It’s all up to YOU!

 

In a land you once knew

Where Greenish things grew

And Creatures flew free

On an unsullied sea

 

A land we all cherished

Til’ everything Perished

And all that delighted

Was swiftly ignited

 

And if you look back

Cause look back you should

It began with a promise

Sounding decent and good

 

“We’ll make Our Land great again!”

Shouted the Boss

“The land of the free and the brave

That we’ve Lost!”

 

“It’s inefficient, just ‘sad'”

‘A total disaster’

It’s our job to make it run

Smoother and faster!”

 

“We’ll give you back jobs

Like Great Cars and Great Coal

We’ll make you feel Great again

Give back your SOUL!”

 

“We’ll keep Foreigners out!

Cause they’re nothin’ but trouble

Out with those “bad dudes!”

OUT, OUT – on the double!”

 

And it started to happen

Before YOU could yell STOP!

The progress of hundreds of years

Went KERPLOP

 

And Business kept growing

Just like the Chief pledged

And all of the muck

From the pipelines were dredged

 

Into the Cities, The Streets

And the Water

Into the Food that you

Fed your Daughter

 

That Boss, that Boss –

Yelled out to his fans

“It’s Okay! Have no Fear!

We have lots of BIG plans!”

 

The Pipeline you see

Was just the beginning

The leader declared

And just kept on grinning…

 

“I’ll act on my promises

Build up that Great WALL

‘Good Fences make Good neighbors’

After all….”

 

And the World was not ready

For what He had in store

This Leader relentless

In asking for MORE!

 

More Gas Guzzling cars

Made with HIS Specialty oil

Drilled deep within

HIS country’s sweet soil

 

“More Bans on the Foreigners

Let’s Wipe this Land clean!

It’s been done before

And OUR Land’s a machine!”

 

 

“Clean up the People

And Dirty the Land

Make this Place Great Again

Make Her just Grand!”

 

“Make her Unbelievably

Incredibly GREAT!

And we must do it NOW

Before it’s too LATE!”

 

Then his voice got real low

And his face got real RED

A message he offered

That Leader, he said:

 

“My Dearest Followers

Don’t believe what you hear

Only I know the truth

Let me make that real clear!”

 

“Everything out there’s just phony

And FAKE,”

Said that Leader

Who suddenly looked like a SNAKE

 

And all became SILENT

For fear they’d be FIRED

All became anxious

Wide-eyed and tired

 

They stepped in LINE

To the left and the right

The light left their eyes

And so did the fight

 

And as they succumbed

To the Leader’s great POWER

He built up his empire

Tower after TOWER

 

 

And Greenish things wilted

Creatures all died

Foreigners left

As He filled up with pride!

 

Counting his money

From all his investments

“I’ve been totally RIGHT

In all my assessments!”

 

In his White House

He smiled his White smiles

Not a Color in sight

For one million miles

 

It all faded away

The Land became gray

Beauty and Splendor

Just melted away

 

And all they beheld

Was tweet after tweet

As smoldering temperatures

Climbed up in the heat

 

And then…

 

HE did something reckless

The final offense

He just HAD to do it

“Cause it only made sense.”

 

“I’m the Great Leader

The one that knows best!”

He said it with zeal

He said it with zest!

 

And in went the CODE:

The fateful number

That flattened the Great Land

Into an eternal slumber

 

And…

 

Now YOU sit out

On a planet in SPACE

Surveying the wreckage of

Our human RACE

 

YOU were the lucky one

Escaped just in time

Before the buttons were pushed

At a quarter to nine…

 

And now you ask: WHY?

HOW, WHERE and WHAT?

Could this have been halted

And brought to a STOP?

 

The Answer, my friend

Lies Only in YOU

Did you speak up, my friend or just

Line up in CUE?

 

To the Left, to the Right

All ended up on the GROUND

Cause that’s what happens

When you don’t make a SOUND

 

You see…

 

One thing’s for sure

One thing’s just TRUE

Staying Silent is Deadly

So it’s all up to YOU!

 

And the Boy out in Space

Looked down and just sighed

I wish I’d have known

At least I’d have tried.

 

Do all that you can

To reverse this sad FATE

For it’s been said in the end

That it’s LOVE

That trumps HATE

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What the mind sees, it achieves.

I recently attended a workshop entitled Walking with Empowerment. Derek O’Neil, the psychotherapist and spiritual healer summed up his many years of teachings into this one phrase: “What the mind see, it achieves.” This mantra is one we have all heard before, however the truth of it is actually astounding.  Keeping this phrase in my mind, I reminded my patients this week to continue clarifying their visions and goals, highlighting that if they cannot see what they truly want, nobody else will.  Spending as much quiet time as possible meditating, journaling, dreaming and just being – continually asking yourself which images, messages and visions continue to arise.  This quiet time is absolutely necessary for you to clarify your deepest wishes. Otherwise,  you are just an empty vessel rushing around from place to place, never focusing your mind’s lens on what it truly desires. So, for this week – try tune into your deepest self. You just might see something that will clarify your dreams.

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Refocus your vision (the glasses are on!)

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I am interested in the experiences, tools and stories that bring clarity, awareness and INSIGHT into people’s lives.  Likewise my goal is to bring back the fun and perspective so many of us may have lost along away.  I hope to awaken the passion and creativity that each of us have so people like us can leave this amazing life journey with NO regrets, having lived FULL OUT!  Oh, and I like to do this with a little humor and fun, even though many of life’s biggest lessons are often wrapped in sad or even tragic stories.

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All of us possess the power and wisdom to gain insight. We are born with this natural ability – our perception, curiosity and senses are fully alive when we enter the world.

Yet over time our vision and clarity dulls and things can become blurred, hazy and obscured. We often start to feel lonely, sad, angry and overwhelmed as life progresses. Many of us feel tired, empty and hungry for something – and so often we mistakenly try to fill that emptiness with all the wrong things.

Yet, all we need to refocus our lives, is to put what we call our “insight” glasses on (they are always readily available) and rediscover the magical world we left behind when we were children – but using our big kid glasses.

Whether we gain clarity through psychotherapy, meditation, creativity or any mind-body practice, we discover that gaining insight and awareness makes us feel happy, healthy and harmonious. It gives us perspective and brings back that bounce to our step!  When things are aligned it  makes us want to throw open the windows and scream – “YEAH BABY!”

This blog is for anyone and everyone who would like to learn and/or share something about themselves or their lives that has given them greater insight into themselves and their relationships.  I want your lessons and your insights!  I want you to put your glasses on!

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Secrets of the World Wide Web

It has been said that the domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature. Once someone experiences power over an animal, plant or vegetable, his desire to control his own species increases. The taste of having command over anything living flows through his blood like a drug as he suddenly finds himself craving, desiring, hungering after, yearning, wanting and needing more.
In my work-in-progress “Secrets of the World Wide Web” an African spider becomes a surreptitious, unseen advisor to President Obama, warning the president of specific events that could devastate our planet through the control of both nature’s web and the web of technology.

By unwrapping the assorted African myths and legends of Anansi the spider, a small, seemingly helpless creature, half-spider, half-man who manages to outwit larger and fiercer animals, always getting what he wants, I have begun charting out the overall mythos for the novel, borrowing a great deal of wisdom from African folklore. The fables of Anansi were utilized by slaves as a way of asserting their identity within the boundaries of their captivity. These myths were like magic mirrors in which all slaves could view both their own and their ancestor’s reflection, allowing them to gain a sense of hope and empowerment about their future, however trapped they felt in their immediate environment.

In many ways we are all modern-day archetypes of Anansi, half-animal, half-robot, caught in a complex world, spinning webs to catch food for our survival and building websites to attract and capture followers and admirers. We need animals and plants to sustain our bodies and we crave connection and attention, no longer just through our loved ones but through technology and social media to uphold our identities. Yet, we cannot all be sated with nutritious, plentiful food and meaningful relationships. Much of the world is starving – if not physically then emotionally or spiritually. As we long for our primitive drives such as food or sexual gratification, we also yearn for our instinctual freedoms, opposing any relationships that confine us or restrict this basic human desire. As Freud so aptly asserts in his seminal book, Civilization and Its Discontents our “quest for instinctual freedom is in direct opposition to civilization’s contrary demand for conformity and instinctual repression. Many of humankind’s primitive instincts are clearly harmful to the well-being of a human community. As a result, civilization creates laws that prohibit killing, rape, and adultery, and it implements severe punishments if such rules are broken. This process, argues Freud, is an inherent quality of civilization that instills perpetual feelings of discontent in its citizens.”

Thus, when Anansi secretly, subliminally shares with Obama what will occur on our planet if he does not protect our technologically advanced civilization, the president is called to action as he inwardly struggles to find a balance between allowing basic human rights and freedoms to his citizens while placing necessary restrictions on technological advancements and developments that could potentially harm humanity.

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a backward glance

After finally seeing The Life if Pi last night, I was left with the haunting image of the bengal tiger, Richard Parker finally leaving the lifeboat and walking into the Mexican jungle – without a backward glance or the slightest acknowledgement of Pi’s painstaking, incomprehensible attempt to save his life. As Pi is rescued by some fisherman, he weeps not for the nightmare he has just endured alone for months with Richard Parker in the Pacific Ocean, but for the tiger’s complete lack of recognition or appreciation for their astonishing shared journey. The tiger simply walks away as if the connection and journey they shared was completely meaningless.

Pi struggles with this moment of disconnection and abandonment by Richard Parker, convincing himself that he did share something incredulous with the tiger and that even though the animal walked away with no backward glance, the feelings they possessed for one another and the experience they endured did have deep meaning and significance.

In my consulting room, I have contemplated this lack of connection and meaning in relationships. All couples are floating in a lifeboat together, oftentimes experiencing their partner as the bengal tiger. In this lifeboat, they can either choose to connect or disconnect, to acknowledge their own issues or defend against them and run away. It appears that it is the overall desire of all couples to connect however, when this idealistic desire of absolute connection is not fulfilled, the wish for connections turns into frustration, blame and anger. “When I try and talk to my husband, he is emotionally unavailable.” “He stares at his smartphone as if he doesn’t even hear me.” “She looks away from me and only focuses on the kids.” “He has unrealistic expectations of me.” “She doesn’t appreciate all the things I do for her.” There is a constant jumping ship, a walking away from one another with little acknowledgement of one’s own deeper issues. Yet this walking away only deepens our wounds for as much as we long to taste freedom like the bengal tiger, in the end we are human, always hungering for connection.

We all want to “matter” to another person. We want to know that the things we have done and the feelings we have shared are being well-received and greatly appreciated. Yet oftentimes, we give almost no feedback to our partners, very little recognition and only sporadic appreciation. What is left are pools of silence and the feeling that we are sleepwalking throughout our day without truly connecting to each other. Thus, we begin to crave our “aliveness”, our freedom, walking away from our loved ones toward the wild, untamed jungle, toward new careers, new relationships that offer unrealistic promises. Instead of running into the wilderness like wild animals, we must encourage ourselves to look backward, turn around, face our partners and acknowledge their humanness. When we do this, we recognize a part of ourselves – our own vulnerability and fragility. We acknowledge that unlike the tiger who has the ability to move forward with little acknowledgement of the past, we experience and feel things on a deep level, retaining past memories of our shared experiences.

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Cleansing the Gluppity Glupp

A few months before my third child Lily was born, I rushed to finish writing my novel The Gossamer Thread, knowing that it would be a long time before I had the time to think about it again. Even in the delivery room I was finalizing my website, pleased that I was tying up loose ends that I wouldn’t be able to finish for many months to come. That was an understatement! It’s been over two years – a blur of sleepless nights, occasional memorable moments (a first tooth, an unforgettable belly laugh, a cherished phrase), chauffeuring children around Los Angeles to violin practices, piano lessons,flute lessons, tennis matches, gymnastic classes, toddler groups, Sunday school etc., making last minute decision with my nanny (recently turned Cordon Bleu student chef) about what to cook for dinner, buying everything and anything on Amazon prime, endlessly volunteering at their hipster private school, assisting countless clients through relationship emergencies – all while holding myself back from texting or checking emails in the car – my extended office – or attempting in my few private moments to read something semi-intellectually stimulating on my i-pad, desperately wanting to reconnect with the thoughts I had before my life melted into this “gluppity-glupp” of being a mom in West LA – that has taken over my inner life and creativity.

After mindless toddler groups and lunches, listening to other gluppity moms banter about why their two year old won’t share his toys or sleep through the night, or why their seven year old must attend Kuyam three times a week to simply keep up with their peers, or why they have decided to inject themselves with botox to look like they did twenty years prior, or why they are juicing themselves into anorexia, Lulu lemoning their workout clothes so they can fit the part at their intensely heated yoga class or upbeat spinning class, manicuring and pedicuring themselves on Montana Ave., buying an array of Rag and Bone boots, colored jeans, Tom Ford sunglasses, Luis Vuitton purses and Gucci wallets. Thneeds, thneeds and more thneeds. Everyone continues to need more and more thneeds! I have sunken into this world of excess, this gluppity glupp like quicksand even though I consider myself to be an aware, intuitive, well-educated woman. My intellectual and soulful self has shut down, craving the glupp like an addict craves her drug of choice.

In this fast-paced, techno-savvy, social networking – blogging, tweeting, face-booking, instagramming, linking-into the world — my deepest thoughts that haunt and preoccupy my dreams each and every night – are instantly forgotten when I awaken as swiftly as pressing the like button on a friends facebook page. Gone are the days of dream journaling in an actual journal not an on-line website and meditating (without plugging in) on archetypal images that arise nightly in my dreams. In the day world of gluppity glupp, we all have no real idea who we are and what we ACTUALLY like. Where we are going or why we are navigating there. We only press buttons and view pages because we see other friends pressing them too. We only visit pages and places because we are told they are worthy to visit. Yet, all of this button pressing, visiting, lingering, wondering around launches us away from our truest callings and back into the gluppity glupp.

We are all living in this goo. This giant, sweltering pot, brimming and teeming with mostly useless, disturbing, overwhelming images and information that continues to amass and compound on itself daily, erasing our own deepest images that will assist us in cleansing this gluppity glupp and leading us to a place of clarity. We sink deeper into this stuff because we are already IN it – and have no LORAX to lift ourselves out into the way things used to be pre world wide web and gluppity glupp. Many of us turn to spirituality, yoga, meditation, religion, sex, – some drinking, drug using, overeating, under-eating, shopping, gambling, gaming – which may bring us moments of escape, however as Phillip Cushman, author of Constructing America, Constructing Ourselves named years ago, we are still falling deeper and deeper into “our empty selves” and this emptiness leaves room for the glupp to amalgamate.

Thus – I have decided to begin the slow, arduous process of a daily cleansing of this glupp, emerging anew and rejuvenated out of the goo. I am back writing a new YA novel – The Secrets of the World Wide Web as well as finally finding a home for The Gossamer Thread. Since Lily is now nearing pre-school age, (with mixed emotion) I sense a light at the end of the long tunnel of caring for very young children. As much as I have complained about not having time to think, I wouldn’t trade anything for the years of mindful attention that I have given to my children (even though much of it was given whilst an overpowering machine spit out gluppity glupp in every imaginable corner.)

We all have to work hard at stopping this abounding force, setting boundaries for ourselves and our children and allowing ourselves the time to process and think. Once we do this, the glupp begins to evaporate and the swammy swams can once again sing and fly free.

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Comparisons are the enemy of joy

In a session with a client the other day, she brought up the following quote: “Comparisons are the enemy of joy.” In digesting this wise statement I recognize its truth. Particularly in West Los Angeles but present everywhere, we are constantly tempted and deceived by examples of what we perceive as being something superior to what we possess in our own lives. This evaluation begins at a young age. My six year old tells me her friends have more American Girl dolls than her. My eight year old notices his peers live in bigger houses than himself. My two year old retorts, “I want more! I want more!”

What is it in us that is never satisfied with what we have? Many clients I see in my practice look at other’s relationships, careers and possessions and feel a sense of inferiority as compared to their own. Or they look at others around them and boost their own egos by seeing what they possess, which their friends do not. The Smiths have such a good relationship. Her husband Ben is always showing her so much affection and buying her expensive presents. Why can’t my husband be more like that? My boyfriend Matthew is not half as driven as my friends’ boyfriends. Will he ever have the same passion and zest for life as all of them? Our house is so small and old. Look at the Burtons house – it’s completely remodeled and sustainable. Will we ever have a house like that? It goes on and on.

What happens when we are in the mode of comparing is that we disengage -away from the joy of our own reality and toward a role of yearning for something that does not truly exist. We live out of a place of lack, rather than a place of abundance, giving allegiance and power to other’s perceived realities and turning our backs on our own joy. Our imaginations are powerful – and thus what we experience others having is never accurate. In the meantime, all of the delight and happiness that we could have been beholding is sucked away into a black hole of longing for something entirely impalpable. We become slaves to this imaginary ideal that offers only a fictional respite from out own mundane existences.

However, what we come to find out, though much trial and tribulation is that this ideal is invented in our own minds – it is not real. And thus we chase a ‘final fictional goal’, weighing ourselves up against something that is actually unattainable – simply because it is imagined in our own mind and it does not belong to us.

We must resist this urge to compare. We must find peace and enjoyment in our own lives, blessing those around us to find the same in theirs.

We must fully accept and honor our own reality, rather than dividing our energy by wishing for something that we don’t have.

This is not to say we cannot dream, desire or imagine changes in our lives. Dreaming is different than comparing. Dreaming comes from our desires. Comparing comes from our deficiencies.

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In all disorder lies a secret order…

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
Carl Jung

What part of your life feels like it’s in disarray? When I listen to clients talk about their issues, it is easy for me to clearly see the unifying themes that run through their confusion and disillusionment. As they struggle through their uncertainty, I strive to help clear a path through the murky waters that surround them. At the end of a session, I sometimes see them find this clarity, even if it only lasts for a moment. These moments turn into gradual insights, slight shifts in behavior until they begin to see a real change in their behavior.

However, in my own life, I am reminded how easy it is to struggle through this murkiness. Having a private practice, striving to be a writer and having three kids with many different needs and schedules clouds and often overwhelms my own ability to see through what is truly important for my own internal growth and external needs. All sense of ‘me’ dissipates as I find myself taking care of everybody else and not myself. Of course in the current of my life, I float in and out of this awareness, that things are never completely in balance, constantly swinging the pendulum from once side back to the the other to find an equilibrium, always feeling like I am on a never ending merry-go-round that never fully slows down or comes to a stop.

Yet, if I stop to notice the patterns beneath the chaos swirling around me, I can begin to find a sense of peace and order. The constant of new and old faces traveling around me in perpetual motion, struggling with their own never-ending thematic issues – quiets as I come to a stop – close the door, say no, set boundaries. I have to continue to remind myself that motion often blocks discovery instead of nurturing it – for it is only when one slows down, that they can see the secret order beneath the chaos.

Dreams provide us with this pertinent information – to discover the secret order. However, we are in such a hurry to wake up, get out of bed and begin our motion through the day, that we forget their vital imagery and deep messages. Part of my vision is slowing down, finding the patterns beneath the chaos, the secret order beneath the disorder – so I can begin to see and understand my life’s true mission and purpose.

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Clarity through meditation

Recently I began attending a meditation class. Although it has been challenging to sit still and simply allow myself to focus ONLY on my breath (my mind is constantly darting back and forth like a caged tiger full of its own intentions), it has been ultimately freeing to know that at any time, no matter where I am or who I’m with, I can always return to my breath. This knowledge of RETURN to my body, without my mind constantly, urgently driving and controlling its outer shell, is like a wonderful sinking into a natural, relaxing inner hot spring. Deep inside myself lies a pool of insight, softly flowing and bubbling to the surface, now more often than before I became a mom with three kids.

I have experienced this pool of insight before, during my Ph.D. program in depth psychology and during my time spent in psychotherapy where I felt fully focused on my dream life, journaling and remembering every detail of my dreams, constantly analyzing these beautiful and strange images against my conscious life. Having many epiphanies about my past I was able to merge these epiphanies into my present – mainly through dream images that helped me understand my unconscious and allowed me to begin reshaping archetypes or complexes that kept me previously stuck. Soon, I began to gain clarity about my identity and purpose, moving forward in my life, being guided by my inner dream life.

Having children brought me further away from this inner life into a hectic, bustling outer life filled with the huge responsibilities of caring for three young lives. The clarity I once new was overtaken with crying babies, running after toddlers, driving kids back and forth to school, etc. Yet, the inner voices still tugged at me, urging me to continue to listen to my dream images, which now were interrupted versions of the once long, drawn out dream stories I remembered before kids. Catching a glimpse here and there of what my yearnings and desires were through my dreams, I knew that I needed to re-clarify and redesign my identity. I knew that part of this reshaping meant shedding some of my identification with being a psychotherapist and turning toward the more creative part of myself that needed to be seen and heard. I finished the novel I started during my Ph.D. program about a feather who falls from an angel’s wings, finding herself in the hands of a conflicted psychologist.

As I turned back toward this project and toward other creative endeavors, part of me felt blocked with excuses. “I have no time” “I have no artists studio” “I need to practice psychology in order to make money” What the meditation class has assisted me with is an understanding and recognizing that although I don’t have adequate time or the proper space or perhaps the money to hold these creations, my own breath, my own body remains the vehicle to completely contain whatever it is that I need. Money translates into good energy coming toward you when you are doing something you ultimately love. The good energy and intentions surrounding them will bring an enormous return and reward.

My training as a depth psychologist, my own psychotherapy and many years that I have spent helping others in my practice, coupled with the meditation class have helped me gain a sense of clarity about myself and my vision for my future. If I am to take what I have learned in my practice as a psychotherapist and translate that into either writing, art (or both combined) I need to be fully present with myself, my children, my partner, my clients and the stories that I endeavor to write and create. Having clarity of mind is the key to moving toward ones visions and having ones dreams come to fruition.

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the holi-days

What is a holiday? Stemming from the word Holy Day it implies a day set aside for special religious observance – as we’ve come to know them ‘non-working days’ or brief periods of exemption or relief. Only on certain times of the year do we allow ourselves this respite, viewing all other days as ‘work days’ -days devoid of holiness, mindfulness godliness.

My aim this coming year is to make every day include a moment of holiness, however brief or perhaps however extended? Whatever form this daily practice takes; a few minutes of meditation accompanied by some simple breaths, a recording of my night dreams allowing me to connect more deeply to my unconscious, a beautiful meal I prepare and share with my family, taking the time to smell the scent of a blooming rose or listening to the fleeting laughter of my growing children.

The intention is to become fully present throughout my day, to take a holi-day from the grind of being human. Becoming present always involves going inward and finally coming out feeling more connected to oneself and to others. Just like one needs a massage when their muscles get overworked, or a carwash when their car is dirty – we all need daily respites to keep us in tough with our intentions, so we don’t become off center, allowing our negative emotions to overpower our true feelings, which are often buried inside, yearning to come forth.

Taking holy moments can have the effect of entering a wonderful dream and extending this positive energy outward with whom you come into contact. I recall a client telling me about a subway ride he had when he was a young man, which he will never forget. On that particular day, before he left his house he told himself that he would make the attempt to become fully present with everyone person he met, even if it were a complete stranger. That day, he made connections with each and every person he encountered on the subway. Some passengers he didn’t speak to – he simply smiled, letting the passenger know there existed a human connection between them, replacing the otherwise lonely subway ride. One man told him he had just come from his father’s funeral and this man ended up being his boss for the next ten years. The experience he had that day changed the way he decided to confront his daily life. He is now the CEO of a major company in the United States. He came from an extremely troubled background and made a decision to find holiness in a world that for him had become devoid of connection.

I think about this client often and know that as Einstein said, on any given day I have a choice: to live life as if nothing is a miracle or to live life as if everything is a miracle.

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