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Pillow Talk With Colette Cosentino

At DIANI Living, we know that a single home piece has the ability to transform a room. But decorative artist and muralist Colette Cosentino takes this to the next level. From ornate ceiling paintings to whimsical wall murals, Colette has been enhancing home interiors with her stunning decorative art for over 20 years.

I recently got a sneak peak inside her Santa Barbara studio and art gallery for our Pillow Talk series. While she added some finishing touches to a canvas, we chatted about her artistic process, inspiring lady bosses and her favorite place to recharge.

When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?

My favorite subject was, of course, art. Music was always right up there too. I knew I would end up in the arts, whether as a musician, actress or artist.

What contributed to your goal of becoming the decorative artist and muralist that you are today?

Decorative painting is a career I fell into by way of working in set painting and set restoration at the Granada and Ensemble theaters in Santa Barbara. Before moving to Santa Barbara I really didn’t know that decorative painting was a thing outside of that which is historical. Never in a million years did I think I would be painting decorative ceilings and beams in people’s homes. With one opportunity came an accidental career.

What is the inspiration behind the work that you do?

I’m very drawn to nature. I’m moved by lacy leaves, trees, water, horizon lines, clouds, stars, and twilight skies. So it seems because of these things, I’m compelled to create.

What is your artistic process like? How do you maintain that while also fulfilling a client’s needs?

It all depends on the project, and a delicate balance to be sure. I need to let a project swim around in my head for a time before taking ideas to paper. Then I like to experiment and create without an agenda, allowing for mistakes and creativity. Then I’ll go to work within the confines of the project, once all the wiggles are out. This seems to work out best for everyone.

Which female entrepreneurs do you admire?

Firstly, my mom. She has always been successful at being self-employed. From selling Tupperware in the old days to owning a frame shop and gallery to selling real estate. She’s a go-getter.

Also, I really admire Caroline Diani. I’m impressed and inspired by what she has built here. I admire her thoughtfulness about life, her aesthetic, her approach. Other lady bosses: Christy Martin (Modern Romantic) and Patti Pagliei of Waxing Poetic. Also: Oprah.

What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?

The most important ingredient is believing in yourself. Plus: don’t give up.

What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?

The business aspect 😉

How do you try to manage your work/life balance?

It sort of works itself out.

What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?

I’m working towards making my work accessible on a larger scale to all those who are moved by it and want a piece for themselves.

How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?

I’ve eliminated all other options, and yet I hold on loosely. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster—from feeling strong and confident to asking myself, what the heck have I done?! I have been practicing putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving forward with what’s right in front of me, that way it’s not all so overwhelming.

What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?

Renting a decent sized art studio in a retail location in downtown Santa Barbara. But I did it and I’m so glad I did.

Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?

About 20 years ago I was offered a position to create for a company that made artful home decor products. I do wonder sometimes where that road would have taken me.

What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?

I have not accomplished it yet.

Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?

Sleep comes very easy to me. I’m usually pretty worn out by the end of the day.

How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?

I like to have all white bedding and freshly laundered linens. It really does something for me.

What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?

It’s rare, but sometimes I will allow myself to actually spend the entire day in bed, which is my favorite place. I’ll check out entirely, nap and binge watch TV. It’s not glamorous, but it’s divine.

What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?

I look out of the window. I like to position my bed next to a window, it feels like you are sleeping outdoors that way. I love waking up and looking out to the morning sky, examining it closely.

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

Look outside at the night sky and stare at the stars.

Thank you Colette, your artwork is breathtaking! To learn more about Colette and her decorative artwork, visit her website www.colettecosentino.com or stop by her gallery and studio space at 11 West Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara.

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Pillow Talk with Théo Burkhardt

Theo Burkhardt

Just the thought of mediation can be daunting. Technology has created meditation apps to make it easier, but aren’t we supposed to be disconnecting in order to destress? Luckily Jeffrey and I have a dear friend who has tried it all and discovered that meditation is not as unattainable as we think.

Théo Burkhardt, a Vedic Meditation teacher based in Los Angeles, experimented with various practices of meditation before ultimately finding Vedic Meditation, an ancient, simple and natural technique that practices the art of letting go by transcending into a restful state of consciousness. He describes his method as easy and enjoyable with immediate and long lasting benefits. You’re simply expanding awareness and discovering bliss within. Sign us up!

I was excited to sit down with Théo (on our new DIANI Living meditation pillows) for our Pillow Talk Series, where we chatted about his personal wellness journey, meditation process and the last thing he does before bed – it’s not as zen as you think!

 

 

When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?

I was terrible at school. I loved it but refused to do my homework or study for tests. I just wanted to play and read. But I liked English class when we were reading books. I wanted to be a magician, inventor, spy, mad scientist, or a film director. 

What contributed to you becoming the meditation teacher you are today?

I was bit by a tick in and was infected with Lyme Disease on a camping trip with my cousins. It went undiagnosed for a year. I was so sick I began looking into meditation as a way to help me sleep, remove stress, and boost my immune system. I started doing mindfulness but was terrible at it. I couldn’t concentrate and found it incredibly difficult. But I was desperate so I stuck with it for a few years. It didn’t help me at all so I eventually quit. I thought I would never be able to meditate until I learned Vedic Meditation.

What is your meditation technique and process when working with clients?

I practice and teach Vedic Meditation. It’s an effortless technique where we gently think very specific onomatopoetic bija (seed) mantras until we transcend into a 4th state of consciousness. That 4th state of consciousness is very different from our first 3 states (sleeping, dreaming, and eyes-open waking state). When this “event” of transcendence occurs, our physiology rests 3-5 times deeper than when we’re asleep. It’s basically deep rest technology that requires no effort, focus, or control. We do nothing and it feels wonderful. I offer introductory talks a couple times a month to give people the opportunity to ask questions and hear how it works and what kind of benefits they can expect. If they sign up, they learn over 4 consecutive days (about 90 minutes a session).

How has meditation shaped your life?

Meditation has completely transformed every aspect of my life. But more than anything, it’s made me more myself. The things I used to enjoy, I enjoy more. I sleep better, accomplish more, have a much better relationship with myself, all without depleting energy. It’s made me more courageous in areas I needed more courage, and has dismantled my neediness (for attention, or need to be liked). But more than anything, it’s proven to me that happiness is inside me. I don’t need to go looking for it. I don’t need to find it. It’s not out there. It’s in here. That’s not a belief, that a direct, daily, and repeatable experience every time I transcend. I’m more self-reliant than ever.

How have you seen meditation change other people’s lives?

Most people try to change their actions by behaving differently. Those attempts fail. There’s also a belief that you have to change your thoughts first, which is partially true. If you want true change, it happens in consciousness first where more relevant and healthy ways of thinking find fertile ground, then behavior changes. After that, circumstances change. Everyone who meditates regularly changes for the better. The change I see in my students is astounding. Everyone’s happiness expands. People take things less personally, they worry less, suffer less, drop whatever victim narrative they’ve had on autopilot, etc. And all this change happens naturally, quietly, and without much friction. 

There are lots of people who meditate, but not every one of them pursues it for a living, so you obviously have an entrepreneurial spirit…

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Whatever entrepreneurial spirit I have comes directly from my mission to start people meditating and bring them into a state of relevance with the Universe. In terms of growing a business, I’m still not sure what I’m doing. Even though my classes aren’t cheap, I don’t come at this whole thing from a “I want to get rich and have a famous brand” perspective. I just want to find worthy students and teach them. It just so happens,  that my mission takes me around the world and brings me in an income that supports me as a teacher. For that I’m grateful. 

Which entrepreneurs do you admire? 

Amanda Bacon. She worked her ass off and created one of my favorite brands, Moon Juice. I love how she’s integrated Ayurveda and spirituality into the brand. She’s a friend and a fellow meditator. Awesome woman. I also admire Eric Ryan who created Method and Olly, and Elon Musk.

How do you define success?

Finding and knowing that happiness is within. Discovering it within yourself is lasting success. Why? It’s permanent. Everyone’s success in the relative world is temporary. Giving up the search for happiness outside yourself, and arriving at the conclusion that it’s within you because you’ve connected with it, is true success. You cannot find permanent happiness or fulfillment outside yourself. It just can’t be done. Like Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is within you.” Go there first. Go to your deepest nature. Connect with it. Know it. Be it. Then all achievements in your life will be more enjoyable, more delicious, more fun. I know so many incredibly successful and famous people. They’re all struggling. They’re all greedier, more stressed, more isolated, more despondent, more paranoid than they were 10 years ago. With the exception of the meditators. If you want to enjoy fame, fortune, and success, get enlightened. Once you’ve stabilized that inner state of fulfillment, nothing can make or break you. You just relax and enjoy. If anything, I hope to convince people to rearrange their priorities. Consciousness FIRST. Then achievement. 

What do you think the single most important ingredient to success is?

Stabilizing the field of pure unbounded consciousness into your eyes open waking state. From that comes everything else. Good ideas, support of nature, and a stress-free nature. 

What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?

The business aspect. I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s hilarious.

How do you try to manage your work/life balance?

I wouldn’t say there’s a need to balance because I don’t see a difference in work and life. If anything, I’ve integrated both my career and my life. To a certain extent, anyway. I love that. I used to have to balance work and “life” when I had a job and I had the all the fun things I could do when I didn’t have a job. Integration is key. Everything is fun now. 

Where is your “happy place”?

Where isn’t it? I used to find my happy place only in meditation. Everything else sucked or failed in comparison. This was during my early days as a meditator. Life would be stressful but inside, deep within my consciousness, I would find a divine stillness. But I’ve integrated that too. Now I’m just as happy walking to get coffee, teaching, reading on a plane, playing video games, walking in the woods, shooting photos, and laughing with friends as I am during a deep meditation. It’s all good. But if I had to pick anything, it’d be the moment someone signs up for my course. Because they’re going to find bliss-consciousness deep within, and I get to share this incredible knowledge. 

What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?

I’m becoming more and more interested in jyotish (Vedic astrology). It’s a very complex science and there’s a lot of charm to exploring it. It will never take the place of teaching but I’m going to study it until I can read people’s charts.

How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably can creep in when you’re paving a less trodden path?

When I first began all of this, I didn’t fully believe in myself. But I believed in the efficacy of Vedic Meditation and the benefits. All I had to do was share what I know and people would sign up and tell their friends. I had to surrender to Nature’s intelligence. It was obvious that I was removed from my track as a screenwriter to teach this. I just have to trust it. Meditation helps with that too. It’s chips away at your fears. Now I love jumping in to the unknown. Stagnation and the ever-repeating-known scares me more than anything. 

What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?

I teach how to live in harmony with Nature. To do that we trust our fine level of feeling and follow charm. Nature speaks to us through charm. Find something charming? Follow it. Don’t question it, just go. So in December of 2016 I moved out of my apartment and put everything in storage and decided to follow charm for a year. Just to see what would happen. I wanted to practice what I preached. What came out of that? Students, travel, love, adventure, evolution. One of the best years of my life. Nature has your back. You just have to start trusting. 

Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?

I’m sure there were plenty but I can’t remember any. Probably because it’s irrelevant now. Who cares, right? Now it’s all following charm. If someone hits me up with a great opportunity (in other people’s eyes) but there’s no charm, I’m not interested. 

What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?

I sold a show to HBO  a couple of years ago. But I can barely say it was entirely my own accomplishment. The details are wild and also a little heartbreaking. But still, quite a feat. It was like lighting in a bottle. The show didn’t get picked up and, sadly, friends were lost. But it was an incredible experience where I had to dig deep and show up for myself and stand up for myself against the slime of Hollywood. If I didn’t have 10 years of meditation under my belt I would have had a nervous breakdown. It was a remarkable growing experience. 

Aside from meditation…

Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?

Yes. Vedic Meditation. The reason people have trouble sleeping is because their minds are awake when they shouldn’t be. The nervous system, under duress from fatigue and stress, will release stress when the physiology can rest. Its the only way stress can come out – through deep rest. When the nervous system purifies itself from stress, this causes thoughts to effervesce up into our minds. Those thoughts keep us awake and we say “I have insomnia”. What we do about this is meditate twice a day and give the nervous system and opportunity to purge stresses in our meditations. Then, when we climb into bed, there’s nothing left to purge so we can drift off to sleep. I had chronic insomnia for 9 years. Cured instantly the day I learned meditation. My students aren’t so lucky. Sometimes their insomnia isn’t cured until day 2 or day 3. 

What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?

Besides meditating twice a day? Travel. I love traveling because it changes your thinking. You just don’t have the same boring thoughts about bills and wondering what you’re going to pick up at Trader Joe’s. It forces you to see other things, experience other people with all their quirks, eat differently, speak slower, etc. You have to be aware when you travel. You have to be adaptable, kind, and resilient. It’s so much fun. So eye-opening. Travel makes your more compassionate, and drives away stagnation. Travel inspires awe and humility. I never feel more alive than when I’m in a new country or city and don’t know how to get back to my hotel. 

What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?

I do a clumsy surya namaskar (sun salute), sing the Gāyatrī Mantra out off key, brush my teeth, and meditate. Then I walk to get coffee. Sometimes I’ll swim first if its summer. But basically I wake up and meditate. 

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

Instagram or reddit. I know I shouldn’t. I don’t recommend looking at screens. It’s my job as a meditation teacher to instruct my students to not look at screen before bed. But I love instagram. That’s what I’m doing. I always feel better when I’m reading a book before bed.

What’s your most sacred space in your house?

I don’t have a house. I’ve been homeless for 18 months, traveling and teaching and living out of hotel rooms, sublets, and sleeping on airplanes. I’m enjoying it but it’ll be nice to have a home again. 

 

 

Thank you Théo, your journey and practice is such an inspiration!

Want to learn more about Théo’s meditation technique? Attend his free one-hour Intro Talk at DIANI Living with the option to sign up for a 4-day course (four-90 minute sessions).

 

Théo Burkhardt Intro Talk

How meditation works, enlightenment, and what the course entails

Date: Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Time: 7:00pm

Venue: DIANI Living, 1324 State Street Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Please RSVP at caroline@dianiliving.com 

For more information on Théo and his practice, visit theoburkhardt.com.

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Pillow Talk with Shrankhla Holecek of UMA Oils

When it comes to beauty and wellness, here at DIANI Living we believe that self care comes from the inside out. We understand the importance of clean living and therefore seek out only the best in organic, all-natural products. Which is why we are excited to launch the new line of highly coveted Ayurvedic wellness oils from UMA Oils!

Featured in Vanity Fair, Forbes, Vogue and Goop, among others, UMA is crafted from pure botanical oils that have long been used in the beauty regiments of Indian royalty. Harvested from the founder’s family farm in India, these oils are based on centuries-old Ayurvedic traditions and tailored to address the stressors and ailments we face in the modern world.

Raised in India among her family’s farm, UMA Oil’s founder Shrankhla Holecek has always immersed herself in Ayurvedic traditions and holistic medicine. Caroline Diani was lucky enough to catch up with Shrankhla for our Pillow Talk series, where we chatted about career success, work-life balance and sleep rituals.

When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?

Terribly predictable for a person of Indian origin – it was Math! I’ve always admired the logic and the elegance of mathematical solutions. Is it terrible that I don’t exactly remember what I wanted to be? I did a lot of theater and debate in high school – so I think I definitely considered law at one point (I ended up studying engineering).

What contributed to your goal of becoming the wellness/skincare businesswoman that you are today? 

I think a part of Uma was born when I was – in that my family has farmed and distilled some of the world’s finest essential oils, literally for centuries – so as a child, I spent long summers at our organic rose farms, learning about our sustainable farming or extraction processes. And yet – another part of me wanted to get as  far away from the family business as I could – so I studied engineering and moved to the States, got an MBA and worked with management consulting  firm McKinsey for 5-6 years. So I’d be lying if I said there was one precipitating moment – it was the sum of my education, experiences and heritage that led me to found Uma.

How has your Indian heritage and Ayurvedic background influenced your career and shaped your life? 

A lot of Ayurveda is just a natural part of Indian life. The use of turmeric, or tongue cleaning, or practicing Abhyanga were things we all just grew up with! I remember overnight hair oil treatments on Saturday. Our scalps were rubbed (and then steamed!) and we couldn’t wash our hair until the next morning. All varieties of herbs were brought into the mix – hibiscus, yerba de taco, amla – and laid on prolifically into our scalp and hair. Second was the Sunday body exfoliation treatment. A paste of gram flour and turmeric blended with honey and milk, was layered on my arms and legs and I was supposed to lay still for thirty minutes until it was sloughed off by my beloved aunt (oh the agony of staying still as a 6 year old though!). So what’s traditionally considered a modern day “self care ritual” – has always been a big part of my life, and how I’ve approached ideas of health, wellness, balance or beauty.

What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?

Believing that you can do anything you set your mind to do.

What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?

I think reconciling with the fact that all the awesome opportunities for UMA cannot be had here and now – and that I must wait, or make time for play, or even sleep – is challenging when running a small business, with real resource constraints, but I think there’s a bigger life lesson in there somewhere!

How do you try to manage your work/life balance?

Fortunately there are a few things I love as much as work and seeing UMA thrive – spending time with my husband and a few close friends, travel, wine, working out – so I let the chips fall a little organically, as it were. Though, do I constantly feel guilty about not doing enough of each, including work? Absolutely.

What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?

I think we have been able to lay the foundation of doing beauty differently, more indulgently, more meaningfully, through UMA and I think the next step would be to really go global with this education and approach to give people a real toolkit to have the skincare and wellness results they seek – in a highly simplified but powerful, results-oriented fashion. I think making Ayurveda bite sized and contemporary- and universally applicable in the smallest or biggest way you choose, is the next chapter. And UMA as a product line is just a part of that great big picture!

How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?

I think it’s part enjoying the challenge of creating something entirely new, and part reminding yourself to not take yourself too seriously. Failure is often catastrophized much more in one’s head than by the rest of the world.

What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?

Trite, but it was leaving McKinsey to go found UMA.

Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?

This is a little broad – but I think I passed on a few great opportunities to travel by myself or even go live in a different city for a few months when I was a little less fettered as it were (not that I mind the old ball and chain terribly as it were!).

What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?

If I’ve to be really honest – not really. And this doesn’t come from vanity or arrogance – it comes from a general insecurity about never being good enough, I suppose.

Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?

When I can, I practice Transcendental Meditation. I’ve had a lot of trouble with other meditation types – it’s the only one that works for me.

What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?

Travel

What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?

Does “try to go back to sleep” count? More seriously though – I drink water and check my phone for about 15 minutes before rolling out of bed.

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

I rub my feet with Pure Calm Wellness Oil. If I’m feeling benevolent, I do the same for my husband.

Any recurring dreams that you have?

A plane crashing in the distance and me running away from it. That, and of course, not having taken enough credits to graduate on time!

What do you love most about your bed?

While I adore sleeping, I particularly enjoy drifting off watching a great show in bed.

How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?

I’m slightly maniacal about bedroom, and sleep hygiene, overall. I insist on absolutely clean feet in bed, and no shoes around the bed area (I have a ridiculous number of hotel slippers, yes). I can’t sleep in an untidy room and have been known to go on an unpacking frenzy at midnight after long travel. I change sheets often, pillow covers even more often. I burn organic candles, bring in fresh flowers as often as practical, disinfect the light switches and door knobs – so yep, pretty sacred I’d say!

Thank you Shrankhla, we are excited to have your amazing wellness products at DIANI Living!

Photo of young Shrankhla courtesy of UMA Oils

 

 

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Pillow Talk with Caitlin Flemming

DIANI Living is rooted in beautiful interiors and well-crafted home and lifestyle pieces (just take a look inside our store), but what really inspires us is connecting with fellow female entrepreneurs. To celebrate creative women and their talents, we are excited to announce our new Pillow Talk series, which features a fun and intimate Q&A with the women that inspire us.

To kick things off, we visited  Sacramento Street blogger and interior designer Caitlin Flemming inside her newly refreshed, DIANI Living-inspired bedroom, where we talked career success, work-life balance and sleep rituals.

When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?

As a little girl I dreamed of being a travel photographer. We traveled quite a bit for my dads work in conservation that took us to remote places around the world. Capturing the places we went to was how I was able to connect with each place. In college, I was drawn immediately to my entrepreneurship class. The fact that I could pave my own way and journey was intriguing.

What contributed to your goal of becoming the taste maker businesswoman that you are today?

Since a young age I’ve had this entrepreneurial spirit. My parents have always told me to follow my heart and do what I love. I remember them saying “you only live once, don’t waste it doing what you don’t love.”

What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?

Hard work and a positive attitude.

What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?

Right now things are changing so quickly. In social media you have to be at the pulse of what is happening. In interior design it’s become more challenging because clients have access to everything via the internet.

Which female entrepreneurs do you admire?

We currently live in a time where women are taking initiative and paving their own way. What I love most about this day and age is the fact that we can create our own path. There have been many that had a huge influence on me – one that had the largest impact was Erica Tanov who I worked for in college and who mentored me. She truly brought out the creative spirit I now have.

How to you try to manage your work/life balance?

There is no right way to manage being a mom, a wife and a business owner. I’m constantly putting on many hats throughout the day. Some days are easy and others I feel like a hurricane is going off in my head and I’m not doing any role perfectly.

What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?

Honestly, an hour Pilates class or a long walk with a girlfriend or kids is all I need. Being in nature always helps me think about what’s truly important in life.

What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?

Make my husband and I a cup of tea.

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

Go into each kid’s room to say goodnight even when they are sleeping.

Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?

Technology off at 9pm. It’s helped me unwind from a long day of work and life as a mom.

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What do you love most about your bed?

The layers. I love linens and pillows. I’m obsessed with switching up my bed linens each season for the different temperatures. In the summer we have to add layers because of our foggy nights!

How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?

It’s a serene space. I believe that your bedroom should be calming and quiet all the noise in your head. The neutral palate makes it feel like a little oasis from how hectic our days can be.

What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?

Writing a book. It’s been a lifelong dream to work with my mom on writing a book. We are currently photographing homes around the world and I can’t wait to show everyone the final product!

What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?

This book. We went through years of what to write about and I was always worried that a publisher wouldn’t understand our vision. Luckily one did!

Thank you Caitlin, we wish you all the best in your new endeavors!

 

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