Active Life Choices Are The Key To Making Changes In Your Life

by Richard Furleigh

Conversations with different important people in my life combined with my own recent frustrations with not feeling like I’m creating as much as I want have led me to a deep reaffirmation of the following: anything you want to do has to start with an active choice.

When I say an active choice I do literally mean something that is an action (or lack thereof) in your life. Putting on your shoes and walking around the block, eating a carrot instead of chips, not buying that new game that just came out, putting pigment on that brush and applying it to the canvas. As long as it is something that physically moves you toward your final objective that is the crucial first step. It shows that it isn’t impossible to start, that accomplishing small tasks as part of the whole is do able, and even if it’s as small as going on that walk to start your diet you can point to it and say “I did that, and I can do this”

Recently I’ve been struggling with feeling like my time has constricted itself to the point that I have no time to be creative, to really create new content and art that I feel is important. So I’ve made two changes that I know will help me. First I’ve looked at other things that I have done this semester. I may not have made any “art” per say, //giphy.com/embed/RI6uwElqPErrq

A silly little thing I made, I call it “Penguin Execution”

but I have broadened my horizons with blogging, and making the couple videos for other classes. These are still very valuable skills to have in creative creation and framing that in that way has helped me feel a little better about it. Second I’ve decided that I will begin writing or editing a piece once a week for a minimum of 30 minutes without interruption, which means no cell phone! This is my actionable goal, and honestly I have to stick with it, just to get things down. I’ve told myself I’m not shooting for Shakespeare here, just getting words on the page is important because especially in the creative process sometimes you don’t know what you’re putting down is good until after it’s already there. I could also just write utter crap, but that could be the crap that spurs the golden thought, or the groundwork for a great scene after editing it. Honestly it doesn’t matter, just getting something done to progress my goal is the key to get things going.

When it comes to life and our choices it really does boil down to “if you always put in what you’ve always put in you’ll get in return what you’ve always gotten.” If you want to change something about your life then find one thing, it doesn’t even matter how small, and start there. Maybe you’re trying to write the next big movie script but can’t seem to get past character and world development. Cool, just writing even one line of dialogue a day is a start. The key here is to make a change that echoes across your life, to pull the trigger on something that is actionable to you.
So what is it that you have been putting off because it seems too daunting? What is that thing that you know you should do but just haven’t got around to it yet? Well, this is the time to do it. I’m not asking you to plan every tiny detail, but get a rough idea on where you want to go and start with one item. One task that will move you in the right direction. Once your done with that one, make another, and another, and…. But for now, just one, small, task, to finish is all you need. If someone needs a little advice, help them out, share this with them and offer to help them be accountable for their task. We can help each other grow and learn too. Until next time Pengminions!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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Your Wedding Day is YOUR Wedding Day

Your wedding day should be just that, YOUR, wedding day. A day for you and your future spouse to celebrate however you deem appropriate. Your day is NOT to please other people. In my opinion it should be a reflection of your love for each other and what you value. Not what your parents, your future in-laws, you other family, your friends, or anyone else believes it should be.

My #1 piece of advice for you is to set your ground rules or share your plans early on in the process. Let those involved know how you feel and what your plans are, especially if you know that their opinions about your wedding day differ from what you plan to do. This helps to alleviate some of the potential blow ups during the process. Not to say that family or friends might not get upset but they should understand that it is your wedding and not theirs; you are inviting them to celebrate your union in a way that represents the two of you. They need to support and respect that. You also want to avoid surprises in the process especially “on the day of” revelations if at all possible. Luckily they don’t all end in disaster but heading them off ahead of time can save you a potential catastrophe.

Richard and I chose an extremely nontraditional route and it took us some time to figure out what exactly we wanted to do. We ended up having what we called a “Soiree” as our reception where we dressed up in fancy steampunk garb and celebrated our coming commitment to one another with family and friends, as a send off of sorts. This was on a Saturday and on Sunday, the 13th of April, we celebrate our anniversary and the day we chose as our commitment day. Spring forward 2 months and that is when we finally got around to filling out paperwork and having an officiant sign our licence for the silly government.

What is usually the ceremony part, our commitment day, was about us and no one else. We felt that at the end of the day no one comes home with us to make our marriage work and we wanted that to be our private event. Yes, family and friends are important and they influence our lives but they don’t live our life and so that is why we chose the reception as a way to include them in our union.

What did you do or are you planning to do that is a little or a lot out of the ordinary? Let us know in the comments section below. Next, we will take you on our journey of how we only spent about $4,000 for our whole shindig! Til next time Pengminions!

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Using Fear and Anxiety

Kristen and I don’t exactly live in the best part of town. As mentioned before, this is a conscious choice to save a lot of money each month on rent. Walking my dog outside last night I saw a man about 100 feet from me walking through our little parking area with something that resembled a large shop broom. I won’t lie, I felt a twinge of anxiety despite the fact that the man wasn’t particularly close to me nor had he even looked in my direction. He made his way along as Oliver stood there, peeing in the grass, and as I headed inside.

I thought back to other similar experiences when I was younger and how I wasn’t affected in quite the same way. I thought about the naivety that youth gives to us and how it empowers us to make bolder choices in life. I thought about how I’ve gotten older and sometimes that isn’t there in the same way. This seems to be a universal thing for people, and at least for me I think it has more to do with coming to terms with the reality of our world. We never know exactly how much time we have left so we become trepidatious, reluctant to pull the trigger on risky situations in life.

So how do we take this nervousness and make something positive out of it? In my  acting classes we talked about this often since we actors actually do get nervous. As well, in “The Originals” by Adam Grant, we get very similar advice on controlling it. Simply put, DON’T control it! It’s exceptionally difficult to stop a speeding car so instead of pumping the brakes in vain, redirect your energy. The best performances I’ve ever done, the best interviews I’ve ever had weren’t because I’m a zen master who can control his heart rate and cortisol, but because I was able to funnel the energy into focus, into excitement instead of fear, to embrace its chaotic nature and use it in a way that worked FOR me instead of against.

There are times in life when, as Kristen talked about earlier, that overcoming these fears is critical. So I add to that, embrace the fear, make it your tool rather than an anchor. It is not a perfect system, and I can tell you that there are times when it wins, but this is one tactic in my arsenal that I know works for me, and I hope it can work for you too.
Do you have any tricks for pushing through stresses and fears? Let us know down below, and if you know someone who has something big coming up (or maybe you do!) share this with them so they can have a little help too. Until next time Pengminions!

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Why You Should Include Travel in Your Education

Richard and I are stoked for this summer! We have plans to travel with the Global Business Program (GBP) again this summer but to London this time.
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We had so much fun in New York we just had to do another one. I am sure you have gathered by now our love to travel so why not take advantage of another course that will count toward our MBA and visit another country together (or two this time). We were sold during our MBA program orientation and have a goal of attending at least one every year that we are in the program.

I will be honest, it definitely isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to getting out and traveling the world but it allows us to double dip some of our time which is important to us so that we graduate on schedule. We also get to network in a completely different way than traditional schooling. Not to mention the classroom dynamic is a completely unique experience with the GBP than sitting in a classroom lecture. We are able to glean lessons via experience and conversation as opposed to reading a textbook, hearing a lecture, and potentially having some peer discussion. The discussion and immersion aspect I find to be more engaging because the setting is different. Ideas seem to flow freer because the “classroom” is more relaxed. The size of the class also helps in this regard.

I do understand that not all travel programs are like this. Some are hosted at a University where you do have a traditional classroom for learning but often these classrooms are filled with students from all over the world. This provides a far more diverse atmosphere than at most home Universities, so the perspectives you receive from your peers has the potential to be more varied.  Sometimes their perspectives will be surprisingly similar to your own; both scenarios will give you a broader and deeper appreciation of others.

The most spectacular thing to remember is you aren’t in class 24/7 whether in the GBP or otherwise and off school times you get to explore a whole other world! When in New York we had seen one of those fancy food videos floating around Facebook and made our way down to Black Tap for this glorious shake!
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If you are in school or know someone who is I highly encourage you to find/encourage them to find a program that works with their degree and get to traveling! The world opens up to you when you open up to it. Do you have any plans or experiences traveling in school? Leave us a comment we would love to hear about your experience! Til next time Pengminions!

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YOU Can Be the Key to Innovation

It is not always easy to be different but it

is important to embrace your different. No one has your exact story or your experiences in life. You should bring those with you on any project or any job that you do. You have a unique story so don’t forget to utilize your differences to bring something new to the table no matter what you do. We are all different but our experiences aren’t so far removed from someone else’s that they aren’t relatable on some level.

You could also be bringing a perspective that a particular group had not thought of, based on their individual histories, but would be important in order to reach more people or create a better idea overall depending on what you are pursuing. Innovation cannot happen without a ‘different’ thought.

Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products…”

You have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to help the collective. No one can share your story but you. No one knows your perspective if you do not share it with them. This can be in art, business, relationships, ect. In art, theatrical arts for me, we are story tellers. If we are not willing to give of ourselves the stories fall flat and become a hollow shell of the power that they could have had. Or we could miss out on creating the next Hamilton because we were unwilling to share our unconventional ideas. In business, that new product or service may never be thought up if we are not willing to change things up or share our experiences. In relationships, with any and all people we encounter, we could be missing out on new or deeper connections.

I know we talk about innovation in terms of business often but really I think the opportunity to innovate in all aspects of your life is endless and we are the key if we are willing to put ourselves out there and share who we are. I challenge you to stop doing all you can to blend in and not makes waves; MAKE WAVES and share your thoughts. Where do you plan to start sharing more of YOU? Let us know down in the comments. We love hearing from you. Til next time Pengminions!

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She said , “We don’t want to have kids…”

At least that’s the thought right now. Kids might be cool…One day…Maybe?
We often get the “Oh, you will want kids one day” or the “Kids are the best thing to every happen to you” cliches. I am not so sure. We have time if we change our minds and right now I know I don’t want them; possibly ever.
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We can hardly take care of ourselves let alone children.

Why? Because my thoughts on the subject have changed over the years. In a previous blog you found out that I was the oldest of five kids to young parents. All of my aunts and uncles have kids too. When I was younger I figured, I’d end up with kids also, most likely as a youngin rather than later in life. I got older those ideas changed. As I went off to college and started thinking about what I wanted my life to be I started to realize the responsibility that came with having children; it takes away the freedoms that I have and am enjoying as an adult. My aspirations with art and travel are not financially nor time conducive to the commitment that raising a child(ren) requires.

No one, or rather most people, don’t talk about the challenges and down side to being a parent. The cool thing to me is that it IS optional. In this day and age the number of childless men and women has been increasing and the decision process is usually a rational one.

Over the years I have put a LOT of thought into what having children does to an individual and family. As a woman I have come to realize the psychological and physical tolls having kids can have on your being. No matter how much your partner chimes “We’re having a baby!” truly the woman is the only one who undergoes a number of dramatic changes to her life not for nine months but forever. Is it worth it? I’m not sure I believe it is. The physical changes your body endures is more than just superficial.  There is also no way to know whether or not postpartum depression will effect you and to what extent your brain changes. It is not selfish to not want to purposefully affect your being in these possible ways.

In many relationships, more often than not, child rearing disproportionately ends up falling on women in a heterosexual relationship. It takes great effort to keep this from occurring. This can prove difficult when your own upbringing was as such, which was the case for us both. This can be detrimental for those women who have other aspirations than just child rearing.

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Besides, our fur~baby family makes us pretty darn happy!

The happiness that people talk about with their “bundle of joy” also isn’t the case for all parents; some people are really unhappy after having kids and the stresses it can cause. I am quite happy with the life that Richard and I have been building and having kids just doesn’t seem to fit in with our plans as of now. We have plenty of time to reassess as we go on this journey together. Currently I like that our time can be spent only factoring in each other’s respective lives. We are able to focus on our goals and aspirations; not to mention the traveling we are able to do that would potentially be cost and time prohibitive if we had children.

Another reason having kids does not seem right for me is the number of children that are without a home. I have thought if I were to have children that comes with the caveat that its a two for one deal; I would have to adopt as well.  If I’m going to bring a child into this world I am going to take in one that is already here and needs a family. To me it feels wrong to bring another human into this world when there are already so many people that go without. That is twice as much time, energy, money, ect.

Whether or not we have children is to be determined and only time will tell but as for now our reasoning together points toward no. We are completely OK with that because we know that it is a choice and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. What are your thoughts on having kids? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!
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Doing things Different Inspired by Grit

In our MBA class we just finished reading a book called GRIT by Angela Duckworth. When thinking about grit it really struck me that it is in many ways doing things differently. Not allowing your set backs to define your future and that you can persevere over your situation. Where many would give up you don’t; that difference has a huge impact. I’d like to share with you a few quips from my life’s story where I believe I persevered and hopefully inspire you in the process.

Growing up my family was pretty poor and my parents weren’t good with money. When I was young I remember going to the grocery store and my mom only being able to purchase food that was on the WIC list. One of the cool things about it though is I never remember her placing any shame around it. It was just a fact. We didn’t stay on them forever; but they were a necessity for a young family with 5 kids in order to work themselves to a place where they no longer needed them. It was accepted that it was where they were but not where they had to stay: a tool not a crutch.
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I had another big lesson in high school when I learned that the government can take money from your bank account if you owe them. I decided that would never be (my parent’s account was where my working money had been kept.)

This happening canceled the senior trip I had planed on taking and had been saving for and though it hurt I decide not to allow that to crush me for long. It galvanized me to never make their same mistakes. I also resolved that just because this trip didn’t work out didn’t mean I would never travel.

My parents didn’t include me in the conversations about what had happened until they absolutely had to because they couldn’t come up with the money in time for me not to notice. I then decided that honesty will always be my policy. The truth can hurt but being lied to hurts worse. Those involved should always have a say.

After all this, when turning 18, I took charge and the first thing I did when I woke up that day was get the couple hundred dollars I had saved and opened my own bank account so I got to decide what happened to my money.
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Going to college was ingrained in me from very early on, but my parent’s didn’t have the means to financially support me to go there so I had to find a way to make it work. So, I worked, went to community college, attend rehearsals, made time for friends, and eventually made my way to University. Not going wasn’t an option. Although it was slow, (I didn’t always take a full course load) and was without a doubt nontraditional, I finally finished 6 years later.

During my senior year of college I decide that the study abroad program was something I couldn’t miss out on. I didn’t let my small bank account, lack of a job because of the demands of the thearte, or the failure of my last senior trip dictate the pursuit of this one. I recruited friends, found support in my home town, and put together a plate sale to help fund the trip. And I went!

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Without these happenings I would have missed out on a lot of learning:

If you allow them, harsh lessons can lead you to develop further and  hopefully inspire you to think of things different to accomplish your goals. In many ways I changed my narrative and so can you. Share with us some of your stories of perseverance or what is going on in your life and what you plan to start doing differently! Til next time Pengminions!

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The Gym Isn’t the Only Way to Workout

~Kristen Furleigh

Don’t give up your dreams of being healthy and strong just because you can’t afford a gym membership. Money or lack thereof can have a negative impact on our ability to believe we can still achieve. When funds get tight one of the first things to go straight to a wish list is a gym membership, and with it our willingness to think beyond to what we will do in it’s place. The whole possibility of being fit seemingly vanishes but it does not have to.

There a plethora of tools out there you can utilize that won’t cost you money but can still give you the health benefits of having a gym membership; so don’t fret. You can make things happen if you are willing to do the slightly unconventional. Richard and I haven’t ever budgeted for a gym membership because we would rather put that money towards an experience or artistic materials which often don’t come cheap. We are still able make working out fun and beneficial for us.

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The great outdoors is a typically free resource available to you almost anywhere you live. Weather can be an obstacle here depending on where you live but for most of us we can suck it up when its a bit warmer or colder than our preferred state of comfort. Go for a run to get your cardio in and utilize the space in a park that has workout stations along the course. You can usually find out where your city parks are by visiting your city website or GoogleMaps works well too. Go scope them out to find out which one offers what you are looking for. We even saw an outdoor workout facility in San Francisco that looked like a crossfit gym!

Did you know that YouTube, besides offering music and cute cat videos, is also a hub for countless exercise videos? You can find workout videos for just about anything you can imagine. From Yoga to full length exercise classes to short, specific muscle focused instruction. If you get bored you can always switch it up with something else.

On the topic of video instruction, if you can rely on yourself to cancel, BeachBody offers free 30-day access to a large number of their programs that you can stream on just about any device. Just remember to schedule a reminder in your phone before your offer expires to avoid being charged! This can be great to get you started with an at home routine. If you are afraid you will forget the steps of the work out you can write them down to reference after your trial period.

If you can find a gym buddy! If you have a friend who has a gym at their apartment complex see if you can join them. Many don’t require a sign in so as long as you have the access code or card to get in you can use their equipment. We did this when my parents lived in an apartment complex that offered these amenities. Remember to always be respectful of others and the equipment in the gym.

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If you are in college or live in an active community be on the look out for free events. We were able to learn acroyoga by joining a club on campus. Summer is a great time to find free outdoor events where they offer instruction that gets you moving. Take advantage of these opportunities and write down what you learn so you can workout on your own.

Investing in yourself will always take time but it doesn’t always have to cost you money. What are some things you do to stay fit on a fitness budget of $0? We would love to try our hand at your approach. Leave your thoughts in the comments; we love to hear from you! Til next time Pengminions!

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5 Things to Inspire Creativity

~Kristen Furleigh

Sometimes the pressure to BE CREATIVE can be overwhelming. At times this makes you feel the least creative when you feel as if you must. First, take a breath and remember it is not the end of the world if in a particular moment you aren’t able to come up with a grand masterpiece. We have to take the time to recharge our creative juices from time to time. Here are a few ideas that might help you; which I can remember to use too when I’m putting pressure on myself to “create.”

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1.) Take time to get outside: One of my favorite things that almost always gets my brain going is going for a walk or hike. Even a walk around the neighborhood can be revitalizing. You don’t have to go into the backwoods on a soul searching journey to become inspired. Find a local park and feed the ducks. Check out your local botanical garden. Anything with some fresh air.

2.) Listen to music: Music can be just what the creative doctor ordered when you are feeling stuck or uninspired. Create playlists that make you feel. You can even break them into particular feelings, moods, life moments. Maybe just a mix/hodgepodge, radio station, or new to you music works for you; do that. No one person’s recipe works for everyone. Apps like Pandora, Slacker, and 8Tracks are perfect. One of my favorite playlists is called Listen to the Grass Grow or I have a few old CD’s that take me back to certain times that I find inspirational that I will pop in from time to time.

3.) Work on something completely unrelated: When we are feeling the pressure to create a particular thing and have exhausted our faculties in a particular moment we need to take our mind off of it and absorb ourselves in another task. This can give our minds the break it needs to become inspired. I cannot tell you how many times my ideas come about when I stop obsessing over them. It can be frustrating because we want to be able to be creative on demand but sometimes you just have to go with how it comes to you and give yourself these opportunities rather than trying to force them.

4.) Use what you know: Often times we forget to utilize the tools and skills we already have. What do you already know how to do and how can you tweek it to help in your current creative endeavor. Our past accomplishments can be a spring board for our future ones as well. Even look to skills you have that may at first glance seem unrelated; there is often a connection you can make between what you have done and what you are attempting to do. Capitalize on this knowledge.

5.) Know when to use Technology or disconnect: When you are overwhelmed technology can be a great resource to get your juices flowing. Just Googling can get you pointed in the right direction. Stumbleupon is an awesome resource because you get to choose interests and it stumbles through the internet to find you related sites. I highly suggest photography, nature, and any offbeat sort of interest to heighten the potential of finding inspiration. On the other hand know when technology is more of a hindrance and learn to disconnect. With the overabundance of social media sites we can get sucked in or constantly distracted by notifications; give yourself permission to turn it off.

**Bonus Tip**  Other People: Spending time with other people can get your mind off of the task at hand allowing you to rejuvenate. They could also be a sounding board for potential ideas. They can help with a brainstorming session or just give you the support you need to recharge.

I hope these tips are helpful to you the next time you are feeling static. What helps you out when your creativity is just out of reach? We would love to try some of your techniques; we are always hoping to learn more! Leave them in the comments. Til next time Pengminions!

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