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.

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.

a rose by any other name…

I learned recently that there’s a kind of rose named Carefree Wonder. Who knew? I happen to think it’s a marvelous name, particularly when I came upon this sign while walking in a rose garden. Apparently, the Carefree Wonder rose got this name because of its hardiness, even when up against bugs, disease, and weather.

I am no rose but I certainly do my best to keep myself hardy. I like the reminder that hardiness can go hand-in-hand with carefree wonder. Could carefree wonder be called heartiness?

carefree wonder

a simple step towards focus

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
– Zig Ziglar

“I just need to focus.” How many times have you found yourself saying that under your breath? It’s a phrase that used to be with me constantly. It’s much less so these days (but still there sometimes).

Here’s one simple step towards focus, away from letting others pull at your direction on any given day…

Turn off notifications.


On your phone, your tablet, your computer, everywhere. No sounds, vibrations, icon badges, or banners letting you know you have new email. Nothing popping up with a preview of what has just come in.

No alerts about new tweets or likes or comments. Take control back from the many, many things vying for your time & your attention. Set a time block in your calendar for when you are going to check email & social media. Outside of that time on the calendar, you have other things to do.

Are there sometimes exceptions? Sure thing. If there’s a person whose email you must look at right away, you have options. In iOS, you can make him/her a VIP and set separate notification rules. Not on iOS? Lots of other options, including IFTTT (Google it!). There’s always a way to make an exception. Just don’t make so many exceptions that you’re ignoring the general rule.

You have control over your own focus. Don’t give that power away to others. Keep your direction in the time that we all have. Turn the notifications off.

not just a pretty picture

Walking along a dock with a friend recently, I was intrigued by a bird perched on a post. I got out my phone to snap its pic, and the bird spread its wings and lifted up into the sky. My phone camera followed it and captured this gorgeous moment.

Ever since that afternoon, I have become a bit obsessed with this photograph. It was my Facebook cover photo, my phone’s “wallpaper,” and I have its mini version as a jpeg on my desktop that I click on to view every once in awhile.

Yes, it’s a great picture (if I do say so myself), but I can’t help but wonder if there is something else about it that is speaking to me.  Something metaphoric perhaps.  Like it being my time to lift off and take flight?  I don’t know for sure.  But when something intensely gets one’s attention, it’s important to be curious as to why, yes?