Bring Spring into Your Home and Spirit

Bring Spring into Your Home and Spirit

The calendar says it’s spring today. The heaping mounds of snow sitting outside my window demonstrate differently, but I won’t let that stop me from letting spring into my soul.

By birth, I am a winter baby, but I absolutely hate the cold, dreary days of winter. Nothing brings me greater joy than to sit out on my front porch with a favorite book, a tall glass of ice-cold unsweetened lemon tea, and of course, my Don’t Bug Me spray.  But until the weather decides to catch up with the calendar, I have to bring spring into my home and spirit.

Bringing Spring into Your Home

The first spring steps I take are a little cliche, but it truly helps me to find peace and sanctity: Spring Cleaning. Frank and I go through all of our closets and fill up bags of clothes to donate to our local veterans association.

We do a deep clean of all the nooks and crannies of the house – you know, the parts that go ignored (for us, that’s behind the fridge and the coat closet). We always find an inordinate amount of plastic bags stuffed in the coat closet and we make it our point to repurpose them. We use them as shipping stuffing, a way to store our gloves and hats, whatever we can figure out, but we never throw them into the garbage.

I clean up all of our winter candles and store them away, then bring out the spring candles! My personal spring favorites are Weekend Getaway and After the Rain. I love evoking the scents of freshness and renewal for spring, and those two particular candles remind me of some of my favorite moments.

I try to start changing my diet. With the warmer weather, some of my favorite fruits and vegetables come back into season. I do my best to buy farm-fresh and locally-sourced produce, so I take advantage of this time to stock up on what’s in season.

Bring Spring into Your Spirit

Spring is a time for renewal, so instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I look at this time of year as the time when I actually make commitments to betterment. This year’s goal is to make time for a walk every day. What I’ve learned is to not make lofty goals that I can’t commit to (like five miles a day), but once this snow melts, I will absolutely get out there and walk, especially through nature.

Since I teach English, I am always immersed in books, but they’re usually books I’ve read before but rereading to gain a better perspective on teaching. This spring, why not join me in picking up any book for pure enjoyment? I especially love series because this allows me to get completely enraptured into a new universe and commit myself to characters – I’m open to suggestions!

I like to change up the fragrances of my soap for the spring, as well. What brings me true moments of spring joy are clean, bright scents, such as Balance, and soothing scents, like Cuddly Blankets.

Spring as a State of Mind

In whatever way you choose to embrace and celebrate spring, remember it’s all about your state of mind. That means releasing negative energy, waking up each day with a positive outlook, and reminding yourself to find gratitude. Let go of what you cannot control and work to make small positive changes every day.

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Take a Moment to Slow Down

Take a Moment to Slow Down

I work two full-time jobs and one part-time job. For most of my life, I have thrived on deadlines and pressure. I unintentionally built my reputation around my ability to get-the-job-done. When someone wanted it done precisely and fast, I was called in. I took great pride in this acknowledgment but after nearly twenty years of this pressure, I learned one major lesson: You need to slow it down.

In 2011, I went on a two-week exchange with my students to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. As I was running around trying to keep itineraries, passports, visas, and everything else organized, I stopped into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee to grab and go. There were no to-go cups. I was initially annoyed, but I looked around and noticed people sipping their coffee and chatting; only one person had a laptop and a few were just reading. Having a cup of coffee in Moscow is not a jolt to get you rushing through your day, it’s a way to bond with your friends or to meditate.

When did we all get so busy? Between work, school, families, and everything in between, it’s easy, but isn’t it a tad ironic that the technologies of today that have made multi-tasking so much easier have somehow made us so much busier? I have to set a reminder on my phone to remind me to slow it down.

What’s key about taking a moment to slow down extends far beyond the physical benefits of reducing stress into mental well-being. As I started to learn to manage my time better, I started adopting new mantras. After a large event, instead of allowing the stress of all the minor issues to overwhelm me, I would simply laugh: “Hey, nobody died.” Success. Before beginning an overflowing to-do list, I ask myself: “What will explode if I don’t get this done today?” Granted, my mantras are a bit maudlin, but you get the point: it’s all about perspective.

There are simple changes you can make in your life to take a moment to slow down. Here are a few ideas to start with:

  • Take your lunch break. It’s included in your day for a moment of respite. Relaxed and rested workers are more effective. You will be better if you give yourself these 30-60 minutes just to eat your lunch.
  • Pick a time to log-off. This means everything from email to social media. Only answer your phone if you have to. Unwind by shutting down.
  • If possible, try walking to work. If not, park a little farther or get off the bus/train a stop earlier and use that walk as some time for just you and your mind.
  • Take an actual coffee break. Follow suit with the Europeans and go sip your coffee in a real mug in a coffee shop.
  • Set a real bedtime and stick to it.
  • Skip out on some activities that feel more like obligations. Saying no is slowing down.

What are some suggestions you have to rest easy and take a moment to slow down?

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Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Short List of Influential Women

March is Women’s History Month and I am especially proud to celebrate this month as a woman entrepreneur. Women have made incredible strides over the course of history, despite the continuous influence of global misogyny and patriarchy. Fighting our way to every career path, showing our strength, intellect, and fortitude, we have not allowed stereotypes to make us culpable. As William Shakespeare (one of my favorite feminists) writes in Much Ado About Nothing, women continue to “have patience and endure.” Yes, we endure because we

Yes, we endure because we have always needed to. We are resilient. I am constantly in awe of the women around me, but that is for a different post in this series of celebrating women. Today’s post is going to focus on women in history who have influenced my growth and perception of women. A list, in no particular order:

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Medusa – While Medusa is a Greek mythological character, I cannot think of a greater example of historical misogyny and misrepresentation. Medusa was originally one of Athena’s virginal high priestesses, blessed with incredible beauty. Poseidon was enamored with her beauty and though Medusa took her virginal vow to Athena, Poseidon raped her anyway, disregarding Medusa’s vow and Athena’s “ownership” of Medusa (Medusa was not a slave; she was a priestess by choice). Athena was incredibly jealous after the rape and punished Medusa by turning her into the monster everyone understands as the Gorgon. Forced into isolation, Medusa was unable to control her ability to turn people to stone as she traveled to isolate herself. Raped because of her beauty, punished for her rape, isolated for her punishment, Medusa is one of the most misunderstood women in (mythological) history.

Henrietta Lacks – Thanks to the incredible scientific memoir by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksI was able to learn about the invaluable contribution of Henrietta Lacks to the modern scientific community. Now known as the HeLa Cell, Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells were the only known human cells the actually live and duplicate outside of the human body, allowing for the creation of numerous vaccines and the unveiling of disease. Though she never lived to see her gifts to modern science, she will, as Skloot beautifully phrases it, forever be immortalized through her undying cells.

 

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Image from Amazon.com

 

Billie Holiday – Known for her haunting voice and contribution to the blues, Billie Holiday stands out as an influential woman far more than her gifts to music. She was also a fierce advocate for Black rights, singing the ever-famous song, “Strange Fruit,” which highlights the pain and degradation of the lynchings of the Jim Crow era of a vicious country who refused to accept Civil Rights. Her advocacy came from her personal pain, as her father was hit by a car and left dying in the street because he was a Black man. While she struggled, and eventually could not overcome her own demons, the power of her music and the lyrics still transcend time.

 

 

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Image from Biography.com

J.K. Rowling – The phenomenal author of the Harry Potter series is one of the greatest stories of following your dreams. Always wanting to be an author, and struggling financially, Rowling sold the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for a meager advance of $3,000 after numerous rejections. Well, as we all know now, there is faith in following your heart, dreams, and literature, as Harry Potter is not only a common household name, but taught in universities worldwide.

This list is truly meager compared to the number of women in history who have influenced me, and I almost feel selfish for needing to publish this post without mentioning at least a few more: Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Bessie Smith, and Marie Curie. It’s not about politics, but about fervor, dedication, and refusal to allow the stereotype to hold them down.  Cheers to women!

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A Mantra Moment: You Are Enough

A Mantra Moment: You Are Enough

I sincerely believe the universe listens to us. Whether this intervention is cosmic or divine, maybe both, I don’t know, but over time, I have realized that somehow we are given the right messages at the exact moments we need them if we just listen.

In the last week, the mantra “You Are Enough” happened to arise from two of my favorite bloggers. Donna DeRosa wrote about it in her recent blog, “A Love Letter to You,” and Dr. Sharon McLaughlin launched a new motivational workout line through her Healthstreet Journal blog which shared the same sentiment.

When I initially thought about the idea, I honestly just dismissed it as a nice motivational concept. “You Are Enough,” I thought, what a great way to get people to feel good about complacency…but Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” continued to resonate in my mind: “That’s just not the way the world is, baby.” You Are Enough could never apply to me.

I am never enough. I am always just too fat, just short of a real promotion, missing one great moment to create a deep friendship, a few sales behind being profitable; I am always one broken something behind stasis. I push, I strive, I try, but I am never enough. Yet, what a beautiful mantra it is, I still thought.

Then, as I was driving home tonight, staring at the bright lights of my beautiful big New York City, one of my favorite songs pops on my playlist, “Live Like a Warrior” by Matisyahu. There’s one particular line in that song which deeply resonates with me. He says, “Today live like you wanna, let yesterday burn and throw it in a fire – live like a warrior.”

In ancient Greek mythology, the Phoenix is a fire bird which lives for an indeterminate number of years until it has fulfilled its purpose, and once it has, it burns itself up in a fire, and from its own ashes, it is reborn. The Phoenix understands that it is enough. That we must throw the mistakes of our yesterdays into a fire to be reborn.

I realized today that You Are Enough is I Am Enough because I was misunderstanding the purpose of the concept all along. It’s not about achieving stasis. It’s about accepting and respecting our climb. And the line I had forgotten in Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones” is “Why won’t you love me for who I am, where I am?” You see, You Are Enough is us appreciating who and what we are right here and right now.

And you know what, you are enough, and so am I.

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A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Moments

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Pick up your cell phone and scroll through the pictures. You’ll find your pets, your kids, your selfies, your friends, your family, more selfies, some incredulous screen shots of “I can’t believe its.” What if you could relive each of those moments through scent? Capturing moments through scent has always been our passion, and now we’ve teamed up with Bryan Maes of Inspiration Studios to enliven our fragrances with gorgeous photography. We invite you to take a journey through beautiful moments and read the stories of our main candle collection.

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After the Rain – “Aroma Spa” Scented Soy Candle

 It is only through the struggles of life that we can find and appreciate the beauty. Even through the darkest, stormiest of days – after the rain, there is the hope of a beautiful rainbow.

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Beach Bumming – “Sun, Sand, and Sea Mist” Scented Soy Candle

We all long for the lazy days of lounging on a beautiful beach. The smell of salt, our feet in the sand, and the essence of sunscreen all mix together to remind us to just take a moment to relax and be a beach bum.

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It’s 5:00 Somewhere – “Pina Colada Scented” Soy Candle

You’re working late. You’re making final edits, crunching numbers, grading papers, saving lives, changing diapers, whatever you do. You look up at your clock and realize it’s not even time to take lunch yet. The good news – It’s 5:00 Somewhere! This candle is a reminder that you always deserve a moment for you.

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Summer Break – “Ocean Mist” Scented Soy Candle

Born from the joyous moment of the last day of school, when it’s just you up against your choice of time, summer break is the moment of pure freedom. Whether it means  going for a run through a park, or finding yourself gazing across the waters at the lighthouse, summer break is purely and simply free from responsibility.

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Unstressed – “Lavender & Chamomile” Scented Soy Candle

The pressures of life can be overwhelming. The greatest authors of our time have always taught us to return to nature to find our peace and calm. Walking through fields of lavender and chamomile, we imagine a moment of absolute soothing and relaxation, a moment where we can truly unwind and become unstressed.

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Weekend Getaway – “Lavender & Sandalwood” Scented Soy Candle

There is nothing simultaneously more exciting and relaxing than a weekend getaway. Combining the moments of fun on the Tilt-a-Whirl with the soothing fragrances of lavender and sandalwood, the moment when you finally have a chance to be absolutely carefree and whisk away into a land of adventure.


Every moment deserves its own story and we’re always open to hearing yours. Please share a perfect moment below, and hey, you may just become our next candle or soap!

Understanding the Value in Little Moments

In Anne Rice’s Interview With the VampireLouis, the self-loathing vampire narrator states: “What does it mean to die when you can live until the end of the world?” He hauntingly echoes the same nihilistic voice of the omniscient Dragon in John Gardner’s Grendel who eventually tells Grendel that all life is pointless so he might as well just “find a pile of gold and sit on it.” 

Our 85 (or so) years of life is an infancy against infinity. The great irony of humanity is that our very delicacy, mortality, impermanence is a gift. The problem is most of us never understand it that way. We spend our lives trying to immortalize ourselves – wishing we could live forever, cursing away our beautiful wrinkles, the candles on our birthday cakes when we should be treasuring our time. Immortality is the curse – Louis sees it, the Dragon sees it; when you can see it all, there is no point, but when you see a distinct ending, suddenly everything gains meaning.

It’s easy to fall into a wave of sadness and loneliness, allowing the tides of responsibility and tedium to bombard your existence. Who doesn’t want to throw their cares to the wind and walk away from it all sometimes? In the end, it’s all meaningless, the Dragon would say. In 100 years no one will remember your anger, your disappointment over an injustice you face; in a thousand years, the hundred will become even more meaningless.

The value comes in understanding the little moments. Appreciating art, laughing with your children, having your pets greet you at the door, dinner with your family, wine with your friends, morning coffee with your co-workers, these little moments are what create a life. We are finite, we are mortal, we are limited, and this is the absolute value.

If we only have 85 years, then every year is precious and every moment matters. Our sadness, our injustices, all of it matters because in ten years we are wiser, stronger and we can pass on our understanding. We can love and forgive because we understand that there will be an end. When it feels like everything is pointless, and we all feel that way at some time, is the exact moment we need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and realize we (quite literally) do not have enough time to be apathetic. Be angry, scream, yell, cry, yes – love, lounge, fawn, pander even, but never apathy.

Life is simply too short to waste a moment. The world is too wrapped up in scandal and sensationalism they forgot the value in stopping to smell the roses, in stopping to scents the moment.

Artisan Entrepreneur of the Year 2016

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When I opened up my little online shop just 18 short months ago, I never imagined what we would grow into. What began as a hobby and a dream sparked into a full-time business. With no background in business, I studied and learned from the entrepreneurs before me and combined with a will and drive to succeed, I turned Bath Body Candle Moments into a local brand.

Running a business, especially from the ground up, without any knowledge base, is incredibly challenging. I went through some major pitfalls. Yes, I lost money and time, but I gained knowledge and wisdom by listening. Instead of quitting, I chose to evolve.

 

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I could never have received the honor of Artisan Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 without these major shifts:

  • Studying from brilliant entrepreneurs who offered meaningful, insightful, invaluable feedback – Donna Marie Johnson of Indie Business Network
  • Investing in a website designer who was knowledgeable and a visionary – Dean Pagliaro of eCommerceDean.
  • Investing in product photography with a talented photographer with an eye for branding – Bryan Maes of Inspiration Studios.
  • Being coachable and learning how to blog – Donna DeRosa of Donna DeRosa Coaching

Above all, I am humbled by my customers. My customers who not only show me such love and gratitude but who go above and beyond by sharing my products and sharing our story.

The categories I was honored in are: artisan products, community engagement and customer service, inspired storytelling, and website user experience.

I chose to make the products we offer because I know the value of the little moments of living add up to a life – a life worth living. I knew I could make something that would benefit and save the lives of animals instead of testing on them or using them as experiments. I learned how blogging about our business and offering up my knowledge to the world could help make someone else’s life better. What I didn’t realize was how many of you were watching and listening.

There are no better words to show my gratitude for your vote of confidence than simply thank you.

Thank you for believing in me, in my vision, in my artwork. Thank you for sharing in my mistakes, celebrating my joys, and sticking with me through it all. Thank you for your dedication to a cruelty-free and empty-shelter world. Thank you for giving me purpose. 

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Make it a Girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day celebrates love, romance, and all the feel-goods of being in a relationship. But there are so many more relationships to celebrate than just the romantic ones! Some of the most powerful relationships we develop in our lives are the ones with our girlfriends. These are the people we rely on to gripe, to celebrate, to share secrets, to seek advice, and so much more. In this blog post, I will offer you some ideas to turn this Valentine’s Day into a Girlfriend’s Day!

  1. Send your best girlfriend a Valentine’s Day card. A simple sentiment letting your best girl know how much she means to you. Write an anecdote about a shared moment that made you both laugh your socks off.
  2. Have a dinner party where your girlfriends all come over to cook together, or each one brings a specialty dish. Get a bottle of wine (or more) and celebrate each other’s company. Turn the moments of cooking and sharing into another lasting memory.
  3. Host a shopping party with us! You get to spend time with all of your favorite girlfriends while earning rewards. You can try products, share, laugh, and create moments of joy! Have friends across the country? Have a Facebook party and bond with all of your friends no matter where they are.
  4. Go to a Paint Night together. These are SO much fun! You get to learn how to paint, show off your skills, have a drink, be creative, and best of all, spend time with your girlfriends.
  5. Do a secret gift swap! You can use a cool program like DrawNames.com to create a secret gift exchange. Then set a limit, like $20-$30, and send your secret friend a Valentine’s Day gift that you design to make her day brighter.
  6. Make a book club together. With the use of Facebook groups, it’s so easy to create a group that all of your girlfriends can join. Pick a book that you’ll all read together, set a deadline, and have discussions in the group about what you’re reading together. You can use the group on Valentine’s Day to chat about the book! Better yet, you can hop on Facebook Live to chat about it.

What moments can you create to make a perfect Valentine’s Day Girlfriend’s Day?

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Beating the Winter Blues – Tips from a Social Worker

Beating the Winter Blues - Tips from a Social Worker

January is known to be one of the most depressing months of the year. It can also be one of the most stressful. Holidays are over yet their bills are arriving as family is departing. Summer vacation seems far away. The days are darker longer and the weather isn’t as inviting.

How do you beat the winter blues and the feelings that accompany them?

  • Call someone. As the old saying goes “reach out and touch someone!” During the winter months, we are disconnected from outdoor activities. The temperatures keep us indoors and wanting to stay under the covers. If you are feeling blue, call/text a friend or a relative. Make plans to go out to a coffee shop, a local theater, or even to each other’s home. Not near someone- use Facetime! Facebook messenger also allows you to see each other through their app.
  • Exercise. There are so many excuses we can make during the winter not to exercise. Our normal weather routines are disrupted but you can beat the blues by moving around. Exercise helps to release endorphins which assist with mood. Have steps in the house? Use them more. Have an elevator at work? Use the stairs. Use canned goods as weights. Whatever you choose to do- do it!
  • Explore. Use this time to do things you may not do during the summer because it is too hot. Go to a museum. Take in a show. Check out local event/coupon sites for indoor events to check out.
  • Get some sun! Going out into the sunlight for a few minutes a day can help to boost a low mood. Bundle up – put some gloves, a scarf and a warm hat on and face the sun!
  • Keep your schedule. Do not stray from your routine. Get in your recommended amount of sleep per night.
  • Meditate. Take some time to be mindful of your surroundings to find peace. Relax by breathing deeply, lighting a candle, or even taking a bubble bath, as long as you clear your mind off your worries and focus on what brings you serenity and gratitude.

These tips can help to boost a low mood. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or another mental illness speak up. Let them know there is help available. Speaking with a therapist or psychiatrist can be an option. Speak with a doctor first before trying any medication.

Guest Blogger

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Jacqueline Baumann, Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) who specializes in Mental Health

Switching to Natural Deodorant

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Why make the switch to natural deodorant?
Over the last few years, there have been articles in the press and on social media which links antiperspirant to cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. While there has not been conclusive evidence that proves this is true, there is some evidence of this reality. According to the National Cancer Institute:

Findings from a different study examining the frequency of underarm shaving and antiperspirant/deodorant use among 437 breast cancer survivors were released in 2003 (7). This study found that the age of breast cancer diagnosis was significantly earlier in women who used these products and shaved their underarms more frequently…While these results suggest that underarm shaving with the use of antiperspirants/deodorants may be related to breast cancer, it does not demonstrate a conclusive link between these underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer.

According to WebMD:

Scientists noticed that dialysis patients who had these high aluminum levels were more likely to develop dementia. As a result, the FDA requires antiperspirant labels to carry a warning that reads, “Ask a doctor before use if you have kidney disease.”

While there is still much research that needs to be done, it’s obvious why so many people are looking to switch to natural deodorant – there simply is not enough conclusive evidence to completely rule out the possible links of aluminum and parabens with breast cancer and dementia.

Making the switch
If you’ve been wearing antiperspirant for most of your life, there are some steps you need to take to make transitioning to natural deodorant easier.

Unlike traditional antiperspirants, our It’s the Pits! deodorant does not contain any aluminum or other sweat-blocking ingredients. Your body will have the ability to do what it’s made for…sweat.  Sweat alone doesn’t smell. Sweat is mostly comprised of water and salt.

What does make us smell is bacteria. We naturally have bacteria on our skin, and when that mixes with sweat, we stink…and well, we think that’s the pits! Which is why our deodorant comes with natural probiotics. Probiotics are considered to be the “good bacteria,” which help to stave off the bacteria that makes us stink.

If you’re switching to natural deodorant for the first time, you may experience this discomfort in the first week or so:

  • Your body adjusting to being able to sweat again.
  • Swollen underarm glands.
  • Underarm odor in the first few days.
  • Itchy, dry underarm skin.

What you can do to keep your underarms in tip-top shape:

  • Wash your underarms thoroughly. Use an exfoliating soap to help wash away the dead skin (which often holds in bacteria).
  • Give your underarms a pH balance with a mix of water and apple cider vinegar. You can spritz this on, or use a cotton ball. It’s best to do this before applying your deodorant and after your underarms are dry.
  • Make sure your underarms are completely dry before applying deodorant.
  • Moisturize your underarms after exfoliating.
  • Give your body time to absorb the deodorant by rubbing it into the skin. (This will also help prevent white stains on your shirt.)
  • Feel free to carry the deodorant with you and reapply during the day, as needed.

Purchase It’s the Pits! Natural Deodorant

We would love to hear about your transition to natural deodorant. Please comment below!

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