Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Recap

For a few years now, I've made a list of goals, some big and some small, to complete throughout the year. Working this list gives me a sense of accomplishment and progress. Progress makes me feel happy. So I continue with this approach year after year.

Without reciting each of 2016's 35 goals (you can check them out on the tab labeled "35" above), here is a summary recap of what I accomplished in 2016.

Health

There were three major accomplishments in this category:

  • Quit drinking full calorie soda. I have been trying to accomplish this since I was an undergraduate, but my efforts have been half-hearted. This year, thanks to a partner in my office who held me accountable and my own desire to lose weight, I finally kicked the habit and no longer crave the full calorie Coca Cola that I once sought for comfort 2-3 times per day.
  • Develop an exercise habit. I have enjoyed exercise since I was a child, but have found it difficult to carve out the time for it since becoming a lawyer. I looked at my time utilization after work (both on busy and slow days), identified opportunities for multitasking and time that was simply wasted on low value activities, and I joined a new gym with amenities and classes that excited me. I knew from my past experience with half marathon training that running was an effective way to jump start weight loss, so I downloaded a Running for Weightloss app by RedrockApps that has been a great help. The app does all the work for me--it provides playlists and layers over the music verbal cues from coaches prompting me to run, walk or sprint at appropriate intervals. Regular workouts truly became a habit in 2016. I now find time to exercise at least three times per week even when work gets busy or I experience a personal crisis.
  • Lose weight. After a breakup in 2016, I had the wholly unoriginal urge to lose weight. Thanks to dropping one habit and adding another, as described above, I lost more than 10 pounds in 2016 that I've had no trouble keeping off. I'm very short, so this was enough weight loss to make a noticeable impact on the way my clothes fit. Also, I've felt better around the clock both physically and mentally.
Family

After six years in big law, I noticed that my relationships with friends and family had become too strained by my work-induced absence. I made a concerted effort to change this, which, in turn, had a negative impact on my work. For example, when I took a week off to sit by my grandmother on her deathbed (mind you, I had not taken a vacation since starting at this firm), despite that I continued to participate in client client calls and complete assignments, I was taken off of more than one client service team (and never reinstated).

Finances

In 2016, I reached some major financial milestones:
  • Student Loans.  I paid off the balance of my student loans.
  • Refinanced Mortgage.  I closed a cash-in refinance of my mortgage at 3.875%. This was something I did to manage cash flow going forward. I hope that I will be able to stay in my house when I leave big law.
  • Side Hustle.  In the second year of my side hustle, I generated $12k in passive income. Not an extraordinary sum, but it helped repay my student loans and, later in the year, covered the cost of some home improvement projects.
Career

I completed my sixth year in big law. Never thought I'd see the day.

Personal Happiness

I have struggled for years with sadness over the failure to get married and have kids. This year, I did what I could to stymie the sadness by (finally!) freezing my eggs.

I experienced more loss than usual this year (the death of a family member, childhood friend and my dog). With each death, my sense of perspective was strengthened. 

Hobbies

I worked on my vegetable garden, became a better cook, and took some dance classes. Big law continues to make it difficult to commit to hobbies that include any sort of regular schedule or group activities so gardening (thanks to a well lit backyard) and cooking have continued to fill the void.

Household

I finished repainting the interior of the house. Never again will I purchase a home that's been slathered in flat paint. I should have refused to close without a purchase price reduction or the builder's completion of a repaint, because this project took an immense amount of time and effort. With the exception of the stairwell, I did all of this work myself. Lesson learned.

What did you accomplish in 2016 that you're proud of?  Not losing yourself (or your friends) to the presidential election totally counts.

Holidays

In light of having recently frozen my eggs, I decided I'd give myself a break and skip the soul searching on my birthday this year. The highlight was a fun lunch with some of the associates close to my class year. Otherwise, it was just an ordinary day.

Here's what I did in terms of holiday traditions this year:
  • Evergreen wreath with cheerful red ribbon for the front door (thanks Costco!).
  • Christmas tree with ornaments collected during childhood.
  • Batch of sugar cookies.
There's so much more I'd like to do--so much that reminds me of "home"--but it just feels silly doing too much when you're a household of one.

Deal flow was slow over the holidays. For the first time since I started practicing, my smartphone wasn't chirping on Christmas. No complaints.

My family celebrated the holiday in Texas at my brother's house. It was nice to have everyone under the same roof. I helped with some of the cooking, including from-scratch biscuits on Christmas morning. The highlight was my brother and sister-in-law's announcement that they are expecting the arrival of their first child--a baby boy--in 2017.

NYE fancy dinner (thank you, Costco, for the awesome filets)

To celebrate the new year, I made a fancy dinner at home--filets, asparagus, mashed yukon potatoes and a chocolate raspberry torte. We drank champagne and Moscow mules, and danced after midnight. It was just what I wanted.



Immediately thereafter, I was on a plane back to California for the funeral of a childhood friend (and the younger sister of one of my best friends) that passed unexpectedly between Christmas and the end of the year. It was, of course, incredibly sad, but on the flight back to Texas I felt renewed as a result of reflection, time spent with life-long friends and a healthy dose of perspective.

There are some big changes ahead in 2017, most of which I'm still sorting out. Here's hoping for a good year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Egg Freezing (It's Happening!): Retrieval and Results

The RE's office called Monday afternoon to confirm that the "trigger" shot worked and that we were a go for the retrieval surgery the next morning. I was elated--by Monday afternoon I was in a fog of hormones, couldn't concentrate, felt fairly crummy, and just wanted it to all be over with already. Got my wish!

The RE's office told me to arrive at the surgery center by 7:30am on retrieval day. You're supposed to have a family member or friend drive you to the appointment and back (because, anesthesia), but everyone local that I knew that would have been up for the task was coincidentally out of town or had important work commitments that morning. So, I ordered up a ride using one of Austin's Uber-equivalents. This made me nervous--ever since Uber and Lyft left Austin the remaining ride share programs have proven a bit... unreliable--but I made it to the surgery center on time.

Once at the surgery center, they confirmed my identity, asked me to sign various releases and other forms, had me gown up, checked my vital signs and started my IV. The anesthesiologist came in to ask some screening questions. The embryologist also paid me a visit to confirm the plan for any retrieved eggs. Finally, the RE stopped by to say hello (the first and only time I saw him that day). I texted my family to let them know I had arrived at the surgery center and that I'd text them again once surgery was over.

At 8:30am on the dot we were rolling towards the operating room. They had me walk in and get on the table on my own. In short order, there was an oxygen mask over my face and I could feel the anesthesia running through my IV and up my arm. That's the last thing I remember before waking up in the recovery room.

I woke up to one of the nurses checking my vital signs. I texted my family to let them know that I was out of surgery. A nurse confirmed that the RE had been able to retrieve 25 eggs. By 9:59am I was in a cab on my way home.

Later in the afternoon, the embryologist called to confirm that of the 25 retrieved eggs, 18 had been mature and all 18 froze successfully. My family is full of questions about how many frozen eggs are needed to achieve one pregnancy. I don't have a clear answer to this, but at my age and thinking forward to how old I'll likely be when I can use these eggs, I'll be lucky to have one child and hopefully 18 frozen eggs will be enough to achieve that.

Yesterday, similar to when I went through the process as a donor in my early 20s, I felt fine after surgery. There was some abdominal cramping, but nothing debilitating. If the anesthesiologist hadn't told me that I wasn't allowed to drive all day or make any significant decisions, I would have returned to the office. (As it was my out of office autoreply telling clients that I was in surgery and would not respond until the following day was not a success... I ended up joining three client calls yesterday.)

Today, I feel even better. The mental fog from all of the hormones has subsided and I'm ready to get back to life as usual.

Often, when I read an article about egg freezing, women who have completed the procedure say that they feel like they now have the luxury of time to find the right partner and focus on their career. I can't say that I have those feelings. The weight that has been lifted is the worry over whether I should even try to freeze my eggs. It seems I've been debating the question for years. I'm happy to take "freezing my eggs" off my to-do list.

I'll post one more time under the "freezing my eggs" tab to discuss the cost of the process, but am waiting for all of the final bills to roll in before doing so.