Sabbatical Shuffle

FOTOFRIDAY: Savor Your Sacred Spaces

Posted on: Friday, May 20th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Sunsets always impress at Sutherland Park in Sioux City—that’s in Iowa. 

How many times have I gathered with friends to throw frisbee, swill beer, play guitars, sing songs, take pics, kick off reunion opening ceremonies, hug through closing ceremonies, and (of course) watch the sun set? How many times have I done variations on those themes with my own kids or…alone?

Who knows? But the number would be staggering. And each visit feels sacred; I still travel to Sioux City often to visit my parents and others, and no visit there is complete without a BreakAway to that park. I make time, no matter the flurry of reality, and feel a profound gratitude for simple priorities and spaces.

The park has a history, naturally. In a way hilly town, this park sits atop one of the highest elevations and once had a functioning water reservoir underneath it, before water towers. Then the name changed—along with a few trivial details. But otherwise, it’s just a huge, grassy, glorious, flat space with a view of forever. And that includes Nebraska, South Dakota, endlessly rolling hills, and more.

Worries blow away there, while memories suddenly swirl inside the head, heart, and soul.

Is this heaven? Yes, and it’s Iowa. It’s also just a park. A nearly-forgotten place. And it is sacred. Please stop by your sacred spaces soon.

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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 | One 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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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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FOTOFRIDAY: The Ghosts of NYE Past

Posted on: Friday, December 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • A picture dances 1,000 words…so take pics, take breaks, and take nothing for granted.

This picture features my 2 perfect children. On New Year’s Eve, 2017, playing at sundown on a pristine beach on St. John, USVI. The theme here might be, “If you’d have told me…” The punchline is always the same: Do it now…or at least ASAP.

  • If you’d have told me…they fly away

One was back from college out east, so I had seen that disappearance already. But the other was still at home, 6 years younger, and still (relatively) carefree and un-adult. Now she, too, is far away at college. So vacation scenes like that don’t much happen. Obstacles grow like seaweed over time.

  • If you’d have told me…cancer

Oh yeah. On this date, I had just finished several months of several kinds of tumor treatments. So the notion that I somehow managed a getaway during this period seems impossible. And indeed, the worst effects (long illness) politely waited until after returning home. Proving: I’m so glad we went. Even though I was scared to near-death.

  • If you’d have told me…family dissolved

Few things last forever. Including marriage. And when they conclude, that’s usually for the best. Still, that makes doing wild and crazy things (like ditching everything for island Breakaways over holidays…while you still can) more brilliant. Cuz you likely won’t do it when the family is no more. Yet, with any luck, good memories live forever. Trust the pics.

  • If you’d have told me…pandemic

With all the life ch-ch-ch-changes, epic breaks to escape winter become harder than ever. Then enters the trump (no not him) card: Covid. Oh sure, some people still travel. But at their own risk, and with much more effort and hassle. Aren’t you glad you went that place when it was relatively easy? I am.

  • If you’d have told me…passion still matters

Most likely, we’ve all simplified our goals and dreams over the past few years. And that’s….OK. Reality Resets happen throughout life. Sometimes from exterior forces (pandemic), sometimes from inside your own house. But please, keep the passion. Somewhere in your heart, your photo collection, and your hopes for better days ahead.

And when you…finally…arrive at that happy place again, take lots of pics!

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A Living Christmas Memory

Posted on: Friday, December 24th, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain | Leave a comment

  • Grandma’s Christmas Cactus Always Blooms Right on Time

The holiday season can rush the brain with memories of people lost, traditions faded, and places long visited but now disappeared. My childhood (and beyond) featured South Dakota grandparents and a feeling of never-grow-up freedom filled with fishing everywhere, flying kites in infinite fields, and working gardens and crops until you were dirty but awash in delight. And deliciousness.

As for Christmas? Picture sledding fast being pulled behind Grandpa’s old, gray tractor. Dancing in a circle around the tree singing songs in both languages with the Danish relatives. Solemn midnight, candle-lit services in tiny country churches followed by glorious feasting in the basement served up by beaming farm ladies.

  • Travel young, travel forever

Perhaps this is how I learned the art of travel, simple as it was. We packed the station wagon with my two brothers, at least one dog, and not much more. After all, everything we needed was already awaiting at the farms. And no matter where we lived at the time or what I was leaving behind, the spacious prairie brought that beloved feeling we all still seek and crave: Getting away.

Another world, just a few hours’ drive from home. Yet as remote and removed as if you just landed in another country. Indeed, the country can feel like another country. Far away. In the best possible way.

  • Where longing and endurance together take root

This Christmas cactus grew for ~60 years in my Grandma’s South Dakota pantry, until she finally moved out and passed shortly thereafter. The family appointed me as caretaker. And some 20 years later, I have several transplants in pots all over the place, including the original which now spans 4 feet. 

Regardless of location or attention, each plant blooms with uncanny punctuality throughout the holiday season. So I think of my Grandma often, relive those seasonal memories…and can almost smell her cookies baking and hear her fearless laugh.

This living keepsake, Grandma’s favorite pantry plant, both honors the vanishing memories while keeping them alive. Grandma would be pleased—and likely love the fuchsia color so much that she’d sew herself an apron in the same bright palette. And then cheerfully bake us more treats. 

Merry Christmas cactus!

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Pandemic Provoking Burnout Epidemic

Posted on: Sunday, October 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

Do you know folks who used to be fun, but now they’re fried? Do you prefer Friday happy hour on the couch instead of at the pub? Are you worried that your get-up-and-go could use a booster shot? 

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, maybe it’s one of the few things we can all agree on: We’re tired, stressed, tense, afraid, and spooked. (Hey, I’m writing this on Halloween.) A recent WashPost feature by Angela Haupt (“Newest Pandemic Symptom: Burnout”) dug deep into this pit—calling on many experts—and left this amateur culture critic concerned.

  • Burnout digs deep

The article covers so many ways that burnout hurts people that, well, it’s painful to finish. One wonders how society heals from this crisis, and then ponders, “Gosh, that’s hitting kinda close to home.” Indeed, home is just one place that has lost its serenity status for many, since one’s abode now often serves as workplace, school, gym, infirmary, and more.

Burnout’s tendrils also burrow into mental and physical health. People cite depressing boredom from losing social and community connections. Many mention brain fog, health flare-ups, and creative apathy. In short, burnout has advanced from meaning overworked and underpaid to a condition with chronic and omnipresent reach.

I think it’s almost everyone, everywhere

— Amelia, Nagoski, author

  • Some reassuring solutions

Epic problems sometimes call for epic solutions. It’s too dang easy to say, “Well, just get up and do something…go somewhere…tap back into your energy reserves and revive coveted dreams!”

So Ms. Haupt’s article mentions simple steps that deserve attention now more than ever—and that we may ignore in our hour of darkness. To wit: Reach out to friends and family; we MUST feel love and take care of each other. Take breaks for personal pleasures like reading, resting, and time off. Make yourself exercise—not for your future modeling career, but for today’s sanity. Take transitions between demands. And seek creative outlets to help you forget about the world’s woes and produce something of meaning.

Burnout occurs when three factors are present at the same time: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

  • The BreakAway promise

From the start, the MYBA website has cheerfully acknowledged that many leaps of a lifetime are motivated by crises, rather than manna (or money) from heaven. So maybe, just maybe, this challenging era will inspire some folks to take total assessment of their reality, envision profound alternatives (like an escapist months-long getaway), and fly away from this mess before it kills us all. While we still can.

We still can, can’t we?

Heavy stuff—like life itself. So, sure, start with the exercise and knitting. But don’t give up hope on your most monumental dreams. Because even the coveted fantasy can heal…and provide the first step to eventual arrival. Not to mention…temporary survival.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Big Beer BreakAway Boom Continues

Posted on: Friday, October 1st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment


Nut Goodies have been a coveted, regional treat forever. But as a beer? Did not see that coming!

You’d have to be living under a vineyard to not be aware of the craft beer revolution that’s been happening for years now—with few signs of bloat yet. Even Covid can’t stop this party.

This pic comes from a local fundraiser event with lots of free beer, as donated by the many (MANY!) brewers roundabout. What a great idea, and oh boy, do people turn out to, uh, support the nonprofit!

Beer has gone beyond beverage and deep into BreakAway territory. People plan passionately around their drinking, er, tasting, er, exploration; they embark on nights out, day trips, weekend getaways, bus tours, bike jaunts, and ways to smuggle precious bevvies home from faraway locales.

Speaking for myself, I try to swill (way) less suds than I did in, say, college. And yet, I REFUSE to miss this buzzy escapist movement. So while not a fanatic, I AM a fan. So much so that I even sampled the Nut Goody Porter though, frankly, the idea sounded most unappetizing!

I was wrong. I liked it! Which…magically and effervescently brings us back to a taste of the BreakAway Creed: Get off your butt, go somewhere, and try something new. You’ll be glad you did!

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