Last week I was interviewed by Ranch & Coast Magazine, and the interviewer asked a question I didn't foresee: How did your wife respond when you first shared this idea? I stumbled at first because I hadn't thought about it, but I had to candidly answer that Nicole's enthusiasm was muted at first. She may have been a little annoyed. She totally has my back today, but it took a few days for the concept to sink in.
Nicole already has her hands full taking care of our children while I'm at the law office. She runs a graphic design business and we have a side business with Nerium International. When we put the kids to bed she clocks out from one career and clocks in for the other.
The idea of custom documentaries occurred to me in a flash while driving home from the train station after work. Thoughts flooded my brain and I struggled to process it. I entered the house a little manic and talking really fast. I usually give Nicole a break when I get home and am generally in charge of getting our kids ready for bed. That night I went straight to our bedroom, shut the door, and got on the phone with an old friend to bounce ideas. Nicole was shooting suspicious looks at me when I got off the phone.
Over the days and weeks, Nicole warmed to the idea as I developed the concept. In the beginning this was solely my thing, and Nicole offered helpful yet distant advice as I struggled teaching myself video editing. (Probably wise of her to stay back as I learn most things.)
I remember the exact moment Nicole became actively involved, and this became "our" project. A couple weeks after the idea was hatched, we drove to Big Bear for a weekend in a rented cabin with her side of the family. I was driving up I-215, spitballing ideas about packaging the DVD (the book hadn't entered my consciousness yet). I said I wanted to incorporate trees into the imagery, maybe even sequoias. Here I veered clumsily into her territory. She's a graphic designer - she makes wedding invitations for a living. Am I going to sit passively while she lectures me on the law? She started churning innovative ideas, and I realized I needed to cede the floor to the talent. That was the moment Nicole became engaged in this project with me.
Before that day I had not settled on a name for the project. By the time we started ascending up the mountain, she had a working title. I forget the first word, but the second word was Roots. I swapped the first word with Eternal, and when I first said, "Eternal Roots," we knew found the name.
Since then Nicole has been my in-house graphic design department. I write all the content for the website and promotional materials, and she makes sure it looks awesome. She designed my business cards, brochures and book jacket, and she proofreads much of my writing. I am very, very fortunate to have someone with her talents on my team.
On October 8th I reserved an exhibitor booth at the bi-annual Successful Aging Expo at the Town & Country Convention Center in Mission Valley. I knew there would be a flood of people attending, and I needed help working the booth. She's the only person who knows this project like I do, and she has a vested interest in its success. She could also make the booth look beautiful, something that will attract people. The week before the expo was stressful. Nicole put her clients on the back burner and put me first. She designed the sign-in sheet, re-designed the brochure from the ground up, designed the image for a stand-up banner, and she framed some of our favorite Hume Lake photos with inspirational quotes. See the log risers in the photo above? Her idea. The greenery on the table? Her idea. Those ferns alone brought several people to the table.
I'll do a separate post about the Expo itself, but it was an unspeakable feeling to see Nicole interacting with people at the Expo, sharing the Eternal Roots mission. She has watched this project evolve from inception to present, and she's great with people.
If I can glean a lesson from this, if you have a passion project and want your spouse's support, find a way for your spouse to meaningfully contribute. Have her participate in a way that accentuates her strengths, and your project will bear fruit.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.