TT10: How to Avoid Burnout with Lisa Feder

Today I get to interview Lisa Feder. Lisa is an experienced yoga teacher, MBA and author of "A Year of Mindful Wellness." We talked about how to avoid burnout - and an experienced that Lisa had recently of realizing her cup was empty and how she navigated that. We talk about the need for intentions and directing our attention to be focused. We discuss how the simple gratitude practice Lisa has been doing recently and how it's shifted her perspective of things, and how you can apply it too. I also share my own experience with Lisa and how something she said to me changed the way I approach my schedule. 
You can follow Lisa on Instagram at @beingwellyoga. Her website is You can check out her next retreat here and purchase her book on Amazon here.
Here is the full transcript of today's interview:

Jeremy Devens 0:00
My name is Jeremy Devens, welcome to the yoga teacher training podcast where I share insights and perspectives from experienced teachers and my own perspectives throughout things that I've experienced. Really grateful today to have one of my teachers that I've worked with over the years, Lisa Fader, who's a full time yoga instructor and wellness consultant living in Austin, Texas. She's had a passion for all things wellness for as long as she can remember. Working for over 20 years in the corporate world, marketing and branding. Working for large corporations including Procter and Gamble and Mary Kay Cosmetics. She began teaching fitness classes in her free time, and became a certified personal trainer. Working in the physical realm led her to explore yoga, which is a big part of why she's here today. She fell in love with yoga, and the way it made her feel and her students feel physically, emotionally, energetically. After teaching part time for many years, she took the leap and started Being Well Yoga, which is how I work with Lisa. She brings yoga on sites of companies to help employees learn how to live healthier, more balanced lives. She also teaches in studios, schools, senior centers, parks and private homes. She leads workshops and retreats all over the world. Her approach is balanced and she likes to bring mindfulness, humor, challenge, and deep relaxation into her practices. She considers herself a practical Yogini focused on how students can take yoga off the mat into their lives, which is really what we're going to talk about today. Lisa has helped me with how to avoid burnout as a teacher, to make sure that your teaching is sustainable. Lisa is ERYT 200, RYT500, MBA, she's had a ton of trainings with Sean Corn, Donna farhe, Sarah Powers, Entity Judith, Gary Craftsaw, Richard Miller. She brings a lot of perspective, years of experience, and depth into what she's going to share today. I'm super grateful she's here. One thing she said to me really stuck with me and changed the way that I approach my teaching. I'll share that later. But for now, I just want to say welcome, Lisa, thank you for being here.

Lisa 2:31
Thanks, Jeremy. I'm glad to be here. Thank you for having me on the podcast.

Jeremy Devens 2:35
Awesome. So just briefly, I want to just get into a little more about how you got into teaching yoga. I mentioned some of it in the bio, but anything you want to add to that. Anything you want to share about how you made that transition from that background? I've actually met a lot of people in a similar path, going from corporate to wanting to be teachers or wanting to start yoga. How did you make that transition?

Lisa 3:04
Yes, I always was very physical. As a teen I was a gymnast and a dancer. I always had some sort of physical practice just part of my life and I love using my body and being strong. I started teaching aerobics back in the day when we called it aerobics. I started teaching the 6am aerobics class before I went to work. It was great for me because I liked teaching. At that time we did the workout with our students, so I was getting my workout in. No matter what happened the rest of the day, I knew I had set myself up with something that felt good, something that was very healthy and physical. I really loved teaching aerobics. I loved the Personal Training. Then as I started getting older and my students did too, the gym that I was working at needed a yoga teacher. I thought, well, that sounds like a great idea. But I came to it from a really physical way, from the movement aspect. As you know, and anybody who is teaching yoga, Whatever your reason for coming to the mat, that's great. But eventually, the philosophy and the mindfulness, and all of the eight limbs start to come in. So over time, I started to learn more and more, and I guess in a good way, yoga kind of took over my life. I was living in Dallas when I started teaching, I moved to Austin and went to work for myself. I was consulting, I wasn't working for a company. So I had lots of flexibility. I was teaching part time and working part time, and then little by little teaching more and more. Training and understanding more and more and wanting to spend all my time teaching yoga and mindfulness. And it still took a while. I decided I was going to do it. I was going to go full time, probably about eight years ago. Then I got a little fearful, I wondered if I would be able to make enough money to support myself and if I could do it. So I went back to work in the corporate world for another couple of years. And it was then those last two years when I knew I really needed to be doing this. So, I took the leap about five years ago to come into this full time.

Jeremy Devens 5:39
What did you have to do? So you had this intuition or knowing that you needed to take the leap? What actually did you have to do to make that transition?

Lisa 5:50
Well, at the time I needed to make a decision. I needed to make a commitment was the first thing. I know we're going to talk about getting over extended. But, even at my age, I still suffer from FOMO, I have a fear of missing out on anything. I liked the work I was doing in the corporate world. I loved the yoga. So I kept saying I'm going to go all the way into this, I developed a website. I had some corporate clients to begin to work with. But then I'd get pulled into a consulting assignment. And I had to really learn to say no to those, so that I could focus on developing more of my work in the yoga world. So how did I really do it? I was teaching in studios and I had enough of a class schedule where I felt secure in my teaching at the studios. I had this beginning of a corporate business that I started because a student of mine, was affiliated with an organization here in town that needed a yoga teacher. That got me into the corporate realm which I felt I was really well suited for because of my background. I knew what would fly in a corporate setting and what wouldn't and I knew what was important to people in a corporate setting. So I began to build a business around that, set up a website, started calling people. And that was it. There are businesses that are much more complicated, but mine was simple. I worked with Legal Zoom to create an LLC. I'm a sole proprietor LLC. I got a name and set up a doing business as account, got a bank account, and that was it.

Jeremy Devens 7:36
Really cool. So now at this point in your path, where you said, it's taken over your life in a good way. And it's something that you want to be doing all the time. Was there a point somewhere in there where you started to feel like you were over extending or that you almost started to reach a burnout in there?

Lisa 7:57
Yes, there is. And I would say It comes up time and time again, for two reasons. One is I have work that I love, and I do want to throw myself into it. Seth and I are empty nesters. We raised two kids and they're out of the house. So I have all this time to throw myself into my work, which is great. And when you run your own business and you have a home office, it's always there for you. So it's easy to work all the time. And when I do that for too long, I start to feel like everyone wants too much of me. When I get the sense that everyone needs too much from me, I know that that's coming from me feeling like I need to replenish or renew. This summer, right before I left for my retreat that I lead in Spain; I was driving to my last class before I left and I think I even said to myself out loud. "You are teaching from a empty cup, you're about to go teach from an empty cup." I just knew it. I had nothing more to give. Part of that was I had been so busy getting ready for a big trip. I was teaching extra classes, I was trying to get that last newsletter out or whatever communications or management of the business I needed to do. I was not taking any time at all to replenish anything for myself. So when you do end up very, very busy, even if it's something you love, and you don't sleep as much as you should, or eat as well as you should. I was certainly not making as much time for my practice, as I know, is helpful to me. I was done. I was burnt. I felt it. I knew it. So what could I have done at that point? In hindsight, I think well, why didn't I have someone sub that class for me? Right? That would not have been that challenging to do. I'm still learning as I go. I think that happens to us, we have these commitments that we make to show up and teach a class, or to have a private session or whatever it is that we're doing. And we still have a say over how we spend our time. I never want to serve my responsibilities. But at that point, I could have said, You know what, I need a moment. I have friends that I've helped that are wonderful teachers that could teach my class for me this day, and it would be just fine.

Jeremy Devens 10:34
Thank you for sharing that. I was surprised that you shared such a recent example. It's just validating and affirming to hear like someone with as much experience and education as you, and awareness, that you still have these moments. You still have these challenges of overextending yourself.

Lisa 10:51
I do. As I said, my FOMO is humorous in a way that after all these years, I still don't like to miss anything. Yet I find when I do step out, it's really helpful for me. I was teaching a class on Sunday mornings for about 14 years at YogaYoga, and when YogaYoga closed, I had a decision, you know, do I want to put another class there, do I want to change that class time? And I chose to do nothing with that time and I chose to leave myself a little bit of openness. Sunday mornings, which I used to love because I went to teach my class. I love a new because I spend time choosing what I'm going to do, and letting myself have a little bit of time to linger over a cup of coffee, or breakfast, or stay in bed a little longer. Whatever it is, I've given myself that time. So I'm getting a little smarter with experience, but it's still a challenge.

Jeremy Devens 12:02
It kind of weaves into what you mentioned in your book, Year of Mindful Wellness. Month one is all about mindful intentions. And I think you hinted at it in there, how important intentions are in avoiding the burnout. We get caught up in these times where things get really busy, or we get really into a certain aspect of, maybe planning for your trip, or something is taking over more of your time. But it sounds like what you were describing is getting back in touch with your intentions and getting that perspective again. Does that seem true to you of what you're pointing to in your book?

Lisa 12:44
Intentionality is the key for me to everything. If you think about what your intention is versus what a goal is. Maybe your goal is to teach this many classes and make this much money and reach as many people, that's one thing. But, intentionality is the "how" and the "why" you do what you do. So I really encourage everyone to consider why you're doing the things you're doing and how you're going into the world. If you lose touch with that, it's really easy to get burned out. If you forget why you're teaching, that's a real quick path to burn out. I set intentions every day, but I also set intentions for the year and I'll give you two intention stories here. One is the year that I wrote the book. The year that I wrote the book, I had set an intention for that year to be courageous, because I like doing what I'm doing. I tend to just get into a groove, I'll keep teaching, I'll keep doing things. Sometimes you can get burnt out if you're not changing the way you do things or having new perspectives. So I set an intention to be courageous so that I would have to do something that I wasn't comfortable with that I hadn't done before. And the book came out of that. I had been intending to put all of the things that I spoke about at companies into some sort of aggregation at some point, but I didn't know what that was going to be. It turned into this idea about a book. Once I started, because I had committed to myself to be courageous, I continued. I didn't say I'm going to write it by this time, I'm going to write this metric. It's going to look like this. I just kept being courageous. When I got a little bit scared that someone was going to read my words, or that I didn't know what to say, I tuned back in and got my courage. I ended up hiring an editor because that helped me to keep moving forward. But that setting intention really changed things for me. It ended up as a book. That's an annual intention that just became an overriding theme of that year. I was thinking recently, I was going to a full day of classes and I was feeling tired. So I said my intention was to enjoy my work. I said "today I'm going to enjoy my work." As I went into these classes, I was overcome with enjoyment and joy. It changed everything. Setting intentions really can set the tone of your life. They also put your activities in line with how you want to be. Things will line up if you affirm an intention to yourself.

Jeremy Devens 15:40
I love that. I was wondering if you notice that there were more opportunities or maybe challenges or experiences where you had to engage/flex that courage muscle throughout the year with having that intention?

Lisa 15:58
Yes. All the time. I think like all of us, as much as I teach, as much as I put myself out there, there's always that sense and wondering, some lingering self doubt. Am I enough? Is this going to work? And when you ask yourself to be courageous, you actually welcome those questions, because they give you an opportunity to be courageous. If those questions didn't come up, you wouldn't really have that much of a chance to be courageous. But because those questions come up, you get to be courageous.

Jeremy Devens 16:30
I love that. So I wanted to share one way that you helped me be a little more courageous. Maybe a year ago now, you asked me about my schedule. At that point, I was working every day because I was in this phase where I had reduced my teaching a lot and even took on another job for a while just to try that out. After a while of that, I realized I just want to teach full time, this is really what I feel called to do. So I re-committed to that and started teaching, just taking on a lot of opportunities, a lot of subbing, and knowing that it would be this phase where I'm going to be really immersed. Like you were saying earlier, it would take over my life, just teaching as much as I can. But knowing that's not going to be forever. At that point, when we talked, I was teaching every day of the week. Some days, it was just one class a day. Some days, it was two to three classes a day. But when I shared that with you, I was thinking about taking a day off and you said , "Oh yeah, you need a day off. You need a day for yourself. You need that day where you don't have to go anywhere." I felt into that. There was this one, Saturday class that was consistently small and it was kind of a long drive in rush hour. So everything about it just felt like out of alignment for me. It took me a couple of weeks to really sit with it. I don't want to let the studio down. I don't like to break commitments. When I say I'm going to teach a class, I want to stay with it. It wasn't serving the students if I didn't want to be there fully. And it wasn't serving me if I didn't want to be there. So it doesn't serve anybody. So I had the courage to tell the studio owner "hey, you know, this is what I'm thinking, I want to let this go. I'll give you two weeks. I'll help you find a teacher." And I let it go. And you know, you couldn't pay me enough to take that class back at this point. I know I needed that time for myself. And now, almost a year later, I think I have two days off where I'm not teaching classes and it feels much more sustainable. I'm doing plenty of work, I'm very much immersed in my business but if I didn't have the courage to take that time off, I probably wouldn't have had the space to expand my business online or create this podcast , or take time for my partner and do things that really nourish me outside of yoga. So thank you for that.

Lisa 19:33
That's great to hear. It is so important because you need to create that space. Things come out of it. You replenish, renew, rest, and teach more fully and more presently, when you do go back into your next day of work. I think people are afraid to take a moment. They don't know if they're going to lose a class and there's some fear involved with that: not taking a day off. And if you are coming to your teaching from a place of fear and I'm not saying that's what was keeping you from taking the day off, but I do see it a lot, people are afraid to let go of anything. That will surely end up in burnout. At some point you can't keep giving. We're in service to our students and we should be and this is a helping profession. We are here because we want to help people. And sometimes that looks or turns into a little bit of almost martyrdom. Yes, I can teach one more class. Yes, I can be with one more student. Yes, I can spend this time. We're not in service at all to ourselves and that ends up burning us out. So it's important to remember that it's great for you and it's great for your students. We're not going to be able to be there for your students if you can't be there for yourself.

Jeremy Devens 21:05
Absolutely. It's something I love about yoga, it keeps you very honest, because you're in a room full of people who are being completely open and receptive to the energy that you're presenting. So this constant reminder, to be a clear channel, to not bring any sort of feeling like "I have to" or "should", or , "I'm not getting my time and I'm stuck in this class now", or "I can't get out of this". People will pick up on all that stuff. So keeps me honest, I don't want to bring that to them. You're conversation, just one little sentence that you said to me, sort of off the cuff, really did have a big impact.

Lisa 22:05
That's great. I'm glad to hear it. It's even more challenging for us because the things that we're presented to do are really fun. Like, would you like to discuss? Well, yeah, that'd be super fun. Would you like to lead this workshop? That sounds great. So it adds a little bit more of a challenge for us. Because the things are so appealing that we get to do. If you love teaching yoga, which we do, and I'm sure people listening to this podcast, do, everything that we get the opportunity to do could be really fun and nourishing and fulfilling. But you still have to make those choices.

Jeremy Devens 22:40
What does self care and recharge time look like for you and what might it look like for students? I originally came to yoga as self care. I'd go to yoga class to feel recharged and recentered. But now I go to yoga class and it's hard to turn off the yoga teacher brain. So what kind of self care practices have you found over the years? To really help you recharge and recenter? Probably outside of the yoga room?

Lisa 23:15
I will say over the years I've been able to let go of the teacher mind and really enjoy and embrace having someone else hold space for me. Getting outside and connecting with the earth and the world around me is really helpful. I am a big believer in forced self care time. So I will have a massage or listen to a meditation. Things that I can't really do anything else while they're going on. I also spend a lot more time than I did just kind of hanging out, without an agenda and without something that I have to do. Just being at home because so much of our work takes us out of our homes, just being at home and reading a book. I'm better than ever and I am proud of myself for just hanging out and not doing anything. I never learned that that was something that was available. This kind of resting as being. A lot of my Yoga Nidra IRest training taught me to rest as being. That's been kind of interesting just to sit on the couch not watch TV, not read a book, not be eating, just sitting there. So I do that. I love to read and I have a little bit of a reading problem. When I start a book, I am able to let other things go by the wayside. So I have to be aware when I'm starting a book that I know what my other commitments are. So that's like the opposite of burnout. I just want to lose myself and forget about anything else I have to do. So I guess it's a good antidote. I renew with spending time with friends, my husband, my family, and traveling, seeing new things, anything that helps you change your perspective. Anything that helps me change my perspective, is great self care.

Jeremy Devens 25:40
Do you feel like you're able to balance that? Do you feel like in general, you're able to have a good balance of that time for yourself in times of nothing. You're running retreats, teaching corporate classes, teaching studios, you wrote this book. So you've got a lot going on, you're very much a full time yoga teacher, immersed in the business, but you also have this balance and your not burning yourself out. So what do you think is the key that you found some balance too?

Lisa 26:21
I'm very efficient. So I use my time very wisely. What gets me out of balance is if I get too attached or involved with social media that will eat up a lot of time and make me feel rushed and irritated and all the things. So if I can really have a right relationship, mindful relationship with social media, which I use to promote my business and sometimes to stay in touch with people, then I feel like I have all the time I need. If I am getting lost or wasting time scrolling through posts which I tend to do sometimes, I have to catch myself, that's when I don't have all the time I need. But I really schedule my time wisely. I think I don't rush and pile things on like I used to do. Here's another way you'll know you're burnt out if you are depending on all of the traffic lights cooperating with you perfectly and hitting every green light in order to get to the next place you're going on time. You're scheduling things a little too closely. And I was often doing that. But if I don't schedule like that I feel more spacious. I really think my biggest issue is the social media as a time waster, or any media as a time waster, I don't spend a lot of time reading the news. So that saves me some time during the day. I know a lot of people will spend time doing that. I'll catch up with what I need to know, in the car, if I really need to know or someone will tell me what I need to know. The social media, cutting that out. Scheduling things with spaciousness, and then I do feel like I have the time that I need.

From writing the book I have a discipline of using my time without distraction. So when I set out to write the book, was a fairly daunting task. So I would set the timer on my phone for an hour, and I would sit down and write for an hour without looking at anything else, without answering a call. And then when the timer went off, I could decide if I wanted to take a break or if I was okay to write a little more. So uninterrupted time to work on what's important is really key for me for getting things done. My phone is always on silent. So it doesn't interrupt me. And when I am having that focused time, it also helps me not feel like I have too much to do. Because if you are focused, you can get so much more done than if you're task switching. Right? And we know that multitasking is kind of this myth. You can't multitask. Humans can't do it, we task switch instead, which is very inefficient.

Jeremy Devens 29:38
You mentioned before we started recording about the the aspect of boundaries and how boundaries play a big role in not burning out. Sounds like what you're talking about here, having clear boundaries with social media, with your phone, with things like that. Is that what you would say is a key aspect of this?

Lisa 30:00
Yes, boundaries with that. I mentioned this before, about what you are open to give and able to give. I used to every time I'd see a sub request, if I couldn't sub the class, I'd feel guilty as if that were my responsibility. Someone needs help, and I'm not able to help. That takes time and energy even just to feel guilty. So I've learned to set boundaries with that. That everything is not my responsibility. You could do it if you decide to, but it's not being in right relationship with your time then it's really your responsibility to say no and not yes.

Jeremy Devens 31:01
If you're doing it out of a place of scarcity or fear or something that's not really authentic, then it's not going to serve you or the students anyway. Right.

Lisa 31:12

Jeremy Devens 31:14
So I want to wrap up with something you share in your book about mindful gratitude. We talked a little bit about how this is something you're doing. So just speaking to gratitude. Continuing to come back to as a yoga teacher, at least for me, my business is always evolving. The classes, my schedule, it's not the same as it was last year or the year before. So there's always some changes to it. I feel like I'm always trying to tune into what I'm grateful for, what is working really well, and if there's something that needs to be adjusted. Coming from that place of gratitude, of fullness, of knowing I have enough, I am enough. Just speaking to that how you practice gratitude and how it shows up and how it relates to avoiding burnout for you.

Lisa 32:11
Yes, it's very top of mind for me this month because I have been teaching a number of lunch and learns and workshops about gratitude. I'm reading a book that I recommend, called The Gratitude Diaries, written by Janice Kaplan, it's from a few years ago. She just decided the beginning of the year that she was going to practice gratitude in every aspect. So she writes about gratitude and her marriage and her career, gratitude when you face challenges. She speaks to a lot of experts about the physical and emotional, psychological aspects of gratitude and their benefits. It's really very compelling. So I had set out to do it and then I'm reading all this data about why it's going to make me healthier and happier. So it's really very, very motivating. I think that many of us, we have everything we need, but we see things outside of ourselves that we don't have. And then the media kind of steps in and creates these feelings of lack that you don't have everything that you need. So we might say, "wow, I really love this new jacket I got, If only I had new shoes", right? So you have something and then you want more. Or even with people that do things with you, or for you. My husband makes me a cup of coffee. I say "thank you so much. I'm really grateful for the coffee. Oh, but you didn't clean up the coffee grounds." There's always something right. So it's a change of perspective and a reframing that when you open to gratitude to be grateful for what you have, and know that it's enough and let go of the other stuff, let go of what you don't have. So you can do that in a number of ways. You can list three things you're grateful for that you really appreciate all the time. So that might be something that's really obvious to you that you really do appreciate. And then three things that you take for granted that you really appreciate if you thought about it, but you don't even have to think about it. That might be running water for us here in the US, right? What a gift. We don't even think about it. So pausing to think about the richness in your life, through something that you take for granted. And then there's the gratitude for your challenges. So the things that drive you the craziest. Tthinking about what you're going to learn or how it makes you stronger or more courageous or more skilled reframes things so that you have this positive outlook. That then lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your immune system improves your relationships, all of these things. I do it in class when I'm teaching yoga, and let's say it's time for plank or navasana or something, a posture that is challenging and I always invite students to inquire into their relationship with that posture. You know, when you hear the word plank, or you hear boat or navasana, does your mind go, "Oh, yeah, it's time for a navasana" or do you start delving into all the stories you have about why it's hard or why it hurts or why you used to be stronger, you're not as strong as you want to be. So I always invite people to really tune into the sensations of strength. These are postures that allow us to gather our strength, our considerable strength, not just physical strength, but all sources and then to build upon them. What could be more wonderful than that. So there's a reason to be grateful to have this opportunity to gather and build your strength. Doesn't that sound better than "I have to be in plank for three more breaths and it hurts."

I am practicing gratitude by really just looking around and appreciating what I have. I just started an Instagram gratitude journal, taking pictures of things each day. My husband asked me this morning, he said, What are you going to do today? I said, there's so many things. So, because he asked me that question, he ended up being the subject of my gratitude. So the picture is of this loaf of bread that he made. But I'm grateful for him even beyond that baking of the bread, but that's it really. And there are so many things. I can't get over how many things there are in my life that I'm grateful for.

Jeremy Devens 36:49
And what's your Instagram name?

Lisa 36:51
Being Well Yoga,

Jeremy Devens 36:53
@beingwellyoga. I just recently wrote about this too, because it was the thing that led me to yoga. I was in a depressed state about 11 years ago. And I found out about gratitude journaling. Just like you said, writing three things a day, at first felt kind of fake and inauthentic because I was not feeling happy at that time. I was more cynical, but then I just tried it and I was like, Oh, actually, that does feel good. Then after a month of that, it just felt so good to look back like Wow, my life is amazing. Then it became easier to find those things and easier to go outside of my comfort zone and I ended up going to my first yoga class. So I can definitely attest that has been a powerful practice.

Lisa 37:47
If you're looking for things to be grateful for it changes your day to come. If you know you've got to write in your gratitude journal, then you're looking for things to be grateful for which is completely different then looking for things to be upset about.

Jeremy Devens 38:01
I've always had this thought of when I appreciate what I have, what I have appreciates. So I make sure to take moments. Even when I have times where I'm feeling strained or challenged. I ask myself: what is good about this? Why am I choosing this? How is this working for me? I really appreciate you sharing this perspective on things. I think this would be really helpful. I just talked to a student recently who was working through this fear of burnout. I know this is a pertinent topic, and I know you'd have a lot to share about it. Thank you so much, Lisa Fader for being here and being my guest today. Where can people find out more about you and your corporate offerings and your retreats and all the stuff you're doing with it? What can they buy your book?

Lisa 38:57
Yes. My website is Being Well Yoga and that has all my offerings, including the book, corporate programs studio classes, and retreats. My next retreat will be in October in northwest Ireland, near Galway, which should be gorgeous. That's almost a year away, lots of time to think about it. My book is for sale in Austin at Book People, Studio Mantra, and it will soon be at studio Satya, or on Amazon. Being Well Yoga on Instagram and Facebook. I'd love to hear from you. Thank you, Jeremy. I'm taking that to heart when you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates. I love that.

Jeremy Devens 39:47
Thank you so much for being here. I know we'll have a lot more to talk about soon. You've got your toes in a lot of different waters and you have a lot of experience to share. So excited to have you on again in the future and share more of your insight with other teachers and students.


Transcribed by Satchie Wolfe


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