How we get programmed by simple actions

July 10, 2016

Ever give your dog or cat a treat? Do it once and they will demand it forever! So in the end, who is training who? I have a friend who taught his cat Sherman to sit up and give the paw before providing milk as a treat. Before too long Sherman was prancing into the kitchen, sitting himself down and offering the paw as if to say, “ok, big guy, where’s the milk?” If my friend ignored him, Sherman would resort to pawing the dishwasher and meowing loudly until he got what he wanted – the milk! It’s pretty funny, but that’s how it went.

Sherman with the paw for milk

Sherman with the paw for milk

Now I have a similar story relating to my own cat Skylar who, after getting crunches on top of his soft food only once as an incentive to eat would then refuse to eat without the added bonus. The cat could be starving, but would just sit and look at me like, “Are you kidding? You want me to eat that?” of course, not wanting him to go too long without food I’d give him what he wanted. Now the crunches are a stable and no longer a treat.

But isn’t this how life is? If we’re given a bonus at work too often, we come to expect it. Or, more likely, certain behaviors from friends and family say a significant other takes us out regularly or perhaps a child gets good grades in school. So much for that new behavior being special, since if rewarded too often, it’s expected and no longer appreciated. Thus we move into the taken for granted mode.

It’s easy to fall into this trap. Take a look around your life and see where you’ve been programmed or perhaps where you’ve programmed those around you. Do your kids expect multiple vacations, gifts and treats per year because you did it once and now they think it’s normal and so expected? Think about whether you should re-program certain areas of your life for the better to bring things back into proper balance. Is all that behavior, whatever “that is” really necessary?

Only then can we have true gratitude and appreciation for what’s truly special in our lives. That’s how it’s supposed to be! Let me know how it goes..


Doing the Right Thing

March 8, 2016

Life can be complicated. Heck, it’s most often complicated. And on top of it there is usually more than one way to get things done. When we look at all the variables and the options to attack our problems, sometimes there are short cuts, ways around the issues, or even methods that may be a bit nefarious. Ah oh! What happens when we choose to cut corners, snip a bit off the end of something to save time or take the low road rather than the high road? This is called taking the easy way out and is not the spiritual way; that is, thinking or doing in this manner will not serve us in the long run. Anything that doesn’t serve us, certainly doesn’t serve our soul growth, so why do it?

This leads us to a better understanding of doing the right thing. It’s obviously not easy to do the right thing when there are other options. If there were only one option, it would be easy. But this isn’t the way the world was built. We are usually given challenges so that we come out of the situation stronger than when we went in. As souls in a body, we’re given a choice – we can move towards the higher path towards the light or take the low road towards the darkness. Without a choice, there would be no challenges and therefore no way to ever overcome difficulties; thus, we would be in a world where we wouldn’t know the difference between the light or the darkness. So when we have issues, understand that these problems are not thorns in your side, but opportunities to grow and become stronger. Without hills to climb our legs would never have a chance to know their limits for example. The same is true of our spiritual and moral bodies. Only by stretching our limits can we grow, become better people and move forward on our spiritual path.

lightdarkIn the end, doing the right thing may be harder, but it is usually more rewarding. This has been my experience. I’ve found that with challenges in my life, moving through the tunnel of difficulty eventually brings me to the light; how wonderful it feels to get there. And, often there are unexpected rewards. It’s also my experience that when we follow the light and do the right thing, goodness follows us also.


Conspicious Consumption

January 14, 2015

I started taking a great Zumba class, but there I was in regular aerobic shoes. I looked around and most of the class had on cute, colorful shoes. It’s pretty hard to see the brand name or model type while people are jumping up and down, but I tried to figure out what model/style/brand was most popular. Then I went on-line and started a six-month journey into the world of shoes appropriate for Zumba. What I found during my personal journey are probably not isolated incidences. I’m sure that others have had similar experiences in trying to find shoes that not only fit properly, but are fit for the specific purpose.

ImageHere are just some of the situations that I got into.

We’re in an on-line world these days, so that’s where I started. I looked up reviews for Zumba shoes and found a few advertised. Then I read, read, read reviews and found no real agreement on which shoes were good or not. Some Zumba instructors loved one brand/style while some users disliked the very same shoes. Well, so much for individual tastes and feet. Then there was the buying experience. Perhaps the one pair was a lemon and just wasn’t made to the size, shape or material conformance that the other pair was held up to and thus the user had a different experience. Maybe it was a different factory that actually made that pair; after all, most of these aerobic shoes are made in China, Thailand, or some other part of Asia. There must be hundreds of factories with varying degrees of quality control.

I finally got to the point of jumping in, no pun intended, and bought a pair of PUMA’s with cell technology. They were very smart looking with a pink/orange wave of color and a rubbery cell bottom. Unfortunately this same bottom stuck to the wood floor and caused my ankles to hurt within the first month. I persevered nonetheless until I was in real pain, and then finally gave up.  At this point, the on-line store refused to take them back and referred me to the manufacturer who gave me a store credit. Their store site was more expensive which forced me (sort of) to select a more expensive pair of aerobic shoes in the hopes that if I spent even more money perhaps I would get a better result. The selected pair was even worse. Although touted as being wonderful for dance (Zumba is a kind of latin exercise), there was little to no arch support. Ok, I learned that I needed more support. Back these went and being new I got a full refund. I accepted that the first pair would just have to be worn for exercise other than Zumba.

Still determined to buy a pair of shoes suitable for Zumba, I tried again. I really like my New Balance walking shoes so I went on the NB website and a chat box opened asking me if I wanted help. Once I went down that rabbit hole I eventually called them and got a very nice man who told me about a shoe that NB was making just for Zumba. Really? He seemed very sincere when he told me that the staff was really into Zumba and developed this particular model after experience with taking classes. Ok, I thought, I’ve found the right shoe. Yes, but for me? I tried this one and although there wasn’t enough room at the toe to be called “too big”, as I walked I felt like I was walking on the tip of my toes (I could feel my toes on the ground as I walked). Guess you had to be there. Anyway, after two classes these shoes went back. Didn’t work for me. I felt really bad since I liked the shoe and I liked the salesman.

With each try I’m spending more and more money, going way over my normal limit for aerobic shoes. I was responding not only to advertising to buy the fancier models but also what I saw in my Zumba class – women who were also yielding to the so-called need for a feature rich shoe for a specific kind of exercise. Oh, if I only had stock in these companies that are producing bright pink, neo-green and bright orange-soled shoes for Zumba that cost $60 and up!

Try Again.

Except that these relatively expensive shoes didn’t fit me properly, hurt my feet, hurt my ankles, etc. In most cases I was able to return them after finding out that they didn’t work for me. But, it took a lot of my time. I finally decided that I needed to physically go to a store and try on shoes. Just when I planned to go to the nearby outlet, a friend suggested a low end department store that carried a selection of aerobic shoes for both men and women. There were some on sale, some that were brand names but mostly not what I’d seem at my gym classes. Previously, I was aiming at a cross-trainer based on the reviews. However, I decided to change my approach and use my own judgment. What a concept? I simply looked at the bottom of a shoe with a solid sole, good arch support, and reasonably flat bottom so that it wouldn’t catch on the floor and voila – I found the Fila dynamic action running shoe. It had a bright pink sole (really cool looking), black with pink edges for the laces (fits right in with the Zumba theme) and a smooth bottom. Then I tried them on. I found that I wore ½ size smaller with this brand which gave me a much more solid foundation than the others I had tried. I had satisfied my needs – good fit, ½ price (only $39), good looking and felt good on the floor. Even though they were not a popular brand for Zumba I finally realized that conspicuous consumption didn’t fit into my lifestyle. I felt good about my purpose and could move on to other things. Enough with the exercise shoes!

 


Yellow Power Issues

June 19, 2013

The generally accepted chakra system of energy centers associates a color with each of the seven centers as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROYGBIB). Thus, the third chakra at the solar plexus is associated with the color yellow. Other characteristics associated with this energy center are being in one’s power, creativity and prosperity when working properly. If the third chakra isn’t functioning properly, the opposite values of these characteristics would prevail – such as not being in one’s power, being stagnant and being in scarcity.

So what does all this mean to us in the everyday world?  Quite often, people are drawn to the color of the energy that they lack or need in order to balance their energy. So, if an individual is lacking in power, or otherwise feel less than or powerless, they could be drawn to wearing yellow. Does it mean that every person we see that’s wearing yellow on a specific day is not in their power? Not necessarily, but it does mean that the color that someone is wearing could possibly be a point of consideration depending on the circumstances.

What is an example of someone wearing yellow indicating a power issue? I recently attended a class and the woman that sat next to me walked in wearing yellow from head to toe. She had on yellow pants, shirt, socks and even her purse was a yellow leather. Wow! I think this woman had more yellow-colored wear on than anyone I had ever seen. Now, like I said before, I didn’t think anything of it just based on this one description, but the plot thickened as the expression goes. When we gave our introductions, she made a very specific point of emphasizing how important her job, her position, her travels, her situation and yes, her life was to the world. I guess I’m exaggerating, but this is how it sure sounded to me. I was very impressed with just our totally impressed she was with herself by the sound of her introduction. It was quite clear how she viewed herself. So why was she wearing yellow? Was it just a happenstance; a coincidence of chosen wardrobe for the day? Let’s take a closer look.

As the day progressed, we had to make decisions about how we would move forward with our learning that we were expected to gain over the two-day training. To my total surprise, when this woman was put to the question, she refused to indicate a willingness to commit to totally moving forward. She disavowed one issue after the next in her life as reasons for why she wasn’t ready to move forward. Really?  I began to realize that when one is truly in their power, they don’t let issues dissuade them from moving forward, at least not conceptually. One stays in a positive space and just deals with issues as the normal challenges of life. She was showing her true state – she wasn’t in her power at all.

The underlying cause of the situation

My theory about wearing yellow when one needs the energy of the color was dead on – she needed the energy of power in any way she could get it. Feeling my energy and that I am in my power, seemed to be a threat to her. Since I read energy on a regular basis, I was quite aware of her reaction. My suspicions were confirmed when she tried to get others to join her creating a clique and dividing the group while getting others to join her energy. This is behavior of someone that is totally not in their power and needs the energy of others to feel secure. I really felt bad for her since she was clueless of how juvenile her behavior appeared to me (I’m not sure about the others involved as I can’t speak for them).

In the end, wearing yellow was most assuredly a sign of a power issue and of not actually being in power.


Sometimes Community Finds Us

March 25, 2013

There are times to be alone and times to be with others and we all have our tolerances of both ends of this spectrum of need to be or not to be with others. That said, being social has been shown to be a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle and those that are part of a social network, e.g. community tend to live longer. OK  so much for the technicalities of the thought. If you are divorced and lose your network in the process as I did, finding a new one at middle age can be a challenge. And, if your family lives on the other side of the country or retires and moves away, the situation can be even more challenging.

FriendsThus establishing community is something that one must go after. Like many things, unless you work in a place where you can make friends that you see outside of work, and thus have a built in community, you have to consciously want to open yourself up to the opportunity to engage. As I’ve just mentioned, the workplace is one environment conducive for establishing relationships but it can be fraught with difficulties if “friends” becomes more than just friends. But that’s a different discussion.

Another good environment is one’s place of worship or natural locations of social interchange such as church, synagogue groups, or local Meetups.

A couple weeks ago I decided to attend a gathering at a local church even though I’m not Christian. The program included a potluck dinner, time for social interchange but also focused on seeing a movie about wild horses followed by a discussion session.  I found the location easily and joined a table that wasn’t yet full. As it turned out, the group at this particular table was mostly from Peru, Bolivia and Columbia as well as a few regulars from the U.S. Having been to Peru, I had some small talk to offer to the conversation although I did feel a little awkward not knowing anyone. They were, however, very welcoming and did their best to be inclusive. I found their attitude quite impressive. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, after all, it was a church group and by its very nature, their perspective is to offer “love” to all. It was a nice experience for me after having gone to some other more secular groups that were more catty where I felt left out. Age, background, etc. weren’t important to these people. It was quite refreshing.

Then I had a really big surprise. When one said her birthday was coming up on March 25, I said that it was my birthday also! Next, one of the ladies said they (those that knew each other) were planning to gather at a local restaurant to celebrate the birthday and I was invited. I was overwhelmed! I barely knew these people and here they were inviting me to a party!

Well, true to form, I got a call a few days later from Rosie inviting me to a gathering on Sat. March 23 at 6:30 pm. The timing was good since I was attending an ARE Program on Soul Growth at the Unity Church which was finished at 4:30. By the time I left the program and ran a few errands I was able to go to the restaurant right on time and meet the group for dinner. All in all there were 14 people with 3 birthday people including myself. I came to learn that this group tried to get together monthly and used birthdays as a way to do it. It was a lovely evening including having “Happy Birthday” sung to me both in English and in Spanish.

I wish I could say that my own family did as much for me when I went to visit the week before. Yes, we did go out to dinner once while I was there but it lasted an hour (family drama was involved). So without dwelling on the details, I’ll just say that the old adage that we can’t pick our families (unless you’re talking at the soul level) but we can pick our friends certainly applies. And in this situation, community certainly found me!


It’s Either Fear or Love

September 21, 2012

If you’ve been following my writings perhaps you remember me saying that “fear and love” cannot be active at the same time. But this is a topic that deserves repeating. Let’s start off with a definition:

What does it mean, “It’s either fear or love?”

Fear is active from our second energy center which is also where our drivers of sex, power, and money originate. It is also where anxiety as well as illness begins. Love, on the other hand, comes from the heart, the fourth energy center. Only when the heart is open can we be in a loving, caring, nurturing state. When fear is operating, the heart is closed and so not open to the positive energy that is possible.

 Why are we in fear?

When we are afraid that we’re not good enough, we shut out possibility. Being afraid only causes the energy of fear to multiply and come back in the way of chaos to harm us. How can this be the case?

Let’s say that you decide to start a business but are afraid you won’t be successful. The next thing you know events start happening that take up your time, while preventing you from moving forward with your vision. Thus, your fear has a self-fulfilling prophetic impact on your life.

Now let’s change the attitude to one of belief in yourself. By sending out positive thoughts such as I can do this or I deserve this because I’m a good person; I know my field and I am capable (all essentially coming from a love perspective, you set up the energy of positive events to come back to you. The next thing you know, opportunities are presented that allow you to fulfill your vision and you are successful.

Another example is with relationships: We may not be going out thinking, “Why bother, I won’t meet anyone anyway?” This is fear taking over when really the attitude is one of I’m not good enough.  The playing out is much like the above scenario. We don’t go out, there’s no opportunity to meet any new people, and thus the self-fulfilling prophesy takes over. If we change the attitude to, “I’ll go out and just have fun; while I’m out perhaps I’ll meet someone”, this positive outlook is inviting and will most likely attract new opportunities. And so it goes.

Why not try recognizing the fear for what it is, the shadow self, attempting to hold us back from moving forward with new opportunity. Let go of the fear and open space for love to enter your life.


A Tough Lesson to Learn

March 16, 2012

Someone close to me is enduring a very difficult life lesson, the spiritual context of which he’s not yet aware. From where I’m sitting, I see that his wife and daughter don’t pay much attention to him when he tries to communicate with them. I’m not sure if this is in response to his neglectful behavior or whether it was they who first neglected him. These situations tend to have long, winding and complicated histories with only the tentacles visible to those around the individuals of concern. The result is a very unhappy person who does his best to work hard to provide for all the luxuries that his very materialistic family has come to expect. Yes, this is a definite example of entitlement to the nth degree. So what’s the lesson?

Once a year I go for a visit and I was told that he would not be available during my stay of six days. At first I was rather irritated since I’d provided my itinerary over six months in advance. Then I realized that there must be something more serious going on since he told me when we spoke that, “I’ll be ok and not to worry”. When someone makes such statements one immediately begins to wonder what they shouldn’t be worried about. Just what is the problem? How serious is it that it can’t be simply stated? I really dislike secrecy since I think it causes more harm than good.

Here’s a bit more background. Let’s call this person Bob, which is a name change for privacy sake. Bob is a very highly-educated professional, running a business with multiple employees and has provided a high standard of living for his family. His wife and daughter have anything they could possibly want. I gave up worrying about what to buy them as gifts years ago since my offerings could never meet the standards of which they had come accustomed to so I just bought what I could afford and left it at that. It’s also important to note that I’ve never been jealous of what they had either, since I could never afford to buy the kind of clothes, cars, jewelry or other luxuries that they had, nor did I care about it. I’m happy with what’s within my reach and was also happy for them if it truly made them happy to have these things.

After actually leaving on my trip and arriving at my destination, I was surprised to find that Bob hadn’t gone wherever he was going…yet. We were able to share a couple meals together but without the mention of what was wrong or where he was going. I did notice, however, that during the lunch that his wife and daughter seemed a lot nicer to him. So what happened? Bob is aging and has come down with an illness. The old adage is that money can’t buy love, but the fear of dying can certainly change perspectives. Bob was ignored before and disrespected, but from where I was sitting, it sure looked like reality (as in he might not be around forever) set in.

So how does the life lesson work? Bob wasn’t getting his needs met. He was being nice to everyone around him. He has a wonderful nature, is of service to his community, yet, went home to an emotional shell. When he got sick, it was a wakeup call to his family. I certainly hope that he gets well and that everyone realizes that money does buy things, but that’s all they are, just things. People and what they bring to our lives are much more important. We all should value what we have before it’s too late.

I hope both Bob and his family learn the lesson of being less material and more spiritual. The universe has a way of pulling us back into balance… sometimes kicking and screaming. Sometimes it’s a tough lesson but one that we all need to learn at some point in our lives.


Who Said You Were Ugly?

December 31, 2011

I went to a program the other evening to join a group for dinner. As I came a bit late, I sat at the only available seat down the end of the table. The gentleman on my left was the only person who’s voice I could hear as the conversation was aimed at the middle of the table. Perhaps it’s my life coach energy, but very quickly this man began to unveil his darkest secrets to me including his belief that he was very ugly. This revelation in the first ten minutes of our discussion was most amazing to me; in fact, no one had ever made such a statement to me. What made this remark that much more astounding, was I thought he was quite nice looking when I sat down. He seemed about mid-40’s, had good hair, a nice face and although it also included dark circles from anxious worry and sleepless nights, he was otherwise, quite pleasant on the eyes. But he had a much different self impression.

UglyHere’s the story he told me:

Apparently, as he conveyed to me, he’d been told directly that he was ugly. I sat transfixed in total disbelief as he repeated this phrase in one version or another. “How so?” , I asked. During a job interview, he swore that the interviewer actually told him that he was too ugly for the job. Then I asked he was interviewing to be a TV anchor. He responded in the negative. Well, then, how could anyone tell another person such a thing? It must be his imagination, but he was convinced otherwise. I said, well, just look in the mirror. That didn’t help since he saw exactly what he’d been told. He believed he was ugly. I felt it was a case of lack of self-esteem. Perhaps people saw his dark attitude and attributed this characteristic to being ugly, but not really being ugly.  No, he was really ugly.

There’s more..
Wow, then he began to tell me about the other things wrong with him. There were addictions, no friends, not being able to hold on to a serious female relationship…. And the one that really got him was not getting sufficient raises over the years since he’d worked very hard. I tried to explain that nothing is guaranteed in this world except… well you know death and taxes. Lots of us work hard, but only if you provide excellent service to your company do you normally get raises. And, if that’s not the case, it’s always your option to leave and go somewhere else that appreciates you more. Then the entitlement started. Why aren’t people given this and that?

Ok, so he’s living in the wrong country this he believes in socialism and this is a democracy. Of course, on close scrutiny, if he had the money, he wouldn’t want to share it equally with others. Funny how that works. At one point I thought I might be able to help him then I realized he had a lot more going on than I could work with. He probably needed to be on meds.

In the end
Since I had gone out to this group for social interchange and the prospect of a client was most secondary, I felt that I’d had quite enough of this very negative person (mind you it only took a few minutes for me to feel that way so I can certainly understand how others would feel if in my shoes). I did feel bad for him since he had a much distorted view of himself. He really planned to have plastic surgery to correct his face. I did tell him that was the worst thing he could do to himself since I understood his issue was internal and not external. I hope he listens to me and gets the right kind of professional help.


The Second Time Around

November 7, 2011

Just to recap, in my last blog article, I noted that I had to give a cat rescue back as she had a biting problem. This scenario occurred at just about the six month marker of my darling Hercules’ passing. I totally believe in synchronicity and when I got the itch to get another cat as a fur pal for his sister Judas, I went with the feeling. Ok, so the first try didn’t work out for her, but it did work out for the foster lady and for my coaching her. All wasn’t for naught. It just wasn’t the right situation for Judas.

My initial reaction after this mean cat was out of the house was, whew, I’m so glad it was gone. However, the itch to get another cat as a companion for Judas didn’t stop. Perhaps it was Hercules in spirit letting me know it was time since I really felt him guiding me to another cat that coincidentally looked a lot like him. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of getting another cat that reminded me of my precious angel, but I went with what I sensed would be best for Judas.

How did I pick this new rescue cat? I did a thorough search of the available rescues within 50 miles for about 2 weeks, looking at what must have been hundreds of photos and even talking to some people about the best gender and type for a fur pal for my 17 year old female. I was advised to look for a male about 5-7 years old, since a younger cat might be too rambunctious for an older cat, and a female, as I had found out before would be too competitive. Whereas before I had looked at the outside beauty of the animal, this time, I looked at the face to determine how sweet and sensitive I felt the creature would be. After all, beauty is only skin deep. My prior experience with Athena taught me that although she was a gorgeous Tortoise shell, she had a really mean disposition. This time, I looked at the temperament first and that he should just be healthy.

Out of so many, one became a clear choice. His name was Spike and he is a brown tabby with a white blaze down his face. He just looked so cute and sweet. Somehow I knew he was the one. Next, I contacted his foster and began the process to meet him. The rest went well. His foster family had him with two other males for the last three years. This was both good and bad news. He had never lived with a female but he had shared a 10×8 cat house with two other male cats. Ok, so he knew how to share. I was willing to take a chance on him. He’s a sweetie, but all didn’t go well right away!

More on how he adjusted in the next article.


Blog: Why Act Like a Neanderthal?

August 22, 2011

Where does hostile behavior come from?

In ancient times, man (as in human beings which includes both men and women), had to defend him or herself from predators and so when he/she felt threatened would growl, show teeth, bite, hit or otherwise lash out. This aggressive behavior was a defensive mechanism meant to protect the individual from harm. Not having an aggressive personality would have put the individual in a very bad or weak position in this type of hostile environment. Thus aggressive behavior was a learned and appropriate trait for hostile environments. However, these learned traits have come down through the ages as part of our DNA. That said, even big black bears don’t attack unless provoked and can be calmed with a little honey. Wow! So something sweet can tame the savage beast? What a concept! And, it works on humans too. Try offering a treat rather than a stick and you might find more pleasant behavior waiting for you.

Are we all basically a more modern Neanderthal?

Sometimes I think so; but as a species, we have learned to moderate our behavior – that’s what being civilized is all about. Being a member of a society means we’re not feral anymore, not most of us anyway. Ever try to tame a feral dog or cat? I was told that after about 8 weeks, a kitten would be too far into being feral that they couldn’t be tamed. Well, I proved the status quo wrong. I adopted two kittens that were most probably at least 10 weeks old and with a great deal of patience, love and understanding, guided them into being household pets. (One just died after 17 years of being the most loving creature and taught me much about unconditional love. The other one, his sister is still with me. ) The same can be said of children. If we mistreat our children, even to the extent of not paying enough attention to them, overly criticizing them or in the extreme, actual abuse, it is entirely likely that they will grow up to be dysfunctional adults, totally over reacting at every potentially threatening situation.

How can we correct the unacceptable behavior?

If wild animals can be taught to behave, use the cat post for scratching rather than the curtains, and know which furniture is for them to use, then certainly with love and understanding we can teach our children to be productive members of society. This is certainly true for adults as well since children grow into adults. Thus I feel that the issue with out of control adults really starts in childhood. No, I’m not totally blaming parents for all the ills of adults – we all have to take responsibility for our own behavior at some point – but there are many situations where looking to childhood and the messages we received there have a huge impact on our current lives.

If this is you, what are your options?

First, look at your life now. Is it all it can be? Could your aggressive behavior be causing you issue? If so, take a look at what you can do to correct it. Anger management classes may be appropriate in some cases, more formal therapy may be required in others. If you’re the type of person that can be reflective, spend a weekend with a book that helps you to walk through your childhood, answer questions and meditate on the specific memories that are of real issue for you. What pushes your buttons? Often, this type of inner awareness work will reveal certain patterns that will help you to moderate your behavior into a more balanced stream and move from aggression to assertiveness. In the end, you will be a much happier person and no longer a Neanderthal.


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