Well, hello there. Thanks for stopping by.
Who I am.
I’m a South African living what I like to think of as a curiosity-driven life. I’m based in beautiful Innsbruck with the love of my life, a Tirolean who has the tolerance of a saint and who puts up with—and often finds himself involved in—whatever subject I am curious about at the moment! Although my interests are continually changing, there are some constants in my life. Reading, scuba diving, star gazing, folklore, medieval history, the Classics, storytelling, writing, the senses, brainstorming, building communities, people watching, sustainability and travelling (mostly on foot and by train) all feature in my life on a regular basis.
I write about these themes and whatever else piques my interest in my blog.
What I do for a living.
I am an entrepreneur and I am fortunate to be able to do something that I love for a living. Well, a few inter-connected “somethings”, really. I am a communication specialist with expertise in what I like to call “human-to-human communication” and at SciComm Success, I teach researchers—often natural and climate scientists—the communication skills they need to thrive when working with fellow-researchers as well as the so-called “general public”. I am a professional facilitator and workshop leader, and run a consulting firm called Whitbys where I help organisations make sense of environmental and climate disruption, identify future risks and opportunities, and build a strategy to become sustainable and thrive in the face of today’s challenges. Finally, I run workshops and events at Peak to Deep to help individuals, schools, and small groups deepen then understanding of climate change, create strategies to cope in a changing world, and identify ways that they can make a difference. The bottom line: I am a trainer, facilitator and catalyst who focuses on communication, conversations and climate.
My secret life.
I am a professional oral and performance storyteller with an isiZulu stage name. I call myself Ziydliwa (yes, there is a story behind that) and I craft and perform storytelling shows for (mostly) adult audiences. I run storytelling workshops and run an irregular story podcast called Stories and Supernovas: no interviews, just good stories that are wise, wonderful and sometimes weird.
My academic life.
I hold a BA in English and Philosophy, a Masters (MA) in Classical Studies with a focus on sensory studies, and am now pursing a PhD at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, researching the intersection of oral stories, the senses and space and its effect on environmental thinking and behaviour,
What I am embracing.
Having been a driven, “let’s make this happen” kind of person all my life, I have been working on accepting more and forcing less. I am educating myself about Zen, practise Zazen most days, and am incorporating the principles of Zen into my life gradually, but successfully. I teach Yin Yoga and Pilates classes in Innsbruck and offer multi-sensory meditation and reflection sessions for people who want more from life than a linear progress from birth to death. I love Zen koans and wisdom talks, and record an occasional podcast of very short stories called Tiny Mindful.
The importance of people.
I am a firm believer in the power of people, communication, and conversations to change the world, and I organise regular events to connect, challenge, inspire, and encourage action.
The things that make me happy.
I love walking barefoot, jumping in puddles, losing myself in a good book, spending time with my husband, bringing people together, throwing parties, cycling around town in a sundress and a big hat and snazzy sandals, drinking wine, history, vivid colours, cooking up a storm, the ocean, birdsong, basil, writing, illustrating, walking (not hiking), people-watching, tea, playing with words, paying it forward, growing chillies, making perfume, telling stories and finding sustainable ways to travel the world…
If you are interested, here’s what I am doing now.