Archive for October, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Weight and see: “We are what we eat”

By Vernalee - weight loss

Got dunnit! The scale is not moving; I have lost inches though. Thank goodness for that! I have stop eating bread, potatoes, rice, desserts and all of that fattening stuff. “If we are what we eat,” I would be as thin as a rail. There must be something else! Something is out of sorts. I think they call it metabolism. The two M’s – menopause and metabolism – what a dietary nightmare! Those two words, when combined slow down everything. It doesn’t help that I am a “lazy boy chair potato” either.

Alright, my daughter is fussing at me to be more active. My son diplomatically suggested that I drive across town to use his exercise facility. They earned the right to tell me that I need help. “It’s not about your looks Mommy; it’s about your health,” echoes my sweet baby girl. I have tried to be like her. When I am visiting her home, I reasoned, “I’ll eat what she eats, when she eats.” If it works for her, it will work for me. Wrong! I love just looking at her slimness. She is a suave size 2 or 4. When you are her size, does it matter! Sizes 0, 2, 4 – just give me a number.
Since my beloved only eats when she is hungry, (which is what we all should do), I did follow her routine. Short of starvation, I would drop a few pounds during my ATL and NYC stays. “We will do this together Mommy.” I love her words of encouragement. Trust me; they are very motivating and inspirational. I only need to look at her slimness and see what the results would be!

This time, I am on it. I get the message! I am going to go up to my daughter’s and son’s alma mater high school track and walk around it 4 times. I know that four revolutions equal one mile. The weather is warm now. I can definitely do it. Stay on me kids; I need your help; I need you to push me! I promise I will do it as soon as I let the recliner on my chair down!

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PostHeaderIcon Weight and see / My changing wardrobe

By Vernalee

I didn’t have to be told that I primarily wore black, gray, navy, and burgundy; with black being the predominant color. Conservative colors for a conservative woman! Black is very slenderizing and that was my goal… exactly. I wanted to look at least 10 pounds smaller.

My styles of choice were selections that covered up what I didn’t want to see. It stands to reason that I did not want others to see what I did not want to view myself. I was a cover girl. I’m sorry. I misspoke; a cover-up girl more accurately described my wardrobe choices. If I found a flattering style, I purchased tons of the same selections. I can wear something out easily. There…you have it!

My fashionista daughter said, “Mommy, wear more vibrant colors.” When that line grew old, she garnished it up with flair by saying, “Embrace your body, and accentuate your curves.” Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to do that. I was a cover-up expert. I covered up bulges, weight gain, and unsightly body configurations. Remember? Wardrobe accentuation was not my strong suit.

I occasionally asked my fashion less conscious son. I heard the expected diplomatic response. “Mommy you look great; in fact – stunning.” Did I expect anything different? Of course, he is always brutally honest!

Admittedly, it’s hard to break habits. I needed help. Getting in shape was a priority. What a novel idea! Thank you Jennifer Hudson and my precious children for helping me to think! On the bright side, I am eating better, exercising more; I am enhancing my wardrobe slowly, but surely. I am wearing lively colors even if it is a splash with scarves and accessories. I am getting there! Just call me work in progress. Hopefully, I will make noticeable improvements toward becoming a better and svelte image. We will “weight and see!”

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PostHeaderIcon Girl Talk: Our Waiting to Exhale Session

By Vernalee

It started with my simple walk to the hotel lobby to deliver my best friend’s I pad; it ended with a unified bonding of four women who realized that we had more in common than not. Graduating from a scattered group to an unbreakable circle of cohesiveness is no small feat; but by evening’s end, we were committed to build further on the solidarity that we had established for an enjoyable eight hours. Yes, you read it right! We pulled an eight hour shift in the lobby that day!

It was more than tremendous fun and exciting games. Our experiences were hyphenated with lessons in friendship; punctuated with professional camaraderie that we swore upon the Cherokee oath to maintain. Though we did not cut our wrists to become blood sisters, the longer we talked – we realized that we have walked in each other’s moccasins. Our departure was sealed with the “Waiting to Exhale” embrace; we became bonded in an extraordinary way with a longing to preserve the uniqueness of our developing relationships. Naturally, we pledged that “what happens in Philly at a national convention stays in Philly!”

Let me paint the visual scene for you. Virtually travel with me to the lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott. Take a glimpse at four executive women – drinking, eating, talking smack, shooting the breeze, listening to the background music of the groovy Philadelphia sound of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “The love I lost” as we entertained ourselves and the numerous guests who wandered into our domain. Judiciously holding court in the lobby’s bar section, we were seated on two decorative chairs and a leather sofa. Out of our mouths came a continuous flow of conversational 411 verdicts on numerous people who approached the intersection of the lobby space that we occupied; temporarily owned, and called home, at least for that eight hour day. Unbeknownst to the passerby’s who approached us, we were sizing them up; particularly, the males.

Holding the figurative gavel as pronouncements were read was none other than the Mississippi Diva, a self-imposed and I must add well deserved and befitting title. Women like the Mississippi Diva only come around once every blue moon. Although I am from Mississippi, I am not referring to me; I do not own this covenant title, at least not yet. It belongs to another. This chosen one, unofficially elected the leader though none of us voted,
had an encompassing magnetic force to her spirit that drew person after person to her, and ultimately to us. What a skill set! Unanimously, she would be inducted in the Popularity Hall of Fame if there was one. Introductions to people, places, and things (mostly men) gracefully flowed out of her mouth. Do know that there are countless benefits from being around Miss Popularity! Who knows who you may meet or who may meet you when you are in the presence of someone who knows everybody!

In amazement, we all watched as she charismatically dished out her ubiquitous clichés. Delighted to see her fans, this diva eloquently gestured her well-practiced Queen Elizabeth hand wave to passersby’s as they warmly greeted her.

What was her draw? What made everyone stop, pull up a chair and talk to her as they joined our crowd? Was it her charismatic personality, wit, influence or southern charm? Was it her past chairmanship of a national association? With unresolved ambiguity, we knew not the correct response. We were however clearly cognizant that her appeal was unparalleled and worthy of duplication.

Her winsome demeanor was as captivating as her conversations. She told us about the countless young women who came to her for tips and lessons on engagement. To hear her tell it, “I may be a middle aged plus sized woman, but I can put these skinny Minnie’s to shame.” Unequivocally, we and others concurred.

One after one the conference attendees stopped at our temporary owned lobby nook; quote after quote, greeting after greeting, the diva rendered. Respectfully, she introduced us to the guests that we did not know. Nothing beats a confident woman who shares her contacts! I love friends who are selfless and will share. Don’t you?
Men kissed her hand over and over again. As their attention was affixed to her like superglue, she put several of them on the hot seat with her interrogation and scrutiny as if they had been naughty. Amazingly, none of them resisted and they even acted like they enjoyed every minute of her chastisement. Go figure? We girls observed, and held on to her every word. Was she a teacher in her own classroom and were we eager beaver students with a desire to learn her secrets? Who knows? What was evident was that we enjoyed the company of each other and when our eight hour conversational shift was over, our synergy was conspicuously evident as clearly the sum of our energies were greater than our individual parts. Our chemistries were amazingly compatible.

As the hours grew, and the drinks intermittently changed from wine to Martinis and back again, we worked up an appetite for food. Of course, it was an added benefit – in that one of the members – was a Marriott executive. Service was extraordinary and personal. Appetizer platters filled the table; after all, the alcoholic consumption had to be tempered with nourishment.

As we collectively heralded from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arizona, our dialogue landed into a zone common to most women. Trust me; there will rarely be a group of women with conversations of any type, (regardless of race, creed, color age, or socioeconomic status) where these two topics will not invariably rise up shouting for release – namely children / family and men.

Without debate, those of us who are Mothers all beam and light up like a 100 kilowatt bulb when we talked about our off springs. As angry as they can sometimes make us, children are our heart’s delight. We love our bundles of joy regardless of their age. They either sit on our laps as babies or rest on our hearts as adults. They never leave us. Never!

Moving on to the next topic; then came as Fred Sanford would prophetically call it, “The Big One.” Hold the drum rolls please! Our emotionally gender driven GPS cruised us to the next conversational stop sign, MEN! And just like the “Big One”, (the heart attack that the comedian Red Foxx joked about), men have the power to cause us women: heartbreak. Hopefully, we can stop the madness before the gravity and intensity of same escalate to a heart attack. Dominating our discussion was the headaches, heartaches and pain, intermingled with the beautiful love and terms of endearment that those wonderful male creatures dispersed in our lives. Let’s just call it a mixture of bittersweet flavoring.

Out of all the gossip, the dialogue, and the critiques came one unifying statement that infused us all. It was then that the commonality among us rose and landed dead center before our eyes.

After demonstrating her phenomenal “knock them of their feet” wine glass kiss – whereby the imprints of her bright red lipstick touches the wine glass of her male acquaintance; sealed with an invisible kiss – our Mississippi Diva uttered, “All I ever wanted was a good husband and four kids.” Neither graced her path. That statement was the common thread that laced us all together. We all wanted the same thing, perhaps excluding of course such a high number of noisy brats. Four children are a bit much for my individual specificity and liking, but… to each its own!

Mind you, the Diva did not waver in her quantification of her statement; her personification of her utopian dream. In her hierarchy of needs, she just wanted the basics. Her wish list did not include qualification specification. She did not say that she wanted her man to have this irresistible Denzel Handsomeness with Prince Charles’s wealth and President Obama’s swag; a mansion with 20 rooms sitting on the hill elaborately furnished with an indoor pool and a white picket fence; four “never do wrong” completely obedient children; a live in housekeeper (although she has one) to prepare her meals and clean her house; annual vacations in exotic cities like the French Riviera; a closet full of clothes like Mariah Carey; weekly spa treatment and the extravagant niceties of life and living; enough money to fill the vaults of the United States Treasury. She undoubtedly felt that she and her man could achieve it all! How about that! She only wanted her man’s warmth, gentleness and his love. The children and the materialism would follow.
With tear filled eyes as the alcoholic beverages kicked in and were taking their toll, simultaneously, we nodded in agreement as we all wanted the same things. In fact, undeniably, most women do!

Breaking it down to its most pristine element, obtaining the basics – a genuine man in tow – is easier said than done; forget about the man with the bells and whistles.

Upon the utterance of the Diva’s wish list, as simplistic as it is and sounds, we pushed our internal panic button as we realized that we had not reached our personal plateaus or achieved our goals. With our biological clocks ticking into the ozone and the number of available, “do right” men becoming smaller and smaller, the culture shock of it all was on a gigantic movie screen previewing before our very eyes.
We wondered how we managed to drift to that point. We all certainly tried to “have it all,” but somewhere along the line and during the years, we discovered that we could dream alone, but the realization of our companionship dreams was a collaborative venture. A cooperative partner was needed to make our dreams come true. That mere fact was the stumbling block, our incoherency of continuously trying to put a square peg in a round hole. A man was the missing ingredient; plain and simple.
But like the “Gone with the Wind” heiress said, “Tomorrow is a new day.” For us, that aged old quote is apropos. We are tremendously happy or “Getting to happy” with what life has brought to our doors. We will not abandon our searches for Mr. Right, (he’s out there…right?) but we will live life to the fullest as we maximize our potential.
We left our newly organized “Waiting to Exhale” session with a deep breath as we were radiantly motivated to turn this old but new page in our book of life. Rising from our seats being a little tipsy, we cannot wait to reunite. The linchpin, “Miss Tucson” herself, who brought us all together, in the first place is connecting us once again. She invited us to the hot 100 degree desert; to her oasis of milk and honey. Who cares about the scorching sun as long as we are harmonizing together! Keeping the camaraderie exchanges are prerequisites for solid bonding. Thus, our next rendezvous will be the Wigwam Jazz Fest to groove with Uncle Charlie, Last name Wilson, Chaka Khan, Gerald Albright and a few others. After we hear them sing those love songs, we will reminisce, walk down our memory lanes, resuscitate ourselves, rejoice at how far we have come and as the old spiritual echoes, “How we got over” (and through it all)!
At the end of the trip, I am positive that we will rejoice in our friendships, good times, and be glad we came! Then we can “exhale!” We can refreshingly let the breath of our growing friendship escape from our nostrils! Arizona …..Get ready for the divas, all four of us….Here we come!

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PostHeaderIcon “Chicken soup” simmered for my daughter / Throw away ingredients (even if it is a man) that have gone bad

By Vernalee
images soup

My Momma can take all of the dinner leftovers, add seasonings and other savored ingredients and make a delicious mouthwatering meal. Your taste buds would never discern the difference. What a cook she is!

I am noticing that my Momma’s namesake – my daughter – is duplicating her Granny’s efforts. Slightly different though are her ingredients. When my daughter is disappointed, she puts all of her disappointments in a bowl, stirs them up, and reflects on them over and over again. The irony is that many of her disappointments occurred because of the actions or lack thereof of others. She can neither change their wrongdoings nor change what happened. Thus, she could not have affected the final outcome anyway. Logical, isn’t it! Yet, she punishes herself. I have witnessed this time and time again. At first, I saw it as adolescent residue that perhaps resulted from growing pains. Now, I am counseling her to stop the madness! I repeatedly advise her, “Learn and move on to enhance your present and future life. Stop looking back!” Lot’s wife did. We know the end results there.

Life is a journey. Some days, we have a smooth ride; other days, there are bumps in the road. I say, “Learn from the past; live for today and prepare for the future.” Keep a balance by never “being anxious about tomorrow, for each day has its own anxieties.” Remember Jehovah Jireh! In fact, you my daughter taught me that principle. You routinely quoted the poetic verses every morning during your prayer time when you lived in Atlanta. May I suggest that you revert back to those days; they gave you peace, hope, and a calmness of spirit?

As I have learned from you, heed this advice from me! It’s very simple. When you throw away bad stuff, you are left with the positive attributes. Take the good from yourself and others; figuratively- make a good pot of chicken soup that tastes like a recipe from one of your Grandma’s scrumptious meals. You can never duplicate her taste, but get as close as you can. Use fresh ingredients, throw away bacteria infested products. You cannot produce goodness from badness; positivity from negativity.

In other words, “chop up” your relationship experiences, vigilantly learn from them, and aggressively move on; be better, rid yourself of bad influences / dishonorable people, and enjoy the splendors that each minute of the new day of your wonderful, blessed life brings! You deserve it!
Once you accomplish those tasks, you will smell an enticing aroma and partake of a delicious bowl of chicken soup. Oh yeah…now you’re cooking! Um, um, good!

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PostHeaderIcon His Utilitarian Value / How great he is when he performs services for me

By Vernalee

It does not hurt to integrate men in our lives for a particular purpose.
They, referring to the male species of the world, have been utilizing us in that capacity for years. All things considered, it can be a wonderful gesture to be a copycat. In other word, do as they do. Why reinvent the wheel? When you copy, there is no learning curve. You are guaranteed exact duplicative results as you merely imitate their actions. When we transfer their experienced techniques to our usefulness, we can use men for their utilitarian value. Certainly, they bring a lot to the table with their unlimited resources and their talents.

Alright! Stop the madness! I know what you are thinking, because I once had the same thoughts. I was the epitome of a strong, independent Black woman who felt that I could do it all. Trust me; you as I have no reason to feel guilty. Vacate those thoughts! Independence and guilt have their place. They are archaic principles in this situation that should be relegated to your past. Since “doing it all by myself with no help” was once my operational style, I had to let those medieval practices evaporate in the ozone stratosphere. I wouldn’t even ask for assistance. Everything was for hire. Time brings about a change and I have done a “360 degree – about face” “Once you know better; you do better.” I cannot thank you enough Dr. Maya Angelou for those words of wisdom!

Don’t think for one minute that you don’t know how to do this; how to rely on men.
Reflect upon how you have been used and you will be amazed at the proficiency of your skill set. Let’s explore this concept.

Can he do yard work? Bingo, you don’t have to hire a gardener! Rake in your savings. You can buy a Gucci bag with those funds.

Do you need a problem solver? Use his intellectual capital to help you solve issues. If you do it right, he will claim ownership and a sense of responsibility for your issues. Shazam! Try that on for size! Besides, two heads are better than one.

If he is mechanically talented, he can be your handyman. The dripping sink; those dirty walls that need a touch up paint job; the leaky roof; and your broken garage door can now be repaired by him. No worries. What he can’t do, I am sure that he can hire the right tradesman. Pow!

On those cold snowy days, you can drive out of your yard with relative ease because he has retained a snow plow service for those special times. Why break your back!

Stop feeling anxious and overwhelmed. He has used you for your utilitarian services and values – time and time again to his benefit. His tummy remains full, thanks to you! You bought and cooked the food. Remember? His house is cleaned; shirt laundered because of your loving kindness. You have been his sounding board for years! No wonder he is so wise and make sound decisions!

It’s not payback. It’s good judgment. It’s about a caring man anticipating your needs or you being courageous enough to ask for his assistance if he doesn’t. Guess what? He cannot justifiably criticize you for this approach. You followed the golden rule, “Do unto him, as he has done to you.” You learned it all from him. What a wonderful teacher he has been!

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PostHeaderIcon Keys to my house: Absolutely not!

By Vernalee
images - keys

Kindly, he asked me if he could have keys to my house. If he had keys, he would not have to disturb me and could let himself in with ease. What a thoughtful guy? Not so fast with that conclusion. If you want mine, will you surrender yours? Fair rule, right? Why did this man ask me for my key with no reciprocity? I felt insulted and told him so. “Don’t ask me for anything for which you are not willing to give.” The audacity of him!

That is why I made him aware of my cardinal rule.
“No man gets the keys to my house unless our last name is the same.” As marriage was a step that neither one of us were prepared to entertain at that point in time, nothing more needed to be said; case closed! No keys to your house; no keys to mine. A keyless guy he was then and a keyless guy he remained. Since he had the nerves to ask, I had the guts to honestly reply with a straight answer. Besides, when I keep my keys in my pocket, I will always be in control of who walks through my door. Agreed?

What’s your thought?

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PostHeaderIcon Check him out / Activate your detective gene

By Vernalee

You just met a new man who appears adorable. He is as cuddly as a teddy bear.
After a couple of dates, you noticed that conversations about any aspects of his past life were off limits and vague. He acted as if he was a new born infant with no history. Did this guy fall off the face of the earth? So it’s natural to be suspicious about his past. Can anyone be that secretive? Your talking mind wondered, “Is he hiding something?”

I am not suggesting running a background check, although that is your prerogative if you deem it necessary. The internet makes it very easy to accomplish that task. However, I am suggesting finding out as much as you can by “any means necessary.” Do your due diligence.

I recommend the face to face queries. It tells a lot. His body language, eye contact, and direct / indirect answers are very telling; dead giveaways in some instances. Sometimes your normal investigative methods can fail, because some people are natural born pathological liars. For some, to tell a lie is as natural as breathing air. Keep asking questions; keep seeking answers. The truths always rise to the top. You must keep your eyes opened. Nothing is fool proofed. Your checklist may be a book that you never close.

Thus, it is imperative that you stay on the alert! You can never let your guard down – sad to say, even when you share the last name, as in marriage.

If things are not what they should be, run! Get away from him as fast as you can! Your investigative instincts are probably right!

Photo Reprint: Sherlock Holmes – GIF Image

PostHeaderIcon Thank you Halle Berry: You are a true trouper

By Vernalee
Halle Berry 3

As Mothers, it is our job to protect our off springs. It’s only natural. Let’s take a look at our animal counterparts. Female lions are ferocious if intruders enter their den. Animals clearly mark their territories and draw territorial lines to eliminate doubt or confusion. If you are on the wrong side of the fence, you may be attacked without notice.

Thus, when invaders enter our private zones, like animals, our first response is to annihilate the enemy forces. Halle’s maternal instincts kicked in and her antennas went up when intruders came inside of her space. Deemed enemy forces, the paparazzi was inside her borders. Fearing that her daughter was in danger, she did the logical thing. She sought to eliminate their presence; she fought back.

When the uninvited guest got too close to Nahla, the battle lines were drawn and Mother Halle came out swinging with a Muhammad Ali jab. Go Halle!

I admire Halle for her boldness, her attitude, and her fight.
She did what any loving Mother would do. It stands to reason, “If you know what’s good for you, don’t mess with our babies and do respect their innocence! If you fail that test, you may find yourself in the boxing ring with us.

Halle, though I am not a celebrity (at least not by theatrical standards), I have been there! I have had to fight to restore dignity and respect for my children. I never had to use “the rope a dope” technique so famously utilized by Muhammad Ali, but I have demonstrated my “knock you out cold” emotional punches when invasions occurred on my babies’ sacred grounds. That was years ago, but have no fear, I will do it today if necessary. It is not off limits!

Great Job Halle! Protect who you love. Protect your baby! Your recent testimony before Congress and California lawmakers further demonstrates your zero tolerance as it relates to paparazzi harassment and stalking.

People must understand one important point about how we as Mommies come to the battlefield. Our armor is built in our souls. You can’t psyche us out. Our strength is overbearing. Like the Energizer Bunny, we are charged to full capacity.
Trust me. You do not want Mothers as opponents or sparring partners. We do not fight fair!
Just ask the paparazzi who encountered Halle on that sunny day in May 2012!

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PostHeaderIcon Observe how he treats his Mother / Don’t ignore the signs

By Vernalee

Short and sweet will be my words.
Before you blink your eyes, you will have the point. Statistically, the average man adores and loves his Mother. He treats her with the utmost respect; he is very protective of his Mother. If he treats you with similar outpourings of love and kindness, he may be a keeper.

However, if you are dealing with a man who is disrespectful to his Mother; uses profane language to her; is not attentive to her needs; does not remotely assist her; does not frequently visit or talk to her; has physically struck her, I extend the greatest caution to you! He is probably not what you want.

Simply put, if he is not right and loving to his Mother, it is highly likely that he will be the same way with you! It will only be a matter of time before his ugliness raises its head, if it has not remotely happened already.

Little or no discussion is required on this topic; it really is self-explanatory. If he doesn’t respect or shower his Mother with love, neither will he respect you.

Don’t second guess his behavior; don’t tolerate his excuses for his misconduct. Do get out of “Dodge” as fast as you can!

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PostHeaderIcon We women and our male friends: Is it allowed?

By Vernalee

My daughter has always had more male than female friends. She always sensed a greater compassion along with a relaxation and comfortableness in talking with the opposite sex.

Men as friends are indeed valuable. They bring a different perspective. They can be gems. Conversing with them to obtain a better understanding about your man or to acquire clarity on relationship issues can be a value-added benefit. Naturally so, they know men because they are men!

Why is it that the men in our lives don’t want us to have male friends? They frown upon and strongly discourage our male friendships. Many zealously resent that very thought. There is no logical rationale to this premise because they see no danger in their having female friends.

They voice reservations and objections on empirical data at best to reach the following unscientific conclusions:
Most romantic relationships start with friendships;
Men only want one thing namely – to get into your pants (i.e. sex);
They (the men) only want to be your friend to be nosy and acquire information about your man. Rest assured that the average man wants no one in his business;
Male friends can successfully inch themselves in your life because of their familiarity with you and your circumstances. You can be easily taken advantaged of or become susceptible prey.

Hmmm! Is he listening to what he is saying? Does it not work both ways? In reverse order, should you be wreaking the same havoc in your mind about him and his female friends? I consider it similitude at its finest. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Food for thought! Is he committing the same infractions with his female friends that he thinks you are allegedly doing with your male friends? If he can intelligently explain the difference between his female friends and your male friends, it stands to reason that you can acquiescence.

Years ago, it was once said to me by my guy, “Baby girl, it isn’t you that I don’t trust. I don’t trust men!” Wow, “It takes one to know one!” As brilliant as I can sometimes be, I never quite understood that statement. It sounded reasonable, but it was an oxymoron. Either he trusts me or he doesn’t. Why was he attempting to penalize me for the figments of his imagination? As there was no credence to his speculation, that was his burden to bear; not mine.

Thus, there are men that can be genuine friends with no ulterior motives.
I know because I have several. And, check this out!
I am not giving them up!

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