Pen for your thoughts?

Brisbane, city, tour, museum, travel, food, dining, drink, explore, social media, writing
© Amy Lynch

After breakfast this morning, the husband saw me scrolling through my newsfeed and asked, “what did you do before your smartphone?”

I laughed and kept quiet.

Not because I didn’t have an answer (I usually always have an answer), I was trying to give him some peace and quiet as he went about his morning business and prepared to study.

The truth is, I do use my smartphone quite a bit but it suits my lifestyle. We don’t have a car, so it’s how I pass the time on public transit. When I don’t have time to blog, email, tweet or post from my desktop, I use my mobile device. With the 14-17 hour time difference between friends and family across Canada, it’s how I keep in touch with the northern hemisphere from Down Under.

I love my phone, but don’t let that fool you. My coworker teases me for always turning my data off to conserve my battery and my budget. I am a fan of the WiFi hotspots, so what!? I update my Apps quarterly, I just don’t get as excited as others when there’s a new patch or system update, ok? And this morning as I reached for my transit card, I fumbled around coming across FOUR pens in my bag, jostling around my notepad. Maybe it’s the former print journo in me, the constant list maker or my forgetfulness – you can’t find me anywhere without a pen and paper to spare. I still write postcards and love letters to friends and family, since snail mail is always welcome and not sent enough.

When travelling or in a rush and you forget your phone, those old school habits come in handy. When I first moved to Brisbane I used a cheap Nokia, the backpacker’s best friend. Drop it on the pavement? No worries, it takes a lot of abuse to break one of those bad boys. While the constant clickity-clack of the chiclet-sized buttons are now a distant memory, there’s something to be said about a phone that lasts you through multiple road trips, beach excursions and nights on the town, remaining intact.

But what would I do without my smartphone, you ask? Spend more on postage than data, I’m sure.

Entrepreneur inspiration

Yesterday the husband and I headed to a free event for start ups, entrepreneurs and investors called the Unconvention.

sucess, entrepreneur, networking
© Amy Lynch

The whole idea was to get aspiring entrepreneurs with visions of success to become ‘scaleable and saleable’ with their business by signing up to a paid program that would partner you with experts to grow your company and fine tune your strategy.

While I didn’t opt to sign up for the program, we did take away a few key points that will help me get my business from the ‘study’ and ‘seed’ phases of an idea to a start up that holds its own – and will maybe even employ staff some day!

Some of the tips were:
– make your mistakes on someone else’s dollar and time – learn as much as you can before going out on your own
– don’t wait for perfection in order to start, just do it – get your product or service to market
– personal growth is aligned with business growth – don’t be afraid of failure as challenges create opportunities, so make the most of your obstacles
– get grey power – surround yourself with people who have been there, done that, made the mistakes and can act as your advisory board
– put the systems and processes in place so that you can work on your business, not in it – part of having an exit strategy involves training other staff to ensure your business can run smoothly without you.

You may have read all of the above before in a strategy textbook, autobiography, LinkedIn post or newspaper column but it’s always good to remember the basics of business, right?

Winter weekend warmers

Even though we have been living in Brisbane for over three years, we seem to discover new things right under our nose each week.

Brisbane, city, tour, museum, travel, food, dining, drink, explore
© Amy Lynch


Recently, these have included:
– the revamped Museum of Brisbane and its Expo 88 exhibition, hidden inside the recently renovated City Hall where you can take a sunset clock tower tour in a 1930s service elevator…all available free to the public!
– Three tumbler whisky tastings at NANT in the Emporium where you can sample Tasmanian distilled sherrywood, portwood and bourbonwood that stand their own against the more well known Scottish and Irish brands we frequent.
– Ladies night at the Bavarian Bier Cafe on Eagle St Pier where for $10 you can treat yourself to a waygu beef burger, glass of sparkling and a German dessert pretzel, as you overlook the story bridge.

Isn’t it great to explore the city or town you’re in or nearest to and find things you may have missed the first time around?

Building up trust

Before our friends left Australia on a four-month trip across South America, they gifted my Irish hubby with a book called The Social Animal. Maybe they think we are very social, perhaps it was all of those D&M (deep and meaningful in Aussie slang) conversations about Emotional Intelligence and its absence from the workplace over cheap jugs of draught beer at the local backpacker pub. Either or a combination of both spurred our friend to recommend the book to him, which I have taken the liberty of slowly chipping my way through (it is a 466-page volume full of D&M’s).

Social Animal, book, entrepreneur, inspiration
© Amy Lynch

I recently came across this gem on page 186:

Trust is habitual reciprocity that becomes coated by emotion. It grows when two people begin volleys of communication and cooperation and slowly learn they can rely upon each other. Soon members of a trusting relationship become willing to not only cooperate with each other but sacrifice for each other.

Trust reduces friction and lowers transaction costs. People in companies filled with trust move flexibly and cohesively. People who live in trusting cultures form more community organizations. People in more trusting cultures have wider stock market-participation rates. People in trusting cultures find it easier to organize and operate large corporations. Trust creates wealth. Source: Brooks, D. (2011) The Social Animal. New York, United States: Random House. 

Over time we have built some pretty solid friendships in Oz, with no shortage of helping hands when it came to life changes. But what strikes me most is the relationships people forge over the foundation of trust and its positive effects on business. As we get ready to tie up loose ends of our lives in Australia, but not cutting the ties completely, it reminds me of the value of good old-fashioned loyalty, commitment, consistency, reliability and trust. Wherever we venture to next it will be a constant in our values, a grounding factor for us to always fall back on. We are not seeking wealth, but ultimately we seek security. Build up trust in business and see what grows from there.

Sometimes you just need a break

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch

We went to Cairns for a long weekend and it was just what we needed to slow down, take a deep breath, stay warm and remember the good things in life…

…slow motion old fashioned train rides through the rainforest.

Lazy morning espressos at Coast Roast Coffee on the Esplanade.

Paying $5 to go back in time in Far North Queensland.

Taking a short ferry ride over to a laid back tropical island.

Remembering how good BBQ really is.

After three days of sunshine, relaxing and beautiful scenery, we were ready to go back to a busy week in Brisbane, and even more excited for our longer trip in three months time! Let the countdown begin.

Beauty is in the eye

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ― Pablo Picasso

© Amy Lynch
My Pinterest board of art inspiration

Most days I spot something I want to take a photo of. This has been with me since I was young, when I would snap photos on my family farm with my Barbie camera. For my father’s birthday one year, I gave him a still life drawing I had done of him working on the farm, that I had reproduced from a photograph I took. I took a winter photography course with my best friend in grade school, where we learned how to develop black and white film on weekends with our local photographer, the guy who snapped our school yearbook photos. I used my techniques to capture the ice storm’s effects on my farm in 1997, giving my grandparents a framed photograph of their yard as a gift.

In high school I participated in drama and visual arts classes, thinking I may try my hand at moving to New York at some point to work on Broadway or join a group of artists or writers. As a teenager, I could often be found scouring fashion magazines, then designing my own sketches for the day I may become a fashion designer. I spent the summer of my last year of high school painting a mural for the library, which is still displayed as far as I know. Instead of theatre or the fine arts, I chose a sensible course to study in college ― print journalism. It was a mix of photography, creative writing, pagination and copy editing. In my spare time I styled photo shoots of friends in order to compile a portfolio for a fashion magazine internship I never summoned the nerve to apply for. I loved to read magazines, write stories, capture moments in time on film, but I struggled with the idea of working for a fashion or lifestyle publication. I didn’t think I would fit in.

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch

Instead I’ve spent the last 10 years drifting in and out of art galleries, museums and boutiques, wondering if I could ever do something similar or I guess more accurately, let myself go and forget about my self-doubt in order to create something as honest. When I find myself in a new city or town, these places are often comforting to me, perhaps because I spent the two years before I moved to Australia working to promote artists’ works and educational programs to the public. Galleries always feel especially warm and calming (it could be the complimentary wine at the vernissage)…but it always seems restful. There are a lot of programs linking art with mental health but sometimes it’s as simple as going to a place where you can escape into someone else’s thoughts or perceptions of the world. View their experiences and try to interpret their meaning. Or just sit and stare at a canvas or installation. I have even created a Pinterest board so that I can get inspired online, wherever I may be.

I recently purchased a series of reproductions of 1860s woodcut prints of the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, view of Government House in Sydney, the habour in Fremantle and a beach in Melbourne so that we could have a reminder of Australia when we move to Europe. I will frame them for our future home (or apartment) and think of all of the places we have visited on the other side of the world. On weekends I will most likely explore our new neighbourhood and city with a coffee in hand, escaping into the local galleries, museums and shops when it’s raining, too chilly or just for a bit of respite. If we have a family some day, I will continue to visit these places, seeing them through a new set of eyes. It’s one thing I love about the arts, no matter where you go there will always be a community built around creating. Maybe some day I will join them, for now I will continue to admire from afar.

More online inspiration:


Design and Art + Design


Everything in life is writable

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath

© Amy Lynch

Alright Sylvia, I’ve fallen off the blog bandwagon and it’s only been one week. I blame Canada Day and a series of other events, but I am back again and sticking to my commitment – to share moments, experiences, desires and other fleeting thoughts. Today (and lately often), I am thinking about politics.

Chalk it up to an adolescence spent reading the morning papers over breakfast with my parents, a few inspirational journalism teachers or a moment when something ‘clicked’. As I have spent the past 10 years working and volunteering in between studying away throughout my early 20’s, it seems as though my experiences, combined with an upbringing in rural conservative (but overall fairly liberal) Canada have resulted in a strong desire to do something. Make something. Improve something. Change some things.

I have spent time supporting emerging artists, volunteering to raise funds for doctors and nurses to set up basic medical clinics in Africa and walking 60kms for breast cancer research each year to raise money for a digital mammography machine in our local hospital, among other things. In biology class in high school, when asked to do a research project, I chose the AIDS epidemic in America. Instead of working for a sexy advertising agency for my college internship, I chose the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies so that I could help them improve their branding and communications over a four-month period.

Why have I always been so drawn to working with others? Helping others?

My Irish husband introduced me to Mary Robinson’s autobiography, Everybody Matters. As I read about Mary’s intentions, her motivations behind studying law and her passion for representing those who could not represent themselves, it ignited something in me that had been laying dormant for a while (it’s easy to become distracted by your surroundings when you move across the world for three years).

I never looked into studying law and I chose journalism because I enjoyed English in high school and thought I could write for a living some day. While studying, I focused on feature stories and the ‘soft’ news beat, the Arts and community events. After rolling through 10 years of marketing and communications roles with varying degrees of community involvement, I now feel a sudden and strong urge to work in a manner that is more connected to society. Maybe it has been growing, fermenting for some time. I started to become engaged in this thinking during my first year in Brisbane, as I studied international journalism, media law and social marketing. The restrictions in other countries and the motivations behind changing a target audience’s behaviour, as opposed to purchasing decisions resonated with me. Instead of brand identity and positioning, bylines and word count, I was thinking of current events, issues and marginalised groups.

The following year I did a stint in the public sector where I was involved firsthand in launching a policy, the first of its kind in the state of Queensland. Seeing the machinery of government from the inside, the relationship with stakeholders and the forward planning and analysis that goes into public policy switched me on again to current events and my new ‘journalism beats’ became food security, agriculture and education.

Since then, I have been thinking of our imminent move to Europe and the upcoming elections in 2014. I have been researching Irish political parties and their policies. Thinking about small business, innovation and where employment is going. Looking into support for Irish farmers, the vocational education and training sector and different food movements across the country.

They are just thoughts for now, ideas, inspiration on how to connect my next adventure to the new country and culture I will soon be immersed in.

© Amy Lynch
© Amy Lynch