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Where I spent my winter vacation
Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Teacher Life

Oh, Hey…

I wrote to you weekly for 6 years. I skipped maybe a handful of weeks scattered over those years, but since Believe in Bunnies launched, I sat faithfully at my keyboard on Sunday mornings to share a tale of rabbit rescue, or my spiritual journey, or walking alongside another being’s journey. My consistency wavered this past year; it’s been an effort to assure myself that it’s okay. I needed to get quiet a whole bunch… and I’m darn proud of myself for slowing down.

I make a point each day to listen to something from my teacher Gabby Bernstein. I play recordings of her lectures and workshops as I fold laundry, I run her YouTube videos in another tab as I answer emails, and I stop everything to tune into “Dear Gabby,” her Instagram-Live-turned-podcast show, when it’s on. While attending to some Rescue work last week, I was listening to a talk that I’d likely listened to before… but this time, a section jumped out at me. I ran it back thrice. I grabbed a pencil and scribbled down Gabby’s words as she gave voice to what I’d been feeling, or more accurately suppressing, for decades:

“I was walking around in a story of ‘If I am not productive, I am not alive’… it may be the key to any success I’ve experienced to date because I was moving and moving and going and going and multitasking and making things happen, but it can no longer be sustainable. It’s not the vibration I want to be in… My new mantra: Everything is happening around me and I am fully taken care of.”

I was off from work (if you’re new here, I teach high school English) this week. Historically, I’d pack these weeks off with 750 classes, talks, appointments, expectations of myself… and go back to work still needing a vacation! Fellow teachers are nodding along with that sentence. This week, I tried something radically uncomfortable– I scheduled nothing. Well, almost nothing. I had a Reiki session with my healer Lisa and a session with a one-on-one coaching client. But that was it for appointments and commitments. Outside of those two scheduled hours, I set my intention for the week off to be present and cultivate peace. I set daily goals of movement, either a workout or a virtual yoga class, mindful eating, and reading. 

Simple, right? On the outside, sure… on the inside, a challenge… as I’d been living the feeling of “If I am not productive, I am not alive” consciously and subconsciously FOREVER. Even in elementary school, I couldn’t just play with my friends; I had to organize, plan, structure. I’ll stop here on this thread before we head into a deep-dive of habits and paradigms. Today, I just want to be here. 

Over this past week, there were moments of difficulty and moments of flow. I’m leaning heavily on my new (borrowed) mantra that “Everything is happening around me and I am fully taken care of.” Nothing fell apart this week. Lessons and classes will flow just fine when the bells start ringing tomorrow, even though I did minimal school work over break. I tell the students that break means break– I deserve that too! I’ll get to the dermatologist soon for that annual body scan. Oh, and Rescue work… my goodness, have we formed an unstoppable team. I’ll have to tell you soon, dear readers, about the records we broke in 2020! I used to tell myself that I had to do it all or it wouldn’t get done; that couldn’t be further from the truth now (thank you K and S). 

The long and short of it… I’m happy to be back at the blog helm and even happier that I gave myself a break… and more breaks to come. It’s all about intention and vibe over here, no longer pushing to produce just because. Look at me… learning to chill. It’s kinda wild, what comes so simply to some can be an epic journey for others. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some actual relaxing to do. Much love. 

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Believe Bunnies Healing Rescue

Paisley

I catch myself saying the sentence, “We can’t save them all” often but I’m realizing as I sit to write this that I need to change up that mindset.

So, from now on I’ll say, “I’m looking for ways to save them all” or “I’m working toward a world where they are all safe.”

For the time being, I’m the one who prioritizes the cases, decides which rescues are the most pressing… and takes the backlash from people who don’t like my decisions. It’s okay. I’m built for this.

Toward the end of March, our Rescue group received an email about an abandoned rabbit in a south shore Nassau County town that is one of the highest dumping grounds for rabbits on Long Island. I was prepared with my standard response of:

We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor, long-term foster home, we can help catch the rabbit, provide supplies and food, and help search for a more permanent placement.

…until I opened the video attachment to this email. I’ll spare you the visual… but it was bad. This rabbit was seriously injured. I knew we needed to rescue her.

She then disappeared for 4 days. The gentleman who spotted her in his yard promised to call me as soon as she showed up again. He did. I told him to keep eyes on her while volunteers headed over. Volunteers were on the scene within 25 minutes. They were able to scoop up this seriously injured rabbit and transport her immediately to a rabbit-savvy veterinary hospital.

Based on the initial video and volunteer reports from the scene, I was sure this rabbit had a broken back. I awaited the call from the vet with the bad news and anticipated having to make the toughest decision… but this story hops in a different direction.

X-rays and tests showed nothing broken. I was shocked. The team was shocked. I kept asking the doctor, “Are you sure we rescued the right rabbit?!? Is that the rabbit from the video?!?” She was terrified and hungry… but not broken. Her body was very wobbly and she couldn’t hop well… but there was far more hope than anyone anticipated. The daughter of the volunteer who rescued this rabbit named her Paisley.

A few days after her rescue, Paisley came to stay with us for a bit. The first few days, she cowered. Her appetite voracious, we kept her pellet bowl full, her litter box overflowing with hay and her salads appropriately plentiful. She started to relax a bit after a few days. We let her out to play and exercise in a puppy pen. She would pensively stretch forward, shake, wobble and fall over. She couldn’t turn to the right. Luckily, we earned her trust, keeping the room quiet and safe, and I was able to massage her hips and back gently, some makeshift rabbit physical therapy.

Her first night at our house

Fast-forward 16 days… today Paisley can hop without falling over! She can clean her beautiful face with her front paws. We’ve yet to see her run or binky… but it’s coming. Her wobble is all but gone. Her progress is remarkable.

On this day where traditionally (and unfortunately in my opinion!) rabbits are given as gifts for children, I look at Paisley and my heart breaks for the many like her who will be neglected and discarded days or weeks from today. While she’s doing great now, while she’ll be safe and loved forever, there are hundreds on Long Island, thousands (at least) in this country who will suffer… and for what?

I am… we are working toward a world where they are all safe.

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Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Throwback: Found but Still Lost

Around this time every year, I publish a story that I wrote in 2016… a reminder to some, new knowledge to others, about why Rescue exists.

We won’t stop until they are all safe and loved.

Found but Still Lost

I am the initial point of contact when someone emails information@longislandrabbitrescue.org.  This month, the number of “finder” emails we have received is more than double the number we receive in a typical month. We define a “finder” as someone who has either spotted a stray domestic rabbit or has rescued an abandoned domestic rabbit and is reaching out to our group for resources and recourses.  I have typed the following sentences an alarming number of times this month: “We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor foster home, we can…”  And it’s not even Easter yet.

We get at least a hundred emails to the aforementioned address per month—only three times in my almost three years of being at the email helm has someone reached out because their rabbit had actually gone missing. So I can safely conclude that these “found” rabbits are abandoned, dumped, neglected.

Abandonment happens one of two ways, from my perspective.  There are the scarily misinformed, who think their rabbit, who no longer serves a purpose in their family, will survive in the woods or in a park because other rabbits live in the wild.  Yeah… those are wild rabbits.  Not domestic rabbits.  Domestic rabbits will not survive and will face the harsh elements of the seasons and starvation, and predators.  A horrible fate.

Then, there are the heartless, who just don’t care, who need this “thing” out of their house.  Sometimes these people try to seek help before abandoning their rabbit, but most town shelters aren’t equipped to handle rabbits and most rescue groups are overloaded, no matter the animal on which they focus.  For these, about whom “careless” is the nicest word I can muster, the living being they once chose to care for has passed his/her expiration date and must be tossed out.  Just a note—if caught abandoning an animal, one faces $1,000 fine and other legal consequences.  If you see something, take pictures. Send them to me.  I’ll turn them in for you.  I’m not shy.

We need:

  • Stores and breeders to stop selling rabbits.
  • People to make more informed decisions before adding any living being into their families.
  • Foster homes, donations and volunteers to save the abandoned animals.
  • You to speak up, if you know someone has dumped an animal.
  • Compassion for all things living.

As a rescue group, our resources are limited but trust that we use them to their maximum potential!  Thank you for being one of our resources.  Spread the reality about rabbits as pets—10-12 year commitment, specialized veterinary care, bunny-proofing (As I hear my chief destruction worker bunny Tater Tot tearing in to what I hope is his cardboard tunnel in the next room…).  As awareness is heightened, I hope there are far fewer rabbits out there to save.  But for now, many rabbits are found but still lost, as the number abandoned far surpasses the number of foster homes and adopters.

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Bunnies Rescue

Theodora

It’s about time that you meet Theodora.

We started by taking the overflow when the usual bunny-sitters were booked. Then, the bunny-sitters moved to Florida so there was more need for our services. We have a finished basement and we always have a bale of hay in the garage, so bunny-sitting on occasion fits in well for us. When we were watching Spice and Harley a few years ago, their mom coined the name Camp Bee… and it stuck.

Theodora came to Camp Bee just before Halloween 2019. Her mom was moving and wanted Theodora safely out of the standard chaos of a move so she booked a long-weekend stay at Camp Bee. Unexpected hurdle after hurdle, some bordering disaster, came flying at Theodora’s mom in what was supposed to be a standard move from one home to another. I reassured her that her little lop was fine here for as long as she needs to be. That’s part of the magic of our Rescue family.

Theodora, being the longest running camper at Camp Bee, deserves a little shout out here today.

When she was with our Rescue group, her name was Faith. She came into our care with an almost-identical twin sister, whose name was originally Hope but changed to Joy since we already had a Hope on our roster. These sisters were purchased from a pet store or breeder; the exact detail eludes me. They came into our care because Hope-turned-Joy had chronic digestive issues that the owners could not manage. Joy required daily medication, special diet, and frequent hospitalization. She suffered from a condition called megacolon. Despite our interventions, Joy did not survive.

Faith got lots of foster family and volunteer love as she mourned the loss of her sister. Not long after Joy’s passing, a former adopter of ours texted me. She saw Faith’s picture on our website. Having lost her lop Matilda several months before, she was ready to open her heart again. We arranged a meeting at my house, in the finished basement now known as Camp Bee.

She was adopted that night. Love at first hop… renamed Theodora shortly after adoption.

During her extended stay here at Camp Bee, Theodora has been an absolute dream. Where our own Peanut will bite your face off if you try to snuggle him, Theodora is gentle, tolerant of all sorts of snuggles, and even takes grooming without so much as a grunt! She runs around her penned area, lop ears flopping in the breeze, the occasional binky-kick-turn. We’ve nicknamed her Breadstick, Sticky, and Lil’ Beanie. She adores the Bunny-Daddy and runs to greet him with the most adorable fervor, even when he doesn’t have a bowl of salad in his hands.

She might go home today, as her mom’s living situation has course-corrected, or she might stay longer. I’m in no rush to see her go. She’s a perfect little camper and we are glad to have been able to help when she needed a place to rest her little paws.

Much love.

Theodora

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Throwback: Lessons Learned

Enjoy this throwback post from February 2016 titled Lessons Learned

Have I learned and worked the lessons? Something to reflect on today!

I’ve learned so much about rabbits in my nearly four years as a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue… but I’ve learned even more about people.

I’ve observed volunteers of all ages and walks of life care for rabbits that we’ve saved from brutal neglect situations with inspiring love, yet neglect their own selves—“burning out” from taking on too much or simply not feeding and caring for themselves the way they do our foster and sanctuary rabbits.  These women and men would never let a rabbit go hungry or feed a rabbit a less than balanced, nutritious diet, but they don’t take the time to nurture themselves.  They make sure every foster and sanctuary rabbit gets daily exercise time to run, hop and play—but they don’t seem to prioritize themselves.  As dedicated volunteers, we recognize how much these gentle creatures need us.  If only we remembered that we are gentle creatures too.  Sometimes we need a little treat or a softer rug to rest our paws too.  For my fellow volunteers, I wish you would “cover a shift” in caring for yourself.  I am so blessed to work with each of you.  Please take care of you, too.

I’ve talked with hundreds of people, almost always parents of young children, who are looking to rehome their rabbit, in whom their children lost interest or for whom the family feels they can’t (or don’t want to) care anymore. These people are often ashamed to ask for help.  They perceive a failure in what they were wrongly told was a simple task—to care for a prey animal like a rabbit.  So many times, if people are open to our support, we are able to make life better for the rabbit and manageable for the family.  It’s important to see our commitments through, for our own strength and for our pet’s existence.  For these people, I wish them faith in themselves and the strength to ask for support.  Making positive changes in the current home or finding a new home will take work, for sure, but these innocent rabbits deserve the dedication!

And for all considering bringing an animal in their lives, do your research.  If you want something that’s easy to care for and something that won’t suffer when your children move on to the next interest, please buy a stuffed toy.  Please don’t use a living thing to teach a lesson, unless you are completely committed yourself to seeing that lesson through.

That said, I’ve learned so much in these four years of giving to the abandoned and neglected rabbits of Long Island.  From these fragile creatures, I’ve learned that I need space, too.  Sometimes there’s nothing more blissful than tossing the task at hand to this side (for me, returning some emails, for the bunnies, a woven grass toy or cardboard tube) and flopping out for a nap.

Sometimes it’s scary to hop somewhere new, but you might just find your favorite spot that way.  You also might find danger there, so sniff a lot first.  And use your whiskers as your guide.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

A Problem & A Fix

Loyal readers know by now that I’m the main point of contact for a volunteer animal rescue organization called the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group.  Earlier this week, we received a remarkable number of emails from people who are looking to get rid of their rabbits. We call this rehoming, but that’s often a soft euphemism. I wrote a post in our volunteer group that day that went deeper than our usual posts there. I decided to save it and share it with you today, a look into that side of my Rescue world.

Here’s what I had to say to our team:

 

Education. That’s how we “fix” this problem.

I don’t tell you any of this to upset you or to anger you. I share with you so we can support each other in our shared mission of ensuring the safety and protection of domestic rabbits.

Today alone LIRRG received emails about 28 unwanted rabbits. 28. Today. On Long Island. Some from “accidental litters” that could have been prevented with education.

These people reach out to us, trying to do the “right thing” by an animal either they no longer want, no longer can care for or were just plain not expecting… but we have no recourse for them. Even if we had a shelter facility, it would be filled by the end of the week. And no, the Town shelters typically do not accept rabbits, as they are not equipped to care for them. Yet the towns and counties still allow the sale. I wonder if our representatives know there is even an issue…

I know where these rabbits are coming from. We ask those who email us and they tell us. None of these people welcomed rabbit(s) into their lives planning on getting rid of him/her/them. But, with few exceptions, they were not given accurate or any information upon purchase. They also chose not to do any research before purchase… but if there was a chance that the shirt I bring up to the register at Macy’s was going to chew my couch and potentially multiply into 15 shirts, I think it would be the staff or management’s job to let me know that.

We need to get out in FULL FORCE to educate, to teach about proper care, spay/neuter and the benefits of adoption over shopping. Although we are making a difference, the problem is multiplying like… well, like rabbits.

Sure, you rather stay home on a Saturday than staff a table at an education. Sure, you rather text your bestie than email your legislatures. But, I am also sure that you look over at the exercise pen in your family room and know that your rabbit would want you to get involved on behalf of his/her/their furry friends.

 

So, dear readers, maybe you’re not a rabbit owner or lover… but there are some beings in your life that you love, including yourself! In honor of that love and care, do something today to make the world safer and brighter… send a “thinking of you” text, donate $10 to your local animal rescue, treat yourself to a 10 minute massage. Spread love.

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Bunnies Energy Purpose

Hoppy 8th Birthday Peanut!

Our little monster turned 8 this past week. He may be cruising into his senior years, but he hasn’t slowed down a bit! He runs his laps around the couch, often to evade me. He chews holes in the corners of the couch cushions. He’s still working on remodeling the molding between the living room and entrance way.

And I love him more and more every day.

He’ll probably never be a snuggle bunny. Most rabbits aren’t, despite their stuffed animal-esque appearance. But Peanut has mellowed a bit in his advancing age. I get bitten far less often than before. I must admit, even when the bites were more frequent, they were never unprovoked. He never attacks without cause, unless of course you’re an aromatic piece of hay or frond of parsley.

Peanut has been spending a lot more time on the couch than he used to. When he perches on the arm rest, I do get a little nervous… but he gets his balance talent from me and his explorative nature from the Bunny Daddy.

We didn’t do much to celebrate his 8th birthday in particular because we’ve learned to celebrate every single day, not just the designated occasions.

When we lost his brother Tater Tot, two years ago this Tuesday (wow that was alliterative), I became very resentful and mad at myself for every moment I spent looking at my dumb phone rather than paying attention to Tater. I regretted every second that I spend engaged in something inane when I could have been snuggling the Tot. I can’t get that time back.

In the heartbreak, I gained understanding and awareness. From that awareness, I make an effort to be more present with Peanut and with everyone in my life. It’s a practice, not a perfect. I sometimes find myself caught up in the inconsequential, the mindless scrolling more often than I like, but I realign quickly and forgive myself.

Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have an 8-year-old fluffy bunny to attend to. Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Coaching Energy Purpose Rescue Teacher Life

I’m Not Busy

Don’t get me wrong—there’s lots of activity happening at headquarters but I do not feel busy.

Last week, a dear friend posted a graphic on Facebook, prompting scrollers to describe her life using only GIFs. I have a GIF obsession, so of course I was into this. For this friend, I posted a Green Acres GIF (don’t be surprised that those are sparse) because she’s a Glamazon who lives on a farm.

Several dozens of us reposted the graphic for ourselves. I was having a Valerie Cherish moment, so I picked GIFs from The Comeback for most. Then I waited for mine to roll in.

Of course, most featured rabbits (side note: that overly populated “rabbit island” in Japan isn’t cute to me—those poor rabbits have no care, no food and no shelter. But I know your intention in posting that one wasn’t bad!) and some others featured a theme of Zen, rainbows, unicorns and yoga mats. Then, there were the ones that got me: the ones that looked or even said chaos or chaotic.

Radical honesty: my life does not feel chaotic from the inside. And I sincerely hope I don’t portray that it is chaotic or unmanageable.

I used to feel tired all the time. I used to feel like I had no time for anything, like I was always busy, like there wasn’t enough time in a week to do what I had to do in a day. Ironically, that was when I was working one job, living with my family and not volunteering. I perceived my daily life as one of overwhelm and exhaustion. It didn’t help that I was hanging around with a lot of people who spun that same story in their lives, doing little more than just getting by, complaining the whole way through.

Now, I don’t feel busy because I am clear on what I am doing, why I am doing it and I am faithfully judicious with my time. Time hasn’t changed. I’ve learned to manage my activities. My Green Acres Glamazon is the one who taught me that you can’t manage time but you can manage activity. But even before I knew it in those terms, I was making it happen. The key, for me, is routine and consistency. It’s setting up systems to make it all work with efficacy and ease. I now work that same job, run two businesses, volunteer daily, co-manage a household and sleep 8+ hours a night. I don’t say this to impress you; I say this to impress upon you that you can feel at ease and get it all done. Manage the activity. The time is going to flow on its own.

A typical weekday looks like this for me:

4:30 am: Meditate, write, reflect, sometimes yoga

5:15 am: Get ready for work

6:45 am -2:30 pm: Work the day job

3:30 pm: Reflect, regroup, straighten up the house

4:30 – 7:30 pm: Volunteer work, business work

8:00 pm: Sweet dreams, babies.

 

With routine, I can get everything done and feel a flow, feel at ease. There are days that vary from the quick list above, for sure. Things come up but since I have a solid routine that works for me (my way is not for everyone!) I’m able to manage special events, the unexpected or whatever else life can throw at us.

I know many of you, dear readers, are still retching at the thought of getting up at a time that begins with a 4, unless it’s to catch an early flight somewhere. You don’t have to follow my way! This is what works for me. I am far less effective at anything I attempt to do, particularly writing and “brain work” in the evening. Remember there’s nothing wrong or weird about being a night owl or an early bird. Know thyself and soar.

I promise that there’s little chaos, and when it does creep in, I know how to breathe, step away and manage it. You too can feel at ease and feel like you’re getting it all done, whether you do one thing or all the things. Overwhelm and exhaustion does not have to be your story any longer.

 

Ready to set up your routine? I’m here.

Click here

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Rescue Vision

Sometimes I think, “everybody wants to help until it’s time to help” but it’s time to stop that way of thinking. That is blocking the help from showing up. In rescue, it’s always time to help.

There has not been one day in my 7+ years volunteering when no help was needed. Time to apply what I teach and coach. How often we neglect to practice what we preach and teach…

My ultimate vision is that rescue doesn’t have to exist, a world in which domestic rabbits are fully safe and protected. Yes, I want us to go out of business.

But in the meantime, I’ll cast this vision:

-Our veterinary bills are paid in full.

-Requests for transports are filled promptly and consistently.

-Our foster rabbits are happy and active. They are supplied with an abundance of soft-rugged indoor space and enriching toys.

-People make informed choices before adding a rabbit, or any being, to their families.

-Our volunteer squad is rich with motivated, compassionate, dedicated, loyal and kind people. We have so much help that we have to create tasks to satiate their desire help!

 

We continue to save more lives than ever, to complete and  enrich more families than before, to make a positive difference for the most grateful little furry ones.

And it’s an honor to live out my life’s purpose alongside such a remarkable team.

“The whispers fade. The impact of your purpose stays.” -Melissa Poepping

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Believe Bunnies Energy Purpose Reiki Rescue

Throwback: Why Rabbits?

I came across this gem that I wrote in October of 2016… and I love how every word is still true (or truer) today. Enjoy this throwback.

I’ve been asked the question “Why rabbits?” in a variety of contexts over the five years that I’ve been a bunny-mom and subsequently a rescuer.  I typically blink thrice and answer something along the lines of “uh, because… they are awesome.”  I’m sure I’ve given some more constructive answers when the asker is deserving of a quality response.  You, my darling readers, are deserving of a response, although many of you have your own “why” when it comes to our cotton-bottom babies.

Why rabbits…

  • Because the bunny-daddy and I live for our boys. They are the light of our lives.  Even when they are posing as bunstruction workers, Peanut and Tater Tot are the center of our world.    They turn 5 years old this month!

  • Because rabbits are the third most popular pet in America.

  • Because rabbits are the third most abandoned, neglected and abused animal in America.

  • Because, whether the day is sunshiny or downright dreadful, rabbits can always make you smile.

  • Because I can be their voice. As much as they understand us, they still can’t speak back with words.  With nose bonks, snuggles and sometimes grunts, they can though!

  • Because, and this “why” is highly personal, I’ve never felt more alive doing anything in my personal or professional life as I do when I’m giving a rabbit Reiki session, tending to chores at one of our foster homes or just lying on the floor with one of our boys.

  • Because it’s empowering to make a difference… and we are making a beautiful difference in the lives of these bunnies.

That’s how Rescue and Reiki have come together so gloriously for me.  There are tangible tasks, like catching a stray or cleaning a litter box, and there is energy work that heals, comforts and connects.  Put it all together and that’s why.  Why rabbits?  I can’t give you a point of peripety.  There wasn’t just one moment where time stopped and I was showered in golden light (well, now that I write that, there have been a number of moments like that… but we’ll save that topic for another day).  But it is rabbits.  Unequivocally.  I work for them, on the front lines, in the back office and in my energetic field all day, every day.  This hop cannot be stopped.  And I’d love to hear “Why rabbits” for you—please share in the comments!  Much love.

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