…Why I Haven’t Slept in Weeks

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Since I was young, I could never sleep before a big day. The night before school. The night before leaving for a trip. The night before an art show… no sleep. A few snoozes between tossing and turning at best.

My mind loves to run. I get so excited and pumped up I can’t possibly turn it off. I haven’t felt this way since getting ready to leave for my trip to California (alll the way across country alll on my own!) in January of 2014 to begin my coaching training.

So when I woke up this morning finding myself going straight to my journal to write down some notes, then realizing I hadn’t slept well in what feels like weeks now, I was like… Whooooaaa, so that’s what’s going on!

My body is telling me I’m on the right track. Something new is brewing. I’m waiting for something. I’m excited for something. And that something is BIG.

At first, I thought it was because of my latest adventure…

Was I just excited about my new Creative Soul Circles? If you haven’t heard, I just had a deep feeling one day that I needed to gather women in circle. I wanted to commune with women and to create with women in an intimate space. I followed that calling and we had our first circle last week… it was amazing! Sure, there’s still a few bumps to smooth out as there are with any new project, but oh my, the energy that was running through that circle as we chatted live on video together was so fulfilling and inspiring! I’m still brainstorming ways to host these circles consistently, so stay tuned for more information!

But my restlessness is bigger than this excitement to gather women.

Or maybe it was because of the secret I’ve been keeping…

After we had our circle, reflected, then began to focus my attention on other projects… I still wasn’t sleeping. Was it due to this secret I’ve been keeping? Was it because of this big project I’ve been piecing together for the last couple weeks? From secretly stalking artists, choosing just the perfect ones, and inviting them to collaborate with me on a dream I’ve had for years? A dream to have an actual, real life, touch-able book?

No, this restlessness is from something BIGGER still. (But more on that secret project later!)

What about my excitement to see where my artistic journey will lead next?

What was this feeling I was having? Why can’t I just sleep already!? I journaled and I journaled. Searching deeper for the answers. I’ve been growing. I can feel it. My body, mind, and soul stretching further each day. The training I’m currently working through with Connie Solera is not only teaching me how to hold space for woman and facilitate transformation; it’s been teaching me about myself. About my journey as an artist.

Through this class, I’ve realized that my journey is much bigger than I had ever known. I’ve been going through huge transformations in my life and in my creative process simultaneously. It wasn’t coincidence that I’ve been growing spiritually ever since I quit my biz of selling art products and started creating for myself. Our art and our lives are so much more deeply intertwined than I had ever imagined. With this new realization and the help of my amazing friend Becky Cavender, I rewrote my story. (And you’ll soon get to read it in an upcoming issue of Phoenix Soul magazine!) It feels so good to have this deeper awareness of the journey I’ve been on, and clarity on the journey ahead.

I’ve been getting really excited about where my artistic journey will lead next. I’ve broken free from the constraints of traditional creating, and have stepped into the world of what I now call “Creative Soul Expression”. I’ve learned and experienced so much, but still I’m an infant in this new stage of speaking to my soul through art. And when you’re new at something, you look up to others for support. I’ve had so many amazing mentors along my journey. In 2014 I dedicated my time to coaching training with Kate Swoboda. In 2015 I’ve been deeply immersed in learning about the creative process and how to create transformative experiences through teaching with Connie Solera and her IGNITE program. But I haven’t had much time to grow in this world of creative expression. So now in 2016, I’ve decided that I’ll be focusing my growth on deepening my creative practice.

But with who? Who can mentor me through this next phase in my journey? As you know, I deeply believe that we all have everything we need for this type of expression right within ourselves. There’s no need to search out new techniques or test out all the latest supplies. So I’ll be spending a lot of time getting quiet, learning from myself, and letting my own Soul be my mentor. But what I’d also like to explore is how different artists approach their soul work with art. What can I learn from others that will help deepen my relationship with my own Soul?

When I saw the lineup for 21 Secrets Fall and the amazing gift Connie is offering with the pre-sale, I knew this would be it. I’m especially excited to see the process of Chris Zydel (one of Connie’s mentors and a leader in intuitive painting!) and Orly Avineri (an amazing artist that I admire so much!). And oh my gosh the “Tree of Life” workshop by Jassy Watson feels like it will speak to me on so many levels. Andrea Schroeder is another amazing woman who I’m in love with. Her work always guides me to dig deeper; so I’m excited to see how she offers her gifts through this type of course. (Note, Andrea’s contribution to this Fall’s 21 Secrets is only available through the pre-sale gift that expires on Sept 3rd!)

Can this excitement to dig deeper into my creative practice be what’s keeping me awake all these nights?

No… it’s something even BIGGER!

Sure, it is part of it… as all this is. But the deep churning within me is part of a bigger picture: the totality of me claiming all of these experiences in one. Of me fully embracing this journey I’ve been on.

I’ve been growing and expanding in so many ways on the inside. It’s time to bring all of this out. It’s time to reflect the ways I’ve grown. It’s time to fully step into who I am today. To claim it. To reflect it. To share it. To TRUST in it.

It’s time to fully spread my wings and soar.

And what does this mean exactly? My business, my life, and my creativity all have to be taken to the next level. What this means for you, and for my business is this:

  • It’s time for me to release all ties to my old way of doing business. Which means, my Etsy shop will be closing. When what I have left is sold out, I will no longer offer my art or handmade journals for sale.
  • It’s time for me to fully claim and honor the worth of my work. Which means, my Art Journaling 101 $7 e-course will soon be taken off my site. (To be clear, those that have access to it will still have forever access to it, it just won’t be for sale any longer.) From now on, if and when I do offer something for free or reduced price, it will be done so with utmost intention.
  • It’s time for me to fully intertwine all of my new experiences, skills, and gifts in what I offer. My mission behind my business has gotten oh so much more clear over this past year (and especially over these last couple months!). It’s time for that to get reflected in what I share. As you know, I’ve never been one to teach art techniques, as one of my goals is to help you find the wisdom within. So, none of my future offerings will come as quite the shock, but you’ll notice a slightly more defined flavor in the way I teach as I learn to intertwine everything I’ve learned.

These are just a few of the changes you’ll find in my business in the coming months. Fully stepping into who I am on the inside isn’t just a one step process. It has already been seeping out over the last two years, and it will continue to expand in its own time. And I’m sure I’ll go through this again and again as I grow even more.

But for now, just know… I have big plans. Big visions which are finally formulating into something tangible. And many, involve YOU.


With Love,




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    Mandala Fun!

    Mandalas have been on my mind a lot lately. They’re so much fun to make, and really bring me to a place of quiet contentment. Have you ever made one before? If not, you should give it a try – you may just find yourself with another healthy addiction. ;0)

    Take a peek into my latest sketchbook page where I create a flower mandala:

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      The Real Me

      Today, I have something special to share with you. A video. A piece of visual evidence of me shedding yet another layer that’s been hiding my true self.

      At first, I thought I was just going to film an update for you since I haven’t been so present online in the last many months. But the more I thought about it, filming this video is more of a breakthrough. It’s me taking another step in my journey to let go of control in my life and to let the real me shine through.

      So, here is me. The real me. Hello! <3

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      PS HERE is the link I talked about where I share my story. You can also hear more about it in my interview with Connie HERE.

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        Your Questions Answered {part 2}

        Rapid Fire Q+A part 2

        I’m answering a few more questions from the survey again today! If you missed part 1, you can find it HERE.

        Again: these are quick, basic responses; and many of them do require more in depth discussions – which I hope to get to on the blog over the next few months!

        Let’s get to it…



        pinkarrowI have no idea where to begin. How do I begin? And how do I know which is the right path?

        I believe there is no “right” or “wrong” path – especially in creativity. If you start something and find that it doesn’t bring you joy, try something else. At least you’ll gain experience from it and you’ll have one more thing to cross off the list of paths. But you will never know what will bring you joy if you stay stuck in trying to decide what to try. Choose something that excites you, and then start simply with the most basic supplies.



        pinkarrowI want to try “ALL” the different techniques. How do I get past that desire to try all and just focus on one thing at a time and finish it?
        pinkarrowI get confused on all the different products out there. I see one person using this and another one using something else so I feel like I need all the stuff in order to create something and then I don’t know what to use.

        With mixed media being so popular, manufacturers are taking advantage of it, creating thousands of different products. Which is cool for those who love to explore with new products. But not so cool for beginners trying to find their way. With all of these available products, it creates an unlimited number of possibilities for techniques and supply combinations. Quite different from say, if you wanted to learn pottery or oil painting. So, to enter this world of mixed media and not lose your head (or your wallet!), you need discipline and a narrow focus. If you already bought a ton of supplies and e-courses, put them aside for now and just choose one approach with a couple supplies. Put your blinders on, and begin. Promise yourself that you will get to try out all the others in time. But you won’t get anywhere if you try to go everywhere at once!



        pinkarrowIs it just me or … how do you make creativity a priority when faced with all the other things that need doing? I have a hard time putting on blinders and everywhere I look, there are things to do!

        OH totally not just you! I have heard sooo many talk about this block! And you’ve got it right – it’s all about making creativity a priority in your life. But how? Well, sacrifice and discipline. You can only fit so much in your day. If you want to fit creativity in, you have to move something else off your to-do list. For me, I often kick cleaning off my to-do list for the week, then we as a family have a “cleaning party” on Saturday morning. Try logging what you do every hour or half hour for a day or so. See exactly where your time is spent. Do you spend hours on Facebook? Watching TV? Is there something you do daily that can be done in batches? Tackle this from the other side as well: how is creativity important to you? Think about what benefits you can get from spending your time creating instead of elsewhere. Another idea is to schedule it in – in PEN. Make it a non-negotiable appointment.



        pinkarrowAs much as I love to create, I still feel unmotivated to start. Do you feel that? If so, how do you overcome it? How do you get motivated?

        YES, I feel that! And there could be a number of reasons why we feel unmotivated, and even more ways to overcome it. You have to find what motivates YOU. Think about other areas of your life. What gets you moving to do something? Do you need to feel excited about it? Do you need a deadline? For me, I need an idea and excitement. For example, I’ve been putting off working in my new sketchbook because I have no idea what to sketch in it. So I keep it on my workspace, and keep it in the back of my mind to be open for inspiration. Right now I’m motivated to work in my art journal because I have a goal, and when an idea strikes to finally get to that sketchbook, I’ll be motivated to work on that.



        pinkarrowI don’t seem to get out of the stage of copying work from other artists. How can I let go?
        pinkarrowHow do I find my own artistic style?

        I think this topic of finding your style needs to be explored more… but here are my current thoughts: I myself had given up to the fact that I will never have a “style” because I love so much to bounce around from different approaches and mediums. And yet, one of the questions I received was “How did you discover your personal style?” which sounds to me like they believe I have a style. Which got me thinking – maybe if you pour yourself into your work, people can see that. It’s just hard for you to see it. On the other hand, some artists like Flora Bowley and Roxanne Coble absolutely have a definitive style. And perhaps it’s because they are the type of person that wants to really dive into one approach and stick to it. Which is totally not my thing. I have some ideas and theories on how someone would “find their style”, but it’s definitely not an area I’m an expert in (yet!).



        pinkarrowHow do I heal my inner self through art journaling?

        That’s a big question. But the simple answer is to separate yourself from all the imagery you find on the internet, and understand that what you are doing is completely different. Your focus will be solely on the process, not on what it looks like in the end. To get started, perhaps look up a few art therapy exercises. Or just start with scribbling, then take it one decision at a time to follow your intuition.



        pinkarrowWhat is the real difference between journals, art journals and sketchbooks?

        Simple answer: intention. Here, watch THIS!



        pinkarrowHow can you tell whether you just need more practice and experience with a creative endeavor or you will never improve so should move on to something else.

        Oh honey, you can ALWAYS improve. But, does it give you joy?



        pinkarrowHow can I journal personal stuff when I’m afraid of hurting people?

        Your journal is for your eyes only. You don’t need to share it. If you’re scared that people will snoop, then perhaps using some hidden journaling techniques would help ease your fears.



        pinkarrowI gather that there isn’t a person without issues. I wonder how one figures how to start clearing those issues and which should go first. And why there are so many people making fun of psychologists and the Co. who are supposed to help people?

        Hmm, I’m not sure what you mean about people making fun… I think therapy and coaching is becoming more and more accepted. We could all use some guidance. There are those who work through their issues on their own, but I know it’s a hell of a lot easier with professional help! As for where to start first, identify what is affecting you most in your every day life right now. Then get clear about every aspect of it. <<----This is where having a coach or therapist helps immensely! For example, I was really struggling with overwhelm last year so I chose to focus on working with that. In getting clear about it, I discovered a lot of false beliefs and internal blocks that were keeping me in that state. Read more about that story HERE.



        pinkarrowWith today’s busy lifestyle and I understand you have a family and children, how do you find/make time for your creativity?

        It’s tough. Right now my children are young, the youngest being three so she’s with me constantly. I never get large chunks of alone time. Most of my creating is done with her by my side. Which can get messy and frustrating. But our creativity time together is the only thing keeping me sane until I’m able to find time to create on my own again. For now, it’s just a phase in my journey, and I’m exploring all the possibilities of it. That, and as I mentioned above, creating trumps cleaning! lol



        pinkarrowWhat is your greatest source of inspiration?

        It varies. Sometimes I get inspired by what I see online, like right now everyone is creating mandalas, and I totally want to explore that myself as well! In my art journal, I usually use whatever my latest thoughts are as my inspiration. For example, I’m currently diving deep into learning about the creative process; so all my journal pages have been exploring that concept.



        pinkarrowWhat’s been your biggest lesson in the past year, as you’ve taken new courses?

        Over and over again, I learn the lesson of accepting my natural process. Of accepting who I am and how I naturally work – in all areas of my life. You can’t look at how others do things and compare yourself to them. What works for others may not work for you.



        pinkarrowWhen you start an art journal page, do you usually have something in mind, or just play and let ideas come after you’ve begun? or both?

        My natural creative process is to have something in mind first. But, in my art journal, I use it to exercise listening to my intuition and just play. It’s a whole new way of creating for me, and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it work for me.



        pinkarrowWhat’s your favorite type of craft?

        I’m a dabbler. I love to try out new things, and then move on to the next thing. I’ve tried candle making, soap making, basket weaving, sewing dolls and quilts, drawing, painting, art journaling, scrapbooking, and the list goes on. Check out my old flickr account HERE.



        pinkarrowYou seem very calm. With your little ones and a business to care for, how do you manage it all?
        pinkarrowYou seem to be always creating. How do you do it?
        pinkarrowHow do you get SO Much done in what seems like a short amount of time?

        Let me tackle all three of these at once… there’s a bigger issue at play here. What you see online (by everyone) is curated. You see the highlights; you see what we want you to see. It’s not the whole picture. To quote Stephen Furtick: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

        Yeah, I’m super calm in my videos – wanna know why? Because it’s my natural nature, and being in my happy place (with you, and creativity!) brings out my true self. But, most other times? I’m yelling and pulling my hair out like a maniac trying to get the kids to do what needs to be done. (truth!) And no, I am not always creating. Previous to my last spurt of journaling, I didn’t open up my art journal for weeks (or maybe it was months??). It’s funny that you think I get so much done in a short amount of time. Where did you ever get that idea? Guess what? The biggest, loudest thing that my inner critic says is: “Why does it take you so long to get anything done? You’re going nowhere fast! You should have waaay more done by now!”

        Moral of the story? No matter how perfect or put together someone looks, there’s always a storm behind the scenes. And for the record, it’s not that I want to hide any of this from you, it’s just that going on and on about my bad days and struggles wouldn’t be very inspiring or helpful to you. Except for when it is.




        Have more questions or would like to add to one of my responses? Comment below! I’ll be back in a few days with round 3! :)






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          Your questions answered! {part 1}

          Rapid Fire Q+A part 1

          The other day, I sent out a survey and the last question was: “If you could ask Kristal one question, what would it be?” I got so many interesting questions, I thought it would be fun to do a little rapid fire Q+A here on the blog!

          Below you’ll find a few of the questions I received with my simplified answers. Mind you, these are quick, basic responses; and many of them do require more in depth discussions – which I hope to get to on the blog over the next few months!

          Let’s get to it…



          pinkarrowWhy are you interested in these questions and getting to know others?

          The better I get to know YOU and what your “problems” are in relation to what I teach, the better I can help you. I have such deep beliefs about creativity and how essential it is in our lives, that I want NEED to spread the word and inspire as many people as I can to get creating. This mission gives me purpose, and fills me up in so many ways. So in essence, we’re helping each other live happier lives. :)



          pinkarrowHow do I get “unstuck” (out of a creative funk, past a creative block, etc)?

          You can’t get past a block if you don’t know what the block looks like. Clarity is always the first step in any intentional change. Sit down with paper and a pen, and start writing. Ask yourself why you can’t create. What’s stopping you? Make a list. Complain. Get it all out. Can all these excuses be boiled down to one fear or belief that doesn’t ring true anymore? If you have trouble pin-pointing it, I can help – email me at hello{at}kristalnorton.com and ask about my Jumpstart package. :)



          pinkarrowHow do you stop worrying about your work being good enough?

          I received so many variations of this question. And there are a lot of variations to what my response would be. But, two key things to consider: think about your intention. Are you trying to produce beautiful art and perfect techniques? Or are you creating to have the experience and reap the benefits of creativity? Either is totally awesome, and yes they do intertwine. But which comes first for you? Once you know, you can approach your creating accordingly.

          The second thing to consider: when you’re a beginner, you have to start at the beginning. What you create will not match up to what you see in your head. But, this is a good sign. It means you have good taste. You know what you like and don’t like. The more you create, the more you can close that gap and begin to see your work look closer like you imagine. Ira Glass talks about this beautifully HERE.



          pinkarrowWhat should I do when everything I create is rubbish? People say beginners should practice a lot, but not only can I not do much because of my disability, seeing how shit my “art” is makes me wonder why I even bother trying when I’m so ridiculously bad.

          See my answer to the above question. Your intention is key. Focus on WHY you create. And I’ll add this: we all need to embrace our natural abilities and way of doing things. You especially, because you have a limitation that is impossible to fight against. Embrace the limitation, and experiment with how it can make your work unique from everyone else’s. Check THIS out!



          pinkarrowWhy does it seem like many art journaling teachers think that so many people are insecure and lacking confidence?

          Interesting question… and the answer is, because there ARE so many people approaching art journaling and mixed media who are lacking confidence. We as teachers get tons of questions dripping with insecurities and fears; we need to address it. And I know, if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with that, it can get frustrating to hear all the jabber about “believing in yourself”. But the fact is, art journaling and mixed media in general opened up a door into the creative world for all those out there who have always believed that they weren’t creative. It has given them a glimmer of hope that they too can do this. Another reason, is that this art form requires using your intuition, which many people have gotten out of touch with in this product driven world. So in these ways, this creative endeavor is much different than other art forms you might get involved in.



          pinkarrowIs it possible to unlock creativity at an older age I have always had ideas but can’t get them from my head through to my hands?

          Absolutely! See my answer to the fourth question above. You’re a beginner, embrace it!



          pinkarrowAt 50 years old is it too late to find yourself?

          It’s never too late! And I would love for you, and the other few people who asked similar questions on how to find yourself to send me an email!! I have a project in the works to help. :)



          pinkarrowI’ve tried to make room for more creativity in my life, but my job is so draining and long, that I am often too exhausted to do something creative every day – is there any way to make more room for creativity with such a job or do I need to quit?

          If your job is making you unhappy, then consider your possibilities. But, you don’t need to quit a job to be creative. There are so many other ways to be creative everyday without producing art journal pages or paintings, etc. Since you’ve sent me this question via the survey, I know you have a copy of my Water ebook preview. Check it out, it includes 10 ways to be creative without creating.



          pinkarrowEvery question I thought of had its own answer! So I guess I need an imaginary wise artist to ask questions of so that I can become aware of the solutions. Thanks for asking me that question and connecting me with my own wisdom!

          Yay! That is so awesome that you recognize this. Everything you need is right inside you. Perhaps you can make a poster of your inner wise artist to talk to when you’re feeling stuck. :)



          pinkarrowAny free books or courses?

          Not anymore, but I’m working on making new freebies!!



          pinkarrowDo you LOVE me :)

          Of course darlin’! ;0)



          pinkarrowHow old are you?

          As of writing this (May 2015), I’m 34. My father says we Nortons age well. lol



          pinkarrowWhat kind of study/employment background do you have? :)
          pinkarrowWhat course of study did you use to become a coach?

          I worked as a dental assistant in my younger years and studied graphic design and fine arts in college, but fell just short of finishing my degree when I became pregnant with my first child. It was then I began building businesses so I can stay home with her, and then decided not to return to traditional schools. I now continue my education through research and online courses. Two out of the many that I’m proud to mention: Courageous Coaching Training Program by Kate Swoboda and IGNITE by Connie Solera. These two intense classes by these amazing women changed everything for me! (PS if you happen to join one, be sure to let them know I sent you!!)



          pinkarrowHow did you get started doing what you are now doing?
          pinkarrowWhat was the turning point for you to decide to make this your career?
          pinkarrowHow did you know this — teaching/coaching — was your path?

          As I mentioned above, I started my first business (Rags-n-Tags) because I wanted to stay home with my daughter. My plan then was just to create and sell, which turned out pretty well; but after years of doing it, I got so sick of creating the same thing over and over that I had to quit. My next idea was to just move on to another medium and stick to the same type of business plan: create and sell.

          But along came an intensive business course by Katie Freiling (which, unfortunately is no longer available), and that turned my whole outlook around. She helped me bring out my passions, see my purpose in this world, and how I can better contribute. From there I began blogging and researching like crazy about creativity. I became obsessed with people’s stories, how we create, and internal blocks to just do it already. The more I learned, the more I realized that it has a lot to do with how our minds work, so I delved deeper into learning about that – which included coaching.

          This of course is the super condensed version of my story. But basically, through the help of a talented coach to get me clear on what my passions were, and feeling the excitement it gave me to help someone be creative, I followed that path until it led to where I am today!

          You can find an overview of my journey HERE and a video interview about it HERE.



          pinkarrowWhat makes you feel/why do you consider you are qualified as “art therapist”/how did you get started with your first online class?

          Well, I wouldn’t consider myself an “art therapist”. When forced to put a title on it, I often use the term “creativity guide”. I considered going back to school to get a degree in art therapy, but after researching and talking to a few who’ve gone that path, I decided it wasn’t for me. Too many rules, covering your ass legal stuff, and limitations. I found coaching is a better approach for what I do – helping people get past the self-imposed blocks to creating.

          So, getting back to your question – why do I consider myself qualified? Well, I spent a year in intensive coaching training, and have been studying creativity officially for about four years now. I’ve also worked one-on-one with hundreds of women to test out my theories and what I’ve learned. It’s a never-ending journey though; I continue to learn more every day.

          In answer to what I believe is your underlying question: no matter what you do or where you are in life, there are always people who can learn from you. I started teaching art journaling before I felt like an “expert” in it (still don’t!). But I knew, that what I learned so far was more than what complete newbies knew… and they could benefit from what I’ve learned.



          pinkarrowHow do you deal with balancing the “business” side of an art business with actually creating art that you love?

          This is a toughy! As you can see from my personal story, I totally failed at this with my first business. My creating was all for the biz, and it burned me out. I wanted desperately to quit and just create for myself again. Which I did, and now I don’t sell much of my art at all. I create for myself, and use my art as a supporter for my biz. I think if you just stay true to what you want to create, the right people will find you and fall in love with it.



          pinkarrowIf you have ever got “lost” creatively how have you refound your path?

          Yes! If you read my above answers, you’ll see how I got so drained from creating primitives for my first business that I just had to quit and start creating freely for myself again. I had a calling to try out mixed media, but I was scared and lost. The only thing that helped me get started was to simplify, shut myself away from all the “inspiration” online, and begin following my intuition. Click HERE for a video of me telling my story on how I floundered starting art journaling.



          pinkarrowWill you develop another art journaling course beyond Roots?

          Oooooh Absolutely!!! These past two years have been dedicated to learning. When I’m done with Ignite, I’ll be teaching like a maniac!! lol




          Have more questions? Comment below! I’ll be back in a few days with round 2! :)






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