Art of Holiatry

Anticipation

The Gift IS The Anticipation

     As I have mentioned numerous times before, I am a complete movie nerd.  I’m not good at movie trivia or remembering actors or actresses names or what year this or that movie came out, but I can watch them until the cows come home (and secretly I hope they don’t!).  The movie industry has me hooked with anticipation.
     In my phone is a list called “Movie Fun”.  At the top of the list are movies coming out that I want to see.  I’ve seen the trailer, loved it, and it goes on my list along with the day it hits theaters.  Next comes the movies on my wishlist for my home library.  If the movie isn’t out on DVD/Blu-Ray quite yet, the day it does come out is listed right next to it with eager anticipation!
     What is it that gets us hooked?  The excitement leading up to our birthdays.  The eves of holidays, especially Christmas.  The sequel to your favorite book or movie.  The sequel to your favorite television series (even if it’s Lost and the ending really didn’t tie up all the loose ends that they had promised).

Anticipation is Powerful

     The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is almost more exciting than the actual event.  Anticipation is powerful.  Inevitably, the actual event is much shorter than any waiting I did leading up to it.  I literally have a movie on my list right now that doesn’t come out until Summer and it’s already been on there a couple of months!  That is a HUGE anticipation period considering the movie will be less than two hours.

I’m spent weeks preparing for Christmas.  Even if I counted the full 24 hours of Christmas day instead of the 16 or so hours I will actually be awake, it’s a lot of prep time in comparison to the actual celebration.

Anticipation IS our Journey

     If all of what I said holds true, than the excitement of anticipation is our journey.  What is your current journey that fills you with anticipation?  Are you embracing your journey towards your ultimate goal?  What is your ultimate goal?  How far away is it?  Can you see it as a trailer in your mind of your very own movie?
     The journey can require hard work.  Learn to love this work.  It is our anticipation journey to be embraced, loved, and smiled at.  I believe anticipation is the motivating factor for me trying so many things in my life.  I have done so many awesome things.  I am collecting experiences. It has been an incredible journey and I can hardly wait to see what’s around the corner for me.  I can hardly wait to see where your journey takes you.
     May your journey be filled with anticipation.  Enjoy it, set a goal to achieve, start your journey now.  May it be a healthy, happy road less travelled.

The Jewel Within

I was asked to speak at a small women’s event and thought I would share my thoughts on this most important subject.  Start by watching this amazing YouTube video about The Jewel by clicking on this link:
My birthday is right close to Valentine’s Day.  What that means is as I was growing up my seven brothers and one sister would be taken to the store to buy gifts for me and that the selection at Thrifty’s was mostly focused around the this holiday.  I would receive an extra large Hershey Kiss, teddy bears with hearts on them, heart-shaped pillows, you get the idea.  Some brothers would go in and buy something together, but one particular year, my older brother bought me something just from him.  He then proceeded to wrap that gift in a brown paper grocery bag.  No wrapping paper, no ribbon or bows, no card, a brown paper bag.
At first I was disappointed at the lack of time taken for my special day and was even a bit taken aback by this notion of not having my present wrapped properly.  This thought quickly left as I opened the gift to see what was inside.  The moment I removed the “wrapping paper”, I was blessed with a beautiful gift and promptly forgot about the ugly brown paper bag it had come in.
Why are we so critical of the gift wrap when we know that something beautiful is inside?
I have seen even little girls be critical of each other.  As teenagers it’s worse.  You might have a great sense of self and high self-esteem and then someone says something critical to you and the doubt easily sets in.  We then move into our 20’s and 30’s and for some of us that means child-bearing years.  Bearing a child is a beautiful endeavor, but it can leave rips and tears in our gift wrap that we forget to see as beautiful battle scars of the least selfish act in the universe.  If we are lucky enough to live through our 40’s and longer, gravity becomes your enemy and your metabolism goes in the toilet.  A bitter pill to swallow.
My gift wrap has changed over the years.  I came into this world with the biggest chubby cheeks you can imagine.  I didn’t like the dirt and when I crawled would literally stop and brush my hand off each “step”, which is ironic considering I mountain bike in the dirt all the time now.  I’ve broken bones, had a million different haircuts and lots of crazy clothes as I was a product of the 80’s.  I have given birth to three kids, been overweight and underweight, been in shape and out of shape, have worn make-up and haven’t worn make-up, got a tattoo, and have finally embraced my gray as I’m now a full-fledged Gram with 2 beautiful grandkids.  My gift wrap has seen some serious travels.
I recently have been studying and pondering women and positivity.  I’m so dedicated to this cause that I quit my full time position in a business my husband and I own to pursue a way to help women be more positive by taking practical steps in their lives.  I created a this blog to put my thoughts out into the world.  I created Lauri’s Lemonade Stand, A Positivity Podcast for Women to bring help into the women adventuring into the next chapter of their lives.  I wrote a book last year called Positivity Happens – all in the name of trying to uplift, inspire and bring hope to women.  I sometimes just look for things to laugh about because a good belly laugh is always a good thing.  In this pursuit I have learned a few things about myself.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned:
  1. My soul is young and eternal.  My inside doesn’t feel old.  I feel young as a puppy playing with a new toy.
  2. I am the only one who can do my job here on earth.  There is no one else like me.  I am as unique as a snowflake and the world needs me.
  3. My experiences have refined who I am.  I have laughed, cried, been vexed in love, worried, fretted, been cheerful and full of happiness.  Not all of my choices have been good ones, but even the poor choices have helped mold me into who I am today.
  4. I can change my attitude and outlook on life.  I can gain new perspectives, learn new tricks, and change the things I want to change to create a better me.  Being happy is a learned trait.
  5. If I am ever in doubt of my divine nature, I simply need to say a prayer and my Heavenly Father assures me of my infinite worth with his sweet spirit.  He knows my fears, he knows my dreams, he knows who I am and who I am becoming.  He has been forced to be a patient teacher with me as his student.
We are all in a different stage of life and have diverse types and colors and patterns of gift wrap.  It would be rather dull and boring if all of our gift wrap was the same, wouldn’t it?  Let me propose that whatever gift wrap you are currently wearing that it is perfect and unique to you.  Wherever you are is exactly where we are supposed to be.  What if you don’t like the situation you are currently in?  I give you the words of
Jeffrey R Holland:
Don’t give up, don’t you quit.
You keep walking, you keep trying.
There is help and happiness ahead.
It will all be all right in the end.
Trust God and believe in good things to come.
There is a jewel in each of you. Jewels are only made through some sort of adversity.  Did you know that diamonds are formed at a crazy high temperature and pressure 87 to 118 miles down in the earth’s mantle?  The growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3 billion years!  Amethyst is formed in gas cavities of lava!  Lava!  Rubies are formed only when there is a small impurity of chemicals in just the right atmosphere.  Emeralds are created when exposed to extreme hot water, cooled down and then passed through hot water again.  LAVA HOT WATER from what my studies found.  Pearls are formed only when a grain of sand is embedded into a mollusk.  Then in self defense, the mollusk creates layer after layer of mother-of-pearl until the iridescent gem is formed.
Now I am not suggesting that we need to seek out tough times to cultivate our jewel within.  What I am saying is that nobody’s life or gift wrap is perfect, but that our jewel within is being created for the eternities.  We are not earthly beings have a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience.  Be proud of your gift wrap, be patient with your adversities and challenges, be happy knowing that God knows you personally and has always seen the jewel within.  Cultivate your jewel by seeing the good in yourself.  Try to be more cheerful and positive.  Have hope that things will be all right in the end because they will.  Trust in God and in the good things to come.  Be happy and then share your happiness with others so that their jewels can also be cultivated.
Would love to hear from you about this article!  Please leave a comment – I read every single one!

5 Analogies I Learned While Riding My Bike

Analogies I Learned While Riding My Bike This Morning
Fancy’s Neptune’s Net Ride
     1)  Enjoy the Moments  My bike ride this morning took me through neighborhoods, long stretches of farmland where they were growing artichokes, bell peppers in yellow and red, celery, and acres of sod.  It went past a naval station, a shooting range, hiking and camping areas, and miles of beach along the Pacific Ocean where people were walking their pets or out in the water surfin’ it up.  Don’t forget to look up every once in awhile and enjoy your surroundings.  We get so busy with life that we forget to look up and enjoy these little moments of beauty that surround us daily.

Artichoke Field

     2)  Share the Road  This morning found me on a lonely 30-mile ride and while it was beautiful, it’s much more fun to bring a buddy.  I enjoy riding with my husband or friends or my daughter.  Due to different levels of fitness, I highly recommend a tandem.  It evens up the odds in a hurry and it’s easier to visit.  While tandems are certainly fun, you have to work “in tandem” or it’s literally a train wreck.  Which foot to have on the pedal when you start, which foot you will put down first when you stop, shifting your weight carefully so you don’t weeble-wobble and fall right over.  Share your life.  It is much more fun when you have a buddy to share the road or to simply go “in tandem”.
 Lauri & Eddy in Tandem
          3)  Think Happy Thoughts  Let’s face it, this life can be a cess pool of negativity.  Here’s an example of that on my ride this morning…it was 46 degrees and I hate the cold.  My Garmin wouldn’t work so I wasn’t able to see how far I went, how many calories I had burned, what time it was, and how my heart rate was doing.  There was a horrible head-wind that made me work much harder on the way home.  It took ten minutes longer than my ride out.  My fingers were freezing and at one point I couldn’t feel my toes.  Some of the drivers definitely are NOT observing the 3-foot rule and made me nervous coming so close.  And some parts of the beach ride just smell plain fishy…and I don’t like fish!  Why did I do this by myself?  I should have just stayed home.  Here’s what actually happened…I was cold for awhile, but reminded myself of how blazing hot it had been this summer and was glad for the change in season that finally appeared.  My Garmin didn’t work so I decided to just enjoy the ride and not worry about my heart rate or how long it would take me to finish.  I was cold during spots, but enjoyed the morning sunshine as it warmed me up to get through the next cold spell.  The headwinds are a blessing in disguise as while I’m slower, they make me stronger.  I was grateful for good health that allowed me the opportunity to ride my bike and for the quiet time it provided me to think of all these analogies!
 Positivity Face
          4)  Embrace Your Own Journey  While there were not a lot of other cyclists out as early as I was this morning, I passed a few.  And then one passed me!  My initial reaction is always, “Man, I’m slow” or “Speed up!  Quick!  Don’t let this guy pass you!”  Why?  Why do we compare ourselves to others so often?  I’m enjoying my Garmin-Free bike ride over here moving like molasses through this headwind…I don’t need to compare myself to the rest of the world.  Embrace your own journey in this life.  There is no one else like you, period.  So why would you want to take someone else’s journey?  This is yours…own it.
Mountain Bike Journey
          5)  Always Another Hill  My tooshie is sore after all the hills.  I admit it.  But there is always another hill.  Those hills build character, strength, resolve, and tighten my rear end.  That’s a huge benefit!  I ride with a group of guys on Thursday afternoons and one hill in particular is called “Power Line”.  It is insanely steep and it takes just plain power and grit to climb.  A few weeks ago, one of the guys told me he’d never made it up so I climbed with him and became the best little cheerleader you could imagine (without pompoms of course).  He made it!  And you know what?  Last week we went to that same hill and he did it again and it wasn’t as hard as the first time.  Those hills make you stronger and give you the confidence to tackle it again.  In life there is always another hill.  I enjoy the downhill and the coasting, but I know that hills are just a part of my life.  Just as in my bike riding (whether mountain or road), they are building muscles, creating experiences, and giving me confidence to tackle even bigger hills in the future.
  MTB Climbing Hills

Who I Am

Who I Am
Learning to Sleep in the Bed that I Made
     No TV.  Ok, well I do own a TV and am honestly a huge movie buff with lots of movies and some sitcoms, but I do not have a cable network of any kind.  No channels.  No commercials.  Been that way for over 20 years now.  I still get hooked on sitcoms!  I owned every season of Gilmore Girls and if Agents of Shield has a season on DVD, I’ve bought it and watched it in marathon order over a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long).
     My current addiction is Arrow.  In a recent episode I learned the origins of the character, Felicity Smoak.  (Third Season in case any of you are Arrow buffs, too)  While it wasn’t anything too horrific…think Bimbo mom and illegal computer hacking stuff, it was something that she was embarrassed and ashamed of.
     One of the point’s I’d like to make is that we all have things in our past that we are both embarrassed or ashamed of.  The first of those are the decisions that we have no control over.  Felicity did not choose her mom or her circumstances growing up.  The second are decisions we make that may cause shame as we see them as mistakes or just plain ugly bad choices.  In Felicity’s example it was creating a super crazy computer virus from her college hacker days and nearly spending her life in prison.
     But where is she now?  Working for a millionaire dude (who’s handsome and sexy by the way) and The Arrow as a computer genius who is calm under pressure, knows her stuff inside and out, and has made herself indispensable.  She is also friendly and is loved by just about everyone who meets her (except the bad guys, of course).
Which brings me to my second point.  Her upbringing and her so-called “mistakes” brought her to this part of her life.  Her life is not without mistakes now and it’s not perfect, but those life experiences made her who she is today.  They shaped her into the woman she has become.
     Your life up to this point has made you who you are today.  Right now in this present moment.  Who are you?  Where did you come from and where are you going?  I’ve been pondering a lot about this lately in my own life.

This is WHO I WAS:

     I believe my upbringing was pretty darn good.  My mom taught me to choose the right and how to be strong.  She showed me that she was human and made mistakes like everyone else. I learned to ride horses, ride a bike, and do good in school.  I loved to read and compete in spelling bees!  In unfortunate typical fashion, my parents were divorced when I was 11 and my mom re-married a wonderful man with 5 boys.  As per usual in most divorced families, it’s just tough.  Tough to figure out your identity, tough to reconcile your mom and dad not being together.  Tough to adjust to doubling your family size and learning to get along with not only 2 brothers, but 7!  (It’s just a flat out miracle that mom was never committed to a looney bin.  She gets huge props for that.).
     Imagine 9 kids; 7 boys and 2 girls all under the age of 11.  I know I had it tough, but my mom and step-dad are down-right saints in my book.  We were all on the local swim team and all of us did some kind of sports.  I remember doing basketball for 6 years, soccer for 3 and swim team for 3.  I was also in the band with a killer marching ensemble for parades and half-time shows.  My parents did the best they could and honestly, even though I might not have agreed with my mom and dad’s “parenting skills” (what child does??) if I had followed their advice, my life would have turned out better than the decisions I made for myself.
     The rest is all me.  I made my bed and I laid in it.  Every good and bad decision was up to me.  It still is.  I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’ve learned that I love to work outside the home.  I love the challenge of new opportunities.  I’ve been a property manager, an Ombudsman to a Naval Ship during the 9/11 conflict, worked for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, made burgers as the Drive-Thru Queen of Burger King (age 18, cut me some slack for that one), lasted one whole week at Taco Bell, sold MaryKay and Pampered Chef, and yes, even the dreaded Amway for a spell.  I’ve owned my own business for a lot of years and was even a stay-at-home mom 9 years straight which was the hardest “job” I’ve ever had in my life.
      I’ve been married more than a few times with the common denominator of failure always being me in those relationships.  My two older kids are no doubtedly scarred for life due to my inability to have, find, and keep good marriage relationships.  While it is not an easy thing to talk about or simply admit, it is most definitely part of my past that made me who I am today.

This is WHO I AM:

     I am in a beautiful marriage relationship with my best friend and hero, Eddy.  He has given me a safe place to grow and learn about myself and who I have the potential to become.  I will forever be indebted to him.
     I love to sing.  I like to knit and hate to scrapbook.  I love riding my mountain bike and I love to cook.  I like making my house feel like a home where anyone that comes in will feel comfortable and at ease.  I stink at keeping green things alive.  Many a plant has died at my hands over the years.  I love to read Louis L’amour and I love to watch action movies and chick flicks.  I love to speak with people and connect with them.  I love the mountains, but don’t much care for the beach.
     I believe in God and love my church family because they show love to me unconditionally.  I am a WFPB health crusader (yes, I eat plants and yes, I get enough protein).  I have two dogs that are sweet as pie.  They are both black and both boys.  It seemed only fair as I have three daughters and my hubby was the only testosterone representative in the house.  I love making goals and then checking them off my list.  Did I mention I was a list-maker?  I LOVE LISTS!  The best part of my lists is marking the things off I’ve accomplished.
     Some of my favorite things are freshly cleaned sheets, new pillows, the sound of the dishwasher or dryer running, Kelly Rae Roberts, my courtyard fountain, the smell of jasmine in full bloom, Brooks Cascadia trail-running shoes, and getting packages in the mail.

This is WHO I AM BECOMING:

     First and foremost, I am always working on being more kind and being of service.  First to my husband and children, then my neighbors and then my community and ultimately the world.  I’m also working on being more cheerful and not complaining so much about bad drivers.  🙂
     I’ve recently started collecting pull-over hoodies…don’t know if that trend will stick, but it seemed worth mentioning.
     I want to learn how to pop a wheelie on my mountain bike.  I want to replace the rest of my VHS tapes with DVD’s.  I want to take a trip to Whistler and ride some killer trails up there.  I want to find out who my Gram’s biological parents were as she was adopted at age 5.
     I want to write a book, public speak to women who need a confidence boost and power uplift in their lives.  I want to do a weekly podcast starting in February of 2016 to support these same women to help them believe they are capable of more than they think.
     I just had to highlight this last paragraph in orange because I’ve accomplished it since I wrote this post in October of 2015.  My book came out in 2018 and the podcast is now over 2 years old – go me!  I would like to do more speaking to women, but I have done that as well.  Setting goals is oh so important!  Party in the house right now after reading this again!!!
     Oh, and I want to own a Model X Tesla…

Dream Car Tesla

Please comment below and tell me some things you already know about yourself.  Be proud!

Breaking the Rules

Bright Lines

     I have friends from many different faiths.  Some of my friends and even strangers have asked me how I can be in what they deem such a “rigid” faith.  So many rules…so many restrictions.  But I believe that rules bring freedom.  Enter in:  Bright Lines.

Line in the Sand

     The proof is in the pudding…or jail.  Yes, jail.  Very simply put, there are rules set in place that if you break, you go to jail.  In jail all of your freedoms are taken from you.  Now, someone else is in charge of what used to be your decisions.  They decide what you get to eat, to wear, and where you can and cannot go. You no longer have control over your life because you broke the rules.
     Just recently I was introduced to the concept of Bright Lines.  I looked it up on Google and here is what they had to say:  “A bright-line rule is a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.”
     Let me give you a few examples of Bright Lines in my life so you can see that you have Bright Lines already established in your life as well.  I have a Bright Line that I have drawn about never consuming alcohol or doing drugs.  I will not eat any animal products or watch R-rated movies.  I even have one for never driving over 37 mph in our neighborhood because the cops are always perched somewhere and I don’t want a ticket!  These particular Bright Lines keep my body happy and cheerful physically, my brain happy and cheerful mentally, and my bank account happy and cheerful for not getting that speeding ticket!
     There have been times in my life that even though those Bright Lines were established in what I thought to be in stone, I broke.  I’m not talking about coming up and putting my toe right against the line.  I’m talking about wiping the line away, jumping completely on the other side, feeling a moment of exhilaration for having broken the rules, and then eventually feeling guilt over my decision and the inevitable consequences.

Consequences Ahead

     You have every freedom in making your decisions, but you are not in charge of the consequences.  Good or bad, you do not have control over the consequences of your decisions.
     The reason I am introducing this Bright Line concept to you today is that no matter what your past has been and the rules that we have all broken, we can begin today to set up new Bright Lines for ourselves.  Maybe it is something as simple as developing a habit to brush your teeth in the evening and not just in the morning.  (My dad is a dentist and I’m still working on this one!)  Maybe it is to not say something critical to anyone today, especially your loved ones.  Maybe it is not to have critical thoughts towards yourself.  Maybe it’s a bigger goal that you have in mind.
     Whatever your goal is, draw a Bright Line and as my friend and mentor, Susan Pierce Thompson says, “Simply Resume”.  Don’t beat yourself up over having crossed the line.  Just draw another one and resume.  I wish you good luck with your Bright Lines!  Sending love to you wherever you are in your journey.

Be Cheerful!

Be Cheerful!
Time Traveling, Smiling, Connecting
     My purpose in writing today is to help you establish some guidelines in your life that will bring you peace, enjoyment and cheerfulness.  I love the phrase, “Be Cheerful!”.  When I picture being cheerful, I picture myself smiling and enjoying the moment I’m in right there.  No time traveling to the day or months or even years before or focusing on the days, months, or years ahead.  Just being cheerful in the moment.  Right now.
     I’d like to make three simple suggestions that if you commit to today will bring you happiness and cheerfulness into your life.
     1)  No more time traveling.  Unless you get a crazy, awesome DeLorean like in Back to the Future, time traveling is not a good idea.  I’m not even sure it’s a good idea in Back to the Future, but definitely not good for your thoughts and feelings of today.  Yesterday is gone.  The mistakes are gone.  Tomorrow will never get here so all you can focus on is today.  The old adage of One Day at a Time is truly relevant for everyone, not just for those in 12-step programs.

Back to the Future

     2)  Smile.  Make a conscience effort to smile, even if no one can see you.  About a million and a half years ago I had a job as a telemarketer that lasted for about half a second.  Part of the training was to smile during your call.  Why?  No one could see me!  That was just silly and ridiculous to me.  But it worked!  If you don’t believe me, try talking on the phone without smiling and then smiling.  Your countenance just changes…for the better.  Don’t take my word for it…try it.

Smile Increases your Face Value

     3)  Commit to human connection.  And no, sitting in front of your television watching other humans does not count.  Interacting with other human beings simply boosts your spirits, even if the connection is you having to call and whine to your best friend, or cry on the shoulder of that friend during a visit, make the connection.  When I have been truly down in the dumps my gut reaction is to hole up and disappear like a hermit crab in it’s shell.  I block out everyone and everything until I feel better.  Not healthy to say the least.  I still have that tendency, but have beautiful friends who can break my shell and have me standing upright soon enough.

Girlfriends

     I want to write more suggestions, but don’t want to overwhelm you either.  If you have a problem with negativity, sadness, feelings of being a failure, take a minute to acknowledge that moment and ask yourself how you can be cheerful about something else.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done if you focus on these three things.  Commit to yourself today.  Be in the moment, smile, link arms with your best friend and have a beautiful day!

A Letter to My Gram

A Letter to My Gram
Being Sad and Mad
     Our name for her was “Gram”.  She was my mother’s mother who was born September 3rd, 1926 and adopted from an orphanage in Los Angeles when she was 5 years old.  Her adoption records are sealed and so we might never know who her birth parents were, but the couple that adopted her were ever so kind and she grew up with loving parents in a beautiful home with lots of opportunities.
Gram with Cute Dog
     She married, had four children, two girls and then two boys with a big gap between the girls and boys.  For example, my uncle was in kindergarten when I was born and he had to bring something to class that started with the letter ‘B’.  He brought me because I was a baby!   She had a love for horses, dogs, and cats and made the best snickerdoodles you ever tasted.  She always had cars that were fast and usually red even though she didn’t drive them fast.   She didn’t have a lot to say, but I loved it when she laughed.
Gram Dog Lover
     Her house was always neat as a pin.  We visited her more often as children and she always came to our house for Christmas bringing McDonald’s gift certificates for all of us.  I have pictures of her at a few special occasions such as my 8th grade graduation and when I was first married.  I remember meeting her for lunch at the Smorgy or The Depot in Oroville, CA for lunch.
     She was not what I would call a playful grandma like my mother is now for her grandchildren.  In truth, it is because my Gram was not very involved that I believe my mother has been so determined to be in her grandchildren’s lives and is doing an incredible job…she makes me exhausted!  Being a new Gram myself, I appreciate her efforts even more.
     This last Sunday morning I received news that my Gram had passed away.  I was surprised that I was sad.  I was more surprised that I was mad.  Over the last 15 or so years, my Gram had alienated every single one of her family members and any friends she may have had.
     I am mostly sad over the years that were already lost.  I am mad that she let this happen.  I am confused because I simply don’t understand it all.  I’ve sent birthday cards every year, emailing her on her birthday as well.  I sent Christmas cards, all with no response.
     There will not be a funeral, no one would come.  She pre-paid to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the fields where some wild horses roam around the place she last lived.
     In the wake of her passing the last few days, I have thought much about the circumstances that brought her to such a sad place.  How awful it must have been to lead such a small and selfish life.  It also got me thinking about all the good she brought into this world.
     She was an excellent mother to her children.  She sewed beautiful dresses for my mom and aunt.  She took them on camping trips and supported them in all they did.  My aunt had excellent advice to remember her how she was and not who she became.  On that note, I add a story she wrote to her granddaughters when I was 12 years old.  It shows how much she cared in those days to be a wonderful Gram.
Gram, Mom, Lauri, Kids
     She was my last living grandparent.  I am her first grandchild and oldest granddaughter.  I am here because she lived.  I am grateful for her love of life in her younger years.  I am grateful for her quiet moments.  I am grateful for the afghan she crocheted for me.  I am grateful for a couple pieces of jewelry she thought to give me about 20 years ago.  I am grateful for her talent in the kitchen and what I hope I have inherited of her talent for storytelling.
     Thank you for being patient as I write this on my blog this week.  I promise to have some more uplifting thoughts next week, but such as in life, there are ups and downs.  Please take a moment after reading my Gram’s little story, The Day My Dolls Danced, and get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in much too long.  You know who it is…please do it.  Leave a mark…no, leave a legacy.
May 13, 1983
To my sweet granddaughters:  Lauri, Holly, Heather & Sarah.
In this, the Springtime of your lives, may you still enjoy a fairytale.
Much love from your “Gram”

THE DAY MY DOLLS DANCED

It had been a long and busy day but the house sparkled and the clothes were washed and put away.  There was an apple pie fresh from the oven, warm and spicy, for special dessert that evening.  There was some time left before I needed to start dinner so I decided to take a little rest.  I went into my bedroom, took off my shoes, closed the drapes and lay down on the bed.
As I always do before closing my eyes, I looked at each of my little dolls, 14 in all, that stood on the shelf above my vanity.  There was another larger doll that stood on the vanity.  They were all dressed elegantly in long gowns of pink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender and I had given each of them a name;  Jasmine from Japan, Heidi from Holland, my Irish girl Colleen, Cherie from France, Ann from Israel.  Joining them were Leah, Honey, April, Sarah, Shirley, Lauri, Heather, Sunshine, Holly and my tall Southern Belle – Elaine.  They were my little girls, dainty and sweet and beautiful.
My eyelids grew heavy and just as I was drifting off to sleep I heard faint tapping sounds coming from where my dolls stood on the shelf.  To my astonishment, the tiny ladies had come to life and are taking off their shoes!  I wondered if perhaps I were dreaming but I lay very still and waited to see what would happen next.
After each girl had removed her shoes she placed them side-by-side in the exact place that she stood on the shelf.  Then one-by-one they tiptoed to the ends of the shelf and let themselves down the turned posts on either side of the mirror to the vanity below.  Each girl in turn went to a small cart of silk flowers that stood on the table, selected a flower that matched the color of her gown, and laid it at the feet of Elaine, as though she were their queen.  Elaine smiled and nodded to each lady in acceptance of their tributes.
After their acknowledgement to their queen, the girls became carefree and playful, darting among the bottles of perfume and playing hide-and-seek with one another.  While they were occupied with their games, I very quietly turned on my radio to music that seemed to match their bright spirits.  They were startled and seemed almost fearful at the sound.  Then, quite suddenly, my vanity became their stage and I was about to become an audience of one at a Ballet of the Dolls!
Their tiny bodies moved with charm and grace and their joy at dancing was reflected in the sweetness of their faces.  I was completely absorbed in the performance when suddenly, outside, a dog barked rudely.  The dancing ended abruptly and the little ladies glanced my way, but I stayed very still.  I was hoping they would decide it was safe to continue to dance, but the spell was broken.  They scurried to put everything back into proper order.  One-by-one, they returned to their Queen Elaine, curtsied and picked up the flowers and put them back in the cart, then made their way up the turned posts to the shelf.  Each girl returned to her own pair of shoes, slipped them on, smoothed her gown and hair, smiled sweetly at their queen, then became motionless once again.
Quietly I turned off the radio and marveled at the sight I had just been privileged to see, and hope that sometime I will see them come to life and play and dance on my vanity once again.  Perhaps I had just dreamed the whole interlude.  It would be quite fantastic to see dolls come to life and dance on the vanity.  It must have been my imagination working overtime.
Several days passed and one evening as I prepared for bed, I noticed a tiny object lying on my vanity.  I picked it up and discovered that it was a shoe!  I was very excited because I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming and it wasn’t my imagination and that my little ladies did really come to life after all!  I laid the tiny shoe carefully on the shelf above, turned off the light and went to bed.  I wondered if, perhaps, they would dance this night.
The next day was house-cleaning time and as I reached up to dust the shelf where my girls stood, the little shoe was not there!  I carefully picked up each doll and to my amazement, their shoes were all on their feet!  They had indeed come to life and danced again while I slept.  I felt a little sad that I hadn’t seem them.  However, my ladies had known that once I had watched them dance and play, for as I turned to dust my radio, there, lying on the top was a lovely silk flower, a gift from my little girls!
The Gift

Superheroes vs Villains

You Are a Super Hero
Super Heroes vs Villains
 
     I am a crazy movie addict.  I will just admit that now and get it out of the way.  I also am admittedly an OCD organizational freakazoid.  That means that not only do I love movies with super heroes, but I had shelving built on one wall around my TV to house them, separated by genre AND alphabetized within their genre.  Crazy, right?  (Wait until you learn about how I send my birthday cards every year)  Not only do I have them organized in such a way, but I have a list on my phone called “Movies”.  Within that list are movies coming out that I want to see and the date they debut, movies I want to add to my collection, and a list of VHS tapes I have left to switch over to DVD’s.  I love movies!

     I am a sucker for a good tear-jerker, love the action films and chick-flicks, and Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley is the one I’ve watched the most.  Not only am I addicted to movies, but I believe I’m simply addicted to happy endings.  I want to fly without wings, make people laugh like Lucille Ball, have magical powers like Samantha from Bewitched, be strong and have courage like Cinderella, sing like Queen Latifah, and kick ass like Lara Croft.  That’s not asking too much, right?

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Super Heroes

     One of the things I’ve learned is that you cannot have heroes without villains.  If the villains did not exist, super heroes would not be discovered or needed.  The super heroes themselves might not ever know that they are super heroes because nothing challenged them to become more than they already were.  In the latest Cinderella movie, her mother charged her to be strong and have courage.  This was simply a dying wish of a mother to her daughter until the wicked stepmother and stepsisters entered her life to test her and try her.  Wonder Woman (Linda Carter) was living an oblivious, innocent life in the Bermuda Triangle on an island paradise knowing nothing of the outside world until she took her invisible plane to the United States and discovered she could make a difference there and not let bad guys win.  The Bionic Woman, Emma in Once Upon a Time, the latest Maleficent, the list goes on.

Original Wonder Woman Super Heroes

I believe so much in happy endings and in super heroes, that I’ve decided to create my own happy ending and become a super hero myself.  A lofty goal you say?  Mock me if you must, but I’m living the dream.  No, not a dream…a reality.  20 years ago if you had told me I would grow up to be a super hero I would have laughed right out loud.  Heck, even 10 years ago would have had me doubting through and through.  But here I am, a living breathing super hero.  Guess what?  You are, too!  Or can decide to be if that is your goal and that it’s what YOU want to be when you grow up.

     The good news is that it is never to late to decide to be a super hero.  You cannot say, “I’m too old, or too worn out, or too many bad things have happened to me, or I’ve caused too many bad things to happen”.  Those are just excuses that need to be kicked to the curb where they belong.  Faith wins over fear if you will let it.
     Does being a super hero free you from ever having bad things happen to you again?  NO!  Superman had kryptonite and Lex Luthor.  Lara Croft had the Luminoti, not to mention her own heart to worry about.    Batman, The Arrow, X-Men, Wonder Woman, The Incredibles all had new villains to battle.  I suppose that’s job security.  Or, it is how you too can continue to learn that you are capable of more than you could ever imagine.  I’ve watched The Flash get knocked down time and time again and still that dude is optimistic – how does he do that? Just when you thought you had learned every lesson, there was more of you to discover.  Things you never knew you could do or imagined were possible.  These villains make us stronger.
     So, who is your villain right now?  For me, I might not have known I was even fighting a villain until the battle was over.  Sometimes, I could see the villain coming from a mile away and I had to choose to run or stand up and fight.  Other times it was a crime against my heart that hurt so bad I could barely breathe, or eat, or sleep.  Others still were crimes brought to me unbidden, but had to be dealt with just the same.

     Let me share one of my oldest villains with you.  Teenage pregnancy.  I don’t think any little girl sets her dream to be pregnant by the time she is 16, especially one that has a future as a super hero.  While I do not have anyone to blame but myself, it is a fact that “most people end up in this situation in a misguided attempt to fulfill some pretty basic human needs.  We all have a need to feel loved and worthwhile.  We all seek to have joy and happiness in our lives.” (Ezra Taft Benson)  If those needs are not met, we seek them in places that are unhealthy to ourselves and others.  (Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that your decisions effect only you…just like positive choices leave ripple effects, so do poor choices.)

Black Widow Marvel Super Heroes

     My villain changed my life and the lives of those around me.  I was married at 16 1/2 years of age, having my first daughter at age 17.  I did not finish high school and I did not attend Prom.  My love for playing on the high school basketball team was squashed and my flute would gather dust for years.  I had disappointed my parents and ignored all advice from people who were trying to help me take a better path and who cared about me a great deal.
     My decisions led me to many more poor choices  in relationships for lots of years, but as I’ve told others before, I would rather change my course than be completely derailed.  Because inevitably that is what happened…I was completely derailed, lying on the floor, unable to make another decision in my life, good or bad.  All of my choices had led me to the side of my bed, on my knees, praying for help.  Help to loosen these chains of bad habits in the area of my love life.  I asked God to let me be happy with the life I had with my three beautiful daughters as a single mom.  To be content with who I had become as a woman even if my relationship woes were unsightly to say the least.
     And you know what?  He did so much more.  Not everyone believes that there is a God and I’m not out to convert you with this blog, but I want to be honest in my story-telling here.  When I turned my life over to Him, instead of pushing my own agenda, things changed.  He was incredibly more kind to me than I ever had been to myself.  He led me and guided me to a path that led to a beautiful marriage.  A safe haven to figure out how to be a super hero despite any human frailties I may have experienced in my life to date.  Just like SuperMan had to go away for awhile to get things figured out and learn of his true potential, I was given the gift of another second chance.

     Just over 8 years ago, I married my hero, my best friend.  My heart has been healed and my capacity to love has grown.  While I had earned my GED as a teenager, I wanted my high school diploma because it was something I had deprived myself of.  (As a side note, don’t try this at home…it is SO MUCH EASIER to pass high school as a teenager than an adult…TRUST ME!!)  I went back to adult school and the math that I hated with a passion and earned my diploma.  Not only was that super, crazy kind of hard, but I took graduation pictures, attained a class ring, and even spoke at my graduation where lots of friends and family were in attendance (including my tutor I had to get to pass math!).   They didn’t even have the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) when I was in high school!  It seemed so unfair, but I passed!  I graduated at the ripe old age of 41!

Lauri's High School Graduation 2012

     Conquering a villain is an amazing feeling.  After I graduated high school I felt like I could take on the world!  I could do anything!  Be anything!  I took certificate courses online, became a Certified Holistic Health Coach, started teaching cooking classes locally.  I just can’t stop!  It is part of the reason I am writing this blog and pursuing a career as a public speaker.  To help women realize their potential and to believe in this small, four-letter word…hope.
     There will be many more villains that will need their ass kicked and the only one to do it will be me because those villains are mine to fight.  Whatever or whomever your latest villain is in your life, I want you to know that you can be the super hero in your life.  You can have your happy ending.  It will not be easy and may involve a lot of hard work.  Learn to love work.  Do something!  If all you can do is just think it, think it.  But then say it, whisper it if you need to.  Then say it out loud.  Now louder!  Now take that first step.  What action can you take to begin your journey?
I believe in hope.  I believe in faith.  I believe in love.
I believe in you.  I believe in us.

Fighting Back When Depression Seeps In

A Story of My Best Friend’s Depression
The Back Story

     Have you ever had one of those days?  Or maybe one of those weeks, or months, or a year?  How about multiple years?  Well, this is a story of my most precious friend in the entire world who was in his second year of things not going well at all and me being in such a dilemma watching him suffer that I just had to figure out some way to help.  My best friend is my husband and he was drowning.

Eddy in Thought

     The back story all started when his mom passed away in March of 2014.  No, I think it actually began around December of 2013 so let’s begin there.  Our family-owned business was doing great!  While we are a very small company, we had always seen an increase every year or at least stayed level, even during the recession.  We had been in business for ten years and decided it was time to expand our space.  We spent quite a bit of money with upgrades and of course the new rent amount, double the utility bills…you get the picture.  Not two months later everything stopped.  Quite literally stopped.  I swear that our clients were abducted by aliens and left the planet for at least six months.  Business was that bad.  That’s enough to cause anyone stress, right?
     Enter mom falling again and going into the hospital.  She was in ICU for awhile, began to get better, was moved to the rehab facility that we didn’t like much and during this whole transition, my hubby contracted bronchitis.  Not only is bronchitis a knock-down, drag-out illness, but it rendered him unable to visit his mom for fear of getting her sick in her current condition.  While he was on the mend with crazy antibiotics and rest, mom took a turn for the worst while still in rehab by catching a deadly form of pneumonia that put her back in ICU to what would become a fight for her life that she was unable to win.
Loss of Mom
Not only was business bad and he was sick, but his mom had passed away which is always a heart-wrenching thing.  He was close to his mom, taking her out to dinner on Wednesday nights and us having family dinner with her and the rest of the family every Sunday.  While after 5 weeks of her being in the hospital it wasn’t completely unexpected, it changed everything.
A couple months of sadness pass and we enter the summer months.  Business still isn’t going as well as we would like and while his mom and dad had a trust (WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) so that things run more smoothly, you still have to take care of things…lots of things.  Bank accounts, the house, furniture, knick-knacks, jewelry, the dog, and enough Christmas decorations to light up the White House…you get the idea.  That’s when the shingles hit.  More antibiotics, more rest.
Then come your first set of holidays without your mom with whom you’ve spent every Christmas with the exception of maybe one or two from the time you were born.  No one feels like celebrating, much less decorating, even if you have White House worthy decorations.  That can just be tough.  Really tough…more depression.

Tentative Eddy
January rolls around and he feels a little ambitious.  The business picks up just a tad and he starts riding his bike again, but this time he isn’t recovering very well.  Gym workouts?  Same thing.  Sore for too many days than you should be sore.  He hates going to the doctor so he toughs it out for a few months to around the one-year anniversary of his mom passing and takes a little fall on his bike.  Nothing major, just a little “owie” on his elbow that starts to get better until about two weeks after when the scab gets bumped off and it gets infected.  So infected that his one arm looks like Popeye (no joke!) and of course we were out of town so you end up at an unfamiliar urgent care.  Dual shots of antibiotics in both butt cheeks (writhing on the bed kind of pain for those shots!) and oral antibiotics just for kicks….let’s just knock this out along with any good flora you might have had left in your intestines up until now.

     That was the last straw.  He felt so miserable, so depressed, couldn’t work out, didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything.  I imagine that this is the definition of a permanent funk that just won’t go away.  It was awful to watch.  It didn’t matter what I did or how much I tried to “pump him up” as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say…it just wasn’t enough.  I felt completely helpless as to how to help.

     As a last ditch effort, we tried what I call a “voodoo doctor”.  Tons of blood tests run, loads of supplements taken (and when I say loads…I mean LOADS), more blood tests in certain intervals.  No dice.  My man was shot so full of holes you could strain spaghetti through him.  His body had been hurt multiple times, his heart hurt over the loss of his mother, he couldn’t work out because it was debilitating which left his self-esteem in the toilet, and work wasn’t altogether going well either.  Sleep was the order of the day and the more of it the better.  I had to do something!

The Physical Plan

I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach, have taken classes through Dr. John McDougall and received a certificate in plant-based nutrition through eCornell University.  I started researching everything I could about healing your immune system while my husband started reading books on the subject.  While there is a ton of information out there and only varied opinions on the subject, we made a plan to repair his health.

     We started a 5-day juice fast following the incredible recipes out there by Joe Cross from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  (He has the best ones out there, hands down…although anything that juices a turnip ends up like smelly gym socks or disgusting body odor, so I don’t recommend anything with turnips in it!).  Admittedly, after day 2 we were so sluggish that we decided to add a light, healthy dinner as we just couldn’t function at work without more food in our guts, it was wonderful and it made me feel great!  It was the perfect re-boot for our bodies.
We then followed up with a 21-day elimination diet that took out known trigger foods.  All that means is that while you may not have a specific allergy to a food, you could have some sort of reactions to particular foods.  We eliminated gluten products, corn, and soy because while they recommend also nixing dairy, we are already vegan so no worries there!
We then followed that up with a 2-week round of Arbonne’s pre-biotic/pro-biotic packets once per day.  Needless to say…it worked!  While it took several months to re-gain strength and endurance (imagine not working out for 18 months…you’re a bit out of shape), but he’s doing fantastically well physically.  He’s not 100% yet as I can still beat him uphill on a mountain bike, but he’s sticking right with me now so I know it’s only a matter of time before he will be kicking my rear end again!

 

The Emotional Plan
What happened with the emotional part, though?  I can hardly wait to tell you!  This is by far the most interesting and fun endeavor I’ve undertaken…all in the name of love and hope!  I call it Eddy’s 60 Days of Sunshine and it brought my hubby’s soul back from the dead…literally. (You can download it for FREE when you sign up for my weekly emails on my website HERE)
I got to thinking that the only way to reverse engineer something is to do the opposite of what got you there in the first place.  The negativity had built up over a period of time.  It snuck in until it had taken over the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body.  While we had fixed the physical part which in turn helped the mental state, the emotional and spiritual still needed a tune-up.
Enter a plan that included friends and family.  I printed out 2 months worth of calendars for a total of 60 days and made a list of all friends and family members I could think of that cared about my best friend.  The list totaled over 80 people.  I then started making phone calls, texting, Facebook messaging all of them.  I assigned one person each one day and the only guidance I gave them was to just check in, see how he was doing and let him know they cared and loved him and why.
At first I decided not to tell him what was happening.  Let’s just say that he was so far down what he would later call a “wormhole” that he didn’t even figure it out or get suspicious until day 16!  Day 16!!  I was at my mom’s and out of town for the weekend when he called me and I had to confess what I was doing.  When I told him it was day 16 he was flabbergasted.  I had to tell him who had been assigned which day just to convince him.
He will admit that at first it seemed a bit saddening to learn it wasn’t the “universe” just reaching out to him in his time of need, but I figured we are instruments in the Lord’s hands and he has a lot to do so he uses us to answer others prayers for help.  Even if they don’t realize they need the help.
Some sent him texts or emails.  Some took him to lunch or dinner.  Some called and visited for an hour.  It was an awesome experience to watch that much love being shown for one individual.  And you know what?  It worked!  The 60 days ended with a trip up to San Francisco for him to play a golf tournament with his buddies and visit old friends.  The perfect ending to a perfect 60 days.

     My only dilemma as the days were coming to an end was how to keep the love going.  I created a Facebook page dedicated to him and invited all of his friends to post about their experience they had on their assigned day.  On day 60, I added my hubby to the group and he was able to read their messages.  He will then be able to go back and read them when he’s feeling blue.  He is also more connected to some long, lost friendships that had needed some attention.

Eddy Smiling

     The best side effect getting out of this depression was the reaction from the friends and family I had asked to participate.  I did not anticipate the good will felt, the love felt of service being rendered.  The gratitude of those people that they were made a part of something bigger that quite literally saved a life.
Today I am grateful again for my husband who supports me in all I do, even if it’s off-your-rocker kinda crazy (which lots of my ideas are).  I am grateful to all who pitched in to make this project work.  I am grateful to my daughter who would help me text and make some calls while we ran errands to set up the next week’s participants.  It worked!
Eddy & Lauri Cycling

While I am not a clinical psychologist and you should seek professional help if you are depressed,
this worked for us and I am so happy it did.

 

Rising From the Ashes with Renewed Hope

2013 Fire
Out of the Ashes We Can Find Hope
Phoenix Rising From The Fire with Hope
This story of hope begins in 2013, when our county experienced a terrible fire.  We were evacuated from our homes on a moment’s notice. The picture you see below with billowing orange smoke bombs was taken from my friends camera as we stopped to look back, perhaps for the last time on our neighborhood.   I remember calling my mom while sitting in the long line of cars trying to leave and telling her of the situation.  She expressed concern and told me to stay safe, but when I sent her that picture, she freaked out!  It’s a lesson learned on how pictures speak louder than words.  My husband and I truly thought that our home would be gone and that we would be starting from scratch.  At the time, it just didn’t matter.  I had just driven out of there with flames on the side of the road consuming trees that were 100 feet tall.  I was alive, he was alive, I had rescued our kitties and our daughter had been at school.  All was well as far as I was concerned.
Clouds of Smoke from The Fire
 
This particular fire burned hot and fast.  It consumed everything in its path and in the end burned over 24,000 acres from a little valley, crossing the mountain range and ending at the ocean.  Everything was black, sad and black.  The smell of smoke and ash would be our constant companion for weeks.  Words could not describe what we saw.  We had people come drive out to see us and not truly get what had happened until they saw it for themselves.  It is now just over two years as I write this and our beautiful mountains still carry the scars of this fire.
Burned Landscaping

 

The firefighters were the true heroes of the day.  They miraculously saved our entire housing community.  They had used our hose as our house faces a hill that was burned.  A tree was knocked down by a fire truck.  Trees surrounding the outskirts of the neighborhood were singed and blackened from the fire, but every home was safe.  How was  that possible?  I saw the fire as I left.  I saw the crazy big flames and felt the heat so hot that I had to roll up my car windows to not feel like I was getting burned.  I had zero hope.
Neighborhood Safe But Surrounded by Black Hills
(Our housing surrounded by blackened hills)
As I look back, I’ve likened this very physical and temporal experience to a spiritual battle I had in my own life.  So much is the same.  The darkness was real and hope was not on my radar.  Not so much as a little blip on the screen.  When I read the saying that someone had “temporarily turned the light off at the end of the tunnel”, I could completely relate.  (Stay with me now, because I found that silly little light-switch to turn on my own light!)
Now, unlike the fire, I have no one to blame but myself.  I made choices that brought me to that tunnel without a supposed light and had removed myself so far out there that my radar was actually damaged and couldn’t see that blip that turns out, was just hiding, not gone.  Part of my lesson was realizing that I didn’t know how dark things had become.  When you make wrong choices, consistently over a long period of time, they become your reality.  My tunnel light had not been turned off, but there was so much smoke I had created that it just wasn’t visible to me anymore.
My dark choices will not be the same as yours.  We all have our own enemies to fight so I won’t bore you with the details of my battles, but I did win this particular war.  The only way to win the war is to do exactly the opposite of what got you there to begin with. In my case, that meant not making decisions on my own.  If I had tried to battle our physical fire around our homes I would have lost!  I did not have the skills or expertise in that field.  Everyone would have suffered the loss of their homes.  The firefighters were the experts.  I needed an expert in life.  That meant turning to my spiritual power of prayer and getting on my knees and begging God to help me.  He was my firefighter and I needed all of his expertise and knowledge of life to help me fight.  All of my choices had brought me to that place…dark, lonely, afraid, sorely sad, and just plain miserable.  Surely God could help me make better decisions than the ones I had been making.
And indeed he did.  It took some time, but I am grateful for my experiences I have had in my life.  They have made me who I am today.   Just like our mountains, I carry the scars from those days, but I believe, “A mended heart is stronger”.   They remind me see that if I can make it…anyone can!  I truly mean that with all my heart and soul.  Ladies, if I can make it…so can you!
Some people see the fires that burn hot and fast, while others experience a slow burn, but my goal in writing this blog today is to give you hope.  Hope that you can become a magical electrician and wire your own switch for a light at the end of your tunnel.  Hope that you see the sun and feel the warmth on your skin and in your soul.  Hope that you find a flashlight along the way.  Hope that your friend can loan you a flashlight until you can locate yours.  Hope that out of your darkness and ashes, you rise like the fabled Phoenix to start again, renewed and strengthened for your journey ahead.  Because once you are on that path, you need to loan your flashlight to others who can’t see their light and help them on their journey.
Yours in Hope and Positivity…#makelemonade
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