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One Step at a Time

A couple of months ago I was at my GP, “What’s that on your face?” My doctor asked, squinting and leaning forward. She was talking about this…

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“Oh I dunno” I said, touching the spot “That’s always been there…what is it?”

My doctor said she wasn’t sure, nothing to worry about at all but she could give me a referral to a dermatologist if I liked, they could probably just shave it off, make the skin smooth. Sure, I said, why not. So she gave me a referral and I made an appointment.

On the day of the appointment I considered cancelling it. The spot didn’t really bother me that much so did I really need to go? But I kept the appointment anyway. The dermatologist came in, asked me a few questions then started to examine the spot. He went very quiet. After a while he asked me,

“How old are you?”

“33” I answered.

“Hmm” he paused “So, I think what you have there is skin cancer.”

Say what? Did he just use the C word? I tried not to panic and focus on what he was saying. He explained that he believed it was a BCC lesion, the most common type of skin cancer.  My mind wandered back to just twenty minutes before when we’d been walking down Chapel Street and had spotted Jarryd Roughead, the footballer who’d had a skin cancer spot removed a couple of years ago only to find out recently the cancer had spread. This is what I was thinking about as the doctor spoke to me.

He assured me that it is very rare for this particular type of cancer to spread, it is usually self-contained. The first step would be to get a biopsy, just to be one hundred percent sure that his diagnosis was right. It would need to be removed obviously. Non-surgical removal wasn’t an option, it would need to be cut out and due to its size he recommended that it be done in hospital under general anaesthetic (and we all know how I feel about hospitals). I asked a few questions and the doctor answered them but mainly he just said we need to take it one step at a time, starting with the biopsy. So that’s where I am today, off to get the biopsy done. I’m trying not to worry, of course it would be great if the results come back and the doctor has made a big mistake but if it turns out he’s right…well, like he said, one step at a time.

Regardless of what the results say I’ve learnt a good lesson; something I’ve read about and heard about and been told about before but never really worried about before; check your spots, know your body, get any changes checked out. It is always better to be safe the sorry.

I’ll keep you updated on how I go, wish me luck!

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NaNoWriMo

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Last week I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t already know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual online event where participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (November). I’d been thinking about joining in this year (for the first time ever) when a friend posted that she was doing it and encouraged me to do the same. I’ve always wanted to write a book; there’s always been an excuse not to, but right now, I really have no excuse. I’m not working at the moment so I have the time (albeit only about twelve precious hours a week whilst my son is at kinder) and I do have an idea… of course it’s only fear holding me back. But, like my wise friend said I can not do it and still be in the exact same place in a month that I am now or I do it and who knows….at the end of the day at least I will be able to say I’ve tried.

I am under no grand illusions that writing this book will actually lead anywhere, that’s honestly not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it purely for the experience, to see if I actually can do it, to see if I can take the ideas in my head and put them into words, shape them into a story. It’s been so long since I have even attempted to write fiction. I used to do it a lot when I was younger but now I have no idea where to even start! So I’ve been reading some books, (On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont to start) seeking some advice and then last week I received perhaps the best piece of advice of all from published author Wendy Orr who told me “Support like this is fantastic and these books on writing are great but never forget that it’s your own journey and you’ll find your own path as you do it”. And so I’m going to try really hard to remember that when I start my journey next month (thanks Wendy).

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you joining in this year? Any tips or pieces advice you have for me?

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The Anxious Mother

I work really hard not to let my anxiety affect our son. It’s not so much that I actively hide it from him, I don’t really believe in doing that (mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or something to be hidden) but he is only five, there are things he just doesn’t need to know yet, things that are too complex for him to understand. I don’t want to expose him to adult problems and I definitely don’t want to put my anxieties on him. I don’t ever want to be the type of mum that stops him from doing things he wants to do because of my own fears. And so, I might tell him I’m scared of doing something, like going on a fast ride or an aeroplane or going to the dentist but then I do it anyway. I hope by doing that I’m showing him it’s ok to be afraid and that sometimes we just need to face our fears and find out that it’s not so scary after all. But sometimes, I’m ashamed to say that my fears get the better of me, my mind takes over my body and I can’t…I just can’t face them those fears.

When he was a baby our son suffered from severe reflux. I’m not talking about a few baby spews after a feed, I’m talking non stop, clothes change inducing, full on vomiting. We were referred to the Royal Children’s Hospital when he was a few months old for some testing. One particular test involved him fasting for what ended up being nearly eight hours…this for a baby who was at that time feeding every three to four hours…well, you can probably imagine what that was like. By the time we got into the x-ray room our poor little man was over tired, starving and screaming. The doctors explained that we would need to hold him down and keep him as still as possible whilst the gave him a small amount of milk with a special dye mixed into it. It was important that he not drink too much, they would take it away, “he won’t be happy” they warned, then they would watch the milk flow through his body and take regular pictures on the x-ray machine as it made its way down. Because of the radiation from the machine hubby and I were required to heavy full lead vests. So, put an already anxious mum together with a hot room, lack of food and a lead vest that weighed a ton and bam, you’ve got yourself a full-blown panic attack. I could feel myself fading, I reached for a nearby chair because I felt like I was going to pass out. The doctors suggested that maybe I wait outside. I looked towards my husband and he nodded; assured me he’d be ok. A nurse escorted me out to a hospital bed where I laid down and she fed me sweet biscuits and cordial. I sat there and cried. I was so embarrassed. I felt like an absolute failure. I had crumbled in the moment when my child needed me the most.

For me, any type of medical environment; being in a hospital, dentist or doctors waiting room causes huge anxiety. Even if I’m only there for something as simple as a prescription refill, just being there or even thinking about being there is enough to make me anxious. I know now that this is due to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) something which I am only now really coming to understand. So when our son needed to go into hospital for an operation at the age of two it was my husband who held him whilst him was put under. And just this week when our son had a bad fall which resulted in him losing half his front tooth it was my husband who took him to the dentist. And I hate that. Not that I hate my husband being there, my god I’m so grateful he was, that he is, but I hate myself for not being strong enough to be there for my son when he needs me the most. Because there is nowhere else that a mothers wants to be when her child is in trouble than by their side.

Last night I thanked my husband, as I often do, for being there when I couldn’t, for being the strong one when I can’t be. And I promised him and myself, as I often do, that I will continue to fight my anxiety and face my fears not only for myself but also for our son because the thing I am most afraid of all is letting him down.

Are you an anxious mother? Ever felt like you at letting your child down?

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SAD

Every year, around this time, I get a case of the sads; seasonal affective disorder that is. It’s totally a thing you know; depression caused by winter. A friend who used to be a nurse told me that it was one of the first things she learnt about at uni; to look out for the SADs. She said that the incidence of depression and suicide sky rockets during the winter months and I believe it too.

It took me a few years to figure out that my depression would usually rear it’s ugly head during the winter months but now that I know I try to take steps to prevent it happening. Being aware of it is always the first thing. Experts say to try to keep up the exercise and eat well…I know I definitely find it harder to do this in winter. It’s too cold to go outside for a walk and its much easier to eat healthy in summer when you feel more like eating salad or fruit. This year I’ve also tried to just embrace it and focus on the positives of winter; camp outs in the lounge room with blankets and a good movie is never better than in the dead of winter. One of my best memories from this winter is the day that I spontaneously picked up my niece  and nephew, rugged up my son and told hubby to hurry home from work. Then we drove about thirty minutes to the top of a mountain in a nearby town where it had been snowing that day. It was the first time all three kids had seen snow. There was lots of throwing snow and lots of laughter…it was the best day.

But this winter has been long… it seems to be lasting forever and my patience is wearing thin. I’m craving sunshine and warm air. I’m craving being outside…maybe I’m just craving a holiday. I’ve been googling tropical holidays like it’s going out of style, knowing full well that even if we could afford to go anywhere right now (which we can’t) hubby just wouldn’t be able to get the time off work anyway. But still, I continue to torture myself. Spring started a few weeks ago but it would appear that Melbourne has yet to get the memo. It’s been all rain and cold wind here. We’ve been blessed with a few sunny days and we all get very excited. My son made me fill up his little outdoor shell pool the other week when it was only 19 degrees, we ate icy poles on a twenty degree day. Yeah, we’re really hanging out for summer here as much for our own sanity as our past white skin!

This week it looks like much of the same; cloud, rain and wind (it’s been so so windy!). I see a little picture of a sun next to Friday and hold out hope…bring on the sunshine Melbourne!

Have you ever experienced a case of the SADs? Or are you one of those lucky people that I see on my instagram feed living in a warmer climate, wearing a pretty dress and smiling? I’m not jealous at all…..ok I’m totally jealous, can I come for a holiday?blog signature, www.sarahdipity.com.auP.S. Did you know that you can subscribe to this blog and receive every new post direct to your email inbox? Well you can! Just pop your email address in the box below. I promise I won’t annoy you with daily emails or spam (cause ain’t nobody got time for that) but it’s the best way to ensure you never miss one of my posts.



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Why Blog?

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People quite often ask me why I blog. Lots of people are under the assumption that people blog for money or to get free stuff. Let me assure you, for the vast majority this is just not the case. Sure, there are some bloggers out there that do make a full time income their blog but they are few and far between. For me personally, money or free stuff is not the reason I blog, it’s just not. I have probably said no to more things than I have said yes to when it comes to that type of thing. I have a pretty simple rule, unless it benefits my readers in some way then I just won’t do it. So why then do I blog? Well I have three significant reasons why:

Writing: I love to write. You might even say I need to write. Writing is my way of processing things, of working through thoughts and emotions. It’s a way to for me to record and remember. There have been periods of times when I have taken a break from writing and it always feels like something is missing. Ok, I hear many people thinking, you like to write so why not just keep a journal? Why share it with the world? Well that leads to the second reason I blog…

Connecting: Blogging has provided me with the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people; people I would never know if it weren’t for blogging. The blogging community is awesome. It’s the type of community where you never feel stupid for asking a question and where people always offer a helpful answer. The blogging community is supportive, creative, inspiring and just plain old nice! Sure, I know there are some nasties out there, I know ‘trolls’ exist but honestly? I think the vast majority of those people are not from within the blogging community and if they are, well I’ve never come across them. I’ve shared emails, phone calls and lunches with people I’ve met online. I’ve built friendships, learnt new things and been inspired.

Making others feel less alone: I’ve always said that if just one person reads a blog post I write and feels less alone then it’s all worth it. This is particularly true for posts I have written in the past about my struggles with mental illness and parenting. Reading comments like “thank you for sharing, you will have helped so many others understand they are not alone” and “posts like yours give me insight into what it’s like and helps me to empathise” or “thank you, I really needed to read this today.” I’ve had many private messages and emails over the years from people who have thanked me because one of my posts inspired them to seek help, or helped them to understand what a loved one was going through or made them feel ‘normal’ or even hopeful. I cannot even being to tell you what receiving those messages mean to me. 

So there you have it. That is why I blog. For others bloggers out there I’d love to hear why you blog and to all my other readers I’d love to know why you enjoy reading blogs.

’til next time

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First and Last

Looking back to before I became a parent I’m not really sure how many children I wanted…maybe two? Maybe I pictured myself with two girls (because I have an older sister) but I’m not too sure, I can’t quite remember. But what I do remember is that when I did fall pregnant at the age of 28 I was convinced I was having a boy. We chose not to find out but during my entire pregnancy I pictured myself with a boy and it just felt so right. And then the very minute that beautiful boy of ours was born it immediately felt like out family was complete. And that feeling has not changed.

Because we have an only child we often feel pressured to get things right. The pressure of course comes from only ourselves… we’ve only got one shot at this! Our poor son is totally our guinea pig in this whole parenting caper. It also means that for us, every first is also the last. Next year, our son will be starting school. He is our first child to go to school and our last child to go to school. It’s like a big double whammy right? And I’m feeling all the feels about it….

I’m excited for this next stage, excited to watch our son grow and learn. I’m also scared…will he like school? Will he make friends? Will he get lost? I’m happy to see him become more independent but at the same time sad that he’s growing up and needs me that bit less. Yep, I’m feeling all the feels. I have no doubt I’m going to be a freaking mess on his first day of school, not that I’m going to let my son see that of course, I’m going to be all cool, calm and collected and then when he’s out of sight I plan to burst into tears…good plan right?

So to all your parents who have gone before me, who have seen their first child off to school and maybe their last, what advice do you have for me? How do I deal with all the feels?

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Book Reviews- September

Book reviews september, www.saradipity.com.auI’ve been reading a lot lately, making a concerted effort to pick a book instead of the phone. I’ve been reading at night and first thing in the morning instead of watching TV. If my son will allow it some days I even manage to squeeze in some reading in the late afternoon. I’ve been making my way through a list of books I’ve been wanting to read for some time, picking up a few at the library each week. Here’s some quick reviews of what I’ve read this month:

Craft for the Soul: Written by one of my all time fav bloggers, Pip Lincolne, this is one of the sweetest books getting around. It’s filled with little bits of inspiration, activities and prompts to get you thinking and creating. The book also includes ten step-by-step crafty projects. This is the perfect book to buy your bestie or keep on your bedside table when your feeling a little blue.

Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It: This book was published to celebrate ten years since the release of the original ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you were a fan of that book then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one too. The book is a collection of short stories from readers who were inspired to make a real life change after reading ‘Eat, Pray Love’. Some of the changes were big, some were small yet still significant realisations. It was a quick and easy read and whilst I don’t think there was anything particularly groundbreaking about it was a good little hit of inspiration which I still enjoyed.

The Paper House: There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this debut novel by Anna Spargo Ryan so I was a little worried I’d be disappointed. I wasn’t. This book had me with the very first line; “My heart fell out on a spring morning – the kind that rose coolly in the east and set brightly in the west.” Anna’s writing is just so beautiful, she describes the indescribable in the most poetic way. The Paper House is told from the point of view of Heather, a woman who is struggling with the  sudden loss of her unborn baby. The book delves into some pretty big issues; Heather’s story becomes intertwined with that of her mothers, a woman who battled her own demons in the form of a serious mental illness. I just couldn’t put this book down; particularly towards the end when it went to a place I didn’t think it would; it had me captivated. I can’t say too much without ruining the story but if you haven’t already done so you should really read this book, it’s one of those stories that just stays with you.

The Anxiety Book: Written by Aussie journalist Elisa Black, this book is a ‘true story of phobias, flashbacks and freak-outs and how Elisa got her ‘inner calm back’. I wouldn’t describe this as a self help book although I certainly did find it helpful. Rather than telling us what anxiety is, why we have it and how to control it, Elisa simple tells her own story. And she tells its with great honesty. I could relate to a lot of what Elisa had to say, and had many ‘a-ha’ moments throughout the book. So many times it was like she reached into my body, pulled out my thoughts and feelings and put them into words. The biggest thing I took away from this book was that I am not alone and I am not crazy! If you suffer from anxiety I highly recommend you read this book. If you don’t suffer from anxiety but know someone who does then I still highly recommend you read it; it might just help you to understand

The Anti Cool Girl: Rosie Waterland is an Australian writer best known for her hilarious recaps of The Bachelor on the Mamamia Website (you can check them out here). If you’re a fan of Rosie’s writing then you will absolutely love this memoir. She does not shy away from anything, letting you in on all of the sordid details of her upbringing, with chapter titles like ‘Your mum will be a sex worker, and you’ll have no idea’, ‘You will get caught masturbating while watching rugrats’ and ‘Your friends will find a dead body in the bush and it will be your dad’. Rosie’s writing is totally in you face, if I’m honest at some points I squirmed; felt a bit uncomfortable. Rosie’s story is actually really sad and tragic but she has a way of poking fun at everything; I guess it’s the reason she survived and has become the success she is today.

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these? Any books you can recommend that I should read next?

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The Great Divide

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Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the income divide between women and men and for many years there’s been discussion around the worth (or rather lack there of) that we place on stay at home mums. Honestly, whilst I’m totally aware that these issues exist I’ve never given them a great deal of thought. I’ve been quite happy coasting along in our family situation which works for us. But last week my husband and I received our superannuation statements in the mail on the same day. I opened them and was shocked at what I saw. It really made me stop and think.

My husband and I have been in the workforce for the exact same amount of years. For the majority of that time we were earning roughly the same money. Yet, he has DOUBLE the amount of super that I do. Why? Because when my son was born I had a year of maternity leave. Because after that I chose to return to work on a part time basis. Because I’ve decided to take a year of long service leave to be able to take him to and from kinder. These are choices that I will never ever regret, I make them happily, but it’s a real slap in the face when you see those figures on paper, in black and white like that. For me it’s ok, because I have a husband. He works full time and picks up the slack in my earnings. When we retire it will be together and we will have our combined super to support us. But what about single parents? What about those that don’t have a partner to ‘pick up the slack’?

It really comes back to the worth that we place on the role of stay at home parents; hands down the hardest job in the world yet paid the least (or nothing at all). I know this is a big issue and I also know there is no easy answer. If only it were as simple as paying stay home parents for their work, but it’s really not that simple and I get that. I don’t have the answer but what I do know is that the best place we can start is by thinking about it, but questioning it and challenging it. We need to openly talk about this great divide that exists.

At the end of the day, I would happily give up all the money in the world to be a mum. I don’t look at those superannuation figures and regret anything but it sure has got me thinking about those women who aren’t as lucky as me….

What do you think? I might be opening up a can of worms here but I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this!

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For the Love of Words

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been a lover of words; both as a reader and a writer. I guess maybe I get it from my parents. My Mum is an avid reader, she always has a book on her bedside table. Growing up she would read whatever book my sister and I were reading, whether it be for school or pleasure. As adults we still regularly swap books with each other. My Dad, whilst not much of a reader or writer still has a great love for words; through song. He’s known to regularly instruct others to “listen to the words” as he turns up a tune. Growing up my sister and I would endure hours of Elton John in the car. I say endure because back then my sister and I hated it. Now, I have more of an appreciation of good music and don’t mind a bit of Elton John. My Dad always used to always say “Listen to the words. Do you know the story behind this song?” There was always a story. The story behind Tears in Heaven, and Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Needless to say my tiny mind was blown when I really listened to the words of Lola by The Kinks.

As a kid I loved to write stories and as a teenager I used to spend hours writing down the lyrics to songs; I could even manage to find deep meaning in a Limp Bizkit song (true story). I had a little notebook where I would write down my favourite sayings and quotes…I still have it tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Somewhere along the line I forgot about my love for words, I wouldn’t say I lost it because I’m sure it never went away, it was always there just under the surface, I just got a bit distracted by….life. That happens. But the past few years I’ve rediscovered my love of words; I’m reading and writing more than I have before. This year I even started to get paid for my writing…which is both wonderful and weird all at the same time. I try not to get too caught up in that because I know that when money become the reason for things the love can often die and I really don’t want that. I want to keep writing and reading just because I love it and if it that opens up to other things then that’s awesome too.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by one of my all time favourite authors, John Marsden. Growing up my sister and I were obsessed with the Tomorrow When the War Begun series and my Mum joined us in our obsession. We listened to John talk for an hour about writing and words. Something in particular he said really stuck with me. He was talking about children and how they are so open and free in the way they use their words; often mashing them up and inventing new ones. He said we end up squashing that imagination with rules; all the rules about how we must/musn’t use words. We crush their confidence and that can often cause them to retreat. Isn’t that heartbreaking? He gave the example of a time when he took his English class to a cliff face looking out towards the ocean and asked the to write about what they saw. One girl began writing something along the lines of “the sparkling blue ocean…” and John groaned, not only because it wasn’t original but also because that wasn’t what the girl saw at all. In fact, the weather was horrible that day, there was no sun and the storm clouds were rolling in causing the sea to be a menacing dark grey colour. But the girl still described it as ‘the sparkling blue ocean’ probably because she had heard that description so many times before. She couldn’t think outside of the box.  I think it’s an important thing for both teachers and parents to remember; to allow our children the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they want, whether that be through words or something else. Let’s not limit their creativity with rules. And as adults let’s do the same. Forget about the ‘rules’ to being a  great writer and a perfect blogger, forget about what you should/shouldn’t do, just write. Write for the love of words, because there’s great power to be found in just that.

Are you a word lover? Where do you think it comes from?

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The conversation I wasn’t ready for…

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Driving in the car with my five year old son last week and he asks “Mum, who made the world?”. Shit, how do I answer that?! He continues, “Because whoever it was must’ve gotten really thirsty ’cause that would’ve been a lot of hard work”. True that kid. “So Mum, who did make the world?” I was so not ready for this conversation; I did not have a prepared answer. Much like death and sex and all the other major things in life I know there will come a time when he will ask questions and I know that as a parent it is my job to answer them. But what happens when you don’t know the answer?

I’m technically a Catholic. I was baptised and did my holy communion and all of that but I guess I’m not really what you would call a ‘practicing Catholic’. I haven’t been to a church service (other than weddings etc) since I was a child. I don’t pray and I’m not even really sure what I believe when it comes to God. Is there a God? I honestly don’t know. I would like to believe that there is something, something bigger than us, a reason for it all but I’m not sure what that is. I believe there is some kind of afterlife, but do I believe in heaven and hell? I just don’t know! How do you explain a concept to a child that is so big? How do you explain something you don’t even understand yourself?

When our dog passed away earlier this year I told our son he had died. He asked a few questions, mainly why did she die and when was she coming back. But he never asked where she went so I never told him. We never had the discussion about heaven because he just didn’t ask so we didn’t push, preferring to keep things as simple and non-scary as possible. I think that was totally the right thing. But what would I have said had he asked? I don’t know. I guess I would’ve told him that she went to heaven because heaven sounds like such a nice place and it’s nice to have things to believe in isn’t it?

So, back to the conversation in the car about God…how did I handle it? Well, I kinda dodge and weaved and mumbled my way through a bit…. I told my son that some people believe that God made the world.

“Gawd. Who’s gawd?” (He said it just like that).

“Well he’s a man, a really powerful man…” But is God a man? I don’t know!

“Mum, do you reckon if me and Gawd had a running race that I would win? Because I’m pretty fast”

“Well I dunno, God is pretty fast. He’s kind of magical. Yeah, God is like a magic man. And he lives in the sky…” Fuck, why did I say that? Now I’m going to have to explain Heaven. Don’t say anymore, just wait until he asks…

“In a house like ours in the sky?”

“Umm yeah I guess so.”

“What does he look like?”

“Umm I don’t really know buddy, I haven’t seen him before, no one really has, because remember he lives in the sky..”

Silence. No more questions. Until next time.

So tell me parents out there; how do you handle (or plan to handle) the big question, namely God, with your children? Do you have strong beliefs that you will pass on to your kids or are you a bit like me and you just don’t know?

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