Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I’m still very much on the New Year high and I’m convinced there is nothing wrong with that. Some people I chat with hate this season but I thrive in it.

The month of January gets me pumped and–I don’t know about you but–I’m utilizing the hype to make myself better.

Yesterday I was listening to one of my go to podcasts ( and the host, Don Miller, was discussing a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It only took a few minutes of them talking about it until I gave in and bought the book. Let me tell you right now…

This book is going to change my life.

Maybe it was the right time and place but I can’t tell you how much I need focus right now. My life is so… cluttered …and messy. Just…. ughhh.

I’m 28 years old and I don’t know if I’m a teacher …or a filmmaker …or minister … or a writer? I’ve gotten caught up in the hype of making hype and noise but I want my life to be more than hype. I’ve built up a successful filmmaking company and helped lead The Living Person to where it is today …but I’m wandering. What is my direction? What is my purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked really hard to create meaning and purpose in my life.

I literally dubbed 2016 the “Year of No” in an effort to cut out everything that wouldn’t contribute to St. Ed’s, We’ll Be Alright, and The Living Person–but the point is that it’s still too much. I’m still divided. Which is nuts because I literally quit about about seven things: Filipino Martial Arts, Blogging for 3 different websites, cutting down my wedding clients, my leading role in my parish youth ministry program, and a handful of other small things. Are you serious?

No one is better at sabotaging my life than me.

It’s crazy to look back at my life and see how completely nuts I was but I’m lucky enough to fight through another day. If this book can inspire me to sit and think hard about the one thing my life is about, then I’m all in. Sometimes I think I know what it is… but I’m not satisfied with that. Honestly, I want the confidence and security of knowing I worked hard to figure out my “one thing.”

And that won’t be revealed to me over night but rather through constant searching and persistent prayer.

I wanted to leave you with my favorite part of the book thus far. Please note, none of the following words are mine and if you want to quote or give credit, please give it where it is due and maybe even consider supporting him by buying his book. It would be awesome to have some people to share this journey with.

The Idea that “You Can Have It All”

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, 15-16

The idea that we can have it all and do it all is not new. The myth has been peddled for so long, I believe virtually everyone alive today is infected with it. It is sold in advertising. It is championed in corporations. It is embedded in job descriptions that provide huge lists of required skills and experience as standard.

It is embedded in university application that require dozens of extracurricular actives.

What is new is how especially damaging this myth is today, in a time when choice and expectations have increased exponentially. It results in stressed people trying to cram yet more activities into their already over scheduled lives. It creates corporate environments that talk about work/life balance but still expect their employees to be on their smartphones 24/7/365. It leads to staff meetings where as many as ten “top priorities” are discussed with no sense of irony at all.

The word priority  came into the English language in the 1400s.

It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.  Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of his experience in a company that talked of “Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5.”

This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was. 

If you found this to be powerful then hit me up. Read the book with me and let’s move forward together. I’ll keep ya’ll updated with my favorite parts and the current things that I’m working on. So far the hard commitments are to finish the book and to really cut out some of the excess materials in my life, yet another awesome challenge from this book. Just wait until you see my closet. Cheers to a life of “less but better” and cutting out the all the things that distract me from my priority.

Thank you God for this day.

Onward and upward,*


*I love this phrase and stole it from my awesome neighbor Brian Byers.




Now the Work of Christmas Begins

Now the Work of Christmas Begins


First, I just want to say…

I love my church

Man, do I love my church. So shout out to St. Mark in Westpark, Ohio and the pastoral team led by Fr. John Miceli. I’m literally so moved by the community, the quality of worship, and most of all the small, intimate family vibe.

Sidebar: If you don’t like your church then start doing something about it. I realize that we celebrate mass to give thanks in the Eucharist but there is something to be said about a parish community and a liturgy that speaks to your heart–one that resonates with you. Put yourself in an environment, a holy space, that brings out your best self in worship. Just my opinion.

Second, I had to share this poem with you guys. Especially today, the feast of Epiphany… aka the last day of Christmas for Catholics. It’s a litany written by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

So fam, let us continue on the journey, let’s walk together and lift each other up when needed–trying our best to fulfill the mission of Christmas.


I Need to Change

I Need to Change

I want to be the best.

It’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months and it’s just true. I want to be the best.

My dad was a medical technologist before he retired. I’m not sure what that really means but I do know that he was responsible for drawing blood samples at the hospital. As a kid, I remember people talking about how good he was. He was the best. When nobody could find the vein, my dad could. When no one was up for the challenge, my dad got it done.

I remember him pulling me into his room and telling me the same story over and over.

“Jurell, you know what my co-workers tell me at the lab?”

“…no, what?”

“They say: ‘Jun, you could draw blood from a rock!’ …you know why I can do that Jurell?”

“… no, why?”

“Because I’m the best.”

Maybe back then I thought it was cocky but now I just think of his unwavering confidence and his desire for me to be the best. It’s only now, as a 28 year old, that I understand what he was trying to teach me. So this January, I can’t help but get caught up in the spirit of a new year.

There are so many things I want to change, so many flaws, so many destructive habits, so many tendencies that push me 20 steps backward from being the best.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what being the best means yet but I am positive and sure that I want to be it. I think that my “best self” is always evolving and yet to be revealed. At the same time, I believe it is in the very act of seeking it that I will discover it …maybe.

So, cheers to the seeking.



A very respected and successful mentor (founder of swears on this practice and I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile. Why? Because at any given moment I get swept up in my own daily life and forget the direction that I am shooting for. I’ve also heard that reviewing your goals and to do list regularly is one of the most important factors in moving forward in your goals. So–to be blunt… I think that this practice will be the one to take me far.

For too long I’ve convinced myself that “I forgot” was a legitimate excuse–but it’s not legitimate at all. It’s just the mediocre one. And I will not be locked into the mediocre box.


My “snoozing” has gotten out of hand and it’s time to do something about it. At my worst, I literally will set four to five alarms and snooze them all for an hour. It’s a terrible way to start my morning not to mention disrespectful to my wife when she is off work.

I made a deal with my wife to hold myself accountable to this. If I snooze I’ve promised to cook her a Pintrest recipe of her choice.

God help me.



If you know me then you know that I can put food away. I used to pride myself on it but lately it just been exhausting. My love for food has stolen hours and days away from me. It’s made me sick to my stomach. I’ve had too many days of being a slave to food. That might sound dramatic but I’m done with not having control over my cravings.

I look back to when I was on a serious diet and workout plan and I was limiting my food. It wasn’t until I was limiting my intake that I realized how much I really loved food. I guess it’s the old cliche that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Food becomes more flavorful and the experience more artful and appreciated.

Another random thought: Do I consume the food? or does my food consume me? Laugh all you want but these are the things I think about.


Part of me is ashamed to admit it but I’m  addicted to my cell phone.

Okay? There. I said it.

There’s so much stimulus from it and I keep it close to my side, checking facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter, the email, then my other email. it’s just… too much.

I know how much good can be accomplished through social media but I’ve also experienced the strong grip it has on my life sometimes.

There are a lot of ways I need to improve but the place I have chosen to start is my bed. I bought an $8 alarm clock for the time and I keep my cell phone just outside the bedroom. That way if someone needs to get ahold of me I can still hear it and answer and it forces me to get up out of bed in the morning to turn off the alarm. It’s perfect for my “no snooze” goal.

If you are interested in the inspiration for these goals see the articles and videos below. If not–skip to the next goal.

Simon Sinek on Millennials: I actually have a lot of beef with Sinek’s arguments but that’s for a different blog. I completed my Master’s thesis on the Millennial generation and some of the stuff he says is really good… and some of it makes my blood boil. Anyways. The good stuff is GOOD. He inspired me to get an alarm clock and helped me realized the addiction I discussed above.

8 Things You Should Do Every Morning By Benjamin P. Hardy: This article changed my life about 6 months ago. Stop checking email right out of bed. It’s just a terrible way to live.


This is an old goal that always comes in waves. I’ve decided to make my goal so easy that it’s laughable in hopes that it will get me started and consistently get exercise everyday. My 10 minutes will consist of running, lifting, p90x videos, and insanity videos. Time to reclaim my health and my body.


My friends have been inviting me to a Monday evening work session where they meet up and crank out work but I’ve yet to go. They are crazy organized and on top of things (everything I am not) so I just think this will be a good move for me. It highlights my desire to be prepared and organized and some social time to continue building friendships. I’m pretty excited for this one.


My friend Craig is the master of new year’s resolutions. I hate him for it… but he’s incredible at it. After two years of completely failing at my new year’s resolutions I’ve learned that I am not Craig Sidol. I’ve learned that I’m terrible at committing to things for one year. It’s just too long of a period for me.

I’m not eliminating that practice completely–maybe I can get there eventually–but right now I know that I can work with 30 days at a time and then revise.

Plus, if I execute the goal for 30 days and I discover that it isn’t life giving then I can drop it. So the plan is to review my goals every 30 days without feeling bad about dropping or picking practices as I need them.

So there… see you in 30 days.