Crying while presenting: An exercise in connection

This year has been a very interesting one. I have had the incredible privilege of travelling, camping, and attending a few conferences through work and vacations this year. I have met incredible people and have had the pleasure of being invited to speak.

In the past week, I attended the British Columbia Museum Association conference. It was excellent. We discussed change, repatriation, First Nations people, language and more. I was invited with my colleagues to talk about environmental education and inclusivity in volunteer programs. This thanksgiving weekend I feel totally thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

But there was a bit of a cloud. During my presentation, my emotions broke through my skin. I cried. My colleagues jumped up to help me but I pushed through and explained what was happening. I got through but I haven’t yet unpacked what happened to me. Crying while giving a presentation to your peers is not easy.

My emotions have always sat directly under my skin. I have very little ability to stop an emotion from entering a situation. I have lived with depression and anxiety and it is tough. It is tough as a science minded lady to be scared of your own feelings. It is tough to know your irrational fears and misguided emotion can affect every part of you.

In this conference, we dealt with very real issues. I met wonderful people who resonate with me. I felt the feelings of many situations that I had the pleasure of hearing. So, when it was my turn to speak, it was hard to hide how frustrated I’ve been with feeling unsupported. I cried at thinking how people are dismissed because we don’t think they are competent enough to help us. I am devastated at the state of the world and how defeated we all feel.

I cried.

But it was worth it. Sometimes I forget that our emotions resonate with others. Two wonderful humans shared their equally emotional stories with me.

I still cry. I will always cry. I will always be willing to let my emotions push through my skin.

Though this does not fit into my usual science communication posts, I think it is important. Don’t filter your feelings. Emotion is what connects us. Even though I know that I feel emotions disproportionately to the situation, I still will enjoy that I feel. And I am happy to share, and to be shared with.


Home from #MuseumCamp and what can we do next?

Photo by @MuseumofImpact

A week ago (exactly), the experience at MuseumCamp wrapped up. Camp was an exhausting, inspiring, fulfilling experience with over 100 exuberant, intense, and wonderful people. Days were filled with challenging questions, activities, food, and sleepovers. I talked about my experiences with science communication, and listened to those in arts education, social justice, and myriad more fields. I felt so full with friendships, strangers, laughter, and mutual respect. I pushed my anxiety to the edge, swam, walked over 50km, and spent time by myself.

I honestly enjoyed my experience so much.

But in the same breath, this refreshed and renewed attitude was shattered so quickly by the events in Charlottesville. There are so many amazing people writing about what allies can do, how we can publicly denounce these actions and groups, and help to stop this spread of hate. I feel that a lot of this work is being done by folks on the front line so I encourage you to read their work and make sure their effort is well recognized.

I think that the best way I can contribute to the conversation is through the lens of my passion – science communication. Let’s get honest about it. Even though science is touted as neutral and fair, it is political. It isn’t fair. It is unjust. Scientific issues like climate change and disease affect different populations disproportionately. Science gets twisted to “support” false narratives and hate. Science has historically been for white, middle-class, cis-gendered men, and has often muted the voices that are not classically educated.

I love science. I truly think it is for everybody, but to say we are already there is ignoring the huge issues we are facing. No issue can be solved on its own, and no matter how strong you are, you can’t fix a problem on your own.

So what do we do?

  • Think about access vs. availability. We might put our work out there, but is it truly accessible? Make space for yourself to work on this.
  • Step up to speak about science – your science, the science of others, and why science is for everyone.
  • Listen to others when they speak. Listen to understand and not to respond.
  • Raise the voices of others, especially those who might not get a chance to speak. If an idea is passed over, use a repeater technique “I think that when NAME said STATEMENT, it was important and we should revisit it.”
  • Look at the people we represent. Make an effort to mirror all people in the people who communicate science. Ages, backgrounds, abilities, sizes, (a)genders, orientations, personalities.
  • Question everything. Always.
  • Call out racist, hateful, and harmful behaviors, actions, and words.
  • Take time for self-care, enjoyment, and remind yourself of the positivity that does exist in this world. Keep in touch with people, like those pictured, who inspire you to keep moving forward.


Nerd Nite!

Hi all. I just want to say how proud I am of myself for having a super successful Nerd Nite talk on Tuesday. I am going to toot my own horn. It was great. People were engaged. People asked thoughtful questions. And, I got applause from answering those questions thoughtfully. I am so pleased.

As I wrote before, I really forced myself to go through a clear, detailed planning process. It paid off. I promise you that the work is worth it. Starting from scratch, even if you’ve done it before, is fully worth it.

I wanted to share my slide deck (pdf). It makes no sense without me talking over it, however, I would be happy to talk you through it. I’m also proud of how beautiful it is. Mega credits to my incomparable Beaty Museum team for the photos, which are available to all through a creative commons license.


If anyone knows how to embed a pdf or google slides directly in wordpress, it would be much appreciated.

Summer recap!

Well apparently I’ve taken nearly 3 months off of blog writing. I think it goes without saying that I had a busy summer. Very busy…

The biggest highlight was heading to the Visitor Studies Association Conference in Indianapolis in July. It was wonderful and inspiring, and I have so many ideas! I am really looking forward to applying some of these ideas in our new exhibits to study our visitor habits in-depth.

Some questions I hope to look at are:

  • Are self-led participatory elements worth it? Do people use the materials for ourĀ intended purpose?
  • When people look at exhibits, are they engaging with the material or just pointing their faces at content?
  • What type of exhibits help people journey from looking to learning the most effectively?

So interesting! Such a fun part of my job, along with all of the other fun things. I love understanding what makes people tick.