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.

stabilizing effort

This is above a main doorway of Rockefeller Center which was built in the 1930’s: “Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.” I can’t say I disagree. Just looking at this makes me want to go to the library, a place where there is much wisdom, much knowledge. I feel smarter and calmer at a library, stable within the familiarity of it.

Where do you go for stability?

learning to speak stylist, aka bringing out my ginger

I have a relatively complicated haircut: shaved on the sides, long on the top, blended in the back. I also colour my hair to a shade of red that makes me happy. (My mum’s a natural redhead, and I have red highlights, so I feel like I’m just bringing out the hidden ginger within.) When I lived in London and went to the same stylist team, we had the routine down. We might tweak a bit here or there, but they knew what I liked.

As I am embracing a more nomadic lifestyle, it means I’m not in one place long enough to develop that same routine with any one stylist. And, because I have a complicated cut (that I’m not quite ready to leave behind just yet because I like it) and a colour that is a bit of a blend of shades, it falls on me to communicate to a new stylist what it is that I want.

So far, no one’s gotten it exactly like the lovely Emilia (colour) and Barbara (cut) in London. As I write this, my hair is just a bit too far towards the orange end of the ginger spectrum (I like the deeper red-coppers on me), the shaved bits on the side are ok, and the back is more shaved than blended.

Each time this happens, I may not have the “perfect” haircut, but I do learn a very valuable lesson. I learn how what I say, how I give instructions or describe my preferences, is translated into physical reality. Even though I am not a stylist, I am slowly learning to speak the corner of the stylist’s language that fits my specific hairstyle. By the time I become fluent in that corner, I may well want to change up my look, but the value of the lessons remains and translates to other areas.

When you’re speaking to a vendor, a colleague, or a client who works in a field different from yours, there are always going to be translations applied to your communication. Even if you start from the same basic language. It’s an interesting thing to think about. You may not need to learn all the technicalities of the other person’s field, but can you learn enough of one corner that applies to your project to help make the communication even clearer?

the other shoe

The common expression “waiting for the other shoe to drop” has always puzzled me. First of all, it implies that there is indeed another shoe when there very well might not be one. Secondly, I find it to be inherently pessimistic, paranoid, and the foundation for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like even when I’m happy, I ought to be expecting that other shoe to come along and ruin things?

Perhaps, though, another person may find comfort in that expression. Perhaps that person is prepared for anything to come her way, including that other shoe. Perhaps that person is a realist who deeply understands metaphoric shoes more than most people.

I don’t know. It still puzzles me.

What does that expression mean to you?

to see or to be seen… that is the question

In the animal world, you can find many that try to make themselves seen as little as possible, masters of camouflage. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those brightly colored species that are all about display.

Whether a tawny frogmouth or a rainbow lorikeet or some other point on the spectrum, there is something about how these animals have evolved that makes sense for their survival.

Humans, of course, have a very similar spectrum. From those of us who prefer to observe to those who love being seen to all those somewhere in the middle. Something about how you choose to appear to the world has come about because it makes sense for you.

So where do you land on the spectrum of observing / being seen? And does it help you live the life you want?















souvenir in a jar

“Ever poised on that cusp between past and future, we tie memories to souvenirs like string to trees along life’s path, marking the trail in case we lose ourselves around a bend of tomorrow’s road.”
– Susan Lendroth

Several months ago, I put bits and pieces of a Vermont forest into this jar and closed the lid tight. I keep it by a window in my apartment so that sunlight reaches it easily. Sunlight is the only ingredient necessary to maintain my terrarium’s own tiny ecosystem.

I took many contemplative walks in that Vermont forest. I had an important conversation with a friend there, too. This little terrarium has become a special kind of souvenir for me, reminding me of the insights gained during my time in that forest. Do you have a favorite souvenir?

p.s. Aren’t terrariums amazing?!

slower sometimes equals faster

This world moves fast, fast, fast. How ironic then that, sometimes, if you slow down just a bit, you can actually flow with that fast pace in an easier and more efficient way.

One small example… Have you ever found yourself trying to get through a pile of emails, skimming through them, quickly replying, and getting on with it? Let’s say a colleague sent me an email, not terribly long, but I’m rushing… moving fast, fast, fast. I reply, asking a question about the topic at hand. A few hours later or the next day, my colleague replies, patiently reiterating what was in the original email that already answered my question.

Had I just slowed down a tiny bit and actually read the original email, my response could have moved us to the next proper step of whatever project we’re working on. Instead, I delayed that move by only skimming and then asking a question that was already answered. I worked a bit harder and took a bit longer to get to the same place.

Time is a precious commodity, but it is also there to be used as a tool. If I use my time wisely (to me, wisely means actually using time in a mindful way, not just rushing through it as quickly as possible), I find I can actually keep pace in this world without feeling so rushed.

What are some things you do more slowly that help you be more efficient?

the 59th street bridge notion

“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling’ groovy…
Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?”
– Paul Simon

I’m not sure why Paul Simon named his groovy song after this bridge. Perhaps he named it after the view of this bridge, for it is indeed groovy.

The view from the bridge is groovy, too. My Dad and I walked across it one morning when he had come for a visit. It was quite a trek and felt like a pilgrimage of sorts. We were hoping to find a diner on the other side but found only a food cart instead. So we sat on cement blocks and ate egg sandwiches before heading back to Manhattan. It was grand.

Funny, I feel bonded to that bridge simply because of having walked across it. Perhaps it’s because, on that morning with my Dad, the bridge became personal to me.

I bet that bridge was personal to Paul Simon when he wrote his groovy song.

What’s a public place that feels personal to you?

wanda will crush you with her bum

This is Wanda. Wanda is a wombat. Right now, she’s hanging out rather sleepily on the lap of one of the cool staff members at Billabong Sanctuary, where she lives.

If you gave Wanda a stroke along her back, towards the lower part of her back and over her bum, you’d feel a solid plate of bone. Turns out, this solid plate is a built-in shield. When Wanda is in her tunnel and a dingo pokes its head in trying to eat Wanda, she can flatten herself against the ground (bum facing the entrance), let the dingo get its head in, and then use that solid plate of bone to crush the dingo’s head against the roof of the tunnel. (Poor dingo. Circle of life and all that. For the record, I like both wombats & dingos. Not taking sides.)

Her bum is her defense weapon. And you might never know it.

I think we all have a defense or two that someone wouldn’t guess about us on first meeting. Whether it’s a way of thinking that gives you a different viewpoint or something physical that gives you strength & confidence, we all have things that help us to feel and be protected.

What’s yours?

image capture

I took this photo from the 225th Street subway platform in the Bronx. Each of those guys is in his own little world, with no idea that I’d captured this singular moment in time. It got me wondering… Who has photos of anonymous me walking along a sidewalk or reading a book in the background or eating a snack on the train? My image is surely in places I can’t imagine.

Where do you imagine your image to be?

take a wild breath

In the midst of the very urban NYC, there is a patch of wildflowers and prairie grasses on the High Line. It’s curated and yet not. Grown on purpose and yet a bit wild.

In our own lives, we strive to live with purpose. To create or to be of use or to fulfill some goal. These can be rather curated paths. That’s not a pejorative. (I run a business centered around organizing, for pete’s sake.)

Wild patches live within all of us as well, and wild patches can be found here and there along our lovely, curated paths. Those patches can be reminders and respites and places to engage our curiosity.

Have you taken a wild breath lately?