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I’ve been thinking about energy a lot this past week. Mainly because I have none. Or at least very little anyway. I’ve been doing battle with a series of headaches—including some migraines. It’s been frustrating.

For whatever reason migraines have the disconcerting side effect of causing me to feel even worse about myself than I normally do. It sucks. When I’m in the middle of the physical pain my brain is able to recognize that the emotional upheaval is simply a side effect of the migraine, and knows it will pass. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me feel any better. Here’s what my internal conversations sounds like.

Brain: Okay Spudsie. You know this “I’m never gonna make any progress” and “I’m a lousy person” crap is simply a side effect of the migraine pain. You know it will pass eventually and you’ll start to see things more clearly.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. (Side note: My emotions tend to be very sarcastic during migraines. ;-)) I hate this. I’m still one big gooey mess of pent up-ness. This isn’t because of the migraine. This simply is. I’m not any better off than I was a year ago. The migraines still attack and I’m no better at fighting them off. They still slam me to the ground—which is probably where I deserve to be anyway. You’re the logical one—surely you can see that.

Brain: (Deeply sighing) Give it time Spudster. Give it time. The pain will pass and your vision will clear. Just try to focus on drinking water and breathing deeply. Try not to dwell on beating yourself up.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. Try not to dwell on beating myself up. Pffffft. Like that’s gonna happen. What happens to you when someone tells you not to think of an elephant, hmmmmm???? That’s right—all you can think of is an elephant! Let me sulk in my self pity pit for a while. It’s the one thing I’m really good at after all. Oh! And the water thing…..you do realize that drinking THAT much water makes us run to the bathroom every thirty minutes, right? And you know how painful it is to move at all in the middle of a migraine. Can’t we just leave the water alone?

Brain: We’re drinking the water. Period. It helps flush all the lousy stuff out of our system. So just drink it and go take a nap will ya! At least when you are sleeping you can’t beat yourself up.

And so it goes. Yuck. The migraine pain is bad enough, but the emotional toll it takes is far worse. I end up completely drained of any positive energy.

So I’ve been thinking about that positive energy a lot this past week. Wondering where it goes. And what attracts it back my way. And how I’ve become soooooo much more aware of it in the past year. Of sensing it around me. Of feeling it flow through me—or get tied up in knots occasionally. Of feeling it in others.

Last Thanksgiving Mr. Spuds and I vacationed in Las Vegas. Two nights before leaving I slept wrong and knotted up some odd muscles in my neck. I do this occasionally and didn’t think too much of it. Well after a day of not being able to turn my head while on vacation I’d had enough. The Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo (where we stayed) offers a Tension massage that focuses on the head and neck. Perfect! Bright and early the next morning I went down to the spa and made an appointment.

Until then I’d never had a massage in my life. I’m a fairly modest person and blush at the thought of having someone other than my husband see me wearing nothing but a strategically draped sheet. Well evidently pain is a pretty good motivator for me to break out of my comfort zone. While scheduling the massage I was asked if I wanted a male or female therapist. Male, definitely male. No hesitation on my part. These knots are like steel and I need someone with serious upper body strength to work them out. When I mentioned I’d never had a massage before the person scheduling the appointment said, “Oh! I have the perfect therapist for you. Gabriel. He’s wonderful, you’ll love him.” Okay, fine. Whoever. Just fix my neck!

I had no idea.

Gabriel was (and IS) amazing! He made me feel completely at ease. I didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable or self conscious or anything. Wow! (At one point during the massage he joked about advertising in bus stations about offering massages from “the hands of an angel.” Mr. Spuds loved the play on his name and quipped for the rest of the vacation about how I was “touched by an angel.” Groan. I should probably hope these two never meet! LOL!) While he was working on getting rid of the knots (which were so pronounced I was tempted to name them) he kept talking about how I should come back for a full body massage at some point. That the Tension massage was good for working out specific problems, but the full body massage was sooooo much better.

In fact, he talked about it enough that he really shouldn’t have been surprised when I was his first appointment the very next morning for a full body Canyon Ranch massage. LOL! Turns out he was right. It was awesome! I left feeling completely relaxed and completely energized at the same time. Totally cool!

When we returned to Vegas in April (yes, yes….I know….it’s an amazing food city though….I simply can’t resist!), I went back to visit Gabriel again. This time I scheduled a massage the first morning we were in town. Ahhhhhh…..heaven. What a great way to start a vacation!

About half-way through the trip I felt lousy. We won’t talk about the reason. (Ahem. Any drink with the word “chocolate” in it really can’t be bad right? Even if you have 6 of them, right??? Groan. I’m old enough to know better!) Physically I was fine—no headaches, no stomach problems, no knots. I just felt off-kilter. I wasn’t hungry. I told Mr. Spuds I was going to see if Gabriel had any open appointments that day. Mr. Spuds though I had lost my mind. How on earth is a massage going to help?? I was convinced. My energy felt off—it wasn’t flowing normally. It felt knotted up somewhere inside. And I knew Gabriel could help.

Yay! I was right. When it came time for my appointment I told him how I was feeling and that I wanted to see if he could get me back to normal. Bingo! He knew exactly what to do. He asked a few questions and worked in a slightly different way than he had the last time. It worked! It was as though he pulled the energy from my head into my core and then kept it flowing (unknotted) through my legs and out my feet. Awesome! I left feeling totally relaxed, totally energized, and totally hungry!! (I’ve never claimed to be anything even approaching normal. LOL!)

The rest of the day felt magical. I turned my $20 gambling budget (last of the big spenders eh?) into $150. I had an amazing dinner at Bouchon with Mr. Spuds—and had the BEST mint ice cream I’ve ever had. (It tasted herbal instead of fake-minty. Loved it!!!) I had an incredible time at the Blue Man Group show—and Mr. Spuds got to participate and have the entire audience applaud him—totally cool!

The difference was night and day. Before, when my energy was tied in knots, I was trying to force enjoyment. “I am determined to enjoy myself. I’m not going to let feeling off-kilter keep me from doing the things I want to do.” I wasn’t wallowing, but I was pushing myself to keep going. Once the energy was flowing again, everything else flowed right along with it. Enjoyment simply happened. Joy was there—I didn’t have to force it or even go looking for it. It lived in me.

All in all it was an experience I hope to never forget. And I hope I can keep the lesson with me. When the energy is flowing, so is everything else. When the energy flows, I’m in flow. I love it when life lessons sneak up on ya!

Anyone who knows me IRL has heard about Gabriel before. I’ve gushed on and on and on and on about what an amazing massage therapist he is. Recently (within the past month) I was given the opportunity to spend two days at a pretty neat spa free of charge. (!!!) I scheduled a couple of different body treatments—a Swedish massage and a Papaya body scrub and treatment. And I found myself wondering how they would compare to what I’d had in Las Vegas. Would they be just as incredible? Would I find myself realizing that while Gabriel was great he wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of massage therapists? Hmmmmmm….this could be interesting. I couldn’t wait to find out.

After the Swedish massage I told Mr. Spuds, “Okay. Now I know. Gabriel is a ROCK STAR/GOD among massage therapists!!!” The Swedish massage was nice. That’s about all I can say. If it had been my first massage ever I probably wouldn’t ever schedule another one. There wasn’t anything “bad” about it—it simply wasn’t worth what it would have cost.

The Papaya body scrub and treatment included another 50 minute massage—with a different therapist. Ahhhhh….much better than the last therapist. Still no Gabriel, but at least this one managed to work out a couple of my knots.

In case I haven’t been crystal clear with my opinion let me say it plainly. If you ever travel to Las Vegas (and want a massage) call the Canyon Ranch Spaclub at the Palazzo/Venetian and book any appointment you can get with Gabriel! Seriously. He’s that good. Cut your gambling budget, see a cheaper show, skip an expensive meal (and you KNOW he’s got to be good if I suggest skipping awesome food!)…..do whatever you have to do. Just make it happen.

He’s great at making people feel comfortable—and every person at the spa talks about how much they love working with him. He’s great at being able to ask the right questions and move you around in such a way that he can tell what muscles need extra attention—even if you don’t realize it. (He asked if my right hip was bothering me very much. Ummm….no…not really. Then he pressed on one spot. OUCH! Okay…evidently it is bothering me and I hadn’t realized it. LOL!) And he totally gets that energy flows through the body, and that sometimes it gets stuck and needs to be worked out.

I love it when God uses something unexpected and/or unpleasant (like knotted neck muscles that won’t let me move my head) to teach me life lessons and introduce me to really awesome people!! Looking back I am SOOOOOO thankful for sleeping wrong and knotting up those muscles. It’s turned into something awesome!

Now if only there were a way to move Gabriel and his family closer to Ohio…..hmmmmmmm….


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I’m baaaaa-aaaack

Phew….what a vacation! 

Happy belated Thanksgiving to anyone I missed before I left.  I hope y’all had an awesome time.  Mine was great!!!

I’ll be writing/blogging/whatever about some of the vacation high points.  It turns out I’ll have a lot of time to work on it.  Since I tore some ligaments/tendons/something in my foot Wednesday (while on vacation in Vegas) and can’t walk.  Doc says if it’s not better in 3 to 5 days to go to a foot doctor.  Ugh.

At least he doesn’t think it’s broken–despite the fact that I literally cannot walk on it.  Where’s that crying emoticon when I need it??  LOL!

So I’m here at home, unable to move from my room, basically hopping on my other foot to the bed, to the shower, to the chair.  And that’s it.  No moving until Monday for work.  (Don’t get me started.)

Mr. Spuds is a huge help!!!  And has promised to find me the most “cool” cane he can fine.  The doc recommended one to help keep the weight off the foot.  I hope he can find one with flames like Dr. House uses….heh…heh…heh….

So, anyway, I’m back…safe and sound for the most part.  I gotta tell ya….Las Vegas is NOT a good city to be in when you cannot walk.  LOL!

Cool cane

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Beautiful One I Adore


Now that I’ve started this blog I find myself wanting to add to it daily.  As Yoda might say, “Unexpected this is.”  I imagined I’d add ramblings one a week or so.  Yet I can’t seem to stop writing!  Every day something triggers the thought, “Hey I could blog about this” or “Hmmmm…I should write this stuff down.”

As part of my every-Friday-there-will-be-NO-exceptions ritual I call in an order to a local Thai restaurant.  It’s the same order every week.  Pad Thai chicken, hot, and a Thai iced tea.  In fact I’m so predictable they now recognize my voice when I phone in my order.  “Hi Spudsie!  Same order?”  I love it!  (In fact I actually drive past another Thai place to get to this one.  I love that they know my voice!  🙂)

So on the drive home, with the wonderful Pad Thai aroma filling my car, the clouds in the sky promising perfect curl-up-with-a-good-book kind of afternoon, and I find myself completely content with life.  I’m smiling.  I’m happy.  And I’m singing.

(Yeah….that’s right.  I was singing.  Go ahead and insert you’re best “singing potato” joke here.  I’ll wait.)


(Still waiting.)




Okay.  Back to my story.  (Hey… a couple of those jokes were really good!  🙂)  I find myself singing along with Jeremy Camp as he sings “Beautiful One” on the radio.

The song is an amazing love song to God.  It speaks of God’s love, His power, His might, His mercy, His beauty.  Truly, it is quite a love song.

I’m singing along fully intent on praising God and I find my mind has wandered.

(Side note:  My mind wandering is NOT unusual.  Coach Jim keeps reminding me that it’s a good thing in many ways—it allows me to multi-task and be really productive.  I have to keep reminding myself of that.  🙂)

Where was I?  Oh yeah….my mind wandering.  😉  But this wasn’t the typical, “Ooooooooh, shiny!” type of wandering.

Instead of thinking of God while singing these lyrics, I found myself thinking of my husband.

Beautiful one I love
Beautiful one I adore
Beautiful one my soul must sing.

And you opened my eyes to your wonders anew
You captured my heart with this love
Because nothing on earth is as beautiful as you.”

It may sound odd, but the lyrics capture perfectly how I feel about Mr. Spuds.  (Who will probably turn 18 shades of bright red if he ever reads this.  Olive juice baby! 🙂)

He is truly an amazing and beautiful man.  I know…I know….men typically aren’t described as beautiful.  But why not?!  He is such a beautiful person—with an amazing heart, endless love and support for me, and the patience of a saint! 

I’ve said before that my faith is very important to me.  One of the things I struggle with is feeling God’s love for me.  Oh, I know intellectually He loves me.  I just have a hard time feeling it at times.  The Bible often describes God and His love for us as a father’s love.  And I struggle with that.  It doesn’t help as much as I’d like it to.

But Mr. Spuds has really helped me understand and feel God’s love.  He’s the first person who I really felt loved (and loves) me for me.  Not because he MUST love me.  Not because he HAS to love me.  Simply because he chooses to love me.  Loves me with and because of my flaws…my imperfections…my oddness.  He doesn’t love me in spite of them.  He simply loves me.  And loves them because they are part of me.

As I’m on this journey to learn to chose happiness I find myself wondering if the journey will change who I am.  And wondering if Mr. Spuds will continue to love the changed me.

Though the changes I’ve made to date are relatively small, Mr. Spuds has been really excited about them.  He’s been encouraging and praised me for choosing different reactions, for deciding when it’s important enough to speak my mind, for being proactive with my health.  And with his positive reactions and encouragement I find it a little easier to try to make more changes, to make bigger deliberate decisions. 

And any man who can love me, who can provide a safe enviornment for me, who can encourage and inspire me  to change is clearly beautiful.  And is one I adore.

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Memories from seven years ago


In some ways September 11, 2001 feels like yesterday.  And at the same time it feels like a lifetime ago.

I was at a point in my life where I had taken some time away from work (about 6 months) and was at home. The night before I had finalized plans to meet a friend for lunch and was looking forward to a full and relaxing day.  I woke up “early” and had gone downstairs to watch some TV show. (Martha Stewart maybe?) I turned on the TV and saw “breaking news” coverage.

“Oh for crying out loud.  What?  Did some local wannabe celebrity do something stupid again?  Or some small time local politician drive drunk? “

 And then I realized it was NATIONAL breaking news.  Rats, I thought….I really had planned to watch….and then my thoughts stopped. I realized the national “breaking news” was really, really major.

It probably took all of 5-10 seconds to go from annoyed to aghast.  What was happening?I tuned the TV to NBC and watched their coverage. I was still wrestling with the “It sure looks deliberate but I’d rather cling to the belief that it’s accidental” denial stuff when the second plane hit the second tower.

There were no words.  None.  If you had taken a snapshot of me you would have seen the stereo-typical pose of shock.  Mouth agape.  Hands clasped in front of my face.  Eyes wide opened.  Eyebrows at the top of my head.  Holding my breath without realizing it.  Simply stunned.

no…..this cannot be real…..this cannot be happening….why…..what about all of those people….



I sat glued to the sofa for some time alternating between being annoyed at the early Today Show coverage (how can Matt Lauer possibly deny that a large plane—737-ish size hit the second tower? Wasn’t he watching?) and having the greatest of admiration for the early Today Show coverage (how can they keep talking intelligently about his?  How are they managing to keep calm?  How are they able to form coherent sentences when I’m stuck with incomplete thoughts that are nonsensical?)

I spent most of the rest of the day e-mailing and IM’ing friends and family. Such horror.   Where and when would it end?  News reports of plans and fires and disasters poured in.  Fire at the Pentagon.  Fire on the National Mall.  Evacuations of the White House and Congress.  No one knows where the President is. 

No more.  God, please, no more. 

I have never been happier to live in a “cowtown” in the Midwest.  What a blessing to live far away from major targets.  I have family that lives in Chicago and other family that lives near the space center and yet more family who lives near one of the “safe” locations the President may have visited.  I typically viewed all of these locations as more fun and exciting than my own home town.  Not on September 11, 2001. 

For the next week I sat glued to the TV and computer…feeling like a voyeur.  A national tragedy, a national calamity was unfolding in front of me…..as I watched….as I stared at the rescuers….as I repeatedly saw people leaping from the top of burning buildings….completely unable to comprehend what I watched.

To say it felt surreal is too little.  To say it felt horrific is too kind.  To say it felt incomprehensible is too rational. 

To explain it to someone who did not witness it will not be possible.  Oh, I know we will all attempt to explain it, to share the experience with those not yet born or those too young to understand.

But we won’t be able to explain the vividness of it, the emotionality of it, the terror of it any more than those who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor could pass those experiences along to my generation.  You may think you understand it, but unless you’ve lived it there’s some element that’s missing.  A “realness” that isn’t quite there.I will never forget.  And I pray the next generation will never quite understand what it felt like.


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“It’s never the changes we want that change everything.”  Junot Diaz, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”

 So I’m minding my own business, reading “Oscar Wao,” not really thinking anything about anything and WHAM!  This line jumps out at me.

 I’ve been reading voraciously (although I think someone else referred to it as “rabid” LOL!) for the past year.  In 2007 I found a summer reading list (compiled by my now coach) that listed a ton of books that sounded intriguing.  That was the beginning of the end…..I bought about a dozen books from the 2007 list and started reading them.  (Let’s not even talk about how many books on the 2008 SRL that now have a home on my bookshelves…..suffice it to say I’m tempted to pass a collection plate around for any spare Amazon.com gift certificates anyone may have to fund my habit!) 

 For the first six months I really enjoyed reading the books.  I stacked them up next to my reading area pulling one out of the pile at random.  Ahhhhh…such wonderful stories!  Terrific characters, surprising plotlines, new authors….the world was bright and new.

 The past six months have been slightly different.  Oh, the books are just as wonderful, the plots as fantastic.  There’s been a new dimension added.   Since I’ve been working with Coach Jim for the past six months I’ve noticed that in every book I read there is something that ties in with the stuff Jim has me working on or thinking about.  It’s been amazing!

 (Side note:  Coach Jim was, I believe, somewhat amused with my reaction to this phenomenon.  “Jim!  It’s amazing….it’s like God is sending these books, these stories, these authors to me at just the right time!”  His explanation is somewhat more realistic—that because I’m focused on working on new things, new ideas, new perspectives that I see them easier wherever I look.  That the same themes have been in other books but I wasn’t as sensitive to them and didn’t pick up on them.  That makes perfect, rational sense.  And yet I still feel as though the stories, the lessons were sent to me at just the right moment—and am grateful God’s timing is perfect.  J)

 Anyway, “Oscar Wao” has been no exception to this new trend.  “It’s never the changes we want that change everything.”  That has been so true for me recently.  I’ve been…..well….let’s just say less than happy with a number of things in my life for some time.  And have been craving a major change of some type for some time.  I couldn’t articulate it, couldn’t explain it, couldn’t even really rationally think about it.  I just felt it.  And did nothing about it.

 And then within a year a number of changes/events happened in fairly rapid succession.  I changed churches and Bible study groups.  My husband spent time in the ER with severe kidney stone problems.  My dog died very unexpectedly.  My house was broken into.  My job became less fulfilling.  My annoying headaches turned into full-blown week long uncontrollable migraines.  All of those changes pushed me towards reaching out for help.  But it wasn’t enough.  What did finally convince me to ask for help? 

 An e-mailed newsletter and a paperweight.

 Yup.  That’s right.  My coach publishes a monthly Happiness newsletter that he e-mails to anyone who is interested.  I’d been receiving and fairly faithfully reading it since I heard him speak at a conference in 2006.  In one issue Jim discussed Core Values—how to determine what they are for you and how to use that knowledge.   “Cool!”  I thought.  “Here’s an exercise I can do that will help focus my thinking.  Awesome!”  But every time I tried to work on it I ended up in tears.  I couldn’t even begin to think about what my core values were.  At the same time I kept looking at a paperweight on my desk.  “What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?”  I had purchased the paperweight to help inspire me.  Sadly all it did was further reduce me to tears.

 I realized I needed help.  If a paperweight and a newsletter made me feel completely helpless and vulnerable I was out of my league.  I needed to reach out for help.  And I did.

 I have no idea what new directions my life will take as a result of this decision.  I do not know what changes I will make.  What opportunities will present themselves to me.  I do know that my thinking has shifted already.  I had been waiting for things to happen to me to present the opportunity to make changes.  I was passively waiting for change.  I wanted it to show up on my front doorstep and say “Hey Spudsie!  Here I am…just what you’ve been waiting for.”  I imagined embracing this change and instantly knowing that yes! this is indeed what I have been missing, have been needing, have been waiting for.

 In hindsight….duh!  What was I thinking??  Life doesn’t work that way!  I have learned (again!) that I need to work on changing me first….changing how I view myself, how I present myself, how I think about my life.  THEN I’ll be able to answer my paperweight.  Because I’ll know who I am. 

 It wasn’t the change I wanted when I asked for help.  Clearly it is the change I need.

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I’ve heard rumors that an introduction to a blog needs to answer two questions. 

1.        Who is the author?

2.       Why is the author writing a blog?

To satisfy the insatiable curiosity of the half dozen people who may read this blog (Hi Mom and Dad!) I will attempt to give a satisfactory answer to both questions.

Who am I?  As if I could ever answer that question!  How many brilliant philosophers have struggled their entire life to answer that very question???  Yet to satisfy the curious “masses” I will make an attempt…

My nickname is Spudsie/Spuds/Spudster or anything potato related.  It’s a short story but to explain it would require publishing my actual name—and I value my privacy and relative anonymity and choose not to reveal the Clark Kent behind my Superman…er…Super Potato identity.  Suffice it to say that the name was given to me by a dearly loved group of friends. 

I’m a happily married potato in my mid-thirties living in the Midwest.  While we have no spud-ettes (aka children) Mr. Spuds and I do have two turtles we dearly love.  (Don’t laugh.  They make wonderful and surprisingly personable pets!)  In the summer of 2007 we lost our beloved beagle-mix Lexus.  I’m sure she’ll be mentioned occasionally throughout this online journal.  Lexus was an amazing dog—well loved and deeply missed. 

My time tends to be divided between my family, my job, my church and my books.  Yup.  Books make my top 5 list.  J  And they will be featured prominently in this blog.

My life is rich and blessed.  And at the same time it feels unfulfilling.  Which leads me into the second question.

Why am I writing this blog?  I am writing this primarily as an online journal.  I want to record my thoughts, my feelings, my moods, my emotions, and my experiences over a period of time. 

About a year ago I decided enough was enough and I was going to do something to change….well…I wasn’t sure exactly what I needed or wanted to change.  But dagnabit, I knew I needed to change SOMETHING!  So I began trying to make seemingly random changes on my own.  With little success.

Finally about six months ago I reached out for some help and started working with a coach—someone to offer a new perspective on my struggles, to offer guidance, to offer suggestions and guide me through difficult changes.  And it’s been amazing! 

One of the things Coach Jim suggests (strongly suggests) each of his clients do is keep a journal—a place they can look back on and remember where they started, how they felt, what they experienced.  And for whatever reason(s) I haven’t been able to do that.  I try.  (Honest Jim!  I try!)  But it doesn’t feel natural.  Nothing flows.  And the book remains blank with the exception of scribbles and nonsensical doodles.  What I have done instead is composed and (for the most part) sent lengthy e-mails to Jim and a few “lucky” friends.  These e-mails could easily be mistaken for tomes instead of simple e-mails. 

So for 5 or so months I’ve been “journaling through e-mail” and it’s worked fairly well.  It has allowed me to memorialize (Sheesh!  Can you tell I’ve worked with attorneys at one point?!  They don’t write or record anything….they memorialize.  J) my thoughts and my feelings.  But it has two downsides.  The first one—though they assure me I never could, I fear I will wear out my e-mail welcome with my friends and they will change their e-mail addresses at some point and “forget” to tell me their new one.  The second problem—it’s difficult to get all the e-mail threads in one spot and organize them.  And I thrive on organization!

So I decided to be brave, to be daring, to throw caution to the wind…..and create this blog.  (Yeah……I don’t get out much!  LOL!)

I hope to this will serve as a record of “One potato’s journey to chose happiness and the books she discovers along the way.” 

Intrigued?  Interested?  Irritated?  Well keep reading.  Walk this path with me and we’ll see what experiences, what books, what characters (real and fictional), and what changes I encounter along this journey called life.

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