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FOTOFRIDAY: Hola Mazatlán!

Posted on: Friday, April 29th, 2022
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Mazatlán boasts countless beautiful sculptures along the waterside. More than pelicans, maybe?

When a reunion of old friends got scheduled for late April, my initial impression was…Too late! By then, with any luck, the green is glowing and the tulips are dancing in MN. But this year…there is no such luck. It’s 38F with sleet at home, so I’m happy to be in Mazatlán. Here, the temps this week will range from 63 – 83. Clouds? Ain’t seen none yet!

I’ve been here before, and usually come as a lazy tourist eager to soak up sun, sand, and surf. So I’d make a lousy tour guide. Still, I know a lot about the place from observation and osmosis. One thing I know: This gritty city (yet golden in the right, rich places) has a LOT of sculptures. Most in a certain style, perhaps by the same artist or era?

Research will follow. When I get home and am back stuck indoors. For today, and there IS only today, I’ll snap the pics and enjoy the warmth and sights—highlighted by the artworks along Mazatlán’s 5.6 mile malecon. See! I do know a few factoids!

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FAST CO.: Interviewers Should Lighten up on Career Breaks

Posted on: Wednesday, April 20th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment


Work is important, and sometimes sweet. But bosses-to-be need to recognize that savvy employees need Big Breaks too—whether to handle life’s adversity or to savor some serendipity.

Earlier this week, FC published (what some might call) a paradigm-shifting article, “What’s Behind the Employment Gap?” They outline 14 approaches from 14 HR mavens about how to approach discussing career breaks in an interviewee’s resume—and the interviews that follow.

While short on overall analysis, the loud-and-clear upshot is that times have changed. Major league. The pandemic shook up the work world in unpredictable and unprecedented ways. But the Great Resignation that is sweeping the career world seems to have shifted much of the balance of power away from the Big Shots and into the ready arms of the Real People.

Here are some highlights shared by these HR authorities…

• “PTO may be a sign of maturity.” (2 words: Thank you!) {8 more words: Maybe working nonstop for 45 years is not!}

• A perspective boss may be curious and appreciate a way to address the gap, but, as one pundit puts it, “It truly isn’t any of my business.”

• Maybe time off now is the norm, not the exception. Brilliant: Have you heard about raising children? Is there any engaged parent who hasn’t needed time to make that arduous adjustment? Did you know that in Europe both new parents may get up to 6 months off? Are you aware that our sluggish congress someday may legally mandate Family Leave?

• Give them the benefit of the doubt. And while you’re at it, “Find out what they gained from the experience.”

• Don’t label it a shortfall. In fact, why not, “Frame it as an opportunity for learning and growth.”

• And finally…Consider the candidate’s maturity level. “No personal path or career path is straight.” LIFE happens. And that includes illness, family concerns, having kids, and making hard decisions. As one writer asserts, it would be easy to see taking career breaks as, frankly, ant-woman…since moms (and dads, right?) often must make tough choices about family versus career.

Conspicuously missing: Discussion of travel as the reason for a…BreakAway! Hmmmmm. We’ve much to say about that. But for now, let’s just embrace the miraculous victory that this quick-read article represents.

High 5s to Fast Company. 14 of their Executive Board Members, in fact. Who knew gnarly experiences like Covid-19, sheltering in place, and locking down offices would play out so poetically? (Well, some of us have been patiently waiting for WHATEVER might move the chains.)

As this site often states: You CAN have it all…just not all at once.

Keep the faith. 

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Como Conservatory Minni-BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, April 15th, 2022
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Winters are fierce in Minnesota. So lush greenscapes like Como’s Conservatory radiate a quick dose of sun and sanity.

FOTOFRIDAY today lauds one of our local treasures around here: Como Park, which features all kinds of things—the most visited park in MN, an 18 hole golf course, a killer outdoor music venue (on a lake with rentable little watercraft), some eateries and shops, and—best of all—the glorious Como Conservatory. Take the whole family. Often!

Sniff real flowers. Bask in the trickling waters and stare back at the turtles. Inhale the deliciously sultry air in the fern room. Feel agog in the bonsai and orchid rooms. And above all, soak in some rare green during the 5.5+ months that MN goes dormant, dark, and dank.

St. Paul created this masterpiece starting in 1915. The conservatory has been through a few disasters (like a huge hailstorm), but also ongoing additions and improvements. It’ll set you back $0 US to visit, though donations are welcome. This essential winter survival strategy will forever remain…Highly Recommended!

PS Bonus FF pic (though he really deserves his own post)…Yes, Como Conservatory has a sloth. When you go, can you find him? That’s part of the fun! He rarely moves, eats, or poops, yet always fascinates fans and leaves us with hopeful grins.

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Co’s Bending Toward Sabbaticals as Post-Pandy Perk

Posted on: Thursday, April 7th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle | Leave a comment

If buildings can bend, like these in NYC, then bosses can too when it’s time to encourage employee BreakAways. 

Honestly, the flurry of sabbatical and career-break ink of late has been dizzying. At some point in history, we may look back at this workplace moment as not only one of the most challenging, but also innovative when it comes to employee empowerment.

Credit the pandemic—which for 2+ years has plundered work norms while somehow most of the economy kept afloat anyway. But that only began the reinvention; the Great Resignation somehow inspired millions of workers to quit their jobs and rethink work/life priorities entirely. And atop all that, younger people are less loyal. Older people are burning out. Offices suddenly seem more, oh, optional!

  • Flex, yes, but I want my FREEDOM too!

CBS Chicago reported a few days ago about trends in workplaces—newsworthy indeed as companies scramble to put Humpty-Dumpty back together. Flex work makes most headlines, but what does that mean? 1 day at the office? 4? That drama plays out daily now in offices everywhere

Pet stipends are also making some people purr—when your employer picks up the tab (and someone else picks up the doo-doo) to take your dog to the park while you’re at the cube farm. Transportation reimbursement (usually for mass transit) is gaining steam, as is education assistance. And a 4-day work week—already common in some countries for pre-pandemic reasons—is getting serious consideration in the US and again worldwide.

  • But the big score: The Sabbatical

CBS Chicago may not be the WSJ or The Economist in reach and influence. But when media everywhere are reporting on our BreakAway concept routinely, well, that’s Big News in itself. As a Northwestern professor put it, people want, “natural breaks, creative breaks.”

Funnily enough, that’s what this website has been preaching since 2008. Especially the “natural piece” (go somewhere! get outside! seek adventure!)…and the “creative” detail (recharge your ideas; use your hands; try something new).

If you’re going back to work-work, make it WORK for you. Now’s a good time to introduce the Powers that Be to the powers of offering employees worthwhile and feel-good perks. Atop the wish list are more vacation days, more unplugged times, and more SABBATICALS!

The Bosses at the top will love the improved morale, recruiting, and retention. And they’ll thank you. Later. Trust me!

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FOTOFRIDAY: 40 Million Americans Can’t Be Wrong!

Posted on: Friday, April 1st, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


California, like most warm states, is crowded. But the reasons why quickly meet the eye.

Travel IS coming back! And yet…Covid and other Realities kept this Vita-D-starved sun-seeker from sneaking away for the winter BreakAways of my fantasies this year. But I did manage a week or so in California and flew away understanding why people keep flocking there.

Sun, sand, surf, and of course wineries, waves, and all sorts of wonderfulness. (Never mind the prices, the lines, or the challenges of traffic and finding parking.) In a country full of beauty and marvels everywhere, no place else offers the warmth and allure of Mediterranean-esque California. So it was good to see the place busy and buzzy and returning to post-pandemic normal.

I started going there—for long summer visits to an aunt who had escaped the Midwest—at the age of 6. Funny, when the sea mist grazes me and the sun embraces my face, I almost feel like a giddy kid again.

More about Super Cali soon!

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ReWorking: LinkedIn Okays Career Breaks!

Posted on: Sunday, March 20th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

Employers allegedly want neat, linear work histories. But most lives, especially those well-lived, more resemble a beautiful stack of abstract experiences.

Monster-networking SM site LinkedIn shocked the world on March 1 by suddenly—and finally—including career breaks as a viable way to describe the times that you were doing other things than working for MSFT (who owns LinkedIn). While most people would question the actual significance of LI, this is still both shocking and outstanding news.

LI even offers 13 options to describe your BreakAway, such as travel (yes!), bereavement, and caregiving. We’ll see if they add more over time, like joining the Great Resignation. Meanwhile, LI reports that “51% of hirers say they are more likely to contact a candidate that provides context about their career break.”

This development feels about, oh, 55 years late. But we rejoice in small victories—and this may represent a paradigm shift of sorts. So go ahead, be honest and update your profiles, y’all. BreakAway has always insisted that any employer worth working for will embrace people with interesting and well-rounded lives. Maybe the Linky world is catching up…

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FOTOFRIDAY…Happy Mardi Gras!?!

Posted on: Friday, February 25th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

That finger-pointer might be saying, “Have fun, but…beware of crowds!”

New Orleans (a.k.a. NOLA, as regulars and insiders call it) may be the most magical, entertaining city in the USA. Despite an onslaught of weather disasters, crime, corruption, and Covid, the place always somehow rebounds and welcomes everyone with open arms and bottles.

Don’t be surprised when charming bartenders shake your hand and introduce themselves.

Mardi Gras is happening now, and for several days. (Although one could argue that it’s ALWAYS Mardi Gras there.) Fat Tuesday is, well, next Tuesday, March 1. Traditionally, that’s the pre-Lent big blowout night before 6 weeks of abstinence and laying low, leading up to Easter Sunday. Not to worry, though: in NOLA, the celebration never stops.

BreakAway has recommended casual visitors to avoid Mardi Gras and other peak times. Still, our hearts are in NOLA as Mardi Gras signals spring’s slow, but sure, return.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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What’s Liberty Got to Do with It?

Posted on: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill | Leave a comment

France gifted the USA with the larger-than-life Lady of Liberty in 1886. 

Gas prices are going up. They’re about to go way up. Why? Well, there are many reasons. But the latest ir-rationale is that Russia, who controls a lot of the world’s energy, is attacking the Ukraine. So an unusually united NATO and other nations have, for now, announced that they will stop playing nice with Russia. 

Hello, inflation! 

Unfortunately, this will make travel more expensive. And in some cases, less inviting. Worse, the sniping and blaming will become even more deafening than usual. In the U.S., of course, but almost everywhere. And global peace will take a big step backwards. World War #? is not out of the question. People will suffer and die.

I’ve known Ukrainian friends and families. Lovely people. Aren’t all people? We like to think so, but at times like this, one must doubt that hypothesis. Fasten your seat belts. And keep ready your mini-BreakAways from the news, from the noise, from the nastiness. Above all…

Keep the faith.

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ReWorking: WSJ Touts Sabbaticals as Pandy Burnout Cure

Posted on: Thursday, February 10th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

For many, of late, life’s a b*tch—not a beach. The lucky ones get a sponsored BreakAway.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal published, “Sabbaticals are a Power Move in the Burnout Era,” and offered stats and stories about our repurposed passion. While millions of employees are joining The Great Resignation, for all kinds of reasons, author Katherine Bindley paints a prettier picture of people exploring national parks, reviving a home office, and renting a tranquil lake retreat.

  • Working harder than ever 

Contrary to many a bossman’s opinion, research proves that employees are putting in more hours than ever—even before Covid ravaged the workplace. Pile on unexpected stressors like concocting a home office, mastering the ways of remote collaboration, and tending to (sometimes sick) family and in-your-face chores and you get…BURNOUT!

Is it any wonder that morale is in the pits? That people are unhappy about the economy, politics, and, well, just about everything? We all feel like we need a vacation—if only the corporation acquiesced and the airlines functioned and the resorts were staffed and ready!

  • Still only offered to the privileged few

The sabbatical surge is great news, right? Yes, but unfortunately, companies that offer such remains stuck at an unimpressive 5%. And most of those employers have a long process—and line—while the package and duration can mean anything from unpaid for 3 weeks to fully paid for several months.

Still, when WSJ talks, people listen. And we can be sure that millions of readers practically spilled their coffee when perusing this article, thinking, “That sounds pretty damn good right about now!”

BreakAway thanks the ever-savvy Wall Street Journal and the helpful people at The Sabbatical Project for promoting our favorite movement.

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A Weary World Loses A Zen Master

Posted on: Monday, January 24th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment
We all seek light, and often find it in faraway people and places.

Most people have never heard of Thich Nhat Hanh. But for some of us, just knowing about him became life-changing. He died about a week at his home in a temple in Vietnam at age 95. Over the course of his long life, he became a famous and influential Zen master with a devoted worldwide following.

My meditation classes—which I’ve done on and off for years—were based on his approach to Zen and living, and taught by a teacher who changed careers to dedicate her life to studying his way and becoming a leader. His lessons of “mindfulness” transformed modern thought and countless lives.

He became known for many things, including:

·      His books, poems, teachings, and appearances

·      His vocal resistance to the Vietnam war, and all wars

·      His on-the-ground efforts to rebuild Vietnam’s villages and families after the destruction

·      His decades-long exile from Vietnam for opposing war and oppression

·      His nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize by his friend and follower, Martin Luther King

·      His organization of dozens of monasteries and retreats, known as Plum Village, a quintessential destiny for a transformative spiritual sabbatical

If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.

  • Google, meet meditation

One oft-cited example of his reach and openness was his visit to Google in 1913 at age 87—in the thick of the digital information revolution rather antithetical to his beliefs. Fearless and honest in all occasions, he offered the crowd messages of an alternative approach exemplary of why millions found solace in his presence and very existence, “We have the feeling that we are overwhelmed by information…We don’t need that much information.”

  • A beautiful journey

To become famous and influential was never Thich Nhat Hahn’s mission. But to help others with the challenges of human struggle, serenity of mind, and world peace all but created the paths for him. Countless people followed.

I am one. The commitment and effectiveness of internalizing his teachings comes and goes, as perhaps with all pursuits and practices of inner contentment. But my life would be much emptier—and at times lost—without the guidance of his wisdom and those who help spread his understanding.

To put it into BreakAway-speak, Thich Nhat Hahn was an original unplugger. An inspirational one-world traveler. And a courageous soul willing to embody and advocate a life beyond worry, weariness, and work.

We have lost a BreakAway hero. We know he is resting in peace.

Nonthinking is the secret to success. And that is why the time when we are not working, that time can be very productive, if we know how to focus on the moment.

World Mourns Death Of Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk Whom MLK Nominated For  Nobel Prize
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