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Change Your Story

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Change Your Story

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You know those times in life when it seems like so many people around you are really struggling with something or multiple life things, including yourself?  This seems to be the theme lately for me. It seems that every time I turn around, I'm hearing a new story about something tough that someone I care about is dealing with, and my life hasn't exactly felt like a piece of cake in many ways recently either. I thought it would be a good time to talk about changing our stories. I've been focusing a lot lately on 'changing my story' which can help any situation that may feel hard to deal with into one that can also feel like a blessing. It can alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with uncomfortable circumstances, and leave us feeling grateful for a situation that we previously felt cursed by.

What do I mean by this?

Let me give you an example....

You arrive at work on Friday, and are called into the office to find out that you are getting laid off. You are shocked. Your initial story may sound something like this:

"I can't believe they laid me off with no warning! I didn't see this coming. How am I supposed to support myself? I barely get by living paycheck to paycheck as it is! My rent is due, and I've been saving a little and was really hoping to finally be able to afford to go on a vacation in a couple of months. There is no way I'm going to make it financially. I haven't updated my resume in years, and have no idea where to begin looking for a job. This sucks! Why is this happening to me? What am I going to do? I feel helpless."

It's pretty normal to react to a situation such as this with alarm, fear, and a story that doesn't feel good. The fact that you are getting laid off is not something that you can change. So, in this situation, what DO you have the control of changing? You can change your story. And it could sound something like this:

"Wow, I can hardly believe that they laid me off! This feels shocking, but if I think about it, I guess I saw some signs that this may be coming. Even though this feels scary, I'm going to choose to look at this as a blessing in disguise. I really haven't been very happy in this job recently. It's caused me a lot of stress, and I've been working hard, and still living paycheck to paycheck which has felt uncomfortable, but I've been too fearful to quit. Perhaps they have done me a big favor by pushing me out to find something better. I have a good friend who I know will help me spruce up my resume, and a community of people that I can reach out to in search of a new job. Since I'm getting laid off, I can collect unemployment for the time being to pay my rent, and I had some money tucked away in preparation for a vacation soon. I guess I get some time off now! Maybe I can use some of that money to cover some expenses and choose to visit some friends and stay with them for a cheaper vacation instead. I'm glad I have that option. I've been considering going back to school, or switching professions to something that is more fulfilling for me and provides me with a better income anyway. I guess this is the push I needed! I may not have done it on my own! I'm so excited to figure out what is next for me!"

Isn't that a HUGE difference?

I could continue with example after example, but you all are smart cookies, and I know you get the picture. We can change the story no matter what the experience is.

What's going on for you right now? Is there a negative story you have been telling around something that feels challenging in your life?

How can you change it? If you can change your story, you can change how your whole experience feels and how the situation effects you.

My challenge to you this week is to change your story. Pick one thing that you know you have been telling a negative story about and change it. Write it out. Tell a loved one. When people ask about it, tell your new & improved positive story rather than the doom and gloom one, and see how it feels.

How do you change it? Simply tap into the positives of it. Every situation has things to be grateful for, sometimes we have to look harder, but they are always there. Talk it out. Write it out. Work on it until it's a story that feels better to tell. I know you've got it in you.

Wishing you wellness,

Shelly

 

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Improve the Relationships in Your Life

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Improve the Relationships in Your Life

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There are a lot of things in life that feed us other than what is on our plate. Healthy relationships is a big one. You can eat all the spinach and chia seeds in the world, but if you have relationships in your life that are unbalanced and create stress, or simply a lack of connecting in relationships, it can affect not only your daily life, but your health as well. There are studies that suggest a lot of health benefits to having fulfilling relationships in our life, and we all know how much they can enhance how great our lives feel. On the contrary, having relationships that are challenging and create stress can cause ill health effects in our bodies, and take away from a life that feels really good. The absence of relationships and deep connections with people can also be a downfall for our health, and our happiness.

It's important to remember that we are all wired for connection and have an essential need to give and receive love.

Relationships can be challenging. All kinds of relationships from romantic partners, to co-workers, family, & friends. They can also help us grow tremendously if we are open to the growth. I'm a firm believer that the challenges in relationships are one of our biggest teachers in life!

Part of having a life that is healthy & feels fulfilling is making sure that we are keeping balanced in all areas. It's a good thing to check in with ourselves here from time to time, even if there isn't something major drawing our attention to the topic.

Some questions to ask yourself:

How are you doing in the area of relationships?

Are you aware of what your needs and desires are in the area of relationships?

Is there a relationship that you could improve by doing some work? Some clear communicating?

Are you feeling fulfilled in the area of relationships? Where could you do some work?

What are you craving? Is something missing for you in this area?

I'm a firm believer in continual personal work. The school of life continues as long as we are in this body. If you are on a path of self growth, I invite you to focus this week on your relationships. Take some time with the above questions, and then ask yourself this:

What came up for you as you answered the above questions?

Where could you benefit from putting some focus?

What is a specific action step that you can take this week to work on improving in the area of relationships?

I use the words 'action step', because we really do need to take action to create the life we want. We can talk about things until we are blue in the face, and it's great exploratory work, but until we put things into action, we are left with little actual change in life.

Here's my challenge to you for the week: After exploring the questions above, think of at least one solid 'action step' that you can do in the next week that will help you in some way in the area of relationships. This will look different for everyone. Ask yourself what would make the biggest difference for you right now, and follow through with it! You deserve to live a full, healthy, balanced life and working on healthy relationships to support that is an important piece.

Having a hard time deciding what a great action step could be for you? I've created a list of ideas to inspire you below!

Wishing you all a beautiful week full of time with the people that fill you up!

Shelly

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Action Steps to Improve The Relationships in Your Life:

#1. View each relationship with gratitude. The relationships that feel challenging can often teach us the most about ourselves. If you are currently struggling with any relationship in your life, take a little time to write a list about what you are grateful for or appreciate in that person. Maybe it is someone that you would want to show that list to? Or perhaps that list is just for you, to shift how you feel about that person to a more loving & appreciative way.

#2. Take time to communicate in close relationships. Take a few moments to express to each other what you both appreciate about your relationship, and what you feel like is going well. Taking a little time to express this can greatly increase the closeness. Then take turns expressing one or two aspects of your relationship that you wish to improve. Practice communicating about and hearing these things without blame, and focus on solutions.

#3. Focus on sharing passions, and fun time. Whether this is your significant other, or a friend or family member that you would like to feel closer to, focusing on meaningful and fun time helps the relationships deepen, and creates more fun!

#4. Create space to spend quality time together. It's so common for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and feel like we don't have time to really connect. It really doesn't take much to create even a little bit of quality time with someone you love if it is intentional. A couple of hours at a coffee shop, or a walk in the evening at the end of your day in good conversation can be great quality time. Put your phone away and make it quality time.

#5. Focus on the present, and let go of past things you may be holding grudges about. We are all imperfect humans and we all mess up sometimes. When we love someone, there are times that we need to allow the space for them to be human, forgive them, let go of grudges, and move on. Holding onto grudges is damaging, not just for the relationship, but for your own health & wellbeing. Forgiving someone and letting go of it is not just an act of love towards that person & the relationship, but it's a huge act of self-love as it hurts us to carry around such things. 

#6. Don’t take relationships for granted. Openly appreciate them! Express gratitude. Tell someone how much you appreciate them and why in person, via a message, or send them a card! It feels really good for both of you!

#7. Intentionally get to know each other better. Ask new questions, explore new things. We are all such complex creatures with different life stories & different passions. It's easy to become complacent in relationships that we have had for a while, and halt the 'getting to know each other' part. There is always more to learn about someone in your life, and learning more brings you closer. This can also be applied to someone new in your life that you'd like to create a stronger friendship with. Be curious in your conversation, and they will respond. Most of us LOVE to talk about ourselves :)

#8. Offer help & support. Is someone you care about struggling with something right now? Or maybe they are moving or working on a big home project that you know has them stressed? Reach out and offer your help & support. I think we know who our friends are when people show up to help you move or offer you a ride to the airport. Offering of help & support is so important in relationships. We really do need each other sometimes, and it can end up being great quality time as well.

#9. Take responsibility. Maybe you've messed up, and haven't admitted it. Maybe there is something that you could have handled with much more grace than you did. Maybe whatever it is, is still bothering you. Reach out, take responsibility and make the apology. It's so good to 'clear the air' so to speak on these things.

#10. Reach out to someone far away that you haven't kept in good touch with. I think we all have people in our lives that live far away from us that we care about deeply. Although our intentions maybe good, we are not so good at keeping in touch. Reach out to that person that you think about often, and let them know that you think about them, miss them, and take a little time to check in and see how they are.

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Relationship (with food) Status: It's Complicated

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Relationship (with food) Status: It's Complicated

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How would you describe your relationship with food? Complicated?
I don’t like to generalize, but I think most of us have an at least somewhat complicated relationship with food.
What do I mean by complicated? Let me explain.
Let’s start by asking what food is meant to be for us?
The answer is nourishment for our body. That is food’s role, to deliver the nutrition that our body needs for growth & health. I also believe that we should enjoy the food that is nourishing our body, but the bottom line is that is that nourishment is the key role for food. That part is simple right?
Here’s where the complicated part comes in. Many of us eat food for many other reasons, and to try to nourish many things other than our body. Think about it. The last time you had a rough day and ate a pint of ice cream, were you thinking about nourishing your body or where you trying to nourish your emotions?
Our relationship with food is multifaceted. I think most of us eat for reasons other than nourishing our bodies. Emotional eating, sugar addictions, and junk food addictions are all part of our complicated relationship with food, and a very big subject I could never cover in one blog post.
My intention in writing this today is to get you thinking about the subject, and to talk about one small facet of this complicated relationship. What I’d like to focus in on today is how habitual it is for most of us to ‘reward’ ourselves with food that’s not good for our body.
This is a backwards concept, and one that many of us learned as kids.
Do any of the following sound familiar?

"Finish your homework then you can have a cookie."

"Behave in the store, and you can get some candy."

"Be good in your appointment today, and we’ll go get fast food."

"If your team wins the tournament,  we’ll have a pizza party."

I could go on and on.
 How does this translate into adulthood?

"I worked an extra long day, so I’m going to treat myself to ordering pizza tonight, sitting on the couch and eating it all."

"I’ve had a rough, emotional day, and I totally deserve a brownie sunday."

"I’ve been so good with eating healthy this week,  so I’m going to go to the bakery for pastries after my morning walk."

"I’ve gotten so many errands done today and haven’t eaten yet, so I’m treating myself to fast food."

"Congrats, You’ve been with the company for a year. To celebrate, we brought donuts."

Maybe these examples don’t sound exactly like you, but you get the picture.
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Many of us have been trained to reward ourselves with food that isn’t good for us, and generally doesn't make us feel good. Really, When's the last time you rewarded yourself with broccoli?  Besides many growing up with this influence, think about the food marketing that you take in. How many commercials for junk food send a message that sounds similar to this….."go ahead! You are worth it! You deserve it! You can find decadence & happiness in food!"
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a purist about this by any means. I’m fully guilty of indulging myself with wine & desserts, and I’m aware that for me,  totally denying myself of these things is usually not a good idea. I personally tend to do better with a little balance of ‘naughty’ in my diet every now & then. However, when I indulge, I try to just call it what it is: Indulging. I try not to consider these things rewards for good behavior on my part because it simply doesn't make sense to 'reward' my body with something not very good for it. My point in this writing is to bring awareness to this  complicated part of our relationship with food, so that we can work on it.
Do you ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ yourself with food that isn’t nourishing for your body?
When do you tend to do this? How often? How do you feel after?
Now that we’ve brought awareness to it, what can you do about it? How can you work towards a healthier relationship with food?
Here's what I would suggest:
First, pinpoint the times that you really tend to reward yourself with food. What comes up for you? Is it after you’ve been eating healthy, or after stressful days, or after workouts?
Now that you’ve got some of those times in mind, ask yourself what else you could reward yourself with that doesn't involve unhealthy food? Perhaps at the end of an extra long day you could treat yourself by stopping to get a massage on the way home, or taking the time for a walk around the lake. Perhaps after eating really healthy all week, you could treat yourself to a new summer dress, or stop by the bookstore and get yourself that new book you’ve been wanting. Maybe after sticking to your exercise routine all week you can treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon on the couch watching movies, a night out with your girlfriends, or a pedicure appointment. Sometimes a great reward is just allowing ourselves some quiet down time in our busy schedule doing something we love.
There are a lot of other things in life that we can ‘treat’ ourselves to or ‘reward’ ourselves with, it's just that we’ve been programmed through life experience and marketing that a good reward for ourselves is decadent food, that's not beneficial for our body. This is a really backwards way of thinking about rewards, isn't it?
The good news is, new habits around this are possible to form, and being aware of where to make changes is the first step.
If you are someone that rewards yourself with sweets or junk food,  how can you work to transform this habit? What are other things you can begin to reward yourself with?
I'm not suggesting that you never treat yourself to food that you love and feel indulgent. I'm suggesting that we start fixing our relationship with food by tackling this complicated facet of it. Let's start thinking of food as nourishment, rather than something we treat ourselves with for emotional reasons. And let's start rewarding ourselves with things that are actually a reward to our body, mind, or spirit.
Our relationship with food is very much complex, and for many it can be very much a struggle. Remember that sustainable change is created through baby steps. Trying to change everything overnight generally ends up in failure and disappointment. Focusing on making one small change at a time is how we create new habits that stick around and that serve our body & mind in a healthy way.
If you’d like to work on your relationship with food towards a less complicated, healthier status, I invite you to work with this one small change and see what a big difference it can make for you.
Wishing you wellness!
Shelly

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Are You Eating Your Greens?

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Are You Eating Your Greens?

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Green food. It’s definitely put up there on a pedestal as far as food goes. Getting dark leafy greens in your diet daily is so very good for you in so many ways! They are put on a pedestal for a reason. They play a crucial role in our health!

Are you eating enough greens? Are you eating some green food daily? If you are like most americans, your diet could be lacking in this area, so I’m here today to give you a pep talk about it!

Why eat dark leafy greens?

Dark leafy greens help to strengthen your immune system, they can improve circulation, lower your cholesterol, they clean your blood, they help your body detox through supporting improved liver, gall bladder, & kidney functions, they are known to promote healthy intestinal flora, and can even help prevent cancer.

They are rich in chlorophyll which alkalinizes the blood. A lot of disease and health issues are related to inflammation in the body, so this is a really important aspect of their benefits.

They are rich sources of Vitamins A, C, E, & K. They are an abundance source of phytochemicals, and provide you with great fiber as well. Fiber = a happy colon :)

Examples of dark leafy green vegetables to consider are kale, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, spinach, romaine, dandelion greens, broccoli, broccoli rabe, watercress, endive, cabbage, brussel sprouts, turnip greens, and swiss chard.

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How to eat dark leafy greens?

I think that like most things in life we tend to get into habits or routines, and the food we eat is not exception. I encourage you to try new things & mix it up a bit! If you try 1 new green, or one new way of eating greens per week, in a few months, you’ll have 12 news ways to eat greens in your repertoire! Sure, you maybe won’t like some as much, but hang onto the ones that you love and keep experimenting.

If you are not used to eating a lot of greens, adding them into your diet daily can make significant changes for you. Because they are nutritional powerhouses, you get a lot of energy from eating them. You may notice more sustained energy if you have a hearty smoothy in the morning loaded with greens vs the morning muffin that will send your energy crashing soon after you eat it.

You may have improved digestion and elimination from the added fiber in your diet. Some people even experience weight loss simply from adding greens in daily.  If you are adding a serving or two of greens per day, you are most likely crowding something less nutritious out of your diet!

So here is my challenge to you: If you think you could stand to add more greens into your diet, pick one new dark leafy green to you, or one new way of preparing greens per week. Keep this up for a few months, and I guarantee you will end up in the habit of eating more, and you’ll have more ways that you enjoy them. Enjoying them is really the ticket in. Find the ways you like to eat them, and know that the more you eat, the better they will taste to you! Before you know it, you’ll be eating greens every day! Even craving them! 

How I eat my greens changes over time as I like to experiment a lot in the kitchen, but I’d like to share with you my current top 5 favorite ways to eat greens. I make sure that they are in my diet in some way daily! If you scroll to the bottom, you'll find my current favorites. 

I hope this inspires you to get your greens in! Remember that good habits take time to form. Baby steps towards eating healthier is far more sustainable than trying to change it all overnight. Be gentle with yourself, and celebrate the small changes that you make!

I’d love to hear from you about your favorite ways to get dark leafy greens in your diet. Please feel free to share in the comments!

Wishing you wellness,

Shelly

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 My top 5 favorite ways to eat my greens:

#1 - Greens & eggs! Sauté onions, garlic, & greens in olive oil on medium heat.  When they are ready, push them to one side of the pan then add beaten eggs to the pan, scramble with some pink salt & pepper. when the eggs are about done, I mix it all together. Delish! And not just good for breakfast. I’ll eat this for lunch or dinner too :)

*Any greens work, although I’m not fond of cabbage with eggs.

*I LOVE using my cast iron skillet for this. 

* If using broccoli or brussel sprouts start them with the onions & garlic. If you are using heartier green like kale add it in when the onions & garlic are cooked about 1/2 way. For softer greens like spinach, I cook the onion & garlic first and I give the spinach no more than a minute in the skillet before pushing aside and pouring the eggs. 

*To take this to the next level, I’ll top the scramble with avocado chunks, fresh basil, & crumbled goat cheese (my current fav) or salsa & avocado.

 

#2 Steamed Chard with toasted sesame oil, raw cashews, and pink salt.

Remove the stems & chop or tear chard into large pieces. Steam for about 3-4 minutes. Remove with tongs to a large bowl. Drizzle toasted sesame oil (to taste) a bit at a time and toss. Pinch in pink salt (to taste). When sesame oil and salt are to taste, plate up and top with chopped raw cashews. 

*This is SUCH a favorite of mine. I sometimes crave this and will eat a really large pile for dinner with a good piece of sprouted grain toast.

*Sesame oil is a source of good fats, similar to olive oil.

*Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and toasted almond slivers also work great to top them!

*Gomasio is a great addition to this as well, and would replace the pink salt. 

 

#3 Smoothies. My smoothies are almost always different, but they almost always have greens of some kind in. There is a plethora of recipes out there. I always suggest experimenting with things you love. And always add some greens 😃 I also add extra greens into my smoothies via spirulina powder, and various other green powders. My basic smoothie often contains 1/2 banana, apple, berries, almond or hemp milk & greens. 

 

#4 Stirfrys, Curries, and Soups. Whenever you are making any variations of these dishes, be sure to add some greens in! ANY Stir fry, curry, or soup can only benefit from adding some dark leafy green, not just in nutrition & health benefits, but taste as well! Try not to get hung up on how you’ve always cooked something. Add kale to a simple thai curry, or a big handful of spinach into some soup the last minute it’s on the stove, right before it’s served so that it just gently wilts and tastes so fresh & delicious! 

 

#5 Salads! Of course, but I had to mention it. The possibilities are endless. If you feel bored with salad, I recommend looking up some new recipes! Make something totally out of your ordinary to mix it up a bit! The combinations and flavors are literally endless. 

 

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Redefining Relaxation

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Redefining Relaxation

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Recently, I had a conversation with someone that sparked me to think about what we view as relaxation these days. I say these days because I think that culturally it has changed a lot. In our current fast paced world where we are running non stop and taking in information constantly, our view of relaxation is kind of skewed.
I was speaking to a woman that considers herself an introvert, so someone who naturally needs some quiet down time to themselves to recharge. When I asked her what she did for relaxation, what she named was working out, running, dance class, and even food shopping on her own, as she has 3 kiddos that are usually with her.
I found myself asking….are these things really relaxation? Are our lives just moving so fast these days, that exercise and grocery shopping is viewed as relaxation? What happened to the days of sitting on the porch swing watching the world go by? As a society has our definition of relaxation skewed? I personally think so.
Please don’t get me wrong….I don’t discredit exercise, dance, or any other activities that you enjoy one bit. They are amazing for your health, wellness, and happiness! They have great benefits that can be similar, like stress reduction, and mood boosting. You may feel really relaxed after you have exercised, and grocery shopping may feel relaxing compared to the rest of your busy day.  I’m just saying that exercise or grocery shopping is not actually relaxation in my opinion.
Why is relaxation important? Because it helps us recharge. It allows our bodies & brains that are so used to moving a million miles a minute in our fast paced culture to take a break. It benefits our immune system & reduces stress which affects all areas of our health, and our mood. For me, when I am truly relaxing, that is when I get to daydream about my life. I get to ponder the things that I don’t have time to ponder otherwise, and this is when inspiration flows in. It’s important time to me. It recharges me, and gives me time to connect with myself and play with those daydreams of mine. I believe that we are all creative creatures, and having that time to daydream and allow inspiration to flow at free will is so beneficial!
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What do I think real relaxation looks like? I know it can be different for everyone, but I’ll leave you with a few ideas that I like.
Maybe it means taking a slow stroll in the woods or through your neighborhood where you are taking in all the colors and textures around you and thinking about what you are grateful for in life, rather than running or hiking fast for exercise, or checking your email on your phone.  Maybe it's just sitting on the couch and cuddling your pet without taking in TV at the same time. It could be sitting on the beach and just staring at the water and daydreaming rather than running or reading a book while you are there. Just sit there and be. Maybe it looks like having a hammock in your backyard so you have a special place to go sometimes to just rest & listen to the birds. Maybe it’s laying on your bed listening to a favorite album. Maybe it is lighting a candle & taking a long bath. It could be sitting at a coffee shop, sipping on a latte or tea and just watching the world go by. I could go on for a long time with these I’m sure!
What is relaxation for you? Could you benefit by redefining what it means for you?
Whatever it is for you, it should be in an environment that you feel calm in, and free of distractions that could make you feel like you should be doing something else. I know….to some of you that may seem like a fairytale land, but we are creative people. When something is important in life, we make it work. We carve out a little time to make things happen that we view as priorities. Is getting a little bit of true relaxation in your life a priority? How much do you think it could benefit you?
So if you are willing,  I challenge you to take a little time for yourself to relax. Try it on. Make it a priority. You don’t need to carve out a huge chunk of time. Maybe it’s only 20 minutes, maybe it’s a couple of hours. If it’s hard for you, know that everything takes practice, even relaxing. Know that you deserve it, and that it’s good for you. Let your mind wander. Soak it up. Soak up the details around you and just breathe. Know that you don’t have to be filling every second of your day with busyness. With a little effort, before you know it, you could master the art of relaxation, and it could make a really positive effect on your stress levels, your health, and how you deal with everything in life. Giving yourself the gift of relaxation can help you feel more clear, and energized to deal with the rest of life. It also feels really good, and you deserve that kind of time.
Cheers to a little relaxation!
Shelly

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