FOTOFRIDAY: What Are You Thankful For?

Posted on: Friday, November 18th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A year ago, I travelled to Portland, OR to watch my daughter play college soccer. THANKS to other parents, I was driven to the out-of-town game, introduced to tailgating under tarps in the rain, and screaming into frosty air throughout 2 wins in 2 days. Thanks, folks!

Funny: As I stumbled on this picture today, I had to dig into (what’s left of) my memory. Where were we, again? (A coffee shop on the way to Willamette.) Why are there other references to our soccer team? (Other parents must have gotten there first.) What am I thankful for? (My post-it says: Jesper and Elsa.)

The world is crashing and burning with things to worry about. Fortunately, “there is so much to be thankful for” also. In this season of thanks, remember to say “thank you” often. And remember to go through your old photos now and then. You’ll be thankful you did.

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New Carousel Pics Show BreakAway Extremes

Posted on: Thursday, October 27th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Extremes are hot these days—as in climate change, political divides, and BreakAway photo exhibits. Please take a glance at the lovely new photo pairing in the carousel above. Today we add another pair of opposites that somehow attract.

  • Some like it jam-packed

This photo from just another day at the MN State Fair demonstrates the other-worldly peace and joy that many folks feel from large crowds (other than, perhaps the sheriffs). The Fair routinely attracts 200,000 warm bodies a day. In similar scenes, the Penn State ‘White Out’ football game last Saturday hosted 110,000 fans. In one stadium.

These gatherings are hardly alone, and keep good, crowded company with music festivals, religious events (the haj attracts ~2.5 million pilgrims) and celebrity spectacles (think: Pope, Queen, funerals).

Most people, if asked, would say they don’t love crowded spaces. And yet we not only rush toward them when inspired, we achieve a profound sense of both escape and belonging. One that often costs a lot, requires ample planning, and may take days to recover from. Yet the memories and euphoria far outweigh the hassles.

  • Some like it solo

This charming picture of my daughter, chilling on a Caribbean beach, shows the other BreakAway extreme. Who doesn’t need to unplug, be alone, and seek some P&Q now and then? On this day, the beach was nearly empty, providing an idyllic spot to meditate while surrounded by nature and beauty. Far, far away from home and distraction.

How else do people elude the world’s relentless noise and masses? We could never count the ways, there are so many. But fishing comes to mind, as I often see their mellow and placid selves floating by. Others run, bike, swim, ski. Many unplug to read, write, garden, play music, or just…sit.

“Sit” is another word for meditating. When I see this pic of my daughter, I feel serenity.

As did she. I hope you do too—whether you find it via a BreakAway into swarms of like-minded people. Or choose to slip away into your quiet, happy space. Or both!

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Travel Fights Hate Better than lululemon

Posted on: Monday, October 24th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

“Welcome…We expect you to…We will not tolerate…”

Today’s post dips into many of the topics we’ve been wading in of late: Advertising, wordsmithing, photographic messages, escapism, cultural chaos, and of course, travel. Please dive in and discuss amongst yourselves.

  • When life gives you lulu…

When I found myself escaping to the mall yesterday, I found myself taken aback by this sign at the entrance of lulu’s boutique of lemons. On the one hand, high 5s for the aggressive, stern stance. On the other hand, really? I mean, I’ve received unprovoked stinkeye for walking into rooms hosting folks from rednecks to blue bloods. But a trendy yoga gear store?

I felt guilty, though un-charged.

  • Words matter

After kicking it around for a while, the BreakAway Woke Committee flashed the yellow card at Ms. Lemon. Lulu’s marketeers likely loved our mild warning; it was yellow, after all.

We take our writing, if little else, seriously here at BreakAway. And delicate nuances that always deserve extra consideration are tone and voice. Does lulu’s verbiage feel inviting? Inclusive? Encouraging and moving? Statements of aspiration or mission can be great, and should strive to guide and inspire. You want to get such things right.

Does this feel right? Maybe to their customers, which skew white and middle/upper class (though I doubt it). That’s not me, not exactly. And the only thing I ever bought at LLL was a discounted (but still $$$) backpack. The zipper immediately broke—with no returns on sale merch. So maybe I’m still sour…lemons.

But still, let’s strive, dear readers and travelers, to preach our messages and change the world with graciousness, welcomeness, and positive voices.

As George Clinton (the King of Funk) says (and he knows way more than the lemon crew about shaking your booty), “Free your mind…and your ass will follow.”

  • Moral of the story 

I asked myself about two favorite, oh-so different, places I love to escape to: The Caribbean and Italy. I pondered: Would you see such a sign there? Highly unlikely. Do they have issues about race, class, and tolerance? Yes. Is saying “We expect you” and “We do not tolerate” a great way to start the conversation about (to quote Rodney King)…”CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?

When you travel, you have no choice but to get along…to open your mind to new people, new viewpoints, new ways of living. And they open their doors to you: In my experience, most (if not all) destinations proudly accept you. And tolerate you. And welcome you warmly…with curious and generous hearts. I’ll say it:

People who travel a lot, assuming they get out and experience things, grow more open minds. And hearts. Thanks to their hosts. (What kind of a host is lululemon?)

Journey pilgrims are also always dreaming and scheming their next big (or small) Breakaway. They want their hearts to grow three sizes more, like the Grinch.

They go home grateful, spiritually moved, and more hopeful for humanity. That can be a rare feeling these days. lululemon must agree, or they might not post such a sharp but blunt “welcome” sign.

  • Go with good intent

Having said all THAT, may their sign somehow be making the world a better place. I think that’s their objective. Insert 🙌 (raised hands in celebration) here.

“Love is the answer.” ~Todd Rundgren (rock star)

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ~Jesus (Jesus Christ, Superstar)

Keep the faith. (breakawayguy)

My boy learning about fishing from lovely Caribbean locals with love in their hearts…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Just Another Villa in Italia

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

Where DID they get all those statues?

When Autumn hits, my mind turns to Europe, as most of my time there seems to have been when summer ends, the tourists have retreated, the countryside is humming with harvest excitement (and treats), and the locals are throwing parties and fests all over—as they’ve done for centuries.

This lovely little villa comes from such a place and memory. Somewhere in Tuscany, surrounded by countless charming towns and vineyards. Such sights blur as you drive around until you feel like you’re hallucinating on some idyllic Disney ride.

I actually think I snapped the shot from a moving car. Probably on the prowl from one winery to another. Doesn’t really matter where…

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REWORKING: Take Off Your (Work) Clothes!

Posted on: Tuesday, October 11th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle | Leave a comment

Bye-bye dressy-ness; the post-pandemic workplace dress code has gone decidedly informal.

According to Bloomberg, heading back to the office after the pandy BreakAway has inspired a lot of women to kick the high heel habit. And dress more for the home office than the executive suite. Makes sense, because heels never made much sense anyway. Neither did neckties, but we wore them because, “You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.”

I recall enduring that choke for about a million impressions, though the splash of color added a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to otherwise drab days and settings. Having never tried heels, I can only imagine that for most feet, high heels hurt! Sorry, ladies; it wasn’t my idea.

  • Sneaking into new fashions…

Meanwhile, white sneakers are in—so learned one young lady who, says the article, showed up in heels to impress the execs she was meeting with…only to find that they were all clad in white tennies. Which begs the questions: Why are they called sneakers? Why are they called tennies (unless you happen to be playing tennis)? And why white? And after Labor Day? How terribly tacky!

I don’t mean to be flip here. After all, the article points out that many women suffered serious injuries when returning to the office in heels after two years of flip-flops at home. (To say nothing of the many men who gagged in neckties.) “The body doesn’t like any kind of abrupt change,” states a famous podiatrist. Amen to that. Returning to the office is abrupt change enough: Perhaps “dress to impress” has officially left the building.

  • What is casual dress, anyway?

There’s plenty of press about the shift (or is it a pivot?) in attire as people gradually, and probably begrudgingly, ditch their jammies for, well, not heels, but for whatever the new clothing ethos is. Some, I know, love showing off their $300 trendy t-shirt from the boutique on the North Loop. Others might be perplexed, especially if they already had a work wardrobe buttoned down. As one friend told me,

I tried casual and failed. Now I’m back to my suits and ties. I look better and it’s just easier. Think I’m overdressed? So sue me…

The point here remains: The world of work is changing so much, so abruptly and randomly, that even “what should I wear?” has taken on new meaning. And baggage. That’s probably a good thing, even if we all endure some new awkwardness.

In my case, this raises a new issue: What shall I do with all my neckties? I mean, I shipped ~100 to someone who works in a church and was happy for some freshies. Yet I kept a bunch that are beautiful, may come in handy, or were designed by Jerry Garcia. Silk art, maybe?

Oh well, I have a big closet. And as Jerry said, “In my world, everything is legal.”

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FOTOFRIDAY: Summer, Like the Lake Lily, Will Fall

Posted on: Friday, September 30th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

One month ago to the day, the lakes (the lucky ones!) were abloom with these indigenous lilies that take your breath away and beg loudly to pose in the sun.

The lovely White Water Lily, so common on MN lakes and vital to their ecosystem, has now ceased blooming and begun its descent into, well, fall. My kayak has lots of lily friends, so we hang out quite often. They host a great environment for meditating (meaning: catch a tan…and some vitamin D). Who needs the trendy lotus, wherever they are?

I snapped this pic with the iPhone 13 and did a bit of editing later. I still find myself in discussions (debates?) of 35mm, film, digital, phone camera brands, what have ya. Sure, my opinions can make a modest splash like the waves around the lilies. But in the end, a good shot is a good shot.

IMHO, this is a pretty good shot. FBOW, I have hundreds of lily portraits. The lilies always shout, “Take a picture of me.” Then the ones over there shout louder, “No! Me!” And so it goes. They all deserve their moment. And I love staring at the images later, when the blooms have begun to sink slowly to the muddy bottom, rather like a SAD reaction to fall…

But hey, we’ve got the pics to reminisce. And remind us that this whole annual upheaval remains as natural as the lily’s fragile cycle. Did you know these blossoms each last only one day? Well, now you do!

The seasonal changes can feel almost violent here in MN. We try to like the drama; helps us know that time is passing. Like life itself. So seize the day. And snap that picture.

Speaking of weather violence, the BreakAway staff sends love and hope to the people and nature of Florida. Sanibel…Captiva…the Keys… Manatees, pelicans, dolphins showing off alongside our sailboat… So many still-palpable memories. And surely many fine pics, dating back to my first visit (for a spring break) in 1980…

May all that precious nature somehow survive and revive. Keep the faith.

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ReWorking: Worker Burnout Becoming Big Worry

Posted on: Monday, September 19th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Rants & Roadkill, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment


To quote Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

If you google ‘worker burnout,’ prepare to feel the burn. It’s getting almost as much press as a certain recently-deceased queen, may she rest in peace. Methinks the Queen enjoyed such a long, revered reign precisely because she somehow avoided burnout.

If she can do it, maybe we can too.

A July 4 (freedom…ironic, no?) article digs into this hot topic and spins a lot of research numbers, including that 60% report often feeling a lack of interest, motivation, and energy while at work. In a way, such info feels like nothing new. However, the severity of the problem has no doubt lead to what we now call The Quiet Quit, or presenteeism, which is when people ‘go to work’ but do as little as possible. Or…nothing. (A future ReWorking topic—once we get over our case of presenteeism!)

One might call The Quiet Quit a terminal illness. Haven’t we all reached a point in some failing job where we don’t have the courage (or assets) to quit, yet might be relieved to be…terminated?

Can you say…severance package?

Once burnout takes hold, you’re out of gas, and you’ve given up all hope of surmounting your obstacles.

  • The 7 habits of fighting burnout

No, it’s not a book. Yet. But Forbes talks to Workhuman to gather these strategies to recover from burnout: Rest; improve your some self-care; take micro breaks at work (5-10 minutes); set work/life boundaries (and stick to them); meditate, including at work, if only for 5 minutes; have a place to vent (a friend, coworker, or certified vent-oligist); get professional support.

Yes, that last one means counseling. Which may be available at work (and may feel risky), through your healthcare, or any number of resources. That’s great, although it must be noted that the supply-chain crisis seems to have hit that world, also. And finding the right therapist for your issues can present challenges. Still, it’s worth a try. Just be…patient.

  • WHO validates the trend

The World Health Organization now includes burnout as a medical diagnosis, and an official International Disease. That’s heavy. But heavier yet is the sense that such a systemic dilemma flies above the purview and bandwidth of most employers, workspaces, and environments.

I mean, where and how do we begin to solve this epidemic that has been festering for decades, is an uninvited but inevitable dividend of the profit motive, and has been exacerbated by such enormous challenges as Covid, inadequate childcare, workspace scrambling, and entrenched cultural norms?

Nobody knows. But it’s refreshing to see attention and resources sounding loud alarms. Even if what we really need is more BreakAways, more balance, and more peace.

God save Lady Liberty. And the Queen.

May we all rest in peace.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Low Cut Connie…Incomparable Creative Combustion!

Posted on: Friday, September 9th, 2022
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


Meet Adam. Leader of …a band? A dance party? An improv troupe? A bunch of giddy prodigies? Yes!  

Most people don’t know this band. But I do…

Adam Weiner and his band (Low Cut Connie). helped me live through Covid. And I told him so. Among the brilliant things he and they have done: When Covid hit and his tours got postponed, he performed over 100 1-2x/week livestreams from his spare bedroom in South Philly.

That show was called Tough Cookies, one of many his brilliant branding and performing offshoots. A cult grew, from all over the world. We wrapped our virtual arms around each other, took catharsis and livestream spectacle to new levels, and left each show with a euphoria and faith that, YES! We are Tough Cookies…we still love life…and We Will Survive!

TOUGH COOKIES is a concert, a church service, a support group, a strip club, a punk club, but mostly a SOUL MUSIC VARIETY SHOW.

Now the band is back on the road. Thank God. Because live music may be the ultimate BreakAway, where your worries wash away through the cosmic gift of song and verse and dance and risk.

Low Cut Connie, who embodies all that magnificently, did a two-night stand at the MN State Fair last week. The lucky crowd had an unbridled blast, even if newbies’ eyeballs popped out and groupie dancers collided.

Best of all, the explosive band had even more fun than us. Which is way more contagious than Covid.

Little Richard meets Mr. Rogers

~ The New Yorker

To paraphrase Star Tribune’s critic Jon Bream, “Low Cut Connie is part Springsteen, part Meat Loaf and 100% rock and roll.” Right on. No wonder The New Yorker dubbed him Pandemic Person of the Year.

I second that emotion. And will treasure my Covid-show memories, 1-1 moments with the band, and recent photos worth more than 10,000 words.

Rock on.

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MktgMndy: Martha’s Mag Death Signals Reading’s Demise

Posted on: Monday, August 29th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Magazines, once thriving lifestyle and status tools, are now headed toward extinction.

Welcome to Marketing Monday (MM), our periodic dive into all things design, branding, advertising, wily wordsmithing, and more. Your site host (one Kirk Peter Horsted) once taught and still works in these fertile fields, and just can’t keep his keyboard shut any longer. Please enjoy, ponder, and feel free to disagree!

We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.

~ Marshall McLuhan

  • Where have you gone, Mrs. Tastefulness?

Martha Stewart Living got killed off last spring. Along with 7 other magazines published by Des Moines-based Dotdash Merideth (including EW, Health, and Parents—what will people page through in doctors’ waiting rooms?).

The rationale for shuttering these iconic brands is, as usual, peppered with bloviated boasts of upping the game toward new! improved! websites. That’s the future, which clearly ain’t what it used to be. Picture short, bad-grammar tidbits targeted to frenetic web searches. With lame stock photos. Surrounded by obnoxious ads and contrived verbiage punched out by underpaid blurb-slaves.

Meanwhile, many excellent, experienced, educated writers in NYC and beyond just became unemployed. We wish them well on their unscheduled Sabbatical.

Who needs real writers anymore? Who reads? What does these mag closings signify, anyway? Please read on…

  • What this means: 1. Perusing publications no longer pleases an impatient public

Remember lounging on your bed (on the beach or patio) with a fave mag? The reverie from reading and scheming offered a short mental vacation, rather like a Calgon “take me away” bath. Pages got ripped out for future ref. Dreams and ideas took root; maybe that’s why you painted a nightstand, purchased an album, or vacationed in Venice. Above all, the bright pics and shiny pages were…palpable.

Now, we stare at tiny phone screens with blank, fried eyes. Clearly, we prefer a smaller, and (dare I say) more manipulative presentation of ever-fleeting information. Glance, click, swipe, move on. As Martha Stewart Living dies, so does our attention span.

  • What this means: 2. Our curiosity for organic learning is rotting

Allow me to admit a bias: I made my living, and a rewarding one at that, for years as an advertising sales manager in magazines. One of my secrets for making my staff perform smartly (literally)? They had to read every issue. Yes, we had quizzes. Yes, we had sales meetings where we sat around talking about editorial details. If you disliked an article or thought a new direction hurt ad sales, no problem. Opinions welcome; ignorance NOT.

Is ignorance where our culture is heading…and magazine readership just another sign of it? Well yeah. Duh! Not to say you can’t read on your phone but…do you? We know books are on the endangered media list; next to expire on the verbal brain chain must be mags, newspapers, and more. And words in general. Soon, the in-use English language may decline to, oh, 2,000-5,000 words, many misspelled. And 55,000 emojis.

  • What this means: 3. Aesthetic sensibility will get simple-minded, and if not mindless

Every detail in mags like MSL goes through rigorous layers of criticism, collaboration, and refinement. Those movie scenes where media perfectionists are up all night getting everything just right? It’s true. And they’re back at it (in fresh, dressed-to-impress outfits) in the morning.

Martha (and so many more mags) delivered savvy headlines, articles, captions, and more—surrounded by cool and creative images that sparked the brain to new concepts. It’s called design. It used to determine how you lived, who your customer would be, and how you’d present yourself to a watchful world.

Moreover, and if nothing else, such impressive design offered readers a sumptuous release into inspiration, entertainment, and escapism. The experience was often learning lite, of course, but that made it brilliant. Hey, when college and Shakespeare are over, it’s time to turn the page to novels, self-improvement guides, publications, and a world of possibilities.

Nowadays, do people even know how to turn the page?

  • RIP, information society

Without getting political, or disparaging the infranets, let’s just agree that the manipulation of information has replaced the search for knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, even common interests.

These ruthless market forces always win, and will continue to mow down Martha and much more. And deprive us of the tactile, lush-papered, colorful WOW that was part of our personal diet, development, and dreamscape.

  • A random, charming memory

Not to be TOO nostalgic, BUT…We still have memories, right? Like this one…At my publishing company, when the freshly-printed box of the new monthly edition burst into the office, everyone ran to the lobby, greedily grabbed one, and ravenously pored through every page.

Did the 4-color black-and-white cover idea pop as hoped? Did the 2-page spread with the tough gutter picture and bleed off the sides align impressively? Did the mix and placement of ads and editorial work for all parties—especially the reading audience?

That feeling, that just-inked smell, that nervously hypercritical eye. That miracle of competitiveness, teamwork, and talent made all the fights and angst and deadline stress worthwhile.

Countless subscribers knew a parallel sensation of their own when opening their mailbox to discover the gift of a sexy magazine glowing like a promise amid the detritus.

  • And now, for the good news…

Before finishing this praise of the page, let’s acknowledge the good news: Some people still love magazines. And books. And reading and learning and…comfortable BreakAways into glorious verbal and pictographic escapism. Long live print, please! And thank you!

Keep reading. Keep your standards high. And keep your ideas open.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Picture Roulette…Returning to College

Posted on: Friday, August 26th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A new student steps through the historical arches and into the metaphorical portals of her life-changing BreakAway for higher education.

In my world, the mind is racing, the desk is a neglected mess, and this sunny day screams for some overdue yardwork. So I let my puter roll like a shot machine to choose this FOTOFRIDAY. Imagine my surprise when, out of 70,000+ digital images, the Gods landed on the August 2015 weekend I took my favorite (and only) son to college at Princeton.

Cosmic? Just this morning, my favorite (and only) daughter left to fly away to college at Lewis & Clark (Portland). I was not a part of this posse—just one of the many perks and pains of a broken family. My house seems quiet and empty already, though I try to avoid the verklempt. But no matter what, I STILL BELIEVE IN EDUCATION. Emphatically so.

Learning. It’s complicated. And getting complicated-er. Thanks to Covid, more than 50% of the students in MN high schools are now wa-a-a-a-ay behind standards for math and well, everything. Meanwhile, Biden is wiping out $280 billion in student debt. Nice. For those with the lucky timing to qualify—not me, not my kids, no one I know. Education costs a lot.

Is it fair? Of course not. Life is not fair. College teaches that. And so much more—the most memorable and meaningful having little to do with books, and more about inspirational teachers, best friends that last forever, card games and cold pizza at midnight, and mastering the art of juggling competing demands and emotional thunderstorms.

College remains, without question, one of the ultimate potential BreakAways of a lifetime. Imagine: 4 years of Ivory Tower living and learning, somewhere away from home, with new besties and lovers and beer bashes at your fingertips. Oh sure, there are risks and jerks and a million things that can go wrong. But smart students learn: It’s what I make of it.

That’s what BreakAways are all about. Most of us envy you these youthful learners. So hey, students: Take this precious gift seriously (moreso than yourself). Open your minds to weird opportunities and people. See the world. Change the world. Turn those roots into wings and help fly us all into a better future.

We’re counting on you!

PS And above all, have fun.

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