7 Ways To Step Into 2021. Bolder And Better.
I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of New Year's resolutions. The main reason why is because, if you think that something is gonna miraculously change by waiting until January 1 to do something, that already has you in a pretty unrealistic state of mind. What I mean by that is, waiting until some specific date to accomplish a goal is not only low-key procrastination but a pretty futile ambition because, if you want to see real progress, a profound key to making that happen is seizing the moment that you're currently in—you need to prepare to take steps towards your growth and evolution, just as soon as possible.
It probably is a major understatement for most that 2021 can't get here soon enough. Yet please don't wait until then before doing what needs to be done to walk into it with a clear, solid and resilient state of mind. Yeah, if you want next year to be your best one yet, here are seven suggestions that can definitely help to make that happen…if you act—now.
1. Create Spiritual and Emotional Mission Statements
Most folks have heard of a professional mission statement that companies create. While it can serve a myriad of different purposes, the main one is to keep everyone involved clear on the purpose of the business and the overall goals that the company ultimately wants to achieve. Well, for these same reasons, I think it's super important to also have a personal mission statement; it's so we, as individuals, can also have clarity on what our purpose is and what we want to personally accomplish too. Because there are so many layers to our lives, over the years, I've come to realize that sometimes one personal mission statement isn't enough. What I mean by that is, sometimes, our "missions" need to be broken down into various categories. And if there are two that I think are super important, it's a spiritual and emotional mission statement.
What does that even mean? Well, what do you want to accomplish when it comes to your personal development on the spiritual tip? Do you want to pray more? Meditate more? Figure out what works for you when it comes to the faith you grow up in vs. the person you are now? Have you ever really sat and pondered what it means to have a spirit or soul or now to nurture either or both (check out "Here's Exactly How To Start Protecting Your Spirit" and "I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul"). Do you desire for your romantic relationship to become more spiritual in the upcoming months? Emotionally, how do you want to handle your emotions in the new year? Because, contrary to popular belief, while emotions are important, we do have more power over how we react to what we are feeling than a lot of us realize. Plus, when we're paying close attention, our emotions can give us a heads up on some of the patterns we're repeating, red flags that we're ignoring or decisions that we should be making.
Again, a mission statement speaks to having a purpose and then setting goals around it. So, why not think about what purpose your spiritual and emotional facets of your life should serve in 2021 and what you would like to say transpired in both areas by the time 2022 gets ready to show up?
2. Put Together a Pampering Plan
Someone on the xoNecole team (who I won't put on blast, but she knows who she is), when I first came on board, we used to talk about the importance of pampering. It was kinda crazy to me, how much she struggled with even grasping the concept of participating in this form of self-care. But you know what? When you really stop to think about it, how many of us can raise our hands and honestly say that pampering is something that was taught to us while growing up? Boy, do I wish that I could find for y'all a tweet that I saw several weeks ago of the cutest little Black girl who had a turban on her head, candles all around her, and was sitting in a tub that was filled with flower petals. Sis couldn't have been more than five or six and man, do I salute her mom for modeling the importance of engaging in that kind of self-love, at such an early age.
Being a Black woman in this world—and especially America—is both powerful and draining at the same time. And so even though pampering is literally "to treat with excessive indulgence", it still shouldn't be seen or treated as a luxury. When you are extremely focused on taking care of yourself, it de-stresses you, it elevates your self-esteem, it creates (or solidifies) a standard for what you expect out of your life, it energizes you and it brings you peace.
So yeah, you definitely need to go into 2021 with a clear plan for how you want to pamper yourself. This should include putting together a pampering budget and also a pampering schedule. For instance, while I care for my own hair at home and I'm actually not big on massages (I know, right?), I'm not missing a nail or eyebrow appointment and that's period.
2020 threw us all kinds of curve balls. Hopefully, something that we learned from them is we shouldn't wait until we're totally spent to care for ourselves. A plan should already be in place so that, no matter what comes our way, we already know that a hair appointment, a facial, a massage, a mani/pedi—something is just a few days away to get us off of the grid. What will that be for you next year?
3. Get Clear on What Your Job vs. Your Career Is
Wanna know a very telling sign that you have matured as an adult? It's when you stop being dependent on other people (parents included) in order to take care of yourself (unless you're in dire straits, of course); it's when you accept that a part of what comes with growing up is doing what needs to be done, whether you always, automatically or necessarily want to do it—or not.
This is where learning the difference between having a job and developing your career comes in. There is someone in my world who is a bona fide creative. Problem is, they are constantly in a creative cul-de-sac because they are so focused on wanting to do nothing but music that they never have enough money to fund their dream; that's because they are always quitting a job because it has nothing to do with their creativity (see what I mean about the cul-de-sac)? The mature approach to this is not, "This job has nothing to do with what I really want to do, so I quit." The much wiser hot take is, "My job helps to pay my bills, invest in my dreams and take the stress off of me so that I can someday do what I want to do, full-time."
Many studies indicate that as much as 85 percent of people hate their jobs. I can only imagine that a lot of folks do because all they think about is "I need it to pay the bills" instead of figuring out how they can make their job fit into their purpose while putting together a time management plan so that they can devote some time, on a daily or weekly basis, to make their dreams and desires come true; if not immediately, in due time.
Walking into your office every day, saying "I hate my job" on repeat is not gonna benefit you one bit. Instead, decide that next year is going to be about using your job to make your career thrive. So that purpose, come 2022, things can look very different for you on the professional front.
4. Set Some Skin, Hair and Nails Goals
An author by the name of Michael Korda once said, "One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals." When you read that, I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that you didn't think about this as it relates to your skin, hair and nails. Oh, but I think that you definitely should.
Recently, I had a conversation with an older friend of mine about how it fascinates me that we as Black women can go 20 years looking like we're 35-40 and then one day—BAM! We look 65 (even if we aren't quite there yet). While there is nothing wrong with that (because aging is a blessing), I do think that a part of the reason why that can happen is we take our own melanin for granted. We walk around here on the "Black don't crack" tip, assuming that we don't have to do as much maintenance/upkeep as "other folks" do; then we end up with fine lines, age spots and a loss of elasticity that could've been avoided had we be more proactive.
Your skin is the biggest organ that you have. Your hair is your crowning glory. There is something so feminine and beautiful about well-manicured nails. Not too long ago, I checked out an article on Simone Williams. If you've never heard of her before, she's currently the title holder for having the biggest Afro in the world. Do you really think that she didn't have some hair goals to make that happen (an article that might be able to help you in this area is "Looking For Hair Growth? It Might Be Time To Bring 'Blue Magic' Back")?
A lot of us want clear skin, longer hair and bangin' nails. Those things don't just automatically happen; you need to have a plan and that includes creating short and long-term goals for all three. So, make sure that at some point, before this year closes out, you jot down what you want for your own skin, hair and nails. Make sure to reward yourself in some way for reaching every milestone too. If you do, you might be floored by how different you look, come this time next year. Real talk.
5. Go on a “People Fast”
There's a filmmaker here in Nashville by the name of Molly Secours who once said something to me that I will pull up in my mental Rolodex and personally apply from time to time—"I'm going to get still and quiet and see what comes to me." While, in many ways, introverts and ambiverts fared pretty well during this pandemic (on the social front because we don't really pull our energy from others in the first place), I totally get that it was probably a bit of a struggle for extroverts. Plus, being on lockdown really did take not being around a lot of people to the utmost extreme.
That's why I get it if some of you read this particular point and said to the screen, "Are you f—king kidding me?" However, just because you may not have been in a lot of people's physical presence, that doesn't mean that Zoom calls, Facetiming and constantly being on social media and reading emails weren't on a totally different level.
None of us are an island. We need human interaction and relationships. At the same time, if you don't take a break from folks from time to time, they can start to drain you, their conversations can start to feel more like background noise and you can find yourself becoming resentful because there aren't any healthy boundaries in place (including the art of knowing how and when to say "no"). I do people fasting a few times a year and it's one of the best practices that I've put into my life. It gives me time to journal. To reflect. To figure out what relationships (professional and personal) are benefitting me and which aren't. You can never go wrong with getting quiet sometimes. Find at least a long weekend to put your phone on silent, to not check your social media or email, and just chill with yourself. One way or another, everyone who you interact with will only benefit from it because you did.
6. Cultivate a Sleep Ritual
Even if you Kanye shrugged your way through this entire article, I am urging you to strongly take this point into some serious consideration. As if it shouldn't be alarming enough that sleep deprivation can result in things like severe mood swings, a weakened immune system, a lower libido, high blood pressure, a lack of concentration and productivity and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, not getting at least 6-8 hours a night can also lead to brain damage. No joke.
Just like it's insane that a lot of us think that pampering is some sort of luxury rather than a sho 'nuf necessity, it's even weirder that some people treat sleep in the same fashion. Listen, when it comes to your overall health and well-being, it's not about not having time to go to bed, on a schedule, each and every night—it's about whether you are gonna make it a priority or not.
As you're figuring out what you actually need as you prepare to step into the new year, set aside some coins to get some new bedding; to play some rain or ocean ASMR videos (YouTube has a ton of commercial-free ones); to rub your feet down with some lavender or chamomile essential oil (both will calm you; make sure to put some on your sheets while you're at it); to stop eating and drinking around two hours before turning in (and if you are going to drink something, consider having some herbal tea or tart cherry juice); to turn off all devices that have an on-off switch and read a book or just chill out instead; to consider taking a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement (it's a natural nerve and muscle relaxant), and if someone is in the bed with you, to maybe get an orgasm or two in. Creating a sleep ritual can make getting up every day so much easier. It can actually extend the length of your days on this earth too. And that should be an annual goal for all of us, wouldn't you say?
7. Figure Out What You Need. DON’T SETTLE EITHER.
Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about needs in relationships. When I said, "I need certain things from all of my friends", initially she offered pushback by saying she doesn't really "need" anything from anyone. I know this person well and there are walls that have gone up due to years of not having needs met, so she's programmed herself into thinking that needs and being needy are one in the same. They absolutely are not.
We need food, water and shelter in order to survive. Well, if we want our relationships to thrive, there are certain things that they need too. I don't just mean personal friendships; professional ones have certain requirements as well. And so yeah, I'm gonna close this particular article out by encouraging you to really think about what you need from those around you because 1) it's not people's fault that you aren't getting what you need from them if you're not telling them what that is and 2) there's no point in remaining in certain relationships if your needs are constantly being overlooked. Right?
No matter what this crazy world that we are living is has going on, you can soar like you never have before by simply tending to some specific areas of your life. As someone who has applied all seven of these in 2020 and, for the most part, had an extreme peace-filled year, please consider doing some of this in preparation for what is to come. 2021. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Hands down and without hesitation, my favorite time of the year is the fall season. I like the cooler temperatures. I like the turn of the leaves. Some of my favorite men (my late father and late fiancé) were Libras. Layering clothes is dope. I start to (slightly) swap out iced chai lattes (with oat milk) for hot chocolate and apple cider. The foods that are in season then are some of my faves (eggplant parmesan, anyone?). Watching sports outside is fun — need I go on? And so, even though I like to write about sex — especially ways to have even better sex — any time of the year, it’s right around now when I start to get inspired to pitch topics like this one.
And honestly, I ain’t got no lies for you. The reason why this headline has “2.0” in it is because it was right around this time, three years ago, when I penned the piece “Here's How To Have Some Really Great Fall-Themed Sex.” Well, I think it’s been long enough to “upgrade” it a bit by providing you with 15 other fall-related ideas that could cause you to literally fall in love with fall as much as I have…and quite possibly renew your enthusiasm in the bedroom in the process.
Can you feel yourself getting excited? LOL.
1. Pumpkin. Lots ‘n Lots of Pumpkin.
Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin deviled eggs. It should go without saying that if there is a signature food for this time of year, pumpkin would be it. So, if you’re someone who is big on aphrodisiac consumption, definitely add more pumpkin into your diet, even if it’s snacking on pumpkin seeds. Between the zinc that’s in it, which helps to boost your libido (and can even help with erectile dysfunction in men) and the fatty acids that help to keep sex hormones in balance, every time you enjoy some of your favorite pumpkin-flavored foods, you’ll be giving your sex life quite the boost.
2. DIY Some Cranberry Seed Massage Oil
Another fruit (because, yes, pumpkin is indeed a fruit) that is at its best during the autumn season is the cranberry. Although many of us don’t give it much thought beyond the cranberry sauce that sits on the table during Thanksgiving, its scent is actually pretty sensual when you use it in the form of a scented soy candle or if you decide to make some of your own massage oil.
In fact, if you purchase organic cranberry seed oil, it naturally comes with a subtle cranberry scent which means that you can give your man a lingam massage (check out “Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage”) without worrying if the ingredients in the oil will irritate his penis in the process.
As far as how to make the oil, all you need is some cranberry seed oil, a favorite carrier oil (check out “So, Here Are The Carrier Oils That Will Take Your Sex Life To A Whole 'Nother Level”), and possibly a bit of honey (for flavoring’s sake) and you’re good to go; especially if you heat it up in the microwave for like 10 seconds before applying. Whew, chile.
3. Also, DIY Some Pear-Flavored Whipped Cream
Another fruit that’s in season for fall is a pear. I like them, not just for how they taste, but because they symbolize things like abundance, femininity, fertility, and happy relationships — all of which are awesome things to think about when you’re sharing intimacy with your partner. That said, you know, there is nothing quite like bringing in a condiment or two during sex (check out “12 ‘Sex Condiments’ That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious”), and so, if whipped cream is totally your thing, how about making some that is pear-flavored? I found a recipe that is super easy (so long as you have some xanthan gum around). You can check it out here.
4. Incorporate Some Vanilla Lubricant
Another popular scent for autumn is vanilla. As far as your sex life is concerned, science backs that the smell of it can increase sexual arousal and even improve sexual performance in some people. Since pretty much all of us know that sex is so much better when it’s wetter, it might also be a good idea to have some vanilla (especially vanilla-flavored) lubricant on tap. Hello Cake has a vanilla chai lube that is a fan favorite (you can get it here). I also peeped a TikTok post that features a DIY recipe for this kind of lube (here), although it needs to go on record that it’s not the kind that you would incorporate if you use condoms (because there’s oil in it). Just sayin’.
5. Make Some Maple Syrup-Flavored Lip Butter
Is there anything better than a stack of homemade pancakes or French toast with some maple syrup on a cold weekend morning? Take the maple flavor up a notch by making some lip butter that tastes just like it. You know, I was recently talking to a group of guys about some of their underrated turn-ons, and one of them said that when a woman exfoliates her lips, he can always tell because they feel extra soft. Let that be a reminder that taking a couple of minutes out to apply a lip scrub ain’t never hurt nobody. Then, if you add some lip butter afterwards?
Girrrl…he’ll be all up in your mouth from sunset to sunrise! (No, I didn’t forget. The lip butter recipe is here.)
6. Add Some Lit Vines Around Your Bed
It’s kind of wild how much people underestimate the sensuality of good lighting when you’re trying to set the mood. Although candlelight is always a bomb option, if you want to think a little outside of the box, there are vines that you can purchase to put around your bed. I found some on Amazon (here) that can make you and your partner feel like y’all are in an enchanted forest or a log cabin somewhere — until you can actually get there. Plus, this kind of lighting can be sexy because it can cast shadows on your body without making you feel super self-conscious in the way that overhead lighting or a lamp (with a bright bulb) could.
7. Put Some Fairy Lights in Some Mason Jars
As far as lighting goes, another option to consider is putting some fairy lights into a couple of mason jars. I find this option to be very romantic as well as seductive. Plus, if you’re looking to create a sexy night at the last minute, you can find the lights and the jars pretty easily and at a reasonable price. For instance, a quick Walmart run would have you covered, all the way around.
8. Apply Some Apple and/or Caramel-Scented Fabric Spray
When it comes to attraction, looks aren’t everything. Studies reveal that how someone smells can help you decide if you’re truly interested in them or not. Not only that, but scent can impact your mood and performance ability, and, I’ve shared before that people with smell sensitivities tend to get aroused more easily; some women who fall into that demographic are able to have more orgasms too.
For all of these reasons (and probably more), you definitely should pay attention to how things smell in your bedroom prior to copulating. Something that you can do to make your bedding smell delightful is to either find a fabric spray that smells like fall-themed things such as apples or even caramel. I even found one on Amazon that is a combination of the two (here). #yourewelcome
9. Create Some Fall-Themed Potpourri
Do you want to keep some of the scents from your favorite summer flowers around for longer? Or maybe you want to avoid spending money on Air Wick and Glade Plug-Ins. Either way, something else to consider is making some of your own potpourri. I grew up with that in the house, and it really did make every room of the home smell divine. A YouTube Short that will walk you through how to make a fall-themed one is located right here.
10. Design a “Fallen Leaves with Love Notes” Hanging
While I was playing around on the internet a couple of days ago, I happened upon a page that was full of fall-centered arts and crafts. One that I liked, especially, was a hanging that had faux fall leaves on it (it’s #9 here). After looking at it, I thought, “Now, how sweet would it be to add some handwritten cards or Post-its that either express how someone feels about their partner or what they want to do to their partner?” You can even switch it up every couple of weeks to add some spontaneity. Just putting it on out there for you home décor (who also happen to be horny) folks.
11. Invest in Some Silk Sheets
If you go to your favorite search engine and you put something along the lines of “silk and warmth,” you will see all kinds of articles that cosign on the fact that although silk is light and soft, it also is a temperature regulator that has the ability to keep you warm. So, as the temperature drops and you’re looking for some sheets that will feel good to the touch, don’t have as much “heat generating potential” as flannel, and can bring sensuality into your space, investing in some silk sheets is definitely the way to go.
12. Pick Up Some Fall-Themed Lingerie
If you’re getting new bras and panties (roughly) twice a year (because that is what you’re doing…right?), you should put in your budget to cop some new sexy lingerie while you’re at it. Basically, some new stuff for spring and summer and some new different stuff for fall and winter. Since Black women look AMAZING in jewel tones (which are big during the holiday season), knock yourself out — or even go with something that particularly caught my eye called “Fall Fire Lingerie” (here). Husbands are constantly telling me that when their wife puts on something that they haven’t seen before, it’s like Christmas all over again. So, why not ring in Christmas early this year, a few times? Real talk.
13. Hang Some Eucalyptus Vines on Your Showerhead
Listen, the past couple of weeks, I know of several people who’ve gotten COVID; one had to be hospitalized. So, although I am a huge fan of shower sex (check out “So, This Is How To Make Shower Sex So Much Better”) and I absolutely think that bringing some greenery into the space is visually appealing, there is another reason why I’m making this suggestion.
Fresh eucalyptus has the ability to relieve congestion, suppress coughing, and make it easier to breathe. So, since the fall and winter seasons are the time of year when people tend to have more colds, be proactive and hang some of these vines from your showerhead. It looks great, it’s good for you, and it can help to keep both of you from passing unwanted germs back and forth.
14. Swap Out Your Light Bulbs for Something…with a Deeper Glow
Oh, here’s another lighting idea. So, what if you prefer to have sex when it’s pitch black and your partner would like a little bit of mood lighting? Colors like red and orange definitely fit in with autumn — and they also can be a real turn-on in the bedroom if you swap out your white bulbs for ones that are that color instead. They can also help you to relax when you’re all caught up in the afterglow of things too. #wink
15. Enjoy a Fall Fruit Aphrodisiac Cocktail
Whether it’s red wine, whisky, or tequila — all of them can get you where you’re good to go. That’s why, it only seemed right to wrap this up by recommending that you make a cocktail out of a fruit that’s in season this fall, whether it’s apples, pears, figs, passionfruit, pomegranates or something else that tickles your, umm, fancy. A girlfriend of mine is a huge — and I mean, HUGE — fan of fig and honey cocktails (recipe here) and ginger pomegranate martinis (recipe here) as far as her libido goes. She’s got sex stories for days, so…I’d at least give it a shot (no pun intended).
LAWD. Who thought that fall could be this damn sexy, right? Enjoy, sis. ENJOY!
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