Life Transitions: Purpose, Goals, and Plans

First off, I want to apologize, as it’s been a while (over a month!!) since my last blog post. While I don’t want to make excuses for the big gap in posts, I will say that I’ve experienced some pretty major life transitions over the past month, the past couple weeks in particular.

20180927_184251.jpgI’ll begin with the one that happened most recently, and the biggest life event of, well, my entire life. Thursday, September 27th, I got down on one knee in Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington, and asked the beautiful Amber Jean Sage to be my wife. She said yes (phew!), and we’re officially engaged to be married. We’re both extremely excited, a little terrified, and already overwhelmed just thinking about the planning that will need to go into it all. We’re thinking we’ll probably set a date for next summer in or near Moscow, but we haven’t quite decided yet.

The proposal wasn’t big and flashy, it was fairly private, just the two of us walking along the boardwalk next to the Spokane River. A father with his young daughter stopped to congratulate us and take our picture. I had considered planning something bigger and more extravagant, but for those who know me as the introvert I am know that flashy and loud isn’t exactly my style. It was quiet, private, and intimate.

Amber often leans toward being a little louder and more extroverted (one of the many things I love about her), and she got her chance to express her excitement in her own way a little later at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille. Anyone who’s been to O’Doherty’s is familiar with the $1 bills lining the pub’s walls, and we wanted to add one to the wall to commemorate our engagement. The bartender told us that in order to do so one of us would have to stand on the bar top and sing a song, totally a capella.

It didn’t take much prodding for Amber, who loves to sing and is a lovely singer, to hop up on the bar top and sing a verse from This Kiss by Faith Hill. (Video below, I apologize for it being sideways, I couldn’t figure out how to flip it…)

We went on to drink a little too much whiskey (his) and gin (hers) hanging out in downtown Spokane, but the hangover on Friday was worth the magical engagement night.

The other life transition I recently experienced is one that’s quite scary, and risky, but also exciting.

I quit my stable and secure government job; with not a lot in terms of concrete job prospects, to boot.

While I learned so much and made so many meaningful friendships and professional relationships working at WSU, it was time for me to move on. I’d known for some time that the field I was working in wasn’t what I wanted to do long term.

20180831_093343.jpgWriting, in some capacity, is what I want to do. As I explained to several people, for five years, the last three of those at WSU, I’d had one foot in and one foot out of the water as it concerned my writing career, and with no children in my life at this point, now seemed to make the most sense for me to quit my safe job, take the risk of stepping into the unknown, and pursue things in a field I want to work in.

With that being said, I do have a plan that’s been in the works for a long time.

First off, I will be continuing to search for freelance writing clients. I’ve become a brand ambassador for a company called OneTigris, a tactical life and outdoor gear company who will be sending me gear once a month that I’ll be writing inbound marketing-style reviews for. It’s an unpaid gig, however it is a way to build my portfolio and show other outdoor companies my writing and marketing chops to hopefully gain more clients.

Second, I am working hard on my fiction writing as well, and plan to apply to the Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts programs at the University of Idaho and the University of Montana for Fall semester of 2019. I’ll be applying for teaching assistantships for these programs to hopefully get teaching experience at the college level. Also, I recently submitted two flash fiction stories to the Master’s Review writing contest, so I’ve got my fingers crossed on those, too!

Third, this coming weekend Amber and I will be traveling to western Washington. First, we’ll be there for Breann Wadel (soon to be Harrison) – sister of my college roommate and one of my best friends, Jake – and Jack Harrison’s wedding in Tacoma. Congratulations Breann and Jack!

The wedding won’t be the only reason we’re over there, though. It just so happened that the Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds, Washington is that week as well, and I’ll be attending that on Friday and Sunday (wedding is on Saturday). I’ve been to conferences before in the transportation industry, but this will be my first writer’s conference. They have some great looking workshops lined up, and I cannot wait to go and hang out with a bunch of fellow writers, make some connections, and learn a little (hopefully a lot!) about becoming a better writer.

Fourth, I’ll be substitute teaching for Moscow School District to make some extra money, as well as getting important teaching experience for potentially landing teaching assistantships.

Snapchat-1121981557.jpgLastly, I’ve also landed a part time job a couple days a week at Moscow’s downtown gym, the North Idaho Athletic Club. I’m incredibly excited for this, as I’ll get to work in a gym and with other fitness-minded people, have access to high quality equipment and expertise, and have the opportunity to hopefully get in the best shape of my life.

Through these major life changes I’ve been stressed and scared, however I’ve also been incredibly hopeful. The idea of doing and pursuing things that are in line with my personal value systems has filled me with a sense of purpose and extra motivation to succeed. Of course, the pressure of not having a stable job is also providing some extra motivation, and while that’s scary, it’s also an effective motivator.

While I would never encourage anyone to just up and quit their job, I would certainly encourage those of you who are thinking of quitting your job – maybe you work a job that is either unfulfilling to you, or is not in line with your personal values and what you really want to do in your life – to do a couple things before you quit your job:

  1. If you don’t know already, work at identifying what it is exactly that you want to do, or what industry you want to work in. What makes you happy while you’re doing it? Or, more importantly, what gives you a sense of purpose? A feeling that you’re contributing to something, and you’re proud of that thing you’re contributing to.
  2. How do you achieve this goal? What individual steps do you need to take in order to break into this (realistic) career path? (I throw the word “realistic” in there, because sure, maybe a lot of people want to be a Jennifer Lawrence or a Brad Pitt, but not everyone can be a Jennifer Lawrence or a Brad Pitt…)
  3. What external factors are there? Children? Spouses? Dependent family members? How much money do you need to save up? These are all very important things to be considering, particularly when it comes to things like health insurance benefits.
  4. Lastly, what can I do TODAY to take my first step toward making a transition? Maybe it’s doing a little research on Google regarding your interests. Maybe it’s calling or emailing a trade school or college counselor if you’re interests will require extra schooling. Maybe it’s talking to your significant other and seeing what they have to say about your plans. Whatever it is, it takes a little bit every day to achieve your goals, not a whole lot one day and then taking a week or two off. Little contributions add up, and figuring out what those contributions need to be is one of the first steps.

These next several months will be a scary journey, both in Amber’s and my personal and professional lives, but we’re both very excited for what the future holds. Also, I hope to get a little more consistent with my blog again soon and will be trying to make weekly, or at least bi-monthly, posts on a regular basis, so look out internet!!

Lastly, thanks to all those who wished Amber and I well on our engagement!

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P.S. – I do have one thing I want to address regarding our engagement, as it’s been eating at me a little bit: For those of you who’ve either been pressuring us to get married for the past year or so, or those who said “It’s about damn time!”, I just wanted to say that things happened at exactly the speed both myself AND Amber wanted them to happen. 🙂

We’re a 21st century couple who makes these type of decisions together, and it wasn’t solely my decision as the man to decide when I was ready to get married. We decided as a couple that we wanted to take the next step. Assuming it was solely my decision as the man is not only unfair to me, but more importantly it’s unfair to Amber, and implies that as the woman she has less to say about the decision than I do, as if she has just been waiting around for me to finally ask her to marry me.

We’ve communicated well regarding the topic of marriage, and the timing was just about perfect in both our opinions, and we’re happy we waited two years before agreeing, as a team, that it was time to move to the next level.

I’m not upset with anyone who made those comments, it’s just that I think as a society we should work at dispelling a couple of these slightly disconcerting notions:

  1. That in a heterosexual marriage the man decides when a couple gets married. While in some cases one person is ready to get married far sooner than the other (regardless of gender), it often seems that society in general assumes the woman wants to get married, and the man is trying to hang on to whatever sliver of “the single life” he has left before attaching the old “ball and chain”. Not only can this paint an unsavory picture of the man, but the more harmful result is it belittles the woman, and implies that there is a power imbalance in the relationship. As I explained, this was certainly not the case for either Amber or myself, and I think that’s a dying trend in general. So, let’s go ahead and let the cliché associated with that trend die too.
  2. A young couple in love needs to get married because others think it’s time for them to get married based on their view of the relationship, rather than waiting until they’ve decided together that they’re ready. No one truly knows what a relationship is like as an outsider, and applying that type of social pressure can in some cases actually work at driving people apart rather than pushing them closer together. Obviously that wasn’t the case for Amber and I, but it may be for others.

Again though, thank you so much to everyone who wished us well, and I know there was no harm or ill-will intended by any of those comments. I just wanted to clear the air and speak my mind on that particular subject. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Life Transitions: Purpose, Goals, and Plans

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