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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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mental health

Thursday Love: At Capacity

Good Morning, Family!

This morning, my spirit was full… of crap.

I felt the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders. People arguing about masks, vaccinations, federal vs. state rights, and other issues can sometimes seep into my pores and steam under my skin. Add being empathic into that mix and it can generate a whirlwind in my chest that is difficult to dissipate. Hearing and seeing the discord can make me Godly angry, then exhausted.

This morning, I noticed my internal engines revving. No, it wasn’t because of a news story or something I read. It was residue from a conversation about current events that I witnessed.

Wow… you’re really drinking your own Kool-Aid, I said to myself as words flew between the people involved. Then I thought again, as I have many times this year, if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be one now. Where’s the compassion? Disappointment and grief fused my lips together as I tried my best not to hear the conversation. Bible verses that distinctly tell us how to handle disagreements and how to love one another beyond our comfort zones swirled in my head like bullets ready to be fired from my mouth. I drove home shaking my head and apparently fertilizing my heart because that thing had germinated in my spirit enough that it was sprouting leaves into today and that made me angrier. Robbing me of my brand new day was unacceptable and it felt like a cactus that wouldn’t stop growing inside my belly.

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

So, what do you do when you’re at capacity with current events? When you feel like you can’t hear or see another thing before exploding? When you’re trying to see how God fits in all this mess? Great question. I’ve had to figure out a few tactics myself to keep me from spiraling. As I learn, I share, so maybe these will help you too!

First

On the way to work this morning, I vented to God about it. No filter. If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know real prayers are a huge part of my faith walk. What good is it to serve someone you can’t be honest with? *shrugs* So, that’s what I did. I shared my disgust, my anger, my frustration with the One who holds my heart. Feel free to do the same; He can take it.

Second

I said the following personal mantras aloud:

I can not control everything.

People will do what they want to do.

This is just a season and seasons do change. (You can thank my mom for that one.)

I don’t have to let it in.

Third

I cleansed my spiritual palate with a musical reminder that I am finite and can not hold the world’s problems inside of me. I am not designed to be the host of high stress. Soothing sounds were needed to help me throttle down, so I played How Deeply I Need You by Shekinah Glory… more than once. It’s one of my go-to songs when I don’t know what to do.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Lastly…

I made a mental list of people that show their love by respecting me. When I closed my eyes, I could see them one-by-one. I imagined them hugging me as I took deep breaths into a further state of calm. With that list, I was reminding my spirit that those high-strung people – although God loves them still – are not in my circle. They do not hold power or influence over my life. I have an excellent tribe that I value and those individuals that I saw were a temporary stop along my life’s journey. They do not get to change the molecular structure of my day or my spirit. I am loved. I am cherished. I am respected. I do not have to be loved, cherished, or respected by them. It does not elevate my value.

After a couple of hours, I was back to baseline. I could feel my skin again instead of wanting to jump out of it. I could breathe easier.

I encourage you to gather your own “emergency response” ritual in case you need it and before it sneaks up on you at the grocery store or around your family. Chop down the bad growth before the cactus within gets out of control. It’s not worth it… because after you’re dead, the foolishness will continue without missing a beat. So, don’t miss your life because it. *reminding myself too*

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love y’all and stay well!

Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

Wednesday Wind Down: A is for Advocate – PART 2

Happy Thursday, Family!

Since last week’s post, I have spoken to 10 people about self-advocacy – some strangers and some within my circle – and I don’t think this is by accident at all.

What I’ve realized is that humans (including myself) are willing to put up with abusive behavior from all angles. When we think of abuse, we often imagine physical turmoil, but it has many forms. By a singular person or by collective experience, we allow a cycle of abuse acceptance.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Pexels.com

When you’re a Christian, this cycle has multiple rings like an old tree. We are told that there is no glory without suffering, and while that is true in some capacities (just think of an athlete training for the Olympics), it should not be the soundtrack for our daily lives. We tell ourselves a lie that the more suffering, the closer to God we are and that being meek and humble means not being assertive. This loop of lies causes us not to self-advocate when needed and so the cycle of abuse acceptance continues. In essence, we abuse ourselves. I’m not talking about letting something slide for your peace of mind’s sake. I’m referring to always placing yourself in 2nd place or even worse, at the back of the line.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Here’s a recent example –

A health provider presented appointment time options. I wanted the 10:30 AM appointment, but I have a client that usually books a noon session. Now, the client’s session was not on the calendar yet, but my first inclination was to schedule the health appointment around the possible session. A few seconds after the thought leaped from my lips, I stopped the cycle. I confirmed the shift with a verbal affirmation. “I am important enough to be on my calendar. Please put me down for the 10:30 appointment. Anyone booking me will have to catch me after that time.” I blocked the 12:00 hour in my booking software to provide the necessary space. She nodded her head and proceeded to schedule me. I needed to do that… for me, for my heart, for my mental health, for my spirit. I needed to remind myself that my health was the priority instead of making myself available for something that may not happen.

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

That’s why some of these posts have been on Thursdays lately. I had to ingest my own wisdom when I’m too exhausted to post quality thoughts. I have to say, “Pushing through this moment will not yield the best of me. I need to go to bed.” So, instead of beating myself up about missing a Wednesday, I relinquish my pride and go to sleep. Why? Because Jesus snatched solitude when He needed too (Mark 1:35). He paused and prayed to refuel his spirit (Luke 5:15-16). He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. *insert record scratch here* Let me say that again – He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. He knew there was a divine appointment that would need all of his focus and he geared up for it along the way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Self-advocacy preserves us for our purpose. It allows the mind, body, and spirit to be healthy enough to do exceptional things and have beautiful moments with others. It is not selfish when it is in your best interest. This is why the backlash against Naomi Osaka does not surprise me. We celebrate exertion over well-being. We would rather look good than be well. We prefer to say “If you can’t handle the pressure, change jobs.” instead of saying “I respect your decision. How can I support you?” We perpetuate the cycle of abuse acceptance both inside and outside of ourselves and that is by design. I believe evil forces seek to stress and tire you out before your divine appointments arrive. So, when it’s time to activate the excellence within you, you’re depleted. Well, I’m on a mission to change that for myself.

My prayer for you, Family, is that you join me in making small changes in your schedule… small changes with your interactions… small changes in your workplace. Ask God to show you what you need to function optimally and I guarantee He will show you. I am a witness of this truth. He cares about our earthen vessels and I care about you too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Unpack the Bag

Hey, Family!

Here’s a short shop for your week!

You know how society stresses the importance of securing the bag? If you’ve never heard of this colloquialism, it means to take advantage of a financial opportunity, obtain the funds, snatch the coins… you get the drift.

Well, for some of us, I say it’s time to unpack the bag. *raising my hand too*

I’ve been undergoing this uncomfortable adventure with my therapist recently. As faith-filled as we may be, there’s a bag of stuff that we keep tucked away or in my case, that we never knew existed.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

So, how does a Christian begin the process of unpacking an emotional suitcase? First, you need two guides – The Holy Spirit and a professional counselor/therapist. If you’re new here, welcome to my blend. I’m an avid advocate for mental health and I believe God gifted persons with the ability to help us navigate difficult waters. If you need a starting point, let me know. I have a list of exceptional professionals that can either help you directly or refer you to someone who can.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

As you find a match for your wellness needs and prepare for the journey, here are three things to remember –

  1. Remember you serve a God who cares.
    • WORD: Psalm 147:3 NLT – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
    • NOTE: Whatever the weight, He can handle it. Start unloading.
  2. Remember you are an exceptional creation.
    • WORD: Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.”
    • NOTE: Your baggage doesn’t change who you are.
  3. Remember freedom is yours.
    • WORD: Psalm 34:14 NLT – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
    • NOTE: You do not have to live in your baggage. The suitcase is not your home. You can be freed.

Family, don’t forget you are not alone and you have everything it takes to begin the journey. I pray you have the courage to take the first steps necessary toward a healthier you. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening to my under-500-word Tiny Desk Ted Talk! *lol*

Wednesday Wind Down: Self-care

Good Morning, Sweethearts.

Serendipity entitled this post because that is what happened unexpectedly last Wednesday evening. I’m convinced that I fell asleep in nanoseconds.

After an insightful yet sensitive roundtable about race relations and current events, my social self smiled and exhaled in another healthy example of communication. It went well but unbeknownst to me, my introverted self was on a timer and she didn’t power down.

She plummeted.

God kept my drowsy eyes open until I made it home. As soon as I clumsily unlocked the door, I immediately pulled my shoes off like I was allergic to their soles and I fell face first into the couch. I remember this moment. I remember my body sinking into the cushions. Then, I remember waking up… without talking to you. I told myself “They’ll understand” and I went back to sleep. It was by far the best sleep I had experienced in weeks.

So, where does that leave you? It made me want to share four personal tips I use to keep myself grounded. Mind you, it doesn’t mean I am oblivious to what is going on (you can tell that from my other posts). It means that I’ve learned how to ground myself so I am not easily tossed to and fro in the tsunami of social media, industry standards, personal relationships, health issues, and anything else that can throw a dodgeball at me. Check out these four things I do on a regular basis.

My Self-Care Regulars

1) I massage my feet before bed every night. As a teaching/performing artist, my feet are my carriers. Not only are my pedicures non-negotiable, but my feet take so much impact in a day that showing them some love is not an option. Peppermint oil lotion or epsom salt lotion have been my besties before bed. It is also a reminder to be grateful to God for body to do such wonderful things.

2) When weather permits, I comb my fro outside. There’s nothing like a breeze channeling through my scalp. It’s like Moses and the children of Israel walking on dry land after the parting of the Red Sea (only my “land” is moisturized). Liberation meets my comb with every stroke of the wrist. I love smiling at the sky and taking deep breaths until all sections are untangled. I meditate and soak in the beauty of nature.

Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

3) I treat myself to a solo lunch/dinner/treat every 2 weeks. I started this tradition as a collegiate intern and it stuck with me. Actually, it was how I deepened my relationship with Christ. Nowadays, I don’t have as much expendable income of course, but the self-love gesture continues. While eating alone can be debilitating for some people, I cherish it. I can journal if I feel like it, enjoy a nice view, or listen to some tunes and dance in my seat while waiting for my meal — all without talking to anyone (which can be refreshing for someone who has to talk for a living).

4) I allow myself to daydream for 5 minutes when I’ve had a difficult day. Yep, you heard me. I daydream. It’s pretty healthy for the brain and it was the only pin in my sanity on many o’ days. What do I daydream about? Well, aside from fairytale romances, I love to watch myself at the beach enjoying the warm ocean water or snuggling in clean crisp sheets at an exceptional hotel. I’ve even daydreamed about being home in bed. Do whatever works to make it therapeutic just be sure to set an alarm in case you fall asleep.

I hope this helps, Sweethearts. If not, here’s a bonus — turn off the television for a bit. It’s OK to give your senses a break. There’s a lot going on in the world and we’re going to be here for a while. It would be wise to find something that works for you and make it a habit. Your interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions depend on it.

Peace & Thanks for listening. What is one of your self-care regulars?

Wednesday Wind Down: Help Wanted

Hi, Sweethearts!

I have a quick stop for your week.

Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it?

Now, before you respond with hearty yes, take a minute a think about your answer.

Help sounds heroic, urgent, even sexy. We revel in being the helper. I’ve seen pre-Kindergarteners fight over who would help the teacher and adults battle in a boardroom to supply the solution. We like to help, at least most of us do. Sometimes this heroic (or altruistic) gesture comes with a price. We end up being horrible at accepting help when it’s our turn. I heard a preacher say once – everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in need of one.

Fast forward to the next dot on this shortstop — What do you do when you need help? And I mean, you know you need it, but being in the mess feels good. It feels cozy. Comforting. Familiar. You may start to indulge in thoughts that keep you bound in the mess… recounting the past or imagining a future that may never arrive. Next thing you know, the thought clouds pass and there you are… still captive in the muddy mess. Let’s go practical.

Rom 13.14
Courtesy of YouVersion

In order to wrap yourself in the presence of Jesus instead of marinating in the warm, cozy mess, you have to accept help. Your heart has to be open enough to receive it. This sounds easy, but it can be difficult to release what feeds our monsters. When we do, the presence of Jesus creates a new blanket for us to curl up in. The downside? We can sometimes use our faith as an excuse not to seek help.

So, whether it is gluttony via extra trips to fridge or lack of self-control by mismanaging your funds, you need help and it’s up to you to accept it.

It’s mental health awareness month, so there are professionals available to help you through the rough patches. I have a shortlist of counselors/therapists I can share if you need a starting point; just private message or email me and I will send it to you. After all, God made therapists too. That’s a form of help you may be avoiding. That’s a healthy journey to receive the peace of Jesus’s presence in your life.

So, I’ll circle back to the beginning — Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it? What do you do when you need it? 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Slumber

Well, Sweethearts… I have a confession to share.

I’ve been sleeping pretty well and not at all — and it’s been great. Let me explain.

You already know that I’m a night owl. That’s when my creative juices come out and play.  Sometimes their stride can generate a supernatural momentum, so much so that the sun and I say hello the next day. When that happens, I don’t just get a lot done; I am infused with energy to execute the plan laid out before me.  If there are obstacles in my way like a bunch of linebackers, I feel inoculated against them and empowered to run them right over. Lately, this is how those sleepless nights have been.

woman in black overall lying down on wooden dock
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

Then, there’s the flip. Aside from a few not-so-great health days, my sleep has been sound. Ridiculously sound. It doesn’t hurt that my work commutes have stopped under quarantine, so that created a lot of room for naps as needed. For someone who usually spends 4-5 hours a day in a car, those naps have been golden.

I remember a season when this wasn’t the case. I used to have repetitive nightmares of various kinds. They would feel so real that I would delay going to bed. I would tire myself out in hopes that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I felt tormented instead of settled at sundown. Then, this verse changed the game.

1587611324558_verse_image.jpg

I realized had control over my rejuvenation. The tumultuous overnights were actually an evil scheme against my productivity and my Peace. So, I took my sleep back. I quoted that verse every night before I went to bed. More than once if necessary (which was often).

My encouragement to you is that you re-possess your rest. When you sleep well, your body rebuilds. Your mental prowess increases. You power up to be a better version of yourself. Now, you can see why it was such a perfect plan… to steal something that would enhance your God-given awesomeness. Don’t let it happen especially in this season. You deserve to be your best self, so do what it takes. Speak with Word over your rest.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Here’s to those sweet dreams too.

Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂

Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.

Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.

One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –

  1. Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
  2. Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
  3. Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
  4. Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you

Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Regroup You

In The Valve, I described what it felt like to reach a pressure point. Tonight, Sweetheart, I’m going to give you some practical tips to regroup after you’ve emptied out. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but the more you do it, the easier you can reach for it when you need it.

  1. Remember who you are, not what you feel. I read Bible verses that remind me of whom I belong. I may feel like crap or be treated like it in a situation, but how I feel doesn’t reprogram the Truth of who I am. What I feel is valid; however, I have to live like I’m still wearing a crown. If you need suggestions, here are a few.jeremiah 31-3
    Song of Solomon 4-7
  2. Write it out. If you’re like me, sometimes (who am I kidding… most times) I don’t feel like talking when I need to do so. On most occasions, instead of venting to a friend, I’ll release it on the page. I have cheap notebooks and fancy journals — it doesn’t matter. A page is a page. The beauty of writing is that it’s between you and you. Sometimes I talk to God through the pen and by the end of the sequence, His spirit has answered my questions.
  3. Be still. When was the last time you paid attention to your breath and heartbeat? One of the most valuable lessons I learned in college was how to stop for a few minutes to check-in with myself. Each heartbeat is a blessing. Each breath is a beauty. If you have a high-energy personality, set a timer for 15 seconds. Put your hand over your heart and focus on it. Tune everything else out. After a few days, try 30 seconds. Work your way up to 5 minutes. You can say truthful sayings or Bible verses between exhales or stay silent. This practice saved me on many lunch breaks so I could return to work in a calmer state of mind.
  4. Solo jam. – If you know me personally, you know that music runs through my veins. Another way I fill up is to jam to some favorite songs. I could be driving, standing in a check-out line, walking, or in my kitchen. The location is irrelevant. If you have a friend that can jam it out with you — even better.

beautiful-cellphone-cute-761963
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

So, if you see me out and about and I’m bobbin’ my head and snapping my fingers, you know what’s up. Ask me what I’m listening to and join in. lol

Peace & Thanks for listening! Regroup you!

Featured Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

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