Bacana Notions is the name of our short ‘n sweet weekly blog.  We aspire to have each Notion in some way capture the essence of the Bacana vision statement.

no·tion noun \ˈnō-shən\ an impression, a concept,
a theory, a whim, or a belief held by a person or group

A Bacana Notion could spark a new thought or give you a grin in the middle of a long day.  It may even provide you with that helpful advice you’ve been waiting for.

the how of change

“And that’s what change is. It’s essentially one person doing one thing different one time. That’s what change is. And, when you can do that one thing different that one time, it gives you the ability to do it one more time. And it actually can be a life-changing thing.”
– Cheryl Strayed

Whatever it is that you’re hoping to change, learn, stop, start, whatever… Just do it once.

After that, set a goal to do it one more time.

And so on.

Every mile starts with a single step, and all that jazz.

island of memory

This smallpox hospital was built in 1856 on Roosevelt Island, the tiny sliver of an island in between Manhattan and Queens. In the 19th century, the island pretty much only contained hospitals, prisons, and a “lunatic asylum.” People who were frightening in some way, because of their actions or illnesses or behaviors, were sent there.

In the 21st century, the island flourishes with life: community gardens, kids playing, apartment complexes, parks, tourists, Starbucks…

It comforts me somehow that the ruins of this hospital still stand. We are so quick, as a culture, to erase history or to deny its ever present closeness. This unique site serves to ignite our wonder about and reverence for the people who experienced that frightening time.

And isn’t it ironic that a place that held so much pain is now so beautiful?


listening to a flower

This is a photo of a beautiful flower in a place that was hard for me to be. I had decided to do some housesitting in a region of the US not terribly far from where I grew up. A region I left at age 17 and never wanted to go back to.

My life at the moment is about listening. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to listen in a place where that wouldn’t be so easy. And it wasn’t. And I was very grateful to move on when the housesit was over.

And yet. There is a beautiful flower there. And quiet breezes. And a cute little health food shop. And a couple of lovely women with a lovely cat.

So I’m glad for the next chapter. And I’m glad to have seen this beautiful flower.

Sometimes the small things can be enough.


prep like honest abe

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln

I guess that means he was a fan of preparation. This is a good reminder for some of us (me) who can get restless and want to begin now. Or want a result now. Honest Abe wouldn’t have swung a dull axe at anything. Would you?


knock, knock. puppets are home!

Walking around the town of Biggar in Scotland, I came across this sign. It is right around the corner from the local puppet theatre, so there is a logical explanation, but isn’t it more fun to just let your imagination run wild sometimes?

How many puppets live in the tree house? Will they invite me to tea? They must be very good at climbing since there’s no ladder.

Whimsy can be awesome. (And can also spark some very real-world ideas at times!)

Will you let yourself be whimsical today?


the hammock in between

“There are two words that are under-recognized: ‘over’ and ‘next.’ When something is over, it’s over. And we’re always on to ‘next.’ And the hammock, the imaginary hammock in the middle, is what I think is meant by living in the moment.”
– Norman Lear

Sometimes a life chapter ends abruptly with a graduation, a move out of a home, or the end of a job. And sometimes a new life chapter begins just as abruptly with the birth of a child, an epiphany, or a wedding. Often, though, we don’t recognize a chapter beginning or ending until time passes. “My life changed after [insert event] happened, but I didn’t realize it at the time.”

This imaginary hammock appeals to me. Being somewhere in between an “over” and a “next,” I appreciate that I can rest here for a bit, hanging in space between the past and the future.

Are you hanging in the present moment?

snail in a thistle

Do you see the snail? My uncle thought it was pretty fascinating that a creature with such a soft body would choose to climb up something as prickly as a thistle.

I take this to remind me that being soft doesn’t preclude the ability to endure and conquer a great deal of rough terrain (physically & metaphorically).


my 3 year-old teacher

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

I only see my niece a few times a year because we live in different places. It’s such a delight for me to spend time with this adorable child that I want to preserve the memories by taking photographs. (I mean, this kid is really cute.) My phone is always in my pocket, ready to go.

During my most recent visit, she was on the brink of turning 3 years old. She was eager to play and talk and sing and laugh. But whenever that phone camera came out of my pocket, she’d turn away, suddenly uninterested in engaging with me.

The kid could tell that I was no longer present, that I had somehow extracted myself from our shared precious moment, becoming instead an observer with an agenda.

She taught me that the other person, however subtly, knows when I’m being present and when I’m not. How humbling to learn from a being small enough to carry in my arms.

Have you had a helpful reminder to stay present lately?

carrying our stories

“We carry our stories, and they become so airtight that we can suffocate ourselves with them.”
– Lemn Sissay

I had to stop the podcast and write this down when I heard Lemn say it. Boy, does it ring true. There are several aspects of my life that I consider integral parts of my story, that define who I am in a way.

And yet…

There remains a great deal about my path, about how I can be most useful in this world, that remains very, very unclear. There’s something about this quote that struck a chord directly related to this feeling.

I wonder if those things that I hold as definitions of myself, as tentpoles in my own story — I wonder if I’m holding them just a bit too tightly. What would it be like to allow myself to not know my own story and to look in curiosity and discover it? Is that even possible?

As you can see, there are several unanswered questions here. I’m curious as to what the quote brings up for you. How do you carry your story?


p.s. Happy Birthday to Bacana Notions! Today we enter into our 5th year of these posts. Liz and I are so very grateful for everyone who reads these words, and we hope they bring a moment of joy or thoughtfulness or whatever you need to your day.

the honor system

Early one morning, I walked alone along a mountain road and came upon this table. How could I resist? I put a dollar into the coffee can and selected three cucumbers to take with me.

The honor system isn’t utilized so much anymore but I’m a fan of it. That “honor” inherently implies that we strangers can trust in one another. That’s the world I want to live in. How about you?