My apathy Disolver

I have many motivational posters around my home, remindinding me not to lose sight of what’s important.
One such saying is really simple, but helps me if I fall in apathy. It simple says

Always Be Calmly Active and Actively Calm.

I have this written directly onto my fridge. Every time I look at it, it gives me a kick up the proverbial…..

Was there life before trust?

As followers and friends will know, I believe totally that everything happens for a reason. I believe that the Universe has a plan for me and I am regularly tested, not to test me, but for me to judge for myself how strong my faith is.
I realise that to a lot of people this sounds like madness, but it matters not, I no longer need anyone elses approval – it works for me.

A week ago my world came close to crashing down around me. I had 3 major financial hardships in one day, meaning that I am going to have to rethink my life.
Although it came as a shock, I can now see the reason for it happening.
I’ve not got a very good relationship with money, over the years it has caused me much heartache, both in having it and not having it. Following years of severe financial strain during my marriage to an alcoholic, where I had to watch every penny & had no financial freedom whatsoever, when I found myself single, with money in the bank I couldn’t cope.

The money that was rattling in my bank account was thanks to the sale of our marital home, from a marriage that I had desperately tried to save.

How I hated that money!!!
Advice came thick and fast – go on a cruise, buy a huge television, buy all the things that I wanted. I tried, really I did. After a few months of renting, I bought myself a small flat, thus getting rid of a huge percentage of what felt like ill-gotten gains. I didn’t want any of the luxuries that friends told me to buy, I gave quite a bit away, then went on a silly spending spree. I would buy anything ‘pretty’ or ‘girlie’. After a life time surrounded by 5 sons and 3 husbands, pretty, girlie things were in short supply. The thing is, I didn’t really want these things and the novelty soon wore off.

Because my needs were minimal ( I don’t have a car, drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble etc) at first the money didn’t really go down much. I began giving a lot to charity, in a way it was penance for failing as a wife.
After a failed business attempt, where I lost quite a lot of money, suddenly there was very little left. So I began spending on credit cards instead.
I hated the years when we were living in such debt, yet I seemed hell bent on reliving it. I began buying all sorts of things, most of which I never used.
Worried that it could be the return of my mental health problems, I consulted a psychiatrist who assured me that it was a delayed reaction to my stressful marriage and that it would settle in time.

It didn’t.

The difficulty with any habit is that it can get out of control. I became the butt of many jokes about the amount of things that I was buying.
Thankfully, I came to the realisation that it was just comfort buying and that it was no more than ‘stuff’, not really even possessions. I began to declutter my flat ( well documented) I sold a few things but gave most things to a charity shop where I volunteer. Unfortunately as soon as I was getting rid of things, I was replacing them with further clutter.
I wanted to stop. I tried selling a few more expensive things but couldn’t bring myself to ask for anything like the worth, almost paying the purchasers for the privilege of rehomeing my things.

When my first credit card bounced, it came as a shock, never the less the spending continued on another card.

During this time I began to realise how much I despised many of the things that filled my home, so increased the decluttering/ donating. However this wasn’t helping me pay off my outstanding bills. I was running into big trouble and knew it!
I made many lists, cutting out unneccesary direct debits, working out how to save money, but nothing really changed. I looked at homeless people and felt dreadful, I couldn’t even help them because I had nothing left.

I prayed for guidance.

By now, having decided to raise money on my flat through equity release, rather than easing my worries, my haphazard spending increased, bringing no pleasure whatsoever.

Then my guidance came, but not in the way I’d expected.

My expected loan against the flat was refused, due to the high cost of the service charge, making it non viable. Boy was that a shock!
The same day I received two other financial setbacks,one being the quadrupling of my care contribution, also some anticipated extra money didn’t materialise. On top of all of that, adding salt to my already weeping wounds, my computer caught a nasty virus that cost an unexpected near £100 to repair.

I should be devastated, but actually I’m so thankful!

It has forced me to really look at myself and my wasteful lifestyle. My money could have done so much good, yet I wasted it, now with my outgoings far higher than previously and with no equity release to pay off my bills, life has to change. My increase in care contributions was beyond my reach, so I have been forced to cancel my carer. Although I’m nervous about it, as she has been my lifesaver, I realise that I am being told to take personal responsibility.
With no leeway on my credit cards ( all maxed out) it will take me years to get back onto an even keel. But with the financial shocks, coming all together, it has jolted me back to reality.

This week I have searched through my flat and found several things that I don’t use, so have successfully sold them. I have looked at my bursting at the seams food cupboard and have decided to use it up, rather than buy new. Rather than investing in another overflow freezer, as I’d intended, I can actually eat what’s filled up the old one. I have reduced my eating lunches out, choosing to eat at home instead. I have stopped a lot of subscriptions to sites that I rarely, if ever, use.

At last I feel more normal. I’m just a pensioner with a very small income, I don’t need to spend so wildly. However I’m not panicking, or too worried. Things will work out, I’m sure of it. Opportunities to earn money will present themselves. That’s what I’ve needed – to earn what I spend, to give it a value.

To many readers, this will sound bizarre, probably thinking that I don’t know what hardship is – believe me I do. I spent so many years without a penny to my name, convincing the kids that playing games by candlelight was fun, when in fact I had no money for electricity. Hiding from debtors, court summonses etc. Believe me, I’ve been there – for a huge chunk of my life! I now owe more than I ever have, with very little means of paying it off. But pay it off, I will.
Something will come to show me the way. An opportunity will show itself. I really believe that.
When things improve, I want to be able to appreciate what I have and own, not to come across endless carrier bags of things I’d bought on impulse and not even unwrapped. Thankfully my tastes are fairly simple, so most purchases came from second hand shops, I’m not into high living, expensive perfumes and the like.

Yesterday my mobility scooter decided to play me up, I need it for my independence, so will have to get that looked at too. But the Universe wants me to feel more humble and be more grateful for what I do have, not just spending money that I can ill afford, to buy something new. I understand that. I am so grateful for that understanding. Without this wake up call I could have totally gone under, but I don’t believe that this was the Universal plan for me. I need to be more honest with myself. More humble. Live more simply. Something will present itself. Maybe I should apply to magazines or similar, touting for freelance work? Maybe I should get my book finished/ published ?

I trust, absolutely and totally. I was living in a fantasy world. Being honest on here, and to myself has been very freeing. I will be alright. I will find the way that I need to put this right. I have many talents and skills that I’ve not felt confident about.

I give thanks to the Universe for this painful, yet powerful lesson.

Namaste🕉

Rosie x

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Why don’t women speak up?

Broadside

By Caitlin Kelly

photoLegendary celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley and I at a books festival in Bethesda, Maryland, where we were both speakers. Legendary for her ferocious biographies, she was so much fun!

Fascinating, depressing, unsurprising read in The New York Timesthis week:

Women’s voices are often missing and discounted in public affairs, even when they have seats at the tables of power. They speak less, make fewer motions and are more often subject to negative interruptions. Similar patterns prevail online.

If they feel at a disadvantage speaking as women, it’s because they are. In settings as varied as school boards, Vermont town meetings, community meetings in rural Indian villages and online news sites worldwide, researchers have quantified how women’s voices are underrepresented.

Women take up just a quarter to a third of discussion time where policy is discussed and decisions made, except when they are in the majority.

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Difficult Questions.

Having just read a post about homelessness ( happiness blog)
It has hit home how I am as guilty as anyone of not doing anything pro-active to help the homeless.
I care deeply & am in fact writing a novel that features this subject. I try to be friendly but feel awkward about my inability to make any difference to their lives. So I may give a little loose change – big deal! What help is that really? A coffee, then what?
Why are we, as a society, so afraid of upsetting the apple cart by making a noise about the plight of those who, through no fault of their own are without the security ( or comfort) of a roof over their head?
Are we really willing to attempt to help, or are we trying to clear our consciousnesses?
Why do we feel so uncomfortable?
I tell myself that I am caring & considerate, so why am I so impotent over this? Am I really doing all that I can? The answer is simple-no I’m not doing enough.
Caring doesn’t give them a bed or regular hot meals.
Caring doesn’t give them security or the opportunity to get back on their feet.
I suspect that I do more than a lot of people, yet really do so little. Why?
I guess I’m waiting for someone else to set up a workable initiative that I can join. Coward! Why don’t I put my energies into helping instead of simply being concerned?

The happiness blog posed so many questions which are reverberating around my head.

I want to help more. There must be a way. I’ve no idea what, but one thing is certain, bleating about it won’t change anything. Action is needed. Positive, practical action.

Will I do something major to make a difference?

To my shame, probably not.

Rosie x

I’m being honest. Maybe it’s time that we all were?
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The Homeless – 39 Questions For Your Reflection

Something we all need to ask ourselves….

Kindness Blog

The Homeless – 39 Questions For Your Reflection

by Mike O’Connor

Homeless 1. When you see a homeless person, do you look the other way and keep on walking?

2. Do you avoid making eye contact?

3. Is there a sudden selective deafness when you ‘hear’, or don’t, their requests for help?

4. If you do ignore a homeless person’s request for help, just how quickly does the incident evaporate from your mind?

5. Seconds? Minutes? Hours?

6. What is your honest opinion of these people who are teetering on the very edges of our society?

7. Do they feel that, possibly, they deserve their predicament?

8. Could it be that they are lazy?

9. If so, should they simply get off their lazy rear-ends and look for a decent job?

10. Is it easy to get a job where you live?

11. Do you think it is any easier to…

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Perseverance is the key.

As many followers will know, I’ve pledged to make a booklet in aid of BBC Children in Need. The idea seemed a simple one – just collect a small compilation of work from members of the writing group that I lead. I would comb bind it and persuade friends to buy a copy. What could possibly go wrong?

Hmm, I hadn’t considered a few pertinent points;
1) health has a habit of letting me down.
2) I had already committed to writing a novel during November for NaNoWriMo.
3) I’m rubbish at sticking to the basics!

Already burning the candle at both ends, my health was on a downward spiral & although I recognised it, I refused to do anything about it. I was enjoying life, why would I want to slow down?
A charity abseil that I was due to do was postponed. Concerned friends told me how washed out I looked, eventually agreeing, I took advantage of the postponed abseil weekend to take a break by the sea. A weekend stretched into five days. Sounds great? It was, but rather than rest, I chose to run around like a loon doing all things that tourists do! I came back even more exhausted!

With November looming, I prepared for the NaNoWriMo challenge, setting the plot, sketching the storyline, getting excited & eager to start. I told everybody, so that I wouldn’t back out & on November 1st I sat in front of my laptop & wrote my little heart out. This had been complicated by an unexpected change of storyline. A new idea swept into my brain the day previously & refused to leave, so I was really winging it, having not had any form of plan to work with.
For 4 days I wrote solidly into the night, delighted that I was ahead of my word count schedule. ( NANoWriMo requires that a minimum of 50000 words are produced during the 30 days of November)

At the same time I was organising the charity booklet & had persuaded fellow group members to produce short articles & poetry for me to print. All was going well until I fell out with my printer. It refuses to cooperate. I took this as a sign that maybe I should look into having the booklet professionally printed.
After a lot of googling & comparing prices, I decided to go with a local printing company. Since the cost was greater, so was my need to produce a better book. Sheets of A4 inspirations were being handed to me, all I needed to do was put them into order.

No. Life for me is never that straightforward.

I decided that the booklet should be smaller, A5 size. No worries. HAH!
Now remember that I am a pensioner who only learnt to use a computer about 5 or 6 years ago, apart from the absolute basics, everything has been self taught.
I had also been told that I needed to put individual files into PDF form, then number them, put them onto a memory stick & take it to the printers. Of course I had heard of these new fangled methods, yet had never attempted them. To say that I made hard work of it is an understatement! Googling, books & Youtube to the rescue. I probably could have handled it better, had it not been for me having a slight stroke.

At first I thought that I was simply exhausted, but apparently not. I’ve had several small strokes & a larger one, so recognised what had happened, mini strokes are common place in my family, so the risks have always been accepted by me as just a fact of life.
This one knocked me for six! I was totally wiped out, unable to tackle anything. I did try to do some writing but will need to rewrite it, as it was such rubbish. Unable to go out, my groups & voluntary job had to be put on hold. I became a social recluse.

I have a good relationship with our local newspaper, writing a monthly column for them as well as various small articles & letters, so I had asked them to promote the charity booklet. They happily agreed, asking for a photo of me holding the completed book, to which they would add a piece asking for local support. I would have been delighted, except that the booklet was still in the planning stage. I couldn’t figure out how to do the necessary set up of files.

I didn’t want to fail but it looked like I was going to.

For an entire week, with brain of mush & no energy, I have sat through the night trying desperately to work out how to set up the files etc. One night I didn’t go to bed at all.
Every day I learnt something new. Windows 10 & myself are not best of friends yet & I’m struggling to find my way around it, but every night I realised that I’d found out how to do a new task ( things that most people could do with their eyes closed.) Every morning, before breakfast I would sit at the laptop, ready to use my new found knowledge, only to discover that I needed to learn more, before I could proceed.

I didn’t give up.

In the early hours of this morning, I realised that I’d finally cracked it. I crawled into bed, knowing that I only had a tiny bit more to complete this morning, ready to go to the printers.

The phone woke me from a deep sleep at mid morning. I had a friend arriving at lunchtime. ARGH! I had come too far to allow it all to drag into next week. I had advertised the book to be ready for purchase, Children in Need being next week. I had to complete it. I needed to succeed.

With only a couple of hours before I was due to go out for lunch, I sat at my desk & with absolute determination I set about finishing it. My friend duly arrived, to find me still in my pyjamas. Fortunately very understanding, she made a cuppa while I tapped feverishly on my keyboard. I’m not sure how many times I said to her “Just one last file & I’m finished.”

The important thing is that I got there. A couple of weeks late & very sleep deprived, I was able to proudly hand over the completed flash drive to the printers’. Exhausted & brain dead, yet happy. I’ve no idea how well my work will reproduce in print, I hope it’s good. I want it to be successful, to raise some money, but for me it’s been a worthwhile experience. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve also learnt that perseverance pays off. The booklet should be ready to go on sale next week. I did it! Me! Little Ol’ me! I figured it out. Even if I’m left with egg on my face & a stack of unsold booklets, I managed to overcome all sorts of obstacles & am very pleased with myself. Yes ok so it won’t be professionally written, it’s only a small scale production, but I did it!

As for NanoWriMo? I had thought about giving up, having not written a word for a complete week, but have decided not to.
Allowing myself the luxury of a relaxing evening, I intend to recommence tomorrow, after a T’ai Chi workshop. There’s a very good chance that I won’t meet the deadline, but it isn’t important. I will write as much as I am able – I have the rest of my life to complete it. I accepted the challenge and will do my best but don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I’ve had a lot to cope with recently. But I have overcome it all & am still here to tell the tale.

My health is improving again. I’m eager to get on with my life. Bring it on!

Rosie x

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Until next time, take care.

Time to stop self doubt

Although I have been seriously writing for well over a year now ( blogging even longer), I’ve always introduced myself s an aspiring author, or would be writer. A short time ago someone took me to task over this. I’ve had several short articles published, as well as numerous letters, I also produce a monthly column in the local paper. That makes me a writer! Just because I have yet to win any competitions or get a publishing contract doesn’t alter the fact that I am a writer. Although yet to earn any money from it, I am a writer. I write everyday in some form or another, run a creative writing group as well as a writing for wellbeing one. Finally I accepted the title. However I was still slightly apologetic, almost sidled in, hoping that no one would ask about my qualifications. Why?

I left school at just 15 with no qualifications. I didn’t stay to take any exam. I was expected to go to work, which I duly did. I didn’t mind at the time, exam certificates didn’t mean much in the world of hairdressing, back in the 60s.
As my family came along, I began to regret not having anything behind me but told myself that I could do evening classes when I had time. It didn’t happen. By then, although I regretted it, it no longer seemed important.
Less than two years ago, being retired & living alone, I decided to take a creative writing class, then another followed by various workshops. I was hooked. I took a further class where grammar was high on the agenda. A stroke many years ago has erased most of my ability to put the correct names & terms for grammatical correctness. The teacher, although inspirational unintentionally caused me to feel inadequate. I already felt an outsider when friends discussed literature, my knowledge, by comparison was very limited. I enrolled on a Grammar course.
As I began the coursework, I realised that I knew what I was doing, knew how to use the correct formulation of sentences etc. Why was I doing this? At school I had always been an A+ English language & literature student, who was I doing this qualification for?
I decided to drop out. I have far more important things to do with my time. I was doing it to wave a piece of paper & say
” look, I’m as good as you now.”
I didn’t need to do that.

Of course there are gaps in my knowledge but nothing that I can’t get around. The stroke can’t be undone. Is it vital for me to remember what the correct terms are?
I write because I love it. I didn’t want it to become a burden.
Shortly afterwards I set up a creative writing group. I stressed at the outset that it was non teaching. I simply wanted to encourage others to have a go, to have fun. It has been an overwhelming success. Occasionally I get lost when some members discuss the classics or talk about writing styles, but I refuse to pretend to be anything or anyone that I’m not. Generally people appreciate my honesty, even if they don’t understand my reasoning.

One problem though, I still was an aspiring writer only, playing at it, not really serious. Except that by then I was.
I needed a change of mindset. When I’d begun, I had no intention of using it for anything other than pleasure/ therapy. Now I felt very differently about it. I intend to write for the rest of my life, to be successful too. A would be, will remain a would be. As a believer in affirmations & the power of positive thought, I decided to ‘rebrand’ myself.
I updated my Facebook profile photo, showing me writing. I introduce myself as a writer. I think in a totally different way.
I am shortly going to produce a collection of writing from my creative writing group, which we are going to sell for Children In Need. I am entering the NanoWriMo challenge to produce a 50000 word novel within the next month. I will, without question get some of my work into print. Whether I have to self fund, self publish or get a publisher, who knows? It’s not vital for me to know. One thing’s for certain – You’ll be hearing more about me in the coming years. I may never reach the heavy heights of a number one best seller, but I will definitely be producing some worthwhile work.
My name is Rosie – I’m a writer.

Security in self belief

Two friends visited today, as I have been unwell. One of these is a newly found friendship, hence this was her first visit to my home.

Strangers tend to be taken aback by my decor, as it is eclectic to say the least! Goddesses, Buddhas & Native American Indians vie with each other to find their place amongst a rather excessive collection of crystals. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that I am what can be called ‘alternative.’ Living in a retirement flat, my choice of decoration doesn’t appeal to many of the other residents, but thankfully I’m comfortable enough in my beliefs not to worry about their opinions.

The new friend who visited already knew about my chosen path, just as I did hers, however it was refreshing to hear her opinion of my chosen deities. She follows a diffent path, although we are both pagan, in fact until a few years ago, my chosen route was similar to hers. We had an enjoyable conversation, It was really interesting to discuss why I do what I do & having a slightly different viewpoint was stimulating.

After they had left, it set me thinking about the confidence that I have & my way of expressing it. For too many years I attempted to ‘fit in’ & even more recently I felt the need to explain or justify my beliefs. I no longer do that.

Is it an age thing,I wonder? Certainly my confidence has grown with the passing years but I think it’s more than that. I feel comfortable in my own skin now. I don’t need to appease anyone or attempt to justify anything. This has released me from the constraints that I had grown up with. I’m not just older ( & single) I’m emotionally free to be myself. I don’t need anyones’approval to be who I am. It is so liberating!

As long as I don’t hurt anyone or intentionally offend, as long as I can like myself, look in the mirror & see a friendly, kind person looking back, then I know that I am on the right track. The right path for me. I don’t need to conform to anyone else’s ideals because I’m strong enough in my own. It’s a lovely place to be.

I hope that you are able to feel even a tiny bit as contented with your choices, if not, think about why you live as you do, maybe you could consider changing? but only for yourself. Being true to YOURSELF is the key to happiness & ultimately inner peace. I hope that you are able to find it.

I wish you love, peace & joy.

Rosie x

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Accepting when to take a step back.

Unusually for me, I have been forced to take a spell of complete rest ( well, not quite as complete as I should!)
I’m a hard personal task master & dislike feeling useless or inadequate but occasionally everyone has to accept their frailties.
I’ve known that I have been over pushing myself but tried to convince myself that I was Superwoman, if I kept going, I would push through the physical difficulties & emerge triumphant. Of course this was never going to be possible!

I’ve been beating myself up for not updating my blog, falling behind with paperwork, not submitting stories to editors, etc. etc.

Pride?
Stupidity?
Stubbornness?

A bit of all the above and much more.
Now forced to have total rest, I’m paying for my stupidity, but it’s been a timely reminder.
None of us are perfect, nor can we push our boundaries beyond their full stretch. Equally none of us is irreplaceable. Being forced to swallow my pride & get someone else to take over the running of my writing groups, has been hard, but hearing how well they managed without me has forced me to rethink my superwoman status. I’m no superhero. Just me. And being just me is enough.
I’m thankful that I’ve been reminded of that.

Rosie x

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Thanks all x

Learning from disappointment.

I have had the strangest week!
I tend to overbook myself & end up burning the candle at both ends as well as in the middle. Not one to give in, I keep pushing myself until I come to an abrupt halt. Recently I have been approaching the halt sign & had tried to reduce my unnecessary workload before I hit it – however I needn’t have worried, it was taken out of my hands.

Having more than one commitment a day causes me extreme exhaustion & pain, however sometimes it can’t be avoided, Wednesday this week was one such day.
Although looking forward to the first event ( as a mental health champion with Mind/ Rethink at a freshers day talking to students) it was expected to be tiring. Knowing that I had an important meeting the same evening, I was a little concerned how to pace myself. I preplanned my meals, double checked bus timetables & was getting close to worrying about it.

The evening before, it got cancelled.

I used the opportunity to attend a different group, then of course began to beat myself up because I was still over stretching myself.

On my return I received a message to say that I wasn’t needed at the evening meeting.

Hmm, bit weird. Maybe the Universe was making my decisions for me?

Following a very exhausting day at my voluntary job yesterday, I felt dreadful this morning. A friend gave me the routine lecture about taking things easier, which led to a discussion about my upcoming charity abseil –

Just received an email telling me that it has been cancelled!!!

I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
As I rarely get stressed or worried about things, I emailed the abseil organiser asking to be notified if another becomes available,then decided to write this blog.

Just received an email telling me that another abseil is being arranged.

I wonder if the Universe is testing me or playing jokes?

It has however made me think whether I need to learn something from this. As always there was a very definite lesson trying to get it’s message across.
I have had to ask myself if I was getting a bit egotistical & full of my own self importance? Possibly I was. So many people do far more important & worthwhile things than I do. Of course to me, my achievements are big, but not to everyone else. I had been banging on about the abseil to anyone who would listen, probably boring the pants off them. Had I allowed my courage & determination go to my head? I had enjoyed the praise that I was receiving.

Humility isn’t simply a word, it’a life choice. Made for the right reasons. Not something done for glory, or to be boasted about. I had fallen into a trap.

Humility is about simplicity, about genuine care, about honour.
Part of me thinks that I should be ashamed, but isn’t that playing the same card?
I need to actually understand & learn from the lesson. Being ashamed isn’t the solution. I had strayed from my life choice, chosen to broadcast my glory. Been guilty of pride & tripped myself up. It wasn’t about doing anything wrong, it was doing things in the wrong way. I enjoy helping others, I do it because it helps us both. I don’t need to broadcast it. I’m no saint, just a person trying to fulfil my purpose on this earth ( as feels right to me). Helping someone so that you get praised isn’t what it should be about.

Acceptance & Humilty are all important. Or certainly should be.

I’m thankful for being able to understand what it all meant.
We are all trying to find our way through the maze of life. There will always be hazards, blocks & difficulties, without these we would be unable to appreciate when things are going well. The newer abseil gives me a chance to approach things differently. Yes I will still approach people for sponsorship but for the correct reasons – just to gain money for the charities, not so that I can bask in the glory of how brave I am. It lovely to be paid compliments but to accept them with grace is not the same as milking it for all it’s worth.

In gratitude & with humility I accept this lesson.

Rosie X

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Until next time, take care x