Ready, steady, work?

Inspiration hits when you least expect it.

Triggered by something as simple as rain. Weird? I have no idea how it works but as soon as the smell of rain hit my senses this morning, I felt the need to sit down and just write.

Having a one-year old running around (literally now), sitting down at my make-shift desk to work, research or write, feels like a ticking time bomb. Coffees get cold all the time. Thankfully, with the turn of the season, I can turn that into a glorious ice coffee. Win!

I’ve been working on a personal project of mine for ages and keep on hitting the pause button. For one, client work comes first. I don’t know about working mums out there but as soon as Beth’s head hits the pillow, I’m on my laptop, crossing out the never-ending to-do list. The lack of sleep doesn’t help either. Many a person suggested that I rest while Beth sleeps.

Self-care is a priority. I truly believe that you should take care of yourself first before anyone else (otherwise, you wouldn’t have the energy or be in the right mind to do so). But let’s be real. There are tons of things to do every single day and they’re not getting done on their own. You cross one thing out and add three more. It’s just how it goes.

So, I cherish moments like these. When it’s quiet and my cappuccino is still warm, the rain drums on the window (albeit for an extremely short period of time) and I write.

It’s not crazy all day, every week, mind you. I make it a point to start my day with a 10 minute morning yoga routine to stretch and get in the zone. Even with Beth climbing all over me. After that, I make a list of targets for the day. I try not to overwhelm myself with tasks. It’s better to get one thing done and do it right than start a million things and end up with a million loose ends.

How do you go about work and taking care of the kids? I’d love to hear your side of the story 🤗

Believe it or not, I ran out of list pads. Maduma launched their new products just in time and I’m in love with this collection 😍 This is not sponsored, I actually bought everything in the video. It’s my appreciation towards small local businesses (plus I 💙 the traditional Maltese tiles).

Amanda x

#inthespotlight @Malcolm Gauci

Fashion is not my cup of tea. Those who know me best, know this only too well. Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t follow at all. I do have a couple of friends who are stylists; one of whom has been trying to take me on a shopping spree for months now (you know who you are).

I got in touch with someone whose social media accounts are consistently active and who does not shy away from the camera.

My second guest interview this year is with the greatly talented @Malcolm Gauci.

  • Award-winning fashion stylist
  • Style Influencer

 

While scrolling through his Instagram feed I couldn’t help but wonder how he manages to do what he does. I have known Malcolm for a while now; so we met over a coffee to talk about his world (pre-COVID-19).

Care to tell me more about what you do and how it all started?

I started out as a freelance photo model. There, I learned more about styling and met up with people from the fashion industry. I’ve always been passionate about styling; I guess you can say it comes naturally to me. Still, it’s not something that happened overnight. It takes a lot of hard work. Plus, a lot of people believed in me – and that gives you quite the boost.

At first, I wanted to have a space where I could interact with people and show my work. It’s how I started out on Instagram. Over time, I wanted to show more than just my styling work; I wanted to show them who I am, what I personally wear and connect with my followers even more.

Favourite social media platform?

Instagram. It connects you to a whole world of other people. You can easily find your niche there and can interact very easily.

I personally think that being online all the time can be a bit exhausting. Do you ever feel the need for a digital detox?

Having a full-time job that is completely different from styling and the social media world – that alone is detox enough.  Truth be told, I am sucked into the digital world. Apart from sharing relevant content with my followers, I also love documenting random things.

What does the future of influencer marketing look like in your eyes?

I think that over time, brands will reach out to the less- famous. This is already a thing; they’re called micro-influencers. And, I think having the everyday person as an “ambassador” will be the way forward.

Quick advice you would give someone just starting out? 

Stay true to yourself. If you’re not comfortable doing something that you do not believe in, then don’t do it.

Ok, super quick questions that have nothing to do with anything above. Just for the fun of it. 

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Favourite film?

I would have a favourite if I actually made it through the whole film

Would you rather read minds or the future?

The future

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Be part of Gucci’s creative team

Who or what inspires you?

There isn’t just one thing. I get inspired by random things I come across along the way

Go follow!

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#inthespotlight @Gary Bugeja

Getting back on track with my mini-interviews is one of my top goals for 2020. First guest this year: my super talented brother, Gary. Biased, you say? Well, take a look at his work first. But yes, I have to admit, I am a little 😋

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Why did you decide to be a fashion photographer?

 I don’t think there was ever a decision – it just happened organically. I have always gravitated towards photographing people and fashion has always been a major source of inspiration in all of my projects. So I think I found myself evolving and focusing more on fashion photography without thinking too much about it.

Tell us more about your photography

My photography is always narrating a story.

A: Short and sweet, I must say

Proudest moment?

Being chosen by Tommy Hilfiger International to shoot the official Tommy Jeans digital campaign. They came all the way from Amsterdam to direct the shoot and it was both nerve-wracking and surreal at the same time.

What is your favourite photograph so far? Why?

This is one of my favourite photographs because everything came together perfectly. Cassandra is an extremely talented local actor who wanted to be portrayed in a different light. Together with Malcolm (styling), Neville (hair) & Hannah (makeup), we did a great job. This was taken for the Sunday Circle.

Gary Bugeja

What would be a dream collaboration for you?

An absolute dream collaboration would be with the genius Alessandro Michele and photograph the Gucci Campaign. I also would literally DIE if I had to work with artists that I listen to on repeat.

Not that I don’t know the answers to these already. BUT, super-quick questions to share with the rest:

Tea or coffee?

Coffee

Favourite film?

Requiem for a dream

Would you rather read minds or the future?

Minds

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Work on an editorial abroad.

What inspires you?

I get my inspiration from personal experiences, music and literature and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

Go follow!

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New year, new mum? Stay Inspired!

I dove into 2020 head first.

Given my recent transition into motherhood, I had to slow down my work pace last year. So, in 2019, I set the stage for 2020. And I’m psyched about a couple of new projects that I’m working on 🤩 Can’t share anything yet though. What I can say is that one of my lifelong goals is about to take flight. Or rather, will eventually take flight. I’m already getting ahead of myself 😅

Looking back, 2019 had a little bumps. Honestly, I was torn between being my usual working-around-the-clock self and immersing myself in the role of a mum. Fast forward to eight months later, it gets better. Sleep doesn’t, but the rest does. I had to toss my schedules out the window though. Most days, I can only get things done while she sleeps.

Staying inspired was all the more difficult during the past months. Sometimes, all I wanted was for the day to be over just minutes after waking up. So, I had to get thinking of ways to avoid a downward spiral. One thing that helped hone my inspiration was (and still is) getting out of the house.

If you’re a working mum, a stay-at-home parent or a mumpreneur, difficult as it is, do take a break. You deserve it. Having a baby to take care of, plus work on top of that can take its toll. Getting out of the house might just be what you need. Even if it’s for a half-hour walk or a cup of coffee at your local café a couple of minutes away. True, you’re probably not getting things done and your never-ending list has nothing crossed off it yet. But, chances are, you’ll feel more refreshed after taking a break from it all and work twice as hard later (child-permitting).

These up here 👆 took a couple of minutes longer to get to 😋 It was our first ever trip with Beth and it went better than expected. 

Even as I write this, I’m aware that sometimes it’s not that easy. I’m a morning person and pre-motherhood used to get all the work done by midday. Getting some work done close to midnight is actually a thing now.

Ah, she woke up. After only twenty minutes.  So, to wrap this up, and all this aside, any help you can get, get it! True, I’m blessed with the most amazing people in my life. Even if you’re winging it on your own, remember you’re strong, amazing and you’re not alone 🙌💪

Amanda x

Charming #Bratislava & a quick trip to #Vienna

Christmas day, I was in bed with a fever. Two days later, I was travelling to Bratislava, Slovakia. Call me crazy but looking back, I’d do it all over again.

The outbound flight was the worst part. Have you ever been sick or even had nasal congestion on board a plane? It just gets worse. I used to work as a flight attendant with a local airline some years back, so I got used to everything on board. But ear pain is one thing that scares me to date.

For the whole duration of our mini-vacation, warm water with lemon and honey became my best friend. Thankfully, soup was on every menu; it seemed to be a hot item (an unintentional pun) in the city. So I detoxed for a couple of days with soup and Bratislavan ox-tail broth; which is extremely good even though it doesn’t sound appetizing. Not your usual holiday food where you stuff mouth with brioches and pastries at breakfast and get your hands on local sweets and chocolates every time you get. I’m a sweet tooth, so those were the things I missed the most.

BUT, the fresh air did me good. Despite the icy cold weather, I felt better each time I stepped outside. A couple of days later, I was almost as good as new (almost).

Bratislava. To be completely honest, it was never really on my travel list. But it should be on yours. Two days, I think, are all that you need. Compared to other cities, it’s small. You can easily walk around the centre.

Plus, if you’re a coffee lover, you’re in for a treat. The city is littered with quaint little cake shops and the prices are not expensive (unlike Vienna).

I also visited Devín Castle; which is less than 40 mins away by bus (Bus 28) from the city centre. It’s really easy to get there and if you appreciate history and natural beauty, it’s worth the visit.

After roaming around Bratislava for two days, we hopped on the train to Vienna. It’s just an hour away but you can spot the difference. It’s busier. The streets, the squares, the shops. Everywhere.

Usually, I do a little research before travelling somewhere. But both places being in Europe and the hectic month that was December, I didn’t have the time. For a change, it was nice to just go out and about without a care in the world. We googled the best places to visit whilst at the hotel in the evening and that was it.

Cafés in Vienna are quite the thing as well. They really do love their coffee. It’s quite the culture. They also have their own version of a cappuccino – Melange.

But alas, all the coffee shops had endless queues. Everywhere we went was packed. Visiting during peak season doesn’t help. Shamefully, the only place where we managed to find two available seats (literally just two seats) was McCafe. I hate myself for writing this and even more for going in but it was windy, raining and freezing cold. I couldn’t feel my extremities any longer, so we had to get inside, somewhere. And that, unfortunately, was the last resort.

The following day we encountered the same problem. Only this time with restaurants. But, we found, and totally by chance too, this amazingly good Hummus bar in the inner city. We had the best snack there 👌 👇

Tripadvisor: https://goo.gl/kgbuHX

Maybe that picture doesn’t give the place enough credit. You just have to take my word for it.

One of the many reasons I loved spending the last days of the year in Vienna were the markets. Having researched only a little during our stay, I came across a site stating that Christmas markets open to the public on 23 November until 26 December. What I didn’t know was that they also have New Year’s eve markets. Oh, the goodness! Sad thing though, I couldn’t try everything.

But what I did do, was enjoying a nice mug of hot chocolate in that cold weather whilst roaming around the palace. It was heavenly.

On a side note: It’s better to return the mug to the stall (they refund you for it) if you don’t want it as a keepsake. Otherwise, you’ll end up like I did, awkwardly holding a chocolate-stained mug in hand around the city, underground stations and on trains. Or else, carry a bigger bag (didn’t fit in my small one)!

Until next time, Amanda x

#inthespotlight @Elizabeth Cortis

#inthespotlight - amandalia

My passion for writing led me to Elizabeth earlier this year. I was writing an article for the Times of Malta last March and Elizabeth helped me shed light on being a mumpreneur.

Mumpreneur: the modern superhero

After our virtual chatting, we then had the pleasure to meet up at Nakita‘s book launch event. In case you missed her interview, click here!

Elizabeth is one of the most interesting persons I have met thus far. She is positive, driven, and extremely focused. Our conversation flowed easily over a cappuccino in a quaint coffee shop in the heart of Rabat. It was a nice way to start the day; especially on a Monday morning.

I started off with what would seem like a basic question.

What does proofreading involve?

When I proofread, I’m improving what can be improved and eliminating any errors. It’s the perfect version of your own work. I like to refer to it as the four-eye principle; having someone else look at your work with fresh eyes.

Technically speaking, proofreading takes place during the final phase and involves checking the written work for typing errors, missed words, punctuation marks etc.

I find that most people confuse proofreading with copyediting. The latter involves sentence structure. Say you’re writing your dissertation and the ideas are still unclear or not flowing. Sometimes, clients mean they need both. Nowadays, proofreading is a requirement and an essential part of the academic career.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset     Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

What is unique about your business?

I set myself apart from others who work on proofreading as part-timers and have an unrelated full-time job. Don’t get me wrong, they have my respect! But, this is my passion and my focus 24/7.

I approach it as a professional. That is, I’m fully aware of the responsibilities involved. For most students, thesis-writing can be a stressful moment and I acknowledge and respect that – that is why I meet deadlines, read guidelines and work to the best of my ability.

My 11 years of experience provides me with not just knowledge but also an understanding of how things are done. For example, I know what universities expect and can see things from a much broader perspective than the client does.

 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I have to balance my two roles; a mother and a business owner. I have two little kids who are still in their formative years and who need a lot of my time. On the other hand, I’m a business owner; not just a proofreader or book editor. So, I have to run and further develop my business as well.

Typically, I work around my kids’ schedule. I’m also lucky to have the full support of my family, especially my husband. So, if I have to put in more effort or schedule meetings, they back me up every time. I believe that the role of a mumpreneur is managing your business as well as your family without denying yourself anything. For instance, you need the time for yourself because it’s important not to experience a burnout.

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When did you decide to take the leap? Was it something you have always intended for yourself?

Running my own business has always been my dream. I’m an ambitious person and always try to think of ways to develop and grow my business further. I spent 10 years of my life teaching English; which I loved. But I wanted more. It was a huge leap. I remember my friends questioning my sanity.

Quitting a safe job was not easy but I don’t regret it because I’m doing something I’ve always wished to do. And that is, spending quality time with my children. Up until they were three years old, I still worked but less intensely because they were my sole focus. I don’t believe a mother should forget about her aspirations just because she becomes a mother. The will to work, aspire and improve are all great skills to pass on to your kids. They see you as alive, driven and passionate about your work. We have our crazy days, but we make it work.

 

What is your biggest failure? Your biggest success?

What is a failure anyway? I am a very positive person. I don’t acknowledge failures; they’re small setbacks. It’s all about how you look at it. I see it as learning something new about your skills or about your limits. You either going to give it another go and be more prepared or decide that it’s not something that you would like to pursue. Either way, you have grown. Self-growth and improvement mean everything to me.

I believe that small everyday successes are still successes. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are challenging drives me onwards. Another one of my biggest successes is seeing my kids grow, and not just physically. Looking back, I feel extremely satisfied that I managed to give them my all.

 

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

Find time for yourself and set small goals. Don’t set big targets and overstress yourself. I try to take things one step at a time to stay motivated with short-term goals. Try creating a personal plan and keep in mind that not everything will go as planned either. Don’t close up shop just because you’re having one bad day. Be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

That is when I realised how important it is to be part of a support network. If you’re in need of help, don’t et your pride get in the way. Know your limitations and accept the help you’re being offered.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in every area. Outsourcing can save you time because trying to do everything on your own is a struggle.

Join the Group: Malta Mumpreneurs Network

 

Three (3) tools you would recommend to anyone starting their own business?

Google Keep – for your to-do lists. Or, more likely in my case, the I WILL DO list.

Self- Motivation techniques – I believe in these techniques. E.g. when I’m tired, I try and work five minutes more; just a step further to improve self-discipline.

Take mental breaks – You need your off days. When I don’t have tight deadlines, I take pleasure in reading and listening to motivational business speakers.

Oh, and coffee! Haha!

Quick questions 🙂

Tea or coffee?

Tea to relax, Coffee to work

Books or movies?

Books

Time travel or teleportation?

Teleportation I’m a very realistic person – li I just leave and visit different countries/places. I love travelling.

Winter or Summer? 

Winter

Adventurous or Cautious?

Adventurous; I love doing things out of my comfort zone.

 

Go follow!

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🌐 www.proofreadingmalta.com

My not-so-typical workdays

amandalia.com

I see this question on my friends’ expressive faces whenever the topic of work arises. What does a day in my life look like? Well. It depends on which day because every single day is different.

Saturday, I spent most of the day planning work, creating content for social media (client work) and following online courses to stay updated and to further broaden my knowledge. Yesterday was slightly toned down. I started out with a hearty breakfast in Sliema, which was cut short thanks to Nina’s incessant barking (currently undergoing training). The morning transitioned into quite a ‘lazy’ afternoon of conversations, coffees, baking, creating lists (always) and writing.

A lot of people don’t really get what it is that I do. I saw the confused look on my aunt’s face a couple weeks ago; she was still trying to wrap her head around the idea of not having a salaried job. Just this month, it also happened with my friends. I have explained to them time and again what my work involves. One of them simply stared blankly at me and said, “You’re our Chandler.” If you haven’t watched FRIENDS, that comment is lost on you, as it was on me. Apparently, it means something along the lines of, “What you do remains a mystery.”

Let’s unravel this ‘mystery’ once and for all:

1. Content and creative writing

This is my absolute favourite. I love creating content from scratch; be it scripts for radio ads, TVCs, newsletters, newspaper articles, blog posts, website content or copy for social media. Storytelling has seen me through my toughest years and keeps the imaginative little child within, alive.

2. Social Media Management

Through my love for words, media, and communications, I found my passion for social media marketing. To date, I have helped businesses and individuals create and maintain their online presence on multiple social media platforms.

There is a misconception that I would like to address.  Some people think that taking care of, say, a business Facebook page is something that anyone can do. All you have to do is publish or share a post, right? Well, not quite. There’s so much more to take into consideration than just that. And this is exactly why the work of professional social media managers goes unappreciated.

Let’s put you in the picture for a second. These are some of the things I work on:

  • Planning & creating eye-catching graphics
  • Creating the right copy in the correct tone of voice for the right audience
  • Planning and creating targeted adverts and campaigns
  • Close & constant monitoring of accounts, comments & incoming messages
  • Creating monthly & quarterly reports

The list goes on. I’m writing a separate blog post on must-have skills for social media management to help anyone interested in learning get started.

3. Consultation

Through my coaching experience on digital marketing in collaboration with the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), I realised that helping small businesses and self-employed individuals who are willing to learn and expand their knowledge, is something I love doing. I have helped individuals understand the works of email marketing, mobile marketing and social media, in particular. Seeing them succeed gives me the boost I need to keep going.

It’s exciting to work on multiple projects and meet different people every week. It keeps me on my toes. One thing I’m sure of about my work is that it never gets boring. Hectic, yes. Crazy, maybe. But never boring.

Amanda x

Finding Inspiration: Interview with Caroline Ciantar-Barbara

It is safe to say that one of the hottest topics hogging the headlines is property. We have been debating the inflated prices, questioning the existence of a property bubble and shaking our heads in resignation at every block of apartments we see in construction.

But, in this article, published today on the @Times of Malta, I deliberately chose not to go there. Instead, I reached out to the talented interior designer, Caroline Ciantar-Barbara, to learn more about what comes after investing in a new home.

Get today’s e-paper to read the interview: Click here

[Property & Construction Supplement]

Check out Caroline’s work:  🌐 https://www.ccb.com.mt/

Go follow!

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Travelling to #Porto?

Porto - amandalia

Porto was added to my travel list the minute I saw this ⬆️  ⬆️  I was doing some research on Portugal 🇵🇹 at the time and inevitably came across this charming port city.

It was late June when I arrived there and as expected, the city was flooded with tourists. Next time, I’d probably go during a less popular month (there will definitely be a next time). Thing is, the main reason for this mini-holiday was to finally see Muse play live @Rock in Rio.

Going around is as easy as communicating. The locals are super helpful and friendly. Knowing the local language is always a plus. However, I had only started learning Spanish then. And this, whilst trying to learn Japanese (still a long way to go). So, there wasn’t too much room for Portuguese as well! Even though I could understand the written word (e.g. menus, signs), the spoken language sounded completely different. The only key phrases I managed to master were:

  • Obrigado/a Thank you
  • Bom dia Good morning/day
  • Boa noiteGood evening/night
  • Por favor Please

And that is an extremely sad, short list. Still, I managed to get around just fine  🙌🏼

As a writer and total bookworm, I wanted to visit Livraria Lello. That was high on my list. Experiencing a port wine tasting will also be worth your while, trust me. Portologia is somewhere I highly recommend. And, for a heavenly lunch or dinner, Jimão is the place to go. I wanted to stay there forever.

Pictures below 👇🏼👇🏼

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Amanda x

 

 

 

 

#inthespotlight @themamamanual

#inthespotlight - amandalia.com

There are so many talented people out there. So, this year, I figured, why not get to know some of them a little bit better?

My 2018 #inthespotlight monthly interview series will kick off with none other than  the inspiring Nakita Attard Vassallo at @themamamanual.

I’ve been following @themamamanual on Instagram for quite a while now and I have to say, I’m impressed. She even has a debut book coming out this Summer!

 Nakita, I would love to know more about @themamamanual. How did all this start?

It all started with a book! I’ve been dreaming of writing my own ever since I was a wee girl with a sizeable home library of my own.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a pen or a laptop and poured my heart out, but I never really put my finger on what I wanted to write.

One night two years back I could not sleep with excitement.  It had finally hit me!  My book would be about time management for busy mamas, and how to create time for the things you love, but most importantly, for yourself.

When the book’s initial draft was ready, I felt I had so much more valuable information to share, and I had to take it a step further.  I was very keen to connect with and help like-minded mamas manage their time better and prioritise self-care, and a blog would be the perfect way to do it.  The name ‘the Mama Manual’ was born after long hours brainstorming.  I wanted something catchy and original – and it felt right!

Care to tell us more about the woman behind @themamamanual?

I am a multifaceted woman 🙂  I’m a mama, wife and a homemaker around the clock.  My two adorable kids, Yanik –  12, and Nina – 3, keep me happily busy.  I’m married to the love of my life and best friend, Neil.  I’m also a working mum, and I’ve worked hard to build a career for myself.

By night, I am a writer and a blogger, and I run ‘the Mama Manual’ brand with a passion. Time management and organisation skills are my forte; I could spend hours happily decluttering and organising a space, or planning busy days to perfection! Food (not only eating it – but also cooking it!), travel, reading, and slow days at home or in beautiful surroundings with my family and friends are things I enjoy doing and make time for on a regular basis.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me!  I never in a million years expected such a phenomenal response from ‘the Mama Manual’ social media pages.  The amazing women I connect with everyday are my sole inspiration and basis for doing what I do.

Being both an entrepreneur and a mother doesn’t come without its challenges. How do you manage everything?

You know how they say ‘do what you love and you will never work another day in your life? That is exactly how I feel about the work I do with ‘the Mama Manual’ brand.  I literally crave working on the book, the blog, and social media every evening – so it’s easy to get started – but challenging to stop might I add!

Of course, effective time management is the secret to being able to make time for my work.  Planning, being organized and pre-empting are essential tools to have.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to having our meals all planned out for the week, as well as cooking wholesome but very quick meals so as not waste precious time.

 

themamamanual-byamandalia
I know there are many women out there who would love to take the leap. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

If you have not yet had the courage to do so, do not feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  You can very well start off slow.  If you are a working mum, keep your job and side hustle.  A mere hour a day is better than no time at all! You can always decide to dedicate more time as things pick up, or go full-time when you feel confident that what you are doing is what you want to do and is paying the bills.

Whatever you do – be patient!  It’s easy to look at successful people and think that everything ‘just happened’ for them.  Being successful takes a lot of work, dedication, time and perseverance.

Where can we get your debut book? I know I want to read it and I’m definitely not the only one.

the Mama Manual – How busy mums get organised will be available for sale on my website: 🌐  www.themamamanual.com, as of the end of the month!

Should you wish to receive an email notifying you that the book is for sale, please let me know on nakita@themamamanual.com.

Go follow!

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