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.

my 3 year-old teacher

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

I only see my niece a few times a year because we live in different places. It’s such a delight for me to spend time with this adorable child that I want to preserve the memories by taking photographs. (I mean, this kid is really cute.) My phone is always in my pocket, ready to go.

During my most recent visit, she was on the brink of turning 3 years old. She was eager to play and talk and sing and laugh. But whenever that phone camera came out of my pocket, she’d turn away, suddenly uninterested in engaging with me.

The kid could tell that I was no longer present, that I had somehow extracted myself from our shared precious moment, becoming instead an observer with an agenda.

She taught me that the other person, however subtly, knows when I’m being present and when I’m not. How humbling to learn from a being small enough to carry in my arms.

Have you had a helpful reminder to stay present lately?

carrying our stories

“We carry our stories, and they become so airtight that we can suffocate ourselves with them.”
– Lemn Sissay

I had to stop the podcast and write this down when I heard Lemn say it. Boy, does it ring true. There are several aspects of my life that I consider integral parts of my story, that define who I am in a way.

And yet…

There remains a great deal about my path, about how I can be most useful in this world, that remains very, very unclear. There’s something about this quote that struck a chord directly related to this feeling.

I wonder if those things that I hold as definitions of myself, as tentpoles in my own story — I wonder if I’m holding them just a bit too tightly. What would it be like to allow myself to not know my own story and to look in curiosity and discover it? Is that even possible?

As you can see, there are several unanswered questions here. I’m curious as to what the quote brings up for you. How do you carry your story?


p.s. Happy Birthday to Bacana Notions! Today we enter into our 5th year of these posts. Liz and I are so very grateful for everyone who reads these words, and we hope they bring a moment of joy or thoughtfulness or whatever you need to your day.

the honor system

Early one morning, I walked alone along a mountain road and came upon this table. How could I resist? I put a dollar into the coffee can and selected three cucumbers to take with me.

The honor system isn’t utilized so much anymore but I’m a fan of it. That “honor” inherently implies that we strangers can trust in one another. That’s the world I want to live in. How about you?


caring for grumpy cats

At the start of a recent housesit, I met 2 Persian cats who were each grumpy cat times 1,000. Day by day, I exercised my patience and care.

Probably 5 or 6 days in, head scratches were allowed. A day or 2 after that, they were relished. On day 9, the grumpiest of the 2 climbed on my chest in bed in the morning for a bit of a snuggle and a lot of purring.

The grumpy is still there. Absolutely. (Especially when the grooming comb comes out. Boy, do they HATE that!!) But the bottom line remains…

Care & patience & kindness win out in the end. May this be true in all aspects of our lives.

growing somewhere new

“The finest flowers are those transplanted, for transplanting means difficulty, a readjusting to new conditions, and through the effort put forth to find adjustment does the plant progress.”
– Elbert Hubbard

During a visit to Chicago in early summer, I inherited clippings of a jade plant from my cousin. I transported them home in a little plastic bag tucked into a shoe in my suitcase. I planted the clippings into two pots and am pleased to see that they are growing strong. Transplanting success!

It got me thinking about the times in my life when I was uprooted and transplanted somewhere new. Almost without exception, each of those times provided me with an opportunity to expand myself in some way. I was forced out of my comfort zone and inspired to create new routines, meet new people, welcome new perspectives, and look upon new vistas.

I generally feel sadness when I leave a place that’s been a home to me. The process of transplanting my life is usually accompanied by a period of grief. Thankfully, I know the grief is only a temporary growing pain. Knowing that helps tremendously.

Those little plant clippings must have been rather irritated when stuffed inside a plastic bag inside a shoe inside a suitcase and bounced around an airplane, but look at them now.

Have you ever been transplanted? How did you grow?


will you get lost with me?

“We find our way by getting lost. Anything other than that is called reading a map.”
– Seth Godin

I went for a walk recently with no path planned out. Just deciding to follow whatever caught my fancy. It ended up being a wonderful walk with lovely views, but I was also prepared for it to not be very exciting at the outset. It was all about, on that day, finding the path that was right for that moment without prescribing in advance what that would be. About being ok with maybe getting a bit lost and then finding my way back.

This quote, of course, isn’t just about literal paths. It’s also about finding your trajectory in life, in work, in relationships.

I wish you good cheer in getting lost, and I’ll be right there with you.

art in the sky

Walking around a rundown section of Louisville, my hometown, I looked up and saw “hope.” Who knows who’s responsible for that piece of urban art. Who knows the effort and the risk taken to accomplish it. But it certainly makes a change to the landscape and a change (however small) inside every person looking up.

Have you taken in any urban art lately?


ride the waves

“We can’t control the sea, but we can learn how to surf the waves.”
– Headspace app

I remember going into the ocean as a kid and getting smacked full in the face with many a wave. Mouth full of salt water, rubbing my eyes, there was always a feeling of being against some huge force and not being strong enough. And then I learned to play with the waves. To dive into them as they came. To ride on the swells. Though I’ve never been a surfer, I found myself riding the waves in other ways. To listen to what the ocean is telling me and to feel part of it rather then in opposition to it.

As I write this, there is an ocean of changes swirling in other ways as well. The recent EU referendum in the UK and the Australian double dissolution election caused some waves, and there are also some gathering on the horizon with the election in the US. On a more personal level, I am embracing a very nomadic lifestyle (for a while anyway), and there are waves of fear and excitement around that.

With all these figurative waves around me, I’m trying to take a lesson from the literal ones and ride them, dive into them, listen to them, preferably reducing the number of times one of them smacks me in the face!

What waves are you surfing these days?

the thing with feathers

“Hope is the thing with feathers.”
– Emily Dickinson

Let’s always be on the lookout for hope.


mood ring turkey

Trevor is a Norfolk Bronze turkey. Trevor is also a living, breathing mood ring. When no one is watching, or when he’s just chilling by himself, the skin folds all around his head and neck are pale blue. His snood (the skin that hangs down over his beak) even shrinks up to look like a pale pink, soft unicorn horn.

When it’s time to show off, Trevor sends blood to the skin around his head, his snood lengthens and hangs over his beak, and everything turns bright red. It is definitely a sight to behold. And it’s very easy to actually see the message that Trevor is showing off and wants attention.

With us humans, we don’t have mood-ring-like folds of skin on our heads. (That’s an image, yes?) Our skin flushes or changes a bit when we get embarrassed, angry, excited, etc., but it’s relatively subtle. One of our responsibilities in interacting with other humans is to translate feelings into words. Which is not always so easy.

Maybe in those moments when I feel the blood rushing to my head or my skin flushing, I can think of Trevor, take a moment, and see if I can translate what my body is displaying subtly into words. And maybe that’s why communication is so massively important to me in both my personal & business interactions. So my listening and my words can take the place of the mood-ring-like folds of skin I sometimes wish I had (well, you know what I mean).

trevor1 trevor2