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
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

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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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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TECH CRISIS: Subscribers Likely Lost; Please (Re)Subscribe

Posted on: Monday, September 13th, 2021
Posted in: Blog | Leave a comment

An unfortunate and costly snafu has hit the BreakAway site, and we may have lost subscribers.

The problem is frustrating and heartbreaking to the crew. But after brief committee meetings regarding pulling the plug completely, we’ll carry on, come what may.

All to say: Please (re)SUBSCRIBE, send hopeful vibes, and keep the faith.


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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Upsets Travel Plans

Posted on: Friday, July 30th, 2021
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Mini Donuts Smothered in Orange

That’s the sun about to set, although the full moon this month looked much the same. Dusty orange. In MN, especially when the wind is out of the north, we are the unlucky recipients of dangerous smoke from wildfires Up North and in Canada.

While the suns and moons may look magical, the truth is simply alarming. Today (7-29-91), in fact, MN hit the worst AQI reading on record: 422. Anything over 150 is considered unhealthy for all people, not just those with conditions.

These freaky weather events are disrupting travel, too. In my world, one friend just cancelled a CA visit because the fires are too near the destination. People Up North in the Boundary Waters are being evacuated. Heck, the radio just told us to avoid grilling, minimize driving, and stay indoors if at all possible. Not only is travel hitting speed bumps, so is going outside for ‘some fresh air!’

Well, we all knew that when “things opened up” that it might be fake news. The pandemic is making a most unpopular comeback. The fires and heat look downright dystopian. The good news, of course, is that global warming (er, climate change) is a hoax. And Covid-19? Just another conspiracy, right?

Enjoy the getaways, crowds, and orange sundowns. While we still can.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hark! Live Music is Back!

Posted on: Friday, July 9th, 2021
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Mick Sterling and 12 musicians perform an outstanding Springsteen tribute show at Crooners, an innovative MN super-club. 

I know. The proper photo would show off euphoric music-head crowds of fans, not the band. But when the proprietor offered me a ringside table, and I had brought my Nikon, my focus turned to the stage.

Oddly enough, this shot came from iPhone—since the setting sun only beamed through the tent opening like that for a few seconds. My Nikon’s monster lens makes for fun closeups and such, but the iPhones hold their own, are QUICK, and know that photography is LIGHT.

Venues are booking—and filling. Artists are giddy and ready to strut their stuff, regardless of genre. Live music once again calls as an ultimate, quickie-Breakaway. And while COVID may have silenced the joyful noise, the sudden boom in shows provides proof that the most inspirational pleasures in life (to paraphrase Buddy Holly) are real…

Won’t fade away…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Full Moon, The Cosmic BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, June 25th, 2021
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

In this whirling, churlish world, the full moon remains one peaceful event the whole planet adores.  

The full moon showed her lovely face last (Thursday) night—startlingly radiant in gold and hinting of many nicknames. To Native Americans, June’s ‘strawberry’ moon told them it was time to pick those earthly treats. Today’s paper says the same thing.

These days, we also dub the June orb the Supermoon, since she rides a low, close arc along the sky and ergo glows extra golden and bright. Regardless of where you live, how you vote, or what team you root for, the full moon erases worldly worries and inspires a reverent awe.

No wonder full moon gatherings erupt here, there, and everywhere. During COVID quarantine roundabout, one winter full-moon night brought ~55 neighbors outside for an early sundown, a blazing bonfire, and then a slow moonrise that had the otherwise repressed group cheering, toasting, and—best of all—believing in something bigger than us and…more heavenly.

The parties of late have been, well, much more boisterous and buzzy. Summer has arrived. The cruel plague is retreating. And it’s again safe to hug your pals, hunker down, and howl in rapture and hope. If the Gods stick with us, and we stay stubbornly patient, that’s exactly what can happen when we…

Keep the faith.

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BITN: Spend FF Miles! Meet Your Mission! Hit the RV Road!

Posted on: Thursday, June 17th, 2021
Posted in: BITN | Leave a comment

The masks are flying off! The FF miles are in danger! Are we back to the same old new normal!?!

The interns have been lazy of late—stripping off masks, attending graduation events, and just generally making up for the last umpteen months of quarantine quandary. More power to them, and to all of us, as we ditch the Zoom and zoom outside, to restaurants, to Nepal, to…wherever!

  • Got miles? Use ‘em or…lose ‘em? 

Forbes reports that just 5 airlines owe flyers ~$28 billion in miles trips. That’s just scary. So if you’re hoarding miles, you may regret it. Airlines claim to love to fly and all, but they’re in it for the bucks. Big bucks. And now that they’ve been gifted many MORE billions by the government during the pandemic, don’t expect them to stop cashing in.

Meaning: Cash in while YOU can. What a great excuse to BreakAway somewhere!?!

  • Local bike company sponsors sabbaticals with a purpose

This heart-tugging story reminds us of what’s right with this world. Quality Bicycle Products, of Bloomington, MN, generously rewards employees with paid breaks—so long as there’s a purposeful mission attached. This MN couple will return to his native Nepal—to help his native village solve safe water challenges—while bringing along their two children who have yet to see their dad’s homeland.

(In my travels, finding family in Denmark {and also Norway} remains one of my most meaningful experiences. MYBA forever advocates digging up roots and seeking your kinfolk.)

This couple met 20 years ago when she was on Peace Corps—more goodness. We wish them well and hope their now-published story inspires others to help change the world.

  • NerdWallet suggests 5 great US RV trips

NerdWallet does great work; even financial planners I know with endless tools at their fingertips often say, “Just go to NerdWallet.” Today, they share 5 savvy RV journeys—just as people are again ready to hit the road (and you won’t have to mess with airlines and miles obstacles!).

People are retiring suddenly by the millions lately, thanks in part to irrationally booming stock and real-estate markets. (More on that in another post…) Many I know are planning to, or at least pondering, an RV escape to celebrate their new beginning.

These 5 routes offer a good place to start. My RV romping was limited to a handful of weeks in New Zealand, too many years ago. But I can easily say it was one of the best trips ever. And I hope to try it again one fine day…

As the Nerds suggest in the article, Route 66, anyone? Wherever you may wander, hope you get your kicks this summer. And as always…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Vaxxed and Unmasked, Turtles Bask

Posted on: Friday, May 21st, 2021
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

The turtles have had a rough run, but are slowly becoming optimistic.

Like this “Friday” post may be, the turtles were late. A long, dreary spring did little to inspire them to escape their hibernation. And although nobody really likes wearing masks, the turtles proclaimed the practice to be particularly problematic.

So they were palpably relieved when the mask mandate ended, their vaccinations were complete, and the sun finally came out.

Even turtles need BreakAways. And like to take some time to relax in the sun—in the actual company of others. They look elated, don’t they, in that turtle way? Some are even necking and humping.

At least for now, the future looks warm and sunny. Hope you, too, are taking time to rest & relax and hang out with your besties.

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