Since the film Bucket List came out in 2007, most of us haven’t just heard of bucket lists, we’ve got one. Mine includes: traveling internationally, getting over my irrational fear of karaoke, and finishing a book I started writing years ago.
Bucket lists reflect our unique dreams and desires, which makes them deeply personal. They’re also inspirational: They remind us of what we want to accomplish and of the qualities we hope to honor more fully before we die. In my case, we’re talking about adventure, creativity and overcoming challenges, to name but a few. Viewed through the lenses of doing (what we want to experience) and being (who we aspire to be) bucket lists aren’t just a boon to our personal growth. They also benefit our romantic relationships.
Research shows that trying new things together reinforces relationship happiness. Novelty not only provides more ways for us to connect, it gives us a new, and renewed, perspective on our partners.
For couples, creating and checking items off a bucket list energizes your relationship.
How do you go about creating a couples bucket list? Start with these three questions.
- What new experiences and adventures do we yearn to have with each other?
- What do we want to create together as a couple?
- Who do I most want to be in our relationship?
Feel free to answer these questions jointly. Or you can respond separately and then compare notes, highlighting areas of overlap. Focus on the big picture if you notice differences. For example, don’t assume that your wish for more romance and your partner’s interest in a course on Tantric sex mean you don’t agree. My guess is you share a desire for more intimacy, maybe passion, too. So ask yourselves:
What might be possible for me, and for us, if I tried what my partner suggests?
Unlike items on our most common to-do list — buy milk, pay bills, etc — it’s easy to defer our relationship bucket list (and our individual one, too) to some vague future. “We’ll explore our sensuality after our kids leave home,” we tell ourselves, or “we’ll take a cross-country road-trip after we retire.”
By Madame Noire
From Single Black Male
I was able to catch “The Best Man: Holiday” on opening night with my homegirl. Upon leaving the theater she said something that struck me. Without giving anything away, she was amazed at how a man could love a woman so strongly. She was so amazed that she told me that she thinks a man should love a woman more than a woman should love a man.
To be frank, I think we’ve all heard this before. I know that I have, and I also realized that I never paid it much attention. It was at this moment where I simply thought “no.” This couldn’t possibly be right. Let me tell you why.
I TOLD MY FRIEND THAT I THINK HER PHILOSOPHY IS ONLY SHAPED BY HER PAST EXPERIENCES.
None of us are strangers to relationships in which we may have given more than the other person. To ever say that one person should love one more than the other only speaks to a paranoia we have. In a relationship, we have a paranoia of not wanting to experience that hurt again. In that mindset, we formulate defensive schemes like this. Either we think of it ourselves, or our elders lend their two cents on the issue. Regardless of the source, this idea comes from a place where maybe too much thinking is going on. Sometimes it does pay to experience new relationships in the moment. Give new experiences a fair chance. It’s the only way to remain fair to your partner.
I told my homegirl that if she asked a happily married couple who loved who more, they wouldn’t have an answer. I know what it is to be in love. At no time while being in love did I have a chance to think if I loved my lady more than she loved me. It was irrelevant. I simply knew I loved and that I loved as hard as I knew how to. For a woman to say that a man should love her more says to me that she’s pulling back.
IF YOU’RE PULLING BACK AND ARE STILL WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO SHOW MORE LOVE THAN YOU DO, IT ISN’T FAIR.
Your whole relationship is no longer balanced. I’m no expert, but I don’t think that this philosophy will solve your issue either. You could argue that you’re being just as unfair as the person who may have hurt you in the past.
My boyfriend Nick and I recently made a new relationship rule: as soon as either of us feels any inkling of a bad mood coming on, we tell each other ASAP. Just a quick heads up, like, “Hey, I’m feeling a little irritable right now.” Announcing your bad mood before it causes a problem lets your partner know they shouldn’t take any crankiness personally, and forces you to be accountable for your own emotions. This is such a quick, easy thing to do, but it has worked wonders for our relationship. The success of the Bad Mood Rule inspired me to compile a list of other quick, easy tips that just might save your relationship. Read on for 10 more ideas from The Frisky ladies and me, and please feel free to add your own tips in the comments!
1. Check yourself before you project yourself. When you start feeling upset or resentful, stop to ask yourself what’s going on inside of yourself before taking it out on the other person. Seriously, 99% of the time your issue isn’t even with your partner; you’re just projecting something onto them. A little self-reflection goes a long way.
2. Schedule some alone time. Make sure both of you are getting a little time alone to relax and recharge: even 15 minutes can make a huge difference. Also, if you tend be really social as a couple, make sure to schedule alone time together (sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not!) as well, where you can just focus on each other without extra people around.
3. Wait til after dinner to turn the TV on. For awhile Nick and I got in the habit of eating dinner while watching TV, and then we’d keep watching TV after dinner, and it was possible to go a whole evening without really talking to each other. Sad, right? Now we eat dinner at the table and talk BEFORE heading to the to zone out with “Parks and Rec.”
4. Shower together. If you’re both busy (and who isn’t?!), showering as a couple can give you extra time to connect without any distractions except some sexy soap lather.
5. Have all your important conversations face to face. Or on the phone if face-to-face is absolutely impossible. But never on IM or text or email. Communicating will be clearer, more respectful, and more positive if you do it in person. It also gives you the chance to touch or hold hands during intense moments, which can change the course of an entire interaction.
6. Never pass up the chance to cuddle. Physical affection is so, so important in any intimate relationship, and in this age of constant distractions, it sometimes takes a concerted effort to make sure it happens frequently and meaningfully. If your partner gives you a hug, take a second to lean into their chest and enjoy that moment. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (or set your alarm 15 minutes earlier) to give yourselves time to cuddle before you fall asleep or when you first wake up. It’s the best way to start and end the day.
7. Don’t wait for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas to buy or make each other little gifts. If you see a little something that reminds you of your partner, get it for them. If you feel like making them a special dinner, do it. One of my favorite sayings is “Never resist a impulse,” and that is doubly true in romantic relationships. It creates a feeling of spontaneity and generosity that lasts all year long.
8. Switch up your routine. If you always lay in bed on Sunday morning, go jogging instead. If you always go to happy hour on Thursdays, stay in and make cocktails instead. Take turns planning surprise dates. Switching up your routine keeps you on your toes as a couple and helps prevent the worst enemy of romance: stagnancy.
9. Don’t ever put your partner down. This is so random, but I remember reading a Reba McEntire interview in a dentist office magazine many years ago and it kind of changed my life. She was explaining the demise of her first marriage and said something like, “We didn’t respect each other. If you don’t have respect, you have nothing.” Preach, Reba! This advice is so simple, and so true. Relationships often take on a negative tinge as people get comfortable with each other. Playful teasing can turn cruel. Cute habits become pet peeves. But it’s never too late to change the script: make a vow to never put your partner down–about the way they look, the way they live their lives, their little quirks, anything.
10. Spend a minute looking at each other before bed. At the end of yet another long, crazy day, it’s tempting to start snoring as soon as you hit the , but try to take a moment to face each other and look into your partner’s eyes, really look. It’s amazing how much closer this little exercise can make you feel.
Summer isn’t just a break for kids, it can be a break from kids. For many parents, summer is a time when kids head off to camp or spend more time away from the house with friends. With the slower pace of summer and the extra time off parenting duty, it’s the ideal time for couples to focus on themselves. Here are a few tips from Stephanie Manes, licensed couples therapist, for making the most of the season to add some heat back into your relationship:
Summer is a time when you can get away with sneaking off from work for a little play. And let’s face it, there’s something naughty but especially fun about checking out when the rest of the world is working. So make an extra long lunch date, or take the afternoon off, and indulge. Whether it’s heading off to the park with books or heading home for something more private, it will make you feel like kids again.
Summer is a great time to share outdoor activities. The sense of common interests, connecting in novel ways, sharing experience — it is all vital to a relationship. If you make it physical, you get the added bonus of being in your bodies, which can translate to your intimate life.
Remember all the novel things you tried in the summer? Whether archery or canoeing, summer seems to give kids permission to expand their horizons of activity and pleasure. You can bring this same sense of exploration and freedom to you and your partner. Try a dance class, a boating lesson, cooking or photography…. the point is to spend pleasure time seeing yourselves and each other with fresh eyes.
The warmth and languid rhythm of long summer nights invite seduction. Take advantage of the mood to get in touch with your own sensual side. This might mean wearing the sundress when you would usually wear shorts, or inviting her to sit outside with a glass of wine to catch the last bit of light. Or lingering a bit longer in cool sheets. Get creative and stretch out the long days and hot nights into your own window of intimacy.
Keith Sweat (Rick Diamond/Getty Images); Steve Harvey (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Trivial advice and Twitter can turn you into the next Steve Harvey or Keith Sweat in no time.
by Tracy Clayton
(The Root) — Something amazing is happening today. Your favorite musical icons from the 1990s are putting down the microphones and picking up the pens (or paying someone to do it for them) and writing books giving relationship advice aimed primarily at black women.
The success of Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man is well-known, Keith Sweat’s Make It Last Forever has sold more than 4 million copies and Tyrese and Rev Run’s Manology is all over cyberspace. But these guys kind of cheated; they were already famous before they started peddling relationship advice, so it makes sense that their book sales would soar. How can you — mild-mannered, everyday citizen sitting at home at your computer — follow in their footsteps and become a relationship expert, too?
You’re in luck! I’m an expert on relationship experts, and it would be my pleasure to guide you through the process. Like Rev Run, Tyrese, Keith and Steve, you’ll need a flock to whom you can feed your infinite wisdom, and the best place to do that? Twitter. Timelines are literally clogged with tweets from self-made experts, and following in their footsteps is easy. The following tips and writing suggestions are sure to gain you a huge audience hungry for your bad advice in no time!
1. No experience necessary. Did you go to school to be a marriage counselor or life coach? Are you currently in a successful relationship? Have you ever had a relationship? Can you spell the word relationship? If the answer to one or all those questions is no, no problem! Not a single person will ask you for your credentials before jumping on your bandwagon and retweeting your wisdom from here to the moon. If it makes you feel better, you can twirl three times in a circle and say, “bippety boppity boo” before declaring yourself a relationship expert, but it’s not mandatory. All you have to do is tack the title onto your Twitter profile and/or stick it on some business cards. Ta-da!
2. Point out the obvious. This is especially important at the beginning of your career as a relationship expert. In making painfully obvious statements such as “Love is great!” “Cheating is bad!” and “A man who loves you will not beat you,” you create the illusion that you know something.This will come in handy when you go off the deep end later in your career.
3. Blanket statements are your friend. A goodrelationship counselor would probably consider each individual on a case-by-case basis, realizing that all men, women and relationships are different. But do you want to be a good relationship expert or a popular one? Hint: There is more notoriety, infamy and money in being a popular one.
So, remember: All women do this, all men do that. “All men want …” “When a woman does this, this is what it means …” Sure, it’s inaccurate and problematic, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, am I right?
4. Everything is totally her fault. Remember your cash crop: lonely, vulnerable black women. Their exploitation means lots of attention and hopefully some big bucks for you. In order to exploit them properly, you must let them know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that their loneliness is their fault. You can do this by focusing only on women, their flaws and what they need to do to keep their men, rather than advising men on how to be suitable mates. If he beats you, it’s because you let him. If he cheats on you, it’s because you’re not keeping his interest. If he won’t marry you, it’s because you gave up the cookie too quickly. No matter the angle you choose, the running theme should be “Black woman, what are you doing wrong? Here, let me tell you.” It’s proven pretty profitable for others.
5. “You’re nobody until somebody marries you.” Lucky for you, women are already bred to believe thatfinding a man, keeping a man and marrying that man is their sole purpose in life, so half the work has been done for you. For black women, who experience high rates of single motherhood (54 percent of black children in America live in single-parent homes), it is helpful to beat them over the head with this point to show them how badly they need your help and guidance. Dangle the promise of a wedding ring in front of their noses like a carrot before a horse so they’ll follow you anywhere and pay you anything to get it.
Sure, you could preach to men about the merits of marrying the women they love, but why? Remember: This isn’t about men. It’s about women and how everything is their fault. Instruct your critics to address all hate mail to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Shame is a profitable tool; properly used, many black women will internalize this message and even help you in your plight.
6. Be clever! People love colorful language. If you’re witty enough, they may just ignore the stupidity in what it is that you’re saying. Tweeting the occasional corny one-liner is a great way to get people on your side (extra points if it rhymes!). And if the entire Internet doesn’t fall at your feet the first time, tweet it again. And again. And again.
7. Ignore your dissenters. Undoubtedly, you’ll amass quite a collection of people who may disagree with you or ask you to clarify or defend your points (known colloquially as “haters”). The way to deal with them: Don’t. Take extra care only to engage those who agree with everything you say; those who demand common sense and substance clearly do not have your best interest at heart. A hit dog will always holler — if anyone has anything dissenting to say, then you’ve clearly touched a nerve. Or, you’ve just said something stupid. Either way, don’t acknowledge that and mess up a good thing.
8. Go crazy! Forget who you may be hurting with your divisive, one-sided, sexist advice. Controversy is what will get you those retweets and, eventually, that book deal. So once you have a good following, go all in. The crazier the better. Here are some ideas:
* A real woman sleeps in her makeup just in case her man sees her in his dreams.
* “Woman is more aggressive and assertive, but when you love her correctly she recoils to her natural form as Adam’s rib.”
* Don’t buy your woman too many shoes; she just might walk out of your life.
* “Ladies: Carry dignity and respect everywhere you go! Leave carrying condoms to the women who need it everywhere they go.”
* If he hasn’t given you his Facebook password, he hasn’t really given you the password to his heart.
* “Ladies’ Tip: Your little black dress will win every argument.”
The possibilities are endless!
Now you’ve got the basics. Go start a Twitter account, take a picture of yourself looking smart with your fist under your chin and hit the tweets running! You’ll be as successful as Keith Sweat in no time.
by Nathan Feiles
Relationship breakups are tough. They are emotionally exhausting, and can be incapacitating at times. For some who begin to dwell in regret and sadness, breakups can even spiral into depression. Even the breakups that make the most logical sense are still emotionally painful. And in fact, it is the emotional — not logical — part of ourselves that causes us to dwell in these relationships that we may logically know are not healthy for us.
While a grieving period is expected after a breakup, as breakups are a form of loss, it can be easy to get caught in an emotionally harmful pattern if we don’t actively push ourselves forward in our lives.
So how do we emotionally get through a breakup and also move forward in an emotionally healthy manner?
7 Tips for Getting Over a Breakup
1. Make plans.
Social interaction is one of the keys to moving forward after a breakup. Isolation often leads to being consumed by emotions and thoughts that exacerbate our sadness and upset. Schedule plans in advance to see friends or family at least a few times during the week and weekends, especially if you live alone, and be sure to follow through with them. If you feel you don’t want to be around anyone, which can be common after a breakup, this is the time to act opposite of the urge. Push yourself to interact with people and prevent a pattern of loneliness and depression.
2. Be aware of the rebound.
Breakups often are a time of intense emotional vulnerability. We are seeking stability. When we feel we can’t internally create it, it is quite possible to engage in unhealthy new relationships that cover up healthy relationship grieving.
While at first the replacement relationship brings a sense of euphoria, the unresolved emotions from the previous relationship often return, creating a more complicated and confusing emotional environment. If you find yourself falling into a new and exciting relationship too soon, you could be experiencing a rebound.
3. Participate in hobbies.
Hobbies are a positive way to keep from dwelling in sadness and forming negative patterns. Whether it’s doing a puzzle, going to museums, gardening, bowling, reading, or whatever it is you enjoy doing, allow yourself to create time and space for them. Be sure to include social hobbies as well as individual ones.
4. Keep up daily self-care routines.
It is also important to remember to take care of your daily needs when dealing with a breakup. Go to the gym, jog, swim, walk, cook, etc. Some may feel less motivated to grocery shop, prepare meals, eat, or shower after a breakup. These may require some extra effort at times, but push yourself to continue your daily routines as before.
5. Don’t overwork.
Some might say that throwing yourself into work is a great distraction from a breakup. However, overworking often is an emotionally avoidant behavior. Overworking may allow us to avoid sadness or loneliness because we are busy; however, it creates an imbalance in our lives as well as a negative pattern that can be tough to break. (Decreasing the work to regain more personal time later becomes difficult.) Work as you would normally work, and reserve those other hours in the day for self-care, hobbies, and social plans that you’ll hopefully be continuing or increasing into your week.
6. Set a daily time limit for grieving.
Each person grieves a loss differently. There is no actual time limit for grieving. However, there is a difference between healthy grieving and dwelling in regret and sorrow. Some could spend months consumed by guilt and sadness if we allow ourselves to.
As we move forward, it is still important to acknowledge our pain and other emotions we may feel as the result of a significant breakup. Set a time each day that you will allow yourself to reflect, feel, and process your relationship loss. Setting a timer is helpful for this. I would recommend no more than 20-30 minutes a day, and have an activity scheduled to immediately follow this time.
7. Seek professional help.
Some people feel ashamed and embarrassed that a breakup is consuming or impacting them, especially when the ex-partner is considered “not worth it.” But breakups are painful! We put time, effort, hope, emotion, and much more into our relationships.
Seeing a therapist to process the residual emotions and thoughts is a healthy way to deal with a breakup, especially if you’re feeling guilt, regret or starting to dwell in sadness.Breakups are rarely going to be easy; however, with healthy tools and motivation, we can heal.
by Mariah Craddick
If you were one of the people who helped Think Like A Man gross over $91 million during its run in theaters, then get excited.
The movie’s sequel, which will be called Think Like A Man Too, is set to hit the big screen May 30, 2014, according to Shadow and Act. While the film based off of Steve Harvey’s best-selling relationship book will be produced by the same producer (Will Packer) and written by the same writers (Keith Merryman and David A. Newman), it has yet to be seen whether the entire cast will return.
Think Like A Man Too is supposedly shooting before the end of this year so we will find out soon enough.
by Serena Wadhwa Psy.D., LCPC, CADC
FAIRYTALE: Some couples just seem to have the perfect marriage, so I often compare my relationship to theirs
and end up feeling like it doesn’t measure up. Why don’t I have that “perfect marriage?”
REALITY: It’s easy to believe that the public magical moments we see of a marriage are all of what that marriage
has. However, no marriage, no matter how enchanting it seems, is perfect. Each marriage has its ups and downs
and it’s important to recognize that each partner is a real individual with different goals, dreams, situations, issues,
and not a made up fantasy. All marriages do have magical moments; it’s working towards creating more of them
that’s important. It’s important not to compare your marriage to someone else’s because each situation is different.
You don’t know what that couple’s marriage is like in the privacy of their own home. You may not even know the
real reasons why the marriage occurred. When you compare your marriage to someone else’s, you are denying
yourself the opportunity to see the reality of your own situation.
We cannot magically want something to occur in our reality without some work on our part. Look at what aspects
of your marriage are you comparing. For example, if you are comparing the romance in your marriage to the
romance in your friend’s marriage, what is it about her romance that you want more of in your marriage? Once you
determine what specifically you want more of (surprises, candlelight dinners, dates, etc.) you can begin developing
a plan to get it. If you want more magical moments, talk with your partner about what these magical moments are
and how the two of you can go about creating them.
FAIRYTALE: We won’t have any money issues because we know that’s not the most important factor in a lasting
marriage. So why is it that seems to be all we argue about?
REALITY: All of us have an idealized version of our fairy tale wedding. We want it to be perfect and everything
else that goes with it, including the marriage. We want to believe that once we have that fairy tale wedding, spared
no expense, there is nothing more we need to do. Yet some believe that the more money invested in the wedding,
the more it means that each partner is invested in the marriage. This is an erroneous belief. Sparing no expense for
a wedding does little in planning the marriage itself. Money does become one of the most frequently argued about
topics in marriages. After the ceremony itself, the bills are still left to be paid. This can cause frustration, stress, and
arguments between individuals who love each other to the death. The reality is that if you are not investing in the
marriage, chances are you’ll hit more that your share of rough patches. It doesn’t have to be the poisoned apple
that puts your marriage to sleep, but the point is, you need to focus on planning the marriage more than planning
the wedding. No magic wand can get you out of a rut, no matter how much you wish for it.
FAIRYTALE: I know that getting married will fulfill every need, desire, wish and fantasy that I have.
REALITY: No one person fulfills all of someone’s desires, needs and wishes. Even for Cinderella, she needed
certain mice to be the horses and other mice to be the coachmen. No one mouse could do all that. Snow White
had seven different dwarfs that had their individual functions. No one dwarf could do all that. It works the same way
for individuals. We can’t expect one person to take on all that responsibility. This is why it’s important to have a
good support circle of friends and family, as each person can fulfill something you need. For example, you may
have one friend that you can talk to about certain issues, but there is another friend that’s the fun one when you
want to hang out and relax. The same is true of your spouse. While your spouse is the primary person you may turn
to, he/she cannot be the only person you have. It may create an unhealthy relationship. It’s important to keep in
mind that while Prince Charming can perhaps read minds, your spouse cannot. If you need or want something, let it
be known. Communication is an important skill in a good marriage.
FAIRYTALE: Married people have less satisfying sex lives, and less sex, than single people.
REALITY: According to a national study, the reality is that married individuals have better and more satisfying sex
than do singles and unmarried couples. In fact, there are numerous benefits for married individuals than for those
who are single. Research indicated that married couples (provided they have married the “right person”) have better
psychological health, live longer, may make more money, and experience less domestic violence. In a long-term
commitment, most individuals want to please their partners, as it contributes to the satisfaction experienced. In
marriage, there is a higher level of commitment and a greater sense of trust and security. These factors contribute
to the higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
FAIRYTALE: Cohabitation is just like marriage, but without “the piece of paper.”
REALITY: While we may wishfully believe that cohabiting is similar to being married, this is not true. What some
research indicates, is that those who cohabitate experience increased levels of marital unhappiness and possible
divorce than those who do not cohabitate before marriage. Part of what may contribute to this is that when a couple
gets “the piece of paper” there is a stronger commitment and investment that occurs. Each individual is more
invested in keeping the marriage healthy. There is also more thought given to the partner’s input, thoughts, wants,
when any major decision is being made. In cohabitation, this is not necessarily the case. Couples who live together
but have not gone that extra step to solidify the relationship, usually do not give equal consideration to their partner
when major decisions occur. There is still some psychological separation that exists, without “that piece of paper.”
Additionally, research indicates that the benefits of cohabitation, while better than for those who are single, do not
reach the benefits that couples who are married experience.
by The Lovers Rocque, Ebony
After brainstorming with Mr. Rocque about what this week’s post would be about, we decided to go with Spring Cleaning… but with a relationship twist. It’s always good to chat with your partner about where you’ve been and where you’re headed, so here are some things we thought about in terms of what we could do better. So far we’re in a really good space, but there’s always room for improvement.
1. I still pop pimples. You can read about that harassment here, but let’s just say it’s a problem that I haven’t gotten better at resolving. I still terrorize Mr. Rocque by attempting to pop pimples every chance I get (because he gets the best ones). I know it’s gross (judge me, shrug), but it’s fun. It still drives him insane, but I can’t promise that I’ll ever stop. I’ll try to cut down, though. Story developing…
2. Mr. Rocque still beatboxes (read same harassment story) but has gotten much better. Mr. Rocque says he beatboxes as a way to handle stress, but then he also beatboxes when he’s in a good mood. Either way, it drives me batty. This is definitely a habit that didn’t happen until after we started dating. He got comfortable and unleashing the beats. But when I mentioned how annoying it was he made a conscious effort not to do it so much, and we’ve seen a lot of improvement. So I guess if he can do that for me, then I can work on the zit-zapping thing.
3. I’m in therapy, which I wrote about last week. It’s helping, and Mr. Rocque, after sitting in on a session with me, is considering therapy as well. He’s not as emotionally jacked up as I am (that was a joke, kind of), but again, talking to a therapist can help everyone, even people who have stigmas about going to therapy and don’t think they need it. It’s a relief and it’s rooted in solution.
4. We definitely keep each other motivated to stay fit. My influence on Mr. Rocque has been helpful in terms of what he eats. He’s still devastated that American “cheese” isn’t really cheese. (I’m no expert, so take that how you want. But do your research; it’s written right on the package). I’ve also gotten him into drinking more water (maybe one day I’ll blog about the ER dehydration scandal) and eating more whole, fresh foods. Just the other day he had an upset stomach and decided to physically fold himself up in a position that wouldn’t help, so I instructed him in a yoga move to ease his pain and it worked.
Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/love-sex/relationship-spring-cleaning-348#ixzz2NEL86z2U
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