A Salon and Stylist: The Right Fit

Living in a country where there is a salon/barber shop on every corner, it can become intimidating when it comes to hair needs.  Each person is different in expectation and desired results when it comes down to it.  Whether you are someone who is looking for a color artist, someone that knows how to cut and style short haircuts, or just someone to trim your flowing locks, it is most important for you to find someone who you are comfortable with when receiving a service.


As a stylist, I know each person or potential client varies in their needs when it comes to their hair.  Some look based off price, others off of building a personal bond with their stylist and some based off the quality of the service itself.  It is most important no matter what your needs are to find a stylist that is able to listen and support your needs all a while exceeding your expectations for your service.  Picking a salon that you feel comfortable in is just as important as finding the right stylist to fulfill your needs.  Each time you may try some place new where you go to a new stylist.  Every time you try a new stylist, you place your trust into someone that you may or may not get the result you desire, and a feeling of disappointment may arise.  To eliminate this disappointment, here are a few helpful tips to help you decide which is the proper salon setting for you and finding the right stylist.

Do your research.
If you need a plummer and you need someone to fix your broken pipe, what do you do?  My first go-to is to ask someone or look on the internet.  Facebook too can be a helpful and quick way to get an answer from friends.  If you are looking into finding a new salon in your area or a new stylist, ask around!  I have found this is the best way to get the most candid and honest responses.  Don’t just take people’s word for it, but it is a great place to start.  You can look at salon reviews almost anywhere online.  If you are on the fence about one, step in and take a look.  You will know from the first impression whether that is a salon you can see yourself patronizing.

“I like the salon feel, but not so sure about the stylists….”
Sometimes when exploring the salon scene, you might really like the feel of the salon, then you look at the stylists and it totally blows your impression.  The feel is fresh and clean.  It’s a little edgy, but you can deal with it.  Then, a stylist walks up to you that is tatted up, piercings up and down their ears and mid-drift showing.  You might be saying, ‘this is totally not me’.  If that is the case and you don’t feel comfortable then that salon is probably not for you.  Odds are the salon culture to which I described above are targeting trendy hipster type Millennial generations to which desire to be on the edge of cultural hair trends.  Not every salon is like this but that is why it is so important to walk-in and check-it out for yourself as you are the only one who will know if the salon is right or wrong for you.

Quick Cut Shop, Salon, or Day Spa?  Where do I start?
First, define your needs.  If you want someone who can cut your hair quickly, a ‘quick cut shop’–like Great Clips might be a great place for you to start.  Their stylists are efficient and have had training the way their company teaches them.  They are quick, efficient, in and out sort of service.  You won’t have the perks of getting your hair washed, but you will be guaranteed a quick service.

If you want a little more than the just the quick cut, maybe try a place like a Famous Hair, SmartStyle (Walmart), or a Fantastic Sam’s type salon.  These type of salons perform basic services like shampoo, cut, color and other chemical services to which you will not see at the quick cut shops.  They have a little more value added services.  These are corporate type salons to which price and services might have limitations.  This would be something to look into if you are interested in something a little more than just a cut.

Another salon you might consider is the independent salon, if you are someone who wants a little more individualize attention.  This salon is one with usually a single owner and local to the area you are living.  These are where you are going to see a little more variety in pricing and demographics.  Since they all vary, I would say you might search a little bit about each salon and check if price and services are what you are desiring.  They are more individualized.  These salons might be a little bit pricier than your basic salons, but they offer a lot more and will be more specialized if you are looking for something specific–for example a specific trendy cut or achieving a color that is unique.  Maybe you like a specific brand such as Redken or Paul Mitchell products, so you want to find a salon that is devoted to the brand.  Finding a salon in the independent realm might be your best bet, if that is important to you.

Maybe you are looking at going to one place for all your needs: facial, massage, hair and style.  The Day Spa setting is definitely the place to start.  These type of salons offer everything.  They usually have a wide variety of products and services ranging from hair, nails, and complete body wellness.  This all being said, they are usually higher end and attract higher end clientele.  Their prices will be higher going into it, but the service being rendered should go above and beyond your expectations.  Read the reviews before spending the money.

“…She just didn’t listen to me….and now my hair is all wrong…” 
I feel like we all have been there.  There are so many times where we tell a stylist one thing and they do something completely opposite.  The result can be either positive or negative.  One way to avoid this is to visit a salon and ask for a consultation with one of their stylists.  If you go to one that is reputable and has a staff member at the front desk to which is friendly and able to ask you what your needs are, they will guide you to a stylist who may be your best fit.  A consultation costs nothing but a few minutes of your time.  As a stylist, I would rather you come in and spend 15 minutes to talk to me about what your needs are before you get a service done and dislike it.  You can tell whether you have a connection with a person in the first few minutes of conversation and if you don’t click, cannot guarantee they can achieve what you are looking for or doesn’t give you the time of day–try somewhere new.

Finding the right salon and stylist for you is so important.  Don’t settle for just an OK salon experience.  You deserve a stylist that is attentive to your hair needs as much as they are at keeping you a happy customer.  You deserve to have a salon that fits your comfort level and one that will keep you wanting to come back.

If you aren’t satisfied, talk to your current stylist about your needs.  If you are not satisfied with their response, then it might be time to find a new stylist.  I would encourage you to explore what is out there.  I can guarantee if you aren’t happy with your current stylist or salon situation, there are many very qualified stylists in the salon setting you desire that would love to see a new client.  You would be surprised at how much better your salon experience is when you feel comfortable in the environment and are reassured you have a stylist that truly puts you first. The right fit makes all the difference in the world!

–Catie Manning

Getting Back Into Exercise After Cancer Part 1

Each day in both my professional and personal life I get questions about exercise, cancer, and exercise post cancer and during active treatment.  Not only does cancer change your body, but the surgery, chemo, and radiation you have change it as well. So where do you start after months or maybe even years of losing your normal work out routine?  Where do you start if you’ve never had a work out routine? How do you deal with the neuropathy? How do you deal with the weakness of muscles?  The lack of energy and motivation? How do you even start to have a somewhat normal life?

Cancer changes your whole body and one of the biggest side effects is exhaustion. A lot of times people feel defeated, especially when they were super active before the cancer.  I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly OK to feel defeated.  It is ok to be angry. And you know the perfect place to start getting back in an exercise routine? Start by expressing your feelings about the cancer and how it changed your life.

I could tell you all the benefits of exercise in this first post, but I won’t. What I am going to tell you is two things.

1. Get out a journal and write down every feeling you have towards the cancer that overtook your body and changed your life and body forever. Be honest. Recognize the battles you are facing. Truly let your emotions out.

2. Start by taking a walk each day to start to process everything and get your body moving a little.  I don’t care if your walk is 3 minutes long. If you walked, it is a start.

Don’t try and conquer the world in one day, this will be a process, but I promise you, the benefits will be with it!

You my friend, are a warrior!

Simplicity: Spicing-Up Short Hair

As for many of us, summer tends to be filled with lake time, special occasion events and parties.  Last summer, I had multiple weddings and functions to attend.   I have short hair and didn’t want my hair to look the same in any of them, so therefore I had to enlist in my creative juices…what I have found?  A tube of red lipstick and finding the right products for my hair go a long way!   I needed to find the right products for the look I desired and the less effort put into the style the better.  Can you tell I am a style and go type of girl?

Over the years, I have worn my hair shorter and longer.  I tend to shake things up a bit.  My face shape is oval and I am very lucky to be able to pull off many styles with ease.  When am I feeling my best?  When my hair is short and tapered.  There is no fuss or mess to work with other than throwing a little product in it and blow drying it.

When your hair is so short, you really have to break out the creativity skills and enlist in products that are going to help you create the perfect style!  My go to product has always been Redken 12 Rough Paste.  LOVE that stuff.  The product will allow you to spike, mold, and manipulate your hair and as long as you use just a little it will not weigh your hair down.  I can sometimes go 2 days if the proper amount is used with minimal adjusting of strands on day 2 and polish it off with Kenra 25 hairspray.

Also, in having short hair, you might find yourself limited to how you can style it.  My hair is naturally wavy so I usually can tell when my hair is going to cooperate or not.  If it is curling up on me, I just go with it.  I throw my basic curly products which for me includes John Freida’s Dream Curls, TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier, and a little Rusk Wired Flexible Styling Creme….scrunch and go.  It takes me maybe 10 minutes to do and then I am running out the door.  If it is flat and lifeless, then I can throw my ‘It’s a 10’ Blonde Leave-in Spray, blow dry my hair then just briefly bump it under using my straightener to give it some volume.  Simple and painless, just the way I like it!  Finding the right products that work for your hair is a major key in keeping your hairstyle simple.  It cuts down on my time getting ready.  It is less work for me in the long run.

Another way to keep a short hair spiced up and looking different is utilizing headbands and clips. I love fascinators.  I love clips, bows, headbands…it is the easiest way to dress up a short style.  For those who get headaches, there are elastic headbands to which are loose as to not squeeze too hard.  I have found those work best for longer events like weddings, graduations verse the traditional hard horseshoe shaped ones.  There is so much varieties out there.  All headbands, fascinators, headpieces are relatively inexpensive.  I like going to Claire’s or The Icing.  (please see below)

Last way to spice up your short hair style–throw some hair color in it!  Color is ‘infinity and beyond’ as far as color selections go.  I tend to wear highlights or go red depending on what my mood is.  They are easy to maintain and is another really great way to shake up your style.  Your hairstylist will be able to assist you in what color would best suit your skin type and tone.  Hair color brightens up any look and helps compliment your skin tone and over all appeal.

Below, I wanted to share with you ways I have spiced my short hair up over the years.  You will see family, friends, and some random flair from over the years.  Please know, that I have quite the variety.  🙂  Remember, beauty knows no limits!

-Catie Manning

Short Red Hair…

Sleek and natural color…

Curly little number

Highlights, headband, and MJ’s Bachelorette Party 🙂

Family Christmas Picture

Add a little length and a Peacock feather…

Short, curly with a little sass I suppose…

Bird lady…

Chicago flair

Rock Star with a simple pony tail


Restoring Dignity: Coping with Cancer

How much we take for granted!  This was my exact thought upon reading this article:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/living-with-cancer-look-good-feel-better/?nl=health&emc=edit_hh_20130611

Health and beauty is not all about vanity and self-absorption.  It is about representing yourself in such a way that is respectable and truly reflects yourself.  Women who have to go through radiation and chemotherapy may not understand the fullness of this treatment for cancer and the negative affect is has on their outward appearance.  I believe we all take our hair and features for granted.  We never fully realize their purpose or impact on us until they are gone.
Cancer is such an ugly and harsh word that is forever becoming a common reality for humans to learn to deal with and maneuver.  Learning to fight, heal, and cope is a lot of this battle.  Part of the coping does include allowing others to help get us back to a presentable comfortable self that we can look at in the mirror and say, “Yes, this is the new me…and although it is not the old me, I will embrace my new look!”  
It might seem like a little thing–penciling in someone’s vacant eyebrows, applying a fresh palate of colors to a seemingly peaked chemo drained face and helping find a wig of their liking–but, it makes a huge impact on our self-esteem and perception of self.  This is not vanity as much as it is restoring a person’s dignity.  This is where the health and beauty field can assist in this healing and coping of such a disease.  
Just how beautiful it is to help someone feel a little bit more comfortable in such a situation.  I truly believe it will help them feel better in the short and long term.  
Another very cool little find?  The company, Ski and Livi, was established to empower women dealing with cancer through their very unique jewelry line.  This might be something to consider if you know someone who has lost their hair or will be due to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  What is the uniqueness behind Sky and Livi?  They create diamonds through a lock of hair.  
Check them out: http://skyandlivi.com.  What brilliance!
Beauty knows no limits….
Catie Manning, Hairdresser

A Case of “The Mondays…”

My case of “The Mondays” began last night. At about 8pm, classic symptoms set in– a knot formed in my stomach,  I had shortness of breath, jaw tension and a horrid case of wanting to crawl out of my skin.

So of course I stayed up far too late, trying my best to enjoy the last vestiges of my weekend.  Flash to this morning. Sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated and overzealous, I made my to-do list. It had 27 items on it, not including my actual job.

The wise part of me suggested I work out as soon as possible, so I’d have energy to deal with the 26 other things on my list, and then go to work. But of course, I procrastinated. Then The Mondays kicked back in, and I found myself hours from needing to be at work, not having worked out, and having only accomplished about a third of my list. Sadness.

How was I ever going to motivate myself to work out?!?!

Yes, fitness professionals do struggle with staying motivated, like the rest of the population. Granted, it was MUCH easier to stay motivated when I lived in Orange County. The beach, a studio or gym on every corner, hiking trails, SUNSHINE. It was easy and fulfilling to work out every single day. But here in Chicago, where summer seems to be on sabbatical this year, and there are 27 things on my Monday to-do list, working out seems like an impossible task.

I then recalled some advice from my mentor Rael and my former kettlebell trainer, Aidas. Rael runs an international company, is a talented artist, scientist and athlete, and has a family. Aidas was in the Lithuanian military.  Two distinctly different individuals. Two very different pieces of advice.

Rael’s advice: “Make a playlist. I cannot train without music…also realize that not every workout will be an amazingly spiritual experience…sometimes it is just a workout.” “And walk…walking is powerful…”

Aidas’s advice: “You think too much…you Pilates people are always in your heads…don’t think, just do.” Another tip was written on one wall of the gym, in what would appear to be blood spatter: “WE SHARE PAIN, NOT FEELINGS!”

Enough said. I made a playlist, stopped thinking and started moving. My workout is now done. I did not achieve a PR today…today was only a workout–but I did it!

Now off to work. And thankfully, I’ll most likely have tommorow to tackle the rest of my list.


Take time for yourself

I’m currently sitting on the deck outside in South Carolina.  It has been a full year since I took my last vacation.  It’s been too long. Why is it that even though I have a job that allows me plenty of vacation time… I don’t take vacation?  I forget to take care of myself. But I’m learning when money and vacation time allow, I need to take it. Not just for me but for my but for my patients and clients too.

Taking time for yourself helps you to remember who you were created to be. It helps you to evaluate your life and what you want to change.  It helps you to recharge and be able to give others your all. It allows you to assess the lifestyle changes good or bad that you have made. It allows you to simply be you.

So, my dear readers. If possible plan some you time. Time with the people you consider to be your family in a place with no agenda. Take time to assess where you are at, where you have been, and where you want to go. Look at your life and everything you are thankful for. You, my dear friend, are worth taking time for yourself!

Why You Should Get a Basic Facial!

Last week, I posted about different ways a person can deal with the stress in their lives. Stress wreaks havoc in our lives whether we mean for it to or not. It is just a part of life and I want to let you know that there are some perks to relieving it especially in the salon!

Each salon’s menu is a little different. Some specialize in relaxation, like your day spas, while others might not offer such an extended variety. If you are stressed, I would recommend a trip to a spa specific salon and “go get a basic facial!”

Why You Should Get a Basic Facial

Basic facials, as much as they have so many benefits to your skin, offer you so many other health benefits.

1. Facials help purify the skin. When you feel a blemish coming up to the surface, a facial can help alleviate and draw it out. The basic facial uses the process of cleansing, exfoliating, massaging, applying a cleansing mask and finally moisturizing the skin. This will help your skin appear like it is youthful and glowing. Each step has a specific purpose in aiding in the overall product: brighter, clearer skin. Not only do facials open your pores, but they awaken your face to an experience of cleansing, relaxation, healing and purification. You would be amazed at how, if received regularly, a facial will improve the condition of your skin.

2. Facials can help increase our circulation and blood flow. Not only will a facial open your pores, it will get your blood flowing. Because you have so many blood vessels, the use of light massage portion of the facial will promote this blood flow even more so. When you get the blood flowing it actually will give your face more color and give you the glowing affect. This increase in circulation will also help your Lymphatic System get jump started as well.

3. Facials can help flush and purify body through also increasing flow of the lymph fluid through the body. Lymph nodes can be found everywhere in the body. In your lymphatic system, the body has a network of nodes, vessels, and fluid that help promote good health and immunity in the body. It is our defense system against intruders such as viruses, bacteria, and other such invaders. When the face and neck are being worked on, especially when receiving a facial, it helps awaken and stimulate the nodes and circulating the lymph.  This will help push out any unwanted toxins present. This is why some individuals might be sore after a facial. It is always important to drink more water to help assist in the soreness factor.

4. Facials can aid in alleviating headaches, sinus infections, and other similar ailments due to stress or tension. A good facial will hit on the points of the face that will help alleviate tension. Your face is very vascular and contains nerves and muscles to which play a large role in feeling pain/pleasure or experiencing movement. When we are tense, we may throw our body into a tension headache. OUCH! During the massage component, relief will be seen in relaxing the tense area, soothing the sore spots, and applying brief pressure in the general sinus cavity areas which will help release the toxins present while relaxing you.

    I personally enjoy receiving a facial now and then especially when my stress load is high. This is one way to help alleviate stress and help you feel better in coping with your day to day work load. I have found it makes me happier, more focused, and my head aches less. Since I have been receiving facials on a semi-regular basis, I have had less sinus issues and haven’t had a sinus infection in a great while. (knock on wood!) Who would have thought all of that from a facial?
    —     Catie Manning

    The Dreaded Scale

    I remember in high school at my parents’ house the scale was in my siblings bathroom.  Every morning when I woke up I would run down the hall to weigh myself.  The agony of the number and the worth it gave me or didn’t give me.  The knowledge of when I woke up could I feel my hip bones sticking out enough?  How did I feel?  And the number on that scale.  Those 6 months of my life where my world revolved around that scale and the number were more than enough for living that lifestyle.  I was not eating and exercising far too much. I was in a state of exercise anorexia. I was unhealthy.

    Since that year of high school I have not allowed a scale in my bathroom.  In fact, I limit myself on the amount of times a year I weigh myself because it very quickly can become an unhealthy obsession.  I know when I gain weight by my clothes, my energy, and my overall feeling.  Sadly, because I got on the scale so many times I can pretty much tell you spot on how much I weigh at any given time.  I can also give you an exact number of the amount of pounds I need to lose to get to my comfort point.  So why do I a personal trainer, nutritionist, and nurse not keep a scale around?  For many reasons.

    1.  The scale taunts me because even when I’m at a healthy weight, I don’t like that number and I want to keep that number going down. I want that number to be a number that isn’t healthy.  After those  months of my hair falling out, my nails breaking, my period stopping… I’d much rather have a few extra pounds on me then to go back to the way I was when the scale ruled my life.

    2. The SCALE does NOT define my beauty.  My beauty comes from what is inside.  The first place when I’m feeling self conscious that I need to go is on the inside and to those around me who will build me up.  In the last year and a half because of going on and off night shift my body has had a mind of its own.  One month I’ll be trying to gain weight and the next month I can’t seem to get weight off.  No matter what that scale says right now, I want you to know you are beautiful just the way you are.

    3.  Your body can fluctuate in water weight throughout the day.  I see it every day I work in the hospital.  The number on the scale is not as accurate as some may hope.  Can it give you a good warning sign that you are unhealthy or headed towards an unhealthy zone? yes. But day to day, your energy level, your clothes, and how you feel overall is a much better assessment of the direction your headed!

    So my advice?  If you have a scale, hide it. Limit the amount of times you weigh yourself.  Focus on loving yourself from the inside out. Focus on being healthy.  As your focus on being healthy increases, as your outlook on where your beauty comes from changes, your confidence will soar.  Confidence that can’t be shaken by a few numbers on a scale.  

    As one of my favorite sayings right now goes “Focus on being healthy and the weight will take care of itself”.  My dear friends, healthiness is not limited to that number on the scale but how you daily view yourself. YOU are beautiful. YOU are incredible. YOU are intelligent.

    What words describe you?  Show us your pictures with what you are going to see when you step on that scale!

    Staying Healthy While Traveling

    In less than two weeks I will be hopping on a jet plane on my way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a family vacation. Words cannot express how excited I am to spend time together with my family and to have a whole week away from work! I love my patients, but everyone needs a break every once and a while. Yesterday my mom called me and said “can we be healthy this vacation?” How many of us like to let go on vacation? I’d say likely everyone. I’d also say that quite a few people worry about sticking to their diet or health plan while on vacation. I’ve been there and will be there. 

    To help you (and myself) out, here are some key pointers for staying healthy while traveling:
    Photo by Leslie Nicole
    1. When possible, get a condo so that you can make your own meals. You will spend a little extra on where you are staying, but a lot less on meals! 
    2. Pack snacks for the car/flights. Apples, oranges, carrot sticks, healthy snack bars, nuts, etc. are great for traveling with. Opt to by water and keep away from sugar filled drinks. Make sure you stay hydrated! I know it is not fun to keep stopping on a road trip or to go in the small tiny airplane bathroom, but your body does need water! And when you stop at fast food, choose wisely :-).
    3. When you do eat out, be conscious about what you are eating. Allow yourself that one cheat night, but don’t keep cheating. Be aware of how much alcohol you are consuming and remember that alcohol temporarily turns the liver into what is called a “fatty liver” which slows down your metabolism. Slow down on the free bread or chips and salsa.
    4. Make it a goal to be active for at least a half hour each day. Even if it is just a walk down the beach, just get your blood pumping!

    5. Have healthy snacks around like broccoli and hummus, carrots and gauc, healthy protein powder, greek yogurt not packed with sugar, nuts, etc. so that when you have the munchies you have something healthy to grab!

    6. Don’t get over hungry. Plan your meals out and eat around your normal times. Also, research ahead of time restaurants where you will eat.

    7. RELAX. Let your rest and the stress hormones come down to normal levels!

    Happy summer travels everyone!

    – Erica

    Learning the Art of Stress Management

    Stress is something that affects us all.  Whether it is physical, mental, or emotionally dragging you down, it is important to remember we need to try to maintain composure and keep stress to a minimum if possible.  How you deal with your stress is very individualized and important.

    There have been several studies done that link high stress with aging.  To me, it seems like common sense.  Stress affects us on a cellular basis.  Stress affects our organs.  Stress affects our brains ability to process and can negatively affect our health on a number of fronts, so why wouldn’t it affect the aging process too?

    In an age where it seems that we all need to find the “fountain of youth” through the stress of our daily lives, I find that awareness plays a key role in our ability to cope and manage stress minimizing its negative impact on the quality of our life.  Stress management could be the best answer to our anti-aging needs!  Just a thought…

    When you feel stressed, do you recognize it?  Your heart rate might increase, tension in your muscles might also increase as well as just over all feeling drained.  I would like to suggest taking a few moments to write down what is causing you immediate stress.  Draw your awareness to the situations that cause you the most stress and find a ways to cope.  Most of the time stress affects us whether we know it or not.  If we become aware of what stress is negatively affecting us, we can make smarter decisions to cope and our overall wellness will be better off….AND we might save ourselves the bags under our eyes as well as a few added wrinkles.

    I have compiled a list of helpful stress coping activities that may help you deal with what life throws at you day to day:

    1. Keep a journal at work or your office.  Every morning before you start your day, take 5 minutes to write down everything bothering you at the present moment and once you close that book–you are not to visit the topic again.  This has been extremely helpful to me.
    2. When you feel something is causing you stress, take a 5 minute walk around to cool off.
    3. Breathe in.  Breathe out.
    4. Learn the art of perspective.  Keep the major problems in perspective to minimize the stress of the situation.  It is a hard practice to keep, but once you realize what you think is a big deal really isn’t that big of a deal your stress will decrease.
    5. Allow yourself to take regular breaks.  This will ensure you are not overloading yourself.
    6. If one project is starting to get to you, stop in your tracks.  Switch to something else for a little bit, then revisit the other.  This will allow your mind to breath before being crazy sets in and you are stressed out.
    7. Practice yoga…I am not kidding, it will help your mind focus and begin to block out the stress.  Focusing in your energy, stretching, and allowing for peaceful meditation will help you cope with the physical and mental stress.
    8. Learn to say no.  Most the time I think stress is brought on by my inability to say, “I am sorry, but I just can’t do it today!” As a whole, then it makes you feel bad.  Don’t allow saying no to make you feel bad.  Learn not to over extend yourself.
    9. Make time for you.  Whether it is working out, getting a massage, or your nails done you have to make time for yourself to breathe.

    These are just a few activities that I practice to help with daily stress.  I challenge you to become the master of Stress management!  You can do it!

    Remember to make time for your mental sanity through it all.  It doesn’t do you any good to stress yourself out.  It has a negative affect on you and on others especially if you are in a job to which you deal with customers and people all day.  I would rather know I am coping and dealing with stress to the best of my ability and not passing the stress on to those I encounter throughout the day.  🙂

    -Catie Manning, Hairstylist

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