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.

twinkle twinkle in the sidewalk

Walking along the sidewalk, a glint caught my eye. It was one of those super fast things that can easily come in and go out of your consciousness in less than a blink. I’m not sure what made me take a step back and look, but I’m glad I did.

Where can you find the stars peeking out at you? And do you give yourself a breath to take them in?

jump, kid

“Jump high and hard with intention and heart.”
– Cheryl Strayed

I’m guessing Cheryl doesn’t mean to literally jump, though my 8 year-old friend here does a terrific job of it. I appreciate the jumping metaphor as well as this image to accompany it. I see from him that to jump into something is a bold act of surrender.

How does a metaphor help you understand something on a different level?

curling a home

On first glance, this looks like a photo of some really interesting red flowers. That it is. But there’s more to it than that.

Do you see the curled leaf to the left of the flowers? And do you see the spider’s front legs peeking out?

The leaf curling spider (what an appropriate name!) creates its home by curling a leaf and spinning a fan-shaped web attached to that leaf. Inside the leaf might be a pair of spiders.

This makes me think about what it is to create a home or a base. Does it have to do with your geographical location? The physical structure of where you lay your hat? A routine that stays with you even when all the other elements are changing?

These spiders may well stay in this particular garden and continue creating homes out of different curled leaves. Or they may wander to the garden down the block and do the same. Whether the same place or somewhere else, it’s a succession of similar leaves, and the routine of creating that particular home.

I’m not sure yet what combination most feels like home to me. At the moment, it’s mainly reliant on the routines I carry with me. How about for you? What makes home? What gives you a solid base?

a bird friend

An injured sparrow hid under a parked car near the post office. Another woman and I became hell bent on rescuing it. We figured we could deliver the bird to a nearby veterinary office and its wing would be mended.

The sparrow, surely scared of our presence, flew clumsily out from under the car and into a bush. That is where we finally cornered it. I put my hands around the sparrow and walked her to the veterinary office.

I will never forget the feeling of holding a bird. It was soft and tender. I felt like I was holding magic.

Sparrows sit on the fire escape outside my window and sometimes keep me company while I write. I like to think that one of them is the bird I held. Birds of a feather flock together… or so the saying goes. I have a bird friend out there somewhere.

Have you ever held a bird?

the unfamiliar familiar

I was walking to an appointment along a route I had walked before. Along the way, I kept having the slight doubt “am I going the right way?” It was a path I had walked before, but it was also somehow quite new. Just that bit of unfamiliarity that makes you pay a little extra attention, that makes you notice just a bit more.

And then I realized the difference. I was walking on the other side of the street.

It’s amazing what just a tiny shift in perspective does for your overall view.

Try walking on the other side of the street today. I’d love to hear how you get on.

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?!