to face the storm with faith and trust in Allah, while some try to run away from the storm expecting to get ease and comfort from other than Allah. They run away from the storm because of fear of pain, discomfort and the difficulties it brings. They sacrifice the deen for temporary ease and joy that that this dunya offers.

A great example is when we face financial problems. We have to pay bills, and provide necessities for our family and so when we run out of money, our faith will be tested. It is not to punish us but to test us how we will manage such situation. Are we going to work harder to earn halal income, and keep the faith in Him stronger, or are we going to engage to sources of income that are haraam? Truly, if we do the right way we will be blessed with much more than the patience, and hard work we exerted to please Allah despite the difficulties. And, if we lose the hope and faith in Him and engage to haraam activities, we push ourselves to bigger and more complicated difficulties and obstacles.

We keep on running away from difficulties by doing what most do, having fun, sacrificing the deen, trying a lot of things that won’t benefit us, while we forget the real essence of our existence which is to worship our Almighty. Only in Allah we find solace. If we don’t face the daily tests that He gives us then we fail to live our purpose. The storms that Allah gives us are not to destroy us but to mold us into individuals who are stronger, wiser, better. Those storms that we run from are actually what shape us to be the best version of ourselves.

Our body, personality, character, and success are all molded with struggles. Undergoing several stages of growth, we went through various struggles of changes and transformation. Attaining degrees, we went through various examinations and pressure. We don’t get Jannah instantly, we should go through various storms to test us if we deserve to live eternally in Jannah.

We spend most of our life running away from the storms, chasing the easy pathway, but we don’t realize that it is necessary for us to face the storm and win over it to save us from drowning. One of the greatest lessons we can get from the story of Prophet Nuh is that the storm saved him and the few believers during his time from harm, the storm is what separated them from the disbelievers and polytheists and it is the same storm that brought them to a safer place to begin anew.

Truly Allah gives us difficulties because He knows we can handle it, and that it is good for us. So appreciate the storm, let the storm bring you to prostration, and make you humble before Allah. Let those storms remind you of the Mercy of Allah and let those storms transform you to an individual that pleases Allah.

There may be instances when you think your sins are too big for Allah to forgive you. Then, you keep on sinning and putting yourself further away from Allah because you think that He will not accept you. Due to your guilt, you are holding yourself from becoming better. But, you should remind yourself that the Mercy of Allah is infinite. Allah will forgive your sins even if they reach up to the sky.

“Allah, the Exalted, has said: `O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth.” [At-Tirmidhi]

There may be times when you stopped asking dua because you felt that they won’t be heard, you stopped reading Qur’an because you felt that Allah is angry at you, and you stopped praying because you think you will never be forgiven by Allah. But those are just whispers of shaitaan. If you are really sincere to repent and to ask forgiveness from Allah, He will not just forgive you but shower you with His countless blessings.

Every time you pray you have different situation, emotion or condition. Sometimes you feel down, lonely, or sad. But during prayer, you are being reminded of His mercy because you start the prayer with “In the name of Allah, the most Merciful and the most Beneficent.” It is to remind you not to feel bad because Allah is the Most Merciful. You can get through any trial if you have firm faith in Him. It is the reminder that begins every surah in the Qur’an except surah tawbah.

Remember that in Qur’an, there are many verses that tell how Merciful and forgiving Allah is.

“God is much-forgiving, forbearing.” [3:155]

“for God is indeed an absolver of sins, much-forgiving.” [4:99]

“for God is much-forgiving, forbearing.” [5:101]

“He pardons much” [42:34]

“God is indeed an absolver of sins, much-forgiving” [58:2

“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

[4:110]

“…He will not punish them while they seek (Allah’s) forgiveness.”

[8:33]

“do not lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy: verily, none but people who deny the truth can ever lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy.” [12:87]

There are a lot more verses that explain the infinity of the mercy of Allah. You should understand that if you just put away those thoughts and turn back to Allah with sincerity, you will never fail to get His forgiveness. To take that step towards Allah and become closer to Him, you must fulfill your duties towards Him by performing your daily prayers, supplicating, remembering Him, and performing all acts with an intention which is for the sake of Him.

Remember that Allah is not like human beings who get tired of forgiving and who sometimes can’t even forgive at all. Allah is incomparable to any of His creation. He does not get tired of forgiving. Even if you turn back to Him again and again again, He will forgive and accept you again and again. No matter how big your sins are, the mercy of Allah is always greater. But, this is not to encourage you to sin. Be reminded that Allah knows what is in your heart, so fool not Him.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

On Embracing My Uniqueness

I’ve always been an introvert person. I didn’t have long term friendships due to my father’s nature of work. We had to move from one place to another every after a year or two. During my childhood, I didn’t feel any sadness every time I had to leave my friends and classmates. My set of parents was enough companions I needed as a child that time.

Becoming an adolescent was different; I spent many moments with myself alone. Although my parents were beside me all the time, growing up I knew I needed other people’s company. When we settled in a city in Saudi Arabia, I started to go to a formal school. I got exposed to a totally different environment, community and lifestyle. I was raised in a very private household. So when we moved to a new city, saturated with noises and crowd, somehow I was culture shocked. Continue reading “On Embracing My Uniqueness”

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks

List of Sites That Offer Freebies for Designers

I’m sharing this list of sites where you can download free stuff for your personal and commercial design projects. Most of these are my personal choice of resources too. Make sure that you read licenses of the items if it is for personal use only or if it allows commercial use too.

Another thing you should consider before downloading is the format of the item. Most of the items are in png, psd and ai formats.

For those images or vectors in png format, you can use those using picmonkey.com or canva.com while to use those psd and ai formats you need to have photoshop and illustrator.

Tip: Subscribe to these sites because they send freebies or big discounts exclusive to subscribers only. I’ve been receiving amazing stuff from these already so I’m sharing this list with you. Hope it helps you in designing your personal and commercial projects.

If you want to receive premium freebies and big discounts, I advice you to subscribe to some of these sites because they send freebies and deals exclusive to subscribers only. Hope this collection helps you in finding resources for your designs.

Najmah is a 23 year old Filipino Muslim, Clinical Nutritionist and Med student. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Living in the Philippines since 2010. By Najmah contains posts about her life lessons, personal excellence and journey to becoming a doctor. You can also find her blogging on The Muslim Bricks