Hello Again!

Fortunately my long silence has been due to intense activity and adventure in the real world. And a transformation that, for a while, I wasn’t sure how to describe…

With 1 month to go the research phase for my PM prize is drawing to a close. Hooray!! 
It’s been inspiring, enlightening, overwhelming and transformational. It hasn’t gone at all to plan (does anything?) but has taught me a huge amount about NZ, about project management and myself.

When I set off on October the 10th last year I had imagined myself travelling care-free around the country – like the Topp twins when they toured NZ on a tractor; or the band Sigur Ros when they returned to Iceland and gave free concerts in villages.

But, to find people to go and visit I had to look on the internet.

In poured a multitude of possibilities - conferences, online networks, discussion forums, blogs… All fiercely interesting. New worlds in the arts, environmental sector, business, innovation, technology... I went to several conferences. I swapped hats and shoes.

Pretty soon I began to feel overwhelmed by the scope of my mission and all the information coming at me.

I saw so many possibilities for my future. Everyone I met made suggestions.

I made sure I didn’t commit to anything (this being my research phase) but I began to feel anxious that people would be expecting to see results from the Prime Minister’s Prize.

With all these underground expectations and decisions, when it came to Christmas I exploded.

Fortunately my brother Justin, who happens to be a professional project coach, was there to help. He pointed out that I’d been trying to do too many things at once. I needed more focus. So, over the next few weeks Justin and I put together a “Project Adventure Plan” (his words) with clear objectives and criteria for making decisions. We re-framed the Project Adventure in terms of my personal development and suddenly the question of what to do seemed simple.

I love performing - making people laugh, evoking a sense of the wonder, beauty and possibility. I love finding metaphors to describe science. I love editing radio programmes, interviewing scientists, seeing people from different backgrounds come together.

The Project Adventure Plan (which I’ll share with you in a separate post) focuses on using the things I love to enrich my skills in science communication.

To help me stay on track I’ve hired a coach – David Savage (or Sav for short). He’s brilliant and with his help and support the year has got off to an exciting start.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve started drawing. This happened when I was preparing my presentation for the recent Pecha Kucha “Science Sessions” night that I co-curated at Downstage theatre on Feb 28th.  My presentation was about my journey in science and spirituality. I’ll tell you more in another post!

In other news, I’ve acquired an office at Victoria University. I now work surrounded by the quiet bustlings of scientists. I can open any of the doors around me and find an electron microscope probing the depths of matter. When I get bored I turn my head slightly to the left and ask my neighbour about the nanoparticles she is making for super-efficient solar panels. It’s an exciting vibrating environment.

Over the next two months I’ll be gathering together the threads of my research while moving into the next phase of my PM Project Adventure - the “Learning Activity Phase” Amongst other activities I'll be producing a series of podcasts - "The Nano-Adventures of Elf and Loo" with a young physicist called Elf. It's very exciting and I'll tell you more in a future post...

For now I would just like to say

To John Key for the PM’s Prize;
To my brother Justin for directing my explosion into a “Project Adventure Plan”;
To Sav for helping me translate ideas into To Do lists; 
To Shaun Hendy for sorting me out an office at Uni;  
To Paul Callaghan for being a constant source of inspiration;
And to everyone else around me for being so massively encouraging.

You rock!

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