Time to shine

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will have noticed that a theme is forming at the moment. Time to shine is just my latest musings on self confidence, self image, body confidence and the many and mixed emotions we face as a woman surrounding our sense of self. 

I am not choosing to focus on this to be self indulgent. Although, it is something I am working on on a very deep level personally at the moment.  

I want to talk to you about my journey because I know that I always discover things about myself most effectively through listening to other people’s stories and revelations.    

My musings today are definitely a continuation but also feel like a huge leap forward.   

 

As you know I am building up to a huge step for me personally next year. Next May I will be taking part in a Real Full Monty show at the local theatre (this photo shows the amazing cast who took part this year).  

We haven’t even started rehearsing yet. I know that I have a lot of inner work to do to get to the point where I can do this and enjoy it so I am starting now.

After years and years of feeling self confident about my body it is not going to be an easy thing for me.

Some how between now and next May I have to get to a point where I feel happy stripping down to my knickers in front of over 1500 people.

I am not just worried about what I will look like, although of course that is a huge factor. I’m worried about getting the right message across and I want to raise awareness of rare conditions. To give people who might be struggling physically or mentally hope that they too can beat their demons.

Of course I am worried about what I look like. I don’t want everyone running out of the theatre screaming! But I know that that won’t happen. I want to use this as a motivator to help me care for my body more from now on. As a busy mum I have neglected my physical body over the years. This is the perfect excuse to start looking after myself properly again. 

I don’t eat badly, but we can always eat better can’t we? I don’t exercise enough (although I do more than I have done for years) and silly things like, I never remember to moisturise. 

Well no more! 

From now on I intend to look after my body. It serves me incredibly well and considering everything it has been through it is amazing!

The other day I decided to write myself a list of things I like and dislike (physically about my body) and the dislikes list was twice as long as the likes. I thought I was doing pretty well on the learning to love myself. It looks like I have an awfully long way to go!

For a few days I have been trying to decide whether to post the photo below. My husband took it when we were in Rome recently on my request. I was wearing a bikini for the first time in 13 years and I wanted a record of the fact that I had done it. I posted a photo of my head and shoulders on social media at the time. I wasn’t brave enough to post this one. I keep going back and forth about whether to post it but the bottom line is, I want to show you that it’s ok. With my rational head I sit and watch people who look like me go past at the beach or by the pool. I think “she looks great, I wish I was brave enough to wear a bikini”. But I still can’t get to that point when I look at myself. 

So here it is! 

Now I don’t know what you will see when you look at this photo. You might be as appalled as I am. You might see the wobbly bits. The stretch marks. The ill fitting bikini, that I bought thinking I would never wear it so it didn’t matter. 

But here’s what I would like you to see 

I would like you to see a woman who has given birth to two beautiful children and survived two c sections in order to bring them safely into the world. 

A woman who despite growing in all manner of strange ways throughout her life, tries really hard to stay in shape. To keep her body strong enough to care for her family.   

Someone who despite feeling really self conscious wore a bikini all day in a public place. And managed to smile on a photo that she was feeling very uncomfortable posing for. 

A scared and scarred woman trying hard to over come her own insecurities and fears in order to hopefully inspire other women to feel more confident in their bodies. To raise awareness of all the millions of people around the world who struggle every day. Those with pain and terrible side effects who are too exhausted to tell anyone what they are going through. 

We all need to get to a point where we appreciate our bodies for the amazing things they do for us. For the functions they perform, often without us even realising. Instead of only caring about what they look like on the outside.   

We also need to remember that the way we see our own body is very different to the way everyone else sees it. 

I know all of this on an intellectual level. But my insecurities and my peri-menopausal hormonal wibbles just tell me I’m old and fat and no one should have to look at this!   

I thought my self confidence was pretty good. It turns out that when I dig a little deeper I have just used a few clever tricks to fool myself. It’s amazing what you can achieve with a combination of being too busy to think about something and changing your life to make sure you never have to confront your fears. So I am great at being body confident when I don’t have to go swimming, when I wear clothes that I know flatter me and when I don’t think about it too much.  

Meanwhile in the real world there is still a little voice in my head saying; “But look at; those stretch marks,  that double chin, those wobbly thighs, that wobbly tummy, my big feet/hands, those saggy boobs…” 

Do I need to go on?  

Now I hope that you are one of those amazing women who loves their body. That you are just reading this wondering what is wrong with me.  However, I don’t think I have EVER met a woman who loves everything about her physical form.  

My beautiful Mum was two dress sizes smaller than me on my wedding day and I was the smallest I have been in my entire adult life that day. She won’t wear certain tops because she’s too boney! She looks incredible! My sister is almost 6ft tall and a size 10/12. She has had two children and looks amazing but does she love her body? No she tries to tell me she’s fat!!  

Never have I met a woman who loves everything about her body. 

Do I think that by doing lots of inner work over the next 12 months I can magically be that woman? 

 No of course not!

Am I going to get to a point where I can walk onto the stage at the Gatehouse and feel proud of myself for being brave enough to strip in front of 500+ people a night for 3 nights? 

Oh I do hope so!  

Well, I am going to be doing it, one way or another. I am committed to the self care and also the cause now. Whether I can get to a point where I feel proud of my body. Only time will tell, but one way or another it will be seen and I will have to do it.

Where are you at with your own body confidence?

What have you done to try and improve it? 

I’m so conscious that I have to be careful what messages I am sending to my children, particularly my daughter. I am very careful not to talk about the things I don’t like in front of her. I talk about my body’s limitations because of my condition but I try really hard not to pass comment about things I like and dislike about myself. 

I’m delighted that both my children want to come to the show next year. If I can show them that it’s ok to be whatever shape you are and that we should be proud of ourselves not feel like we need to hide ourselves away I will really feel like I have achieved something special. 

It’s my time to shine and wearing a bikini and being brave enough to share it with you is the first twinkle on a long path to illumination on stage next year. 

I would love to hear from you if you have any stories, any recommendations for things that might help me on this journey or you just want to tell me to cover up! 

 

 

 

 

Mindful Being

Mindful being for me is a daily state. It is my nirvana, my end goal. When we are living totally mindfully we are present all the time and in complete control of all our emotions and senses. 

In reaction it is far from a daily state for me at the moment.  

My brain is currently being hijacked by hormones. My emotions are all over the place. One minute I am crying with joy, the next I am crying with fear and then every so often insecurity pops in for a cuppa.  

I have been here several times before. When I was in my teens my hormones ruled the roost. I all alone battling the sea of adversity.  

The reality of course was very different, and for the most part I was fully aware how lucky I was, but there were times when it felt that no-one understood what I was going through.

Then there was the time in my early thirties before my acromegaly was diagnosed when I was once again returned to a hormonal, eating sleeping bag of nerves. It was like going through a second puberty.

Hormones have a lot to answer for! 

Many, in fact I think MOST, women have a complicated relationship with hormones. Mine has been particularly interesting though. It might sound like I’m complaining. I’m not. I’m actually very grateful (most of the time!) for the amazing insights that my illness have given me. It has made me much more compassionate towards my children when they have had hormone related challenges from potty training to puberty. 

What it has done though is made this latest rollercoaster a little harder to ride.   

You see because my condition is hormone based a lot of the symptoms I had when I was ill; fatigue, short temperedness, aching joints, headaches, night sweats, sugar cravings, weight gain, irregular periods… are also the most common symptoms of peri menopause. 

I was managing to keep a lid on my fears  really well until I had a migraine last week. 

I have only ever had one migraine before and that was when I was pregnant with my daughter (before my diagnosis but I suspect around the time that my symptoms really started to be evident). Most of my family suffer from migraines so I knew what it was, and thankfully it wasn’t a bad one, but it did take me 3 days to shift the headache. Not helped by the niggling fear that all these symptoms were just too similar to my pituitary tumour returning. The tension in my shoulders and neck resulting from these fears was giving me a secondary headache and just adding to my worries.   

Was I able to find a state of mindful being?  

Yes, well, most of the time.   

Honestly though my heart was starting to rule my head and I was getting more and more panic stricken until I had to turn round half way to taking my son to school because I had a strange sensation in my head and ears and it all just got too much. I broke down in tears and rang the doctor.   

The doctor of course confirmed my peri menopausal symptoms and she completely understood my fears. She was very patient and looked back through my most recent MRI results and blood tests, which I have so regularly that she was able to set my mind at ease about my tumour. As always though she daren’t prescribe anything to ease any of my symptoms without checking with the doctor. 

Now I am determined not to be ruled by my hormones any more than is necessary but as much as I would probably have wrestled her to the floor for HRT last week, I’m glad for this cooling off period to look at other alternatives. So I am reading Andrea Maclean’s book “Confessions of a Menopausal Woman” (which I highly recommend if you are in the same place as me!). I am going for an acupuncture session this morning, am looking into essential oils, magnets, diet… you name it!

I will rediscover my mindful being.  

It is important to remember  when we are being hijacked by our hormones that we can regain control.

We also mustn’t beat ourselves up for giving in to those very basic urges sometimes. We cry, we shout, we eat a whole packet of biscuits or drink a whole bottle of wine. 

It is good?  

Not really.  

Do we feel proud of ourselves?

Not usually. 

But sometimes it happens. Just by being aware that we feeling this way and acknowledging why puts us ahead of many people. Having the ability to stop, take a deep breath, acknowledge our thoughts and feelings and keep doing is a powerful and liberating thing.   

So until I have ridden out this hormone storm I will continue to be imperfectly perfect. I will do everything in my power to keep in control of my moods and my behaviour. I will strive for mindful being as often as I am able, but I won’t beat myself up for crying in the supermarket or shouting at the laptop irrationally.

I will be me. All day, every day. I will be real. I will be kind hearted with an occasional temper and frequently leaky eyes. I will embrace my wobbly bits and not beat myself up for brain fog. Most importantly I will be happy in this transition. Few of my fellow acromegaly sufferers ever experience this because their treatment prevents it. Most patients don’t discover they have this illness until after they have been through this change. I feel privileged to be able to experience this next phase and am looking forward to life post menopause.  

We must talk about this more though. I have learned more about this time of life in the last few months than I could ever have imagined. Only by talking about all these enormous challenges faces by women can we start to make life easier for those experiencing them. The world needs to be more accepting of this amazing metamorphosis. Yes it is a sign that we are ageing, but what a huge privilege that is, and I’m sorry but I’m not ready for the care home just yet (despite what my son thinks!), I’m not 43 yet! 

Let’s celebrate this amazing transition and stop hiding away and trying to keep going through whatever adversity is thrown at us! We are women, we are incredibly strong but we are also best when we share our experiences and support each other.

  

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is me! – Out of my comfort zone

If you have been reading my blog the last few months you will have heard all about my husband’s fabulous experiences working with The Real Full Monty team. This incredible group of people came together and have raised well over £30k for KMAC (a cancer charity). 

If you have missed my previous posts about this life changing show you can read them here:

What could you achieve?

Life Changing Moments

Well, the show was so successful that the theatre have asked them to recreate it next year and have given them the theatre for three nights this time. Amazing!

I know what you’re thinking, “surely she isn’t going to write a blog just to tell us that they are doing a show that’s miles from where I live again next year?”. 

No, no I’m not. There is much more to this post.

When I was younger I did a lot of performing; school productions, local amateur dramatic and youth theatre groups, choirs etc. I loved it. 

I even sang at The Palladium when I was in my twenties (it was one night but definitely the pinnacle of my performing career!). Since I had my children, and my illness though I haven’t done any theatre work and have only sung at a couple of family events

 

Honestly, I’m scared to. I have wanted to look into joining an amateur dramatic group locally for years now. My daughter is doing Performing Arts GCSE and loves it too and I would love to do a show with her. Unfortunately one of the many side effects of my acromegaly is chronic fatigue and I am scared to commit to months of rehearsals and let everyone down because my body doesn’t let me do it.

She’s still waffling on, does she have a point?  

Well, yes I do. You see I have agreed to be part of The Real Full Monty 2020. I will be dancing with the girls and overcoming so many fears I have lost count.  

Will my body cope with rehearsals and dancing?

Can I overcome some lingering body confidence issues?

Can I stay sane while rehearsing and performing whilst supporting my children through Y6 SATs and GCSEs?

I know I need to do this, but it is going to push me so far out of my comfort zone I won’t even be able to see my little zone of happy anymore!

I feel very fortunate to be able to take part in something so inspirational. I will hopefully have the opportunity to share a little about my acromegaly journey and the lasting effects that that has had on my body confidence and my emotional wellbeing. I will be spending lots of lovely time with my gorgeous hubby, Ian, because he is going to be documenting it all again. This of course means that not only do I get to spend time with him, I have the security of knowing that he will be there if I have a wibble. 

We are raising money for three incredible local charities, all of which are very close to my heart and some of my favourite people in the world are going to be dancing along side me. If ever the stars could align to tell me that this is something I need to do!    

There will undoubtedly be times when I need to reach into my relaxation toolbox to calm my nerves. I will no doubt spend many hours talking to my loved ones about the process and the issues it is raising for me. I have also bought a journal to start documenting all my thoughts and feelings to help me process everything, and remember the journey. 

I’m sure I will be giving you lots of updates as I take my tentative steps along this path, but I wanted to share how excited I am to be joining such an incredible team. 

There is another reason that I am writing on this subject this week. The dance will more than likely be to the amazing song from The Greatest Showman, This is me. This song is so significant to me. I wrote quite extensively about it when I saw the film (read my article), it feels like my anthem now.   

My sister and I are going to see the gorgeous Hugh Jackman (or Huge as he is known affectionately in our house!) on Monday. Imagine my excitement when it was announced last week that Keala Settle, the incredible lady who performed “This is me” in the film, is going to be joining him for his UK tour! I might actually get to see this life changing song performed live!  Follow me on social media for pictures from the concert and lots of pictures of my sister and I looking over excited!  

 

Deep Beauty

Across All Ages

DEEP BEAUTY International Blog Tour 2019

Today I have the great pleasure of being the host here in Stafford, England, United Kingdom on Day 9 of the Virtual Blog Tour of author Carolyn A. Brent, whose book, “Transforming Your Life through Self-Care: A Guide to Tapping into Your Deep Beauty and Inner Worth” is celebrating its big Worldwide book launch on May 8, 2019.

CAROLYN A. BRENT is an award-winning bestselling author and a National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters Women’s Figure Champion at age 60. She is an expert on both self-care and caregiving; she is the founder of Across All Ages and two nonprofit organizations, CareGiverStory Inc. and Grandpa’s Dream.  Carolyn’s written works is in the Library of Congress the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and numerous other medical centers and universities.

Yesterday, Carolyn visited Kathy Palokoff in Rochester, New York, USA where she interviewed Carolyn on the subject of Sabotaging discipline, Skill & Mindset and Long-term discipline.    http://bit.ly/2II0toz    

Today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I had with Carolyn when I got to ask her on the subject of Getting through challenging times, Link between health & wealth  and Adapt our self-care. I hope you enjoy it.

Across All Ages

DEEP BEAUTY International Blog Tour 2019

Today I have the great pleasure of being the host here in Stafford, England, United Kingdom on Day 9 of the Virtual Blog Tour of author Carolyn A. Brent, whose book, “Transforming Your Life through Self-Care: A Guide to Tapping into Your Deep Beauty and Inner Worth” is celebrating its big Worldwide book launch on May 8, 2019.

CAROLYN A. BRENT is an award-winning bestselling author and a National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters Women’s Figure Champion at age 60. She is an expert on both self-care and caregiving; she is the founder of Across All Ages and two nonprofit organizations, CareGiverStory Inc. and Grandpa’s Dream.  Carolyn’s written works is in the Library of Congress the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and numerous other medical centers and universities.

Yesterday, Carolyn visited Kathy Palokoff in Rochester, New York, USA where she interviewed Carolyn on the subject of Sabotaging discipline, Skill & Mindset and Long-term discipline.    http://bit.ly/2II0toz    

Today, I’d like to share with you a recent interview I had with Carolyn when I got to ask her on the subject of Getting through challenging times, Link between health & wealth  and Adapt our self-care. I hope you enjoy it.

Kate Beddow: When our loved ones are going through really challenging times how can we care for ourselves while still supporting them?

Carolyn A. Brent: First, I would like to say, THANK YOU to the caregivers, our unsung heroes. Because of you, our world is a better place.

It’s known that caregivers are quite organized in planning for caring for loved ones– but, it’s essential for you to schedule “me” time too. To get your “me” time, you’ve got to reach out and “ask” for help. This is where you start: ask your family members, friends, local church groups, and caregiving organizations.

Also, contact Medicare, State, and Federal agencies that have the knowledge, and the resources to help you with respite, financial, and other caregiving programs designed to help you. 

Keep in mind; every state is different, so be proactive and contact the Department of Aging in your state. Remember, when you ask for help—it’s a self-care action, which will help you while you are caring for your loved one.  Also, visit: CareGiverStory.com Learn more about the resources you may not know you have.

 

Kate Beddow: Do you believe that there is a direct link between health and wealth?

Carolyn A. Brent: Without a doubt! There is no replacement for having good health. Health is your wealth, without being in good health, how can one possibly enjoy their wealth?  

Early in my pharmaceutical career at a conference, I met a young, beautiful and vivacious physician; she was a thought-leader amongst her peers in the medical industry. She was married, a mother of three young kids, and she was a caregiver to her aging parent.  After the conference, I had the opportunity to ask her, “How do you manage to keep balance in your life when you have so many responsibilities?   

Her answer was quite simple; this is what she told me. “I give myself one hour every day to just take care of “me.”  I do not share my “me “time with anyone. That’s my time to exercise, meditate, relax, sleep, and do whatever I need to do for me. That’s how I refuel my self-care engine.”  She emphasized, “When I take care of me—that is when I can take care of my family, patients, and do what I love for my community.” 

She then said, “Always remember; take care of yourself first.” Boy, to this day, I have never forgotten her powerful words of wisdom.  Learn more: Chapter 13 The Real Connection between Health and Money.

Kate Beddow: How do we need to adapt our self-care as we go through our lives?

Carolyn A. Brent: We should all start looking at self-care as our only option. We must be our “own” self-care advocates for our emotional, financial, and spiritual well-being. While on my self-care journey, I discovered an important formula that I would like to share with you: Fierce Determination + Laser-Focused Actions + Bottomless Discipline = Deep Beauty + Inner Worth.©  When practicing self-care, remember self-care does not have an end date. Learn more: Chapter 16 What to Do When Your Self-Care Engine Runs Dry. 

———-

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Carolyn A. Brent and that you’ll check out her book on May 8, 2019:

Join us on the 2019 International DEEP BEAUTY Telesummit: May 6th, 7th & 8th 

Details here: http://bit.ly/2W3K69a

Transforming Your Life through Self-Care: 

A Guide to Tapping into Your Deep Beauty and Inner Worth”

 SPECIAL OFFER direct from Roman & Littlefield

30% DISCOUNT OFFER OFF LIST PRICE PLEASE ORDER USING THIS CODE: RLFANDF30 978-1-5381-2084-2 • Hardback $28.00 list price (discount price $19.60) 978-1-5381-2085-9 • eBook $26.50 list price (discount price $18.55) For more information, please contact our Customer Service Dept. at special.sales@rowman.com or by phone at 800-462-6420 ext. 3023. 

Buy Direct from Publisher  at their discount special.  

Option 2

Amazon Regular Price: https://amzn.to/2YqFQTj

Catch Carolyn’s Book Trailer… click here!

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

AND… be sure to join Carolyn A. Brent tomorrow in Delray Beach, Florida, USA with a special message of REJOICING & Celebrating DEEP BEAUTY on the day of her official book launch.  http://bit.ly/2GvJep5 

DEEP BEAUTY Wellness Retreat Summer 2019

Life Changing Moments

Three weeks ago an event took place that transformed my life, I suspect forever. What’s really strange is that I wasn’t really even involved in it. 

In my last blog I talked about how important it can be to make the most of opportunities when they come your way. At that point I was marvelling at the transformations I had seen in the cast and crew of The Real Full Monty. I had watched these amazing people transform from shy and insecure to radiant, confident, inspirational beings. 

Little did I realise when I wrote last about this project how much our lives would change as a result of this one event.

So what has happened that is so dramatic?

Well, it has been profound, for me at least. I will attempt to explain.

 

This is Ian. If you have been reading my blog or following me on social media for a while you will know that he is my husband and my world.

Over the years he has grown and transformed so much. This photo captures perfectly the latest stage in this transformation, thank you Sam Carpenter Photography. One of the cast hit the nail on the head when she said he was the “proud father of the show” his face here radiates pride and joy at what the cast are achieving. It is one of my favourite photos, ever. 

But what has this got to do with life changing moments?

 

Well, this show started a ripple.

These photos were taken last Saturday, they were taken by our friend Evie, while we were out celebrating Sam (the amazing photographer)’s birthday.  

What has THIS got to do with life changing moments? 

Well, a lot actually. You see we were discussing while we were getting ready to go out when the last time was that we had asked someone to have the children over night so we could go out as a couple and meet up with friends.  

We can’t remember. We have both gone out with friends while the other has stayed at home. We have very occasionally asked someone to come sit with the children so we could go out, but it has always been so last minute that we have gone for a meal just the two of us, not with anyone else. We had a weekend in Paris as a birthday gift for my 40th from my in laws, which was lovely, but it is almost 3 years ago now and we have had very few nights out together since.

In the last three weeks we have been out together, as a couple, without children, on an evening, three times. We have had countless daytime dates and we are enjoying spending time together so much. We are still enjoying quality time with the children, but we have made ourselves a promise that we are going to make the effort to go out together as a couple, in the evening more.

 

This transformation is about so much more than going out though.

Look at our faces in the photos above. Now look at this photo from our holiday a couple of years ago. 

I loved this photo, I thought it was a really happy photo of the two of us. But look how much happier we look in the recent photos

It feels as though a light has been switched back on inside us and we are filled with a new found appreciation of life and our relationship.

We have been together for 18 years this year, and I feel like I did when we first got together. 

Life as a couple is never linear. It is not a simple path. It is a rollercoaster. It has twists, turns, challenges and triumphs. During our time together we have overcome serious physical health challenges, parenting challenges, financial worries, grief… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

We have also been blessed to have three beautiful children, amazing parents, incredible friends, fabulous days out, heart warming parents evenings, holidays with loved ones and pure pride and joy watching our children grow and achieve their own successes. 

 

When I was younger I remember my lovely Dad talking to me about  a family friend who was going through a divorce at the time. I was asking what had gone wrong. Dad, in his wisdom, said that nothing  had gone wrong. They had just stopped loving each other. He was really candid and said that he and Mum had just been really lucky because they had always managed to grow together as they had changed as they had got older, “not everyone is so lucky”, he said.  

These words have come to me many times over the years, and he probably doesn’t even remember the conversation. It’s so true though. Over the years our marriage has had some rocky times. Times I wasn’t sure we could get through. Times I considered walking away. Fortunately, just as we were getting to that point, we always managed to pull back together. Life would get really difficult and something would happen to make us remember how fortunate we are to have each other and give us a new found appreciation of our marriage.  

I believe you can have several marriages to the same person without ever getting divorced. I know that we are on maybe marriage number three or four now. Every time we have had something dramatic to cope with, we reinvent ourselves, and our relationship deepens, and grows more beautiful than ever. 

It is easy when life is busy and you have; children, family, work, a home to look after, to lose track of the important things. We get busy doing and forget to be. 

I have always loved my husband but it is often easy when you are busy and tired to scale back the little actions that can make your relationship really special. Whether it is remembering to give each other a kiss before you leave, making a cuppa in bed, paying them a complement or just generally supporting each other.  Taking time to really invest some time and energy into your relationship is never wasted, it will, in most cases, reap rewards and you will get back all that you put in and more. 

Sometimes, life can give you a little nudge to make these changes – like giving you a reason to go out as a couple and reminding you how much you need that – but sometimes you have to make a decision yourself. 

Yes we had the initial nudge and we went out to the after show party together, but we then made the decision to extend that impact and make sure that we were able to also go to the birthday party. We have committed to going out together much more often. We will make this happen.

Life has changed and it is happier and healthier because of one event, one decision. You just never know when life might give you that nudge in the right direction. Keep looking out for the signs. 

 

5 Mindful Minutes

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