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.

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.

core strength doesn’t magically appear

Imagine, if you will, a performance of aerial silks. The performer moves her body in and around the long silk fabric hanging from a very high ceiling with fluidity and grace. She creates shapes with her body and the silk that seem to be living sculpture and then holds them for all the world to see. You see the strength, but it somehow all seems so effortless.

We are often entranced by those who are brilliant at what they do, who make the effort-full seem effortless. And in that entrancement, we forget the individual steps that person has taken to get there. We chastise ourselves for not being at the same level more quickly, for feeling the effort.

The stunning aerial performer does not start from a place of grace & fluidity & living sculpture. First, she simply learns how to take the first step in climbing the silk. And that can sometimes be awkward and very far from graceful.

The brilliant speaker or consultant or entrepreneur didn’t pull a ready-made business out of her pocket. First, there was an idea. Then a breakdown of small steps to bring that idea into reality. And perhaps some failures & falls mixed in.

If a journey consists of a thousand steps, there is a massive breadth of experience in those steps, each one with something to learn from.

Harkening back to one of our very first posts & the quote from Eckhart Tolle, “There is always only this one step.” There is brilliance in that.

Enjoy the journey.

shaw and regret

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Regret is my least favorite emotion. Grief is terrible too, of course, but at least I can take action with my grief and sob when I need to. With regret, I feel so helpless, with no action to take, unless I learn how to build a time machine. But then I read this wise quote from a wise human being and I have compassion for myself, easing my regret because I’m reminded that I do learn from my mistakes. And that making mistakes is honorable, dammit!

What does this quote mean to you?

Here is a self-portrait of me and Shaw in a mirror of an Ireland pub.


which sun rays do you see?

This photo is from a hike I went on in December 2013 in the English countryside. What strikes me is this… (Well, besides the fact that my superior photography skills have made the sun look like a melting blob.) A camera lens pulls out selected rays from the sun; it refracts the light in a particular pattern.

Likewise, in terms of life and actions, we all see selected effects, happenings, occurrences. Each of us has his / her own built-in camera lens, and we initially only see a few of the sun rays. This naturally affects how we see the world — refracting our thoughts into a certain pattern.

Being conscious of this, I sometimes try and shift my lens, imagine what someone else’s lens might reveal. Occasionally, this lets in a few rays that I hadn’t seen before. Which bring with them new ideas or new paths for conversation.

I’m not always successful in understanding a lens different from my own, but I strive to. And in that striving, my thoughts might refract into a slightly different pattern. Whether brainstorming for a project or having a conversation about politics, it brings perspective and new ideas.

sun blob

whistle while you work

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
– Anne Frank

Running errands is not always, um, pleasurable. But on one particular early morning, I went inside the post office in my town and heard from the back room a man enthusiastically singing ’60’s music while sorting through the piles of mail. The woman at the register smiled and said, “He does this every morning.” The guy in line ahead of me said, “It’s catchy, isn’t it? The good mood is catchy.”

Later that same day, I was in a very crowded grocery store in Manhattan. The man who was scanning my items was absolutely beaming. He asked, “How are you?” I said simply, “I’m good, thanks. How are you?” He grinned big and said, “I’m wonderful. I woke up today and I had a job to go to.” I said, “Well, that is wonderful. And, you know what, you just made my day better. Thanks.” He was genuinely thrilled about that.

Next time I’m feeling sour or rushed or anxious, I’m going to remember those men and, I hope, make a shift into a better mood. Because it makes a difference to everyone around me. Doesn’t it?

the end? turn the page

We experience lots of endings. A project wraps up. A meeting comes to an end. A conversation concludes. A relationship drifts apart. A day, a life, and so on.

Set aside the gloom for a moment, though.

I choose to replace “ending” with “page turn.” When something comes to a close (good, bad, exciting, devastating), we long for closure. I long for closure. But I don’t always get it. And in time, when I can turn my face to the next page, the next something is there to lead me on to the next adventure.

As one project wraps up, another is being planned. As a meeting ends, the action steps begin to be implemented. And so on.

There really is no end. Just the turn of a page.