Life with Lupus: Any conversation can suddenly turn into a round of …

Hi again! Season’s greetings to all. It seems at this time of the year a lot of the attention goes to being grateful for good health, cherishing family and friends, and remembering good times. It can also be incredibly stressful. From shopping to cooking, the kids and visiting relatives, the holidays come with an assortment of unintentional stressors. So what do you do with all of that? There are those who, like myself, fall into a stress attack and breakdown.

Lupus is so not funny, but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Tis the season to be emotional. That’s what I and many others have to deal with. Just like with anything, sometimes you have to find an outlet the free your emotions and that’s where laughter comes into play. Watching a funny movie and laughing to the point of tears is very liberating. Just to see something out of the window has the capacity to bring about happy feelings that lead to a moment of laughter. It’s like taking a deep breath and letting it out. Instantly you feel a little better.

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I don’t consider myself to be a funny person or a comedian, but I have found that sharing stories of my family brings side splitting laughter. Wherever you can find it, laugh, tell a funny story, and laugh at a leaf. Whatever you need, just laugh it out. It works for me and I’m sure it will work for you. I am sharing some jokes I find funny and maybe you will laugh with me. Enjoy!!!!

Taking the seriousness out of lupus makes sense. If you can laugh at it, you can live through it.

  • A “good hair day” is when you realize you have some left.
  • You make a grocery list so you won’t forget anything, and then forget where you put the list. (On a REALLY bad day, you also forget where the grocery store is!)
  • You bathe the lawn, fertilize the dog, and brush the kids.
  • You use the smoke detector to tell you when dinner is done.
  • You can’t effectively argue with your husband anymore. ~ “I am mad as all heck at you! I just wish I could remember why! DAMMIT!”
  • You invent your own “Lupus Language” when typing.
  • Your medications take up the entire medicine cabinet.
  • Your wardrobe contains mostly sweat pants, stretch pants, T-shirts and a robe that never gets washed because that’s all you wear most days.
  • You’re on a first name basis with your doctor and the ER staff.
  • You can’t remember if the post-it note telling you to remember to take your pills is from yesterday, and you haven’t taken them today, or it’s one that you just wrote to remind you tomorrow?
  • Your husband asks you to go and stir the beans in the kitchen, and finds you brushing your teeth in the bathroom instead.
  • You bend over to tie your shoes and wonder, “What else can I accomplish while I’m down here?”
  • You find yourself at home, wishing that you were at work, wishing you were at home!
  • You call the same person three times in one day to tell them exactly what you told them the first time. –

These are just some ways in which I find laughter in my daily struggle. You can find more at: But You Don’t Look Sick

Laughing has been so beneficial for me. Laughter has such a medicinal purpose. I’m going to leave you with just a few of the benefits here.

Laughing …

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces stress hormone levels
  • Fun ab workout
  • Improves cardiac health
  • Boosts T cells
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • Produces a general sense of well-being

Physical Health Benefits

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Helps defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

Thanks for laughing with me.

catherine3Catherine is a wife and mother living in Cincinnati. In 2004, she was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune diseases where your white blood cells attack your red blood cells. Your body basically looses it’s line of defense. Lupus is often known as the invisible disease because it manifests itself in ways that aren’t outright and visible. Some days it’s extreme fatigue and other’s it’s extreme pain. Through this weekly column, Catherine hopes to help the world better understand what it means to live life with lupus.

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Jana is joining me in Dressember!

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Well it looks like we now have another one on the team! Meet Jana. Some of you may have already met her when I featured her on the blog several weeks ago (Jana and Women’s Rights in Nicaragua). She currently lives in Matagalpa, Nicaragua where she serves as a Peace Corps volunteer. She is someone fiercely concerned about women’s rights and changing the world. I feel privileged to call her a friend.

The other day she sent me a Facebook message telling me she wants to join my Dressember team! I’m so very excited. This simply means that she is going to join me in wearing a dress each day for the entire month of December to help raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. I cannot be more excited that she is joining myself and my best friend Kayleigh on our A World of Dresses Dressember team. So to say thanks, here are 8 reasons why Jana is awesome.

  1. The Peace Corps. This girl committed two and a half years of her life to live with a lot less than she has been accustomed to while living in a culture completely new to her. I commend anyone who does that. She will be forever changed for the better from her experience.
  2. Her sense of justice. Jana has a passion in her about what is right and she advocates fiercely for it.
  3. How she stands up to the catcalls of men in Nicaragua. She talks about this more in-depth in Jana and Women’s Rights in Nicaragua, but she does not take any of their sh–. As she has become fluent in Spanish, she actually approaches them and tells them exactly how she feels about how they objectify women.
  4. Her concern for public health. She is so very passionate about it.
  5. Her curly hair. At times, I wish I had curly hair.
  6. The fact that that one time we joked that the real hardship to being in Nicaragua was that there are like only three beer choices. She’s from Portland, Oregon, the capitol of microbreweries, so it’s been rough.
  7. She teaches yoga.
  8. During the month I spent in Nicaragua, it was just nice to have a pal.

Thanks Jana. If anyone else has interest in joining our Dressember team, make sure you visit www.dressember.org/participatex/ and select A World of Dresses as your team!

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Laura and the life of an immigrant

DSC_0177I spend my days working with immigrants at Su Casa Hispanic Center. Several weeks ago, I attended an event about immigration and Laura was one of four college students who told their stories. She moved to the United States when she was four from Colombia. Her family was escaping violence. She is undocumented but is able to attend college because of DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals), a law that was put into place to allow undocumented immigrants who came over before the age of 16 the opportunity to go to school or work. We hear a lot about immigration and will start to hear more as the election rolls around. So often, if we just get to know people with different experiences than ours, our opinions change for the better. At the end of the day, I’m no better than Laura. It was sheer luck and chance that I was born a United States citizen and thus will never have to experience things she has. I’m so grateful that she was willing to tell her story on here. I hope it makes you think.

Name: Laura
Age: 19
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio; born in Bogota, Colombia

Do you have any memories of the first several years of your life in Colombia?

Most of my memories are of right before I left. We lived in my grandma’s house. I remember that very well. It was very crowded. A big thing in my family we called porunchos. We pretty much would all just like cuddle in my grandma’s bed, even though it would be like 10 different people … I don’t remember too much, though. I just remember we weren’t well off, we weren’t dirt poor. We were just kind of there, I feel like. My parents owned a car body shop. I loved being there. I remember me and my sister would always be there. I guess they would build things and they would have wood shavings in there. And so we’d build things with it. They have pictures of me doing that. But I remember that a lot, playing in there. It wasn’t in the best neighborhood. I think that was one of the reasons my parents would get so many threatening calls and things like that. I don’t remember too much.

So your parents would get threatening calls?

According to what my sister and my parents had told me, it wasn’t that unusual. I think what was unusual from that one call that made us come here was how much they knew about us, which was my sister’s information. So when she came to school, when she came home, her bus number, our address … just very, very personal information. My parents took it very seriously.

So what exactly was that call about? They said they knew all this stuff about you, but what were they threatening to do?

Money. I don’t know too much about exactly what went on. I just know that it was most-likely money. Colombia wasn’t the safest place at the time. My parents … it was either my dad or my sister who told me, but my dad has been held at gunpoint before. Things have been stolen from us. It wasn’t that safe. When we left, it wasn’t that uncommon, people leaving. Later on I started looking up things. I found out that Colombia has one of the highest rates of displacement, which means like people have left their homes and either gone abroad or somewhere else in Colombia. Colombia has one of the highest rates of displacement, so my family was among thousands of families that fled because the violence was so bad there. Now it’s getting a lot better. It’s not as bad as it used to be. There are certain parts of Colombia that are still pretty bad and you have to look out for, but what I’ve heard and what I’ve read, it’s not as bad as when we left.

So after that call happened that was really scary, you guys decided to come to the US.

So my dad, these are my parents words, my dad told me that after two weeks or a month or so, my dad came here and then we followed after like three months. So my dad came here because my aunt lives here. So I asked my mom because I’m going to Costa Rica and the reason why I was so interested in Costa Rica is because Costa Rica has one of the most friendly immigration/refugee policies. Most of their refugees are actually Colombian. So that interests me a lot. So I asked my mom why we came to the US? Did you ever think of going to another place? And she was like “well, your aunt lived here and that just seemed like the best decision.” So I asked her what if my aunt wasn’t living here and she was like “I have no idea where we would be.” So that kind of is an interesting thing. We had someone here. Most people don’t have someone here. That ends of being why a lot of people cross the border because that’s their last resort.

So your aunt had a cleaning business here in Cincinnati and you guys came to work with her? Did you come over on tourist visas?

Yeah we came over on tourist visas. So my parents told me we were going to Disneyworld. So we went there. I don’t remember any of it, surprisingly. I remember sleeping on the bench after all of it (laughs). But we went there. We were there for a while and then we went up to Cincinnati.

What was going through your head when you first came to the United States? Do you remember any of that?

It’s all a blur. I feel like I was very indifferent to everything. I don’t know if it was because there was so much changing that it just like flew over my head or what, but I don’t remember much as to my opinion. I just remember we were coming to Cincinnati and my parents were like “this is your new home!” And I’m like “okay, I guess?”

So you had said in your story that your sister was able to buy you all a house. How does that feel now to have something permanent?

DSC_0190We finally have something that’s our’s here … It’s really hard to buy a house if you’re undocumented. I believe it’s like for anybody else, you can put 10% down. Typically for undocumented people, it’s like 15-20% down that you have to put. A lot of the things that we do, we have to think of them as not permanent. I mean when my sister first told me that she wanted to buy a house, I was almost against it. I was like “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” My dad refuses to get a new car because he’s like “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. What if we buy a new car and then end up getting deported or something?” Nothing’s really permanent in our lives.

What is that like? What kinds of fears does that bring?

Driving. My dad drives everywhere … Kentucky, Dayton, all throughout Ohio and Kentucky as well. So he’s constantly driving. His car looks very beat-up. It’s my aunt’s car from when we moved here. It’s a 1996 I think, model. So it’s really old and it’s gone through a lot. So that scares me. Cops typically look at old cars and kind of scope them out a bit. And it does look sketchy in certain neighborhoods. So it does worry me when my dad drives. My parents have been pulled over a couple of times. My mom got pulled over two years ago for speeding. Luckily nothing happened. My parents are friends with a bunch of lawyers, apparently, so that’s vey helpful. The court that my mom went to was not Butler County. Butler is known for being really terrible when it comes to immigrants and undocumented people. They are literally trying to scope them out. That is there mission. So my mom was fine. My dad once got pulled over for a tail light and he was fine. But we’ve been very lucky. One of the top ways that people get deported is because of driving.

People get pulled over and then have to show their papers.

Yeah but Cincinnati is oblivious. I guess we fall under the radar. I think if we lived in a place like Texas, for example, or somewhere in the South, this would be a bigger issue. We fall under the radar. But it’s still scary. They used to do raids around here. I don’t think they do it too often anymore. When we first moved here, my parents worked in factories. So my mom would have, I specifically remember this, I would cry when my mom would go to work. She would go from like 6 to 2 in the morning, and I hated that. My sister was my babysitter at like nine years old. They had to work a lot and my parents couldn’t afford a babysitter. They didn’t even know how to get a babysitter. So that was difficult. A lot of it is just the driving part. We don’t have to worry about raids because my parents own their own businesses, practically. But when they did work in the factories, I didn’t realize how scary that actually was.

So that’s pretty typical. ICE (Immigration and Customs) will come to a factory and just check everyone’s immigration status, basically?

Yeah. I’m pretty sure they’ve done that with construction. So that’s still a little bit of a worry with my dad (he works in construction). So when my parents worked, either my sister would have to take care of me or typically, we’d just go to work with them even though we weren’t supposed to. We would go to work with them and there was this huge paper on the wall about all the rules and regulations. And there was a big section that was the immigration part. It would always make me laugh after I found out about our situation.

When did you find out that you guys were undocumented?

15. So probably a little bit before then, my best friend’s family was real close with my family. Her older sister was studying to become a lawyer and so my sister opened up to her. And her older sister kind of told my best friend and then she kind of told me. But I guess some of the stuff I would say didn’t add up. I didn’t catch on to it, but her family did. So I remember one day I was walking with my friend and we started talking about things. And she was like “have you ever thought of why these things don’t add up? Have you ever asked your parents? Have you ever questioned anything?” And I was like “no. I never thought of that.”

What sorts of things wouldn’t add up?

So the fact that some of our bills were under my aunt’s name. The fact that my parents, when it came to driving, I remember specifically when our car broke down, and my parents would freak out and I didn’t understand why that was a big deal. The fact that the seatbelt … my parents freaked out about that. Not just because of my safety but because they don’t want to get pulled over for that. The fact that we hadn’t been back to Colombia in so long. That was odd because it’s expensive but not to the point that we shouldn’t have been able to go for over 15 years. The fact that we had to go to Indianapolis or Chicago to go to the embassy for things. There’s just a lot of random things that were odd. So I didn’t know what I was. I didn’t know if I had a green card. A lot of people would ask. Which you would think something like that is so personal, but people would ask “are you a citizen? Do you have a visa? Do you have a green card?” And I didn’t know these terms. My parents had never talked about it. Surprise, but I never tried to figure out what these things were. So I would just lie about what I was. I didn’t know why I was lying, but I did.

So when you found this out, how did you feel?

DSC_0178It was funny because my friend gave me the “maybe you should start questioning things” and then my sister was talking to my parents and they were like “we need to tell her.” My sister told me when we were on a walk. My mom didn’t want to see me cry about it. I guess she didn’t want that to happen. So my sister wanted to tell me beforehand so that when my mom told me, it wouldn’t be a big deal. And when my sister told me I was like “oh, that’s fine. It’s not a big deal.” It was almost a relief because she was like “I have this huge thing” and I was like “oh, that’s all you had to tell me? Like I already had an idea about it.”

So at the time I didn’t realize exactly what it meant to be undocumented. It wasn’t until a little bit later. When I turned 16 … oh that was another thing that didn’t add up. Every time I talked about driving, she would get so mad at me. I’m like “why are you getting mad at me? This is a normal thing!” It was just like “I don’t wanna talk about it!” I didn’t know why she would be upset and why she didn’t want to talk about it. I remember in school we talked about the citizenship thing you have to go through. They simplify it so much. Oh you take a test, you have to speak English, you have to do this. I would get mad at my parents and I’m like “in school, we learn this. It’s not that hard. Why aren’t you doing this? Why aren’t you taking this seriously?” And my mom would refuse to talk to me about any of that stuff, so that didn’t add up. After I found out and it came time to get my temps and then college came around, thats when I felt what it meant to be undocumented. Everyone was getting their temps and were asking why you weren’t getting your temps. “Oh, driving school is too expensive. I’m going to wait until I’m 18 and I can drive.” Things like that, I had to lie about a lot.

When it came to college, nobody in my family knew what to do about college. My parents thing had always been do well in school, get good grades and the rest should take care of it’s self type of thing. So luckily my best friend’s family kind of helped me with that a little bit … When it came to financial aid, I think that’s when it got really, really rough.  That’s when I knew I was undocumented, when it came to college. I think it was the college part that just hit me because every time I looked at scholarships, citizen was tied to it. When I looked at how much college costs, my parents could barely afford many things. So I remember crying in my friend’s car saying I have no idea how I’m about to do this on my own. I have no idea how I’m supposed to pay for all of college. I don’t want to ask my parents for help because they can’t help. That was the biggest thing for me. I was a decent student. I wasn’t the smartest, but I did well in academics. By midway through high school, my biggest goal was to do mostly AP and accelerated classes. My parents had always said “if you do well, something has to happen. If you push yourself, something has to happen.” And so I pushed myself to do the most that I could because in my mind, I thought “if I do all this, how could something not happen for me? How could I not go to college if I push myself to do all these things?” And summer of junior year was the first time I thought “maybe that doesn’t happen. Maybe no matter how hard you push yourself, shit doesn’t happen sometimes.” And it did. I’ve been very lucky how things lined up.

So you’re able to go to college because of DACA?

So when I said I wasn’t a great student, I got a 27 on my ACT but not enough for academic scholarships. So I would look into diversity scholarships. Each time citizenship was attached to it. Lulac at a point required citizenship. I believe the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce had citizenship required at some point. So all these scholarships had citizenship attached to it. And then I got DACA and I looked into UC and found the Darwin D. Turner Scholarship. It was funny because their’s didn’t explicitly say that you needed to be a citizen. They had about six different requirements you had to have, one of which was that you had to have in-state tuition. At the time DACA or undocumented students could not get in-state tuition. UC would have cost me 23,000 because I would have been considered an international student at most schools … that was … I had no idea how I was supposed to afford that. But when my senior year rolled around, Governor Kasich announced that he was going to let all Ohio schools let DACA students get in-state tuition. UC’s Darwin T. Turner Scholarship, all it said was that you need to be able to get in-state tuition. So I kind of found my loophole … a lot of things were opening up for DACA students my senior year. That’s extremely lucky.

So a lot of things opened up my senior year. So when I tell my story, that’s one thing I want people to keep in mind. I have been lucky, or blessed or whatever you want to call it because most people don’t get that opportunity. My sister, nothing happened during that time. Most students don’t even know that these things are happening. And for most … I have a couple of friends who are undocumented and they were able to go to college. I have no idea how they did it. They had nothing in place for them.

So that worry of losing your DACA … what’s that like?

DSC_0188Nothing’s permanent. If I can sum up my experience, it’s that nothing’s permanent and nothing’s yours. College is a big part where you’re always planning ahead. I don’t know how many professors and advisors have asked me what I plan to do after I graduate. What internships are you looking for? And now many time I’ve been told to start looking things up now and I can’t do that because I don’t know what’s going to happen when I graduate. That’s one of the most annoying things. I remember my director … she knows my story to the bone. I’ve told her everything. One of her questions was “where do you see yourself in 5 years? Even 10?” And I said “I can’t even tell you where I see myself in two years. I can’t see myself past DACA. Once that expiration date, I can’t even tell you what happens to be honest.” So that’s always in the back of my head when it comes to planning my future because I can’t. Research opportunities, internship opportunities … most of them have citizenship tied to them. A lot of it is just planning and it’s hard when your future is so shaky.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about immigrants?

So many … so many so many so many. The fact that people think citizenship is so easy to get. Nobody knows … I don’t even know the process. It’s complicated. I haven’t even been able to go through with it myself. I’ve read about it and things, but I don’t even know to the full extent. But it’s difficult to get here, let alone have some sort of status in here. I remember … so my parents tried to apply for asylum and had a really terrible lawyer who told them they couldn’t apply for it, which we could have. But they don’t accept many refugees. If you’ve heard about the Syrian crisis … people here are so afraid of refugees, people are so afraid of immigrants, which is funny when you hear “America, the land of immigrants!”

Throughout history we’ve always been terrible to immigrants. That’s something that I’ve studied any time that I’ve had to do a research project, I’ve always done it on immigration. The first time I got exposed to it was my AP American History class. I had to a 20-page research paper on a major event and so I did the 1925 immigration act. So I got to study all the history of immigration and all the policies that went with it. We’ve been really terrible to immigrants throughout history. People have this idea that immigrants are going to take jobs and they’re terrible people. Or they’re immoral or as Trump wants to say “Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers and things that.” So a lot of it is based on fear. A lot of the assumptions. Obviously you get your bad people with anything, but that doesn’t mean were all like that. If anything, we’re mostly not like that. So the the biggest misconception is that citizenship is easy to get and it’s not. Not at all. Getting refugee status as we’re starting to learn, is not easy at all. You can’t just come in and that’s how people want to view it. Luckily my family didn’t get to experience it but a lot of families do.

Crossing the border is not fun and dandy. If you’re a woman and you’re crossing the border, you’re most likely going to get raped. You’re most likely going to get mugged, if you don’t die there. The chances of you dying are pretty high as well. They have found so many bodies in the desert. And so all these deceptions that these processes are so easy and they’re not. People don’t just come here because it’s fun. It’s because that’s their last resort. I read through Facebook comments, which is the worst thing you can do. What I’ve seen a lot of people say is “why don’t you just go back to your country and try to fix it? Aren’t you a little bit of a coward for not trying to help your country be fixed?” And it’s not that easy. It’s not easy to do that. It’s not that people don’t have pride in their country, it’s the fact that their lives are on the line. And for the most part when people are crossing the border, they’re not saying “oh, I’m going to break a law today!” That’s not on their head. What’s on their head is they’re either trying to escape poverty or they’re trying to escape violence, pretty much. I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize … how much harder it is. It’s a privilege to be born here. People are so entitled to that. “Oh, what did you to deserve to be here?” And people don’t realize what we’ve put into. Another misconception about undocumented people is that we don’t pay taxes. Yes, we pay taxes. A lot of us do. The number of people actually paying taxes has risen a lot in the past few years. We are one of the major contributors to the welfare programs because we put in a lot of taxes that we can’t take out. We can’t receive any welfare.

Anything else you want to add?

Yeah my trip to Costa Rica! So for DACA, you can apply for advanced parole. Advanced parole pretty much means … you pay like $300. Pretty much you apply for this thing and you have to show that you’re going abroad either for school, work or there’s a family crisis. You have to have obviously a bunch of proof on that. And then typically it takes two to four months to get a notice. Through advanced parole … it’s a lot of money to spend to even think about going abroad. I’ve already spent close to $1,000 and I’m not even sure if I can get into Costa Rica.

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Small Business Saturday: Amy and Ayurveda

DSC_0172One of my favorite things about Amy is her calming presence. I’ve known Amy for about four years now, and she makes you feel so at ease in her presence. Like you could tell her anything, free of judgement or embarrassment. This sort of intimacy she builds with those in her life make her great at her work, which is Ayurveda. In Cincinnati, Amy runs her own Ayurvedic practice called Dosha Know.

Ayurveda is an ancient form of holistic healing, originating from Tibet/India region in the Himalayan Mountains. It is said to be the most ancient form of medicine. It’s at least 5-10,000 years old. A group of rishis (meditators) in the Himalayas sort of founded Ayurveda together through their visions. They realized in their attempts to reach Nirvana in their meditations that their success was only as strong as their body. They thus began to then ask themselves how to reach optimal health. Through their meditations, they began to get amazing insight on how the human body worked. All of these insights have actually checked out with modern-day science.

“If you think about it, it’s quite amazing,” said Amy. “They could see the insides of the human body through their meditations without any labs, without any equipment and without anything, because it didn’t exist yet.”

Many of the texts of Ayurveda were burnt and lost during the time that the French and British controlled India. To them, Ayurveda was threatening. However Ayurveda was still kept alive orally. Once India re-gained it’s freedom, Ayurveda came back to life.

Amy discovered Ayurveda during her time spent in California. Amy left her hometown of Cincinnati when she was 18 to attend college at the University of Southern California and ended up spending about 5-6 years out there. During her time out West, she became interested in all sorts of holistic things such as yoga and meditation. While she got a degree in film, she knew she probably would not pursue that as a career and thus was looking elsewhere. Instead of obsessing about figuring out exactly what she was to do, she found the American University of Complementary Medicine through a google search, and set up an appointment with an advisor there. He suggested she look into Ayurveda. This was back in 2007, so Ayurveda was very much un-heard of in the Western world. It intrigued her because it touches on everything from yoga to psychology to nutrition and more.

“It seemed like a practice that would draw on all of my strengths and it wouldn’t confine me to just doing one thing,” she said. “So I decided to go for it and I studied for several years.”

DSC_0166

Amy studied at AUCM for three years and earned two certificates, one in Ayurvedic Medicine and one is Advanced Ayurvedic Medicine. She’s also Reiki level one and two certified. A majority of her training was spent working with clients, which is where you best learn, she says.

“I’ve always been really grateful for my mentor for pushing me to actually work with actual human bodies,” she said. “That made me feel more equipped to go out and actually do this.”

Now spends her time seeing clients in the Cincinnati area in her College Hill space and teaching others interested in Ayurveda. Many in the Midwest have an interest in Ayurveda but no program for them to learn like Amy had in California. So she’s looking to starting one here. She hopes to create a certificate program like the one she studied with in California.

A lot of her job is taking Ayurveda, which is an ancient form of medicine coming from an Eastern culture far different than the United States, and making it relevant for Americans in 2015. Starting off, this is what she first goes over with her clients during their first meeting. Often times, that means translating Ayurvedic texts to make them relatable and workable in our culture.

“The beautiful thing about Ayurveda is that it speaks in essences,” she said. “It doesn’t speak in absolutes. It gives you essences, which is cool because you can take the essence of what the text book is trying to tell you and it’s very translatable. You just have to put everything in context all the time.”

Defining it in literal terms has been hard at times. Over the years, she’s developed a handbook that she goes over with her first time clients, because her first appointment with a client is the most important. The more trust she can gain, the more the client will open up about what they are dealing with and the easier it will be for the two of them to work towards a long-term solution.

After this initial meeting, the next meeting is the Ayurvedic evaluation, which has several facets including a psychological evaluation, a pulse examination and other similar things. Often times, the body will resist because the body naturally protects itself, she said. Often, conditions exist because they are protecting the body. This can be challenging and at first, this often means they simply treat the symptoms. However they treat the symptoms as they dig deeper to find the root of what is going on. Once they get to the bottom of it, they can start being aggressive in treatment.

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“We really do have to work with the body’s pace and we have to work with the psyche’s pace as well, because those two forces are working together,” she said. “They do what they do because they’re protecting the body. So it’s my job to read and understand the pace at which this body and this psyche is willing to be pushed.”

Bodywork and nutrition are places where she often starts. Nutrition, she says, is something that is always a good starting point because everyone benefits from good nutrition. Also, it can take a month or two to really see the positive affects of nutrition, so it’s best to start on it in the beginning. Ayurvedic nutrition focuses on proper digestion, first and foremost. So it’s more about how you eat than what you eat.

Amy finds her work to be incredibly rewarding. She loves helping people to heal and better their health. For example, she had a woman who was having trouble conceiving a child. Through their work together, she was able to successfully get pregnant. She wouldn’t trade these feelings of helping people for the world, she says. It makes her really want to spread the word.

“It’s the only health approach that I’ve seen that creates real long term results,” she said. “In Ayurvedic medicine, we don’t treat symptoms. We treat the disease and it’s a long process doing the detective work figuring out where the disease stems from. But for a client who is dedicated to their health and is willing to put in the time, it’s perfect.”

If you would like to learn more about Dosha Know, visit their website. Amy is currently accepting new clients.

 

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Tabatha’s Tiny Closet

It was a Monday like none other. Mondays are my day off, so I find myself scheduling meetings and interviews for A World of Dresses. However taking photos of a tiny house was a little different. And I was excited.

Tiny houses have gotten some buzz recently. Perhaps it was the various articles on the Internet or that documentary on Netflix. I’m guilty as I have watched both. While I’m not sure if I’d ever live in a tiny house, they are so very intriguing. So when my friend Daveen told me she had a friend who lived in one with her husband and two dogs, I was fascinated. Furthermore, I was told that she too often wears dresses. I was sold. I had to write about her.

The tiny house that they inhabit is a tad different than the ones you may have read about. The two of them bought an old truck trailer and are in the process of turning it into a comfortable home. Their last home was a 1200 square foot loft in Over-the-Rhine, which they moved out of just about two months ago. They have been working on this house for the past year. Going from the city to a tiny house in Northern Kentucky is quite a change. And for Tabatha, a welcomed change as she commented on how much she enjoys the peace and quiet. Her two dogs seem to love it too.

As I park my car, I’m greeted by a woman in a blue and black polka-dotted dress. “Oh gosh, I sure hope you’re Nina,” she says to me. I knew she was Tabatha because why else would a woman in a fabulous dress ascend from a trailer of a truck?

She led me around to the back of the trailer. A set of stairs lead up to the actual truck.

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In short, Tabatha is always down for adventure. She said she’s the friend her friends often call when they want to do something crazy or need some weird favor. So while her husband Noah often comes up with the crazy ideas such as moving into a tiny house, she’s the one who will actually help him carry out the big ideas. People often ask “how did you convince your wife to do this?” However she just laughs as there was hardly any convincing. Both have a desire to travel and careers they can take on the road, so a tiny house is absolutely perfect.

Featuring a woman of a tiny house is kind of neat. With a tiny house, you really have to pair down what you own. The dresses she chose for the shoot were the ones that made the cut.

“Especially in a tiny house, I can’t just splurge on things,” she said.

She looks for unique, one of a kind dresses. As a result, many have been found on Modcloth.

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This here is her newest dress, which she says is sort of a wildcard for her. Big floral prints can be challenging as she doesn’t want to look matronly. Yet this one doesn’t look matronly at all.

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This is her other dress that has that 1950’s silhouette look. I was amazed by the amount of poof both dresses had. Her secret is a brown crinoline slip that she recently found at a local vintage store.

“I love something that has a full body,” she said. Also, the twirl factor is important. She showed me … she can definitely twirl in both of these.

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This pink hour glass, pinup-style dress is one of her favorites. Several years ago, she had a work party with the theme black, white and pink. She ordered this for it and it was a week late! So while she never had the chance to wear it to that party, she has worn it many times since.

“If I had an excuse to wear this everyday, I’d be all about it,” she said.

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Next, we decided to shoot a few photos inside the home. The bedroom part was one she was excited to show off. That was one of the first rooms they had worked on. The dress here also has a fantastic story. She found it at a store in Portland, Oregon that takes old pieces of clothing and sometimes even furniture, and turns them into clothing. Often times, there’s only one or two of one dress because of this. So with this dress, she never has to worry about someone else wearing it too.

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The one she ended with was pretty amazing. I love the bold prints.

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“I feel like life is too short to be wearing boring things,” she concluded.

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8 steps to ensure an amazing girl’s night

Last Friday was the culmination of something I’d been looking forward to all week. It was Girls Night! It all started when Rita (My Closet: The Lovely Rita) decided we needed a girls night. She decided our friend Alex, who is a mother of two small children, she needed a night out. And boy, was she right. So the three of us plus Lauren (Lauren the Activist) decided about two weeks ago to have a girls night. I could tell from our group texts the week leading up to the shindig that it would be crazy. And it was.

We had an amazing time that started with drinks/snacks in Rita’s Covington apartment and ended at the Anchor in Covington, with several stops in OTR in between. I’m convinced we entertained all of our uber drivers and shared a few too many crazy stories. Looking back, it really was the perfect girls night. People stereotype groups of women to be caddy and dramatic. I cannot tell you how many women I’ve met that say “Oh I don’t get along with other women.” I think that is such a shame. I have been so blessed by all the women in my life. That’s one of the many reasons I started this blog. So in reflection of last Friday, I’ve decided to list my steps for an amazing girls night.

  1. 3-5 women who know each other well. Girls nights are like therapy. Sometimes you just need to vent, so feeling comfortable around everyone is key.
  2. A plan that is editable. You need to choose something fun for the whole group but yet be willing to spontaneously change it. Because you just never know when one of your friends gets into a dance battle, you decide to jump into a swimming pool or dye your friend’s hair. Girls nights were made for spontaneity.
  3. A gathering spot to build excitement. You have to get psyched somewhere. Also getting ready together can be part of the fun.
  4. Shared consumable goods. For us, that was alcohol. I brought a wine called “Little Black Dress” and Alex brought a mango vodka mix called “Kinky.” We also ate hummus, chips and veggies. Whether you drink alcohol or not, people gather around food and drink.
  5. Ladies who are real. We had some really amazing conversations because we all just came as we were that day. There was no need to be anyone else.
  6. Lots of dancing and sometimes singing.
  7. Late night food. Enough said.
  8. Spontaneous sleepovers, if necessary.

It was a night to remember for sure. We will have many more. Also I convinced two of the three ladies to wear a dress with me. Even though Lauren opted for a blazer, she still looked amazing! Here are some favorites from the night:

 

 

 

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Kayleigh is joining me in Dressember!

Hey friends! Remember my post about Dressember last week? If not, you can read it here: Why Dressember is important to me. One thing that I mentioned is that I want to participate with a team this year. Last year, I was the only person I knew participating. I definitely had a great time, though. I also raised money for a good cause and exceeded my goal, thanks to family and friends who contributed. However this year I know with more ladies by my side, we can together make a bigger splash (or should I say ruffle? This is Dressember, after all). I’m so very exciting because the first lady to agree to join me is my best friend Kayleigh! So in honor of Kayleigh, I’m going to list the top 10 reasons why she rocks.

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  1. She works very hard. She’s currently working on a Master’s in Speech Pathology while working full time as a middle school Spanish teacher.
  2. We share the same second language. It is Spanish, though, so it’s not exactly our secret language. But it will help as we have plans to travel together in the Spanish-speaking world this Spring.
  3. She’s an amazing dog momma to Dunie, a Carolina Dingo that she rescued.
  4. She’s up for any adventure (like Dressember).
  5. While she’s always been the preppier one and I’ve always been more eccentric, at the core we share almost identical world views. This is more important, anyway.
  6. Even though we live about 9 hours apart, we regularly text each other our outfits to make sure all looks good. A second opinion is always good, even if she is in South Carolina.
  7. We can both quote Mean Girls frontwards and backwards. We often find ourselves quoting it when together.
  8. Her curly hair. I sometimes wish I had curly hair.
  9. We’re both pretty extroverted. Like neither of us really have to ponder the whole extrovert/introvert thing. We simply both get our energy from time spent with people.
  10. We both often strike up conversations with strangers (again, the whole extrovert thing).

 

Thanks Kayleigh!

Throughout the month of December, Kayleigh will be featured on the blog as well as the blog’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.

If you’d like to join us in Dressember, we’d love to have you! Men can participate too. Last year, men wore bow ties if they wanted to participate. If you have questions or would like to participate, please e-mail me at aworldofdresses@gmail.com

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Life with Lupus

catherine2Tuesdays we’ve decided to start a new weekly column. Remember me, Catherine? If not, read Catherine’s triumphs over lupus and homelessness. I have been living with lupus since 2004. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where your white blood cells are fighting off your red blood cells. You basically have no protection. Some days you’re really tired, some you’re in a lot of pain and others you feel just fine. With modern medicine, however, people live with lupus for many years. I am one of them. My hope is through this weekly column, I can help the rest of the world better understand the struggle that comes along with lupus.

 

 

“You never know how strong you are… until being strong is the only choice you have.”
― Cayla Mills

Living with lupus is …..

I never knew the capacity I had until my life depended on it, as my world was systematically being pulled apart.  It was like nothing I have ever been through. Lupus came charging into my life like bull out of his pen.
My family was equally afflicted by my condition. Living with lupus is a lot like those group treatment programs for whatever abuse that person has. I mean to say that lupus has steps and stages.

Step 1: Bewilderment

Step 2: Confusion

Step 3: Depression

Step 4: Anguish

Step 5: Realization

Step 6: Contemplation

For me, I tend to bounce through the steps, not really staying on one and coming back to others. I would imagine, however, that it looks different for each individual. If you struggle with lupus or know someone who does, I want to leave you with these helpful tidbits: don’t blame yourself, have control over your lupus and don’t let it control you.

Stay tuned next week for humor with lupus style.

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Not your mom’s PTA

It’s not every day that you walk into a theatrical performance and find empty bags of chips, water bottles and a pizza box strewn on the floor. If it wasn’t a part of the show, I’d be a little confused. Instead, I was amazed. It was all a part of the pre-show for the Contemporary Dance Theater’s fall Performance and Time Arts show, or PTA for short. But this is not your mom’s PTA. That is definitely for sure.

If you’re amazed by the pre-show, you know you’re in for a treat. I definitely was. The evening included a series of poetry, spoken word, dancing, singing, multi-media and visual arts. The show is based on Director Diana Ford’s Facebook blog entitled Welcome to America: There’s Gotta be Something Better Than This Crap. Diana created the page as her final project when she got her Master’s in Liberal Arts with a concentration in humanities and social justice. Themes of social justice, the state of our world and community were very evident throughout the entire performance. She hopes to turn it into a full theatrical production this next year.

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Brinkston Kelly representing the party girl

As I walked in, there were several still models in various poses on the stage. These models would later be a part of a fashion show during the production. That part was the work of Pamela Carter Pitts and her business L’BAE (which stands for Living Blessed and Empowered). Each model represented a way in which the world can negatively influence us: rich, poor, technology, party life and body image. Her whole business is around the idea of letting go of negative worldly influences and living out who you are. Here are a few more from the pre-show:

 

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Allana Tolbert representing wealth

 

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Daaiyah Pates portraying homelessness

The show included several contemporary dance acts and a lot of amazing poetry. One of my favorites was the group Sister Circle, a group that began as a women’s support group in Winton Terrace. The PTA was their first performance as a group and they were all very excited about it.

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The Sister Circle ladies

The eight ladies came out on stage looking fabulous. Each woman wore the same Sister Circle purple shirt, black pants and yellow flower in her hair. The performed a variety of spoken word and song about growing up, hardships, resiliency and their neighborhood. You could tell that their strength has been in their time spent together and sharing life.

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Several of the dancers

The evening continued with many other neat performances. There were several African drummers and dancers. There was poetry recited about slavery and racism. The evening concluded with Diana and her dancers performing pieces inspired by her blog page. As they performed, media was projected in the background. Themes of social justice and apathy were projected onto the screen. It’s so neat when art can be used to make us think deeper about the world. In a time when millions are tweeting and Facebooking about everything from important issues to pictures of food, things can get a little lost in the shuffle. Yet when performed, you see them in a different way.

 

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Dancers Rufan Li, Glenda Figuerido and Lisa Schechtman

My favorite part was when they danced to the song Sixteen Tons. The song is all about owing your sole to the company store. In this context, it refers to how much debt everyone is in. While we may make money, we owe much of it to say student loans, a credit card company, our mortgage, our car payment, etc. Furthermore, our country and many others in the world are also in debt from spending. The ladies wore unique costumes and got to act a bit, something they enjoy. Here we can see them in a dramatic moment during the song and dance.

I was left amazed at the end of the night. So many different forms of artistic expression beautifully woven into a performance with a consistent theme of social justice and community. Currently Diana is looking to turn her work into a full theatrical production. You can learn more by clicking here.

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Kaitlin and the world of scenic design

DSC_0001I met Kaitlin through my friend Lauren (remember her Q & A? Lauren the Activist). Women doing what we do best … introducing each other to our friends. Lauren attends Northern Kentucky University with Kaitlin and they are both involved with Common Ground, an organization for people who identify as LBGTQ and their allies. Lauren said she’s always wearing such unique vintage dresses, so I naturally had to meet her! Kaitlin is in her junior year majoring in scenic design. She spends her days in the theatre department taking classes and designing sets. 

Name: Kaitlin Findley
Age: 21
Location: Northern Kentucky

What got you interested in scenic design and theatre?

To be honest, I don’t really know. My brother did theatre, so I guess that kind of got me interested because I would see him in shows. But I mean I had also watched like stuff at the Aranoff Center with my mother. We would watch musicals when I was younger. I guess when I decided to join my drama club my junior year, I fell in love with it and just immediately jumped in, and starting building and painting anything I could.

Which do you prefer, the performance side, or the scenic and set design side?

It really depends on the day. I mean, I wish I could perform more than I do because I haven’t performed since high school. But I think for the most part, I enjoy the designing more because I get to see what I’ve done whereas you don’t get that when performing, obviously. You can see people’s reactions but you don’t actually get to see your stuff.

Cool. So do you design the sets for NKU productions?

I have not yet. I’m going to be assistant designing in the Spring for Into the Woods.

DSC_0009Cool. So I guess just kind of describe where you are right now in life? And there are like no right/wrong answers here.

I’m not really sure. Just living on campus, taking classes and spending most of my time in the theatre building, helping out with everything. Doing homework. It’s not too exciting. Just trying to build up my portfolio that way I have stuff because I want to go to grad school after this to study more.

What’s the process of building a scene like?

It’s a lot of research. You have to obviously read the play or musical first, do tons of research of the time period if that’s what the director wants, or the director could take it somewhere else. So it’s really working with the director, figuring out what they want, going from there, doing a lot of research and developing like a concept. A lot of people build a model so that way the director can see what it’s like. If they want or not. Then going from there and drafting what you have so that it can be budgeted by the scene shop or whoever is building it.

So there’s a lot of collaboration?

Yeah it’s a collaboration with pretty much everyone involved.

DSC_0016Is that kind of stressful sometimes because some people might have one idea and then you’re like no this looks better and then they’re like we can’t afford that?

Yeah … since you are the designer and the director’s the one who decides everything, you basically have to listen to them. Like you can say your input and be like I really like this, but if they don’t, you kind of have to go with them, obviously. Money … you gotta follow that part a lot more.

I’m sure that can be kind of frustrating at times too.

Yeah.

How much of it is you actually getting on there and painting things? Or are they getting away from that now?

I mean everything is … pretty much we create it all. Unfortunately there’s not always a lot of detail work. So it’ll just be like a flat color. With Les Miserables, there was a ton of detail work because everything has to look distressed. So when we do shows that like, we can. They’re a lot more fun to work on because you get to do more than just paint a flat color.

Where are you hoping this takes you? I know you want to go to grad school, but where do you see this taking you?

I’m not entirely sure. I think I would prefer to work with a community theatre because then it would be a more stable job. Hopefully designing sets for them. I could do different things, whether it would be scenic painting or building it, that would be nice.

So you know Lauren through Common Ground. What sort of prompted your involvement?

Let’s see freshman year before we come here we have an orientation. They had a table at it. I was with my friend who also goes here. We’ve known each other since high school. We saw the table and were like oh, I guess we’ll go to the first meeting. And we did and kind of fell in love with it. So I’m part of the E-board this year and I was last year. I don’t know … it’s a fun way to de-stress.

DSC_0008Yeah so do you find that that’s like a group of your friends as well or how does it de-stress you?

It gives me a break from my classes and homework. I get to be with other people from a wide variety of majors and it’s nice to be with people from different fields. I like having that because in the theatre department, a bunch of people just stick with theatre people. So it’s nice to be with everyone rather than a small, select group of people.

So what are you most passionate about, in general?

Anything where I can get creative, in any sense, whether that be an artistic thing or just … I don’t, the way I dress is obviously more creative. Any outlet of life where I can try to be as creative as I can. Because I want to a unique person. I kind of like that.

So how do you feel like you express yourself through what you wear?

I wear a lot of vintage dresses, or tend to. I go to thrift stores or vintage stores just because I like having stuff that no one else has. And I mean tend to prefer that style more so than a lot of the stuff that’s seen today. I mean, I do have some of that stuff obviously.

What about vintage clothing interests you?

Really just the style of it. Just the cuts, the clothing, the way it flows is just very different from a lot of what is out there today. A lot of things are the shorter cut and I like the … a lot of it is over the knee and I like that look. It just looks like … more professional in a sense. And I like that.

Okay so you grew up in Cincinnati. How many siblings do you have?

I have a brother and a sister.

What was your childhood like?

It was good. My parents didn’t really like set any … I don’t know how to describe it. They weren’t crazy sticklers on the whole gender roles thing. We could do what we wanted. Like I would tend to play with a lot of legos. Whatever we wanted to do. So we could really be ourselves. Like my sister just died her hair. She’s a freshman in high school. My parents just want us to be ourselves and they don’t stop us from that, which is nice.

DSC_0003What does being a woman mean to you?

Hmm. That’s a tough question. I don’t really know. It’s hard to explain. I guess it’s recognizing that there are challenges and especially in the theatre world until recently, there wasn’t a lot of females making it far in the design aspect just because especially with building stuff, women are typically seen as not as strong. So I guess finding ways to express that that’s not the case and luckily that’s finally changing.

Yeah how is that changing in the theatre world? I mean there would always be roles in theatre acting-wise for women. But I don’t know, how is it changing?

I mean I tend to watch the Tony Awards and they’ve always had females nominated for stuff, but recently a few have actually won which is helpful to see work from other females. They can do just as good of work.

Yeah so they weren’t always directing, producing or designing the set. But by the nature of the way our world works we’ve always had a role for a woman acting but now it’s like well, let’s not just value her for her good looks but maybe her brain too?

Yeah I mean that probably is it. Also just that I mean a lot of middle schools and high schools don’t have any thing close to theatre, so that’s also part of it. If you don’t have stuff, you don’t an opportunity to be exposed to it. I think that is also part of the problem. People aren’t exposed to it at a young age and don’t know you can do those kinds of things necessarily until you get to college.

What has been one of the most proud moments of your life?

One of them was being accepted into the BFA program here. That made me feel like I had the potential to pursue this. I guess that.

What was that process like? Was it selective?

You have to go in for the tech side and you interview with a group of staff members and professors. You show them your portfolio, talk about the work that you’ve done and what you hope to accomplish at this university and beyond that. So that was pretty nerve-wracking but fun at the same time just getting that experience. On the tech side, you don’t get to do as much with the auditioning stuff as the performers do. While I’ve done that, I don’t do it regularly or as often. So you’re not as prepared. So being accepted made me feel good. Like okay, I can do an interview.

Who are the most important relationships in your life?

Definitely my parents because they let me explore what I wanted. I danced all my life from a young age and they let me do that. I took many different classes in high school because I was toying with many different things I wanted to do. I wanted to be an environmental engineer and graphic design. Eventually I settled on theatre. I originally came here wanting performance but then I realized that the tech side is probably more feasible for me. And they’ve been supportive of all those decisions. In high school, I had several teachers who were also like do what you want. They were mainly my art teachers. They saw my work and helped me to see that I have potential because I can be very hard on myself, so it’s nice to hear that from other people.

We are our own worst critic.

Yes.

So I also saw you go to conventions. What kinds do you attend?

The past two years, I’ve gone to the Cincinnati comic expo. In the summer I also went to the Indiepop Con.

What got you interested in that?

It was mainly my dad and my sister. My freshman year I didn’t go because I had a bunch of homework and they sent me pictures while they were there. I was like dangit! I wish I had gone and like put off my homework ’til the last minute. So they drug me there last year and I absolutely loved it. I mean I guess being able to create stuff and having people come up to you and be like I love what you did! Can I take a picture? It’s just fun. And then seeing a bunch of artist’s work and seeing a bunch of people, loving the same stuff … it’s a nice environment.

So tell me about your dress (the one in the first photo)?

I found this at a thrift shop and just decided to buy it. I like things that are unique, different and fun!

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