You don’t really need a cape…. but it helps!

Part 1 of a 2 part series on my quest to become a better public speaker

It seems to be the latest thing where companies and organizations are really honing their ability to tell the story, sell the brand, share the successes of why people are so passionate about their cause, their product, and most importantly their mission.  I want to tell my story!  I want to become a better speaker and get on stage again to share my story to inspire others to be strong and have hope and share my passion.

Recently through our skill based volunteering program I engaged with a public speaking coach.  My speaking experience comes from originally being a waitress, a trainer, a sales person, and as a director in my role with volunteers and staff.

Then in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma my world turned a little upside down and I worked to keep things in perspective, keep a positive outlook, stay and get as strong as possible during my treatment — at that point I was asked to speak about my story, to share the hope with others that yes, you too can survive and in what ever way you spin it – try and THRIVE through cancer treatment.

My quest to become a better speaker through my coaching sessions has me on the right path and I am excited to get started — in the meantime I am working on focusing on what is MY story and what audiences I may want to reach, taking the time to really think about what I want to say.

If you haven’t seen my videos that I have speaking as a cancer survivor at Relay events, trainings and a all staff meeting.  I have them posted on my LinkedIn account linked to my YouTube channel.  Any feedback on my speaking is always appreciated.  That is my next step – to start speaking and gathering feedback – so thank you for commenting below!   Linked here is my first talk at the New England Relay University 3 months after my diagnosis in 2011 (still my favorite talk to date) 

This article was really great for me to read -to help me continue to put this all together – 20 Questions for Public Speakers — I answering these questions to get myself prepared as a speaker and get this party started! 🙂


“Amazing” was the quote below this Facebook post from a leadership volunteer (Sandy) that heard me speak that day. 

1.What do you love about the art of public speaking?

I love that public speaking reaches all kinds of people needing all different things in their lives.  You never know when you are going to connect on something for someone, make them smile and laugh, make them think a little harder about life, not to give up, advocate for themselves and just be at peace where they are at that very moment.

2.What do you hate about public speaking?

The nerves.  Being afraid that I won’t reach the audience, that I will “trip” on my words and they won’t laugh or “get the message”.  The practice before hand is nerve racking too.  Too many variables that may not be in your control unless you practice and practice and practice again.

3.How do you feel about a life on the road?

That is the hard part – fitting it all in.   I like to travel, but I love being with my family and travel sometimes takes me from family.   Hopefully I can find some locations close to home in the meantime to build up my skills as a speaker.

4. In what ways does the relationship between speaker and audience sustain you, and in what ways not?

I love to make people smile. Just saying hello – saying thank you – knowing their name – doing something nice for people  I think it is the same with an audience, just a more broad brush to more people.  The people that come up after wards to say thank you, want to meet you and tell you their story. You know you have made a difference in their lives…. that is what matters the most.

5.What do you want your audiences to remember of your presentation?

Remember to be a strong advocate for your health, be strong, do what makes you happy, and if you fall get back up again and fight harder as long as you can.     There are so many things that my story can focus on, but advocacy for health, strength in survivorship are major key points I am able to make in my story.

6.What do you want your audiences to do differently as a result of having heard your presentation?

Have hope for those around them, if not for themselves.  Everyone we know is has some sort of struggle.  Some it’s their health, some its their relationship, money, jobs, or issues with family.  Kindness is what the world needs, hope is what we all need too – take the initiative to be happy, get healthy, have hope, be positive and live life to the fullest each and every day.

7.What do you fear most about giving a presentation?

My fear is that I won’t have the right audience for my message – that they won’t get it or want to hear what I have to say.  I fear my words won’t flow, afraid they won’t smile or laugh at my little jokes….   The other thing I fear is that a cancer survivor story doesn’t need to be sad or a downer — so I need to work at keeping it positive and inspiring!  Link here to my talk at the All Staff briefing in November 2011.   

8.What from the past haunts you about public speaking? Were you not good enough once? Was there an audience that didn’t like you? Was there a speech that didn’t land? Was there a speech that you didn’t give that you wanted to – or should have? What are you holding on to?

The timing of my speaking – being thrown into something that won’t give me enough time to say what I want to say – and to have it just not be enough.  I remember given only 3 minutes for a talk that takes me 10-15 and trying to whittle it down with only a 1 hour advance notice.  I think I did ok (and they did laugh at my little jokes) – but I listen to it now and it sounds like it was a rush job.  Linked here to my Relay For Life opening talk in San Francisco 

9.Who are the speakers and venues that you envy?

TED Talks – I love them, we are addicted to them at my house.  Sometimes I just listen to them for hours, thinking how I could craft my life experiences into their message and talk to the same things they talk about.  Not sure that I would be as good as them, but I envy that they are up there – on stage – sharing their passion and message — hopefully that will be me some day

10.Why do you feel impelled to speak? 

Speaking about surviving cancer and my life is something that I think others will relate to and find inspiration and hope.  I think we all need motivation and hope in our lives, especially those that may be battling cancer or a caregiver for someone going through treatment.  Their is such a need for people to volunteer for this mission of fighting cancer, for people to share their stories – i feel this is my calling to action that helps me to fight cancer at every angle and really make a difference in this world.


Tell me what you are passionate about?  What inspires you?

Thanks for stopping by and please comment in the section below – I would love to hear your feedback and experiences too!





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18 Before 2018 – The Challenge!

Today I went down the social media bunny hole of Facebook to YouTube – gravitating to the KonMari method review videos and somehow stumbled on this challenge for the end of the year.  It originated on Lisa Jacobs blog Marketing Creativity (which honestly was an incredible find in itself)

So here we go…. Today I’m listing 18 goals I want to complete before 2018, and I’m challenging YOU to play along. You have until the end of 2017 to complete all 18 goals on your list.

  1. Create a fitness plan for the winter – strength training, spinning and home gym weights, core training
  2. Work with Schuyler to log at least 50% of the required 40 hours of driving time for his JOL.
  3. Complete a 7 day Clean Burn Shape Cleanse to kick in my nutrition and health
  4. DeClutter and clean the entry way back room
  5. Make a 10 box donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters (Hartsprings)
  6. Donate Couch located downstairs
  7. Move wood inside the back porch with Steve
  8. Blogpost – Race Report for 2017
  9. Schedule Date Nights with Steve on the ICal- once a month (start small instead of Willie’s weekly date idea)
  10. Meal planning – set up meals for each week and plan shopping to support a varied diet. Try a new recipe once a week.
  11. Organize and add to my Dream Big notebook for work
  12. Set race goals and race plans for 2018
  13. Raise at least $150 for Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage
  14. DeClutter and clean the basement
  15. Make my Wonder Woman Granola! 
  16. Purchase a functional GPS multipart watch (Garmin / Suunto / Apple Watch)
  17. Get Schuyler started with tennis lessons, racket and tennis sneakers 🙂
  18. Join the Maintain don’t Gain Challenge on Redbrick – Team Poop in a Group!

My artwork wasn’t as great as Lisa’s but still pretty great to depict it in a handwritten way to make it real.  Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave a comment or like this post and tell me if you are going to do this challenge too!  I found it quick, easy and motivating.  Hoping I can get it all done in the month plus a week left before 2018!





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Wanna Break the Ice?

I am known as the “Woo” girl – I love to get to know people… not sure if it comes from my training, coaching background — but I think it is so interesting to learn about people by talking and sharing experiences, likes and pet peeves too.  It’s my turn at our upcoming meeting to kick us off with an “ice breaker” — this is a team that knows each other very well already, so I really need something short and sweet.  It was so fun when I asked my friends for ideas, so I felt a blogpost would be the best way to capture and be able to reference all the great ideas shared when I need them in the future.   Thank you to all my friends from across the country who shared their great ideas on my Facebook page!  Check it out!


QUESTION: Looking for some good clean adult ice breakers for an upcoming meeting with colleagues. What are your favorite get to know you / icebreakers?


ASK:  (Limit to 2)

  1.  Your life is about to be made into a movie – Who would play you?
  2.  What was the best concert you attended?
  3.  What is your most embarrassing moment?
  4.  What is your favorite reality show?
  5.  What is your guilty pleasure?
  6. Share 2 truths and a lie (let the group try to decipher the lie)
  7. What you would like to come back as and why after you pass on?
  8. What is the best concert you’ve been to and the most embarrassing concert? Or what is the first concert you ever went to?
  9.  Where would you like to retire?
  10. Who are three people you would like to have dinner with?
  11. Who is your favorite Cartoon Villain


Beach Ball or Thumbnail – Write questions on a beach ball and where you thumb lands – you answer the question.  I have the Thumbnail in my amazon cart.  Great simple tool to “throw” in a icebreaker anytime! 🙂

Things I love .. everyone gets 30 seconds to say everything they love  — LOVE THIS!

Human Tic Tac Toe

A fun and active ice breaker for sure!

Talk about Photography  

I would love to do this with my own photography when I have more time to prep.  Love this idea!

And of course: Wine and Mimosas and Bourbon all made the list!


What is your favorite icebreaker / get to know you activity?  Please share below in the comments !

Thanks for stopping by!


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The Virtual High Five!

Skills, we all have them, we work to develop skills our whole life. Volunteering is a passion for you to give back and make an impact on a cause and a mission that you support.  Skills-based volunteering is something that is such a win-win for volunteer and non-profits, its an exciting avenue for energy in the world of volunteering more now than ever.

I am so fortunate in my role at the American Cancer Society to have met so many giving, caring volunteers in my 23 years here as a staff.  The biggest compliment I have received is when someone remarked to me that they always thought I was a volunteer!  I love my “job” and love all the volunteers that I have worked with in my various roles with the Society.

This year I have been fortunate to be in the leadership team that worked directly on a pilot with Catchafire – – “Whether you have nonprofits who need volunteers or employees who want to volunteer” Catchafire is here to support you.  I love this description:  “It’s an E-Harmony for non-profits”  Personally I am truly inspired by their CEO Rachel Chong – her vision for giving back skills to non-profits in need is admirable and her story is shared on this TED talk –– check it out!  The Catchafire platform makes it very easy to post projects and interview prospective volunteers.  On the volunteer side you can rate the experience and give a testimonial of their work.  These are all great ways to recognize them for their efforts and skill they so generously give for this volunteer work.  I have matched and worked with 2 very passionate volunteers matched through Catchafire, and I am truly grateful.   Check out the first of 2 blogposts for National Volunteer week around recognizing volunteers. Thank you Catchafire for this great platform and partnership in this new way of engaging skills based volunteers!


How do you like to volunteer?  Do you have skills to offer a non-profit?

Thank you for stopping by – please leave a comment below!


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Flashback to 1994

Today I drove a little more than an hour to the New England Division of the American Cancer Society office in Framingham, Mass.  I spent the time in car thinking back to 1994 – a short 23 years ago –  to my interview with Peg Camp. She was the EVP (Executive Vice President) of the New Hampshire Division and I remember how nervous I was after buying a little black suit coat and black skirt to show a professional appearance.  Of course I got lost, made a wrong turn on 291 and had to get out the paper map (no Google Maps or Waze at that time…) and find my way to Bedford.  She greeted me with a smile sitting behind her big desk, surrounded with photos that shared her travels.  She was warm and welcoming and so positive and encouraging.  The interview process was unnerving to me none the less, because I really wanted this job.  I was with the American Red Cross before and this was a perfect job for me because I love working with volunteers and am always up for the next challenge!  Well, you guessed it — I got the job, despite my late showing. I was the new  Area Director of the Western part of NH – covering 5 counties managing the Board of Directors in each county — recruiting volunteers for Reach to Recovery, Road to Recovery and raising money to support the mission through events like Jail & Bail, Daffodils, Golf tournaments and Love Lights a Tree.  I truly loved my job — there was always something new, meeting new people every day and working with passionate, caring volunteers.   Peg was my boss and I saw her once a week when i would travel into the Bedford office and report in to share stories of my travels and the volunteers that I had met and worked with that week.  Our team was so much fun —- Louise was the Special Event Director and Kathy was the Income Director and Claire ran the office at the time and they were truly the best support you could ask for as a young 24 year old learning the ropes as a fundraiser and mission ambassador.  🙂

Fast forward 3 years when I decided to go to Colorado and become a Regional Relay For Life Director covering 3 counties in Northeast Colorado.  It was with Peg’s encouragement to grow in the Society and branch out to new experiences that helped me decide to move west to ski country where i would also teach skiing at Keystone and make some amazing new friends in Boulder, Keystone and Denver. The Society has offered me the opportunity to move and work to share my experiences and love for working with volunteers and I was so excited to help to grow Relay in the Rocky Mountains.   Where ever I went Peg was there for me — as my next move was to come back home and work on her team again, but this time for New England as a Relay Trainer.  2 years in that role, then I received another promotion to a Marketing role with the Relay Business Unit at the national level — from there I managed the National Corporate Team Program for more than 16 years. There was so much work to be done and I loved the challenge of directing that program and working with the amazing corporate volunteer leaders.

When the Volunteer Engagement Team was developed in the new organization Peg called me and talked to me about this role as Director in the East Region – she said to me “you are perfect for this role – your work with volunteers and direct impact will help you excel in this work”  — her care and encouragement has continued no matter what and I truly appreciate all that she has done for me throughout my 23 year tenure at the Society.

Now think about how many other young professionals in their career in this non-profit that Peg has guided, advised, and motivated along the way.  I know others will talk about what she has accomplished, but just like the ripples in the lake, Peg’s splash in the cancer fight is not just about what she has done, but who she has influenced to be successful.  People like me.  Here is a look back to all my Society memories I captured on my old blog — it has been a trip down memory lane today – I look back with so much gratitude.

Peg’s retirement is a celebration – for all she has given in service to the Society for the past 40 years.  Those people like me that she has impacted and motivated and supported throughout those years are too many to count, but I know that I am one of them.  She has become more than a colleague, she is family.  I am blessed to have been a part of Peg’s team and will forever appreciative for all the support she has given to me in my career.

All my best to my dear friend and colleague Peg —Thank you for everything!

Happy Retirement — these are the best year’s of your life — Enjoy it to the fullest!


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Team Cook! Celebrating 5 years at Stowe Mountain Resort!

We as a family were recognized this past weekend at the annual dinner at Stowe Mountain where all seasonal and part time employees are recognized for their years of service (5 year increments).  “Team Cook” as I love to call our family of ski pros – has had an amazing experience working on this amazing team of snow pros with Dave Merriam at the Stowe Ski and Ride School. 

I remember the day that Steve came home and we made the decision to leave Mt Snow, after more than 20 years he needed a change of pace, a bigger steeper mountain and a place to call home.  We found an amazing house off South Main street knew that this would be the place as we drove up the Mountain Road that fall.   It was tough to leave so many long time friends and kids we had coached through the years, but the new experience was so exciting!  Our niece Amanda Peck became a snowboard instructor and was so much fun to have around those first couple years before she moved to Vail to keep teaching in the beauty of the west!

Schuyler joined MMSC that first year to race for 2 more years and we got a locker at the club during that time.  We all have made some good friends at the club and now at the ski school.  I am so proud of “Sky” for his dedication to his first job, being so kind and personable to his fellow coaches while having fun with the kids!

Fast forward 5 years – we are truly ingrained in the life at Stowe, loving our clients, teaching private lessons, adult line-up and kids programs at the Adventure Center.  Schuyler is an assistant for his 2nd year and comes home each day with fun stories of his experiences!

5 years is a great time to reflect…  why I love ski teaching and why I love Stowe…..

Why I love teaching…  Teaching skiing gives me the opportunity to share my love of this sport.  Watching  my students eyes light up every new experience growing their skills in a new sport and expanding their skill and comfort level is w! When a young eight year old girl proclaims “This is my new favorite sport!” you know you “nailed it”!

A great teaching moment…

When asking an adult client what her goals are and her response was “I want to look like you Nancy… “   I realized just how important the demo, modeling the turn, and my work in being the best skier I can be reflects in the eyes of my clients and they come back to me to strive to reach that level of skiing.  It makes me proud and excited to share my skills and my love of skiing with each and every one of them.

Why Stowe…

Vermont is our “winter home” and Stowe is the best of the best for our family! A great skiing community and an amazing mountain town!  What better place to make our winters memorable and the best they can be! Team Cook is so very happy to be here!

My great co-workers

Are truly the A team – from sharing their experiences so we all can learn and grow together as snow pros— And….  to help me decide what layers to wear in the locker room!  My family working together as ski pros at Stowe has been truly a bonding experience that no other sport can offer.  Thank you!

My amazing students

Listen so intently –  truly inspired to learn! They make me beam with pride every turn!  On every trail they ski they get improve their skills  – Success shines through with drills and spills !

A moment I will never forget

During February break it was time for an adventure Four days with one of my all-time favorite students! – “Sydney” & I hiked over to the “big” mountain and I smiled as I watched her beam with delight as we floated on the Forerunner Quad over all the double black diamonds moguls and steeps… once getting to the top of the lift she looks at the “Nose” with big eyes and a huge smile and says “Wow! This is just SO beautiful”!    This moment repeats itself each time I am able to bring a beginner over to Mt Mansfield and experience her greatness!  #blessed

I sent my reflection to Sydney’s dad and I was beaming with pride when he responded —

Thank you so much for sharing!  I can tell you that Sydney had the best 4 days of skiing she has ever had and she is still beaming from it!  It’s amazing what skiing a double black will do for a kids confidence.  It’s spread to all aspect of her life!  Hope you have a couple more weeks of solid skiing and thanks again!  Hopefully we will see you next year!  Be well!

Looking forward to the next 5 years! Family time at the mountain skiing and spending quality time is truly a treasure for a lifetime!  We love Stowe!

#theonlyplacetoski #stoweskirideschoolrocks #makeitmorethanfun #experiencegreatness #TeamCook #stoweprosknowhowtohavefun

Where is your favorite mountain?  Do you have a special teaching moment that you will never forget?  Please share and thanks for stopping by!


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Nancy’s 2016 Running Race Report #2

Mt Washington Road Race

One of my favorite races of the year, with the goal to PR or place top 3 in my age group.  My results:  3rd in Age group  WMDP Masters team was 1st !

 From Cool Running:  208th overall  38th woman F5054 time: 1:36:52  12:45 per mile  Age group: 3/48   gun time: 1:37:02 WESTERN MASS DISTANCE PRO

The Mount Washington Road Race is a 7.6-mile hillclimb from the base of Mount Washington in New Hampshire to nearly the summit. The race features more than 4,500 feet of climbing as it follows the Mt. Washington Auto Road, America’s “oldest manmade tourist attraction,” which has an average grade of 12 percent. The race started in 1936 and has been held annually in June since 1966. Non-elite runners must enter a lottery to be one of the approximately 1100 participants. The standing course record (56:41) was set by Jonathan Wyatt in 2004.

This letter below is from our WMDP Coach and team mate Ashley Krauss, who was unable to run this year.  Definitely got the “Coach Letter of the Year” award.  Love running with this team!
Hi Ladies,
I just want to wish you all of you going up Mount Washington on Saturday the very best of luck!
And of course, offer you some naggy advice, since I can’t be there in person to dish it out :).
1. Figure out how to find the car your stuff is going up in and get to the start EARLY, like 7 (the line to get into Great Glen can back up by 7:30; you don’t need that on race morning); they are serious about making the cars going to the top by 8, and you need stuff at the top, especially if you are running down. There is only limited cell reception at the bottom; don’t count on being able to call or text your driver. Cars going up should tie balloons or flags to the car antenna at the bottom, and close a towel or something across the roof of the car at the top (beware of high, high winds at the top – make sure it’s secure). You actually look down at the parking area from the top, and it turns out all cars look pretty much the same from the top. Be sure the driver will leave the car unlocked so you can get in and get changed!
2. Send a ton of clothes to the top, ESPECIALLY if you intend to run down. On a regular year, we bring our down jackets, wool hats and gloves and lend out our extra clothes to my teammates who don’t bring enough clothing. This is not a regular weather year and Ross and I won’t be there this year to save your skinny butts! Bring a change of everything; you cannot hang out in wet clothes at the top unless you want to get hypothermia. If you are running down, bring new clothes for running down in, probably different shoes, AND warm layers for while you are waiting for everyone to finish and gather and get ready to go down. And maybe a pack to stuff layers in as you descend. And maybe a mask to filter the smell of burning brakes.
3. Send food to the top, unless a whoopie pie is all the recovery you need. In that case, ask Dawn where to get the whoopie pie, and send up $$. All they give you is water at the top (and a fleece blanket, but you can’t eat that), and they don’t start letting cars down until noon, and it can take an hour to drive down. If you wait until then, you’ll barely make it through the turkey dinner, and definitely won’t make it through beers at Moat Mountain that night!
4. Have fun! Look around! The tree line is about halfway and the views are spectacular.
5. Start conservatively! Trust me on this one.
Can’t wait to hear all about it!

Run Stanley

Everyone’s favorite K-9 race at Stanley Park.  This race will never be the same after Maverick became the poster puppy for last year and this year’s event!  He loves the trails and DOGS! Oh so fun to pull mommy on a leash through the trails.  Lucky for us the 3rd place pup had to take a dump along the way and we cruised into third place!  It was a beautiful day and Race Director Vanessa Diana did an amazing job again — so much fun and festivities to celebrate the community of Westfield and support the restoration of Stanley Park bridges and trails.

Bumblebee Booths – photo booth fun with Maverick at #runstanley this weekend!  🙂 Featured here with RD Vanessa Holford Diana who rocked it for the 3rd year raising funds to support Stanley Park 🙂

run stanley 5k Canine Champ Maverick 😉 Any dog that can come out in public and run alongside other dogs is a champ just for showing up to the start line. Always wanting to be in the front of the pack – Maverick would have landed a sub 20 minute 5K if I wasn’t holding him back!  #fastdog #raceday #winner #runstanley

USAFT New England Cross Country Series 

GBTC – “Pie Race” – 3rd in age, Team place 1st (50+), 1st (40+) and 5th (Open)

This is the “pie race” where they give the winning teams engraved silver forks!  Now I have 2 for my collection.  This is a great course, soft flat trails, a bit rooty and I tripped with only 1/2 mile to go.  Blaming the cleats, the tired legs, but I rolled it and popped up to finish and try to sprint to catch up with “Katy” at the end.   We had a great team there and everyone is so supportive.  Celebration for Karin’s birthday with healthy cake and pie!  Lots of Pie!

38  275 NANCY COOK          WESTERN MASS DIS  F 52 23:13  7:29

WMDP Smith College Cross Country Race (first annual) – 2nd in age

Western Mass Distance Project Cross Country race at Smith College
September 18th – WMDP XC–this is OURS! WMDP hosts their first Cross Country race on the college Xctry course through the Community Gardens (home of my favorite Tuesday night cross country course)  Schuyler came with me to pick up the prize cider donuts at Atkins Market and work the start line with MacKenzie Gray.  I felt so great on this course having run it so many times, but at the end — here we go…. the last 1/2 mile, I tripped on a root and didn’t fall but twisted my knee. UGH.  I got it warmed up enough to finish and placed well, but ouch!

Wayland Cross Country Festival – 3rd in age, Team results: 1st Senior team, 3rd Masters team, 4th open team.

 33 Nancy Cook              407 52  F  WMDP                   23:31  7:35

Missed the Mayor’s Cup after spraining my ankle

USTAF New England Championship  I placed 9th in age and took 3rd overall in the series.

USTAF NE Cross Country Series Final results after 5 events:  Top 5 in 50+ / Senior categoryscreen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-42-02-pm

Hot Chocolate Race for Safe Passage

This is the holiday celebration for our WMDP team!  The ladies and the men both were on the podium winning 1,2,3 and we were the #2 fundraising team — just truly incredible.  Festive holiday running gear donned by all and smiles were abound.  I love this race!  Missed the age graded ranking by 4 slots – but made top 30!  So fun hanging out with Vanessa and Anne Lund before and the whole team at the end at the Union House Bar for wings and a beer!  Cheers for a Happy New Year everyone!



It truly was a great year of racing for me!  Not slowing down too much despite that darn sprained ankle!  Lots of new goals coming for 2017!

 What’s your running goals this year?

Please leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by! 



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