Monday, December 07, 2009

simplify

Everyone has seasons in their lives and for me, this is a season of change.

Our children are getting closer to attending school - Henry is outgrowing the baby stage - I am weaning, not weaning, and then weaning again - the future of my career and our next domestic location is punctuated with uncertainty.

Something is about to happen, but I still don't know what.

Or when.

Or where.

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For as long as I've had this blog, it has been a stream of my conscious thoughts. I really haven't put too many filters on what I've written because there is something so 'freeing' about writing a post and hitting publish - and knowing that those thoughts have been set free to the universe. At least for me, it is essential to my emotional well being to write down what is in my heart and on my mind. It really helps me to sort things out by seeing it on paper, or more appropriately - on a computer monitor. But sometimes, the words that I write aren't waxed as poetically as perhaps they should or could be.

Instead of being upbeat and encouraging, they seem ungrateful and whiny.

I'm sorry about that.

There's enough ungratefulness and whining in the world without seeing it here.

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But it seems that lately, especially since I've returned to work full time and Charlie has been trying to start his own company and the children are growing larger and the house is proportionally growing smaller, I've been hit head-on with how challenging things can be. Why, it feels kind of like I've been running around with my hair on fire and there is no water to be seen anywhere.

For the most part, I really pride myself on my ability to roll with things. When I look around and take an inventory of the world, I feel like Charlie and I have our act together. We are desperately in love as a couple. We unconditionally love our children and in my personal opinion, we are doing a pretty good job raising them. My life truly couldn't be better than it is at this very moment in time and I am so thankful for all of my blessings.

My health. My spouse. My children. My family. My friends. My home. My career. For the most part, my days abound with happiness and laughter almost nonstop. Sure, I have some complaints, but what full-time working mother whose homeschooling husband that is attempting to also start up a business and/or land a new job in a depressed economy doesn't?

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A few weeks ago, I was having a particularly difficult time. I was sick, I was trying to get my work computer situation sorted out, I was trying to get ready for my 3-Day walk, I was trying to finish a baby blanket that was promised to someone several months ago, I was trying to pull together toys that I was donating to our pediatrician's office, I was trying to clean and de-clutter, I was trying to organize all of the address labels and order quantities for over 100 recipients that I still owed "Be Amazing!" bracelets. And while I was sorting through bracelets, all I could think was that if there was one thing I definitely wasn't ... it was AMAZING.

Our house was a disaster. Our cupboards were nearly bare because we'd been too busy to shop. Bills needed to be paid. Thank you notes needed to be written. More things than I could count on both hands and feet needed to be done. My patience was shot. My nerves were frayed. My priorities were way the heck out of alignment.

I was feeling overworked, underpaid, overstressed and under ... well, you get the idea.

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As I was decompressing to Charlie and bemoaning my circumstances, my husband very calmly said, "Jen, you brought a lot of this unnecessary stress upon yourself. You signed up for the 3-Day walk. You promised our pediatrician toys for his office. You developed this ingenious fundraising mechanism that requires you to send out hundreds of bracelets. You promised someone a blanket. You take on special projects at home and work. You and you alone, Grasshopper, are making things much too difficult for yourself. You need to simplify your life and stop doing so much."

Huh?

Simplify my ... what?

You mean, that's an option?


So I've taken my husband's advice and I'm learning to reduce the stress in my life.

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Today, I decided that I didn't want to participate in the Muddy Buddy race which I had signed up for several weeks ago. I didn't want to drive two hours north and get dirty on a cold day and then drive two hours home again. I didn't want to - so I didn't. (And my buddy couldn't go so that certainly aided in my decision. Or rather, made my decision. But I was happy about it and didn't get a replacement buddy. Which I totally could have.)

Instead, I stayed home and baked. Or rather, my children baked because I delegated that task to them. Cooking helps them learn to read and allows me an opportunity to revel in their cuteness.

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Today, I decided that instead of purchasing boxes of greeting cards and ordering photos and then manually inserting the photos in to the cards and printing out 200 letters on our personal printer, it would be easier to order pre-printed cards with our photo on the front and greeting on the inside. Shutterfly is having a huge sale through tomorrow with discounted card sales and free shipping. We saved $90.00, ten hours of time and at least two print cartridges. Win-win-win!

Today, I donated a lot of toys to Goodwill, including every single Polly Pocket that my children own. Toys should not cause parents undue stress and vacuums to malfunction. When they do, it's time to get rid of them. (So says I.)

Today, I extracted myself from several projects that I was involved on. One project called "Change the children's linens once a week" has been reduced to "Change the children's linens twice a month" (or whenever they wet them) and another called "Dust the ceiling fan blades once a month" has been reduced to "Dust the ceiling fan blades once a quarter" (or whenever chunks go flying off whenever you turn it on.) I also declined three Christmas parties that were all on the same day and opted instead, to attend one - that I believe will be the most child-friendly.

Today, I started a new blog. It's called, "The Vintage Whine" and it's totally private. It's where I'm going to unload my thoughts as I try to sort through this new dynamic phase in our life. From this point on, THIS blog is going to be reserved for happy thoughts and pictures of the children. Anyone that stumbles upon this blog is going to think that I never have an off day, things are always awesome and my children seldom drive me crazy.

Oh, I'm so temperamental - who knows how long The Vintage Whine will last? But at least for now, if you want to read my private blog, you'll need to make a hefty donation to my cancer fundraising efforts. There will be no whining here and hence, no need for me to wax poetic and make things seem chipper when it really feels like I'm caught IN a chipper.

Hopefully, in the process of sanitizing this blog of whiny thoughts, I will not only save myself an exorbitant amount of energy and get to bed at an earlier time each night, I will swiftly reach my fundraising goals for my next cancer crusade event.

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See how easy that was?

I just simplified my life again!

Now it's your turn. I need more ideas.

40 comments:

  1. Well, I think you have made a good start. You seem like a bit of a perfectionist and someone who like to bein control (I suffer from the same things) and it is really hard to let go. I think that it is great to reframe it as simplifying rather than giving up. Good luck, grasshopper!

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  2. not fair. I don't know why you deleted your previous post. I love reading your blog just the way it is. I love to read about the ups and downs about your life and your family because that is REAL life. Even on the most holly season it is OK to talk about down sides of our lives because it HAPPENS to all of us at different times. Jen, I do not know you in person but I know that you are a wonderful person inside out. Just keep writing the way you used to. You are doing a very fine job.

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  3. So Sat night at midnight while I was almost done making 40 individual pies using williams sonoma pocket pie molds with made-from-scratch crust and made-from-scratch pie filling so that 30 people could come to my house for 14 dozen made-from-scratch cookies for a cookie exchange while my family is eating kraft mac&chz, freezer pizza and corn dogs for days on end....I couldn't help but asking myself, "WHY??!!!!"
    I don't know.... maybe it has something to do with confusing family priorities with "me" time and showing your thankfulness by volunteering and then ending up a martyr...If you can figure out a way to end the cycle...PUBLISH THAT! Whenever I reach "shut down" mode I think I'm able to be all de-stressed for a week...maybe 2...and then it starts up all over again because I'm bored.
    p.s. I have a knitting project that I HAVE to have done in 2 weeks. ; )
    p.s.p.s. I don't think you whine to much. I can get picture perfect happy reading/conversation by watching tv or talking to a self-absorbed acquaintance. (*gag*) Family is work. Real life is much more entertaining. Your heart shines thru the most in all of your blogs and that is what is most important.

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  4. Nooooo! I adore your blog! It doesn't come off as whiny (at least not to me) but then again I have 3 young kids and feel like you say what I feel every single day. I love, love, love coming here to read your thoughts. It makes me feel 'normal' and happy that my life is just as chaotic as every one elses. Hope you don't stay private for long...your truthfulness is what makes your blog fabulous!

    Melissa Koch (I donated first on your blog a while ago when you fist put up the click to donate button!)

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  5. As a mom of triplets I have loved your blog for almost two years now. Honestly I have never been discouraged by reading your thoughts on stressful days I have however felt discouraged when we have been asked to donate money repeatedly, and now to read everything we have to donate more? I hate to say it because your posts on parenting have been so helpful but I feel like your blog has become one big donation ad, the requests have been so frequent.I don't like to feel guilty on my downtime. Can we go a week without talking about how much time and money you are earning for charity? Sorry if this sounds harsh but I've been disappointed in how much your blog has changed.

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  6. Total bummer!! When you whine I don't have to... get off the pity pot and get back to it!! I say Whine. Whine and MORE W-I-N-E!!!!(please) & pass an ole henry bar too. Love, Marg. ;-)

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  7. I have simplified my Christmas decorations. With two teenagers, I've realized the kids do not remember every wreath, figurine and garland hung in our home. They remember the spirit of being together and they remember Mom's mood at the holidays. That is why I've never cooked a big Christmas dinner. I've chosen to always concentrate on my family on Christmas day so we always order pizza or have sandwiches and a pot of soup.

    My housecleaning standards have changed over the years too. I've learned that soon my house will be spotless again and oh, how I will miss the clutter. Our house is a home - not a museum.

    Good for you for opting for the simple life.

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  8. Honestly, I liked the whine. It is nice to know that everyone has there moments...good and bad.

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  9. My New Year's resolution for 2010 is to say this magical word more often...NO!

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  10. Whoa. What the heck are you talking about? If you take all your negative shit out of here, the other mothers and I will have nothing to talk about on the bench during gym class. STOP IT already.

    We love you. Just keep on bitching, sister. We all have the same problems and it makes us feel more normal.

    Now let's talk about this Polly Pocket business. OMG. My girls LOVE Polly Pocket. You should have donated them to me.

    (Psst. Can you guys believe Jen got rid of the Polly Pocket stuff? WTH? Wouldn't that be so awesome if we did that?)

    Hang in there Jen. Christmas makes us all nuts.

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  11. Nooo! I don't find your thoughts whiney at all. But now that you aren't going to blog your normal Jen bloggy words, I'M WHINING!!! Waaaaaaah!!!!! There. *foot stamp*

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  12. I owe you an apology. I wish you had emailed me and told me to get stuffed and mind my own damn business. You're right. This is your blog and you are allowed to write whatever you feel like on it.

    I had just come from seeing my Dad at the hospital when I replied to your post... I was feeling sorry for myself and overwhelmed.

    I am truly sorry and I pray I didn't hurt your feelings or offend you in any way.

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  13. Jen, Now you're getting it. Thank god for Charlie!I think you have a little piece of what we like to call the "Carolyn Gene". I fight it every single day. You know the one....it's the one that commands you to make sure all your shoes are lined up in the closet and the one that tells you to always stir batter in a clockwise direction. OCD anyone??Yes, I know....it's crazy stuff, but it can create so much internal stress...so I know what you're going through. Eat fudge, fight it and carry on!

    XOXO AM

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  14. I can't afford your private blog but I am sad. Your struggles help me feel a lot less overwhelmed in my own life, make me feel not alone. Your blog is so real so right on.

    I love your blog EXACTLY as it is.

    New Years resolution.......Save money for the whiner blog. What is considered hefty

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  15. Personally, I don't think you should stress over whether you may sound whiny or not. It's your blog, your journal -- if you need to complain, go for it, and I'm sure most of us your readers will probably commiserate and then we'll all feel better! :-)

    I enjoy reading what you write no matter what it is you're going on about, good or bad. As is. And complaining and letting off some steam is good for us all.

    Also, your husband is a wise man and you were right to listen to him. :-) I don't know how you have the energy to do all that you do!

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  16. Define heafty donation.... :-) I for one like the fact that the blog is not all sunshine and smiles. It lets me know you are a normal person just like the rest of us. :-)

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  17. Oh, I need the whine! It makes me feel normal. I just need to know how much hefty is!
    :)

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  18. In all honesty, simplification is a great idea,but I hope that you change your mind about keeping a part of you away from this blog. It's great to see sweet pics of your kids, but I have sweet pics of my own kids to look at. I come here to help me realize that I am not alone in this crazy life of motherhood. I will miss you sharing those details. I'm not saying wow, she sure looks crazy, I feel better about myself now. No I'm thankful that I'm not the only one who wants to lock myself up in the closet with chocolate for 5 minutes of peace and quiet, waiting for the chemical reaction to soothe my brain.
    You tell a real story of motherhood, more real than most bloggers. I hope you don't lose that.

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  19. Long time reader, first time poster...You said a lot in your entry, but I just want to say please don't edit your thoughts on this blog. I too am a working mom whose husband stays at home. Our son is only 17 mths old, but we're planning to homeschool through at least 3rd grade (I'm a long-range planner). I enjoy reading your thoughts, as they often mirror my own concerns of not being at home with my son, dealing with an iffy economy, wanting to help those less fortunate and standing for causes I believe in. I don't consider your blog downbeat or whiny. I consider your blog to be honest and it helps me realize that some of the same concerns I have are shared by others. Wow, I'm not alone!

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  20. Jen, it's really OK to feature the good, bad and the ugly. We all have our crazy days and it's good to share!

    And, a big thanks for my "Be Amazing" bracelet, and the fabulous turkey picture from Elizabeth. They are my blog feature today if you have a chance to pop over. Awesome team effort by you, Charlie and the kids.

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  21. Most of your appeal is that you are "real." Everyone is busy, we all struggle in one way or another, and we all are trying to be happy. I read your blog because I can relate to so many of your experiences and worries. You are an inspiration because not only do you whine, but you act on things that are important to you. You want to fight cancer, so you do. You want to homeschool your children, so you do. That is so impressive! Please keep it real! We love that about you!

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  22. I just wanted to thank you Jen for sharing your uncensored thoughts all of this time. I have loved the honesty of your blog. You sound so much like me when I was faced with the decision to move from CA to Austin. I decided to move even though I didn't want to. Maybe if I had my own blog I could have voiced all of my concerns and thought the decision through a little more. You have taught me to slow down and not make decisions quickly - that if I am indecisive there is probably a reason for it.

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  23. Congratulations on simplifying. So difficult to do but so necessary. Good for Charlie for realizing what you needed to hear and saying it in such a way that you could receive his message.

    I have to say, though, BOO on the sanitized blog. I love your blog just the way it is. It is one of the most real blogs out there.

    :-(

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  24. Okay, so how do we make a donation and sign up for The Vintage Whine?

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  25. Well, I thing you are bloody amazing with all that you do. If I could do half as much as you do, I'd be delighted with myself.
    I was one the the people you sent the bracelet to and I just want to let you know it MADE my day, recieving it along with the fabulous picture your daughter did. So thoughtful of you, thank you so much.
    I'm glad to hear you are not taking on as much nad this will help you to be less stressed.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

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  26. One of many cuzzins!12/7/09, 6:02 PM

    I like your whining! It makes you real.

    All those pictures of William baking and you didn't even mention what he was preparing. Me thinks apple crisp? Yum! With Simply Sweeter on construction hiatus, perhaps you should let your little ones don their chef's hats and share some kiddie creations!

    It is good you're listening to your hubby and stepping back from a few projects....especially the housecleaning ones. Yikes! Dusting the ceiling fan? Just turn it on max speed and tell the kids to duck! You work too hard! Enjoy these transitional stages of your family life. Life is too short to be sweating the small stuff.

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  27. I'm sorry to hear you won't be whining anymore on this blog... I'll miss it. For the record, I didn't so much think of it as whining as I did truth-telling. I thought there were way more happy thoughts rather than truth-telling ones anyway ;~)

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  28. oh I definitely want access to your whiny blog. I know exactly how you feel. Breast cancer 3 years ago and I've been sitting on a therapist couch for 1 1/2 years now. 3, count them 3 different antidepressant/anti anxiety drugs.

    Husband who tried to make his Gator fly and ended up with a hip replacement and having the top of the bone just beneath his kneecap rebuilt.

    Section 8 housing tenants who seem to think that we should be at the beck and call 24/7.

    Oh and that little thing called money??? Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have to ask your mother for a loan when you're 56 years old?

    I could go on but I'd just end up crying and I. AM. SO. TIRED. OF. CRYING.

    SO what's your donation amount and I'll see if I can come up with it. Because I actually like the whiney part of your life. It's real, it's things we face everyday and damn we all deserve to be whiny sometimes!

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  29. Good on you, mate (to quote from one of my family's favorite movies).

    Most of the stress in our lives is self-generated. Once I realized that, I felt a lot better about being behind where I thought I should be. I also started to delegate more...

    I circle the coupons I want and my dd (age 5) improves her cutting skills by cutting them out for me. Then we work on calendar skills by sorting them by expirateion date into our coupon keeper.

    I have a clipboard next to the sink that is for shopping lists- you add what you need when you need it, then the person who is going to the store can just grab and go. There are certain items that always appear on the list (milk, bread, fresh vegs/fruits, lunch meat/cheese). (One of my friends has a computer generated list by type of food that she has laminated and taped in her pantry door.)

    dd and I have a game to sort our laundry. She loves it, it goes a little slower than if I did it solo, but it means that I am training her so that I can pass on the job in the future. ;0)

    Kathy

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  30. I have been following your blog for some time now. To not see all of your thoghts, joys, heartaches, pleasures, and share in your family, would be empty. I hope you consider leaving your blog just like it is!!

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  31. I don't think you whine - I think you process things. Isn't that why you set up the blog. Also -who wants to see sunny only perspective - that would be called "the amazing (but not real) trips".

    I know it sounds odd - but the most effective way I found to simplify my life was to move country. We switched from me being the career driven, super mum who financially and emotionally was doing 80% of everything (my husband did 8 ironmans and worked night shift) - to the work part time, see everything your kids do, 12 weeks of family holidays a year. Yes my husband works hard now, but so did I for 8 years and I am still contributing the same $ value as I did when living in Aus, but now one of us is with the kids 3 nights a week when they get home from school (plus he still sees them for about 2 hours a day when in town during the week).

    I know the industry you are in has lots of expat postings - they are opportunities, not punishments (3 years on one and you would be better off financially and fully recharged for a new adventure). Plus you meet fantastic adventurous people who don't just want a picket fence and a new tv unit.

    Charlie is right - you are causing your own stress levels to increase by volunteering for too many things/going to too many things. You have 4 kids for crying out loud - what better excuse do you have for not signing up for everything????? My advice (absolutely full of it today) - don't take a stroller for the 3 big kids when you go to events. If they can't keep up - you are trying to do too much.

    Sorry for long winded comment - but I was you 4 years ago. I am so happy we made the changes that ultimately led to us being 100% happier.

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  32. LOVE your blog and always have!

    I think your blog was one of the first sites I went to when I found out we were expecting triplets ( had been reading from the old resolve forum). I used to print out your triplet tips (like sleeping schedules,etc) and had a little file going by the time the babies arrived!

    Still check in on you guys and feel like I'm getting a little glimpse into my future each time.

    Keep up the good work :)

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  33. Well POOP....it's your blog; do it the way you like and if someone else doesn't like it they can click the 'x' box.

    I love you just the way you are.

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  34. NO, I would be so disappointed! We look foward to reading ALL of your blog everyday, in fact if I miss a day I am so disappointed. Please continue on your path here and forget about all those evil people that feel they need to tell you about your Whining. Whatever happen to the saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say than just don't say it at all"??? Anyone who genuinely reads and enjoys your blog are having similar issues at home and it DOES really help to read your version of it. There are so many times I am cracking up at your writing and other times I am fighting back the tears. Please, keep up the good work! We love you blog!

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  35. Jen, I've read your for a long time and have enjoyed it so much. Like many of the others who commented, I think that you're being more truthful than you are whining. You're braver than most for the fact that you put it all out there. I will add, though, that the idea of making a "hefty donation" albeit to a wonderful cause, so that we can read the "whiny blog" is a bit ewwwy. Sorry. Just keeping it real from where I sit.

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  36. Wahhhhhhhhh! Give me the whine!! I know the criticism stinks, but it's YOUR blog, we love you - who gives a rip what the perfect humans think!

    If you're a whiner, than I am, too! Every time I read your blog, I say "Oh, ME, TOO!!!" Come back Jen, pleasssssssse come back!!!

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  37. i'm with all the commenters who have asked that you keep your blog the "real" that it's been all along. i've been reading you for a couple years now, and i enjoy reading how it really is. i can't swing a donation right now, but if you continue with the Vintage Whine, i'd like to know what a hefty donation is so that i can squirrel it away and catch up with you.

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  38. Don't you let anyone change who you are-- this is YOUR blog! So many of us are here to see YOU!

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  39. I love your blog! Your kids are so cute and sweet! They are really
    grown up!

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  40. I love your blog! Your kids are so cute and sweet! Nice photos!

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