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Workshops and resources for women over 50

What Looks Great on You – River Forest, IL

On request. We’d be happy to lead this for your group of 6 or more in the Chicago area.

Want to learn what styles REALLY work for you? Want to get the skinny on what women “our age” truly should be wearing so we look our very best?

Learn what to wear, how to shop and how to incorporate your new style into your life. (Instead of going back to those sweats you should have thrown out 5 years ago!) You’ll leave with a shopping list of items that will complete your wardrobe for the season and the confidence to buy what you need – not simply what’s on sale.

Your hosts are Chris Hauri and Julie Judd, a Certified Image Consultant and member of the Association of Image Consultants International with more than 20 years of experience.

$100 includes light dinner or lunch, wine and materials

What makes you go “Hmmm”?

What are the things that make you sit up and take notice? Something you hear on the radio — maybe new revelations about a rock musician you never knew. Or a friend’s Facebook posting about some struggle she’s having. Or an article on organizing that suggests something new (even though you’ve read – and plan to file – just about every article ever written).

My latest big “Hmmm” came while watching the excellent 60 Minutes interview of Bill Gates and the breakthrough ways he’s addressing health in developing nations. His stories are about using creativity and technology to solve problems – toilets that don’t require fresh water, solar-powered refrigerators to keep vaccines fresh, and more. After a “WOW” reaction, I moved to “Hmmm”. What are the implications of this? How will all these people, who likely would have died of disease and famine, live in the future? Are their community infrastructures set up for meaningful lives?

This is not an article about Bill Gates and whether or not he can save the world. It’s an article that asks you to go “Hmmm” and be aware of what captures your attention.

A few years back when I was in a Masters program at DePaul’s School for New Learning, our lead professor consistently invited us to note the things that made us go “Hmmm”. We were delving into mindfulness and how to be engaged in your own life. He wanted us to grasp these notions that make us think deeper and, maybe, differently.

When we go “Hmmm” we’re raising a flag to stop and pay attention. “Hmmm” topics deserve a little time – some internet research, a discussion over a glass of wine, a trip to the library. They also ask us to ask “why” did that topic bring about a “Hmmm”. It warrants reflection on our personal history of why is this important to me today. And what is my thinking about this topic – and does it challenge or change my values in any way?

Let’s take “Hmmm” in a few directions. I had another “Hmmm” the other day – “Hmmm, I don’t seem to have any eyebrows left”.  Where did they go and what should I do about it? (This proves the “Hmmms” do NOT have to be earth-shattering, heavy topics!) Why is this important to me? It’s another external sign that I’m aging and I don’t like how I look without good eyebrows. (And I spend good money getting them shaped – HMMM!) What am I going to do about this? Invest in the best eyebrow shadow and learn a technique that won’t make me look like Aunt Sophie when I apply it. What else? When I dig deeper, I realize this is about loss of my youthful looks and how I need to accept what I can’t change. (Beyond that great eyebrow shadow – which is from Smashbox, by the way!) I’m going to read more to understand acceptance.

Another “Hmmm” – a good friend was diagnosed with a bit of breast cancer (italics are mine – I really don’t understand the medical explanation at all!) Had a little bit of surgery, no chemo or radiation needed but still had some tense hand-holding times. Big “Hmmms” here – when was my last mammogram? With a strong family breast cancer history, how might I prepare if I heard the same news. How would my “tribe” feel and be different if we lost our dear friend. And how might we appreciate each other more deeply and often to enhance our bond.

You can see that “Hmmm” can take us a lot deeper than what we normally think about every day. And when we dig deeper, explore new territories and engage in our lives, we’ll find there’s a lot more meaning hidden under the surface.

What made you go “Hmmm” today?

(A special thanks goes to Russ Rogers, Ph.D., at DePaul for making us “Hmmm”.)

Today’s Inspiration…Advanced Style blog

Last night I was a guest at Chicago’s Pump Room to celebrate the 60th birthday of one of my closest, most stylish friends. Sixty years ago in Jackson, MS, Mary Linda came into the world to keep style alive. She learned her southern hospitality well and delighted in the the search for the perfect gown and wrap or frock for the latest benefit – when the rest of us shlumps were wearing dresses and coats! Her Texan husband would show up resplendent in his own tuxedo (no rentals here!) and Lone Star cumberbund, complete with the lone star. They continue to be a fashionable pair, though Mary Linda’s enthusiasm for fashion is a lot less than when she worked for Albert Nippon, selling to the high end buyers at Saks and Fields.

The Pump Room has been brought into the 21st century from its art deco heritage. And it’s still filled with beautiful people. One of the delights we found was a broad range of diners – many hipsters, all constantly checking their phones for important messages (I’m sure!). The booth next to ours held a group of 20-something young women celebrating a birthday with many cocktails. And in the booth on the other side was a group of eight women, all about 75 years old who graduated from U. of Mich MANY years ago and they get together once a year.

Looking around, it was a little like seeing our lives flash in front of us. Yes, we remember when we were fashionably hip and drank the most contemporary cocktails. (Anyone remember stingers?) And we traveled for business so would entertain clients and stay at the trendiest hotels. And we certainly hope we’ll gather in 15 years for Mary Linda’s 75th birthday and be as fashionable as the table of ladies at their annual fest.

This morning I was checking out a few sites that friends had suggested and I came across the perfect one for today! Advanced Style blog salutes the women we hope to become for their creativity, care and chutzpah in how they dress. You can’t help but be inspired to add a little elegance to what you’re wearing when you see these ladies of advanced age stroll – or be wheeled – with confidence down the streets of New York or Italy dressed “their best no matter what their age”.

As women get older, we seem to get “invisible” to the media, to sales clerks, to the world at large. Perhaps, it’s a cycle — we feel invisible so we dress the part, and become more invisible, etc. We’re likely not out looking for a healthy mate to breed with (yikes!) nor trying to impress anyone in the competitive world of fashion. So we dress baggy, or in black, or all denim, or worse – khakis! And sometimes we feel that way, as well.

My suggestion for today…take inspiration from the women in Advanced Style and add  a little style to your look. And see how the right scarf or necklace or jacket makes you feel.

And, Happy Birthday, Mary Linda – and my sister, Joanne, too!

“Should I wax your lip hair, too?”

There are certain things that are said to us throughout our years that make us sit up and ask “WHO IS SHE TALKING TO? It can’t be ME!” This doozie was asked of me a few years back while I was getting an eyebrow wax. What lip hair? Do I have lip hair? I don’t have lip hair, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with lip hair! Some of my best friends have it. Some deal with it and others, we don’t even notice. But of ALL the fabulous and not-so-fabulous things I have in my self-image of physical myself — heavy thighs, great hair, bad feet, lopsided breasts, the family nose, etc. — lip hair never crossed my mind. Have I been in denial about facial hair? Should I get this taken care of as well? Lip hair insecurities!!!!

Well, it turns out I don’t really have lip hair to be concerned with. Yes, I have to check my chin every so often for that renegade stray hair. And I have to trim my eyebrows now as they tend to grow like Andy Rooney’s. But I was more of a target of “suggestive selling” than a lip hair fashion disaster.  Yet, this question from an eyebrow aesthetician has always stayed in my mind.

How do we make these decisions to accept who we are and what we look like. According to website Statistic Brain, 75% of women dye their hair in some form. Almost 10 million plastic surgery procedures were performed in 2009 (Anerican Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). And reports we spent over $33.3 billion on cosmetics and beauty products in 2010, up 6% from 2009 (could that be aging Boomers?).

I’ve been confronting many things I’ve denying for a long time. Ah, DENIAL! The heart of procrastinators, the scourge of progress. Liz Monroe-Cook and I were talking about this yesterday (and she’ll be blogging about this later) and Liz reminded me that denial is not always bad. If we didn’t deny certain things, we wouldn’t have hope or optimism or against-all-odds successes. What’s important is to look at what is being denied with a perspective of reality. What is what it is — and what doesn’t matter or can be changed. Like you can wax that lip hair, but you still have to do your income taxes. You can have Botox, but you have to pay for it. You can keep eating Big Macs, but your scale is reality. Things simply are what they are. And we can deny all we want, but we need to deny with intelligence and understanding of the consequence.

Today, I’m committing to doing three things that confront my denials. Yes, I’m going to touch up my hair roots and deny my grays. And I’m NOT DENYING my need to lose weight, so will stick with my Weight Watchers program. And not denying the stack of papers on my desk and will act on these. And not denying my need to share my stories with you, my favorite readers, so I’ll post this blog.

I’m curious. How do we know when it’s time to accept lip hair, gray hair, sensible shoes, wrinkles and no caffeine after 11 a.m.? What were signs that convinced you to make a change and accept some physical “surprise” that you didn’t feel was “you”? And that you faced a denial and did something? Please share in the comment section.

Change is in the air.

Have you noticed the days getting shorter and a touch of fall in the air? That’s nature’s signal for us to start our transition from flowing sundresses and sandals to sweaters and cords. Here’s how to make a gradual change, so you can still enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

Start by putting away your really hot weather clothes — tank tops, white eyelet blazer, white jeans, short shorts. Even if its 80 degrees you need to be done with your straw handbag and sundresses unless the sundress has some fall colors and you can wear a dark cardigan over it.

Think layers including cardigans, casual blazers, hoodies with long or ¾ sleeves. Get some fresh t-shirts in fall colors and a crisp, white, long sleeve shirt. Change from shorts to capris and get your jeans ready. Keep a cape or long sweater handy for cool mornings. A fall scarf can add some warmth.

Change your accessories to darker or trendy fall colors. The big colors are red/wine/burgundy and navy and the fashion color mustard. Change out of your summery shoes into a flat, pump or slingback or a work sandal with a little more substance.  Bags are sleeker and more classic than in past years, so you may want to invest in one fabulous bag.

For outerwear, leather is huge and perfect for fall! Or wear a wool coat in a shorter length or your trench with a scarf.

For make-up, skip hot pink or peach or lip gloss and try red, burgundy, or a color that is just a shade darker than your natural lips for a natural look. Go to your favorite make-up counter and have your colors “done” for fall and for a fresh look.

DON’T… wear boots yet or flip flops any more.

…wear thick knits or faux furs yet. You’ll be rushing the season

DO…wear layers that look put together like jeans, t-shirt, scarf and corduroy blazer. It’s cool in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. So you need layers in lighter weight fabrics.

…make a list of all the summer items or outfits you were missing in your wardrobe to use when you start shopping in April.

…try on your fall clothes and look at catalogues for inspiration.

…make a shopping list and shop now for transition clothes before all the transition pieces are replaced by heavy coats and chunky sweaters.

…remember you’ll get to wear these transition pieces again in spring

Weather vs. Fashion…How to look smart.

Yesterday, January 31, I finally picked up my monster fur from storage. It’s a beautiful, quite formal mink that I bought as a treat for selling my business – and a bit of my soul. Gorgeous, toasty warm and extravagant, it’s also HUGE, outdated and a bit more showy than that which fits my lifestyle. But we’re expecting 2 feet of snow in Chicago.

My mink friend is the only outerwear I have ever found that protects me from everything! Blizzards, rain, cold, probably nuclear blasts, nothing can penetrate it. So I got it out of storage, even if it’s just to walk the dog. (I envy his fur that fits him so well!)

Chicago and much of the US is facing several days of hat hair, clunky boots and poor fashion choices. So I asked Julie Judd, fashion director at Talbot’s and my co-facilitator for our LifeStyle workshops, how to best weather the weather with style. Here are some of Julie’s suggestions:

• Warmest coats — fur, shearling and down. Down is not as puffy (think Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters!) as in the past and many have hoods that help with hat hair.

• Coat length — it should cover your skirt/dress but a “maxi” down to your ankles looks clunky with flat boots, especially if you’re short. With pants, these days anything goes, though you’ll probably want to cover your rear end for warmth and for a more flattering look.

• How warm? — Keep in mind your travels. If you only go from house to car to parking garage, how warm do you have to be? If you’re shlepping to the train station, standing on el platforms or waiting for a bus, you need as many layers as possible. A coat should fit over a sweater or blazer but not too much larger. Layer with tights, long underwear or other breathable skins from REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

• Boots — Get a basic black or brown and keep it simple with a low or flat heel and good tread on the sole. And save your fine Italian leathers for a better weather day or change into them once you get to your destination. Unless you’re really hip, Uggs may be a bit too young for many of us.

• Hats — Cover your ears! Fedoras and berets are cute, but not the protection we need for the worst weather. We’re seeing a lot of funky lumberjack and Peruvian ski style hats this year – and many are on sale because they didn’t sell all that well. Make sure you’re not going too young by keeping away from the bright colors and plaids. You can always take it off quickly or hide it under a hood. And try to choose a hat, gloves/mittens and scarf that, color-wise, work with your coat.

• Hat Hair (ACK!) — Wet your brush, add a little product (styling mousse, hair spray) and restyle once you get to your destination if you possibly can. At work, keep a small travel blow dryer for a quick lift. Or simply add volume with your hands, then tame flyaways with product. In a pinch, hand lotion will tame static as well. (Personally I just accept a few months of bad style — sort of like junior high. No matter how hard you try, your hair has a life of its own!)

• Dog walking — yes, we need a different outfit than what we wear into the city. I have combat boots, 3 layers of turtlenecks, tights, heavy jeans, a lumberjack hat with earmuffs underneath, down mittens and 2 scarves – oh, and a ranch mink coat down to my ankles. Buddy is embarrassed to be seen with me. But we’re warm!

Stay warm and dry and pass along any other suggestions for tolerating this “typical Chicago weather”!

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Where has all the Ambush gone?

This past week an article from Money Talks News showed up on Yahoo that made me laugh. And think. It was a list of things that babies born this year will never experience. Things like video tape, movie rental stores, paper maps, fax machines, encyclopedias, and more. Of course this saddened me as one of my real talents is map folding and a favorite pastime has been “surfing” the encyclopedia. But it also got me thinking about some of the brands we grew up with that made such emotional impact in our lives.

Like whatever happened to Ambush cologne? Yes, if you search eBay, et al, you’ll likely find some, though there are many posts that say it has been reformulated. And while Dana Fragrances still is home to Tabu, English Leather (dreamy!), Love’s Baby Soft and Canoe, it no longer lists Ambush in any materials. It’s almost erased from Dana’s past. But not mine! Without it officially being “official”, it was the scent of choice of high school girls in the 60’s. There were ads for it – I think featuring teen model Colleen Corby – in Seventeen. And it was said that it “matched” the boys’ fragrance, Canoe. Which made for the perfect couple walking down the high school halls together. Funny how the guys could care less about cologne and the girls made it a project to get him smelling good!

Bonne Bell 10.0.6 Lotion is gone but Lip Smackers are still around and still aimed at the teen/pre-teen market. Stridex now has Power Pads – actually the whole teen skin care biz is more of an industry than it ever was. No longer is it “You wouldn’t have zits if you didn’t eat chocolate and french fries” but a wealth of products and services to promote great skin. Yet, kids still get pimples the day of their school pictures and the day of the prom!

Bobbie Brooks made shopping easy. Just buy the crew neck sweater and blouse that went with the plaid skirt or jumper and you were set. Slacks weren’t allowed in school and jeans didn’t come into our consciousness until 1967. Back-to-school shopping meant a trip to Carson’s, Field’s, Wieboldt’s (got Green Stamps!), or  a specialty shop like Honey Girl. If Grandma was buying we might hit Bonwit Teller  or Peck & Peck. But if you were using your allowance you’d be at Stuart’s. We’d look for the racks of Bobbie Brooks (now sold at Dollar General stores) or Villager (now at Kohl’s) or John Meyer of Norwich.

So a typical outfit consisted of (from the inside out) Carter’s Underpants, an A cup bra from Sears, a garter belt (!) and stockings, Capezio ballet flats, a slip, a hip-stitched skirt, peter pan collar blouse (tucked in) and cardigan sweater, accessorized with the gold circle pin that ALL girls had – because they came free in a box of Modess Napkins.

Which leads us to another product that we’re so glad has disappeared — sanitary napkins and THE BELT! The transition to womanhood was tough enough with teenage hormones and zits, but the belt just nutty. Of course we would be excused from gym during our “time of the month” and most of us learned what was going on from the pamphlets handed out in Health class. Reading “Growing Up and Liking It” was much easier than listening to an embarrassed gym teacher as she drew bad pictures of Fallopian tubes on the board. Thank you Stayfree and New Freedom for making our monthly belts obsolete. Now science is making our “monthlies” a thing of the past as well.

Probably the most daunting item of clothing in our lives in Junior High and High School was a gymsuit from the E. R. Moore Co. Nothing could bring about more embarrassment and fear than forgetting your clean/ironed gymsuit or socks at home. I still have dreams that I’ve lost my socks on the walk to school! Could anything have been less flattering? We felt lucky that ours didn’t have the elastic bloomer bottoms as previous classes but instead had short shorts. And your name had to be in letters at least 2 inches high on the back. They were comfortable and functional. By the way, the E.R. Moore Co. continues to make graduation and choir robes but is out of the gymsuit biz.

Today’s babies will never see pay phones, long distance or dial up internet but they’ll have their own version of Ambush fragrance. And we’ll always have our gymsuit memories!

What other brands and products did you love that are lost? Please share by posting on this site. We’ll enjoy each others memories!

They May be Trends, But are They for You?

Fashion can be ruthless! We’re seeing several new looks, but not everyone should make them THEIR looks. This might help you make the decisions:

1. Shoes with bows. If you have a small to average foot, this  can work for you. Gives a classic black dress a kick with a bow on a pump and dresses up jeans on a flat.

2.  Chunky knits. Only for the freezing cold gal — not in menopause.  This look might also overpower a petite women.  Better to dress in layers to keep warm versus a heavy sweater.  It can be very cute over leggings with tall boots.  This is a trendy look, but if you already have enough “chunk” in your shape, pass.

3.  Animal prints. If you have warm tones to your skin buy the animal print with camels and browns.  If you cool tones buy the grey and black.  Add an animal flat to a pair of jeans. Add a bag to give any basic outfit a kick.  Buy a scarf, if you just want a little flair. But no more than ONE animal per outfit, please!

4.  Shearling Jackets. Besides a down coat, this is the warmest coat you can buy, And it is much more hip, flattering and worth every penny.

5.  Jewel tone velvets. Perfect classic for the holidays or a fancy occasion.

6. Camel Coats. Tired of your black coat? This is a perfect color for women with warm coloring.  For a red haired gal this is a must. All coats need a scarf to keep the collar clean and to stay warm, so invest in some you love.

7. Straight leg pants. Not to be confused with skinny pants! If you have a pair shape, straight legs can be a tough look to pull off.  If you have great legs this is the pant for you. Pears, stick with an always-flattering trouser or bootcut.

It’s my belief that all women can look their best. It’s my passion to help you achieve your best this Fall. With a little guidance, a beautiful Fall can be easy!

I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about wearing for Fall?  And, if you want help creating your list or shopping, give me a call at 708-829-8245.


By the way, I’ve just moved over to Nordstrom-Oakbrook. Come visit and I’ll shop the 3rd floor with you!

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Sharing some cool resources!

Last week we had a terrific LifeStyle Workshop and our participants asked if we would remind them of some of the cool new products we passed around. One of the fun things about the workshop is that you get to touch and feel things — and get immediate feedback. Plus everyone brings their own knowledge to the table. So let’s start out with something new that we learned:

Lisa Dodge is the daughter of a dentist – and has great teeth to prove it. But her dad has said to stay away from Teeth Whitening kits as they haven’t been tested for long-term harm to teeth enamel. She shared that Crest 3-D Toothpaste is better – use it 3 times a day and get whiter teeth. Worth a try. I’m still a fan of Crest Professional Effects 3-D White Whitestrips. They’ve improved the stickiness, so they really stay on for the 1/2 hour daily treatments. Thanks for the warning, Lisa!

Face Primers – LOVE these. I’ve used Smashbox for awhile (Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer) but L’Oreal just came out with Studio Secrets Primer (on sale for $9.99 this week at Target) and it’s great. These primers leave a soft, velvety base for your foundation or tinted moisturizer and decrease oil and shine. The best part is they fill in fine lines and imperfections! Yea! Remember as you age, lighten up on foundation and powder — use a tinted moisturizer or mineral-based powder — to stay away from the “cakey” look.

DuWop Revolotion SPF 15. Charla Krupp (of How Not to Look Old) gave me this and it’s pretty amazing. Yes, we can go bare-legged and not look awful. This is a bronzing body moisturizer that has a bit of shimmer to the finish. All natural and not orange! Really easy to apply and quite forgiving so you don’t look streaky! And it doesn’t smell awful like many leg creams. They offer a tanner as well. So far, I’ve only found it online at Sephora. But it’s pretty neat.

Vanishing Edge Panties from Soma (Division of Chico’s) that really don’t ride up. Get them at Chico’s Outlets in Aurora or Kenosha for a fraction of the price.

Speaking of underthings, don’t miss Flexees by Maidenform to control your midriff and tummy. Still comfortable and cool, they offer many different styles of tank tops, camis and more.

Now if only I could give the resource for Julie’s cute topper that everyone loves – and is ultra-flattering to any figure type. Keep your eyes open in the coat department for one of your own.

What are your favorite finds? Share them with a comment!

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How to Say “Yes” to the Dress!

Springtime and it’s wedding and shower season! And if you’ve been in any stores or looked at any magazines lately, dresses are all the rage. Last year, my favorite closet commando suggested I start wearing dresses and skirts more — a HUGE change from jeans and all forms of pants. Her reasons were good:

a) dresses are easier to fit when your body’s top and bottom don’t really match in size

b) dresses can gracefully camouflage bumps and lumps that aren’t supposed to be there

c) dresses are more youthful and show a sense of style (she’s NOT talking about muu-muus or shapeless “over-the-head” comfortable dresses you can wear to the farmer’s market or over a bathing suit!)

So with gusto and a recommitment to being fashionable/not old I took to a favorite department store (Carson’s, one of the Bon-Ton stores) and eyed my choices. Initially I rejected all sleeveless frocks due to the unpleasant reality of my batwing arms, but after trying on cap sleeves, committing to 2 months of tricep exercises, purchase of a cute pashmina and rationalization that by the time the dancing starts at the event I’m buying the dress for, most people will have had enough to drink that they won’t notice me when shedding the wrap. Plus, it’s not about me — it’s about the bride! So I ended up buying the cap sleeve number and a sleeveless party dress – with a little bit of CRINOLINE! (Yes, 8th grade Cinderella Ball was the last time I used that word!)

While I love the two dresses, I hadn’t thought about all the baggage that comes with a dress.

1) The zipper! One of the dresses even had a tag that said “I have a zipper” which should have been a warning. Perhaps the label should have said “I have a zipper so bring along a salesperson” or “I have a zipper so don’t expect to be able to put this on at home if you live alone” or “Warning – I have a zipper and you probably can’t reach back to zip me!”  After much finagling, panting and stretching, I was able to get in and out of these dresses in the fitting room and buy them. Since bringing them home, I do yoga arm stretches about 80 times a day. And have a piece of string ready to assist if the yoga doesn’t work out.

2) Shoes! Both dresses would be darling with strappy sandals. But 60 years of use and abuse has taken their toll. Strappy sandals do little to hide a hammer toe and a toenail soon to leave this body from looooong walks. And where’s the arch support in a strappy sandal? So screw strappy sandals and go for the peeky-toe pump – as long as the right toes are showing!

3) Legs! The bare leg look is cute on young women who don’t have bike accident scars, visible veins and knee and ankle surgery scars. My approach — start self-tanner now, then add foundation over the unsightly scars and still wear pantyhose. I need the control top anyway!

4) Undergarments! Correct fitting bra – check! Control top hose – check! (Instead of Spanx, the other alternative to keeping your bottom in check.) Flexees camisole – check! (Spanx for your midriff.) And that should keep me from jiggling in the wrong places. I just hope all that extra “me” doesn’t move down to my ankles or up to my neck!

5) And the wrap, of course! Pashmina or something with a little ruffle. Maybe lace…just as long as it gives the allusion of upper arms without actually showing them.

So here’s how I’ll say “Yes” to the dress! And say “Bye-Bye” to the carefree days of tossing on a cute shift, sandals and leaving the house! We may have to put more thought into how we wear fashion, but we can still wear it — and be all the wiser!


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