All The Things, October 2023
Plus, an overdue thank you
“Mom! You’re late! The show is starting!” my daughter whisper-yells, grabbing me by the hand. She drags me toward her brother’s room, where everyone else is waiting.
I take my seat on the carpet—same spot as last night, and the night before. Brett is leaning against the wall with the blackout shades, which have been pulled tight over the windows to create a theater-like ambiance. Both boys hover in their bunk beds. Carson adjusts the book light clamped to his side, while Everett wields a flashlight around the room. I’m not sure if the boys were explicitly asked to handle lighting, or if they simply saw a need and stepped into the role. Either way, this nightly Disney Princess performance has become a family affair.
“Okay, ready!” Presley calls out, kneeling down on the carpet to place Elsa on the small pink Toniebox1. She adjusts the volume all the way up, then stands to take her place in the center of the room.
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I'm the queeeeeen
She gets around 85% of the lyrics correct, impressive for a four-year-old, as she belts out the song and moves around the room. She raises her arms up and down dramatically, twirling and skipping across the carpet as she sings. We smile and occasionally gasp for dramatic effect, mesmerized by her talent—or perhaps, our love for her.
At one point she holds out her hand like a pop star grazing the fingertips of her fans. She glides past Brett as he promises, “I’ll never wash this hand again!”
The boys adjust their spotlights, following her around the room. Presley revels in all of it: the carpet acting as a stage, the flashing lights bouncing off her glittery dress, and—her favorite part of all—the full attention of an engaged audience.
Someone asked me in a podcast interview recently what it looks like to value creativity as a family. I think I said something about how we keep art supplies next to the dining room table, but what I should have said is that part of valuing creativity as a family involves simply bearing witness to one another’s gifts and talents. Sitting on the bedroom carpet, cheering Presley on, giving her a standing ovation even when she sings off-key—this is all part of it. This is part of our family culture, the offering of our presence and unwavering support. The boys make fake admission tickets out of scraps of paper and set up their stuffed animals on the floor to simulate a packed theater. They do not complain, not even once.
This is what it looks like to value creativity as a family. Yes, we make time for art around here, and yes, the dining room table is always a mess. But more than that—what is even more meaningful, and even more powerful—is the collective willingness to give our undivided attention to each other when our creativity is on display.
On a related note, I recently hit one whole year of writing on Substack, and this feels like a good time to thank you for being here. In the wild wild west of the Internet circa 2023, with all the tiktoks and reels and tweets and threads and various content machines clawing at our eyeballs each day, I recognize your attention is no small thing. Thank you for reading my stories, for actually opening these emails, for coming to this weird little show of mine. I am consistently and wholeheartedly grateful for your presence here. Thank you for being part of my (still TBD) second act.
And now, onto the links!
Completely in awe of this photo series. Mad I didn’t think of it first.
The Coffee + Crumbs fall collection is live! As always, the writing is beautiful, honest, and raw. Would be so grateful if you could savor the stories slowly, and perhaps share your favorite one with a friend.
You know Anne Lamott is the GOAT for me. Writing-wise, nobody comes close. For the two years I worked on Create Anyway, I read Anne Lamott every morning as my daily writing vitamin. That being said, Harrison Scott Key officially became my #2 after I devoured this book. I laughed out loud no less than 20 times. I sobbed all over my couch. Any book that can get me to do both in one sitting is a straight up masterpiece. This is not hyperbole: How To Stay Married is one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. 6/5 stars. (The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that it made me realize I will never be this good of a writer. Bummer.)
Other books I’ve read lately: Someone Else’s Shoes (fun, breezy, would def see the movie if they make one), The Whispers (this needs 80 trigger warnings but holy cow I couldn’t put it down), The Midnight Library (would be fab for book club!), Hello Beautiful (just okay for me but my book club loved it), and It. Goes. So. Fast. (quick read, v. enjoyable, would highly recommend for moms who work outside the home).
Speaking of books & book clubs, would you be interested in hopping on zoom with me for 30-45 minutes to brainstorm a Create Anyway book club resource? I’d love to chat with real people so I can get a pulse on what would be helpful and useful. Sign up here and I’ll get something on the calendar in the next week or two.
Related: this is beautiful. Thank you, Adrienne!
We are what I jokingly refer to as “extracurricular minimalists”—so I loved this piece.
I recently spent a weekend in Chicago with 40ish women I only know through the Internet. We have spent the past five years forging friendships through pixels, zoom calls, and a shared love for creativity. These women are the real deal: kind, generous, supportive, FUNNY, and generally a delight to be around. If you are looking for a community of mothers to support you in your creative endeavors, look no further. I am completely biased, but Exhale is one of the best communities on the entire Internet. Enrollment closes tomorrow and won’t be open again until January. Don’t miss out! And shoutout to Rachel, Amy, and Stacy for planning such an epic retreat for all of us!has done it again:
We were sold a load of crock by tech giants who wanted us to give them all of our attention, and publishers (I think?) scrambled to keep up with this new way of showing up in the world and just lumped it all into “platform.” But I think I can say with some authority as someone who’s been at this writing online thing for over twenty years: nothing reaches or retains readers like writing itself. // from Should We Keep Talking About Writing?
My friend Lauren recently fed me this tomato farro dish (served over arugula) and I am absolutely going to be making this recipe at home ASAP.
I have yet to put language to my many, many swirling thoughts on the rise of artificial intelligence, but I echo many of the sentiments here. Rest assured: Coffee + Crumbs has always been, and will always be, “a refuge of authenticity.” Same goes for my personal Substack, and anything else I touch creatively.
Two shameless plugs: I was recently interviewed on the Dwell Differently Podcast (What If Creativity Was an Others-Focused Activity?) and the Fullness of Joy podcast (Freedom through Disconnection from Social Media). Really enjoyed both of these conversations!
It is still a whopping 87 degrees in Sacramento, but the mornings are cooling off and I finally updated my capsule wardrobe from summer —> fall this week. Mostly wearing favorites from years past, but a few new additions: this hat, this sweatshirt, and these mules.
Big favor alert: if you read and loved Create Anyway, would you consider leaving an online review or telling a friend about the book? It takes a village to launch a book into the world, and I would be so grateful for you to join mine. Haven’t read it yet? You can snag a copy at any of the following: Target | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Baker Book House | Christianbook
*Photo by my friend Jenny
That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading? Wearing? Cooking? Watching?
Tell me all your things!
Presley received this as a gift last Christmas and it is hands-down one of the best toys we own. She falls asleep listening to music/stories every night, and I love that we can keep adding Tonies to her collection (easy gift idea anyone can get her for any occasion). If you’ve got a preschool-aged kiddo, bookmark this for a Christmas idea!