Permission to Sleep

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

Ernest Hemingway

“Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. When sleep is deficient, there is sickness and disease. And when sleep is abundant, there is vitality and health.”

Matthew Walker, New York Times bestselling author of Why We Sleep

Its difficult to be creative when you are exhausted and overworked. My work is always at its most mediocre when I’m sleep deprived. The same goes for decision-making. It’s far easier to make careless choices when your mind and body are on the back-burner

All-nighters and weekend warrior sprints might get the work done, but the question is, is the work any good? Could the work have been better if we were well-rested?

I wonder if sleep exists merely because otherwise we would either overwork or indulge ourselves into an early grave. Instead, sleep gives us a required break, a hard reboot that has clear (and some unclear) ramifications if we ignore it.

Sleep is a great way to reset our mindset and emotions too. Sleep washes away feels of frustration and anger. We talk of time healing all wounds but I think perhaps sleep is the one doing the healing work, or at least gets the party started.

When in doubt, go to sleep.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #735


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I Need a Tune Up

“Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t find who it’s originally attributed to, but there’s a great quote from the show Justified where the protagonist, Rayland, is bringing in a drug dealer or something and says “If you run into an *sshole in the morning, you ran into an *sshole. If you run into *ssholes all day, you’re the *sshole.”

Personally, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a bad or discouraging mood, every little things seems to be against me. I wake up late, feeling tired. Everyone I come into contact is in a bad mood. My car is out of gas. There’s construction and traffic on my way to work. I trip and rip my pants.

The real problem isn’t the traffic, the problem is me. (It’s not you, it’s me.) And more specifically its my mental state.

When I’m feeling great mentally, everything is great! Traffic seems much lighter today than normal! Wow, I’m literally getting all green lights. Who cares that I tripped and ripped my pants. It was time to get new ones anyway.

I wonder if our mindset works on the same wavelength of music frequency.

We tune instruments, such as a guitar or piano, to be in tune to a particular harmony. Does ‘tuning’ our minds to a more optimistic mindset create more harmony in our lives?

It’s more likely that having an optimistic view of our life, in good or bad circumstances, changes how we perceive what happens to us. So when setbacks happen, our optimistic mindset become a mental firewall to self-criticism and despair, which makes us more resilient to negative circumstances.

All when need to do is figure out how to turn the guitar tuning pegs, so to speak, and align our mental strings to the correct note.

First, we must become aware of our mental states. It’s hard to stop being a crabby patty if you don’t know you are acting like one. This requires us to make regular mental pit stops to check in with ourselves and make sure we are acting from the mindset we want to be in. Am I grumpy? Do I feel agitated or annoyed by things that normally aren’t? Am I hangry?

Second, we need to cover our bases. Did I get enough sleep last night? Do I need a nap? When was the last time I took a break? When was the last time I had water or ate something? It’s the little things that we are neglecting that cause us the most trouble.

It’s the little things that we are neglecting that cause us the most trouble.

And lastly, we need to find a way to reset. Easier said than done, but taking time for ourselves helps. Go for a walk. Take a break and pick up a good book. Read a blog post or two. Go play a pickup basketball game with a friend. Run up some hills. Breathe. Do whatever you need to do to reset your mental state.

When we are in tune, and acting from a mental state of possibility and opportunity, life is electric. Setbacks become moments to practice resilience. Failure becomes lessons. And all the good things become joy.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #671

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Self-inflicted Stress

In school I️ literally had a wall in my first class of the day dedicated to my tardy slips.

You could say that in my past I️ was chronically late to a lot of things. (Well… everything)

Showing up late to my first class became an inside joke to my teacher and classmates. We would tape each green, tardy-shaped piece of paper up next to the whiteboard every time I️ strolled into school past 8 AM. I️ wish I️ remembered the number of slips I️ got by the end of the year. I’d guess somewhere in between ‘wallpaper for your house’ amount and or ‘block out the sun’.

I️ also may or may not have been late (fashionably) to my high school graduation.

I­t­ wasn’t that I️ intended to be late to everything. I️ was stuck in a cycle that pushed me towards the probability of being late. I️ went to bed late, usually studying until midnight or later, then I️ would try to get up at 5:30 / 6 AM to make I­t­ to school on time — which never happened. I️ would inevitability be late, be mostly a zombie all day, leave school and immediately take a nap and have dinner, and then do I­t­ all over again. 

The thing is I️ HATE rushing. The feeling you get in your chest or stomach when you have to be somewhere but you don’t have enough time to get there is the worst type of feeling to me. I’d rather eat a bucket of tardy slips than feel rushed. If you ever find me in a tizzy, it’s most likely because I’m in a rush. The day society creates teleportation travel is the day I️ will never be late again! Probably. I️ don’t want to be late, I️ don’t mind being late,

There are a lot of systematic loops, like staying up late, that we can easily fall into if we’re not careful. Even if we do something for good reasons, I­t­ doesn’t necessarily mean we will create good outcomes. Another example is coffee.  Maybe you’ve never had a hot cup of liquid energy before, or maybe you’re knocking back 5 cups a day and rounding out the night with a decaf before bed. I­t­ doesn’t take much to go from 0 cups to 5 cups. I­t­’s usually just one fluke decision you fall into, like meeting a friend at Starbucks and them buying you a free coffee, that can lead you into a habit of drinking coffee. I’m picking on coffee a little bit here. I­t­ has some fantastic benefits. But if you MUST have your cup or your day isn’t the same, or if you are anxious and feel like you have a panic attack all the time, you have turned something beneficial into pure unfiltered stress.

Rushing is a self-inflicted stress. ‘Why am I️ rushing to get to work, stressing myself completely out, driving like I️ just stole a sports care, all in order to sit quietly at a desk for the next hour?’ Stressing myself out isn’t a great way to start out the day and be creative.

I’ve had travel companions like this too. RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH wait. RUSH RUSH wait. It’s like they want to edit out the journey so they can get to the destination as quickly as possible. And I️ get I­t­, we are beholden to other peoples clock and expectations sometimes. The plane doesn’t care that you’re late, it’s just going to leave you at the gate. Your boss probably doesn’t care that you’re stress from rushing to work.

I️ don’t know maybe I’m weird. Maybe its poor planning or living on the edge too much.

Whatever the case, the key nugget here is that we all have self-inflicted stresses that we carry around with us. Stressful habits make you tense and hold that tension like a rock that won’t go away. Our bodies know this, but our minds tend to ignore the tension, rationalize them away, and mask them with other potential stressors. Oh, I’m tired, I️’ll grab a cup of caffeine. My head hurts, I’ll take an Ibuprofen. I️ can’t go to sleep, I️ guess I’ll stay up a little longer and watch YouTube. All of our habits don’t live in isolation. They build on top of each other and multiple and negate each other in unforeseen ways.

All of our habits don’t live in isolation. They build on top of each other and multiple and negate each other in unforeseen ways.

Maybe you’re tired because you stayed up late. Maybe your head hurts because you’re dehydrated from drinking only caffeine instead of water. Maybe you can’t wind because you’re stimulating your body and mind with too much caffeine and watching bright screens at night. Broken down, each chained stress makes since when you but I­t­ that way, but we usually wake up one day to hundreds of little things that are stressing us out a that adds up into a big, messy question mark.

The first step to unraveling your self-inflected stressors is to Identify them. It’s hard to sell something when you don’t own I­t­.

Q: Think about your day to day habits. Are you controlling your habits, or are your habits controlling you?

The second step is to go to the source of the problem. If you’re tired, start with sleep. Do what you can to make sure you’re in bed when you want to and relaxed enough to fall asleep easily. The bad thing about cyclical bad habits is there hard to get out of. The great thing about cyclical bad habits is that the moment you do break free, you cause a chain event that begins to wash away everything else downstream.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

How to Handle Overwhelm in Four Steps

First: LET. IT. GO.

For a moment, let go of all your todo’s, your obligations, all the things you want to be and do. Let go of your dreams, fears, tension from pain, worry and stress. Let go of what people tell you that you should be doing, or could be doing, or shouldn’t be doing, or can’t. Let go of what others think of you, or might think of you. Let go of what you think of you — your past, present and future self. Whatever weight your carrying, drop it all. In order to get past overwhelm, first you must leave your old life behind, at least temporarily. Take some deep breaths, and let it go.

Second: What would you keep if you could choose?

Now that you’re free from all of ^ that stuff you were carrying, ask yourself: If I could choose, what would I like to keep? Or in other words,  *what would you hate losing?*

It’s often our darkest, and desperate moments where we can find that piece of us called ‘purpose’ we can latch on to.

Third: Put Responsibility in its place.

Somethings we carry, we can’t get rid of. If you have bad credit, you can’t run away from it. You can try, but running away will only highlight everything around you that tells you ‘you have bad credit’. 

Responsibilities are only burdens when there’s no place for them in the life that you want. The best way to handle these types of weights we carry is to always keep balancing them with the right priority and perspective that aligns with you. Even bad credit viewed in a different way can be your opportunity to not only challenge yourself by improving your credit, but also give you a story to inspire others who are in similar shoes as you.

Finally: TAKE THINGS ON ONE THING AT A TIME.

And I don’t mean a list. Lists, by themselves, become the definition of overwhelming if we are not careful. What’s a todo list but an ever-expanding universe of things you need to do but can’t quite find enough time to do them?

If you need a list, make a list. But then create a second list with only one todo, and focus all your energy on finishing that todo. And if you have the time and energy afterward, pick another.

Overwhelm ends when you control the frame that you are viewing your life from. Once you remove the background scenery and periphery in your mind you’re left with one thing: Something that’s tangible and you can hold in your hands.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner 

Dr. Pain

I️ went to a pain specialist recently about my chronic neck pain. We talked a lot about my story and how I️ got to were I️ am today. One of the big takeaways I️ got out of the visit was the question: “What’s keeping your body from healing?”

After working my muscles and posture for an hour, my neck felt great. The pain didn’t vanish, but the posture of my head neck and shoulders fell into a thoughtful alignment. Before I️ came in, I️ was actually holding myself up from keeping my body from slouching over, like I­t­ wanted to do. After I️ left, no effort was required. Gravity did all the work. But, unfortunately, by the end of the day, my neck discomfort was back to it’s old self. (hello old friend)

The real problem isn’t my neck, it’s my lifestyle. Everything I️ do for work involves being on a computer, and the majority of activities I️ do involve looking down. Reading, writing, piano, hiking, cooking, drawing…

The first thing you need to do when facing down the barrel of a health problem is 

Accept the Challenge.

As much as I️ would love to take the pain and stress that comes along with I­t­, I️ can’t. 

Most of the time pain isn’t out to get you — I­t­ just happens. Maybe it’s your fault, maybe it’s some one else’s. Pain doesn’t care. Pain just wants you to either give in or become better.

Sometimes unfair things happen, big bad wolf problems that we all think ‘that will never happen to me’ until I­t­ does.

Sometimes we put ourselves in harmful situations — for good, or recklessly — and get hurt.

And often times the pain is our body’s way of telling us to pay attention to something we are neglecting.

Are you listening to what your pain is telling you?

That goes for mental pain too. If you’re in a constant state of negativity or fatigue or anger, or undesired stress, or rush hour, or fear, or thousands of other negative pressures, something in your life is not aligning to who you are, your core values and what you envision for your life.

Again, what is your pain telling you?

I️ do believe you were put on this earth to be let pain rule over you. Pain is an opportunity to thrive, all you have to do is shift your perspective from pain to gain, and take on the challenge.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

My City Literally Hates My Guts

Last week, I went down to ATL for a fantastic sales workshop with Scott Sambucci.

Our storytelling company, Pass It Down, was selected to be 1 of the 11 (out of over 250! #superbrag) companies chosen to be apart of the Atlanta Bridge Community founded by Coca-Cola. Bridge is a startup accelerator that connects startups to big name brands for the opportunity to build business partnerships and solutions for their needs. We had a great time meeting all of the 2018 startups, and the bridge team (Carie Davis, Trish Whitlock and Shane Reiser)

However, this isn’t a post about Scott’s Sales workshop or Bridge Community. (Sorry guys, although I might do another post in the near future.)

Instead, this is a post about a health epiphany I stumbled upon. 

Let me back up a bit.

The week before I left for ATL, the pollen destroyed me here in Chattanooga. Not only was I going through boxes of tissues like a monkey on a banana farm, my energy levels were at an all-time low. I’ve mentioned before a few times on this blog that I’ve been dealing with chronic fatigue for the past two years. While not life killing, it is life sucking. I can do everything average Jane’s can do (work, travel, workout etc), I just can’t a lot because the amount of energy I have to give is small and therefore precious. I’ve been turning over every rock within my means since my fatigue began, but with no clear indication of what’s the cause. (Adrenals? Sleep Apnea? Mind Body Thing? Work Stress? Nothing seemed to add up) 

I went to see Susan Fox, a acupuncture and herb specialist here in town. She recommended a few things to try for allergies (Black Elderberry, Quercetin Bromelain, Hepa Filter), but one thing she said really stood out to me:

“You know, people often forget, but fatigue can also be a severe sign of allergies..”

“You know, people often forget, but fatigue can also be a severe sign of allergies..”

I’ve had allergies all my life. I completely cured them about 6 years ago when I started learning more about health and the idea gears were starting to turn about becoming a Renaissance. But with the onset of chronic fatigue, they came back in full uncut to the face. But up until this point, no one I’d seen up to this point had mentioned any indication that Allergies can cause fatigue.

It makes since in a way. An allergic reaction is an immune response when outside substances (pollen, dust, certain foods, clowns) are seen as harmful to the body. Our immune systems start pumping out antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to counteract this foreign hell-spawn. Most of the time, these substances are harmful to us, our bodies are just overreacting. I’m not an expert, but I imagine when your body is constantly being bombarded by allergens (outdoor, indoor or internally with foods) your immune system keeps reacting and fighting the good fight, leaving the rest of your internal systems with less energy to work with. Top that that off with the fact that you can’t breathe out of your nose properly, which lowers cellular energy production, and probably a dozen other micro problems like stress and sleep debt, you just created the perfect 💩 storm for Chronic Fatigue! (Yay!)

I bring all of this up because even though I didn’t feel much different in ATL, almost immediately when we got back in Chattanooga I felt awful. Not only could I not breathe that night, the next day I woke myself up with a surprise sneeze attack. (Which is not as fun as a surprise birthday attack, or a surprise chocolate attack, or even a surprise free puppy attack) The next day, Gabriella said that I wasn’t as alive as I was in ATL, and looking back I noticed that too.

All of that to say:

Crap

My city literally hates my guts. If you look at the cities that have the most pollen, Chattanooga isn’t the worst, but it’s definitely up there.

Now, I’m not 100% sure yet that allergies are the cause of my CFS, but to me, it seems very likely.

The big question is should I move?

Maybe your in similar shoes that I’m in, be that fatigue or another health issue you are in the dark about, without question my energy affects everything I do and everyone I surround myself with. I’ve been living between on an energy scale of  4 — 6 for far too long. I don’t want to be dull and unenthusiastic for the rest of my life. I’m striving for all of these things, trying to convince myself I can do them, but if I’m being truly honest with myself, I don’t have the energy to give to see them all become impactful. I want to be ALIVE and radiant with energy. And as much as I love my city, if that requires a bold move like moving, so be it.

This won’t be an immediate decision, there are a lot of factors at play here. 

In the meantime, I think my next plan of action is to experiment with living somewhere with low pollen count for a month or two and see how I do.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂
— Josh Waggoner

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Does Bad Health Create Bad Relationships?

When you have the misfortune of experiencing a health problem or injury, you might find yourself coming across as a bad friend.

Fatigue and sleep problems can come across as flakiness, boring or lack of enthusiasm, when really you just feel overwhelmed from not having energy and want to go home and rest.

Injury’s can come across as distance, disinterest or self-centeredness, when really all you can think about is how to alleviate your pain.

Life scares can come across as negativity or anger (or other things depending on how you cope), when really you are just worried or anxious about the outcome.

In a way, you are disinterested, unenthusiastic and a bad friend, just not for the reasons people think.

Take me for example. I️ injured my neck in a bad way when I️ was about a year into college. (I’ve been writing a massive post on injury, hopefully I’ll actually finish the josh d🤠mn thing soon.) After a week went by, then a month, then a year… I️ didn’t know how to cope. You try things and hope for the best, but honestly don’t really have the bandwidth for anything other than the bare minimum. I️ would go to class, work, and immediately to bed. Meeting new people and hanging out with friends was the last thing on my mind. 

One of the most difficult things about health problems is getting other to relate to your situation. Unless they’ve experienced their own flavor of misfortunes, you’re definition of pain and there’s is completely incompatible. Pain to the inexperienced is abstract. It’s a thing that happens, but knock on wood hasn’t happened to me. 

Even the big scary one’s that every one knows, like cancer or Alzheimer’s, aren’t really relatable unless you’ve experienced them first or secondhand. 

We have to feel pain ourselves to understand the pain of others. 

And so I️ do believe bad health causes bad relationships.

Even if you do everything you can, the people that love you and understand what you are going through, still feel slighted and frustrated about what you’re going through. There’s friction on both sides. They want to help you heal, but don’t know how to help. 

Life affects life. Your life affects everyone you surround yourself with and vice-versa. To get dark for a second, that’s why suicide is so life-shattering. You don’t just erase yourself. You break the glass of everyone around. And if you have influence, even more so — you shatter all the lives that your work has touched. 

So what do we do when bad health rears its ugly head?

Describe what you are going through to friends and family. Even if they don’t understand, letting people know what you’re going through will at least given them some thought to the actions you take. This isn’t an “oh poor me” fest. Tell them you want to do I­t­ for them. 

Focus on quality over quantity. As much as you may want I­t­, you are not going to have the energy and stamina to become best friends with everyone in your universe. Focus on a few quality friends that you can give the time and energy you currently have to offer. Quality friends are the types of relationships that will keep you sane during this painful time. Shallow friends ghost at the first sign of trouble. 

Work on your health. Health affects every aspect of our lives. The more you can focus on I­t­, the more optimal your life will be. Health is a spectrum. Working on health isn’t a yes or no answer. It’s gradually eeking over to the extraordinary side instead of sliding towards the other end.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

And wherever you are, keep smiling 🙂

— Josh Waggoner

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“True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost.” —  Charles Caleb Colton

Staying Sharp

Look at any entrepreneurial or creative venture, and you’ll see that it was built on the backs of very sleepy people.

I­t­ seems like sleep deprivation is a badge of honor nowadays. Does creating success mean we need to have unhealthy habits to make I­t­ happen?

What about anger? Pain, injury, heartache, negative bank accounts, fear, frustration…

Are the emotions and setbacks that make us sharp necessary to be successful?

In her excellent book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington implores us to take back our lives and sanity by loving sleep again. Working on Huffington Post, Arianna literally stumbled upon our culture’s sleep deprivation problems when she collapsed and blacked out on the floor after consecutively pushing past her body and mind telling her to sleep.

I 100% agree with Arianna’s assessment:  sleep makes us better at what we do, not worse.
However, at the same time, I️ wonder, would I­t­ have been possible for her to create the massively popular Huff-Post without all the late nights working? 

It’s an unfair question because it’s impossible to know. I️ don’t want to pick on Arianna. I️ could name dozens of influential people who used their borderline unhealthy work ethic to create successful companies and freedom lifestyles, where they could mitigate and recover from the damage I­t­ created.

How many ideas of the Huff-Post caliber are crushed by lack ambition and putting in the work?

Is there a way of being rested AND successful?

I honestly don’t know. (Hopefully, someone smarter, or my future self can tell me).

The answer might come down to *everything in moderation.*

Oversleeping is just as bad sleep deprivation.
Too much-uncontrolled anger will eventually kill you. But a small amount of controlled anger? Now that might push you in the right direction to make change happen.

Change is the key factor.

Does this emotion / state / experiences / action fuel me towards changing? Does I­t­ help me create a life of meaning and worth? Is I­t­ a benefit or a detriment?

If it’s a detriment, we need to cast I­t­ out. If it’s a benefit, then perhaps the benefits outweigh the side effects they incur.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” — Homer

“One of the metaphors that I use for start-ups is, you throw yourself off a cliff and assemble your airplane on the way down. If you don’t solve the right problem at the right time, that’s the end. Mortality puts priorities into sharp focus.” — Reid Hoffman

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” — Vince Lombardi

Health Tomfoolery

Give yourself permission to be healthy.

If there ever is a word with that is more overused then the word ‘health’, the planet would explode.

We are bombarded with opinions about health and what it means to be healthy. One news source tells you Fats are bad for you, someone else may tell you it’s great for you, and your family will have all manner of opinions about what’s good and what’s bad. With all of these differing philosophies, it’s easy to lose your sanity on what you should do and instead do nothing at all. (Ugh! One day they tell me eggs are bad for me, the next day they tell me they’re great… eff it! I’m going to go eat some cake.)

What you’re seeing in the health industry is the battle between science and money. Why is a large french fry and soda less money than a pack of blueberries? Why is the immediate response to most mainstream doctors is to give us pills to mask the problem versus figuring out how to fix the problem. There are so many facts and figures, opinions and antidotal answers, it’s hard to know who to trust.

Ultimately, you are the one who decides what’s best for you. The choice to be healthy or not is up to you. Opt out of the games. Trust your gut. Experiment and find out what works best for you.

There’s one thing I know and that’s why you should want to get healthy in the first place:

Energy.

What’s one thing that affects our ability to create and enjoy life?

I’ve experienced first hand the frustration and despair of Chronic Fatigue and low energy. If the energy you use is more than the energy you generate. Without enough energy, you are a slave to your health. 

Eating whole, moving your body, breath work, and aligning your daily habits to the lifestyle of your dreams is how you can build up positive energy.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.” — Henry David Thoreau

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.” — Thomas Fuller

Pumpkin Growing is Like The Olympics

Let’s say you are a world-renowned pumpkin farmer. (Punk farmer for short)

Obviously, your main mission each year is to win the state fair pumpkin growing contest at all costs.

These are high stakes people.

I mean seriously, are you really going to let Sally from one county over take home the prize  (pie-rise? Get it the prize is a pie?) winning pumpkin medal?

H-to-the-ell no.

You’re going to do whatever it takes to grow the best darn pumpkin the world has ever seen.

So what do you do? You give the pumpkin what it needs. You’re not going to give it beer and bread.

You’re going to make sure your prized pumpkins are watered and cared for.

Same goes for Olympians. 

Competing in the Olympics is pretty much exactly the same things as growing a pumpkin. (No steroids allowed)

You don’t become that chiseled and mentally and physically sharp on beer and sandwiches.

Optimize with food that is best for your body. YSee food as fuel and medicine. Health and training can become your golden ticket to success.

Perhaps you are not running for the Olympics or growing pumpkins, but you are likely pursuing something challenging in your life — creative pursuits, health issues, raising kids etc.

That means to be on your A game. You need to give your body and mind the fuel it needs so you can live optimally.

Don’t just treat your body like its a temple — treat it like a prize-winning pumpkin.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

IG: @Renaissance.Life

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