Posts tagged film

Finding Strength In Adversity

1. Baby picture

Dressed in my pink and white polk-a-dot nighty, I poke my head around the corner of the doorway and watch as my parents yell and scream at each other in the living room. Toe to toe they stand facing each other…my dad with his hands on his hips…my mother gesturing wildly. Spinning around, my mother strides angrily to the nearby dining table, grabs wildly at the used dish ware and begins hurling cups, glasses and plates at my father. My father shields his face and dodges the flying saucers, as they smash and splinter against the brick fireplace behind him. Sobbing and holding my hands over my ears, I stumble through the room towards my father before tripping on the hem of my nighty and falling on the broken pieces. I roll over and sit there waling, seeing my bare knee and the bright red blood…as my father turns his back and stares with stony silence into the dark empty fireplace. The last sound I remember before waking up alone in an orphanage is the loud slamming of a door as my mother storms out of the house.

And now? I look at my life today, and I acknowledge the years of turmoil, of living on the streets, in Half-Way Houses…the Government Shelter and Foster Home.  I recall some desperate times of pain and near suicide.   And I find that I am grateful for all that has happened in the past and all that happens in the present. The hardships, the pain, the obstacles…they serve to make me stronger. They teach me to find faith, to hope, to persevere. I believe that it is because of the difficulties in life that I have achieved so much. Even today, as I strive for my next big achievement, I know that it is the bitterness that helps me savor the sweet.

Life is not over when one door slams closed.

 

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cc:  danahee June 2014

 

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A Quote From A Real Life Champion!

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 “In life, and in my line of work as a Stuntwoman, Olympic athlete, and Motivational Speaker, change is the only constant.  Necessity is my mother of invention because she causes me to create and adapt.  Perseverance is my rock solid companion that always gets me home safely; and passion is the life-blood that drives me beyond the ordinary.”

 dana hee

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My Olympic Breakthrough, Preparation = Courage

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Jogging in place and waiting quietly to enter the Olympic stadium, the heavy door suddenly opened and two sweaty, male athletes strode into the holding room.  One was obviously ecstatic from his Olympic win.  The other young man was completely devastated.  As suddenly as their entrance, my confidence vanished and I felt a streak of inner terror run up my spine.

Thoughts from the past began streaming through my mind like flashing red neon lights.  “Who are you to think you’re good enough to do this!”  “What makes you think you are strong enough, fast enough!”  “You fool!”  “You’re not good enough, and you never will be!”  Panic-stricken, I bent forward on the pretense of straightening my shin guards…all the while, trying to draw deeper breaths and find some sense of composure.  “Dana,” I said to myself. “What are you doing!”  “Get a grip!”  Yet as the doors opened again, and I straightened up to move forward with our small group, a sinking feeling dropped into my stomach like an iron cannon ball.

My coach stepped through the doorway carrying our beautiful American flag.  As I automatically stepped after him, I gazed upon our countries’ flag, flowing proudly at his side, and my heart sank.  My recently found courage had deserted me.  I felt as helpless as an abandoned child.

Yet as we entered the stadium, my heart quickened at the cheers from the crowd, and my eyes sought out our USA section of the stands.  And there was my husband, so proud…waving, shouting encouragement and holding a banner with my name in big bold letters, “Dana Hee and NBC!”

All of the long hard hours of training, the blood, sweat and tears, the travel, the obstacles of my long journey flashed through my mind.  Despite everything, I had persevered.  I had triumphed.  I was here at the Olympic Games.  I was representing my entire country!  I had the speed, the strength, the timing and the endurance.  I had trained like a maniac.  I had done everything possible to be prepared for this exact moment.  And that is when I realized, that I WAS good enough!  Straightening my shoulders and holding my head high, I waved to the crowd…to my husband, and took that final step into the competition ring. 

The knowledge of my preparation gave me the strength of courage just when I needed it most.  The rest is history.  Gold Medal, USA.

 

cc:  danahee May 2014

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Dana Hee on Leadership and Success

Dana Hee being interviewed about Success and Leadership by NAVALLO, a site that features interviews with the worlds most successful people

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Here are the questions and Dana’s response

1. How do you define success?
Happiness in each and every moment that is good, as well as tolerance and acceptance of those bad things that you have no control over.

2. What is the key to success?
For me, being “present” or “in the moment” as much as possible. Also, persistent education about the world around me, combined with open mindedness that I may not always be right.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
No. For the first 23 years of my life I felt like a complete failure, and I had very little self confidence or self-esteem. I was so afraid of failure that I was too afraid to accept a challenge, too afraid to take a risk, and too afraid to even try.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The knowledge that the thrill of victory is worth the possible agony of defeat. I know, because the first 23 years I felt like a failure for being too afraid to even try. Fortunately, I learned that there are consequences for our actions, and especially our in-actions. Sure, there is often a price to pay for victory, but the cost of not rising to the challenges in life are far greater. Victory is here, and then gone, yet the pride and satisfaction to have the courage to go for what you want? That lasts a lifetime!

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
To be humble in my greatness, to be accepting of my weaknesses, to be happy with this life I have been given, and to be proud of even the smallest step with courage.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love riding horses, living a simple farm life with my animals, and I love any opportunity to interact with others in the interest of helping to elevate the human spirit and show others just how much is truly possible.

7. What makes a great leader?
Passion, compassion, and interaction along with the ability to help others build their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Innovation is key, yet do not forget to always be growing your area of knowledge and expertise to stay ahead of the curve. Additionally, global education and interaction is critical, regardless of whether you interact outside your country or not.

Interview from http://www.novallo.net   NAVALLO, a site that features interviews with the worlds most successful people  http://www.navallo.net/dana-hee

Success and Leadership

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Fighting Fear With Courage! A Stuntwoman’s perspective on performing death defying stunts!


Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself where you started out in life…and where you are now. I was looking through some old stories that I wrote for magazines and such…and came across one from back when I first started out in Hollywood. My words from years ago help to re-generate my soul from time to time. Perhaps you can find your own cool stories to remember!

A Brave New World
“I still recall that day on the set of the Natassja Kinski film, “Bella Mafia,” as if it were yesterday.
It was the day I did my first car hit in my career as a Hollywood Stuntwoman. I remember standing on the paved road in my yellow sundress and strap sandals with the sun warming my back, and glinting off the metallic silver bumper of the car rapidly closing in on me.

It approached much faster than what I had envisioned it would. There was a moment of extreme panic and fear, and I felt like bolting from its path. Then, the fear was replaced by the sudden rush of adrenaline that surged like a locomotive through my body. Steeling myself to focus on what had to happen next, I bent my knees in anticipation of the slight thrust upwards I would make on contact.

As the bumper caught me and lifted me into the air, the ‘whack’ of my body slamming against the hood resonated in my ears for a moment before being swallowed by an intense silence, as I was spit up and over the top of the car. There was a surprising and disorienting sense of peace as I spun through the air, catching glimpses of blue, then brown…before landing with a resounding thud on the side of the road.”
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You know, you’ve really have to wonder about the Mario Andretti’s of this world! And, likewise, all of the skydiving, bull riding, bungee jumping extreme-adrenaline freaks!! Why do they do what they do? Why would anyone purposely put themselves in harms way? I wonder if it’s for the same reason I’ve been doing just that for the last sixteen years.

From competing in full-contact fighting in the Olympic Games, to performing dangerous and debilitating stunts for Hollywood films, I’ve evan had moments where I’ve thought that I must be insane.

What compels me to place myself in front of an oncoming car, or allow someone to jerk me thirty feet through the air and slam me into the nose of an airplane?

Hmmm….perhaps it’s because I’ve wanted to forget about the painful scars of my childhood…the years of life in an orphanage, with alcoholic, suicidal, abusive family members, on the streets, in halfway houses, a government shelter, and a foster home.

Maybe it’s been an effort to strip myself of my negative self-image, and cloak myself in the resulting praise and admiration of my peers. What I do know, without a doubt, is that I have been driven by the need to face my fears head on.

I guess if I had come into the world feet first, I wouldn’t have felt so compelled to challenge my fate, as I would’ve been able to hit the ground running.

As it was, my rocky start in life did nothing to ensure that I would be able to hold my head high in society. Indeed, I was handicapped with a huge lack of self-esteem and confidence.

Luckily for me though, I was too hardheaded to accept defeat with humility and grace. So after years of struggling against the force of the whirlpool trying to pull me down, I forced my head up out of the water, and struck out swimming.

You know, it’s amazing what one can accomplish with a spark of hope and a lot of determination.

When I finally took hold of my life I was actually able to make my dreams of Olympics, Hollywood, and life come true.

I guess it’s a tribute to the strength and courage of mankind that someone like myself was able to rise from the ashes, and hover in the clouds. Then again, maybe it has nothing to do with strength or courage.

Personally, I feel my successes in life have much more to do with fear…fear that I’m not good enough, fear of pain and humiliation, fear of the unknown, and most of all, fear of failure.

For me, it was fortunate that I finally recognized that, ‘that’ was what was holding me back in life. It is equally fortunate that I felt a burning need to change that. The fact that I chose to face and conquer my fears is commendable. The fact that I chose to face fear with more fear, is nuts! Or is it?

From stair falls, to car hits, that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I get when I face fear, and pull off a death-defying stunt makes me feel good about myself.

It reinforces the fact that it is possible to put my fears aside, if only for a time, and accomplish what I set out to do.

It’s a very empowering feeling! And it’s a recipe for success I’ve used many times now.

I wonder…. perhaps that is what drives the Mario Andretti’s of this world, this fear factor, and the need to face it…perhaps not.

All I know, is that when the paramedics are rushing me to the hospital after yet another near-death encounter, and are shaking their heads saying, “Why in the world would anyone do such crazy work!” I smile to myself, because I know the answer to that question.

Call me crazy if you want, but I have learned to fight fear, with fear. Instead of cowing away from the challenges and trials of life, I meet them head on, or upside down, or in front of a car. I now know that the only thing worse than failure is being too afraid to even try. Now, when someone asks me to jump, I say, “how high?”

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Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other. A Stuntwoman’s perspective.


“FACING FEAR WITH FEAR!”

an excerpt from Dana’s life as a Stuntwoman in Hollywood…

“I can’t believe I’m about to do this!” This thought flashes through my brain as I lean forward to place tension on the thin cable attached to the jerk vest hidden beneath my baggy clothing. I slow my breathing down. The tension mounts around me, and the acrid stench of the torches burns into my throat. I can almost feel the simulated, nighttime darkness envelope me in its shroud.

You see, I am a stunt double for an actress; and I’m about to be shot with a flamethrower device and knocked backwards through the air, and down into a gully, as several bombs explode. I see everyone scurrying around me, and I feel like the calm in the center of a storm. The special effects guy double checks the fire squib he has placed on my stomach. My ratchet man is talking with me about my starting mark and my arm placement. The hair lady makes a final adjustment to my hair, as the bomb ‘squad,’ adjusts the propane bombs and debris cones that are on both sides to the front of me.

My boss asks if I am ready. I give a nod and a thumbs up sign. All of a sudden everybody scatters and disappears into the darkness. All is quiet. I keep the tension on the line and close my eyes as I hear the effects team say, “The bombs are going hot!” From my cocoon of darkness I hear the shout on the megaphone, “Cameras Rolling!” “Speed!” “And on three. One….two….THREE!” Simultaneously I feel the blast of heat, and I am jerked backwards and up.

My eyes open and I see smoke, then darkness. I feel like I am swimming in the air. I fly backwards, 10ft…. 20ft… Hmmm, I seem to be traveling further than I did in the rehearsals. I should be free falling backward to the pads by now! Then I drop. And just as the thought dawns on me that I’m going to miss the pads, I feel a mighty “THWACK” to my head, and all goes black.

Ahhh….the life of a Hollywood stuntwoman! Ok, call me crazy, but I’m perfectly happy to be flying through the air, jumping through burning windows and slamming myself into walls. Well…maybe I’m a little happier when there is no pain or headache involved, but still, I’m definitely hooked on this wild roller coaster of a career!

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would anyone choose such a hazardous career?” Well, have you ever wanted something so badly that you didn’t even try to accomplish it, because you were afraid you would find you couldn’t do it? I call it a fear of failure.

That was the story of my life; that is, until I learned to defeat my fears by facing up to the challenges of my mind. I came from a background of sexual abuse, abandonment, and the ravages created by suicidal, and alcoholic parents and relatives.

I had no self-confidence or self-esteem. What I did have, was a bad habit of thinking, “I can’t,” along with a petrifying fear of disappointment, anger, hurt, and humiliation. As a result, I would typically run from any challenge of the mind, body, or soul. I was my own worst enemy when it came to succeeding with something, and I was sick of it!

So when that first call came for me to double the villainess on the film Under Cover Blues down in Lafayette, Louisiana. I jumped at the chance. When the fear of those first few stunts started to get in the way, I pushed them ruthlessly aside and did what I had to do.

Afterwards, when I realized that I had completed the stunt successfully – even though my brain had been saying I couldn’t – I was enveloped in a euphoric, “walking on clouds” feeling of accomplishment.

At last, I had discovered a good battleground where I could focus on conquering my fears, and I was determined to win! So off I went to Hollywood.

Leaving behind my nine to five job in accounting, the Friday night parties, and Monday night football on the couch with my man, life, I jumped into my new career, and learned to face my fears on a daily basis.

As my experience and skills expanded, the jobs kept coming….Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Demolition Man, Lethal Weapon 4, Charlie’s Angels, Swordfish, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Independence Day, plus an ongoing list of television shows like Star Trek Voyager, The Pretender, VIP, and the X-Files.

Never would I have dreamed of being able to do the stunts I did with helicopters, jeep chases, jet ski-boat transfers, stair falls, saddle falls, jumps from buildings-through glass-over fences, hydraulic ratchets into walls – the ground- into other people. I would have never dared to be hit by a car wearing nothing but a sundress and sandals (Bella Mafia).

As one film led to another, I was swept up into a whirlwind of movie stars, travel, money, and extraordinary adventure. I spent weeks working with actors like Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, and Mel Gibson. I hung out on the set with George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Charlie Sheen and Gwynneth Paltrow.

The productions flew me first class around the world to exotic locations to film. I galloped a horse in the sunset along the ancient cliffs and temples of Petra, Jordan (same local as Raiders of the Lost Ark). I fought in a hurricane in Wales, and then floated in a rickety boat down a mystical river in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand (Mortal Kombat Annihilation).

There were side trips for shopping in London, museums in Paris, lounging on exotic beaches. And now, after a brief sojourn in Rome working with Cameron Diaz on Gangs of New York, I am on contract with a great new TV series called Alias. Although the glamour of this business can be fun, it can also be overwhelming.

To keep my sanity, I try to balance my perspective of what is important, and what is real. (Imagine yourself walking on a very high tight-wire with your packed suitcase in one hand, and a martini in the other, and you’ll get an idea of how difficult this can be.)

Beneath the glitz and the glamour, I have found the real counter-balance in this rocky career is the underlying magnet of satisfaction and self-accomplishment.

After a lifetime of dealing with issues from my extremely difficult childhood, I welcome the challenges of this career. They have helped me balance and conquer those old feelings of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and my fear of failure. (Not that I would recommend all people suffering from childhood trauma jump from buildings or launch themselves 20 feet through the air by stepping on a seriously dangerous mechanical device called an air ram)!

And now, after ten years, thousands of stunts, hundreds of movies, over 2,520 days of pain (excluding the five hospital trips and numerous doctor visits for burns, stitches, pulls, breaks, and concussions), I can honestly say that I still enjoy the challenges of my work.

Sure there are times when I long for that nine to five, football night, bruise-free life. But when I’m sixty feet up on a huge 360 degree rotating shipping crane, about to start a big fight on a contraption consisting of a forklift, a motorcycle, and a car sandwiched together (Barbwire), I realize that, once again, I am conquering that debilitating fear I felt growing up
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You see I know that the only thing worse than failing is to let fear keep you from succeeding at what you want to do.

Hey, call me crazy if you want, but now, instead of running from a challenge, when I’m asked to jump, I say, “how high?”

copyright dana hee August 2001

http://www.GreatThingsArePossible.com

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INTERNAL POWER BEGINS WITH A POSITIVE MIND-SET!


I find that when we seek to improve upon our sense of self…we often turn automatically to the external tools of making us feel better…getting our hair done at the beauty salon, going to lift weights at the gym, taking that cool Harley out for a ride, buying/cooking/eating delicious and satisfying foods, and sometimes in my case…going shopping. Hey…she who dies with the most shoes, wins! Right? Aghh! (buzzer sound). Wrong!

Now if only my ‘natural’ instinct was to work from the ‘inside-out,’ life would become much easier. My life would be filled with much more peace, power and happiness. But then, I’m the Chinese ‘Ox.’ I often put my shoulder into that ‘yoke,’ and choose to do things the hard way. Fortunately, since I am aware of my shortcoming…I now to work at changing my life-long pattern of behaviors so that I can achieve higher levels of love, satisfaction, and sense of ‘self.’

It’s my personal experience and feeling, that everything we want and desire is out there in the universe waiting for us to tap it on the shoulder and say, ‘Come here.’ It’s my personal belief, that ‘God’ wants all the best for us. So then…why do we not walk on that bed of roses, if what we want is so very possible? I believe it’s a negative behavior pattern learned from years and years of using ‘external’ power to try and satisfy our internal needs. Question is….how can we change this and tap into the riches of the world that awaits us?

I have discovered that a positive mind-set is the first step we can take to help ourselves.

“Nothing will ever change without movement!” I’m sure you’ve heard that quote. And it’s so true. Believe me I know. Because I did NOTHING the first 25 years of my life to change that which I needed to change! I ran from anger, confrontation, sorrow, and rejection. Heck…I even ran from opportunity because I was afraid I might fail! I refused to ‘step-up’ and take my place in this world, because I was too afraid to take a risk…too afraid to accept a challenge. I was too afraid to even hope. It wasn’t until I reached an emotional crises in life, that I finally began to realize that ‘this’ was no way to live! And so it was…that I discovered that ‘change’ begins with the power of the mind.

In High School, I was pretty much considered a ‘loner.’ I was tall and thin to the point of bony. I was extremely introverted and spent the majority of my free time in the library with my nose buried in a book. And on the special holidays that many kids would get carnations or cards in their lockers…I would often send myself a couple, just to make it look like I had some friends too.

I imagine that things would’ve remained pretty bleak for me throughout High School, if I hadn’t of discovered, that I had a real talent and opportunity to be successful in the track and field event of the high jump. Discovering that I was actually ‘good’ at something began to transform my soul…and with the emotional support of my new Foster parents, I began to train and compete. It didn’t take long before my self-esteem and self-confidence began to grow. Soon I was interacting with other students and participating in after-school activities. I had found a tiny star within myself and I was learning how to make it shine.

By my senior year in high school, I was a different woman. I had fallen in love, and had a fiancé. I had a good job, and I had started dressing nice and taking care of myself. Because of the high jump, I had received a scholarship offer and a training sponsorship with a top Stanford University coach. By the time I graduated High School, I moved out to live with my fiancé, and started taking college prep classes at the local Jr. College. I felt ready to take on the world.

But then, everything turned upside down once again as I was suddenly hit with the emotional whip-lash of being pulled into interacting with my mother (who was recovering from yet another suicide attempt…which she had done in the effort to pull me back into her life), and then I was hit with the news that my grandfather had just hung himself.

To try and keep my sanity, I shut myself off from my emotions, and retreated into the safety of my day-dreams and the sanctuary of hard training. And as I trained with that top coach, I began to day-dream of what it would be like to go to the Olympics and win an Olympic Gold medal. Deep down inside…I just knew that if I could win an Olympic Gold Medal, then I would really ‘BE’ someone. Then I would truly be happy. But just as the going got tough, I let my old fear of failure get the best of me. I couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen if I tried my best, and discovered that, once again, I wasn’t good enough.

It was just like that old saying…that the higher up the ladder you climb, the further you have to fall. And I had fallen so many times before, that I had become deathly afraid of the pain I would feel when I hit the ground. So one day, when I was frustrated and discouraged, I gave up. I just turned and walked away from my dream. I never even said good-by or thank you to my coach. I was too afraid to face his reaction.

Only something unusual happened that day. For the very first time, after spending years running away from any pressure or conflict, I realized what a coward I was being. Hey…I had the talent, and for the first time, I had someone supporting me. It was ‘possible’ that I would’ve been able to make my dream come true. But, now…I would never know. Because I had just given up without even trying! That thought settled in my brain and began to haunt my heart…as the rest of my world began to fall apart.

On the surface, I presented my survivalist ‘game-face’ that everything was just fine. But stressed out with inner turmoil, and emotionally shut-down, my relationship with my fiancé quickly deteriorated and fell apart. I was on my own once again.

To hide from my disappointment and anxiety, I quit college, buried myself in work and began training in the Martial Arts. To everyone else, my life seemed just fine. But deep inside, I was falling apart at the seams. I didn’t return phone calls, or follow through on things. I avoided any and all emotional connections. I didn’t even go to visit my grandmother whose health was failing…even though I knew it was the last chance to see her. I was going through life like a zombie…keeping myself busy, and trying not to think about anything, or feel anything. It felt like I was all alone in the ocean, slowly sinking in a rickety boat full of tiny little holes. I knew that I needed to rescue myself before it was too late…but I didn’t know how.

Just when I was about to capsize, my salvation arrived with my newly found talent in the full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo. I had been training in the Martial Arts for about five years at this time, and had just started competing in sparring matches. Placing second in my first National competition in 1986, I discovered that this sport was to be introduced in the upcoming ‘88’ Olympics in Seoul, Korea. The revelation, that here was my second chance to make my Olympic dream come true, hit me square between the eyes.

At that moment, it became startling clear to me that I could not just walk away again. I’d been given a second chance, and by God, I’d make the most of it! I was tired of running away from everything. I knew that I needed to draw the line and make a stand. So I swore to myself, that this time, no matter what, I would take this dream and make it come true. And if I failed…well at least I would know that it wasn’t because I didn’t give it 100% effort. I would know that, for once in my life, I did not let my fears get the best of me! Like a drowning person clinging to a life-raft, I made the determination to save myself by clinging to my long standing dream of Olympic Gold.

So at the age of 25, I took the little glimpse of hope that my newly found talent gave me…I told myself, “Be not afraid!” and I took one tiny step towards my dream.

(Dana’s Olympic gold medal win. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44gy17PKDnk )

Ok….so ‘that’ was quite a few years ago. Yet that one step changed my life, because it taught me that good things ARE possible. We just need to know this, so that we can begin to BELIEVE it to be possible. Well through the years, I have taken that one step with courage to make my dreams come true. First with the Olympics (in the full-contact fighting sport of Taekwondo), then with my dream of becoming a top Stuntwoman in Hollywood, and now, with my dream of becoming a great motivational speaker. Sure, I know that I may never reach the heights I aim for. But I DO know that it IS possible. So when I stumble and fall, I pick myself up, brush off the dirt, re-set my mind, and reach out to claim my happiness from the universe.

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