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5 Ways to be Kinder

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
_ Henry James

Kindness matters. It’s a simple and true fact. Being kind causes a ripple effect through the world, making a beautiful difference. And not only does kindness effect the world, but it always positively affects the person who is being kind. But how kind are we (or aren’t we) on a daily basis? Being kind comes easier to some people than it does to others, and we thought we’d share some helpful ideas for all of us to keep in mind as we practice the art of kindness in our daily lives.

5 Ways to be Kinder

  1. Be grateful for what you have. It’s easy for all of us to take the people and things we have for granted. Avoid that by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what you can be grateful for.  Even better, write down 5 things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal.  If you’re more aware of all the nice things that happen to you, you’ll feel like doing nice things for others.
  1. Be present. Everyone wants to be heard and validated. One of the most important things you can do is be fully attentive and actively listen when someone is talking to you. No cell phones, emails, or texts—take the time to connect with people face-to-face, or with an uninterrupted phone call. The greatest gift of kindness to another is to be in the moment in their presence.
  1. Minimize judgment. Set aside your judgment of other people and practice being positive and compassionate. Remember Plato’s saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s easy to focus on ourselves and forget that others around us have their own struggles, too.  So instead of being critical, try giving people the benefit of the doubt and make positive observations about them.
  1. Smile more. Buddy the Elf said it best, “Smiling’s my favorite!” Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile, because yours might be the only one a person receives that day. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, practice by simply smiling at strangers as you pass by, or holding open a door for them. It will not only add a pleasant spark to their day, but it will actually trick your mind into feeling happier, too.
  1. Be kind to yourself. When you’re kind to others, you have the tendency to be kinder towards yourself, but don’t get caught up in meeting everyone else’s needs before your own. That’s why it’s important to take time for yourself and rejuvenate in ways that make you feel good. This is also a good time to stop any negative thinking. When you become aware of your own needs and limits, you’ll reach out to people with more strength and compassion.

Please share our image above with friends and family as a gentle reminder of ways to be kind each day.

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How to Nurture all of your Friendships

How to Nurture all of your Friendships

Not all friendships are created equal, but all friendships are indeed important and meaningful in their own unique, special ways.

Truth be told, there are varying levels of friendship. Some are extremely close. Some not as much, but still significant nonetheless. Although your various friendships may be different from one another, it’s still important to stay connected with each of them and to show your appreciation. After all, they have inspired, supported, encouraged, and motivated you—and perhaps even stood by your side—and probably continue to do so even today.

Blue Mountain has compiled a list of five different groups of friends you might have. We’ve also added fun ways to keep in touch with those friends in each group. Maybe you have suggestions of your own. We’d love to hear them!

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #1: BEST FRIENDS
Friends in this group are very few, but they’re the ones who know you best and accept you unconditionally. They’re also the ones you first turn to through the different phases of your life. To stay connected with this select group, the more personal, the better: one-on-one get-togethers, phone calls, and cards (yes, through the mail) are the nicest and most meaningful gestures.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #2: SOCIAL FRIENDS
These friends are formed from social circles that enjoy each other’s company outside the home and workplace. They enjoy getting together and having a great time, whether at each other’s homes, at outside venues, or at functions. To stay connected with this group, eCards are a good choice.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #3: WORK FRIENDS
Obviously, these friends are your professional colleagues and co-workers. You’re brought together through a mutual employer, but then you just happen to click on a more personal level. You might even socialize outside of work. These friends could also accumulate if you leave one company for another. To stay connected with this group, the social network LinkedIn is a great place to gather. Coffee and lunch dates are also nicely practical.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #4: SCHOOL FRIENDS
This group of friends could have been culled from your grade school, high school, or college…or your child’s grade school, high school, or college. These individuals might include classmates, teachers, professors, coaches, mentors, other parents, etc. To stay connected with this group (through messages and photographs), blogging and social media work extremely well. You might want to consider Facebook or Twitter. Also, alumni groups and reunions are great ways to keep in touch.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #5: CASUAL FRIENDS
These are friends you see just every once in a while. They could be meet-up groups, neighbors, members of your religious affiliation, etc. You don’t see each other regularly, but you do enjoy each other’s company and you get along well. To stay connected with this group, you may want to make more of an effort to do a planned activity together (movie, dinner, concert, art show, bowling) or share a lovely treat (bakery, flowers, vegetables from your garden, a small gift). You can also reach out and send an eCard that shows how much you value their friendship.

 

How to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your Friendships

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Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)
Now that we’ve discussed the beauty and impact of generosity and thoughtfulness towards one another in “Random Acts of Kindness: Part 1,” let’s see how we can actually put this lovely concept into motion and make it come to life.

There are a few different ways to do this. You can initiate the act. Or you could perform an act in response to a kind act bestowed on you (which is called “paying it forward”). You could do something nice for your friends and family. Or you could do something nice for strangers. But regardless of which way you do it and to whom, the most important thing is that you do it without any expectation of reward. These are totally selfless acts that are certain to bring you immense satisfaction and pleasure.

We also want to emphasize that these acts do NOT necessarily require large sums of money or a lot of effort. Even the smallest gestures—as long as they’re performed sincerely and without an expectation of recognition or acknowledgement —can result in the greatest happiness.

We’d now love to share a few ideas with you for FREE acts of kindness:

  • Smile broadly and genuinely at someone who passes you by.
  • Hold the door (or elevator) open for the person behind you.
  • Let someone who’s in a rush cut ahead of you in line.
  • Visit a nursing home.
  • Give a sincere compliment to someone who looks like they could use one.
  • Share magazines you’ve already read with co-workers, friends, etc.
  • Bring in your neighbor’s trash cans.
  • Share extra produce from your garden with someone in need.
  • Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life.
  • Send someone an eCard (like this free one from Blue Mountain) for no special reason at all.

And here are some ideas for LOW-COST acts of kindness:

  • Leave a heftier tip than usual for your waiter or waitress.
  • Bring a meal to someone who just had a baby or other major life event.
  • Buy a candy bar (or magazine subscription, etc.) that a neighbor child is selling for a fundraiser.
  • Bring donuts or other delicious treat to work.
  • Put lots of pennies on the sidewalk for kids to find.
  • Pay for someone’s coffee.
  • Leave your change behind in a vending machine.
  • Buy an extra ticket and take someone to an event (e.g., movie, concert, ball game).
  • Send a care package to a soldier.

And as a small gift from us to you, we’ve designed a FREE printable that you can download today and give to anyone you choose. It includes 6 different cards that you can fill out and leave anonymously. Look at these cards as your chance to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter!

To download these free printable coupons, simply click on the image, and once the new page opens, right click to print or save the image to your computer.

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

And if you’re wondering exactly how the friendly folks at Blue Mountain use these printables to show each other we care, here’s how (along with the recipients’ feedback):

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

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Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)
A smile from a stranger…a hug out of nowhere from your child, friend, or family member… a card received in the mail “just because.” These seemingly small gestures aren’t small at all. In fact, they have the power to turn a day completely around, change an outlook, and move the spirit. Science has even shown that being kind can make a real difference in the well-being and health of individuals who practice it and receive it. Another added plus—it’s contagious. Kindness spurs kindness; a single act can influence dozens more.

Random acts of kindness and “paying it forward” have been picking up steam lately
and trending in social media. It may be due to the fact that, while we weren’t looking,
the world took a turn for the worse and seemingly appeared less kind. Children hurting
and bullying children, innocent people gunned-down at the mall, and sweet animals living
at the mercy of cruel hands have all played into this dark cloud sweeping through our daily
lives. Well, take heart—the sun is rising on a new day and the world is picking itself back
up again. People are noticing and making an effort to put kindness back at the top of their list.

While stuck in an elevator, a boy makes a human chair out of himself to allow an elderly lady to sit down while they wait for help…a baseball team adopts a lonely stray pup that wandered onto their field, and made him the team mascot now loved by millions…a stranger pays for a woman’s breakfast “just because he wanted to,”…a wallet is found in the gutter and mailed back to the out-of-town owner… across the nation, people are pulling up to drive-thru windows only to find out that the person before them has already paid for their order. Kindness is catching, and all of us here at Blue Mountain couldn’t be more thrilled because our work is dedicated to helping people connect with others and be lifted up and cared about. You never know what someone else’s struggles may be, and you probably aren’t aware of the immense power your smile and kind words possess, or how your simple gesture can turn a day, or even a life, around. It’s truly magical, and this popular poem is a heartfelt reminder of how one simple act can grow and multiply.

We’d like you to join us in sharing and spreading kindness, so we do hope you will visit us again later this week when we’ll share Part II of this post and give you some ideas (along with some free gifts) of how you can join the kindness journey. Until then, please enjoy this free downloadable wallpaper which is a thoughtful reminder that you have the power within you to make an extraordinary, beautiful difference. To set as your desktop back ground simply click the image, and when the new window appears, right click and choose “set as background.”

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once remarked, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” From the kindnesses happening in the world right now, it gladdens our hearts to tell you—she was right.

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

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Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

Happy Mother’s Day – Those three little words are loaded with so much meaning that there’s no possible way to fit all the things that make up those words into a single day. Yet, we try our best to give tokens of love to our moms with the hope that even just an ounce of what we feel is communicated to them.

So, how do you begin to show your gratitude for all she’s done and continues to do? We’ve compiled a Gratitude Guide with some ideas and inspiration to help you. Keep in mind that, when it comes down to it, most mothers would agree that your time is more wanted than things; your validation of who they are, more precious than gold…

List of Gratitudes
A daughter wrote a letter to her 80 year old mother, telling her how thankful she was for all the things her mother did for her while she was growing up. Her mother said it was the best Mother’s Day gift she ever received, and wants it to be included in her eulogy. Click Hereto read Faye’s letter to her mother…and maybe grab a tissue. If you would like to do something like this, you can use our Blue Mountain printable stationery as a beautiful backdrop for this gift she’ll cherish.

Sing it
Do you have musical talent? Write your mom a song and sing it to her, or record it for her so she can listen to it over and over again.

Dedicate a song on the radio
If singing isn’t your thing, call up her favorite radio station and see if they’ll dedicate a song to her at a time she’s probably listening.

A box of 52 of your favorite memories about your mom
Find or make or your own decorative box and write down 52 of your best-loved memories about your mom. She’ll get to read one each week over the next year.

Garden walk treasures
Go on a garden walk with Mom and collect leaves, petals, and anything that catches your eye. Back at Mom’s house, create a window display of your treasures reminding her of your enjoyable afternoon together.

Record a personalized ringtone for her cell phone.
Give her a heart a tug every time her cell phone rings. Record a special ringtone of all the kids/grandkids yelling, ‘We love you Mom/Grandma!”

Jewelry with meaning
Give her vintage map jewelry of the state/country where you grew up, her favorite bible verse, or a much-loved passage from a favorite book 
or poem.

A Now and Then Photo
Frame a photo of you and Mom from when you were still a baby and she was a young mom, and one of the two of you now.

Take a class together.
If you live close to your mother, take a class together of something she always wanted to do like sewing, painting, cooking, etc. Not only will it be a fun experience, but the time spent together is priceless.

Mother’s Day Photo Magnet
All moms have them—photos covering the refrigerator of all their children and grandchildren. This is a wonderful idea that can turn a photo of each person she loves into a magnet itself. You can make one of every child and grandchild. Once you’ve made the magnets, post them to her refrigerator with notes from each person on the magnet about what they love about her so she’s reminded every single day what an amazing woman she is and how she’s touched their lives.

Make a recurring appointment for a phone call with Mom each week. Plus, if you have siblings, assign each one a different day of the week to call Mom so she hears from her children regularly.

Tell Mom what you learned from her example.
This popular poem by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan is a wonderful way to honor mom and has been shared in many forms time and time again.

One of our Blue Mountain editors has created a Pinterest Board for many of the ideas you’ve read about in our blog today, and we also invite you to use our Mother’s Day eCards to help celebrate your wonderful moms.

All of us at Blue Mountain wish you and your mom a Mother’s Day to remember!

Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

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Renewing Connections with Family (part II)

Renewing Connections with Family (part II)
In our previous post, we talked about ways to reignite friendships that may have gone by the wayside. In this, our second post focused on renewing connections, we’d like to share some ideas around connecting with family members. It’s so easy these days to let time get away from us until we realize that it’s been weeks, or even months, since we last chatted with, or spent time with, our own family. Especially this past winter, when we were all burrowed in our houses and not going out for days at a time.  Well, spring is now upon us and it’s the perfect time for getting back some of that quality time that old man winter stole from us. To get you started, we’ve compiled a few simple ideas you might like to try.

Breaking the ice.
If there are some family members you haven’t connected with in a while, don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick one, and then reach out with a phone call, send an email or an ecard, or write and send a personal note. You don’t have to say a lot, you can simply tell them, “I miss you,” “I’ve been thinking of you,” or even, “How ‘bout that winter? Would love to catch up with you soon.”  To help make it easy for you, we’ve got many eCards and printable cards at bluemountain.com that will bring a smile to the face of anyone you send them to. If you’d like to write your own message, you can use our online stationery, too. Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is just a few short weeks away, so it’s the perfect time to schedule an eCard, write a special letter, or make a phone call to make plans with your mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, or cousin and share in their special day.  No matter which way you choose to connect with your family, the thoughtful act of reaching out is the first step.

Get back to basics.
Put down the smartphones, tablets, and remotes and pick up the family photo albums and boxes of slides that sit on the shelves anxiously waiting to be dusted off and admired again.  Kids love looking at photos of themselves when they were little, and of their parents and grandparents. Grownups, too, love to reminisce and remember places and faces. Pop the popcorn and enjoy sharing stories and memories that make up your family history.

Exercise.
Ahh, spring—no one can get enough of the sweet-smelling air and warmth of the sun, which makes it the perfect excuse to grab a family member or two and get outside. Gather them together and suggest a walk on the park trail or around the neighborhood. Not only will you get exercise, but you’ll have a chance to catch up with each other, too.

“Let’s do lunch.”
This one is easy to say, but oh, how those good intentions are so hard to follow-through on. And it doesn’t even have to be “lunch” per se. The idea is to create a “structured connection”—something you’ll do on a regular basis. So, you may want to schedule brunch with Mom and Dad for every Sunday, or make the last Friday of every month, “Shopping with Aunt Meg Day.”  If you give this a try, then you’ll see all those good intentions come to beautiful fruition.

Whether you give these simple ideas a try, or come up with a few of your own ideas, all of us here at Blue Mountain hope that the spring season inspires you to open up, reach out, and love deeply.

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Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

When we “think Spring”, one of the first things that comes to mind is “refresh and renew.” Most of us have been buried under snow for months which has kept us from getting out and about and sharing time with friends, and sadly, it doesn’t take long before we’ve lost touch altogether.  But now that spring has officially ‘sprung’, it’s the perfect time to renew our connections with the people that matter to us.

So, how does one begin? How do you just pick up where you left off? Well, friendship is funny that way, as most friendships that are solid to begin with don’t simply fade away from the passing of time.

To give you a bit of a nudge, here are a few ideas to help you reconnect and get back into the friendship swing.  After all, as the old cliché goes—to make a friend, you have to be one. 

Email

If you use a computer or mobile device, it’s a fast and easy way to reach out.  For an added bonus, you can send one of our Blue Mountain Friendship eCards for a happy surprise.  Simply say hello and tell them they’ve been on your mind so you wanted to drop them a note and see how they’re doing. You can then say you hope to hear from them soon and end there. It doesn’t have to be complicated; just genuine.

Facebook

If you’re on this social site and you see a post of a friend you haven’t chatted with in awhile, don’t just “like” something they post; send a message. Again, this doesn’t have to be long or involved—you’re reigniting your connection, so keep it simple and sincere.

The beloved hand-written letter

Very few people write actual letters anymore, so it’s even more of a surprise when we actually receive one. And what’s more, everyone LOVES to find cards and letters in their mailbox. Pick out a card or some fancy note paper and jot down a few lines. You can even choose from among several designs of our Printable Stationery at BlueMountain.com and type your message to print out and mail yourself. Your friend will smile at your thoughtfulness when she receives your nice surprise.

If you parted ways badly

Did you have a falling out with a friend and you ended on bad terms but you wish you could reconcile? If you’re able to look past what led to the parting and let bygones be bygones, then start with a typed or hand-written letter, telling them how you’ve been thinking of them and how you miss the friendship the two of you shared. Include your phone number and ask them to call you because they may be hesitant to meet in person right away. When you do chat, don’t feel the need to launch into the past—ask about the present and the latest news in both of your lives. Start with the “now” and, like all the buds that are just starting to open, your friendship will slowly blossom back into being.

The good old fashioned phone call

With the world texting, emailing, skyping and all the other whatnot, it’s always so refreshing to hear the voice of an old friend on the other end of the telephone line. Yes, it’s easy to facebook and text if you do those types of things, but hearing the human voice with all its tones and inflections makes such a difference to what, and how, our feelings and emotions are being said. There’s just no truer substitute than the spoken word.

Welcome spring with a walk

Spring couldn’t have come fast enough this year so, once you’ve re-established connection, offer to meet your friend for a stroll in the park or for a picnic. Breathe in the fresh air of spring as you catch up and look forward to good times ahead.

**Be sure to check back soon for Part 2! Reconnecting and reaching out to family.**

Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

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Words Really Do Matter!

Words Really Do Matter!

When you want to convey your feelings precisely, words matter. When you want to express your thoughts clearly, words matter. And when you want to say exactly what’s in the deepest part of your heart, words really, truly, absolutely do matter…to you and to everyone you’re expressing them to.

Which is why we at Blue Mountain recently celebrated Words Matter Week. You see, our editors take a lot of time and painstaking care in crafting that singular perfect message that goes with each and every one of our eCards. As wordsmith experts, they know just how important it is to choose the right words…the right sentiments…and the right message— so you don’t have to (unless, of course, you want to).

For those special times when only you can say it best, we have Printable Cards and Stationery that you can personalize any way you’d like. Then again, if you’d still like a little help along the way, we invite you to read any of our what-to-write blog posts where we offer suggestions, special words, and messaging options for both holidays and those “just because” occasions. We are always here to add that personal touch and make our greetings your own. Happy writing!

 

Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!

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12 Gifts of Christmas Kindness

12 Gifts of Christmas Kindness

Everyone at Blue Mountain is excited to share our 12 Gifts of Christmas Kindness. We created a special new collection of FREE digital postcards this year – each with a simple act of kindness that you can easily complete. Our own Blue Mountain team will be completing several of the acts ourselves and we encourage you to do the same. We will be highlighting the 12 Gifts on our Facebook wall, and we hope you will share the postcards via email, Facebook, mobile and more. These gifts are a simple and beautiful way to pay it forward, and give the gift of kindness this year and always!

 

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How to write a Thanksgiving blessing – Part II

How to write a Thanksgiving blessing   Part II

Now that you’ve had some time to pull your own ideas and thoughts together using the tips from our last blog post, we thought we’d share with you some favorite traditional prayers and inspirational poems that you may like to lead with, or combine with your own expression of thanks.

Remember, gratitude in and of itself is a beautiful thing and there is no right or wrong way to speak about it. Simply relax and speak from your heart, and enjoy the opportunity to let those around you know how thankful you are that you’re all together for Thanksgiving.

Poems, Graces and Prayers:

  • Bless us, O Lord
    and these Thy gifts,
    which we are about to receive from your bounty.
    Through Christ our Lord.
    Amen.
  • Bless this home
    with love and cheer,
    And bless all those
    who gather here.
  • Thank you for the day so sweet,
    Thank you for the food we eat,
    Thank you for the birds that sing,
    Thank you, Lord, for everything!
  • Every so often, we all need a day to stop everything we’re so busy doing
    and simply be. A day to turn off all the noise and step outside to breathe
    in the air, and to know we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
    A day to realize the richness of our blessings, the miracles we are,
    the wonder that is our lives, the gratitude in our hearts.
  • With a prayer that this beautiful season
    gives us many new reasons
    to rejoice and thank the Lord.
  • Thanksgiving is a time of awareness,
    of caring and sharing —remembering the best,
    seeing the beautiful,
    being grateful for the fullness of life.

Chinese Proverb
When you eat, remember the farmer.

From the Poem i thank You God
by E. E. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day…for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Servant’s Heart
Dear Lord, thank you for this gift of food
You’ve placed upon our table.
And help us all to do your work
In any way we’re able.

Serving Food by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this food, I see clearly
The presence of the universe
Supporting my existence.

Grace
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
We offer thanks. Amen.

A Blessing based on Gandhi’s Principles
Oh God, bless this food we are about to receive.
Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to us who have bread.

Shortest Grace by Dag Hammarskjöld
For what has been—thanks! For what shall be—yes!

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