The GoodWorks Manifesto

Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.

The Greatest of These…

Good Morning, Loved Ones!


When we think about the type of people we want and ought to be, are considering the qualities and behaviors our idealized selves should embody, it is highly unlikely that “self-centered” and “arrogant” ever make the list. To just about every reasonable, right-thinking person, these labels are deeply insulting, and are considered terrible character flaws.

While no one I know is ever like this all the time, I believe we are guilty of them some of the time. We let our guard slip, we become a little to entranced with our own achievements, we feel we deserve some recognition or it’s ‘finally our turn’. But for whatever the reason, we behave in an arrogant or self-serving fashion, and too late we realize that damage has been done to the relationships around us.

These and similar flaws stem from the sin of Pride. (I use the word sin not to evangelize, but for lack of a better word.) Pride, as many of us know, is considered the greatest of sins, because it represents a pre-occupation with ourselves. (Theologically, this means we are not giving due glory to our Creator.) But if we look deeper, what is the cause of this great failing?

In his book, “Broken Gods: Hope, Healing and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart”, Gregory Popcak, Ph.D. tells us that Pride is a broken response to the human desire for abundance. Every one of us was born with the desire for abundance. This desire goes beyond the mere longing for material goods, and includes a living a full, meaningful and rewarding life filled with rich relationships. An abundant life, by its very nature, cannot be created alone.

Pride, however, is the distorted belief that I, and I alone have the ability to create such a life. It has us believe that we alone can determine what a living a full, meaningful and rewarding life truly means. Pride has us believe that if we put others forward, we will somehow cheat ourselves. It tells us that if I am to have a full, meaningful life, I must put myself first and use any advantage I can to that end.

A truly abundant life however, is comprised of three things; Meaningfulness, Intimacy and Virtue.

How do we create meaningfulness, intimacy and virtue is our lives? The answer is Humility.

Like most people, I struggled with what humility really means. I think most of us picture being humble as cringing obsequiously through life, refusing to speak well about ourselves nor never taking credit for anything we achieve. And I for one, struggled mightily with that. (Hey. I’m pretty awesome.) But then I discovered something written by C.S. Lewis that made me realize I was laboring under a false delusion.

“Humility is not thinking less of ourselves;

It is thinking of ourselves, less.”

                                                                           ~C.S. Lewis

To find Humility, we must put other first.

Humility teaches us to use the gifts we have been given, not for ourselves, but to help others. In this, we build true Meaning. We build rewarding relationships with Intimacy, by showing others they are important to us and we want to know the truth, goodness and beauty of their lives. We discover Virtue by asking ourselves, “What did life teach me today? How can I be a better person?”

To have a joyous, meaningful and fulfilled life, a life of true Abundance, Loved Ones, the answer is simple; Live it for Others.

May your day be of Service!

Show Love. Inspire Good. Be the Light.


See also:
Mark 10:43-44
John 10:10, 13:16

Birth of a New Year

Good Morning, Loved Ones.


Welcome to the New Year!

The first day of the year, Catholics have the obligation to attend Mass to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. A Solemnity is a liturgical day of highest importance to a Catholic, superseding a Feast Day or Memorial. And while there are many feast days and celebrations of Mary throughout the year, today pays particular homage to Mary as a Mother.

Any particular proselytizing aside, today may seem more like a day for watching football or nursing a hangover if last night was particularly rowdy. However, there is an extremely beautiful spiritual significance in celebrating Mother Mary on the first day of the year (in the heart of the Christmas season). Pope Paul VI wrote in his apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus (1974) the Solemnity of Mary is “…a fitting occasion for renewing adoration of the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels (cf. Luke 2:14), and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of Peace.”

New Year’s Day is traditionally a time when a great number of us make numerous resolutions and set good intentions to finally get our lives in order. However, whether we mean to eat right, exercise more, stop smoking or to watch less Netflix, resolutions are usually focused on our perceived flaws. We use the impetus of a New Year’s fresh start to change what we don’t like or forgive about ourselves.

A mother loves us no matter what, without question. Even with our failures, foibles and inconsistencies, we are perfect in our mothers’ eyes.  We are loved not despite our flaws, but because of them. She sees the best in us. Our mothers love for us is nurturing, forgiving and enduring. A mother’s love is incredibly special. And so should we try to love ourselves and others, by focusing on the best in each of us.

Instead of resolutions to fix our failings, today we should create intentions to increase our graces. Perhaps to be more generous, to do more acts of kindness in the coming year, or to take more time to appreciate the beauty of nature. We can spend more time in meditation or prayer. We can set the intention to spread more joy by smiling at strangers or by listening to and encouraging others in need. We can make the intention to always look for the best in each of us.

So on this New Year’s Day, on this Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, this beginning of a New Year, forgive, nurture and love yourself. Forgive, nurture and love others. Look for the best in yourself. Look for the best in others. This New Year, focus not on your failings to be fixed, find your boons to be celebrated.


May your Day be Renewing!


Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.

Mmmm, Good.

Good Morning, Loved Ones!

In 1826, French lawyer, politician and famous gastronome, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” Literally, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” While Brillat-Savarin meant that he could determine a person’s station in life by their diet, this thought has evolved over the last couple centuries into the understanding that our diet and nutrition have a profound impact on our health and attitude and thusly shape who we are.

While most of us many of us understand this idea at some level, it can still be extremely difficult to eat right. Our busy lives cause us to choose quick convenience foods. When we’re under stress, we reach for calorie dense, sugary comfort food to soothe ourselves. During the Holidays, we take a cookie here, piece of fudge there, telling ourselves, “Hey, you only live once, right?”

However, if you’re experiencing chronic stress, or you want to slow the endless trickle of daily micro-stress, your food choices are critical. Reason being, some foods actually increase our stress levels. Processed foods like potato chips are high in fat, sugar and salt, which directly increase cortisol levels. That calming drink after work? Wrong. Alcohol also stimulates the release of cortisol.  Spicy foods may cause intestinal discomfort, which causes stress. Stress causes digestion to slow, so food sits in the stomach longer…. which may lead to acid reflux or upset stomach. Which leads to more stress. Even sugar free candy or gum, with bloat-causing artificial sweeteners can cause us to feel uncomfortable or irritable, both stressors. Probably the worst part of these foods, is the cortisol also increases food cravings. Vicious circle, indeed.  Clearly, it is important to be aware of what we are putting into our mouths.

However, as Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine.”  So, as there are foods that increase or even cause stress, so are there foods that actively reduce and fight stress.

Avocados – These creamy fruits stress-proof your body. Rich in glutathione, a substance that specifically blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage, avocados also contain lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and more folate than any other fruit. (Folate is a B vitamin that is considered a key nutrient in our health.)

Berries – Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested this by asking 120 people to give a speech, then do hard math problems. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol afterwards

Chocolate – Besides the healthy antioxidants in this treat, which push chocolate to the top of most heart-healthy food lists, it has an undeniable link to mood. A recent study from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine reports that both women and men eat more chocolate as depressive symptoms increase. There’s evidence that, in moderation, chocolate does actually make you feel better. Dark chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants—than some fruit juices

Garlic – Garlic is jam-packed with powerful antioxidants. These chemicals neutralize free radicals (particles that damage our cells, cause diseases, and encourage aging) and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage the free radicals cause over time. Among the compounds in garlic is allicin, which has been linked to fending off heart disease, cancer, and even the common cold. Because stress weakens our immune system, we need foods like garlic, which can toughen it back up.

Green Tea – While it does contain caffeine, green tea also has an amino acid called theanine. Researchers at the University of Illinois say that in addition to protecting against some types of cancer, this slimming food is a brain booster as well, enhancing mental performance. Drink two cups each day.

Oatmeal – A complex carbohydrate, oatmeal causes your brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good chemical. Not only does serotonin have antioxidant properties, it also creates a soothing feeling that helps overcome stress. Studies have shown that children who eat oatmeal for breakfast stay sharper throughout the morning. And beta-glucan, the type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal, has been shown to promote greater satiety scores than other whole grains.

Walnuts – The sweet flavor of walnuts is very pleasant, and it’s nice to know they’ve been proven to provide a bit of a cognitive edge. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. Researchers at Tufts University found that animals that ingested walnuts even reversed some signs of brain aging.



Show Love. Inspire Good. Be the Light.


May your Day be Healthy!


Good Morning, Loved Ones!

Stress, as we’ve been discussing, is pervasive as it is pernicious.  Every one of us immediately understands when we are facing an extraordinary and negative stressful event; a project is overdue, we or a family member are sick, a large bill needs to be paid. But many times, we don’t take into account the stress inducing nature of positive events or routine, common activities.

Marriage, retirement, pregnancy, and the gain of a family member (considered by almost all of us to be happy events) are in the top 20 of the Rahe-Holmes Stress Scale. Interestingly, even Christmas and vacations are on the list! While this may be of no particular surprise, even small, regular day-to-day activities or situations can add to our overall, cumulative stress. Activities that we shrug off, like a daily commute, waiting in line at the grocery store, or even being disappointed in a book or movie add to our stress. Likewise, minor experiences in our lives create and add to our stress; things like a headaches or a old, too much noise or even a messy environment.  Each of these adds a drop to our bucket, and if not managed, over time, will overflow and present itself in any number of detrimental symptoms.

For day four, I will discuss physical activity as a stress management tool.

Daily physical activity and exercise is optimal for effective stress relief. It consumes the adrenaline and cortisol that the stress reaction produces, energizes the body and relaxes the mind as the body produces dopamine (a neurotransmitter that activates the brain’s pleasure centers) and endorphin, the euphoria producing, pain-killer hormone (also the cause of the “runner’s high”.)

While many may imagine that stress-reducing exercise requires an intense weight-banging session in the gym or a multi-mile sprint, this simply isn’t the case. A simple 30-minute walk in nature, 20-30 minutes of mindful stretching, or like I mentioned in a previous post, dancing with yourself for 15-20 minutes have wonderful stress reducing benefits.

Even for people with mobility issues or stuck at a desk, stress reducing exercise can be performed while sitting down, nor requires any equipment.  (Some of you may remember Charles Atlas’ “Dynamic Tension” technique. Believe it or not, it works.) Simply tense your muscles for the body part you want to work, and while flexing your muscles as tightly as you can, perform 10-15 resistance type movements. (Imagine lifting a heavy box, pushing against a car, or pulling a great weight). I often imagine doing a push-up; while sitting at my desk, I slowly work my arms forward and back, all while keeping them as tense and tight as possible. After several reps, my heart rate has increased, my breathing quickened and my muscles have a nice glowing feel. And of course, my stress and tension have begun to ebb. The key to this is to keep your movements slow and controlled. Give it a try; I think you’ll be surprised at the results.

Whatever your performance level, engaging in daily activity will have an immediate effect on your stress. Further, as your stamina increases and your physique improves, your ability to manage stress will increase and become more efficient. And who doesn’t want that?


Show Love. Inspire Good. Be the Light.

May your day be Active!

Just say No.

Good Evening, Loved Ones!

Simply put, stress is our body’s response to a demand or threat. When we feel threatened, our systems pump out stress hormones, as I have mentioned previously, which include adrenaline and cortisol, which are the adrenal equivalent of calling a “Red Alert”. Our heart rate increases, muscles tighten, our blood pressure increases, our breathing accelerates and our senses become more acute. These physical changes increase our strength and endurance, quicken our reactions and enhance our focus. This internal mobilization of resources is the “fight or flight” response and is the body’s way of protecting us.

However, as we’ve already discussed, being in this heightened state for extended periods begins to wear us down and cause damage to our systems. (Picture an engine that races at idle and the damage this causes to the car.) Chronic stress can manifest or present in a myriad of symptoms. Mentally, too much stress can affect our memory, disrupt our ability to concentrate, cause us to have poor or hasty judgement, and cause us to fixate on and see only the negative. Further, it can (and often does) lead to anxious or racing thoughts and constant worrying.

For this third day, I want to touch on “Learning to Say No”.

A very common cause of chronic stress is having too much to do and too little time in which to do it.  Many of us however, will still agree to take on additional responsibilities or commit to extra events, even if already stretched thin. Learning to say “No” to additional or unimportant requests will help to reduce your level of stress, and may also help you develop more self-confidence.

To learn to say “No”, you need to understand why you find it difficult.  Many of us find it hard to refuse requests because we want to help, want to be liked are trying to be good, supportive people. For some, it can even be a fear of conflict, rejection or possibly missing out on opportunities.

It is important to remember however, that we create these barriers to saying “No” ourselves. At first, we might feel hesitant to respond to a request with a straight “No”. To surmount this, it is helpful to have some prepared phrases to let other people down more gently. Some examples are:

“I am sorry but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”                           
“Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something.  Why don’t you ask me again at….?”
“I’d love to do this, but …”



With practice, you will find your self-confidence and assertiveness increasing, that you will have time for those things that truly matter to you, and ultimately, your stress will be reduced and your enjoyment for life will grow and grow.


Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.


May your Evening be Clear!

Ticking Away…

Good Morning, Loved Ones…

Stress, especially chronic stress, is especially pernicious. Excessive stress can create physical circumstances in our lives that start a downward spiral, a literal feed-back loop that pulls us even deeper into poor-health and deleterious effects.

Stress causes the body to produce cortisol, a hormone that put simply, causes the body to produce more glucose; like adrenaline, glucose is useful if one is in a flight or fight situation. While cortisol has other useful functions in the body for normal metabolism, in excessive amounts, it can slow wound healing, exacerbate aches and pains, and increase the creation of panniculus (abdominal fat).

Further, as we gain weight, reduce our activity, have poor sleep patterns, and generally hurt more, we experience increasing amounts of stress as we produce more cortisol than we can metabolize, never adequately reset and bring ourselves back to “normal”. We find ourselves at risk of or dealing with issues like migraines, chronic fatigue and pain, or even diabetes.  Like I said, stress is pernicious.

That is why it is critical we actively, consciously engage in behaviors to manage our stress.

For day two in this seven-day series on stress and stress reduction, I will discuss Time Management.

The most precious resource each of us has is Time. With the modern human’s extremely full, busy schedule, the misuse or wasting of Time can (and does) create a very stressful personal environment. (In studies, typically only Financial worries factor larger as a source of stress.)

Time Management doesn’t have to be complex, nor does it require an involved system of calendars, day planners, and apps. (Although if these work for you, great!) A simple system of prioritizing activities and goals is usually enough to begin effectively managing your time, increasing a sense of accomplishment and reducing time based stress in our lives.

To start draw a box and divide it into four quadrants.

Across the top label the first column “Urgent” and the second column “Not Urgent”.

On the side, label the first row “Important” and the bottom row “Not Important”.

  • Items that go in the Urgent/Important box are Crises. These include Urgent Meetings, Imminent Deadlines (term paper due at 8am!), Health Issues, and Past Due Bills.
  • Items that go in Not Urgent/Important are Goals and Planning. These include things like Issue Prevention (ie. Car maintenance, retirement planning), Project Planning (next summer’s vacation, writing that novel, organizing classwork), Paying Bills and Preventative Health Care. You should include things that are also personally important.
  • Items that go into Urgent/Not Important are Interruptions. These include immediate response to email or text messages, answering every phone call, or chatting with co-workers.
  • Items that are Not Urgent/Not Important are considered Distractions. These include time spent on Social Media, Excessive TV or Internet time, or excessive text or email checking.

Urgent/Important items are a direct source of stress and should be handled immediately.

Not Important/Urgent items lead to exhaustion, feeling stuck in the mud and burn-out. The key is to control interruptions by scheduling a regular time to respond to emails, calls or texts, and being willing to inform people that they are interrupting you and scheduling a time to talk.

Not Important/Not Urgent items should only be engaged in in small, timed doses. It’s too easy to lose an hour or more checking Facebook, reading every link, playing games. Set a timer on your phone for 20-30 minutes, then stop when it goes off and get back to what matters. While we can rationalize that time spent in these activities is “relaxing”, it is not the case when it takes away from what is important in our lives.  When engaging in distractions, be mindful of what you are doing, where you are spending your time and when you are doing it. If every minute were a $1, and you only had $60, would you spend $30 on Facebook when you knew that big project for work would cost $45? Of course not.

Important/Not Urgent items is where we need to maximize our time. Addressing tasks before they become crises prevents the stress caused by things being Urgent/Important.  By working on goals that are important to us, we create a personal sense of accomplishment and control. In so doing, we are engaging in behaviors and activities that effectively control and reduce our sources of stress. And ultimately, we discover we are living happier, richer, healthier, more fulfilling lives.


Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.


May your day be Organized!


Good Morning, Loved Ones!

December, as we all know, can be a very hectic, overwhelming month. Between our normal daily activities, preparing for the Holidays, travel, inclement weather and a lack of enough sunlight (at least here in the North), we can quickly find ourselves suffering the effects of being chronically stressed.

Indications that we are suffering from too much stress include headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, restlessness, or sleeping too much or too little. We can also feel sadness, a lack of motivation, anxiety or anger. Too much stress can cause us to change our eating habits (too much or too little), have angry outbursts, withdraw socially or turn to drugs or alcohol to “cope”. If we are not prepared with appropriate ways to manage our stress, it can have long-term repercussions on our health, our attitudes and moods, our work and our relationships.

This first week of December, I will be sharing proven, easy ways to manage stress that I have and do use successfully in my own life.

Our first tool to manage is stress is Mindfulness.

Some people may see that word, and imagine a woo-woo, hippy-dippy practice of endless mantra-chanting meditation and an incessant, ephemera induced gratitude. Not so. Mindfulness is simply a state of focused awareness of one’s present surroundings and a calm acceptance of your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time. It can be done first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, in the shower, or during your commute. It can be practiced at your desk, or while making dinner. It can be practiced deliberately, with dedicated space and time set aside, or on the fly, whenever the Universe gives us a quiet 4 or 5 seconds.

To engage in Mindfulness, there are several techniques I use to bring me fully aware into the present moment.

BREATHING: There are two breathing techniques I use.

The first I call “Mountain Breathing”. Imagine a triangular mountain. I take a long slow inhale on the “climb”, slowly exhale on the “descent” and holding my breath as I walk across the “bottom” to begin the ascent again. (Each arm of the triangle is about 3-5 seconds.) I repeat this 4 or 5 times, concentrating on my breath, feeling it enter and escape my lungs, noting how I feel on each breath.

The second breathing technique is “Box Breathing”. Box Breathing has four parts; Inhale for 4-5 seconds, hold for 4-5 seconds, exhale for 4-5 seconds, hold for 4-5 seconds…and repeat. Just like with Mountain Breathing, I focus on the sensations of each breath, noting how it feels entering and leaving my lungs, being aware of how I feel physically.

OBSERVING YOUR MIND: This is a great technique to control runaway thoughts. When I am beset with “Monkey Mind” and finding it hard to concentrate, I take a few cleansing breaths, then deliberately ask myself “What will my next thought be?” Then I wait and mentally observe, literally. We have it in our ability to observe our own minds. By deliberately turning our attention to what are we thinking, asking ourselves that question and then waiting to observe what our mind spits out has the amazing effect of immediately quieting and calming run away thoughts. With consistent practice, you will find the periods of stillness grow steadier and more pronounced.

BODY SCANNING: This technique comes from Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” and I feel is the most effective way (for me) to practice mindfulness. When I have a minute of quiet, I start by focusing my attention on my toes, noting the physical sensations and feelings. Then I slowly move my awareness up my feet, to the ankles and then into the shins, and legs. I concentrate on slowly moving my awareness up through my body, noting how my skin feels, the feeling of my muscles, the sensation of air on my skin, the pressure of my clothes, any awareness of internal sensations. I move my awareness through my abdomen and up my chest, then down my arms and into my fingers. I focus back up into my shoulders, my neck, my scalp and my face. I then slowly move by awareness in the opposite direction, continually focusing on all the physical sensations of each part of my body as my awareness is focused on it. I do this several times, faster each time. After 3-4 passes, I focus on my physical sensations as a whole. When I am done, I find I am in a place of quiet, powerful awareness; and very calm and peaceful.


Using these techniques (Breathing, Observing your own Mind, and Body Scanning), you will begin to establish your own state of Mindfulness. With regular practice, you will be able to bring yourself almost instantly to a place of calm awareness and be well on your way to successfully managing your stress, no matter how great or frequent.


Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.


May your Day be Mindful.


Good Morning, Loved Ones…

When I was a child, attending parochial school, the parish pastor, Father Schoffelmeer (an amazing, loving man if ever there was one) told us a story that has stuck with me my entire life.

A wealthy banker was driving home in his new Mercedes. Winter had come with a vengeance, and outside the warm, lush interior of his car, the weather was freezing. Angry sleet fell from the sky, soaking everything in sight.

As the banker pulled up to a stoplight, he looked to his left, and there, huddled in trash bags and newspapers, trying to find shelter against a cold, dark building, shivered a homeless man. The man was filthy, he was clearly freezing. It was obvious to the banker he was ill, as violent coughs racked the frail, emaciated homeless man.

The banker took a long look. As he pulled away from the light, his good life and the freezing man on the street on his mind, the banker looked to the car ceiling and said, “You should really do something about that, God.”

And God responded, “I did. I made you.”

Like the wealthy banker in the Mercedes, each of us has gifts, skills and resources we can use to improve the lives of others. We see the moments every day, (although maybe not as drastic as the story), where we can make a difference. It’s in those moments we discover a truth about our lives. You see, Loved Ones, we are here for a purpose, and our own lives are made better when we serve that calling.

We are here to make the world a better place for our having been in it.


Inspire Good. Show Love. Be the Light.


May your day be Inspiring.

Farvel Min Venn…

Greetings, Loved Ones….

This morning I learned that my dear friend Greg Beckelhymer lost his battle with cancer last night.

Greg had been at home, in hospice care for the last few weeks. We all we aware that he didn’t have many more days with us, but even still, his passing feels painfully sudden. I discover, unfortunately, even if we think we are, we can never fully be prepared to lose someone we care about.

I’ve known Greg for over thirty years, although to my regret, we hadn’t had too much contact in the last decade. I saw him at a couple gatherings, we chatted occasionally on Facebook. His was the kind of friendship that even if we hadn’t talked in months, it felt like no time had passed as we picked up and reconnected. I considered him my brother and all my thoughts of him were with love and warmth.

I’m grateful I got to see him a few weeks ago and watch football. I regret my last words to him were “I’ll see you next Sunday.” His health fell sharply in the next couple days and he couldn’t receive any more visitors.

Among our group of friends, Greg stood out.

Greg was gentle. Greg was kind. He was soft-spoken, which seemed odd from a towering man. I can only remember seeing him angry once, although I can no longer remember why. He was funny, always smiling, and always concerned for others. He was brilliant; he could discuss a hundred different subjects and recite Tolkien verbatim. He was a natural story-teller. He loved music and movies and books. He was considerate. He was optimistic. He was loving. He was noble.

He was the best of us.

Rest in Peace, Brother.

Lo, there do I see my Father, and 
Lo, there do I see my Mother, and 
Lo, there do I see my Brothers and my Sisters and
Lo, there do I see my people back to the beginning, and
Lo they do call to me, and
bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla, 
Where the brave will live forever.


Image used with gracious permission of the artist, Guy Amir.
See more of Guy’s fabulous works here:

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