SoulTrain

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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FOTOFRIDAY: What Are You Thankful For?

Posted on: Friday, November 18th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A year ago, I travelled to Portland, OR to watch my daughter play college soccer. THANKS to other parents, I was driven to the out-of-town game, introduced to tailgating under tarps in the rain, and screaming into frosty air throughout 2 wins in 2 days. Thanks, folks!

Funny: As I stumbled on this picture today, I had to dig into (what’s left of) my memory. Where were we, again? (A coffee shop on the way to Willamette.) Why are there other references to our soccer team? (Other parents must have gotten there first.) What am I thankful for? (My post-it says: Jesper and Elsa.)

The world is crashing and burning with things to worry about. Fortunately, “there is so much to be thankful for” also. In this season of thanks, remember to say “thank you” often. And remember to go through your old photos now and then. You’ll be thankful you did.

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New Carousel Pics Show BreakAway Extremes

Posted on: Thursday, October 27th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Extremes are hot these days—as in climate change, political divides, and BreakAway photo exhibits. Please take a glance at the lovely new photo pairing in the carousel above. Today we add another pair of opposites that somehow attract.

  • Some like it jam-packed

This photo from just another day at the MN State Fair demonstrates the other-worldly peace and joy that many folks feel from large crowds (other than, perhaps the sheriffs). The Fair routinely attracts 200,000 warm bodies a day. In similar scenes, the Penn State ‘White Out’ football game last Saturday hosted 110,000 fans. In one stadium.

These gatherings are hardly alone, and keep good, crowded company with music festivals, religious events (the haj attracts ~2.5 million pilgrims) and celebrity spectacles (think: Pope, Queen, funerals).

Most people, if asked, would say they don’t love crowded spaces. And yet we not only rush toward them when inspired, we achieve a profound sense of both escape and belonging. One that often costs a lot, requires ample planning, and may take days to recover from. Yet the memories and euphoria far outweigh the hassles.

  • Some like it solo

This charming picture of my daughter, chilling on a Caribbean beach, shows the other BreakAway extreme. Who doesn’t need to unplug, be alone, and seek some P&Q now and then? On this day, the beach was nearly empty, providing an idyllic spot to meditate while surrounded by nature and beauty. Far, far away from home and distraction.

How else do people elude the world’s relentless noise and masses? We could never count the ways, there are so many. But fishing comes to mind, as I often see their mellow and placid selves floating by. Others run, bike, swim, ski. Many unplug to read, write, garden, play music, or just…sit.

“Sit” is another word for meditating. When I see this pic of my daughter, I feel serenity.

As did she. I hope you do too—whether you find it via a BreakAway into swarms of like-minded people. Or choose to slip away into your quiet, happy space. Or both!

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Travel Fights Hate Better than lululemon

Posted on: Monday, October 24th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

“Welcome…We expect you to…We will not tolerate…”

Today’s post dips into many of the topics we’ve been wading in of late: Advertising, wordsmithing, photographic messages, escapism, cultural chaos, and of course, travel. Please dive in and discuss amongst yourselves.

  • When life gives you lulu…

When I found myself escaping to the mall yesterday, I found myself taken aback by this sign at the entrance of lulu’s boutique of lemons. On the one hand, high 5s for the aggressive, stern stance. On the other hand, really? I mean, I’ve received unprovoked stinkeye for walking into rooms hosting folks from rednecks to blue bloods. But a trendy yoga gear store?

I felt guilty, though un-charged.

  • Words matter

After kicking it around for a while, the BreakAway Woke Committee flashed the yellow card at Ms. Lemon. Lulu’s marketeers likely loved our mild warning; it was yellow, after all.

We take our writing, if little else, seriously here at BreakAway. And delicate nuances that always deserve extra consideration are tone and voice. Does lulu’s verbiage feel inviting? Inclusive? Encouraging and moving? Statements of aspiration or mission can be great, and should strive to guide and inspire. You want to get such things right.

Does this feel right? Maybe to their customers, which skew white and middle/upper class (though I doubt it). That’s not me, not exactly. And the only thing I ever bought at LLL was a discounted (but still $$$) backpack. The zipper immediately broke—with no returns on sale merch. So maybe I’m still sour…lemons.

But still, let’s strive, dear readers and travelers, to preach our messages and change the world with graciousness, welcomeness, and positive voices.

As George Clinton (the King of Funk) says (and he knows way more than the lemon crew about shaking your booty), “Free your mind…and your ass will follow.”

  • Moral of the story 

I asked myself about two favorite, oh-so different, places I love to escape to: The Caribbean and Italy. I pondered: Would you see such a sign there? Highly unlikely. Do they have issues about race, class, and tolerance? Yes. Is saying “We expect you” and “We do not tolerate” a great way to start the conversation about (to quote Rodney King)…”CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?

When you travel, you have no choice but to get along…to open your mind to new people, new viewpoints, new ways of living. And they open their doors to you: In my experience, most (if not all) destinations proudly accept you. And tolerate you. And welcome you warmly…with curious and generous hearts. I’ll say it:

People who travel a lot, assuming they get out and experience things, grow more open minds. And hearts. Thanks to their hosts. (What kind of a host is lululemon?)

Journey pilgrims are also always dreaming and scheming their next big (or small) Breakaway. They want their hearts to grow three sizes more, like the Grinch.

They go home grateful, spiritually moved, and more hopeful for humanity. That can be a rare feeling these days. lululemon must agree, or they might not post such a sharp but blunt “welcome” sign.

  • Go with good intent

Having said all THAT, may their sign somehow be making the world a better place. I think that’s their objective. Insert 🙌 (raised hands in celebration) here.

“Love is the answer.” ~Todd Rundgren (rock star)

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ~Jesus (Jesus Christ, Superstar)

Keep the faith. (breakawayguy)

My boy learning about fishing from lovely Caribbean locals with love in their hearts…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Summer, Like the Lake Lily, Will Fall

Posted on: Friday, September 30th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

One month ago to the day, the lakes (the lucky ones!) were abloom with these indigenous lilies that take your breath away and beg loudly to pose in the sun.

The lovely White Water Lily, so common on MN lakes and vital to their ecosystem, has now ceased blooming and begun its descent into, well, fall. My kayak has lots of lily friends, so we hang out quite often. They host a great environment for meditating (meaning: catch a tan…and some vitamin D). Who needs the trendy lotus, wherever they are?

I snapped this pic with the iPhone 13 and did a bit of editing later. I still find myself in discussions (debates?) of 35mm, film, digital, phone camera brands, what have ya. Sure, my opinions can make a modest splash like the waves around the lilies. But in the end, a good shot is a good shot.

IMHO, this is a pretty good shot. FBOW, I have hundreds of lily portraits. The lilies always shout, “Take a picture of me.” Then the ones over there shout louder, “No! Me!” And so it goes. They all deserve their moment. And I love staring at the images later, when the blooms have begun to sink slowly to the muddy bottom, rather like a SAD reaction to fall…

But hey, we’ve got the pics to reminisce. And remind us that this whole annual upheaval remains as natural as the lily’s fragile cycle. Did you know these blossoms each last only one day? Well, now you do!

The seasonal changes can feel almost violent here in MN. We try to like the drama; helps us know that time is passing. Like life itself. So seize the day. And snap that picture.

Speaking of weather violence, the BreakAway staff sends love and hope to the people and nature of Florida. Sanibel…Captiva…the Keys… Manatees, pelicans, dolphins showing off alongside our sailboat… So many still-palpable memories. And surely many fine pics, dating back to my first visit (for a spring break) in 1980…

May all that precious nature somehow survive and revive. Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Picture Roulette…Returning to College

Posted on: Friday, August 26th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A new student steps through the historical arches and into the metaphorical portals of her life-changing BreakAway for higher education.

In my world, the mind is racing, the desk is a neglected mess, and this sunny day screams for some overdue yardwork. So I let my puter roll like a shot machine to choose this FOTOFRIDAY. Imagine my surprise when, out of 70,000+ digital images, the Gods landed on the August 2015 weekend I took my favorite (and only) son to college at Princeton.

Cosmic? Just this morning, my favorite (and only) daughter left to fly away to college at Lewis & Clark (Portland). I was not a part of this posse—just one of the many perks and pains of a broken family. My house seems quiet and empty already, though I try to avoid the verklempt. But no matter what, I STILL BELIEVE IN EDUCATION. Emphatically so.

Learning. It’s complicated. And getting complicated-er. Thanks to Covid, more than 50% of the students in MN high schools are now wa-a-a-a-ay behind standards for math and well, everything. Meanwhile, Biden is wiping out $280 billion in student debt. Nice. For those with the lucky timing to qualify—not me, not my kids, no one I know. Education costs a lot.

Is it fair? Of course not. Life is not fair. College teaches that. And so much more—the most memorable and meaningful having little to do with books, and more about inspirational teachers, best friends that last forever, card games and cold pizza at midnight, and mastering the art of juggling competing demands and emotional thunderstorms.

College remains, without question, one of the ultimate potential BreakAways of a lifetime. Imagine: 4 years of Ivory Tower living and learning, somewhere away from home, with new besties and lovers and beer bashes at your fingertips. Oh sure, there are risks and jerks and a million things that can go wrong. But smart students learn: It’s what I make of it.

That’s what BreakAways are all about. Most of us envy you these youthful learners. So hey, students: Take this precious gift seriously (moreso than yourself). Open your minds to weird opportunities and people. See the world. Change the world. Turn those roots into wings and help fly us all into a better future.

We’re counting on you!

PS And above all, have fun.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Cheers to the Humble Kayak!

Posted on: Friday, July 29th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

The swift, spacious Bayliner runabout of my future remains on hold. Until then, a kayak always offers a dreamy ride.

Kayaking is booming. And why not? They’re eco-friendly, easy to schlep around, provide exercise, and promise a delightful time for most anyone with two arms and sense of … balance.

On this summer evening, I expected a boat party invitation (or two). But alas, folks were out of town, out to dinner, or running out of the frenzy that erupts during those early giddy weeks of boating season. I knew what to do: Jump in and paddle out into the warm setting sun.

Oh sure, I missed the friends and laughter and booming tunes. But I instead savored a simple, solo bliss. And there was little risk of feeling lonely, as the local loon couple stopped by to warble hello before soon flying south for their annual snowbirding BreakAway.

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Confessions from a Summer Sabbatical

Posted on: Thursday, July 21st, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment

Summertime…and the livin’ is easy. (I should really trademark that…) 

Yowza! A month has flown by with nary a rant, snappy FotoFriday, or challenging jabberwocky. No wonder the landlines and faxes have been rattling; the piles have been tumbling. Well, as the youth say today, “Sorries!” It appears we here have been smoking our own Kool-Aid. Please know the inspirational backlog WILL get attention. But in the meantime…

  • Summer IS the social season…so jump in and hang on!

Sometimes, these fun-in-the-sun opportunities can become deliciously daunting obstacles to work, to chores, to…who cares? Said obstacles include lazing with the offspring. Jaunts to old haunts. Grooving with nature. Melt-your-mind sundowns and full-moon cruises. Grad parties where the real hootin’ begins after the cake {not keg} is gone. And best of all—whether at all-day music fests, faraway hometowns, or bucolic docks—the reunions of old friends. Nothing better.

Yep, BreakAway ditches the 2dew lists and shuns the ole’ rolodex when the pontoon party spontaneously pulls up. I mean, isn’t that what we really preach here in this passion project? Breaking away matters more than keeping up with the inbox. Even the interns agree! (Or so their emojis suggest…)

  • A quiet word from a sponsor: Purpose

Work is real. Purpose is important. And aspirations kick ass. We don’t mean to become a symbol of shirking. Seriously! (End of serious message.)

But really, if life is short, summer is a snap. So protect your priorities. Chase your bliss. As Mr. Ray (the cantankerous, hilarious, and wise-as-owls Maitre D’hotel who schooled countless of us hospitality pros) would say, “I’m the luckiest man in the world…because I have so many friends.”

Family, first of course. And then…Friends make life beautiful! It’s good to have people. So one ground rule of my summer games is simple: Never say no to a social invitation. To quote the St. Paul Saints: Fun is Good!

  • Not to worry…BreakAway updates aplenty await!

We will catch up. We will survive. We are excited about new contacts, buzzing opportunities, and an almost-urgent wealth of ideas and topics. To tease out just a few…

ReWorking (the series) will tell all about Casual Fridays morphing into Home Fridays…and summer Fridays off!

…and then offer updates on the work-at-home (R)evolution…the 4-day workweek movement…employers finally blessing baby & family leaves…and more!

And for the kids (and their parents), as Covid wanes, we’re witnessing a wave of gap years, live-at-home reboots, and a rethinking of education and lifestyle options.

  • Embrace today; tomorrow will wait

One message still rings loud and too true: A person never knows just how many days/years life will promise. (Just ask us cancer survivors!) So seize the play. Retire now and then. Seek and capture your preferred BreakAways when in reach. You’ll thank yourself, and your Gods. You’ll feel better. And we (if not Mr. Bossman)will still love you!

WHEN (not if) tomorrow comes…Please watch for backfills, updates, breaking stuff, revised top copy, more killer photos, new carousel combos, and emphatic permission to board whatever boat floats you to your happy place.

Thanks for listening. And for your patience. And above all,

Follow the light…

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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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