The Truth About Lies

Truth and LiesLies come in all different shapes and sizes.  The more we tell them, the more difficult they become to distinguish from the truth.  People lie for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, they lie to try to avoid the pain of the truth.

The truth of the matter is that covering up or distorting the truth does not make it any less true.  Therefore, the pain remains; cloaked in a lie.

Recently I had someone very dear to me pass away quite suddenly.  She had been sick (emotionally) for many years and as the years progressed, so did her illness.  Finally, many years of self-denial later, push came to shove and God called her home to Heaven.

Not only did her years of self-denial not change the fact that she was sick, it made her problems even worse.  Her refusal to face the pain of dealing with her emotions was a choice that ultimately cost her her life.  That’s a really tough pill to swallow; but it’s the truth.

Make no mistake about it, lies do not prevent pain, they perpetuate it. Avoiding pain only serves to keep us further imprisoned in darkness.  Acknowledging pain removes the shroud of darkness and exposes it to the light, where it can be dealt with.  By bringing pain out in the open, we at least stand a chance.  But if we hide it in the darkness, we stand no chance at all.

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Hello 2015, Goodbye 2014

This morning as I awaken to a brand new year, I find myself humming the words to an old Beatles song, “Hello, Goodbye” – “You say goodbye and I say hello – hello, hello – I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello…”

I think The Beatles understood that in life, goodbyes are a gift.  When certain people walk away from you, and certain opportunities close their doors on you, there is no need to hold onto them or pray to keep them present in your life.  If they close you out, take it as a sign that these people, circumstances and opportunities are not part of the plan for the next step of your life.  It’s an indication that your personal growth requires something different or something more, and life is simply making room for it.  So embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive sets you up for an even better “hello.”

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What Did You Do All Day?

Photo by Heath Robbins

Photo by Heath Robbins

One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.

Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall…In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a  broken glass lay under the  table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she may be ill, or that something     serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?”

She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world did I do today?”

“Yes,” was his incredulous reply.

She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.”


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I Want to Install LOVE

Tech Support:  Yes, how can I help you?

Customer:  Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support:  Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer:  Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support:  The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer:  Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support:  What programs are running?

Customer:  Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support:  No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer:  I don’t know how to. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support:  With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

Customer:  Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

Tech Support:  Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

Customer:  Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

Tech Support:  Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

Customer:  So, what should I do?

Tech Support:  Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files:  Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

Customer:  Okay, done.

Tech Support:  Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer:  Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support:  Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up.

Love is Freeware.

Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

Customer:  Thank you!

Tech Support:  You’re welcome, anytime.

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Aging Gracefully: Mind Over Matter

This morning, while visiting my Dad’s Facebook wall, I began reading through a list of his favorite quotations. One quote in particular caught my eye and resulted in the writing of this article. The quote reads “Age is a matter of mind; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” -Mark Twain.


Do you sometimes wonder who that older person is looking back at you in the mirror? Ever find yourself thinking, “How did I get all these wrinkles?” Feel like your body has become a science project gone awry?

In today’s youth-focused culture, aging is viewed as something to be fought off as long as possible. For many of us, growing old can feel like a threat to our self-worth, our confidence, and even our very identity; but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Growing older is an inevitable and—dare I say—beautiful fact of life. From our first breath to our last, we’re here to experience, to grow, and to learn. With the right mindset, aging can become an incredible gift—one that is full of wisdom, strength, purpose, adventure, and more and more fun.

It’s funny how as children, we can’t wait to grow up. We count the days to our birthdays, daydream about blowing out all those candles, and delight in all the presents. Yet, as we move through our 20s and 30s, and the dreaded 40s, many of us start to cling to the lower numbers and begin to dread each passing year. Unfortunately, this all too common mindset is a recipe for unhappiness, stress, and hopelessness. The more we long for the years gone by, the less we’re able to enjoy the present, which is where all of our power is.

I can still vividly remember the first time I looked in the mirror only to discover that two crevices had suddenly appeared around my mouth. At 32, I’d just started to feel like I’d come into my own and my life had more purpose than ever before. I was getting ready to meet a friend for coffee and going about my usual routine of getting ready. I went to the mirror to put on some makeup and discovered these two seemingly gigantic wrinkles that seemed to have appeared in the midst of only a few hours. Who was this person with these smile lines? What was going on?

I felt a bit stressed and somewhat worried about this new discovery. Of course, I knew that I wouldn’t have the glowing skin and firm booty of a twenty-something forever, but up to that point in my life, aging seemed like a distant thing. My initial stress and shock wasn’t so much about getting wrinkles as it was about facing the reality of my mortality. In that moment, it hit me–just like everyone else, I was going to get old and my body would eventually die.

We’ve all had moments like this. While difficult, they also empower us to grow and change our perceptions. Yes, our physical bodies are going to die, which is a difficult truth to accept. But, with this acceptance comes greater power and a stronger connection to the Divine.

When I look back on that moment, staring in the mirror, I can see that it was one of life’s mini wake-up calls. Once I embraced those two new lines and the fact that I was indeed getting older, I was finally able to make the shifts I needed and wanted to make in my life. I was able to clarify my purpose and finally had the courage to walk that path. Embracing aging has inspired me to cultivate a deeper connection with God and become more dedicated to living fully in the moment.

Now, well into my 40s, I celebrate each passing year—and each new smile line—with more enthusiasm than the last. I practice moderation and make it a point to consciously love and accept my body, flaws and all! I have wasted far too much time berating myself for my weight, gray hair, and wrinkles. I have learned that loving myself, with all my perfect imperfections is the key to aging gracefully.

OK, you might be thinking, “But Anne, I just can’t get over the flaws I see in the mirror.” Or, “There’s no way I can embrace my age with all my health problems.” Or, “I’ve made so many mistakes and have so many regrets, happiness and adventure at my age is impossible.”

The truth of the matter is:  We are all getting older; it’s just a matter of whether we decide to do so with passion and purpose or to do so kicking and screaming!

When you refuse to accept your age or continually loathe yourself upon glancing in the mirror, you end up stuck in a place where there’s no learning or growing because you’re so focused on the past. (To remind you again, there is no power in the past or future—only the present.) Obsession with the past only prevents you from experiencing joy in the present, and planning something better in the future. It just keeps you unhappy and stuck in your mind. The more you dwell, the more time gets away from you; before you know it, you’re sleepwalking through each day, losing the valuable time you do have while you’re fixating on the time gone by.

Ultimately, when you choose to embrace the process of aging, you tap into the incredible power of the present to co-create the purposeful and authentic life you desire. Moreover, with that positive change in mindset, you’re bound to look and feel better, happier, and possibly even a bit younger.

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If You Had an Hour to Live…

One of my favorite quotes is from author Stephen Levine.  He says, “If you had an hour to live and could make just one phone call, who would it be to, what would you say . . . and why are you waiting?”  None of us know how long we have to live.  Even fewer of us realize what a blessing in disguise this “curse” of knowing we will one day die really is.  It encourages us to live life to its fullest, not to take life for granted, and to be grateful for what we have, treating life as the miracle it truly is.

Since we know we are going to die someday, and that we are going to look back on our lives and reflect on what’s important, why not start living that way today?  Right now?  Why not plan our lives, our jobs, our day-to-day, moment-to-moment experiences based on the inevitable moment of reflection that will be upon us sooner than any of us can possibly imagine?  It’s no coincidence that one of the most widely used phrases is “time flies.”  It really does.

Even so, if we could only live the way we know deep down we should, we would guarantee ourselves a life of richness and fulfillment.  If we answer Stephen Levine’s question honestly and act accordingly, we will have no regrets – none whatsoever.

If you had an hour to live ~

Who would you call?

What would you say?

Why are you waiting?

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Attitude…A Matter of Choice

Do you ever feel like you’re losing it?  I mean honest to goodness, out of your mind, back in five minutes losing it?  Well, I’m happy to tell you that you’re not alone.  We all reach the end of our ropes at one time or another. But the good news is that even though we may not have any control over the circumstances we are experiencing, we do have control over how we choose to respond to them.

Every so often, when I feel like I’m nearing the end of my rope and in need of an immediate “Attitude Adjustment”, I reflect on PJ McClure’s personal story “How to Lose it and Never Miss a Beat”.  It helps me to reframe my mindset and remember that I alone choose my attitude toward any given set of circumstances.

How to Lose it and Never Miss a Beat – By PJ McClure

“We have a fire!”

Slowly waking from my Nyquil induced sleep, I struggled to understand what my wife was saying. “We’ve got what?”

“We have a fire,” she said with enough emotion to bring me to consciousness.

I stumbled out of the bedroom and toward some unusual noises in the garage. When I opened the door, the heat from 50 holiday ovens hit me in the face and smoke filled the garage with an ominous, orange pulse.

Slamming the door, I ran back toward the bedroom. “Grab the kids and call 911!”

My wife grabbed our three year-old daughter and I got our six year-old son. When we hit the door, our neighbor, in his bathrobe, was running toward the front door with his cell phone. He had already dialed emergency services and was giving them all of the details they needed to dispatch the fire department.

We made our way over to his house and made sure everyone was ok. I went back out to wait for the fire department and started to assess the situation. Within a couple of minutes, plumes of flame popped up through the roof in different areas. The fire was in the attic and all over the house. A massive blaze consumed the garage and any serious hope of recovering anything faded.

By the time the sun rose, our lives and pajamas were what remained.

My family and I began doing…well, what we do! We figured out our immediate needs, what our next steps were, and took action to get things moving. In a matter of days, we had life back to normal, relatively speaking, and kept moving our lives forward.

The most unusual and serendipitous part of the experience was how people responded to us. Not the outpouring of kindness and generosity, though that was pretty amazing. What caught me off guard was how people reacted when they realized that we weren’t distraught and immobilized by what was going on.

In some cases, I would be willing to say that they were even…a little disappointed.

“How can you be so calm and motivated right now?”

“You act like nothing happened!” And my favorite…

“Doesn’t it bother you that you lost everything? You must just be in shock.”

I actually laughed out loud when I heard the last one. In shock? Really? When you stand in your neighbor’s yard for four hours and watch all of your material possessions evaporate, reality is very palpable, and any shock floats away with the smoke.

What I began explaining to people is what I want to share with you, via this long introduction. Events in life are constant and impartial. Not unfair, impartial. It is up to us to give the events meaning and decide how we will carry on once they’ve occurred.

My mindset, then and now, is designed to focus on possibility and productivity. When events like the fire hit, my mindset takes all of the data and acts as a filter. Not as a way to turn a blind-eye toward the hardship, but to give me the kind of information I need to further my purposes.

This filtering process makes me more efficient and successful than I could be otherwise. It allows me to go through any event and stay on pace and productive, because I’ve decided that’s how I want to be.

Yes, we still cried, cussed, and missed things we had always taken for granted. A well-crafted mindset makes you resilient, not inhuman. Nevertheless, the point is, the event didn’t dictate to us how we would behave. That was under our control. This was only possible because of mindset.

I hear you out there…”That’s great, but what does that mean for me?” It means everything! Our mindsets are active and filtering the world for us every day, whether we’re conscious of it or not.

So how do we get conscious and take control?

  • Take 100% responsibility for your life. At the end of the day, it doesn’t  matter whose fault it is. What are you going to do about it? Abdicating responsibility doesn’t get you off the hook for making something happen. Instead, it renders you powerless and a victim.
  • Get clear about what you want. Just like ancient mariners used the compass to maintain direction during storms, your clearly defined objectives point the way forward when all hell breaks loose. You can steer yourself to clear waters instead of getting dashed against the rocks.
  • Purposely look for opportunities. To build your unshakable mindset, you’ll need a little practice. When you are clear about what you want, consciously look for ways to get closer. Soon enough, you’ll retrain your brain to show you the best path through.
  • Pay attention to your dominant emotions. When life strikes, are you drawn to finding blame or to correcting your course? I don’t mean for anyone to ignore the emotions that pull us back, but don’t give them all of your power. Grieve, mourn, get angry…but then bring your emotional awareness back to possibility.

An alternative to taking conscious control of your mindset is to allow the world at-large to shape it for you. Any takers? Ok then, make the decision now, that you are in control of your life and events will no longer kick the chair out from under you.

Soon, your mind will begin to do the sifting and sorting for you, leaving you free to act on the new opportunities that you never knew were there before.

The Power of Attitude

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the facts.

It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our pasts, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and this is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you – we are in charge of our attitudes.”

~ Charles Swindoll

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A Lesson in Patience

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again.  Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked…”Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice.  I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me.  She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like someone out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase.  The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years.  All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls; no knickknacks or utensils on the counters.  In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she asked.  I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness.  “It’s nothing,” I told her…”I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.  When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly…

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said.  “I’m in no hurry.  I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear-view mirror.  Her eyes were glistening.  “I don’t have any family left,” she continued in a soft voice…“The doctor says I don’t have very long.”  I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

“What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city.  She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.  She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired.  Let’s go now.”  We drove in silence to the address she had given me.  It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up.  They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.  They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.  The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent over and gave her a hug.  She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said.  “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light…Behind me, a door shut.  It was the sound of the closing of a life…

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift.  I drove aimlessly lost in thought.  For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.  What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?  What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.  We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.  But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

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Groundhog Day…Again?

Before 1993, Groundhog Day was all about whether the infamous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, was going to pop out of his burrow and see his shadow or not. But in 1993, Groundhog Day (the movie about a weatherman, played by Bill Murray, who is forced to relive the same day over and over) took on a whole new meaning that can teach us a thing or two about life and work.

Groundhog Day is an extraordinary parable about personal transformation. The journey of the main character, Phil Connors, helps to answer some questions many executives and employees have asked themselves at one time or another: How do I get out of this rut? How do I find meaning and fulfillment in my work? How do I connect with my colleagues? How do I create lasting change?

Organizations spend considerable sums of money trying to change their employees with training, coaching, and change programs. Yet relatively few of these programs succeed in creating lasting change because we are such creatures of habit, and we instinctively struggle with change. We might not literally be trapped in a time loop, like Phil, but we are often trapped in our routines by our conditioning.

For example, we might have a lifetime of defense mechanisms built up for avoiding confrontation, so whatever we learn about assertiveness is futile. Unfortunately, many programs fail because they do not engage people at these deeper levels.

How does Phil Connors change in the movie?

Ironically, Phil breaks free and changes his life by slowing down. By going from fast-forward to slow motion, he starts to see a more accurate image of himself.

When forced to pay close attention to all the effects of his thoughts and actions on himself and on others, he gains greater self-awareness and changes from the inside out.

How can we change in real life?

Like Phil, we begin by paying attention to the consequences of our actions and recognizing the power of the underlying patterns and conditioned responses that determine most of our thoughts and behaviors. This is what keeps us stuck, like the mysterious power of frozen time in the movie.

When we accept that the strategies that used to work for us are no longer working, when we confront and overcome the fears and negative habits that keep us stuck, we begin to free ourselves from “The Groundhog Day Effect” and make genuine, long-lasting change, rather than a temporary fix.

What else can we learn from the movie?

The endless recurrence of February 2nd allows Phil to experiment each day with a new approach to life, and then measure the results. Phil can measure the effect of changing just one variable of his thoughts and behaviors. If all he does is change the way he greets Larry the cameraman, he can measure the results of that single modification. Over time he discovers that his greatest power lies in his ability to choose how he will respond to his predicament.

At work, we also have the choice of how we approach our day. Every day we can walk into the office and press the reset button and start again. We can choose to carry on from yesterday and be angry with our colleagues, or we can press the reset button and listen to their concerns with empathy. We can accept what we can’t change, and focus on what we can. We can choose to learn new skills and techniques, or stay stuck in what worked for us ten years ago, yet now delivers diminishing returns.

The most successful and fulfilled people tend to have a wide range of strategies, tools, perspectives and skills. Like Phil, they focus on changing themselves rather than trying to change other people. They are extremely resourceful and find creative solutions to the challenges they face. Personal transformation takes place when we simply make small adjustments to our daily routine, and see each day as a new opportunity to recreate ourselves.

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Apple: The Case of the Missing Logout Button

Yesterday I was visiting Apple’s online store and upon leaving the website realized that it shared something in common with the Hotel California. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

After ten minutes of playing “Where’s Waldo?” in search of the logout button, I sought out the “Geek Squad” a.k.a. my husband, the “IT Professional”. “Honey,” I asked, “where is the logout button on the Apple store website?” He immediately shot me a look as if to say you have got to be kidding! “I’m not kidding,” I said. “I can’t find it anywhere.”

Fully anticipating that he would be able to resolve this issue in a jiffy, he confidently took hold of my wireless mouse and began scrolling through the page. “Hmmm…..that’s odd. I don’t see it either” he said. On that note I did the unthinkable…Yes, I called Apple’s technical support number.

As the phone began ringing I kept trying to think of a way I could ask the technical consultant the whereabouts of their website logout button without sounding as if I was “intellectually challenged”. “Hi, my name is Anne Fellegy, and I am going to ask you the dumbest question that you will be asked all day. Where is the logout button on your website?” There was a long pause and what sounded like crickets chirping in the background. “Excuse me, but did you ask me where the logout button is?” I swallowed hard and responded by saying “yes, I am requesting your technical expertise with locating the logout button for your website.”

After being placed on hold for what seemed like an eternity, it occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t asked such a dumb question after all. While I waited, I started to search the Internet to see if anyone else was experiencing the same problem. I found out in a hurry that I was most certainly not alone!

“Ms. Fellegy, are you still there?” “Yes, I’m here.” “After checking with my colleagues we have concluded that there is no logout button on our website. I completely understand why this would make you uneasy, being that your credit card information is stored and I assure you that the matter will be looked into…”

Wow! How does a successful company like Apple forget to include a logout button on their website? If I have learned anything from this experience, it is this…There really is no such thing as a dumb question!

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