Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Because I am moving in a few short weeks, I’ve been spending some of my free time (actually, most of my time – what do you expect – I don’t have a job?!) going through all of my belongings deciding what stays, what goes, and what becomes one with the landfill (or recycling plant for all my “green” friends out there). I often tear out magazine and newspaper articles that I come across and want to read but just don’t have the time to focus on at the moment. I tear them out, throw out (recycle!) the remainder magazines and/or newspapers, and store the clippings in safe keeping for a future read-a-thon. During my read-a-thons, I fish out the folder(s) full of all my “save for later” articles and begin reading – my mind clear and ready to absorb the information – so I can eventually recycle those articles as well and replenish my “save for later” folder with new and up-do-date information. This past Saturday night, I turned off the T.V, grabbed some jelly beans (okay, so they aren’t really necessary for the read-a-thon, but they make it that much better in the end), cleaned off my glasses, and prepared myself for an all night article fest.

I scoured numerous articles I had saved on politics, health issues, fitness, etc., and I learned how to adequately care for sweaters, remove red wine stains, and perform a proper standing lunge. Yes, all very useful information, but the one article I came across that really resonated with me and made me feel inspired and uplifted was entitled “Habits of Happy Women” that I tore out of a past issue of SELF magazine. This article encourages readers to “find a serene spot, pull out a pen, and list your never-fail pleasures, no matter how goofy or self-indulgent they sound,” because, sometimes, happiness is hard to get a hold of and we all need a few guaranteed tactics to make us feel better and feel happier when times are rough. So, I suggest we all listen to SELF and start jotting down and acting upon the fool-proof ways that individually lift our spirits. Or, take the advice of the women interviewed in the article (I listed out 10 of the top suggestions) and try out their happy habits (or similar ones!) to see if they work for you. I also added one of my own and hope you will add your favorite as well to share with all of the blog readers. Now,read on, start writing, and get ready to start smiling! 🙂

Photograph something every day:

“Four years ago, I started carting my camera everywhere and taking one photo a day. Sure, I have a lot of pictures of flowers or strangers in the laundry room of my apartment building, but I also have snapshots of my sister’s baby, friends’ weddings, sailing in St. Vincent and people who have come in and out of my life that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t captured them on film. When I sit down and look through my albums – another ritual in and of itself – I realize that even though I complain about my life at times, there are many reasons to be happy.”

Connect with your crew:

“The spring after my father died, I felt the need to strengthen my bonds with friends. So I organized a ‘Women I Love’ lunch as a way to boost my spirits. I invited all my friends over, we ate takeout, and one by one, I stood behind each woman and explained why I loved her. At the end of the afternoon, my friends all said, ‘You have to do this next year!’ and an annual tradition was born.”

Rock out:

“Whenever I need a lift, I get in the car, turn up my radio and sing at the top of my lungs. I may look foolish to the people in the next lane, but I’ll never see them again, so who cares?”

Be Hallmark happy:

“I love browsing in stationery stores. Typically, I’ll buy 10 or 15 funny cards all at once, stamp them, then toss them in my purse. That way, when I have a minute here or there – standing in line, waiting at the doctor – I’ll write a ‘thinking of you’ note to a friend and send it off. It gives me a good feeling knowing that they’ll have a pleasant surprise waiting for them in their mailbox.”

Enjoy a creative moment:

“When I was in Venice, I bought a leather journal that I now carry with me everywhere.l When I need an escape or just want to record a beautiful scene, I fill the pages with words or drawings. I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve seen and heard. It keeps me linked to places I care about.”

Write a chain letter:

“After college, six of my best friends and I started a circle letter. The first person on the list writes a letter and sends it to the next person in the chain; she then adds her own letter and a treasure or two, and sends everything to the third, and so on. When it’s my turn, I put all my responsibilities on hold, curl up on the couch and sift through the photos, letters and clippings. It’s one of my favorite ways to reconnect.”

Get out the Kleenex:

“A couple of times a year I watch really sad movies, like When a Man Loves a Woman, by myself. I start crying, then I remember that this isn’t my real life and I feel better! It’s sort of reverse psychology.”

Eat like a queen:

“When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of marking our accomplishments by having the person of the hour eat off a red plate. So when I got engaged, my parents gave my fiance and me our own red plate. It reminds me how easy it is to make someone feel special. We use it to acknowledge things like finishing our taxes or getting a raise. When our puppy graduated from obedience school, he even got to eat off the red plate!”

Do something girly:

“Getting my nails done always turns my bad moods around. I usually manage to visit the salon once a week, which makes me feel in control of my otherwise hectic life. The flip side is that if my nails look scraggly, I know I need to slow down.”

Take the plunge:

“I live close to the ocean, so when I return home from work in the evenings, I like to walk by the beach, regardless of the season. If the temperature allows, I take a swim and ride some waves. When no one’s around, I may even skinny-dip. Being in the surf always makes the world melt away.”

My own fool-proof way to lift my spirits:

“I climb into some comfy clothes, turn off my phone, pop some popcorn or scoop out some ice-cream, sprawl out on the couch and watch an hour of hilarious Will and Grace, Friends, or The Office reruns. I push my ‘To-Do’ list out of sight and push anxiety and worry out of mind and, instead, zone in on the hilarious hi-jinks of Jack and Karen, Chandler and Joey, or Jim and Dwight. No matter how blue I am, I can’t help but laugh at a good joke :)”


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Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day – marking 65 years since Auschwitz, the abhorrent death camp where more than 1 million people were slaughtered, was liberated by Soviet troops. More than 6 million Jews and millions of others were tortured, enslaved, starved, beaten, and mercilessly killed during the Holocaust; and today, we honor all those persons who lost their lives as well as those persons who were fortunate enough to survive the horror. I am of Russian decent on my father’s side of the family and come from a long line of strong and courageous Jewish men and women. I have distant relatives who died during the Holocaust, and every time I look at the intricate family tree that my great aunt created for my father and see “dec. Holocaust” next to the names of some of my family members, I observe a moment of silence and pray to God for the peace, acceptance, and understanding this world needs so badly.

Since I was a little girl, I have so admired Anne Frank and her positive attitude and sunny disposition despite the circumstances she was forced to live in. At the young age of 13, Anne and her family hid in a secret annex attached to her father’s office in order to escape deportation to Nazi death camps. Two years after going into hiding, Anne’s family was discovered, and all the persons in the annex were eventually shipped to concentration camps. At age 15, Anne lost her life from Typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only a few weeks prior to its liberation by British troops. Long after her death, Anne will always be remembered, because the world has been so blessed with the chance to read her diary – a chance to experience her strength and optimism during the worst time in her life. Anne Frank is a true inspiration to all of us, and today, I want to share with you some of my favorite quotes from her diary. The beyond-her-years wisdom she had as a young teenager will never be forgotten.

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

“We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.”

“And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world.”

Today, in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, please take a moment to remember all those persons who were killed and those that survived during this disgusting atrocity on one group of people by another group of people. We all can use a reminder of what happens when racism, prejudice, and hatred run rampant – and often go unnoticed.

Anne Frank: 1929 - 1945

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Yesterday, my wonderful friend Keeli (whom I miss dearly, because she has been living in Seattle for a year-and-a-half now – I think she got stuck on the Space Needle and just hasn’t been able to get down…it’s my only justification for my constant state of dissaray as I anxiously anticipate my next dose of ‘Kee Kee’ 😉 ) sent me an email entitled “Handbook 2010.” Keeli knows me oh too well as she so poignantly stated in her personalized note: “This is right up your ally! :)” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I find immense inspiration in quotes and axioms – a few short, too-the-point words can put your whole life in perspective (and they are easy to remember – always a plus!). So when Keeli sent along these “instructions for life,” I immediately reveled in their wisdom and felt a new sense of hope for this upcoming year. We may already be halfway into the first month of 2010, but it’s never too late to start a resolution or to change your life for the better. You can find inspiration in a variety of forms – in a child’s smile, a good cup of coffee, an early morning sunrise, a refreshing walk, a motivational sermon, and the list goes on and on. I hope you’ll find some sort of inspiration and unending hope for the year ahead in the words signified below; remember – “We are made wise not be the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility of our future” (George Bernard Shaw).

***I bolded my favorite lines that have provided me with much-needed inspiration and/or are words I strongly believe in, and I also provided a little life instruction of my own for #40 – Enjoy!

Handbook 2010:

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

11. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts on things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive, present moment.
13. Don’t overdo it. Know and keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day, give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of  6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
34. GOD heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
37. Always remember that the best is yet to come.
38. When you wake up alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.
39. Your innermost being is always happy. So, be happy.

40. If you are touched by these words, share them with someone you care about – always spread love and fill other’s hearts with joy as often as you can. MAKE yourself a better person by just BEING a better person and be ready to relish in the unremitting happiness that follows.

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For as long as I can remember, my mother has always clipped newspaper and magazine articles, printed out internet stories, or photocopied book pages containing information she wants to share with her family and friends. She often sneaks an inspirational or informational article into a birthday card she sends or with a package containing the items I had left at home on my last visit (I think my belongings have made a game out of taking turns crawling out of my suitcase before I depart back to Atlanta…). Nonetheless, I am my mother’s child, so I, inadvertently, engage in this same sort of behavior. My desk drawer is full of newspaper clippings and torn-out magazine pages with stories I want to share with others (hence, the main reason I created this blog – to share these types of uplifting stories with you 🙂 ) and articles I refer back to when I’m in need of a dose of inspiration.

One morning, a few days before Christmas, as my sister, brother-in-law,  and I sipped coffee and munched on granola, fruit, and yogurt, at my mother’s house in Roanoke, my mom pulled out a large, folded piece of paper  and asked my brother-in-law to read its content aloud. She had, of course, come across the story in a newspaper a few months prior and had saved it for us to read. The Hospital Window was so inspirational that I asked my mother if I could bring the article back to Atlanta to share with you (Luckily, it was not one of the belongings that crawled out of my suitcase this past trip…). I hope it is as thought-provoking, inspirational, and encouraging to you as it was to me.

The Hospital Window:

Two elderly men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and their favorite vacation spots.

And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Day and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the job of seeing it for himself.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a bland wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside the window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

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Meet Moses, the “divine” bovine that has stirred up all kinds of talk in the small town of Sterling, Connecticut. Notice anything unique about him???

No, it’s not that his ears are different sizes. Guess again.

What? Are you kidding me? His eyes aren’t any further apart than most other calves. Look a little closer this time…maybe this angle will help:

Yup – you finally got it! Moses proudly displays a white cross on his head signifying that he may, in fact, be a cow sent from Heaven! Moses, the son of Fuzzy and Ferdinand, who have reputations on Brad Davis’ and Megan Johnson’s Buttercup Farm as being exceptionally friendly animals, may quite possibly be the first divine cow on the planet. Davis’ 70 year-old father, Andrew Gallup Davis, says he’s never seen a pattern like the one on Moses on any of the thousand of calves he’s encountered in his lifetime. “It’s not one you look at and you try to make something out of it,” he said. It’s pronounced.” Brad Davis believes the unique marking on the baby calf may be a message from God but he isn’t quite sure what the message may be. Nonetheless, both Davis and Johnson ensured  Moses’ followers that that the calf will live a long, happy life and will not be eaten. I concur. This is one cow that actually may be too “divine” to eat (Yes, pun very much intended).

So what are your thoughts? Do you think Moses, with his special birthmark, is a sign from God? Whatever your sentiments are on this cute, little creature, I think Moses is here to remind us that we can find inspiration in the smallest of places. We just have to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to all the inspiration that surrounds us, waiting to be discovered. So…put yourself out there, and get a “MOO”ve on finding your next bit of inspiration! (Yes, once again, the insertion of this pun was definitely on purpose… 😉 ).

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The summer before I graduated college, I volunteered at an AIDS clinic in Athens, GA answering phones, creating information pamphlets, scheduling appointments, etc. Much of my time was spent uploading survey responses and test diagnoses into a computer database in order to track trends. As I read the multiple choice and “select all that apply” responses to basic questions about HIV and AIDS, I remember how shocked I felt upon discovering the large number of teenagers and adults who were so misinformed about the causes of HIV and the methods of transmission. Quite a few individuals actually thought you could become infected by sitting on a toilet seat or sharing an eating utensil that an infected person had used, and many respondents didn’t realize the infection could be passed in utero from mother to child. I will never forget those few surveys from the stack that were stamped “positive” – I couldn’t stop thinking how hearing those 8 letters – “positive” – would change those persons lives forever.

The summer prior to my summer at AIDS Athens, I spent some time in Nairobi, Kenya volunteering at a shelter for destitute orphans. These orphans had smiles as bright as the Christmas lights you adorned your houses with this past weekend, but many were silently suffering from HIV and AIDS without even knowing it. You can’t imagine the pain and anguish you feel when a beautiful two year-old baby girl with bloodshot eyes cries in your arms because she is in so much pain from a disease she was born into.

AIDS is not a “gay,” a “poor,” or an “African” person’s disease; it doesn’t discriminate and could care less whether you are black or white, rich or poor, young or old. If you don’t adequately protect yourself from its grip, it can affect you – yes, YOU. According to the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, the number of new HIV infections has declined each year (from 2001 – 2008) by about 17 percent; BUT, for every five people who are infected, only two start treatment. Furthermore, more than two million AIDS-related deaths were reported globally in 2008 and two million children under the age of 15 now live with HIV (World AIDS Campaign). In fact, around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35 (AVERT World AIDS Day). So in honor of World AIDS Day, take some time today to arm yourself with all the knowledge you can about HIV and AIDS so that you don’t ever become a “positive” statistic.

HIV and AIDS Resources:

AVERT HIV and AIDS Prevention


Women and HIV/AIDS Prevention

World AIDS Day 2009

Lastly, because this is an inspirational blog, I want to share an uplifting article with you about a group of strong, inspirational Zimbabwe ladies who, instead of hiding from their HIV positive status and succumbing to its power, embrace their positive status and use it to help others like them who are scorned against and shunned because of the disease they all share. Although one in four persons in Epworth, one of the poorest towns in Zimbabwe,  have been diagnosed with HIV, the stigma against those with the infection is absolutely despicable. Infected women most often feel the brunt of this scorn and are usually kicked out of their houses – many times by the men who gave them the disease in the first place. To fight against this stigma, 14 HIV positive women united together and created a “football” team (“soccer” as Americans know it). These women sharpen their footwork and perfect their skills for up to two hours every day, and, each time they win a match, they march through the clinic where they are being treated, singing uplifting songs in order to inspire other HIV-infected people.

Joanna Stavropoulou, Communications Officer for humanitarian organization Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), learned about the Positive Ladies Soccer Club while she was based in Zimbabwe for two years. She directed a film about the ladies and their heroism and discussed her humbling experiences working with these women to CNN. If you want to learn more about these inspirational women, check out HIV Positive Soccer Team Scores Against Stigma as well as The Positive Ladies Soccer Club for more information on the movie.

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After my weekend full of wine, sushi, fried ice cream, nachos, Blue Moon, and PB&J, I decided it was time to hit the gym yesterday afternoon. I was sick of my usual Party in the USA Miley Cyrus pump-up hit (Who am I kidding??? No I wasn’t, but I did want a few other tunes to balance out my workout so I wouldn’t fall off the treadmill while ‘movin my hips like yeah…’). I downloaded Leona Lewis’s single, Happy, off of her new CD, Echo, which debuted last week. There are certain songs, like Miley Cyrus’s single I referred to earlier, that you just enjoy for the beat and the fun factor. But most of the songs that are on my timeless list of favorites, are songs I love because of the words, not just the sound.

Throughout my entire adolescence and into college, I expressed myself – my inner thoughts and feelings – through poetry. I have a binder chock full of my original poems that I still pull out from time-to-time when I’m in need of some passion and inspiration. I have always said that if my apartment was on fire and I could only grab three things (assuming all humans and pets were safe), my poetry book would nab a spot on the list. As dramatic as it sounds, leaving that book behind would be like leaving a part of my soul behind.

Because I have a fondness for writing poetry and representing my life through quotes, I have always listened intently to the words in music to gain inspiration. When a song resonates with me, I will listen to it over and over again, gleaning all the personal meaning I can from it. I may identify with the song differently each time I hear it – but if it’s truly poetry in music, I will connect to it in one way or another.

I’ve digressed, so let’s return to yesterday afternoon, where I sat cross-legged on the couch, propped up with my laptop, perusing the latest iTunes downloads. As I stated before, Leona Lewis’s new song made it to my “Workout” mix, and I headed to LA Fitness ready for a run. Before Happy made its way to the top of my playlist, I listened to some other random tunes (Shout out to Pink’s So What!), warming myself up to what would hopefully be a successful 3-mile run. About 12 minutes into my run, Happy finally came on; and I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but right as the chorus began, this surge of adrenaline overtook me and I felt so empowered, so motivated, so…happy. Lewis’s words, her voice, my mindset – it all just came together. I opened up my mind and heart and allowed her words to seep in, and with each note, I pumped my arms harder and harder, running faster and faster. All of a sudden, I began to grin from ear to ear, for no apparent reason. I just kept smiling and smiling and couldn’t stop. It felt great – much better than my usual gym scenario that I’ve described in previous posts (you know, where I’m slumped over the hamstrung machine dreaming of margaritas and cheese dip…). Yesterday, I completed a fantastic run and held high spirits for the rest of the day.

Songs really are just another form of poetry and can speak to us on a whole other level. I love that feeling of hearing a song and thinking it was created to mirror a time in your life or to echo your current situation. It just speaks to you, and the songs that really have an effect on us, are the ones whose power is unexplainable. So today, I want to share the words of Leona Lewis’s song with you, and I hope that at least once a day, you find words in books, poetry, music, etc. that empower you; and that someday soon, you have a random smile moment on the treadmill, or wherever you may be – cause in the end, we’re all just “trying to be happy.” 🙂

Leona Lewis – Happy (I bolded the chorus – it’s my favorite part):

Someone once told me that you have to choose
What you win or lose
You can’t have everything

Don’t you take chances
You might feel the pain
Don’t you love in vain
’Cause love won’t set you free

I could stand by the side
And watch this life pass me by
So unhappy
But safe as could be

So what if it hurts me?
So what it I break down?
So what if this world just throws me off the edge,
My feet run out of ground
I gotta find my place
I wanna hear my sound
Don’t care about all the pain in front of me
Cause I’m just trying to be happy

Just wanna be happy, yeah

Holding on tightly
Just can’t let it go
Just trying to play my role
Slowly disappear, oh

But all these days
They feel like they’re the same
Just different faces
Different names
Get me out of here

But I can’t stand by your side
Oh no
And watch this life pass me by
Pass me by

So what if it hurts me?
So what if I break down?
So what if this world just throws me off the edge?
My feet run out of ground
I gotta find my place
I wanna hear my sound
Don’t care about all the pain in front of me
Cause I’m just trying to be happy

Oh, happy

So any it turns that I can’t see
Like I’m a stranger on this road
But don’t say victim
Don’t say anything

So what if it hurts me?
So what if I break down?
So what if this world just throws me off the edge
My feet run out of ground?
I gotta find my place
I wanna hear my sound
Don’t care about all the pain in front of me
I just wanna be happy
Oh yeah
I just wanna be
I just wanna be
Oh Happy.

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