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Break Idea: “Find Your Glass Canvas”

Break Idea: “Find Your Glass Canvas”

“Grab a marker and get over here, Brittany Johnson,” my dad shouted playfully from the living room.

I quickly dug through my art cabinet in the kitchen and grabbed a skinny, turquoise Crayola marker.

As I approached him by the window, my eyes widened and my cheeks gave way for a big, fat smile. He was pointing to a b-eau-ti-FULL summer moon and motioning for the marker.

What happened next blew my 7-year-old mind.

He started TRACING the MOON…on the window. (!!!) 

Not only was my dad rebelliously drawing on a surface you just don’t put markers to, but the outline of the MOON was actually surprisingly small.

This perspective was fascinating, disappointing and entertaining all at once.

“Your turn,” he said.

I stood to the right of his moon (much lower on the glass, of course) and started tracing my own. I, too, got rebellious. I colored mine in. 😉

Then, he got down on his knees and traced another.
Then, I traced one.
Then, he traced one.

Before we knew it, we had 20+ variations of tiny circles on the window. And before they knew it, they were wiped away. (Hello, Windex!)

Although these circles were short-lived on the surface, they were permanently pocketed in my memory like craters on the moon.

Something so ridiculously simple became undeniably memorable.

Something so “everyday” and “always there” (the window!) became a glass canvas for possibility and creativity. 

And all we did was draw small circles!

Imagine what could come of taking it to another level and tracing/drawing more.
Or even doing this on a regular basis.

Imagine what other everyday things might *also* become easels for creative endeavors or intentional breaks.

So, go ahead. Find YOUR glass canvas!

5-for-5 (6)

ENABLE POSSIBILITY

What could come of YOU “tracing the moon?” What does that mean for YOU right this very moment? Get your hands on a dry-erase marker or washable Crayola, beeline to the nearest strip ‘o glass and just. start. tracing.

This could mean…
…dotting the stars.
…tracing the trees.
…following moving cars/people with streaks of motion.
…tracing the lines of office buildings.
…writing hilarious thought bubbles coming from different objects/people.
…whatever you want the tracing to mean.

Why tracing?

:: It’s fun, boosts confidence, starts a conversation and uses both sides of the brain.

(Not feeling window tracing? Check out that link above for other ideas. Hint: Transparency paper!)

Embarrassed to possibly do this in front of others? Got an audience? Ask someone to join you. You just might bring out the 7-year-old in them…and you.

Speaking of KIDS…what a great way to have fun together in the house or even in the car. And tracing is a GREAT way to build motor skills!

You just might…

…shift your perspective.
…create your own inspired memory.
…have a new biz/work/life idea.
…find a new, favorite way to relax.
…make a new friend.
…discover a new way to hold meetings.
…find your next setting for a brainstorm.

What are you waiting for?
Find your window, yo!

Not feeling the tracing?
Try window DOODLING!

Why doodling?

:: It helps you concentrate, be more productive, keep you in the present moment, boost creativity + generate new ideas.

Need some inspo? These might get the window juices flowing…

Craving a little accountability?

Tell us how it went in the comments or come on over to The Break Changer Facebook group!

Happy Drawing,
Brit

Take a load off and get your weekend back with Closetbox

Take a load off and get your weekend back with Closetbox

As you may know, The Break Changer is all about taking breaks, slowing down and letting go of the heavy stuff. So occasionally, I welcome reviews on companies and products that echo this philosophy.

The following guest post is a feature on Closetbox, a local startup that wants to give you your weekend back. They’re all about helping you simplify your life…so you can get ON with your life.

Guest post

How Closetbox turned self-storage into a valet industry

Guest Blogger: Brittany Anas

Marcus and Katy Mollmann realized they needed to convert a dining room into a playroom soon after they welcomed newborn twins. Their family had grown from two children to four. With a baby in each hand, opening a pickle jar was hard enough; forget trying to rearrange a room and haul furniture and baby clothes to a self-storage unit.

One night, while up late holding babies, the Mollmanns got the idea to start Closetbox. The company, which takes a concierge-like approach, was built with their own self-storage challenges in mind.

The idea?

When people are going through life transitions — whether that’s a move, needing to make room for another baby (or two!), a military deployment, moving a parent into a retirement community — they are busy enough, and shouldn’t have to fuss with all the moving, hauling, driving and unloading associated with conventional self-storage.

Closetbox’s solution? Take the hassle out of storage by offering low-cost pick-up, and then delivering items back to customers on-demand.

“Nobody had been looking at storage from a customer’s viewpoint,” said Marcus Mollman, the company’s founder. “We started with the customer in mind. Instead of building more storage buildings, we developed our business around customers.”

Within the past 3 1/2 years, Closetbox, a startup based in Denver, has taken off and is now serving 75 markets and continually expanding, signaling the demand for more convenient and storage solutions.

To date, Mollmann has raised $12.5 million in series A funding from investors who are enthusiastic about the company’s explosive growth and eager to invest in a model that is challenging traditional self-storage.

With the start-up company’s valet approach, storage becomes seamless. Customers pack up their belongings, and then Closetbox picks them up and moves them to a secure, climate-controlled warehouse where they are safely stored.

“You don’t want to deal with a lost weekend,” Mollman said. “You can tell us what you want picked up, we’ll get there and pick it up for you, and then you go on with your day.”

Using a digital inventory system, customers can view a personal dashboard and select which items they they want back — maybe those snowboards come winter or that twin bed once a child returns home from college. Closetbox then returns the items on-demand, often within 48 hours.

The model is tailored to today’s customers who have come to expect these kinds of on-demand services. Just like renting a movie on iTunes is more convenient than going to a video rental store to peruse DVD, Closetbox is providing a more convenient approach to self-storage.

Yet Closetbox, which was started in 2014, is able to charge its customers the same amount or less than they would pay using self-storage, even with all the added services the company offers. That’s because Closetbox is truly disrupting the storage industry, making existing logistics markets more efficient using a distributed model that taps into existing logistics markets.

Here’s how that works:

Customers’ belongings are kept in private vaults in already-existing, secure warehouses. These state-of-the-art facilities have 24-7 surveillance and often also store commercial and military goods.

For pick-up and delivery services, Closetbox relies on licensed, insured and bonded logistics professionals who have decades of experience and are trained in moving belongings. Not only does the company do the heavy lifting, but they also ensure your furniture, heirlooms and other belongings don’t get damaged or broken — which you run the risk of when you move things yourself or with a buddy, Mollman said.

“Without the right equipment, it’s hard to safely move furniture,” he said. “And, if you rent your own truck and take a turn too tight, you risk damaging pictures, TVs, dressers and keepsakes.”

In total, the company has 3,000 plus vehicles on the road and 10 million square feet of storage space.

With this model, Closetbox has grown into the largest, full-service storage company in the world — by far. The full-service storage company is serving 75 markets in 36 states and Washington, D.C., and is eyeing international expansion. It’s largest competitor is only serving seven markets.

Since Closetbox’s first external funding in Sept. 2015, the company has served tens of thousands of customers, seen 16x revenue growth and 90 percent compounded quarterly revenue growth.

Small businesses, too, are turning to Closetbox for storage needs. For example, galleries that rent space in high-price markets have used Closetbox to safely store artwork between exhibits, Mollmann said.

Closetbox’s customers span generations, and have different needs.

Mollman’s own family, for example, stores a dining room table that Mollmann ate Thanksgiving dinners at when he was a child. He also stores some of his children’s schoolwork because someday, his family will enjoy looking back at it.

The company has helped a young woman move to a new city to pursue a new career. An elderly man whose wife passed away used Closetbox to come pick up his late wife’s belongings as she had encouraged him before her death to “put all of the stuff away, and move on.”

“Oftentimes, when you need storage, you’re stressed,” Mollmann said. “Maybe you’re going through an exciting life event. Or maybe you’re grieving. We want to be able to take away the burden of storage.”

With their unique model and nationwide presence, looks like they’ve done just that.

Guess the Artist: Strengthen your brain and boost your mood with this fun break

Guess the Artist: Strengthen your brain and boost your mood with this fun break

“I’m about to play you a song from the 90s,” said my husband, one night as he was surfing his iPad. “Let’s see if you can guess the artist.”

It was one of those so-bad-it’s-good classics that I KNEW I knew, but couldn’t quite pull it off the tip of my tongue. I was pulling my hair, squinting and rocking back and forth.

“I know this…Gahhhh! I know this…OK, TELL ME,” I said.

“3 Doors Down,” David laughed.
“I KNEW IT! DANGIT!” I shouted.

Remember Kryptonite? Yeah, that was the one.

“MY turn!” I said with an evil laugh.

Not sure if I busted out 98 Degrees or Backstreet Boys, but I’m sure it was a boy band, and I assure you David immediately got it.

“How did YOU know that?” I asked.
“Dang…TRL of course,” he said.

Can you guess what ended up happening for the next FOUR hours? We got into a heated, hilarious match of guess-that-artist ping pong till 1 a.m. This game was SO good we didn’t even turn on the TV. My cheeks hurt from all the laughing. You know what else was sore?

MY BRAIN. Not only is this game and listening to music in general FUN, but it’s a total cerebral workout.

Research shows that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain while also improving sleep, mood, mental alertness and memory.

“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist.* “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool.”

*Hold up: What the heck is that o-word, you ask? Otolaryngology, pronounced oh/toe/lair/in/goll/oh/jee, is the oldest medical specialty in America. These docs, commonly referred to as ENT physicians, help patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, as well as connected structures in the head and neck.

Here’s another mind-blowing fact:

Music occupies more areas of our brain than language does. In the womb, it’s one of the first sections to form. (A fetus starts to develop its auditory system between 17 and 19 weeks!) Then, when memory declines, music recognition is actually one of the last things to go.

We humans are more musical than we think, and music is more *healing* than we think.

In his book Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks digs into the power of music in patients, musicians and everyday people: a lightning-strike victim who suddenly aspires to be a pianist at 42, a man whose memory spans only seven seconds for everything except music, how music can make those with Parkinson’s disease actually start to move, help non-speaking stroke patients speak again, relax those with Alzheimer’s and organize those with amnesia.

Are you SO inspired to turn on some tunes?

Here’s your suggested challenge:

  1. Grab a partner in listening crime and any song-playing device of your choice. (Wanna keep score? Grab some pen and paper.)
  2. It’s key to pick a genre or theme you both feel comfortable and knowledgeable with. When I started playing indie rock songs from 2004-2006 for David and he started playing Texas country for me, it quickly killed the mood. 😉
  3. Take turns playing the first 15-20 seconds of a song. (Want to make it even more intense? Play the first three seconds!)
  4. If your opponent can guess either the artist, the chorus or the song title, they get a point!
  5. Get ready to be HOOKED.
  6. Enjoy your sore cheeks and sweaty brain!

If this game is this entertaining for two people on a couch, just imagine the possibilities in other scenarios.

I could see this being a 10-minute ice-breaker activity at a conference, in a meeting or on a date. It could be a way to kick the afternoon slump at the office, a morale booster in the classroom, a bonding activity with kiddos and oh-so-much more.

And remember: It doesn’t have to be music. You could hop on YouTube and do this with movie clips, TV shows, celebrity interviews, animal sounds, Broadway musicals, languages and [insert your idea here].

Just have FUN and stretch. that. memory.

Want more where this came from?

Join my 5-day break challenge!

Not only are we tackling ALL NEW breaks this time, but I have a feeling that the five-minute mindset will be mega enticing and spark all kinds of possibility.

PLUS, as we all know, putting a little money in the mix surely ups our commitment, you know?

If you’re new to The Break Changer or need a refresher, here’s how the challenge will go:

  • For five days, you’ll receive an email each morning with your suggested mini break for that day.
  • This digital arrival will contain info on WHY this kind ‘o breather is good for ya as well as inspiration + tips on HOW to make it happen. I won’t share the actual break till that day, but we WILL be exploring these five categories:…stillness
    …movement
    …reflection
    …connection
    …play
  • When you’re up for it, you’ll take the break on for five minutes. Feelin’ adventurous? Go LONGER! (The five-minute mindset is really just a mind trick to get us GOING…)
  • Then, if you feel like sharing how it went/seeing what others are buzzin’ about, you’ll pop into a closed Facebook group and chat it up (or lurk it up! you do you!) with your fellow Break Changers.

It’s so simple it’s almost silly! But what RESULTS from it is magic. Why?

:: A little rest could CHANGE the rest ::

And I’m not just talkin’ napping, lying on the couch or soaking in a bath. In TBC land, we not only explore not-so-obvious ways to rest/recharge/chill, but we dig into the kind ‘o rest that goes beyond “standard stillness.”

In other words…

Rest *can* make ya sweat.
Rest *can* be creative.
Rest *can* give your brain a workout.
Rest *can* involve dry erase markers. (Ope! That’s a hint for one of the breaks!)

Here are some other hints:

>> You’ll get to take your mind on a limitless journey to anywhere you choose.
>> You might start finding unexpected solace in stop lights.
>> You might see your “soles” in an entirely new way.
>> You’ll definitely see a certain exercise in a whole new light.
>> You’ll never see a window the same way again.

SO…

Want some new ideas to get your break on and a sweet community to share it with?

Too many ideas? Narrow down with this 60-second exercise

Too many ideas? Narrow down with this 60-second exercise

Do you suffer from TMIS? I do!

And no, it’s not the syndrome of sharing too-close-for-comfort details with those who aren’t ready to receive ’em, although I totally fit in that bucket, too. #thisonetimeatbandcamp #TMI

For this post, though, we’re talkin’ Too Many Ideas Syndrome.

Writers, creatives, entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, dreamers and kids seem to be big sufferers of this. So, basically, we’ve ALL experienced this at some point, if not right now!

Recently, I stumbled upon an old article on how to overcome Too Many Ideas Syndrome. It’s geared toward writers and is packed with grrreat ideas on narrowing down. But something big happened for me when I read the following:

Award-winning screenwriter Cynthia Whitcomb, who has sold 70 screenplays and seen 29 come to the screen, puts on a chef’s hat [when she’s overwhelmed]. Her advice:

“Think of your ideas like pots on the stove in the kitchen of your creative mind. Lift the lids and look inside. One of them is always closest to being soup. Write that one first.”

Cynthia’s method for narrowing down topics is not only GENIUS, but it could be applied to *anything* that needs narrowing down.

And what if…instead of just visualizing, we put this to pen + paper?
And what if…we gave ourselves a limited amount of time to decide?

What if we gave our all-knowing, all-too-ignored intuition more of a chance?

Could a HUGE answer surface for us within 60 seconds?
Could it really be that simple?

It is.

Every. single. person. I’ve tried this with in real-time has had a BIG-time AHA. Whattt? Things like:

  • “Omg. Brilliant.”
  • “Perfect. It’s THAT simple. Wow.”
  • “This was SO helpful. I really liked the activity. Simple and easy to visualize, and makes things seem not so scary.”
  • “That was awesome.”
  • “YES! Loved this. Simple and easy.”
  • “So fun.”

So, if YOU have any form of overwhelm with ideas, tasks, thoughts, desires, [insert your plural thing here], I want you to try this, too!

(This is pretty geared toward those things you’ve been putting off, but you do you! Customize it if you want. Because you can!)

Ready?

LEZ do this!

  1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen.
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  2. Draw 4 circles on the paper like a stove top.
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  3. In each of those circles, write one thing you’ve been putting off/haven’t quite gotten to yet.
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    These should all be things that have some element of scariness to them — but in a good way. You know it would be good for you to do these things — but again — you haven’t quite gotten to them. It could be project-related or self-care-related. Write what IMMEDIATELY comes to your mind..
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  4. Pretend each of these four things are simmering in their own pot on the stove.
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  5. Then, visualize yourself peeking into each pot — one at a time — seeing which one is closest to a boil based on which one you DESIRE to move forward with the MOST.
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  6. Circle or underline that One Thing!
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  7. THERE you GO! You just narrowed down and got some clarity in 60 friggin’ seconds.
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    I hope this showed you that quite often, the answer is right in front of us, the answer is within us. Things are MUCH more simple than we THINK.

I’d LOVE to know how this went for you. Comment below, yeah?

And…if you’re feeling fired up and ready to move forward on that One Thing, join me in my next online program!

Let it be: Fall leaves, wise trees and a lesson in patience

Let it be: Fall leaves, wise trees and a lesson in patience

As I was finishing up a run in the RARE Dusseldorf sun on Monday, it was a perfect time to check the following off the PLAYlist:

Make a collection of FALL leeeaves.

Well, my simple intention of a leafy collection sprouted into something different.

When the first fallen beauty stopped me in my tracks, I reached down and…paused.

 


Something told me to just…let it BE.

:: queue The Beatles ::

The masterpiece had already been curated.
This leaf belonged where it fell.

And, well, let’s face it: A winged or drunken creature had likely dropped a not-so-special substance on this foliage. #eww

But back to the BEAUTY. 😉

Suddenly, I started seeing surrounding leafy combos from a color-palette lens. Like this:

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How a Turkish bath house visit exfoliated my self-doubt

How a Turkish bath house visit exfoliated my self-doubt

Warning: This post contains lots of talk about nudity and all kinds of vulnerable stuff. Can you handle it? Hope so…

Let’s GO!

SO.

As I was digging through emails for a draft I wrote about Europeans and how comfy they are in their own skin, I stumbled upon these words below. Sent ’em to my dear pal + collaborator Diana on Jan. 3:

the biggest thing on my bucket list for 2016 is to go to a bath house or just get naked at the local gym locker room. 🙂 there’s so much to this…acceptance, self-love, letting go of insecurities, etc…and i want others to experience this deeper meaning in some way shape or form…through skinny dipping…tanning topless…doing a boudoir shoot…standing naked in front of the mirror and ACCEPTING everything…having sex with the lights on….whatever works for THEM.”

Since moving over here, this whole idea of being unabashedly, mindlessly naked FASCINATES me, and I’ve got the ballsy (pun intended!) Europeans to thank for that.

I’ve seen more bits than I’ve bargained for at beaches, in locker rooms and, well, lurking in the grass of German parks. It’s undoubtedly uncomfortable, but refreshingly admirable.

To me, it symbolizes being REAL, confident and free from self-consciousness. There’s much to be said for this mindset and someone who can be one with their flesh.

How can this not trickle into our work and day-to-day lives?

How can this not influence how we think, feel and talk about sex in our relationships, friendships and parenting?

Thanks to an invite from a friend,

I finally sacked up and checked the ‘ol Turkish bath house box yesterday.

It was a women-only time and bikinis were actually required, so that made for an easy YES. And even though my end goal was to actually get NAKED, my fear was very pleased to keep my teets + hoo-ha covered.

The whole experience of attending a traditional Turkish hammam was going to be foreign enough, right?

After rinsing off, we entered the most powerful steam room I’ve ever been in.

It felt like Vegas and New Orleans collaborated on the thickest, wettest, hottest room possible with some Vicks VapoRub all up in there. Just kidding RE: Vicks. I think it was Eucalyptus and lavender.

After we steamed, we spread Moroccan Beldi soap on our skin like butta. We let it sit. We rinsed again. We steamed again.

THEN…the REAL adventure began: the scrubbing.

Not scrubbing yourself, no.
But another woman doing the scrubbing for you.

When I laid down, she said, “aus sein.”

In English, that’s “be off.” 

OH BOY…

I had to take my top off.

And so I did. (And I survived!)

What happened next?

Well, imagine getting a pedicure and during the exfoliation part, they decide to scrub EVERYTHING but your vajayjay…your fun hatch…your love box…your vagina.

(I’m an adult. I promise.)

She didn’t use an emory board, but man…she used FORCE with that peeling glove and went to places I didn’t even *know* could be exfoliated.

I was hoping there’d be T-shirts in the lobby that said:

“I got my nipples exfoliated at the hammam.” or “My hammam butt is softer than your baby’s butt.”

They didn’t have ’em. Weird. 😉

But in all seriousness, during this scrub-down, all I could think about was,

“This is me. This is ALL of me…the REAL me. There’s nothing I can do right now but BE ME.”

I went from frightened to embarrassed to FREED in about 30 seconds.

My bikini top soon became a soggy symbol of all the things that’ve been getting in the way of pure, genuine joy in my life. Had I kept that thing on, oooof, the experience would’ve been SO watered down.

Reflection: What’s YOUR soggy swimsuit right now? How GOOD would it feel to toss it to the side?

Then, as the dead skin was being peeled from my body, all I could think about was how I was shedding old layers and fictional stories. It was as if all the things that were weighing me down were let GO.

Thoughts like:

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the PLAYlist: Let’s get it started in here!

the PLAYlist: Let’s get it started in here!

Well, howdy, dance partner!
*virtual do-si-do*

Ready to *dance* along to the PLAYlist I’ve been drumming up?
Need a refresher on what the heck this is? Get down on it.

playlist-3
Then, put this song on if you want:
HandClap is my JAM right now.

SO…ready for the list?

In no particular order (Let’s put this sucker on SHUFFLE!), with full expectation that some “songs” may be deleted, paused, replayed, remixed or replaced, here’s what’s piquing my soak-in-the-moment SOUL right now:

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When the world overwhelms me, these 4 things keep me going

When the world overwhelms me, these 4 things keep me going

I have to share a little story with you.

Yesterday, I stepped out for a little jog, and wow, the temp was higher than I anticipated. After struggling to get my pullover to part ways from my T-shirt (WHILE walking) without showing my bashful American skin, I noticed that I’d passed an elderly lady standing at the bottom of her stairs.

I stopped, turned around, and saw her little head peeking around the wall. She had this smile on her face like, I was going to ask you to help me, but watching you was more entertaining.

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“How did you sidestep your doubts?”

“How did you sidestep your doubts?”

In a recent email blast, I recapped on the transformational journey this year has been for my biz, and some of the responses were eye-opening.

Abbie Rendle, the wanderlust-ing Aussie who led part 6 of the Dish + Wish Series, asked me questions that really got me thinking. And I have a feeling she’s not alone in her curiosities.

Feeling moved to respond here (thanks to her permission, of course!), I hope this inspires you…


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10 ways to take 10-minute breaks

10 ways to take 10-minute breaks

No matter where you’re at in life (building a business, raising kids, crushing your 9-5, taking care of your parents), if you clicked on this, you need a breath. You crave a pause that’s possible. BUT…

It feels selfish. It feels counterproductive.

Deep down, we know that breaks are as vital to our well-being as exercise is, yet we struggle to keep them top-of-mind or justified. When we’re under pressure (good or bad), in the zone and needed by others, of course “me before we” goes out the window.

But here’s the thing. All those people you’re helping? All those projects you’re hustling?

If you want to fully show up, you’ve got to put that oxygen mask on first.

And if you’re like every busy human on this planet, you’re hesitating. You’re too busy for a break.

But what if I told you everything could change in 10 minutes? It can. What if you told yourself you deserve those 10 minutes? You do.

Here are 10 mini breaks that will leave you more energized, focused, productive and even more creative.

1. Daydream on purpose

Contrary to popular belief, daydreaming can actually make you MORE productive. It can help you solve problems and realize your deepest desires, ideas and plans.

Have you ever had an AHA moment in the shower or while walking the dog? That breakthrough is a result of “diffuse mode” thinking. Our most creative ideas and powerful realizations don’t spark when we’re intensely focused. They emerge when we’ve drifted away from our task at hand.

Divert those eyes from your device. Tune OUT from what you’re focused on and tune IN to the power of mental time travel.

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