Friday’s Letters: Wanderer

Dear Crochet: Nice to meet you. Welcome to my list of hobbies that I start with the hope that I don’t fail and give up within a couple of months.

Dear Balance: You elusive, difficult thing you. I’m trying to find a way to manage all of the different aspects of my life, whilst also trying to focus on myself more. There’s a lot of trying going on, and its almost working.

Dear Twitter: Thanks for showing me that I’m not the only person who lets social anxiety convince my brain that everyone hates me. Its nice to get reassurance from others, and then set aside my worries in the “not important”pile in my brain.

Dear Bagels: You make life a better place to be. Thanks for having such a great relationship with tomatoes and cream cheese. Together, we can face mornings with a smile!

Dear Merlin: I love how you support my hobbies my trying to eat my crochet work. I love how you support my attempt to be more organised by eating my to-do lists. I also love your possum tail.

Dear Gym: Its nice to be getting back into a routine with you.

Dear Europe: One year ago exactly, my feet has just started wandering through your cities. This year has flown by faster than I could imagine, and yet my memories of the beautiful places and amazing sights Edd and I saw are ingrained into my mind as clear as they day I experienced them. Thank you for enriching my life and teaching me a few lessons along the way. One day, we’ll be back.

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Nobody is Alone

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Stephanie and Dee put their wonderful heads together to create this mental health blog project for people to take part in. The goal is to show that no one is alone in suffering from mental illness or learning to live with their struggles. I wanted to take part because mental health is something that is so important to me, and something I work on everyday to make my head a better place to be. The thing I have found most useful in this journey is realising that I’m not alone, and that there are so many amazing people out there for support and friendship.#nobodyisalone

1. Age: 24

2. Location: Auckland

3. Occupation: Public Servant

4. Is or has your mental health ever been of concern to you or others? As a child/teenager my mental health became a worry to my parents and teachers. As I was growing up I was still learning how to cope with life and all of its challenges (okay, so I’m still learning) and at times I suffered from depression and resorted to self-harm. Nowadays I am definitely better at recognising when life is getting too much and putting in place strategies to help me move through each hurdle but anxiety and depression can still arrive at my door when I least expect it.

5. Have you ever sought help for issues relating to your mental health? As a child I saw a variety of counsellors and psychologists, some of which were amazing and taught me some important life skills, others who did nothing but make me feel like a lunatic.

6. Have you ever felt anxious or had a panic attack? Anxiety is something that I experience pretty regularly, especially before a big social event or a day I know is going to be stressful and intense. Its scary to feel your mind and body freak out, your heart race and your hands shake, and that lack of control is the hardest thing to deal with.

7. What triggers you to feel anxious or low, in terms of your mood?  My triggers include lack of sleep, social situations that I don’t feel I have any control over (aka most of them) and stress (whether it be real or just perceived).

8. At what moments is your self-confidence at its lowest? Self-Confidence is one of those elusive concepts that I am definitely still working on. Its at its lowest when I’m sick, when I’m involved in negative relationships or just when my brain decides to bring up old “truths” I learnt as a child that put me in a vulnerable, negative state of mind.

9. What strategies do you use to cope when feeling anxious or low? My strategy for dealing with anxiety is using mindfulness and relaxation. This can be as simple as making myself to take a few deep breaths before walking into a social situation or reminding myself that the negative assumptions I make about certain things are just that, assumptions, and that it is my responsibility to reconsider certain things that change my perception of the world around me. Ultimately I have found that techniques which give me more control and responsibility over my mind help me to override the corrupt thoughts that cause my anxiety and try to produce more productive thought habits.

10. Does anxiety or a low mood have a physical effect on you? I definitely feel my mental state manifest in my physical health. When I am in a negative state of mind my body responds by getting sick and/or tired. This makes perfect sense because the human body is not designed to be a in a constant state of stress or anxiety and the chemical effects of this can be massive on your physical health. All the more reason to make my mental health the number one priority.

11. Do you or anybody you know suffer from a mental illness?  I have a close family member who is currently suffering in a pretty extreme way from a mental illness (and mental health has always been a part of my family history) and its harder for me to see it in someone I love then to deal with it myself.

12. Do you feel there is a stigma around mental illness? There is definitely stigma, even just in the way work environments give people sick days for when you have the flu but people are made to feel guilty or weak for taking days off when you simply can’t face getting out of bed. For people who have never experienced the paralysing ability of a broken mind, this can be hard to understand and this lack of understanding is a common cause of stigma.

13. What do you think could be done to change attitudes to mental health? Awareness. People shouldn’t feel ashamed of their mental health issues, the same as you wouldn’t be ashamed of a broken leg. People need to realise how important their mental health is, to the same degree that our physical health is seen as important if not more so. Awareness is so key, both for those who suffer from mental illness to make sure they know there is help available but also for those who haven’t experienced mental health issues and therefore may not understand its impact on others.

14. What advice do you have for anyone suffering from mental illness? My advice is that everyone is different and there is no one solution to mental illness so be experimental, talk to others and get tips on what has helped them in their journey. Then devote time and energy to trying these solutions until you find things that work for you. Make sure you do use the support of those around you and ask for help when you need it. Realise that there might always be bad days but you can get better at moving through these bad days and facing tomorrow. Focus on the positive’s in life because there are so many once we start looking. If you are suffering from mental illness speak to a professional to make sure you have the best tools available to help.

If you need someone to talk to call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 and seek help, because no one has to go through life and all of its challenges alone.

mental health challenge

Taking Stock | April 2015

It’s been a fair few months since my last Taking Stock post, and I felt like doing one again 🙂 If you want to join in go and grab the blank list over on Pip’s blog. This year is going so quickly and I almost feel like if I sit down and focus on the following list it’s like I am holding on to this moment in time, like sand slipping through my fingers. So lets sit and ponder, shall we?

Taking Stock April

Making : Lists, everyday, to try and help me keep priorities in order and make my mind less chaotic (I’m one of those people who in the middle of the night won’t be able to sleep because I will be listing things on my fingers that need to be done, this is much less stressful if I can just write it down and leave it til morning)
Cooking : Chickpea, tomato and coconut curry. Real yum
Drinking : Lemon, ginger and honey with hot water. Have started doing this almost daily and loving it (plus hoping it will ward off my cold that I feel approaching)
Reading: A book called the Biology of Belief, challenges my mind which is good
Wanting: Another cat so that Merlin can have a little friend to play with
Looking: For ways to make my home more beautiful
Playing: Minecraft, Mr 7 is teaching me how (I’m a slow learner it turns out)
Deciding: Which gym classes to go to during the week
Wishing: That there were more hours in a day, more days in the year, more years in my life. If I could just have a couple of lifetimes to live out all the different dreams I have, that would be swell
Enjoying: The moment
Waiting: To see what happens with my job and the future
Liking: The possibilities each day holds
Wondering: What other people would say are their main values in life, and wondering what mine are or should be
Loving: My family and my Merlin, even when he brings in the biggest insects he can find and lets them loose in the house (minus several legs)
Pondering: The ways to make my life the way I want it
Considering: Taking up sign language classes
Buying: All the necessary things to start learning to crochet, wish me luck!
Watching: Community and remembering how funny and clever the first couple of seasons are (Troy and Abed 4eva <3)
Hoping: That I can make some time to bake again soon, its been to long!
Marvelling: At how the different people I know are all so different and have such amazing qualities, I have so much I can learn from others
Cringing: At some of the things I say. This is why I tend to just keep my mouth shut around people I am not close with
Needing: To learn how to just be me and appreciate that I am not everyone’s cup of tea (and that’s okay)
Questioning: How I can make myself more of a priority
Smelling: French pear, oh Ecoya, your candles will break my wallet some day
Wearing: My new Fitbit! Its the best thing. The best.
Following: along with the New Zealand Bachelor, and only feeling slightly embarrassed at how much I enjoy it. We all have our escapes, right?
Noticing: How much better I feel after a good night’s sleep
Knowing: That I need to make some changes to my exercise routine
Thinking: How lucky I am to have my husband going through life by my side
Admiring: People who seem to have it all figured out. And also Edd who is learning to drive and doing such an amazing job, despite having a crazy “supervisor” who would drive even the most patient learner insane. I’m really sorry x
Sorting: All my clothes, donated a whole bag of things I had been hanging on to for no real reason, and it felt amazing
Getting: A little more organised, day by day
Bookmarking: These finger tattoos that are totally hipster but I still really love them
Coveting: perfect skin. Is that a thing you can covet? If so I definitely covet it :-/
Disliking: Spinach leaves in smoothies. I am still figuring out the best way to disguise the taste
Opening: My diary more often. Turns out that having a diary is only really useful when you occasionally look at it…
Giggling: often, I’m blessed to live with some incredibly funny and weird flatmates
Feeling: Optimistic for the future and content with the present. The past can just stay where it belongs for now 😛
Snacking: Less, and generally succeeding (there is chocolate by my bed from Easter that I haven’t even devoured yet and I feel like this is a big thing)
Wishing: That I felt confident in my health and could trust that I am not going to get sick again soon
Helping: A good friend move in to her new flat after a two month trip to South America (and only feeling slightly envious of her amazing trip, okay a lot envious)
Hearing: new albums from Spotify, like the latest release by DeathCab which I fell in love with after the first listen.

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Leave a comment if you do a post like this or something similar, I think its such a nice way to just consider the different things all going on.

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5 ways to own that job interview

  

I was and possibly still am one of the worst job interviewees. I like to think that over the last few months I have improved, at least marginally. And because I am now 1% closer to being a job interview master, I figured it was only time to share my very limited but possibly useful knowledge with the world. Or a very small portion of the world. Things that I wish I had been able to tell myself before throwing myself onto the chopping block rather unprepared.

1. Be authentic to yourself and your skills

I don’t know if this needs to be expanded on but basically be honest to yourself, your skills and your strengths. Don’t lie about a skill that you didn’t even know existed because there are two outcomes, and neither are great. Either they see through your lie and don’t trust anything else you say and you don’t get the job, or alternatively and quite possibly worse, they do believe you, you get the job and are thrown in the deep end without the necessary support. The other side to being authentic is to not become a robot, parroting off stuff you memorised that kind of almost fits their question. Be natural, be funny (if, unlike me, you are actually funny), if you’re nervous take a moment to gather yourself. Let them see your personality for what it is, not for how you think they want it to be (unless you’re crazy, in which case reign that in and save it for later). Don’t forget to Smile 🙂

2. Don’t forget how incredibly awesome you are

Whilst remembering our limitations, make sure to focus on your strengths and all the amazing skills that you would bring to the role. Now is not the time to be humble so tell them about all the times you saved other people’s butt because of how great you are (’cause you are great, and you know it, so make them know it too). Tell them about how great you would be as part of the team and what unique sills and visions you have to offer.

3. An interview is a two-way street

This little gem comes from my Dad who always reminds me that an interview is also my chance to see if the role is for me. My ultimate satisfaction now comes from making the interviewers sell themselves and the job to me. If I can do that then it changes the whole perspective on the interview (at least for me) and makes me 120% more comfortable. You can do this by asking questions like “What is the team environment like?”, “What would you say is the best thing about working for your company?” etc. Remember, this might not be the job for you (and that’s totally fine because you deserve the job that suits you) so now is the time to figure that out.

4. Be Prepared

Take some of Scar’s advice (but not all of it ’cause that feline was crazy mad) and be prepared for the interview, know what to expect. This might involve *actually* reading the job description (which I really hope I’m not the only person to forget to do), going online and looking up example questions, asking the interviewer in advance what types of questions they generally base their interview off (e.g. behavioural in which case practise makes perfect). I like to brainstorm things like the skills I have that are most relevant to the role and how I can make sure they come up enough. Do your homework so that you leave knowing you gave it your best shot.

5. Don’t take it too seriously

I am without a doubt one of the worst people in terms of freaking out over job interviews. Meet me half an hour before my interview and I will be shaky, sweaty, unsettled, hyperventilating, sculling coffees, stress eating chocolate and may have most likely lost the ability to speak English properly. Only extremely recently have I somewhat improved on this front and this is due largely to just looking at the interview not as a life/death situation but simply an opportunity to grow and develop, even if its just in becoming slightly less nervous next time. We all know job hunting can be one of the worst experiences, but try to approach each interview as a chance to become even more amazing at showing people how great you are, and as a bonus you might even get a job. If you don’t (and boy have I experienced that feeling..a lot) its not because you are a terrible person, its not because you went to shake their hand and then suddenly forgot how that worked, its not because you were too nervous to speak in full sentences. It’s because it wasn’t the job for you, and that’s okay.

  
I still have so much more to learn in terms of becoming less of a nervous wreck during interviews, so please let me know what you find most useful and what tips you have picked up!

 

Taking that first step, starting out small

Starting out small my foxy corner

So it’s been a little while since I devoted some time to writing and posting and staying connected online. It was a needed break as I have been struggling lately, with my health, with my stress levels at work, with trying to live a somewhat balanced life.

One thing that I keep having to remind myself is that I am in control. When I let my health beat me down, its my own responsibility because of the way I haven’t been taking care of myself. When I let myself become overwhelmed by stress, its because I haven’t made my mental health a priority. When I fail at living a balanced life its because I haven’t put in the effort. It becomes so much easier to blame my issues on things outside of my control, but if I continue like that then it puts me in a position where I feel as though I don’t have the power to change my situation.

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Phew, so what I am trying to say is that I want to try and take more control over my everyday experience of life. Be more mindful of each moment, be more wary of commitments and making sure I have time for myself. Surrounding myself with those that bring happiness to my life and to some degree, trying to remove the negative influences in my life (be them internal or external). I feel like we could all do with a reminder like this sometimes, which is why I decided to ramble on about it here (sorrynotsorry).

My first area that I want to start focusing on and taking small steps to improve is my physical health. This has such a big impact on all the other realms of my life and I know from that one time many years ago where I somewhat successfully actually took care of my body, that this can make big changes in things like my mental health and overall wellbeing.

Making physical health a priority is one of those things that should never have slipped off my radar, if my body isn’t functioning properly how can I expect everything else to run smoothly. Getting sick frequently, being overweight, feeling unfit and sore are all things that are a constant battle for me and yet I haven’t put the effort in to improve the situation.

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The key for me is to start small and make sustainable choices so below are 5 (hopefully manageable) goals that I will be focusing on for improving health and fitness. Next time I check in i’ll give you guys an update on how I am going and what I have struggled with.

  1. Use that gym membership to get to the gym 3 times a week, even if its only for half an hour
  2. Start having a proper breakfast with a protein fuelled smoothie (and occasionally try and make it green)
  3. Develop a better sleep cycle and aim for at least 7 hours a night (put your damn phone out of reach!)
  4. Start utilising the stairs at work instead of making the elevator awkward by trying not to make eye or skin contact with anyone
  5. Be more mindful of what I am using to fuel my body (chocolate is one source of fuel but perhaps consider some other options as well)

My last leaving thought is something that has helped me in putting the effort to be healthier into perspective; instead of seeing things like eating healthy or exercising as a chore or an impossible task that inevitably ends with a wine of glass and far too much pizza, I am trying to see it as a reward to myself, keeping in the front of my mind the feeling of being healthier and fitter and ultimately happier. By trying to create positive associations, like how happy I feel after a good workout or how satisfied I am after putting effort into a delicious vegetarian meal, I find it easier to motivate myself to make the changes. Hopefully this helps me in being more successful in looking after myself, but i’ll let you know!

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Let me know if you have any small goals that help you focus on improving your health and wellbeing, I’d love any tips or advice on how to make health more of a priority.

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Friday’s Letters: Consciously Existing

Dear Friday: It feels like you were a long time coming but now you’re here and I am so glad. So. Glad.

Dear Madmen: Thank you for being a new show to occupy the late hours of the night. I love your 60s outfits and loathe your outdated attitudes. It was fun. See you for round 2.

Dear Laura: Just a reminder that you are an amazing person with so many possibilities open to you right now. Let your heart lead the way because whatever you do will be fantastic, but you deserve to do what makes you happy. Thank you for being an incredible friend.

Dear Chinoiserie: You do the best darn food and are unfortunately just walking distance away. Dangerous. So, so dangerous.

Dear New Car: I thought there would be a transition period where we got to know each other but you are already the highlight of my day. Is that sad? Probably, but your new car smell and comfortable driving make me happy. Its the little (but still really expensive) things.

Dear Merlin: You grow so big everyday but your still my little baby. Your tail is as fluffy as a possum and your paws are ridiculous. You make me and Edd the happiest fur parents, especially when you keep trying to make friends with the neighbourhood cats who have no time for you. Keep trying, your optimism in the face of such blatant dislike gives me hope in my own social life.

Dear Stressful yet Satisfying Job Interview: Finally an interview that I aced instead of screwing up with nerves. Apparently being too sick to be totally in control of your mind does wonders for coming across as relaxed when you are usually the total opposite. It was nice to see that practice really does help in the world of not crying all over potential employers.

Dear Edd: Congrats on getting your license! Although I have loved being sober driver for a rather long time, I do look forward to now being able to drink as many margaritas as I can handle before you take me home.

Dear Self: I think this week we learnt two really awesome and important lessons, even if there was a bit of pain and unhappiness in getting there. Firstly, no one needs to be involved with high-school dramas. The moment I realised that it was my choice to let immaturity affect me was the moment I was free. Free to be happy and surround myself with the positivity the radiates from so many of the awesome people in my life. Secondly, self-care. Don’t let yourself be second to everything else. When my body decided it had had enough of not being looked after I felt the consequences. In order to be effective in life and productive in what you do, you have to make sure that you are happy and healthy. Lesson learnt, now I am just working on the ways to ensure my relationship with myself can be prioritised.

Friday's Letters

50 Random Facts About Me

I have loved reading this tag all over the blogging and youtube community and after being tagged by Laura I couldn’t wait to do it myself. I was expecting to find this a struggle and it almost worries me how easy it was. Too easy. Oh well, hope you enjoy learning more than a few pointless facts about yours truly.

  1. I have two big obsessions (probably more but two is enough to disclose for now): tea and nail polish. it can be a little ridiculous actually.
  2. I’m a Pisces and live up to quite a lot of the typical traits.
  3. My favourite flowers are hydrangeas, forget-me nots and peonies.

    I love Hydrangeas so much that they were a big part of my wedding!

    I love Hydrangeas so much that they were a big part of my wedding!

  4. My favourite colour is periwinkle blue
  5. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1st Jan 2014 and have loved making the change.
  6. I would love to go vegan but I also love cheese. So for now, no deal.
  7. I’m not a morning person (but would love to be). Instead I stay up all night reading pointless things on the internet when I should be sleeping.
  8. I find doing dishes super relaxing but I really hate vacuuming (no one said these facts were going to be interesting).
  9. I have pretty bad asthma and have to take my inhaler where ever I go.
  10. I also have eczema and hayfever/allergies.
  11. You probably had no idea, but my favourite animals are foxes, followed very closely by cats.
  12. I love churches as well as other religious buildings and could spend my life wandering from one peaceful building to the next. Something about their history and their stories as well as the effort that goes into them, whether its the art or the architecture or just the overall sense of spirit.
  13. I really hate asparagus and asparagus rolls are my idea of hell on earth (I’m really sorry Nana).
  14. Baking is one of my favourite things to do but I take any cooking failures extremely personally so the whole thing can be a bit love-hate.
  15. For 3 years I lived in Sydney, Australia and was lucky enough to call Manly Beach home. It’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to go back some time soon.

    Manly was one of those places almost too beautiful to ever appreciate properly. Image Credit

    Manly was one of those places almost too beautiful to ever appreciate properly. Image Credit

  16. I try to use contact lenses but ultimately I’m too lazy and cbf putting them in every morning. Also my nails make taking them out even worse then trying to force them on my eyeballs. Its a mission that I just don’t care enough to bother with.
  17. My parents divorced when I was one year old and I find it super weird to think of my mum and dad together.
  18. I have always wanted to write fiction and I really hope that one day I can motivate myself to do so.
  19. Coke over pepsi. Always.
  20. I am extremely clumsy and always have been. I would always come home looking like I had been in a fight but it was usually just a fight between me and the concrete floor (or a glass door).
  21. When I was a child I wanted to open up an animal shelter in my home and even had drawn out floor plans of how it would all work in a giant house I was somehow going to obtain. It was a little strange but the good intent was there.
  22. I’m a terrible gambler. Don’t take me to the casino because we will all end up regretting it.
  23. I make daily to-do lists to help my chaotic mind in order. It works, sometimes.
  24. My favourite holiday is Christmas and it makes me go a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. Bonus fact – my favourite Christmas movie is Elf.
  25. If I had to choose one makeup item to use forever it would be a lipstick. I love bold bright colours, but if I could only have one it would by Ruby Woo by MAC.
  26. My favourite ice cream flavour it orange chocolate chip. Hands down, for life. Summer in a cone.
  27. I have a terrible tendency to sign up to things for free trials and then end up signed up for life because I am too lazy to figure out how to terminate my subscriptions.
  28. I played the flute throughout Intermediate and High School but am now trying to learn the guitar. Its not going so great.
  29. My favourite family summer spot is Hot Water Beach on the coromandel (as well as nearby Hahei). Its our yearly family getaway and I couldn’t choose anywhere better.
  30. The first chapter book I ever read was Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox.
  31. I am yet another art history nerd and my favourite artist is J.M.W Turner (but there are so many who I love).

    Turner

    The Slave Ship by J.M.W Turner, and the first piece of his that I came across.

  32. I would love to work with kids, either as a teacher or psychologist.
  33. I have been married for two years and been with my husband since I was in 5th form (around 9 years ago).
  34. I’m allergic to seafood but the allergy only developed around 4 years ago (I didn’t even know that was possible).
  35. America’s next top model is my guilty pleasure and I have watched every single episode, sometimes twice. It’s not something I’m proud of.
  36. I have two fox soft toys. One is 20 years old (Cedric) and the other is 1 year old (Basil).
  37. Sticky date pudding is the best desert ever (especially when smothered in caramel sauce), closely followed by creme brûlée.
  38. My favourite comfort food is a big steaming bowl of tomato pasta covered in cheese. All of the cheese.
  39. Merlin is my furbaby. We adopted him on 1 Jan this year and he’s now 5 months old. Feast your eyes on his cuteness, you know you want to.

    50 random things about me

    I cannot deal with his cuteness.

  40. Dual citizen, woo! (NZ and Australia)
  41. I am not a sports person in general but love watching tennis and would love to learn to play but am too uncoordinated to ever be any good.
  42. I don’t like white chocolate (except for Milky Bars, cause there is something special about those). Don’t even get me started on white chocolate brownies.
  43. My favourite word is Echo and I have no idea why.
  44. My favourite movies are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Fall. Don’t make me choose.

    The cinematography of The Fall is indescribable.

    The cinematography of The Fall is indescribable.

  45. I’m also a sucker for disney movies (Disney night anyone?) with my favourite being Beauty and the Beast.
  46. I have a Bachelor of Science (majors in Psychology and Biology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Major in Art History). I really want to go back and do more (but without the poor student..)
  47. I hated blue cheese for most of my life but in the last year or two have realised how it is actually the BEST CHEESE EVER.
  48. I had a big crush on Elijah Wood when Lord of the Rings came out (and I was around 12/13). Like an obsessive crush. Creepy level crush. I even had a movie cut out of him (its super weird, I’m so sorry).
  49. I’m not the best with crowds. Sometimes I’m late to work because I try and avoid the crowded elevators and end up letting several go up before eventually getting in and trying to hold by breath for 7 floors. Its weird (a lot of my facts seem to be weird, I should probably have chosen more carefully).
  50. I spent ages trying to come up with a fact good enough to finish on and found it the hardest part of the entire tag. Does that count as a fact? It does now.

I’m probably the last person to do this but if you haven’t yet, then I tag you! Go forth and share 50 random facts that are probably a little too revealing about how strange you are as a person (you did such a great job of hiding it up until now).

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