Aging. For many people, it’s a source of shame and discomfort, and they do their best to hide it the older they get. But over time, especially as you reach perimenopause or andropause, it gets harder to hide.
As today’s guest shares, this isn’t a bad thing. Aging is not negative! Ann Zee uses Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, to help bring new hope to her clients as they go through different stages in their life by bringing their bodies back into balance.
Ann also explains more about the benefits of TCM compared to Western medicine, and why she prefers not to call it alternative medicine. Listen in as she shares how you can see and address the symptoms of imbalance in your body now so that you can better live in, experience, and appreciate the moments of life that you are in.
About Ann Zee:
The Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility is Ann’s vision for providing a model of collaborative alternative healthcare to Calgarians.
“My drive comes simply from my desire to be in service to others. I honestly do not know what else we are supposed to do here on this earth.”
Ann received her degree from the Alberta College of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). During her career, Ann spent time abroad studying under famous Acupuncturist Dr. Anton Jarasurya at the South Colombo Teaching Hospital in Sri Lanka where, daily, she treated hundreds of locals with Acupuncture and TCM.
Over the years Ann has lent her time to volunteer activities including AIDS Calgary, Camp Fyrefly and the Calgary Women’s Center where she has sat on their governance board and taught workshops introducing the concept of TCM and women’s health. Ann is also a long-time Provincial examiner with the Alberta College of Acupuncturists.
Find out more on her website.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Lindsay Recknell 0:03
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Hope Motivates Action podcast. I’m your host Lindsay Recknell. And it is my pleasure to introduce you to Ann Zee as this week’s guest, and is such a cool person. I met her at a retreat for women business owners where we both had the pleasure of being speakers, she absolutely blew my mind with her passion for traditional Chinese medicine and her natural ability to share its importance in our lives and know you’re really going to love and so let me start by sharing a little bit more about her as the owner of the holistic Institute of Health infertility, which is NS vision come to life, a model of collaborative alternative health care for Calgarians in Hans own words, my drive comes simply from my desire to be in service of others. I honestly do not know what else we are supposed to do here on this earth and received her degree from the Alberta College of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine during her career and spent time abroad studying under famous acupuncturist, Dr. Anton. Yes, sir Maria. I apologize if I got that completely wrong. Dr. Anton at the south Colombo teaching hospital in Sri Lanka where Daly she treated hundreds of locals with acupuncture and TCM over the years and has lent her time to volunteer activities including aids, Calgary count Firefly and the Calgary Women’s Center, where she has sat on their governance board and taught workshops introducing the concept of TCM and women’s health, and is also a longtime provincial examiner with the Alberta College of acupuncturist, a very well rounded and super interesting human, I cannot wait for you to meet. As a reminder, if you’re interested in any of the books, resources and tools I mentioned in this episode, all the links you’ll need can be found in the show notes of your favorite podcast player, or head to the blog and pod page of my website at expertinhope.com, and you’ll find them all there too. I truly believe that the future will be better than today, by taking action over the things we can control. And conversations like this really reinforced that hope. Let’s get going on this one.
Lindsay Recknell 2:02
Hello, and welcome to the show.
Ann Zee 2:05
Hello, Lindsay, thanks for allowing me to be here.
Lindsay Recknell 2:08
I’m so excited. I just, you know, when I heard you speak, I really connected to you as a human to your expertise. And really what you have to share with us all around traditional Chinese medicine and I’m super excited. I think you’re I think you give a lot of hope to people. And I think the audience will really resonate with what you have to say. So very excited to have you here.
Ann Zee 2:28
Excellent. Well, I’m looking forward to the conversation today.
Lindsay Recknell 2:31
Would you start off by sharing with us a little bit about who you are and what you do, and how you use hope to motivate action in your life?
Ann Zee 2:38
All right, well, I am a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, which includes being an acupuncturist and in doing that for 19 years now. And I have the joy and learning curve of owning and operating a couple of clinics where we focus on fertility, prenatal, postnatal care, but certainly recently, I’ve noticed that we’ve also been seeing a lot more people coming in for perimenopausal concerns. So, you know, as I get older, definitely hope is something that really resonates and is so important to think about and to, you know, have is a mainstay in my life. Because without hope, I think we have darkness, we have nothing. And I’ve always been an eternal optimist, you know, throughout all of the challenges that I’ve experienced in my life and and, you know, you know, had the blessings of being able to journey with other people, you know, as they go through their, their challenges. But certainly being an optimist, and always looking towards possibility has always been so, so important. I couldn’t agree with you more.
Lindsay Recknell 3:57
Good. I absolutely. I mean, the future will be better than today, when we can find those opportunities where we can find those possibilities. And I feel like that’s something that you really do in your work the women and men that come to see you, you must give them hope that it can their health can be better than they may be feeling as they walk in your door.
Ann Zee 4:19
Well, absolutely. So typically in the past, my style of medicine has been termed alternative, but I actually I don’t like that term. I prefer the term integrative but I think the reason why we were tagged that way was sometimes you know the the healthcare journeys people are on. There’s only one solution that may be in front of them. Right You know, for you know, whatever reasons, but there are integrative medicines, there are additional things that can help people and specifically when we talk about menopause, perimenopause, and menopause, which is some what male identified folks go through Those things do require symptomatic mitigation. And that’s where we can step in. And absolutely, you know, help people in that regard.
Lindsay Recknell 5:11
That’s amazing, because that’s the message that resonated the most with me when I heard you speak, I’m 42 years old, haven’t helped me not in menopause yet. But the thing is that you talk about I can do to prepare for that. Or if you know, if it happens sooner for me, then maybe it happened for my mom or something. And can we talk a little bit about how Chinese traditional Chinese medicine can support perimenopause and all the other kinds of pauses, you talked about?
Ann Zee 5:38
Yes, there’s a lot of positives. But the pauses are good, because they’re teaching us about ourselves. Right. So the way that TCM I’ll just say TCM traditional Chinese medicine for short, because that’s a mouthful. So TCM, it’s sort of like, if Western medicine is, you know, your left hand and looking at you from the left hand side, Eastern medicines is the right right hand from the right side. And all we’re doing is we’re just looking at you from a different perspective. So when I talk about that, I’m talking about the way that we diagnose, okay, so when people come into our clinics, and, you know, things are happening to them, that they’re not used to or things that are, you know, a real annoyance, you know, and you know, so what we do is we say, okay, we sit the person in front of us, and we go through a diagnostic. And please understand that TCM is one of the oldest medicines that exists in the world that is 1000s of years old. And it is practiced internationally. It’s practiced in every country in the world. And I always make this joke that I don’t have to be a bartender to be able to go, you know, work, you know, under the table in England, or, you know, France, I can be an acupuncturist, and I can practice there. So it’s been practiced around the world, it’s so old. So the way that we diagnose is we don’t use blood tests or ultrasound machines or anything like that, what we do is we ask you a series of common sense questions based upon your physiology, because we’re trying to get a sense of where the internal imbalances, according to TCM, are within your body. So we’re going to ask you questions around sleep, digestion, elimination patterns that’s bound limits urination, and specifically, we’re going to ask you about your reproductive cycle, so that we can have sort of a greater sense holistically of what’s going on. Now, I do realize that there is sort of the thinking that potentially there are supplements that you can take, and you know, we can maybe touch upon that later, you know, you know, that you can take and it and it will sort of make all the hot flashes and all the things disappear. But I don’t know if that’s always entirely the case, what we’re doing specifically is we’re looking at a whole subset of symptoms. And we’re trying to figure out what the root imbalance with the root cause is. And then our treatment principles are simply to address what the root imbalances are. And that’s how we proceed forward. So when we do that with acupuncture, we do that with Chinese herbal formulas. We’re not just working with one herb, we’re working with a selection of herbs that are designed specifically for whatever imbalances occurring. Anecdotally, we can definitely talk about some supplements that we’ve worked with in the past that we know that may or may not be helpful, and as well, very basic food suggestions. And for us, we’re not telling people you know, you have to give up wine, chocolate, coffee and joy. Right? We would never say that, right? Instead, what we’re we’re sharing with people is, if there’s an imbalance, for instance, if you’re noticing that there’s a ton of internal heat, we will recommend that you eat foods that are more cooling in nature, because again, it’s all about trying to reestablish that balance.
Lindsay Recknell 8:59
Oh, I love it. This, it gives me shivers to think that you address the cause not just mask the symptoms. And you know, that feels hopeful in itself, because that, that feels long term that feels, you know, solvable over time, as opposed to kind of a quick bandaid solution.
Ann Zee 9:21
But it is long term. So for instance, let’s talk about hot flashes for a minute. Now, typically, women in their late 30s, early 40s may start to experience some of those hot flashes, right? Oh my god, I’m in perimenopause. Right. But I guarantee that probably when you were also in your 20s and 30s. You were noticing whereas it may have happened. But you were noticing maybe you were waking up in the middle that I kind of hot, right, which is unusual because when we go to sleep our body systems slow down or core temperature cools down. So it’s unusual that you would wake up hot, but it only lasts for a few minutes and you go back to sleep right? So what that is, is already already, that’s sort of indicating some imbalance. So, in your age group where it’s may not even be happening yet, you know, for those little things that you may be noticing, please know that they’re just not going to miraculously go away. In fact, they may be magnified as time goes on. So if you are noticing, every once in a while, you’re kind of hot, you know, in the middle of the night, that actually is sort of a precursor to potential hot flashes that you may experience as you get older. But that also is a TCM, theory about and this is a TCM term, there may be a lot of Yin deficiency within your body. So so if you start noticing those things early on, it’s best to start addressing them now, before it’s older, before you’re older, and it’s established a little bit more, and it takes a little bit longer to treat.
Lindsay Recknell 10:57
And that I’m encouraged by as well, because the proactivity of the work that you do feels really hopeful because, you know, it’s something I feel like I can take control over right now, before it gets too far down that path where it might just feel too hard, or, you know, like without that proactivity piece to it. You you brought up Yin, which is excellent, because I really want to know about yin and Yan, and, and how it all works with TCM, because that’s super fascinating. Also, if you could share that.
Ann Zee 11:32
All right, I will hopefully try to give my my description a little bit of justice, please forgive me that won’t be as comprehensive as it probably needs to be. Yin and Yang, you may have heard of it before you may not have if you think about the circle, a lot of people recognize the symbol the circle, half of it is white, half of it is black. That is the yin and yang symbol. And what that signifies, because actually that goes back to Taoist philosophy, Taoism and the fundamental foundations of Taoism is that in order to have peace, peace meant mentally, physically, emotionally, you must have balance. So Yin and Yang are two complete opposites of each other. And the way to sort of very simply give them each a definition is that young is more masculine energy, and Yin is more feminine energy. So Young is definitely heat, aggressive, you know, sunshine, things like that. Yin is more passive cooling water, nighttime. So as a woman ages, her Yin starts to get a little bit less, which means less water, less cooling. So of course, the young, which remember is hot, right? And aggressive, you will sort of see that imbalance. And you will see those sorts of attributes starting to show up a little bit more
Lindsay Recknell 12:56
in because young fills in sort of the deficiencies of Yin, that makes sense to me.
Ann Zee 13:03
Right? The to balance each other? Absolutely.
Lindsay Recknell 13:07
Which is why when we go into hot flashes, you recommend cooling foods, you got it. So brilliant, so brilliant. And so you mentioned integrative medicine, which I love that language, it’s, you know, aligned with sort of the holistic approach to overall health, which I’m a super fan of as well. So many of us have grown up, especially in Canada or North America, seeing traditional Western doctors, how, what kind of conversation, how can you help us to facilitate a conversation with our western medicine doctor, if we’re considering coming to see you as an Eastern medicine? Doctor?
Ann Zee 13:51
Very interesting question. Because before the technical back in 2019, I was actually doing sort of a tour of going to do a lunch and learns in physicians offices, and I, the physicians are actually very open. Most of them are very open to sitting down and having a discussion with someone like me that practices you know, something, you know, different than, you know, what they’re used to or are educated about. And they just want to learn and understand more. But the predominant question was how can your medicine help my patient? Because of course, Western medicine, you know, primary medicine, very important. And there will be things that sometimes Western medicine is not able to address. So that’s where TCM, traditional Chinese medicine can sort of step in, and try to answer some of those questions and just help out with some of those symptomatic things. So for instance, towards the end of 2019, I had the opportunity to go in and chat with the folks at the Calgary regional fertility clinic. And again, fertility is is our focus and within our clinics as in prenatal care, but we use traditional Chinese medicine to support people who are struggling with fertility. And I had a wonderful conversation with those folks, they wanted to better understand well, how does your medicine help? You know how, you know, because they know that a lot of their patients come to see us because we’re literally a five minute drive from them. And I talked about, we can help mitigate stress. You know, we can sort of help with, you know, mental health issues, right, which absolutely resonated with, you know, the the folks at the regional fertility clinic because, of course, that whole journey is very stressful for people. So they were happy to hear that there were additional supports.
Lindsay Recknell 15:43
I bet they were. And I bet the results of integrating the two kinds of medicines has a much greater success rate than one or the other alone.
Ann Zee 15:53
Well, I will say this. So you’ve heard of these HMOs. Down in the United States, these are the the health care, private health care folks, systems that are down there HMOs, when they know that their patients are going through fertility treatments, because let’s face it, fertility treatments are very expensive, right? They actually mandate that their patients undergo acupuncture and TCM first get out before they they go through the Western medical treatments, because statistically, they know that of course, it you know, it’s better for them from an affordability perspective to pay for an acupuncture treatment, rather than to pay for an entire series of IVF treatments.
Lindsay Recknell 16:34
That is amazing. I love that.
Ann Zee 16:37
Yes. And there’s an obviously, there have there have been enough success stories into sistex. To show that obviously, acupuncture is helpful.
Lindsay Recknell 16:46
That’s amazing. So tell us more about acupuncture. In my mind, you stabbed me with needles, works, or does it work? I mean, clearly, I’d be facetious, but you know what I mean? Can you tell us what acupuncture is and how it helps, and does it hurt?
Ann Zee 17:03
Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t stand getting needles, I can’t I when I go to get blood, I’m, you know, just talking, you know, very quickly to the person saying, Tell me about your vacation, so I don’t have to pay attention to you sticking a metal object in me. So I get that, I get that, right. But I will say this five acupuncture needles, which are superduper, thin, or when you group them together are equal to the width of a regular hypodermic needle. So they’re very thin their hair like, and ultimately what it feels like the sensation is simply if I just took the end of a pen and super sharpened it, and just kind of fascia, you know, on your skin, that’s literally the sensation and it lasts for a split second, and then it goes away. Now in terms of acupuncture points, there are over 365 acupuncture points in the body. And you know, luckily, I can remember that because, you know, corresponds to days a year, but that’s how many acupuncture points there are. And each point does a little bit of a different thing. So for instance, when we’re talking about yin and yang, there are very specific acupuncture points that address tonifying nurturing the end. And, of course, they’re acupuncture points that are specific to strengthen and tonify young. So it’s not just eating young, there’s, it’s the whole sort of complex, you know, system that’s in place. But basically, the way when I used when I described to my patients, well, you know, you know, what are the points do, right? It’s sort of like, each acupuncture point resides along the lines on the body, and there are 12 lines on the body, and there’s a bunch of acupuncture points to populate those lines. And if you think of a line like Deerfoot trail, and sometimes there’s a traffic jam, or an accident, what the acupuncture point is, it’s like a little tow truck, and it comes along, and it removes the traffic jam to allow for free flow of circulation again, because in order for there to be balanced within the body, there has to be sort of a free flow of circulation and Qi, which is really important to maintain balance.
Lindsay Recknell 19:15
That makes so much sense that visual, that imagery makes so much sense. Brilliant. Um, and as you were speaking and thinking about the connection, the mind body connection, you must have some opinions about the importance of the mind body connection.
Ann Zee 19:35
Very much so. You know, it’s sort of like the chicken in the egg, right, which came first, and sometimes, you know, great degrees of stress, overwhelm emotional overwhelm, will cause physical imbalance. And sometimes great degrees of physical imbalance will cause an overwhelm of, you know, mental, emotional, you know, capabilities so our medicine We do our best to address mental health concerns, we do our best to, you know, help people sort of, quote feel better overall, right? Which I think really resonates with the Western medicine Doc’s especially, you know, that conversation I had with the at the fertility clinic. But when I think about menopause, it’s really interesting, because, you know, we hear terms like anti aging, right, which I think is a not a very positive term to use, because it’s sort of like we’re saying that aging is a bad thing. And, yes, we’re gonna go through a lot of the physical, you know, symptoms of menopause, perimenopause, you know, we’re going to see things, you know, we’re going to start to see energy levels go down, we’re going to be more forgetful than normal, we’re going to see, you know, the, the menopausal tummy that starts to grow, you know, and then, of course, the hot flashes, those tend to be sort of the main symptoms, the physical symptoms that goes on with women when they’re going through menopause. But it’s the emotional stuff that I think is equally, if not more important to address.
Lindsay Recknell 21:11
And do people often miss that part?
Ann Zee 21:15
Well, I, I’m not sure if it’s missing the part or truly understanding what needs to happen. Because I think, you know, as we go through each decade in our life, right, you know, like, the 20s, was literally, you know, you survived your teens, you know, you’re you know, hopefully you moved out to your own little, you know, basement suite with six friends, and you’re just trying to figure out, you know, how to, you know, not lose your outfits on a Friday night, right? Your 30s, you definitely, there’s more adulting hopefully, you’ve been in your job or your career for a little bit longer, you know, you’re you’re thinking about buying your first home, you’re sort of doing all of those things, you potentially could be getting married, it’s time to have start having kids, you know, you’re starting to do that, then you hit your 40s. And your 40s is a really interesting time, especially for women, because it’s sort of like, an opportunity where, you know, you start to understand things about your sexuality, you know, you start to really come into who you are as a person, you know, and all those things that you were hoping to get to in your 30s, you’re really sort of discovering in your 40s, your 50s, called menopause time is also another really interesting decade, as I am finding, because I am not the expert, and I’m going through all of it right now, discovering that the 50s is a time of reckoning, this is the decade where I really get to figure out what the heck my purpose is. Because in our 50s is women, if we’ve had children now is the decade where most of your children are now old enough where they’ve moved out. Right. And you know, you’re hopefully at your highest earning potential, if you are, you know, working in a career position or, you know, hopefully you’re in a good relationship, you know, but if those things, if you’re unsure about those things, if you’re still experiencing all that, self doubt that we women have been plagued with, since you know, the day we were born, it’s really going to show up, it’s really going to show up. And I’ve had some really interesting conversations with women who actually are, you know, quote, on the other side of, you know, going through the whole sort of menopause. And I’ve asked them, like, what, what has been your biggest challenge, and, you know, certainly middot trying to, you know, navigate through all the physical symptoms, you know, is definitely, you know, can be hard, you know, especially the hot flashes, right, depending on the degree that you’re experiencing that. But it’s the, it’s the emotional stuff, it’s, I’ve heard women describe it as the dark night of the soul, you know, all of a sudden depressions starts to really rear its ugly head, this lack of focus or purpose, it can be quite daunting, and it can be very difficult for for women to know what to do. So typically, you know, when when you think about, okay, well, what’s the first thing I can do, you know, in regards to energy levels, or depression or things like that, great, I’m going to go to my doctor and see if I can get some help with my sleep because sleep is terrible, right? But sometimes, sometimes, and this is what we’re used to, right? We’ll go to our doctor, and sometimes the doctors will prescribe an antidepressant or a sleeping pill, or, you know, something that just sort of mitigates things sort of, you know, keeps things at bay. And that will do it for the time being. But I also feel this is the decade where you get to walk through whatever it is that you need to walk through. Because I think this is where we see women also are most powerful, and we are most powerful. We have the wisdom, we know, because we know who we are. And the only way to figure that out is to walk through this. So it’s the whole sort of menopause is very challenging, but I think it’s also a time of awakening as well.
Lindsay Recknell 25:06
You give me shivers just watching you speak, I wish that you all could see this beautiful woman and her face and like how it lights up about this stuff? Because honestly, it is just the greatest. You do you give so much hope in your, in your words in your passion for this for your people, for your patients, and really helping them to get through, which is clearly going to be terrible.
Ann Zee 25:34
But it’s gonna be challenging. Yeah. Let’s use hopeful terms. Yes.
Lindsay Recknell 25:40
It is a time of opportunity. Yeah, like you say, and I feel like I’m. So I guess my one of my last questions here is, does the work you do help with breakthroughs? Because you spoke about the 50s decade and you know, people don’t really know what to do maybe or if they’re been miserable, but they don’t know what steps to take his breakthrough part of what happens in your work.
Ann Zee 26:07
Absolutely. And here’s why. So I’ll liken this to addiction treatments. Okay. Many years ago, I actually, I co wrote a research project about using acupuncture, as an adjunct adjunct to addiction treatment. And the reason why I was so passionate about it back then was because what acupuncture can do when you’re going through whatever cravings you’re going through, okay, it will help to calm the mind. Because when your mind is calm, and grounded, you can actually make better decisions as to what’s happening to you physically. So in this regard, as you’re getting TCM acupuncture, and you’re getting help with the hot flashes, you’re getting help with the energy levels, and they’re going and you’re seeing them going up and your sleep is better and your memory is is becoming a lot more vibrant. Because you’re feeling better, you’ll be able to make better decisions in regards to how you’re going to journey through that other part.
Lindsay Recknell 27:16
It just feels Yes, feels so good. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, there is so much research and evidence to support what you’re talking about, that if you can calm your mind, lower your kick your sympathetic nervous system, back into balance all of those things, you can absolutely not feel exhausted all the time, you can make better food and health and sleep choices. So much evidence to support that. That’s, that’s awesome. I can’t even believe that we’re reaching the end of our time. I like the time just flies when I’m in conversation with you. So thank you for for bringing your brilliance. As always. And I asked the same question at the end of every show. And that is and what gives you hope.
Ann Zee 28:00
Well, you know what, if we have time for this, I want to read a prayer to you that someone said to me, and I just thought it was beautiful. And to me this, this is about speaking to hope. So bring it love it. May your body be blessed. May you realize that your body is a faithful and beautiful friend of your soul. May you be peaceful and joyful and recognize that your senses are sacred thresholds. May you recognize in your life, the presence, power and the light of your soul. May you have the respect for your own individuality and differences. May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life. There is something beautiful, good and eternal happening. May Dawn find you awake and alert, approaching the new day with dreams, possibilities and promises. May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected. And may you be blessed. And may you find a wonderful love in yourself for yourself.
Lindsay Recknell 29:12
I just might put that on repeat. When this episode publishes That was beautiful. And it does it feels so hopeful. Because those things all feel achievable, you know, with focus and intention and taking care of ourselves so that we can show up and take care of other people. And so beautiful. Thank you for editing us in such an incredible way. It has been a real pleasure to have you here today.
Ann Zee 29:36
Thank you, Lindsay. As usual, it’s been lovely chatting with you and I do appreciate, you know, this opportunity to be able to, you know, share what I do and, you know, and also to talk about how I think it’s such an important part of our lives, especially these days. So thanks so much for the opportunity. Lindsay.
Lindsay Recknell 29:52
It has been awesome. I look forward to more conversation. For sure. Take care.
Lindsay Recknell 29:59
Have you enjoyed this latest episode of the hope and motivates action podcast? These episodes are a labor of love inspiring conversations with hopeful people make my heart happy. If you also love this episode, it would be amazing if you could go to Apple podcasts and leave a review five stars if you’re into it. It’s these reviews that encourage Apple to promote this podcast to their network. And the more people that listen, the more hope we can spread into the world. Don’t forget to check out the show notes of this episode to find all the links to my guests books and other resources referenced in this episode. You’ll also find the link back to my website where you will find additional support and resources for you, your team and your community. I truly believe that the future will be better than today. By taking action over the things we can control. And hearing from these guests on these episodes. I know that even more hopeful future is totally possible. I’m always looking for inspirational guests so if you or anyone you know would like to be a guest on the show, please reach out. You can find me on the contact form of my website at expertinhope.com or by email at Lindsay@expertinhope.com. When I was a teenager, my sisters were leaving the house to go out for the night. I always made it a point to remind them to call me if they need me. It was my way to tell them that I cared and would always be there for them. I’d love you to know the same so all of you listening out there Call me if you need me. Again. Thank you for your love and support of this podcast my work in hope and your intentional focus on making your future better than today. After all, hope without action is just a wish
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