The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


The Power of the Written Word – Featuring Of Note Stationers

I may have met my match when it comes to appreciation and letter writing in Kate Kellman (KK) and Isabel Bonenfant (IB) of Of Note Stationers.  These two lovely ladies started a company that was specifically meant to bring back the slower process of letter writing and to help bring a better balance to their fast paced lives.  The Appreciation Factor was fortunate enough to score an interview with these two.


Who is Of Note Stationers:

Of Note Stationers is a unique card/stationery company out of Amherst, MA that is focused on encouraging people to slow down and be mindful of the world around them through letter writing/sending correspondence. While they primarily produce cards they also create:

  • Letter Writing Sets
  • Gift Tags
  • Art Prints
  • Rubber Stamps
  • Mini Notes
  • Custom Business Cards and more

ONS cards tap into our generosity of spirit and include messages that emphasize the things that you may often think, but you don’t often say.   Here are two great examples:

                       You can and You Will”
“I think of you often and want you to know” 


I think Kate and Isabel put it best when they say,

“We believe that letter writing is a mindful act.
It’s one that allows you to slow down, appreciate the little things in life,
|and share that appreciation with others.

We strive to keep people connected and deepen relationships through the written word.”


You can see why I/The Appreciation Factor fell in love with the company and these two women immediately!

Here are some highlights from my interview:

How it All Began

After meeting in the summer of 2012, Kate, at the time a Special Ed teacher, realized that she was living at a pace that was unsustainable.  She wasn’t sure what direction she wanted to go in next, but knew something had to change. Isabel was also making a change, as she was moving from a position in industrial design to one in graphic design.

The two had become friends after living together for several months and learning that they both had a love of letter writing in common.  “Letter writing was something that took deliberation took time and effort to complete,” Kate told me.  “Our lives were becoming so digital, what with everyone primarily conversing via emails, social media and texts.  Isabel and I both loved, and wanted to bring back the slow process of letter writing.”

The idea of possibly creating a business around this process was further sparked when Isabel and her fiancé were designing their wedding invitations. A friend of theirs from Mass Art printed the invitations on a letterpress and they fell in love with the [creative] process.”

KK:  “We thought that starting a stationery/correspondence company would be a way to force us to slow down.  Neither of us had a background in business, but we knew that if we went ahead with this kind of company that we didn’t want to be like everyone else; we wanted to make an impact.”

Kate and Isabel also knew they needed to do their homework before launching a business.  She continues, “We spent a year doing market research on the card industry, visiting different specialty and retail card stores, attending trade shows, and researching the internet and social media.  We found a huge community of letter writers who were so wonderful and supportive.

When considering what type of company we wanted to create, we decided that we wanted to narrow our focus.  We were especially drawn towards the “just because” message.  Both Isabel and I always enjoyed receiving and sending cards that conveyed a “because I’m thinking of you message.”  We felt this niche supported friendship in a thoughtful, slow way.

We also knew that people often think [positive] things about their friends and family but that they don’t often say out them loud and/or share them.  We wanted to encourage and provide a way for people to share these kind words.”


A Field Apart

Of Note Stationers products aren’t quite like everyone else’s out there. For instance their “tagline” says, “Specializing in meaningful correspondence.”  Beyond noticing that almost EVERY CARD sparked a “YES! I’ve wanted to say that!” moment in me, I noticed that Of Note Stationers doesn’t include many images on their products. Most cards and other products only contain words.


TAF: I noticed that your cards, prints and stationery primarily only feature words. Is there a reason for this?

KK:  “This was deliberate.  There are two reasons for this.

    1. We wanted to honor the power of words we feature so that their true meaning is felt and heard. We felt that images would take away the focus on the words themselves. 

      Card: Magnificent. (Mag . nif. i. cent)      adj. exceptionally fine. Today was magnificent.

We often look at words and think we know the meaning. Isabel and I found that when we looked up several words that we were considering for cards, the definitions went so much deeper
than we thought.  We began to see the true meaning and saw that many would have a greater impact than we thought they would.  For instance, our Magnificent card, it reads “exceptionally fine. Today was magnificent.” Think about how much that definition could resonate and mean to the person who receives it.






2.  The second reason is that it allows the words inside, [your message/note] to have a greater impact. Your recipient can truly enjoy the sentiment and words that you are sharing.”


Kate added, “We are adding some illustrations to cards, but it’s done with intention.  The images are minimal and we feel they add to the sentiments vs. distract from them.”



TAF: What do you like most about your business?

IB: “There are honestly quite a few things that I love about our business, but I will start by saying that having the freedom to make decisions that suit our vision, our lifestyle, and our goals is one of the privileges that makes this journey of owning our business well worth it. Since we started this venture, we’ve each worn many hats as we’ve learned the ins and outs of operating a business. From designing, to marketing, to figuring out production and packaging, to planning events, it’s quite exciting although sometimes overwhelming to be constantly learning. While some decisions have led us to success and others have been more of a learning experience, we have been truly lucky to have found a community of small business owners that have been both supportive and inspiring in our journey.”


KK “Everything… I like going to work every day.  We’re learning as we go, and there’s a constant variety to what I do. Isabel and I also love meeting people like you [The Appreciation Factor], who appreciate what we’re doing, the cards/messages we’re creating, and that they share our passion for letter writing. There has also been a good enough response so far for us to keep going. I don’t see a reason for us to stop. Overall it’s made us happier in life.”


TAF: What tips would you give my followers about sending correspondence?

IB: “To get a letter, write a letter. Sometimes, it takes writing a couple to receive one in return, but there is nothing more rewarding than coming home to a handwritten note in the mailbox. Whether it comes from a friend, a family member, or a pen pal, there is something really magical about sharing your thoughts in writing. One of my pen pals is actually a really good friend of mine from college. She currently lives in Brooklyn and although we exchange text messages and phone calls occasionally, I feel like I have gotten to know her more deeply through her letters.  I have found that we’re able to connect in a different way. Perhaps it’s because of the state of mind we find ourselves while writing, but I know that there is extreme value in strengthening a friendship through the handwritten word.”


KK:  “I know that stepping out of our normal [using texts, emails, and social media to communicate] can be daunting, but I’d like to encourage you to let go of the pressure of doing something different. The fact that you took time out of your day to buy a card, sit down, and write, is a gift in of itself. Don’t worry about saying something profound. It’s okay to keep it simple and just let someone know that you are thinking of them. I bet you’ll surprise yourself. It’s your thoughtfulness, the hand-written message, and your presence through the card that will further connect you with those people.”


I simply love that Kate also sees the card as a gift in and of its self.  Truly, as I often say here, it’s the little things in life that can have the greatest impact.  I can’t recommended checking out Of Note Stationers highly enough. They offer seasonal cards and likely will have that card that will have you too saying – “YES! That’s exactly what I’ve always wanted to say.”  I also found these two lovely woman down to earth and just as kind as the sentiments that grace their products, especially after they so graciously agreed to an interview!  I suspect we’ll see these two in the stationery and correspondence industry for years to come.

Many thanks to Kate and Isabel for their time, kindness when I was a bit of a fan girl when I met them for the first time, and for their patience while I got this post written.  It’s true, this community of those who appreciate the handwritten letter and correspondence is strong and supportive. I feel so fortunate to be able to consider myself part of this “tribe.”

You can see more of Of Note Stationers line of products and can follow them at the addresses below! I really hope you’ll check them out!


Twitter: @ofnotestationer   (note No “s” at the end)



Do you have a go to card, stationery or company that thinks about appreciation that we do, which you’d like to see featured on The Appreciation Factor? Please let me know.

I’m always on the look out for people and companies who see value in showing gratitude and taking the time to write a handwritten note!

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Today is #GivingTuesday. Are You Supporting the Day that Was Established to Help “Bringing Back the True Meaning of the Holidays?”

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday (today), I wanted to refresh an older post on one of my favorite days of the year.  Giving Tuesday is 6 years strong today and looking at #socialmedia is growing in leaps and bounds.


For many, the holidays bring stress and pressure in not only finding the right gift, but how many gifts to give, what is the best price for said gifts, and of course long linesthe annual question on whether to shop or not to shop #BlackFriday.  And as you know, Black Friday has even creeps infringes on our time with family over the Thanksgiving holiday!



While all of these things may be seem important, why not stop and take the time to go back to what the holidays are really about, saying thanks and giving back.  Here at The Appreciation Factor, I’ve found a way you can do this — consider spreading the word and participating in #GivingTuesday2017.  This year, November 28th marks the sixth annual Giving Tuesday.

giving tuesdayHaven’t heard about it? What is Giving Tuesday?
Set on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 as a global, 24-hour giving challenge created by thought-leaders at the UN Foundation and the 92nd Street Y.



#Giving Tuesday’s focus was to bring back the original sentiments of the holiday season:

  • Generosity
  • Hope
  • Goodwill, and
  • Community


As per the Giving Tuesday organization:

#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.



If you’ve been following me/read other posts on this blog, you’ll agree that these are all things I can get my hands around.  It shows appreciation for more than just the retail side of things during the holiday season.

The concept gained steam with the help of founding partnerships with The United Nations Foundation, Donors ChooseMashableGlobal Giving, the Darden Restaurant GroupGroupon, and Unilever and several others.  There ongoing success is partly due to the assistance from renewing corporate sponsorships by Google, Microsoft, Skype, Cisco, UNICEF, and the Case Foundation.  This participation has helped the #GivingTuesday initiative raise millions of dollars for thousands of non-profits. – Wikipedia


Did you know? Americans give more to charitable organizations in dollars :$300B
When seen as a percentage of the GDP, 2.1% more than any other developed country

Source: Forbes 2014


There are many non-profit organizations participating/asking for your help on #GivingTuesday, maybe one of your favorites, and many more that truly need our help at this time of year.  Plus #GivingTuesday is a great alternative to the pressure to spend, spend, spend on gifts that may not make as much of an impact.

How Can You Participate?

The idea is simple.  Give to a non-profit organization of your choice Tuesday, November 28th.  BUT… don’t feel that the only way you can join in is to give financially.
Here are 3 ways you can make a difference:

    1. You can post an “Unselfie”   (You read that correctly.  It’s UNselfie not Selfie.)
  1. Still going strong in 2017, although many companies create their own, with their own humanitarian efforts and hashtags included.
    In 2013, #GivingTuesday supporters were encouraged to take a photo of themselves or something that represented their giving, upload it to their social media account of choice, and use the hashtags: #unselfie and #GivingTuesday. It was a resounding success and they’ve asked that we take on the Unselfie challenge again this year.

You can download your own Unselfie


2. Give of your time.  Pledge to give 10 mins or 10 hours of volunteer or your expertise to help further their efforts. Every little bit will help.

3.  Choose to make holiday purchases from retailers who give back. (Check to see if they donate a portion of their profits, have a company foundation that supports those in need, or even better, are they participating in Giving Tuesday?

You can of course also simply just spread the work and kindness through a random act of kindness (#ROAK) or publish a post on your social platforms, but I hope you’ll consider doing more.

So… What will you do?



MY PLEDGE (aka: Unselfie) FOR 2017

– Pledge to give 30 hours of volunteer time over the next 6 months

– Promote and buy more gifts/items from companies that give back

– Make a $100 donation to an organization or organisations that I feel passionate about.

– Promote #GivingTuesday through my social media profiles

Want more information/Want to get involved?

Learn More:



Don’t forget to post your #Unselfie or give (in the best way for you (time and talents are JUST AS IMPORTANT as financial support) to your favorite non-profit.
If your favorite doesn’t seem to be participating in #GivingTuesday, be sure to mention your #GivingTuesday participation along with your “donation” to help spread the word.

I’d love to hear your feedback, and how you may be participating in #GivingTuesday!

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An Appreciative Valentine’s or Any Day

So I’m sort of on the fence about Valentine’s Day. It could be due to the fact that I’m unattached at the moment and everyone else around me has someone special, but I don’t think my dislike of chocolate and roses, two main staples of this Hallmark holiday, helps.

Still when this holiday rolls around, I can’t help but be a little inspired by all of the craftiness heartsyou see in the blogosphere, not to mention the increase in popularity of  things to do for
“Galentine’s Day.”

(For those who may be confused: Galentine’s Day is the day where you celebrate your girlfriends. As per Parks & Recreation, where it’s said to have originated, it is celebrated on the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th.)


Appreciation – It Doesn’t Have to be Reserved for February

I love to show those I care about how much I appreciate them, and while I may not get on the whole Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day bandwagon – and neither should you if it’s not your thing – I thought perhaps I’d turn this into more a heart-themed appreciation post.

I’ve come across some great homemade ideas over the years.  So why not skip the card aisle this year and show your love and/or appreciation on February 13th OR February 14th (as we’ve become trained apt to do) or just do these at any time.  Just saying… break the mold once in a while.  Appreciation is a year-round thing. 🙂

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The Appreciation Factor’s Turns 5!


Today is the The Appreciation Factor’s 5th Anniversary!  

Wow! Who knew when I started this blog in 2012 that I would still be here 5 years later. Well….I’d hoped I’d still be here, but you know best intentions and all of that. Here we are, 80+ posts later.

When I started out, I knew that I wanted to create a blog about a topic I was passionate about, so it started with talking about the importance of writing Thank you notes. However, I wasn’t sure that there would be enough content around just writing about thank you notes and I decided to expand it to “sharing appreciation,” but truly it became the overarching topic of appreciation.  I also knew that to some degree I couldn’t worry about whether others disagreed with me or not.  As I’ve stated in the “about me” page, I primarily write to share my passion about appreciation and gratitude, but I also want to offer a point of view that you may not have considered, or tips to help you share your appreciation.

I’ve been really happy to find ways to expand on my “how to write”/”why write thank you notes” posts to cover Things I Appreciate, like Día de los Muertosfall, beach etiquette, my fitness quest (still going strong by the way!), New Jersey and many more. You may have also seen two posts where I was fortunate to partner with others.  The first as a guest blogger on The Cutie Life, and more recently where I featured etiquette coach, Janet Parnes.  Both were extremely rewarding and I’m in talks with other bloggers and professionals to do more!

Two other additions to the blog that have become favorites of mine are Thankful Thursdays where I curate stories and/or videos that I feel exemplify appreciation, have moved me, or talk about people making a difference; and the second where I write about showing appreciation, especially in the form of Random Acts of Kindness (ROAKs) and promoting Giving Tuesday.  Both I are causes anyone can do, and both help make the world a better place.
The Future

I hope to continue to share some fresh posts on the topics above, and come up with new ones. Part of the challenge fun about having a blog is that you can come up with new features, approaches or even a new direction.  I hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride as I go into my 5th year, as well as share my posts with others, on your blogs or via Social Media, or not… as I’m content to have you simply read and enjoy them.  I’m appreciative of all of my followers, and really at the end of the day, if I’ve made you think about something in a new way, or supported a viewpoint you already have, then I’ve already done what I’d hoped to do.


Content/Compensation Free:

One additional thing that I wanted to clarify.  At times I will promote a brand, site, product etc.  At this time, The Appreciation Factor is not written for financial gain. I write it to support my passion for all things appreciation and writing.  I am not paid, nor do I receive any products to talk about. Candidly I have considered this option and I’m not against this approach as I’ve thought about a post/partnering with a paper company or another service that promoted appreciation, gratitude and thanks yous, but to date, I have not.  Should this ever change, I will absolutely let you know, and be very clear about it in the post.
What this means: Unless I state otherwise, all opinions are mine and I’m not compensated for any links or clicks you make on The Appreciation Factor.  Feel free click without worry and the ability to see that related content on a separate tab. (A pet peeve of mine are posts that take me away from the content I’m reading just to sell me something. Perhaps that’s how one is “supposed to do it”, but it’s just not for me.) I hope this encourages you to click, read, and share to your heart’s content.


Please, please, please don’t hesitate to also share your ideas. While I’m always searching the internet and news for stories and topics, I may miss something. Let me know if you see something you think I should share or a topic I should cover. I love hearing from my followers.


Best wishes, and many thanks to each of you. Here’s to 5 more years! (Hey I can dream can’t I?)




How Will You Contribute/Share Your Kindness?

Friday, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. 

I’ve been looking forward to this day for almost a year, having just missed it last year. Not be deterred, I printed a reminder and put it in my new day timer right away.

I know this blog is about Appreciation first and foremost, but I’ve always felt that kindness can beget gratitude/appreciation, and that showing/expressing our gratitude can also trigger kindness. Kind of makes a nice circle don’t you think?


Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

World Kindness Day, was first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  This group’s primary objective is to “foster goodwill among the broad community – local, national, and international – by way of kindness and in so doing, create greater understanding and cooperation between all people and all nations throughout the world.”  (You may be familiar with one of the US delegates, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.)


All in all, it’s a day to inspire individuals to share kindness
and strive to create a kinder world.



What can I do?

On this day, I encourage you to show kindness to your friends, family, loved ones, colleagues and strangers.  Your act can be big or small. Really anything that shows your appreciation or kindness to another person will do.  I’ve been planning on what I’m going to do on the 13th for a while, but have put together a list of 12 things that may help inspire you to take part in this truly special day. (FYI: The tasks I’m going to do are those in Green.)  Here’s a list of actions you can take:

1. Write 5 Thank you notes to those who have made an impact on my life or have recently helped me  (You didn’t actually think I could forego my tried and true way to share my appreciation. These notes will also be more of the Just Because type vs. due to a recent interview or act of assistance.)  Like this idea, but need help writing one? Visit these 2 of my prior posts for tips:

PB Envelope & TY CardWriting a Memorable Personal Thank you note

Writing a Just Because Note

2.  Feed meters or pay for someone’s coffee. (I don’t drink coffee so the latter half of this is harder for me personally. I did do it once, though I did not stick around to see the recipient or if the barista simply drank it.)

3.  Make food and distribute to office mates or friends – It’s best to share with someone who knows and trusts you vs. a stranger. (Be sure to include the recipe!)

4.  Surprise someone in your network with a reference on LinkedIn.  You likely have many in your LI network or otherwise whom you could write a glowing recommendation.
So often it’s their request that prompts us to help, why not surprise her/him before they have to ask. (You can also offer to provide/write one even if you’re not on LinkedIn.)
Idea courtesy of
Jenn of Work Wonders Coaching.Jar of Hearts

5.  Put 25 – 50 paper hearts or smiley faces in a box/jar. On the back of each one, write something that is special about your lover or a good friend. Give her/him the box and tell her to pull out a heart or smiley face anytime she gets lonely or wants a pick me up.

6.  Have an Amazon account?  Did you know that you can donate money to your favorite US non-profit through Amazon Smile.  Amazon will donate 5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. I just set this up and it took less than a minute!

7.  Since World Kindness day is so close to Veteran’s Day – Send a special note to a veteran, soldier or wounded military personnel. If you don’t know any personally, here are two links to make a connection:

Write a letter to a deployed or wounded member of the military through Operation Gratitude. Soldiers say that’s the most meaningful part of care packages they receive.

On Facebook?  You can send your thanks to military members through Military Facebook pages.

8.  Say thank you to those that you see every day, but whom may not work “with” you.  Everyone is important from the office security guard and the person at the front desk to the mailroom clerk and cleaning staff.  Get to know their names and greet them by name. It also never hurts to say thanks for their services as you likely would have a completely different office without them. Plus we all like to feel that our efforts are appreciated.

9.  Looking for something on the Internet?  Instead of simply turning to that popular search site, use Goodsearch to search the internet, play games or answer survey questions.  50% of their ad revenue and/or 1 cent for every search is donated to charity.

10.  Printing some coupons before you go on a shopping spree? Print out a few extra (when you can) and bring them along.  You can surreptitiously leave them in the store for others to find, or hand out to a fellow customer who looks like they could use one for their purchases.

11.  Create some inspirational quotes or signs and place them around the office or in your colleagues’ work spaces.  You never know when someone may need that pick-me-up.

12.  Make an impact for those who need help by visiting Free Rice, a United Nations Food Program that donates rice to hungry people when you interact with the web site. 



It’s Good for You!

Now of course, while I want to promote World Kindness Day, I do believe that showing kindness deserves more than just one day to share or celebrate it. Kindness and gratitude should be shared as much as possible, all year-long.  Plus did you know that it’s been scientifically proven to be beneficial to do so?  A great reference I found was Amy Morin’s Forbes article about 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude.  Here are my top three from the article:

  • Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.
  • Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people…
  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends…


Will you celebrate World Kindness Day and help make the world a kinder place?
What ideas to you have to show your kindness, random or deliberate? Share them with me and my followers!

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Thankful Thursdays October 22nd Edition

Happy October everyone. Halloween is just around the corner (and so is Dia de los Muertos)! I love this month — fall has finally kicked in, the leaves are changing and everything seems to be ‘pumpkin’ flavored.  Plus the smell of burning leaves and wood stoves…… ahhhhhhh.

This month’s Thankful Thursday is a little different in that the first three ideas/pieces are taken from a great post by Katie Dupere that I found on Mashable. I loved her research (and compilation) about putting an appreciation twist to Halloween so much that I had to share some of it.  She listed six ideas and I shared three of them, but I have provided a link to her complete list too.  As each is a story in itself you’ll see why I needed to pass it along.  


Time to sit back and enjoy these five links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Thankful Thursdays September 24th Edition

Happy September everyone (and a goodbye, to the official end to summer – sigh…).  Today I have SIX great links to share with you as we transition into fall’s cooler and shorter days. 

Sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Thankful Thursdays August 27th Edition

Happy August everyone.  Today I have three great links to share with you that will help beat the heat and hopefully inspire you. For me these three really talk to empowerment when we provide and show our support/belief in others.

So sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Thankful Thursdays – July 16th Edition

Happy July everyone.  Today I have four great links to share with you that will help beat the heat and hopefully inspire you — several were passed along from friends and followers of my blog.

So sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Thankful Thursdays – June 24th Edition

As I post this latest Thankful Thursdays, we’ve just passed celebrated the first day of summer.  There were many times during our weekly snow storms when I couldn’t conceive of the arrival of summer, but I promise I will appreciate each and every day of it!  Thought it was apropos to share this on the first Thursday of summer. (Sorry though, no enlightening “summer” stories yet.)

Now a popular monthly feature, here are the latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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