Gifted

July 26, 2010

Gifted brings a lot of things to mind lately. From coming into my own again and recognizing what I am good at. Being able to receive, without feeling guilt or shame that I don’t deserve  what’s being offered to me. Having the energy and want to gift others for no reason other than because I can. It’s been quite a month.

Out of almost nowhere my dad emails me that they would like to contribute to our travel fund. So we can go here and here and TBD.

A chance to take what turned out to be a very underwhelming circus class and have dinner with an amazing group of newer lady friends afterwards. The class was hysterically awkward to me but the dinner was full of tasty food,  very random topics, delish wine.

Finding my favorite massage therapist in the world’s number again and her doing her magic to my tangled legs and glutes.

Taking the time to read this book and this one that my sister gifted to me.

Being surprised with a dream off my list by my business partner at our 7 year anniversary of Zifty.

Celebrating this new deal which will change how we do business.

Seeing every single one of my employees sign up for a dream session. And being asked to be on their advisory board.

Having newly friended neighbors we can borrow eggs from and saying thank you from a play idea on dream lab.

Seven talking in sentences and cracking  jokes while mashing bananas for  bread we made on Sunday.

The fact that I let myself rest this weekend and went to see this by myself.

Hot summer trips to the park with the whole fam because they make a certain someone so happy.

Looking forward to mine and Tyler’s first weekend away since we had Seven; with no expectations other than soaking up every minute of the now.

The Long Run

July 11, 2010

It is hot here this weekend and I was due for a 12 mile training run. I knew neither day would I get out of the house early enough to beat the 100 degree weather. So I decided to do 5 miles of hills yesterday and a hard 7 miles today. I was finally listening to the experts who said splitting up the run is not a bad thing in ridiculous weather.

As I was gearing up for my long run today out came my F*CK Cancer shirt. I hadn’t run in it in a long time and decided today was a hard enough effort to put it on. As I got running the history of the shirt came flooding back to me and carried me through the heat and hills.  I was reminded of when the company that makes the shirts asked to me to blog for them, why I wear it and this is what I wrote:

I wear the shirt, because it captures the first thought that came to
my mind when I found out about Lisa. I mean, once the original shock
wore off, of what I was hearing….so it was possibly my second
thought. Lisa, who threw my bridal shower as one of my bridesmaids;
and two weeks before had celebrated not only her 34th birthday but
her engagement and pregnancy too. At her birthday dinner party we sat
around the table celebrating all of her joy and confidence in the
future and seemingly endless possibilities. Three weeks later, I get
the call and Lisa has been diagnosed with leukemia.

I wanted to help. I wanted to fight for her. My friend and I started
Team Lisa to raise $10,000, a small portion of the $600,000 she would
need for her bone marrow transplant. (And that is with her insurance
covering 80%.) We started raising money by training for a Half
Ironman. 400 hours of training at $25 an hour equals our goal of
$10,000. Our shirts drew attention. Our shirts raised money. Our
shirts made other cancer survivors or those who knew friends and
family battling cancer smile and nod. On race day, as soon as we
stripped off  our wet suits, on came our shirts over the tri-gear
for the bike and the run. People clapped and pointed at our shirts,
people stopped us and asked us where we got the shirt, people asked
how they too could help.

I wear the shirt now, with its ripped off sleeves, on days when I
don’t feel like running but go anyway. It reminds me that I can run
and Lisa cannot. I wear it days, when I want to send her extra
energy vibes, when she is too weak to talk or even listen to
encouragement. I wear it too, because it always get a second look. I
love the half a second of an extra glance from a stranger, that tells
me without saying, “my thoughts exactly”.

Crossing the finish line at Miami 1/2 Ironman

A year after I wore that shirt in that race my friend Lisa died and I was seven months pregnant. The next time I wore the shirt in a race, was the November after Seven was born and I did my first 1/2 marathon. I wasn’t fully recovered from having him or fully trained; but I put it on that morning and Lisa was with me the entire way. I literally had goose bumps the whole run and my under trained legs just kept going on and going. She was pushing me from where she was and the thought of seeing Seven at the finish line, it was all just so powerful.

After the Thanksgiving half.

Lisa gave me another gift today, being with me as a ran and thought about our journeys. I will wear it on my long training runs this summer and definitely during the marathon this October. I love the companionship it brings and the reminder of just how lucky I am. Thank you Lisa. Miss you.

Hello There

July 5, 2010

So with all things new I tend to jump right in not exactly sure where or how it is going to fit into my life. Not willing to give up something to make room for new things, I tend to just add and add and add. And since I am high energy, tend to be a bit spastic with my attention span and relish on more than one thing going on at once it usually works. Usually.

I finished up Mondo, finished up needing to go to my talk therapist every other week (we both agree on this), finished up realizing that I wasn’t enjoying the now just the when. (which meant I wasn’t really enjoying) And you know what? It was quiet. I had no sudden urges to bite off projects, or cook up something new, or get out-of-town or really anything other than what the day presented. And that my friends is a whole new thing for me. That is not how I operate. At all. It was okay at first and then it got a little long and I was getting antsy.  But thankfully I still had this voice telling me something was on its way and to be patient. And for the first time in my life, I was. I am.

What was on its way were all the things that had probably been there all along but I was too busy planning the next thing to notice.  There are almost always things cooking, happening, excitement brewing.  I just needed to let it be okay for it to be a whispered message on some days and a shout out on others. To realize that things really do present themselves in the quiet of it all and for me to not to be so afraid of the silence in the first place. Have I mastered this? Hell no. But I’ll take step one, which is awareness.

In this “down” time, treats have presented themselves to me. A new advisory board I’m on will help companies make their employees dreams come true (by enabling and sharing) and we are adopting the practice into Zifty. Soon all my employees will have access to my 102 dreams. The big, the small, the super personal. The transparency scares me a bit but it doesn’t come close to over-powering how giddy the potential of it all is making me feel.

Also, looks like we are going to England in August! The trip started falling off of our radar from commitments, time and budget. Well we talked about it and put a few things out there into the universe and it is coming together quite beautifully. My training is on track for my first post kid marathon and even better so is my sister’s. (this will be her first!) I inked a major deal I can’t talk about yet. Seven is love, love, loving his new school. I have 3 gifted books by my bedside that want to be read. And I am typing here. My Mondo girls (Kat, Amiee, Stephanie) have been sharing faithfully on their blogs and I just couldn’t resist playing with them any longer. So here I am.  Thankful, rested and eager.

An Interview of Sorts

May 3, 2010

I was emailing with my friend Kat and talking to her about my getting stuck in terms of writing. What to write about, aimless direction and just wanting to be more consistent. She suggested that she throw some interview questions my way to get my brain moving, thinking and well me just writing. So without further ado….

1. What has been the best thing about your day so far?

Waking up to Seven snuggled up to me and knowing my mom was upstairs. (she’s visiting from England)

2. When was the last time you wore a hat?

When I did a 1/2 Ironman in Miami.

3. Red or white? (Wine, that is. Be as specific as you like!)

Red shoes. White wine. (the more dry and mineral taste the better)

4. Where did you and your soul mate go on your first date? (If you and your soul mate are yet to cross paths, then describe a special place for you and your bff.)

Since it was a client of mine we went out under the guise that it wasn’t a date. But on that first non-date, we met for a drink at a cheesy chain restaurant by his office, moved on to a cozy Indonesian restaurant for dinner, then coffee & dessert at a euro cafe and finally and randomly playing video games at a sports bar. The locations certainly had no cohesiveness to them other than neither one of us wanted to the night to end so we kept coming up with random things to do.

5. What’s for dinner tonight?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out. Probably something I pick up from the farmers market.

6. What was the first album you ever bought? (It can be a record, cassette or CD and you don’t have to confess which!)

Oh I am not sure of this at all. When I was in 3rd grade I did shows in the living room every night to Vivaldi Four Seasons, Muppets Take Manhattan and the soundtrack from Chorus Line. God help my parents.

7. Dark, milk or white? (Chocolate, that is. Happy to entertain debates as to the validity of white.)

Dark

8. What’s your favourite quote of all time?

Not a big quote person. Obama’s acceptance speech made me cry.

9. When someone says “childhood” what images and smells come to mind?

Lots and lots of sports, the smell of the e.r. because I was there a lot, cookies from the oven that my mom made from scratch, dress up rooms, lots of color, the backseat of the car on our next adventure, books.

10. When was the last time you had a big belly laugh, tears down your cheeks and all?

This weekend with my mom and Seven on a road trip to Chattanooga. It was fantastic.

11. What posters or prints did you have on your bedroom wall when you were growing up?

Embarrassing for sure. Don Johnson wet in a suit coming out of the ocean, Rick Springfield, Prince and lots of Duran Duran. As well as a few art prints with gymnastic photographs.

12. What’s your magazine of choice?

Lula for sure. It is ridiculously pretentious but so pretty to look at and visually inspiring.

13. When was the last time you listened to the radio?

15 minute ago.

14. What’s your favourite thing about your own handwriting?

That it reflects my mood.

15. What was the book that changed your life?

That’s hard! A Separate Piece, Franny and Zooey, Hello God It’s Me Margaret…

16. When your personal time capsule is opened in 200 years time, what five things will be found therein?

An amazing pair of shoes, a glamorous picture, a postcard from somewhere tiny and beautiful, journals and a small painting by my sister.

17. When was the last time you were part of a standing ovation?

Crossing the finish line at Ragnar Relay last November.

18. What’s your favourite stationery fetish?

Anything independent and letter-press.

19. Which of your creations are you most proud of and why? (If you have children, we’ll take that as read, so feel free to nominate something else!)

Seven for sure.  Then Stories of Gen.

20. What are you going to do when you log off your computer?

Finish my latte and head into the office for a bit.

H

April 26, 2010

I will start by saying this is a pretty intense post. In some ways it doesn’t feel fair to share this. But at the same time I need to get it out.

I am half owner of a company and we have 45 or so employees. We are big enough to have lots of personalities but small enough to be tight-knit. Most of my employees are in their 20’s and have inspirations outside of our walls; but are happy to be there and engaged and have fun. (Most of my employees are delivery drivers.) I take a lot of pride that our turnover is low and retention is excellent. So with that being said.

We got a call last week on Monday from someone in anguish. It was the mother of one of my 25-year-old drivers. She tells us through tears and indescribable sounds that her son was dead. That he had taken his life on Sunday. There is no preparing for a phone call like this nor an understanding of how many layers of emotions will continue to present themselves. I can say my manager who took the call was gentle and kind with her and you could tell he was in shock. (I hesitantly listened to the call)

My first thoughts were what could I have done, what signs did I miss?  Then I got a bit into mom mode, what could I do for my employees to help them sift through their emotions and disparity?  That mode helped me because it gave me a purpose in a very unknown and foreign time. Resources were quickly found and shared with the group. Then it came time to try to find out the memorial information. There was no found information online for the next 24 hours, so I called his mom and left her a message. Could she or someone please call  so we could pay our respects and show  support for her and her son who worked for us for almost 2 years.

She did not call me back. My managers did call me though. They are all men in their 20’s and emotions were present that were not normally there. I tried to comfort, to assure, to say the right things in an impossible situation.

On Thursday one of my managers found the memorial information online. It was to take place Saturday in a town just over 2 hours away in the North Georgia mountains. I knew instantly that I had to go. I let my staff know anyone who was interested could travel along with me. I had 2 brave takers.

Saturday the weather  was menacing and scary. We talked about all kinds of topics on the drive up and shared many laughs and memories. Even coming to the conclusion that if H were to decide the weather on his funeral that this would be it. As we got closer to our destination, it got quiet. My stomach hurt. I was thinking from my own perspective as his boss, from a mom’s perspective of losing a son, and his 11th grade sister’s perspective from losing her brother.

We got there before the family did. In the lobby it immediately stung. There was a video playing that had pictures of him grinning ear to ear, covered in sun and his mama loving all over him in his Croatian birth land. How could I not instantly think of Seven and it just made the pain so much more intense. Tears were heavy and hot but I managed to keep it together and quiet. Immediately when his mom arrived I knew it was her. I watched as she went into to share words with H at his closed coffin. It was one of the most excruciating things I have ever seen.

After a few minutes, the three of us walked into pay our respects to both H and his mom. We waited patiently and took in the pictures of him displayed in all of his gorgeousness and youth. His mom turned to me, “I’m Jen, I was his boss”. She starts to cry and apologize for not calling me back. I tell her of course it is no problem and decide to stop talking and just wrap my arms around her as tight as I could. She responds the same way. There was a beautiful conversation there with no words.

The next part I so contemplate even writing about. But I have to. She whispers to me that his head is not in the casket. That she could not see him, “they” would not let her. She did get to touch his arm to say goodbye. I don’t really know how I held myself or my shit together at that point but I did. She told me he was troubled but had such a big heart. I nodded. The two who came with me, stepped in and wrapped their arms around her and there were lots of loud tears shared at that point. It seemed to last several minutes. But when we let go, no one was crying and we all took a deep breath and really looked at each other. I thought then like I do now, was healing really taking place? That soon, in that place? My thoughts are yes. Even if it was in a teeny, tiny way.

Shortly after, we left for the long ride home. We stopped at a random hole in the wall for one stiff drink. To toast H, to say thank you to each other for making the trip together and to reflect on the little miracle that there was an ounce of lightness before we left.

What’s almost absurd is that after that ordeal, I had to drive back to the city, drop them off and go get ready to go to a wedding. Talk about full circle in one day. I was grateful for the obligation in some ways. Not because I wanted to pretend it all didn’t happen. But for the reminder that in the bad and the horrible there is the good. Did I kiss Tyler more that night? Did I hug Seven more and take in all of his smells and breath? Did I talk openly with strangers at the wedding and because of that share unexpected belly laughs? Yes I did.

I’m still processing. I am still thinking. My heart still hurts. But in something that was incredibly dark and painful; I’ve managed to hone in on all the love and the little things floating around me that are a part of my life every single day. In a lot of ways I have H to thank for that and I hope he can feel that. I have to believe that he can.

Oh Me Oh My

April 4, 2010

The last three weeks have been hectic, stressful and a tad bit distracting. Think random selection for an audit, strictly annoying car accident, lots of visitors, red-eye flight, tons of required planning and 2-year-old molars coming in. BUT what leaves me feeling good about all of it is, is that I have been able to remain in the present through all of it. Instead of getting super anxious and anticipating the next f’ed up thing; I chose to forgive  myself for checking out a bit from things I love, admitting my exhaustion and trusting my gut that this too will pass.

I can accredit some of my  new being present abilities to  mondobeyondo and my lovely talk therapist. But I also give much of that credit to my new posse of friends Amiee, Kat, Stephanie; who friended me with open arms and zero expectations. I read their blogs and it stretches my capacities, I email them the dark and the bright thoughts in my head and I am always flooded with their generosity. So giving with their time, words, and perspective. Helps too to have this little thing running through my life; saying new words, giving me kisses at  perfect times and reminding me what it feels like to experience all things new. You know the plaid, argyle, silver/blue high tops, bunny ears of it all.

Easter #1

The boys on Easter #2

More Sunshine

March 15, 2010

The clocks have just adjusted giving us the extra hour of sunshine and I find myself surrounded by it a lot. Even though lately the skies have been more grey here than anything else.  The brightness comes from the after effects of Mondo, the new dedication to being present and reflecting over the last 5 weeks since the M.B. ended. Our little tribe agreed to meet up and chat about where we are, where we are going and most importantly to me just promising to stay in touch with these amazing women. So here I am!

I had quite a chance meeting last week. The meeting itself was ordinary and something I do on a regular basis; meet with a new restaurant/bar owner who wants to be on Zifty and have their food delivered.  Almost instantly we got to chatting about life being bigger than our  businesses and what we considered work vs a passion. Turns out he is in the process of starting a side company, as his passion that is about 102 dreams. The idea is you ask your employees to write down 102 of their dreams. He had found that once someone gets past the first 20 (which  tends to be the super material stuff) it gets pretty personal and super attainable. He asked what if we as employers could not only provide a competitive salary/benefits; but we could help our employees facilitate their dreams? He shared examples of a man working for him who wished he could have lunch with his kid at school once a week and a woman who had always wanted to do a triathlon. Some easy moving around with the schedule and the man was having lunch with his son; and it turns out he does triathlons and served as her coach and signed them both up for a small tri in the spring. No major undertaking or cost but results that  the two of them will never forget. It was such an aha moment for me, especially coming out of Mondo where we exercised and stretched our dreams over the 5 weeks and continue on with it today.

I loved that it was so brilliant. And I loved that it is so simple. He immediately asked me what did I want? I talked candidly about how much I am craving collaboration these days. I am one of 2 owners of Zifty and we have about 50 employees and Stories of Gen is just me; so there is a lot of solo or 2 people decision-making. A new community for brainstorming would be a dream for me. A place where I can get outside of myself and see/hear something new. The next thing I know he is offering me his spot this week at Zappos.com headquarters. There will be 20 people there from all different types of companies and the focus is customer experience and being the best place to work. And now I will be one of those people. Flying out Wed and home on Friday. A quick adventure. We are also going to collaborate on the 102 dreams as well; we talked about having the capacity to take this outside of our own companies and sharing it as a new approach to “work”.

I am excited to see who I meet. Whether it’s at the airport, the meeting or my hotel.  I am even more excited to see what I learn. What I share. It is also the first 2 days all to myself since I had Seven. I’m at a point now where I can not feel guilty for going, for making the most out of the 48 hours and letting them play themselves out vs plan every second. It is the last 10 weeks that has gotten me here. Mondo and beyond it. It is also having a place to continue to share and think and question without any hesitation or worry about judgement or not being “enough”.

My little tribe will probably never really realize how big they are in my heart.

Seven, Surprise Baby & Such

March 9, 2010

I haven’t been able to get to writing too much over the last week or so. From a freak snow storm, new adventures with Seven, a surprise baby, a little tequila- its been busy over here.

Tyler was out-of-town, so Seven and I were rolling solo and we made the most of it for sure. We hit up  Relics and Rarities. Think lots of cool old cars combined with an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. He was more into the cars than anything else; so we skipped the ice cream this time and just ran around instead.

Next up was our trip to  IKEA for his newest passion. Trains. The wood set has been the “it” toy ever since. Continuing on this theme, the next day we hit up the SE Train Museum. OMG, the kid was in heaven. It was so much fun to get to watch his 2-year-old self completely in his element and going on his first “real” train ride.  I knew even more that it was a hit when Tyler came home the next night at 2am,  and Seven woke up just long enough to give him the complete “choo choo” update. We weren’t sure of the exact story but it definitely involved a lot of trains.

On our last solo night, the two of us went out for Thai and salty caramel ice cream.  Perfect. Over the 5 days, we passed on opportunities for play dates and yes we missed dad; but it was such a little gift  to have each other all to ourselves.

You know what was also nice? Was that I found myself very present in it all, not stressing out and just rolling with the extra work and lack of sleep. That wouldn’t have been the case this time last year. AT ALL. It is so amazing to watch your kid grow and learn and seek out new things. It never stops for them, it’s all so new. What I’m finding with  Seven is how much he is actually teaching me! (I know- duh. Apparently I’m a little slow.) It doesn’t have to be this constant running from one responsibility to the next. It can be snuggling up and reading books together, making banana bread with really good dark chocolate and remembering what it was like to be completely beside myself just because I was in a park.

But wait the surprise baby part. (no, not me) So….in the middle of all of this fun, I get an email from a friend about a friend who just had a surprise baby. Yes the kind of thing you see the TLC special about. But this involved two 20 year olds, possible stomach tumors and a healthy 5 pound baby boy. Anyhow, they obviously had no time to plan or buy ANYTHING so the email was about getting things donated. The next thing I know I am rounding up lots of baby items from furniture to tiny Vans. The new dad stopped by last night to pick it all up and their story was quite amazing.  Whether it was 20-year-old denial or a true mystery…you know what I don’t really care. The kid was excited and it felt awesome to be able to help out. So I did. Sometimes questions just don’t need to be asked. (It is kind of funny that I had all this stuff on the front porch and Tyler asked what is it for and I told him the “surprise baby”. He just kept on his merry way, apparently we are on the same page about unnecessary questions)

So I must say a week like this has had a bunch impact on me. In one sense, I got a little nervous because I wasn’t tackling anything specific on my dream list. But on the other hand, I have to be believe that if I am playing, being present, generous where I can and feeling light….that Mondo is not very far from me.

I Mean Really

March 1, 2010

So wow, what a weekend. First up was Saturday when I had agreed to go to a class that my friend was putting on. What was the class you ask? Improv! Yes, a 3 hour improv class. It made me nervous. It gave me a pit in my stomach. Get out on a field and play a sport, sure. Run a business or two, not a problem. Tell a story to a group of people at party, most definitely. Get up on a stage and do random unscripted things? Absolutely not.

But I went and I was so glad I did. First it tackled a fear. Second, it got me outside of myself. There was a group of about 9 women and I did not know any of them.  All but one was in their 50’s. That surprised me. You know what also surprised me? The random things that came out of our mouths, the struggles we all had in using our brains in other ways, and how much I laughed! Pretty much 3 hours of straight up laughing. Not because the scenes or exercises were so hilarious; but because everyone was so open, no one was judging, or worrying about trying to be the best.  So we all just played!

It did not get past me that I just did a cleanse on getting to the play part of my life. Then in  a very unexpected manner, an afternoon of play presented itself. What was also surprising was that it came from an event I  was completely  unsure of and not really convinced I wanted to do. Lesson learned for sure.

On Sunday I went for a run that was windy and hard but the sun was shining brightly. While I was running I got to envisioning myself running the Portland Marathon in October. I thought about the fears I have had in other races that held me back and how this time it was going to be different. The next mile or so I thought about why I had these fears (ie: negative thoughts about myself)  and when did they start. These thoughts where I told myself you are running too slowly, you aren’t going to finish, this sucks, you didn’t train hard enough, you are going to be the last runner. So my brain started to back itself up the last 30 or so years.

I have had stitches 13 times. I had surgery where my face was sewn back together (literally). My right leg was broken in 5 places and they thought I wouldn’t walk again at age 4. (I was hit by a car) I’ve had spinal meningitis. I’ve had the flu that puts you in the hospital. My nose has been broken 3 times in sports and dislocated once. I’ve ripped my hamstring and played the whole season anyway. I’ve had 2nd,3rd,4th degree burns from flying out of a go kart. I’ve hit the diving board in competition. I’ve thrown up in a middle of a half ironman from heat exhaustion. I’m not going to list it all out but I think you might get the idea.

Anyhow all of this was literally flashing through my brain while running. The next thing I know, I am laughing. Why? It FINALLY occurred to me…what the hell do I have to be afraid of when it comes to racing and sports? Let it be, I’ve been through it, I got up each time and did it again. Have some freaking faith in myself! I so cannot wait for 10/10/10. It’s going to be life changing!

The Best

February 23, 2010

I was lucky enough to get some amazing feedback from my last post about play. And it seems from some insightful friends that perhaps I was looking too for inspiration. And I got to thinking…where do I find inspiration? In following others’ leads I decided to cleanse by brainstorming a list of things that are “the best”. The best being or meaning that certain feeling in my chest, my heart, my brain while it is taking place or I am witnessing or lucky enough to be touched by.

In no particular order….

When Seven wakes early in the morning and in his soft 2-year-old voice says, “Hi, mom”.  The hi stretches out for a couple of seconds and he sounds excited when he says mom.

When Tyler and I laugh really hard at the same thing.

On a run when my breathing and body are in line which totally makes my brain pop with ideas.

The lull time after acupuncture

The energy after hot yoga

New issue of Lula magazine

When I spot the perfect pair of ridiculous new shoes

Crossing a finish line

Meals when I am surrounded by my entire family

Small random towns found on trips

Museum gift shops

Cobblestone streets at night

Handwritten mail

Watching somebody open a present I picked out for them

A new painting from my sister

A really good book

Sunshine after a grey day

Waiting for a friend or my family to come up the escalator at the airport

Throwing someone a party

Making Seven laugh so hard he is almost purple

The way a room looks with a lit up Christmas tree in it

Shopping indie in a big city

When the crowd know all the words at a concert and the band lets us take over the song

Reading what other people write when I couldn’t say it or even think it clearly

Snuggling with Seven

When I  really, really follow my intuition and do something big

Seeing my sister sing

Watching my brother DJ and dancing in the crowd

Not getting the steps for weeks in hip hop class and then having it all come together (but good lord embarrassing along the way)

Sharing knowledge and brainstorming in a classroom

Making really tasty things from scratch

Planning something big and new

I’m sure there are lots more. But I just typed what came to my mind quickly and put it out there. I think I will let it sit for a minute and come back to see what this list suggests I do. Just doing this gave me “the best” feeling in my chest and brain. What’s funny is that I wasn’t expecting that. Perhaps it already has told me something?


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