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FOTOFRIDAY: Sunrise, Sunset

Posted on: Friday, November 15th, 2019
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Which is it? One rarely knows at first glimpse (of a photo). And frankly, most of us can tire of looking at other people’s sunrise/set pics, right? So you need not look—or read—for long. It’s just that this is what I saw when I reluctantly got out of bed and faced the first snow on the water today. Winter’s battle of restful versus dreadful has begun.

The ice and lake water will also battle like this for, oh, weeks, maybe a month, maybe more. The beauty can almost—almost!—compete with a lush summer day. That opposing season’s warmth and light will return, or so we’re told.

Meanwhile, we’re now officially on thin ice. So be careful. And try to enjoy.

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BITN: A Royal BreakAway, Travel Trends, & Back to Work

Posted on: Monday, November 11th, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

The interns never sleep at the BreakAway HQ. Here are 3 ditties that caught their wired eyes, and why…

Yes, even the Royals, in their own words, get “tired and even burnt out.” So they’re doing the right thing, and taking 6 weeks off—having endured the birth of their second child, a rigorous travel schedule, and (of course) relentless media attention.

Meghan referred to their whole rigmarole as, “existing, not living,” when they recently appeared on an ABC interview. It’s easy for us commoners to scowl at their ills, perhaps coveting their fortune and popularity. Still, they just want to focus on their family, their missions in Africa, and finding sanity in their incomparably complicated reality. We emphatically approve of their majestic yet humbly human aspirations.

Sure, Travelers Today may not be T&L, but we like their observations—like these rising trends: Green; Canada, solo, and nomadic.

The nomadic approach seems to be appealing to families—who like to pack it up, leap into home-schooling, and take advantage of a key benefit of the growing freelancing economy: Freedom. Freelancers and nomads rarely know exactly where they’re going, and that’s exactly the point.

Having been there (all over) and done that (going wandering with family), I personally offer a standing O and advise everyone who can conceive of the notion to keep that faith alive. Life offers few profundities that compare. Your children will be forever transformed and, whatever may happen in the hectic years that follow, you’ll cherish those ever-vivid memories.

Yes, this topic fills the sabbatical nets, and typically focuses on women returning to the office after family leave. I politely like to remind these influencers that men also take family leave and BreakAways of various kinds. (That said, most of the advice, if not the approach, is rather gender neutral.)

Target market or not, Jennifer Gefsky has published a book, “Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks—A Working Mother’s Guide.” Her Fast Company “5 Minute Read” offers these tips: Revisit past successes; Put yourself in your kids’ shoes (and stay positive for their sake and good modeling); Take a risk (request a big meeting, speak in public); Tell a friend (take on an accountability partner); Don’t over-question yourself—because sometimes the answer really is, “I don’t know.”

  • Who knows?

She’s right. “I don’t know” may be the answer to many of life’s hardest questions. Will we save the planet? Will America ever encourage career breaks, family leave, and nomadic escapes? Will YOU embark on the BreakAway of your dreams? Will I…again, and if so when?

I don’t know. But let’s keep asking, writing, photographing, and chasing dreams. For fun, for art, for life, and for Mr. Chekov…

‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ ­

– Anton Chekov

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FOTOFRIDAY: Dark & Stormy Daze

Posted on: Friday, November 8th, 2019
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted
Kirk Horsted

This Friday’s photo comes from a lovely tiny hill town an hour from the Rome airport, making the village the ideal stopover before getting up early and driving to catch a plane. (Remember to return your rental car.) This fall evening was the last night in Italy as part of a four-month RTW trip in 2000/2001.

That fall, Europe was getting POUNDED with terrible weather. The day of this pic, I had driven several hours from Tuscany—hydroplaning and dodging trucks the whole way. So even though I got drenched to capture this picture, I was giddy just to arrive alive.

Here and now, we’ve had record-breaking precip in MN this year. And I’ve sat through many a rain-soaked soccer game to cheer my daughter on—making this 19-year-old image oddly familiar again. Daylight Saving Time has come and gone. And we’ve entered The Dark Daze. But back to our pic: Yes, these guys are warming up to play a soccer game. And yes, they played. The show—the game—must go on!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Stay Bullish

Posted on: Friday, November 1st, 2019
Posted in: Spendology, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
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FOTOFRIDAY: La Dolce Far Nikon

Posted on: Friday, October 25th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

This shot just popped up on my desktop. That’s me, in a reflective mood, absorbed by the familiar Italian phrase that means (approximately) the sweetness of doing nothing. What’s more interesting: I don’t recall where I was. Which brings up the topic of photography, as nowadays most everyone is a photographer, yet hardly anyone uses a camera.

Instead, they use phones which, of course, can do anything—including take pictures. The benefits are obvious, from convenience to concealment to insta-SM-ing if you wish. Phone photos also tell you when and where you took the image, if not what you had for lunch.

This shot came from a real, hefty, cumbersome Nikon. Hence, the incomplete info. My SLR camera tells the DATE, but not the PLACE, which now strikes me as strange. Which can only mean one thing: I need to take more real pictures. Drag my Nikon around more often. The quality is decidedly superior, even if the metadata is, shall we say, unplugged.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Fall Break!

Posted on: Friday, October 18th, 2019
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

The summer daze disappears fast when school starts. Then fall hits hard with its books, sports, and chilly breezes. Good news: Most schools meet (at most) only about 180 days a year. And the first big break happens right about now.

In Minnesota, we call it MEA weekend, which really stretches to nearly 5 days for students, and 4 for teachers. Oh yes, people get away. The airport gets slammed. Families seek one last road trip, cabin closure, or—in the case of this picture—campus visits to potential places of future higher education.

That’s where I’ll be. Touring grand old schools with my daughter, while spending rare time with my son who just last spring graduated from a fine university and now makes his home in Chicago working for Bears. Like family, travel and education go hand in hand.

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Stop SM and Smell the Roses

Posted on: Sunday, October 13th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

A shocking amount of both sabbatical and SM news arrives from India, Europe, and places that have forever taken free time seriously. FBOW, we often overlook it like arrogant Americans. But sometimes, one realizes that, rather like the lessons of travel itself, there’s much to learn beyond the pond.

Recently, Mumbai’s mid-day.com published a warm and provocative article about a successful pop musician, Vasundhara, who one day realized that SM had taken over her life, damaged her career and real-world interactions, and brought on a case of anxiety that was causing bodily harm. “Likes” had replaced hugs—and the results were toxic.

Her solution? A 6-month SM Detox. The cravings hurt at first. But she pushed herself toward impressive projects including a teaching position in the arts, singing lessons that improved her ability to sing with the whole body and increased her range, a new single, and a how-to book for musicians trying to break into the industry.

In other words, all those hours of SM posting may have seemed like savvy, modern-day marketing. But when compared to face-to-face connecting? Waste of time!

She’s returned to SM, but selectively. Her new discipline allows 40 minutes every other day. And she aims to never turn back. As she says, she’s realized the “superficial information” from SM floods you with false impressions of people, and that, “We have forgotten that we are wired to wired to look at a person, get non-verbal cues, and hear their voices.”

A psychologist who helped with this story + the BreakAway Board of AdvisorZ recommends you can read all about it and study their excellent SM Detox tips here.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Amazon Brings IT!!!

Posted on: Friday, October 11th, 2019
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

This perfectly mediocre picture may elicit mixed reactions. For me, another Amazon package arriving might make me excited about my new thing…angry about their wasteful deliveries and packaging…sad about all the local, face-to-face businesses that have died…and worried about materialism, neighborhoods, and their underpaid employees.

Travel can take you away from these worries. And my next major-league BreakAway should be Amazon-free—where no giant PRIME trucks block quiet streets. Where children don’t consume on their phones as a routine pastime. And where chirpy shopkeepers take pride in running a family business, and somehow make a living doing so.

I’ve been to these places—and hope you have too. The villages of Italy. The ports of the Caribbean. Small towns in the Midwest. And independent countries all over the planet that think outside the envelope. Meantime: I’m guilty as charged. When you need a THING, it’ll magically appear on your door the next day. May you shop in interesting times.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Only in California?

Posted on: Friday, October 4th, 2019
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Why do you travel? One reason many would mention is to see new things. Indeed, your sense of observation gets more keen when in a new place. You just plain pay more attention.

That’s not to say that a rainbow poodle would go unnoticed on the streets where you live. I’m guessing that’s the point of painting your poodle: To draw attention. This particular critter crossed my path in Carmel, California, and seemed almost as interested in me as I was in him.

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Sabbaticals Becoming Influential Marketing Fad

Posted on: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

Hey, would YOU like $30K to take four weeks off? Or how about being sponsored to spend 3 months in Italy revitalizing a fading village? Or, if all that sounds too cushy, why not embark on a 30-day eco-journey that reaches its peak with 10 days in Antarctica assisting with pollution research?

Sounds tempting, right? Of course! But there’s a catch. For starters, your chance in all cases are about, well, 1 in a million. Then there’s another catch: You’ll have to become a social-media barker for your sponsor. And there are more catches, including that a part of you (and your “content”) will forever be owned.

These are brilliant—and ultimately cheap—marketing schemes by savvy companies who prefer screen-based advertising to traditional tactics. Stok Cold Brew Coffee is behind the $30K sabbaticals. Airb&b came up with the Italian village concept. And if Antarctica is your fantasy, you can thank airb&b for that one too, along with their eco-partner Ocean Conservancy.

The upside here is that these promotions are calling attention to—and perhaps somehow doing something about—sad realities like dying small-town Italy and even-more-dying Planet Earth. (The Stok deal seems to not worry about social redemption—just social media).

On the sidelines, some pundits are thumbing their noses at these efforts. They note that candidates’ selection criteria will be heavily weighted on their influencer power, how airb&b’s success has worsened the affordable housing problem (which itself brings about pollution), and how dubious airb&b’s own record is when it comes to any environmental leadership or guidelines (not to mention that the travel industry is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions).

Welcome the relatively new phrase: Crisis Capitalism. Nowadays, certainly someone will have get-rich schemes from viewing dying species, seeing the ice caps before they melt away, and swimming with the dolphins while we still can. You can track back to Mr. Marx himself if seeking the roots of such opportunistic thinking.

Yet let’s hope the motives of and outcomes from this burst of sabbatical/save-the-world bingo makes some positive things happen. Heck, if the increased awareness about sabbaticals helps people move beyond today’s perceived priorities and toward a path beyond the BreakAway obstacles, then sign me up—however slim the odds I might actually find myself enjoying free lunch while spiffing up ancient Italy.

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