Kick-Ass Host: Kirk Horsted

All of our local kick-ass Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the time leading up to our National Event in October we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet our Kick-Ass Minneapolis Host: Kirk Horsted

Inspiration Can Come in the Strangest of Ways: A faded article in a throwaway file

I’m a lucky soul—because I’ve had four career breaks over the last 20 years. But I will say this: It gets harder every time. With the last one, I wasn’t certain it would happen until I was zipping up the luggage in those final moments before the airport cab arrived. Let me share with you the angst—and a-has—that led up to that point.

The timing was (nearly) perfect

When’s the perfect time for a sabbatical? There isn’t one! But when my son entered 6th grade and my daughter started kindergarten, I knew a short window was wide open—because all my sources warned that when my boy started middle school the following year, the “Powers That Be” would put up resistance to an extended absence.

As for our elementary school, however, the principal was wildly supportive; her only complaint was that we were unable to bring her along! We did need to take on home schooling, though—which was fine, since I’d always wanted to try it. But frankly, that proved to be the biggest challenge of the trip.

But what about activities, ETC!

To be sure, not everyone supported our radical sabbatical. My son’s traveling basketball team was not happy. A few clients also cried foul. And Daisy, the cat, yowled for weeks at the notion of having only a part-time cat-sitter to feed and spoil her. But we schemed away, anyway.

Great! (But where to go?)

We determined the dates. We scored a sweet airfare deal that took us to the U.S. Virgin Islands just before Christmas—and home out of Puerto Rico 69 days later. We nailed down a budget and a wish list of experiences, accommodations, environments, priorities, and ideas. We stayed focused on the kids’ needs, because if they ain’t happy…

And then we froze. Literally—because it was October in Minnesota. But even worse, we got stuck in cold, confused indecision about where we would spend the days in between. We knew it would be in the Caribbean/West Indies. But beyond that, we were clueless.

Web research devolved into dizzying drifting. Brainstorming sessions turned testy. And every possible location featured some unacceptable imperfection. Climate. Crime. Transportation. Language. Too crowded. Too expensive. Too fancy. Too too too… It was too much!

Then an old file appeared

Then one boring Sunday, while throwing out some old files, I came upon a forgotten folder marked, simply, TRAVEL. Despite my desire to remain productive, I sat down, opened it up, and found a 1994 article about the island of Grenada. The pictures were sublime. The stories alluring. The history fascinating. The review was a rave.

Ever had one of those moments when you just know, “This is it!”? Well, I did. I could practically smell “The Spice Island,” hear the calypso music, and feel the waves crashing like fresh ideas into my brain. Inspiration can arrive in the strangest of ways!

Who? Where? When? How long?

555 questions remained unanswered, of course. But suddenly, the wind was at our back, and we were on course. Within days, we created an itinerary that included time on the islands of St. Vincent, Bequia, and Puerto Rico—and one luxurious month exploring Grenada.

On, the blurb about that career break sums it up like this: “2008-9: The Great Escape. 69 days in the West Indies & Caribbean. Mission: To show my children another way of learning and being, escape winter, chase destiny, and launch this website.”

Yes, Grenada was like Harry Belafonte’s Caribbean—beautiful, safe, proud, polite, and lost in time. And oh yes, my children swam in waterfalls, helped in an impoverished school, went fishing with brawny natives, and got an A for effort in home schooling—as evidenced by my son’s own travel blog, BreakAwayKid.

Zip up the luggage and fly away…

Nowadays, I dream of the next Big Break, comfortable with humble uncertainty about when, how, and (of course) where. Yet I keep the faith—and a file. Because I now know that something as simple as a clipped newspaper article may contain my destiny.

And when taking a career break, isn’t seeking a sweeter destiny what it’s really all about?

Check out the Minneapolis event details.

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