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suzanne whitby: what I am doing now

Derek Sivers inspired me to create a “now” page, which essentially captures what I am doing now. This tells you what I am focused on at this point in my life, and reminds me of some of the thousands of ideas that tumble through my brain at different times.

Updated 1 August 2022

Just back from 3.5 weeks in Italy. We started on the west coast in La Spezia and Cinque Terre, travelled south to Pisa, Lucca and Florence (m! hadn’t been to the Uffizi, which needed rectifying), then we walked 23km in +-40 degree celcius heat to Pontassieve to start our walk along the Il Cammino di Dante. We decided that perhaps mid-July was NOT the right time of the year for the rest of the walk and decamped to Seine for a week, then Ravenna for a couple of days to look around and see if we’d be happy living there for a year, and finally, a week at Punta Marina, where we hired bikes and cycled around to get a feel for “life at the beach”. We’re both happy with the idea of living in Ravenna for a year, and need to get a-into-g in terms of renting our place out and so on. Having said that, with m’s encouragement I have also submitted an application to be the “Barefoot Bookseller“, which involves a year-long residency in the Maldives. It’s a bit of a lottery, but as m! says, the odds are better than playing the lottery! Anyhoo, the bottom line is that we should be moving early- to mid-October.

Here’s what I am doing at the moment:

  • Brushing up on my questionnaire design skills so that I can start designing a non-probability survey for my PhD. Did I mention that I will be doing this at VU Amsterdam, assuming that I get the go-ahead in February? At the moment, it’s all about design and planning…
  • Working on marketing my communication training to researchers for 2022-2023.
  • Planning my marketing strategy for Whitbys & Peak to Deep.
  • Committing to taking and posting a photo a day on the 365 project.
  • Practising my Yin Yoga and Pilates so that I can offer these as classes.
  • Researching medieval stories for a new performance.
  • Thoroughly enjoying using my Boox Max Lumi e-ink tablet for reading, taking notes and drawing!


  • Aroma – The Cultural History of SmellBeginning Statistics by Liam Foster, Ian Diamond, Julie Banton
  • Becoming a Yoga Instructor by Elizabeth Greenwood
  • Ways of Sensing by David Howes
  • Telling Science Stories by Martin W. Angler
  • The Routledge International Handbook of Walking by C. Michael Hall, Yael Ram, Noam Shoval
  • Sensuous Geographies: Body, Sense and Place by Paul Rodaway
  • The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
  • Storytelling and Ecology by Anthony Nanson
  • Training to Imagine by Kat Koppett
  • Shakespeare and the Folktale: An Anthology of Stories by Charlotte Artese (Editor)
  • Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher

Listening to:

The Three-Body Problem – Liu Cixin

Nothing. Wonderful!

Recently finished reading (the ones that I can remember – mostly over the last few weeks in Italy!):

  • Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus
  • Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
  • The Magician by Colm Tóibín
  • The Devil You Know by Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne
  • Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
  • The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
  • The Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (著), Geoffrey Trousselot (Translator)
  • Sistersong by Lucy Holland (Goodreads Author)
  • Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser
  • Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
  • Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
  • The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd (Goodreads Author)
  • Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso (Goodreads Author)
  • Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz
  • The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (Goodreads Author)
  • The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane (Goodreads Author)
  • The Hero’s Way: Walking with Garibaldi from Rome to Ravenna by Tim Parks (Goodreads Author)
  • The Seven Ages of Death: A Forensic Pathologist’s Journey Through Life By: Dr Richard Shepherd
  • Poseidon’s Gold by Lindsey Davis
  • Execution by S. J. Parris
  • The Lighthouse Witches By: C. J. Cooke
  • The Understudy By: David Nicholls
  • Three Hands in the Fountain: Marcus Didius Falco, Book 9 by Lindsey Davis
  • Conspiracy by Lindsey Davis
  • The House of Dolls by David Hewson
  • Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis
  • Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health by Daniel Lieberman
  • Treachery by S. J. Parris
  • The Haunting Season by Bridget Collins, Natasha Pulley, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Elizabeth Macneal, Laura Purcell, Andrew Michael Hurley, Jess Kidd, Imogen Hermes Gowar
  • Little Sister by David Hewson
  • What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Car by Elizabeth Cripps
  • Ancestral Vices by Tom Sharpe
  • Witches Be Crazy by Logan J. Hunder
  • White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen


Suzanne Whitby


15 August 2021

I am in the process of finishing off my dissertation on lived olfactory experiences in Pompeii in 79 CE. It has been a blast playing with the idea of scentscapes, scentmaps, and sensory experiences in the ancient world, and I am glad that it’s coming to an end. I have a couple of ideas for a Phd proposal, and have a call planned with my supervisor to get her input and see if it’s worth studying further. The air definitely has that autumnal chill in the air, so that means that it’s time to start thinking about storytelling again, and of running more communication workshops. Change happens!

Here’s what I am doing at the moment:

  • Proofing and editing my dissertation.
  • Checking and tweaking my SciComm Success website: I keep thinking “simpler, simpler, simpler” but I’ve not quite managed to achieve what I want.
  • Translating Whitby’s into German. I’ll still offer all my workshops in English, because that’s how I roll, but I’d like to work more locally to keep my CO2 footprint low when working face-to-face.
  • Kicking off a whole new series of gathers at Meetup Tirol. Coronavirus and lockdown made it hard to launch a platform to promote in-person gatherings, and the dissertation has demanded all my energy, but now the time feels right.
  • Creating a simple website for my new project, Aim4Avg – Aim for Average (I wanted to spell it out in full, but m! suggested the shorter version). Essentially, the idea is to challenge myself and others to calculate their current CO2 emissions, take a look at the average CO2 emissions per person in their country and the world, and then make changes to either match their own country’s per person emissions OR if they are already under that number, to aim to match the global average of 4.8 tonnes per year (2017 figures from Our World in Data). I realise that this will probably seriously irritate many of my friends. Oh, well.
  • Taking a course about perfumes in ancient Egypt with Dora Goldsmith.
  • Getting ready to start learning Italian again. After several false starts over the years, m! and I have decided to be accountability partners. Saremo fluenti in un attimo!
  • Reading and practising poses in Yin Yoga and Pilates because I’ll be starting two teacher training courses in a few weeks. Pilates is my first love, and Yin Yoga is the closest that I can get to stilling my mind, so perhaps I’ll start offering occasional classes in 2022.


  • Aroma – The Cultural History of Smell
  • Museum Materialities – Objects, Engagements, Interpretations
  • The Sense of Smell in the Middle Ages – Katelynn Robinson
  • Ritual, Performance and the Senses – Michael Bull, Jon P. Mitchell
  • The Scent of Desire – Rachel Herz
  • Creating Sensory Spaces – Barbara Erwine
  • Ways of Sensing – David Howes, Constance Classen
  • Heritage Formation and the Senses in Post-Apartheid South Africa – The Senses in Performance
  • Sally Banes, Andre Lepecki
  • The Smell of Fresh Rain – Barney Shaw
  • Creating Multi-sensory Environments – Christopher Davies
  • Sensory Research – Ronald T. Verrillo
  • The Museum of the Senses – Constance Classen

Listening to:

The Secrets of Strangers – Charity Norman

Nothing that stands out. However, I can recommend the movie “Yesterday“, which made me laugh.

Recently finished reading (the ones that I can remember!):

In between reading what seems to be hundreds of books, papers, archaeological excavation reports, and chapters about scent, the Roman empire, walking methodologies, mapping approaches, and Pompeii, I managed to slip in some easy reading…

  • All of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti books. They’re easy reads, and having 30 books to devour in a few weeks was a delight!
  • Afterland – Lauren Beukes
  • The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes
  • Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World – Elinor Cleghorn
  • Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.) – Jennifer Aaker
    Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen

1 April 2021

I was thinking about my father today. Just after I met m!, we decided to see if we could fox him for April Fool’s Day: m! called him in Johannesburg to ask him if I’d arrived safely. Obviously, my father was perplexed: he had no idea that I was flying over, hadn’t received any message from me to meet at the airport. m! kept the gag going for quite while before he took pity on him. Today, we’re still in lockdown for Coronavirus, but the weather is lovely and life is generally good.

Here’s what I am doing at the moment:

  • Re-thinking all the groups and gatherings that I organise. As much as I love the international crowd, they can be intransient and I would like to form more relationships with people who might be around for a bit!
  • I’ve signed up to train to be a Pilates teacher. This is not a new career plan, but rather a way to attend 6am classes. No one offers early-morning classes in Innsbruck or Rum, and in desperation, I’ve decided that the only solution to this is to offer classes myself.
  • I am running 6 workshops for new clients next month and I am reviewing and revising all my workshop material.
  • Finishing off my final essays for my MA, and getting ready to start dissertation writing.
  • Putting together some business workshops for the International Association of Facilitation that I will be running until December.
  • Pitching some presentation workshops to the WIFI – in English, for folks with an international focus.


  • The Biggest Bluff – Maria Konnikova
  • Nonviolent Communication – Marshall B. Rosenberg & Deepak Chopra
  • The Constant Rabbit – Jasper Fforde
  • Crosstalk – Connie Willis
  • The Decameron – Giovanni Boccaccio

Listening to:

The Secrets of Strangers – Charity Norman


Recently finished reading (the ones that I can remember!):

  • The Cassandra – Sharma Shields
  • The Book of the Maidservant – Rebecca Barnhouse
  • The Book of Boy – Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • All the Murmuring Bones – A. G. Slatter
  • Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old – Andrew Steele
  • Crossed Skis: An Alpine Mystery – Carol Carnac
  • The Eighth Detective: A Novel – Alex Pavesi
  • Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  • The Harpy – Megan Hunter
  • The Institute – Stephen King
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab
  • Leonard and Hungry Paul – Ronan Hession
  • The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Marie Benedict



13 March 2020

It’s 11 days until my birthday, which means that I’m in a bit of a contemplative mood. I always struggle at this time of the year, trying to work out whether I have achieved anything in my previous year, and it always feels like I’ve achieved too little. This is also a time of reflection and review: are my goals still relevant? Do I still need my 5 million websites? Which of my friends am I neglecting? We’re also in the middle of the Coronavirus panic here in Innsbruck. University classes are taking place remotely, I’m working exclusively from home for a while (hooray!), schools are shutting down next week, and it all feels a bit like we’re living in an apocalyptic novel!

Here’s what I am doing at the moment:

  • Still trying to work out how to find time to write and podcast more often.
  • Creating a new storytelling show about Irish fairies for my alter-ego, Ziyadliwa
  • Tying to catch up on my masters studying.
  • Creating a communications “PhD” for myself: I have so much material that I’ve not had time to read so it’s time for a plan to get this all done. This equates to around 50 books to read…
  • Revising my Non-verbal Communication course. I have run it a few times now and I have some ideas to make it even better.
  • Sewing a circle skirt. Well, first I have to create the pattern!


  • Don’t Believe a Word by David Shariatmadari
  • Talk to Strangers by David Topus
  • Gravitas by Caroline Goyder
  • Switch by Chip and Dan Heath (yes, still haven’t finished this)

Listening to:

The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Blacklist

Finished reading (the one’s that I can remember!):

  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (I honestly don’t see what all the hype was about)
  • When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith (I have the next two in the series – not sure if I will read them)
  • Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght
  • The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain by Ian Mortimer
  • The Dollmaker by Nina Allan
  • The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price
  • The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North
  • Bone China by Laura Purcell
  • The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
  • The Last Body Part by Sarajane Woolf

23 November 2019

Wow! It’s been a busy few months and I have 4 busy weeks to go before I “close” for the Christmas holidays, which I am VERY much looking forward to! Here’s what I am doing at the moment:

  • working on communication strategies, speeches, social media plans and internal communication plans for clients communications consultancy 
  • putting the finishing touches on two new corporate communication workshops for RESONATE
  • creating a new storytelling show focusing on North American India tales for my alter-ego, Ziyadliwa
  • learning ancient Greek. I am proud to say that I have translated 4 paragraphs thus far and I am now starting to get to grips with cases and articles
  • studying for my masters in the classics with the OU – exciting!
  • learning to dance! I’m half-way through a private jazz dancing course (apparently I have talent – woo hoo!), I’m taking swing lessons, and I’ m working through Ksenia Parkhatskaya’s solo jazz dancing course when time allows.
  • re-thinking my podcast (again). In fact, I am starting two short podcasts, one relating to mindfulness and on for stories.
  • making time to improve my ukulele skills – 10-15 minutes a day
  • carving out time to write one researched article a month. Ponte took me weeks to research and eventually write, so one a month is enough for now.


  • Handbook for Classical Research by David Schaps
  • It’s the Way You Say It: Becoming Articulate, Well-Spoken, and Clear
    by Carol A. Fleming
  • When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith
  • Switch by Chip and Dan heath

Listening to:
Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Outlander. I will be returning to Miss Fisher or Star Trek for my ironing-and-watching needs soon!