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Retrieving grace and beauty


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I know that I am not the only board member that is struggling right now. 

 

My personal life has moved from one crisis to another in the past six months and I've realized that most days pass in a blur without my seeing them or savoring them.

 

What do you personally do to retrieve some grace and beauty for your life?

 

Do you have favorite books, poems, or movies?

 

I know many of you are of deep faith, that is not my path currently, but I am always open to spiritual passages of various traditions - those of beauty or comfort.

 

Do you have photos of peaceful places that you are willing to share?

 

Do you have daily routines that are restorative?

 

I used to journal in the morning and found that books like Simple Abundance were often a positive starting point.

 

It's been so long since I have read something inspiring. Now it's just my teacher training materials.

 

Peace to you all.

 

 

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Lisa, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I would like to say that I easily found grace and beauty in some really low times, but it isn't that easy. I had a period of about two years where I couldn't get my head above water without something pushing it back down.  I was drowning, grasping for air and surviving was a task. For me, taking the time to sit outside and have my coffee was helpful (on days when the weather was amiable).  Prayer was a great source of strength sometimes and sometimes I just couldn't pray and that was ok.  I think that God gives grace for those times.  But during times like these...the best grace is the grace that you give yourself.  Give yourself space to mourn, space to grieve, space to just...be.  Don't push yourself or let others push you back into the routine when you aren't ready.  Don't tell yourself that you "need to get it together".  No, no you don't.  Allow yourself to grieve.   :grouphug:

 

 

ETA - what is therapeutic for you?  For me, gardening, hiking, being outdoors, listening to the birds sing...these are therapy.  For you that might be different?  I quit gardening at first, then I pushed myself back in and it was healing.

Edited by Attolia
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I meditate most days.  Usually I drop Hobbes at school and then have five minutes to sit in the car before walking into work.

 

I also pay attention to little birds.  Today, as I arrived at work, the shrub next to my car had a little robin perched in it.  I watched it for about ten seconds as Bach played on the radio.  I have a bird feeder outside the window of the passage that leads from my bedroom to the kitchen.  I try to pause there every morning for a few moments.

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I like to walk if the time of year is right.  I need woods or grades for that kind of walking, so it's not as easy in winter.

 

I like to attend sung Evensong too.  I don't try and pray or meditate really, just kind of settle and clear my mind.

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I know that I am not the only board member that is struggling right now. 

 

My personal life has moved from one crisis to another in the past six months and I've realized that most days pass in a blur without my seeing them or savoring them.

 

What do you personally do to retrieve some grace and beauty for your life?

 

Do you have favorite books, poems, or movies?

 

I know many of you are of deep faith, that is not my path currently, but I am always open to spiritual passages of various traditions - those of beauty or comfort.

 

Do you have photos of peaceful places that you are willing to share?

 

Do you have daily routines that are restorative?

 

I used to journal in the morning and found that books like Simple Abundance were often a positive starting point.

 

It's been so long since I have read something inspiring. Now it's just my teacher training materials.

 

Peace to you all.

 

 

I got nothing, but I did want to say I am sorry for what you are going through right now.

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I have 4 goals a day to help keep my sanity and challenge me physically, spiritually, mentally, etc.

 

1. Read one chapter of the New Testament a day in English and then listen to it in Spanish. Choose a key verse and write it down in my journal in both English and Spanish.

 

2. Walk/hike daily. Goal is 10,000 steps or at least 1 mile above normal activity....outside preferred but treadmill if needed.

 

3. Complete 1 short lesson in my Getting Started with Spanish book and do 2 units of Duolingo.

 

4. Read for pleasure and/or listen to an audio book for pleasure.

 

I am trying to maintain balance in the midst of great chaos.

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Letting go of the guilt of me time, and feeling it is okay to just drive the baby in the car til she falls asleep, and then sit in a parking lot and read a fun novel. While drinking coffee - often coffee I paid too much for :)

 

Purposely setting aside time to relax, vs letting that time be taken up by forums, quick chores, whatever. It's much more relaxing to admit "I'm going to sit for an hour and just be" rather than pretending I'm going to get busy in a  few minutes and then not doing it. 

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I hear you.  It seems as if more and more, people are pressed to their (apparent) limits, only to be pressed further.

 

There are a couple of ways I can make my days better, if I will do it:

 

- Starting the day off with a lot of water with fresh lemon juice and my daily medications and supplements.  More often than not, I go right to coffee, delay or skip altogether my pills, and that just sets a bad tone for the day.

 

- Bible reading, in particular the psalms.  Not all of the Bible is uplifting and cheerful, so if I am going through systematically and am in a difficult part, I commit to one chapter a day, plus one psalm a day.  I know that's not your thing, but maybe you can find some sort of devotional-type book that is not Christian/religious, with uplifting readings to remind  you that all is not wrong with the world.

 

- Taking some time to read fiction. Even just a little bit.  Right now all I want to do is curl up and read as an escape from the world.  Not possible!  But even a chapter a day of something I like helps. Listening to audio books while I work helps me keep my thoughts from spiraling into catastrophe.  

 

:grouphug:

 

 

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I’ve been reading my bible for about 10 minutes every morning, I’ve been writing in my journal, and I’ve been trying to walk for 30 minutes a day. I’ve taken a couple for urban hikes too but I’m not cleared for exercise yet so I’m trying to take it easy.

 

As soon as I am cleared one of my friends has promised to go hiking with me so I’m not alone. She said she won’t talk unless I want to but will just be there because she knows I don’t particularly care for going on long hikes alone.

 

I’ve also allowed my good friends to bring us supper even though they don’t have to. They are grieving with me and want to do something.

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I’m sorry you’re going through this phase. Mine lasted 18 months and now, six months later, I’m finally feeling like I’m coming out of the fog. But I am still not back to normal and have to make sure I protect my time and emotions.

 

What helps me:

Time alone, listening to podcasts while working on the house or walking.

Time to do nothing for anyone else, which for me means reading, sewing, or watching Netflix.

Making meals I like- instead of making food everyone else likes, for lunch I make what I like. The rest of my family is old enough to feed themselves. I’m taking the time and spending the money to make delicious salads every day right now. An indulgence for sure.

When the weather is good, I am outside, gardening, walking, doing house repairs.

I keep a bullet journal - one of the pretty ones. I illustrate inspiring quotes, make pretty pages to track my spending, etc. I'm no artist but I’m taking the time to make it as pretty as I can. Gratitude pages, goals, funny sayings from the grandkids...all these things I reread when I need a pick me up.

 

I realize this is a lot of me time, but my kids are grown (though two are still living here) and I’ve got the time. Hope you can find one or two things that can help you through this. I was shocked at how hard it was for me to handle my stress, and also shocked at how long it’s taking me to recover from it.

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Be nice to yourself. Recognize you're going through a hard time and be as nice to yourself as you would to a friend going through the same thing.

 

I practice mindfulness. When things seem overwhelming and panic is knocking at my brain I remind myself that all I need to deal with is right now. This moment. Not the imaginary future.

 

I try to meditate. I'm not very good at it, but I try.

 

Square breathing

 

I try to walk the dog every day (weather permitting). Being outside a little bit every day helps.

 

Secular Buddhist philosophy has been tremendously helpful. I read about it as much as I can. I also have the Buddha quotes app on my phone. If the quote of the day isn't what I need then I scroll back through favorites and find one that resonates.

 

I've recently bought an adult coloring book and I'm finding that a very peaceful and rewarding activity. It's also a mindful activity for me.

 

:grouphug:

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I am sorry you are going through this. I sometimes struggle with the same thing.

What helps me is time in nature. Hiking, or just going for a walk if I cannot get out of town. For me, that works better than meditation or inspirational readings.

Hugs.

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I'm learning to meditate.  There are a number of techniques and philosophies of meditation out there, and I'm not familiar with all of them.  I'm doing mindfulness meditation, because that's what my therapist recommended for me.  She also recommended this book.  And you can purchase CD's or apps if you're interested.

 

Getting out into nature helps me as well.  A stroll where I make the decision in advance not to bring my iPod, and listen to what's going on around me instead, is very restorative.  I love watching the birds, or any other wildlife that I'm lucky enough to come across.  It always brings a smile to my face.  (Well, except for that time I got too close to a snake.  But once I was at a safe distance I was laughing hysterically at myself for my overreaction, so I guess it was still a win!)

 

:grouphug:

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I am sorry you are going through this. I sometimes struggle with the same thing.

What helps me is time in nature. Hiking, or just going for a walk if I cannot get out of town. For me, that works better than meditation or inspirational readings.

Hugs.

 

I also do a lot of thinking while I am walking. If you cannot walk for one reason or another, can you work out either at home or at a gym and establish a routine. In times of chaos and uncertainty, routines are the antidote.

 

In your situation with recent bereavement, I would consciously find something beautiful or peaceful every day. It can be anything. It is a form of mindfulness that would benefit all of us but sometimes we tend to forget it.

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Actually, fancy coffee in general is beauty to me. Especially in a pretty mug or cup. Good tea as well, again with a cup that makes me happy.

 

Earlier, I replied with something similar to this, but deleted it because I wasn't sure it fit the question.

But now I'll chime back in:

 

I recently treated myself to a knock-off Keurig, and I'm finding such pleasure/satisfaction in the daily ritual of coffee. Coffee hits the senses (the smell, the flavor, the warmth).

 

Coffee is great, but I think the above is more about being intentional/mindful. Finding joy in small, everyday things. Finding comfort in ritual.

Edited by alisoncooks
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I try to find sanity in my chaos often. Meditation is ineffective for me as I am too restless with tons of thoughts intruding. I have lost my ability to read serious books because again, too many intruding thoughts (stressful life circumstances).

 

what helps me is to be out in the open - I head out for an hour and push myself to either walk briskly or run. It distracts me and being in the sunlight changes my mood dramatically. Like Laura, I like to watch squirrels and birds - they have a way of making my day better immediately. I also listen to a ton of classical music throughout the day - it is my oasis of sanity - I make playlists and have them playing all day in the background. I took up learning a musical instrument and I practice every day - it helps take my mind off other things. I don't have anything more than that to suggest. Sorry for what you are going through.

Edited by mathnerd
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I'm so sorry, hon.

 

I would say--make a list of what you have liked or enjoyed or loved in your whole life.

Pick one simple thing on the list, put it on your schedule even if it is two weeks out, and remember that it's there.  Sometimes just having one thing to look forward to is so helpful in the moment.

 

Also, this is the website of a friend of mine, with some great articles and videos on it:  http://nihalkaur.com/blog-recipes-for-full-potential.html

 

Also, I pray when I wake up in the middle of the night and am worrying.  Everything I worry about I pray about.  This is extremely helpful to me.  I feel like I'm putting it all in God's hands, plus I am getting something done instead of just laying there unable to sleep but unwilling to get up and wake someone else, and then usually I can get back to sleep at some point.  I know that is not your thing, and I don't mean to overstep, but if I didn't say that I wouldn't be being candid at all.

 

Likewise for this one--I read the Gospels.  I can picture this good, true Person walking around dispensing healing and good, idealistic teachings, and it is instructive AND helps me to be hopeful.

 

A big dose of actual sunshine, even if it's only on my face, is good.

 

I take methylated vitamins--prenatal gummies without iron.  After a couple of days I can usually feel this.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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A simple thing to bring some beauty is to buy a pretty bouquet of flowers. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but I have some from the grocery store on my table and they make me smile when I see them.

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I'm so sorry you are going through this, Lisa. :grouphug:

 

What usually works for me is to get outside of my mind a little bit. I head to the ocean if I can, if not, a hike in the forest. I stare into a fire. I try to keep up with volunteer commitments if I can, and forgive myself if it is too much. I listen to Mozart really, really, really loud. 

 

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Besides what’s already been suggested, some things that have helped me:

 

Crying can be very healthy when grieving because it helps to release stress chemicals.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201007/the-health-benefits-tears

 

Spending time with pets. They just seem to know when something is going on emotionally.

 

Lying on the floor with my feet on the couch listening to meditation music with headphones on.

 

Baths, being near water like creeks, ocean, lakes or ponds.

 

((((( )))))

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Do you work better with a bit of structure, or does that just make you rebellious.  :0)  (I'm having a similar discussion with a friend and this came up as part of our process...)

 

You are going through a lot right now...and have been.  (((S)))

 

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At the moment I am not seeing much grace and beauty in life at all.

 

I am trying the physical outlet- yesterday I chopped down a tree with a bow saw - today I will chop the branches off so I can drag it to the burning pile for winter burning.

 

Just realised that isn't adding any grace and beauty- but it helps to get completely exhausted, then you don't have to think.......................

 

life sucks and the older I get the more I realise how absolutely awful life really is 

Edited by Melissa in Australia
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I just want to thank you for this thread. I love the title, and I would have never thought of this concept or applying it to my life. But retrieving grace and beauty sounds so much better than just doing the next thing, or just surviving. And it's a good way to honor those you've lost. Thanks to everyone for chiming in with your contributions on what adds a little grace and beauty to your days.

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Your loss is so recent. The grace and beauty will come. Sometimes it will be fleeting, sometimes it will last longer. When we lost my son ten months ago I thought I would never feel joy again. Even looking into my new grandbaby's beautiful face only reminded me that I had just lost my first born (she was born 3 weeks after her uncle died). But eventually I could see the baby for herself and enjoy her laughter. It is a process. Grief is hard and it is slow swimming through the sludge of grief. Remember the joyful times of your life. Eventually the pain lessens and the beauty returns.

 

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Peace to you too, friend.

 

At one point I signed up for The Daily Good. It sends a daily email of stories that help restore my faith in the world. Periodically, I will go a long while without reading any Daily Good stories, but then I get into a mode of reading them regularly. Sometimes I also just have to shut off my info on all that is wrong with the world, too; in those times, I don’t pay too much attention to the news and I refrain from getting into debates and such things.

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At the moment I am not seeing much grace and beauty in life at all.

 

I am trying the physical outlet- yesterday I chopped down a tree with a bow saw - today I will chop the branches off so I can drag it to the burning pile for winter burning.

 

Just realised that isn't adding any grace and beauty- but it helps to get completely exhausted, then you don't have to think.......................

 

life sucks and the older I get the more I realise how absolutely awful life really is 

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

Melissa, I am so sorry. It is a difficult place to be and the older we get, it seems as though resiliency is in short supply.

 

Chopping down a tree with a bow saw and then chopping off the branches seems to me to be a fine example of grace and beauty. It's a suspended space in time where one is not sliding into "the darkness," or my new, preferred term courtesy of Dirty Ethel Rackam, "the pothole of despair." It is a small reprieve.

 

I hope you can find something in this thread that can bring you some peace or a few rays of sun.  

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I started a semi-bullet journal.  Not following all the rules, but writing down things that are special to me.  I have a section "what makes me happy", and I try to pay attention to things in the present more so I can write them down.  Also,. I really love to read, but found that the last few years I just blaze through books and then don't even remember half of them.  So I started writing a little something about the books I read (just the ones that made me happy or made me think).  Or even words or phrases that I liked.  Just because.... I like that.  And I had gotten where even books were not bringing me joy anymore, but this way they are again.

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I go skiing.

 

Winter Wonderland. Speeding along on the snow. Magical Frost-covered trees. Bunny tracks. Maybe even the occasional Lynx. It’s absolutely gorgeous and renews my enthusiasm for life.

 

This week I am in Dallas and clearly not skiing. However, they have this thing here called Sunshine, that I have not seen for months at home. I am recharging sitting on a balcony listening to fountains in the sunshine.

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It's small and silly, but I like looking at my Pinterest account. Sometimes the pics that make me happiest are of clothing and fashion ideas, sometimes it's those sped-up recipe videos of dessert-making, sometimes it's positive affirmations. I only look at things that are lovely in some way to me.

 

I also love to take long walks through my neighborhood. I enjoy watching the life happening all around me while I listen to music or an audio book. I try to pay close attention to my surroundings as I walk.

 

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When the weather is good I go sit beside a river or a lake. Usually I take along a notebook or more and I write whatever comes to mind. I usually come home with poetry.

Books with beautiful paintings make me feel at peace. I'm particularly fond of the Hudson River School art when I need to disappear in majestic and fantastic landscapes for a while.

 

ETA: I also took up watercolor painting about a year ago, I guess. I'm getting better at it. Whenever I'm stressed, I go paint. Even if I'm just mixing colors and trying to replicate a leaf or a petal or a shade of sky, I feel better when I paint.

Edited by Critterfixer
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I'm so sorry for your grief and other burdens. Mine are mostly repeats of others'. I like to be outside, especially around water. I'm not a strongly "outside" person, but it does feed my soul, especially if a river, lake, ocean, or stream is involved. Drinking a hot cup of tea or coffee while enjoying sitting outdoors is a plus. Fresh flowers. Reading the Psalms. Listening to Fernando Ortega (his music is so helpful to me when I am stressed). 

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I'm so sorry for what you have to bear right now.  

 

I've gone through a really difficult time when I couldn't think, I couldn't focus, I couldn't pray, I couldn't do anything except try and get through the day.  That didn't work very well!  But taking long walks in the sunshine, reading the Psalms, drinking good coffee, keeping up a journal, listening to pretty music -- well, I didn't have the heart to do any of those things.  Probably the first thing that helped, that brought me any peace at all, was the distraction of other people.  Forcing myself to get together with other people/friends/family.  (Even when I didn't want to.)  After that -- and this probably seems a little weird! -- reading biographies about people who have gone through horrible times but made it  through.  I read lots of books about WWI and WWII, the Holocaust, etc.  Besides the obvious reason of being inspired by people going through such terrible stuff and somehow staying hopeful, it also had the effect of making the world appear far bigger than my little bubble, and I needed to be reminded of that.  And it also reminded me that we're all in this together.  That was pretty powerful for me.

 

But after that, I felt like I had to start over with my inner-theology -- my reason for being alive.  I really felt like unless I had a better understanding of that, there was no way I'd see any kind of beauty in life again.  So I began reading lots of theology and philosophy.  I finally found a writer/theologian who I really connected with, who was able to make sense of everything, for me.  (That took several years!)  And that's what began turning everything around again for me, so that I really could see beauty and wonder and meaning and even humor again, and be grateful for every day and for being alive, and for being given the chance to experience life, even when it can be pretty tough and full of sadness with unexpected twists and turns! 

 

I wish for you much peace and beauty and grace!

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I got nothing, but I did want to say I am sorry for what you are going through right now.

 

Me too.  :( I've went through some rough spots in the past 3 years but my salvation has been God.  I am so sorry you are in a struggling place right now and I wish you peace and joy.  ((Hugs))

 

Coffee with an old friend?  

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First of all, :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

I binge read or binge favorite tv shows, usually with a glass of wine.

I don't know that it brings grace or beauty, but it works for me.

I often find peace in doing little things for other people, knitting a hat or a scarf or fingerless gloves to give out.  Knitting is soul soothing to me and, bonus, lessens the guilt of binge watching tv.

And oddly, the times I spend driving my daughter to school are some of the best moments of my day, they are happy and peaceful and loving.

I also love putting on a big pot of soup for the hordes of teens that show up every weekend.  Their appreciation of it makes me happy and I dearly love the sound of their laughter as they hang out here.

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:001_wub: Love to you all this morning.  Your responses have been soothing and helpful. I will come back this afternoon, as I have a few questions, but in the meantime,  :grouphug: .

 

I am taking my mom to her appointment with her pulmonologist. We have an uneasy relationship and I am anxious. the trip out also means maneuvering her oxygen tank. My fabulous SIL texted this morning with some good advice about recording the session so I could focus and not take notes. Also, that way Mom and I could not disagree about what was said.

 

My sister was a nurse and my mom's medical power of attorney. She either would have taken this appointment or we would have gone over it before and after. 

 

When my sister was in the hospital, I decided I wanted to paint her toes something outrageous just to get a response if she was able. My niece took off her mom's socks to display alternating pink and blue (like Easter eggs) toes in all their glory. Karen had beat me to the punch. This morning, I am going to Mom's appointment sporting pink and blue toes. I never paint my nails. The colors are "Teal the Cows Come Home," and "Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot!"  They make me laugh and cry, but give me a little more courage.

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During the worst times I try to find one tiny little thing to be grateful for - nothing is too silly if I feel genuine gratitude for it. A favorite shirt I'm wearing, running water, or a cute picture of a puppy or kitten I saw that day. Whatever works to help me appreciate at least some small aspect of life.

 

Like others have mentioned - time outside, time with other people, hugging pets, or finding some small act of kindness for someone else like buying a favorite treat, or giving a quick neck rub.

 

I also do tapping, meditation, and epsom salt baths - things where I can just be me and feel my feelings.

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It took me two years to find a new normal, Lisa.  Going to places I wouldn't normally visit, audiobooks while driving, flowers, music, just about everything everyone has already posted.  I realized I had turned a corner when I was able to do the things my sister and I did and loved together without falling apart.  It's going to happen for you, I promise.  It takes time, and just appreciate the little things that bring you brief moments of joy.  

 

Praying for you, and lots of hugs :grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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