HOLY F*CK! MAKING AMENDS WITH MY EXES

In the first installment of her column Holy F*ck, Alexandra Roxo decides making amends with her exes is the next step on the path of awakening…Photo Credit: Louise Androlia

In the last nine months of being “single” I have done a LOT of work trying to figure out my love life/self/astro chart/addictions/blahblah. Some of that “work” was on Tinder but no need to get into that…yet. Anyway, I decided that in order to move on and clear the slate I would make amends with all my exes. I was having a John Cusack in High Fidelity moment where he’s like, “What’s wrong with me? Why did all my relationships ‘fail’? I should probably seek out and bother everyone I’ve ever dated in order to figure out what it is about me!” Which seems pretty narcissistic, I know.

But the way I saw it, this wasn’t about narcissism or figuring out what was wrong with me. I don’t believe in relationship ‘failure’ anyway. It was about wanting to neutralize our energy, so I wasn’t carrying around a bunch of ‘eugh’ and ‘agchk’ vibes towards a bunch of people that I once loved, had sex with, and maybe even told that I wanted to have their babies…Plus the fact that in order to really move on to new love, I feel it’s important to unpack any potential baggage that is weighing us down. Justin Bieber’s words “Is it too late now to say sorry?” kept echoing through my mind.

No one taught me how to do this and I was just going off intuition, though I had heard it was a part of AA and some program called Landmark that sounded trés culty.  So I consulted my teachers. Marianne. Jesus. Marianne again. She says many things about making amends, but this stuck with me: “Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. When we’re mad at people, we’re angry because of something they said or did before this moment. By letting go of the past we make room for miracles to replace our grievances.”

So at first I thought, should I write everybody a letter? Hmm, it felt kind of like a wimpy way out, like I could just get something off my chest without hearing their (potentially not so charitable) side of the story. So instead I reached out to what had been my biggest primary relationships individually, and suggested we sit down for a drink.

Now yes, it is a little tricky to suggest “just a drink” with an ex – I mean what happens if two vodkas in, the romance spontaneously rekindles itself and you find yourself making out?! #RiskyBusiness. I knew this was a possibility, and yet “coffee” seemed sooooo formal. I mean these are people that have held you at your darkest hour / made you cum many times. Wine, my friends. Wine.

So I sat down with my first ex. This was someone I’d only dated for about six months after having sex on her NFL sheets where she kept saying: “You’re such a dime” while she came. After that she wooed me with a Jaws movie night complete with steamed crab legs and champagne, and we fell in love. She was the kind of person who danced with me to Motown in the kitchen, ate gluten free because I did, and gave me orgasms where I legit saw rainbows of light. (FYI this is called “synethesia.”)

So it was real RUDE of me to ghost on her. When we sat down three years later to reconnect at a mediocre spot in Williamsburg, I apologized first, went into my spiel about being grateful for all of the wonderful things she did for me, all the ways she put up with my neuroses, and how much I’d grown up…while she gulped down some rosé, looked at me and said: “You really fucked me up.”

To which I replied: “I am NOT going to own that, because whatever expectations you put on the relationship are what made you feel that way. I PERSONALLY couldn’t make you feel that way.” But then I remembered this was not about patting myself on the back or being right.

So I said “I am really sorry for my actions. For yelling at you. Being mean. And for checking out when things got tough. I am truly sorry.” We walked through the park quietly after that and haven’t spoken since. She seems happy, I like her Instagram photos on the reg, and I’ll probably text her on her birthday. CHECK.

Next I saw the guy who was my last boyfriend before I somehow gave up men and dated women for six years. With him, I was a little bit nervous. I had dumped him in cold blood for my first girlfriend and…blamed it on the fact he wasn’t spiritual enough. He was an atheist, and I knew I couldn’t date an atheist or raise children with an atheist, so why bother, ya know?

We met at a dive bar. I was nervous, and he’s still hot. Even hotter now. I fondly remembered a time we had sex in the pool at my dad’s condo and the security people taped it and bribed my dad with it. Cut to my internal dialogue: “What if I’m not strong enough? Should I wear lace panties just in case? No. Don’t even shave. Ugggh. Okay. Fine.” When I told him, “Hey, I’m sorry for how much of a crazy diva I was,” he just gave me a cute smile and said: “Don’t worry mama” in that way that had always made me melt. Then he scooted off to help another ex gf move house. THIS IS EASY RIGHT? Hmm, not so fast…

Next was the hot, fast, love affair that happened the summer I was living very gypsy-like, i.e. out of a suitcase and on an air mattress. She showed up at 3am at the place I was house sitting with a bottle of tequila, told me she was dying, cried, fucked me, and I was like “SIGN ME UP!” Then things got really bad between us. She was going through some dark stuff, I was going through a rough patch with my family. I was also living in my creative partner’s office, trying to make art, struggling with addictions, chain smoking…

I recognized that I had to get it together which I thought meant cutting her out. When I told her “No mas!” she cried and told me she vomited for days and had to go to the doctor for an IV, and I basically couldn’t deal. So I blocked her. And from then on, anytime people said her name it was like horror film music started to play…

Needless to say I was VERY nervous to meet up with this one. But I did my energy protection ritual, marched in, drank only half a glass of wine for safety and told her I was sorry and that she caught me when I was in such a dark place. She smiled a really cute smile and was like “It’s okay. We both were.” And we proceeded to talk about our mutual friends and though I lustfully admired her long sinewy fingers I emerged from the bar thinking: “Oh. My. God…we’re friends, we’re friends!” But soon she started texting me and asking me out again to which I politely declined, repeatedly. Eventually she caught on.

The upshot of making amends this way, has been that I’ve realized it’s never too late to take responsibility for your actions, and create a different ending to your story with an ex. You might think: “Oh, what’s done is done is done is done.” But what if you could make something else, something better, the last thing that happened between you? It could even be something random like sending them a box of chocolates or a bottle of champagne, with a note like: “Sorry, I was awful.” No two making amends are alike.

I didn’t need to see my most recent ex (Yogi_Vegan_Lez Orian) since we made amends in semi-real time. It felt and still feels like a MIRACLE OF GOD. Painful, but evolved. We Facetime a lot, often while I’m driving in LA and while she’s on a toilet in Brooklyn. And when I came to NY last we karaoked our song “Islands in the Stream” from Youtube like old times.

I hope from here on out I can try as much as possible to make amends in real time. Which means a) not numbing out from feelings when the going gets tough (umm hi marijuana / alcohol / sugar) and b) Stepping up and taking responsibility for my actions quickly and not stuffing anything away.

When I think back on my exes now no more waves of darkness descend upon me, and no more sob stories about how they were assholes etc run through my mind. Now when I think of them I smile and imagine them saving the planet, curing cancer, etc etc.

Next making amends I’m doing is with myself – because it’s my longest and most important relationship, and arguably the one I need to forgive the most. But for now I’ll take Obama’s apology.

BRAINWASHED: IS LANDMARK A CULT?

When I did the Landmark Forum, I was following in the footsteps of the most badass people I know – and I learned some invaluable life lessons. So why did I find myself asking; ‘is Landmark a cult?’ By Ruby Warrington. Images: Alex Prager for Garage Magazine.

 

Half way into day three at the Landmark Forum, I was ready to run for the hills. Along with 150 or so other people, from every walk of life, I had been cooped-up in a windowless basement in midtown Manhattan for almost 13 hours a day straight, whilst being told that everything I knew about myself, about my beliefs, and about the world, was an illusion. An illusion created by my “always listening” mind (Landmark speak for the ego) to avoid taking full responsibility for my life.

The course leader was busy psyching the crowd up for the “big reveal” – the key teaching of the Forum that would come later that day, embracing which, we’d been promised, would lead to a life of “infinite possibilities”. So long as we “enrolled” everybody else we knew into the Landmark conversation too (at $600 a pop), and then committed to an on going ($900+) study of their “curriculum for life”.

All around me, people had already been having life-changing epiphanies as they’d worked the course – coming out from behind their “rackets” (“fixed ways of being that result in persistent complaints”) and calling friends and family members they had been “pretending” things were cool with to “cough up the fur-ball” of their most shaming truths (‘Mom, I never come visit because actually it felt like you never really loved me’).

Encouraged to publically share their breakthroughs, there had been tears, and there had been cheers. And here I was, feeling an almost physical repulsion to the teachings. Earlier, we’d been asked to identify our “strong suits” – coping mechanisms we’d adopted at key points of trauma in our lives, which had become “ways of acting and being you rely on to produce results and make it in life.” Which, obviously, had to go, along with all the other “stories” you told yourself about…yourself.

I’d identified one of my strong suits as what I always considered a healthy degree of scepticism, or discernment. It’s what made me a good editor. But now it felt like a straight jacket. I’d paid my money and I wanted a breakthrough too! But all I could think, as I took in the scenes around me, was; “OMG this is actual brainwashing in action. Why did nobody warn me Landmark is…a cult?!”

The “c-word” hit the headlines last week, in the aftermath of the HBO documentary Going Clear – an inside expose on the Church of Scientology. And watching the opening scenes, in which they described the Church’s central process of “auditing” members in order to process their limiting beliefs, I was taken right back to that basement room in the Landmark HQ.

Was Landmark Scientology lite?

The dictionary definition of “brainwashing” is; “to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure”. True, nobody forced me to do the Landmark Forum – I actually decided to sign up because I knew so many amazing, go-getting, and seemingly highly-evolved individuals who’d done it, and I basically wanted a piece.

But the constant pressure throughout the course to “enrol” our friends, co-workers, and family members definitely crossed over into coercion territory in my book – echoing the way Scientologists are asked to “disconnect” from any people in their life who don’t adopt the teachings of the church. It’s also the kind of behaviour that gets organisations labelled “cult”, opposed to simply “community” or “club”.

The fact that during Landmark I was also confined to that one windowless room for three consecutive 13-hour days, with minimal breaks for food, and asked not to take notes or go to the toilet (this used to be enforced rigidly, but nobody actually stopped me when I did sneak out for a restroom break), also felt a lot like “systematic” pressure to adopt their teachings.

Then there was the bizarre lingo and double-talk they used to scramble my synapses and “re-program” my thinking. Overall, by the time I left, my scepticism very much intact, it felt simultaneously like a narrow escape…and like there must be something really, really wrong with me.

Watching Going Clear (named for the ultimate goal in Scientology – a mind that’s completely “clear”, or washed, of negative beliefs), the phrase that kept returning to me was; “the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

You know the story right? About the sneaky tailor who convinces the Emperor his “invisible” new suit is actually made of the finest cloth. In fear of questioning their leader’s beliefs, the Emperor’s subjects go along with it – complementing him on his beautiful new clothes, despite the fact they can see for themselves he’s naked.

And this desire to conform is something I felt they played on at Landmark, too. Deeply rooted in our most basic psychology, human beings are pack animals after all. Positioning yourself as the outsider is also something akin to suicide on a primal level. In ancient times, distancing yourself from the tribe was a sure-fire way to get killed by predators, or die from lack of food and warmth. Going along with what’s being indoctrinated therefore is not only preferable, it’s the only truly “safe” option.

Did that explain why everybody around me was whooping and cheering when the “big reveal” finally occurred…while it seemed to me like the biggest “racket” on the planet?

Coming out of Landmark, I immediately wanted to speak to the switched-on women I knew who’d done it too. I was desperate to know if they’d felt the same as me – or if I was, in fact, a hopelessly repressed freak-a-zoid, too scared of facing my own demons to even acknowledge their existence. The overarching response I got was that yes, it was a huge shame that there was so much cult-like emphasis on “enrolment”, and the accompanying financial hard sell. Because the teachings in and of themselves were awesome…right?

And here comes the really interesting part. Seven months on, I can see that they were absolutely right – and that the Landmark Forum was one of the most pivotal experiences on my inner journey to date.

We are all slaves to our monkey minds; we do self-sabotage with the stories we choose to believe about ourselves; and we do have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to “look bad”, and to see beyond the illusion of reality, in order to evolve into the highest expression of ourselves. It is in this place of ultimately authentic self-expression that a life of infinite possibility lies.

Behind all the crazy linguistics and mental manipulation, these are the central teachings of Landmark (and of Scientology, from what I’ve read, not to mention Buddhist philosophy!). With hindsight, I can see how having them strong-armed into my psyche over that one mind-bending weekend last September forced me, on some deep level, to accept and work with limiting parts of myself I used to believe were unassailable.

I’ve since had the kind of searingly honest conversations with my mother that have taken our relationship to a whole other level. I no longer blindly accept what my belief system tells me, and look instead to the cold, hard facts of life.

And if I railed against actually calling any people in my life to “get complete” during my Landmark weekend (I had a lengthy email exchange with my mom, and called a friend to confess a very innocuous white lie), I have since embraced the concept of not sugar-coating stuff for fear of upsetting people, or getting a bad reaction – and seen massive benefits. All common sense stuff, actually, “but delivered in an environment of startling intensity,” as another journalist wrote about Landmark.

As for the “big reveal”? You’ll have to do the Forum and find out what it is for yourself. And if that means I’m now “enrolling” you – well, there must be some chinks in my sceptical strong suit after all.

Have you done the Landmark Forum? What did you get out of it? Connect and share your stories on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

To find out more about the Landmark Forum and their courses visit Landmarkworldwide.com

DO “THE WORK,” HAVE YOUR BEST YEAR EVER

Real spiritual “work” = practise + action – and 2014 was the year I finally signed up, says Ruby Warrington.

Portrait: Thomas Giddings

“Doing the work”. It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in holistic / alternative wellness circles – but what does it actually mean? Is it like the time I went for acupuncture and was given “homework” to do – little sticky packs of Mugwort, called “Moxa”, to affix to my liver meridian and set light to like incense each night? Fair enough, I had been drinking quite a lot to avoid dealing with a stressful work situation, but wasn’t the state of my liver my practitioner’s to deal with?

Apparently not. If I’ve come to understand anything about how real healing, both physical and metaphysical, works in the past year, it’s this: ultimate wellbeing – just like ultimate abundance, ultimate freedom, and, ultimately I guess, ultimate bliss – is a collaborative effort between myself, whichever practise I happen to be working with at the time, and the all-loving, all-knowing Universe itself.

Looking back over the past twelve months, I can honestly say I’ve had one of the best years of my life. And not because everything just “worked out”, or opportunities fell from the sky like globules of golden bird poop. But in terms of my personal evolution, I feel like I’ve busted through blocks (to borrow just a little self-help speak) I wasn’t even aware were holding me back. Well maybe I was aware…but there’s NO WAY I was going to admit it and deal – not in this lifetime at least.

But deciding to face my demons, be my own knight in shining armour and slay the freakin’ dragon once and for all, looking ahead to 2015 I feel simultaneously like I’ve aged a decade and like I’m ten years younger. And it has not been easy. There have been tears, and there has been anguish. There has been much meditating, much journaling, and much reading of books with “Conversations” and “God” in the title.

But above all, there has been a very conscious decision on my part to actually “do the work”.

When I used to hear that phrase, I’d think it was referring to some kind of mystical alchemy that went on inside the body if you did enough yoga, took enough gong baths, or had enough therapy. As if the divine oneness was watching on, and would do some divine laying on of hands to absolve all your issues once you’d reached a certain quota of zen / worthiness.

2014, which shall forever more be referred to as “the year that changed EVERYTHING”, showed me that it’s actually way more prosaic than that. You want to change something? Move forward in your personal development? Bring about the internal “shift” that’s gonna raise your vibration to attract all the abundance you just know is out there waiting for you into you life? Then babe, the buzzword here is action.

For example, it’s one thing to accept that perhaps your cash flow issues are more to do with your attitude to money than the fact accounts clerks get off on withholding checks owed to you – and a whole other deal to weep buckets in a Family Constellations Therapy session as you see how it’s actually intrinsically linked to your Grandmother dying young, and your own mother not really knowing how to give you love as a result.

But the real work? That happens when you then do the Landmark Forum, and realize you actually have to call your mom and tell her it’s never really been okay that she loved your brother more than you, because she’d basically learned how by the time he came along. And then you actually do call her, and there are buckets more tears, but you end the conversation by telling each other how you feel like mother and daughter for the first time you can remember.

Phew! That’s what I call work. And it’s also where the “mystical alchemy” part comes in, because you know what? I’m facing down 2015 in a better financial position than ever. “Money” equates to “mother” in Jungian therapy after all.

And if dealing with my lack mentality was what I decided I wanted to work on in 2014, once the floodgates had opened it turns out it was time to tackle all the other niggling issues I began to realize were all a part of the jigsaw puzzle. Those feelings of lack…well weren’t they also contributing to my inability to share (the load, my visions, my real feelings)? This was another Landmark revelation – the full story / trauma of which I’ll share (now I’m getting better at it) in a later post.

One of my favorite things of all has been learning to work with my intuition this year – you know, actually act on my gut feelings about things, even if this often means taking the scarier, hairier route. If I started to meditate because I thought it would help me get more clarity and focus, little did I know the work my practise was prepping me for was the ability to first notice my truth, and then go stand in it, no matter how many people it might piss off.

And by meditation, I don’t just mean the ten minutes I manage on a good morning. By bringing the practise of being able to step back from my thoughts to everything I do – a hard core workout, a complicated writing assignment, my super intense / difficult / transformational experience at Burning Man, and, yes, my relationship with my mother, has been some of the most important work of all.

I actually predict that “work” and “money” are going to be big themes for us all in the coming months. In numerology, 2015 is a universal “8” year (you add 2+1+5), which is the number of challenges, personal power, and hard-earned reward for your efforts. In other words, do the work this year and the compensation could be bigger than ever. So here’s how…

First up, you need to define what you want to work on. And I say, go big. No shying away from that “thing”, it’s time to drag the monkey off your back, look it right in the eye and declare: GAME ON. (Oh but clue – the real monkey might not be what you think. Like my money issues turned out to be mother issues, the fact you have a hard time holding onto a relationship is, undoubtedly, all about your DAD).

Now just start looking around for the “way in”. Besides the Family Constellations work and the Landmark (which is pretty hard core, FYI), last year I also tried acupuncture, breathwork meditation, had regular visits with a shaman, hit the mat at The Class with Taryn Toomey, and worshiped at the church of IntenSati. Not to mention that transformational trip to Burning Man. Each and every one of which provided an insight, a tool, or a doorway for me to see into.

WALK. THROUGH. THE. DOOR. Don’t just stand there looking at the portal of opportunity any one of your practises has opened for you. Where the rubber meets the road, is where you choose to take action. It’s one thing to get an intense download about your relationship with your father after a particularly crazy Kundalini kriya, and a whole other ball game when you then send him an email laying out all the deets (yes, this also happened to me last year).

Don’t be shy. As in, don’t shy away from taking the necessary action. And if you’re having trouble working out what that is, it’s probably the thing you least want to do. But you know you have to. In fact, if it makes you cry just thinking about it, that’s probably it. Tears – of emotion, of compassion, of release – are often how you know the work is working.

Finally, you’d better embrace feeling a little bit weird, while all this is going on. Our brilliant Tarotscopestress Louise Androlia (aka Louniverse) is also a holistic life coach, and one of her favorite things is to remind her clients it’s actually normal to feel abnormal when your life is transforming, inside and out. So expect to doubt yourself, expect to feel vulnerable, expect to question your sanity sometimes – just don’t expect it to be a breeze, is what I think she means. After all, if it was meant to be easy, it wouldn’t get called The Work in the first place. But it’s worth it.

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: RUBY WARRINGTON

Regular new post alert! Every Friday we’ll be featuring a different Material Girl, and the things in her Mystical World. To kick things off, it’s me! Your Chief Numi Ruby Warrington. Plus a round-up of what’s been rocking my Universe this week. Portrait: Thomas Giddings

Just chillin’ at home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Chakra shirt…coming back soon!

Has this been the weirdest week or what? On Monday I posted about how I like to use Mercury retrograde to revise and re-evaluate key areas of my life. But man, it’s been like scheduling spaghetti out there – for pretty much everyone I know. Head-spin!

I’m gonna blame my inability to concentrate on anything useful for the fact I had a total retail therapy moment on Matches Fashion. New Isabel Marant jacket, check. New Marant sheepskin-lined booties to match, check check (see below). I don’t shop that often since I found a more spiritual path to fulfilment, but when I do, I do it properly 🙂

This was also the week I totally cried at Under The Electric Sky, a documentary about EDM mega-rave the Electric Daisy Carnival (WTF) :: discovered THE most beautiful “intention setting candle” (and fell in love with it’s creator – watch this space for a collaboration!) :: picked up my lapsed meditation practise :: finally watched the Vagina Monologues :: and got stuck into Launch by Jeff Walker – essential reading for anybody running or starting a business online (thank you Gala Darling).

So what have you tried distracting yourself with while Mercury does it’s thing? I actually do wanna know, so Tweet me or connect on Facebook!

Isabel Marant Knowles bootie, Matchesfashion.com

So here it is – all the things that make me a MATERIAL GIRL, living in a MYSTICAL WORLD…

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My Look When I went to get a hug from Amma with Gabby Bernstein, I wore Lululemon yoga pants, a vintage rock-chick tee, biker boots and a Marc Jacobs bag. Gabby described my look as “rock ‘n’ roll yogi” – and I’ll take that, thanks. So lots of yoga pants from brands like Teeki, Vie Active and Vimea, and lots of fashiony, grungy tops. And I love a good Helmut Lang blazer.

My current fave Sacred Feather yoga pants made from recycled materials, Teeki.com

My Shoes Isabel Marant shoes (specifically boots, actually) consistently make me feel pretty special. My friend Psychic Betsy has this meditation where you meet your highest self, and you’re meant to visualize “the best version of yourself”. That’s how I feel in my Marant boots – sexy, cool and powerful.

My Fragrance My ego hates the fact it’s not “cooler”, but the one that gets me the most comments is Sensuous by Estee Lauder – I think it just mixes well with my pheromones. I also love stealing a squirt of my husband’s Patchouli 24 by Le Labo.

My Jewels I always wear the Numinous necklace my husband got me, and this summer I also acquired a pretty special ‘Lemurian’ crystal from Vega Jewelry. Buying myself my first pair of diamond studs (they’re about a millionth of a carat, but still) at ABC Home last year was also a pretty special moment for me.

‘Dem jewels…Charging up the Lemurian crystal at Rockaway beach this summer

My Pampering I have one of those bodies that “needs” a monthly massage, and I go to Lorraine at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg. She does the best deep tissue and barely speaks a word the whole time. I’m also deeply into my Theraputic Balancing Oil by Vered Organic Botalicals right now, which feels super special and nurturing.

My Movie Anything that makes me cry. Most recently that Electric Daisy Carnival docu (seriously, WTF…)

My Food I could eat salmon and avocado, prepared every which way, for days. Ditto the Montana salad at the Jivamukea café in Union Square. And a scoop of vegan peanut butter ice cream from Lula’s in the East Village for dessert.

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My Awakening I wake up with my cat’s meow at about 6.30 or 7 am, make myself a HUGE mug of hot water with lemon and then “try” to meditate for ten minutes. After that I get right onto my machine to write, while my brain is still clean of email static.

My Sign Aries Sun and Sag rising with a Cancer Moon thrown in to cool things down a little. I read it this way: Sun = mind (self-directed and impulsive), rising = body (outgoing and active) and Moon = soul (super sensitive and security oriented). #confusing.com

My Mantra “You’ll never know unless you ask.” And most days, at some point: “I forgive myself.”

My Healer Acupuncture with the amazing Lisa Levine at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, custom flower remedies from very special Kerri Aab, and, recently, breathwork with Numi contributor Erin Telford. But some of my greatest healings have happened on my yoga mat, if you subscribe to the belief (as I pretty much do) that all healing begins at a spirit / emotional level.

Burning Man 2014. Image: Simon Warrington

My Reading I wish I could say there was one book that really shifted my perspective, but maybe I just haven’t found it yet. I read every night before I go to sleep though, preferably fiction. It helps my mind shift gears from the material to the mystical realm (where sleep happens).

My Transformation The second half of 2014 has been ALL ABOUT transformation. Beginning July on a retreat with Taryn Toomey in Martha’s Vinyeyard, I then hit up Burning Man for the first time, did the Landmark Forum and also just completed Gala Darling’s Blogcademy. Each of these experiences has made me stronger and more resilient, more certain of myself and my place in the world, more comfortable expressing myself and more confident about my goals.

My Home Is wherever my husband Simon is, something I became aware of from the moment we first met. Past life connection for sure…

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