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Simply Free Minds


We design creative language teaching tools that inspire mindfulness, social responsibility and compassion.

Morning Rituals

inspiration Posted on Thu, March 10, 2016 01:27PM

Hi Beautiful Beings!

Carlos and I hope that life is treating you kindly and that
you are enjoying every moment of this glorious life. J

Lately I have been starting my days with a nice morning
by Louise Hay that reminds me to direct my thoughts toward the
positive things in life and to begin each day focused on appreciation. It’s so
easy to get focused on the difficulties that face us, but that habit isn’t very

By consciously shifting my attention to the fact that the
miracle of indoor plumbing blesses me every day and that I have working
appliances and body parts, I create a strong base of gratitude and appreciation
to construct my daily doings upon. I find it much more empowering than focusing
on whatever political news has emerged while I was recharging my physical self.

Often I will then sit down to write for a bit in my journal
about positive aspects. I will write affirmations for my own life and for the
beings and world around me. This helps me keep my attention on the positive
side of things when challenging moments arise throughout the day.

We would love to hear about your morning rituals and
anything that you have to share! Thank you all so much for your continued
support and inspiration!

Happy day!


A Date with the Artist Within…

art Posted on Sun, February 28, 2016 12:50PM

Hello sweet beings!

Carlos and I have been so busy these days meditating,
working our day jobs and coloring the last drawings for our deck of cards that
time has flown by and it’s now already the end of the month! Wow! We hope that
you are all doing well and that your wishes are all coming true for yourselves.

I’d like to take this time to share with you my thoughts on
a practice that has many benefits in the self-love area. It’s called “The
Artist Date”. There’s a lovely book called The Artist’s Way, which is a great
tool for reconnecting, (or connecting) with one’s creativity. My mother gifted
me this treasure long ago, and it is there that I discovered this simple yet
very powerful practice.

You basically choose a day and time that you will make a
date with yourself, as you would do when planning a drink with a friend or
lover. Then you choose the place or event that you will share with yourself.
You can also be flexible with it and see what comes up in the moment. Maybe you
have decided to go to the park and write in your journal, but when the moment
arrives, you really feel like visiting the octopi at your local aquarium and
you do that. Maybe you write in your journal at the aquarium with the magical
creatures, or maybe you end up finding the octopus doing fascinating things so
you just sit in wonder with what you find… The latter is what happened to me on
my last official artist date.

It’s completely up to you! That’s the joy! You make space
for you to just enjoy yourself. There are no rules. Somehow this simple act of
self-care nurtures the part of your being that you can become more in touch
with your creative ideas and guidance. If you do it regularly, you might begin
riding a wave of creative flow and see parts of yourself that you might not see
that clearly when you are caught up in your routine and attending to others. It’s
a nice path to expansion.

The other day I came across this great blog that reminded me
of this healthy habit. It is full of interesting exercises and activities for
building a strong self-esteem and a happy life. I hope that you are inspired to
make your next date with your artist within soon and that it brings you joy and
connection to your creative self!

Happy day!

Memories of Močiutė, Part 1

inspiration Posted on Sat, February 13, 2016 09:49PM

February 11th was the anniversary of my Močiutė’s
birth. “Močiutė” is Lithuanian for “Grandma”. A couple of years ago, when I was
visiting her in Lithuania, she told me that she much preferred to be called “Bobute”.
She made her transition back into pure positive energy last September,
thankfully. The last few years of her life were painful, lonely and
challenging, to say the least.
I feel highly honored to have shared the bond and the time
that I did with this fine lady. She was one of my greatest friends and taught
me how to really care for others, especially for children. She is the grown-up that I
remember spending the most time with because she was fully present and focused
on me, reminding me that I was worth the time and attention. She interacted
with my younger sister Melisa, or better known as “Melisite”, and I all of the
time when she was watching us. I have other memories of grown-ups spending time
with me, but they are few and far between those with Bobute. And I am sure that
it has something to do with the quality of the attention that was given and
shared. Thinking back, the amount of physical time that we spent together in my childhood was not so great. The quality of time, on the other hand, was inmeasurable.

Bobute with Jaime in the back yard in Phoenix.

We had the privilege of living with her for a few months
when our parents separated. I was around four years old and Melisite was a year
and a half or so. We weren’t encouraged to watch television, which we protested
then, but now I can enjoy the countless images and feelings of creatively
filling my time back then. Močiutė helped us cover her floors in colorful
mosaics made from the plastic milk bottle caps she’d collected, she colored
with us at the kitchen table, and spent hours playing the card game that has inspired the
game that we are making today for the project. She sang songs, watched
us dance, played with us outside and let us climb her fig tree. She read books
to us before bed and always let us sleep on the proper parts of the two beds
that the three of us shared, as she slept in the “crack”. She bathed us, fed us
and nursed us when we were ill. She gave us frozen figs instead of ice cream,
and cucumbers with honey instead of candy. She also lovingly disciplined us
often, and taught us to “Think before speaking.”
Bobute with Melisite in her garden in Arizona.

She almost always spoke to us in Lithuanian when we were
little, and taught us to respond in the corresponding manner with more patience
than most other grown-ups ever seemed to have. I realize now that she was my
first foreign language teacher and this early experience in life is what likely
gives me a lot of strength and security while teaching and speaking a foreign
language today. I am so grateful that she and my father, (or “Tevelis”), found
it so important to preserve and pass on the culture of Lithuania to us and am
sure that my life has been greatly enriched for this reason. We were not only
exposed to a language that the Lithuanians say is right after Sanskrit on the
historical timeline, but to foods, customs and a history that many people never make
contact with during their entire time on this planet.

Bobute lived in the states for about fifty years, in
Chicago, IL. and in Pheonix, AZ. The story that took her five hours to explain
to me on one of my many memorable trips to Lithuania of how and why she ended
up in the states and escaped Russian soldiers three times is for another blog
post…This one is going to be quite lengthy as it is.

I used to imagine pushing Bobute around in a wheel chair in
the future when I was little. I’d wheel her to the park and back in my mind and
always told her that if she ever needed to be taken care of when she was old,
she could count on me. I never could actually picture her needing to be cared
for though. She was so strong and was always busy doing something physical. She
never let others pitch in with household chores, partly because she knew you’d
use more soap than was necessary, and she liked to be in control of her spaces.
She was always well groomed, fit and “on top of things”. She used to flex her
bicep, which I remember being like a gymnast’s, and tell me that it was from
drinking fresh carrot juice. She was always dressed nicely in one of the unique but
elegant dresses that she’d made.

She also took care of her husband, our “Senelis”, as he
disappeared into the dark world of Alzheimer’s. She endured this part of “in
sickness and in health” for twelve long years. She almost never left the house.
She maintained her sanity by channeling the creative forces of nature into
beautifully weaved traditional Lithuanian belts and book marks, and when she tired of that trade, she
took up patchwork and made over a thousand magical hearts and pinwheels of all
shapes and sizes to adorn the walls, beds and tables of homes across the world.
She even ended up incorporating some of her old clothing and material from her
dresses into potholders, bedspreads and pillow cases.

I can relate to her way of making art when I work the wire
and beads in my jewelry making and the colors in my painting. During the last few
years of her life in the homes where she resided in Lithuania, we had the
chance to work together in a way. We spent countless hours together at her
little table and she mostly watched me work my handicrafts, but every once and
a while she suggested a color or change in the pattern that was coming through
me. She often held on to some of my materials and passed them to me as a
fabulous assistant would. This way we were able to create together and share that
indescribable space of being. She even helped me prepare for my first trip to
Burning Man as I created different outfits!

Her cooking skills were definitely to be admired and I am
very thankful that I was always exposed to the curious, and mostly delicious
cuisine of Lithuania while in her home.
Beet soups and salads were probably the weirdest things for us as kids,
but I love them all and continue trying to pull them off. My favorite dish of
hers will always be her pancakes, or “blynai”, always accompanied by her
homemade berry, apricot or peach jam of course! I am so happy to have inherited
her knack for cooking and can usually swing a decent reproduction of them
(minus the homemade jam) for interested newbies or family members that are
craving a nostalgic and super-comforting treat. I think this is the only reason
that I will never completely take the plunge into a 100% vegan lifestyle. I am
so glad that I was able to learn how to make these foods by her side in Lietuva
(Lithuanian for Lithuania) when she was still able to show me how.

Now that you have been properly introduced to Marija Edelis, my sweet Močiutė, I hope that you’ll be interested to continue reading in upcoming posts. I have so much to share with you about her and the lessons she taught me. I’d like to let her live on through my writing. If you don’t already know her story, you might be curious to find out how she ended up returning to Lietuva and also how she winded up going to the states in the first place… Stay tuned to learn more very soon! Thank you for reading and I hope that this first part has inspired you to spend more quality time with the little people (and the not so little people) in your life! You’ll miss them when they’re gone, and creating lasting moments makes it happier to miss them because the connection you create is eternal.

May peace be with us all!
Būk laimingas! (Lithuanian for “BE HAPPY!”)


Thief or Teacher?

awareness Posted on Tue, January 26, 2016 02:02PM

So, yesterday morning my backpack was stolen. Luckily I had my phone, keys and money on my person. My more sentimental items, on the other hand, were inside of the bag that had accompanied me to most places (and classes) during the past few years.

First of all, let me explain that Barcelona is notorious for professional pickpocketing. They even say that it used to be one of the places that sneaky people would come to learn the art, that there was actually a “school” for thievery. I have been here so long and have had so many encounters along the way with being robbed, helping people who’d been robbed, hearing stories about people being robbed, and so on…

I have been highly trained in the art of keeping an eye on one’s belongings and NEVER leaving them set down some place, not even at a party with “cool” people. I’d had things gaffled at those places too…a jacket, phoneS… I even did my own test once at a festival…I went to the bathroom and on the way in I saw a group of peers sitting outside that I thought might enjoy my amazing kaleidoscope. I asked them if they’d like to have a look and just hang onto it for me for a moment while I went into the powder room. Sure enough, in less than 5 minutes, they were gone.

I have experienced all different levels of thought and emotion around this subject and have had countless conversations about it. The general rule of thumb in society seems to be that thieves are vulgar nouns and that they deserve this and that sort of torture, blah, blah, blah… That has never resonated with me. No, I correct myself, it did when I was 12 years old and wanted Saddam Hussein done away with.

I hadn’t been robbed in many years up until yesterday, when I somehow acted completely out of character. I consciously placed my backpack on top of my friend’s that was nicely nestled in the stroller in the corner of one of our favorite local vegan spots, Gopal. IN PLAÇA DE TRIPI!!!!!!!!!! (also known as Plaça George Orwell) What?????? THAT is probably the most famous place to be robbed in the city, besides on the metro… I really don’t know how that happened being in my right body and mind. I guess my higher self said, “Hey, we need to check in here with you about your reactions to this type of violation on the physical plane,” and guided my hand. I don’t even put my bag down like that in the U.S. in places where only my friends are around, out of such strongly engrained habit.

So, shortly after this confusing behavior, I look at that place and sure enough it is gone. The acrobatics behind this type of thievery is so bewildering. None of us can figure out how it happened. How was the person not seen? How did the people from our group (almost on top of my bag) not sense anything at all? How did they reach my bag? How did the stroller not fall over? What the heck happened? Then the feelings come. Disgust, fear, sadness, anger…

This time it was very quick for me to process and let go. Gratitude quickly came and acceptance too. I think I suffered for about a minute and a half, maybe less. And not until the end of the day, about seven hours later, did I think about the person who’d taken my belongings and check in with myself about what I felt about them. In no moment did I ever feel any negativity toward them, although others that I shared the story with did. I also realise that any time an image of who that person could have been came to the movie screen of my mind, it was male. Interesting…

What was in my bag? (to give some perspective)
-my favorite wallet designed with emblematic Barcelona flowers
-my “important” cards (bank, bicing, I.D., health, etc.)
-pictures of my loved ones
-really cool pens that I got in the states
-a really cool book and game that I got in the states and was going to use in class with my students that day (I teach English.)
-10 felt roses that I have on me for fundraising for our project
-a very special journal with art and personal thoughts
-my agenda!!!! (good thing it’s January!)
-my lipsick and other makeup
-my tiger balm
-my thinking putty (that was a gift from Carlos for my last bday)
-homemade flash cards and papers for classes
-my favorite sock monkey hat (that was gift from the family I nannied for 17 years ago)
-my favorite gloves (that were a gift from Diana!!! She and I had matching ones!)
-the beautiful scarf that my mama gave me last time I saw her that I wear every day
-my USB stick
-a great book, 7 Spiritual Laws of Success

Blah, blah , blah….stuff, (and my attachment to it…)

This has been a great sort of “exam” for me. I can clearly see where I am on the forgiveness scale. I was only angry at myself. How could I be so careless??????
I was quick to forgive myself, in my opinion. Forgiving the thief was instantaneous. I can only imagine how much suffering they experience in their own heart and mind, and I wish them peace and freedom. We are all one, right? The form of their consequences are in the hands of the Universe.

I could also witness and observe the amount of bio-chemical alteration in my being once the reality hit me and where the feelings were gross and where and when they were subtle. The subtle feelings of disgust for being watched and taken advantage of lasted a bit longer, as the memory continued to appear in my mind throughout the day. The subtle feelings of sadness and fear also lasted throughout the day. These subtle feelings were very very sublte. So that shows me that the meditation that I am doing in my life is really benefitting me. I don’t know that I’d be able to objectively observe these things without a daily practice.

I feel like I have passed the test with flying colors and am super grateful for the experience. I do not wish for any more experiences like this in the future, but I am sure that I would not have been able to gauge my state of mind in such a way without an experience of its nature. And I can be sure that I will NOT be leaving my bag around Barcelona again, unless the Universe decides to guide my hands to what I can only call unexplicable nonsensical behavior.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and that you continue to shine your light to the world! AND If you ever make it to Barcelona, PLEASE don’t think you are so experienced at traveling that it won’t happen to you. It’s sort of an “initiation” to Barcelona, as many of us longtime locals say… Don’t leave your valubles on tables in cafes, restaurants, etc. NEVER put your bag down without some form of attachment to an aware person. Be extra cautious on public transport, in crowds, and when people randomly start talking to you on the street, for ANY reason. I have seen this type of pickpocketing on numerous occasions. You are also a million times more likely to be a target if you’re inebriated. I hear people getting robbed in the middle of the night all the time from my bedroom window in the center of town.

People used to get their bags stolen so often in the Ciutadella park that a good friend Buzz, (who was actually visiting and with me when I got robbed the other day) planted a backpack filled with poop as a decoy, and sure enough…it was taken!

Before I moved in here in 2000, I divinely stumbled upon an article online that said “Before You Come to Barcelona, READ THIS!” Thankfully, I did. It was a long and descriptive text about all of the “normal” looking con-artists (with photographs of some of them) that have been making their livings on the streets here forever. Many of them were from the states. It also stated where they usually hung out. I took that pretty seriously. Yet I proceeded to have my own “INITIATION”. All I can say is that I think I have learned my lesson already. 🙂

Thanks for listening. If you have your own Barcelona theft stories, we’d love to hear about the lessons learned! Please comment below! 🙂

I found this great video today form the excellent Gabrielle Bernstien about instantly changing our moods from negative to positive. This technique can be especially helpful in these types of situations! Enjoy!

Patience and La Sagrada Familia…

awareness Posted on Tue, January 19, 2016 11:33PM

It’s the first card that came to be in our deck…that of patience.

People used to always tell me, almost daily, that I was such a patient person… I used to make jewelry a lot, every day, and much of the time in public. I also teach grown-ups and children. That requires a lot of patience, I am told.

People always say “I don’t have the patience.” I hear this phrase all the time, and when the people tell me how patient I am, it is usually followed by a “I don’t have the patience for that!”

It’s funny how people look at themselves and each other. Sometimes my ego says, “Oh yeah Jaime, you are so patient…”, and I feel very proud and satisfied. Other times, it says, “What is wrong with you? Why are you so impatient?”. Then I usually feel a lower frequency sensation, although sometimes this one is very subtle and hard to detect without a bit of stronger attention, as I have been training myself quite consistently to not go with my negative thoughts about myself for around twenty years now.

It’s only in the last ten to twelve years that I have been checking that first feeling of pride and satisfaction too. I try to be aware of that feeling, or those feelings, and to be equanimous with them. I am still very far away from the equanimity that brings true peace and harmony, but each moment I have the intention to be equanimous and so closer and closer I get. Patience…

It seems to me that everything in life requires patience, so why not start affirming and cultivating that quality as much as possible? I’d love to hear more, “I am becoming more and more patient every day,” or “I had a lot of patient moments today,” or “Waiting in this line gives me the opportunity to practice patience.”

I am so grateful that patience has come “easily” to me, as I think it has saved me a lot of unwanted suffering. I am also grateful to know where I am in relation to patience, and that is, STILL LEARNING.

Yesterday we played a game in my English class where we had to pick the best word for patience, either “caveman” or “director”. My first idea was “director”, because naturally, we are evolving and we must be getting better at patience. Then I realised how undistracted we must have been during the time of cavemen. They REALLY had to be patient.
I am learning a lot about patience with this project. Patience with other people, patience with the flow of money, patience with the creative process, patience with my own expectations and limits…patience in a LOT of areas. Antoni Gaudi’s spirit helps me when I feel unnerved or impatient. His greatest work, La Sagrada Familia, is projected to be finished somewhere around 100 years after he died…People always ask, “Why has it taken so long?”, and the reason is mostly surprising to me…It has to be built purely from the hearts of the people, from their contributions. No big companies or brands can sponsor the building of it. At least this is what I have understood…
May each of us grow more patient each day and enjoy the process. Good things take time, they say, and in my experience, it’s mostly been true.

El Proceso…(The Process…)

art Posted on Wed, January 06, 2016 07:18PM

(English below)
¡Hola Mentes Libres!

¡Feliz 2016!
Esperamos que estéis muy bien y que estén cumpliendo vuestr@s deseos. 🙂

Este blog es el primero del año y quisimos empezarlo explicando os el proceso que hace Carlos para crear un dibujo para una carta. Esperamos que os guste.

Primer paso:
Pensar y hablar de lo que vamos a usar para captar la palabra y cualidad que queremos transmitir. Esta parte puede durar bastante porque los conceptos que estamos usando son muchas veces muy difíciles de dibujar. A veces decidimos una escena y nos damos cuenta de que esta transmitiendo otra cosa que no queremos transmitir. Por ejemplo, para “Ser Paciente”… La idea vino a Carlos de dibujar a un niño o niña esperando en la cola en el supermercado y de repente se dio cuenta de que esa imagen también enseña el consumismo. Pensamos que podríamos ser mas pensativ@s y llegar a otro ejemplo para “Ser Paciente”. ¡Y lo conseguimos!

Segundo paso:
Hacer esbozos de lo que va a aparecer en la carta.

Tercer paso:
Dibujarlo en lápiz y revisarlo.

Cuarto paso:
Dibujarlo en bolígrafo.

Quinto paso:

Este proceso también depende de la energía creativa que nunca se puede predecir.
En la baraja que estamos creando ahora, habrán 23 dibujos originales para las cartas, el dibujo que irá detrás de cada carta, el dibujo de la carta, y los dibujos del expositor.

¡Carlos esta a punto de acabar los últimos dos dibujos de las cartas y estamos muy emocionad@s! Pronto empezará a colorearlos. Deséanos mucha calma y inspiración para esa fase muy importante. Gracias por todo vuestro apoyo siempre. 🙂

Jaime y Carlos

Hello Free Minds!

Happy 2016!
We hope that you are all doing very well and that your dreams are all coming true!

This is our first blog post of the year and we’d like to start off 2016 by explaining the process behind the production of the cards to you. We hope that you enjoy it!

First step:
Thinking and talking about the imagery that will be used to transmit the word and value that we want to share. This phase can take a while because it can be very challenging to draw some of the concepts that we want to present. Sometimes we decide on one scene, and then we realize that it’s also transmitting something that we don’t necessarily want to focus on. For example, with “Be Patient”, Carlos had the idea of drawing a child waiting in line at the supermarket. Then he thought, “That’s also conveying consumerism…” We thought that we could be more creative and come up with something else for “Be Patient”. And with a little time and patience, we did!

Second step:
Carlos sketches until he gets what we want to use on the card.

Third step:
Pencil drawing of the image is made and then it’s revised.

Fourth step:
Drawing is done in ink.

Fifth step:
Color is added.

This process also depends on the creative inspiration, which is never predictable. In the deck that we are currently designing, there will be 23 original drawings, the drawing that will go on the back of each card, the drawing for the box and the drawings for the display.

Carlos is just about to finish the last two drawings for the cards! We are super excited and can’t wait to start the coloring process! Please wish us much peace and inspiration for this next very important phase! Thank you for all of your support always! 🙂

Love and Blessings,
Jaime and Carlos

Entering the Now…

meditation Posted on Wed, December 30, 2015 11:23PM

Hello lovely beings!

Entering the now…How does one “enter the now”? It always strikes me that we have to ask ourselves just that…HOW? There are endless possibilities to the answer to that question. I shall offer one very simple one that takes almost zero effort or training. Check and see if you are breathing.

This fast, easy and universal practice will put you directly into the moment. Are you breathing in this moment? How about now? And now? You can put your attention on the air that goes in and out of your nose, on your chest or belly that rises and falls, or whatever feels best and natural to you that connects you to the awareness of your respiration.

I know, it sounds silly, too simple, but really, this is a giant step in becoming fully aware of each passing moment, becoming completely conscious of everything that you think, feel and do. Why do we want to do this? Why are we hearing more and more about mindfulness and meditation these days? Because this is one of the greatest universal ways to end suffering for ourselves and our planet. We have the power to change the way we think, feel and act. One of the powerful tools we have been given is that of our mind and our will to control it.

This simple exercise that can be done at any place, at any time, that costs nothing and that virtually anyone that is breathing and has sense of it can do is transforming the lives of millions of people all around the planet at this very moment. Every time that you put your attention on your breath, you break the cylce of obsessive thought that is usually controlling your mind’s attention. When you consciously put your attention on your breathing, your life force, you gain authentic power. You begin to create new habit patterns of the mind and amazing benefits come along with these new patterns. Some of those benefits are more clarity; better and quicker decision making; greater focus and concentration; healthier relationships; healthier bodies and minds; emotional stability; less dependency on substances, technology and people; and more overall happiness and well-being.

This can be (and must be, in my opinion) taught to kids as soon as they are old enough to communicate. I teach my students this technique in my classes, starting at age three. Before each class, we spend one minute with our eyes closed, our backs and necks straight, training our minds to focus on the incoming and outgoing breath. We don’t try to control our breathing, we just watch it and see what it’s doing. Is it fast, slow, long, short? Does our mind wander a lot? Do we have to return to the breath many times? The important thing is that we do it before every class and we train our minds to focus on our life force, our breathing, with patience and persitence.

There is an excellent program for schools called Quiet Time that you can check out here. They give a great guide and set of resources for introducing meditation and present moment awareness to school children.

This is the best way I could think of to wish you all a lovely and healthy 2016. This tool that requires nothing but a moment’s attention is the best gift you could ever give another living soul. Let’s give it to the children so they don’t have too many negative patterns to break! They can just build on good healthy patterns! That’s where the good decisions will come from. That’s how our political system will change. Empower them with their own power! Happy 2016!

See you next year! (In the moment)

Love and Blessings,
Jaime (and Carlos)

¡Gracias Por Existir!

inspiration Posted on Wed, December 23, 2015 11:10PM

Hola and Hello beautiful beings!

We are here again to let you know what we’re up to and to wish you all a happy entrance into the sweet season of winter! (For those of you that are experiencing winter, of course! 🙂 )

We have been busy as bees spreading the word about our project and we had the delightful opportunity to have a stand at Collaboration Station last Sunday and took part in a magical display of art and talent! We spoke with many different unique souls about what we are doing at SimpleMentesLibres and had the special chance to share the drawings for the cards with many people in person! We were also selling our handmade accessories to raise funds for our goal! Thank you to Abi and everyone who helped make the event happen!

We are in Málaga (and Sevilla) for the holidays with Carlos’ family where we plan to spread more awareness of our ventures with people! We’ll be in touch again after the holidays to update you all with our news.

We’ll leave you with our wishes for this holiday season!
We wish peace and happiness for the hearts and minds of all beings.
We wish equality and freedom for everyone.
We wish compassion and understanding for every person on earth.
We wish food, shelter, clean water and comfort in abundance for every living soul.
We wish healthy communication and emotional well-being for anyone with a heartbeat.
We wish good health to you and yours!
May all beings be happy and may our world reflect it in every way.
We wish you and all beings complete security and trust in yourselves and the universe.
May peace be with us all. We all derserve it!
Gracias por existir.
Merry Christmas!

Love Always,
Jaime and Carlos

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