Link Luv

Is The Wave (Finally) Arriving?

Posted on: Monday, September 13th, 2010
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | 2 comments

DSC_0636MeetPlanGo happens in 13 cities tomorrow night, and more than 1,400 dreamers and schemers will gather…  thanks to an unfathomable amount of vision and effort by founders Tara Russell, Sherry Ott, and Michaela Potter.  We can’t thank them enough—and that “we” includes any of you who harbor the dream of a big trip or a career break someday.

See the light? 

MPG is all about making travel and sabbatical dreams come true.  And helping employers see the value.  And letting society know that this is a valid and virtuous path.  In fact, for some of us, this convergence feels like a watershed event.  A shiny light on a gnarly tide.  A moment we’ve been waiting for.  

In this land of bootstraps and cubicles, could enough of us finally be discovering–and demanding–freedom of time??

So lonely on the surfboard…

A wise and wildly successful friend recently said,

Kirk, it’s like you’ve been paddling away on your little surfboard for years—just waiting for the wave to come in.  Well, watch out.  I think I see a huge one on the horizon.”  

Surf’s up—and what an inspirational bunch of surfers are showing up for the ride. 


Like most cities, we are now “sold out” for our Meetup in Minneapolis.  The room will be full of passionate people with great stories, bubbly energy, and stubborn hope.  I aim to Preach, yes, but mostly to Listen, and Learn.

My heartfelt gratitude again goes out to my wonderful panelists—Ross Levin and Leif Pettersen—and to the spirited souls behind MeetPlanGo. 

With any luck, this wave will just keep rollin’.

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Who do you think we are?

Posted on: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | One comment

P1000431Career Break Secrets, a site by one of the most creative and committed guys in our emerging movement, just posted a revealing peek at those of us who actually do crazy things like breaking away now and then for some serious travel.

In his post, entitled “The Many Faces of Long-term and Career Break Travel,” Jeff Jung introduces the various hosts of the 13 upcoming Meet Plan Go events and ponders what attributes we might share.  His assessment?

Long-term travel is a very specific yet amorphous niche. What I want to convey to you is that the long-term traveler is not one type of person but a diverse group of people all passionate about the potential that long-term travel has to enrich one’s life in a way that no other activity can. That’s not to say that this type of travel is appealing to everyone. But for us, the experiences that we’ve had traveling are part of what defines us.”  

Jeff then goes on to briefly introduce the hosts—what led them to become immersed and obsessed not only with their travel goals, but also helping others realize their dreams–and groups us into a few niches.

You’ll meet “The Enablers” who assist employers and their workers with sabbatical programs.  There’s a “Back to Work Breaker” who travels, then returns to career life.  “20-somethings” who already have stories to tell.  And you’ll meet the “Soloists,” “Duos,”  “Family Breakers” and more.

Before the online world connected us, we may not have had much more than wanderlust in common.  Now, we share a virtual stage–and a desire to reveal the sweet if amorphous secrets (and benefits) of breaking away. 

  • As for yours truly?  Jeff places me in the “Multiple Breakers” category.   I’ll wear the badge with pride! 

Meanwhile, back in reality, today is the first day of school.  I’ve taken on another college teaching gig.  And the fall air and routine has arrived with all the grace of a falling oak branch. 

Multiple breaker?  That sounds good about now—I’d like to earn that badge again—but there’s work to be done.  That includes hosting the MeetPlanGo event that has brought this faraway bunch together. 

Please join us and some fellow escape artists next Tuesday!

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Career Breakers Unite @ MeetPlanGo!

Posted on: Friday, August 6th, 2010
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mpg_horiz_adWe are NOT alone!  And the proof will hit the fan next month when travelers, career breakers, dreamers and schemers gather in umpteen cities across the U.S. to celebrate the movement and talk up ways to get a break. 

It’s called MeetPlanGo.  The savvy travelers behind BriefcaseToBackpack had the brainchild and are doing the legwork.  And we can’t thank them enough! 

In Minneapolis, yours truly will host a FREE two-hour meet-up in one of the most suave private rooms around—at Chiang Mai Thai restaurant in Uptown.  The good people there will offer us tempting food and drink specials.  And we’ll sip, nibble and discuss what it really takes to leave work and ordinary life behind to travel for a while.  There will even be sponsors and free stuff!  

If our tribe grows to more than 40, we’ll move to an equally cool, but decidedly larger space.

More soon!  But for now, check your cal, save the date, and go to EventBrite and register to join us if you can!

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Meet the Tribe: yourSABBATICAL

Posted on: Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | 4 comments

DSC_0028To quote an old phrase, WE ARE NOT ALONE!!!

In fact, there are umpteen other people out there advocating (and taking) sabbaticals and career breaks.  I see us as a bunch of independent, intrepid souls stubbornly hacking our paths in the work-life jungle and this wild webbed world. Which makes it all the more exciting when we’re actually able to “meet” other members of the tribe and forge a connection.

I’ve recently gotten to know the mother-daughter power-team at, a site I’ve long admired.  When they asked me to appear on their web pages as a guest blogger, I jumped at the chance.  In fact, that request sparked a big idea and may have catalyzed an exciting event and collaboration.  I’ll tell you more about that shortly, but first, let me introduce you to the Paganos…

  • Their niche?  Making sabbaticals mainstream in business

Barbara Pagano and her daughter Elizabeth are the founders of yourSABBATICAL.  If you visit their site—and you will!—you’ll enter a world filled with pith, inspiration and resources, more comprehensive and credible than anything else that’s out there. While many of us who carry the sabbatical banner are part-timers and dream chasers, these women are Serious–with a full-time focus of helping corporations with sabbatical programs, coaching aspiring escapees, and spreading the good word. In their own words,

yourSABBATICAL partners with businesses to implement customized sabbatical programs that attract, retain, and accelerate top talent through personal and professional enrichment.”

Yep, that’s some heavy lifting.  As a person who is passionate about sabbaticals (both my own and others’), I’m delighted that the yS team is out there nudging corporate America (and everyday Americans) in the direction of greater freedom, flexibility and fulfillment.  Their impressive crew is clearly poised to help shift workplace policy and practice.  And they’ve created an important forum for dialogue on this rich and growing topic.

  • My idea?  Getting us all together for a Sabbatical Summit

As our tribe of Big Breakers finds each other, we first sniff each other out, and then play like happy animals and ask, “How can we help each other?”  After all, since few people are making a living advocating sabbaticals, there must be ample room for all of us, right?  What we need is a movement!

So I cooked up the idea of the Sabbatical Summit.  You know, a time and space where some gurus (or at least fanatics) could collaborate, celebrate, and make things happen.  And all our like-minded friends could drink from the kool-aid—I mean “well.”

I’ve got a bunch of ideas about what this could look like, and I recently posted them on the yS site right here. Take a peek and add your own .02.

Delusional daydream? Perhaps.  But so were distant schemes of taking a year off, going RTW, and spending a winter hopping around Caribbean islands.

Daydreams do come true, you know.  And if not, holding on to faith, seeking your destiny, and giving thanks never hurt anyone.  Get the picture?  Click this link to see what I mean.

And maybe someday—someday—we’ll see you too at the Sabbatical Summit.

PS  My sincere thanks to Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano.  Expect to hear more from and about them on BreakAway soon!

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UnSummit Unplugged Incites No Riot

Posted on: Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | 2 comments

photo by Kirk Horsted

At the impressive UnSummit unconference Saturday, I hosted a session called “You: Unplugged” for a roomful of truly screen-centric souls. I was prepared to speak heresy and spark controversy. Imagine my surprise when, instead, they turned out to be moderate and mellow—with a good sense of concern and humor about their choices.

This lovely blogpost by UnSummit unorganizer Meg Canada tells all about it. (Thanks, Meg!)
  • A 12-pack of questions
Though the session was largely unscripted, I had compiled a 12-pack of questions that we would dip into when I (or a participant) wanted to move on. (This kept the conversation ‘flowing’—and made sure any windbags couldn’t take over!) In a clever twist, I put the questions in an empty (unfortunately) 12-pack carton of Twin Cities’ beloved Summit beer.
As if that weren’t enough, when it was time to change the topic, I would make my cell phone ring—in homage to the intrusive nature of digital devices and nonstop connectivity.
  • Hey, where’s the controversy?
Frankly, teeing up this provocative topic with those techno-brainiacs had me a bit fearful. What if my less-is-more, silence-is-golden message falls on deaf ears? Will I feel dumb? Am I blind to the obvious benefits these folks believe they receive from online living? Even the UnSummit’s founder and digi-guru, Don Ball (of Polymer Studios in Minneapolis) sent me this message the day before the big event…
I’m hoping you inspire a digital riot. But instead of torches and pitchforks, they’ll have glowing iPhones.”
Well, no phones were thrown. And they told the stories… so I rarely had to. Good, thoughtful stuff, too, like…
  • One attendee confessed to the angst that lasts about 24 hours or so when he visits the family cabin in a brown-out zone way up north. After withdrawal, though, he finds books, nature and family perfectly engaging and even forget that he’s unplugged.
  • Speaking of family and vacations…a handful admitted to taking their digitalia to family gatherings so they have an excuse to escape. Cute!
  • Several claimed still to be avid book readers; none had yet found a kinship with Kindle.
  • Most agreed that creating some unplugged times and zones was a good (if sometimes challenging) idea—especially those with children.
  • They think the mania of Facebook and Twitter probably are trends, and though they’ll stick around in some reduced form, will likely go the way of the Pet Rock in the next few years.
  • Most agreed it is bad manners to ruin a good (real-life) social conversation about something unknown by pulling out your iPhone and obtaining the answer(s).
  • There seemed to be some consensus that social media IS viably social. I may beg to differ; “social media” is, to me, an oxymoron. When compared to face-to-face, Facebook-to-Facebook “socializing” is fragmented, curt, one-sided and passive-aggressive. I mean, where’s the body language? Laughter? Love?
But I argued not. After all, they may be right.
  • But enough about SM …let’s talk BreakAways!
Joy, oh rapture—some of them wanted to short-out the unplugging discussion and confab about BreakAways:
How do you do it? Do you unplug when traveling? Do you use GPS when in a new place? Don’t you get lost? Do you reply to comments on your blog?
I was all too happy, of course, to take a detour into the Sabbatical alley—and did preach the necessity of spending less screen time when on a dreamy trip. I mean, how can you see Paris if you’re eyes are stuck on a screen? Yet I do confess that writing and taking pictures (and posting them online) makes me more attentive and curious as a traveler—so long as I don’t get carried away. As for getting lost, heck yes! That’s often the point. In Venice, for instance, my best memories are of stumbling upon bars, churches and piazzas without help from a guidebook or GPS.
  • All is not lost
The average teenager sends 1,700 texts a month now. Perhaps my audience does too, though none were that young. I’m ready to rumble an audience someday that is addicted or at risk. But as for my friends at UnSummit, they know what they’re doing—and they’re the early adopters intrepidly leading us into the future, whatever that may look like.
I also attended several other UnSummit sessions. Met many savvy, fun people (including a Facebook friend whose face I’d never seen in the flesh). And learned lots.
  • Biggest takeaway? At the end of the day, these thoughtful technophiles probably have more to teach me than I have to teach them.
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BreakAwayGuy to Appear at Mpls UnSummit

Posted on: Thursday, October 1st, 2009
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Photo by Mykl Roventine

Photo by Mykl Roventine

When hundreds of techno geeks and tweeting freaks gather on October 10 to discuss social media (live and virtually), I will take the stage to preach the gospel of unplugging.

The event is called UnSummit, and this impressive gang is leading the rest of us into the future, for better or worse. I’m excited to lead a controversial discussion—and shall wear a helmet!—when I dare to ask…

Are you “connected” 24/7? Do you sleep with your digitalia?  Does anything else turn you on? Does your commitment to SM compromise your relationships IRL?

Can you even envision YOU without IT?

Join Kirk Horsted, purveyor of radical ideas like escaping and unplugging to discuss (or is it debate?) the value of constant connectivity, hyper social media, brazen self-disclosure and overall all-at-onceness.  Maybe—just maybe—we’ll also shoot the breeze about silence, Sabbaticals and the art of Being Here Now.

For many of us, our love/hate relationship with digital tools and toys makes marriage look uncomplicated in comparison. On one hand, social media is cool, immediate and amusing. On the other hand, the sudden ubiquity of screen living can be creepy, anti-social (ironically) and addictive.
The UnSummit sessions are less about making a presentation, and more about facilitating a spirited conversation. With that in mind, I am prepared to listen more than lecture—and come home prepared to ponder (and perhaps write about) what I learn.
The event is “sold out” but you can no doubt catch Tweetfeeds if you are interested.  And apparently they’ll be posting all videos of the sessions on the UnSummit website at some point.
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Bev Bachel’s Big Break

Posted on: Saturday, August 1st, 2009
Posted in: Link Luv, Blog | 3 comments
Bev Bachel may be one of the Twin Cities’ most successful (and independent) communications mavens, but she also knows when to say when.  She recently took time to chat with me and then publicly announced her hiatus to fellow writers via the website of Minneapolis’s The Loft Literary Center. 
You gotta love the way she confronts the realities of walking away from stability and, possibly, stepping into “a world of hurt.”  Anyone who’s been there knows that those mixed emotions can rage like a spring river in the days before you set off in your new-life raft…  Bev says:
It’s risky. I’m in my peak earning years, yet work is harder to find and budgets are tighter than ever. The value of my house has dropped, the balance in my 401(k) has plummeted, and the economy sucks. I could be in a world of hurt. But rather than letting my anxiety get the best of me, I’ve stepped away from deadlines and into a sabbatical.”
Bev also talks to Carline Miller, a life coach and co-author of Creating Your Best Life—an inspiring book about goal-setting and positive psychology.  Miller may be all about productivity, but she also asserts that taking breaks can be an “ideal way to recharge your batteries so that you can return to your goals feeling refreshed and re-energized.”

Knowing Bev, her Sabbatical will be a busy one.  But rather than doing what her devoted clients and colleagues want, she’ll be doing what her self wants to do. 
Thanks for the shout-out, Bev.  Let’s chat again when you find yourself midstream in your blessed journey. 
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SuperHot: My debut on a XX site!

Posted on: Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
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Last week our friend Emma Gilbey Keller–journalist, bon vivant, supermom, and author of “The Comeback”–began a guest editor position at the XXFactor, a spin-off of Slate. 

I’m pleased to announce that Emma invited me and my family to tell our BreakAway stories for her new blog. 

  • If all is working properly, here’s THE LINK!  Check it out.  Maybe even leave a comment!  

Thanks, Emma!  I owe you a Red Stripe! 

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