Life Story


Who doesn't love the 90's? The era of VHS tapes, portable CD players, and dial-up internet. And let's not forget the great debate of our time: Playstation or Nintendo 64? As a 90's baby, I had a front-row seat to all of it. 

As for my family, my parents were baby-making machines, popping out seven kids in just nine years! Then, nine years later, I came into the picture. This big family and big age gap made for some interesting dynamics. I like to say that my mind is a decade older than my body. 😅

My family was also deeply religious. Like, devoutly so. We were highly involved in the local Mormon church and community, which had a big impact on me growing up. My beliefs have evolved drastically since then (covered later in the Faith Crisis section), but our religion instilled in me a strong desire to be a good person, make good decisions, and lend a helping hand. It also set me up for a life without harmful drugs or alcohol, which I'm very grateful for!

Money was tight in our household. Most of my possessions were hand-me-downs or thrift store finds. Going out to eat or catching a movie was a luxury that only happened a few times a year. But you know what? It taught me to be grateful for the little things and work hard for what you want.

Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I've had an insatiable curiosity for all things science and learning. While my buds begged to stay up late for Disney flicks, I pleaded for just one more hour of Nova space documentaries on the ol' PBS channel.

Thanks to my love of learning and a burning desire to be the star student, I was always top of the class with perfect grades. In 4th grade I tested at a 12th+ grade reading proficiency! I remember being the last one left in the computer room as my test kept going into recess; and when the results printed out, the recommended reading list was empty - their system couldn't find any good books to match my age and reading level. 😅

But don't get me wrong, I wasn't just a bookworm. I also loved playing basketball, football (let's be real, it's more like handegg), tennis, and ultimate frisbee. Though I have to admit that I also spent countless hours slaying Bowser in Super Mario 64, battling it out in Super Smash Bros, and going on wild adventures in Sly Cooper, Kingdom Hearts, and many other video games.

Teenage Years

Looking back, I realize that I've always been a sucker for that amazing feeling you get when you conquer something that once seemed impossible. As a kid, video games scratched that itch for me, and they were a blast! But when I was just a wee lad of 10 years old, I realized that they failed to give me that real sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I craved. So, without a second thought, I decided to sell all of my video game gear - yep, every last bit of it - and jump headfirst into the wonderful world of music.

From the age of 10 to 18, I became adept with multiple instruments including the piano, guitar, ukulele, cello, and drums. My obsession with music shaped my teenage years like nothing else. I joined orchestra, choir, and hung out with all the musically-inclined folks I could find. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the elite few juniors to join the Madrigals Choir in high school, and I even got to be the president of that choir during my senior year!

But I have to give credit where credit is due. I was fortunate to have the best friends a guy could ask for during those formative years. They inspired me to be a better musician, student, athlete, and person. And let me tell you, I wouldn't be the person I am today without them. So, if there's one lesson I learned from my teenage journey, it's this: be wise in whom you choose to spend your time with, they influence you more than you realize!

My love of learning and insatiable curiosity also continued to help me thrive in high school. I graduated top of class with a 3.98 GPA - just one "A-" to prove I'm not a robot - and with nearly an associate degree's worth of AP credits. In my junior year I scored a 32 on the ACT and I was later awarded top scholarships to both of my universities of choice (see the College section below).

Mormon Mission

Remember how I told you my family was super religious? Yeah, we're talking hardcore Mormon. And I was all in! I decided to follow in my dad and brothers' footsteps and dedicate two years of my life to serving as a missionary.

So, a few months before graduating high school, I submitted my application to the church leaders asking them to assign me a mission. And guess what? They said I was supposed to go to Taiwan - a tiny island off the coast of China.

Fast forward a few months, and I was at the Missionary Training Center learning how to speak Mandarin, teach the tenets of the Mormon church, and bring new converts into the fold. It wasn't easy, let me tell you. I was a pasty, 6'2" American kid in a sea of 5-foot-tall Taiwanese people. And don't even get me started on the language barrier!

But I was determined to learn and grow, so I studied harder than I ever had before. And before I knew it, I was chatting away in Mandarin like a pro. I spent about 18 months in Taiwan, and by the time I left, I was practically a native. I had spent countless hours in the homes of Taiwanese families, learning about their culture, customs, and everyday lives. And the food! Oh my gosh, the food was amazing.

I no longer believe in the religion I taught, and there were definitely some issues with how we were treated. But overall, I had an incredible experience in Taiwan. It taught me skills and lessons that have stuck with me to this day. Certainly not the least of which is the Mandarin Chinese language, which was the springboard that launched professional career (see Career Story).


As soon as I returned from my mission in Taiwan, I dove headfirst into college at Utah State University. Thanks to the Presidential Scholarship I was given, my tuition and fees were taken care of. Living expenses, however, were all on me. So I turned to my most valuable skill at the time: Mandarin Chinese.

I was lucky to land a job at BOXFiSH Education, teaching English to Chinese kiddos online. The only catch? Time zones had it out for my beauty sleep. So I worked each day from 4am to 9am before my college classes.

With this job, heavy church service, and a classload that nearly drove my academic advisor to resign, my schedule was like Tetris on expert mode. Fun and play took a back seat. But fear not, for my love affair with learning kept the college spark alive, studying was all the fun I needed.

In fact, my love affair with learning got a little out of hand. Picture me like a kid in a candy store, eyes wide with wonder at every major on campus, determined to find the one that would maximize my opportunity to "make a dent in the universe." I ricocheted between majors like a caffeinated pinball on a quest for enlightenment.

Here are just some of the majors I explored on my academic odyssey:

Senior year snuck up on me and I found myself without a major to call my academic soulmate. Panic? Well, maybe a little. But I eventually decided to wrap up the whole undergraduate shebang and dive into the real world for some hands-on experience. So I emerged with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a transcript that's practically a highlight reel of my flirtations with various majors. You could call me a "Jack of all majors, graduate of none."

Looking back now, this actually set myself up to be a very successful "generalist", rather than a specialist like most other graduates.

Falling in Love

In the whirlwind of my hectic college life, where making friends felt like trying to catch a shooting star, I stumbled upon something even more dazzling—the love of my life.

Picture this: I'm singing in a choir during my second semester of college and in walks Rebekah, a burst of radiance in human form. She wasn't just beautiful; she was the whole package—kind, talented, humble, and fun. Cupid's aim was spot-on because I fell head-over-heels faster than you can say "love at first note."

Now, I must admit, I was a bit of a lousy suitor. Dates? Ha, what are those? I didn't have time for traditional courting, but I did the best I could with homework marathons, tag-team cooking capers, and stealing every precious spare minute to be together.

Fast forward a mere two months, and there I was, asking Rebekah to be my exclusive girlfriend. And in a blink of six months, with a speed that would make even The Flash raise an eyebrow, I popped the big question.

But this wasn't your run-of-the-mill dinner-and-ring affair. Oh no, I pulled out all the stops. I rallied a battalion of friends and family and together we transformed the Utah State University Bell Tower into a love-filled wonderland. Lights, pictures, the whole shebang.

And because I believe in going big or going home, I spent months crafting a heartstring-tugging masterpiece—"Time and Eternity." This wasn't just any song; it was an ode to our journey and my unwavering desire to traverse the sands of time with her.

Now, here comes the masterstroke: I slyly orchestrated a covert mission to lure her into the bell tower at night, all under the guise of a clandestine escapade. Little did she know, a symphony of lights and the sweet strains of "Time and Eternity" awaited her. I strummed the guitar, sang out my serenade, and then I dropped to one knee and unveiled the ring.

Rebekah was a special girl that deserved a special proposal, and I think I delivered just that. Thankfully, she said yes!

Rebekah and I tied the knot on 3/3/2018, and let me tell you, the journey has been nothing short of an epic adventure. Back when I proposed, I knew she was amazing, but I didn't fully grasp my sheer luck of having her love.

She's been my anchor through stormy seas, the queen of patience in the face of my many quirks, and a true beacon of love and forgiveness. We've weathered  tempests, navigated uncharted waters, and sailed through the chaos of unexpected upheavals. Yet, through it all, her love has been a steady lighthouse guiding us home.

So here I am, head over heels, eternally grateful to share my life with this incredible woman. She's not just my partner in crime; she's the co-author of this wild, beautiful story we're living.

Faith Crisis

Less than a year into our marriage, I found myself in the midst of one of those "unexpected upheavals". A series of conversations with some truly admirable individuals shook the foundations of my religious beliefs, exposing cracks and inconsistencies that demanded my attention. Cue the existential crisis: "What do I actually believe, and why?"

Buckle up, because the next six months saw me on a deep dive into the murky waters of self-discovery. I immersed myself in religious texts, delved into the intricacies of philosophy (specifically epistemology), and had heart-to-heart interviews with thinkers from all walks of life. The result? A Cartesian dismantling of my belief system. Out with the old, in with a fresh start on the mother of all questions: "What do I value?"

The journey wasn't a stroll in the park. It was a trek through pain, fear, and confusion. But emerge I did with a clear vision of my values, beliefs, and the reasoning behind them. Religious doctrines were no longer in my playbook. Instead, I followed the example of Benjamin Franklin and crafted ten virtues I aspire to (check out Philosophy) and embraced the scientific method as our best toolkit for unraveling the mysteries of reality.

I still harbor warm sentiments toward the Mormon religion. It played a significant role in my life, surrounding me with good friends and role models who nudged me toward good decisions and set me on a positive trajectory from the get-go. It's a chapter in my story, one that I appreciate for the good it brought.

China Trip

A year into our marriage, the universe handed us a phenomenal opportunity—a month-long stint in China. We stayed in 四川省 (Sichuan Province) where I taught English at local schools while Rebekah finished her degree with a few remaining online classes.

Our home base was a quaint little town named 邛崃 (Qionglai), a locale that gifted us an authentic taste of life in that corner of China. Oh, and let's not forget the jaw-dropping week we spent in 西安 (Xi'an), where we stood face to clay face with the 兵马俑 (Terracotta Army).

Wanderlust? Guilty as charged. This escapade was just the beginning of what we envision to be an endless series of international adventures. It can be eye-opening and inspiring to witness how folks on the other side of the globe live their lives. It's not just about places; it's about the people, the stories, and the shared humanity that binds us all. Here's to many more stamps on our passports and countless tales waiting to unfold!


The following year unfolded with Rebekah taking on the brave role of a 4th-grade teacher, while I saw my undergraduate rollercoaster through to the end. Even with the crazy curveball of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebekah provided a year of top-notch learning to her students and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a shiny 3.97 GPA.


Fast forward about six months post-graduation, and Rebekah decided that she wanted to be a mother. I was admittedly hesitant, but I agreed knowing that I wanted to be a father eventually and didn't have the heart to deny Rebekah something she'd dreamed of her entire life. I had no idea what I had signed up for.

This journey into parenthood was akin to boarding a rollercoaster without knowing the twists and turns. Rebekah's pregnancy as a nine-month saga of unrelenting nausea. And then the childbirth didn't go well at all, resulting in an emergency cesarean section where our baby boy - Ryker - almost didn't make it. He was then taken to the NICU for a suspenseful nine-day stay. 

We braced ourselves for potential lifelong health and mental challenges for Ryker, but thankfully, he emerged with just one major issue—severe, projectile spit up. Picture this: more than 50 spit-ups a day, necessitating a battlefield of towels and my stylish towel-ponchos during Ryker duty.

This plunge into the waters of fatherhood (pun intended) was more than I bargained for; it shattered me into someone unrecognizable from the happy, passionate, and energetic person I used to be. I was severely depressed and anxious for a long time. But with each passing month I slowly pieced myself back together into a new man. As I write this, Ryker is around 2.5 years old, and I can proudly say I'm in a much better place now.

They say growth happens beyond your comfort zone, and let me tell you, parenthood has been my crash course in personal development. Here are a couple of lessons I've picked up along the way:

Lesson 1: The Good Father Conundrum

Lesson 2: Energy & Fulfillment

Lesson 3: Quality Trumps Quantity


My Life Today