I have a love of trees (especially Redwoods); there is something so grounded, solid, inviting about a tree trunk. The soft bark invites a caress and a full lean-in as I let it bear my weight.
Today I'm walking through the desert and am surrounded by cacti. Tall, ancient, wizened elders, they stand in ways that seem almost indifferent to my presence. Their ancient magic draws me. I approach, but each time I am deterred by spines that insist that I keep my distance.
Yup, a kiss, a hug, something.
Surely succulents want hugs every bit as much as trees do?
Anyone I have shared this with laughs at my musings, which has provoked me to try even harder. Today I feel an urgency to disprove their doubt in me.
Maybe it is because… if I tell the truth… I identify with this cactus.
Sometimes, despite my desire to be soft and welcoming, the vulnerability of a moment leaves me unsure and exposed and in an effort to protect, my spines emerge in the form of barbed words or a turned back - I launch into full cactus.
Yesterday as I was getting ready for dinner and put my hand on a few extra tummy bulges, I felt the start of self-loathing and …CACTUS…I snarled instead of laughing at the joke my honey was innocently practicing in the other room.
Having just read a jarring email telling me a dear friend was in the hospital, angry and scared, I snapped back at a simple unrelated question about what is for dinner… CACTUS
I seem to have as many examples as this cactus has spines.
I throw these barbs as my first response to discomfort when I can't seem to predict my next emotion. I feel adrift in the world's overwhelm and unable to find ease in my own skin; my anxiety leaves me doubting myself, my worthiness, my direction. Feeling exposed, I lash out. I push people away so that they don't see that the optimism and confidence that greets them in the day has a dark shadow side that plagues me at night. I sink into shame at my reactions, which then mixes with the underlying vulnerability and suddenly … CACTUS.
It is not pretty. It is not how I wish to be. But at this place in my journey, it is my truth.
I'm still angling this gnarled grandfather. They say that each arm represents 10 years and he's easily got 10 arms stretched to the sky. In a century, this guy has seen chaos and change and has found his way to withstand both.
I stare at the spines. Respect.
Sometimes I have spines.
Can I own those without shame?
Can I stop judging myself for not always being the soft redwood? Can I accept that in those times when my vulnerability feels like too much, I react by protecting myself and in doing so, I push people away?
Can I show myself tenderness in my cactus moments?
Standing my ground, beneath his outstretched arms, I am in wonder of who he is, prickles and all. He is a cactus after all. He would just not be the same without.
How do you kiss a cactus tenderly?
It is not immediately obvious, but I am committed to giving it a try.
Join me this month for a delightful, free-flowing coffee chat or our online workshop. This month we're asking ourselves if we can step outside our own self-imposed rules and be a rebel in our own lives. It is free to join but does require registration here. https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/events