Hi friends! I can’t believe January is coming to a close! It’s gone by so quickly but also has felt like 10,000 years. I’d like you all to welcome one of our last 10th Blogiversary Guests, Kali Anthony! She’s a first timer at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet, and has been very kind, patient, and generous. We’re grateful to have her as a guest, and all the other authors who were happy to help celebrate. I hope you all give a warm welcome to Kali!
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
It all started whilst I was watering the grass. To be fair, the grass had just been freshly laid, and I was trying to keep it alive in our bakingly hot Australian summer during a brief lockdown. But watering said grass took over an hour of my time, twice a day, so I had lots of that time to contemplate…things.
My thoughts centered on how life had become somehow small over the last twelve months. No travel, no grand adventures. Ignoring the fact that the world was going to hell in a handbasket, life out of necessity seemed to be about hearth and home. It got me thinking that the media fetes the life lived large. It’s always about how much you can pack in rather than what happens if that’s whittled away to almost nothing. And what I realised during my grass watering musings, was that I wasn’t unhappy about my smaller life.
I found myself focussing on the little things that I loved. Looking at my Instagram feed, it was all about food, family, pets and gardening. And I recognised that amongst all the negatives that seemed to hang over me during this time, I had much to be thankful for. Things I ordinarily wouldn’t have given a second thought to, yet they were all I had to think about now.
This isn’t about what I lost. We all lost things in 2020 and I don’t want to diminish any of that because it’s terrible. But in the midst of it all, it’s a reflection on what I gained over the year as well.
Spending unbroken time with my kids, taking them through their schoolwork whilst trying to do my own job, was stressful. But I also got a first-hand look at what my children were learning every day. I taught my son to write poetry for his English class and rediscovered my love of writing poems which I hadn’t done for years. My daughter and I laughed at just how punishingly dull her lessons on advertising were, but we somehow managed to make them fun anyway. We discovered my son had a love of cooking when working on recipes for his online home economics class. That led to some amazing dinners which he made for us, and ignited a fresh wonder of taking raw ingredients and turning them into something edible.
Being able to spend months working from home in the company of my pets was one of my greatest pleasures. Spending time with my nineteen-year-old cat, who passed away before Christmas. That broke my heart into pieces, but I was thankful to have had almost every day at home with her, before her last. That meant lots of time for my beloved editorcat to lie in the sun in her final months, to sleep next to my computer as I did my day job. To curl up on my lap as I read. Hours I would have missed otherwise.
I had time to create a garden around me out of pots, having time to tend them in a way I didn’t have before. Learning my love of gardening again and the skills I thought I’d forgotten, when now the plants around me flourished and flowered. Learning each plant and its individual needs rather than just throwing a bit of water on things and hoping for the best. Getting help from my children who developed a love of gardening too, watching the seeds we potted up grow into things we put in our meals.
Being forced to stop, and sit, and be. Reframing friendships because we could only speak online, but recognising those friendships remained strong because of, rather than in spite of, those things. The absence made me value those friendships and family relationships in a thousand more ways than I thought I could, because that physical presence and social contact wasn’t freely available anymore.
I had time to connect with my neighbours, who are older and whose kids had moved out of home. We now had the opportunity to chat at a distance across the fence because I was always around. Checking in on how they were going, chatting about what was happening in our narrow little worlds. One neighbour gave me tips on making a fabulous curry like her mother used to cook. Another emailed me a recipe for a magnificent cake she’d made. We watched out for each other. If I was going to the shops I asked if they needed anything to save them a trip. Suddenly, I felt like I lived in a community, because our local community was all we had.
These little things were what I’d forgotten in the rush and bustle of life before. Where everything felt free and available because there was little that prevented me from doing what I wanted (within my personal limitations) in a kind of mindless way. I hadn’t stopped in years to just think, and this forced me to become mindful of what I could do, as much as what I couldn’t.
Because I couldn’t travel (not that I really have done much recently but I like the fantasy that one day I might) I began taking a real interest in different places again. Places I’d never heard of before, I researched in detail. I now have some great ideas for future stories. Whether I’ll set them there or use them as the basis for a fictional country I’m not sure, but it helped me realise that my writing was a wonderful escape into a world of my own, that I hadn’t really had time to appreciate. My ability to create stories where happy endings are the norm rather than the exception, and commit them to paper for people to read, is a small joy of its own.
And from a time when, objectively, a person might think it was all bad, I realised it’s those little things in life that made me happy in the end. The big stuff was all just glitter and sprinkles on top. But learning to love the little things again? That’s a great place to be.
Congratulations, Limecello, on ten years of blogging about stories where romance and happy endings rule. Thank you for the invitation to join your decade’s celebration party. It’s one heck of an achievement!
Thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful post, Kali! I’m very sorry for the loss of your beloved editorcat. Pets are such an integral part of our families. <3
Kali is giving away a signed copy of her latest release Bound As His Business-Deal Bride. (Pictured above). How do you enter to win? Answer Kali’s question: What is your favourite/most unusual pet and why?
*ETA: Kali will be drawing a winner on February 28th! <3