My Summer Reflections: Decluttering, #100DaysOfCode, Arthritis, and Chemo

Time just keeps on flying by! September is almost over, and I haven’t done any Monthly Reflections since my first one in June!  So here’s one for July, August, and September… Basically Summer 2017!


In July, I officially began my Minimalism Journey by dumping out my main closet and creating a huge mess in my apartment, as well as donating a huge portion of my wardrobe.

It was a hugely empowering experience, especially as I was experiencing more and more issues with my chronic pain, which was making me fear for the worst: that I will no longer be able to live independently, and will have to therefore move in with someone.  Lessening my material possessions meant less work when it came to moving.

Before I got to the decluttering, I started reading a lot of books about habit-forming and good habits.  I began to play around with different potential habits for me to take on, and lifestyle changes that I wanted to incorporate in my life.


Of course, August was my most eventful month.

Diversity in Tech Conference

In the beginning of the month, I attended Tech Inclusion, my first ever tech conference.  The convention focused on the issue of Diversity in Tech, and I attended as a representative of Diversability, a disability self-advocacy organization.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The day before the conference, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis after months of dehibilitating chronic pain that was worsening by the day.  I finally got my answers, and started taking chemo drugs to try to get my immune system to chill the eff out.

Unfortunate side effects are that I’m immuno-compromised (my immune system is shot, because autoimmune disorders are caused by overreactive immune systems, so the chemo drug is killing my immune system), and I have really bad fatigue the few days after I take the drugs every week.


Also, throughout the whole month, I took part in the #1PaycheckChallenge: a financial challenge to live on just 1 (of 2) paycheck for the whole month of August.  I came out with $100+ to spare!

This was my first “real” challenge on this blog, and it was tons of fun getting to come back and review it after the month was over.


First thing I did in September was to get my hair cut with the money I had left over from the #1PaycheckChallenge.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but never had the courage to actually do… And I’m really glad I finally did it.

Though the actual reason why I finally took the leap was because the drug I’m on makes my hair fall out, so in an effort to keep as much hair as possible, we figured it would be better if I kept them short.

In September, with my chronic pain subsiding a little bit because of the chemo drugs, I started going back to the gym a little more, on top of my weekly Yoga classes.

I’ve been sticking to the low-impact stuff like stationary bikes and elliptical.  I hope to find something that’s a little more entertaining soon.

Minimalism Continued!

A huge win on the Minimalism Journey happened when I finally shipped out my purses.

Now, if you know in any way know me in real life, you would know I love purses.  I don’t spend much money, and I don’t buy many things, but stationaries/notebooks and purses are just my vices.

So it makes sense that it was always weighing heavily on me to have so many purses (that I spent good money on) that I don’t use, and feeling guilty about it, but because I love purses, I couldn’t just throw them out.  (Let’s get real; I can’t even throw out 25 cent erasers; there’s no way I can throw away $150 or $300 purses.)

In August, I took out every single purse and wallet I owned, and sorted them: To Keep or To Give Away.  I was very stringent in my selection process, because I felt like this was it.  If I didn’t get rid of them now, I would never be able to.  And I figured if I really missed it, then it means I liked it, so it’s an excuse to go out and buy a replacement for it… I MEAN…!!!!

I found that I had 17 purses and 4 wallets in my closets.

After long deliberation, I decided to keep 5 purses (+ 1 wristlet) and 1 wallet.  My most favorite and most-used purses.  I tried to keep a variety in what I kept, too, so they would all have their separate uses.

The rest, I gave away to friends, or donated.  I wanted my donation to go to somewhere meaningful, where I knew my partings will have actual impact on actual people, so I chose to donate most of them to a geriatric care non-profit my friend works for in Texas.

Aurora House:

As a private, not-for-profit organization, Aurora House does not receive any form of government funding or private insurance, nor does it charge patients who come to Aurora House for care.
Instead, Aurora House relies on the generosity of its residents and their families, the community, and charitable organizations for support.
Because Aurora House operates at capacity, 100 patients in 2013 and 67 patients in the first half of 2014 could not be accommodated. In response, 4 additional patient rooms have been built.
Now you have the opportunity to partner with Aurora House and help provide furnishings and staff for these much needed patient rooms.

They have silent auction as one of their fundraising efforts, and they would be able to sell my purses there to bring in money to help fund their end-of-life care facility.

If you have spare purses and wallets lying around that you think you can part with for a great cause, I highly recommend contacting the Aurora House in Weslaco, Texas.  (Or, if you have spare $$ lying around, I’m sure that’s extremely welcome too :P)

<- This is what the boxes of my purses being mailed out looked like.

I still have a few bags’ worth of stuff I am planning on donating at some point, which I need to get around to doing so that my living room can stop looking like a junkyard (its constant state for the past few months as I’ve been decluttering from everywhere).

This was definitely an emotional milestone for me, and I’m really glad I finally did it.  (And now they have better new owners that will love them and actually use them!)  I haven’t missed them at all, and it’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, because I don’t have to be reminded of how much money I’ve wasted, and am still wasting by not putting them to good use every time I opened my closets.

#100DaysOfCode Challenge

I also began my #100DaysOfCode Challenge, which is a personal challenge to code/learn to code for at least an hour a day for 100 days. I’m on my 3rd week, and actually quite impressed with how well the challenge is going, given I am in general no good at doing anything every day.

As my first project, I am working on my portfolio, which I am having a lot of fun designing and tinkering around with.  I haven’t coded a website from scratch in probably a decade, and diving head first back into HTML and CSS makes me wish I never stopped in college.

I don’t know if I’d give up IT to pursue web development, but it’s a skill that I’m not going to ever regret having, so I’m going through a lot of courses and programs to get back up-to-date on the current affairs of web dev world.  Besides, it never hurts to have a back-up plan for a job, especially when you’re at a precarious health situation like I am.  If I have to scale back my actual job for part time while I’m going through a rough time, at least I know I have something to fall back on to work on when I’m feeling a little better.

Other Stuff

I also finished my 2017 GoodReads Challenge of 60 books (I finally stopped upping my book number every time I reached the 100% mark, because I realized it’s going to be a never-ending cycle).

I also finished the S-Town podcast (I’ve been listening to it on and off for months).  Let me know if you have any podcasts you recommend! I’ve been listening to Serial and the Minimalists, but I know a lot of people have their favorite podcasts they listen to every week.  I’ve just never really gotten into the scene, but since I’m out of audiobooks to listen to, I need something else to entertain me on my 2 hour commutes.

Because September is Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, I’ve also been doing daily awareness campaigns on Burgundy for Life’s Facebook Page.


What an eventful few months! I hope the fall is going to be a lot calmer…

October is AVM Awareness Month, so I’ll be doing weekly posts here for AVM awareness.  Keep an eye out.  🙂 I’d love for you guys to share or spread awareness with me next month!

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).

9 thoughts on “My Summer Reflections: Decluttering, #100DaysOfCode, Arthritis, and Chemo”

  1. I like hearing about your minimalism journey! It’s something I’m trying to do too, so it’s nice to hear what others have been doing. I think that’s great that you’ve managed to go down to 5 purses and 1 wallet. That’s a lot that you gave away!

    Aahh, you do so well on your goals and challenges. I think that’s amazing. Nice job on completing the paycheck challenge, your GoodReads challenge, and for keeping up with 100 Days of Code so far! I don’t regret having my web dev skills either (especially since they help in my real job), and it is a nice feeling that you have another skill as back-up if you ever need it.

    Sounds like you’ve had an eventful summer! I also hope things are getting better with your RA!

  2. It’s so hard having a chronic illness. These last few years, I’ve learned that things aren’t always what they seem. Someone might look fine on the outside, but could be facing one of the toughest internal battles.

    I wish that I had the motivation to sit down for an hour or two each day to code. I used to enjoy it, but now I can barely sit still for 5 minutes to write a blog post, let alone, code.

  3. I love your minimalism challenge journey! I’m planning on doing a similar thing next month…but with my bank account!

    I’ve got so many subscriptions to things I don’t use and wasted money on groceries that were bought too soon and spoiled before I could eat them. I need to start saving more money, so I plan to print out my entire bank record for September and breaking down what was necessary, what was needed luxury, and what was unnecessary…and cutting out the unnecessary things.

    Then, I’ll work on finding cheaper luxury spends…like Netflix nights with microwaved popcorn instead of trips to the theatre!

  4. Ohhhh Kate Spade is my go to for a purse. I don’t own many, but they’re pretty much all Kate Spade haha.
    I LOVE downsizing. It’s honestly so cleansing. I recently decluttered my classroom and I think it makes a huge difference in the energy for the kiddos. It calms them down for sure!
    Sending you positive thoughts for the health issues you’re going through. So often we take being healthy for granted, but that shouldn’t be the case. You’re amazing!

    Susie |

  5. I found your minimalism challenge so interesting, and it inspired me to clean out my own house! My little cupboard definitely needs a good sorting out. I’d like to start listening to minimalist podcasts, or watch videos like you did to really give myself that boost.
    It’s so nice to hear that, though you parted with your purses, they were able to help such a good cause! Aurora house sounds like a lovely place to support.
    Good luck with 100 Days of Code! Seeing how successful all of your other challenges have been, I’m sure you’ll come out of it a pro!

  6. Cleaning out a cluttered out closet and stuff like that is always a great feeling. I have done that over and over and to this day I keep trying to find more and more things to get rid of. Like you, I get nervous that I won’t always be able to work like I do and pay for my place. I’ve looked into downsizing to start off with to help with the financial stress but we shall see. I’ve got too much stuff! haha

    That is great that the drugs are starting to work for you though. Getting back into working has to feel good. I keep trying but I don’t see my Rheumatologist until December and the steroids they injected me at the urgent care are already wearing off. I don’t want to wear myself down since I got a lot of work to do.

    I love the hair cut! You look so cute with the short hair ♥

  7. It’s always so refreshing reading your minimalism journey – it’s one of the things that really pushed me to continue reading your blog and look back at it whenever I need some minimalism inspiration.

    Web development is such a wonderful skill to have and continue working on. I don’t regret learning it all those years ago from just blogging! It’s served me well since! Well done for you for keeping up with the 100daysofcode challenge – I tried my best but realised that I’m over committing to many things in the day. I do dedicate some time whenever I can though! KEEP GOING GAL!!!!

  8. I need to sort out my wardrobe. I have so much in there that I never wear, and it’s just taking up valuable space. I definitely need to have a proper clear out. It’s great seeing how much progress you’ve made with yours. I can’t believe you had so many bags to start with!

    Hope you’re enjoying the coding challenge. It’s such a fantastic skill to have and I wish I was better at it. Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

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