#Goals

I love the word goals.

Last night as I watched Beyoncé’s Grammy performance, I thought #pregnancygoals. Her dance moves…#goals, her body pre-pregnancy, you guessed it…#goals! A couple of weeks ago at the box, I was admiring Andreia’s butt! If you have been lucky enough to see her butt then you’ll understand why; #buttgoals. A few moments later I was on instagram, mildly stalking Sam Briggs, going through a heavy bout of muscle up envy, and as soon as I saw her abs, do you want to know what I thought…#goals, #goals, #goals. And then I thought about how much cardio (which is hardio,) that I’d have to do in order to have abs visible through whatever I’m wearing…one day! This is where the part of me that is a little bit wiser stopped me in my tracks and asked me a question that I’m gonna unpack with you today: what if you were your goals? What if (if you’re pregnant,) you were your pregnancy goals? What if your body was your dream body? What if your life was your #goals? What would happen then? Would you have to take some time to truly work on yourself and the things that you can change in order to put that hashtag on your life? What if  instead of dissecting your life, and thinking about how far you still have to go, you used that time to celebrate your achievements, and if we’re still talking about CrossFit, what about celebrating the body you’ve worked so hard for and are still working hard for?

 

Because of the nature of my relationship with God, 9 times out of 10 when He knows I need to be corrected, it’ll be through something that happens at the box. Well yesterday after the WOD, I was talking to my coach and he asked me if I would be entering the Open. For those of you not into CrossFit (not judging you…a lot) the CrossFit Open is a five week competion, five workouts, one released each week, and it is without a doubt, the highlight of the CrossFit calendar. I said to my coach how I didn’t feel ready and how I just knew that I would suck, I would not be entering the Open because in my mind, I had already decided that I would bomb out. My toes to bar, they aren’t anybody’s goals, my deadlifts…maybe on a good day. I bet he didn’t know I could see that far into the future. Naturally I got a bit cocky and thought “well that settles it, I have presented valid points as to why I should not do the Open. I win.” Now if you have a great coach, you will NEVER EVER win any argument like that where you belittle yourself, highlight all your weaknesses and throw yourself under the bus. For the sake of not making this post too long, I will share one thing that my coach said that I’ve been mulling on for the past 24 hours and what my plan of action is. He told me to stop being so hard on myself, to stop thinking that everyone is judging me. To stop thinking that everyone is judging my failures as harshly as I do. Did I mention how much I hate my coach sometimes?  This morning when I got to work, I started a devotional by Craig Groeschel entitled ‘Words to Live By,’ and as I watched the video (which you can do by clicking on this link,) it is as though God crept into my mind to remind me how my stinking thinking was keeping me far from living a life that I could be proud of calling my own, and placing that goals hashtag in front of it. This is but one of the things the stuck out:

Our lives move on in the direction of our strongest thoughts. Your life is moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Are you excited about the direction your thoughts are taking you?

I just about started to cry as I thought about the HONEST answer to that question. There is not a part of me that is excited about the direction my thoughts are taking me. For the purpose of this article, let’s keep it as CrossFit related as we can. If I think about the athlete I am right now and my current thought process, nowhere in the picture that I paint or have painted in my mind, is there an emotionally sound athlete. Nowhere in this negative picture driven by my thoughts, is there an athlete who does not easily get rattled. Nowhere in this picture is there an athlete who I would place the hashtag, goals in front of a picture of her. This is the reality. I would do the work but in the midst of buckling down and working, I would berate myself for not going fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being good enough. And you know what, even though no one else can hear your thoughts audibly, (that would suck,) your body can! It begins to behave in the direction that your thoughts are telling you it’s going to behave. It’s great to be aware of my stinking thinking, to a certain  extent I’ve always known how detrimental I am to myself, it’s so much more easier for me to believe in others, see the good in them and celebrate their successes, than it is to celebrate (humbly,) my achievements. This awareness is great BUT what is the solution? Well after watching Pastor Groeschel’s message, I finally know what to do. Positive affirmations said aloud, each and every single morning until my words match God’s words about my life. This is one that I will be repeating for however long it takes for me to get it through my thick skull that I am enough.

My words, thoughts and imagination are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

 

It lines up to Romans 12:2,

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

My prayer for you and for me especially today, is that God would renew your mind, renew your thinking, especially if it has been stinky like mine, and for Him to show you just how strong, beautiful AND capable you are. YES YOU ARE! 

In the words of Barack Obama; YES I CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES WE CAN!!! 

You’re Gonna Be Ok

Initially when I was thinking about my next post, I considered writing about how much I hated Tuesday’s wod…maybe not the wod, but one movement in particular…toes to bar.

6 Rounds For Time (why!!!)

7 x Burpee Box jump over

14 x T2B<—evil!!!

21 x SDHP (50/35kg)

15 min time cap

WOD 2 (just to ruin your grip a little bit further…)

15 Min EMOM

1st – Dead Hold (80/60)

2nd – 15 x Snatch (35/20)

3rd – Max reps pull ups
Woke up the next day and my hand was throbbing! Spicy, spicy!

Toes to bar are my arch nemesis, truth be told, I don’t spend enough time working on trying to string them together, but we’ll talk about  my laziness in another post ok!

In the Uber yesterday, and this morning on the way to work, as I dissected that wod (I am an overthinker and I analyse absolutely everything, gift and sometimes it’s a curse!) and how much better I could have done if I didn’t allow my general dislike of TTB to consume me, I came to the realization that it wasn’t just knowing that there were TTB in the wod that had ruined my day, dramatic sounding I know…but it was mainly because yesterday was one of those days where the mean reds got me. If you don’t know what the mean reds are, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and go watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

Here’s a snippet of that scene:

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

HG: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

PV: Sure.

HG: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

The mean reds are what people who suffer or who have suffered with depression, are all too familiar with. It’s those days when the darkness inside you makes you feel a lot more despondent about a situation, whether big or small. The mean reds, as HG stated is not the same as being sad. I think of sadness as something that is largely circumstantial. The mean reds, or depression is different. When you suffer with depression, everything around you could be going great but in your eyes, you’re sinking in a dark hole, and if I’m being honest, there are days when you would love for nothing more than to be swallowed by that dark hole. Disappear.

As my beautiful friend Vanessa put it, depression is like dipping your feet into tar only you never quite get rid of that stickiness, you never quite get rid of the black mark that it leaves on you. At the same time, if you’re intentional about it, there are places that exist like Tiffany’s, that can calm you down and stop those mean reds from controlling you…except I’d buy a dog instead of a cat, dogs are the best!

My first bout of depression was triggered off in 2013, that incident is too lengthy to put it in here, maybe it deserves a separate post. During that period of my life, it felt as though the life was being sucked out of my soul. I felt battered and bruised. And then you go for therapy, and you think you’re okay. This was also when my walk with God became a lot stronger because oftentimes I felt as though no one else understood what was going on inside, and the great thing about venting to God is that in those moments, (and even today,) I never feel judged by Him. I never feel as though He sees me as weak or unable to cope. In Him I found a strong tower and refuge, my confidante from whom I never hear any of those labels or stigma attached to people who suffer with depression. So you might be wondering, ‘if you have found this strong tower and refuge in the LORD, why did the mean reds get you yesterday?’ My reason: getting so wrapped up, perhaps too wrapped up in work and rescuing other people that I began to neglect time for myself with God.

CrossFit, fitness in general has always been how I personally connect best with God, but the past few months, this busyness of life and trying to rescue others when you’re running on empty, has left me on the verge of depletion, on the verge of breaking down and all the more easily controlled by the mean reds. It took a  crying session with one of my closest friends (Sherine,) and the day before a chat with my other darling (Monica,) and then yesterday’s chat with my beautiful Vanessa, and then later in the evening, being pulled out from under the bus by my sissy and bestie (Givs,) for me to realise that I absolutely cannot keep neglecting my mental health. This is something that I forget. When things are going well, I forget that I need a daily tune up. If the Word and Jesus is truly my life then that means that everyday I should be running to Him, being molded and transformed into His likeness. His peace and His rhythms of grace challenging and conquering all that I face.

This morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, that’s the thing about suffering with depression, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on an emotional roller coaster. It can also make you one really tough cookie to love. Sometimes I feel incredibly emotionally unstable, those are the days when the reds probably consume me the most because I try to hide it from everyone, but that’s okay because now and then, thank the Holy Spirit, He reminds me that I don’t fight alone and that he loves me. Do you know what a challenge it can be to remember that daily? It’s hard, but another darling friend, (Ashleigh) reminded me that it isn’t impossible.

I truly love my girlfriends, incredibly blessed with them, and do you know  what, in spite of sometimes feeling like a failure, I know that I truly do love God. I am very much aware of how much worse I could be if I didn’t have Him. In Him, I have found a place better than Tiffany’s.  I’m not always the easiest to love…heck, not even the easiest to like because there is a part of me that has become calloused because of having suffered with depression, but as Ness put it yesterday, you sit in the sun (or with the Son,) and He thaws you out, but you have to be intentional about sitting with Him, and this sitting is anything but passive. It’s uncomfortable and will expose you for who you and who you’re not .

Mental health is important. It’s something that we neglect. It’s something that we don’t like dealing with, and in a ways perhaps we are even ashamed of saying that we suffer with mental illness, but the only way to confront any illness, physical or mental is to confront it and keep working (preferably with God,) to get better and healthier. Mental health is just as important, if not more important than physical health for out of your soul, out of your spirit, is where life flows from.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

One of the ways that I cope is through writing, running and CrossFit. All of these done with God. My challenge is to remember to keep coping and keep fighting with God. I need to remember that it’s okay to not be okay but that I will be okay.
To illustrate this example, let’s go back to my toes to bar. Obviously I will never be able to cope with a high volume of toes to bar in a WOD, if I don’t work on them (I don’t really want to work on them though…) and if I don’t listen to my coach, or ask for help in mastering that stupid move…okay from now on, no longer calling them stupid haha, then I will never learn how to cope and excel with TTB!

It’s a similar thing with depression, I have to keep going to my Creator who has mastered living life, to learn from Him, how to do life without letting the reds control me. I cannot neglect this. It doesn’t mean everyday is going to be fantastic, but it does mean that he makes me stronger each day. Yesterday I listened to this anointed song by Jenn Johnson and started crying at work haha, luckily I didn’t have any make up on and no one had arrived yet. I pray that it will bless you and that God would cover you with His spirit to remind you that you, yes you! You’re gonna be ok.

Motivation: How to find it, how to lose it and how to keep it!

You’re in the final minutes of a WOD* (one word…Karen) and if you haven’t yet fallen in love with CrossFit (I don’t understand why not?) perhaps you have a few more reps, or a few more minutes (if you’re doing endurance training,) left in your workout. In those final minutes, or those final reps, there’s a lot going through your mind. For some it might be the agony of still having ‘X’ amount of reps  left to complete, it might be a thought on how you’re going to push past that level of discomfort and not start to cry like a baby…I have found myself on this side of the spectrum more often than not, CrossFit and running in particular, unearths the weepy girl in me!  It’s especially hard during those last few reps of a disgusting WOD, where everyone is cheering for you to finish (which I always think is such a beautiful moment,) and I can sometimes become so overwhelmed with emotion (maybe it’s the adrenaline?) that I can feel tears pooling up in my eyes, on the verge of coming out! Thankfully at that point, I’m sweating so much that no one ever knows that I’m dangerously close to crying…well now they know!

Motivation is what will keep you going in those moments where perhaps you do have tears streaming down your face (masked within the sweat of course!) Motivation is what will keep you going even when you’re uncomfortable,  in that moment when 3 more thrusters might as well be 300 more! Motivation is what will keep you going even when you would much rather throw in that towel, in spite of what people say to use that towel to wipe the sweat (tears in my case haha,) off of your face.

But hang on, what is motivation and how do we find it?

motivation noun a desire or willingness to do something; a force or influence that causes someone to do something

Here’s how I found my motivation; i.e. my desire or willingness to do something; and these things can range from tasks such as completing a WOD, preparing for a presentation at work as efficiently as I can and many  other things in life! I found this desire through spending time with God. It was really when I read Colossians 3:23-24 (which I consider as my life verse,) that I began to understand how desire and willingness sustained by God, never wanes. This is what it says:

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart (work with willingness and desire,) as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’ (emphasis added)

Through this verse, God showed me how in everything that I did and do, if I have the mindset of doing it all for Him, whether it is in CrossFit or at work, or even in a relationship (when I eventually get into one,) if I have pleasing God as my one and only goal, doing EVERYTHING unto the LORD, that passion, willingness and desire to do something extraordinary in life, will always be there. This is the sure-fire way to keep motivation. By focusing on something and someone way bigger than my ambitions and always having in my mind, how what I’m doing can glorify God; this motivation becomes something that is sustained by God and the Holy Spirit. This motivation, this drive and willingness is no longer something that I, Aurélie, have to keep alive through my own strength that on some days will fail me.

On the flipside, motivation can also be lost. We’ve seen it in movies or perhaps we’ve  been guilty of uttering this phrase about someone who’s looking lacklustre…I am rather ashamedly, guilty of having uttered such a phrase:

‘What happened to Jenny? She really has  let herself go, it’s almost as though she’s lost the will (motivation/desire/willingness,) to live.’

In my experience, this loss of desire and willingness to do anything, usually happens when we’ve put other people’s expectations of us on a pedestal. What they think of us, and what they want of us, has become of higher importance than the great call that Christ has placed on our lives. We get caught up in being this person whose desire to do something, is dictated by another human’s expectation. Expectations that often reflect fickle emotions that can change overnight. We begin to live in a way that cultivates insecurity, breeds suspicion, until we find ourselves out of touch with the true essence of our being. Motivation based on what or who people want you to be, places you on a dangerous path of being more focused on what people think is best for you, as opposed to what you, as a beautiful and strong individual, knows is best for her or indeed himself! You’re living but it never is really for yourself. You’re driven, but it’s never because of any desires of your own. You’re ambitious, but ambitious to be the you that everyone else wants you to be, and motivation fuelled by such expectations, is unrealistic.

Keeping motivation, a desire to live your best life, is no easy task. It requires an awareness of all those things, and in some cases, all those people who are draining life from you. A great place to start if by doing an evaluation on what you’re filling your head with. Right now, as you’re reading this post, take a minute to write down on a piece of paper (or on a blackboard with chalk, if you’re me,) WHAT AM I FILLING MY MIND WITH? Filling our minds with negative thoughts will only ever breed negativity. These thoughts can easily pollute and derail any good thoughts that run through your mind. These thoughts can so easily become destructive and before you know it, you too have become like Jenny 😉 In some cases, (I like to think of those as the really drastic situations, so drastic that I’m even going to invent an acronym for it right now! RDS.) In the event of an RDS, it might even be necessary to stop hanging around with certain people that might have your best interest at heart, but are misguided in how they’re delivering that message and again the negativity that those intentions can often be shrouded in, will never be conducive to cultivating a healthy you. When you find yourself in an RDS, it can also mean that spiritually, physically and emotionally, you’re never truly connecting with the deeper parts of you (the part of you that God created as unique, breathtaking in beauty and not based at all on anyone’s expectation of who you should be.)

I’ve had to take time to think about this post, what is it that motivates me? Who is it that motivates me? Amongst the names that popped through my head, it all came back to one person. The lover of my soul, Jesus. Now, I want to say that I have completely mastered the art of relying on Him for motivation…for everything but hey I am a work in progress, and unfortunately, it pains me to say that I am not as perfect as I love to think I am. I still fall prey to seeing ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ everyone else is doing what they’re doing, as opposed to my ‘why’, the Jesus given ‘why’ behind everything I do. Thankfully every now and then, this elephant** remembers her source of motivation. Jesus. My dreamboat. As many times as I forget, He is still always there being my biggest cheerleader, alongside with the Holy Spirit, always reminding me of Colossians 3:23-24. He is, and will forever be, the reason why I desire to be a better woman in all aspects of my life! In the long run, you’ll find that though you might get weary sometimes, you’ll never truly feel as though you’re done with your journey, the desire and motivation never truly leave, because you’ll always be thinking about how you can do your utmost for His highest.

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Photo credit: Luke Venter (@fruitlukes)

*workout of the day

 **I call myself an elephant because I love elephants and I aspire to be like an elephant…strong and able to eat more than twice my body weight #lifegoals!  

C is for community

community noun

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
  2. the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

One of the great things about CrossFit is the relationships that you make. Now I have to confess, I used to be one of those solo workout(ers.) I hated training with anyone because I felt like they would slow me down, I much preferred to push as far as I could without having anyone in my ear complaining, crying or bleeding…that was until I started CrossFit. You never forget your first WOD…crap, maybe you do! What I do remember is that it was humbling to say the least. I couldn’t believe how little I knew about my body, I couldn’t believe that there were other people who sweated as much as I did haha, maybe not always as much. I had moved back to South Africa after being in the UK for 5 years and I found myself disconnected from old friendship circles. CrossFit seemed to be a more organic way of meeting people. People who enjoyed being fit as much as I did. I must be honest, for the first few months, I would casually slip in just as the WOD was about to start and then leave straight afterwards. Call it anxiety, call it cold feet, call it fear, call it every introverts worst fear, I didn’t want to have to talk to people…I have a love/hate relationship with people.

Sometimes forming new friendships can feel like a job interview…do you like tacos? Do you like eating double your weight (or more,) in food? And if the answer is yes then let’s be friends forever okay! I don’t exactly remember how my friendship with two of my closest and bestest started, but all of a sudden I couldn’t do my usual class and had to slot in with an earlier class…Hmm, now that I think of it, I remember exactly how it happened. I walked into the box doors literally a few seconds into the class and my then coach went into a lecture about how I snuck into the class thinking I could blend in with the kettlebells because they’re black. Two things went through my mind when he said that: 1. I’m not as dark as the kettlebells therefore am I really blending in… 2. Why can’t I think of a comeback? After coach had finished with his lecture, I joined two ladies who I didn’t yet know their names (I know their names now, Sherine and Mon, my faves!!!) and from there, whenever I did class at 16h30, they would be the ones I went to. When the qualifiers for my first CrossFit competition came around, that was when our friendship really solidified. I could hardly believe I had qualified, I honestly saw myself as the worlds worst CrossFitter and they believed in me (I know it sounds so cheesy,) but through that my confidence not just in CrossFit but in life also grew. These two women, one of which is pictured in white (Monica,) in the featured image taken by Sherine (amazing photographer) have become my closest friends. They are my sounding boards, the ones I message when I feel dangerously close to killing someone, they are the ones who have held me up during dark periods of my life. This friendship with them is what fills me with strength and confidence that I can do anything, whether it’s cleaning 40kg, or dealing with annoying employees. These are things that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for CrossFit.

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A lot of the time, people see CrossFit as some cult, and if it is then I don’t mind being part of it. CrossFit (Fit 5ive specifically,) has been where I’ve found my family, my tribe, my people. These are the people I am most excited to see everyday, the place I love more than anywhere else in the world. These are the people who love me and want to see me succeed in the WODs and in my life!

If you have that at your local box, you, like me, are one of the lucky ones!

16.1

I entered the CrossFit Open with a lot of fear running through my blood. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a year and 2 months, of this time; it is only in December of last year that I started to take my training seriously. The fact is not everyone gets to go to the CrossFit games but everyone can call themselves an athlete and everyone can call themselves a CrossFitter, and I had the goal in mind to be able to call myself a decent CrossFitter.

Stronger, faster and more confident in my abilities.

I want to be a CrossFitter who can do muscle ups (bar and ring, still working on those,) strict handstand push ups, knock out pistols at an insane rate and for my snatch to become even deadlier…speaking of snatches, I hit a new 45kg on my power snatch. I was so ecstatic, I went home and cried.

Back to the open.

I woke up early on Friday morning to see what Dave Castro had planned for us CrossFitters.

16.1 [20 minute AMRAP.]

1 round consists of:

25 feet overhead walking lunges (43kg M, 30kg F)

8 bar facing burpees

25 feet overhead walking lunges

8 chest to bar pull-ups

 

It was better than I expected and not as bad as I expected. The night before the open, I read this:

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. Eric Thomas

For a while now, I’ve been reading a lot of sports psychology related articles because I began to realise that the one thing holding me back in my CrossFit career and in my running was my mental strength. I believed I could but never past the point of pain, and I’ve never thought myself capable of achieving anything spectacular. I am so grateful that even when I didn’t believe that I could, I had friends that believed in my abilities, and believed that I could do it, that I could become better. It was time that I started to believe in myself.  For a long time, I have always felt as though the one of the places where I get a chance to connect with God has been through physical activity. So often times when I’ve been on a gruelling run, I’ll have my Christian music playing and it is as though in that moment when I want to turn back or quit, legs aching, lungs revolting against you and your heart beating at a ridiculous pace, I can hear God loudly cheering me on and telling me that I can and I will complete those 16km’s.

For CrossFit I began to train with the mindset of encountering God through every difficult movement. I had to retrain my brain to become stronger than whatever weight was loaded on the barbell. It wasn’t easy but nothing is impossible with God. So I began to actively seek out verses prior to heading out to the box and being proactive in applying whatever I had read, to my training. This meant that I could no longer say (whether aloud or to myself,) ‘I hate this WOD,’ or ‘I hate this movement.’ Even if it meant that in the beginning it felt awkward to pretend that I was looking forward to toes to bar, I kind of like them a bit more now… Just a little bit.

This change in mindset completely shifted the way I performed in WODs, I no longer cared about how I had failed or under-performed in the past, I just wanted to give my all in that moment, in that WOD. The here and now began to hold greater weight than the ‘what ifs’ of the future.  The verse below is one that is become very pivotal in my CrossFit career;

For I can do EVERYTHING through Christ (the One), who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

When I read this verse or journal on it, it is not ‘I can do everything through Christ, so that I can become stronger than [insert person’s name here]’ It is ‘I can do all things through Christ so that His strength, His perfect unbroken strength will be seen through me even when and especially when I fail or when I fall short.’  It is being confident in Christ and being content in the abilities you have that though they might not be perfect, you are willing to do the hard work and hone them so that Christ is glorified through everything you do. At the end of the day, that’s what my goal is; that Christ would be glorified, His name, His strength, His abilities in absolutely everything that I do. It means that His spirit makes me aware of how I behave when I am the best and when I’m not the best. It means that His spirit of excellence is carried through on my good days and on my bad days. Everything I am and everything I become as an athlete is all because of Him and how He has changed and is still changing and transforming my mindset, from the inside out.

So when I read 16.1, I wasn’t thrown into a panic, I remember thinking ‘God as long as I don’t cry for my chest to bar pull ups, then we’re good.’ The first time I did C2B in a competition, I cried so much, I think my judge felt bad for me and gave me those pull ups just so I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown. It’s funny because I’m trying to remember whether I was in pain when I finished 16.1, but I can’t remember. All I can remember is looking at my wrist in that overhead lunge position, on the verge of tears and seeing Phil. 4:13 scrawled on it. It is as though in that moment, Jesus whispered to me, ‘a few more feet baby doll, you can do this. Everything through me, I’m the one who gives you strength.’ I feel satisfied and I can say that I gave it my all. I showed up and made those 20 minutes count but more than that, because I gave room and made room for God to speak and breathe through me. He also showed up.

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