Jessica Malone Cover

The concept of Lifestyle Design certainly predates the tiny house movement, but I see the two as very linked. Enter today’s guest, Jessica Malone, a lifestyle design coach who lives tiny herself. In the interview, we’ll talk about the difference between Decluttering versus Downsizing, life hacks for easy minimalism, and the mindset required to succeed.

In This Episode:

  • Clutter is more than just ‘stuff'
  • Minimalism vs Decluttering: Are they the same?
  • Tips for where to start and how to declutter
  • Focusing more on what you do want and less on what you don't
  • Should you build your tiny house yourself or have it built for you?

Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Jessica Malone

Jessica Malone

Jessica Malone is a lifestyle design coach who teaches high-achievers how to leverage their individuality to live the life they truly desire. She has used decluttering to downsize from a luxury apartment to owning her own home (a 12ft Sprinter van affectionately known as Big Pun). She has also quit her 9-to-5, hosted luxury conferences, and lost 40lbs. Now she’s helping people build a life overflowing with what they love. 





This Week's Sponsor:

Precision Temp Logo


PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house: running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper-quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable visit While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. That website again is coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.


More Photos:

Jessica's Vision Board

Decluttering your dresser

The couch in Big Pun


Side view of the closet

The kitchen

The kitchen during the day


Jessica Malone 0:00

We actually have not used our composting toilet once. We've just gone to gas stations then outside of a friend's house. So it's some of the amenities that you know come with a traditional home that I thought I had to have and I realized I actually didn't.

Ethan Waldman 0:18

Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 159 with Jessica Malone. The concept of lifestyle design certainly predates the tiny house movement, but I see the two as very linked. Enter today's guest, Jessica Malone, a lifestyle design coach who lives tiny herself. In the interview, we'll talk about the difference between decluttering versus downsizing life hacks for easy minimalism and the mindset required to succeed. I hope you stick around. I'd like to tell you about the sponsor of today's episode, PrecisionTemp. PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with in a tiny house, running out of hot water and heating your tiny house. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can help make living tiny easier and more comfortable visit While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. That website again is coupon code THLP for $100 off the TwinTemp Junior plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.

Alright, I am here with Jessica Malone. Jessica is a lifestyle design coach who teaches high achievers how to leverage their individuality to live the life they truly desire. She is use decluttering to downsize from a luxury apartment to owning her own home a 12 foot Sprinter van affectionately known as Big Pun. She has also quit her nine to five hosted luxury conferences and lost 40 pounds. Now she's helping people build a life overflowing with what they love. Jessica Malone, welcome to the show.

Jessica Malone 2:43

Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Ethan Waldman 2:45

You're very welcome. I was hoping we could just start. I kind of asked all my guests this, you know, tell me about your decluttering journey. You know, what sparked this for you? And you know, where were you? And where do you end up there. So

Jessica Malone 2:59

in the beginning, my journey started, I would say back in late 2016 2017, early 2017. And I was just in a rut, I was in a place where I was unhappy, generally with the life that I was living. You know, that was unhappiness with my job with my body with my just my wife, honestly. And I was looking for a solution. I had tried some different things, yoga, meditation, all this stuff, right? All the things that we hear about constantly. And I just didn't feel like anything was working, you know. So I finished the book on mindfulness, it was helpful. It did shift my mindset a little bit. But still, I just felt like something was missing. And Amazon actually recommended a book to me called a 21 day minimalism challenge. And I thought, you know, what the heck, I didn't know anything about minimalism. I was not following anyone in the minimalist community. But I just thought, What do I have to lose at this point. And I took that challenge. And it pretty much shifted everything for me. And I got so excited about it that I started blogging about it, talking about it. And over the years, it has grown from a blog about, you know, this personal journey to really helping people understand how letting go, can help them and help them live the life that they want to lead and really impact their journey wherever they may be. Awesome.

Ethan Waldman 4:27

So what was the what was the kind of content of the 21 day challenge was just focused on stuff?

Jessica Malone 4:35

No, so that's my actually my favorite part. I think that my journey would look so different if that had been the case. That book delved into different things that dealt into stuff, relationships, money, time, your job, your food, everything and so I think that's been the basis for how I speak about decluttering because generally we hear that word and we think, okay, you want me to toss out my stuff or you want me to organize my stuff. And I really looked at it as a deep look into clutter in every aspect of our life. You know, clutter shows up on our plate, it shows up in our thoughts, it shows up in our actions. And there's so many different ways that we can declutter outside of just handling our stuff. Yeah, it's,

Ethan Waldman 5:15

it almost seems a lot easier to deal with stuff. Because like, all you have to do is get rid of it exactly. When you're talking about like friends or relationships or thoughts like those are, those can be a lot harder to get rid of.

Jessica Malone 5:28

Absolutely. And that's kind of why I, I focus on the house when I'm working with people or talking to people about clutter, because it's tangible. It's easy, but at the same time, it's important that we just take that next step and say, Okay, I'm getting rid of this thing. But what does this thing really represent? I know, it's gonna take time to tackle the limiting belief that created this clutter. But I do need to understand what this quarter is truly linked to. Got it. So

Ethan Waldman 6:00

we've had, we've had Joshua Becker on the show somewhat recently. Yes. And, you know, he is very much I consider him to be a minimalist. He's into minimalism. You seem to be more focused on on decluttering. We've all I've also heard people talking about downsizing. I've heard the word right sizing. I'm curious, do you? Do you define these things differently? Like decluttering versus downsizing versus minimalism?

Jessica Malone 6:31

Usually, you know, it's interesting. That's an interesting question, because I haven't really thought about the term downsizing that much. But I do often compare decluttering and minimalism. And I would say that I live a very minimalist life. And that's how I ended up in a van. But I think that minimalism is about design choices and lifestyle. And decluttering is something that works really for everyone. You don't have to become a minimalist, because you choose to declutter, you know, you can let go of a few possessions, or you could let go of a ton of possessions and be someone who lives an extremely simplified life. So I think that decluttering and downsizing are probably most similar, because downsizing looks different for everyone, just like decluttering can vary for everyone.

Ethan Waldman 7:20

Interesting. So it's like decluttering and downsizing can lead to minimalism, but it doesn't necessarily have to.

Jessica Malone 7:29

Exactly, yeah, and I think you declutter or downsize with a particular goal in mind, I think with minimalism, it is a constant, ongoing journey, you know, it's like how do you know, when you have too little stuff where, you know, I could, I could downsize to one pair of shoes, or I can have three and feel like, there's still somewhere to go. So I think minimalism is this very long, lifelong kind of journey. And decluttering can be a tool that you use on your everyday got it.

Ethan Waldman 7:59

So many of our listeners are planning or dreaming of, of living in a tiny house, and probably will need to do quite a bit of decluttering to get from here to there. And you know, one thing that I tell people and advocate a lot is like, if you can't start building your tiny house right now, and you you want something to do something to move you towards that is is to start focusing on on your stuff. Because to go from a bigger home to a tiny home, you're gonna have to make some some hard choices. So I'm curious, you know, what, What tips do you have for listeners who are maybe starting this journey?

Jessica Malone 8:42

Yeah, I would say the biggest thing is focusing on holding on to the items that really represent the life you want to live. If you're interested in tiny living, whether that's a van or a tiny house, whatever the case might be, you probably have a very good picture of what you want your life to look like. So you know, sometimes there's this struggle of Should I let this go? Should I not and I think really honing in on the why behind your, your decision to move into this lifestyle helps to eliminate things quickly. You know, if I if I understand like, I want to travel more, even though I'm I'm I might still work a job or you know, your lifestyle varies, but if travel is these central focus, that's gonna eliminate a lot of the big bulky stuff, right, that's gonna eliminate maybe all the clothes that you have and you'll find it easier to pare down because you understand what you're trying to accomplish with the tiny living and with the lifestyle change that you're making.

Ethan Waldman 9:41

Nice any, any like hacks or tips to share?

Jessica Malone 9:46

Yeah, so usually I say if I haven't wanted in the last six months, then I would let it go. Now with the pandemic. You know, everyone's life is kind of in a tizzy but I really look at it as what I wear this every single All day, if I wouldn't wear something every day, like I love it that much, I would let it go. And some other tips specific to clothing, are looking at your clothes and any of those things where you feel like a sense of decisiveness. Turn the hangers the opposite direction from some of the other clothes that you have in your closet. So that way you can kind of track and see, is this something that I've used? You know, you can look up three months from now, is that hanger still turn the opposite direction? Or has it changed? And also packing things up? Pack it up, just to test it, put it out of sight, put it in a box? If you don't go looking for it, it's probably not something that you really need.

Ethan Waldman 10:40

Yeah. What do you say to the to the packrat? kind of person? That's like, Yeah, but what what if I need this? Like, I know, I haven't used it in six months, but like, I might need it someday.

Jessica Malone 10:51

Yeah. So I say play out the scenario. That's what I always do with myself. Like, let's say I get rid of this. Is it really impossible for me to get it again? Do I not have the means, right? Am I going to end up in a situation where there's not a convenience store or Walmart within driving distance? really walk through that entire scenario and test it in your mind? and be honest, you know, that's really helpful, too.

Ethan Waldman 11:19

Nice. Nice. Yeah, that's, that's a good, that's a good tip. And and again, for people who are going to live tiny, the decision eventually is going to be made for you when you go to move into that tiny house. So and you actually also live tiny, in a in a Sprinter van. Were there any items that you were holding on to that you realized you you had to let go when you moved into the van?

Jessica Malone 11:47

Yes. So my situation is interesting, because my dad is allowing me to store some stuff at his apartment, but I struggle with like letting go of a lot of my childhood things. Yeah, I like I actually brought my Nintendo 64 with me in the van. And I thought, you know what this is taking up space that I could really be using. And so it's mostly childhood memorabilia that I found myself holding on to, and I've tested it a little bit by saying, Okay, dad, hold on to this, I'm going to come back in a few months, I'm going to see if I really want to keep this and if not let it go. I think what was more interesting for us was some of the things like having a toilet that we thought we had to have. And we actually have not used our composting toilet once. We've just gone to gas stations, then outside of a friend's house. So it's some of the amenities that, you know, come with a traditional home that I thought I had to have. And I realized I actually didn't write.

Ethan Waldman 12:46

I'm curious if you can speak to. And I don't know that, that people who are already kind of into the tiny house lifestyle will see decluttering as kind of a negative thing or a bad thing. But, you know, what can you say about the idea that, that it's actually a positive thing like decluttering, and downsizing and minimalism? You know, it's not like, you can't have more, but that it actually

Jessica Malone 13:16

could be beneficial. I think, you know, I was listening to one of your episodes, and it was about the woman who has been living in the tiny life for like, 11 years. And something she said that really struck me was that by simplifying, she was able to give more time and energy to her life's work. And I think that that's stuck with me, because that's how I feel. And I think the way to look at it so that you don't feel like you're being ripped from your things is, what are you trying to what are you trying to align yourself with? What dreams what goals? You know, what part of yourself are you trying to reconnect with, because the time it takes to manage the stuff and store the stuff and clean the stuff, that's time that can really be spent doing introspective things, or just doing the things that you've always wanted to do? So I think that's how I had to reframe it. When I was first starting out. It's not that I'm giving away this, you know, cute purse or shoes that I love. It's, I'm letting this go because I want more time and energy for the things that really matter.

Ethan Waldman 14:20

Right? Yeah. So focusing less on what you don't want and more on what you do.

Jessica Malone 14:25


Ethan Waldman 14:27

So getting back to kind of the more practical side of things. Do you have kind of like an order that you recommend people go I know, like Marie Kondo, you know, has like a specific order of rooms to go through. What's your take on that?

Jessica Malone 14:45

Yeah, so I, I have gotten a little bit into Fung Shui, I would say dabble there. And something that they talk about in that in that realm is that every room of your home aligns to a different part of your life. So I don't have a method. As far as what order, you should go through the rooms, but I do think, start with your goal, right? So for a lot of people on this podcast, right, if you're shifting your lifestyle, the living room is going to be really important. The living room typically directly reflects how we're living our life. So again, if you're, you know, you're a year or two or more out from getting the tiny, tiny space, what have you done in your living room to create more opportunity for the things that you want to be doing? Most of us have couches and things that face the television. So we sit down, and everybody watches TV, we don't necessarily communicate. We don't necessarily play games, right? There's not why Knights happening or anything like that. So that's where I would say, you have to start with, What's your goal? What's the thing you're trying to accomplish? And then find the room that aligns with that particular goal?


Ethan Waldman 15:50

nice. So how has that played out for you in in your 12 foot Sprinter van?

Jessica Malone 15:57

It's worked out really well. We don't have rooms anymore. But it has it has been a great transition. You know, our, our foray into this was not not the result of being van life enthusiastic. So I hadn't really looked into van life that much. Both my fiance and I were looking to leave our jobs. And the question we had was, how do we leave our jobs and start businesses without feeling overwhelmed with expenses, and we started looking at our V's, and then we started looking at trailers, and then the van just made the most sense, because we didn't have to take on any debt to start that journey. But it's worked out really well. It's probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. But, of course, a huge adjustment from traditional living.

Ethan Waldman 16:44

Yeah. Have you lived the, like a more nomadic family for Have you kind of just been staying more, more stationary?

Jessica Malone 16:54

Um, it's mostly stationary. We haven't, we're still in our first year. Okay. So we were kind of getting our feet wet. And we had determined we wanted to build the trip around friends and family, so we just mostly parked outside of their houses. And then on the weekends, we might venture to a national park, go on a hike, do some of these more adventurous things. But we really didn't know, you know, what we were getting into. So we were just thinking, alright, let's dip our feet in let's test the waters. We, when we went to our first national park, I mean, we didn't know anything about BLM land, like we were so green, this was really more of a financial decision for us than anything else. And so it was little stuff like that, where we had to kind of figure out what are we even doing? And then, you know, over time, we got more comfortable.

Ethan Waldman 17:38

Nice. And so as you travel around, are you I mean, with COVID? It's probably difficult, but are you working with clients like helping them in their spaces.

Jessica Malone 17:48

So actually, so COVID created an interesting dilemma. I left my job in January of 2020. So I was just before the news broke of everything. And I had intended to work with people in their home. But with everything changing, I decided to go digital. So my program is actually just fully hosted on zoom, I meet with clients, and we I get to see their space over, you know, video. We work through the reflection exercises, and I walk them through the framework that I've created. But everything has been virtual to this point. I actually have my very first in person client coming up this month. But last year, it was 100%. Virtual. Wow. Wow. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 18:31

So did you did you build out your van yourself? Or did you buy a ready made one?

Jessica Malone 18:38

So we bought an empty van. But we did not build it out ourselves. We contemplated that. And I quickly realized that was not my calling. So we worked with a company called Phoenix school buses here in Texas. And they built it out for us Nice.

Ethan Waldman 18:53

Yeah. tools required to build a home will not make a minimalist, happy.

Jessica Malone 19:03

Not at all. And both I mean, my parents, I was living with my dad at the time my fiance was living in an apartment, but my dad lives in an apartment as well. So we're like, where would we even build this van? We have no garage, we have no space.

Ethan Waldman 19:15

Yeah, that's and that kind of brings up a point of like, yes, it's more expensive, you know, upfront to pay somebody else to convert the van or to build your home. But there's also a savings for you both in time and stress. And also like, again, all the tools that you would have to acquire to do this and then you'd have to figure out what to do with them. Right. And so it strikes me as almost like, rather than figuring out how to get rid of stuff, it's like you get rid of the stuff and then you have to figure out how to not acquire more.

Jessica Malone 19:52

Yes, and that was something you know, we were very emboldened by the YouTube videos. We watched a lot of videos once We made the decision. And everybody even, you know, people who were like 16. We're building out their own bands, right. So we thought we can do this. Of course, if the 16 year old can do it, we can do it. But I think there's a lot that you don't see a lot of times, and I get it, people glamorize everything on social media. But there's a lot that that you just don't see. And when we realized what it would really take, we thought, let's just have someone else do it.

Ethan Waldman 20:24

Yeah. How long out of curiosity that process take for them to do the build.

Jessica Malone 20:29

So they did it in I believe it was just three and a half months. We took it to them. I believe it was in February or March, and we had it back by May. That was a very quick process.

Ethan Waldman 20:41

Awesome. Yeah. That's also a huge benefit just of the time savings that you've you've retained from doing that.

Jessica Malone 20:49

Absolutely. And like I said, we, we kind of were doing so many things that once we left our jobs, and we're getting a vandal. So we realized, you know, we give this to someone else, that's time we can spend working on our business. So it was definitely beneficial. Yeah, yeah.

Ethan Waldman 21:05

I want to also touch back on the idea of, you know, decluttering, your mindset? What is I mean, what does that mean? And how do you? How do you start?

Jessica Malone 21:18

Sure. So I think you can start with the stuff it takes really asking questions about why, you know, an a really simple exercise is five why's asking, Why five times, you know, I have this thing, and I think I should get rid of it. Why? You know, what does it represent? Why does it exist in my space, you know, continuing that questioning strategy, until you get down to usually either if it's clutter, like a fear, or a limiting belief, that's what I find with most people, the things that we are struggling to let go, or the things that we've decided we need to let go of, they represent some type of fear or some type of limiting belief. And something I always share is that the way you hold a one part of your life is the way you clutter every part of your life. So if you can identify what that thing represents in your home, you can also identify what limiting belief is persistent across multiple parts of your life. And so that that piece of it is where the the mental decluttering comes in. And for some people, mental clutter is tasks, task lists. And that's also a very big piece of it. But a lot of it is, you know, those task lists exists because of our fear of not being enough or our fear of inadequacy. So if we can recognize some of those fears, or those beliefs, we can look at it other parts of our life and say, how is this being reflected in my work in my relationships, in my tasks, so on and so forth?

Ethan Waldman 22:48

Got it. Do you think the process of you know the physical decluttering? Like, does it in some way prepare you for that mental decluttering?

Jessica Malone 22:59

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, it's the again, because it's tangible, it's easy for you to see, but the more you practice, letting go of the thing, what you're really doing is practicing letting go of that belief. So you know, even in my own life, one of my big fears that came up a lot was not feeling like I was enough, and also not believing that my ideas, my desires were valid. So I let go of the things that represented all the other voices in my head, I curated a space that really reflected who I was and what I wanted. And over the years, because it did take some time for me to actually leave my job. But over the years, I gained enough confidence to say, Alright, I feel like I can do this, I feel like my needs are valid, I feel like, you know, I am worthy. And something that is a reflection of not being enough is this job, I took this job because of you know, familial pressure, societal pressure, whatever the case might be. And I've practiced enough now to be confident to say, I want to leave, I want to I want to do something different.

Ethan Waldman 24:03

Nice. Well, what was your field of work before you started your own business?

Jessica Malone 24:08

No, I was in Telecom, first in sales, and then in sales training. Okay. Yeah, so sales is a very stressful and roller coaster, and I, it was just not the place for me. sales training was the highlight of my corporate career. And it prepared me for coaching and that and again, that was a part of my decluttering journey. When I when I looked into my space, and I looked at the non clutter, the stuff that I wanted to keep this constant pattern came up of wanting to talk I love talking and, and teaching. And so I started thinking about my job and thinking, Okay, I'm not ready to just jump ship. I'm not ready to just become an entrepreneur yet, but I really have a knack for this coaching training thing. Where can I take that skill? And how can I leverage that and learn more about it in the work or in the realm I'm in right now. Nice. And

Ethan Waldman 25:04

I'm curious about your your the conferences that you've hosted. Has that been? In your that's after your corporate career?

Jessica Malone 25:13

That was during actually. Okay. Yeah. So we have two conferences 2018 2019, then we postponed 2020. But yeah, that was during my corporate. My time in corporate, I started that. Like I mentioned, my journey started in 2017 with decluttering. So I, I, I found myself having time to finally explore. And I really always wanted to host like a vision board kind of conference. And that's what it started out as. And then it grew into something more, where we focused on setting our goals and our intentions, building the vision for our lives, and then talking about the plans and how to build it. And so we're planning to bring it back this year. And I'm really excited about that. Nice, nice. Yeah. Well,

Ethan Waldman 26:02

I believe you, you have, like a free gift or a download for the audience. Yes. Tell, tell us about it.

Jessica Malone 26:09

Yeah. So on my website, I have a free kind of checklist, if you will, to help you start your decluttering journey. So it walks you through a few different rooms, five rooms that you can select, again, based on the goals that you want to accomplish, walk you through how to begin that process, what to think about as you're decluttering. And then where to take that journey as you think about the lessons that you've learned and, and how you want to use them to make changes in your life. So nice. It's a quick little guide and get you a quick win right out of the gate. Awesome. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 26:44

Where can people find that?

Jessica Malone 26:46

Yeah, so it's at nachoaveragefrocom. And it's right that you can't miss it. As soon as you go to the website. And that's

Ethan Waldman 26:53

spelled Nacho like as in like, Nacho,

Unknown Speaker 26:58

yes, N A CH, O. And then average, A V E R A G E F R O

Ethan Waldman 27:05

where did the name come from?

Jessica Malone 27:07

So before Nacho Average Fro, there was Tex Mex Jess that was my first foray into what I want to do with my life. I started a food blog about Tex Mex. And it really never even became a blog. It was more of like just an Instagram page. But I just I love Tex Mex food, I love nachos, tacos, burritos, all of the above. And so but I also put on a lot of weight doing that. And so once I decided I wanted to make a shift, I started talking about minimalism, and decluttering and all this stuff. And I wanted to keep the essence of, you know, the text next guest but also discuss this new life that I was building and walking on my own path and not sure I wish bro was born.

Ethan Waldman 27:49


Yeah. Well, one thing that I like to ask all my guests is what are two or three books or resources that you recommend? Around decluttering

Jessica Malone 28:02

slash minimalism? Sure, absolutely. So the 21 day minimalism challenge. I'm blanking on the author's name right now. But it's an audio book, it's got a frog on the front, so I can get you that information for the show notes. But that was a great challenge. I absolutely loved that challenge. And then I also really love your money or your life. It is a focus on managing your finances, but it takes the approach of simplification. And that's, that's a great book to read. And then I'm trying to think of another other decluttering book I read. I think those would be the big two I read. I don't read many books from other people because I don't want to steal their ideas.

Ethan Waldman 28:49

That's actually a good idea. To not read because

I would imagine that it's

not that it's hard to come up with your own ideas in the space, but there are, you know, it is the kind of thing that you pick up tips from from other people. And then you want to incorporate that into what you do.

Jessica Malone 29:09

Yeah, exactly. The same thing. I maintain my own voice.

Ethan Waldman 29:13

Yeah, same thing happens in the tiny house world. And yeah, it's all good. Awesome. Well, Jessica Malone. I really appreciate having you on the show today. And I hope that our listeners, head over to your website and and check out that that downsizing checklist.

Jessica Malone 29:31

Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 29:35

Thank you so much to Jessica Malone for being on the show today. You can find the show notes, including a full transcript and links to the books that Jessica mentioned, as well as a link to that free downsizing checklist at the tiny house dotnet slash 159. Again, that's the tiny house dotnet slash 159. Thank you so much to today's sponsor precision temp. Be sure to check them out at Precision and use the coupon code th LP for $100 off your order plus free shipping. Well, that's all for this week. I am your host, Ethan Waldman and I'll be back next week with another episode of the tiny house lifestyle podcast.

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