FOTOFRIDAY: Vaxxed and Unmasked, Turtles Bask

Posted on: Friday, May 21st, 2021
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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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FOTOFRIDAY: Gorgeous Norway, 1994

Posted on: Friday, May 14th, 2021
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Beauty abounds in faraway Norway. You can also find this shot spinning on the homepage carousel!

When I stumbled on a pile of precious photo prints yesterday, my son kindly ran some scans with his new scanner toy, procured at a garage sale. The truth is I have thousands of photos in boxes, wondering if they’ll ever see the light of screen.

This shot was from just another bucolic landscape in rural Norway. I texted my new scan to a California friend who shares my Norwegian heritage and adoration. He replied back, “Do you ever wonder if all those old Norwegians should have stayed over there?”

Oh yes, I do. But when they came to America, they were leaving a land of poverty, hunger, and overly large families (because they expected child deaths and needed helpers) living in cold, tiny cottages.

It’s no longer like that, not at all. In fact, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world—with governmental assets (from oil) in the low trillion$. They can support a sky-high standard of living for all on a modest draw alone—yet they also work hard and are keenly innovative.

Savviest of all: Unlike most countries, the oil money goes to THE PEOPLE. Not the Koch brothers, not BP, not some crown prince.

The wealth (and taxes and things) does make Norway a jarringly expensive country to visit. As the Danes joke when taking a BreakAway to Norway, “Don’t forget your cucumber.” Indeed, the many outdoorsy Euro-tourists who flock to Norway in the summer pack their camper with ample provisions—much to the dismay of tourism businesses.

The oil will run out someday, sooner than later. Yet their financial plan looks sound enough to keep them comfortable into perpetuity. I loved my visit there—which included time with long, lost relatives. Now that travel is resuming, I can put kjaerlig Norge atop my bucket list again.

Can I make it happen? Can I justify the expense? Will you welcome me again, beautiful homeland? One never knows for sure. So for now, I shall daydream with old photos and…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Will Our Slumbering Cities Rise and Shine?

Posted on: Friday, April 30th, 2021
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That’s me, at One World Trade Center, a place that stirs both emotions and humility. 

I’ve been talking with friends in big cities lately. The ‘state’ of the city varies depending on the state it’s in. But many, like NYC (pictured here) are still seemingly deserted. Tourism businesses have closed or are barely hanging on. The few people in the streets still sport masks.

Do we miss city chaos? Do we long for crowded subways and traffic jams? Are Times Square and Disneyland atop our bucket lists when (if?) ‘things’ return to normal? And will those soaring skyscrapers (like that monolith in the pic) fill with thousands of workers again?

These are the questions of our times. From my vantage, I hope so. But when travel becomes an easy option for those of us craving a stimulating BreakAway, I’m more excited about Tuscan towns, playful beaches, and undiscovered master chefs. Meantime, we dream on…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Wish You Were Here, Prince

Posted on: Friday, April 23rd, 2021
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Our local superstar took ownership of our hearts…and the color purple.

Price died 5 years ago, and fans still ache from his unexpected passing—another day the music died. A local radio station pumped his jams from Song 1 to his final release; my personal tribute was to pick up a purple orchid to prompt memories and provide beauty.

I am not alone. IMHO, Prince was (without question) THE consummate musician creator, and performer—probably the best ever. (And I was fortunate to see him many, many times.) Paisley Park allowed some guests yesterday and, as usual, still-grieving fans from all over the world showed up for a mere few moments of presence.

Sometimes I wish that life was never ending.

~ Prince

Music remains the ultimate BreakAway. Listening takes you somewhere else, relieves whatever’s ailing you, and opens your ears and brain to new impressions and possibilities. People in the KNOW say there are at least 8,000 finished, unreleased songs in The Vault. Yet another reason to…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Portland’s Natural Popularity

Posted on: Friday, April 9th, 2021
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It’s easy to see why Portland’s population has been popping.

Life takes me to Portland next week, as my daughter resumes her search for a college, a chore much compromised by the complications of COVID-19. Thanks to a lifelong friend there, I visit now and then. The city has its share of problems (like homelessness). But also boasts cool things to do and abundant natural beauty.

Seems like it always rains when I’m there, with rare sun sightings and persistent moistness and wind. So, though I live in frozen Minnesota, Portland’s appeal plays hide-and-seek. This time, though, the forecasts predict 60s and sunny. My camera and I look forward to some more comfortable sight-seeing.

Check this out: Portland’s population has grown from ~544,000 in 2000 to ~645,000 in 2020. No wonder some longtime locals all but wear KEEP OUT t-shirts when wandering around waterfalls.

Travel remains arduous, but it’s good to get away again, and to see people stepping out.

Keep the faith.

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BITN: 3 Pandemic Consolation Prizes

Posted on: Thursday, April 1st, 2021
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Could the dark clouds be clearing? For real?

We’ve endured more than a year of pandemic pain. But, as the interns in charge of this periodic post say, let’s also look for the bright spots. After all, this era may move on soon—or at least go to the bathroom. And then what? Some say a reboot of the Roaring 20s! Some say more plagues, possible inflation, a return to Times Square by millions of drunk tourists.

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, here are 3 newsy items that demonstrate the upside of this downer of a time…

Got Zoom fatigue? Does your vision still function? Have dark circles grown under your eyes? You’re not alone. And as a preacher of Unplugging, BreakAway abhors screen obsession and encroachment. So thanks, Citibank, for recognizing the damage done to employees by the blurring of work/life lines and over-Zooming. May other firms follow their smart lead. 

  • Bourdain is back

RIB (Rest in Bliss), Anthony Bourdain, who left us June 8, 2018. And here’s a toast to the crew who combed through his writings and collections to launch a posthumous book, “World of Travel: An Irreverent Guide.” Critics are crowing; fans and friends are elated at sage travel advice like, “Drink some wine, walk around a bit more, eat, and repeat. See, it’s easy.”

Sooner than later, we’ll be ambling in Paris or wine-touring in, well, anywhere. Here’s a great book for whetting that appetite in preparation.

Ever hit the road in a motorhome? My experience is limited, but the memories are epic. And its place on my bucket list remains high as the ‘take your time’ mantra grows in appeal. Winnebago took advantage of C-19, with soaring profits and booming sales as people discovered this relatively safe, easy, and potentially affordable way to wander the world.

Executives believe the boom started before the pandemic. After all, not everyone loves airplane-based travel. And lifestyles often shift, not to mention the baby boomers moving into retirement but not necessarily the nursing home. What’s not to like? Your home, stuff, and edibles travel with you; the outdoors is always just a window away.

  • Spring has sprung

Spring is always lovely. But this year comes with the added bloom of a post-pandemic reality. The 3 blurbs above remind us that even dark days have their upside, and that we must endeavor to…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: A Short Sunshine BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, March 19th, 2021
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For cold, cooped-up Northerners, nothing soothes like sun, sand, & surf…

I recently joined my daughter, a gaggle of her friends, and their families for a jaunt to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera beaches—a spring break tradition of sorts around here for grads-to-be who can swing it.

The timing and added COVID logistics and risks struck me, a reasonably seasoned traveler, as a bad decision. But I was outvoted (there was no vote). So I looked back on my life—travel and otherwise—and noted a pattern of possibly bad decisions. Yet I turned out alright. Right?

So why stop now? Why stay home? What’s the worst that can happen? (Don’t ask). I went, of course, and soaked up the miracle cures carried by tropical breezes and left longing for more.

More warmth, more travel, more care-free living, more time with actual people. MORE on all that and our little getaway soon…

Keep the faith.

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Please… Don’t Despair; Dream Instead

Posted on: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
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Ice fishing. A Northerner’s pastime featuring cold, perseverance, and solitude.

Today’s topic is unusually serious: Dreams, fantasies, faith, hope, imagination. The NYT recently published a timely feature about the human need for these flights of mind—and their potential fadeaway during the pandemic and political gravitas. Their research includes academicians that put a pedantic, though compelling, spin on this ethereal reality.

Bottom line? You need to do it. And it don’t come easy during these twisted times.

  • Borrowing BreakAway thunder?

MYBA suffers little from delusions of grandeur. Yet we’ve been passionately preaching the “if you can dream it, you can do it” gospel for decades, and via this blog since 2008. The proprietor has taken at least 5 sabbaticals; the proof is within clicks herein. And yet the themes of travel, escapism, career breaks, and diversion have taken a beat-down lately.

Meanwhile, the host has taken to writing about tangential topics…and wondering if he (or any of us) will ever fly into a lifestyle of wild blue wonder again. And when it comes to digging into the now-familiar symptoms of loneliness, worry, anomie, and fear of the future… For now, I’ll just play the stoic face card. And get back to the Times.

  • The profound need for daydreaming

The NYT article talks to real-world people who long to dance, dress up, go gallivanting, throw parties. Others, perhaps due to financial and employment stresses, have simplified to aspirations like taking their kids to a playground or just hugging their mom. In other words, not all fantasies are grandiose: “They are fantasizing about what they’re missing right now,” explains Deirdre Barret, a Harvard psychologist.

Professor Martin Seligman of U Penn has long studied and promoted that daydreaming lets people step away “from focusing on what’s wrong to what makes life worth living.” Indeed, without such mental meanderings, we may let go of hope, resilience, relationships, meaning, and more. In other words, folks, hold on. To your yearnings, your postponed pleasure, to your…dreams.

  • Thanks, we needed that

Breakaway has advocated for free time, outdoor adoration, unplugging, and running away through all kinds of conditions: Dot-com booms (when many people got rich fast); dot-com busts; recessions; 9-11; terrorism; wars of all kinds; a killer pandemic; and markets (and the moods that follow them) up and down. The goals seem, to me, timeless, common-sensical, and essential.

With any luck, you’ve got 75+ years or so to work and/or play on this planet. If there is any conceivable way, why not take a small percentage of that time to chase your dreams? (What’s not to like here?)

But, but, but, I must admit that the challenges of late—for the planet, for people to stay physically healthy, and to avoid pervasive despair—seem more powerful than ever. What to do? Who knows? So we look for guidance from experts in the NYT, or friends on the phone, or loud music or quiet meditation. We fall back on rallying cries like, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” And, advise the experts, we dream on…

So please practice your daydreaming. And keep the faith.

“The important thing about imagination is that it gives you optimism.”

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FOTOFRIDAY: Winter’s Cruel Beauty

Posted on: Friday, February 19th, 2021
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  • Pop-up ice art, as sculpted by Mother Winter

Every morning, a storm window greets me with these amazing artworks of frost. The patterns look uncannily similar day to day—so long as the temp and conditions are about the same.

Then, as the day warms up and (if we should be so lucky) the sun shines into the window, the whole thing melts away, dripping down like rain. Later, as the sun fades and the temps drop, the design slowly re-appears. By the next morning, the whole window has become a fairy painting again.

MN had a 2-week nasty cold snap that is finally fading. Meanwhile, much of the country is suffering through dangerous cold, no power, and undrinkable water. Nature can be cruel. But even then, nature will also find ways to create beauty.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Taking the Leap with 35mm

Posted on: Friday, February 12th, 2021
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  • My son captured this shot in a snap with a vintage film camera. 

One month ago, BreakAway featured a film photo by my daughter—and pondered the recent popularity of film for ‘kids’ who have grown up in a digital world.

I find it a bit perplexing, though also refreshing and creative. My son nabbed this timeless image on the shores of Lake Michigan. One shot! That’s all you got! No BURST mode was available. And the surfer was oblivious, so: No prep time, no posing, no retakes.

It’s a great picture, and serves to remind us that being spoiled by limitless shooting, decent cell phone photography, and instant editing/posting guarantees nothing. In fact, maybe it makes us shoot too much and see too little.

This photo is worth 1,000 “files.”

Hmmm… Maybe it’s time for me to dig out my old 35mm camera again?

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