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.

honest abe may not have liked you

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
– Abraham Lincoln

First impressions do count. I believe that. Intuition is often at work there. But you know what also counts? Curiosity and opening one’s mind to a new perspective.

Sometimes the most likable parts of a person aren’t seen / known right away so it’s certainly worth the effort to search for those likable parts. You don’t want to miss out!

tourists and the Buddha

You must pass by a row of tourist shops from the cable car stop on Lantau Island in Hong Kong before you get to the monastery or the statue of the Buddha.

The crowds of people from all over the world can be intense (though I didn’t really catch many people in this photo!). And I really don’t like crowds. I know I felt some moments of judgement on the day I took this photo. I wondered if people understood the significance of the place, or if they just wanted a selfie with a big statue. I felt annoyance as other people were impatient with long lines to get back on the cable car and with the workers who were managing as best as they could. Getting angry about it doesn’t make the line move any faster. I felt conflicted at the commercialization and cheap (or not-so-cheap) trinkets of the tourist shops.

On the flip side, what an opportunity to practice the tenets of the teacher whose image you’re there to see. More frequently than the moments of judgement for me were moments of simply enjoying the day and the company of a dear friend I hadn’t seen in 6 years. Moments of seeing a few unexpected young cows and saying hello. Moments of sharing a cool drink on a beautiful day.

Moments of breathing in and being present.

So grateful for that. And perhaps even more grateful that I can acknowledge the moments of judgement without beating myself up for having them.


journaling as a lifestyle

I’ve kept a journal for my entire adult life. I write in cursive mostly, though sometimes there are random doodles made or scraps of paper taped inside. I have found that my current journal is always a companion of sorts. Inside its covers, I vent my feelings, narrate stories, ponder dilemmas, tell secrets, work through problems, make decisions, counsel myself, pray, and ground myself inside the continuity that is my life journey. Journaling greatly deepens my self-awareness, and it energizes my self-compassion as well. I honestly don’t know who I’d be without it.

How has journaling served you in your life?

my cup emptyeth out

“Learning begins by emptying your cup, so that you can fill it with what you find.”
– Leo Babauta

As I write this, I’m at a place in which my cup is very, very full. My polymath self has lots of ideas, commitments, and desires for my life. All of that is great. But there has to be balance, and that balance has to come from a very strong foundation of self-care, something I’m neglecting to a certain extent.

I’m embarking on a period of re-evaluation — of my life’s path, my various commitments, etc. I do this every now and again, and I always find some clarity that is important for my next steps.

In terms of the how, I’ve used different tools to re-evaluate over the years.  Just a few examples:

  • periods of silence in which I don’t try to force the questions but listen for what I’m supposed to hear (this is very, very hard!)
  • long conversations with trusted friends exploring options, ideas, etc.
  • engaging a coach for a truly external perspective, which can often shed light on things right in front of me that I’m not seeing

No matter what the methodology, the first step has to be scheduling time for it in your calendar. Don’t just wait until “the time is right.” Set a time to chat with a friend you trust. Make an appointment with your coach. Book your stay on an isolated retreat for some silence (or find a quiet nook in your local park).

I’m off to take my own advice.  Time to empty the cup.

natural glow

My sister saw something lovely and took its picture. The picture, as it turns out, shows an even greater loveliness than was seen with the naked eye. It reminds me that we sometimes need help seeing what is right in front of us. This help can come from a device like a camera, or it can come from another person pointing out what I didn’t notice. Help is wonderful when it’s needed. But I do hope for a day when I can see, with nothing but my two brown eyes, a flower’s glow.

photo by Laura Morton Mattingly


a dome, a trapezoid, and some cranes

This was the view walking over Waterloo Bridge in London one twilight. I was struck by the assortment of shapes of the buildings in the skyline. There’s no conformity, and yet something about all of them works well together.

As I look at it again (as I’m writing this post), I’m also struck by the number of cranes present. I have no idea which are for repairs and which are for new construction. Whichever it may be, there is change afoot.

Different designs & forms working in harmony and in the presence of constant change. Huh. Sounds like life (when we’re not too busy resisting it).


permission to putter

“Puttering is really a time to be alone, to dream and to get in touch with yourself… To putter is to discover.”
– Alexandra Stoddard

For the multi-tasking, always-productive, high-achieving, often-overwhelmed planners out there, “wasting time” can feel almost painful. But, yes, having a day (or even a few hours) with nothing in particular on the schedule (imagine!) can be beneficial in ways you can’t quantify, describe, or cross off a list.

Puttering requires you to be present. It helps you notice things right in front of your face that you’ve been rushing past for months! Like the crossword puzzle book on the shelf, or the gnocchi recipe taped to your fridge door, or the CD of ‘80s songs your friend made for you two birthdays ago, or the five weeds sticking out of your sidewalk. Hanging out in your home, noticing something, noticing something else, doing something, doing something else… who knows what can happen?

Perhaps it’s time to make time to putter.

freaky in my sleep

What is it about sleep & rest that is at once both so vital and perceived as so dispensable?

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

For many (including me at times), it just feels like there’s so much to do, that life is too short to waste a single moment of it on anything but living full out at top speed every moment. Whether that’s applied to a work project or adventuring or anything else, it’s as if the time doesn’t really count unless we’re awake and engaged and taking it all in. Doing.

And yes, we’ve all heard and understood the science behind sleep. Muscles being repaired, memories being consolidated, hormones being released to regulate growth, appetite, etc. The body is doing so very, very much during sleep. We quite literally cannot survive without it. And we quickly deteriorate physically and mentally if we don’t get enough.

So why is it perceived as less than in so many ways? For myself, I acknowledge the little control freak living inside me, the one that pipes up periodically saying what I need to do and how. The not-so-little voice saying don’t waste a second of this precious time. The little captain standing at the ship’s wheel dictating my actions when I’m awake.

When I’m asleep, the ship’s wheel controls are cut. Authority shifts over to other parts of my body, and my little ship’s captain control freak does not like that at all. Cap’n Freaky feels like there can’t possibly be high quality stuff getting done if she’s not calling the shots herself. Trust in someone else that I don’t fully understand and can’t see? What?

But lately, Cap’n Freaky has been feeling the effects of fighting this loss of control (aka sleep) over the years, feeling like she’s not really at the top of her game. And I’ve been having a bit of a conversation with her about other captains doing things that will make her job exponentially better. She may not be able to have a board meeting with these captains and discuss ideas, but we’re all invariably on the same page, working towards the same goal: to help me live my life to the fullest.

Cap’n Freaky is coming around. Some days more successfully than others. And my quality of life is grateful for that. It’s not just about the quantity of moments of time you have on this planet; it’s just as much about the quality of those moments. If I’m worn thin and haven’t given all the other captains a chance to do their thing (something they can only do when I’m asleep), then the level of quality in my waking moments is just silly.

Do you have your own Cap’n Freaky? Have you tried having a heart-to-heart about letting others help with the job?

Enjoy your sleep. Cap’n Freaky is starting to.

familiar place, unfamiliar me

During a recent visit to my hometown, a childhood friend, Jenny, and I took her small boys and husband to a park that we had long ago traversed and explored. This is Big Rock, a clever name to be sure. I have several memories of this place: sitting on a picnic blanket across the creek with my grandmother and siblings, being dared to climb that rock when no grown-ups were around, posing for silly pictures on top of it as a teenager, and cringing upon hearing of the lady down the street who’d fallen off of Big Rock as a child and “was never the same after that.”

Visiting Big Rock for the first time in nearly twenty years felt like walking around inside a dream. The place felt so familiar, so… the same. What was missing was my young self. I became super aware of the distance traveled, inside myself and out in the world, since last being there. And who was this grown woman alongside me? My childhood friend Jenny is now Jen, a wife mother journalist. But in the way I remember Big Rock, I remember that girl she was and that girl I was. And, like Big Rock, I will always recognize them and hold them in my heart.


as soon as, wait, what’s possible?

The totally vague ASAP.

As soon as possible. Possible can mean so many different things. If I’m in the middle of a super busy schedule, what’s possible for me might be next week or even next month. The issue comes when a client uses ASAP to mean “I really need this tomorrow.”

Some ASAPs have a more immediate sense of urgency. Some are literally just an abbreviation to say “as soon as you can get to it, but there’s not a specific deadline.”

Whenever I get a request attached to an “ASAP,” I either have to give over to a sense of urgency every time (something not so balanced nor efficient), or I have to engage in back & forth emails to pin down exactly what ASAP means in the given context. By tomorrow? By the end of the week? Etc.

Here’s a way to simplify life for yourself & those with whom you’re working (reduce the number of emails, be on the same page, yadda yadda)… Assign a when. What’s the deadline? If there’s no specific deadline, assign a timeframe (within the next 2 weeks, for example). This allows you to be clear on your expectations and your colleagues to be clear on when deliverables are due. No one is guessing if her interpretation of ASAP matches yours.

And clarity comes in ASAP.