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FOTOFRIDAY: Portland’s Natural Popularity

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

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
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, BITN | Leave a comment

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
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

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
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain | Leave a comment

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
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • 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
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • 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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BITN: Celebrity Sabbatical Shuffle

Posted on: Monday, February 8th, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN | Leave a comment

Most likely, today’s noted vagabonds will reside in fancier digs… 

  • Trump Escapes to Mara Lago

The interns have been busy again, and joyfully bring us a fresh installment of BreakAways in the News that focuses on some famous folks are seeking a hiatus, starting with…

That man who was once the most powerful, most omnipresent, and most outspoken person in the world is taking a break. Lucky for him, he owns his own luxury resort in sunny Florida, among other places. We hope he is recovering from his exhausting stint in DC, a place he never much liked anyhow, and finding time for family, friends, and deep reflection.

On the other hand, some—including the NY Daily News—have proposed that the Ex-Prez should have been shipped away, like the ancient Greeks did to disruptive citizens. Yep, a 10-year timeout-sabbatical would happen, via their voting process. There was no incarceration, no torture, no drama. And you could quietly return to Athens after 10.

Who needs impeachment? I think the Greeks were on to something. And we might all enjoy making a large list of candidates worthy of a ten-year disappearance.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury Sneaks Away

Across the pond a few months ago, The Brits were abuzz about the controversial timing of Archbishop Justin Welby taking a 3-month sabbatical amid a crippling pandemic, crumbling economy, and political mess. Opinion writer Karen Armstrong backed up her disdain by chronicling how Jesus and Buddha worked their butts off, and that such lame leadership may help explain why regular church attendance in the UK has dropped to 8%.

Of note: Many people defended the Archbishop’s right to time off, and the debate yawned on. BreakAway has no official stance on this issue, other than to ponder that, if a Somebody of such importance and power can simply shrug and slink off to a secluded vacation, shouldn’t we Nobodies?

  • Pamela Anderson Signs off from SM

Brace yourself: Baywatch actress and Playboy model Pam A has taken a serious sabbatical from SM, stating, “I am genuinely inspired by reading and being in nature. I am free.” She signs off with thanks and blessings and, “Let’s hope you find the hope and inspiration to find your purpose and try not to be seduced by wasted time.”

BreakAway applauds ALL of that—loud and long clear—with real noise, not just emojis of claps and fireworks and balloons.

But wait, there’s more… Turns out that, some months ago, Ms. Anderson became the new creative director of a platform called ‘jasmin,’ which connects users with influencers and celebrities who can help you with, uh, well, issues and aspirations and stuff. Oh well…

  • We Await Our Turn…

In conclusion, BreakAway wishes a robust bon voyage to these 3 famous wanderers—and hopes that those of us lacking such fame and fabulousness will somehow soon follow in their sidesteps.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hurry Up and Wait!

Posted on: Friday, February 5th, 2021
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • It’ll be a while, please take a chair…

My Grandma gets credit for “Hurry up and wait!” Seems she would say it, always cheerfully, whenever we had to hurry—or wait—for anything. That’s how the C-19 saga seems to be playing out of late; most folks are in a rush to get the vaccine, yet most everyone must wait.

As I continue my life as a cancer survivor, seems like the appointments never get a BreakAway. The care team is always in a hurry to see me again. The good news is now they can usually hurry me through the routines (though they still take hours).

And now I enjoy, not dread, the time with my terrific doctors.

But these chairs!?! This is what has become of one “waiting” room. Only a few souls sit in the remaining upright chairs, and we are far, far away from each other. Someday, normal will return and these rooms will again be packed with impatient patients, waiting, hurrying, hoping.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: And in the end…

Posted on: Friday, January 22nd, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • Shovel away the mess, notice a little light on the horizon.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.

            ~ The Beatles

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Scandinavians Share Secrets to Surviving Darkness

Posted on: Monday, January 18th, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Unplugging, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

  • Danish art about getting hyggelig from a boutique in a small coastal town 

As a 100% Scandinavian mutt, I’ve enjoyed unforgettable travels in their lands, and maintain a stubborn habit of studying their ways of life.  Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente recently posted an article promoting the simple but effective ways that those Nordic folks deal with darkness, both literal and metaphorical.

This ain’t brain science. Yet these rituals may work brain-mind-body miracles. We’ll embrace the language barrier + share some ideas, in case these days have you feeling dark, hopeless, scared, anxious, intimidated, worried, numb, confused, lost, pissed, catatonic, bored, or otherwise not quite euphoric.

  • FRILUTSLIV (OPEN-AIR LIVING)

BreakAway has preached this until if we scream in the forest, no one will hear us. Point is, every moment outside improves your well-being. A long sojourn in the mountains might be idyllic, but even a walk in the park will work wonders. In my Scandi and Scandi-American Midwest memories, every farm and yard had chairs and benches all over the yards—among other toys and cues to lure you out-of-walls. And oh, those sweet porches…

  • GOKOTTA (WAKE EARLY; WORSHIP BIRDS)

Yep, it’s about that simple. Get up, sleepy head, and hear the birds when they are most robust. You start the day chirpy, happy, and ready to flutter into the to-do list. Hey, if the birds can do it, you can too!

  • FIKA PAUS (THE COFFEE BREAK)

In Sweden, work is scheduled around the break, not VV. And this is not just a slouch and stare at the phone moment. Rather, there’s conversation, calming, resting, and reset. I remember this ritual at both sets of my grandparents’ farms and beyond. So simple, yet almost transformative. The laughter, the sharing of thoughts and info, the camaraderie. And then…back to work. The fresh cookies and cakes were pretty good too!

  • HYGGE (COZINESS) 

This word has been trending so long I almost feel sheepish and ba-a-a-d to use it. But hey, I grew up with hyggelig, so who needs trends? Hygge, of course, means embracing the darkness by lighting a candle, a fire, a twinkling tree. Piling on another posh pillow. Hugging blankets and sipping something warm. And don’t forget soothing MUSIC! Just get comfie. Summer will be back soon enough.

  • LAGOM (BALANCE)

As BreakAway has always promoted, Everything in moderation . (Including moderation.) LAGOM, which might translate to “just the right amount,” suggests we avoid, say, over-eating and N’flix binging. And that we un-rest the butt and move more. Get the chores done. But then take enjoy coffee break!

Perhaps a shot of akavit at the end of the day? Just sayin’. Ha det godt! (Norsk.)

Og behold troen. (More Norsk.)

Translation: And keep the faith.

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