Believe In Bunnies

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Believe Coaching Teacher Life

Power & Respect

I’ve nicknamed the school at which I teach “Happy High School,” not to be derisive—it’s truly a happy little place. I’ve been there 11 years. On average there is one fight a year, sometimes in the cafeteria, sometimes in the hallway. Just a one-on-one exchange, not some sort of organized rumble. That one fight usually isn’t so bad and then peace resumes for the rest of the year at Happy High School.

Last year’s fight was a rough one in the standards of our typical altercations. It took place in the cafeteria. The antagonist, a freshman in one of my classes at the time, was suspended for several weeks. Quiet, grew up in a different place, likely not vibing with the ways of Happy High School. We didn’t connect much because the course in which he was enrolled with me was only a quarter long, just 10 weeks, and he was home-bound for a chunk of our time together.

This school year, our same antagonist got into another particularly brutal fight in the hallway. I’m going to call him M from here on because calling him an antagonist, although he technically threw the first punch (and several dozen more), feels like a label he doesn’t deserve. The altercation took place in the English wing (my English classroom is one of the few that is not located in that wing). An English teacher broke up the fight. She’s braver than I am when it comes to things like this.

Both M and his opponent, sophomores now, were suspended from school for 6 weeks. When students are suspended for more than a handful of days, they receive homebound instruction—either their main subject teacher or a tutor from an agency our district hires meets them at the public library for 2 hours per subject each week. M’s English teacher couldn’t take the job, as she works a second job in the evenings. None of the agency tutors were able to work with M either. The boss asked if I would be able to take on the hours. Although the thought of adding another two hours of work into my slammed schedule caused me to hesitate, I said yes.

Our sessions at the local public library were quiet. M did his work with skill and focus. Of course, the life coach in me comes out sometimes… so during our second session, I asked M who his best friend is. His response: “I don’t have friends here.” He said it very matter-of-fact, like he didn’t want friends in this corny little town. I replied that he “could have fooled me,” as he’s often flocked with other boys as they travel from class to class. But I understood him—he doesn’t feel like he belongs. I dropped the conversation right there, got back to the work his teacher assigned.

If only M knew that he had a lot more in common with his colleagues at Happy High School, that so many feel like they don’t belong for various reasons… some just teenage worry and some with more depth.

During our last session, while M was completing some work assigned by his teacher, I scribbled down something I wanted to tell him. At the close of our session, I collected the work to submit to his teacher and took a deep breath. Then I said some version of what I had written down:

When you remember that the only respect you need is your own, then you’ll have all the power you need.

I ripped that scribbled section off of the manila folder, because I knew I’d share this with you. M doesn’t have to fight anymore to prove he deserves respect. And you, my dear ones, don’t need to seek approval or validation from anyone or anything outside of yourself. Respect yourself, empower yourself and there you will find your truth, your happiness.

And if you need help getting started, I’m here for you. Much love.

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Believe Coaching Purpose

Moving into Balance

I’ve been disloyal to my yoga mat. I attend classes in spurts. Maybe yesterday was the beginning of another spurt, perhaps even the beginning of a more consistent practice—that story will unfold. What I know for sure is that I went back to yoga for the first time in a month yesterday. (Pause for applause)

Even with an inconsistent practice, I shine with balance poses (disclaimer: upright balance only. I have yet to headstand or even crow… but I’ll get there). My teacher yesterday, in a class packed as January classes can get, brought us into several balance poses. I marveled in my head at the balance I was able to produce… and then I realized my “secret”: move into the poses slowly. The slower I move into the pose, the more fully I can express it and the longer I can hold it.

As someone who barrels into most tasks, projects and endeavors, there I was on my aqua blue mat, folding and unfolding slowly, balancing beyond what my mind thought my body would be able to do. I credit that to the measured approached and:

  • the guidance of a teacher
  • openness to that guidance
  • gentleness with myself
  • acceptance of whatever product or result happens.

Let’s take it off of the mat. Whatever your goals, intentions, dreams are move into them unhurriedly and deliberately and keep taking action! I wouldn’t have left Child’s Pose without action.

Get yourself a teacher, a coach, a mentor or an accountability partner. Be clear with your goals and let them guide you. Important: Find the coach that works for YOU. My coach isn’t the right one for everyone. In turn, I’m not the right coach for everyone. Whomever you choose to work with, be open to the guidance.

Allow yourself to grow and adapt. Don’t expect to be zero to headstand in one class, one quarter or maybe even one decade. Keep your practice on your mat. Keep your goals and progress tailored to you and those you are helping with your work, should that apply. And know firmly, whether you rocked a standing split, flipped it and reversed it or you hovered your toes half an inch off of the ground, your progress is beautiful. You’re only defeated if you stop trying, if you never unroll your mat. Much love.

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Believe Healing Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Who am I to…

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a blue and teal seat, facing forward (although facing backward doesn’t bother me) on the Long Island Railroad. I was Manhattan-bound to see one of my spiritual advisors, psychic medium Calise Simone. On my journey, I read from The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene’ Brown. This is the book we’ll be discussing at book club at the end of this month. If you’re local, you should join us.

Somewhere between the Merrick and Freeport stops, I read this passage. Then I re-read it, highlighted it and wished my Kindle had a print feature. Taking a picture of the screen would have to suffice. Dr. Brown writes:

Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out it’s not merely benign or “too bad” if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighed down by feeling of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief.

There it is, in a block quotation—me, before Rescue rescued me. The years of feeling directionless, of feeling purposeless in a career that felt like I was squeezing my foot into a shoe two sizes too small. The annoyance and resentment that manifested as anger, as buckets of tears because I felt stifled, like those walls were somehow crushing my insides.  The moments of disappointment in myself for playing small, for holding back to fit in with the rest of them. The days on end where I slept, masking depression.

What I was doing every day, the same stuff I was told I would be doing for 30 or so years, just didn’t feel like enough for me. I felt empty because the system does not allow me to use or grow my gifts. I felt frustrated and resentful because I was told, down to the literal shoes I was wearing, how I should best try to conform with the system and the rest of them. I was disappointed in myself for squashing the little girl with big dreams, afraid that this was it for me forever and grieving the contributions I wasn’t going to make to the world.

Tears are coming now, but they aren’t sad tears. I am no longer squandering my gifts. I’m still in the same career but I rock it differently. Don’t worry—I teach to the state standards, but I’m unafraid now to season the work heavily with texts and activities that will foster confidence and empowerment in my students. I take the time, when appropriate, to have purposeful conversations, to address their world and their experience, rather than just stay on the curriculum schedule for that prescriptive schedule’s sake. I teach people.

At school, I lead young people to find their joy. In Rescue, I work alongside incredible volunteers to protect and care for those who need it. In my wellness business, I coach people to live their healthiest, happiest, safest lives. I am no longer squandering my gifts!

I don’t just have to be a teacher and like it. I can flourish, in multiple areas. I spent so many years holding that back, playing small. Thank you, Dr. Brene’ Brown and your colleagues whom I study, for putting on paper what I’ve been feeling since I was a little Denise, walking around the house with a notebook, a pen and big dreams. Thank you for affirming in black and white that my struggles were very real and that I absolutely must cultivate my gifts. Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Year End 2018

Our little Rescue group closed 2017 with 54 adoptions. If that wasn’t a record for us, it was close for sure. The record-keeper, the scribe, the organizer… I excel in my self-appointed roles. I set the 2018 adoption goal to 55, 2017’s accomplishments plus one.

We hit 55 in mid-June.

Long exhale… and now what? On July 2nd, I set our new 2018 goal to 79. I picked that because 4 adoptions per month is a sustainable, manageable expectation.

I sit here, less than 2 days left in 2018. We are at 88 adoptions. 88. Eighty-Eight. Wild…

Long Island Rabbit Rescue Class of 2018.jpg

We accomplished such an incredible feat because of one word: Trust.

Trust from our leadership to empower those volunteers who have stepped up into leadership roles themselves. Trust in the team. Trust from me (finally!) to delegate and watch others shine. Trust from the abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits who allow us the honor of rescuing and caring for them.

Radical honesty: I, like many of you, have been let down by people in my past who have said they were going to do things that they just didn’t do. Maybe they intended to but a limitation or limiting belief got in the way. Maybe they were giving a lot of talk to placate me. Whatever the reason, past disappointments created a paradigm for me that I have to do everything on my own, that no one can help me, that no one will show up for me or the things that mean a lot to me.

This year, I’ve started to trust more and I have no doubt that my new-found trust is rooted in the support from our Rescue team. I’ve watched dozens of people step up selflessly, doing not only what they said they would do but beyond. We are soaring because we have each other. As we soar, we save more lives and complete more families than ever before.

In Angel Numbers 101, 88 is described as “a very auspicious and favorable sign… actions, prayers, visualizations, and manifestation work have resulted in a large inflow of abundance. Open your arms and receive!” I think our Rescue group has done just that in 2018.

As we look into the future, I’m inclined to say that I don’t know how we are going to top 88… but I don’t need to know how. I just need to know why. Why we rescue is so strong that the how figures itself out on an even bigger scale than we could have imagined.

Look out for our newly-updated Rescue website in 2019! I trust that you’ll love it.

 

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Believe Energy Healing Purpose Young Living

Why. My Young Living Story.

Why… because I can’t not.

Ooooooooo the English teacher just rocked a double negative!

Because I don’t define myself as an English teacher. I am not my job. But society will try to force you into labeling and identifying as what you do.

That never sat right with me and, for years, I wouldn’t tell people my profession. It felt like one of those Halloween masks from the early 80s, the plastic ones with the uncomfortable, thin elastic band around the back and the barely-there cutouts for breathing. They don’t make those masks anymore… for a reason.

Like those masks, the school system feels stifling to me. The prospect of working at this job for 30+ years as is, following everyone else’s way, put a literal lump in my throat and a clawing in my stomach. Try feeling like that every day. Maybe you already do…

I needed something else, something different. But I didn’t have a clue what or how.

I could resign myself to keep at what I was doing and consequently feeling how I was feeling or I could make a change. I didn’t think I could or should change my job. I decided I could and would change myself.

I remembered how much better I felt physically and mentally when I practiced yoga after graduating from college so I found a yoga studio near our house. There, I met my acupuncturist. During our sessions, she used Young Living oils. I was feeling more and more peace with every healing I experienced.

I couldn’t take those needles home but I could take those little brown bottles with the colorful labels home. I ordered a Premium Starter Kit. I enrolled in Essential Rewards the next day. I ordered a kit for my father the next day. I was all in.

The more at peace I felt, the more energy I had, the more people began to ask what changed. There was no missing and no denying that I’d shifted.

I shared about the oils and products just like I would share about a delicious new restaurant I found or a hilarious new show I stumbled across. Some friends wanted what I had. I was in business.

From this business, I’ve found community. I found people who are authentic. I can say, without hesitation, that I am happy. Happy… a simple word for a multi-faceted concept. If I, a woman who was in physical pain from emotional conditions, could feel happy, vibrant, powerful… how could I keep that from people?

I share Young Living because it led me to feeling free, free from the pressures placed on me by a system that doesn’t serve me, from pressures that I placed upon myself to be the best to have the best and to never take off the mask of achievement. Like I mentioned earlier, those stifling plastic Halloween masks have been banned and are long-forgotten. Through the community of wellness, purpose and abundance that I found in Young Living, I learned to take off my metaphorical mask and to breathe in the real me, a real space in this world to grow and flourish. Today, my mask is off and I face the world, and myself, with authentic happiness.

I want to see you with a smile on your face that rivals the one on mine right now. Believe in your happiness.

Come with us.

You are worthy.

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Believe Energy Purpose

Splash On…

On Long Island, there’s a water park called Splish Splash. It opened in 1991. It’s way out east. You can see the tallest slides from the highway as you drive by. During elementary school years, we went to Splish Splash on field trips through the Summer Recreation program, a day camp through our school district. Bust through those gates, toss your stuff in a locker, don those less-than-stylish water shoes and run through concrete paths to find the shortest lines, the fastest ways to hit the water.

I’ve never considered myself a thrill-seeker. I’m the safe one, the organizer, the monitor. I’ll hold your wallet while you’re on the ride. As bold as I seem in communication, I’m equally conservative in physical challenges. Even 9-year-old Denise had her limits. I stuck to the smaller rides and, of course, the Lazy River.

In the mid-2000s, I revisited Splish Splash. I was hanging with a group of people who made the pilgrimage to the water park as a summer tradition. I tagged along. The park was bigger than my last visit, more attractions, bigger, faster rides, longer lines. 26-year-old Denise was even more reticent to climb the wooden stairs and rocket down a plastic slide than 9-year-old Denise was… but this group of friends was not letting me get away with hanging by the fences, waiting for them to hit the pool at the end of the ride.

Every single step up the stairs of every single ride was mental torture for me. I didn’t want to do it. I was scared, plain and simple. I was a bit more confident for the rides with the tubes than for the ones where it was skin on slide but it was a struggle to get me on any line for any ride. Yet this group was a relentless bunch. Thinking back, I can feel the anxiety that rose with each rising step of those long lines (the wait didn’t help!). I wanted to turn around and head back down every time. They wouldn’t let me.

I screamed in terror for every twist down and around the hard-plastic slides. At the end of each ride, we rocketed into a pool of blue water (ew… don’t even think about it). Without fail, as we waded out of the pools, I said, “Can we go again?!” I loved it. But, next new ride, same mental pattern.

That day, I went on every ride, except the one you can see from the highway. I have my boundaries. And ten years later, as I learn about terror barriers from my coach and my coach’s coach, I realize that each attraction at Splish Splash was a literal terror barrier for me. With coercion (from people who are lovely in their own right but I don’t associate with anymore), I blasted through each terror barrier that day. I was scared, I was anxious but I was exhilarated and empowered at the end every time.

So I’m channeling that bravery as I step into my light. Rather than hold everyone else’s stuff while they climb the stairs and take the adventures, I’m stepping up too, this time with myself as coercer. If I could hit the pool and want to go on every ride again, I can step up and share my work without fear. No more playing small—we have big work to do. Much love.

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angels Believe Energy Healing Purpose

Eight Arms

Half of my back is covered with an octopus tattoo. He’s reaching up at an anchor that is donned with a crown. I had the anchor and crown done in November 2011. The octopus came to life over several sessions spanning from February to August 2018. It was only today when I realized what it means to me.

When people I ask, I just mumble something about liking octopuses. My memory flashes back to the Veruca Salt album cover for Eight Arms to Hold You, the golden octopus with the crown, and the album cover (actual vinyl album that my parents had) for Jefferson Starship’s Red Octopus, the red heart with the octopus arms… I’ve been drawn to the imagery for decades.

I got the anchor and crown done as a tribute in a way. My dad bought his first boat when I was 11. He worked so damn hard for his money and having such a luxury was a big source of pride for him—a symbol of back-breaking work and commitment. The anchor for that piece of my life and the crown for me, the princess turned queen. I got a massage shortly after that tattoo healed and the massage therapist taught me about chakras, the root and the crown, as she thought my tattoo was symbolism for that. At the time I didn’t know anything about chakras. My subconscious sure did.

Last winter, when it was time to continue the tattoo journey on my back, I told my master artist to wrap an octopus around the anchor, to go as big as he wanted. I gave some color input and left the rest up to his mastery. I thought it was just thematically correct and in line with my connection to octopuses. This morning, as I sat at my nearly-clear (finally!) desk, day four of a four day weekend, ready to take on lesson plans, rescue emails, prep for Cyber Monday in my wellness business and catch up on course work for my University of Wellness certification, I got a lump in my throat and realized: I’m trying to be the octopus… but I’m six arms short.

A sneak peek

I can do it all, but I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried to go it alone, resting on adages like, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” and expecting little to nothing from others. It’s time for me to open my two arms and welcome the support that’s around me. I’ve been cracking open, just a bit here and there, to let the help in. Today, I surrender. Universe, I’m welcoming the support with open arms.

I can have the strength of eight arms, if I’m open to the help. I’ll let the big guy on my back remind me of that. Much love.

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Believe Energy Healing Purpose Reiki

Radical Trust

On Saturday, I woke up without a clenched jaw for the first time in decades. Hot, right?

Grinding one’s teeth is hereditary in the B. family. I recall my mother saying my father and I would keep her up at night, he next to her and me a flight of stairs away, grinding our teeth “in stereo.” It didn’t bother me when I was younger though.

Sometime during my first year of teaching, the teeth grinding got worse. I saw my primary care doctor, a specialist and my dentist. My dentist, whom I adore, said this behavior was all stress-related, so I asked him when it would stop. He said, “When you’re not stressed anymore.” He took a mold and had a fancy night guard made custom night guard for me (sorry to be so alluring again). I wore it maybe twice. None of the three professionals I saw suggested tackling the stress, as if the only option was to stay stressed forever. With that stress came a tightness and clenching of my jaw and the possible ruination of my teeth. But this was just the way it was, so I was led to believe. We work, we live on a busy island, so we must be stressed. Some people drink. Some people hike. I clench and bear it.

7 or 8 years ago, I started wearing the night guard more consistently. Judging by how quickly I wore through one (again, really glamorizing my existence), the grind was still in full effect, even though I don’t consciously feel as stressed as I did at the beginning of my career. Some holistic treatments offer some relief but not fully. I resigned myself to thinking that I would forever have some form of this tension, clenching, sometimes sprinkled with a festive clicking.

Night guard

Just the case… I’ll spare you the actual guard.

I receive a Reiki treatment once a month from my healer. As this month’s appointment approached, my intuition told me to text her and ask to change the appointment to a hypnotherapy session. I wasn’t sure why or even what we would be working on but I went with it. The Universe has my back. Friday after work, I arrived at Lisa’s office. We talked; we got down to it. Intuition told me to talk about the jaw pain and the teeth grinding. Lisa worked her magic. Through our session, I got to another level of understanding of myself, my habits, and my paradigms. I can barely put words to it but Friday afternoon was definitely a mark on the timeline of my life.

One thing I can share with you about my discovery through this session: I finally made the connection as to why I have a hard time counting on people. In our post-session conversation, Lisa used the phrase “radical trust.” I’m pretty sure she used in it reference to a trust I need to have in myself and in the universe, but I know that the third piece to that is having radical trust in the people around me… as long as I surround myself with “right” people. It’s all coming together.

I woke up on Saturday without jaw pain and without my tongue forced to the roof of my mouth (Check in on yours and peel it free now. Relax, breathe. You’re just reading a blog). I know that the strides I made, facilitated by my healer, freed me. It’s a step, not the whole journey, but an important step nonetheless. I will not resign myself to subconscious stress, just because that’s the way most people choose to live. I have radical trust in myself, in my work… and I’m working on having radical trust in all of you, too. Much love.

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Believe Energy Purpose

Wellness, Always.

My coach says, “You will never outperform your self-image.” Her coach says that too. He probably got that wisdom from his coach. Now, I’m passing it down to you. You will never outperform your self-image.

That maxim does not just apply to professional success; it applies to how you feel on a daily basis.

A colleague walked into my classroom on Thursday morning and said, “Stay away from ____ today. She’s sick, had a 102* fever yesterday.” Without blinking I said, “That’s okay. I don’t get sick.” Her response, “I’m not surprised that you don’t get sick.”

Roll your eyes. Feel annoyed. That’s a typical reaction from people when I affirm with confidence that I don’t get sick. (This colleague did not react that way, hence why she gets to hang around. Positive vibes only.) I absolutely acknowledge that there are thousands of circumstances and possibly millions of people who aren’t able to “not get sick” and I do not mean to offend or alienate anyone. I’m talking to the Average Janes today.

Follow me here, Average Janes, and you’ll be using your “sick days” as restorative mental health days.

  1. Believe in your wellness, in positive terms.

I should even kick the word sick out of this conversation. Keep the affirmation “I feel well, always.” Repeat it, believe it, pin it to your vision board. If you allow your mind to worry about getting sick, the worry can wear down defenses.

  1. Sleep. Sleep some more.

The body wants to be in balance. The body wants to heal and be vibrant. Sleep is when the restoration and healing take place. If you tell yourself “I can’t sleep,” your wish will be fulfilled. The subconscious mind cannot reject any thought or idea—it is a yes for everything. So, as you curl up under the blankets tonight, believe in your ability to rest.

  1. Get your food right.

If you put soap in your car’s gas tank, it’s not going to run. You know this. And you don’t do this. Then why, oh why, do you eat food that doesn’t make you feel great and run well?! Do you like your car better than you like yourself? I eat a plant-based diet but I totally acknowledge that it’s not right for everyone (allegedly it can be and the planet would benefit as well but that’s another conversation). If you feel your absolute best every time you eat ____ and your absolute worst every time you eat ____, eat more of the former and less of the latter. It can be that simple.

  1. Feed your spirit with positivity.

Now, many of us can’t or don’t choose to spend our days running through sun-kissed meadows with butterflies and baby goats… but we can replicate those feelings (or whatever lights you up) every single day. Maybe not in every single moment but definitely every day. If you don’t believe me, scroll back to the opening lines of this story. If you don’t think you can feel happy, you won’t. And if you don’t feel well spiritually, physically will follow suit. Read, watch and listen to things that make you feel good. Get comfortable with silence. Surround yourself with people who make you feel comfortable. You know when it feels right. Be bold enough to shut it off and walk away when it feels wrong.

And that, my readers, is how I stay well… and my daily NingXia Red too. Much Love.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Purpose

Hungry?

I call Peanut my son but it’s no secret that we aren’t the same species. In being different species, we have different needs. His diet should be 80% grass hay; mine should be 0% hay. He should have unlimited access to hay. I also have unlimited access to hay, but it’s mostly in my shoes or tousled in my hair.

We both drink lots of water. His treats are an occasional bite of apple, banana or a “doodle,” our code word for a particular type of food pellet that is sweeter than most. You can equate it to a Lucky Charms type cereal as opposed to, say, Grape Nuts. He gets very few “doodles.” My treats vary and are often excessive in quantity.

If he misses a meal, we have a massive emergency on our hands. If I miss a meal, I’ll be just fine.

Thankfully, and despite his excessive fur and dwarf stature, Peanut has only gone into stasis once in 7 years. Knock on every available hard surface…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own food consumption lately. It’s been a struggle for most of my life—I don’t know when to stop, just as Peanut would likely feel if we left him alone with the jar of “doodles.”

Peanut's jar of Doodles

Our relationship to food as a culture is interesting… How often do we use food to cope? To celebrate? To mask?

Are you hungry or are you eating just because it’s “lunchtime”? What are you feeding yourself? Maybe if you get sick, bloated, uncomfortable every time you eat _____, it’s time to give it up? Replace it with something that makes you energized? Just a thought…

And speaking of feeding… what are you feeding your mind and soul with? If things you are consuming on television or social media make you feel anxious, angry or sad consistently, it just might be time to change the channel or close the app. If you’re like me, you may not even realize the feelings that the content you are consuming stirs in you. Take today to be conscious of it. It’s absolutely okay, and sometimes necessary, to indulge. But why waste time with food, content, people, anything that doesn’t make you feel and perform your best?

Peanut, catching up on RHOC

It’s okay to indulge sometimes!

Here’s your homework: Contemplate and journal about the following questions.

What are you hungry for? And why are you hungry for that?

Pay attention to the “food noise” and how what you are consuming, on and off the plate, is making you feel. Reach for the greatest feeling. It’s always possible.

And never forget to eat your hay. Much love.

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