FOTOFRIDAY: Whither Spring Break?

Posted on: Friday, January 14th, 2022
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Life’s a beach! So…where is everyone? Oh yeah. They’re hiding at home, suffering in the hospital, or out scavenging for at-home Covid tests.

People are not happy. What’s there to giggle about? A pandemic that makes people sick, literally, just keeps on keeping on. Inflation threatens pocketbooks yet shelves sit impossibly picked-over. The political mood gets more grotesque by the day, with no sign of peace talks.

And then there’s winter. Sigh. I actually found myself in an argument with a Bostonian recently about who had the ugliest gray snow. I won, but there was no cash or prizes involved.

A guy could go on and on. But why bother? In years past, the lucky ones (and that used to include me, usually) would use these ugly times to plan a spring break. And think about it. A lot.

So instead, if we dare, maybe we’ll look at a picture or two. Like this shot from last year’s spring break (which actually did happen for me, at a resort that was blissfully limited to 33% capacity). And we’ll binge on whatever takes our mind away and helps us…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Ghosts of NYE Past

Posted on: Friday, December 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • A picture dances 1,000 words…so take pics, take breaks, and take nothing for granted.

This picture features my 2 perfect children. On New Year’s Eve, 2017, playing at sundown on a pristine beach on St. John, USVI. The theme here might be, “If you’d have told me…” The punchline is always the same: Do it now…or at least ASAP.

  • If you’d have told me…they fly away

One was back from college out east, so I had seen that disappearance already. But the other was still at home, 6 years younger, and still (relatively) carefree and un-adult. Now she, too, is far away at college. So vacation scenes like that don’t much happen. Obstacles grow like seaweed over time.

  • If you’d have told me…cancer

Oh yeah. On this date, I had just finished several months of several kinds of tumor treatments. So the notion that I somehow managed a getaway during this period seems impossible. And indeed, the worst effects (long illness) politely waited until after returning home. Proving: I’m so glad we went. Even though I was scared to near-death.

  • If you’d have told me…family dissolved

Few things last forever. Including marriage. And when they conclude, that’s usually for the best. Still, that makes doing wild and crazy things (like ditching everything for island Breakaways over holidays…while you still can) more brilliant. Cuz you likely won’t do it when the family is no more. Yet, with any luck, good memories live forever. Trust the pics.

  • If you’d have told me…pandemic

With all the life ch-ch-ch-changes, epic breaks to escape winter become harder than ever. Then enters the trump (no not him) card: Covid. Oh sure, some people still travel. But at their own risk, and with much more effort and hassle. Aren’t you glad you went that place when it was relatively easy? I am.

  • If you’d have told me…passion still matters

Most likely, we’ve all simplified our goals and dreams over the past few years. And that’s….OK. Reality Resets happen throughout life. Sometimes from exterior forces (pandemic), sometimes from inside your own house. But please, keep the passion. Somewhere in your heart, your photo collection, and your hopes for better days ahead.

And when you…finally…arrive at that happy place again, take lots of pics!

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A Living Christmas Memory

Posted on: Friday, December 24th, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain | Leave a comment

  • Grandma’s Christmas Cactus Always Blooms Right on Time

The holiday season can rush the brain with memories of people lost, traditions faded, and places long visited but now disappeared. My childhood (and beyond) featured South Dakota grandparents and a feeling of never-grow-up freedom filled with fishing everywhere, flying kites in infinite fields, and working gardens and crops until you were dirty but awash in delight. And deliciousness.

As for Christmas? Picture sledding fast being pulled behind Grandpa’s old, gray tractor. Dancing in a circle around the tree singing songs in both languages with the Danish relatives. Solemn midnight, candle-lit services in tiny country churches followed by glorious feasting in the basement served up by beaming farm ladies.

  • Travel young, travel forever

Perhaps this is how I learned the art of travel, simple as it was. We packed the station wagon with my two brothers, at least one dog, and not much more. After all, everything we needed was already awaiting at the farms. And no matter where we lived at the time or what I was leaving behind, the spacious prairie brought that beloved feeling we all still seek and crave: Getting away.

Another world, just a few hours’ drive from home. Yet as remote and removed as if you just landed in another country. Indeed, the country can feel like another country. Far away. In the best possible way.

  • Where longing and endurance together take root

This Christmas cactus grew for ~60 years in my Grandma’s South Dakota pantry, until she finally moved out and passed shortly thereafter. The family appointed me as caretaker. And some 20 years later, I have several transplants in pots all over the place, including the original which now spans 4 feet. 

Regardless of location or attention, each plant blooms with uncanny punctuality throughout the holiday season. So I think of my Grandma often, relive those seasonal memories…and can almost smell her cookies baking and hear her fearless laugh.

This living keepsake, Grandma’s favorite pantry plant, both honors the vanishing memories while keeping them alive. Grandma would be pleased—and likely love the fuchsia color so much that she’d sew herself an apron in the same bright palette. And then cheerfully bake us more treats. 

Merry Christmas cactus!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Offers Ice Kayak BreakAways

Posted on: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If you conquer fear, you can do dangerous things worry-free! 

As I write this near St. Paul, news radio keeps telling us about yesterday’s weather records: Highest temperature; highest dewpoint; first December tornado(s); first December tornado and severe storm warnings.

Most peculiar. And, as some might say, just another sign that we are in the End Times. If so, there’s a certain relief in that—since most of us have found planning ahead perplexing lately, if not laughable. The 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness on this site offers a big-pic, life-loving approach to designing the future. Perhaps it’s time to pen the parody?

Meanwhile, this lake lover ditched the tech-desk and took advantage of recent unseasonal ice thaws—brought on by oddly hot days and strong winds. Only part of the lake turned back to water, so that’s the part I paddled on. Mostly. But as this pic shows, sometimes it’s fun to play close to the edge, too. I’ve even been known to paddle through the ice. Scary? Maybe. But the noise is amazing, rather like crashing a giant cocktail.

When I share pictures like these, some scold me, while others offer advice like, ‘I hope you were wearing a life vest!’ or ‘You better be in a dry suit!’. Nope. I trust my skills—and find stupider things to worry about. Anyway, if these are the end times, why worry about the future? Carpe diem! BreakAway on a sunny day and rejoice in winter warming!

And, now more than ever, keep the faith.

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Portland Provides a Pepper-Upper BreakAway

Posted on: Monday, December 6th, 2021
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

You’ll see it all in P-Town, even perky water-bikes at sunrise!

My daughter chose Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has acclimated swimmingly to a life of higher learning, new friendships, and next-level soccer. It was my fault she ended up here; a lifelong friend I visit has resided there for decades, and our gatherings and outings create the stuff of priceless memories—since age 5. 

Now I can get there even more often—this pic is from last month—and like savvy repeat travelers, seek to create a home away from home yet keep hiking new trails. That’s proven easy in Portland. Available outings extend like the mountainous vistas; the past is alive; and backdrops burst with curious stories. As for the people? They’re warm, weird, and friendly—see Portlandia, the TV series.

Unfortunately, like so many urban centers, the downtown has suffered from the firestorms of Covid and political riots (to simplify: Anarchists vs. Antifa). And the homeless are countless, if usually harmless. But locals keep up the good fight of rebirth, and it’s easy to find welcoming places and feel safe enough. There’s something unique and intriguing around every corner.

My ‘home’ is near the college, just outside of the city. Lake Oswego has a funky, call it kitschy, ‘old’ lakeside hotel, the Lakeshore Inn, with a decidedly 70s (my salad years!) flair, worry-erasing views, and a super-short walk to a world-class (and rather tony) village. Or just stroll waterside to Stickmen, the convivial brewpub and bbq next door.

If travel seems rougher as age and pandemic pains increase, arriving at this town serves me an instant tonic. And for those of us living car-centric lives to go most anywhere, carousing a well-endowed neighborhood on foot is itself a rare treat. There’s almost something Swiss-y about this place.

About those charming water-bikes. When I awoke with time-zone and stayed-out-too-late blurry eyes one sunny morning, this was my first sight as I flung open my shades. So I knew it would be a good day. Pastries at a French bakery…enthusiastically attending a victory for my little girl’s new soccer team and meeting many parents…some evermore precious time with my daughter…life is good.

Travel is good, too, despite the hassles and hazards. Now if I could only find me one of those cool water-bikes…

PS Watch for more Portland pics and tales in a follow-up post soon!

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Supply Chain Mess Hits Home

Posted on: Friday, December 3rd, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
The post-it says: The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill

Don’t ever travel. Or leave home. You learn about things, yes! But never forget: You must go home again. And…you will encounter things you didn’t want to know about, like the supply chain.

Who knew that was a thing? Well, now we all do. At least when the fridge decides to die. Or you need a car part that is nowhere to be found. Or the SuperTarget isn’t so super and hasn’t stocked your prescribed vitamin or favorite hot sauce in months.

I can’t figure out if we’ve become spoilt brats. Or if this stubborn frustration is yet another sign that the world is coming to an end. Both/And, maybe? May we remember that for many residents of this planet, these are First World Problems. Sobering…But does that solve the problems?

Not in this case. At least that’s how I felt when coming back from a recent short BreakAway visiting the parents. So lovely, until I walked in my house…The rotten food. The cleanup. The umpteen hours I spent trying to find a fridge that would fit, the countless reps along the way who could only laugh at my naiveté, and the 6 weeks and countless screw-ups the whole debacle endured.

Folks, there’s a fridge freeze-up. Warn your belly.

I ended up—eventually—procuring an overpriced, lower-end appliance that didn’t exactly fit. And ripping up part of my house to get it in. I’d be surprised if it’s still functional in 5 years.

And I couldn’t be happier.

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Pandemic Provoking Burnout Epidemic

Posted on: Sunday, October 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

Do you know folks who used to be fun, but now they’re fried? Do you prefer Friday happy hour on the couch instead of at the pub? Are you worried that your get-up-and-go could use a booster shot? 

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, maybe it’s one of the few things we can all agree on: We’re tired, stressed, tense, afraid, and spooked. (Hey, I’m writing this on Halloween.) A recent WashPost feature by Angela Haupt (“Newest Pandemic Symptom: Burnout”) dug deep into this pit—calling on many experts—and left this amateur culture critic concerned.

  • Burnout digs deep

The article covers so many ways that burnout hurts people that, well, it’s painful to finish. One wonders how society heals from this crisis, and then ponders, “Gosh, that’s hitting kinda close to home.” Indeed, home is just one place that has lost its serenity status for many, since one’s abode now often serves as workplace, school, gym, infirmary, and more.

Burnout’s tendrils also burrow into mental and physical health. People cite depressing boredom from losing social and community connections. Many mention brain fog, health flare-ups, and creative apathy. In short, burnout has advanced from meaning overworked and underpaid to a condition with chronic and omnipresent reach.

I think it’s almost everyone, everywhere

— Amelia, Nagoski, author

  • Some reassuring solutions

Epic problems sometimes call for epic solutions. It’s too dang easy to say, “Well, just get up and do something…go somewhere…tap back into your energy reserves and revive coveted dreams!”

So Ms. Haupt’s article mentions simple steps that deserve attention now more than ever—and that we may ignore in our hour of darkness. To wit: Reach out to friends and family; we MUST feel love and take care of each other. Take breaks for personal pleasures like reading, resting, and time off. Make yourself exercise—not for your future modeling career, but for today’s sanity. Take transitions between demands. And seek creative outlets to help you forget about the world’s woes and produce something of meaning.

Burnout occurs when three factors are present at the same time: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

  • The BreakAway promise

From the start, the MYBA website has cheerfully acknowledged that many leaps of a lifetime are motivated by crises, rather than manna (or money) from heaven. So maybe, just maybe, this challenging era will inspire some folks to take total assessment of their reality, envision profound alternatives (like an escapist months-long getaway), and fly away from this mess before it kills us all. While we still can.

We still can, can’t we?

Heavy stuff—like life itself. So, sure, start with the exercise and knitting. But don’t give up hope on your most monumental dreams. Because even the coveted fantasy can heal…and provide the first step to eventual arrival. Not to mention…temporary survival.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Big Beer BreakAway Boom Continues

Posted on: Friday, October 1st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


Nut Goodies have been a coveted, regional treat forever. But as a beer? Did not see that coming!

You’d have to be living under a vineyard to not be aware of the craft beer revolution that’s been happening for years now—with few signs of bloat yet. Even Covid can’t stop this party.

This pic comes from a local fundraiser event with lots of free beer, as donated by the many (MANY!) brewers roundabout. What a great idea, and oh boy, do people turn out to, uh, support the nonprofit!

Beer has gone beyond beverage and deep into BreakAway territory. People plan passionately around their drinking, er, tasting, er, exploration; they embark on nights out, day trips, weekend getaways, bus tours, bike jaunts, and ways to smuggle precious bevvies home from faraway locales.

Speaking for myself, I try to swill (way) less suds than I did in, say, college. And yet, I REFUSE to miss this buzzy escapist movement. So while not a fanatic, I AM a fan. So much so that I even sampled the Nut Goody Porter though, frankly, the idea sounded most unappetizing!

I was wrong. I liked it! Which…magically and effervescently brings us back to a taste of the BreakAway Creed: Get off your butt, go somewhere, and try something new. You’ll be glad you did!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Bittersweet Signs of Summer Passing…

Posted on: Friday, September 24th, 2021
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The warm daze always ends too quickly, so savor every morsel, moment, and…memory.

My favorite season always flies away too fast, like the loons on the lake that arrive with bombastic fanfare after ice-out, and then one day just disappear. Away to warmer climes they go, brilliant water birds that they are.

2021 brought a strange summer indeed. Droughts, wildfires, and an on-again/off-again approach to a pandemic without end. Still, I had a blast—even if I begrudgingly became an empty-nester and felt the usual social gatherings were unusually quiet and some people rather…distant.

  • Garden, take me away…

Gardening is one of God’s great BreakAways. And the pandemic sent lots of folks outside, where attention to lawns and plants made a comeback against a more subdued summer pace. I even tried growing tomatoes again. The results were modest, at best; my property needs more sun, even in the summer!

But the lesson in patience was on-point and appropriate. And the prizes? Delicious!

“Only two things that money can’t buy,
That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

~Guy Clark

 

 

 

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BREAKAWAY RETURNS FROM SUMMER BREAKAWAY

Posted on: Tuesday, September 14th, 2021
Posted in: Blog | Leave a comment

Hello Friends. Are you there? Maybe so, maybe not, because we may have lost subscribers due to a terrible tech snafu—not the Russians, not hackers, just one of those lamentable collapses that happens. Perhaps you’ve been there. Like that time you dropped the camera off the cliff.

Meantime, the love/hate relationship with technology deepens. The risk of error rises. The passion for unplugging intensifies. Mind-boggling, yes, but also more challenges and topics to tackle. Maybe.

This BreakAway back-of-house breakdown provoked a modest breakdown of my own, since the project here dates back to 2008. Rare is the personal website passion piece—that occasionally leads to more and always dreams of more—that can boast such persistence. Bring on the trophy!

  • Shut ‘er down? Or start over?

Yet hard questions arose like angry hornets from a hot August nest . Is it time to unplug for real? Should we move on to that novel? What about that photography show? Is it naptime yet? Hmmm… Rather than jump to any decision, I took BreakAway’s medicine: Take…a…break. Which, in short, is the #1 mantra of this adventure venture.

Plus, it was summer, after all. Summer. Not to mention, our current pandemic-mangled dystopia makes notions of being a thought leader about free time, travel, career, family, and life balance about as relevant as selling margaritas in a West Coast wildfire.

The break WAS lovely. Summer means let go. But I did miss the writing, and the belief of Big Ideas lurking herein: The 5 5-word mantras, the hundreds of posts and thousands of pictures, the personal travelogs. The humor, the cancer missives, the curative essays like the death of Daisy the cat …

  • “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” (Coach Jim Valvano, 1946-1993)

What do The Experts say? When tossed, get back on that Horse. When booted from a job, seek a better one. When a dream doesn’t come true, change the channel. Live out loud. Yes, you must preach the Gospel of Sabbatical. If this wacko world we live in keeps going crazier, then we must explore our ways to escape, emerging obstacles, photography as light, and the harbors of hope that have not yet succumbed to tsunamis.

            What do career breaks look like in the work-from-home era?

            Where (and when) can we escape to dream destinations again?

            As travel becomes ever-more complex and expensive, what are the solutions?

            What about simple pleasure like lazy Sundays, sanity diversions, and quiet time?

            Per our preaching: Is it really possible to BreakAway every seven years or so?

Well then. Away we go. Please join in, spread the word, and …

Keep the faith.

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