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.

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?!

slower sometimes equals faster

This world moves fast, fast, fast. How ironic then that, sometimes, if you slow down just a bit, you can actually flow with that fast pace in an easier and more efficient way.

One small example… Have you ever found yourself trying to get through a pile of emails, skimming through them, quickly replying, and getting on with it? Let’s say a colleague sent me an email, not terribly long, but I’m rushing… moving fast, fast, fast. I reply, asking a question about the topic at hand. A few hours later or the next day, my colleague replies, patiently reiterating what was in the original email that already answered my question.

Had I just slowed down a tiny bit and actually read the original email, my response could have moved us to the next proper step of whatever project we’re working on. Instead, I delayed that move by only skimming and then asking a question that was already answered. I worked a bit harder and took a bit longer to get to the same place.

Time is a precious commodity, but it is also there to be used as a tool. If I use my time wisely (to me, wisely means actually using time in a mindful way, not just rushing through it as quickly as possible), I find I can actually keep pace in this world without feeling so rushed.

What are some things you do more slowly that help you be more efficient?

the 59th street bridge notion

“Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling’ groovy…
Hello, lamppost, what’cha knowin’?”
– Paul Simon

I’m not sure why Paul Simon named his groovy song after this bridge. Perhaps he named it after the view of this bridge, for it is indeed groovy.

The view from the bridge is groovy, too. My Dad and I walked across it one morning when he had come for a visit. It was quite a trek and felt like a pilgrimage of sorts. We were hoping to find a diner on the other side but found only a food cart instead. So we sat on cement blocks and ate egg sandwiches before heading back to Manhattan. It was grand.

Funny, I feel bonded to that bridge simply because of having walked across it. Perhaps it’s because, on that morning with my Dad, the bridge became personal to me.

I bet that bridge was personal to Paul Simon when he wrote his groovy song.

What’s a public place that feels personal to you?

wanda will crush you with her bum

This is Wanda. Wanda is a wombat. Right now, she’s hanging out rather sleepily on the lap of one of the cool staff members at Billabong Sanctuary, where she lives.

If you gave Wanda a stroke along her back, towards the lower part of her back and over her bum, you’d feel a solid plate of bone. Turns out, this solid plate is a built-in shield. When Wanda is in her tunnel and a dingo pokes its head in trying to eat Wanda, she can flatten herself against the ground (bum facing the entrance), let the dingo get its head in, and then use that solid plate of bone to crush the dingo’s head against the roof of the tunnel. (Poor dingo. Circle of life and all that. For the record, I like both wombats & dingos. Not taking sides.)

Her bum is her defense weapon. And you might never know it.

I think we all have a defense or two that someone wouldn’t guess about us on first meeting. Whether it’s a way of thinking that gives you a different viewpoint or something physical that gives you strength & confidence, we all have things that help us to feel and be protected.

What’s yours?

image capture

I took this photo from the 225th Street subway platform in the Bronx. Each of those guys is in his own little world, with no idea that I’d captured this singular moment in time. It got me wondering… Who has photos of anonymous me walking along a sidewalk or reading a book in the background or eating a snack on the train? My image is surely in places I can’t imagine.

Where do you imagine your image to be?

take a wild breath

In the midst of the very urban NYC, there is a patch of wildflowers and prairie grasses on the High Line. It’s curated and yet not. Grown on purpose and yet a bit wild.

In our own lives, we strive to live with purpose. To create or to be of use or to fulfill some goal. These can be rather curated paths. That’s not a pejorative. (I run a business centered around organizing, for pete’s sake.)

Wild patches live within all of us as well, and wild patches can be found here and there along our lovely, curated paths. Those patches can be reminders and respites and places to engage our curiosity.

Have you taken a wild breath lately?

climb or carry

“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”
– Najwa Zebian

The first time I read this quote, I exhaled. It was a feeling of relief. I thought about a few personal struggles of mine that are decades old. I’ve been climbing those mountains for years, reaching new vistas and stumbling on different rocks & roots all along the way.

The feeling of relief was the tiny, deep-inside recognition that my struggles don’t have to be heavy & weighted. There can be a spring in my step as I climb. I can also stand still from time to time and take a deep breath and check out the view.

And I can appreciate my damn strong legs.

What does this quote mean to you?

speak & fill the room

“You actually don’t need high energy to fill a large space. You need your own sense of presence and focus. You can bend an entire room by bending a paper clip if you’ve got the focus of the room. And, to accept that the audience, that you are their focus, you don’t need to do high kicks. You just need to be there, present for them, and then you’ve filled the entire room.”
— Stephen Colbert

Above, Stephen is speaking about doing his monologue at the top of The Late Show. But these words apply across a wide spectrum, from public speaking at a conference, to presenting your ideas at a meeting, to a one-on-one conversation.

Many times, if I experience nerves before speaking to someone or to many someones, hindsight shows me that I was making it about me. About my experience on the stage or at the front of the room.

There can be a shift here. Make it about them. How can I be of service? What are my words / presentation / thoughts bringing to the other people in the room that is of value to them? How can I be present for them?

Give the gift of your presence to your audience, and you will fill the room.

dirt magic

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
– Margaret Atwood

Last summer, this is what my lap looked like after a visit to my friend Amy’s house. She sent me home with goodies from her garden. It’s hard to believe that this all grew out of a handful of tiny seeds.

Now that we’re approaching spring again, let’s all aspire to smell like dirt. A colorful summer bounty awaits!

send in the clouds

What would you do if the sky were at your feet? If the clouds weren’t out of reach but just a matter of sitting down & dipping your hand in?

As a thought exercise, turn your world upside down. Make everything that you now consider out of reach to be close at hand. What would you do? How do you feel?

Think about that last question again. How do you feel?

Come back to your world as it is. What is there in your world right now that makes you feel the same way?

Do more of that.

The clouds are closer than you think.