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.

will you join us?

I admit to being rather lost for words.

I suppose that’s a notion in itself. That sometimes it’s really alright to just listen.

You know what Liz & I love? Engaging. Conversation. Brainstorming. Bouncing thoughts & ideas back & forth.

We’d love to invite you into this.

Throw out an idea, a thought, a quote, a question, anything. Send us a photo of something inspiring. We’d love to riff on them for Notions and then engage further in the comments thread with you.

So that’s our collective Notion for today. Will you join in with us?

translating tone in these days of email and texting

Sometimes when I read a text or email from a friend or colleague, I find myself getting defensive and paranoid. I assume brevity or certain punctuation to mean that they are irritated with me in some way. Allow me to give examples of how my brain works:

I send an email or text that contains a decent amount of information because I am a communicator who is obsessed with detail.

1) I receive “OK” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person is yelling at me because it’s in all caps, not taking into account that OK is technically an abbreviation and should be in all caps.


2) I receive “ok” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person is annoyed with me and is being passive aggressive.


3) I receive “okay!” as a response and I translate that to mean that the person loves me forever and ever.

Now all of these translations are completely my own and have nothing to do with any person’s intention when he/she sent me that one single word. But I know I’m not alone! We all have our own brain filters through which we read the hundreds of messages we get every day. I try to catch myself when I start making up things that aren’t there in black and white.

Less paranoid when reading and more careful when writing, that’s the way to go these days.

an earth-bound rainbow

When someone says “earth” (in the sense of the soil) to you, what color do you think of? I tend to think of a rich brown.

As I was walking along the cliffs of the Isle of Wight in the UK, this sight reminds me that earth (soil, clay, rock, etc.) can be a wide rainbow of colors. In this image alone, there’s orange, white, brown, red, and grey. (Am I missing any colors?)

When someone asks me what something means, there’s a first thought (it’s brown). There is great value in listening to that and respecting it. But I remind myself that there is also great value in sitting with the initial reaction. I don’t want to discard my initial impulse, but I do want to sit with it for a moment and allow the variations to enter for consideration (how many other colors are there?). From here, I can make a more thoughtful and, often, respectful decision for whatever task is at hand.


new stains for the new year

My grandmother drank boiling black coffee from a mug that looked like it belonged on the counter of an old diner. It was thick and white and stained. She had other mugs too, of course, but this mug was Esther’s Coffee Mug, so special it’s worthy of being capitalized. That woman drank coffee all day long. When she died, one of us scrubbed that mug free of stains and it became unrecognizable.

I don’t drink coffee but I do drink tea. Boiling black tea with nothing added to it, ritualistically enjoyed in the morning and in the afternoon. And I have a mug that is only for that tea. My other mugs are used by guests or for my own cups of herbal tea. But Liz’s Tea Mug is its own special, stained thing too.

On New Year’s Eve, I scrubbed my mug free of stains, eager to begin a new year with a perfectly white vessel for my beverage-of-choice. And I’m already delighted to see stains forming inside of it. New 2015 stains.

Perhaps I just miss my grandmother.

an open letter to the fox outside my window

Dear Mr. Fox —
(Or Ms. Fox. I’m really not close enough to tell for sure.)

I don’t want to interrupt your frolicking, but you make me happy. Maybe it’s the red. Maybe it’s the complete non sequitur hilarity of the viral music video.

Mainly, I think I just like to watch you run around and do your thing. You’re so inquisitive. And when your friend joins you, you’re inquisitive and frolicking together.

You remind me to be more curious about everything. In my day-to-day routine, I often forget that. Curiosity makes life so very much more wonder-filled.

But I really like the red, too.

The woman in the flat upstairs

creativity in the every day

“Creative thinking – in terms of idea creativity – is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practiced and nurtured.”
– Edward de Bono

I bought a cool old chair for my office from a lady up the road. Then I inherited a back pillow from a friend. But the pillow kept slipping down the back of the chair, not resting in that comfort lower-back zone. Using a needle and thread, two binder ring clips, and three ribbons, I attached the back pillow to the metal rods of the chair. Then, because it was quite odd looking, I slipped a brown (my fave color) pillow case over the whole thing.

This task may sound bizarre and tedious but I enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to be creative. Those opportunities are everywhere, if we will only look around. Even the mundane every day tasks – the dish washing, the cooking, the laundering of clothes, the getting dressed for work, the writing of an email – are opportunities to be creative.

How have you been creative today?

will you be in my opera?

I would like to write an opera about this tree. A woman singing an aria, spreading one arm wide while the other holds her baby tightly to her. Or a witch cackling over a cauldron while the wind blows her cape behind her. Or a disturbing human rabbit hybrid… OK, I won’t go there.

There are so many stories all around us. I spend so much time looking at and listening to the stories in the world that I sometimes forget to tell my own. I forget to ask for what I want, and I keep my story to myself.

Telling my story or asking for what I need is not about being selfish. It’s about being clear on my path and asking for the help I need to continue on that path, to affect the world as I am supposed to.

I’m not quite sure how to shift that in a massive way. The first step is to be aware of this. And next to make a commitment to myself (and you) to start asking more when I need to. I’m totally fine if the answer is no when it needs to be. But if I don’t ask, I’m telling myself no every time. I’m shutting down the story before it even begins.

I’d like to commit to telling my story while I continue to listen to the stories around me.

What’s your story? What can you ask for today?


the gift of a deadline

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
– Napoleon Hill

I’ve been working on some projects lately that are totally and completely my creation and therefore solely my responsibility. Meaning, I’m in charge of the deadline. Deadlines motivate. Deadlines push me into structuring my workload. Deadlines help me say “no” to the friend with an extra movie ticket.

Choose the deadline. Then commit to the deadline. And even when you’re up against the clock cursing yourself for being your own strict parent, damn it feels good when you reach that deadline day with that amazing finished something.

I find it helpful to tell one or two carefully chosen people about the deadline, not because I need anyone nagging me but because I need a witness. Saying something aloud is powerful. “I will do ________ by _______.”

Do you have tips for keeping a self-appointed deadline?

care and creativity

“I’m much more creative when I’ve actually taken care of myself.”
– Arianna Huffington

For the coming year, I’m going to see if I can listen to this advice. I have felt this at times and know at my core that it is true. And yet I still find myself neglecting self-care in order to complete a task for a client here or accommodate a request there.

My work is universally better when I am in top form. I know that the top form work is the work that all of my clients want. In order to give it to them, I must remind myself to take care of the source of that work… me. I hope you will join me and take care of yourself in a renewed way as well.

Here’s to a 2015 full of creativity and care all around.

if you take something away, is it a loss? maybe not

Below is a picture of The Needles off the coast of the Isle of Wight in the UK. The formations were caused ages ago by erosion to a chalk ridge eventually leading to the stacks of rock jutting out into the ocean. They’re now a famous landmark, visited by many people year-round. Mother Nature here might be the sculptor slowly chipping away at the stone to reveal a beautiful piece of art.

In comparison… I’ve written in the past about my time on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Formed of 5 volcanoes (with a 6th offshore to join sometime in the future), this is an island growing incrementally all the time. Lava is simultaneously a force of destruction and creation. And Mother Nature as a sculptor here is the one working with clay or paint, adding some here and there to build up the piece of art.

Mother Nature creates wonders by taking away and by adding. Disappearance does not always equal loss (though it can). Appearance does not always equal gain (though it can).

This just reminds me to question my assumptions — in life, in business, in everything. We live in a complex world, and change never means just one thing. Disappearance, appearance, loss, gain, destruction, creation… These are often present at the same time in different ways.

Mother (Nature) knows best. Can’t wait to see what amazing art I see next.