Posted in Life

Don’t sit on the cactus

blogIMG_3238I kind of take issue with cacti.

First of all, I have a problem with this species of plant. You know how lots of folks possess ‘green thumbs’ and can just grow and nurture plants so that they are beautifully healthy and vibrant?

Well, I’m not one of those. I tend to call myself a ‘black thumb.’ Not even a brown thumb –  nope,  a black thumb because every plant I’ve ever tried growing indoors succumbs to the black death. Done for. No blooming, no green leaves, nothing, nada…well, you get the picture.

And my uncanny knack of killing indoor plants even extends itself to cacti. I mean, seriously, who kills a cactus? It doesn’t need much attention. It doesn’t get too upset if you forget to water it because it isn’t a thirsty thing. It thrives under adverse conditions. Well, under my care, cacti croak. Big time. 

So I stay away from the spiny little plants that you can keep inside your home, even though some of them are kind of attractive and even bloom lovely flowers.

And I really take a wide berth around those plants when it comes to outdoor cacti. Those things are downright dangerous!

Having grown up in the northeast, I truly wasn’t too familiar with any kind of cactus until shortly after Papa and I were married. Forty years ago we moved to Oklahoma where Papa served in the military. 

We lived in the Sooner State for a few years and my sister, brother-in-law, and their family also just so happened to live a couple hours north of us. Where their ranch was located, some cacti grew on their property. 

I knew they were prickly and not to touch one lest you get stabbed by their spiky spines. Now my sis and brother-in-law were also transplants from our neck of the woods so they weren’t exactly experts on cacti either.

Before I continue this story, I must tell you right up front that my brother-in-law is like an older brother to me. He’s been a part of our family for almost as long as I can remember. And so, when I was younger, he often treated me the way you would a kid sister with teasing and joking around.

My brother-in-law, the jokester, once surprised my mom by picking her up and sitting her in the kitchen sink when she was certain he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. So he’s always been the kind of guy that could give us a good laugh.

Back to my cactus story. On a visit to see my relatives, we were all walking around their  property and noticed some flat paddle-shaped cacti growing here and there. Paddle-shaped. That must have given Brother-in-law the idea that it might be funny to pick one up and slap my backside with it, like you would use a paddle.

Oh, mercy.

What he didn’t realize was that those little hair-like profusions of spiny things sticking out on the cactus wouldn’t just give me a sharp little jab like he thought they would, but would actually penetrate my clothing and with needle-like sharp precision stick in my skin underneath my clothing, much like I imagine porcupine quills or darts would. Lots of tiny cactus spines. In my backside. Uh-huh.

He was mortified to say the least. And without exposing too much information, my sister had to utilize tweezers to relieve me of my painful affliction.

Now, you may understand why I don’t get too chummy with a cactus, no matter what it looks like.

So, back in February, Papa and I visited this same sister and brother-in-law in their new home in the Arizona desert.  Where there are lots of cacti. And some crazy plant that is called a “jumping” cactus; its real name is Jumping Cholla.

They aren’t huge things like the Saguaro and the Chollas are kind of cute. Some are even called Teddy Bear Cholla. But beware of their ‘cuteness’ because their needles are extremely sharp and have hundreds of microscopic scales.

So if you happen to walk by one and faintly brush up against it, you will be one sorry person.  The pods containing the needles detach and spring onto you and are apparently quite painful and very hard to remove.

Jumping Chollas in the Arizona desert

Ouch! Sister and Brother-in Law were careful to warn us about these scary cacti because they were fairly abundant in their area. You can be certain when we were ATV riding on desert trails, I was making darn sure no part of my body or clothing was sticking out close enough to one of those bad babies.

Of course, the old, crazy cactus paddling story came up in our conversation during our visit. And we laughed and laughed over it. Because honestly, it is funny. 

As I recall all of this, it occurs to me that I could be negative about my up close and personal encounter with a cactus all those years ago and hold it against my brother-in-law. But what purpose would that serve? He didn’t intentionally try to hurt me nor would he ever do so. I love him like he is my blood brother and I do believe he cares for me like a sister.

All of this to say that I found myself amused this week when a Facebook friend posted this quote:

“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Last Sunday morning in worship, our pastor reminded us to that to love someone as Christ loves us is to keep short accounts. To not dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you. Especially if the offender asks forgiveness, and even if he/she never does. 

When you embrace a negative attitude about your situation in life or towards another person who may truly have done something almost unforgivable to you, it just makes your own life that much more challenging. More complicated. More grueling.

Who wants that? Not me. So I’m not sitting on any cactus that comes my way. Are you?

 “Life is like a cactus, thorny but beautiful.” ~ Unknown



Mama of this empty nest, I’m content to live a quiet, country life with my husband of 40+ years and to view gorgeous sunsets off our own back yard deck. Mama to three adults and Nana to adorable grandchildren, my empty nest fills up again with noise and laughter when they all return 'home'. A former English teacher, reporter/editor, education director for a non-profit organization, and stay at home mom, I retired after a season of substitute teaching at a private academy. Now I enjoy time spent with my grandchildren and family and writing words that seem to pour out of my soul or wandering around the countryside with my camera. Foremost, my faith sustains me as I meander through the empty nest stage of life. My favorite scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

15 thoughts on “Don’t sit on the cactus

  1. If you ever need some cactus, just let me know. I’ve been growing and repotting spineless prickly pear for years. I started with three pads, and I’ve probably given away twenty or more pots of good-sized ones. I had one die, but it was 20 years old, and I think just came to the end of its natural life span. Maybe it got overwatered — that ‘s the biggest problem with them.

    I’ll say this — as horrid as the spines are, the flowers are glorious. And they’re always such a surprise. I had one cereus cactus for years and years that bloomed exactly twice — just two blooms each time, and only for 24 hours. Now you see it, now you don’t!


    1. I’ve seen some of those gorgeous flowers they produce. So lovely especially among the prickly spines. Thanks for the offer, but I know I would kill the poor things….and it wouldn’t take 20 years, more like 20 days. Ha! 😉


  2. It’s funny how you come across what you need to when you need it. There’s a situation in my life where I’m doing exactly what you said: focusing on the negative instead of finding a silver lining. And there is one. Love this post- thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hubby read your post and is still smiling. He said he loved it when you were here and can’t wait for you to come back. And was glad you forgave him for the slap on the bu__ with the cactus. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m smiling because he enjoyed my post. And I forgave him 40 years ago! We really enjoyed our time with you two and we can’t wait to come back again. But we need to order a little better weather when we do. 😉


    1. We black thumbs have to stick together. 😉 I’m pretty sure I killed an aloe plant one time too. I think aloe is a succulent and not a cactus, but don’t quote me on that. We did see aloe in the memorial garden where I took this photo though.


  4. Oh, I love this. I used to “sit on a cactus” regularly (reliving all the bad deeds done to me) but I learned a few years ago to just let it all go and I’ve been much happier and more content since then. I may just buy myself a little cactus and tape this saying onto the pot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I’m trying really hard not to sit on a cactus over an issue with someone. That person has no remorse over the wrong done to someone I love at all. And I have to let go of my anger over it. P.S. Don’t kill your cactus like I did!! 😉


      1. My youngest son had a cat that used to CHEW on cactus plants, so I couldn’t keep them around. Maybe I’ll just get a plastic one for the “effect”. 🙂


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