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Reflecting on January

The last time I wrote a monthly recap post was last January.  (Mostly because I had a GREAT January, and then I crashed in February and could barely function for a whole month.)  I don’t know if this one will continue, but I figure let’s try it again!

Work + Hustles + Tech

LinkedIn Learning

I completed my first course for LinkedIn Learning on my LA trip!  This was my first solo trip, so I feel like I’ve hit an adulting goal I’d been afraid to attempt for a long time.  I think the course should be out in the spring, so that’s one thing to look forward to! We’re in the negotiation phase for courses 2-4…

Side Hustles

I picked up babysitting and dog sitting again.  So for January, I made about $270 through them.

And I sold $103 worth of eBooks at Intro to AWS for Newbies.

Since my goal in 2019 is to pay for my living expenses (like food, travels, dance classes, etc.) with side hustle money (not eBook sales though), I’m looking forward to my LinkedIn Learning courses hitting the streets soon so I can start earning passive income every month!


Twitch Stream

I did my first stream!! That was pretty exciting!

I streamed how to set up a static website on AWS using S3, CloudFront, and Route 53, for complete beginners.  I’d recently written a tutorial on how to do it on AWS Newbies, so I went through the process with a few people who were tuning in.

For the next few weeks, you can check it out on Twitch: HirokoTech


With a few Personal Finance community friends, I’m doing the $50/day challenge for 2019.  Basically, my “budget” for the day is $50, which includes everything from rent to utilities to food to Uber to shopping.  I managed to end up with a few hundred dollars left in the “pot,” which is great.  This month, the “pot” will be much less because we have a few days less in February, so it’ll be interesting to see how the values change.

Habits + Health

My boyfriend and I decided end of last year that we should welcome the big-ol’ 3-0 with health and good habits.  We both read Atomic Habits, and agreed that taking the “lazy way” is the way to go.

Everything we do should be sustainable and non-shocking to our systems, because we’re beyond the stage in our lives where doing some really drastic diet or exercise regimen for 3 months to lose XX pounds and then going back to whatever we were doing before just to bounce back wasn’t acceptable or desirable.

I’d previously lost 20 pounds in 6 months back in 2016. But as life goes, a lot of things happened, and I stopped my food/exercise routines.  And before I could stuff another burrito in my mouth, I realized that I was inching back up to just 7 pounds under where I started.  After deciding it’s time to start getting back on track before my trip to Paris, I managed to lose 5 or 6 pounds in 2 or 3 months.  And I actually lost weight going on the trip (probably because we walked so dang much every day).  But after winter hit, I gained back basically everything I lost in the few months leading up to the trip in the fall.

So I decided it’s time to implement a sustainable lifestyle change, because it’s going to just have to be the life I lead for years and decades to come.  So the food has to be delicious, exercises enjoyable or at least tolerable, and habits sustainable.

We’ve also come to accept that “weight” is no longer an adequate measure of how healthy we are, or how we are doing.  Losing weight is great, because we love numbers, but we’re looking for the holistic whole-body becoming healthy experience.  So despite what my scale says, I’m going to trust in the process, and go for the healthier eating + exercising + having fun to take me to a healthier me.

I helped my boyfriend set up a blog at the end of 2018, and he started blogging in January… And have managed to produce 2-3 posts a week since then… Which totally eclipses my blogging routine… But he’s decided to document his weight loss/exercising/food/money journey for 2019 to help him to be accountable, and I figured it’s a good time as any for both of us to take the plunge.

You can check out his progress at Chuology.

Hip Hop + Gym

I started going to hip hop dance classes this season! I’ve so far went to 3 or 4 classes.  It still feels like something’s broken between my brain and limbs, but alas…. The more I do it, the more I’ll improve! I hope!

I’ve also started going to the gym a lot, especially since my boyfriend is trying to work out 6 days a week.  I don’t need to work out 6 days a week (I’m more worried about my own burn out or exhaustion since I’m #SickPerson), but it’s great to recall how if I’m tired, going to work out makes me feel better instantly.  It’s just so hard to get out of the apartment and work out when I’m exhausted even if I know it’ll help!

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Aside from the general “getting healthier” goal for 2019, my big goal is to go into remission from my Rheumatoid Arthritis.   It’s been a year and a half since I was diagnosed and began my chemo treatment, where I take oral chemo once a week.  I’ve fluctuated anywhere from 3 pills to 8 pills, depending on my symptoms.  For the past few months, I was on 4 pills, having slowly been decreasing since the summer.

Last week, I had my check up with my rheumatologist, and he advised me that if I wanted to, I can decrease to 3 pills for a few weeks, and if I didn’t start flaring up, I can quit the drug and monitor for a few weeks to see if I’m in remission or not.  Incidentally, I forgot to take my meds this Thursday, so I decided, what the hell, why not.  So since February 1st, I’ve been trying my luck at being chemo-free. It’s only been a few days, so it’s definitely too early to see how my body will react, but I’m hoping that with my better eating habits, exercise, and trying to take care of my mental health, I might have reached remission…

Fingers crossed, because these doctor’s appointments and drugs are expensive, and no joke…. LOL.


Listen: Music

My favorite song for January: Lemon by 米津玄師 (Kenshi Yonezu).  I found out that he used to create Vocaloid music as Hachi, and I used to listen to most of them back in my high school/college days!! Now he’s one of the most popular musicians/artists in Japan! Pretty surreal! People are saying that he’s one of the rare people who have gone from the “basement” niche into the “public” light (like “otaku” sub culture into popular mainstream culture).

Read: Books

January Books Read

I read 11 books in January.  My favorites were Atomic Habits by James Clear, and WTF?: What’s the Future and Why it’s Up to Us by Tim O’Reilly.  Getting More by Stuart Diamond was a great introduction to negotiation, and I learned a lot about negotiations and manipulations, but mostly it made me feel really insecure about what other people are REALLY after when they are being nice… LOL.

Since last year, I’ve been on a hunt for books written by Asians and Asian Americans, so I was glad to have found Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee in January.  It’s a very far-reaching book working through A LOT of topics, stigmas, and difficulties one faces as a minority (Asian or Hispanic, immigrant or undocumented,  mental illness or physically disabled, rich or poor).  It’s really hard to believe this was the author’s debut book!

Most of the books I read were solid, and I’m pretty impressed with the variety I managed to get in… Anywhere from finance to historical fiction to contemporary fiction to autobiographies to humor to tech to education to personal development.

I’ve also started a small page on my website for book recommendations!  I just updated for my January favorites. You can check it out here: Hiroko.IO

Watch: Documentary

The reality of the financial landscape for the “Unbanked” in America is a hidden crisis that those of us who have access to traditional banking options probably have never imagined.  Past mistakes, unexpected costs, student loans, thinking you were being responsible by never accumulating credit card debt by not having a credit card… All were issues that contributed to many families being underserved by the financial system.

It really makes me think.  We have so much, as a country, as individuals, as society, as communities. And yet there are people everywhere, probably even our neighbors and friends, who are struggling with the fundamental needs like paying rent or groceries, and being penalized for being poor or hitting a rough spot.  While we should be trying to help people recover or stabilize, the financial institutions are making their situations more and more unstable.

One Month Down…

One month down, 11 more to go! Here’s to hoping I’m not going to crash in February like I did last year! (I already had my seasonal depression in December, so hoping it’s a “once a season” phenomena!)

How was your January? What are you trying to bring in to February?

My new “mindset” is that every day is a fresh beginning and a new chance. So even if I screwed up today… Tomorrow’s a brand new day! Seems like a “duh’ statement, but because I get so dejected when I break a “rule” or “streak,” I need to remind myself this so I can be better about keeping up a habit!

Hiroko Nishimura
AWS Community Hero. Special Education teacher turned IT Engineer turned Technical Writer. Author "AWS for Non-Engineers" (Manning Publications). Technical Instructor "Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers" (LinkedIn Learning).

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on January”

  1. Wow, looks like a productive January for you! 🙂 It’s so cool how you’ve made quite a lot of money from your side hustles!

    I’ve recently been trying to restart my health and fitness journey too, since I find myself in the same situation as you: losing weight, gaining it back, losing some again… That kind of pattern is pretty frustrating so I want a more sustainable lifestyle change as well.

    It’s fascinating how your boyfriend is also blogging, and I checked his blog out. He’s pretty consistent in terms of posting schedule. I should learn from him! Haha!

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