The Sneaky Thief

“When the focus becomes a focused focusing, often the result is a pungently clear oversight.”

Have you ever become so engaged in achieving a goal that you miss the opportunity for life to happen to you? Honestly, this used to happen to me a lot; spending the majority of my days writing, so wrapped up in meeting a word-count or abiding stringently to my “after writing” agenda, I neglected to appreciate both the small and momentous moments knocking at my barricaded, screened, and dead-bolted door.

For example, there were many days when my husband would arrive home from work, and I, click-click-clicking away, and without turning to meet his entrance, would whisper — very softly, of course, so as not to disturb that imperious presence whirling about my being — “I have to keep to writing or I’ll lose it.”

The Greats talk of “flow” and “the fickle muse,” modes to be attended to with the utmost respect and consideration. To write is to weave the five magical senses into prose, and so, it is the responsibility of any such possessed individual to obey and stoop obsequiously at the feet of inspiration. For if she calls, it is our duty to answer her in a timely fashion, with our whole undivided attention, putting all else aside — even our loved ones’ kisses.

You smell that? Yeah, me too; it’s a load of something stinky.

You know what doesn’t last for all of eternity? Things.

Things are great. I love things. Have lots and lots of them I enjoy and smile upon daily. I must be honest, though: not a single one them loves me back. You know what does? People. Most of us being aware of this, one would assume we would all take pains to pay more attention to those dearest to us. Baffling to me, and maybe to you, too, somehow it is the dearest of them we most often push aside, dismiss, wave away, or ignore completely.

These days I kiss my husband the moment he arrives home. No matter what is going on around me, with me, or to me, presently, nothing is so dire or important that I cannot spare a moment for the Love of my life. Upon further reflection, I realized there was so much I did not see. My peripheral malfunctioning, blind spots at every turn, I saw what I choose to see, not what was presented before me.

This is something I continue to work on daily. As such with breaking any bad habit, changing this ingrained measure requires constant practice. You know what it feels like? Like you’ve been swimming with the current for miles and miles, and then all of a sudden you decide to turn and swim against it. Not so easy. The muscles necessary to do this are weak and out of shape; everything within you shouts to go on and turn right back around to what’s effortless and natural. Easy is nice, yes, but it’s usually vacant of gratification and growth. So, we take those weak muscles and we condition them, every day. Doesn’t have to be for very long; start small, just do one thing that takes you out of what’s rote and routine.

As I head out to: pick up prescriptions at Wallgreen’s, purchase a pillow that will better support my neck, go to a doctor’s appointment, and do whatever else I might think of while I am out, I am going to do the opposite of what comes most naturally. I might dally. Perhaps I’ll chat with the pharmacist, or call up a girlfriend just to say hello.

Time is not our friend. He controls and hurries, sucks and drains, frustrates and beguiles. We are not to be his prisoners. Certainly there are things that must be done, we all understand this gross necessity of life. Plans must be broken occasionally, opportunities lost to this-and-that, but we must be vigilant . . . if we are not careful, time will succeed in stealing us, rather than us stealing time.

Stretch your eyes today. Make an effort to see what is not directly in front of you. Fight the urge to “get on with it,” and force yourself to slow down and take notice.

Praying this day meets you with surprises and blessings that delight and spellbound.

~ Cara

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50 thoughts on “The Sneaky Thief

  1. I can so relate to this. The first novel I wrote minus the revisions was written from 5:30 pm until the early morning. Sometimes i worked until it was time to shower and get ready to go to work. Then get back home to locked myself back in my room writing. My children were teenagers, my husband cooked dinner and my kids basically did what they wanted. The next thing I knew they were young adults. Guess where that novel is. Collecting dust. The husband married to someone else. I wrote that first draft in a few months. It was at the expense of my family. Time I can never get back. You are so right the muse will always return. Great post.

    • Kim,

      You are one of those transparent people, capable of expressing herself honestly, beautifully, and sometimes tragically. If I may . . . you mustn’t punish yourself for things that have already come to pass. It does not one ounce of good to berate and bludgeon oneself for inadvertent failings. I would imagine that God used that time in your life to teach you some very powerful truths. We are all susceptible to the narcissist with in us. In pursuing our goals and reaching for our dreams, we often mistake a manic compulsion to succeed, for dedication, a strong work ethic or a driven disposition. There is a balance to everything. I know you know that. I know I know that; however, it isn’t always enough; sometimes I need intervention.

      You were given a gift to write, to share you blessing with others. I am grateful for your posts, and I hope you will continue to write and answer the call to inspire.

      Blessings,

      ~ Cara

  2. Cara- what a great post! As always, you have put things back in perspective. Have you ever had an inspirational email hit your inbox that was exactly what you needed to hear, or have you ever been sitting in church or engaging in quite time when you stumble across scripture that fits perfectly with what you are struggling with? Your blog posts are like that for me. It’s always something I have needed to hear. Thanks for reminding me to take more time for the little things… to call my girlfriends back, to sit and talk with Jon, and cuddle with my dog :) Hope you are having a great Monday, dear!

    • You leave the loveliest comments, Amber.

      Yes, yes, absolutely! I know exactly what you speak of; sometimes it is simply a forwarded email from a friend, or perhaps a quote on Pinterest, and then more often, scripture that reflects the innards of my heart. And each time this happens, I am left with a greater appreciation for God and His wielding power. I am blessed beyond words that God is using these posts for His glory and to benefit you. There is no higher compliment, thank you.

      The week is going well, so far, I hope yours is as well!

      ~ Happy Tuesday to you!

    • Oh, Amanda, I miss you, too . . . So much going over here. I do promise to write soon, but the thought of putting down all that has passed on paper, daunts me. I may just wait until you come home. Only 2 months!

      Love you, dear friend.

  3. Well said, Cara.

    I fear I have the opposite problem. I draw energy from people, and have been called out by friends on my tendency to chat up complete strangers. Hey! They’re interesting.

    I chase shiny baubles. Oooooh, look!

    Balance is the key to my success — that which I want to achieve while still chasing shiny baubles, dancing alone in public, and learning what makes others tick.

    Hope someone finds a cure for me that doesn’t involve chaining me to my desk.

    • LOL! You explained the other side conundrum expertly! For every pull there is a push — all of us, or rather, I should say “most of us” fall on one side or the other, an extreme of some sort. It’s just like you said: “Balance in the key to my success.” This is true for every single one of us; whether we be the type to sit at a desk for 14 hours, or 14 minutes, we must strive for the middle-ground. I, too, am a bit like you, and most days –especially during a creative drought — would rather be out there in my community, talking to people, being social at coffee shops. And while I don’t think God would have me sequester myself indoors, I think He has put a call on my heart to write. So I’ll continue to crawl toward the middle. ;-)

      Yes, keep chasing baubles. We need those like you, Gloria — the Great personalities to push us outside our comfort zones, and spice up our day with a little zest and quirk.

      Love to you.

  4. “Time is not our friend. He controls and hurries, sucks and drains, frustrates and beguiles. We are not to be his prisoners.”

    I’m going to write this on my mirror so I can see it every morning. It seems like I have no time, for friends, for writing, for working out, and realistically I have as much time as everyone else, I’m just committed during most of it. Thanks for the post, Cara, it was a breath of fresh air in a stinky room. :)

    • Christy!

      I have missed you! I just jumped over to your page to make sure I hadn’t somehow disengaged from receiving your posts. I was hoping that your absence from WordPress was only due to a healthy break in routine, but it sounds as if you have been feeling very overwhelmed. Before I fell ill, I felt like this much of the time. The moment my alarm went off it was a mad-dash to hurry and make breakfast, hurry and check my email, Facebook, WordPress, start writing by 12, finish at 4, hurry to get ready for the gym, be home by 7, hurry into the shower, hurry to dinner, and then hurry to relax for an hour before bed. I realized after a while that I neither enjoyed or benefited from any of these “healthy” aspects implanted in my life. I had poisoned them . . . hurry and stress killed every little bit of joy, so that even the good wasn’t so good.

      I will be praying for you. You are smart, dedicated, impassioned, and godly. I know our Father wants more for you than a sense of unyielding suffocation. I do hope that quote helps, and what a great way to force yourself to see something, taping it to the mirror.

      Praying for you!

      ~ Cara

  5. “Stretch your eyes today.” That is just incredible, Cara. You’ve challenged me – to look away, to welcome with open arms, to SEE life happening all around me. You’ve definitely challenged me today. Be well, friend!

  6. This is one of your best posts :) I’m glad you’re processing & sharing your thoughts. A timely reminder to all of us to not take the time we have, our loves, our lives for granted as we never know what life has in store and at worst there could be a bottomless pit of I wish I had done things differently’s…

    • Ella, such a wonderful thing to hear! I’m glad this resonated with you. It seems as if many of us are struggling direly with the grip of Time.

      I try and keep things simple: when planning out my day, I think “what cannot wait?” Usually . . . the answer is nothing. And so I build my day according to the needs of myself, ensuring I eat healthy, make time to exercise and relax. Beyond that, much is a surprise. My sweet pup is laying at the foot of the bed, just starrrrring at me. In fact, I think I see a word bubble emerging from her head. It says: “Pleeeeeease take my outside.” I hadn’t planned on it, but yes, I think we shall go for a walk this afternoon. I won’t always have the luxury of her company, and so I must treasure her while I do.
      ;-)

      Happy Tuesday, my friend.

      ~ Cara

  7. Cara,

    Your words are so true. It’s far too easy to get wrapped up in our own microcosm and totally shut out the ones that make life worth living. Thanks for the reminder, I really needed it. :)

    Still praying for you daily dear friend!

    Lori

      • I’m coping one day at a time. Caring for ailing parents is so stressful, yet there is an entire generation doing what I’m doing right now. It’s rewarding and devastating at the same time. I feel like I’m swimming with one hand tied behind my back.

        How about you? Are you feeling better; sleeping? I pray you are!

        Love you,

        Lori

      • I can only imagine the amount of strain you must be under. I continue to pray that our Lord gives you the strength and the will to care for these people you love. Though it is not always the cure, sometimes I find it helpful to remind myself that everything has a season. Even the Good only lasts so long, which means the difficult follows the same path. I remind myself of that on my tougher days, when darkness tells me I will feel like this forever.

        I am doing much better than I was a couple months ago. Most of my issues remain, but, like you, I am coping one day at a time. My hope is that, with each test ruled out we get closer to diagnosing the problem. My hope rests in Christ.

        Thank you for checking in with me. Praying, praying for you!

  8. “Have you ever become so engaged in achieving a goal that you miss the opportunity for life to happen to you?” Um… Yes. It is a daily struggle for me.

    • Ah, yes, me too, Judy! I already have a list full of “things” piling up before me. The first thing I am going to do, however, is reconcile that I will not be getting them all done today — probably not even half of them. The next thing I am going to do is take Bella for a walk. She needs it, and you know what? I likely do as well.

      Praying the Lord continues to teach us with mercy, grace, and His strong guiding hand.

      ~ Cara

      • A walk sounds like an excellent idea. I love to walk, pray, enjoy the day and generally clear my head. And, yes, thank God for his faithful, gentle guiding hand. Walk well today, Cara:)

      • Thank you, Judy. I think I may have picked the wrong time of day to go for a stroll — it being 12:30-ish, and the heat at the peak of the day — but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

  9. I saw myself in your writing. There was a time when I was driven by work and trying to follow the dreams that I thought will make me happy only to realize they belong to the world and not what my heart hopes to achieve. Nowadays, I try to enjoy the moments, making meaningful events with my family, trying to reach for my little happiness that no money can by. Thanks for sharing a post that values love and family.

    • It sounds as if you’ve mastered the balance between work, rest, and play. There will be times, of course, when one or the other will start to ask more of you, and that’s when — hopefully — you have someone by your side to help you re-balance. For me, it really is a daily struggle, deciding between what must get done vs. what I would like to see finished. This season in my life has helped me make better decisions, and for that I am thankful.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Your post helped snapped me out of the fog I call life these days. It’s easy to get lost in what we think is important instead of what’s really important. I’m going to grab everyone in the house for a group hug…dogs included. :)

    • Hearing that makes my heart smile, Elisa. Sometimes one literally needs someone else to snap fingers in the face to grab their attention and reveal truths we cannot see with our skewed vision. I hope you got that hug!

  11. This post has struck me like a ton of bricks Cara! Exactly what I’ve been thinking to myself this week. Frustrated with “time” always wanting to make the most of it but really needing to slow it down and rejuvenate. Hmmmm… I think I was meant to read this today. Thanks for writing your heart! Love!

    • Oh, no, I hope you were at least wearing a helmet! ;-)

      I am thrilled this post reached you at a crucial time — pun intended — when you may have needed it more than usual. Life has a funny way of doing such magical things.

      Happy Saturday, my friend!

  12. My beau and I have an agreement that we always take a moment to greet each other with a kiss – I mean a real kiss – each time we meet again, whether it’s at the end of the day after work or after a drive to run errands, we meet and greet with a kiss. One little way to enjoy always, T

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