Turning Inward: It’s not you, it’s me.

So January is almost over and I haven’t blogged.

I started 2019 with big plans for the blog.  I even scheduled blog posts into my google calendar.

Then the New Year happened.

And I just didn’t feel like it.

Kind of like Forrest Gump when he decided he didn’t want to run anymore.

I started this blog as an outlet for my emotions and my grief.  I also had hoped to help others understand what a widow went through.

I have tried really hard to be open and honest about my grief.

I do not regret doing that.  Not for one minute.

I know I have helped people as I have also helped myself.

I experienced immense healing and I got to explore my new life and new depths of myself and my personality.

Things began to change.

But I found as time went on, I felt the need to censor myself in my blog.

I put my feelings out there and I feel like people took advantage of my openness.  That they were entitled to know everything and they were entitled to have a say about my decisions.

I got tired of people telling me how I am supposed to feel, how I am supposed to live my life and what my boundaries are supposed to be.

Especially when most people have not gone through what I had.

I have always been a very closed off person with a lot of walls.  Bryon was able to tear down some of those walls but sadly, it took his death to tear down the rest of the walls.

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I’m going to focus on another president and another wall. Because this is America and I can.  Yes, I can.

I believed that tearing down my walls and letting people in was one of my spiritual lessons that my soul needed to accomplish in this lifetime.

I still do.

But the pendulum went too far.

And now I need to learn how to set boundaries again.  Albeit healthier boundaries.

It’s okay to have walls but instead of huge 10 foot walls, I need some of those cute stone walls you find in New England.  Remnants of a colonial time, strong but low enough  to the ground that people can easily climb over them.

My blog stopped being my space.

A good friend of mine pointed out that I feel the need to explain myself in my blog and apologize for moving forward.

This blog, a place that was once therapeutic, has now become a bit of a chore.

Writing no longer felt therapeutic.

In fact, I began to wonder if the blog was hindering my growth and healing.

And it defeats the purpose of why I am writing in the first place.  At least, writing in a public platform.

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So I have decided that I am turning inward for the time being.

I will continue to write, but in my personal journals.

I have come to the realization that while I have been open and honest about my grief, it does not mean that I have to be open about every area of my life.  

It’s okay to keep some parts of my life to myself, my daughter and those closest to me.

And that is okay.

I will write in here when I feel called to write to.

Yes, I am passed the worst of my grief but I still have my moments.  And those moments will always creep up on me.

Or maybe I will be called to write about other aspects of my life.

Who knows?

There is a bright and long future ahead of me.

So for those who have always supported me and my writing, I thank you.

You will be seeing less of me here.

But this isn’t good-bye.

 

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18 Lessons I learned in 2018

This is my final word about 2018.

At least on this blog.

Was 2018 really that bad?

Maybe.

But 2016 will always be the worst year of my life.

There was a lot of negativity in 2018.

And some very hard lessons.

I am grateful for those lessons because pain brings growth.

I absolutely refuse to carry that into 2019.

At the beginning of 2018, I felt like the year was going to end very differently than it began.

2018 started with the funeral of a good friend (followed by two more, one of which was my grandmother.) I also lost an old high school friend in July.

I traveled every month except July. Austin, Boston, NYC, Philly, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Ohio. I spent a lot of time in Maine and it has felt good to be home.

I suffer from wanderlust and traveling has been good for my soul. It’s been part of my healing process.

It was a year of reunions. I saw my cousin three times and I saw my Chicago best friend three times.

And the year ended with a fabulous wedding between two amazing friends.

I am leaving with this list of 18 lessons I learned.

In no particular order-

Kerry’s top 18 lesson from 2018

1. I have come far from my early days of grief.

2. The Paw Patrol can fix anything. No job too big, no pup too small.

3. Forgiving people really is for me. A quote that reasonated with me was that by not forgiving, it is like you are drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The offending party doesn’t care how you feel. In fact, they may enjoy that you are upset. So forgive and let to.

However…

4. Forgiving someone does not mean you grant them absolution for what they did. It just means you’ve let go of the anger for yourself. It doesn’t mean that the offending party is off the hook.

5. You are not entitled to anyone’s loyalty.

6. Be careful who YOU are loyal to and who YOU trust. No one is entitled to your loyalty and trust but don’t be stingy to those who do deserve it.

7. Let go of friends who took me for granted and don’t respect my boundaries. And that’s okay.

8. Boundaries are everything.

9. Truly appreciate the friends who are supportive and continue to truly be there for you.

10. I am an empath. Not to be confused with empathetic. Empaths absorb the emotions of those around them. It’s overwhelming at times. You have to work out your emotions vs others.

11. Empaths attract narcissists and I need to avoid narcissists.

12. It doesn’t matter where I go, Bryon will find me. He even found me on what would have been our 6th wedding anniversary while I was waiting for my lunch at a takeout window at a clam shack on the Maine Coast.

13. It’s amazing how much a 4 year old can teach me.

14. I need to stop trying to please people. Some people will never be satisfied.

15. It is important to love yourself.

16. Everyone is free to make their own choices You are only responsible for YOUR choices and no one else’s.

17. I can’t do the fake and superficial thing.

18. I am officially out of give a f*cks. I have no f*cks to give. All out of f*cks.

I do not know what is in store for 2019 but I am ready! It’s going to be a good year.

Farewell 2018: Leaving behind fear

 

One of the biggest obstacles about moving forward is the fear.

Fear?  What fear?

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Fear of letting go.

Fear of things not going the way I expect.

fear of life feeling empty.

Fear that I will never be understood.

Fear of re-acclimating.

Fear that I will forget.

I have discussed in this blog about how I am currently in what I think of as “Phase III” of my grief journey.

To give a refresher-

Phase I: The first 3-6 months of widowhood.  My whole world was shattered and I am trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to my life.  Getting out of bed and showering are a struggle.

Phase II: The period between 3-6 months and about two years.  It was the phase where I had to accept that Bryon was gone and I needed to get used to him being gone.

And now I am in Phase III.

Phase III is the phase where I need to move forward with my life.

It’s not just enough to visualize it or talk about it.

I need to do it.

I know I need to do this but there is always something holding me back.

I am excited.

But there are these fears that hold me back.

The fear that if I move forward, then I will have to let go of Bryon.  Of course, I will never completely let go but taking those first few steps are the hardest.

The fear to be hopeful because you don’t want to be disappointed.

The fear that my new life will be unfulfilling?

I need to leave these fears in 2018.

If I bring them with me, they will prevent me from achieving my dreams.

So fear much be put on the imaginary Viking Funeral Ship, set on fire and set off.

What fears are you leaving behind in 2018?

Farewell 2018: Leaving the negativity behind

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2016 was the worst year of my life.

It will always be.

Only one thing could happen to me that could top that but I am not going to entertain that thought.

2017 was a fog.  I was surviving.

2018 was the year that I need to stop surviving and start to live again.

When 2018 started, I had a feeling that things were going to be very different by the end of the year.

I was right.

(Funny how that happens…)

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Was 2018 a bad year for me?

Yes and no.

There was a lot of death.  I lost my grandmother and two friends.

The year was full of hard lessons.

I had to learn that people and things are not always what they purport themselves to be.

I had to learn that I need to look for internal rewards and not to look externally.

I had to learn to release and let go.

I had to learn to live again and make decisions on the direction of my life.

I had shit thrown at me.

But I survived it.  And I am smarter for it.

I learned what was really important.

Seriously, I am 40-year-old woman, who has been to Hell and back and I have a small child dependent on me.  It was time for me to focus on what was important.

Last year I didn’t write much in December.  I was beginning to think this year was going to be the same.  However, I think over the next couple of weeks, as part of the releasing process, I am going to write posts about what I am leaving behind in 2018.

Kind of like a farewell rock tour but less cooler.  A lot less cooler.

I am going to take all the negativity that was thrown my way, put it on an imaginary Viking funeral Ship, light it on fire (again, imaginary.  I don’t want to blamed for starting any fires.) and send it off.

If you have anything you need to release before we begin 2019, I invite you to put them on the imaginary Viking funeral ship.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #44

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

 

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

I am getting used to this new Gutenberg editor in WordPress.  I liked it when creating my last post but it is pissing me off while writing this post.  And for the love of all that is Holy, I can’t figure out how to name my own permalink.  I had to go back to Classic Editor.  Not cool, WordPress. 

Those of you on WordPress- what do you think?  

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week?

1. President George H.W. Bush

There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said by people far more distinguished than me.  I am just happy I got to experience George H.W. Bush as my president.  He represented an America that I am not sure even exists anymore.  

People can say what they want about the Bush’s and their relationship with the Clintons and the Obamas but I think it is a great reminder that we are all people.  

My heart broke for President George W. Bush during his eulogy.

And I was in awe when Senator Bob Dole took every ounce of strength he had to salute the President. 

It really is the end of an era.

2. Last Weekend in Maine

I am not going to delve too deeply into the past weekend since I wrote about it (and my unsuccessful search for my Christmas Hallmark Man) here.  But it was good to be home.

My next four things (I added a bonus) are all related to being sick. My daughter brought home a nasty cold from school and I have caught it.  Last night I went to bed at 7:30pm which is very unusual as I am usually awake until 1am or 2am. I do feel like I am on the mend but I will be taking it easy for the next week or two. 

3. Elderberry Syrup

4. Himayalan Salt Inhalor

5. Vick’s Vapor Rub

6. Sleep

What are you grateful for this week?

Kerry McKim’s Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas, Episode 1

*This story is a satirical piece based on the real life events of Kerry McKim.  This written work is meant to be humorous. This story is not affiliated  in any way with  the Hallmark Channel though some may argue that it should be.  Currently there are no plans to be affiliated with the Hallmark Channel…yet.

While the shopping began weeks ago, this years Christmas Story began last weekend.  I was home visiting my parents and I decided that it was going to be the day where I get to live in a Hallmark movie.

All the enlightened guru’s say that we create our own realities.  Let’s face it, I am bouncing back from a shitty period of my life.  I always feel good when I watch Hallmark movies so why not make it my reality.

I have a lot going for me.  Let’s look at the facts.

I am a widow ✔

I have a cute kid ✔

I was  in my hometown, which is a small coastal Maine town ✔

It’s Christmastime ✔

Now I just to need find one of these single, good looking, successful, 
emotionally available middle aged  men that seem to be wandering around Small Town America.   

The “emotionally available” part if very important.  I know a lot of these Hallmark Christmas Men have chips on their shoulders.  I can handle that.  But he needs to be emotionally available.  I am the widow who needs someone to show me that love still does exist and it is all around.

This is my half-assed Hallmark story and I can add Love Actually references if I want to.

I will note that I did have a few things working against me-

❌ I was not there to save the Christmas parade. It seems like I was not needed.  The Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce seems to be handing it just fine.

❌ I was not here to save the family business. There is no family business. Unless you count the postal service and I don’t have have the super powers of Candice Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert to go against that bureaucracy.  

❌ I came to realize that nothing needed to be saved.  My family home is safe and we don’t have a family farm to save.

❌ I don’t own a vintage red pickup truck.  I own a red Subaru Forester and a blue pickup and my father has a new red pickup truck.  But no vintage red pickup truck.  This is problematic because in addition to the cuteness factor of an old red pickup truck, many Hallmark movies involve a Hallmark Christmas Man rescuing a damsel in distress due to her unreliable vehicle.  My late husband made sure I had the safest winter car there is and I have been maintaining the vehicle.  Hallmark Christmas Man will have to find another way to help me.

❌ I also don’t have a high school ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t cool enough or pretty enough I guess.   

(I really need to get over this emotional block considering I am in my 40s now).

Since I didn’t need to save a business, a home, a farm or Christmas in general, I decided to go to the local Christmas parade.

I got to town about a half an hour before the parade.  My daughter is in that phase where any unit of time that isn’t “right now” is “a very long time” so I didn’t want to be standing there waiting.  

I was worried about parking.  I was having trouble locating a spot and then I see a man directing cars into a Baptist church parking lot.  I was excited.  I did not attend that church when I lived there because I am Catholic but I had cash in my pocket and my adopted New York ways just assumed I would to pay to park anyway.  I tried to hand the attendant some money and he seemed surprised and he declined the cash.  He did invite us to cookies and hot chocolate at the church after the parade.

Cookies and hot chocolate at a small town church did seem like something that would happen in a Hallmark Christmas movie.  But I am still mad at God and I didn’t want my Hallmark Christmas movie to be one where I find God.  Especially if that meant that I would have to convert to another form of Christianity to meet my Hallmark Christmas Man. 

My Hallmark Christmas Man is going to have to accept my “It’s Complicated” relationship status with Catholicism

I knew that my Hallmark Christmas Man could have been there eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate but I was willing to take that risk.

I went looking for a friend of mine.  She was convinced Hallmark Christmas Man and I were going to go after the same piece of candy that was thrown at the crowds.  Our eyes were going to meet.  I was going to blush.  He was going to say “I haven’t seen you around here before.”

Though that moment never happened.  Turns out my daughter is perfectly able to fend for herself when it comes to candy.

As I was looking for my local friend, I saw an old friend of mine.  She lives in Florida and I hadn’t seen her in about fifteen years.  We had lost contact.  She was in town because her father had passed away.  She has been on my mind a lot lately and I do believe we were meant to bump into each other.  I gave her my contact information and I do hope I hear from her.

I finally found my local friend right before the parade started.

My Dad was in the beginning.

My daughter on the lookout for candy.  

I thought I was smart because I grabbed a plastic grocery store bag to hold candy.  Turns out it had a hole.  Luckily there was enough freebies like a local newspaper and frisbees that I was able to plug up the hole and still be able to use the bag for candy.

There were lots of floats from the community. 

I told you, the parade didn’t need saving.

Since my father was at the beginning of the parade, he was able to make it back before the end of the parade.

Santa!  I know him!

After the parade, I took my daughter to the office of the local newspaper, The Ellsworth American because they give each kid a book.  They had tables set up by age group and each kid could choose a book.  My daughter chose a Snoopy book because her teacher likes Snoopy.

It is worth noting that the local newspaper didn’t need me to save it (though it did just get bought out by the Portland Press Herald) and Hallmark Christmas Man was not there.

My daughter had to use the bathroom so we stopped at the VFW Post that my father belongs to so we could use the facilities.  My daughter was hungry so my father and the other VFW members invited us to crash the cub scout pizza party they were hosting.

I felt a little awkward but my daughter made friends with the kids and I saw a few old friends of mine.  It was great to catch up.

Hallmark Christmas Man was not at the pizza party.  But my father, my daughter and I headed up to the Christmas Tree lot to look for the Perfect Sullivan Family Christmas Tree.  

And maybe Hallmark Christmas Man would be there.  Maybe we would both pick out the same Christmas Tree and fight over it.  That seems to happen a lot.

That didn’t happen.  

My father picked out the Christmas Tree, not me.  And there was no Hallmark Christmas Man fighting with my Dad for the tree.

I will say, it was nice to pick out the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree with my father.  (Think of these as flashback sequences in my Half-Assed Hallmark Christmas).  

The first reason was because we always had an artificial Christmas Tree growing up but my Sullivan grandparents always had a real tree.  My father would tell stories of going to every Christmas tree lot in town with his father (my grandfather).  Apparently my grandfather was very particular about his Christmas Trees.  Though I have memories from some Christmases of my childhood and I remember those trees.

I could tell my father enjoyed remembering his father during the process.

The second reason has to do with “das stand.”

The story of “das stand” started in 2010 when Bryon and I moved into a townhouse in Albany and we were planning on getting our first Christmas tree.  We both felt strongly that we wanted real trees.  On a trip to Maine that fall, I bought a $2 Christmas tree stand at Marden’s. 

What a bargain!

Only we couldn’t get our six foot Christmas tree to stand up in that stand.

We decided to cut our losses and we went to Wal-Mart and we invested in a $15 Christmas Tree stand.

We used that Christmas tree stand a couple of years.  

Bryon and I always left our tree up until Epiphany.  We were good Catholics like that.  Right before Epiphany in early 2014, two things happened.  The first was that I found out I was pregnant with our daughter and the second was that Bryon came down with H1N1.

Epiphany was on a Monday that year and between my early pregnancy exhaustion and Bryon’s flu, the tree didn’t come down.  Thursday of that week, we woke to a crash.  Our cat had got into my knitting and somehow wrapped the yarn around some tree branches and pulled the Christmas tree down.

By the following Christmas, in 2014, Bryon and I had moved to our house and our daughter had been born.  Between the cat and a future toddler, Bryon was adamant that the Christmas tree was not going to come down.

So he bought a Krinner XXL that he affectionately referred to as “Das Stand”. 

Bryon and “Das Stand” spent two Christmases together.  

The first Christmas after Bryon died, I didn’t feel like having a Christmas tree but I felt like my daughter still deserved one.  I got one up with the help of a friend.

The following year, I got the tree up all by myself. It was a “I am widow, hear me roar” moment.  I know that because it showed up in my Facebook memories.

Since I am travelling this Christmas, I got an artificial tree at my house (I know, so wrong and not Hallmark at all) and I brought “Das Stand” to Maine for the real Christmas Tree there.

(End of flashback scenes)

I hadn’t unpacked “Das Stand” from my car and my father asked me to go get it so he can have an idea how the 8 foot trees would stand in it.  I retrieve “Das Stand” from my car and the boy working (the Boy Scouts were running the Christmas Tree lot) says “Wow, I have never seen anyone actually bring a Christmas tree stand.”

I let the kid think we take our Christmas trees very seriously.

As my father and the actual adult working the lot put the Christmas Tree into the car, the man says “now THAT is a Christmas tree stand.”

I feel like wherever Bryon is now, he would be proud.  He might be dead and gone but “Das Stand” lives on.

When we get home, my father saws off the bottom.

And we prepare to get the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree into “Das Stand” while my daughter watches Fancy Nancy or Vampirina or something on Disney Junior.

I cringed as my father cut away the twine.  I was nervous that the branches were going to break through the living room window but my fear was for nothing.

I inspected the tree for squirrels but did not find any.

We were leaving the trimming until the next day because we wanted the branches to have a chance to fall.

I was heading out to an exciting night out in my small town.  I was excited to have dinner with my friend Charlotte.  

And maybe we would meet Hallmark Christmas Man. Maybe he would be out having a drink.

We went to a local favorite, Finn’s Irish Pub.

We had beverages, Irish Nachos and sandwiches.  I forgot to take pictures of the food.  But we saved room for dessert.  I love the Guiness Cake with Bailey’s Frosting.

I didn’t find Hallmark Christmas Man.

Or really…Hallmark Christmas Man did not find me.

But I got to spend time with one of my good friends.

I mean, as Leslie Knope says “Uteruses before Duderuses”.

The next day was freezing rain so I stayed at my parents house.  I knew the odds of Hallmark Christmas Man actually just showing up at my parents house were slim.

We watched the Patriots beat the Vikings.

My daughter made a gingerbread house.  It was from a kit.  It was standing and not all the icing made it into her mouth.

I consider it a success. 

We, I mean she, needs to bring her “A game” for her gingerbread contest, I mean, school assignment.  It’s not really a contest but a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies have gingerbread contests so a non-competitive school assignment might have to do.

Right now it looks like we need a Christmas Miracle to meet Hallmark Christmas Man.  Though Kimmy Gibbler reminded me that sometimes Christmas Magic begins to work closer to the holiday when there is a time crunch.

So where is Hallmark Christmas Man?

So far it seems like a Hallmark Christmas Mystery.

Will the widow’s daughter have an amazing gingerbread house for school? 

Will the widow’s daughter stay on Santa’s Nice List? 

Will the widow continue to be haunted by memories of “Christmas Past” and by the ponderings of “The Christmases That Should Have Been?”

Will Hallmark Christmas Man- in the biggest plot twist ever in Hallmark Christmas History- show up in Albany, thus confusing the widow since Hallmark love only happens in one’s hometown?

Will “Das Stand” continue to hold up the Sullivan Family Christmas Tree? 

Where will Charlotte and the widow go to dinner next time they see each other?

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #43

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Dinner with Kimmy Gibbler I see her less since she moved up to the North Country.  I miss seeing her as often but this means our time together is even more special.  Love you Gibbler.

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    Swifty’s- Colonie, NY
  2. Those who remember BryonWe had great neighbors when we lived in Albany.  We hung out.  We watched each other’s cats on vacation.

    Our townhouses shared an attached wall.  I am sure they heard Bryon and I when we argued.  When I shared the news I was pregnant, my neighbor said she thought she had heard me throwing up.

    We both moved to our current houses in the same month.  My daughter was born and life just took over.  I am sad to say I haven’t seen them in awhile.

    They were in New York City celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary.

    Happy Anniversary!!!!!

    They had shared their plans on social media.  On one of the days, they decided to visit the five oldest bars in NYC.  (Which sounds totally awesome to this history buff. Maybe my cousin H-Bomb will do it with me).

    I had commented that Bryon took me to McSorley’s (4th oldest bar).


    It was one of his favorite bars in New York City.
    My friends had shared that they shared a drink in Bryon’s memory at McSorley’s.

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    Facebook Photo Courtesy of Frances Esposito

    It still makes me happy when people remember him.  I can accept that he is gone but I don’t want him to be forgotten.  Especially since my daughter will only know him from stories.

  3. Getting three runs in this weekIt finally clicked in my brain that the only way I was going to be able to run another half-marathon was if I started running again.  Funny how that works.

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    Get it?  Christmas Humor…
  4. Encouragement and friendshipI appreciate everyone who commented their support and sent messages about my post last night where I felt like a failure as a mother.  It feels better to know I am not alone but at the same time, I am sad other mothers feel this way too.

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  5. My daughter’s Pre-K teacherI talked to my daughter Pre-K teacher and I am grateful I did.  She was very positive about the situation.  My daughter has had trouble being quiet during naptime.  Her teacher assured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that my daughter isn’t doomed.  She just has a strong personality and she is in a phase where she is testing her limits.  Her teacher said it is very common at this age.

    She agreed with me that having a strong personality isn’t bad, we just need to funnel her energy differently.  I don’t want to take my daughter’s fun away but she needs to learn that she has to respect adults.

    Her teacher also told me it doesn’t matter how small my daughter is in her physical stature, she will be able to hold her own.  As someone who was bullied as a kid, I know it is a good thing that my daughter has no problem standing up for herself.

    I do feel better because I feel like we now have a plan in place that will hopefully correct her behavior before kindergarten.  I am grateful her teacher is positive.  She doesn’t view my daughter as a problem.  She seems the good in her.  I had some hyperactivity issues as a kid and from what I have been told, my teachers were negative about the situation.

What are you grateful for this week?

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