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FOTOFRIDAY: Vacations & Odd Ducks

Posted on: Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

FF is late this week. Because the Crew has been on vacation. Nothing exotic, not long enough, but…away. Most people dream about getting away and things, but the sad fact remains that more than half of US workers’ vakay days go unused. It’s the Odd Duck who actually takes care, takes advantage, and takes off for some frolic and fun.

In this picture, you can see what happens to that Odd Duck. Co-workers attack and ostracize. They splash water on your visions of work/life balance. They quack behind your back and peck at your beak because they are jealous you might find bliss and pissed that your absence may increase their work load.

You, meanwhile, may be a closet territorialist—afraid that ditching the job may result in lost opportunity, a back-breaking backlog, or the realization that you really aren’t essential anyway. Yes, it’s complicated. All the more reason to step away for some fresh perspective. (Just don’t think too much. Watch waves and ducks.)

We’ve been carping about this since at least 2009. And yes, the pandemic complicates time off, as it does everything. But maybe the unprecedented stress and uncertainty of these times makes getting AWAY and UNPLUGGING more important than ever! Because hanging with that white duck and the other curious and revitalizing experiences of this BreakAway did much to calm my turbulent waters. For now, anyhow.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: I Saw the Comet!

Posted on: Friday, July 24th, 2020
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Yes! I did! In the city, even, where there is (waaaaaay too much) light pollution. I had to kayak out on a lake (not the safest thing to do but, hey) and use binoculars on a clear night. Once spotted, the feeling was magical. Almost emotional, even.

I couldn’t manage a picture, of course. So here, instead, is a tip case from an excellent NOLA street band. The musicians are suffering, along with other performers and service workers. They’re floating in space, rather like the comet. (There.)

So sad. They need us. More important: We need them. Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Seek Silence; Create Beauty

Posted on: Friday, July 17th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

“The whole world is at sixes and sevens and why the house hasn’t fallen down about our ears long ago is beyond me.” So says the omniscient maid, Sabrina, in the opening scene of Thornton Wilder’s 1942 Pulitzer-winning play, “The Skin of our Teeth.”

The show is about the never-ending vulnerability—and the resolute endurance—of the human race. The play’s three acts take place during an ice age, a great flood, and a horrific war. Were there a fourth act, a pandemic would fit right in.

Of late, lines and scenes from “The Skin of Our Teeth” sometimes echo through my head. (I was in the play as a child.) But such reveries feel like a luxury, because what’s often happening in our heads is the news of violence. Of scary health threats. Of disunity and anger and, above all, unprecedented uncertainty.

My wish for myself, and for all of us, is some silence. Stay informed and make your statements. But then turn off the noise. Seek the stillness—and listen to it. Create something of beauty, however esoteric or secret or temporary. After all, most of us are mostly stuck in place with some extra time on our hands.

Some day in the future, when we have returned to our busy, self-important routines, we may look back longingly at this unscheduled BreakAway.

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Kimmel & O’Connor Commend BreakAways; Wilderness Swamped

Posted on: Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN | Leave a comment

Have you been tuning in to the late night comedy-talk shows? I hope so. Because even though Kimmel, Colbert & comrades have been recording in their home offices (and rec rooms and garages) they’ve been creating some of their best work. Absent the cheesy crowd noise and adulation, the hosts work harder and end up showing more star power.

More comedic relief, too. The summer we all want to forget (and survive) gets punched in the gut-laughs nightly, with crisp and daring monologues and occasional skits—often including family. Speaking of, Jimmy’s daughters are darling; they join him for a feature on Fridays. Their girly giggle-attacks are more contagious than the Coronavirus!

But Jimmy needs a break. According to the BoGlobe, he’s taking his longest break (a few months) after 18 years and 3,130 episodes. We’ll miss him. And hope that when he returns, he has a crowd to cheer him on. But now we know: If not, well, he’ll still provide essential laughter therapy.

  • Justice O’Connor’s 5-year break transformed her future

Sandra Day O’Connor’s career is legendary, with top-tier positions in all 3 branches of government and, ultimately, a long stint on the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet she speaks of the 5-year break to raise her 3 sons as perhaps the most game-changing chapter of all.

A babysitter quit; could happen to anyone. But this was the early 1960s, and daycare options were virtually non-existent. So O’Connor became a homemaking mom, and eventually had to volunteer, scheme, and fight her way back to employment. Boy, did she!

Her story gets sterling telling thanks to Carol Fishman Cohen, founder of iRelaunch, an admirable advocacy of career breaks and workplace re-entry. Her TED talk offers a touchstone for our vital cause, with millions of views to prove it!

Justice O’Connor’s trail-blazing example proved what was possible: that a career break is not a permanent roadblock, but rather a life-changing, character-shaping step along the way.

Our thanks to both of these innovators for their great work and, especially, for their BreakAway leadership!

  • MN wilderness is swamped

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed most travel dreams, and likely countless simple summer vacation plans. Here in MN, however, the camping and outdoor getaway business is booming. State parks report a 62% increase in day traffic over a year ago. And popular places like Lake Superior’s North Shore have become so busy that ill-mannered neophytes are a problem

Knowing that people are finding a way to escape their 4 walls and 55 worries to absorb the great outdoors offers a ray of sunshine in gloomy times. But really, people? Cutting down pines to increase your view? Throwing trash in Boundary Waters latrines? Emptying an RV septic tank by the side of the road? Hmmm. Maybe these morons should stay in lock-down!

As one outfitter theorizes, “The world is in a disruptive mode, maybe people are caring less…the world is coming to an end so we’ll do whatever the hell we want to do.”

Sad. Because these attditudes can become self-fulfilling destinies. And don’t we have enough to lament and fret about without engaging in reckless, recreational destruction?

Yes, we do. So go. BreakAway. Get your yayas out. But please, people: Clean up after yourself. And be kind.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Exactly How We All Feel

Posted on: Friday, July 3rd, 2020
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Some critter did this, not me. A wren house originally, this abode has over the years been annexed by various life forms—including flying squirrels one scary spring. Those babies make The Wizard of Oz’s monkeys look huggable. I was delighted when they made their BreakAway!

What freak of nature did this? We’ll never know. It happened recently, but the artists in residence have moved on, leaving this semi-permanent splendor of nature. ‘Bout sums up how we all feel of late, don’t you think?

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Summertime is Lupine Time

Posted on: Friday, June 26th, 2020
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Lupines grow like wild along parts of Minnesota’s “North Shore” that clings to Lake Superior. They fill ditches for miles and miles, as well as the gardens of lucky property owners. I’ve tried a few times to transplant them to the warmer climes of the Twin Cities. But…no way. So I just take pics. This one happened on July 3, 2009.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Staycationeering

Posted on: Friday, June 19th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
  • My daughter quietly making art in a moment of staycation calm

It’s funny. Most people spend most of their lives answering “How are you?” with the impressive reply, “I’m so busy!” In normal times, we therefore likely long for a long BreakAway, a relaxing vacation, or even a therapeutic staycation. That word’s gotten super-hot lately, yet now many folks are screaming, “I’m so stir-crazy!”

Well, here’s your staycation opportunity, friends—a topic that deserves a closer look in a forthcoming posts—and certainly in my own muddled world. Have you made your wish-list? Clean closets? Plant shrubs? Read The Gifts of Imperfection? Zoom your faraway rellies?

My daughter often surprises me with her staycation instincts and gift of spontaneously launching projects that make something out of nothing. Like this watercolor of a recent picture. Who know she could even paint so well? Drawing (and sailing!) the Hjørdis isn’t easy! (I know; I took sailing classes on her!)

Oh sure, this photo is a mere memory snapshot; I didn’t want to interrupt a moment of peace, of inspiration. But it reminds us to use some spare moments during this gift of (messy) time to seek some calm, creativity, and beauty.

We need it, right? Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Silence of the Loons

Posted on: Friday, June 12th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Recently, friends took me out on a pontoon ride to share the secret location of the oh-so hidden loon nest. Lake Owasso, like most Minnesota lakes, gets one beloved loon pair per year. Loons are fiercely territorial, remarkably fearless, and absolutely mesmerizing to watch.

In the Real World, problems keep becoming more explosive. Sad. And Surreal. So seriously: I recommend loons. Or whatever miracle of nature may be in your path that takes your anxieties away, fills you with reverence, and inspires a moment of peace.

Loons can be loud. But my response is silence. And for a fleeting moment—when the loon allows—that quietude and awe is the best therapy I could ask for.

I shot this photo alone at dusk, via kayak and a long zoom lens. The loon was aware of my intrusion, but somehow trusted my intentions. And my desire to coexist with respect and silence.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: It will be good again.

Posted on: Friday, June 5th, 2020
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Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Stop, Escape, Eat Ice Cream

Posted on: Friday, May 29th, 2020
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Today, in my metropolis, massive protests with violence and destruction are raging in response to a police killing. 

Today, throughout the world, populations are suffering and dying from a dangerous and relentless virus.

Some years ago, and occasionally throughout life with any luck and mercy, such disasters are nowhere in view. Rather, in this case, a dapper lady walked into my path and enjoyed an ice cream cone alone. We were in Stockholm, and she took her treat mid-morning. Why not?

Scenes like these, and the timeless memories they inspire, are why we travel. Here’s hoping these tense times move on, the global pandemic fades away, and we can get back to traveling to wherever we find sweet moments like these.

Keep the faith.

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