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Happy New Year? Not Without Happy Thoughts!

2016 will soon be behind us, and a new year awaits us. So, what are we going to do with the new year?

The answer to that question depends upon what kind of thoughts you will entertain. After all, the year itself does not care how you feel or what you do or don’t do. It’s just days on a calendar, and with or without your permission, time will continue. With each new year, we get another opportunity to repeat the offenses of the previous year or work to be transformed and renewed.

In the book of Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect” (ISV).

The key here is transformation. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, to transform means “to change in character or condition: convert.” However, by holding on to old beliefs or former ways of thinking and acting, there is no room for anything new and refreshing to enter your mind.

Bringing in the new year is not about the same person doing different things. That does not qualify as transformation. It’s about becoming a new you and making it more probable of having a happier new year instead of the same old one.

What will make a difference in the upcoming year is your state of mind. Without first committing to a renewed sense of self, simply making resolutions without dedication to follow through with them is futile. After all, the old you may not give in to new ideas.

So, what are some steps you can take to bring in the new year, well, newly? Begin by gently accepting suggestions that will elevate and open your mind to the idea of change.

Below is a list of ten profound concepts that you may find useful in approaching the idea of becoming transformed.

10 “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Albert Einstein

9 “The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”
Bill Clinton

8 “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw

7 “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Maya Angelou

6 “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
Norman Vincent Peale

5 “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”
Confucius

4 “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
Winston Churchill

3 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Barak Obama

2 “When we are no longer able to change a situation—we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Victor E. Frankle

1 “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”
Soren Kierkegaard

ba colorful row of firework shells pretty animated gif pic

I have had to do much praying, meditating, and letting go of false concepts of myself and of the world in order for change to unfold. And the journey has not been without frustration, apprehension, inner battles, and uphill climbs. But as I look back on who I was, what thoughts I would entertain, or how I felt, and compare myself to who I am today, I am humbled. My gratitude to God, the universal, infinite Mind, who found me worthy of transforming, is boundless. And though I am not yet who I hope to be, I stay the course; a simple earthling doing my best to embrace divinity. For it is now clear to me that there will always be more room to grow, to change until I awaken from this mortal dream of finiteness and see the unending, spiritual selfhood as I am face-to-face with God.

Give yourself the opportunity to become new by challenging the same old thoughts, and behaviors, for there is much more to the world, and to you, but if you resist change, then you will not see the wonders and splendors of a self and a world far beyond the limited view of what you see now.

Happy New Year!

 

ISV-International Standard Version

Published in Serious Minded
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 23:48

A Self-Examination

I recall when I was a younger woman, my mom would insist that I do a monthly breast examination. She was adamant that I make it a regular habit to ensure that anything my body did not need was not manifesting.

Today, medical professionals encourage us to get regular physical examinations. This kind of prophylactic thinking is advocated in order to avoid having to deal with a more complicated problem later.

I agree with taking a proactive position when it comes to taking care of ourselves, but I also believe that this needs to be applied to our mental health, because without a healthy perspective and outlook we leave ourselves vulnerable to harmful manifestations.

An examination for the consciousness, one that x-rays our thinking, requires that we pay close attention to the thoughts upon which we choose to act. Employing thoughts that manifest health, joy, love and only good while refusing to entertain destructive ones, demands regular practice in order for excellent mental health to be reached.

More often than not, it seems easier to douse the below par thoughts with anesthetics of some kind, keeping them suppressed because the interior walls of consciousness seem to be too big to take down or too high to overcome. This oftentimes leads us to believe that it’s easier to continue to impersonate the prevaricator and harbor our heart’s desires. We become very good at lying even though we try to convince ourselves and others – especially others – that we are telling the truth; however, somewhere in the deep realms of consciousness we’re aware of the fiction that we’ve been projecting in hopes of diverting ourselves from the fate we seem to have been assigned. Eventually, we feel stuck because the idea of change appears to be unreachable. The weight and burdens of the millstone keep us from flight and manifest in most challenging ways.

I realize that being true to ourselves seems precarious, but the truth remains that the longer we wait to check our thoughts that lead to the unhealthy choices we make, the harder it seems to heal the adverse results. Choosing relationships, careers, where to live and everything else in between, will affect our peace of mind. So the question arises, why do we choose poorly? Maybe because we have a need to please others!

In order to heal this “disease to please” much courage, tenacity and strength are required. In fact, these three qualities need to be proportionate, one to the other, so one doesn’t take on this endeavor without wisdom or with blind courage.

The need to please others has led many into unhealthy relationships, and though we may even know that we need to forfeit them in order to regain health, we’re unwilling to let go of them due to the many fears that plague us of what letting go will lead to. The thoughts of letting go and moving on are oftentimes much harder to bear than remaining where you are.

Thoughts rise up in consciousness that if we change our minds and desire a higher road, a different journey, then we leave ourselves open to be harshly judged. Even the possibility of being cast out of our own families is at risk when we become true to ourselves. But it seems to me that the liabilities are far greater when we live to please others and continue to fake our own happiness.

Abraham Lincoln said, “It is my ambition and desire to so administer the affairs of the government while I remain president that if at the end I have lost every other friend on earth I shall at least have one friend remaining and that one shall be down inside me.”

We have a right, a right given to us by God, to be free from the fetters that incarcerate our hearts and remand our talents. But the tool needed to break these chains begins with challenging the fears that argues to us and taking gentle steps towards intrepidity.

Beyond the present horizon from which you stand are many opportunities waiting to be experienced, but mediocrity and undistinguished hearts will always yearn for greatness, even if one tries to keep it hidden from oneself.

Below is a list of some general questions I asked myself when I first took on this task of self-examination. I’ve found that it keeps me honest, not only with others, but most importantly with myself. I hope it will do the same for you!

  1. Am I happy?
  2. If so, why and if not, why not?
  3. What am I planning to do about my happiness?
  4. Am I in a healthy and fruitful relationship?
  5. If not, why do I stay?
  6. Do I love my job/career?
  7. If not, why am I doing it?
  8. Do I love myself?
  9. If not, why not?
  10. Do I feel as though I’m worthy of being loved by others?
  11. Am I a liar?
  12. If so, why?
  13. Have I lied on any of my answers?
  14. If so, why?

If you answered honestly to those questions, you should be able to discover what needs to be handled and healed. If you feel as though you cannot do this by yourself, there are many ways of reaching out to get the help you need. You deserve to be free from those mental fetters!

Change isn’t easy, but often very necessary and eventually, unavoidable!

Published in Serious Minded
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 13:15

Handling Depression

A once happy man became worried and sad.
So he went out for a drink.

He told the man beside him at the bar that he was on the brink.
That man advised, swim or sink.

Another shot of booze the sad man had.
And left the bar a drunken cad.

Darkness arrived and covered the sad man as he was stumbling down the street.
And big hands from that darkness reached for the man to keep him on his feet.

Sad man turned to the darkness; “Who are you?” he asked.
Eerie red eyes glowed out from the darkness. Sad man was aghast!

A deep voice followed the darkness, “Meet me for lunch tomorrow at noon.”
He then continued, “At the Devil’s Hub Saloon.”

Hypnotized by the voice, sad man met darkness for lunch.
They talked and talked and talked a lot but didn’t say much.

Day after day, they met at the saloon.
And sad man was looking more and more like a buffoon.

One-day sad man saw a good friend,
His friend said, “Man, I have been looking for you. Where have you been?”

Sad man told him where he goes every day.
And friend said, “That’s no good. Dine with me today.”

Sad man asked his friend, “What about the darkness?”
Friend said, “Don’t worry. Darkness couldn’t care less.”

Friend took sad man to Café Cheer.
It was a bright, joy-filled, and loving atmosphere.

They talked, laughed, and exchanged ideas.
Soon sad man forgot about all his fears.

After many days of being together,
The man who was sad was now all better.

He learned a great lesson from this whole ordeal.
Sadness really needs to be healed.

So don’t converse with darkness at the Devil’s Hub.
His influence in you he will drub.

Instead, call a friend and talk of love.
The raven will leave the room; then enters the dove.

Published in Poet's Lounge

Change Part II

“Pleasantville”

 

*ALERT SPOILER AHEAD*

 

Pleasantville is a fantasy comedy film based upon two teenagers who go back in time during the 1950’s where their more modern day mentality begins to effect and influence the mundane atmosphere in the town called Pleasantville. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120789/

This movie meant more to me than just a visit back in time to the way things used to be in the 1950’s. It offers a view of how resistant people can be to change and the division it creates when fear strikes at the heart of ordinariness.

Pleasantville was written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, and Reese Witherspoon, with Don Knotts, Paul Walker, and Jane Kaczmarek in supporting roles. New Line Cinema released the movie here in the United States through Warner Bros. on October 23, 1998, but it still remains a favorite of mine as a useful reminder that change is inevitable, which opens up doors to newness and marvel.

Tobey Maguire’s character plays a teenage boy, who is quite satisfied with his mundane lifestyle even though he is very interested in one particular girl. His sister Jennifer, played by Reese Witherspoon, is more extroverted and likes her life just the way it is.

One night, Jennifer plans a meeting at her house with one of the more popular boys at school, because her mom has gone out of town, but her brother has a different idea. He plans on watching the marathon of “Pleasantville” his favorite show of which he has been preparing to enter a contest, but he ends up in a battle over the remote control with his sister as they fight over who gets the downstairs TV that night. This results in the remote getting thrown across the room. Jennifer becomes unraveled because the remote is broken and her date is due to arrive at any moment.

A TV repairman played by Don Knotts inadvertently, shows up at their house. Jennifer lets him in, but both teens are perplexed at the unexpected appearance of this man. Jennifer asks the man to “hurry-up” and fix the TV, so the man asks what the hurry is. Jennifer says it is because she has a date, but Bud explains it is the Pleasantville marathon he wants to watch. The man is happy to hear that Bud likes Pleasantville and begins asking him trivia questions about it and Bud not only gets all the answers correct, but he actually corrects the man on one answer.

The man gives the teens another remote that is quite unique and unusual.   After he leaves, the teens once again fight over the remote and during the struggle, buttons are pushed. Instantly, they find themselves in black and white in Pleasantville, no longer David and Jennifer, but rather the TV characters, Bud and Mary-Sue Parker.

David and Jennifer are shocked and confused. The TV repairman is now on the TV in Pleasantville and very enthused that he finally found someone, David, who appreciates Pleasantville as much as he does, but David gets angry, questioning why the man did that to them. The man feels rejected and dismayed by David’s response to what he thought was a kind gesture to a fellow Pleasantville fan so he tells David he is leaving, that he needs to go “cool off.”

David tries to encourage him not to leave, but is unsuccessful.

Bud and Betty-Sue’s folks, played by Joan Allen as Betty and William Macey as George see the teens as their own children, so Bud reminds and encourages Betty-sue to stick to their roles until he figures out how to get them out of there. Mary-Sue, a.k.a. Jennifer is furious, frightened and very much resistant to the idea, but soon realizes that she has no other choice but to concede to Bud’s suggestion.

As the movie unfolds, Bud still keeps a very conservative role just as David did back home. Mary-Sue remains in her role, too and this will eventually shake-up the ultra-conservatism of Pleasantville.

Though Bud repeatedly reminds his sister that she needs to respect the values of Pleasantville, she has a different viewpoint, especially when she meets the boy that Mary-Sue dates, Skip Martin played by Paul Walker. She immediately is attracted to him and begins to plot a way to put the moves on him of which she has had much practice. Bud sees the look on her face that he ahs seen before and again reiterates that she needs to behave exactly how Mary-Sue would, but his words fall on deaf ears.

In the meantime, the TV repairman is now trying to get David and Jennifer out of Pleasantville because of the disruption going on. He reprimands David, reminding him that he thought David was a true Pleasantville fan, but he is acting like a traitor.   David tries to calm down the TV repairman, but to no avail.

This impels David to pleads with his sister to stop changing things in the town, but she suggests that maybe the town needs changing.

In the meantime, Bill Johnson, the malt shop owner is waiting for Bud, who works at the shop, to get there and help make the food. Bud is late and Mr. Johnson is unsure what to do, so he just continues to wipe down the counter over and dover again. When Bud gets there he sees that Mr. Johnson is still cleaning the counter, in fact so much so, it has left a mark on the countertop. Bud interrupts Mr. Johnson and Mr. Johnson explains that he did not know what else to do without Bud. Bud tells him that it is okay for him to make the fries on his own. Mr. Johnson thanks him for that information.

That same night at the shop, Mr. Johnson tells Bud that there are no burgers and this time Bud thoroughly explains to Mr. Johnson that he is capable of making those, too.

This is the onset of Bill’s change.

He later stops over at Bud’s house and tells him that he was able to do the work at the shop, “all by himself.” He explains that he even changed the order of how he did his work and while Bud emboldens Bill’s actions, in the doorway enters Bud’s mother, Betty. She and Bill exchange greetings, intimating a an affection for one another.

In the interim, Betty-Sue has accomplished her goal of getting Skip to lover’s lane where he loses his virginity. On his way home he notices that a rose has a burst of color to it. He tells the basketball team at school of his experience and before long other students are at lover’s lane following suit.

Pleasantville begins to transform from black and white to color, which ignites fear in many of the townspeople.

During work at the malt shop, Bud finds Mr. Johnson huddled in a corner contemplating his life. Bud takes him to the storage room and asks him what the problem is and Mr. Johnson tells him that essentially his life doesn’t really have meaning, that everyday is the same. He says, “Grill the bun flip the meat melt the cheese. It never changes,” but when he closed the shop himself, “that was different” and he liked it. Bud, fearful and adamant, shouts out that Bills should “forget about that.” He goes on to tell Bill that jobs need to be done whether or not people like doing them, but Bill questions that. He goes on to reveal to Bud that he likes Christmas time, because he paints the ornaments, that he “looks forward to all year, but that it seems “silly… a awfully long time to be waiting for one moment.” Bud suggests that Mr. Johnson stop thinking about that and Mr. Johnson passively agrees.

Change is taking place all over town; the undefeated high school basketball team has lost a game. furniture stores are now selling full-size beds and Betty has decided to break her routine at home after she discovers that her womanhood is not confined to being a housewife. She is kind enough to leave prepared meals for George before she leaves him and even includes dessert, but this bold move not only disturbs her George, but he “demands” to know when she will return. Without answering him, she ventures off to Bill’s shop and she is not the only woman making these kinds of changes. With color is still bursting all around and the revisions occurring, more fear arises and ultimately there is a division in the community.

Bud comes to realize that Mr. Johnson now has a new way of thinking, so he is inspired to bring him a book on some of the greatest artists. This results in Bill painting a naked mural of Bud’s mom in vibrant colors on the window of his store.

Violence breaks out and the store is vandalized, so the leaders of the community call a meeting to find a resolve.

During this time, Betty-Sue is grappling with why she has not yet become colorized and tells her brother that she has had “ten times as much sex as the other girls,” but remain in black and white. Her brother explains that maybe it is not the sex. This idea leads Betty-sue to a higher concept of herself. She takes on a different attitude and begins reading books, leaving sexual activity in her past. This new behavior transforms her from pasty to vivid.

Bud recognizes that the pattern of complicity and monotonous lifestyles of the community in Pleasantville is inhibiting and confining, so he forfeits the old way of conservatism and embarks upon his own journey of change. This leads him to a brighter sense of self.

In the end, the town’s people all become in one accord and life moves past the boundaries of fear, judgment and tedium.

Going from black and white or a life with only two options may be a safer way to live, but without uniqueness, variation and diversification, we remain insipid and prosaic.

Life is more beautiful with color. Paint some in your world!

Published in Movie Club
Monday, 13 June 2016 20:00

How to Handle Change Part 1

Technology has most definitely advanced over the past half century, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is remarkable how much has changed (see https://prezi.com/bvd0m8xgqz4i/how-has-technology-changed-in-the-last-50-years/).

When I think about how advanced we have become in the world of technology and what is waiting for us, I cannot help but wonder if the mentality of man will progress as radically.

Keeping up with the times is necessary in order to experience creationism in its splendor and completeness, but if change only rapidly occurs in mechanization while discrimination remains unchanged, then humanity will be deprived of humanitarianism.

Just as bigots have resisted changing their standpoint on gender discrimination, racism, ageism, classism, and ableism, some individuals resisted the development of technological inventions such as electricity, especially electricity in homes- they feared electrical leakage from the wires and believed it could cause harm to the body and even death!

Then there was people’s apprehension toward telephones. Today, it seems ludicrous to even comprehend how anyone could think of the telephone as evil, but not all people unanimously agreed with its invention. Some people, especially the “elderly,” did not want to touch the phone. They were afraid they would get an electrical shock

(see more at http://www.ericssonhistory.com/communication/how-the-telephone-changed-the-world/The-telephone-is-the-instrument-of-the-devil/).

Fear is the forestalling of change.

Change threatens our lifestyles—good, bad, or otherwise—and for the most part, humans recoil at the idea of change, especially when it tests our personal viewpoints and opinions.

Take the prophets in the Old Testament. They continuously tried to elevate man’s thoughts about Elohim but barely made a dent. They were ignored, jailed, mocked and one was torn into pieces! When Jesus began his ministry, he too tried to bring forth change to improve the conditions of people’s life. by introducing man’s ability to be healed through Christ, as well as teach them about love, but again to no avail. Even most of his own people refused to accept a higher and better way to relate to God.

When Jesus realized the resistance of his own people, he told this parable in the gospel of Luke 20:9-19 “9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard,[a] leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 And at the season, he sent a servant to the tenants so that they would give him part of the vineyard’s fruit. But the tenants beat him up and sent him away empty-handed. 11 So he proceeded to send another servant. They beat him too and treated him shamefully, and they sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third one. They wounded this one too, and they threw him out. 13 “Now the master of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love. Probably they will show him respect.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed the matter among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him so the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the master of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”But when they heard this, they said, “May it never happen!” 17 Then Yeshua looked right at them and said, “Then what is this that has been written, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone’“ (TLV)

The pharisaic attitude did not yield to receptivity-hence the inability to become transformed. And not just then. It continued.

Marin Luther, who wrote the “Ninety-five Theses of Contention,” was a German, Augustinian monk. He was passionate about the idea that the Holy Writ should not be held back by clergy but rather distributed among the people so they could read it for themselves.

He was also disturbed by the Roman Catholics’ position on indulgences. Indulgences were certificates signed by the pope that released someone from guilt or sin. The belief was that by purchasing an indulgence, a person was granted entrance to heaven.

Martin Luther protested this practice, along with other ways that the Roman Catholic Church was doing business, so after he wrote the “Theses,” he nailed the document to the door of the Wittenberg Church on Halloween in 1517, even though he knew he would be accused of heresy and possibly burned at the stake, alive!

William Wilberforce, politician and philanthropist turned Christian, fought Parliament for twenty years to abolish slavery, and Abraham Lincoln followed that avenue here in America whereby he succeeded in 1863 when slavery was abolished; in the end, however, Lincoln paid for that accomplishment with his life (see more at http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1701-1800/william-wilberforce-vs-slavery-11630303.html and http://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation).

In India, Mohandas (Mahatma, “the great souled one”) Gandhi continued the fight for equal rights, leading his country to independence by adhering to his strict philosophy of nonviolence and truth, and he too paid for that with his life (read more at http://www.history.com/topics/mahatma-gandhi).

We have Susan B. Anthony to thank for taking on the fight for equal rights for women in America from 1848 to1920 (check out http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html).

The more famous Martin Luther King Jr. took up the fight of equality for African Americans in the American Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until April 4, 1968. King was another great thinker whose life was taken because ignorance thought it could stop progress (see http://www.thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king).

Harvey Milk was a gay activist in the 1970s who fought for the equal rights of gays. He too was assassinated. Despite Milk’s work, homosexuals still experience hatred. In 2016 a homophobic gunman went into a gay nightclub in Orlando and shot 103 people, killing 50 of them, in the deadliest mass shooting in America (see more on Harvey Milk at http://www.biography.com/people/harvey-milk-9408170).

A growing concern for animal rights has evolved in America, but it is not a newfound idea to Hindus and Buddhists, who believe in a “vegetarian diet for ethical reasons.” In 1975 the “Animal Liberation” was “the catalyst for the modern American animal rights movement.” Today, there are several organizations to protect the rights of animals (see http://animalrights.about.com/od/animalrights101/a/TimelineModern.htm).

The most recent battle for equal rights fought and won in the United States was for legalizing same-sex marriages, while another battle for equal rights is unfolding for transgender people. “Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match” (http://www.glaad.org/transgender/transfaq).

The Washington Post reported that thus far, eleven states have filed lawsuits that challenge the Obama administration’s direction that schools “allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that match their gender identities” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/05/25/texas-governor-says-state-will-sue-obama-administration-over-bathroom-directive/?utm_term=.182b248bcb14).

Self-righteousness seems to be the dictator while judgment and condemnation seem to be the jury and executioner. They claim to know what truth and justice is, but they are all blind to what equality really is.

“Equality is fairness and fairness is the quality of making judgments that are free from discrimination.” (“Equality” The American Way of Truth and Justice by William Spencer)

So we uncover that above the dictator is a false god called the discriminator. This is the opponent to unconditional love.

This is the detractor who believes that being right trumps being tolerant of variation. Self-righteousness is as overrated as being loving is underrated.

Does the world really need more “right” people or more loving people?

I suspect the ones who think I am wrong will say, “The world needs more right people,” but right does not equal love and love can never be wrong.

In Christianity, we are taught by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (NLT).

This saying was derived from the vine Christ Jesus, who gave us two new commandments: “Jesus replied, ‘“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:36–40, NLT).

These commands are not only for Christians, rather Christians are supposed to be the example of such commands. However, I know many people who stand on their Bibles with wide-open mouths orating judgments as though they are the All-Knowing Mind, God, while their hearts are sealed off from divine love. I also know atheists and agnostics who have demonstrated more love and compassion than some clergy.

Love is not a religion, nor does religion define love. Love is meant for everyone, and it always has been and always will be the only equal rights for all, and even if we disagree with one another, let not pride override tolerance. Let us implement the statement theologian John Wesley made in a sermon in 1770: “Agree to disagree,” a phrase that is definitely understated.

 

NLT-New Living Translation

TLV-Tree of Life Version

 

Please note that the sequence of facts regarding those who have fought for the rights of others are listed in chronological order.

Published in Serious Minded

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