Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I was struck by lightning

Howahhh. What? 

Yeah, I was struck... by the Lightning Process...

And I can't keep quiet about it a minute longer. Every single day I read posts on Facebook about people suffering from chronic illnesses or conditions (like ME, chronic fatigue, migraines, depression, anxiety, food allergies, other allergies etc.), and I know of something that can help them. It would just be incredibly selfish of me not to share my amazing journey.

But first, what in the world is the Lightning Process? It's an amazing training programme whereby you learn how to rewire your brain and to train your brain to tell your body what to do so that you can get better when you are stuck in your life, or stuck in your health.

For those of you know me or who have been following me for a while, you will know that I suffered from post natal depression after the birth of both my children, that anxiety was a big issue, and that my self esteem and body image had never been amazing. 

When my second child was a few months old, I bumped into Sarah. I hadn't seen her in quite awhile and the last time I had seen her, she was suffering from chronic fatigue and multiple food intolerances. That day, she was full of energy and eating the same as me. So I asked her what had happened, and she just answered, "I did the Lightning Process and now I'm fine and I can eat whatever I want". Well, I wanted to know her secret and I wanted to do the same thing. 

At the time, it turned out the only Lightning Process trainer was in Auckland, and the training programme was over $1,000 (it still is by the way). I felt really deflated, but Sarah told me that she was training to become a recognised trainer and that she would be in touch when she was fully qualified. She did! But I couldn't afford it, or maybe I wasn't desperate enough.

You know, 

Sound familiar?

Earlier this year however, I had had ENOUGH. I was on anti-depressants every other day but I was tense, pretty anxious, highly strung, without a sense of humour, and generally tired of faking it. I was angry and disappointed with myself for not enjoying motherhood. I was also very, very tired of sneezing all day every day and reacting to every little pollen and allergen in the air. I wanted to be able to visit friends with cats if I so wished. I wanted to look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman. And I wanted to know what to do with my life.

I was driving one day and I thought, 

Ann, you're just existing. You are waiting for each day to pass so you can get to the next one, and then the next one, until the day you die.

That day was my turning point.

I emailed Sarah Field who is the Lightning Process trainer at Monarch Life, ordered Phil Parker's Introduction to the Lightning Process, and signed up after I'd read it and had a chat with Sarah. On the 1st of August, I was sitting in her training room with 6 other desperate people, and for 3 days I drank in every word and learned how to train my brain to tell my body what to do.

After day 1, I experienced BUBBLES OF JOY! (I hadn't experienced that in over 7 years)

After day 2, I went clothes shopping and didn't have one single negative thought about myself. (I had never experienced that)

After day 3, I was actually looking forward and excited at the prospect of going on holiday to Fiji with my family. (I had never looked forward to spending several days in a row with my kids with no respite. To that day I was dreading that holiday and was wondering how I would get through it)

Today, almost 2 months later, I cannot tell you the number of times my husband has just stared at me unbelieving. I have blown him away. We had an amazing holiday in Fiji. I am not stressed about these school holidays and I haven't planned every minute in advance. I use my calm voice so much more than before. I enjoy being with my kids a lot of the time. My allergies have all but disappeared, and on the rare occasions when I do have symptoms, I do the Lightning Process steps, and they go away. My self confidence has grown in leaps and bounds. I am not afraid of the future and have confidence in my abilities. I experience joy and happiness. And my daughter gave me 2 amazing gifts. She said to me one day shortly after I did the training: "Mum, you actually laughed today!". And on another occasion she said: "Mum, you don't get angry anymore" (I do get angry, but I am able to control it now). I do now burst out laughing. I do giggle. 

There is so much more I could say, but what I really wanted to do today was share how the Lightning Process training course has changed my life for the better. I am off anti depressants (and so much better than when I was on them). I am mostly off asthma and allergy medication. But most importantly,

If you find that
- you've lost your sense of humour, or
- you're not living a life you love,
then the Lightning Process training can change your life too. Please get in touch with me if you would like to know more or if you have any questions.

You can find testimonies on how the Lightning Process has changed lives here.

Kia Kaha dear readers. Be Strong! 
And do leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.

Caution Note: do not stop medication without talking to your GP as well as your Lightning Process trainer.

For those who may be wondering: the Lightning Process did not and does not clash with my Christian beliefs. If anything, my faith is even stronger than it was.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Holiday Bunting in 8 Easy Steps!

I've had this idea in my head for a while now but have never actually sat down and done it this way before. 

I started planning school holidays more effectively last year (I still don't understand parents who love school holidays by the way). But the kids weren't very involved. Everything was in my calendar and I shared the plans with them little by little, but they had no sense of ownership. 

So, if you like to plan ahead, and also be a little creative and not spend a lot of money, this idea is for you: a

Here are the steps to follow:

1. On a piece of paper or the computer, create a list of ideas of things you would enjoy doing with your kids over the holidays. Include outdoor and indoor, free and not free. Also include people you would enjoy having a play date with. Write everything that goes through your head. For ideas, please scroll down to the bottom of this post or check this out.

I love brainstorming in cafes.

2. On another piece of paper or other Word document, make two columns - one for each week. Add 5 lines for each week, 1 line per working day (add weekends if your partner will be away or working on those days as well). I also separated each line into morning and afternoon. Start filling in the blanks with your ideas from your brainstorm list. Send messages to those you'd like to meet up with and add them to your table once they are confirmed.

3. Get excited about your plans and about how your kids are going to enjoy their holidays!

4. Get your bunting necessities together:
  • scissors
  • pen
  • black permanent marker
  • 1 piece of paper per day to fill up (10 in my case)
  • 1 little cello or zip lock bag per day (10 in my case)
  • your plan for the two weeks
  • a piece of string or ribbon (whatever you have on hand)
  • a pack of mini pegs (2 dollar shop)
  • a pack of felt stars or star stickers (2 dollar shop)
  • cello tape

5. On each piece of paper, write the plan for the morning, and for the afternoon.

6. Then fold the paper in two (so that the contents stay secret), and write the date on the front.

7. Insert the folded paper, with an initialled star (this is to determine who will be the star of the day that day) into the little bag, close and set aside. Repeat for each day of the holidays you planned.

8. Secure your ribbon or string somewhere (fridge, wall, etc), and attach the little bags to it, in order or not if your kids are older, with the mini pegs. 

You're done!

Doesn't it look super cute? My kids are so excited each morning to discover what we'll be doing for that day. And of course, I stay as flexible as possible and adapt where necessary. There are not many squabbles about who goes first etc. because the Star of the Day is pre-decided.

And for the first time EVER, I'm enjoying the school holidays! I NEVER thought I'd say that. I don't love the holidays. And I do prefer Term time, but I'm not waking each morning with a sense of panic.

I have a plan. I feel empowered! If you want a look at what we're up to, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Happy holidays Mums and Dads! Let's try and have some fun.

Kia Kaha! Be Strong!


Activity ideas I had this time:
  • playdates (include names)
  • chipmunks/junglerama/laughalots or other similar indoor playground
  • zoo trip
  • build lego
  • treasure hunt
  • water balloons
  • build a fort
  • visit a favourite cafe
  • movies
  • visit a pet shop
  • baking
  • make pancakes
  • swimming pool
  • discover a new playground
  • ice cream outing
  • library visit
What we are actually doing:
  • Monday 18th: visit a favourite cafe and a pet shop; babysitting swap, reading/spelling
  • Tuesday 19th: swimming pool playdate; quiet at home (incl. reading/spelling)
  • Wednesday 20th: son in care, Mummy-daughter time; babysitting swap, reading/spelling
  • Thursday 21st: kids in care while I work; playdate
  • Friday 22nd: kids in care while I work
  • Monday 25th: Junglerama playdate; quiet at home (make pancakes?)
  • Tuesday 26th: playdate; quiet at home (incl. reading/spelling)
  • Wednesday 27th: son in care, Mummy-daughter time; bake together, reading/spelling
  • Thursday 28th: kids in care while I work; ice cream outing
  • Friday 29th: kids in care while I work

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Clamp my tubes please! Or why I got sterilized.

My daughter is about to turn 7. My son is 3.5. I love them.

Two weeks ago, I got sterilized. Tubes clamped. No more babies please! Or maybe I should say, No more flippin' babies, please. You get the idea. I wanted something definite. 

For E.V.E.R.

No more babies!

I was as sure as I'll ever be and had been since the moment my second child was born. A few months after his birth, as I was still convinced of this and terrorised of having sex (not great for the relationship with my husband), I visited the doctor at my local Family Planning Clinic and asked to be referred for sterilization. I ticked all the boxes and my referral was accepted. 

Now this bit is kind of hazy to me. Remember, I was in the depth of Post Natal Depression and my brain was more than foggy. I saw the gynaecologist, who somehow talked me out of it and I walked out my appointment with a Mirena IUD. I was in shock and I wasn't sure what had happened.

Time passed, and I was still scared (read terrified) of having sex. I just couldn't stop myself from worrying that maybe the IUD had moved, or come out without me knowing. All very irrational, I know. Moreover, I am convinced that what hormones are contained in the Mirena IUD were not helping me get rid of this bloody depression.

So when my son turned 3, I went back to see the doctor, ended up in a mess of tears and hysterics, begged for another referral, which was miraculously accepted.

I went to the appointment with the specialist like a warrior ready to do battle. I was pumped and fuming. I went in, told them in no uncertain terms why I was there, and was told rather nicely that they would grant my wish and sterilize me this time.

This time?, I asked. Apparently, the specialist I saw the first time had taken it upon himself to decide for me and had thought that I might change my mind and want another child later on. I could have got angry. I didn't. I just thought:

Yes! No more babies! Sex with no fear of getting pregnant!

30 minutes before the operation.
Relaxed and at peace.

Two weeks later I was lying on the operation table, then on my way home, drugged up and very sore from the keyhole surgery. Good thing I didn't know before hand how painful the recovery would be, or how slow (don't let any surgeons tell you that keyhole surgery is nothing. It IS something).

Lying in bed over the next few days, I had a lot of time to think. A lot of friends told me how brave I had been. How strong. I wasn't sure I understood why. Deciding to get sterilized was one of the easiest decisions of my life. I never, and I mean NEVER, want to put myself, my husband or my kids through the effects of Post Natal Depression and Anxiety again.

I am completely at peace about my decision. Entirely confident about what I've done. I'm so looking forward to having sex and feeling free to enjoy it fully. But I'm also sad because I have to...

... accept that child bearing is not good for me. And having two beautiful children already, I shall make sure I never bear a child again. For me, the strength does not lie in the decision to get sterilised but in the acceptance of my limitations and the discrepancy between my young woman dreams and my realities of motherhood.

I love this sculpture.
The mother looks totally at peace with her two children.

So why didn't my husband just get the snip, you might wonder. Well, I wondered too. For a while. But then we decided, together, that since I could get funding for my operation, we might as well save the snip money for a holiday or something nice. I don't really care who is sterilized, as long as one of us is.

This is my story, my perceptions, my decision. In no way do I want to influence, judge or criticize anyone else's journey. I just love to share with you and I hope that I can encourage you in one way or another.

Kia Kaha! Be Strong!

Please leave me a comment. I love to hear from you :-).

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bestest Chocolate and Banana Cake - Processed Sugar Free!

So who wants a moist, decadent, delicious chocolate cake? And, it's processed sugar free!

A few months ago, my sister sent me a recipe saying, "just leave out the sugar, it'll be fine without". I was intrigued as it used fresh bananas and apple sauce. I gave it a go and tweaked it a little and my non-chocolate-cake-eater-of-a-son devoured a piece, then another, and then I had to stop him. My daughter and husband loved it too, and it's been easy to make it THM (Trim Healthy Mama) friendly as well, which is a bonus.

I'm also going to share my scrumptious fructose free chocolate icing with you. I use Organic Brown Rice Syrup (this is made from fermented cooked rice and is a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose and glucose. It's 100% fructose free) instead of icing sugar. This was inspired by the lovely Angela from The Sugar Trade during one of her workshops.

So here goes and let me warn you - this cake is good! You can also make muffins or mini muffins with this mix.

For my fellow Trim Healthy Mamas or Men, this would be a Crossover.



3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup apple sauce (no added sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup flour (or ground almonds for LCHF or THM)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup very dark chocolate chips (I chop 85% chocolate into little pieces)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Combine the bananas, apple sauce, vanilla extract and egg. 
Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. 
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes if making a cake, and for 15 minutes if making muffins.


For the icing:


150g softened butter
3 tbsp organic brown rice syrup
2 tbsp cocoa


Beat all three ingredients together until well combined. Spread over cake or muffins.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think of it.

Kia Kaha! Be Strong! (and don't eat the whole cake in one sitting!)

Friday, December 4, 2015

What teachers really want for Christmas

Grain-Free Granola I made for a friend this week.
Delish with Greek yoghurt or overnight oats.

I don't know about you but Christmas is coming up pretty fast and so is the end of the school year. So with no further ado, here is a list of ideas I compiled after having asked some of my Teacher friends what they like getting from their students!

At the end of the day - it's all about the heart.

"Cake. That is all. But more refined teachers than me like things like hand creams, fancy pens, lovely notebooks. Don't get me wrong, I like that stuff too, but if a gun was at my head - cake." K.

"I love getting home-made gifts, cards and letters. It's lovely when the child/student makes something from the heart." A.

"Something personal from the child. A note or a card. Nice pen, notebook. Nice coffee for my plunger. Home made is always good (I've had candles and tree decorations). A tree decoration is nice too - I remember individuals each year as I hang them." R.

"Christmas decorations. After putting up our tree last night, there are 6 from children I've taught." S.

"Christmas tree decorations or bought chocolates. That way I didn't have to eat everything straight away. I could save some for later." A.

Below is a list of ideas and links for you to find ideas. They are ALL EASY!! I don't have time to make complicated things, so these are all things that I would not only be totally happy to give away, but especially that aren't complicated to do with the kids.

Annabel Langbein's Panforte, simply yet beautifully packaged
(photo from her website)

*Home Made*

You can make pretty simple or inexpensive recipes look a million dollars if you package your gift nicely. Cello bags, nice ribbons, cute tags, etc.

3 Ingredient Christmas Cake

Speedy Mayo

Perfect Panforte

Walnut Pastilla

Ginger cookies

- Home made granola. The advantage of this one is that it's a healthy breakfast option, that can keep. The teacher won't feel under pressure to eat it quickly.

- Home made jam

- Bath bombs


- Chocolate truffles

- A nice bought bar of chocolate

- A box of chocolates

*Christmas Ornaments*

- I love these cute button tree ornaments and will try to get some done this year.

- these easy Cinammon ornaments look amazing on the tree

- a sparkly shell ornament, if like me you live by the sea

- a glittery pinecone ornament

*Cards and Notes*

I think all teachers love a note from either the parents or the child, or both. You can show your appreciation for all their hard work and be personal about something specific you or your child enjoyed.

You could say something like,

"I very much appreciate how you looked after ___ this year. I particularly love how you _______________. Thank you very much for all the time and effort you put into caring and instructing the children in your care. Have a lovely Christmas and enjoy the holidays."

This would be an easy card to make with your child.
Idea found here.

*Bought Items*

- Good quality extra virgin olive oil

- Nice coffee or tea

- Beautiful pen

- Cute notepad

- Lovely candle. You can buy some lovely hand made ones at a craft market.

- Christmas tree decoration. They have gorgeous ones at the Trade Aid Shop, or buy from a local artist.

- A voucher

I hope these ideas help you! And do leave me a note if you have any other ideas or useful links we could all benefit from. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Love is not Love

This morning started rather badly. As have most mornings in the past week. We entered this latest monster stage last Thursday.

Both kids have entered said monster stage.

Normally, it's just one at a time. But no. Not this time. I'm blaming the end of the school year. I always have to blame something.

Master J wakes up between 6.15am and 6.30am. He opens his bedroom door and starts pottering around rather noisily. I stumble out of bed (my dearly beloved blissfully asleep), put him back in his bed and silently curse his Momo Monkey clock, which stopped working a month ago. And then I swear silently because we can't afford to get him a new one because of the recent huge car bills, and because we need 2 new tyres, and because life is just flippin' expensive.

So I stumble back to bed wired up and thinking about how I could earn a few extra dollars ever week But then I start panicking because how on earth could I fit anything else in without losing the plot?

Then I usually hear Miss L get up and go to the bathroom, shortly followed by Master J who  never wants to miss out on any toilet fun unless he's the one having to go. The bickering starts.

I stumble out of bed again. Master J goes back to his room with the threat of going down the "ladder of consequences" if he gets up again.

Miss L goes back to bed. A few minutes later, one of two things could happen:

1) Master J goes to the bathroom and I jump out of bed and run to get there before he's taken his stinky poo-y (how does one even spell that?) nappy off and spreads the stuff everywhere.

2) Miss L comes into our room declaring that her brother has pooed  and that his nappy is about to overflow. So I stumble out of bed again, a little faster this time.

By this stage, dearly beloved has usually emitted a few grunts and has very occasionally got up himself.

Dirty nappy incident averted, I look at the time. Is it worth going back to bed? Usually the attraction of my hubby's warm body and strong arms is too strong and I snuggle up for a very few minutes of bliss and tenderness.

7.15am. Miss L's Momo Monkey clock opens his eyes. Both kids come running to be the first to jump on me and give me a cuddle. Kind of sweet, but mostly irritating as inevitably one comes second and starts whining and screaming.

The hubby and I get up. Miss L, who has been getting dressed by herself for months, now whines for help. My patience breaks down very quickly with whining. It winds me up at the speed of lightning. So despite my best efforts, my tone changes. Miss L picks up on it. She starts whining and telling me that I'm mean. I try to help her get dressed despite my mounting irritation. She finds every possible way to slow us down. But the time she's dressed, we are both close to tears.

In the meantime, Master J has been crying and shouting "me sad" for who knows what reason. Dearly beloved is nowhere to be seen. I usually manage to calm him down by putting a Spiderman clip on my phone. As soon as he is settled, Miss L starts whining because her hair isn't done, or because she wants to watch Spiderman too and her brother won't let her, or because her sock is on sideways. You get the idea.

My dear beloved starts making breakfast and asks the kids what they'd like. "Wice kwispies", says Master J. "Oats, blueberries, milk and glucose", says Miss L, "but I put the glucose myself after you've put the milk". If we get the order wrong, all hell breaks loose.

We give the children the 1 minute transition warning. Spiderman will have to go during breakfast. The minute passes. The mobile is turned off. The crying, whining and "me saaaaaaad" starts. And goes on. And on. And on.

It usually takes me 15 to 20 minutes to calm him down with bribery, threats, taking him on my knees, reading a story, cuddles, or whatever works, for goodness' sake

Finally, usually at about 8.25am, 2 hours after being first woken up, things settle down. They put their shoes on, get in the car, and we go to school and kindy (on a kindy day). 

Calm. Quiet. Sweet silence.

On the days when Master J and I hang out, we usually have a great time. He's fun and even tempered and generally helps me forget the hideous start by about 10am.

But I hit a wall this morning.

I told both kids that I was tired of being treated like a slave and being disrespected. I will now stubbornly ignore them if they are whining or if they are disrespectful. My life is going to be hell. I have no illusions. And I hope it doesn't take too long for them to change their attitudes.

It strikes me that God is probably often fed up with me just as I am with my kids. He must wonder why on earth I'm never happy with what I have and why I keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Why I ask him for things more than I thank him for what he's already given to me. Why I don't listen when he speaks to me. But just like I love my children with all of my being, he loves me. And he forgives. And he forgets.

This is my favourite Shakespear quote.
It means a lot to me.

Kia Kaha! Be strong!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

50 random facts about me

Okay, so I had writer's block this morning. I'm sitting there, child free, with a delicious coffee and I can't remember a single thing I wanted to write about this week. That's the problem when you're a working Mum and you only get very limited time to yourself.

Writer's block on this Saturday morning.

So, I thought that instead of getting deep and telling you why I love my Muslim sister and brother-in-law, I'd tell you 50 random facts about myself, in no order of importance. Here goes:

1. I have one obsession at the moment: nail art.

2. I'm very particular about spelling. I spot spelling mistakes a mile away. And it irritates me a lot, especially in professional and published writing.

3. I love God and believe that Jesus Christ is my saviour. I'm a practising Christian.

4. I have a Masters in French and English languages and literature. I have a Bachelors in Sociology.

5. I love my husband and my two children with every fibre of my being and every breath I take.

6. I wish I could paint, or draw, or be arty in any way. But I'm not.

7. I can't play a single instrument (in contrast to my very accomplished pianist husband), and I can just about sing properly. Not in public though. Ever.

8. I've always had body image issues.

9. I love fresh flowers. Sunflowers, peonies and callas are my favourites.

10. I have a passion for baking and cooking. 

Fructose free chocolate cake and icing. In a Tupperware box of course.

11. I will never have enough cook books.

12. I lost 20 kilos after the birth of my second child. I haven't put them back on!

13. I was born in Ferkessedougou (good luck saying that one!), in the north of the Ivory Coast, West Africa. I lived there for the first 13 years of my life.

14. I have 2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister.

15. My parents were missionaries.

16. I don't know where Home is.

17. I have dual citizenship: Swiss and English, and New Zealand permanent residency.

18. I'm pretty obsessed with boxes of any kind. So of course, I love Tupperware.

You could say my pantry is organized. Blame the Swiss blood.

19. I'm terrified of, and disgusted by, cockroaches (13 years of life in West Africa, need I say more?).

20. I enjoy flipping through interior design magazines and dreaming of my future house.

21. I love buying new clothes but can rarely afford it.

22. Before I go to bed, I go on my knees next to my children's beds. I pray for them and I inhale (read "drug myself with") their smell. I can never get enough.

23. My sister and my brother-in-law are Muslims. I love them to the moon and back.

24. I am unable to watch horror movies, let alone remotely violent movies. The latest James Bond was probably my limit of tolerance. There is enough violence in the world. I don't need to see it in my relaxing time.

25. I'm halfway through and I don't know if I'll make it to 50!

26. My favourite dish is lasagne.

27. I hate doing crafts with my kids because I can't stand the mess at the end of it.

28. I'm a little OCD about tidying up. Everything has to have a labelled box. I own a label maker and lots of sticky labels.

29. I'm pretty nutty about good coffee. If it's not good enough, it goes back to the kitchen.

30. I don't eat sugar. My family mostly doesn't eat sugar.

31. I show people how much I love them by cooking and baking for them.

32. I dream of driving around Australia with my husband once the kids have left home.

33. My favourite ice-cream flavours are coffee (no surprise, right?) and coconut.

34. I passed my driver's licence at age 18. I failed the first time, and passed the second time.

35. I don't like exercising. At all. It's like torture. I only do it, sometimes, because I  know it's good for me. If you know of a way to learn to like exercise, I'm all ears. Really!

36. I eat the Trim Healthy Mama way. 

37. The meaning of names are very important to me. My names are Ann (grace) Christiane (follower of Christ). My husband is Serge (to serve) Raymond (wise counsel), my daughter is Letitia (joy) Awatea (the rising of the light), and my son is Joakim (God has established) Arthur (strong as a bear). All our names suit us so well. It's almost freaky.

38. I love perfect poached eggs. I can cook perfect poached eggs.

Perfect poached eggs on mushrooms and bacon. My idea of heaven.
39. I prefer warmer weather to colder weather. 10 years in Wellington has not been easy.

40. My favourite cars are BMWs (they are so silent, so powerful, so elegant) and Audi TTs.

41. I can't decide on a profession. I have so many ideas.

42. I recently discovered that I'm an introvert who likes socializing. 

43. I'm a highly sensitive person.

44. My husband and I both had PND (Post Natal Depression).

45. My favourite colour is coral blue.

Two of my favourite things: coral blue and nail art.

46. I have asthma and don't go anywhere without my inhaler.

47. I wore glasses until I had laser eye surgery 3 years ago.

48. I remember places by the caf├ęs and restaurants I visited.

49. I'm a procrastinator and I love that word.

50. I speak French, English and German. I understand Swiss-German.

And there you go. Wow, that was harder than I expected it to be.

I would love to know some random facts about you too. And I'd love to know where you are in the world. Please do leave me a note. I love connecting with you, my reader. That's the reason I blog!


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