parenting

Upcoming Mindful Parenting Workshop!!!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be co-hosting a Mindful Parenting Workshop with Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, Jessica Shank.

If you would like to create more calm in your family and learn valuable tools for avoiding power struggles, this workshop is for you.

Mindful Parenting can reduce stress and reactivity, improve awareness and focus, and increase empathy and compassion. This workshop will inspire you and your family to incorporate a mindful parenting practice in your daily life.



Details:

When: Saturday, October 19, 2019; 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Where: Mill Valley Recreation Center
180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley, CA

Register: Call MV Rec Center (415) 383-1370

Course Code: 51964 Cost: $77 per person

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This Is One Of The Greatest Gifts You Can Give To Your Child

I watched the movie Caroline with the babysitter and now I am really scared," my son blurted out. It turns out he didn't want to tell me because he was afraid I would be upset that he watched a scary movie.

"Oh, I understand that." I said. "When I was little I took something from the store and I was terrified to tell my mom, but I also felt horrible because I knew stealing was wrong. So I carried around all this guilt that I didn't need to have because my mom wasn't mad at me when I was finally honest."

As parents, we are often afraid to tell our children the "bad" things we have done because we are worried that they will somehow think it is okay for them to do those same things. But, research shows that this is not the case.

When you share with your child the mistakes your have made and the things you have tried, you are helping them learn from your experience. And, you are normalizing their feelings and emotions. This is such a priceless gift that we can give our kids.

None of us have to do life alone. So, be open and honest with your kiddos in a way that is appropriate for their age.

When I left my son's room tonight he said, "Goodnight! I feel SO much better!" What a gift for both of us.

With Love,

Laura

To A Child, Love Is TIME

You want to connect more with your child.


You feel like your son is pushing you away.


You worry that you are losing your bond with your daughter.


The best way to nurture your relationship with your child is through time spent with him. Even ten minutes of one-on-one time that is free from phones and distractions can go a long way.


When you create a home of quality time that is free from shameful talk (shameful talk being, you are bad for the mistake you made or the misbehavior that you did), you will find that those connections you crave come back and your bond with your child flourishes.


Amazing job, Parents! Let's change the world as we raise connected and empathetic children.


With Love,


Laura

How You Can Stop Yelling At Your Kids

Last month when you screamed at your kids you swore you would never do it again. Your throat was dry and irritated after. The shame you felt lasted ALL DAY LONG. 

You don’t want to yell. You hate that part of yourself as a parent. But no matter how much you say, “I won’t scream next time,” when next time comes, there you are yelling at that beautiful little kiddo of yours.

The reason you haven’t been able to stop screaming has nothing to do with being a “bad” or “good” parent. You simply haven’t had the right plan. 

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Here is where I can help. I used to scream, but it’s so rare that I reach that point anymore. Here is what has worked for me and what can work for you too.

Tool #1: Stop, Drop, and Breathe 

Remember in grade school when we would practice how to Stop, Drop, and Roll in case of a fire?! You need just as solid of a plan for the next time you feel like screaming.  

It isn’t enough to just hope that you won’t scream again. You need a strategy in place for the next time you feel like you are about to open your mouth and explode with anger.

Will you walk away and cool down in the bathroom?

If you are driving, will you pull the car over and wait until the anger subsides? 

Can you keep a calming book in your bag to read until you are grounded again?

Is there a funny term you can tell your children so they know you are angry and the special code means mommy or daddy need a break? Have fun with this one! Maybe the code is “flying squirrel” or “naked mole rat”?!

Can you Stop, Drop, and Breathe?

Create your Stop Screaming Plan now!

Tool #2: Plan Talk Time 

Oh man, I wanted to scold my kids for not picking up their toys when I had asked them FIVE MILLION TIMES.

Instead of yelling though, I went over to the white board where I keep Family Meeting Topics and wrote down the problem, “not picking up toys.” 

I knew that I would later have a chance to talk to my kids about the problem and that during that family meeting, we would brainstorm solutions to solve this problem. I didn’t need to yell because because I knew that we would have a constructive conversation later. 

Remember, not everything has to be done right now.

Tool #3: Dig Down Deep 

Maybe you didn’t feel heard as a child, so now when your child doesn’t listen, you feel like screaming?

Maybe you aren’t aware of what is developmentally appropriate for the age of your and by better understanding normal child behavior, you will feel less reactive to your child? 

Maybe your need for perfectionism is coming out onto your child and you are projecting perfectionism on them?

Or maybe you are so passive that your child is simply running wild in your home?

As the saying goes, “it takes two to tango.” By looking at our own part (sometimes with the help of a professional), we can defuse many power struggles.

And, above all else, keep working on your own sense of worthiness. You are enough. You are worthy. You are loved. The happier you are inside, the less screaming you will want to do.

If you are taking the time to read this post, Congratulations. You are obviously a thoughtful parent that wants to make some positive changes. Be easy on yourself. It takes time to form new habits. 

Make your plan now and print it out. Carry your Stop Screaming Plan with you everywhere you go and reference it the next time you feel like yelling?

Like these tips? Sign up for my monthly newsletter to get more tools that will bring your home from crazy to calm. 


Tools For Having Less Anxiety

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Yesterday was one of those, “I just want to lay down and not do life,” one of days. ⠀

My mind was anxious, my thoughts were negative, and I felt trapped inside my own body. ⠀

Here’s the important thing that helped me - I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. I knew that all those feelings were normal for us humans. ⠀

Here are some tools that allowed me to get through yesterday without taking my discomfort out on my children or husband ...⠀

⠀1. I took some time for extra meditation. I kept my faith high that those feelings would pass and tomorrow would be a fresh start. ⠀

2. I wrote out my feelings along with a big gratitude list. In times of fear, I always turn to gratitude. ⠀

3. I made a warm cup of almond milk with coco powder. I sat quietly and put my attention on each sip. ⠀

4. I reached out to a friend and was honest about my experience. None of us have to be anxious alone, ever!⠀

5. I went to bed early. I called it at 8:30 pm and went to sleep.  Today, I started my day with gratitude and meditation. Today, is already better than yesterday!⠀

No matter how you are feeling, know that we all have felt that way too. Today is a new day. Today you can SHINE!

With love,⠀

Laura⠀

Dear New Mama,

After my son was born, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the hospital to grab some food. My husband waited in the car with the baby, and I (the one who knew how to do everything best), ran quickly inside for our needed groceries. 


It makes me sad when I think about that moment, not because the act of going to the grocery store was wrong, but because I didn't have the ability to ask for help. I didn't need to take that on myself after just having given birth. I didn't need to be the mom that did everything. I didn't know that I even had a choice.


Being a new mother is simultaneously one of the greatest and most overwhelming experiences. For me, I was full of hormones that often made me anxious, I was deliriously tired. And, I also felt the need to still show up and participate in life. If I could go back and talk to that new mama that I was six-and-a-half years ago, I would tell myself ...


It is okay to leave the house messy.


It is okay to lay in bed ALL DAY LONG.


It is okay if you miss the regularly scheduled events that you used to do before you had a brand new baby.


It is okay to do it "wrong", or different, or half-assed.


As long as you are taking care of that baby and also taking care of yourself, then nothing else matters.


I would tell myself ...


Drink lots of water.


Turn off your phone most days.


Lay in bed and snuggle, snuggle, and snuggle.


Happy Saturday to all the parents out there, especially the ones who are being hard on themselves. Today's mantra: I am enough. I do enough. 



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Girl, Stop Apologizing

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes you! A book that inspires you to dig deep, take action, and reach for your dreams.

Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl Stop Apologizing, has inspired me to get up every morning at 5:20 before my kids get out of bed and work on my own book, to exercise daily, drink lots of water, and most importantly, to not give up on my goals.

Thank you, Rachel for your important work empowering women to live up to our full potential.

If you are looking to improve your business, marriage, friendships or overall health - this is a must read. If you have been feeling low lately and need a pick me up, grab a copy of Girl Stop Apologizing.

I’m loving this book and am almost done with another one of Rachel’s books, Girl, Go Wash Your Face.

Let’s keep inspiring and encouraging each other! @msrachelhollis 

Gratitude For Life's Challenges

“I’m 99.9% sure you have this disease ... you will probably die from it,” the doctor told me and my mother as we sat in the wooden chairs of his small office. ⠀

I had horrible stomach pain my senior year of high school. After what felt like billions of tests, the doctors misdiagnosed me with a disease I didn’t have. It was, to say the least, a very difficult time in my life. ⠀

I have learned from that experience, and other challenges life has presented, to look for gratitude in the difficulties. ⠀

Because of that health crisis in my life I have a greater awareness for other people’s pain and health problems, I learned mindfulness and meditation because the pain forced me to seek a healthy solution, and I have gratitude for the many years that I have no longer had debilitating stomach pain. ⠀

Life will always have its difficulties. Looking for gratitude during the tough times gives us freedom and courage. ⠀

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather,” Pema Chödrön ⛅️ ⠀

Have a blessed day and Find Your Calm In the Chaos of Daily Life 🌟⠀

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Containing the Paradox by Pema Chödrön

In our quest for happiness, sometimes we forget that we also need to experience the sadness. This is not to say that we shouldn't practice daily affirmations and positive thinking (those are of the utmost important). However, when sad feelings come knocking at our door or our children go through a rough time, we must remember that these painful times are also of great value - they give us the gift of empathy and understanding for other beings.

A good friend gave me this reading. I am grateful for the reminder to appreciate the glorious and wretched parts of life.

Containing the Paradox by Pema Chödrön 

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, and energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others. We make ourselves a big deal and want life to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. 

On the other hand, wretchedness - life’s painful aspect - softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is an important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose - you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all be so depressed and helpless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together. 

Atisha said, “Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.” Whether it is glorious or wretched, delightful for hateful, be patient. Patience means allowing things to unfold at their own speed rather than jumping in with your habitual repose to either pain or pleasure. The real happiness that underlies both gloriousness and wretchedness often gets short-circuited by our jumping too fast into the same habitual pattern.

Patience is not learned in safety. It is not learned when everything is harmonious and going well. When everything is smooth sailing, who needs patience? if you stay in your room with the door locked and the curtain drawn, everything may seem harmonious, but the minute anything doesn’t go your way, you blow up. There is no cultivation of patience when your pattern is to just try to seek harmony and smooth everything out. Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than seek harmony. 

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“Everybody Can Dance!” by Kara Navolio

If you have a little dancer in your life, this book is a must have! 💃 ⠀

Kara Navolio has written a beautiful and inclusive book, Everybody Can Dance. What I love about this picture book is that it celebrates people’s differences, has a great beat in the rhyme of the text, and the back of the book showcases different types of dance.


Congratulations on your meaningful work, Kara! This is a lovely picture book!!! ⠀

Pre-orders are available on Amazon, B & N and Indibound.

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LOVE

In a month full of Valentines and Romantic Poems, I thought I would take a moment and give a shout out to the most important LOVE of all … 


Loving the Divine Within.

My experience with self-love is that I didn’t know how lacking I was with it and how much I craved it, until I started to shine some light on it.

We live in a culture that is increasingly conditions-based. We define ourselves and others by the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the activities we do, and the places we work. What often gets lost in that conditional thinking is the Divine worth we all have within.

You might be saying right about now, “Great Laura, but what does this have to do with parenting?” 

It is my experience that my internal sense of self-love is directly proportional to how loving I am to my children. The more grounded I am in myself, the more available I am to give to my little ones.

So, today I invite you all to take a few minutes to meditate. During the meditation, imagine that you are giving yourself the biggest hug, send a loving light to every place in your body that needs extra support today, and make a mental list of all the things you love about yourself. 

Extra Hugs,

Laura 

Shift Book Box

How do you teach children about socioeconomic diversity? How do you have conversations about “ownership, resources, and power, and how those things are distributed, perceived, and experienced in our world”? (Shift, Socioeconomic Diversity: Conversations to Challenge Bias and Rethink Wealth). 

In the month of December, a time that feels filled with materialism, the Shift Book Box was an amazing resource for our family - opening up a door to answering and discussing important questions about socioeconomic diversity, offering a selection of beautiful picture books, and providing guides for parents. 

I really have fallen in love with this book box and appreciate the meaningful picture books and parent guidance. I can’t wait to see what other important topics they will be exploring in the coming months. 

Learn more https://www.shiftbookbox.com

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How to Help Your Child When They Are Afraid To Go To Bed ....

Both my kids cried last night, afraid to go to bed. ⠀

This is more common for my four-year-old, but from time to time, my six-year-old will have a scary dream as he drifts to sleep and it startles him back awake. ⠀

Here are some tools that I used to help them get to sleep quickly and feel better...⠀

Tool #1 - I normalized their fears. I told them that I could relate to their fears and gave personal examples of times that I had similar fears. ⠀

Fear is so scary because it tells us a story that our fear is unique to us and will last forever. But fear isn’t unique. Fear tells us the same story, which is that we won’t get what we want or we will lose what we have. When we normalize fear, it takes the charge out of it. ⠀

Tool #2 - Bring in humor. After comforting my son and telling him about my own fears, we found the humor in the situation. My son’s fear was that he will die or that my husband and I will die before him. At one point he said, “die can mean two different things. It means not being alive or dying your hair” to which I quickly responded, “I know your big fear is that you’ll dye your hair.” We had a good laugh with that as he cuddled up into my arms. ⠀

Tool #3 - Offer some mindfulness tools that are at your child’s level. For my daughter, we spent a few minutes talking about things we are grateful for and giving appreciations. We also took some nice deep breaths. For my son, we imagined grounding cords going from us into the core of the earth. We also imagined a magnet outside the room sucking away any scary thoughts/dreams. ⠀

Tool #4 - Back tickles and cuddles. There is nothing better than a good snuggle when you are afraid. Spend a few extra minutes to help regulate your child’s nervous system and let their bodies get back to a state of calm. ⠀

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How to Parent Mindfully

I remember when my sweet little three-year-old tried to hit me. I was stunned and heartbroken. ⠀

I worried that I had done something wrong to make him think hitting was okay. At the same time, I was really angry that he had hit me. ⠀

I know now, that it is developmentally appropriate for toddlers to hit when they are angry. I also learned how to navigate that behavior in a kind yet firm way so that the hitting stopped. ⠀

For me though, learning to redirect the behavior, was just the tip of the iceberg. ⠀

Underneath, was me taking a deeper look at my reactions to my children. Seeing my old patterns of behavior. Discovering how to bring awareness to the feelings that come from raising humans. ⠀

This is where mindfulness has come into my daily parenting. I have learned how to observe my children’s behavior without reacting to it (that doesn’t mean that I don’t guide them and set clear rules, but I react less to them pushing my buttons and more from a peaceful space). ⠀

Here are a few practices that I use to bring more mindfulness into my home. I hope you enjoy them and can use them too! ⠀

#1 - Meditation 🧘‍♀️ Meditate Daily - for a long time, I used the app Headspace to learn how meditate (and I still use it from time to time). There is no right or wrong way to meditate and there are many books and resources available to teach meditation, but I like headspace because it allows me to time myself (which I needed in the beginning) and offered a guided structure to the meditation. Now I meditate a few times each day, coming back to my breath and my body. ⠀

#2 - Awareness ☀️- When my children are bickering or my daughter is pouting, I try and pause before I react. I bring awareness to the situation - What feelings are coming up in me? Has my daughter had a long day at school? Do my kids need some outside time? What underlying behaviors could be a play here? ⠀

Bringing awareness gives me the gift of insight rather than simply reacting to the situation. I then have a better chance of getting to the root of the problems and staying more calm! ⠀

#3 - Equanimity 🌊 - I can bring equanimity to my home when I acknowledge that all thoughts and feelings are valid. I don’t have to judge my son’s anger, my own anxiety, or my daughter’s frustration. All of these feelings will come and go like waves rolling in the sea. As I bring acceptance and love to what is, I find that everything soon changes. I can help support my children with whatever feelings they are experiencing (just like I can be kind to myself for my own feelings). ⠀

To be honest, I don’t find all of this super easy. In fact, that is why I take the time to write these posts and share my experience with others. I have times where all of this goes out the window and I get mad with my children. Nevertheless, I try each day to implement these tools into my life. I find the more I share it with you, the easier it is to keep practicing myself. ⠀

So, thank you for reading my posts and for walking this path of mindful parenting with me. I hope you and your family make time for some extra giggles today. ⠀

XO,⠀

Laura ⠀

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Making Agreements With Your Child

“She’s having such a hard time following the rules,” my mom said about my daughter. 

It’s true, the last few weeks have been hard for my little four-year-old. She had the stomach flu, caught a cough from her brother, and now has an ear infection. 

We have been giving her extra love for sure  But the comment from my mom made me think. What do us parents do when our children aren’t “following the rules”?

Here’s a parenting tip you can use ...

Have a family meeting about the concern. Start the meeting with appreciations. Ask your child to help you find a solution to the problem. Once a solution is agreed upon, test it for a week and then check back in to make sure everyone is happy with the progress. 

Have a parenting question? Email me and I’ll post the answer without breaking your anonymity. 



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Angry Wheel of Choice

We have been focusing on anger this week and I highlighted the book, When Miles Got Mad by Abbie Schiller and Samantha Kurtzman-Counter in an earlier post. ⠀

Today, I will showcase the “Angry Wheel of Choice” from Positive Discipline which you can make with your child when he is calm. ⠀

Below you can see two wheels that I made with my son. One was for myself as a model and the second was after reading the book, When Miles Got Mad (we also made one for him which isn’t displayed here). ⠀

For “Mommy’s Angry Wheel of Choice,” my son and I sat down and talked about all the things I could do when I was angry. After making our list, we picked the 6 ideas that we thought would work best when I was upset and put them into a pie chart ...⠀

1. Breathe and Count to 10⠀

2. Walk Away⠀

3. Draw a Picture ⠀

4. Visualize Something Nice ⠀

5. Meditate ⠀

6. Dance and Sing⠀

After making my Angry Wheel of Choice, I helped my son make his own. ⠀

We hung them up in our home and I continue to model using them when I am upset. ⠀

We also made one for Miles in the story, When Miles Got Mad. Making one for the picture book was another great way to model and normalize anger/solutions for working through anger. ⠀

When people are angry, their prefrontal cortex isn’t functioning like it normally does. This makes it hard for both children and adults to use calming activities when they are in this mad state. ⠀

My son doesn’t always use his Angry Wheel of Choice when he is mad. It would be unrealistic if I expected him too. Instead, he is learning what calming activities are available to him when he is upset. And, often he does use them ... which in my opinion, is fantastic!!! ⠀

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Raising Mindful Kids

I recently saw an interview from a parenting expert that claimed parents need to toughen their children up to the world at a young age. ⠀

It broke my heart to see all the parents chiming in agreement with this parenting expert. ⠀

Children do not need to be tough. Boys don’t need to keep in their tears or forget about their feelings. Little girls shouldn’t just be left to argue it out because they are “girls.” ⠀

In an ever shifting world, it is our job as parents to demonstrate softness, love, stability, and respect. ⠀

How do we do that?⠀

- We are kind yet firm with our children. ⠀

- We establish routines in our homes. ⠀

- We hold family meetings where everyone has a voice. ⠀

- We play often with our little ones: filling our homes with love and laughter. ⠀

Quote by L.R. Knost⠀

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When Your Child Hits ...

Every parent hopes that their young child will not hit another child, but the fact is that hitting in the toddler years in not uncommon (especially if you have siblings). ⠀

When a young child does hit another child, a normal parent reaction is to want to reprimand the hitter. Parents want to scold and punish their children in order to teach them that their behavior is not okay. ⠀

Punishment, however, is not necessarily the best approach (nor is it often very effective). ⠀

So, what can you do if your child does hit another child?⠀

If your child hits, immediately comfort the child who has been hit.⠀

Giving attention to the child that has been hit models empathy for your own child.⠀

Invite the child who has hit to help comfort the injured child. Maybe they want to help get the injured child some ice? ⠀

Involving the child who has hit teaches another important lesson in kindness and respect. ⠀

Later, when you have some alone time with your child, talk to him about alternative ways to express his anger. This is a great time to role play with you little one. Role play healthy solutions to anger. ⠀

Click the link in my Instagram bio for a Free Parenting Webinar. ⠀

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How To Help Kids With Their Anger

Of all the feelings my children experience, anger used to be (and, honestly, still can be) the hardest one for me to process. When I was a child, I didn’t learn a lot of effective tools for navigating my own anger. Ultimately, that led me to suppress my anger and become less tolerant of other people’s anger. ⠀

As a parent, children always provide plenty of opportunities for us to work through our own stuff. This is a perfect example of me relearning how to steer through the muddy waters of anger, so that I can better teach and understand my own little ones. ⠀

So, what resources are available to help teach kids effective tools for processing anger? And what tools can us parents use so that we don’t react when are children are upset? ⠀

As many of you know by now, one of my favorite resources for helping children understand their feelings is picture books. Picture books give children the gift of understanding that they are not alone with their feelings and they provide parents with a container for discussing their children’s feelings.⠀

Here is a list of five of my favorite picture books for talking about anger. I will highlight these books throughout the week and use one book to showcase how it might be used with your child.⠀

5 Picture Books About Anger -⠀

Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners⠀

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard⠀

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer⠀

When Miles Got Mad by Abbie Schiller and Samantha Counter⠀

When Sophie Get Angry - Really, Really Angry … by Molly Bang⠀


Stay tuned for an in-depth look at using one of these books with your child to help him work through his anger.

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10 Great Chapter Books for Kinder - Second Grade

Reading with our son is one of the things that I cherish the most. Every night we devote 15 minutes to reading with him and it is my favorite time of the day.

Not only is reading aloud to your children a way to expand their vocabulary and set them up for reading success in the future, but it is a wonderful way to incorporate calm into your evening.

Here is a list of my favorite chapter books that we have read (not ranked in order of favorites … we love them all!). I hope you and your children enjoy them as much as we do!

1. Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

2. Olivia Sharp by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

3. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

4. Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne

5. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

6. Stuart Little by E.B. White

7. Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo

8. The Frog and Toad Collection by Arnold Lobel

9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

10. Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro

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