Tag Archives: Hobbies

Never Have I Ever (Until Now): The Prologue

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Five years ago, this last week, I set off on a journey that I never anticipated would change my life in such an incredible way. The goal was to try 52 hobbies in 52 weeks. At the onset, I had intended to write a book compiling the experiences and sharing them. I wasn’t sure at the time if the book would be a quirky coffee-table accessory or if something else might evolve. As it turns out, I never published the book, but I did write most of it. Over time, I’ve gone back to it, time-and-time again. With the five year anniversary of the project, I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing it: One chapter at a time.

Never Have I Ever (Until Now) – The Prologue

Find your passion and run with it. Don’t look back. Thank the people who call you crazy–anyone who’s crazy enough to pursue their dreams is strong enough to achieve them too.

An Intro

“You really need to quit something,” My supervisor tells me as she walks by my office door. “You’re taking on too much.”

My supervisor is right–I’m taking on a lot.

It’s January of 2012. I’m an associate television producer for the City of New York who has recently, in her free time, started writing and performing stand up comedy, perfecting her drawing skills, training for her second half-marathon, and doing photography with a digital SLR. And now I am signing myself up for an acting workshop.

My day planner is filling up faster than a doctor’s office during flu season.

My mom would tell you that I was just as active as a kid as I am when my supervisor tells me that I need to quit something. When I was younger, I played field hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, and softball. I’d attempted the clarinet, I’d tip-toed through a ballet class, I’d sailed in a lake, I’d canoed across a pond, and I kayaked down a river. My parents would rush me from one athletic practice to another; from one gym and on to the next. I was relentless. I never stopped.

But then I grew up, and my willingness to try new things suddenly came to a halt. For several years, I was in a funk. I had fallen into depression and I had forgotten how to live life fully and completely. I would say that I wanted to try something and then I’d never try it. I’d fear failure or judgment from my peers. And instead, I’d mope on my couch about how I’d never be good at anything. I’d lost my sense of wonder. I had lost my yearning for learning new things. I had lost my smile, my laughter, my sense of joy. I had concerned myself so much with destinations that I had forgotten that what really mattered was the journey.

With the new activities, the stand up comedy, the drawing, the photography, and the acting, I felt that I was finally opening myself up to a life that I had been letting slip to the way side. And now, suddenly, I felt as though the progress I was making with the activities was being threatened as my supervisor told me that I needed to quit something.

I didn’t want to quit anything. I didn’t want to limit my life to going to work, coming home, cooking (or getting take out) and going to sleep. I didn’t want to experience living solely from the couch in my artist loft.

So instead of heeding my supervisor’s advice, in February of 2012, I set out on a yearlong quest in the hope of navigating my way to a life that extended beyond my 9-5 job and beyond the sadness I had sulked in for years. I decided that in opposition to quitting anything, I instead wanted to try one new activity or hobby each week for an entire year.

I started to brainstorm names for the quest and came up with “The Hobby Hoarder.” I used my lunch to draw logos on blank pieces of paper and to write lists of hobbies or activities that I could try that I had never tried before. I hadn’t even started the project and I was beaming with excitement.

Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to brainstorm on the year, and began telling people what I was going to do. As I sat down to coffee with a friend, she said, “So you are going to live like you are dying.”

My eyes brightened. “No. I’m going to live like I am living!”

The truth is that I don’t believe we should live as if we are dying. Instead, I think we should live each day as though it’s one of our firsts: full of excitement and ambition, full of curiosity, full of fear, full of imagination, and full of wonder, full of an openness toward whatever comes our way—that’s right—we should live each day like it’s our first.

For so long, I had forgotten what firsts felt like. When we are young, our firsts are celebrated with smiles and applause and sometimes balloons. First step. First word. First hit in tee-ball. First A+. But somewhere between the time we share our first kiss and the time we hit our twenties, we lose our thirst for the sensation we feel when we experience something for the first time. Firsts can make us realize what we are passionate about: Maybe you’ve never taken a dance class before but when you do you figure out that you’re meant to be the next Beyonce. Maybe you’ve never swung from a trapeze before, but that first time you do, you realize you’re meant to be in the circus. Or maybe you’ve never piloted a plane before, but then you do and you discover that you were always meant to fly.

Firsts can make life worth living. But when we hit a certain age, it’s almost as if we forget to let ourselves experience those firsts. We get caught in “Busy traps” (NyTimes) and “life takes over.” But that’s not true. Life doesn’t take over: Work takes over—financial restraints take over. Think about the last time someone asked you to do something and you said you couldn’t. What was your excuse? If you’re without children was it work? Was it money? Life clearly does not take over. If anything, life takes a backseat ride.

Too many times, we get so caught up in our daily routines and our jobs that the only thing we concern ourselves with when we get home is kicking back.

But that’s not how life’s supposed to be—not at all. Life is supposed to be enjoyable. Life is supposed to be full of challenges—and then exceeding our expectations of those challenges. Life is supposed to be full of fear and overcoming that fear. It is supposed to be about saying I’d love to do that and then actually doing it. Surprisingly life is supposed to be about living.

I hope that before you continue reading this book, you’ll step away. You’ll grab a pen and a paper—and you’ll start writing down everything you want to try this year—that you’ll make your own quest—to live.

And if you haven’t stepped away yet, and have disobeyed my only wish, then welcome! Strap on your seat belts, make sure your seats are in their upright position, understand that the only emergency exit is to live your own life—and that it’s now time to take flight. Literally.

All Aboard.

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A Good Story

Sometimes all it takes to motivate us is a good story.

a good story

Good storytelling moves us–it inspires us and it enlightens us. Good storytelling motivates us. It asks us to stand up for our current beliefs or question them. Good storytelling brings people together. It make us laugh. It makes us cry. And it challenges our every day decisions. A good story can warm our hearts. It can make us angry or it can sober us up. A good story doesn’t need a happy ending. A good story invites us to take an adventure or to go on a journey. Good stories teleport us to different times and different spaces. They are one true way to escape our own realities and step into someone else’s –or a different world.

Good stories are what move us-shake us-make our hairs stand up on our skin-and drive us.

Good stories are what we come back to when we’re searching for that one quote or one paragraph or one chapter that somehow managed to encapsulate everything we couldn’t put into words ourselves.

More than anything good stories stay with us. 

These are the books filled with stories or moments  that have stuck with me–that have and continue to move me–some since childhood–some since only more recently. What’s on your bookshelf? What motivates you? What books and stories do you always go back to?

1. Born Standing Up, Steve Martin

“I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talented—I didn’t sing, dance, or act—though working around that minor detail made me inventive.

I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back, until now. A few years ago, I began researching and recalling the details of this crucial part of my professional life—which inevitably touches upon my personal life—and was reminded why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”

2. Yes, Man, Danny Wallace

“Take the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. At least it’s done. It’s over. It’s gone. We can all learn from our mistakes and heal and move on. But it’s harder to learn or heal or move on from something that hasn’t happened; something we don’t know and is therefore indefinable; something which could very easily have been the best thing in our lives, if only we’d taken the plunge, if only we’d held our breath and stood up and done it, if only we’d said yes. // The fact is saying yes hadn’t been a pointless exercise at all. It had been pointful. It had the power to change lives and set people free… It had the power of adventure. Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact.”

3. Wild, Cheryl Strayed

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

4. Bossypants, Tina Fey

“Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it. // There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”
“Am I just chasing it because it’s the hardest thing for me to get and I want to prove I can do it?”

5. On Writing, Stephen King

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life. // Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t just make speeches–Just believing is usually enough.”


6. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin 

“It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.”

7. Siddartha, Herman Hesse

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.”

8. Love With a Chance of Drowning. Torre DeRoche

“Dedicated to those who dream–and those who dare fall for dreamers.”


9. The Art of Travel, Alain De Botton
 

Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves – that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestice setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.

If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”

10. Oh the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss

“Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”

Moving Forward

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted—and to be honest it had been a while since I had hobbied. 2014 has been an interesting year—between a small biking accident, breaking my hand in April and then spraining my ankle in July, I’ve spent more time on the mend than I have on my feet.

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And I’ll just say it: those four months were really, really difficult.

But they were more difficult than they should have been:

because I chose to let them be.

A good friend of mine is currently reading the book “Dear Sugar,” by Cheryl Strayed. And throughout our trip to Orlando, she went about reading me brief blurbs from different chapters—brief blurbs that affected her and that in turn affected me.

One of those blurbs happened to hit me just before we entered the 165 mile per wind tunnel at iFly Orlando —where I officially broke my hobby hiatus:

“You do not have the luxury of despair.”

Sitting cross-legged on top of a cabinet, I stared at the group of people who were indoor skydiving ahead of us, and I breathed into that thought and repeated it in my head several times:

You do not have the luxury of despair.

 When bad things happen—we are very quick to issue blames of circumstance, to sit and to brood. To over-think. To think all of our issues are worse than those of the person next to us. To fall into traps that “the world is out to get us.” And that “Life is just so not fair.”

The small things become big.

So when each of my physical incidents happened, I went through a series of heightened emotions:

First I was sad—then I accepted it—and by the time I sprained my ankle, I was angry.

But it wasn’t fair to me or the gift I was being granted: the gift of time to sit with myself, time to give my body the break it deserved, and time to heal.

Yes. I said it.

Hurting myself over and over again was a gift.

Through those four months, I learned a lot about myself. I learned how to listen to my body. I learned how to ease back into things. I learned how I deal with injury; I learned about my level of neediness—and selfishness; I learned about how to control my neediness and selfishness; I learned when I am both my worst and best version of myself.

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And above all: I learned how to accept that not everything will always go the way we’d hoped it would—but that’s okay.

 Because no matter what—we have only one option:

 

And that’s to move forward.

 

And what better way to move forward—than to fly:

 Special Thanks
iFly Orlando

Special Thanks
The Albertsons

 

iFly Orlando
6805 Visitors Circle, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 903-1150

 

 

Happy New Year: The Year of Positive Energy

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I can be a bit superstitious when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day activities–I tend to believe that what happens on this particular night and this particular day can set the tone for an entire year. Last night, I knew that all I really wanted to do–aside from be with good friends–was dance. When we reached our second bar for the night, still fully clad in my scarf, my jacket, and vest, I began to feel the rhythm. My feet moved, my hips swayed, my head bobbed, and slowly I made my way to the biggest opening on the dance floor, stripping off my vest, my jacket, and my scarf. The Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me song came on and I continued to move losing myself in the music. I forgot there was anyone else even there at the moment. I felt at home in my dancing. A few moments later, a girl who had been dancing in the space earlier jumped in–and began dancing with me. I saw this at first as a challenge, but then it became poetic as we moved off one another’s spins, two steps and plies. I felt the energy as the people around us continued to watch with joy in their eyes. When the song ended, our dance with one another did too, but our smiles lasted long after. And as I stood with my friends, the woman approached me and said “Thank you for that…You have so much energy—positive energy. Your positive energy really got me out there to just let go like that. THAT made my night. So thank you.” I smiled and repeated the words “Positive Energy” back to myself. That’s EXACTLY how I want to set the tone for the new year–full of positive energy.

This morning I woke up hoping to carry that positive energy through my day by heading out to the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island where I rang in the new year last year. Unfortunately, a nasty head cold kept me from making my way back out there today, but I did make it out to a Trooper Fitness Bootcamp class (for the first time!) in hopes of sweating out this gross fever and working out this cough.

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After leaving the bootcamp class, I felt a natural high from the workout but from also still finding a way to make the most of a day where I may have stayed in bed otherwise.

When I got home, I decided to take a poll to see how others brought in the new year, how they set their own tone. I’ve shared their New Year’s adventures below–check them out and then SHARE YOURS!

Lucas Gold (Second Time)
Polar Bear Swim – Asbury Park, NJ

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Suzanna Cameron and Tony Esper
First time Polar Bear Plungers: Coney Island, NY

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Michelle Pierson Young of Michelle at Play
p90x: “Not to brag but it feels better than a hangover”

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Hannah Brencher & Tammy Tibbetts
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC & Letter Writing
Each year Hannah and Tammy write letters to themselves to open the following year (SO COOL!)

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Jennifer Romanelli & Prince Brathwaite of Trooper Fitness
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC

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Laura Jaxheimer, Yoga Instructor
Brought in the new year doing what she’s passionate about: Yoga.

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I want to hear from you! What’d you do to kick off the New Year just the way you wanted to?

11 Hobbies to Try this Winter

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 Brrrr: The days are shorter and the temperature is dropping—but that shouldn’t stop you from having as much fun as possible this winter. Here are eleven hobbies to keep you active and excited all winter long!

Dog Sledding

Bobsledding

Skiing/Snowboarding 

skiing

Snowmobiling

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Snow Graffiti
This one gives marking your territory a new name!
Just take a spray bottle, fill it up with water that’s tinted with food coloring and call it a day!
(just avoid using the color yellow 😉 )

Snow Kiting

 

Snow Shoeing

snow shoeing

Snow Tubing

Not into skiing or boarding? That’s okay, this Winter hit the slopes in an inflated tube–fun for everyone 🙂

Ice Skating

Curling


Polar Bear Swim

Hobbies While on the Mend

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Recently, I unexpectedly had surgery on my toe, which left me unable to physically run, dance, bike etc. Having to hobby without my foot seemed daunting at first, but then I turned to more calm, relaxing activities—activities that I didn’t need my foot for. Are you nursing an injury? Below, find seven hobbies to try while you’re on the mend!

1. Knitting – If you’ve injured a part of your lower body, cross-stitch a new pair of socks for when you’re back on your feet!

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2. Painting/Drawing/Calligraphy –If your strong hand has been left unharmed, express yourself! All this requires is a canvas, piece of paper, or object that you can physically use paints, crayons, markers, pencils, etc  to create your vision on! And if your strong hand is injured—you could always try painting with your toes! What are you waiting for?

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3. Ceramics/Pottery –Instead of moping and complaining about the cast that’s been molded to your foot or leg, use your hands to mold together your own original piece, pot, or bowl!

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4.  Chess or other Brain Games – While you’re off your feet, stay on your toes by challenging your mind. Take on a friend in a game of chess, keep yourself occupied with a rubrix cube, or hit the Sudoku books! Even better, create your own crossword puzzle and then get your friends to test it out!

5. Ventriloquism and Puppeteering – Ever dreamed of creating the next big Muppet? While your one foot’s elevated in a boot, make use of your unworn socks and make your own puppet—or dummie! Then bring the inanimate object to life, by giving it a voice of it’s own.

5. Musical Instruments — While your arms are out of commission, stomp out a beat with a foot drum!

6. Meditation – While your body takes time to heal, find time to re-connect with your mind and soul.

7. Skip-It! – If your arm is tied up in a sling, hit the pavement with this 90’s gem. “Skip-it; Skip-it; skipping and screaming and a bop-di-bop.”

Budgeting Happiness

money Credit: Images of Money


I have a confession. I like to spend money.

I like to treat myself to a coffee each morning from a local café or coffee shop because it kick starts my day. I like to take the East River Ferry every once in a while because the fresh crisp air in the morning sets my spirits higher than they would be if I was crunched into an overly packed subway cart. And I like to try new— sometimes-expensive activities—because trying new things brings a sense of balance to my life.

Okay, you got me. I don’t like to spend money. I love to spend money. But I didn’t always love spending. I’ve definitely spent money a lot, but I used to look at my bank account the day after a purchase—or the morning after a night at the bar—and regret my monetary choices. I used to HATE spending money, because many times spending money wasn’t bringing me happiness or joy.

Spending money is kind of like dieting. The more you tell yourself to eat less, the more time you spend thinking about food. The more you focus on how you should really spend less, the more you want to shell out the dough.

I’m not here to tell you to spend less. How much you spend is up to you. But I do want to talk about how you feel when you spend money – because this is up to you too. Take a moment to think about what you bought in the last week: Maybe it’s a new shirt, maybe it’s a movie ticket, maybe it’s lunch—I don’t know what it is. But take a moment to think about whatever it is that you bought and ask yourself these questions: “How did I feel after I made that purchase? Did that purchase bring me happiness—or regret for spending money?”

We’ve all heard the adage, “money can’t buy happiness.” I only partly agree with this. I don’t think happiness has a price tag, but I do believe that the ways we spend money and what we spend our money on contribute to our overall happiness.

One of the questions I have been asked most often throughout the hobby year has been: “How do you afford all the hobbies?”

Which really leads to a bigger question:

“How can we afford the happy and balanced life that we are seeking?”

For each of us there are certain expenses each month that we just can’t avoid:
In my case it’s rent, utilities, food, and a monthly train ticket. For others it might be a mortgage on the house, car insurance, and dependents.

The aforementioned are necessary expenses.

BUT much like cleaning out our closets from the clothes that we no longer want to wear, we can clean out the unnecessary expenses on our bank statements—the activities or outings or items that aren’t truly extending our happiness—that aren’t satisfying the lifestyle we are hoping to live.

When I moved to NYC in January of 2010, I very quickly realized how easily I could blow $50-$60 in just one night by going to an amateur comedy night on the Upper East Side. With a two-drink minimum as standard, a handful of bills could disappear at dinner alone. And the next morning? I hated myself for spending that money. But why?

As the money in my wallet began to dwindle, I had an epiphany, I realized that the glass of wine or the shot of Bacardi wasn’t satisfying me—that I was wasting money on something I didn’t ACTUALLY enjoy putting into my body. So I stopped drinking. Within weeks, I began to see an incredible difference in my money saved vs. money spent.

Once I gave up alcohol, I began to realize that there were other expenses on my bank account that likely also weren’t satisfying me or bringing me happiness.

Rather than eating out at lunch each day, I began packing my lunch for work; rather than going out to eat for dinner often, I began to cook my own dinners; and rather than buying new workout clothes, I began bringing my old field hockey shirts from high school and college back to New York City with me.

I realized that many times I was going out to eat at lunch because of feelings of laziness in the morning before work. This would actually in turn cost me three-four times the amount of money it would cost me to brown bag it.

This realization was one that made me hate spending money.

So rather than spending money on things that in turn caused me to be upset, I began saving and spending money on activities and things that I felt were helping me to balance and embrace the life that I wanted to live.

I don’t intend to suggest everyone should give up alcoholic beverages, stop buying new clothes, ignore the latest movie releases, or turn the oven on every night—unless you are an amazing cook, in which case, please do turn your oven on every night (and invite me over)!

I also don’t want to suggest that you should stand in front of an item at the store and do a cost/benefit analysis every time you are going to make a purchase.

What I am suggesting is that recognizing patterns in the types of spending that bring you happiness—and the types of things you regret spending money on in the minutes, hours, or days after you make a transaction—can help you to refocus your energy on achieving goals you’re not quite sure how to reach otherwise. The items I listed above just happen to be a few of the sacrifices I’ve been able to make for myself.

I became incredibly passionate about trying new hobbies this past year because of the joy each new hobby brought me , and because of the lessons each new hobby taught me. And because I recognized how much I was benefiting on a personal level and a physical level from each of the new things, I realized just how important it was that I budget, save, and sacrifice to contribute to the happiness I was seeking. If I’m going to spend money, I want to LOVE to spend money—and I want to love what I’m spending on.

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If there’s something you are looking to try, a class you’d really like to take, a trip you are looking to go on, try to start here:

Make a list of what you are spending your money on—then go over that list and eliminate just one thing that isn’t contributing to your health, your happiness, or your balance. Then use this money to help you achieve your goal.

Who knows? You might just fall in love with spending money, too.

Five other ways to save money:

Piggy Bank
 Credit: 401 (k) 2013

1. Invest in a piggy bank—Really. Every time you find coins—save them. Those pennies add up.

2. Look out for deals. If there’s a fitness class you’ve been looking for, a getaway you’re not sure you can afford, or a class you’re looking to take, see if Groupon, Living Social, Zozi, or Yipit has it.

3. Go through your closet and donate the clothes you no longer want to a registered charity. When you make charitable donations, you can receive tax deductions. You may not see the benefit of this immediately, but next tax season you’ll have something to smile about.

4. Piggy Backing on #3: For the holidays, see if you and your family would be willing to go in on a deal to donate the money or you would have spent on gifts or a capped amount of money to a registered charity. This way you’re doing good and receiving a tax deduction in the future.

5. Each week, or even each day, set aside 5-10 dollars. At the end of the month you’ll have your own personal pay check!

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