Sabbatical Shuffle

U.S. Youth Tank Happy Index

Posted on: Monday, March 25th, 2024
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Are we getting rusty at pursuing happiness? Yep. The younger you are, the more you feel your life is in the tank.

WashPost, CBS News, and myriad media reported last week on the 2024 World Happiness Index Report—released to help mark the United Nations International Day of Happiness. So how are we doing? As my Grandma would say, “Not so pretty good.” We fell from 15th to 23rd in a single year. And most alarming: Those under 30 are bringing us down, man.

Here are a few factoids to digest…

Americans under 30 rank #63 out of 143 countries.

Those of us over 60 do dang well—we rank 10th.

2024 marks the first year that the USA has ever fallen from the top 20.

Other countries also show a downward spiral for youth, including Canada.

Young females report even lower numbers than young males.

  • Hey “KIDS,” what seems to be the problem?

Call them early achievers? … Youth’s glum numbers resemble the pothole that usually trips people up in midlife years. But …kids these days… well, they grew up embracing the things that this website routinely blares are ultimately not good for you. Even if they feel pretty good at the time. Bad metaphor: Having fun sex with someone who’s infected with stuff.

Theses researchers don’t say much about the issues of those under 30, but I will: C-phone addiction; SM damage; rampant polarization throughout our (un)fair country; broken families; problems with money, debt, work satisfaction; and unrealistic expectations.

To be fair to youngsters, we do seem to live in a time when almost everyone is complaining about something almost all the time. But how sad that the fountain of youth has been poisoned by this darkness. Gosh, haven’t they heard about the roaring 20s!?!

  • Help is out there, and I mean out there

So what to do? Limit the phone and tech use, impossible as that sounds. Go outside and soak up nature, rain or shine. Hang out—in the flesh—with people you like. Focus on family; if yours is absent, seek or create another. Take long Breakaways; if that’s not feasible, take short ones. Chase healthy living, including exercise, diet, sleep, the usual. Look for beauty and create more. And above all, just try to have FUN.

  • Those dang Scandinavians

Finland, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden make up the top four, while Norway proudly places 7th. As a person of ~95% Nordic ancestry (who has spent time there), this showing is no surprise. They get lotsa things right. Those who disagree (like the politicians barking about socialism), must not care about happiness. Which also requires an open mind!

Hey, America, it could be worse: Poor Afghanistan sits on the bottom of all lists. Ponder living there when you’re feeling like this land bums you out.

And above all, keep the faith.  : )

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Got PTO? Use It or Lose It (Literally!)

Posted on: Tuesday, February 6th, 2024
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, Spendology, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

Why is that bucolic scene sitting empty? Because Americans are refusing to take their time—vacation time, sick time, family leave time, PTO, etc!

Our lovely local newspaper has been publishing articles pushing people to take their time off, dang it. And why not? We’re rich! While one story today announced that Americans now over over $1T in credit card debt, the flip side of that coin is this stunning factoid: We also have hundreds of millions of unused paid time off (AKA PTO).

  • Making time for what matters

Those 5 words may best summarize what BreakAway is all about. And really, if your employer gives you the gift of time, you’re not even really making it. You’re just not taking it. Which brings us to a longer variation of our $1m tagline:

  • Making and TAKING time for what matters MOST

Free time matters MOST! Mr. Johnson outlines some common-sense savvy on how to BreakAway from the vocation and find that vacation…we’ll honor those. But first, here are some convincing details about the profundity of the need…

We mentioned: 100s of millions of FREE days go unspent and often, lost.

Nearly ½ of employees don’t take all their days. (Pew)

As burnout rates keep rising, 2/3 of workers say time off is the cure. (Aflac)

Numerous studies prove that more R&R leads to less heart attacks, depression, etc.

Worried about keeping up? WRONG! Performance rates actually rise with time off. (E&Y)

Dream therapy: Even the planning and anticipation of time off lowers stress. (AAA)

R&R also clearly lowers stress. Which improves job attendance, performance, longevity. I mean…Sure, bosses want hard workers, but not sick (or dead!) ones.

  • Some ways to maximize your getaway potential

Over-achievers are always welcome, right? Well then, let’s look at ways to also achieve our potential as well-rounded, we’ll-rested relaxation renegades…

Extend holidays. 3-day weekend? Make it 4, 5, 6, or 7!

Seek staycations. Simplify the logistics and hunker down in your bed or hammock.

Maximize mental health days. Maybe you need it; or perhaps your parents or kids need your help. Don’t be shy. In fact, why not sneak in a narcissism day!?!

Avoid saving up your sickness days. Oh sure, you may need them worse later. But if you stay well rested and recreation-ed, you’re less likely to get sick!

Shop for another way to be away. As employers gradually broaden their offerings, ask about family leave, volunteer days, and bereavement. (Use that bereavement day to lament the lost days off you may have missed in your lifetime.)

  • SUB: It’s never too late to dream on

However you motivate yourself, put it to work! On BreakAways, not…work! Keep a fantasy file? Watch travel shows? Challenge yourself to (at least) one getaway per month? Say YES to invites that come your way? Visit those long-lost (and maybe aging) friends and relatives. Take off with that camera, guitar or other once-vital hobby.

I know, I know…it’s easy for me to say. While I HAVE worked hard (and sometimes still do), I’ve excelled at…Making and taking time for what matters most.

Please join me. Wherever we’re going. Hope to see you there…

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FOTOFRIDAY: So Far Away, Yet So Halloween

Posted on: Friday, October 27th, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

It’s the spooky season…Beware of wayward pirates!

St. Vincent gets flown over by most tourists, but maybe that’s one reason this mountainous Caribbean island has been on my mind lately. As winter begins to slam MN, seems like the myriad snowbirds flock (slam?) to…Florida. Or Mexico. Who even thinks about St. Vinny? Well, I do. Fun fact: There are steel drum jams, but no traffic jams there!

Maybe folks are afraid. Imagine how many people had to die—and then get dug up—to find all these coffins! In truth, they’re leftovers from the filming of “The Curse of the Black Pearl.” And probably long since rotted away, as pic comes from January 2009. But you could see a LOT of sets, scenes, and (of course) coffins, if you had the right…guidebook!

Hey if it’s good enough for Captain Jack Sparrow (and Johnny Depp), it’s good enough for me. Aaaaarrrgghh…

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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: 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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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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Winter Couped-up Creativity…or Craziness?

Posted on: Friday, February 24th, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment

What color are your eyes?

BreakAway preaches the gospel of seeking and creating beauty wherever and whenever possible. Nature is often the best collaborator. And travel most always provides nonstop inspiration and eye-opening moments.

Having said THAT, it’s possible that this winter may be getting to some of us. I mean, the concept of this piece was pretty cool—and I have a LONG history of making ‘art’ on fresh snow (see below). But! The fresh slippery snow on VERY slick ice and a hellaciously strong wind (that kept blowing the shirts away) made the execution harder than the inspiration.

Dangerous? Yep. Difficult? Damn straight. Stupid? Naaaah. Even Monet probably had a bad day. Might be time to start planning that belated warm-weather BreakAway? Keep the faith…

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D-Day Clock; Long Covid; Living P2P

Posted on: Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, BITN | Leave a comment

Have we entered dystopian times? This skull—and some other sources—seem to think so.

BreakAways in the News (BITN) is back after a short sabbatical. Thanks for your patience…

The interns continue to pile up clippings that relate to our attempts to BreakAway from the things that ail us (more on that shortly) and leap into leisure, calm, and getting away from IT all. Here’s out take on a few of the latest news bits…

  • We’re 90 seconds from … THE END

A Peter Sellers movie? Monty Python, perhaps? No, it’s a thing. The Doomsday Clock, as set by the Atomic Scientists, recently was turned forward from 100 seconds to 90 seconds. Until midnight, AKA the end of…time.

The D-Day Committee (which includes experts in all things nuclear, climate, global health, etc.) meets twice a year, as they have since 1947. And their optimism keeps waning. Consider this: At one point, the clock was 17 minutes from midnight! That was in 1991, at the end of the Cold War. Who knew we were living in such blissy times?

Naturally, they are concerned about the Ukraine invasion, nuclear escalation, disease, and climate hell. Our takeaway: Don’t postpone joy. Know your priorities. And do what you can to live as though there is no tomorrow.

One of these days, if this clock is at all timely, that could be true.

  • Long Covid continues to shorten careers (and lives)

To some, Covid was a hoax—perhaps something akin to the Doomsday Clock. To others, Covid lives on, and not in a good way. According to a recent New York study, 18% of Long Covid patients were still unable to return to work 1 year after becoming ill. And more than 75% of them are younger than 60.

Have you noticed the nonstop stories (and Help Wanted signs) re worker shortages lately? Prognosticators continue to blame the usual suspects: Early retirement, The Great Quit, demographics. All have truth, but as Harvard professor David Cutler puts it, “Covid is not over, and it won’t be for some time.” Cue the Help Wanted sign.

Thus, the BreakAway lobbyists will continue to fight for health benefits and practices, seeing yourself as a citizen of Planet Earth (rather than a party of 1), and…again…chasing your dreams while we still can.

  • 64% of Americans nearly broke 

Nearly 2/3 (64%) of Americans admit they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s up 3% from the end of 2021. And more than half who make more than $100K also belong to this crumbling club.

Once again, the pandemic comes into play. Despite the government’s generosity during that time, people slipped backward. Meanwhile, inflation has come back with an ugliness not seen since the 70s. And yes, some of us remember that time—and the sight of parents fretting over the stack of bills late into the night.

So save some of your money and save yourself, please. BreakAway’s simple 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness will help. And the payoff may be even better than that sabbatical in Spain; you will help fight back against yet another killer illness: Stress.

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11 2023 Resolutions for Better BreakAway Living

Posted on: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Finally, something we all agree on: It’s a new year! So for starters, let loose your inner artist. You’ll feel better and everyone will love it!

Lose weight? Too old and tired. Work out more? Been there, done that. Keep a cleaner house? Who cares!?!

Try some simpler, sillier ways to seek sanity this year and BreakAway from the daily grind, the dark daze of winter, and that post-holiday ennui. Though not all bold, brash, or breakthrough, they may help you have a livelier year and be a better YOU!

  1. Get crafty. Kids love to make things. You’re still a kid at heart, right? (See photo above: $1 Store candle holder, epoxy, shiny stuff. Voila!)
  2. Make beauty. Maybe your downtown has gone dystopian. But your yard, home, and office can easily be a place of grace. Noticing beauty (it’s everywhere) feels good, too.
  3. Start a zenny hobby. A favorite writer of mine carries on about birds, seasons, nature. He’s turning me into a laid-back birdwatcher. Who knew!?!
  4. Try a brainy hobby. Some say our brains start rotting as we get older. I can attest! Maybe it’s time to join the legions of cross-puzzlers, or at least tune into Jeopardy now and then!
  5. Save some bucks. How? There are countless, EZ ways! Cancel spendy apps and subs. Cook your own (or chase happy hours). Drive less. Skip Taylor and support local entertainers (She’ll still love you).
  6. Eat better. The bunnies know. Carrots are good for you. And there are a million ways to cook them. Remember: Fast food isn’t good…Good food isn’t fast.
  7. Party better. Oh sure, some of those beers (etc.) have fewer cals and carbs. But hey! There’s a beer revolution going on! And new bars and eateries that need support. Life is short; drink decent wine.
  8. Caretake loved ones. Ask for same. We need each other—the most important thing we have.
  9. Resist the screens. FACT: Just about everyone you know spends more time on screens than the year before. Help us break that tragic trend. Reality is 3D. So…
  10. Go outside. THEY say that your mental health bumps up measurably with just 30 minutes a day outdoors. You’ll feel refreshed, and the birds will notice you.
  11. Escape to somewhere new. A recent Daddy Date with my daughter to a nearby small town was delightful, eye-opening, and just plain fun. Next up: A dessert? An island? A campground?

Hope to see you there. And … Happy New Year!

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