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FOTOFRIDAY: A Cool Day on St. Vincent (Island)

Posted on: Friday, October 6th, 2023
Posted in: Travelog, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Yes, it’s October. But no, that’s not a Halloween display. Rather, that pic offers just another gravestone and view from another idyllic island.

15 years ago, my kids got a gift they’ll never forget…or regret. 69 days of island hopping through 5 islands in the Caribbean. They got HOME-SCHOOLED! “Hardest math teacher ever!” they both told me. Often. And (otherwise) had the splash of a lifetime.  My son kept an online blog…A+!

One stopover was St. Vincent, as described and photographed in that there MYBA link. St. Vinny is an oft-overlooked Grenadine isle rich with mountains, authenticity, and perhaps a bit too much crime and pot growing (on those fertile mountain slopes). That keeps it quiet and off the snowbird migration routes.

Scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed there. Prices stayed delightfully on the low side. And the organic F&V were so plentiful that St. Vincent provides for many islands around them; farmer’s markets are filled with aggressive peddlers who send you home with more edible booty than you can carry. For about $20.

This photo was from a high-point stopover; cemeteries are often small and neighborhoody. This gent certainly has a fine view to decompose in.

  • Every Autumn I fall back…

Fall has arrived in MN. After a long, luxurious summer, we now simmer in darkening daze, fleece everything, and the promise of, oh, 7 months of same or worse before we kick off boots and slip on flip-flops. Unless, of course, one finds a way to plan a warm, faraway getaway!

Would I return to St. Vincent? In a heartbeat, in an island-hopper plane, or even—if I could swing it—hidden in a coffin…if it came to that.

Stay warm. Dream an epic dream. And keep the faith…

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Unpaid Sabbatical # Rises to 29%

Posted on: Sunday, September 24th, 2023
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

Pee-wee Herman, a hero in so many ways and here commemorated via crop art, lived his life as one large sabbatical awash in mirth and imagination.

WorldatWork is a large, multi-national HR consulting firm that has wandering tendrils in various places to improve employee performance and such. Their website and lingo are perplexing, though HR people no doubt speak that language. An unrelated article sprang their new sabbatical # on us. 29%?

  • A word about the source’s source

One Megan Preston Meyer, an author from Duluth who now hails from Switzerland (as one does), lived a corporate life before hanging up her Business Casual. She took a year off to write a book (as one does), and soon found herself creating children’s books, business books, recorded versions, and more—plus ideas for further endeavors.

Megan provides big inspiration for us BreakAway practitioners. She actually left the office, launched a savvy business, and moved somewhere both far away and idyllic. She seems committed to her blossoming garden of products and potential, though does now fantasize the unthinkable: Going back to the office for fresh blood:

I want to kind of refill my corporate bucket, so that I’ve got more inspiration…

  • Forever seeking a fresh # for unpaid sabbaticals

Thanks to WorldasWork for announcing that 29% is the new, magic number. But…do we believe it? (Apologies: This site claims to be an expert in such info, yet humbly admits to often being skeptical and flummoxed by the sketchy research, noise and static, and smoke and mirrors!) That said…

• Gusto, a payroll processor, reports that 6% of employees took unpaid sabbaticals in 2022—double the rate of 2019. (Think: Pandemic.)

• The Society for Human Resource Management asserts that 5% of employers offer paid sabbaticals; 11% provide unpaid leaves.

• Meanwhile, a 2019 Society for Human Resource Management survey found that 16% of companies offer sabbaticals, but only 5% are paid.

So…in conclusion! Our cause has a lot of work to do, and any # or math to prove our points can be…fuzzy. But that’s OK; we accept life’s unknowns, challenges, and aspirations with open minds and arms. That’s the mindset of seekers and leapers.

But maybe we DO need to dig deeper into this fresh-ish core data stuff. Like we often used to, back when MYBA launched…right about now…in 2008.

(HEY, HAPPY 15TH ANNI, everybody!)

And we send kudos and high 5s and American green jello to Megan Preston Meyer, once of Duluth, now of Switzerland, writing books and building her own brave new world. Sabbaticals, self-employment, creativity, Europe, a big idea. That’s a full boat! Enjoy every minute, Megan.

And as for the rest of us? We appreciate the inspiration. And today’s information. In which we once again ask the simple question: How many employers DO offer sabbaticals, anyway?

Well, we’re not sure. And the # seems about the…same as it ever was. But we KNOW the appreciation and demand for BreakAways is bigger than ever.

We can thank Covid, The Great Quit, and worker empowerment for these evolutions. See? Sometimes the silver lining (and wings) come out of what we on this site call The Bad Thing.

We wish The Bad Thing on no one. But be ready. That, or perhaps pennies from heaven may be falling in your future soon. Be ready. Your world awaits. Everything is right on schedule.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Crop Art Grows on You

Posted on: Friday, September 15th, 2023
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Seed aficionados soak up the creations from Minnesota’s crop artistes.

As we’ve said before, you see it all at the MN State Fair. That includes, of course, Crop Art, AKA Seed Art. You see a lot of long lines at the Fair. But few can compare to the line to get in this beloved building.

The artists do it for love, but a competitive nature permeates the room—and ribbons hang from the compositions like diamond necklaces at a fancy ball. The big news this year? No more mustard seeds! Why? Because they don’t really grow in MN anymore. Everyone bemoaned the lack of the small, yellow ingredient. And what about wild mustard? That grows here, right? (Though THAT seed is less sublime.)

So next year, the Judges will reevaluate. The artists will get back to planting seeds of ideas and brainstorming immediately. (What a brilliant, healthy way to BreakAway!) And the groupies and lines will again clamor for more. I can’t wait…

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FOTOFRIDAY: ALIENS…& Some Tall Green Humans Behind Them

Posted on: Friday, September 1st, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

From the Frontier Bar, on the Midway, MN State Fair. Highly recommended.

People go to to the MN State Fair for the rides, the food, the animals, and the live entertainment—and by that we mean the People Watching. My ideal fair day includes lots of live music (5 bands yesterday), some crop art, the best cheese curds on planet earth, and, of course, a few beers

You see it all at the fair. But I did NOT expect to see aliens! At least that’s how my friend Scott interpreted this picture. You see, we have a longstanding inside joke about aliens. So when riding the bus shuttle home I texted him this picture with one word—ALIENS!

He quickly replied, “And some tall green people behind them.”

I dunno. Maybe you had to be there. But after a long day at the fair, one feels a dizzy, punchy glow. So I found that to be the funniest thing in the world. And proceeded to laugh like a bad church boy on the packed bus. Until tears were flowing.

Did anyone notice? Not really; they were experiencing their own giddy euphoria. Do you know that feeling? I hope so.

I skipped the state fair for decades—avoiding the crowds, the lines, the chaos. I know better now…and see this otherworldly stimuli-fest as one of the most unique, accepting BreakAways around. I recommend it. As do the 2+ million loyal annual attendees.

Which brings to mind an old BreakAway mantra: When in doubt, just go!

Don’t believe me? Ask the aliens.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Birds Help Your Spirits Fly High

Posted on: Friday, August 18th, 2023
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Egrets? I’ve had a few. But few as lovely as this mesmerizing visitor last Sunday…

Like watching or listening to birds? Just do it! Articles keep flying around telling us that doing so reduces stress, increases your well-being, and makes the birds feel better about themselves too.  (That last part is a joke.)

Research confirms the idea. We learned it again for ourselves as we sheltered in place and had time for such during the pandemic. And this white egret proved it to me personally when out on the kayak with my daughter a few days ago.

Feeling overwhelmed? That’s a problem for the birds. So…Note to self: Put down the screen and go get groovy with your feathered friends outside!

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Remember Golf? It’s Back in Swing!

Posted on: Tuesday, August 15th, 2023
Posted in: HR FYI, Unplugging, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

The 9-5 weekday workweek is fading away like a fine drive.

Golf in America has been through many, uh, rounds. Up, down, in, out, back again. But since Covid, people are spending more time on the links than ever. And much of it is on weekdays—when workers used to wallow in cubicles, not strut on greens.

It brings new meaning to work/life hacking!

  • Stanford study + geolocation proves the putt-point

Stanford and others have dug into the dirt on the golfing renaissance, with astounding findings like this…

278% more people are playing golf on Wednesdays at 4pm than before C-19

In Cali, visits have almost doubled on TU, W, and TH

Weekday rec goes beyond golf, and includes gyms, malls, tennis, hair, more

I remember golf booming—along with camping, bonfires, and other outdoor activities—during that lonely pandy period. Heck, I golfed plenty myself, and often with my children who were unexpectedly stuck at home. Heaven! (Even if my golf skills can include ill whiffs.)

But will this last, I wondered? Maybe so! Why? Because people are taking their time back!

  • Daybreak trend soars beyond the course

Lisa M. Kreiger’s article (San Jose Mercury News) also tells of lunches, dates, bike rides, family outings, and more happening on what used to be strictly Company Time. We at BreakAway practically weep with joy (as opposed to our tears on the course) that folks are taking their shot at prioritizing what matters.

And guess what? The economy is doing just fine, thank you.

Have we really redefined that delicate but often brutal work/life balance scale?

“It’s the little things, like having lunch with my husband on the back patio.”

~ Tina, Project Manager

  • What goes around becomes a round (Insert eyeroll emoji)

Way back in history, like, maybe only 100 years ago, before the industrial revolution (and later, the corporation/office-obsession explosion), people got their work done on their own schedules and terms. Think: Farmers. If that’s really happening again, we BreakAway mavens may be out of work soon.

Except…most people still work too hard and too often hit their most coveted long-term travel dreams into the rough. So we’ll keep preaching what we practice. And practicing what we preach.

Getting your life back? Good for you. Wanna escape to Thailand for 3 months…maybe check out their golf courses?

Hey, you’ve gone from all-day sales meetings to teeing off on Tuesday afternoon. So why not give it a shot!?!

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Surprise vacations? It’s a THING!

Posted on: Thursday, August 10th, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle | Leave a comment

Point of no return? Or destiny of bliss? You don’t know where you’re going, for sure this time. Welcome to the world of mystery vacations! (Photo KH, Okoboji 8-23.)

Surprise parties? Move over! The ‘mystery travel’ train keeps moving full speed ahead!

I remember a surprise party (for me) in my childhood. Of course! … Somebody told me. So I had to feign astonishment and joy. Oh well. One remains grateful for the effort!

Another memory was the birthday that a few friends got me buzzed, blindfolded me, and took me to the Mall of America. A place I had steadfastly if not violently avoided. My unveiling took place under the 3-story Snoopy at … Camp Snoopy. Brilliant! A fine dinner tapped off the unforgettable, twisted evening.

Now, people are planning MUCH longer BreakAways for kinfolk and friends, with (theoretically) no groupthink. The posse agrees on things like schedule (duh), budget, and preferences. Then one Planner takes over. Brilliant, right? If it works. Says the world traveler who despises the planning and can glide through logistics but just wants to be THERE.

Our thanks to Nerdwallet for keeping their eyes on this idea. If someone you know and trust suggests they plan a surprise vakay for you and yours?

There is only one answer. YES!

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Art of Acquiring Travel Tokens

Posted on: Friday, July 14th, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A beautiful blue eye (rather like mine) arrived from Greece to grace my window.

This lovely gift came from a friend who just did a BreakAway in Greece and scored this gem in an artisan’s small boutique. Many of my walls, spaces, and sauna are adorned with collections of such mementoes from around the world. Retail temptations abound when abroad, so here are a few guidelines I try—try—to apply when scoring souvenirs…

KEEP IT SMALL. So it’s easier to transport—and takes up less space back home.

THINK ABOUT THEMES. Could be glassworks, paintings, or pottery. Go for handmade. My fave: small faces.

WRITE THE DETAILS ON THE BACK. In the case of this pristine eye, maybe not! But usually, a simple “Mazatlan, 4-1-22” will do. You’ll be glad when the collection hits 100!

HANG IN GROUPS. A montage of these artworks tells so many stories. Guests will ask.

REARRANGE. Now and then, pull the collection down and start over. You’ll see things anew.

Oh sure, I’ve smuggled home some ginormous pieces in my day. And I love them all. (Consider a spacious suitcase—or even an extra roll-up simple softsider JIC!)

But anymore, my house, like my life, is getting full. So I think small.

Because I know that big memories will forever reside in these tiny treasures.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Where There’s Smoke

Posted on: Friday, June 16th, 2023
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Lovely murky sunset over Lake Okoboji, courtesy of Canada and their wildfires.

Are we living in the end times? Hell, yeah. I thought that those of us of a certain age would take a spaceship to Heaven before all that. But any more, it’s hard to find any good news about planet destruction slowing down. It’s too damn bad. Cuz this place was Eden, and bazillions of innocent species do not deserve to be wiped out. Humans do, though; we’re the intelligent ones. And look what we’ve done with all them smarts.

My personal thanks to those who still think global warming (a better label than ‘climate change’) is a hoax. And to the cultures who don’t give a hoot about overpopulation. But let’s minimize the anger, enjoy the pretty sunsets that vital getaways provide, and drink a toast to, well, Planet Toast. While we still can.

Cheers!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Forgotten Photos Fire Foggy Memories

Posted on: Friday, June 9th, 2023
Posted in: Travelog, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Where? Vegas, of course. Why? Vegas, of course. (And…for the memories, thanks…)

A few nights ago, I found myself at home alone with the puter in my lap. A rarity, as I become ever-better at seeking real interaction and unplugging. A flash hit me: I’ve hardly looked at the 1,000s of photos I’ve taken since 1-1-23. And I’ve taken trips to picturesque places. This pic came up, from a fancy eatery in LV—and reminded me why we take the pics. The room, the dinner, the smells, the views, the company…all came back.

Note to self: Take more, better, remind-ful pix! (And don’t forget to look at them, even if it means screens…)

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