Lessons in Life From Cactaceae

They dwell where the sun beats heavy.

Warm air, dry atmosphere. They survive on little. Their stems have the power to keep hold of H2O, storing it safe until only necessary. Some stand tall, some stay close to the earth. I like to think of them as fighters of the desert, with arms raised high, baring sharp armor that decorates their viridescent skin. Children of Cactaceae, cacti grow in the places where I find infinite inspiration.




I’ve always been drawn to them. Each one takes on a different form, unique neighbors that never quite look the same. They remind me of long drives through the desert, and the warm climate that I grew up in. My skin needs to stay sun kissed in order for me to stay happy, just like cacti need sunlight to keep breathing. I guess we share some similarities, so I’ve always kept them close. I like to surround myself with the things that keep me feeling alive, and the things that hold my fondest memories a float. I never expected such a succulent to be this type of thing.

As a subject, I’ve always focused my camera on these weirdly shaped plants. I don’t know what it is, but I really like photographing them. They’re interesting in the way they grow, and the best is when their their colorful flowers spring forth. Such a decorative plant, I love discovering one situated against a wall that’s bright. Green on blue, green on pink, green on yellow… I like the contrast the pairings create. The most vibrant kind of color therapy.


While I was in Austin, I did something pretty impulsive that just felt so right. It may have been overdue in hindsight, as I had planned to put ink to skin on my road trip out west. For me, the timing has to make sense if I’m going to get a tattoo, as does the location and company who’s with me. It was my last day in Austin after a very long SXSW weekend, and my plane boarded at 6pm. Julia and I were running around the city, finishing up some last minute errands after our event. We were making our way over towards the North Loop when I made mention of getting tattoos. I was honestly kind of joking at first, I think silence had taken over the car and it seemed like a funny thing to say at the time. 5 minutes later, I found myself inside a shop, drawing out a little cactus on a piece of paper. I had a simple shape in mind, but ended up adding in a few meaningful details at the last minute.

Texas is no stranger to cacti, so the place was right. I had been surrounded by them all weekend long, adding that much more to one of the best weekends I’d had in a while. Work was hard, but play made up for it. It’s sad not having Julia in Philadelphia anymore, so sharing the experience with her was a fun little parting gift. Red got the vote, so now we’re both marked in a color of the Earth. (You can see her’s in this post here!)

When something feels right, sometimes you just have to go for it. I’ve been learning to listen to my gut a lot more, and to not think about things too much. The present moment is what’s here, and what’s now… take it in, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.








Tattoos are my reminder of what keeps me inspired, and what keeps me driven. I now have two in my collection (Sorry, mom), and I like that number. For now, I’m all set.

+What stories do your tattoos tell? Please share in the comments below!

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8 years ago

I don’t have any tattoos, but I love these words on cactacea! I’ve always been a bit afraid of them and the risk of touching them. I think if I ever do get a tattoo I’d get a Portuguese word in my grandmother’s handwriting :)

Warm Regards,

8 years ago

beautiful! I love The way you described the similarities between you and cacti, although two very different species. Very beautiful



8 years ago

What a wonderful post… I think you wrote the stylist of the week post about my daughter, Marynnoelle, and you remind me so much of her. (even down to the apology for another tattoo) :) Love the story on the cacti and really enjoy reading all your posts.
Thanks for inspiring so many!
<3 Suzan

8 years ago

This article is a great reminder that we are one among all of the wonderful living things that inhabit this planet, sharing the resources, striving to grow, be happy and fulfilled in our own ways… Awesome tattoo btw!
Linda http://www.lovelnj.com

8 years ago

This was incredible. I think it’s so important to just be fearless and understand that everything has a consequence.

8 years ago

Love this. Especially the photographs! I completely see why you like cacti as a subject. Question: what did you use to edit the pictures? I would love to try it out.

5 years ago

Such a beautiful tattoo, can I ask what is the meaning behind the two rectangles and four dots?