Saturday, April 30, 2011

Meet the JUNO sisters

Have I ever told you just how much I love working with/for/at JUNO*? I get to "meet" so many wonderful like-minded people, read incredibly insightful article submissions - more than we have space to publish. JUNO has been the soundtrack to my parenting adventure. Through it I have learnt about the realities of homeschooling, baby wearing, limbic imprint, geopathic stress, lotus birth, Non Violent Communication, The Journey, raw living, a number of Small schools, Steiner craft and seasonal celebrations, placenta encapsulation, electric bikes, and so much more! I have absorbed lots of great parenting techniques, discovered so many inspiring books, and been soothed, inspired and reassured on a page-by-page basis by the varied voices of our contributors: mothers, doctors, homeopaths, doulas, fathers, grandparents, teachers: so many wise souls.

But I have only just realised how many of my fellow JUNO community are also wonderful bloggers, changing the world one post at a time... and I want to share them with you. I am not sure how much they want to keep their anonymity, so let me just say that we have a couple of article contributors, a columnist and our editor-in-chief... These are women who go above and beyond, who inspire me, who create beauty and grand visions, who aspire to live a little lighter and do things their way, who parent with love and respect, and are generous with their time and love, which is, of course, why they're JUNO sisters. So do stop by, and hear what these wonderful voices are sharing...

Give an Earthly
Feet on the Ground and Head in the Clouds
Nestled Under Rainbows
Motherhood and Anarchy

Do share links of others you know of...

Are you a JUNO reader? What part does it play in your family life? Which articles or images have stayed with you? How did you first discover it?

*For those of you who haven't discovered JUNO yet...
Juno is a natural parenting magazine with an ethos based on conscious parenting, sustainability, social justice, non-violence and a commitment to personal growth and spiritual awareness. Juno is named after and inspired by the Roman goddess of birth, fertility, marriage and female genius.
Our aims are to acknowledge the valuable role of being a parent with all of its joys and challenges and to enrich family life and relationships by encouraging reflection, self-acceptance and peaceful parenting; building a sense of community, celebrating the roles of parenting and home making and nurturing creativity.

Our broad editorial contains features, interviews, reviews, personal stories, crafts and celebrations. Contributions from our readers are central to the ethos of the magazine, and it is by sharing stories, ideas and information that we hope to empower you to be the parent you want to be.

I am contributing editor at JUNO.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal-tea Party

So today was the day when my British passport holding half of my split personality got to wave its Union Jack in mock delight. The Pink House hosted a very, very tongue in cheek Royal Wedding party, a royal-tea party... geddit?!

The Queen of Puddings started baking early, thanks to her two little girl alarm clocks...
Cupcakes were on the menu...

Union Jack cakes

And red velvet cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese icing

Chintzy china was laid on a white table cloth (for that read sheet!), bunting was strung, and pink, white and blue balloons inflated.

Glad rags were put on. 

And lots of girly bling was sported by the assembled (and anonymous!!) throng!

Wedding hats were created

And Earl grey tea was brewed most delicately.

Let the festivities begin!

The ceremony was watched at top volume, with great critiquing of fashion...

Hymns were sung along with... and God Save the Queen - with irony of course... and with the windows well closed, so that we weren't stoned!
Then time for a picnic lunch in the sunshine...
With English sandwiches galore, cucumber, ham, smoked salmon and chicken liver pate. and the first of this season's strawberries.
Washed down with home made lemonade... and pink champagne...
And lots more cake!
God save the Queen ;))

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy days

Rhubarb and cardamom cake for breakfast

Kiddies CHOOSING to play outside...

Scrubbing out the paddling pool and filling it ready for summer!

A family picnic lunch on our newly mown lawn

Apple blossom next door

Lots of blog love

Family painting afternoon outside

Roast chicken for supper with my sister, a glass of white wine, the first courgettes of the season, new potatoes with mint and fresh local lettuce with our very own baby leaves to give it a kick.

And pudding... chocolate pavlova with raspberries and cream

And balance...

Another multi waking night, and a cranky mama to start the day.
Merrily has been biting and hitting a lot.
Our dear blue chicken died today.
And I am preoccupied with a fellow blogging mama in grave distress.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The power of love

And when I feel uncertain,
And when I feel unsure,
I return to the heartbeat,
 I return to the womb.

Blessingway Songs: Copperwoman

The first thing our children know is our heartbeat: the rhythm of life. Constant, soothing, lulling, omnipresent, it is the soundtrack to their creation. To be born is to lose the safety of the womb, the gentle thud of togetherness, the mother becomes the other.  And for the first time we realise that we are alone in this world. Alone in this sea of noise and pain and cold and heat and confusion.

At times of panic, stress or anguish it is what we crave: the metronome of love, to reset our own.

The power of a parental heart beat. Perhaps this is the magic of breastfeeding, sling wearing, kangaroo care. Perhaps it is the open chakra of love, radiating into the child. Perhaps it is the primal sense of togetherness, two beings embracing each other, the parental body buffering the storm winds of life, providing the nearest thing to a womb. This is the essence of the mother soul, the Madonna's cloak, this is the balm we can bring to our children and to all who need it. Friends and husbands too often need the healing of the heart, the du-dum, du-dum of pure love.

Nothing has proven the power of the heart more to me than my experience with our three-year- old who is truly terrifying in her strength, her opposition to ideas, and her sheer volume of screaming. Trying to keep myself from reaching overwhelm when dealing with her is one of my deepest challenges. And I don't always manage it.

But if I can stop her reptilian brain system setting off mine (adrenaline production is "infectious"), and hold that calm space for her, and bring her into my body, lying her head on my chest, it has the most incredible hypnotic effect. She settles deep into me, burrowing her head as though she could get right under my skin. Her eyes close, her breathing slows, her head and neck relax, and her body, so often rigid with resistance and aggression, melts into mine. In this state she lets the chiropractor work on her or me wash her hair, the picture of relaxed bliss. And afterwards, her eyes are dreamy and glazed, her voice calm and quiet, her actions gentle and caring. Oh how I need to be able to tap into this more frequently. She has such a maturity for a child her age, such deep loving affection, and the most exquisitely beautiful controlled grace in her movements.

When I see this side of her, when I resist locking horns, butting heads, screaming in total frustration, when I see the beauty of who she is and can be, then I vow to myself to keep trying to work on my own mindfulness, to cut back my own distractions, my delaying tactics, my desire not to engage. She, even more than my other two "sensitive" children, needs me deeply. And when she and I connect, when her deepest equilibrium is set, and she feels totally safe, totally at peace, not lacking in anything, she is magnificent.

And I have a sneaking suspicion we all are. Truly magnificent. We just need to find the obstacles that stand in our way. We need to balance ourselves and our space, to find our womb, to reconnect with our breath, to listen to the heartbeat of life. And then we might fully love and live as truly magnificent beings.

If you liked this, you might like
Me and my girl - how I learnt to bond with my tropical daughter
The Watchful Buddha boy - learning to parent a highly sensitive child
Happy Candles - a gentle way of dealing with tantrums
Cooking with love - how mindfulness affects what we consume
I can't cope - dealing with over whelm 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I can't cope: dealing with overwhelm

As a house full of highly sensitive people*(see end), overwhelm is something we deal with on a daily basis. I have begun to realise that it is not just my kids' high sensitivities that I need to be aware of in how our days go, but mine, and my husband's too. I have noticed a pattern, one which leads to meltdowns... in all of us.

Jangling nerves, too much noise, too many competing demands, time pressure, hunger, anxiety about being good enough or getting something "right", tiredness... I feel my blood pressure soar, my thoughts racing, my breathing tighten, my voice get shriller, my actions rougher. I need out. Now!

Ten minutes of calm to myself and I can come back to the scene with love, gentleness and a genuine caringness. But up till that point I feel myself floundering, my internal monologue yelling and yelling "I can't cope, get me out!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

It's Easter time!
The eggs on our nature table hatched! These baby chicks appeared today!
We have been busy making Easter things: cards, boxes of chocolates for friends, the kiddies even made their own easter eggs and wrapped them in coloured foil - they are very excited about eating them tomorrow - they have jelly beans inside!
Hot cross bun, hot cross buns - our annual tradition - raising, baking, glazing these spicy currant treats - we have friends over to share the eating.
The Easter bunny visited our garden today...
Timmy left a map so it knew where to leave the eggs!
And we left a carrot which was eaten!
The garden bloomed with chocolate
Chocolate lady birds too!


The treasure hunters!

A glorious day of chocolate, sunshine, friendship and shared meals.

Happy Easter to you too!

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Eden to call our own

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival

This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

For years I have dreamt of a garden. A garden to call my own. On my travels through Vietnamese mountain ranges in dilapidated buses and sitting in Zen temples in Japan I dreamed of a place to plant daffodills and strawberries. A little patch of earth to call my own.

This post marks a year to the day that that dream began. It is still very much a work in progress. But being a natural growing thing, it always will be. But oh what a work! There is something for every season and every time I walk around it, my soul soars. It really is our very own little patch of paradise on earth. One which we share with a robin, two blackbirds, multiple pigeons, sparrows and crows, butterflies blue, white and red, assorted worms, and less welcome slugs, wasps and mosquitoes.

There is nothing otherworldly about our garden. It is a small patch of earth in a housing estate. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Super Woman and the good Enough Mum

So I get a lovely email from a fellow blogger: would I do an interview for another blog, on, drum roll please... Super Women? What me? (cue feigned embarrassment)... Why of course...I know a thing or two about that... me, Mrs cake baking, contributing editor, nature table crafting, freelance writer... I AM the essence of Super Woman...

And so I splurge forth my musings on how wonderfully I achieve being me... which I do, actually achieve it, quite wonderfully  (though I'd be a bit lame at being you!) And, here's the point: I'm not sure how much help it'd be for anyone, because you'd make a pretty lousy me! But I was asked, and you can read it on Give an Earthly .

And then the parenting gods struck me down: "Ha! Super Woman, are you? Take that!" – a reprise of the chesty cough and dizzy hot shivers! "And that!": two whingey girls with the same! "And that!": waking half hourly with the baby! "And some icing on your domestic goddess cake?": a really, really messy shit hole of a house and unexpected visitors! "Call yourself Super Woman? Ha, mortal!"

I hastily composed a grovelling addendum to my smug interview:
On reflection, trying to be a Super Woman is precisely my problem! And whilst it's nice to be recognised for what we do and achieve, how we live is far more important. Although most things I do come from my own inner drive, and are often reflective and spiritual, I spend far more time than is healthy in doing, rather than being. This comes at a cost: to my mindfulness, to domestic order and to my own health.

I think the most important thing any person can do is to know themselves and try to find balance amongst the various strands of themselves. And for a woman to know her cycles and her energy levels and work to these rather than against herself. This is absolutely what I try to do. But most often I fail on the balance front – I do too much and then burn out. In our culture this is seen as a good thing... but really it's a form of ego driven insanity.”

So it was with great interest I received a review copy of Good Enough is the New Perfect, a book launched today, based on interviews with 100 working mothers. It is about as far from Radical Homemakers as one can get in tone: the mothers featured are all doctors and lawyers and urban corporate types who talk of choosing between 30 nannies and their over-scheduled, over-stressed and high-achieving lives. But still, it had many interesting insights which I identified with.

Their chapter, The New Mommy Wars, is extremely pertinent, observing that the conflict has moved beyond stay-at-home and working mums, now that the boundaries between these are extremely blurred. Instead women struggle with the multitude of possibilities open to them, and the challenge of choosing the "right" answers... “Who am I? Am I doing this right?” Each mother's life looks different, because each chooses to put the jigsaw together a little differently based on her own unique priorities, meaning that most are feeling alone in their choices, and unsure if she is "doing it right". The greatest toll of this battle is that we often "forget that what is good enough for someone else, is not good enough for us.” Our only guide is a composite of the “good mom” or “Super Woman”, a cut-and-pasted version of everyone's best bits that we compare ourselves to and find ourselves failing... (for more on this see my post on Comparative Mothering). This is where the idea of the Good Enough mother comes in...

So what of the Good Enough mother?
She knows when to say “I Quit!”
She knows she doesn't have to be the best at everything
She stops looking for external approval
And learns to tune into her own inner voice
And remains true to her own definitions of success
She learns to see the "bigger picture view"
She knows that individual choices are less important than her overall record.

I wholeheartedly agree. 

So you, dear mother...I shall leave you with some more of their pithy mama wisdom which rang true for me :

*You can do anything – that doesn't mean you have to do everything!
*Your sacrifices should reflect your priorities.
*If you give up something just because it's hard right now, you may be missing the bigger picture.
*Be willing to decide.
*Balance isn't about having perfect harmony each day.
*There are a lot of right ways of being a “good enough” mom.

So off with you, and may you be "good enough" for you, on your path, in your life, to your kids today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Art for the heart

I am feeling congested, bunged up physically, and the house is reflecting this state. Inside and outside my space things need shifting, beauty needs spaces where grot and practicality currently reside. My soul needs space to rest, to fly, to dream, to soar...

Our house needs art. The walls are pretty much blank. My art that I made and Patrick very kindly framed just reminds me of being 16-17 when I made it. Almost half a lifetime ago. I still resonate with the soul urges behind it, with the colours and intentions. But my lack of skill frustrates me every time I see it. And so I am searching out others who balance the soul, the colour, the pattern, the spirit of art that I need in my life. Let me share them with you...

Heart and Mind - Paul Heussenstamm
Taken from my FAVOURITE art website - if you like mandalas Paul Heussenstamm is the number one mandala artist in the world, based in the US, and very popular with a large number of spiritual teachers, his site has over 1000 mandalas available to buy (originals and prints). I shall be placing an order very soon.

Phyllis Wolff is friend of my mum's, I grew up with her work on our walls. She does gorgeous landscapes of bright colours.
Crab Apple and Kitty - detail
Phyllis Wolff
I just discovered Slippery Jacks a UK based artists' co-operative  with prints for £10 and cards for £1.99 There is so much beautiful spiritual and nature art... if you like this sort of thing! I really love Poppy Palin's work.

From Slippery Jack's
I so love my Earth Pathways Diary - full of uplifting art and writing which brightens my days. check out the beautiful gallery of contributor's work, and pre order a 2012 diary.
by Camael Rose, from the 2011 diary
And Veronica Petrie, our wonderful JUNO illustrator who creates quirky, soulful illustrations of people... do check out her site as I can't grab an image off it.

And have you discovered Red Bubble, where artists share their work? To look and to buy...

And one day soon, you'll be able to buy my mum's work - because she is one of the most beautiful artists I know... if only she'd believe it herself. x

And maybe, just maybe, I'll start to paint again myself!
Beltane #2

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"aliens" "die" "spaceship" "god" "die" "heaven"

I am number one!

Yes, I am number one on Google... if you type in those words: "aliens" "die" "spaceship" "god" "die" "heaven" you get me. Little home birthing, radical home making, random acts of beauty me! I am ranked above Wikipedia and above the crazy UFO websites. Me, Dreaming Aloud , numero uno! How scary is that? How many mad nutters are going to be joining our ranks here now... And it's all Timmy's fault!

How did I know? I have to admit it. I spy on my readers. I find out how people found me and what their google search terms were that led them here to Dreaming Aloud. All in the name of research!

So I'm not...

Ah well.
All is well in my world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


When we attended a Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat in Japan, the word that the whole experience centred around was "equanimity". This is what we were being urged to practice by the disembodied voice coming from the tape recorder of the guru, "cultivate equanimity" the wise Indian voice counselled. "Do not attach yourself to good or bad, remain equanimous, in the present moment, that is the only liberation from the wheel of suffering." I squirmed and struggled and wanted enlightenment NOW, not this trying not to feel anything crap. I wanted to achieve. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to think and worry and drama and past and present. Round and round whirled my mind and the drama of my life.

But you know what, that's where I'm at right now.

Equanimity and trust.

I might be on the journey of creating another life at this very moment. And I probably am not. Both hold seeds of joy. Both would bring their own challenges. I release the need to know, to be in control, to attach my happiness or sadness to outcome.  It is possibility: unlooked for possibility. It is allowing me to process a lot of possibilities and feelings. I trust whatever the path is which unfolds before me. I am happy not knowing. Watching my body for the answers.

This is a new place for me. Me who likes to be in control. Me who likes to hold the answers, to be in charge, to panic and chatter and to know, like, yesterday. Me who has the patience of... an impatient animal! So I urge you to wait too. All will unfold. We can be agitated or calm as it does unfold. The choice is truly ours. That is the power we hold: setting the tone of our time here. I am choosing peace. I am choosing equanimity.

All is well in my world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I can't be... can I?

So here we have it: the evidence:
My husband had a vasectomy last June...
He had two negative sperm samples - and was given the all clear...
I have been a very good girl, no bonking postmen...or chiropractors!
I had all the signs that my period was coming...
But then it didn't...
I am always regular...
My period is now ten days late...

But I can't be... can I?
So it would be TOTALLY ridiculous, like totally mad to do a pregnancy test...
So I'm not going to...
Because I can't be...
It's just we manage to get pregnant by sneezing... well, nearly... we get pregnant when I'm not ovulating. We get pregnant on the one time that we don't use contraception... so who's to say that my husband's sneaky little suckers and my greedy egg won't trick all medical tests and continue to reproduce anyway?!
Is it all the birth books I've been reading (for work) the past few weeks?...
You see I would love to give birth again, of course I would...
But we don't need any more children in our lives: energy-wise, sanity-wise, financially, creatively, environmentally...
So we made a conscious decision not to have anymore... hence the final step of a vasectomy...
Which really shook me, at just three months post partum... a deep sadness which my mind understands, but not my body...
But it was supposed to stop this endless thing of "I'm pregnant... again", and our entire life is turned upside down...
And yet, I had a dream, when pregnant with my second, a very powerful dream of four sandcastles on the shore. They were my four babies...
I have been unable to shake it from my head...
But I can't be...
So I'm not...

Speaking for birth

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"How can I speak for birth?"

That was my question, back when I first felt called to do birth work. To advocate for birth. Natural birth. Birth as she has always been for millions of years. Generation after generation. Nothing weird or hippy. Nothing worthy. Just the miracle of biology which is birth. Donkeys, goats, dolphins and cats do it: nothing weird there. That's all I wish for women, is to experience the magic of life, the wonder of birth. But we have been told that birth is dangerous, uncertain, not to be trusted. And that birthing like animals is beneath us. We need to be saved from that.

But the opposite is true. Natural birth gave me back to myself. It was a revelation to me. And it has become a large part of my life's work. I truly want to help more women share this most fundamental and natural of experiences, because in our medicalised birthing world this is not an inevitability, but a rarity.

I started to mentor childbirth classes but came up against a sticking point: for me, natural birth is the greatest gift, but I'm not allowed to say that. I'm not allowed to say that because people do not want to hear it. I have to pretend that it's all OK. That one thing is much the same as another, so that mothers do not feel judged if they "try" and "fail". And the chances of this are high in most hospital births, especially with epidurals and inductions and the cascade of interventions which follow. C-sections are running at 20 -30%. C-section is NOT a failure. But it spells the end of a natural birth, and a challenge to fight for subsequent ones. And that makes me feel very, very sad for the mother. You see, we're there... I want to speak for birth, but I do not want to upset those who cannot, did not, have her. My heart weeps for all those who wanted her but could not. For the second time mum who feels that her previous dreams of a natural birth were just naivety. That is what inspires me to write and talk about it more. But it also makes me bite my tongue. I must not be seen to be foisting my strange natural birthing beliefs on others, to be judging them when they choose differently.

It is a great challenge. Because most women don't want to hear. Or they don't believe you. Or they think you were just lucky. Or mad to even try. Or they think to birth outside of a hospital setting is nice in theory, but not in practice. And whilst my soul calls out to them clear and loud, my voice stutters and stumbles.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sex after birth

Birth is on my mind a lot as I have so many friends heavily pregnant... Sex less so - tired, tired, tired! But I came across a great post from Hobo Mama, and a wonderful array of comments on a topic so little discussed. One day I may discuss it here, but for now stop by these blogs to find out real mama's experiences, and that you are not alone whatever yours might be.

And for a very positive take on the topic

It is a topic which I am really interested in, and I have written an article for Modern Mum on "Getting your Groove Back" here, and intend to write more on the topic, it is such an important and little talked about subject. Please do take part in my (anonymous) questionnaire on how motherhood has changed your feelings about sex and your body - here.

Please note the links below are from Hobomama's site - she ha bewitched my LinkedWithin app!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Threading beauty

Today we made a blossom garland to celebrate Spring
What fun, threading beauty on a string.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Moon time

Moon time approaching, I am following the call inside to reflect, dream, vision and create for myself. I am taking time to read and reflect and create other stuff. I am back reading Red Moon: Understanding and using the creative, sexual and spiritual gifts of the menstrual cycle. I have done SO much writing and giving out to others the past few weeks (you dear blog readers only see about 1/4 of it!), now is my time. This is a retreat within the confines of my daily life.

All my clothes are torn, so I need to focus on "my" stuff very literally!  I have a number of skirts which need repairing and one I have been meaning to make for about 6 months. Also a few little peg fairies are calling to be made now I have gathered the materials...

Yesterday I made a lovely clay labyrinth for a double motherblessing I am leading on Sunday for two members of our women's group. Am drawn to make another. I have been reading so many birth books for a JUNO feature, and making peace with the fact that my birthing days are behind me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poetry of a Hobo Mama: book review

And so, for your delectation, a new collection of poems by one of the blogging queens of the natural parenting sorority and co-hostess of the Carnival of Natural ParentingLauren Wayne who blogs at Hobo Mama. has taken the big step of crossing over from the virtual world of the blogosphere and into print.

Poetry of a Hobo Mama: The First Three Years

Divided into sections: Prepare, Emerge, Hope, Trust, Enjoy, this collection of poems follows the personal journey of one mother, through her first three years of motherhood. Poignant and real, told with honesty and a wonderfully wry sense of humour she shares: the rawness and longing of miscarriage; the practicality of planned conception; the desolation of death; a celebration of  pregnant voluptuousness; the claustrophobia of new motherhood. As well as natural parenting topics which may never have been poemified in the whole of human history: elimination communication, sling-wearing and co-sleeping!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I'm an idiot

So thinks my two-year-old. Her evidence?

I do not know how to cut toast. There are a range of possible options: life jackets, circles, birds and big ones. All with a sub-set of variations of crust/ no crust combinations. I cannot be trusted to read her mind as to which of these combinations are required right now.

Ditto spoons. Is it the pink one, the baby one (also pink), T's one (a different shade of pink again) or a people's one (adult spoon).

I cannot, under any circumstances be trusted to put on socks. This is the domain of dada.

Ditto pulling up trousers. I pull them up too high. Apparently.

Ditto pulling down trousers to pee. I pull them too low!

So people, there you have it. You are wrong, Cambridge were wrong... I am neither wise nor clever. No, I am a banana. A potato. A slug. An idiot!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something for the weekend

A little inspiration for your weekend...

A thought for the day taken from a very special birth book I am reading to review for JUNO (Natural Birth by Kristina Turner, an esoteric and original guide to pregnancy and birth)...

"We have a great deal more inner freedom than we think. Our outer freedom will always be limited by the chance events that shape our lives, but we can learn to maintain our inner freedom."

An image:
For Japan with Love - on my mind every day...
And food... pop over to my Queen of Puddings blog to see what's hot in the cookery blog world - tie dye cupcakes anyone? Or Strawberry and white chocolate soup?

I'm off to plan a motherblessing for next weekend, and then a life affirming luncheon and a spring walk in the sunshine which has returned!

Happy weekend to you... 


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