A Different Kind of Tired

I know you’ve felt it, heck, you might be feeling it right now. There are different flavors of being tired. The one most associated with the word tired is that fatigue that results from lack of sleep or doing too much. If your stress levels have been like mine, you probably have had bouts of insomnia to accompany the whirlwind that is adapting to everyday life, which in turn makes the vicious cycle of being tired that much worse.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Then, there is the tired that actually means overwhelmed. This is when there are too many items on the to do list, too many thoughts in your head, and too many responsibilities that you feel you can’t possibly meet. Often it’s not that there are actually too many things to do, it’s that trying to wrap your head around doing all of them is downright scary.

It gets even worse when any of those items are frightening by themselves. Lately, some of the simplest things have become scary. Before COVID, I never liked grocery shopping and treated it more like the Grand Prix; prepare ahead, plan my route, get in, get fueled up, pay, get out. The faster the better.

Going to the grocery store now has an extra layer of scary. Nothing like the chance of catching a horrible case of death to spice things up, right? There are all sorts of new rules that people should be following, but everyone you see are doing their own interpretation. Psst … the masks go over the nose, people.

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

This entire week as been filled with the dreadful anxiety that comes with being overwhelmed. This time it’s not the perpetual hedonistic treadmill that is policing my darling kiddos through the rigors of online school, we got that all figured out. It’s not even the ever growing pile of dishes that seem to spontaneously reproduce in the sink and then vomit out all over the kitchen. They’re annoying, but they don’t make my blood pressure go up.

Nope, the biggest source of my overwhelm tiredness hamster wheel is reaching the ‘you better get it done stage’ of releasing book two of the Stonebearer Saga. I’ve made so many promises to get it out earlier this year and I’ve broken everyone. After having to adjust my timeline so many times already, actually committing to something makes me break out in a cold sweat. The goal was to have it out in March. Yeah, that March – you know, the one when the world closed it’s doors and the economy started to slip down the drain.

If I commit to a release date again, I have to complete it. But this time, I’m armed with a manuscript that’s about five hours away from being called completely done. Which leads me to make the following announcement.

Drum roll please …

Stonebearer’s Apprentice will be released June 12 come hell or high water.

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

For early bird access to the cover reveal and preorders, come join my Fantasy Reader Community. My readers get everything from free ebooks from authors around the world, sneak peeks inside my writing world, random advice about life, and the occasional opportunity to help me shape the concepts I use in future stories.

This announcement also means that YES, I am looking for reviewers and friends on social media to help me spread the word. If you are interested, let me know and I’d love to work something out!

Squee! So exciting!


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Be The Least Interesting Person at the Table

The other day I stumbled on a phrase that caught in my brain and has refused to let go.

Be the least interesting person at the table

At first it sounds horrible. I mean, who wants to hang out with a boring person? But as I peeled back the different layers, a truth started to emerge that I found not only insightful, but downright liberating.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

That truth? You are not required to prove yourself to anyone

Think deeply for a moment. The people that are by far the most obnoxious at any gathering are the ones who are always proving how awesome they are. They talk about important or famous people they’ve met, the amazing projects they’re involved in, the classes they’ve taken, and the people they’ve bested in any way. Not only is it hard to listen to, it often kicks off a ‘proving’ match among those present as everyone tries to best each other.

There is an equally obnoxious counterpart to those trying to prove themselves as awesome, and that is the person trying to prove how hard their life is. Everything is a burden, no one has it worse than they do, they have a laundry list of complaints and issues that they are eager to share with any sucker willing to listen. Sometimes we call these people emotional vampires because they tend to suck people’s energy dry.

You don’t have to prove anything

Both the pity seeker and the one working to gain social awesomeness are either consciously or subconsciously trying to get something from the listener. But, the thing they’re trying to get isn’t concrete. There is no trophy, no gold star, and no crown that goes to whoever wins. Usually all they get is a sense that no one really understands them or was able to give their accomplishments or burdens the attention they deserved.

This is why the idea of being the least interested person in the room is so compelling to me. After being around several of both kinds of attention seekers it’s clear that working to convince people of being cool or a sad sack doesn’t result in literally anything except perhaps coming off as a needy or conceited person.

Wise words from Hamilton

So then, what’s the alternative?

Become the world’s best conversationalist. By shaking off the need to prove yourself, you open yourself to a wide range of opportunities to learn about everyone else. When given a chance, most people have things they’re dying to talk about but can never find an opening – possibly because a needy person is oversharing. They would love nothing better than someone to ask them an interesting question. If you ask the questions, you can steer the conversation toward topics that you find interesting as well. It’s a well known fact that the best relationships are built on what people have in common.

If you’ve never done it before, taking charge of a conversation can be a daunting task. This is where it might help to come prepared. Before the stress makes it hard to think, come up with a couple things that you want to find out. It can be as easy as, “Hey, you watch any of that Tiger King show yet?” or perhaps “What have you read lately that you thought was interesting?”

A cool thing happens when you lose the sense of needing

When the focus shifts from feeling needy to wanting to share and learn, the whole dynamic changes. A one sided monologue turns into a interesting discussion where everyone wants to share their experience or what they’ve learned. There is a special energy that you can’t find anywhere else when a good conversation is underway.

Be the questioner, be the listener, make magic happen

Not all groups will be able to make the sparkly energy flow, sometimes the people that are really good at having conversations like this need to be hunted down and brought into your circle. Or, perhaps they are already there, but need some gentle encouragement to open up. Regardless of how you find your next conversation, do your part by being the interested listener, the thoughtful questioner, and the least interesting person in the room.

When was the last time you had a terrific discussion? Please share!


Feeling locked up and need a short escape?

Grab my free alternate creation short story, “Breath” which asks, Is a life without love worth living?

Click here to download “Breath” to the eReader of your choice

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The Irresistible Pull of Laughter

The other day hubby was browsing Reddit and suddenly he started laughing. It was one of those infectious belly laughs that instantly grabs the attention of anyone nearby and makes them smile. I’m convinced that nothing pulls on the curiosity harder than figuring out what has made someone else truly laugh.

Sure enough, as soon as hubby laughed I stopped what I was doing to see what it was and my youngest son (who was supposed to be finishing his dinner) did also.

If you’ve ever been out in public, obviously not recently, and caught someone truly laughing in joy or amusement over something, I bet you smiled too.

Let’s share some smiles today!

Here are a few things that made me smile recently, feel free to share them with friends!

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t e c h n i q u e s

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Meditating when you’re cold

It’s a well known fact that modern life is stressful. I’ve harped on this a few time before – probably because I don’t like stress and I want to be proactive in reducing it in my life. I can’t always kill off one my characters when I’ve had a really bad day. For starters, it takes forever to fix that, especially if you need that character in the future, like at all. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve resurrected characters that accidentally got dead.

Finding inner peace is one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you try it. For me, I lean on a few methods that work for me, namely journaling and meditation. The benefits of both are measurable in my own life and I feel it when I’ve missed a few days. My meditation practice isn’t a terribly formal thing. I literally do it while waiting in my car for my kid to get out of school – using an app or YouTube when the network isn’t being fussy.

The car is fairly comfortable and I’m assured a few minutes of undisturbed peace. Even better, since I literally can’t do anything else, thoughts of housework don’t haunt me.

There is only one snag. The drive to the school isn’t long enough to let the car heat up and I refuse to idle the engine as I sit there parked. During the winter months it’s cold. Even in a jacket you can’t get away from it. And, because I’ve spent the last few hours madly typing away in my office, I’m already a little chilled to start with.

Let me tell you right now, trying to achieve a state of relaxed contentment is impossible when you’re shivering. There’s no relaxing when your shoulders are huddling around your ears for warmth.

Mr. Pug has the right idea. Snuggle in a blankie.

So why try? If it’s frustrating, then maybe trying to meditate in a car when it’s cold is a bad idea. Maybe I should find a happy alternative involving chocolate and reading a juicy novel. Maybe I’ll do that anyway … wait, sorry. Got distracted.

Hang on, hear me out. A meditation practice is meant to help people find their zen state, even when the conditions aren’t ideal. Someone who regularly spends time doing breathing exercises and finding their inner calm will be able to find that calm much easier when things are frantic.

Meditating when cold isn’t a complete waste of time. Instead, it demonstrates a challenging situation where it’s necessary to adapt. Getting mad at it won’t help, so you have to learn to roll with it. Or wear a warmer coat, and gloves, and a hat.

That said, I’m happy it’s warming up. I’d rather find my inner peace without a challenge. (thankyouverymuch).

How do you cope with stress? Does it include chocolate? Inquiring minds want to know.


Psst! If you’re the type that likes a good indulgence read, grab my free story today. Like the rest of my writing, it’s lovely, dark, and deep. You can also sign up for my mailing list while you’re at it (win!).

Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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The Soundtrack of your Life

Music is a powerful thing. It excites, calms, energizes, and acts as a fortune teller?

Recently, my inner soundtrack has been trying to tell me things. Not creepy, emotional vampire earworm kind of things, but more like a secret codes to my inner psyche. On days I’m feeling confident and optimistic I might get Katy Perry’s “Roar” or Colbie Callat’s “Try.”

On days where things aren’t going so, hot I might get P!nk’s “True Love” where it talks about how much she wants to throttle her significant other.

Occasionally I’ll get a touch of classical. Does it mean I’m feeling refined? Absolutely not.
Photo by Stefany Andrade on Unsplash

So, there are these parties I don’t want to be at

These last two months have ushered me through a whole lot of experiences that I wouldn’t personally choose. Nothing bad, but not my thing. I’m not super social by nature, as navigating the whole social thing tends to be exhausting. This is the text book definition of being an introvert, by the way. We don’t mind being in public or with people, but we find it tiring and need time to rest and recover before doing it again.

This was the song that played endlessly in my head for six weeks:

I’m at a party I don’t wanna be at
And I don’t ever wear a suit and tie
Wonderin’ if I could sneak out the back
Nobody’s even lookin’ me in my eyes
Then you take my hand
Finish my drink, say, “Shall we dance?” Hell, yeah
You know I love you, did I ever tell you?
You make it better like that

Don’t think I fit in at this party
Everyone’s got so much to say, yeah
I always feel like I’m nobody, mm
Who wants to fit in anyway?

“I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber

The first time I stopped to think about why this song might be stuck in my head I didn’t get past the first phrase. “I’m at a party I don’t want to be at.” Most of these social events were formal parties, with dresses and shirt and tie. Unlike any other party, layered on top of being required to socialize with people you don’t really know yet, there’s that added awkwardness of wearing clothes that aren’t terribly comfortable, heels, and makeup. Ick.

So yeah. It was a party I didn’t want to be at.

Chic, lovely, and really not my thing.
Photo by Alasdair Elmes on Unsplash

But, there’s hope!

But then I read down further into the song and saw that there’s this cute moment where the person who doesn’t want to be at the party finally hooks up with their girlfriend and they dance and have a good time.

My dearest hubby makes these events worth going to. Even when he’s super busy with whatever responsibility he’s been shackled with, he makes a point to be sure I’m having a good time. [Thank you sweetie, you’re the best.]

The other song I’ve had stuck in my head is “Sweet, but Psycho.” Fellow authors will understand. Sometimes the stuff that goes through our heads for a story are a little out there.

What was the last song you had stuck in your head? What do you think it says about you?


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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The 100 decisions we make everyday

Hello busy, busy people. I’m glad you made the decision to come hang out with me on my blog today! I’d like to present you with a hypothetical situation. Let’s pretend that you only have 100 decisions you can make everyday. Once you reach 100, you are unable to accomplish do anything else without it being tiring.

You might think that sounds pretty easy. There’s no way you make that many decisions in a day. But, the truth might surprise you. Here are ten decisions that might come up before you even eat breakfast.

  • Should I sleep in?
  • What clothes should I wear?
  • Which shoes should I wear?
  • Do my pajamas need to go in the wash?
  • What do I want to watch/listen to as I get ready?
  • Is today a flossing sort of day?
  • Do I need to make the bed?
  • Is today the day the bathroom needs cleaning?
  • Should I start a load of laundry?
  • Should I check my email?

Anyone feeling a little frantic just reading that list? That, dearest reader, is what we call decision fatigue.

Just looking at this gives me a bit of anxiety.
Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

My personal journey with decision fatigue

For me, decision fatigue strikes fast and furious and I can clearly feel when I’ve hit the wall and don’t want to have to think any more. Going to a store or to an event is exhausting because there are so many decisions to be considered. Everything from what to wear, to what to talk about with the people I’m with, to what to buy, to what to order, to where to sit, to which class to attend, all stacks up into a huge decision overload.

And just like a pegged out computer, I start processing slower, start lagging and glitching, start making mistakes, and every so often hit the blue screen of death. At this point I either have to call it quits, or hit the reset button and restart.

Having kids hasn’t helped. Take the normal number of decisions you believe to be healthy. If 100 borders on overload, then I’d say around 80 is a safe number. That breaks down to around five decisions per waking hour. Multiply that hourly rate for each kid plus one and you get the decision rate per hour when you’re taking care of kids. For me that number is four (three kids plus me) so when the kids are home from school, I burn through 20 decisions an hour.

Yeah. If I look a little frazzled at the end of the day, that’s why.

No mom, my office doesn’t look like this. Yet.
Photo by Brandon Lopez on Unsplash

Creative decisions don’t carry the same weight

Now, if you are a creative person, there is a whole different batch of decisions that have to be made. For me, I have to decide what my characters are doing, how they are doing it, how they feel about it, where they are, what that looks like, and if there is any external influences, like weather to consider.

Luckily, not all decisions carry the same weight. I enjoy creative decision making so I can run through hundreds of these micro decisions and not feel the strain for hours. But, eventually those story decisions start taking their toll and I hit the wall. Working past that point usually results in bad decision making and it’s best to call it for the day.

Strategies for reducing decision fatigue

Never fear! There is hope out there. There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. This will free up space for all those creative decisions that you want to be making on whatever project you are working on.

Steve Jobs is famous for always wearing the same outfit. He never has to stop and think what he wants to wear and that frees up head space for the things he wants to think about. There are hundreds of professionals who do the same thing, for the same reason.

Some people eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday. Some create routines around the mundane stuff in their life so they can put it on auto pilot and not have to think about it. Some people buy the same brands for everything they use on a daily basis. Once you realize how much energy you spend on things that don’t really matter, you might want to consider automating the boring stuff in your life as well.

For me, I tend to wear the same thing when I don’t have anywhere to go. It’s usually a t-shirt and leggings. I do like choosing my t-shirts because it brings me joy. I have the same breakfast and same general morning routine. When I’m in the zone, I can whip through my to do list fairly quickly and leave time for all the things I want to do.

What do you do to reduce decision fatigue in your life? Let’s talk about it!


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Life is too Short for White Socks

Most days I work from home which means no one outside of my family sees me. My dress code is understandably casual and tends to be a comfortable legging paired with a cute or snarky t-shirt. From a distance, it would be hard to distinguish me from a high school student. Mom, you tried, you really did. If it makes you feel better, I do wear tinted lip balm and mascara in public. When I remember…

If I had my way, I’d never wear socks at all. I’m one of those barefoot mamas and rarely wear shoes inside the home. But, in the winter the floors get cold, and because I spent lots of hours sitting in a basement, my feet get cold too. I’ll usually pull on a pair before descending into my basement writing cave.

The other day, I grabbed a pair without thinking about it. Later in the day I looked down and realized the socks I’d chosen were a pair of plain white ones that had gone grey on the bottoms from use and lost most of their elastic. Ew. I didn’t even know I had a pair of white ones. Seeing these sad worn grey socks made me a little sad too. Fun socks are such a little thing, but they bring a spark of joy.

I recently acquired a pair with happy foxes running around on them. Do they make me happy? Yes, yes they do.

So if you spot me in the wild, check out my socks. And, next time you buy new socks, be sure to find some that make you smile.

Because…

Life is too short for white socks.

Tell me about your favorite pair of socks!


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Finding answers in silence

We’re all busy

Who believes they have way too much to do and not enough time to do it? Raise your hands. Yep, even you all in the back of the room multitasking as we speak. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you ask anyone what they are doing, regardless of what they say, the gist is that they are busy. If they aren’t busy, then they are really busy, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who is truly experiencing that life-swallowing sensation of being extremely busy.

I get it. There’s a lot to do. Like A LOT. Some of it is necessary to survive, like earning a living enough to keep the heat on and food in the fridge. Some of it is important, like making sure clothes are clean and some of that food is actually good for you.

Then there’s the stuff that’s actually not important, but we’ve assigned importance to it. You know where I’m going with this. Things like compulsively checking social media and trying to get lots of likes on that cat picture you posted. You know the one.

Now this is the kind of silence I’d love. Anyone have a boat I could borrow? Or a lake? Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Taking a necessary break

For the last five weeks I’ve stepped way back on my social media posting because of one really terrific reason, my kiddos were home. Year-round school has a handful of benefits, most of which stem from reducing the number of kids in already overcrowded classrooms. Allowing mom to run her authoring business isn’t one of them. Something had to give.

In the past, I’d fight to keep the same posting schedule in addition to all the other authory things that needed to get done. It always resulted in frustration and anxiety. This time, I let it slide. While I enjoy interacting with strangers and the practice can be helpful to help people find my books, in terms of effective marketing and producing more books, it falls last on my priority list. When the kids are home they are my first priority. After that comes all the other stuff, like staying on top of deadlines and making progress on my new books entering the world this year.

The funny thing about social media is that it’s an all consuming affair. Trying to stay current with everything means you have to check it constantly. The urge to scroll for another few minutes, to post, to interact, to like, to be liked, and so on – can eat you alive. It even sneaks into bed with you as ideas for posts creep into your thoughts as you drift asleep. The energy and time this requires can’t be measured – except that you get less done during the day and can’t figure out why.

Be still and let deeper thoughts flow through you like a breeze, you might be surprised what you find. Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

Lessons from the silence

What did I learn? For starters, no one really missed me. My noise was just more noise in an already noisy place. My followings and numbers and all those statistics that geeky folks like me like to track didn’t change or plummet. The world didn’t end.

What did happen surprised me. In the quiet space left in the wake of stepping away from social media, I had the freedom to consider if all that posting was doing me any good in the long run. My normal posts had no goal other than interacting. It often felt like talking into a void and hoping to be heard. In my hurry to make noise, I missed a huge piece of the puzzle – creating a way to continue the conversation once I found someone who wanted to listen.

My goal is to find like-minded readers who love the same things I love and more importantly, keep them happy and supply them with more stories and books that they will enjoy. Now, my efforts are refocused to help those readers find me. What that means is that I will be sharing more of my shorter fiction to more people – including you, dear readers.

I will have to return to the noise of social media, it’s inevitable. But, now I feel like there is an end goal in sight and a plan in place. I’m no longer making noise, I’m seeking connections.

A whole post about Silence and not one mention of this guy? This must be remedied. By the way, does anyone know why are there tally marks on my arm?

What will you find in the silence?

Have you ever dared to step away and see what happens?


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Seeds in the Soul Garden

Recently, I stumbled on a social media post talking about how you shouldn’t tear out seeds before they are given a chance to grow. This struck a chord with me. The idea is so simple and the thought of new endeavors as seeds so perfect that I wanted to spend more time with it.

Have you ever taken a moment to look at a truly beautiful garden? Flowers and plants grow together in ways that both surprise and delight. Accent pieces and sculptures glisten among the flowers, drawing the eye and telling their own stories. There’s a magic flowing through the space that invites the viewer to slow down and breathe.

Now I want you to imagine all your hopes, dreams, and goals; all your accomplishments; and all your failures are represented as a garden. What does your garden look like? Are the various flowerbeds of your different interests and passions alive and well? Are there hobbies that are overgrown and taking over more space than they should? Are there personal care areas that have shriveled and grown weeds from lack of attention?

Just as a gorgeous garden requires consistent time, effort, and love from a gardener with both skill and experience, your soul garden requires the same. All areas of your life deserve the attention they need to thrive without overwhelming the others. Take time to prune back unruly pursuits (Diner Dash, I’m looking at you) and devote more time to growing the things that bring you joy.

Personally, my soul garden probably looks more like a zoo right now. There are errant sentient plants wandering around and messing up flowerbeds. One is trying to build a shed using toothpicks and chewing gum. The few nice flowers I’ve managed to curate must be kept under bulletproof glass domes to protect them from the roving hoards of plot bunnies that munch on literally everything. There’s a treehouse in there somewhere. It’s chaos, but it’s my chaos, and there’s beauty in that too.

I see you there plot bunny. Don’t you dare eat my petunias.
Photo by Diana Măceşanu on Unsplash

This whole authoring business has encouraged me to plant new seeds while continuing to care for for the ones that are starting to sprout. These seeds represent skills and connections that need to be built and strengthened. It might be a while before I see real growth, but I know the possibility is out there. I trust that with proper care and attention they will grow into something beautiful. And where skill is lacking, thankfully there’s always Google, YouTube, and fellow indies I can randomly text on random Tuesday nights with my questions.

I raise my glass to those amazing indie authors out there with gorgeous gardens – thank you for sharing the fruit of your experience. It’s not an easy road, but it’s easier because I have you trailblazers to follow and learn from.

Tell me, dear reader, how does your garden grow?


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The Satisfaction of Finishing

Back in September I discussed how I use journaling among other things as a productive way to handle stress and also help clear my mind. This practice is sometimes tedious but I’ve found I feel off on the days I skip. Because I do it regularly, it doesn’t make sense to fill up those gorgeous notebooks you see in store windows.

Instead, I use simple composition books and hoard them whenever I see them go on sale. Composition books are perfect for my style of journaling. Since they are so cheap, I don’t feel pressured to find pretty words or clean well formed sentences. In my style of journaling, trying to make things nice, or even correct actually harms the process of letting the mind say what it needs to say. I use it to sweep out the cobwebs and address the issues that take my attention, so the messier the writing, the more free flowing, the better. Composition books themselves are well made. The pages stitched instead of glued so the chances of the book falling apart is impossible.

When I saw I was close to finishing filling and entire book at the end of 2019, I kind of hoped I would finish writing the last page on the last day of the year in a kind gesture thatI was phasing out the old and ushering in the new. With all the holiday unpredictableness, this didn’t happen. I ended up filling in the last sheet this morning. Not perfect, but then again, striving for perfection usually means getting burned out or avoiding a project all together.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

Finishing today held it’s own satisfying perfection. It’s a Friday, the end of the workweek and a day that feels right for finishing things. I get to open a fresh new book on a Monday, a day meant for new starts and new plans. It’s also the tenth, which feels like a complete number. A perfect 10. It also thumbs the nose at all those who have their goals figured out and ready to go long before December ends.

This new book that will stick with me for the next four to five months as my journal is so clean and shiny compared to the one I’ve just finished. It lays flat and well behaved whereas the old one is plump, filled with meandering recountings of frustrations and successes, hard decisions and new projects. Where the old signifies progress, the new encompasses potential.

Here’s to both the satisfying conclusions and the fresh starts that occur in every day life.


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