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.

rain & sun

A pretty heavy rain just stopped, and I headed out for an appointment. Stepping onto the sidewalk, I was met with blinding reflections of the sun. Everything was shiny, and the sun was having a bouncy field day. Almost as if to remind me “Look, the rain is necessary. It’s part of this whole natural order thing. But don’t forget I’m always part of the package, too.”

Shall we break into a refrain from Annie??

springtime reminder

“Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.”
– Anonymous

Happy Spring!

boundaries to expand compassion

“The most connected and compassionate people of those I’ve interviewed set and respect boundaries.”
– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

When I first read this sentence, it resonated deeply. Many times, if I am asked for something (my time, my skills, my ear), if I say no, it feels inherently selfish. Like I’m not giving enough.

And yet when I look to the people I respect and admire, people like my colleague Alex and my partner-in-crime here at Notions, Liz, I see people who stay firm with their boundaries in the most loving and compassionate way possible. And I don’t begrudge them for it. In fact, I respect them more. And I know that, when I have that person’s attention, the focus will be completely present and engaged.

Boundaries are very hard for me. If I can be of use, I want to say yes. But I feel the too many yeses draining me. I want to be the most connected and compassionate version of myself possible. So continuing on my path to set and respect boundaries has to be a priority.


a tombstone from 1798 is talking to me

My friend Barbara lives across the street from an old cemetery, a place that never ceases to fascinate me. This grave stone became particularly vivid jutting out of the snow with its 1776 Revolutionary War soldier star and flag beside it. It reads,

“In memory of Mr. Nathan Gilbert
who departed this Life
Sept 1st 1798 Aged 71 Years.
Hark from the tombs a dolefull sound
My ears attend the cry
Ye living men come view the grave
Where you must shortly lie.”

I am one of the “living men” whom these words address. I am in awe of that and of the words themselves, so pristine despite having faced weather like this for 217 years.

It’s such a challenge and a delight to stand in a place and imagine what it looked like long ago. Places tell us secrets if only we will listen. There is an inn with a tavern just down the street from the cemetery that claims to have opened in 1749. I bet Mr. Gilbert threw back more than a few pints of ale in that tavern, perhaps discussing General Washington or the burial of someone in his church’s cemetery or the coming of another cold winter.

It’s strange… just taking the time to think about this one person, to imagine who he was… I feel like I made a new friend today.


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?