Monthly Archives: June 2014

Day 536: Progress Report #3

Twice before (here and here), I’ve written a progress report, during these Years of Living Non-judgmentally.

I just re-read those two previous progress posts and — you know what? — they were pretty darn good.

Aha!  One area of progress has appeared in today’s blog post, already:


While I still use the word “bragging” when I compliment myself, I’m feeling easier about accepting positive statements from others and making them about myself.

It’s still a priority for me to send out as many authentic, complimentary messages as possible. I am also making progress balancing my enjoyment of giving out compliments  with sensitivity to other people’s comfort with them.

Yesterday morning, I met somebody new: the mother of a friend of my son, Aaron. When I saw this, in her kitchen


… I complimented her on it.

Also, I bragged to her about my blog.

She and the rest of her family are moving to Michigan. They won’t have a permanent place to live, before they move, so they’re only taking essentials with them, to begin their new life there. She’s been telling her family to “think of it as an indoor camping trip.” I complimented her on that, too.


Observing and interpreting messages from people, etc.

I also see progress in paying attention to all kinds of communication, from people I encounter, and elsewhere.




By being open to more types of communication, I observe others doing the same:



Another area of progress: If I cannot make sense of the communication, I am doing better at letting that go, and moving on.




This continues to be a challenging area for me (and others I observe).  How much to trust, and whom?

Sometimes, I trust too much. For example, I often look at my shoulder bag and notice it’s open:


Why?  Perhaps I’m focusing, too much, on other things.

Yesterday, I trusted somebody new:


That’s Niso, at Brookline Foreign Motors. Niso is also a DJ; “It’s in my blood,” he said. We had an interesting conversation about people being “too dependent upon technology” relating to music AND cars. We talked about the new safety features on new cars that automatically alert drivers about obstacles in their way.  The other day, when Niso was leaving his driveway, he almost hit somebody, when an alarm didn’t go off.  We agreed it’s better to pay attention, some times, the old-fashioned way.

Being like-minded that way, with Niso, helped increase my trust. These items, observed close by, also helped:




I liked what I observed yesterday, at Brookline Foreign Motors.

Being open to beauty, all around.

I’m doing pretty well at that, lately, but I have to confess: this is much easier for me, during the warmer weather.  But I still need to give myself — and beautiful Boston, USA — credit for progress:







Celebrating other people’s progress.

From my whiteboard at work:



Progress reports can really help, don’t you think?

Thanks to Jack’s mother, to Niso, to Brookline and Boston, to Frederick Law Olmsted (for the Emerald Necklace),  to people who do their best with new situations, to creatures who respectfully share space with others, to all those who give themselves credit for any amount of progress, and to you — of course! — for progressing here, today.


Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 535: Making sense of it all

This is one of those days where I’ve REALLY given myself a challenging posting task. How the heck am I going to make sense of it all, in one post I make up in an hour?  I’ll be lucky if I make sense of some cool photos* I want to show you.

As I often say, I shall do my best.

Yesterday, my local car mechanics did not return my phone calls about my flat tire. I didn’t know how to make sense of that, since they’ve been very helpful in the past.

Sometimes, when people don’t respond quickly to a request, I can feel helpless and upset. Yesterday, I was  mindful of that old pattern and changed it, by taking a helpful action.  I drove to another mechanic, whom I knew from previous experience, near where I work, and arranged for the car to be worked on today.

After making a sensible plan with this mechanic, I realized I was probably going to be late for a group I run at work.

Usually, when I’m late, I can feel helpless and upset. Yesterday, I was mindful of that old pattern. I was also aware of what I tell every new member, before they join one of my groups:

It’s better to get to the group on time, because then you’ll get the most out of it.  However, life happens, and you may be late. There is no judgment or shame about that. If you are late, just enter the group room quietly, because we may be doing a mindfulness exercise.


So, I said to myself yesterday: maybe there’s no shame for the group leader being late, either. That didn’t make total sense to me, based on my training and value system, so l  called Jackie, at the front desk, so she could inform people that I would be a little late.

As I made my way to my group, I had old, familiar images and thoughts about my being late. These included visualizing the group members disappointed, disconnected, or otherwise disgruntled.

When I got to the group room, I found people acting the opposite of these fears. Instead of being upset, the group members were already on their way of making sense of it all together, without me.

For the rest of that day, I had many places to travel. But I needed to go slow, because of that temporary spare tire still on my car.

By traveling so slowly and carefully, I observed many interesting things. And, because of my state of mind, I did not need to make sense of everything I saw.

I shall now present photos I took yesterday, in order of appearance (as is my usual pattern). How do you make sense of these?











I can help make sense of that last photo, for sure. That’s Harley, one of our cats, out on the front porch.  Also on the front porch with Harley?  My boyfriend Michael, having returned yesterday from a week-long work/cooking adventure away.

Everything makes more sense, with Michael around.

Thanks to my car mechanics, to the members of my therapy groups, to Anne Tyler, to indoor and outdoor cats,  to actors and other expressive artists everywhere, to people who do their best to make sense of it all, and to you — naturally! — for journeying here today.

* Calling these photos cool doesn’t really make sense, for two reasons: (1) Who is to judge whether these photos are cool or not? (2) Since I readjusted the greenish-blue filter on my iPhone yesterday, all of today’s photos are, literally, less cool.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 534: True Colors

I just discovered something, which I could characterize as a real problem, causing me worry and anxiety.

All the photos I’ve taken and shown here for three weeks —  since Day 511: All-request Weekend — have the WRONG colors.

How did I find this out?  First,  I noticed that the “revert to original” button was turned on, for a recent photo, even though I didn’t think I had cropped or otherwise altered it in any way.  When I clicked on that button out of curiosity, I saw the photo transformed, for the better. When, I further explored, I discovered the full extent of the problem.

I surmise, at this point, the following:  while I was snapping photos during my adventures in Central Square, Cambridge, I — unaware and accidentally —  pressed something on my iPhone which altered the colors on every photo, from then on.

Realizing that — and I know this is a strong word — horrified me, to think that I could so easily screw things up, for all my photos, and not know.

And as I have restored — in the place where these photos are stored — each image to its true colors, I have seen the full extent of the screw-up. Each one looks so much better  — richer, fuller, livelier, much more beautiful — once I correct for my error.

I shall now state this simply: every friggin’ photo I’ve posted, in the last 23 days, has been notably wrong. And each “wrong” photo is still there, in all those posts.

And here’s the funny thing: When I posted those photos, I was happy with them. And readers have expressed happiness with them, too.

So, what should I do, now that I know the truth about these flawed photos?  How should I react to the knowledge that dozens of photos that I presented to you here  — innocently and with good intent, believing that each was as perfect as possible — actually could be better?

When I discovered the problem, this was my first impulse: I should replace each and every photo with the “correct” version.

Then, I thought … no.  The photos were good enough for me — and, apparently, for my readers — when I posted them.   Why not leave them, as they are?

Perhaps that decision is easier for me for this reason: I’m not a professional photographer, so my sense of self is NOT tied up with photographs.

In any case, here’s the course of action I am choosing:

  1. try to figure out why the heck this started happening
  2.  fix the problem, if I can, and
  3.  make sure the photos I post from now on have their original, full colors.

I confess: I also had a moment where I wondered … should I even tell my readers about this?  Speaking for myself, now that I look back at those photos (which originally seemed good enough to me), they  look … dingy.  Disappointing. Lacking.  Should I keep that to myself, lest others look back and be disappointed, too?

But as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my natural interpersonal style is “transparent.” I feel better, when I tell the truth.

And to keep being transparent, I’ll show you an example of the color difference, with this photo that appeared in a recent blog post. Here’s the “wrong” version, is it appears in that post:


Here’s the photo with the color corrected (by my pressing “revert to original” where the photos are stored):


Again,  photo posted in previous post:


Same photo with true colors:


Another one, posted here:


And with colors restored, correctly:


Arrghh!  For some reason, all the photos with true colors are disoriented like that, when I try to re-post them here. And I can’t seem to fix that, either, no matter how I try.

Time out, for a typical worst fear: Am I losing credibility with you?  Am I seeming less than competent, with all my admitted screw-ups?

I am letting go of those fears, now.

Sometimes,  you know, EVERYTHING seems to go wrong. Last night, while I was driving home from dinner with my son, I got a flat tire.  We got home safe and sound, but I’m still figuring out how to solve that issue, and get to work on time today.

With all these things that are “going wrong,” I now have a calmness and faith that I will figure out ways to resolve each of them, effectively enough.

And what’s the worse that could happen?  Will any harm come to those I love? Will any permanent damage happen to me — with imperfect photos and a spare on my car, that needs changing soon?   I don’t think so.

Who cares, if things aren’t perfect?  Who cares, if I can’t fix these things right now?

Not I.  I hope you don’t care, either.

How should I end this post, about true colors and calmness in the face of problems?

I want to focus on Susan, who also works with me:


I am so pleased to introduce you to Susan (and pleased to announce that I figured out how to fix the color AND the orientation of that Very Important Photo).

Susan, in that perfect-as-can-be picture, is pointing at her final surviving cat, the beautiful black and white one, named “Sweetie.”

Until a few years ago, Sweetie was one of a trio of cats, much beloved by Susan.  Tigger, shown above Sweetie in that photo, died on 12/9/11. Nine months later, Susan lost Lucky (below Sweetie), on 9/12/12.

Here’s another view of Lucky, who was a cantaloupe junkie:


Sweetie is terminally ill now, too. When I’ve been speaking to Susan during this challenging time, she has been telling me incredible stories about how she is being, as much as possible, in the moment with Sweetie, enjoying her good days with her, and observing Sweetie’s quality of life every day, ready to make the difficult decision, when the time comes.

When Susan speaks of the cats she loves and has loved — whether she’s talking about their wonderful vet, or revealing their unusual food loves (Sweetie, in her final days, is still devouring potato salad) — she always shows her true colors, as you can see in that beautiful picture.

Here’s something Susan said to me, yesterday:

Every day with Sweetie is a blessing. I savor every moment.

Many thanks to Susan,  to creatures everywhere who display their true colors no matter what, to those who tolerate unexpected and challenging realities as best they can, to people who solve problems and let go of judgment about their choices,* and to you — of course! — for bringing all your gorgeous colors here, today.

* In calmness, I  have discovered that I accidentally reset the filtering on my iPhone. Correcting this was far easier than I expected.  There will be true colors here, from now on.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 533: Secrets to interpersonal effectiveness

I don’t like to keep secrets. If I know something valuable, I like to share it, out loud.

And I do know some valuable information about interpersonal effectiveness, because I:

  • am a licensed psychotherapist,
  • have lived many decades, and
  • am an eager observer and student of behaviors.

Shall we begin?

Secret #1:  It helps to know your own natural interpersonal style.

If you know and embrace your natural interpersonal style — that which you (1) demonstrated as a child and (2)  will likely revert to during times of stress,  no matter how old you are  — you have more freedom to modulate it, as you choose. This gives you more options to respond effectively, in the moment, to particular people and situations.

My natural interpersonal style is to be transparent. That is, I don’t like secrets, I like to show my thoughts and feelings, and I often explain my motives in the moment.

I’m going to be transparent, right now, about some here-to-fore hidden agendas for the blog post today:

  1. I wanted to write about a topic that felt important to me and
  2. I wanted to show you all a bunch of cool photos I took yesterday.

Actually, perhaps those agendas weren’t so hidden, since I pretty much demonstrate the same ones in most of the friggin’ posts I’ve written here, at least over the past year.

I like being transparent. Revealing my motives, thoughts, and feelings frees me up. Keeping my motives, thoughts, and feelings hidden feels exhausting and disconnecting to me.

However, if I don’t appropriately  adjust that natural style of mine to the current moment — or if I disown, judge, or am unconscious of that natural style —  that  style might have too much power over me.  I will likely go to extremes, rather than achieving balance. That is, I may  alternate between revealing too much, experiencing guilt and shame about that, and then withdrawing into isolation. Also, if I’m not aware of and sensitive to another’s natural (and perhaps very different) style, that will interfere with the connection.

For example, in the (inter)personal world of felines:


Oscar (foreground) likes closeness and Harley (background) prefers space, so my interacting the same way with them would interfere in the connections. And, using a photo from yesterday’s post, here’s a priority, for me:


I might assume that E.M. Forster, whose quote is used so cleverly in that sign, had a similar natural style to me … but who knows?

I’m wondering, at this point, if you know what your natural interpersonal style is.  In order to help you with that answer, I should probably give you a list of natural styles.  However, I am not aware of the existence of such a list, in the moment, and I want to show you these cool pictures, before I leave for work.   So, I hope you can put words on your own natural style, and reveal it here (if you choose).

Ah!a  I just used my natural interpersonal style of transparency, there, again.  And it felt … good!

Onward to the best I can do, this morning, making up secrets and showing off photos.

Secret #2:  Let other people know how you feel, authentically and respectfully.


Secret #3: Honor the past and the future — for yourself and others — but be present as much as you can, with the people who are there for you now.



Secret #4: Leave space and look for for your own and others’ strengths, and for personal  growth and creative expression, too.


and closer (up top) …


Secret #5: Be curious and inquisitive, with good intent:


Secret # 6: Leave time and space for yourself and others to just be:



Secret #7: Allow for love, every day, in different ways:



Speaking of love, I would love to tell you more about my friend Jan, who practices as a nurse, where I work. But I need to leave,  so I can see Jan and others throughout my day. So I’ll end with this:

Secret #8: Prioritize, as best you can, balancing your needs with others.

Thanks to E.M. Forster, beautiful creatures of every kind, Jan, Sam (from “Under the Gunn“), all those who do their best to connect no matter what their natural interpersonal styles and — of course! — to you, for interacting with me here, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 39 Comments

Day 532: Blurry

Yesterday, I decided to take a walk without my glasses.  I’m very near-sighted, but I figured I could still enjoy myself and be safe enough, out there.

Before I left, I WAS able to discern that one of these cats was real and the other one was a laptop-screen cleaner.


Before we begin, let’s check out your vision, too:  Can you tell which is which?

Once I was out on the streets, I did misperceive something, almost immediately. From a distance, I thought this might be a bunny rabbit.


It wasn’t, of course. From then on, I think I saw things fairly accurately, although I may have been less discriminating than usual, in my photographic choices:


Because I always wear my glasses on my walks, everything looked new to me. So I just kept snapping away. Also, I had a great excuse, for any photo that might be judged as lacking: Hey!  What do you want from me?  I wasn’t wearing my glasses!

I decided to do something else new. I took a selfie.


I have such lousy aim, when I can’t see.

My vision was good enough, though, to see two butterflies — a white one and one that looked, to me, like a Monarch. I kept trying to capture them, in the next bunch of photos.




I believe that this blow-up — of one of the above photos — shows the butterfly I hoped was a Monarch:


It’s very blurry, though, isn’t it?

I kept walking, without the accompaniment of any visible butterflies.



At this point (believe it or not), “I Can See Clearly Now”  — a favorite song written and sung by Johnny Nash* — started playing on my iPhone.

It WAS a bright, bright, bright sunshin-y day.



Thanks goodness, I had no trouble reading THAT.  However, I couldn’t figure out these letters, which I saw minutes later:


Maybe I should go back there, when I’m wearing my glasses, to see what I can see.

Here are more things that caught my near-sighted eye, on my way home:







IMG_5854IMG_5857 IMG_5859 IMG_5860


Walking near train tracks is not a smart thing to do when your vision is blurry, so I got out of there, fast.

Hmmm. I can’t see my way clear on how to end this post.

I know!  I’ll show you one more shot of something else I almost misidentified, yesterday:


What does that look like, to you?  I had to squint and get closer, to see it. I’ll tell you this: it wasn’t what I feared at first.

And no matter what lenses I’m wearing, that is a familiar experience.

Thanks to Johnny Nash,* to John G. Wald, to the Minuteman Bikeway,  to those who see as best they can, and to you — of course!  — for reading this, today.

* From the Wikpedia page I linked to, about Johnny Nash:

for many years he seemed to have dropped out of sight

I didn’t know that before today, but I do know this: There are always connections, when we look for them.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | 38 Comments

Day 531: Long slow distance/Letter from home

Yesterday, while my son was at his keyboard lesson, I took a walk. The weather was overcast and threatening rain.

I meant to take my umbrella, but — these days — I often forget at least one little thing.

It didn’t matter. I had my iPhone and, therefore, my music with me.

Long Slow Distance, a tune I’ve loved for many decades, started playing.

I saw many things from different perspectives, as I walked away, got lost, and then made my way back to my son, in time.





As I re-approached the place where Aaron’s piano teacher lives and gives lessons, yesterday morning, the word “home” came into my mind.

Perhaps that was because Letter from Home — also beloved by me for many years — was playing.

That song speaks to me of loss. And love.

I miss my father, this Father’s Day.


Thanks to the Dixie Dregs, to Pat Metheny, to Anna Maria Jopek, to families everywhere, and to those who go long, slow distances — away from and toward home.  And thanks to you for your visit here, no matter where you are on your journey.


Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 530: Circular Reasoning

On my 530th consecutive day, posting on WordPress,


I woke up with the title of this post on my mind.

I realized that, sometimes, I like to leave a light on while I’m snoozing.


Lots of the lights here have circles, including this one,



… which I’ve owned for many years.

Michael, my boyfriend, is away for a week, so I am feeding the cats.





When I take a photo on my iphone, sometimes it shows up, soon, on my laptop.


Other times, I need to fool around with the phone and the laptop, so I can get the photo here.  Sometimes, I need to email a photo to my phone (like that photo above).

We mix these foods together, for Harley:


Oscar, our other cat …




… needs a different kind of special diet:



Yesterday, it was pouring, so I decided to forego my walk and take the shuttle to work:



I wore my headphones


during the shuttle ride to work, but I wasn’t listening to music. Instead, I was looking at the comments from WordPress readers, in response to yesterday’s post.

I looked up and noticed that we were stuck, near historic Fenway Park:


This is not unusual on this shuttle ride, during baseball season. The next time I looked up, I noticed that we had somehow circled back to our beginning:


That was unprecedented, in my personal experience. I tried to get a shot of some statues I love in front of Fenway, as we moved past them the second time, but this was the best I could do:


I also noticed this, on my way to work:


That’s the wonderful doctor who treated my son, Aaron, almost exactly a year ago, when he ended up in the hospital with a spontaneous lung problem.

When I got to work, still wearing my headphones, I saw Jackie:



I love Jackie. Because Jackie reads my blog, now she knows how I feel about her.

Last night, my son and I went to our usual Friday haunt, but without Michael. We took Aaron’s friend Clark with us.


I noticed that our number was 13, on the Friday the 13th with a full moon — probably a once in a lifetime day. (At least, for me).

I know that last photo focuses on a square, rather than a circle, despite the title of this post.  I do have lots more photos of circles from today, though. And because I like games and puzzles, let’s make this into an eyeball bender (if you choose). In other words, can you identify all these objects?







































Oooo!  You know what happened, for the first time ever, as I was composing this?  My worst fear, regarding my daily WordPress postings: I accidentally pressed the publish button, too soon.

As Michael sometimes says, “You’ll live.”  And I did.

Thanks to Michael, Jackie, my son, my readers, and all the other people who make my life better (even when I’m going in circles or making mistakes), no matter what day it is.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 36 Comments

Day 529: Closer (with feeling)

On my way to and from work yesterday, I saw things that revealed more, when I looked closer.

For example …


and then closer:





and then closer:





and then closer:





and then closer:



At work,  I encountered some other surprises.  For example, the hospital was giving out little bags of Cracker Jack.  And there was a surprise inside.


I didn’t try to guess what the surprise was; I just opened it:


I had no expectations about what the surprise should be, but I recognized this was NOT a great prize, for my location.  Wrong baseball team AND wrong side of the country!

I had some other disappointments during the day.   For example, one person told me that another person had said “ungracious” things behind my back.

What might you do, in that situation?

Here’s what I did.

  1. I felt hurt. Then I looked closer.
  2. Based on past experiences, I was not surprised. Then I looked closer.
  3. I felt anger. Then I looked closer.
  4. I considered options of action. Then I looked closer.
  5. I realized the situation and the person involved could NOT really hurt me, in any way.

I still held some hurt and anger, though.

As I was walking away from work, this song came on:

(here, on YouTube)

And, as I discovered earlier during this blogging journey, when I direct strong feelings into an expression of music:

  • I express — rather than repress– the emotion more fully, letting it flow through me, and
  • I sing the sh*t out of a song.

I love giving loud, proud voice to my feelings, these days.  And nobody seems to mind, especially those who are close.

That includes this guy, yesterday, on my walking-and-singing way:


Thanks to that interested and non-flinching bunny, to Idina Menzel*, to those who look closer, to people who do their best expressing (or receiving) emotions effectively, to everybody who sings out, and to you — OF COURSE! — for getting this close, today.

* Idina Menzel sings “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” from Wicked  John Travolta wasn’t even close, when he said her name at the Oscars this year.

** If you look closer at the links today, you might find some treasures.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Day 528: Transported (random thoughts and shots)

I became aware of a theme of “transported” as I moved through yesterday.

On the way to work, I noticed …







When I got to work, I did a group, where we talked about many things, including modes of transportation.




Then, I was transported, by car, to yet another dental appointment. I was scheduled for my 3-month teeth-cleaning, but I had lost track of that as the reason for the appointment. And, I could not get my teeth cleaned, yesterday, because I hadn’t been pre-medicated with antibiotics. However, I was very glad to be there, because I’ve had a toothache for about a week.

Michel, the dental hygienist there, was glad to see me, too.  She transported me with her kindness and great stories  — including how an adolescent Michel, who did not want braces or glasses but got them both at the same time, proceeded to (1)  lose her glasses and (2) remove her braces with a pair of pliers.

Here’s the not-quite-as-rebellious Michel:


Note that:

  • there are many photos of dogs on the wall, which reminds me of my doctor’s office (although all the photos there are of one dog).
  • Michel (and my dentist, Dr. Luis Del Castillo) carefully explored the cause of my toothache, which turned out to be a chip in a filling.
  • Michel is still assertive, these days. For example, she does not like having her picture taken.

After the dental appointment (and rescheduling the cleaning*) I was transported back to my car, through the Public Gardens:








I went home, to boyfriend Michael and son Aaron.  Soon, I discovered that Aaron had received a lead role in a local production. That was transporting, in a different way.

Later, I saw this being transported:


I remarked to Michael — on our last evening before he leaves, today, for a work-week away from us — that I was surprised anybody needed THAT much of that particular product.

Which reminds me of something else written on my work whiteboard, earlier yesterday:

“There’s never enough.”

Thanks to Michel (and others on my medical/dental team),  to Michael and Aaron, to all those who are transported (or transporting) in any way, to rebels everywhere, to people who are coping and healing as best they can, and to you — of course! — for transporting yourself here, today.

* From now on, I won’t be getting antibiotics intravenously before a teeth cleaning AND the cleanings will be once every four months (instead of three months).  My medical/dental team believes oral antibiotics and this frequency will be enough to prevent any re-occurrence of endocarditis. I find all that transporting, too.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 527: Support

I observed many different types of support yesterday, including:

  • A primary care doctor, helping a distressed and emotionally overwhelmed patient decide whether to accept available support at a psychiatric facility.
  • A room-full of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health providers, discussing a moving poem about a patient’s hospital experience.
  • A doctor accompanying an elderly man, as they circled by me several times, gathering information about his reactions to walking.
  • That same doctor informing me that my foot pain was tendon-related, and that it would heal in a week, with Aleve, ice, and this other support I remember witnessing in my childhood:


(image found here)

When I left the doctor, I felt supported and hopeful enough to do some walking, and I observed …


team support,



… different types of walking support,





… things supported in the air,



a kind of vehicular support I’ve been noticing, a lot, around town,



… and a kind of mental health support I always endorse. I stopped and smelled those flowers, on my way.

I need to end this post, now, to take next steps, supporting myself and others I love.

Thanks to all those who offer and accept support. And special thanks to you, for stopping to read this, today.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

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