Category: health

What is your ‘life score’?

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michael-hyatt-quote-progress-only-starts-when-you-get-clear-on-where-you-are-right-nowDo you sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees?

I seem to be in that state of mind a lot more often than I’d like.

I’ve set many goals over the years (physical, spiritual, financial, business and otherwise), but sometimes I get so caught up in the overwhelm of life that I have trouble moving forward.

Sometimes I need help to gain clarity on where I stand so I can get to where I want to go.

Most of life is a journey, not a destination, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set goals, work toward outcomes and assess our progress along the way. (That’s the journey.)

Progress, not perfection, is a phrase I’ve had to cling to when I catch myself falling back into my perfectionistic tendencies.

For nearly two years, Michael Hyatt, his team and their resources have helped me have more clarity as I work toward a more effective, confident version of myself. (I want to use my own little corner of the internet – here at To Well With You – to help you on the journey toward being the person God intends for you to be, as well.)

As Michael says, “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

If you’re not already in the habit of assessing where you are, Michael’s free LifeScore Assessment will help you get started. It’s a measure of 10 interconnected areas of your life.

I just took the assessment and scored 70.

This simple tool, where I was asked to rank myself on a scale of 1-4 in 10 categories, pointed out areas where I’m doing great and areas I might need to put some more thought and time into developing (such as physical health and finances).

The results were very encouraging, because they gave me a base from which to work.

I’d love it if you’d take this quick assessment and share your results and any thoughts with me (either in the comment section of this post, or in private by emailing me).

If you’re honest with your self-assessment, you might just be pleasantly surprised at where you are, or maybe you’ll decide to reach out for more tools (accountability buddy, perhaps?) to nudge you toward making some needed changes.

We’re just four weeks (FOUR WEEKS!) from a new year, a time when many people like to start fresh and move with greater focus toward self-improvement.

Personally, I look forward to 2017 as a year to #focus and #bebrave.

What are you looking forward to in 2017 – or for the next four weeks? If you need some ideas, take the assessment and share your thoughts.

And, as always,

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The Well Well Well Project – what’s for lunch?

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PrettySaladJust thought I’d check in with you this evening before heading off to bed.

I’m gearing up for an awesome week, and I want the same for you.

I have a few items on my to-do list for Monday (I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I’ll get more done than if I hadn’t made a list).

ToDoList07112016On the elimination diet I mentioned the other day, I have attempted to set myself up for a successful week. I started the Whole 30 on July 1 (a Friday), and I’ve been on vacation since that evening. I start back to work on Monday, after a successful 10 days on the plan.

OrangeSlicesI didn’t realize it when I scheduled my vacation, but that was the perfect set-up. After surviving Day 1, a workday (I came home for lunch and fixed myself Whole 30-compliant snacky foods), I’ve been home for meals and couldn’t be more happy with the results. (I’ll tell you a couple of the things that are improving – besides weight loss – at the end of the week.)

For now, I’m sharing with you some inspiration, in the form of my lunch for the next couple of days (when I make a salad, I throw in whatever veggies and fruits I have on hand, and a lot of it comes from the farmers market); a snack (I’ll have half a boiled egg and some raw almonds with half of the orange pictured at right); and a wish:

May your week be filled with healthful, delicious food, positive thoughts and the knowledge that God loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

Tell me in the comments: What is your game plan for this week? If you don’t have one, pause for 5-10 minutes to think about one way you could make a positive change in your life. (Baby steps.)

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The ‘Well Well Well’ Project – life declutter

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This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!
This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!

It’s time to take my “decluttering” mission seriously.

In that vein, I’m going to be painfully, brutally, embarrassingly honest.

(I can’t seem to do life any other way.)

I’m going to show you pictures. (Embarrassing pictures.)

This is such a big deal to me (and to you, I hope) that I’m giving this sucker a name: The Well Well Well Project.

I’m doing this for two people-groups:

1) Me.

2) You.

Why did I list myself first, when my purpose for this blog is to help others live their best lives?

Well, you know how the flight attendant always instructs you to don your own oxygen mask first, before you help your child or other helpless loved one do the same?

Same principle applies here: I have to help myself so that I can help you (does that make you my helpless loved one?). I can’t guide you on how to declutter your life without doing it myself first. With pictures. (Ugh.)

That’s my oxygen mask: starting the ball rolling on my own mess. It’s also how I’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, what I can recommend and what you can skip, plus other helpful information. (With humiliating pictures.)

My desire is to dispense with everything that’s cluttering my life so that I can live it without regret, confusion, delay, displaced priorities or any other kind of stress. And I want that for you, too.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN

Here’s what I want to declutter:

  • My home (household items, personal files, finances, car and property).
  • My body (with exercise, healthful eating and weight loss).
  • My mind (family calendar, freelance scheduling, email inbox and other things that tend to stress me out on the regular). This one is the real challenge.

Most of the process involves purging the unnecessary and organizing the necessary (after deciding which is which). I have many sources to draw from (I’ve been reading declutter/organize books and articles for years), and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

This will require a lifelong maintenance plan, but let’s get the clutter out of the way first. We can learn about maintenance along the way.

I’ve already started this process in a few areas:

This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)
That’s a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see my husband’s collection!)

1) Home: A year ago, I reorganized my bedroom closet (just mine; I didn’t touch Bruce’s). I wrote a bit about it on my other blog, including a “before” photo (above), but I never finished the whole-house project. I’ve been taking baby steps along the way (started working on a kitchen purge last month), but this time it’s going to happen – by Dec. 31. Period.

(What’s gonna be different this time? My expectations about how much I can get done at one time and how much time I have to write and post pictures about it. Also, setting a deadline makes a project much more likely to be completed – so the experts say.)

2) Body: I’m on Day 7 of a 30-day elimination diet (one that excludes potential “trigger foods” in an effort to find out what might be causing certain physiological problems). I’ll tell you more about that in a future post, but I can say that it is a CHALLENGE and I’m glad I’m on vacation this week. Being home makes it sooo much easier.

3) Mind: The best nonfiction book I read last year was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I wish I could say I had published a review of it, but that was one of my “good intentions” that I didn’t follow through on.

One of my failures to follow through involves my blogs (I’m probably cray-cray for having two, right?). For instance, I finish a great book and intend to review it, then I don’t. Or I start a great book and decide to write a multipart series on the book’s sections, then I write one post and don’t write the others (or finish reading the book). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?

Sometimes I think I have attention-deficit disorder (maybe I do), but a lot of it has to do with blogging and freelancing on top of my full-time day job. My schedule is overloaded, and my mind can’t keep up with the clutter.

BOTTOM-LINE IT FOR ME, SISTER

Here’s how I envision this project:

  • I tackle a particular area, take pictures (if appropriate – I will NOT be posting pictures of me in my underwear for the weight-loss portion), post here and on social media (this is going to get interesting) and basically humiliate myself – all for you (and, yes, for me).
  • You decide to join the fun by tackling a challenge in your own life. (Don’t worry; we won’t expect you to post pictures of you in your underwear, either.) Your challenge can be about ANYTHING you want it to be. Maybe you need to get into the habit of flossing your teeth every night (I finally started doing that this year, and I’ll tell you later about the two things that helped). Or maybe you want to start eating better. Maybe you need to start going to bed an hour earlier each night. Or cut out the late-night Oreos (not that I would know anything about that). You just pick a thing and tell us about it.
  • Or you wait awhile. Maybe you know you need to change some things but you’re not ready yet. I hear you, my friend. Change is hard (I believe I said that once before), and no one can make you ready before you’re ready. I’m here to hold your hand, though.
  • Expect at least one post a week. I’m not going to promise more than that (see? I’m learning), but I might write more if my schedule permits.
  • Let’s figure out together whether this needs to be a bigger thing: Do we need our own Facebook page, Instagram challenge, Pinterest board? Crisis hotline? Pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (Oops – nevermind that last one!)

Tell me what you want and need. Better yet, tell me what you’re going to commit to. Then you can tell me what you need.

Life is hard enough on your own; let’s do this together.

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

Here are a few books I’ve read, apps I’ve used and websites I’ve visited over the years that have helped me along the journey to sanity. In fact, I plan to read a few of the books again. Take a look at some of them if you need help deciding what to tackle.

IT’S YOUR TURN

Ready? Your first assignment, once you’ve decided what you’re ready to tackle (something small, like flossing, or something big, like eliminating processed sugar from your diet): Tell me about it in the comment section.

Let’s do this!

(On social media – Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, wherever – use the hashtag #WellWellWellProject.)

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Get yourself – or a loved one – a Road ID

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RoadIDbands_edited
You can put whatever info you need to on the band – up to 7 lines. I have my name, year of birth (so EMTs will know my approximate age), phone numbers of hubby, mom and brother, “No Known Allergies” at the bottom of one and “Mitral Valve Prolapse” on the older bands (before my surgery). Bruce has “Run for Fun” on the last line of his, and on my mom’s I put “Diabetic.”

In the years since I started wearing a Road ID, I’ve become somewhat of an evangelist for the ID bands.

When I received my first band, I wore it only when I ran outdoors – especially if I was running alone. I got Bruce one, too.

Then I got us each a second band. Gotta have a backup for when the original one is sweaty and in need of a wash, right? By then I was wearing a Road ID whenever I ran – and whenever we traveled – and I urged Bruce to do the same.

Then, in 2013, I had heart surgery. Took my Road ID with me to the hospital, and I kept it on at all times. (You never know when they might wheel the wrong unconscious patient down that long hallway to the OR – I didn’t want them to remove a kidney when they were supposed to be fixing my leaky valve.)

By that point, Road ID was a no-brainer. I now wear my bracelet any time I leave the house. Period.

A couple of years ago, when I was buying a dress for my cousin’s wedding, I decided it was time to order a “dressy Road ID” (something besides a fabric and Velcro version that I could wipe clean easily and wear to church and nicer events and not feel so … sporty). I ordered myself a white one and Bruce a black one – both silicone bands.

So, a few days ago, when I discovered that Road ID has an affiliate program (I’ll explain that in a minute), I leaped for joy!

I believe in Road ID.

I nag people to order their own Road IDs.

I bought my mom a Road ID. She’s diabetic, and I make her wear it during travel and hospital stays.

ROAD ID COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

I’m not going to nag you, but I want you to understand the importance of having identification and emergency contact info easily accessible in the event of an accident that incapacitates you. I’ll let the testimonials on the website speak for themselves.

So now I’m an “affiliate” of Road ID. This means that if you click the Road ID ad on my page (at this writing, I have it as a banner on top of the page, but I might move it to the right sidebar in the future), or this link, and you make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission.

I would never endorse – or become an affiliate for – any company or product that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly.

Ask my friends how long I’ve been singing the praises of Road ID, and nagging them to get one (or two, or three – they’re not pricey).

A long time. And I only got approved as an affiliate yesterday.

So … click the link, pick out a custom band for yourself or a loved one, or buy a gift certificate and explain to the recipient the importance of this gift … and gain a little piece of mind.

You can buy a band for your wrist, your ankle, your shoe … there are lots of options, my friend. Lots of colors and designs, in case plain black or white bores you. There’s even an interactive version, in case you want to sign up for an annual membership and be able to update your info electronically any time it changes.

Ordering a Road ID is worth the small investment of your time and a few dollars, especially when you consider the pricelessness of a human life.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 11/02/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

HOLIDAY • ORGANIZING

Fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers member Mary knows what it’s like to be stressed out (don’t we all?), and one way she deals with that is by being organized and helping others do the same.

As we all know, the calendar has rolled over to November and our schedules are about to kick into hyperdrive (as if they weren’t already overloaded). That’s why I was happy to discover Mary’s cute, festive and oh-so-helpful (and did I mention cute?) holiday planning guide, including a checklist for meal planning, travel prep, gift buying and more.

Holiday-Guide-Image-2015Check it out: Holiday Guide: Calendar & Checklists

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HUMOR

DoOverCoverSometimes laughter is the best medicine (especially when “someone” has already eaten your square of emergency chocolate). I’ve been following Do Over author and speaker Jon Acuff for a few months, since participating in a Michael Hyattpromoted webinar in the spring. I can totally relate to Jon: He has an unnatural 🙂 obsession with trying to make people laugh (and he doesn’t fall flat on his face nearly as much as I do!); he’s a writer; and he wants to make a difference in the world.

Maybe you won’t get this one if you’ve never thought of writing a book, never worried what others think, never tried to change the world with your brilliance and generosity 🙂 … but I think he nailed it.

Check it out: Writers are crazy. Here’s proof I am.

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HEALTH • DIET

Elizabeth'sSpaghettiAndTableI didn’t battle a weight problem until I was about 30. By my birthday that year, my hips had grown wider than I was accustomed to, and it only got worse from there. Part of my reason for blogging about my struggles is to help others (while helping myself work through it and to stay accountable).

With all the crazy talk about diet and health, including mega-money spent on marketing and advertising cheap, fake, unhealthful foods, Dietitian Cassie’s blog was a breath of fresh air. I’ve written about her before because I love her sensible, open-minded approach to healthy living. In this post, she gives her thoughts on “cheat days,” which I used to take advantage of until I realized that if I were eating real food in a balanced way, I wouldn’t feel deprived.

Check it out: What About Cheat Days? (5 Considerations)

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That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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A Whole30 days of clean eating: It’s a gut feeling

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Whole30QuoteA year ago I was off sugar and grains, and I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve read so much about inflammation and the things that cause it – sugar being one of the main culprits – that it didn’t take much convincing for me to start following the No Sugar No Grains philosophy. I read a book and listened to a podcast explaining the benefits of following the guidelines: avoid simple sugars, limit natural sugars (don’t overdo the fruit juice, for example); don’t consume grains, including corn, rice and wheat; and stick to complex carbs in limited quantities.

That plan made sense after some of the books I read (I’ve read a lot of them) and the dietitian I follow, and I kept up with it and the NSNG creator, Vinnie, on his podcast – until I just couldn’t stomach the vulgarity on his podcast for one more day.

By the time I quit listening to the podcast, I had already fallen off the wagon, and now I’m a carb addict again. (One little slip can send you down a slippery slope if you’re not careful.) I do order Vinnie’s multivitamin online, though, because I trust him when he says it’s pure: no fillers, no artificial ingredients, all that stuff. And the price is great.

So when a blogger friend posted a few days ago that she was about to start the Whole30, I was skeptical, but because I trust her judgment I decided to check it out. I had never heard of Whole30, but I visited the website and really liked what I saw.

It was No Sugar No Grains with one addition (or subtraction, if you will): no dairy.

Gulp.

I come from a long line of milk drinkers. In fact, I liked the No Sugar No Grains plan because I could have milk. The Taylors LOVE milk with a passion that is so strong I can hardly explain it to you. Like the sun’s gravitational pull on the earth. That strong.

So, even though the NSNG proponents cautioned that I might do better without dairy, I just wasn’t willing to give up milk.

That was then; this is now.

Many of the Taylors are overweight and, worse, unhealthy. That gravitational pull is enough to get me to rethink my milk obsession.

Starting today, I’m giving Whole30 a whole 30 days to see if milk contributes to some of my problems: seasonal allergies (“seasonal” for me meaning 365 days a year), eczema, my self-diagnosed “silent reflux,” trouble controlling my weight, and any number of other things that might be improved with a cleaned-up diet.

I don’t like “diets” in general, for various reasons, but this one is really just an elimination plan that the creators consider a “reset” for your gut and your body. Get all the junk out and see how your body responds. See how well you sleep, whether your diabetes or your blood pressure or your hormone function improves, whether mood and mental clarity take a positive leap.

You can read the testimonials on the Whole 30 website, and, let me tell you, friends, this is the best “diet” website I’ve ever seen. The founders of this plan are transparent, forthright and not “sales-y,” as far as I’ve seen. They lay out exactly what to expect, and they include a printable PDF that boils it down to four pages. I also started reading their book It Starts With Food ($9.99 on Kindle; audio version also available) on my lunch break today, and I like their approach.

One more thing: When I’ve “dieted” in the past, I regret that I’ve never journaled what was happening to my mind and my body before, during and after. Remembering to sit down and write in a notebook is just hard.

My solution: My journal will be public, and it will be part of this blog. No way can I forget to post it here. 🙂

Don’t worry – I plan to keep it short and simple, just the broad strokes. I want to be able to say things like:

Thursday, the day before I started, I ate too much trail mix and drank too much diet Coke because I looked at it as my “last hurrah” before starting the plan.

It’s kinda silly now that I see it on paper.

If you look over the Whole30 site and decide you want to join me, leave a comment or email me at suzy@suzyoakley.com. We’ll take the journey together.

I’ve been through this before, and I can almost guarantee you’ll thank me at the end of your 30-day experiment. You’ll learn things, and you’ll feel better.

Let’s do this!

(Note: In case you were wondering, no one paid me, urged me or even asked me to mention any of the products I wrote about today.)

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 07/20/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:

HEALTH

My dad started smoking before he became a teenager — maybe age 11 or 12. After at least two heart attacks, bypass surgery and years of attempts to stop smoking, he died of heart disease. He was only 59. (Actually, on that horrible day, the doc said it wasn’t actually a heart problem that killed him, even though his heart hadn’t been working well up to that point; something happened in his brain. Mom thinks it was the drug he was taking to help him quit smoking.) Dad’s older brother, also a smoker, died of lung cancer. Decades earlier, their father died of emphysema and cancer. They watched their dad take his last breath, yet they still smoked.

I sit next to a smoker at my job and, even though a cubicle wall separates us, I inhale secondhand smoke every morning and first thing after lunch (she sits in her car and smokes). When she enters our workspace, she reeks of it.

I had asthma as a kid and still have lots of breathing issues; it would be an extreme understatement to say secondhand smoke is unpleasant.

My co-worker is 31 and has three little girls; I don’t want to see her die of a tobacco-related illness. I know what it’s like to lose a beloved parent to this. (My dad, who in my eyes hung the moon, died 11 days before my wedding.)

I used to nag Dad about his smoking. That was before I realized that overcoming a “bad habit” — especially one that involves addictive chemicals invading your body’s systems — is more complicated than just deciding to quit. (And the tobacco companies do their best to keep your cravings strong.)

The solution, in my opinion, is to keep people from picking up that first cigarette. That, in itself, is a challenge because, for some reason, kids think it’s cool.

I HATE CIGARETTES.

Here’s a powerful SlideShare presentation with some grim facts about smoking; maybe it will help at least one person decide not to start.

Check it out: (Just click the right arrow to see the next slide. And don’t worry; the slides aren’t overly wordy, so it won’t take you long to get through them.)

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[slideshare id=5602255&doc=smoke-theconvenienttruth-ep-101028211434-phpapp01]


FOOD/RECIPES

zucchini-noodle-bowl-thumbnail
Photo courtesy of Taste Arkansas

Fellow Arkansas Women Blogger Heather DiSarro makes some wonderful dishes. In fact, her blog is called Heather’s Dish. (She’s an awesome photographer, too.) Head on over to Taste Arkansas (the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s blog) and get Heather’s recipe for Zucchini Noodle Bowls. It’s a low-carb way to have your “spaghetti” and eat it, too. 🙂

I can’t wait to try this dish. (Gotta get me some zucchini first.)

Oh, I almost forgot: If you post a comment below the recipe, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a Spiralizer. I’ve wanted one of those for a long time. (On second thought: Don’t post a comment; I want to win it! 🙂 )

Check it out: Zucchini Noodle Bowls


#10THINGS

10 ThingsLogoMercy, I almost forgot that I’m supposed to be telling you stuff you don’t know about me. (See this post and this one for the scoop.) OK, here goes Part 3 … ugh.

I cleaned out my closet yesterday. Took out every stitch of clothing, every shoe, every sheet, every tote bag and purse, and every stuffed animal or doll (yes, I still have my babies) and flung them onto the bed.

It wasn’t pretty.

(Also, I didn’t fling; I placed. 🙂 )

Last week I mentioned a book I had read with the promise that I’d write about it in more detail this week. I’m going to post an actual book review, but what I need to tell you today is that …

I have clothes in my closet in size 8 and in sizes 14 and 16.

That’s not the hard part. This is the hard part: All the difficult work I put into losing 50 pounds in the past couple of years was very valuable, and now the weight is back on. I’ve managed to start going back in a positive direction, especially after my last cardio checkup in late May. After a hello hug, my cardiologist said there seemed to be more to me to love this time around. We talked at length about why this weight is back, all the challenges I’ve had since my heart surgery, and how stinking hard it is to lose weight. (It’s a lot harder than it used to be. I used to be able to set my mind to it and just do it.)

Bottom line: I’m working on it, and I’ve lost 8 pounds since I saw him. That’s a start, but after the initial 6-7 pounds, I’ve been losing and regaining the same 1 or 2 each week.

This is the first time I’ve written about it. It’s embarrassing, especially when I call myself a wellness coach. (Hypocrite?)

It took me a couple of years to lose the weight, and that’s as it should be — it’s safer that way, and a quick fix teaches you ZERO. And it took me about 18 months to gain it all back.

I keep saying — to myself and others — that I’m sticking by my original statement: If it takes (X amount of time) to lose it but I help someone else in her/his struggle along the way, it’s worth it.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. God either causes it or allows it, because He sees the entire picture — all we see is our little slice. My weight struggles are part of that picture — my own journey to wellness and wholeness — and my goal is to learn from this. I can only think that I haven’t learned all the lessons I’m supposed to learn on this journey, so I’m having to repeat some of them, and learn new ones.

I’m very grateful that you’re here today, and if you need someone to come alongside as you battle a challenging situation, please get in touch by leaving a comment or emailing me at suzy@suzyoakley.com.

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …

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