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FOTOFRIDAY: Baroque Helix Spire, Copenhagen

Posted on: Friday, December 13th, 2019
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

No, I didn’t climb it. In fact, I had to snap this pic from a moving boat. But you can’t help but stare at the oh-so Baroque Church of Our Savior in Copenhagen. Built in 1617—when the city had already been thriving for some 500 years—the church also boasts one of the loudest carillons in Europe that plays 8 times daily, on the hour.

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Stuff is Making Us Stuck (Part 1)

Posted on: Saturday, December 7th, 2019
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Black Friday 2019 enjoyed record sales of $7.4B in digital shopping alone. Cyber Monday: $9.4B, up 19% from 2018. And as for the anticipated shopping total this holiday season? A tidy $740B.

Black Friday—sounds ghoulish, no? Cyber Monday—dystopian, yes? The planet is, to be honest, suffering. Too many people, too much pollution, too much STUFF.

  • The ultimate fungus

Stuff is like a fungus. You clean it up, but the muck only emerges again. This should not surprise us, since in the USA, “Consumer spending” comprises 2/3 of the economy, and politicians and pundits alike rejoice in increases and bemoan the downticks. Up means a thriving economy; down can lead to a recession. Those are numbers, but the back-story is the love of stuff. Which, by the way, becomes even more of a burden if you’re interested in a BreakAway.

  • Beware the fleeing family                  

Speaking of BreakAway, that’s what family members often do when elders downsize, die, or become snowbirds…when couples uncouple…and when kids (but not 99% of their “belongings”) fly away to college. Heck, even a pet’s passing can leave behind perplexing piles.

We are a materialistic society, as would most be if they had our “wealth.” Let’s just call it a mixed-up blessing.

  • The industry of stuff

The Star Tribune employs a wonderful writer, John Ewoldt, who wears the title “Consumer Reporter.” Stuff is a big story these days, and his recent article, “Lifetimes of Stuff Fuel a Booming Industry” taught us many things, like: 10,000 baby boomers retire daily; age 85+ is the fastest-growing segment of the US population (and likely destined for small rooms in senior homes); there now exists a National Association of Move Managers to help people cope.

You gotta love the names of some of the local, independent Move Managers that have sprung up from savvy entrepreneurs—Junk Genius, Empty the Nest, Gentle Transitions. They will tell you that the younger generations usually don’t want the family treasures. So, their company sorts the stuff into sell, donate, and toss (most estates = about 1/3 each). They will also admit that business is robust. Heck, even good-neighbor Goodwill states that donations have doubled in the past five years, while many charities can no longer take all the stuff offered to them.

  • The opposite of  the Great Depression

This stuff crisis is multi-generational with predictable permutations. Folks raised in the post-Depression era traditionally have trouble tossing anything—yet their families don’t want their hoard. Meanwhile, to many people today (especially youth), online shopping is a pastime. Whereas a family used to save for months to buy, say, a TV (remember layaway?), nowadays, we simply stare at screens, click, and wait a matter of hours for most any object to arrive at the doorstep.

Oddly enough, both propensities lead to clutter. That can make it hard to navigate your residence—and even harder to find freedom.

  • Don’t let STUFF weigh you down

You can guess the classic excuses people use for why they can’t take a sabbatical or even use all their vacation time. What about my house? My pets? My stuff? Cool possessions define status, taste, and lifestyle. BUT, simply put, they are obstacles to overcome if you want to BreakAway.

  • Guilty, as charged

Clutter confessional: I’m as loaded as the corner bar on Christmas Eve. And yet I’m sick of stuff; it’s grown from fungus to hazard. So I keep purging—or at least trying to throw out more than comes in the door. It’s not easy; the Amazon is alluring.

Hence the crude photo above from yet another stampout-stuff drop-off. I’m just trying to get unstuck. And hoping to BreakAway.

Judging by the mountain of detritus already there, I’m not alone.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Slab City, Near Palm Springs

Posted on: Friday, December 6th, 2019
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

Alternative living community—busy in winter. “Slab” used to be a navy base; now it’s a seasonal “home” for a counter-culture tribe of nomads and artists. Artful, edgy, fun to photograph. Recommended for intrepid travelers only.

Like my camera-carrying daughter!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Ahh, Italia…

Posted on: Friday, November 22nd, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

Breakaway has already reported on the growing trend of offering sabbaticals as a marketing ploy. But have did you know that 280,000 people applied for airbnb’s sabbatical in Italy? Their mission for the free adventure? “Breathe new life” into the fading hilltown of Grottole—home to 300 residents. AND 600 empty homes!

It’s funny: Pastoral life in ailing Italy sounds like paradise to frazzled people everywhere. Yet in Italy, they seem to be abandoning the old ways and places to race into modernity. Such are the ways of…progress.

I’ve not visited Grottole, but I do love Barga, the Tuscan valley town that’s today’s FOTOFRIDAY pic. Barga is thriving, actually. But it’s surrounded by no less than 9 hilltowns in varying stages of abandonment and decay. Still, like 280,000 kindred spirits, I’d gladly BreakAway to volunteer for three months to help keep old Italy from dying.

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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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