Embarrassing Moment, Firewife Style

Being self-employed, I try to schedule appointments at times of day when other people are in their office. Not only do I write and work better later in the day anyway, I remember the hassle of trying to get early morning or late evening appointments for everything from the doctor’s office to haircuts when I worked 9-5, so why take up those slots when I can work around a daytime appointment.

Today I had a manicure at noon in the town where my husband is a firefighter/paramedic and I needed to stop for gas on the way home. It had been awhile since I took my car through the car wash so I decided to purchase one in the automated car wash at the gas station. I carefully turned my SUV mirrors in so they wouldn’t be sticking out and then headed into the car wash.

As I drove out of the machine I heard a weird humming noise from the roof and was startled to see something narrow and black in my peripheral vision. I turned my head and realized that a huge piece of trim was hanging off the roof on the driver’s side. I looked to the right and there was the trim hanging off the passenger side, too. They looked like huge feelers like you would see on a bug, curving down and all the way to the ground.

I had never really noticed that I even had trim that ran along both sides of my roof, but I quickly was able to press it back into the slots. After I pressed it back into submission I got into my car and headed home. Worried that it might fly off when I reached the highway, I called my firefighter husband at work.

One of the biggest misconceptions about firefighters is that they sit around the firehouse watching TV, stroking their mustaches, and cooking up huge batches of chili while waiting for a fire to break out. That could not be further from the truth, at least in the city where he works. The reality is that they are busy from the moment they arrive in the morning, all through what the rest of us know as a traditional work day, and then maybe get a chance to relax after dinner. Usually, though, they are still working on various responsibilities or running calls all evening and quite frequently are on the go all throughout the entire 24 hour shift.

Knowing that his station was probably doing training since it was a weekday afternoon, I asked him, “Hey, are you in the middle of training or do you have 5 minutes to look at my car? The trim came off when I went through the car wash.”

“Yeah, I can run out and look. They’re training out back (in the training tower) but I am free.”

Hoping he wouldn’t get called out in the ten minutes it would take me to get to his station, I headed there. As I pulled up I saw at least a dozen firetrucks lined up along the entire driveway, making it so that I had no room to make the corner into any of the parking spots for cars. I pulled to the back of the station to turn around and try from the other direction or park on the street and found myself in the middle of even more trucks and engines and nowhere to go. There were five or six firefighters in their gear standing at each truck, all watching me with great interest as I tried to figure out where to go. While I know all of the people at my husband’s house, I did not know a single one of the ones who were watching my confused little jaunt through their training exercises but I could feel the stares.

I pulled up next to a curb and tried to call my husband to let him know that I was there and where I should park, completely aware that they were all watching me, EVERY SINGLE ONE probably wondering who this (crazy) woman in a soccer Mom SUV was in the back of the fire station, utterly confused and totally out-of-place and whipping out her cell phone.

“Park back out front,” my husband called to me as he came out of the firehouse and saw me sitting awkwardly surrounded by emergency vehicles, “Don’t hit anyone” he added.

One of my favorite things about my GMC Acadia is that even though it’s large and I couldn’t park in any of the tiny spots in front, it has a great turning radius and I can turn it around in a circle in surprisingly small spaces, including the small amount of space between me and the shiny red ambulance that was sitting in front of me. I’m sure the guys  with that ambulance thought for certain that I was going to hit them, but I made the turn beautifully and headed back to the front of the firehouse.

“Pull in here,” my husband indicated.

“But that’s handicapped!” I told him.

“Just pull in here!” he told me.

“I didn’t realize I could park here, it’s handicapped,” I said as he gave me the “Seriously, it’s for 2 minutes” look.

“I am so embarrassed, every single one of those guys were openly staring at me like ‘where the hell is this woman going!’ Then you had to tell me not to hit anyone!” I laughed.

There is a long running joke in our family about the time I “almost drove into the Wendy’s building” on vacation, which has gotten completely blown out of proportion. The rest of the family was asleep and woke up as I approached the building to try to read the sign with the hours on the front door. Because I was at an awkward angle and quite close to the building, nobody would believe me that I was just looking at the sign and did not in fact “almost hit” anything. Over the years it has grown and changed like a “big fish” story and is something we love to laugh about together. I’m waiting for my husband to bring this incident up when I talk to him later today about my journey through the training class.

Fortunately in order to be married to a firefighter you have to be able to accept a fair amount of good-hearted teasing and ribbing. I’ll be ready the next time we are at a benefit or holiday outing to be the wife who drove into the middle of the training exercise, but for now I’m just glad the trim wasn’t hanging off my car while I did it!

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A Tale of Two Turkeys

I’m not sure when the turkeys first appeared on the side of the road near our home, but they were perhaps the most talked about turkeys on all of social media and created quite a stir. Some neighbors called them Fred and Ethel, others named them Tom and Tina, and others joked that they loved their turkey on bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato.

Our suburb in the far, far, far western suburbs of Chicago is essentially located at the last bit of suburban sprawl right before the farmland and corn fields begin. Personally I prefer the country and wide open spaces, but I do have a love of suburban amenities like spas, nice salons, plenty of shopping and Whole Foods, so I would say that being right smack in the middle is, as Hannah Montana would say, the best of both worlds.

Despite life at the edge of the country, it is quite unusual to see two wild turkeys hanging out along the side of a four lane divided highway on a daily basis. Sure, you catch a glimpse of wildlife here and there and we can hear plenty of coyotes howling each night, but to see the same two turkeys day after day after day started to catch the attention of drivers as they headed to and from work and other destinations.

Although I grew up the daughter of a bird hunter, Dad never hunted turkeys, preferring quail and pheasant. Our turkey friends who hung out in the fields along the highway made me smile each day that I saw them, a little reminder that we were moderately close to the country. In fact I became one of the many people who were on turkey watch, which unfortunately became easier over time because the turkeys ventured out of their distant fields and closer and closer to the road. I say unfortunately because the closer they got to the highway and the less afraid of the cars speeding past, the more at risk the birds would be. In fact, by last autumn the turkeys were frequently spotted right by the side of the road and sometimes in the middle of the actual lane, causing traffic jams.

In our local community Facebook groups the conversation continued over weeks and then months, on and off, as the turkeys came and went about their day-t0-day turkey lives. As the turkeys got closer to the road, the conversation became divided among those who wanted to find help for the wild turkeys through wildlife control groups and others who were increasingly annoyed by the traffic jams caused by the birds as well as the amount of attention that they were receiving.

Last fall one of the turkeys was hit by a car and killed. His companion disappeared over the winter only to return to the same exact place this spring and the turkey conversation began anew. This time people were getting out of their cars to usher the bird to the other side of the street. There were also reports of corn and bird feed being scattered all over the side of the road from people who thought they were being good samaritans but were inadvertently leading the remaining bird to his death.

Recently the second turkey was hit and killed on the same street. Each time I drive past the spot where they hung out I find myself extremely sad to know that they are now both gone, that the turkey spotting is finished. In fact I have confused myself with how sad I really am, like it was an end of an era. Then I felt a little crazy; the end of the turkey watching era? Had I lost my mind, particularly with so many other horrific things happening in our world right now? Was this Tony Soprano and his ducks all over again? In fact even as I started to write this blog, I wondered if anyone really wanted to read about the death of our local wild turkeys.

In my last blog I talked about finding a life coach and how I have been focused on mindfulness, positive thoughts, meditation and other “new age things” and so I decided to search for the symbolism of the turkey. After all, there is the myth that Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey to the bald eagle floating around in our national mythology. Interestingly enough, I found this paragraph on the Spirit Animals & Animal Totems page,

“The Turkey is a spirit animal closely associated with honoring nature and the Earth. Symbol of abundance, this totem animal encourages us to honor our sources of nourishment, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. The turkey reminds us to develop a harmonious relationship with the land and our environment and consider them as foundations to our well-being and sustenance. The Turkey totem is a powerful guide to unlocking the fullness of life and feeling content with what we have instead of accumulating material belongings to seek happiness.”

There were many people who commented negatively that so many people cared so much for “just” a bird hanging out on the side of the road, with the “just” being their sentiment not mine. But the thing about animals is that for those of us who love them, they are an escape from the bad parts of any given day.

Who knows how many people were aggravated and tired after navigating rush hour or a bad day at work and who were soothed by the turkeys strutting along the side of the road. Who knows how many people were stressed out by the daily violence of the news and comforted even slightly by the innocence of a wild bird who just exists without doing evil? I do not know the answer to those things, but I do know that but for just a few minutes each day as we went about our lives, that the wild turkeys  made many of us in our little suburb smile and feel a harmonious relationship with the land in which we live, and for that I thank them.

 

 

 

 

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Life Coaches and Other New Agey-Things

The first thing I did after hiring a business coach was to cancel my business coach. It took me about ten minutes to ask myself what the heck I was doing and begin the process of what can only be described as “freaking out.” This process lasted overnight and the next morning I emailed her to back out of our payment plan and first meeting.

Fortunately my coach had seen this happen on other occasions with other clients and calmly wrote back, “I would love for you to just come and talk to me and have our first meeting and we can go from there.” Just as fortunately, I agreed.

It all started at a local networking meeting that actually took place in the same restaurant complex where my husband and I married and had our reception, a place that always makes me happy even if I’m there for other functions. This particular event was for creative types like writers, photographers, film makers, and was much more appealing to me than some other networking events that seem more like professional speed dating meetups ups instead of making actual contacts for business partners or clients. I had just restructured my dog business, Love, Laugh, Woof, and had a rough idea of where it was headed and was excited to meet other business owners and maybe some dog owners.

The speakers at the meeting were fantastic and I was feeling very inspired and ready to rock my business when Eve Keith of Friendship Haven in Dekalb, Illinois introduced herself to me and asked what my business was. “I’m a dog blogger and I help people create a holistic lifestyle for their pets,” I answered. We talked for at least a half an hour and I liked her immediately, although when we scheduled a phone call for the following Monday I was a little unsure of what we were going to discuss. I knew she was a business coach and had mentioned something about “tapping” but I had absolutely no idea what that meant.

Monday rolled around and after thirty minutes on the phone I knew I desperately wanted to hire her as a business coach, but I was uncertain about the cost. It was a cost of doing business and just might be the exact thing that I needed to start making my professional dreams come true, which is how I convinced myself to sign up for her business coach services…and ten minutes later start reconsidering it and questioning my choice.

Of course our face-to-face meeting was wonderful and I decided to commit to three months of coaching on a variety of business topics. I had tons of professional experience and a sound business idea, but I was finding that it was not necessarily simple to translate experience and knowledge from the corporate world into your very own business in which you are CEO, COO, CIO, CFO, customer service, accounting, sales, marketing, content writer, shipping, receiving, receptionist and every other job that needed to be filled.

 

Don't tell me what I cannot do meme

Background by harmee32123

Eight months later I have a sound business plan, a mission statement, and I am putting my plan into action. Hiring a business coach was the smartest thing I ever did for my own business. What I did not count on happening is that Eve also became my life coach.

The term “Life Coach” would have made me roll my eyes and make a sarcastic joke a year ago. I have always relied on inner strength, experience, a Liberal Arts degree and my own mind to accomplish things and get where I wanted to go. Life coaches were some new-agey type person for bored and independently wealthy “housewives” on cable TV shows (a TV genre that is my favorite guilty pleasure) and not for normal female entrepreneurs in the Midwest.

Over the last year, Eve has taught me about EFT Tapping, which involves your body’s energy meridians and borrows from acupressure and acupuncture but without needles. We have worked on meditation, affirmations, and visualization. She helped me fly without  fear not once but twice this year, which in and of itself is a massive success, by teaching me techniques on how to make my mind work for me instead of it running around all willy nilly like an unbroken horse or a three month old Labrador Retriever puppy. And finally we have talked about all sorts of emotional issues and fears in a therapeutic and life-changing positive way.

What is interesting is that I did not know I needed all of those things.  When I met her I was a quite happy and well adjusted person who thought I just needed help with my new business. I could have easily gone on avoiding airplanes and just being a generally happy and positive person, but the work we have done together has given me a mental clarity and peace that I never knew I was lacking.

Now I think about the universe, energy, mindfulness, keeping my thoughts positive and avoiding putting negative energy into the universe. I make sure that I do not think negative thoughts or think that I cannot do something that I want to achieve because that gets my mind going down a negative path. In fact last summer when my husband and I were binge watching the TV show Lost, I fell in love with the phrase, “Don’t tell me what I cannot do,” which I take in a positive way as if saying that I don’t care if someone doesn’t think I can do it, I know that I most certainly can and that they’d better just get out of my way. In a positive way, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello World, Part 2

Hello world, part two! It’s been awhile since I wrote any posts for this blog…two years to be exact, which I find incredible to believe, and not in a good way! This was my original blog that I started long before I quit my corporate job, an event that is coming up on its third anniversary. Of course all I can think of is how so much time passed so quickly.

I’ve been putting the majority of my time and attention into my other business, Love, Laugh, Woof. In fact, I wrote a book that I am self publishing and hoping to release this summer and I’ve been working on releasing a series of educational online workshops for pet owners on topics like food and nutrition and promoting a healthy immune system for your dog.

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Tinkerbell

I’ve also been busy raising our most recent puppy, Tinkerbell, and of course being stepmom to the three human kids. And, are you ready for this? Two of them are in high school and one becomes a teenager in April! I swear it seems like just yesterday that the Strawberry Shortcake shoe incident was happening!

No matter how much I love playing outside with my dogs and being covered with Labrador hair and mud, there is still the side of me that loves, loves, loves plus sized fashion, beauty products and girl talk. I can’t wait to share some of my most recent favorites and stories of life as a stepmom to teens!

 

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Ipsy Glam Bag Craze!

I’ve shared my love of cosmetics and beauty products in past blogs and my addiction shows no signs of waning. In fact I am pretty sure it’s stronger these days as I’ve reached Sephora Rouge VIP status and continue to find new favorites all the time on QVC and HSN. Today I have a new guilty pleasure that I have discovered: Ipsy Glam Bags.

This morning my Facebook news feed went wild with friends talking about their April Glam Bags and a flurry of new friends subscribing to the service. Not one to ever overlook a fun and viral cosmetic related series of posts I immediately asked my friend for her sign-up link and promptly began to fill out the questions about my own personal style, my eye color, hair color, preferred Ipsy stylist. Less than five minutes later I was signed up!

I remember receiving a service similar to this back in the 90s but I’ve noticed that these small boxes of surprise products are becoming more and more popular in the last few years. There are subscription boxes of all types, from the BarkBox for dogs, Purr Packs for cats, NatureBox snacks, you name it, you can subscribe to a monthly box full of amazing products. It’s win-win for everyone, from the manufacturers who can win new loyal customers of their brand to the consumers who love to try new products and receive merchandise straight to their home.

When you sign up for Ipsy you will likely be on the waiting list, but by sharing your new membership via Facebook and Twitter, liking their Facebook page and subscribing to several YouTube channels you can blast past the waiting list and jump right into your new membership. You can also earn points by sharing your membership with your friends and then redeem your points for bonus items.

My first Ipsy Glam Bag will not ship until May, and I cannot wait to see what it includes! If you would like to join Ipsy yourself, check out my link at http://www.ipsy.com/r/apc8 and see for yourself!

 

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Stella & Dot meets DKNY

The new Summer 2014 collection of Stella & Dot is available! Combined with the Spring collection that was revealed earlier this year, Stella & Dot continues to be stocked with the most beautiful and inspired pieces of jewelry that I can imagine! Every single time you think the designers could not get it any more right, they do it again and blow your mind!

I’m also a huge fan of DKNY and I wear a lot of the DKNY jeans pieces. What more fun than to combine the two into some great looks! I hope you have as much fun browsing as I did putting this together!

Shop at www.stelladot.com/lynnsmith

and at DKNY at

Save 20% Off All Dresses! Now – Saturday 4/12/14. Prices as Marked.

Stella & Dot meets DKNY

 

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2013 Cosmetic Addictions

I might have a small addiction to beauty products. Maybe more than small…I think I’ve gone fully over the junkie line. And the worst thing? I have no shame. Zero. In fact, I just took advantage of my Sephora VIB Rouge extra 20% off sale promo code!

2013 was a particularly exciting year for new finds. My go-to stores are Sephora and QVC and they rarely disappoint, nor do my favorite brands.

I first learned of Ole Henriksen skin care products after reading an interview with a reality tv star. The woman raved about Ole Henriksen Ultimate Eye Lift gel and I immediately ordered some. Product by product I switched over to their full skin care line. The Aloe Vera Deep Cleansing gel is great for battling hormonal acne without drying my skin. The new Ultimate Lift Firming Serum, just released this year, is my new go-to serum every morning along with the Sheer Transformation moisturizer. The Power Peel is the next best thing to a professional facial and the Vitamin C wipes are a lifesaver when I’m too tired to use my Clarisonic cleaner and the cleansing gel. They are great at removing eye makeup, too, and smell fantastic!

I also celebrated my first year anniversary of switching over to Wen Cleansing Conditioner. I usually buy my Wen at QVC (an addiction for an entirely other blog) and just received a package of 5 different seasonal scents. I swear by the Pomegranate, Sweet Almond and Cucumber and Aloe formulas to give volume to thin hair like mine. I have Lupus and have been completely paranoid about what seemed to be significant thinning on the top of my hair. I believe I see a significant difference after a year of using Wen. I also love the volumizing mousse and recently purchased the volumizing spray.

For styling, I am hooked on Bumble & Bumble Thickening Hairspray. Although I bought it to use as a hairspray it really is more like a styling product and I comb it throughout  wet hair every day before blowing it out with a round brush.

This year I discovered Josie Maran’s Argan Oil products. Talk about amazing! I started with the whipped body butter, which is as silky as promised by the QVC hosts. Next I tried the pure argan oil, then the eye-shadow and just bought the Love Your Lips hydrating lipstick. I’ve started wearing the lipstick even when I’m home alone simply because it feels so great!

Soap & Glory is another recent find for me. Right now I’m loving the Foam Call body wash and the Hand Food lotion. Their Body Buttercream is super thick and creamy and just like all of their products, smells fantastic.

Finishing up the list are the It Cosmetics Anti-Aging makeup, my new Laura Mercier gel eyeliner, the Tarte eyelash curler and mascara that I purchased on a whim, the yogurt products from Bath & Body Works. Old standbys like Dior eyeshadow, my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, Nars orgasm blush and my Clarisonic facial brush still occupy a big place in my cosmetics loving heart.

I tried a sample of DD cream last week.  I don’t recall the brand, but we’ve seen BB and CC creams come onto the market. It’s fun to see what new items will come out in 2014, as well as what I will find that is not new on the market but new to me. I probably should say that I will make a resolution to curb my addiction, but I have not the slightest desire to do so!

2013 Cosmetic Addictions
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Personality Quiz

Today I took a quiz that is going viral through Facebook. It is the Dr. Phil personality test and by answering ten questions about yourself you can read a description of how others see you. My score on this test was a 41, which has a very nice description attached to it. I was satisfied with my results and thought about how that is how I see myself, so I assume other see me the same way.

I started to think about the fact that at 42 years old I like myself as a person. I’m pleased with how I treat people, the decisions I make, the relationships that I have. Of course there are things to keep improving, from trying to shop less and maybe continually changing the style of clothes or having more willpower when it comes to exercise, but otherwise I’m cool with who I have become. But is this the norm? Do most people like themselves?

You think about the number of self-help books on the market, the quizzes and personality tests that I just took for fun, all of the ways in which humans try to better themselves. I wonder what the percentage of people would be who said they truly like themselves. Are people generally critical of themselves, is this something that comes with age? With experience? Is it directly correlated to a person’s emotional intelligence? What about upbringing?

For me, I was blessed to have amazing parents who raised me with confidence and a strong sense of accountability for my actions. I am far from perfect, but I don’t lie, cheat, steal, or try to intentionally hurt anyone. I grew up with nearly no religion but always around animals and nature and parents who gave me life lessons each and every day of my life. Things like “get your work done before you play” and “don’t do things half-assed” remain part of my work ethic today.

What I did not have was a lot of guilt, not from religion, not from my parents. Not a lot of shame, either. If you screwed up, you got punished, were told the right thing to do next time in a similar situation, did your punishment (usually manual labor versus grounding), and moved on. We were definitely accountable for our actions and raised with strict rules,  but never taught to not like who we were as people. There was always an expectation to work hard but never any pressure to choose a certain path or live up to a particular lifestyle that they wanted for us aside from going to college and getting a job.

There was no pressure to do something by a certain age, to have a certain number of children, or life a particular lifestyle. Our parents were not trying to make up for their own lives through our actions; our parents had successes and interests of their own beyond raising children. We were the main part of their lives but not the only thing that they had to live for.

Because of this it never really occurs to me to reflect on whether or not other people like me. I like me, so I assume they do, too. I like most of the people I meet, with a few toxic exceptions who I no longer have in my life. I’ve learned throughout the years that when I start to act in a way where people are annoyed with me or that I start to like myself less that it is because I am in a situation that no longer works from me. I have had this happen in two different jobs and one relationship, where I could see myself changing into a negative and unlikable person and that it was time for me to move onto something different. And once I was out of the situation I was my normal positive self again.

I’m still curious about whether or not I am in the majority or minority on this topic. I hope I’m in the majority. Life is short and stressful enough to go through daily life not liking the person who you are with every single day, who goes with you through all of life’s journeys.

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Evil Queen done Stella & Dot Style

My favorite TV shows are starting to come back on the air, including the fantasy Once Upon a Time. Although the Evil Queen is the character we all love to hate, as far as her clothes go when she’s in Fairy Tale land…well, I am obsessed! Of course it’s hard to navigate the world in 2013 in long gowns and elaborate head pieces, so here is my take on one of my favorite Evil Queen looks!  When I saw this outfit I immediately thought of the Stella & Dot Pegasus statement necklace, available on my stylist site, http://www.stelladot.com/lynnsmith. Swap the jeans for a pencil skirt and rule your next meeting, or stick with jeans and just look wickedly amazing at your next social outing! Or rock some tuxedo striped leggings!
Evil Queen done Stella & Dot Style
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From Pool Season to Boot Season

Long ago when I waited tables after college in a restaurant with an insanely hot kitchen I used to wish for summer to leave because it meant an end to the endless sweating. Back in those days I lived in an apartment in an old house with an overworked window unit air conditioner. The ninety day degrees of summer were not my beloved friends as they are now.
While all of my friends are posting on Facebook about the coming Fall, I have protested. After all, our pool is still open, our central air is still on and it is still very warm outside. No matter how many pumpkin spice markets are flooding grocery stores and restaurants I cannot embrace fall until it is cold enough to enjoy that Pumpkin Spice latte while wearing jeans and tall boots when I am drinking it.
Since I seem to be the only person who is not ready to see summer in our past I am trying to get excited about fall. Yes, it will get dark so early that it throws all of our internal clocks out of whack for weeks, but I will get to walk my dogs without burning their paws. Yes, the pool will close and I will not feel the silky rush of water over my body during my daily swims, but soon the kids will be talking excitedly about their Halloween costumes. Yes, I will have to abandon my daily uniform of tank tops and camis, but I will get to wear boots.
I love boots! In past years I have gone boot crazy. This year I have toned it down and purchased only two new pairs, a new pair of brown riding boots and a pair of super cute blinged out biker style boots. Of course I have regular biker boots in the closet for wearing on the actual motorcycle, but these new ones are not to protect my ankle in a fall. They are to decorate my ankles THIS fall.
Fall will come at its own pace whether we are in a hurry or not. And in typical Chicago style it will likely come and go multiple times in one week. So for now I will be in the pool, with my cute new boots and favorite long sleeve tops at the ready in my closet, waiting their turn. I will be in the yard in a tank top and shorts while my dogs frolic in their doggie pool…maybe with an iced pumpkin spice latte in hand.
Favorite Fall 2013 Outfits
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