Every Essential Element is a triumphant memoir of guts, family and bucking the establishment that traces a 55-year journey that mirrors not only a movement, but the nation. Beginning in a time when white bread was health food, Gaye and Hartley Anderson left security to pursue a crazy idea they could not ignore. Their friends snickered and the U.S. government bullied them, but they inspired each other through poverty, disasters, and the trials of family business. Starting at the kitchen table, they and their contemporaries grew into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Every Essential Element is the true story of the author’s parents: a quirky, lovely reminder of how two people can make it in marriage, business and life.
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This was the first book I wrote. I never set out to write a book or even a family history, but in late 2007 I felt a “tangible nudge” to start writing but did not even have a topic in mind. I simply decided to listen to that feeling, circled a day on my calendar and began on that date. When I sat down on the rug in front of my fireplace with a legal pad at the appointed time, I was flooded with inspiration and ideas. Everything on the page was about my parents. In the middle of writing, I got a phone call that my dad, Hartley Anderson, had passed away. A few days later, I realized that writing my parents’ story was a purpose I needed to fulfill with my mom. It took several years to write and publish Every Essential Element, but the process pushed me to learn the power of story.
Writing this book with my mother, Gaye Anderson, was a joy and had a profound impact on me. It also transformed an already good relationship with her into something very special. It changed the way I looked at her from “the mom” to a heroine in an epic love story. She is my hero, along with my dad.
The power of story
Writing this story strengthened our family, and impacted the next generation. I came to understand that story is how we will be remembered, how we convey our values, and how we can feel part of something bigger than ourselves. As a twist, when I began I did not have children and did not know if I ever would. I could not know then that one day I would have a daughter who would only know “grandpa Hartley” through the stories.
I also found through this process that whenever I mentioned her book, people wanted to learn more about how to tell their own story. Ultimately, this led to writing for other people, and what began as a hobby led me to write, speak, and teach through Evalogue.Life.
Every Essential Element opening scene:
“I stood there and watched the casket lower and felt a rush of gratitude for having been given the gift of time…
“I began to realize that if I could have gone back in time to stand in a lineup of people from whom Hartley would choose his team, but this time with 100 percent knowledge of everything I was in for, I would have jumped up and down and pleaded, “Pick me! Pick me!”
“Pick me to bring six incredible sons and a shining daughter into this world with you and then be a part of this quirky, close family. Pick me to help provide a product that customers would plead with us to never stop making.
“Pick me to work alongside our family labeling, wrapping and sealing bottles by hand while singing and listening to talk radio. Pick me to travel the roads of America meeting the most kind-hearted, interesting people this country has.
“Pick me to help you splatter mud over all the people who said we’d never make it. Pick me to backpack and fish with you in high mountain splendor and to absorb a thousand life lessons there.
“Pick me as your wingman in dogfights with the FDA over battles as important for the well-being of America as any I know. Pick me to be there when our glorious industry takes its early steps and then grows into an unstoppable force.
“Pick me to learn faith by having daily doubts but stepping into the darkness anyway. Pick me to share the thrills of victory. Pick me, Hartley. For the love of God, pick me.”
Watch another video vignette adapted from Every Essential Element:
Rhonda Lauritzen is the founder and an author at Evalogue.Life, where we tell personal and family stories that inspire. (Let us help you tell yours!) Rhonda lives to hear and tell about people’s lives, especially the uncanny moments. She and her husband Milan work together in Evalogue.Life, weaving family and business together. Read her latest book, How to Storyboard.
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