A New Years Eve Reflection

Looking back at 2018 gives me a lot to think about. These reflections shine light on some of these thoughts: what went well, what didn’t, how I can do/be better in 2019. Instead of setting hard goals, i’m looking to set themes for 2019. This way, I don’t have to gauge myself on a black and white scale (achieved goal or didn’t achieve goal), but rather can give myself food for thought to answer the above questions again on December 31st, 2019.

What Went Well:

This year was pretty productive as far as work goes. I participated in 3 conferences, published 3 papers (2 first-author) and 4 commentaries at publications including The Conversation, The Halifax Chronicle Herald, The National Post, The Hastings Centre Forum Blog, and Impact Ethics. I was hired as a Part-Time Academic to teach the First-Year Chemistry course at Dalhousie University, and have greatly enjoyed working with that team. A first this year, I was invited onto the Information Morning Radio Show with Host Portia Clark to discuss being LGBTQ in STEM. This followed my twitter thread about LGBTSTEMDay on June 4th, and was an honour!

Finally, I participated in 2 Science Communication platforms, Dal Science’s Ask a Scientist Campaign and Halifax’s first Science Slam! These events challenged me personally and professionally and I can’t wait for the #scicomm I do in the future.

I also had a pretty successful year in home baking! I succeeded in making croissants for the first time just last week, made Ramen from a book I got for Christmas, perfected some of my sourdough and conventional bread-making techniques, nailed some home-made pizzas (long fermented dough for incredible flavour) and I discovered tea-cakes (i’m obsessed).

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What Didn't

This year brought a few firsts, but the most striking was the loss of my first close family member. I’ve been lucky up until now to not have lost anyone I was close to, but my Grandma Shirley passed away this last spring. Losing family members is hard, and I can say that I wasn’t expecting the “gut-punch” that it would actually be.

My work-life balance took a bit of a hit this year, with a lot of stress and time put into work. It paid off, in terms of outcomes, but I now understand that this rushed pace makes my actions less considered, and potentiates mistakes.

How Can I Do/Be Better

Alright, let’s talk themes. My themes for next year include:

  1. The Slow Movement
  2. Science Communication and Outreach
  3. Community Growth

1. The Slow Movement

The Slow Movement started in Food and Agribusiness in Italy:

The Slow Food movement has its origins in the 1980s in Italy. When McDonald’s planned to build an franchise outlet near the Piazza di Spagna in Rome in 1986, Carlo Petrini organised a demonstration in which he and his followers brandished bowls of penne as weapons of protest. Their demonstration was successful and soon after, Carlo founded the International Slow Food Movement which runs counter to the fast food, fast life, non-sustainable food production and the eroding of local economies.

Essentially, although i’ll admit i’ve only dabbled here slightly, the argument is that moving slower (distinguised from doing less, which is not really the argument) allows people to think, prepare, and act deliberatly. This is done by forging connectedness and rejecting the fast pace of modern life.

If you are interested, this movement has been explored in a few books The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy by Barbara K. Seeber and Maggie Berg (which I am currently reading!) and In Praise of Slow : How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore (which is on my reading list!).

2. Science Communication and Outreach

I won’t belabour this point. I am hoping to continue to push my comfort zone this year and spread scientific knowledge to the public. It can be hard to do, and i’m only just beginning, but i’m looking forward to continuing this work into the future.

3. Community Growth

I will admit, there is one goal at the heart of this theme. I am looking to build an LGBTQ+ STEM event at Dalhousie this year, as a precursor event to a full Atlantic Canadian LGBTQ STEM Conference in 2020. This will involve meeting and learning for a variety of people in my community (and outside it). This, along with continued work at Urban Gardens/Farms around Halifax, I hope to grow my personal community and the communities i’m apart of in 2019.

Conclusions:

2018 had it’s ups and downs, but I definitely appreciate the time I can take to reflect on it. Moving onward into 2019, I hope you can take some time to reflect too. Happy New Years folks!