The Essentials Project

About a year and a half ago, I left my job in California and moved my family to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We spent six months in a hotel and then for the last year, we’ve been in a great four bedroom house.

Since we moved here, our son Van was born seven months ago and my son Shane just recently turned 18. Our kids Jack and Olivia are now 9 and 11. We’ve liked living in New Mexico and we’ve met some great people but it seems like it’s time for the wheel to turn.

I think I need to spend a few months devoting myself seriously to writing projects that has been lingering as ideas for too long. I have some screenplay and book projects I’d like to get done.

In order to get them done, I feel I need to hunker down and cut out expenses and distractions. I think I need a writer’s retreat.

Lauren and I have been talking and we’re not 100% sure of where we’re going but we have some ideas. But while we’re figuring out our next bold move, we have built up the residue of ‘stuff’ that comes from living with kids in a big house.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be chronicling my effort to simplify my life and possessions. My goal is build a stronger foundation for my family and our lives.

Right now, it’s about thinking about what is essential and what isn’t. We’re lucky to live in a rich country — these aren’t life and death decisions. But trying to figure out whether we NEED both an XBox and a Wii may seem trivial…unless you’re a 9 year old. Then it can make you cry.

And it’s the same with deciding do we keep this bike or that TV set. I’m not taking a vow of poverty. I do consider things like a smartphone ‘essential’ at this point. I consider NetFlix and a Kindle essential, too. So, I’m lucky especially compared to most of the earth’s population. I know that.

So that’s the challenge and I’ll be talking about it here on the blog. Please jump in comment any time — it’d be nice to have your thoughts and conversation.


  1. Wow…
    Its really great and inspirational

  2. Thanks for the challenge! With two young boys (six and four), and two somewhat flourishing careers, we appear to be in our accumulation phase. Renovations on two houses have brought us TV’s, a Wii, computers and iPods. While our life works, I am concerned about the effect on our children. My husband and I both grew up with very little in terms of materialism and we now have immense gratitude for having, “enough” (what that looks like for US). But I do see my children with far too much expectation of what they think they deserve and their expectation that they should receive what they want when they want it. (the answer is usually no).

    While I am not ready to choose between what I want and I need (not yet, anyway), I am going to take your challenge and start to get rid of all the, “stuff”. We have closets full of clothes and toys we don’t use anymore. I will engage the children to start working with me and explain to them that when we don’t use anything anymore, it is good to share it with and pass it on to someone who will use it (for them, PLAY with it..)

    Don’t think they will give up their Wii anytime soon but hopefully we can turn the ship around and help them realize that, “enough” is a privilege and not a right.




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