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What do you want?


Something drew me to my blog today. Perhaps it was procrastination. I’d like to think it was something far greater. Perhaps an inner stirring that I could no longer ignore. Or maybe a need to come home to a place where I feel free to explore, share and engage. The one thing I do know is that today I have a need to re-connect with my blog, my writing, with all you special people who take the time to read what I share and most importantly I need to connect with myself and what I want for me.

As I clicked on the quick link I have set-up on my browser toolbar it dawned on me that it had been a while since I have been here. My last post was written almost a year ago. I was surprised. Where has this year gone?

I also discovered that I had received some comments on previous blog postings that I had somehow missed. One of these in particular deserved a response. The comment was in relation to my post Into the future. It was written by Meliko (Melanie Wood) back in November 2010 and it read:

It’s a year later. What did you decide to do? Did you take the study route? Or are you still deciding…?

I am now, one year later, in your very shoes.

What did I decide? What has happened in this last year? Am I any different? Have I made a difference of any kind? More importantly am I any closer to being able to be who I really want to be?

Before I respond to Melanie’s, and my own questions, I wanted to share something else that happened to me this morning. My mentor, a wonderful Wellington artist named Fleur Wickes, posted on Facebook a link to a TED talk by Caroline Casey. As I watched and listened I could feel the turbulence of emotional stirring and connection to what I was hearing. The tears flowed freely. Only last night I had been discussing with Fleur during a mentoring session my new project which is directly linked to living with a disability. Then this morning I had made some decisions about how I was going to progress this even further. Various bits and pieces started falling into place only I have no idea how I was going to make this all a reality.

After watching this talk I am more convinced than ever that I am meant to pursue the path I am currently on. The synchronicity of the universe never disappoints. As Caroline says in her powerful talk:

When you make a decision at the right place, at the right time, the universe makes it happen for you.

I want to believe this with my whole heart.

I believe that many of us live with an unrecognised disability – one where we struggle to believe in ourselves and where we actively stop ourselves from doing what we want because we convince ourselves that its not possible for one reason or another.

Let’s change this.

We can do this.

As Caroline says at the end of her talk:

I have learned, you know what, cars and motorbikes and elephants, that’s not freedom. Being absolutely true to yourself, is freedom. And I never needed eyes to see – never. I simply needed vision and belief. And if you truly believe – and I mean believe from the bottom of your heart – you can make change happen. And we need to make it happen, because every single one of us – woman, man, gay, straight, disabled, perfect, normal, whatever – everyone of us must be the very best of ourselves. I no longer want anybody to be invisible. We all have to be included. And stop with the labels, the limiting – losing of labels. Because we are not jam jars; we are extraordinary, different, wonderful people.

So here’s what I’ve been up to. This is my ongoing attempt to be the very best I can be and to bring about the changes I desire in my life.

Since I last wrote here I have exhibited six of my photos in an exhibition. I am continuing to pursue photography and a number of other art forms that I love. I took the plunge and applied for the Masters in Arts Therapy programme. I was offered one of the five places available and was supposed to start the programme in July last year. However, I deferred my start until February this year so I could take a long planned five week trip to the UK to be with my daughter. My programme of study requires me to travel to Auckland once a month for an intensive face-to-face seminar weekend. The rest of the study programme occurs at distance. Time management and being organised have become an absolute priority in my life.

Not only am I studying full-time but I am also still working full-time. At the same time as I began my masters programme I was experiencing a review and re-structure of my day job. My job was dis-established and I ended up applying for another position in the new team. I was successful with this application and now I have a new job as well that requires me to put together a new team that I will be managing as we try to deliver a rather large programme of work.

To tell you the truth I don’t know how I am going to manage everything because I still have a lot of other personal responsibilities in relation to caring for my son and my ageing parents. Yet, slowly but surely, bit by bit, I get things done. I tick items off the lists that adorn my study walls and I keep thinking about the vision. I believe it will all work out because I know I am working towards the ultimate goal of doing what I want to be doing. I have no idea what that looks like exactly and that doesn’t matter. I do know how it feels. I am scared – and excited – and I question my sanity and my decisions. This is all part of the process. My life and study commitments mean that I live in a somewhat bizarre permanent juggling act. This is who I am. This is what I want. This is my life and it has been this way for a long time. I have to keep pushing to make my life what I want it to be. This involves determination and action. Nothing will happen if I sit around waiting for it or wishing for it. I have to do something.

It feels right.

May my life continue to be blessed so I can continue working  towards becoming the best I can be. That old self-critic needs to be put in its place. Marica knows what she wants. She is working on bringing life to her vision.


One of the lessons I have learnt over the years is to stop expecting – it saves a lot of heartache.

You know the typical scenario – you expect something to happen, or someone to do something, and things don’t turn out even remotely as you were hoping. The resultant disappointment leads to all sorts of feelings, and even actions, that tend to make matters worse. We become angry and frustrated. We feel let down. Yet this is all of our own making.

If you don’t expect anything you learn to accept whatever unfolds. When you stop judging you open yourself up to what is instead of what could be. This is a far happier place to be and can be full of wonderful surprises.

I was reminded of all this when I heard Jake Shimabukuro say in his TEDxTokyo presentation:

One of the things I love about being a ukulele player is that no matter where I go in the world to play, the audience has such low expectations. [This is] a huge plus for sure.

What this man can do with a four stringed instrument is remarkable. He is definitely worth listening to. I was moved and inspired by Jake’s passion and skill. Pre-judging anyone or anything rarely leads you down the path you think it will.

Into the future

Marica taking photos November 2009

I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates. — T.S. Eliot

I am trying to make a decision at the moment about my future – a change of direction which will involve more study but get me closer to my passion, to where I’ve always wanted to be.

The problem is if I follow this path I won’t necessarily be better off financially – in fact, in many respects I’ll probably take quite a dive in salary unless I am very creative about how I utilise my newly acquired skills in conjunction with my current skills.

“There must be a way to make this work – there must be,” I keep telling myself.

In many respects by going forwards I will be going backwards. Or is it that I am going back to the point where I had to make a decision to go down a different path because of circumstances at that time and now it is time to re-visit what it was I really wanted to be doing. However, it is hard to let go of what you’ve worked so hard for to go back to having a lot less – but less of what? Why am I letting the dollar rule me so?

As I continue to weigh up the pros and cons of whether I am going to apply for what I am thinking about doing I have realised that my decision making process is taking place within the mindset that time is running out for me. I think I’m too old – too old to take a risk, to make a change, to follow my heart and see where it leads me. I need to trust and believe that it will all work out but a huge part of me is scared.

“I don’t have many years left.” Well, that’s what I’m telling myself. I see all around me the attitudes of younger people to older people, and by “older” I am talking about anyone in their 50s upwards. There is an intolerance that really makes me uneasy. It is the assumption that we are ‘old’, past our use-by date somehow and not up with the times – to be tolerated but not considered. Sadly, I am taking these messages on-board and allowing them to put pressure on myself.

“Just keep going as you are and let your dreams go. Make new dreams.” I keep telling myself.

“Why should I?” says another part of me – the part of me I love, the feisty get up and go me. “I want something different. It won’t come to me – I have to make it happen.”

“You have responsibilities Marica. Remember you started late, you still have a lot of catching up to do,” says that omnipresent nagging voice.

This backwards and forwards rhetoric is driving me crazy. I want to do the right thing but what is the right thing. I want more time in my day to do everything I want to do. How do I make it work? What am I going to do?

A Facebook friend posted this fantastic video today. It reminded me that there is still a lot of life left in me – a lot of life to be lived. Why am I limiting my thinking so? I want to be drumming at 91 so here goes … watch this space!

Third time lucky


Back in 2007, and then again last year, I attempted to complete a project where I took a photo a day for a year,  post it to my blog and write a short reflection. I referred to this as Project 365. I failed in both these attempts to achieve this goal even though I have taken thousands of photos during this time. Somehow I couldn’t maintain the discipline of completing the daily tasks I set myself because I allowed everything else to take priority. I didn’t acknowledge what was important to me and I let this task slide to bottom of the ‘To Do’ list. This meant as the days and months passed I got further and further behind and then it reached a point where I thought I couldn’t pick it up again – so I didn’t.

During the intervening days and months I’ve missed not having this focus in my day. Project 365 taught me a lot about myself and my world in a most unique way. I loved being in this process. I loved learning to see and making the time to reflect regularly. For me it is not about what I produce as much as it is about the learning experiences along the way.

Over this past winter I’ve had an increasing desire to give this project another go – yes, a third attempt (I am definitely persistent). I set my sights on beginning this new project on the first day of spring and as the 1st of September loomed ever closer the doubts started to nag away at me. Could I do it? Would I fail again? Will I have what it takes to commit time for me every day?

I discussed all this with my husband and he came up with a great idea – “I’ll do it with you. That way we can encourage each other.”

This idea really excited me. Over the years we have supported each other in so many projects, both work related and personal, yet this would be the first time we publicly did something together. So Fresh New Day was born.


We have been going now for 75 days – a photo with a reflection from each of us.

We have even started a Fresh New Day Facebook page – so far we have 144 friends on there. You can also find us on Twitter.

Please pay us a visit and let us know what you think.

Do you have a moment?

Moments change lives – sometimes irrevocably, sometimes momentarily, all too often unnoticed. If we stop and think about it we’d say that our lives were full of moments. We could possibly even list the significant ones, but what about all the others, all the moments like a look, a smile, a touch, a reflection … the ordinary and every day that brings life to our lives.

Some moments are so important we make an effort to document them in some way. Others become imprinted and stored in our memories ready to surface whenever we want to refer to them. Moments are about our emotional and sensory connections with people and things – and they matter. Without them we would go through our days as robots and nothing would touch our hearts or souls.

As I watched this Radio Lab video, Moments by Will Hoffman, I saw moments from my life flash before me – a different time, a different place, different person or people, yet I identified with the moment being communicated.The newborn baby made me think of: the birth of my own children and welcoming each of my children to our world for the very first time, the priviledge of being at the birth of all three of my youngest sister’s children, and the birth of my sister’s first grandchild who was born prematurely. This is only one example based on one image in this video.

Our ability to be aware of and notice moments is all about the joy of being human.  Enjoy these moments.

Generational nostalgia

Bear with me as I go back in time and remember.

I was a young girl in the 1960s – yes, its true – and yet there are so many memories of people and events that happened during that time that are ingrained in my being even if I didn’t understand them and their effects until many years later. There was, for example: John F. Kennedy elected as President of the United States and assassinated a few years later, the Vietnam War, protest marches, Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech and assassinated, Nelson Mandela jailed for life, apartheid, Woodstock, the hippie movement, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Apollo 11 and the landing of the first man on the moon, Che Guevara, and in New Zealand television transmission began. Then there was the personal stuff like my youngest sister being born, the only grandfather I was ever lucky enough to be able to get to know died, and the only grandmother I ever knew left us to go back and live in Croatia. The 1960s were big years for the whole world, and for me personally.

In amongst all this there was also Peter, Paul and Mary. Oh how I remember them.

Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers made their debut in 1961 at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. On the strength of this performance, they were signed to a recording contract with Warner Brothers. Released in May 1962, their first eponymously titled album included their rendition of Pete Seeger’s song, “If I Had a Hammer,” a hit that was the first record to bring protest music to a mainstream audience. Eighteen months later their version of “Blowin’ in the Wind” became a hit, and the first commercially successful recording of a song written by Bob Dylan.

As their fame grew, Peter, Paul and Mary mixed music with political and social activism. In 1963 the trio marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and Washington, D.C. The three participated in countless demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. And they sang at the 1969 March on Washington, which Mr. Yarrow helped to organize.

Source: Peter, Paul and Mary, New York Times , Times Topics, 18 September 2009

This week my daughters, and many in their generation, were saddened to hear of the death of Patrick Swayze while my attention was focused on the news of the death of Mary Travers.

“Mary who?” many would say. When you start to list the songs it becomes a different situation, you can see the lights come on.

As I read about Mary’s life in the New York Times tribute it was interesting to read about Peter, Paul and Mary’s political messages in their music being considered risky for a group courting a mass audience. If we think of what they did in today’s terms risky would not be a word that even entered our mindset. Yet even today their messages ring true. They are as powerful as they ever were. Only last year I saw a video promoting Obama’s messages set to “If I had a hammer”. Mary Travers was committed to supporting the civil-rights and antiwar movements in her lifetime. I admire her passion, her determination to live true to her beliefs and values, and her beautiful voice.

I’ve had a great sing-a-long this morning as I have gone on this visit down memory lane. I hope you enjoy the memories too.

We have come through incredible, transformational times and grown as a result. Not all of the changes have been good. I am choosing not to focus on these at the moment.  Let’s remember how people that have gone before us have helped shape the lives we live today. We are better because of them in some way no matter how small.

Thank you Mary.

And in honour of my girls and those special times we shared as we sat together watching “Dirty Dancing”, thank you Patrick.

It was late. We were driving home after an evening out. I was starring blankly out the car window when a light caught the corner of my eye. It quickly received my immediate attention.

“What is that?” I kept thinking silently.

As we drove closer this light took on a new form.

“Where did that rabbit come from?” I asked my husband who was driving the car.

Filming Shadow Puppets Commercial, Wellington, NZ

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDTtP-eg1ek. I wonder if we are any of those red dots?

My husband looked perplexed but not surprised. This is us after all. Asking each other weird unexpected questions is fairly normal.

Thankfully his eyes were not wandering where they shouldn’t have been; they were on the road ahead. Sadly this meant he was completely unaware of this huge rabbit illuminated on the side of a building on the street we were driving down.

I became enthralled by this incredibly cute rabbit and what it was doing. I thought about one of my work colleagues who has two pet rabbits, Lola and Theo, and I wished she was here to share this moment.

The rabbit in the Shdow Puppets commercial filmed in Wellington, NZ

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDTtP-eg1ek

I kept watching.  I couldn’t understand why I had never noticed this rabbit before. “How could I have missed this?” I asked myself.

As we drove down the street the rabbit grew bigger and bigger. This was fun. I then noticed  lots of people gathered at street level by the wall of the building that the rabbit was illuminated on. Part of the road was blocked.  There were also signs up and lots of heavy duty lighting equipment in use. I also became aware of the sound of a helicopter and everything suddenly fell into place.

“They’re filming something!”  I said out loud; having film crews in our midst is something Wellingtonians have grown accustomed to over the years.

“I wonder what they’re filming?” was my last thought about this whole experience, that is until earlier this week when I read an item at work that appeared in our staff daily notices.

It turns out that the rabbit was a part of an international film shoot for two commercials promoting a US cellphone network. These commercials are now screening on US television. The best part is that the production contracted approximately 420 local residents as a part of the filming. Oh, how I wish I had been one of them. Even the cold, wet weather wouldn’t have taken away the fun of what they were doing.

Thanks to YouTube we can all enjoy the magic created here in Wellington on those two days and three nights back in June. I love the creativity and the energy of these commercials. I also love that our City Council supports this kind of creativity instead of stifling it.

The rabbit has unfortunately gone as have the tentacles, bubbles, fish, jellyfish and all the sounds of joy and busyness that this film shoot created. I feel excited that this was momentarily a part of my life. Thanks to my memories I am able to connect the dots, make sense of what I saw, and smile at the joy of what was produced. Our quiet drive home was actually so much more than even I realised.

We live in the most extraordinary city.

I love lazy Saturday afternoons and today has been exactly that. I so needed this time out.

I have no other words except to say turn up the sound, sit back and enjoy. Thanks Patti for this one. I also love, love love it.

Inventing self

A reflective moment, January 2009

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings, 1955

Time stands still for no one. It keeps marching forwards and we are forced along with it either happily, or kicking and screaming like a petulant toddler, or completely oblivious. We often will time to go faster, or to slow down, thinking this will somehow make a difference. We do everything we can to capture moments in time. Our memories and the associated memorabilia we collect help to ensure we remember what took place so that it’s not lost forever. Human beings have even come up with a totally arbitrary way of measuring time. We allow time to rule our lives.

Meanwhile, no matter what we humans do, the earth keeps spinning on its axis ever faithfully and reliably. Along the way it may pick up a few extra seconds but in the overall scheme of things time with its unfailing progression is a given. We are increasingly more and more pre-occupied with time and how we manage time  in our daily lives.

Most people accept the notion that things will change with time. This is invariably linked to the concept of progress. For example, when we look at old photos of ourselves we often laugh at the way we may have dressed but we nevertheless accept that things were different then to now.  Yet a big part of us is so change averse, especially when it comes to changing ourselves.

For me the weekdays blur into the weekends. I don’t want it to be like this – only it is. On Friday evenings I am always exhausted while at the same time I feel relieved and excited. I have plans in my mind of what I am going to do with my two days off.  I want to catch-up with my family and friends, blog, take photos, write, study, create, plot and scheme, go for walks, spend quality time with my husband and son. Most of all I want to get in touch with myself and work on my future because this is what keeps me going – the dream that things will change, that I will change and be able to live the life I want for myself. I wholeheartedly believe I can achieve all this in a weekend on top of all the routine things that have to be done like cleaning, washing, ironing, gardening, shopping and a multitude of other things as well.

The reality is that in the blink of an eye the weekly cycle begins again. Before I know it it is Sunday night and I find myself reflecting on all the things I haven’t achieved over the preceding few days. I always feel dissatisfied no matter what I did manage  to get done because it rarely nurtures me deep within. All too easily my priorities become clouded by competing demands and other people’s priorities and invariably I feel bad about this.

Changing ourselves always sounds so easy, and in theory it is. In practice, there are factors at play that often stop us from doing what we want to. It takes a huge amount of time and energy and we can find ourselves asking, “Is it worth it?” Changing ourselves can be a daunting task but this process can begin by doing only one small thing. A beginning is better than never doing anything.

This morning for the first time in ages I woke up determined to spend some time doing what I love – exploring, learning and reflecting.  As part of this process I watched a TED talk by Sarah Jones where she talks about her interest in invention of self or selves.

We’re all born into certain circumstances with particular physical traits, unique developmental experiences, geographical and historical contexts, but then what?

To what extent do we self-construct, do we self-invent? How do we self identify and how mutable is that identity? Like what if one could be anyone at any time.

Be kind to yourself and enjoy the you that you are at this moment. If you don’t like who that is do something about it. If you can’t do it alone get some help. The control does lie with you. The obstacles are merely there to test you, to see how much being authentic really matters to you.

Ask yourself:

  • How committed am I to myself?
  • How much do I want to work on myself and maybe self-invent me?
  • Does being authentic (true to myself) matter to me?
  • Is there some small change I can make at this very moment?
  • Am I ready to get involved in creating a personally significant and meaningful invention?

I’d like to finish with the quote that I used to start off this post. It is one of the most powerful quotes I have read in a very long time. Take a moment to read it slowly and think about how this applies to you.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings, 1955

You are a prize worth fighting for.

I am a prize worth fighting for.

This is a journey worth investing in.

H, He, Li, Be, B

Periodic table

Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium and Boron…

I found myself singing the elements of the periodic table. In a flash it all came back to me: learning the periodic table at school, studying chemistry, completing a science degree majoring in chemistry, teaching chemistry and science. I thought this stuff was lost forever. After all, when in my life have I ever had to use any of it?

My youngest daughter Mira (who was home for the weekend) walked into the room as I was singing away. She looked at me and said, “You’re still a science geek at heart aren’t you?”

“No”, I replied rather emphatically. My response came out so quickly that even I was surprised. Then, after a second or two I added, “I am interested in the science of life and living.”

It dawned on me how contradictory my response was. Life and living are all about chemistry, only we don’t ever think about it in that way.

The chorus of a favourite song (introduced to me by my wonderful husband) popped into my mind.

Cause we’re all just-
Protons, Neutrons, Electrons
That rest on a Sunday
Work on a Monday and someday soon
We’ll be singing the old tunes
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-doo
I’ll be sitting on the porch with you
Then I’ll die and I’ll
Fly off into the blue!

Protons, Neutrons, Electrons by The Cat Empire

All these thoughts were sparked by reading a post about an interactive periodic table. I was surprised how this really excited me. As I clicked away all I could think about was how I wished I had a tool like this available to me when I was learning and teaching chemistry and science. Then I discovered the periodic table of videos. My mind was racing with possibilities. I found myself planning learning activities and then I remembered, those days were over for me! These days I very rarely get the joy of trying to create an exciting learning opportunity for others so I search them out for myself.

Even though we have made huge inroads in the way we deliver and think about mainstream education and workplace learning it still feels like we have a long way to go. Resistance to change appears to be the ‘normal’ human condition. Creativity is still not valued. Many traditional perceptions of learning and education have not moved with the times. Reversing this situation has to be a priority.  Keep what’s working, throw out what isn’t, be creative and experiment (you see, the scientist is in there) to discover better ways of doing things. By doing this you will keep the learning process alive and dynamic for yourself and others. Be excited by all the possibilities; we live in exciting times where things that weren’t even possible a month ago may be possible today. Express yourself in different wys. Discover your hidden talents and don’t be afraid to use them.

Back in 2006 Sir Ken Robinson gave a thought provoking TED talk where he highlighted how creativity is not being nurtured in education. Instead, he says it is being undermined. I believe this situation is even worse outside of the education system. How many of us have an opportunity to be creative in our jobs? How many of us are encouraged to try to do things that are a bit different? How many of us even feel we are creative or feel comfortable doing something creative? I hear over and over again adults saying to me, “I am not creative!”

I heard a great story recently, I love telling it, of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson, she was 6 and she was at the back, drawing, and the teacher said this little girl hardly paid attention, and in this drawing lesson she did. The teacher was fascinated and she went over to her and she said, “What are you drawing?” and the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will in a minute.”

… kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. Am I right? They’re not frightened of being wrong.

Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.

And we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.

And the result is, we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

Picasso once said this, he said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it. So why is this?

Source: TED talk, Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

The latest Air New Zealand in-flight safety video is a great example of creativity to get people to pay attention and learn what they will need to do in the event of an emergency on their flight. I have sat through many of these safety instructions over the years and paid minimal attention to them just like most of the other passengers. As Skinny comments, this new safety presentation of the same old message has had quite an impact on passengers; no longer are passengers not paying attention, instead they are counting the rows to the nearest emergency exit.

Firstly there’s a huge thankyou to the flight crew that painted their bodies and appeared naked for the Air New Zealand video safety message. It is absolutely brilliant and a better-than-perfect way at instructing passengers on the safety measures and procedures on board the aircraft.

Many times in the past I would slump in my seat and never even glance at the monitors while the video droned on about following the lights to the exit, or adopting the brace position.

Today when the video played I swear to God nearly everyone was watching that screen. It wasn’t just because the staff were naked (that was part of it I’m sure) -but it was more that they kept your attention and gave you everything you needed to know with good humour and good grace, and with a wry smile.

I even saw people turn and actually count the rows of seats to their nearest exit. That’s a stunning success.

Source: http://www.skinny.co.nz/#ixzz0MEUO70cS

Opportunities to do something different are everywhere. Actually, what better time than during a recession to look at everything we do with different eyes. This is about the way we choose to live and work. It is about our willingness to learn. To try something different. To accept if it doesn’t work and try doing it another way. We can make changes. We can engage our creativity. The challenge is to take action and not just talk about it and think about it.

No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it.
We need to see the world anew.
Albert Einstein

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