Mood Ring

American Public Media

Mood Ring is a practical guide to feelings. Every episode, host and mental health writer Anna Borges explores one new way we can cope with our feelings, our baggage, or the world around us—especially in a society where access to mental health care and the ability to practice self-care are both huge privileges. Through Anna's self-aware humor and vibrant guest interviews, the podcast shares creative self-care ideas you may not have heard before, as well as realistic takes on classic mental health tips.

  • 21 minutes 26 seconds

    When positive affirmations feel inauthentic, what do we do?

    For our season finale, host Anna Borges talks to Dr. Christine Gibson, author of the forthcoming book, The Modern Trauma Toolkit and @tiktoktraumadoc on Tik Tok, about the subject of one of her viral Tik Toks: if-firmations.

    When we’re in need of some possibility in our hearts and minds, they might just be the answer

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    Mood Ring is a production of American Public Media and Pizza Shark! 

    15 September 2022, 10:00 am
  • 25 minutes 23 seconds
    Don't Give Up (Climate) Hope

    Climate change is an everyday reality…as much as some may try to avoid it. So how do we conquer our climate anxiety? 

    Host Anna Borges talks to Sarah J. Ray, author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, about how to navigate the crushing waves of hopelessness and despair that come up when we think about the climate crisis — and how to find something resembling hope. 

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    Mood Ring is a production of American Public Media and Pizza Shark!

    8 September 2022, 10:00 am
  • 21 minutes 6 seconds
    Have a Part to Part

    Host Anna Borges speaks with Internal Family Systems therapist Susannah Jackson. They discuss how a shift in the way we think and talk about our feelings can help us understand what we’re feeling and why.

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    1 September 2022, 10:00 am
  • 17 minutes 28 seconds
    Take Care of Something

    There are a lot of reasons to take care of something — like a plant, or a car or a house. It can be a source of purpose or passion or peace or simple satisfaction. Today we’re exploring how taking care of something can be a form of self-care. 

    Host Anna Borges talks with Jené Etheridge — music producer, DJ, community organizer, and an avid cyclist — about how caring for her bike Butter feeds her mental health. 

    Hey Mood Ring listeners, we want to hear what you think about Mood Ring! You can help us out by filling out a short audience survey:

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    Mood Ring is a production of American Public Media and Pizza Shark! 

    Full Transcript


    Anna Borges: There’s this old book that I’m willing to bet at least some of you found formative. It’s called The Care and Keeping of You.




    And I hope some of you just went OH, THAT BOOK, but you know for the uninitiated, The Care and Keeping of You is this illustrated American Girl guidebook and it was the first real introduction a lot of us got to our bodies and how to take care of them. It covered everything from how to sit when inserting a tampon to you know proper armpit shaving technique.


    Legions of preteens referred to that book like a user's manual, myself included. You know, learning as much as we could about maintaining these weird changing bodies that we did not know the first thing about. Understanding what was going on with my body and like the ins and outs in taking care of it made me feel — I mean I don’t want to oversell it but it did — it made me feel like confident and grown up and empowered, or at least more capable of handling the horrors of middle school such as like changing in the locker room and wondering why my boobs looked so much different than everyone else's.


    These days, I’m kind of still chasing that high if I'm honest. Like shockingly, huh-huh, taking care of myself as an adult is hardly as satisfying as The Care and Keeping of You once had me believe.




    But as I grew up, I did discover that there are a lot of other things that I can take care of, other than myself, and some of them even come with the step-by-step instructions that I was craving. And it turns out, the care and keeping of something else can be as satisfying as the care and keeping of us.




    Hey,  I’m Anna Borges, and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings even when you’re feeling less than capable of taking care of yourself.


    I’ve probably said “care” enough times for you to get that we’re talking about care today. Care for ourselves. Care for some thing. And caring for ourselves by way of caring for that something.


    If you haven’t guessed, I’m on the lookout for something new to take care of because honestly I have not been that great of a job at taking care of myself lately. And sometimes, when we lose trust in our ability to take care of ourselves, I don't know, we need to find ways to prove to ourselves that we still can.




    At least, that’s where I'm at lately. There are a lot of reasons to take care of something for our mental health, whether it’s by giving ourselves a source of purpose or passion or peace or simple satisfaction.


    So what are we taking care of?


    There are the obvious suspects: things that rely on you for nourishment and support, like pets or plants or children. But we can also find meaning in caring for nonliving things too -  things like our homes, cars, beaches, sneakers, closets — and in the case of our guest today, bikes.




    Our guest today is a woman of many talents. Jené Etheridge is a music producer, DJ, community organizer and an avid cyclist.


    She tells us about her relationship with her bike, how she cares for it as she travels the world with it. And how it in turn feeds her mental health.


    Anna: I would love to just hear how you got into cycling. I just never really got into it. It kind of scared me, but what's your story?


    Jené: Yeah, so I was in college at The University of Washington in Seattle, and I just needed a way to get around. Also I had a friend um who rode with me like casually. We would go on casual rides and I told him I would have a new commute from U district to SoDo, which is like six miles.


    And he was like, yeah, I don't think you can do it. And I was like, oh, you don't think I can do it? and basically I was like, I'm gonna do it. It was like motivation for me to, you know, prove him wrong.


    Anna: My favorite type of origin story.


    Jené: [laughter] Yeah. This is like a theme throughout my life. It's like, if people say I can't do it, I'm like, oh, okay…


    Anna: Watch me.


    Jené: [laughter] I'm Gonna do it then. Yeah. So I just started commuting to work to work, that's how I got started. I just, you know, just did it out of necessity to start and then it just grew from there.


    And then when I moved to Portland, you know, it's like a really big cycling city, so it was really easy to get plugged in. And then I started learning more about Does this bike fit me? Like What kind of gearing works for the riding that I do? and, and things like that. So yeah.


    Anna: When did it go from, cuz it sounded like it went from like transit to something you enjoyed pretty quickly with all the sight seeing, but when did it become your thing or one of your things?


    Jené: I would say just you start craving it when you don't do it for a while.


    Anna: Mmm


    Jené: I also did have more community in Portland and I think that definitely helped me like realize it was my thing because it was mostly like women, trans femme, people of color in Portland who rode bikes, which is like a very small community, but they're very empowering and I would just be like, I don't know if I can do this. That sounds crazy. And they're like, yeah, you can. Why don’t, why do you think you can't do it? You know?


    Anna: Absolutely. So speaking of the bike, tell me about your relationship with it.


    Jené: Umm okay yeah it's cream colored. I named it Butter because um.


    Anna: Ohhh


    Jené: The first time I rode it, I'm like, this is so smooth. Like butter, like -


    Anna: Perfect.


    Anna: If you were to describe what Butter means to you, how would you describe that?


    Jené: [laughter] Um I would say the feeling of like autonomy. Just being able to like leave and go whenever I want to.


    Jené: I don't know, it becomes an extension of you when you only have one bike for like everything, you know, your body gets accustomed to it. [laughter]


    Anna: I love the idea of like the bike is an extension of you.


    Jené: Yeah I mean you really have to be aware and just like aware of your surroundings. And so I'm trusting like my body a lot


    Anna: Yeah


    Jené: And also my bike to get me through like just to get to the destination. [laughter]


    Anna: Oh man. I relate to that in exactly one small way. Cause before this, I was talking to my producer about how, I had an opportunity to get ages ago, um, a motorcycle license and I thought it'd be like a cool thing to do.


    And I almost didn't pass the test because to swerve, you have to like throw yourself to the side. Like you're gonna like throw yourself down to the ground.


    And then like yank it back up. And so you can kind of like jump around whatever you're swerving around. And like I did not have that trust.


    Jené: Yeah


    Anna: I did not have that trust in myself to pull myself back up. I did not have trust in the bike to not just like—poooffffff


    Jené: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You have to like lean your way into it. Like you really have to like trust. Your capabilities and the capabilities of the bike too, to just like get through these situations.


    But I don't know. It's like when you, um, do something kind of scary or dangerous and then you make it out and you're like, oh, okay. Like I know, um, I know that wasn't as bad as it looked or at least like I know a little more about how to, you know, handle the bike better next time. So I feel safer. That's a good feeling.


    Anna: I love that. So it’s — now I'm just like Oh, you grow with your bike! I get, I get like, feels about like literally anything.


    Jené:  [laughter]


    Anna: So, don't mind me just sitting here, like with heart eyes. But let's talk about care then.


    Like how do you care like how do you take care of your bike?


    Jené: Okay. Well, I mean like there's normal bike maintenance, right? Like you take it to the shop, you just make sure like the chain is looped up and all the, you know, components are working right.


    But I think  part of taking care of it is like trusting other people to take care of it.


    Anna: Mmm


    Jené: Like having relationships with these bike shops, so basically when they see the bike, they already know they're like, oh, that's Jene’s bike. And I think that's, like having that relationship established can help with the care process, if that makes sense.


    Anna: Yeah. Totally. And I'm like metaphorical, cuz if we're talking about, you know, taking care of, um, like things to take care of ourselves, trusting other people to take care of us too.


    Jené: Yeah. yeah.


    Anna: Absolutely.


    Anna: What does it what does it look like to travel with the bike? Does that require different maintenance?


    Jené: Yeah I mean I basically have to deconstruct the bike, so I have to like take the wheels off, like un- unscrew a lot of parts so that they can break apart essentially. And then they fit all snug in my bike bag. Um, and then I'll put it back together once I get to wherever destination I'm at.


    And if I can, I'll try and get like a tune up or just have a bike friend look at it just to make sure everything's running smoothly.


    So , but it's like, it is crazy. Like it’s taken — it’s broken apart essentially. I put it together myself and then I'm like, all right, here we go.


    And just [laughter] you have to like trust that all the screws are tightened and everything to start riding so


    Anna: Totally so when you're like breaking it down and putting it back together so much, is that a ritual that you enjoy or is it more kind of just something you have to do when you're traveling?




    Jené: Yeah I like it. It's like very empowering to be able to take it apart and put it back together and then just start riding immediately.


    Anna: After the break, we talk more about how Butter and Jené care for one another.




    Hey, welcome back to Mood Ring. I’m Anna Borges. Before the break, we were talking to cyclist Jené Etheridge about her relationship with her bike and how taking care if it helps build a sense of trust in herself. Let’s dive back in.




    Jené: Yeah  feel like when I first moved to Mexico city, um, I didn't know anyone at all.


    Anna: Mm.


    Jené: When I got there, it was January, 2021. So we were like still in like pandemic, deep pandemic mode.


    Anna: Oh and moving to a new place during a pandemic too. Ugh.


    Jené: It was, it was so quiet.


    Anna: Yeah


    Jené: It was my second time in Mexico city, but it was, I remember I was just happy to be there because it was sunny and being from Portland in January, there’s no sun.


    Anna: No. Gray skies forever.


    Jené: Yeah. Yeah. And so, um, I mean, I was kind of lonely. I would just kind of ride a lot, uh, in the beginning and


    Anna: Yeah like what was your relationship to your bike like at the time?


    Jené: So I moved there for six months in the beginning and for some reason I didn't bring my bike.


    Anna: [gasp]


    Jené: I don't know why.


    Anna: Oh my god


    Anna: You were separated from Butter.


    Jené: Yeah. And so being reunited, I was like, oh my God, this is like the best feeling. Nothing feels like your bike when you're riding, like it's just completely different.


    And, so it was just nice to finally have that and like be reunited and be able to take care of it and like, make sure everything was up and running smoothly.


    Anna: I love – and like something familiar when you hadn't found your people yet in a new city.


    Jené: Yeah, Totally.


    Anna: Oh I love that


    Jené: Yeah. Yeah. It was super fun.


    Anna: We were talking about how, um, just like the concentration that is required to be on a bike is probably the closest thing that I will get to meditation because then I can't be in my head, you know?


    Cause I have to like think of what to do and how not to die. Maybe that's a dramatic way of thinking of it, but —


    Jené: Mm-hmm yeah. I feel that for sure.


    You can really be out of your head when you're riding. Like I would say a lot of the, you know, the to-do list and every day small things kind of just, you can't be thinking about it cuz you're riding. Sometimes we're riding for like hours, but then you start kind of getting into this more meditative mode that's like just reflecting on things on like a deeper way, because you have less distractions.


    Like you can't be really looking at your phone, uh, once you get out of the city and you're just riding, you know, know on more secluded roads, you're really just like with your thoughts.


    And then also you, you get really close to the people that you ride with because you're talking for literally hours.


    Anna: I did enter, you know, with a hypothesis around taking care of things, being, you know, good for our mental health and I’m — how much do you relate to the idea that taking care of something can benefit your mental health? Like does that resonate with you?


    Jené: Yeah and it's like, I put it through a lot, you know, like we'll be just going on these trips in Mexico. You know, we take charter buses and you just have to put it in the back in the back of the bus or under the bus with all those suitcases and stuff.


    And so you're like kind of risking a lot or when I'm doing gravel rides, like you're just riding through this crazy terrain


    Anna: Mmmm.


    Jené: And maybe falling because that just happens like when it's rough terrain.


    And so being able to like to bring it back to life or just like, you know, travel with it and then get back home and be like, okay, Butter. I know I just put you through a lot.


    Anna: [laughter]


    Jené: We're gonna go to the shop, make sure everything's good to go.


    And then, you know, to be able to do that is nice. Um, and yeah, you're just like, you know, building a relationship in some way.


    Anna: I love that so much. I'm like grinning like an idiot.


    Anna: One thing I did want to ask, does your bike take care of you in any ways?


    Jené: I mean yeah It challenges me every time I ride it.


    Anna: Yeah


    Jené: I'm like focusing on making myself stronger.


    So yeah. At the time, yeah, Am I suffering? Yeah. Yeah. It definitely sucks.


    But most of the time I feel great after the ride, you know, and I never regret going, um, unless I crash or something but [laughter] yeah.


    I would say like, it takes care of me just through challenging myself and I'm having to trust this machine to get me like hundreds of miles sometimes to a destination.


    So that definitely feels like care cuz I guess it's the medium to, to travel and to get to the destination, um, in a way that's like a little more intimate than taking a plane or a bus.


    Anna: [laughter] Yeah. I don't think I ever wanna think of taking a bus as intimate in my life.


    Jené: [laughter]


    Anna: But uh, thank you so much for sharing and for having this whole conversation with me and letting me pick your brain about your bike.


    Jené: Yeah of course


    Anna: Thank you so much for, for chatting with me today. I almost want to get a bike, but probably won't be.


    Jené: No, I think you should.


    I mean, to each their own, like I said, but, um, I would recommend it definitely to anyone who just like, wants to get outta their comfort zone, explore places that you would never see by car, by train, by horse even [laughter]


    Anna: Absolutely. I'm sure there are plenty of listeners who are like absolutely. Actually going to go out and do this.


    Jené: But like, fuck the horse. I'm gonna get a bike.


    Anna: [laughter]


    Jené: [laughter]


    Anna: When I think of how empowered Jené described feeling by her ability to take care of her bike, I couldn’t help but think of that like oft-repeated idea that you can't care for others until you care for yourself. And I know that’s true in some ways but in a lot of ways I know so many of us who have the opposite experience too. Like, taking care of other things teaches us to take care of ourselves. Or you know, at least inspires us to.


    My cats remind me to take care of myself all the time—just last month, I remembered I was due for a visit to the doctor because little Francis needed to see the vet. And I was like oh I guess I need to see the vet too. The people vet.


    Meanwhile, one friend of mine always remembers to hydrate when she's watering her plants and then another pours themself into like keeping their Jeep in pristine condition whenever they’re feeling like out of control or overwhelmed.


    All of that is to say, I like wouldn’t be surprised if you already have things in your life that you take care of, even if don’t really think about it that way.


    So if you’re up for it, I have a challenge for you. Actually, hey, a challenge for us—I think I could probably use this right now, too. Alright. Let’s think of something we’ve taken care of, past or present. Like pet, a friend, a plant, an inanimate object, a space, anything. Whatever it is, let’s take one small way we’ve shown that something care or love or tenderness and offer it to ourselves, too.


    I’ll report back what I wind up doing on Twitter and Instagram—my handles in the credits per usual. Meet me there and tell me what you tried. I look forward to hearing all about it.


    Until next time, everybody take care. Quite literally take care. Of something. Ah…




    Thanks for listening to Mood Ring, a production of APM Studios and Pizza Shark. We’re a new show, so it really helps if you rate, review and share this episode with your friends.  

    You can even tag me if you’re really into it — I’m @AnnaBroges on Twitter – that’s Anna B-R-O-G-E-S … because Anna Borges was taken. We want to hear from you. You can get in touch at Moodringshow DOT ORG and click “Contact Us.” Or follow Mood Ring Show on Twitter and Instagram. You can also call and leave us a message at 833-666-3746.


    Mood Ring was developed by Kristina Lopez. Our executive producers are Maria Murriel, Isis Madrid and Beth Pearlman. Our story editor is Erika Janik. Mijoe Sahiouni is our digital producer. This episode was produced by Isis Madrid. Our technical director is Derek Ramirez. And as you know, I’m Anna Borges and I write, host and produce this show too.


    APM Executives in charge are Chandra Kavati, Alex Schaffert and Joanne Griffith. And finally, our music is by Mat Rotenberg.


    Thanks again for listening, and I hope to see you next episode!



    25 August 2022, 10:00 am
  • 21 minutes 18 seconds
    Enjoy It (No Strings Attached)

    Host Anna Borges speaks with poet Nichole Perkins about doing things without the expectation for excellence. They speak about Nichole’s new painting hobby and how her confidence in writing poetry is fueled by her creative license to be a hobbyist painter. 

    Hey Mood Ring listeners, we want to hear what you think about Mood Ring! You can help us out by filling out a short audience survey:

    Follow Mood Ring @moodringshow

    Follow Anna ​​@annabroges

    Mood Ring is a production of American Public Media and Pizza Shark! 

    Full Transcript

    Anna Borges: Hey everyone! Pop quiz for you. When you discover a new hobby that you’re really enjoying, do you:


    A. Strive to improve so you can be really good at it.

    B. Brainstorm ways to monetize it because hey, if you have to make money, you might as well have fun doing it

    C. Stress about other things you should be doing instead of indulging in said hobby


    D. Just..en…joy? Enjoy it? Wait, some of you can actually do that?


    Hey,  I’m Anna Borges, and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings—even when you feel like you can’t relax and enjoy yourself.


    Today, we’re talking about the importance of no strings attached hobbies. You know, activities that don’t have to be productive or impressive or useful and even something you’re good at. Hobbies that don’t have to be anything other than…enjoyable.


    But a lot of things can get in the way of actually enjoying them, whether baking to relax turns into stressing about getting an Instagram-worthy loaf of bread or you get stressed out when you don’t discover a secret hidden talent the first time you pick up a paintbrush. You know if you’re anything like me that’s exactly what I do! Letting ourselves relax and be free to do something without the expectation of a performance or an end goal is hard. Even more so when the something we love overlaps with what we do for a living.


    That's where the no strings attached hobby comes in.


    Today’s guest is Nichole Perkins, a writer, poet, and the host of the podcast This is Good for You, where she helps people stop feeling bad about the things that they love to do.


    I also wanted to talk with her because as a creative, I assume she got the struggle of the work-hobby balance well. We dug into the beauty of trying things that we aren’t good at and how we can still enjoy our hobbies, even if they do come with strings attached, like overlapping with what you do for a living.


    Anna: Can I start by hearing something that you're bad at? Like something that you were just like awful at, but that you love?


    Nichole: Oh, um, so I recently started trying to figure out, um, acrylic painting, abstract acrylic painting. I don't know what I'm doing. I really don't know what I'm doing. I cannot draw a straight line. I cannot, I have never been able to perfect, um, a winged, you know, liner look because I cannot, I don't know what I'm doing. So that's something that I know that I am bad at, and I would never like really share that work with anybody because it's so bad, but it's also been really relaxing for me.


    Anna: I love that so much. so I have to ask, cause I feel like there are like two camps of people, largely there are people who can do that and enjoy that. And there are people and I'm in this camp who will do that and be like, this is gonna be like relaxing. I'm not gonna like pressure myself to be good. And then I still am like, but what if I want this to be good? Then I wind up in the boat of like Googling art lessons and oh my God, how do I get better at this blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So like, are you, are you in one of those camps, have you felt the pressure to become good now that you've started?


    Nichole: Yes, absolutely. Because there was like this one tutorial on YouTube that was like, you know, easy beginner thing and it was the sunset and it's supposed to be with, uh, power lines and beautiful trees and maybe like a little shadow of a house, right. And I tried to draw the power lines and I was just like, oh yeah, this is not, I can't do this. And I mean, I ended up kind of being still pleased with the results of what I had done, because it actually still looked like a purposeful painting. But I do want to get to a point where it looks really good, but I am still very  intimidated about trying to go, you know, find actual lessons or something like that, because I feel like I'm still very childish with, with, you know, learning this thing and I don't want to be in a classroom or whatever, you know, a workshop environment where there are people who are like, oh yeah, I used to draw, but then I stopped and now I'm back and they're like, you know.


    Anna: Or they're like, I'm so bad at this. And then you look over and you're like, excuse me, if you think that’s bad, don’t look.


    Nichole: Yes!


    Anna: But that's the thing is like you, I want the natural talents. I wanna be naturally good at things like I don't want to have to work to be good at things.


    Nichole: Yes. That's exactly my problem as well. So there are a lot of things, a lot of hobbies that I will try or say, I'm gonna try. And then I get frustrated because I'm not good at the first attempt. And… I really have to sit and think to myself, there are very few people who are, you know, experts at something the first time they pick it up. Like, yes, there are prodigies and all that kind of stuff. But the people that I admire on a creative level, they all had a natural talent, but they still have to practice and practice and practice and practice, you know. Like I love Prince, you know, he had natural talent, but he had to learn everything that he did and learn how to combine all of that, all of his musical skills, all of his lyricism into creating the legacy that he has now. Um, the same with like the writers that I admire. Yes, there's some, there's some natural affinity to it, but they still have to learn.


    Anna: And how do you remind yourself of that? Do you have to actually give yourself the Pep talk as you're doing it?


    Nichole: I do. I have to, I have to like say okay, practice, practice, practice. It's okay. I know that this is not something that I can make a living at or that I want to make a living at. So it's okay. If it is not perfect or consumable.


    Anna: Why did you pick something that you're taking classes for then or not classes, but at least like watching YouTube videos?


    Nichole: But I still want to like see satisfaction in my own improvement. I just wanna be able to like sit and do it without feeling the pressure of performance or like I said, that end, that end goal.


    Anna: Absolutely.


    Nichole: But you know, with writing, obviously that's very different, writing is something that, um, has been a part of my life for a very long time and I've always known I wanted to make a career out of it. And I just didn't really know how, um, because there's so many different ways that you can become a writer or, or make a career out of writing. I still have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish. So that's, that's more when I freeze up and let, like, I don't think I'm a perfectionist, but that fear of someone seeing my mistakes or seeing the worst of what I can do. Um, really like puts me in a choke hold sometimes.


    Anna: Absolutely. Yeah. Oh, I can't wait to dive into all the writing stuff because selfishly love writing, love, love talking, writing, and art. Can you kind of, I don't know, this is a big question, but like kind of tell me a little bit more about your like current relationship to writing? Cause I know for so many of us it's work, it's like therapeutic, it's fun, it's creative, it's personal. It's like all of these things that are like seemingly at odds for each other. And I'm curious what it is kind of right now for you.


    Nichole: Right now it is 90% work and then 10% just personal creativity and that personal creativity usually is my poetry. I have published a poetry book. So that was very much a goal of mine. I still, I, and I have other poetry that I would like to publish one day, but right now what pays the bills is culture writing. You know, writing books, script writing for podcasts, um, and that kind of thing. And I hope to eventually get into, um, screenwriting for film and television. Um, and I just, I want to ultimately continue to write until my dying breath.

    Anna: I can’t lie, some days, it’s harder for me to really have fun writing, thanks to how much I associate it with work. After the break, I explore poetry as a potential no-strings-attached hobby and we talk more about how to protect our favorite activities from outside pressures like work.


    Anna: Hey, welcome back to Mood Ring! Before the break, I was talking with Nichole Perkins about why it’s so helpful to have hobbies that don’t overlap with what we do for a living. Next up, I may or may not have asked for an impromptu poetry lesson.

    Anna: One of the reasons that I was so excited, um, to talk to you specifically is because growing up, I used to write a lot of poetry and I never had aspirations to do it professionally. It is just, poetry is what I associate with like playful writing, exploratory writing, me writing, all this kind of thing. And so when I started thinking about, Ooh, what can I dig up for this episode? Poetry did come to, come to mind. Oh. And so I'm, I'm kind of curious if I like asked if, like, if I asked you to just write a really God awful poem right now, like where would you start?


    Nichole: Oh, well, for me, it, that would be, um, a rhyming poem. Um, and not just like in iambic pentameter, like I, I do try to do like, um, um, inside rhymes or, you know, that kind of thing. Try to switch up the, you know, where the rhyme falls, but rhyming poetry has always just escaped me. Um, and I am not good at it. So if I were to try to write something that I would consider bad, it would be rhyming. Um, and making sure that like I threw in the moon…


    Anna: I do love me some moon imagery, sorry, poets.


    Nichole: Right, all poets love the moon, right.


    Anna: And so who doesn't love the moon? Love my girlfriend, the moon


    Nichole: So that's where I would probably, probably start.


    Anna: Why I, I think I find poetry so alluring as like an outlet like this is because I don't know what makes a good poem. Like I will read a poem and I like it, you know, or I won't like it, but that never makes me think this is a good poem or bad poem because it is like so much more subjective to me. I mean, like, I know all writing is subjective, but I'm just, don't have an ear for poetry. And so like, not knowing what good is, is like freeing to me because I can't strive for it.


    Nichole: That's really interesting. Cuz for a lot of people who dislike poetry, part of that is because when we're in school and we're learning poetry, it is hard to say what is good and what is bad… and so it's hard for them to understand. Like what made, you know, like, [laughs] if I put this in a paragraph form, would it still, would it still have the same emotional hit? Would it still provide the same satisfaction as seeing it in its whatever format, whether it's a sonnet or, you know, um, really short broken lines, whatever. Um, so people get really frustrated cuz you, you, when you say, what is a poem? And you say, you know, it's, it's writing in verse. Well what's a verse? This, you know, short blocky paragraphs, like. Okay, well why can't we just put it in a paragraph? Why can't we just, you know, make it a, a story as opposed to a poem? And it's like, you can, you can. And the way that poetry just constantly changes. No one poem really looks like the other, um, it freaks people out because people like structure, people like rules. And one of the first things you learn about poetry is yes, this is what a sonnet is, but you can also play with the rules a little bit and change the format of a sonnet, but still call it a sonnet. And that gets people really frustrated, um, about, about poetry, right. Um, because you know, there, there are formats defined formats and then poets go in and just change them all the time. It's frustrating.


    Anna: So when you're like specifically in the, kind of like that 10%, um, that you mentioned where it's like really just for you writing, like maybe you'll hope to publish someday, but it's your time? How much are you worried about it being good versus not good? Just like for you?


    Nichole: Um, this is gonna sound really…


    Anna: No…


    Nichole: I feel like it's always good.


    Anna: I believe it.


    Nichole: It sounds really cocky but…


    Anna: No, it doesn't own it. I, I, I mean, that is why you're a poet.


    Nichole: I feel so much more confident in my poetry, and when I write, when I get to a final draft of that poem, I'm just like, yes, this is, this is really good. Um, and the only time that I start to doubt myself is when I start thinking, should I submit this someplace? Because that is when I feel like…


    Anna: I mean, all of those trying to anticipate reactions, that’s when it starts.


    Nichole: Exactly. Because it's like, when I'm submitting the poem, it's not just me, my, my poem. It is against all the other submissions that are maybe dealing with more, more political topics, more cultural, uh, culture based topics or, um, you know, things like that. And so me writing about, you know, a piece of fruit may not hold up as well against a poem where someone is talking about traumatic events, you know, or something like that. Which is not to say that that poem should not be considered better than mine. Like it can be, it might be. Um, but it's just a matter of like, well, now my poem has moved from the context of my journal, into the context of the world. Can it stand up against, you know, whatever else the editors are looking at, you know, whatever else the readers are looking at.


    Anna: It has to be something.


    Nichole: And so I feel when I sit down and, and write it, I feel very, yeah, just assured of myself in, that feels good. It feels good to be able to approach a creative talent with confidence. And so I try to give myself room to move from terrible painting [laugh] to really good poetry or, you know what I hope will be really good fiction.

    Anna: Yeah. Do you have any advice for people who I don't know, whatever they try and keep as like their protected space, whether that's from like trying not to monetize a hobby or not trying to like worry about being good at something like, other than just really reminding yourself of that. Do you have any advice for protecting that space or like keeping that attitude?

    Nichole: I think in this day and age, I would say try not to feel compelled to share, right. Because I think that is when we freeze up, when we think, okay, I'm gonna try this new thing and I'm gonna document it on my Instagram or I'm trying this new thing and I'm gonna send pictures to the group chat, like whatever. You don't have to. I mean, it's not to say you have to keep it private or secret. But if you're able just to hold onto it for yourself and I think that's an overall problem that a lot of people have is feeling like you cannot keep anything to yourself. You have to share. It is a proof of your love to your partner, to your parents, to, you know, your audience or whatever that you're like, I'm giving you all of me, I'm trying to be transparent and that kind of thing. Again, that does not mean you're keeping secrets and hiding it and like, whatever. It's just a matter of, you can hold onto something for yourself. It's okay. It's not a betrayal to your, to your relationships, whatever they may be. If you hold onto something until you're ready to share it, you know?

    Anna: That's so underrated. Yeah. I feel like as someone who is pretty recognizably, a perfectionist or type A usually at like work or whatever, I find I have a really hard time explaining that sometimes keeping things to myself is for me, you know what I mean? That's not me being a perfectionist. That's me protecting myself for my perfectionist habits.

    Nichole: Yeah. And, and in my, um, friendships, sometimes I don't talk about like career opportunities or whatever. And I think, you know, my friends get a little upset with me when I finally do make the announcements or like share, like, why did you tell us about this before? Or why am I finding out about this, you know, from the announcement on social media? And it's like, it's not that I am hiding it, but I'm also just trying not to jinx it, you know? And that's definitely a trauma response for me where I have talked about something too soon and it's gone away, whether it was a relationship, you know, like, oh, I'm talking to this guy, things are going great. And then, he disappears and I'm like, Ugh, now, now it's gone. And that it's a little bit like perfectionism because it's, um, there is a fear of failure. I don't, I don't wanna talk about this thing because I'm afraid I'm gonna fail at it. I don't wanna talk about this guy that I'm feeling because I'm afraid it's gonna fail. It's, it's not gonna be a success. I don't wanna talk about this career opportunity because I am afraid that it's gonna fall through. And then you know, this, it'll be a rejection of me. Um, you know, I don't wanna talk about learning how to paint because what if I abandon it because I never get good at it. And then you keep asking me about painting and I'm like, I had to stop because I was a failure.

    Anna: No one ever asked Nicole about painting. If you listen to this episode, do not ruin this for her. I will be so mad at you.

    Thank you so much for, for chatting. I could have continued chatting about this kind of stuff for forever, honestly.

    Nichole: Thank you for having me on. 

    Anna: I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what made a good no-strings-attached activity for me. I knew it had to be fun to do badly, so I wouldn’t get all perfectionist about it. And I knew I couldn’t feel pressured for it to be something, like something I’d be tempted to monetize.

    But I hadn’t really noticed the theme before: We need things that are just for us. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget all the ways we’re always sharing our time and attention and…well, ourselves. We multitask or document on social media or try to kill two birds with one stone with side hustles. And that’s how we forget to create space for things like fucking up or being weird or creating without a goal in mind.

    So there’s magic in keeping some things for ourselves to enjoy, no strings attached. I’d ask you to share your own no-strings-attached activities, but since I just told you to keep it for yourself, how about this: Whatever it is, why do you love it and how do you protect it?

    Let me know and I’ll see you next time.


    18 August 2022, 10:00 am
  • 21 minutes 23 seconds
    Spill Your Guts to Strangers

    Host Anna Borges talks with therapist Latisha Taylor Ellis about the benefits of group therapy during times of loss. Ellis is the creator of Thank U Next, a virtual therapy group for the brokenhearted. When we feel we have no one else to turn to, does opening up to a room full of strangers help us move through grief?

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    11 August 2022, 10:00 am
  • 16 minutes 52 seconds
    Be Lamby

    Host Anna Borges speaks with Mood Ring producer Georgina Hahn about her concept of Lamby. They explore the unique way of being tender, supported by a conversation on inner child work with writer and mystic Bernice Angoh.

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    Full Transcript



    Georgie: Close your eyes and take it way back. Try to remember a quintessential childhood moment, something that encapsulates the best parts of being a kid. Getting lost in your own backyard. Long summer days. Cartoons in your jammies. Playing make-believe. Can you remember the feeling of possibility and wonder?


    Anna: That is Georgina Hahn, one of our producers on the show. And she’s telling us about something that’s very close to her heart - letting our inner child out so our most authentic selves can shine. And she even has a name for it.


    Georgie: I call it Lamby. Lamby is writing in my room, surrounded by the soft and tender, exploring my thoughts and feelings. It’s waking up to my roommates cooking breakfast, and cuddling my stuffed Lamby in my matching adult-sized pajama set.


    But it’s about so much more than that, too. Lamby is kind of a way of life for me, reaching out to my inner child, taking care of her, looking out for her, helps me create a life of curiosity and openness. To go easy and not be so concerned with what other people think. It’s about giving ourselves permission to be, well, unapologetically Lamby.




    Anna: I’m Anna Borges, and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings—especially the feelings so specific, you make up words for them.


    As you might have guessed, I tapped Georgie to kick us off because—well, I’m not very lamby. Or at least, I didn’t think I was when Georgie first introduced me to the idea. It sounded cute and optimistic and happy, and when Georgie explained it to me with like the earnestness of a baby lamb, I had to admit to her that I had never related to anything less in my life.


    So, naturally, we had to do an episode on it. That is the challenge we set for ourselves, right? To occasionally give something a try, even when you’re convinced it is not for you.


    Which is exactly why I wanted Georgie to steer us today, so we could learn direct from the source: what can channeling our inner child look like when we don’t associate childhood with tenderness and softness? Or, what might be getting in our way? First, I talked to Georgie about all things Lamby.


    Anna: For our listeners, but also still for me, I feel like I go back and forth whether or not I understand Lamby, so, what is Lamby, when and how did you come up with it?


    Georgie: Okay. Lamby is being unapologetically connected to your inner child and those desires and being tender and being soft and also really leading with that, putting that on your sleeve and putting the sort of gentle vibe forward. And it came about from a stuffed animal that my grandma sent me on Easter when I was 20 or 21, living with my best friend. And we got this like cute little lamb and we would like, just bring her everywhere and do photo shoots with her. And like, just like she was a character in our house. When I moved to New Mexico, I had a radio show called the Lamby Hour on a community radio station. I made a ton of friends through the radio show who were all Lamby? And so I was like, just really beautiful that I feel like the, the energy I was putting out there was really coming back to me and who I was getting to know.


    Anna: What I love is before this interview, I was like, please use Lamy in a sentence. Is it a verb? Is it an adjective? And it, it's like a state of mind, it could be an adjective. Like you're so Lamby. But it's also kind of stands out as like a value, like a value system for how you make decisions in your life. You know, like, is this Lamby, is this not Lamby? This place is not Lamby. This place is Lamby. It's, I'm, I'm really into it.


    Georgina: A hundred percent. And I think also it helps me sort of make decisions about like what environments I put myself into. Cuz it just feels like so important that I like try and keep that constant in, in terms of like the people that I spend time with, the activities, the, the food, the clothes, like literally down to just like how I feel in my body.


    Anna: So, if people who are listening are also kind of doing the same thing, like, what is that for me? Do you have a recommendation of where they start?


    Georgie: I think it's just noticing when do I feel cozy? Kind of like when, when do I feel like safe? Is it just that moment when I make myself a cup of coffee and like feel the warmth to my body? Like who are the people and what are resources around me that are going to kind of evoke that feeling?  I think also like putting aside some time each week to be like, I'm just, I'm going to have an afternoon to myself and just do what I'm gonna enjoy doing. [Anna: Mhmm] Also, yeah, like when you wake up, like, okay, is there any room for some Lambiness today? Is there any like, anything on my agenda that I can approach with softness instead of, um, my usual hardness?

    Anna: Have you, have you felt pressure to not be Lamby and like had to reclaim your lambiness?


    Georgie: I think it was hard in high school and college to be in a very like, like NYU was so cool. You know, like everyone was trying to be so edgy and cool that I think it took a long time to stop trying to be cool and just embracing kind of the nerd. It’s not even nerdy but…


    Anna: Ooh, this thing that Georgie completely made up is speaking to me. But as people may or may not know, if they follow me on twitter I recently fell back into like being like into fandom and fanfic too. And like, I've like kind of like been unabashed about talking about it with like people I work with and some of them are like, I don't know how to respond to this. Like isn't’ that a weird thing? And I've like, felt like, so for lack of a better word, annoying, but it's because I'm not like worrying about sounding cool. And the kind of like unselfconscious, I don't know enthusiasm.


    Georgie: Yeah. And I think to be honest, you will weed some people out, like some people will be like, that's weird. But then on the other side you'll then become like a magnet for people who are your same kind of vibe. And that's really cool to see happen.

    Anna: Okay, so I did find a way to connect with this idea after all. But I still wondered… what do you do if this lamby stuff doesn’t come so easily? After the break, we talk with someone who helps us understand our inner child. Stay with us.



    Anna: Hey, welcome back to Mood Ring. Before the break, our producer Georgina Hahn and I were chatting through some ways we can channel our inner child. But even though I was starting to get on board with the concept, I still had some questions. Like, what happens if my inner child wasn’t very joyful or tender or free? What if I’m not sure who I’m connecting with?

    To help, I talked with Bernice Angoh, a writer, mystic, poet and author of Dear Me: Love letters to my inner child. She gave us some more perspective on how connecting with our inner child often needs to start from a place of healing and discovery.

    Anna: If you could kick us off by telling us a little bit more about inner child work and what that even means, I'd so appreciate it.


    Bernice: Oh, okay. No problem. First of all, how do we define the inner child? I define the inner child as the original you. The you before all the conditioning from culture, from religion, from society, from politics. So, who were you when you still had that sensitivity? That joie de vivre, you know, like you just had this wonder, this great imagination and that's the part of you, that's your inner child. When there were no limits to anything.


    Anna: Oh man. In my head I'm like, oh, who is that? I don't even know anymore. I feel like there's a lot of, a lot of bull crap piled on top of, of, of her.


    Bernice: A lot, a lot. Because we are born into our families and we spend so many years of our lives trying to retrace our steps, to go back to being that free unapologetic, authentic self.


    Anna: Absolutely. And so inner child work is the work of, reconnecting with that authentic you.


    Bernice: Yes. But in order to reconnect, you, you do have to, to retrace your steps because you have to take a, a deep look into your family history, into your family dynamics, into so much of what has made you, you and into your society also. Cause a lot of the times we end up becoming what our family and society has prescribed for us. And we basically, I always say we put our inner child in a perpetual timeout. It's like, hush, I don't want to hear anything you have to say, who are you anyway? You know? And so being able to re-parent or to nurture our inner child, that's where the healing, you know, begins to be able to know where the shame comes from, where the guilt comes from, where the blame comes from, and all that hurt and hiding comes from.


    Anna: Man, so how do we like begin spending like time with this inner child?


    Bernice: So, the first thing that I usually tell people to do is to get- look for a picture of yourself when you are a child. I have this picture of me when I was five years old, and I used to put it in my wallet. I used to put it on, you know, on my phone, on my screen. And when I start to have that negative self talk, I would look at that little girl and imagine that that's the person I'm talking to. And I'd be disgusted, like how dare you? You know, this child didn't know any better. They were young. They didn't, you know, they didn't deserve this to happen to them. So, you start to speak to yourself with a, with a little more tenderness and compassion and forgiveness. This child needs your guidance. This child doesn't have a clue about navigating this life. So you are the parent now to yourself, you're your own mother and father. How would you treat that you? And then you bring it back to yourself now as an adult, right? Because that's the same person.


    MUSIC — lyrics: “All my clothes are slightly dirty … all my thoughts are clean …”


    Anna: Obviously, the first thing I wanted to do after talking with Bernice was find a picture of young me. And in the spirit of Lamby, I asked Georgie if she’d find one, too.


    Anna: Describe to the class what we're seeing.


    Georgie: Okay. So this is a photo of me and my great-grandmother in Hungary, outside of her house. So I'm wearing, like a polo dress shirt and I'm wearing papucs, which are Hungarian little slippers. They're red with embroidery. And, I found a turtle that was on its back. And my great-grandmother used that broom to flip it over onto its belly.  [Anna: oh my god] And the feeling is kind of just like, like just sort of excitement and like-


    Anna: It looks like you're yelling. Your arms are thrown behind you [laughs].


    Georgie: I always loved being like, let's go do this. Kinda like, the catalyst.


    Anna: So the you in this picture, how, how do you think she would hope you were spending your time right now?


    Georgie: Having fun, spending time with other people and doing things that are Lamby. Is that a cop out? No, like, I don't know. I just feel like young me would want the vibrant excitement and compassionate feelings to like lead my life.


    Anna: It sounds like the young you in the picture would be very happy with how you're living right now.


    Georgie: I think so.


    Anna: Aww, so sweet. Does this mean I have to share mine now?


    Georgie: Yes. Your turn!


    Anna: So this is me. Uh, God. Oh, there's so many different things I'm now noticing about this picture now that I'm gonna walk through it. This is what I consider our old house, you know, when I like dream of the old house, and it's me outside in one of those little, god, it must be even smaller than it looks because I am a small child, but like a little plastic pool and I am laying down in it. My like legs are floating, but like I'm reclining against the side of the pool. And my like arms are crossed over my stomach, like comfortable. And I'm smiling for the camera, which, you know, stops when you hit a certain year in my photo albums.  And like, I'm like winking because the sun was in my eye as I was like having  this picture taken. There's someone there adding more water to the pool. There's like a football in the background. It's just like, it's very, I don't know, summer vibes. Just peaceful summer vibes. And the reason I picked it is because like very specifically, one thing that I know about myself is I really, really like being in the water. I think the most Lamby, I feel like the most expansive my world feels. So when I saw this picture, I was like, hmm, young me, in this picture would not be happy with how I was spending my summer. But I think I'm getting there. Like, I think like with the creativity that I'm bringing into my summer already, she's happy with that. She's also a very imaginative young girl. She loves making believe. Oh my God, the amount of make believe we played. Ugh. Oh, I love her! But yeah, I think, I think what I've been realizing lately is she would not be the most happy with how I'm spending my time.


    Georgie: How would they hope you're spending your time?


    Anna: I think she would want me to have more outlets for creativity and imagination. And water. Before we end, what is the lambiest thing you're gonna do today? Once we're done?


    Georgie: Well, I was gonna go to the pool, so yeah, I also have great childhood pool water memories.


    Anna: Thank you so much for sharing Lammy with us. I’m really excited for finding my version of it.


    MUSIC - lyrics: I have a way for us … I have a plan for me … I know who I want to be …


    Anna: When I sat down to write the conclusion to this episode, I read back through that last bit conversation to get my bearings and you guess what? Like, I do want to spend more time playing and less time working, so I decided to call it a wrap there and go play video games. Which means this episode is almost over. Young Me is pretty pleased with that decision. And I hope you ask your inner child what they want for you today, too.


    Thank you again to our producer Georgina Hahn for sharing the magic of Lamby with us. I couldn’t have channeled my inner child without you. 






    Thanks for listening to Mood Ring, a production of APM Studios and Pizza Shark. We’re a new show, so it really helps if you rate, review and share this episode with your friends.  


    You can even tag me if you’re really into it — I’m @AnnaBroges on Twitter – that’s Anna B-R-O-G-E-S … because Anna Borges was taken. We want to hear from you. You can get in touch at Moodringshow DOT ORG and click “Contact Us.” Or follow Mood Ring Show on Twitter and Instagram. You can also call and leave us a message at 833-666-3746.


    Mood Ring was developed by Kristina Lopez. Our executive producers are Maria Murriel, Isis Madrid and Beth Pearlman. Our story editor is Erika Janik. Mijoe Sahiouni is our digital producer. This episode was produced by Georgina Hahn. And as you know, I’m Anna Borges and I write, host and produce this show too.


    APM Executives in charge are Chandra Kavati, Alex Schaffert and Joanne Griffith. And finally, our music is by Mat Rotenberg.


    Thanks again for listening, and I hope to see you next episode!

    4 August 2022, 10:00 am
  • 20 minutes 28 seconds
    Take All the Personality Tests

    Host Anna Borges talks about her past with an affinity for personality tests. Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Buzzfeed quizzes, you name it. Our guest Saeid Fard is the CEO and founder of Anna’s latest obsession: the personality test app, Dimensional. Can personality tests help us improve our lives and mental health?

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    28 July 2022, 10:00 am
  • 24 minutes 10 seconds
    Struggle Meals

    Host Anna Borges shares her secret past of being a Tumblr fitspo influencer and unpacks women-targeted diet tips with Good Enough cookbook author Leanne Brown. Anna and Leanne chat about owning our food choices to stop judging ourselves and reframe nourishment.

    You can find information on Leanne Brown and all her cookbooks on her website.

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    21 July 2022, 10:00 am
  • 17 minutes 23 seconds
    Embrace the Woo

     Host Anna Borges explores our processes of faith and belief with astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo, and how “woo” can be used as a non-judgmental tool for guidance and self-determination. 

    Follow Jessica’s work on her website and through her podcast Ghost of a Podcast.

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    Full Transcript

    Anna: Guess what? It is time for an astrology episode. Because let’s be honest, I wasn’t going to make it through a season of Mood Ring without one. But also because I think a lot of us could really use it right now.




    Jessica Lanyadoo: People turned to astrology for lots of reasons. A big common reason—especially during this global pandemic and time of social unrest—is anxiety. If I'm looking for a way to not feel anxious and an astrologer rattles off a ton of stuff and a ton of advice, in a way, in the short term, it's scratching that itch. I want order, I want to be told what's real. I want to be told what to do. Okay. This person's telling me. This person seems to have a grasp on the, on the universe and they're telling me what to do this week.




    I’m Anna Borges and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings … and sometimes, if I’m being honest with you guys, I do wonder if being TOO practical can hold us back.


    You just heard Jessica Lanyadoo, an astrologer, psychic medium, and today’s guest. I invited her on because I love astrology as a self-care tool and definitely wanted to talk about it, but, at the same time I’ve always felt like there was something kind of holding me back from really getting the most out of it.


    Because on the one hand, I feel exactly what you just heard Jessica describing. I want to be told what to do. I want to be told what’s real. I want to believe my horoscope when it tells me how I can find happiness and trust when a meme tells me that my Leo Venus means you know, I’m really good at love.


    But on the other hand, my skeptical little Virgo brain is like, “Uhhh. You don’t actually believe in this, do you?” 


    So, that’s what we’re talking about today—how we can turn down the volume on our logic and our doubt to really lean into, well as Jessica calls it, “the woo.” Jessica herself specializes in helping people cultivate self-understanding and emotional intelligence through what she refers to as … woo. And I am ready to embrace the woo!


    If you’re sitting here thinking, “Can’t relate, fuck astrology,” this doesn’t just apply to that. You know, you might have another complicated relationship between something you doubt the effectiveness of, or the truth of, but that you really kind of want to believe in. Our brains reject everything from the magic of meditation to our own self-worth—like haven’t you ever stopped to wonder, like “Hey, what would happen if I just trusted the process? Like, would I start to believe in it? Would it work?”


    So, that’s what I wanted to talk to Jessica about. Why it’s so hard to embrace the woo, and how we can.




    Anna: I feel like the question that comes up whenever people talk about astrology is, do you really believe in it? Like, I hear that all the time, whenever I express an interest and I'm curious: A, I mean, do you and B, what's your reaction to it?


    Jessica: Hmm. I don't believe in astrology. [Anna: gasps, whispers “amazing”] I don't believe in astrology, and I don't believe in ibuprofen and I don't believe in the internet. I use them because they work. And that's how I respond to people asking me about it. And it's also how I respond to people being like, I don't believe in astrology. I say, cool. Yeah, me neither.


    Anna: You’re like no, yeah, me neither.


    Jessica: It's a tool, it’s a, it’s a system and a tool. And I think, I should just pull back to say, when someone asks me about astrology, I don't think about memes. I don't think about apps. I don't think about AI. I don't think about sun signs. I don't think about compatibility and I don't think about stereotypes. Or like, “I would never date a ———,” to me none of that is astrology, That's like pop culture around astrology.


    Anna: That's like a good response and I'm gonna steal it. Like, what do you think people are really asking when they ask, do you believe in it? Like what's real, what's beneath that question?


    Jessica: It depends on who's asking. A lot of the times people have asked me that question, what they're really saying is, “I went to university. I'm really smart. I don't want you to think I'm not smart. And, I just think it's fun.” But usually they're trying to affirm their intellectual prowess and competency as a person and that is what they mean, I think, yeah.


    Anna: But like the reason that I start with the question of like people asking, do you believe in it is because my little gremlin brain asks that all the time. Like every time I kind of wanna like shut up and enjoy and like lean into it as a tool, in the back of my head there's like a little voice going, “Is this even real? Like, what's the point of doing this?” [Jessica: yep] So every time I wanna give myself to the woo, embrace the woo, logic gets in the way!


    Jessica: I, first of all, really like reclaiming words that are used to minimize or, like, belittle. So, you know, not so much anymore, it's 2022, but in the nineties I was dyke-identified because you're not gonna call me a dyke and get me, get me mad. I'm going to call me a dyke and enjoy it. And woo is something like, oh, that's, woo-woo, that's like, you know, a way of being dismissive. And so I'm really big on embracing it. So that's one part of it. But in terms of like, what I think woo is, I think it's a really big umbrella of … esoteric spiritualities that are not necessarily part of any kind of religion. I think they can be associated with like new age stuff. But even like, I don't even know what new age exactly means. It's woo. I can say astrologer, psychic medium, animal communicator, tarot reader, but that just feels like a lot of fucking words to confuse a person with. So woo. It just really kind of works.


    Anna: Absolutely. Yeah. I, I connect with that so much, and then have like, kind of the underlayer of knowing that I probably lean on it to signal to other people who might judge, if I said astrology or tarot or whatever that like, “Don't worry. I don't take it too seriously. I know it's woo.”


    Jessica: And think like, this is, this is like, I'm glad you said that because this thing of … there's so much judgment, especially towards women, or, women and femme people for being into things that are not quote “proven.” But I can use astrology to tell a person when a thing happened in their past, when a thing’s going to happen in their future. I was able to see an airborne pandemic coming in 2020 through astrology. There's no religion that gives any kind of like … evidence. Right? Because people do attribute astrology to faith and it is spiritual, right? So it’s, it's just really an interesting thing to me that people have to distance themselves to prove their intelligence. When in fact studying astrology takes years, it means learning a new language and there's a lot of math. But most people don't know that.


    Anna: This is why I can never fully embrace the woo! Math.


    Jessica: Math is hard! It’s not a joke.


    Anna: Math is hard! [laughs] I'm really glad that you mentioned like faith so early on, because when I was like getting ready for this interview and this episode, I did realize that it's like, not so much about astrology as it is, “How do I develop a sense of faith that I can trust? The same way that I'm not great at trusting my gut or trusting all of these things” ‘Cause I think so many of us second guess anything that we can't point at and be like, “Factual. Valid. Cool.”


    Jessica: Yes. Agreed. Well, you know, I'm one of those people, I don't have faith, easily or frequently, but I, I'm a fan of evidence. And so for me, I think a lot of people are surprised because I'm a psychic medium and an animal communicator and astrologer, people assume that I believe in the things I do. I don't. And people who assume that I am a faith-based person. I’m not. I would like to be more, honestly. And also I love evidence, and I don't think there's anything wrong with requiring evidence of the things that guide our lives and guide our choices. But, but like to answer your question in a way that's, I think, slightly more helpful, is … it is hard to have faith in others or in, or in, other things, when we don’t have faith in ourselves and we don’t know how to listen to ourselves-


    Anna: Ugh!


    Jessica: I'm sorry!


    [Anna and Jessica laugh]


    Anna: I mean it’s true, but you don’t have to say it, Jessica!


    Jessica: I know, I know. It was like I slapped you. You were like, ouch! I’m so sorry. But that’s it. That’s what it is, is like. If you give strangers on the internet—or like, whatever people, your mom, your ex—power over your self esteem and your identity, like if we have that habit to do that with others, then we're really likely to do it with like faith-based things. And it is a, kind of a survival mechanism to say, “I'm not going to believe in things if I don't know how to assess whether or not they're accurate. And if I make a mistake, I don't know how to take care of myself around that mistake.” That's the key.


    Anna: There’s like risk in trusting your faith or having faith.


    Jessica: Yes. The risk is that you're going to be wrong. That you're gonna be silly, that you're going to be dumb. That risk is that you, you know, you will lose yourself. You will give away your power. There's so many things that people can do in the name of faith. I mean, I think it's wise to have a critical relationship with where we give our faith, with what we believe in, and the tools that we use.


    Anna Borges: Well. Wow. Jessica just pretty much summed up exactly what’s so scary about giving ourselves over to the woo, huh? It takes a lot of self-trust to let go and that can be really terrifying for many of us—or I mean, at least a lot scarier than staying in control.

    After the break, we’ll talk about how to get over that—but, like, in a way that’s actually true to you, I promise.





    Anna Borges: Hey all, welcome back to Mood Ring. We’ve been talking with astrology and psychic Jessica Lanyado. We started with why it can be so hard to embrace the woo—so now let’s dive into how. 


    And trust me, the irony is not lost on me that even in an episode about woo and rejecting the practicalities that hold us back from woo, I still couldn’t resist the urge to ask Jessica for practical answers. But honestly, I’m glad I did. The rest of our conversation really didn’t go as expected for me—and I may or may not have left with an entirely new perspective. Let’s dive back in.


    Anna: Do you have, like, any guidance for how people who are kind of in this push and pull relationship with like belief, faith, whatever we want to call it, but want to be able to fully lean in or start leaning in? Like where do we start embracing the woo?


    Jessica: That's really good question. Let me think for a second here, because—let me tell you why I'm like pausing to think. Because it does depend a little. Some people don't embrace the woo because they have a hard time being in emotion. [Anna: yeah] And some people have a hard time not identifying first and foremost with their intellect. And those are very different problems. And they look kind of the same on the surface, but they're very different issues and they take different remediation. I also think some people have religious damage and are scared of believing in anything because their belief was turned against them. And I think it ultimately really just does come back to figuring out how to trust yourself [Anna: yeah] And how to use tools—and I would say in this context, belief is a tool—as a way to make your life better and to identify whether or not it's actually not making your life better.


    Anna: I love that, so like what does tapping into their intuition and deciding what to do with that information look like? Because I know that it's like, some people are more prescriptive than others, you know, like some astrologers I like, but sometimes it's very vague, like the planets are doing this and that means it might be a good time to do that or whatever. And it's, what do we do? What do we do with that? What is it like, I'm like, sure. And then I forget the next day.


    Jessica: Yeah. Yeah. So I am a fan of taking notes. If something seems important that you're reading or hearing or seeing a “woo” say, I think it's important to jot it down and to then sit with like, okay, this person has said it's a great time to flirt. And then when the day comes, you can check in and be like, do I feel like flirting with anyone? And if the answer is no, because I feel shitty about my body today, then you can be like, “Okay, do I need to flirt with myself? Like, can I actually work with this energy?” [Anna: yeah!] You know what I mean? And if the answer is like, “You know what I do, I wasn't going to go to this party, but maybe I will go to this party, cause some fucking nerd told me it was a good day to flirt and let's see what happens.” And then you go and it's terrible. Cool. Okay. Good information. Or you go, you go, and it's like, actually you flirt with someone. Great. You're getting information that you can use. And if it's not useful, don't use it. And if it is useful do use it. So again, I guess I keep on coming back to pragmatism. Faith will organically bloom when you feel safe. Yeah.


    Anna: Yeah. I think it's so funny because I really have been craving the ability to give myself to the woo, to turn that off that part of my brain. And this is very validating and this is going to help me, like, lean into the woo, by not trying to give myself to the woo.


    Jessica: That's it. It's like, it's about accepting your nature. You're a critical thinker. You're somebody who's questioning things. Don't give that up to have faith. Bring that in. You know, and I think this is like, this is like, you've just kind of gotten to this core thing of, if you have to give up your essential nature in order to do something, maybe it's not for you. And maybe it is, maybe it's the challenge you need, but why not enter into everything with critical thinking?


    Anna: Man, yeah no, literally on that note, I think, I think that really sums up everything we hope to get at and didn't know we would be getting at.


    Jessica: That's so exciting, that’s so exciting. Well, this has been a true joy for me so I thank you.

    Anna Borges: Little did I know when I set out to do an episode about embracing the woo that I was really doing an episode on … embracing myself.


    Okay. But seriously, I, I do want to bottle Jessica’s last answer for us and apply it to just about … everything. The idea that we shouldn’t force ourselves to do things that don’t work for us feels really simple, like I know, but how often do you find yourself doing it anyway? Like especially when it comes to taking care of our mental health.


    We try to turn ourselves into morning people, or people who meditate, or people who follow specific routines—and when that stuff doesn’t work? Ugh, I mean, I don’t know about you, but my first question is always, “What is wrong with me and how can I change?”


    As for all the woo, I really love how Jessica highlighted how we can use it as a tool for, you know, intentional self-care and self-compassion, like that kind of stuff we talk about on the show all the time. Think of the party example that she gave—the point was not whether or not the planets know for sure that it’s a good time to flirt. Sometimes it’s simply about creating an opportunity to open ourselves up to a new experience, like going to the party or thinking intentionally about what we want, or treating ourselves with kindness and love, like flirting with ourselves.


    And I think the same can be said for so many mental health tools, right? Like, at the end of the day, it’s about understanding ourselves and making those tools available to us, work for us as we are. Which, hey, I am not saying that’s easy by any means, but, at least with woo, it’s a little bit more magical.



    14 July 2022, 10:00 am
  • 21 minutes 35 seconds
    Buy Happiness

    Host Anna Borges (The More Or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care) hears from listeners about their relationship to money, whether it’s colored by guilt or generational shadows. Then, Anna has a chat with Mood Ring producer Jordan Kauwling about her recent reflections on how money has shaped her life—and her relationship to work.

    We want to hear what you think about Mood Ring! You can help us out by filling out a short audience survey:

    Follow Mood Ring @moodringshow

    Follow Anna ​​@annabroges

    Mood Ring is a production of American Public Media and Pizza Shark! 

    Full Transcript

    Anna Borges: There was a time when I was constantly debating quitting my job. If you've been with us here since the beginning of Mood Ring … you may remember a work-related breakdown I had on the shower floor? Yeah, that was this job. So week after week, I would go back and forth debating about whether or not I wanted to quit without anything lined up for the sake of my mental health.


    Because here was the thing: I could. I could do that. I grew up with a lot of financial instability, so savings has always been really important to me. And by that point in my life, I was in a privileged enough position that I could afford unemployment for a couple of months if I wiped out my savings.


    But, I just couldn't get myself to do it. Like, sure, yeah money could buy me freedom from a job that was making me cry every time I woke up and faced the thought of yet another day. But money was also buying my health insurance and rent and security and peace of mind and all of the things that I needed to buy in my life. And, I mean, I’d experienced what it was like before without a financial safety net. And I didn’t know what would be worse, like all the feelings I was dealing with at this job, or all the feelings that came with losing that security?


    Which is all to say, oh my god, there are a lot of feelings to be had around money. The stress of the things we do to make it. The decisions we have to make about spending it. The shame of having it, the guilt of not having it. The attitudes we’ve adopted about it or inherited.  I mean, grappling with privilege or changing financial circumstances. Just overall how money, or lack thereof, can make us feel vulnerable. Or judged. Or obligated. Or a million other emotions.




    Anna: I know that’s something I say a lot on this show: things make us feel emotions. But…man [sighs].


    That’s the thing: No matter where we’re at financially, there are always new feelings to wade through or new ways for our money baggage to show up.


    So yeah, maybe money could help my mental health in one way, but there was always another problem that needed money thrown at it. So how much was money really helping my mental health?


    I mean, a lot. A lot. Money helps my mental health a lot, and it would be bullshit to pretend otherwise.


    But it’s still not that simple.


    I’m Anna Borges and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings—both the feelings you can put a price on and the feelings you can’t.


    Every episode, we’ll explore one new way to cope — with our feelings, with our baggage, with our money baggage, with our brains, and with the world around us.


    Anna: Today, we’re talking about money and how sometimes it can buy—maybe, not happiness, exactly, but a whole lot of stuff that supports our mental health. Like, not just in big ways, like access to mental health care and being able to meet our fundamental needs, but also in small ways. You know, like, the ability to buy things like time, energy, and support in the form of things like…child care and meal delivery and time off work and all of these little things that support our ability to feel, like, slightly more well.


    We wanted to tackle this topic by hearing from you about your relationship with money and kind of the connection between money and mental health and how you experience it. And your responses, you know, made the heart of the episode super clear, and it’s that unpacking our relationships with money and all our feelings about it is key to understanding the role it plays in our mental health. For better AND for worse.


    Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in some of today’s stories, and maybe you won’t, but the point is to get to know your own story. You know, because this shit is complicated, and we have to meet ourselves where we’re at with lots of compassion.


    Alright, so without further ado I just want to dive right into some of the stories we got from our listeners. 


    Kevin: My mismanagement of money has gotten me in a heap of trouble at home with my spouse. Spending beyond my means and really had to curb the amount of dumb shit that I buy, which has been helpful because I’m able to talk myself out of making purchases now and say, “You know what? That’s not going to help me. That’s not going to make me feel less depressed or less terrible. So I don’t need to do it.” And yeah, when you don’t have a lot of money it’s fucking stressful. Because you’re worried about how you’re going to make it to the next paycheck. You worry about spending your money on the wrong things. You worry about just like having enough to take care of an emergency if something comes up. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s rough when you’re already struggling enough as it is, tossing in thinking about finances and how poorly you handle them and poor decisions that you make and how people are disappointed with you when you piss away your money on dumb shit. That doesn’t make you feel any better. It makes you feel a lot worse and that’s, that is a one-way ticket to couples therapy.


    Anna: Okay, raise your hand if our listener Kevin just echoed your internal monologue. We can judge ourselves SO harshly for how we spend our money—even if we’re doing it in the name of just trying to feel better.


    At the same time, feelings hold information—and like Kevin and our next listener Ronald point out, sometimes they can help us figure out whether or not money is actually doing what we want it to do.


    Ronald: I don’t know if, you know, ordering food on UberEats makes me happy. I don’t think it makes me happy. It makes me like satiated, for sure, but I don’t, I don’t know if participating in a system that is exploitative is necessarily nourishing for people either.


    Anna: I don’t know that anyone really knows that. I mean I don’t! How do we even begin to untangle all the ways self-care has gotten wrapped up with consumerism, and all of the sticky, tricky ethical and human questions that come with it?


    A similar theme that came up a lot? Guilt related to our financial circumstances.


    Harper: I have immense financial anxiety that is disproportionate to my circumstances. And I have a lot of I guess like financial survivor’s guilt about that. About the fact that I have all these resources and yet I still feel so unsafe and I feel so guilty that I have this much when others do not. I also have a lot of child of immigrants’ guilt around it because my family came from so little, they gave me so much. And whenever I am unable to succeed it feels like I am failing multiple generations. When I was a kid a hate crime happened to my family and we were able to move and that was because of the way that my parents had made their financial choices and the financial standing that they were in, that they were able to do that. So that’s just really emblematic, I guess, of what money has meant to my family. When I, when I got laid off from my first job, I had had a lot of money saved because saving was always really important to me, and I felt really confident because I also had a really great resume full of great internships and good experience and I felt like it would be a couple of months and then I’d be fine. And then that ended up not being the case and thus began the major financial trauma of my life which is that I had spent several years after that being unemployed, underemployed or fully employed at places that were really abusive. And so I burned through all of my savings and then I had to rely on my parents after that. I felt like “wow, there is no amount of money that I can save that will ever keep me safe.”

    Anna: Like I said at the top of the episode, that point about safety is so important for me, too, and for so many of us. And when we start to feel like no amount of money will keep us safe, what are we supposed to do with that?


    I mean, I wish we had answers, but in talking to people in our circles and hearing from our listeners, sometimes we have no choice but to just kind of…keep on trying to make it work the best we can.


    Ronald: You know I am the child of immigrants. My parents kind of came here via the Refugee Act of 1980. And I think for a lot of those immigrants you kind of navigate poverty the best way you can, usually by like leaning on the community that you … you’re living in and your fellow immigrants and then you find a way to kind of straddle, class straddle into the middle class. And that, you know. My mom is a CNA at a nursing home. And I would say, you know, my aunt works in the medical field. My dad was a respiratory therapist. And so, you know, you kind of do what you can to survive and then you find a very steady work where you’re usually like … taking care of dying rich people.


    Harper: I feel like all I’ve ever wanted to be able to do is three things: I wanted to have enough money to be safe, I wanted to have enough money to have a decent margin of error for when I made the wrong choice, not just for when circumstances screwed me over, and I’ve always wanted to have enough money to be able to be generous. That’s really all I want, and I have been able to do those things at different points in my life, but I really don’t feel like I’ll ever have enough to truly be safe. And that scares me.


    Anna: That scares me, too. A lot. I feel like these days, I can’t open Twitter or talk to my friends or anything without hearing jokes about the shitty existence under late stage capitalism—and those jokes are funny, but beneath those jokes, beneath all of them, all I hear is genuine fear that money won’t ever NOT define our lives. Whether it’s not being able to afford your basic needs or staying in shitty jobs so we can, it’s hard not to feel like money is the one thing standing between us and any number of fates. And that’s scary—and also not a very satisfying solution, especially when we’re usually here to talk about dealing with feelings like fear.


    But, I mean, if it were that easy to reach a satisfying conclusion about money and mental health, we wouldn’t be having this conversation I guess. Which, yeah okay, not exactly a comfort, but I did promise that we wouldn’t try to find easy answers on Mood Ring, so here we are.


    Thank you to listeners and friends of the show Kevin, Harper and Ronald for sharing their stories with us for this episode. Like, we know this is some vulnerable shit and we really appreciate it every time you guys share your stories with us so thank you again.


    After the break, we’ll chat with Mood Ring producer Jordan Kauwling about money and a recent major life decision.




    Anna: Hey, welcome back to Mood Ring. I’m Anna Borges. Before the break we were listening to messages from YOU about the impact that money has had on your own lives.


    Next up, is a conversation I had with my producer Jordan Kauwling, and I have some kind of sad news and by kind of I mean very, which that this was actually the last episode that Jordan and I were working on together. Jordan is moving on from Mood Ring and she is going to be so dearly missed for a million reasons that I will not begin to enumerate because then this episode will get very, very off topic, but she has been such an asset to the show and it just so happened to line up that this last episode that we were doing together was a topic that was really really close to Jordan’s heart and my heart, and it just seemed like the perfect opportunity to sit down and talk money trauma together. So I’m just going to let the conversation speak for itself.


    Anna: When we were developing this episode, I know that it was one that really resonated with you, Jordan. And it also happens to be your last episode. So it does feel perfect in a way for us to have this conversation, but it's also a little bittersweet.


    Jordan: Yeah, it's definitely bittersweet. When we had our production meetings and we decided we wanted to do an episode about money, I immediately felt something in my spirit stand up and say, this is an episode that is meant for you to be a part of. So I'm so glad that we're able to have this conversation today.


    Anna: And I know so much of your connection to this topic, like at this time and space in the world is related to you going on sabbatical soon. And I, I'm curious actually, cause I feel like we figured out this episode a while ago, did you know at the time, or was it just general money stuff that made your spirit sit up?


    Jordan: When we were having this production, this pre-production meeting about money, I was thinking about my godmother. My godmother, I reconnected with her in 2019 … right before the pandemic when I moved back to LA. She lives, she lived in Santa Monica and she unfortunately passed away from cancer in 2020. And so when we decided we were gonna do this episode about money, all I could think about was my godmother, this woman who had worked her entire life to work herself out of poverty and who died penniless. And then it made me reflect on my own life, my own path that I had been on of overwork throughout the pandemic. But to answer your question at the time that we had this meeting, I had no idea that I was gonna need to, that I was gonna need to take a break.


    Anna: So would you mind sharing kind of how, I mean you had that realization that you needed a break?


    Jordan: Yeah, sure. I, I feel like my body was slowly letting me know that it was time for me to, to take a break. My godmother passing away at the height of the pandemic in 2020, not being able to say goodbye to her other than via Zoom, having to have an outdoor funeral, really instead of taking what happened to my godmother as a message and reflecting on it, that I needed to take a pause in my life, that I needed to stop working so hard and overworking myself. I took it as a message that I needed to work even harder because I never wanted to end up in a similar situation as her. I took, so I, I started working even harder, to the detriment of my own emotional, mental and, and, and physical health. Because again with the pandemic, so many of us were out of work. I felt so much guilt because I was one of the few people in my friend's circle. And in my family circle, who was able to work from home, who was able to continue to work full time and to bring in an income. And so many people around me were not able to do so.


    Jordan: So I took on the responsibility of helping people pay utility bills. Helping people pay tax bills, helping people, you know, buy groceries. And so, because I felt like I was privileged enough to continue to work, it pushed me to work even harder until I reached a point where I physically could not work any harder. I emotionally could not work any harder. And I started longing for vacation time. And I realized that, in my life, I've never gone on a vacation. So I started researching, you know, if I were to go on a vacation, where would I go? And I, I fell down this YouTube rabbit hole that eventually led me to the idea of what if you took an extended vacation, and what if that vacation was, you know, not just two or three days or a week's time, what if it was something that was, was restorative to all of the things that have been stripped from you in the past few years?


    Anna: The story of your aunt, even though, like I've not had an experience like it, feels so familiar to me because so much of my drive to make money is like avoiding a certain fate that I've witnessed, you know? And like, we don't bring in stuff such as like work life balance and actual like wellness into that conversation. All I knew is I wanted to avoid my parents' financial fate, that's it. Not like I wanna avoid my parents' financial fate and also be like a human who is well and doesn't wanna die. I was just so concerned with the money aspect of it, even through our conversation and listening to, to our listeners who were, who were speaking to this as well, is how much of like, can money buy happiness? When I think like, hell yet can, like, what I'm really thinking is like money can like buy me out of one specific type of unhappiness. But I don't know that I've really considered holistically what money is doing for my mental health.


    Jordan: I've, I’ve come to a place hopefully of peace or of better peace with money. Money can buy happiness. It can buy, buy me time. Hell it can buy my mom a new house, hopefully one day. But you know, money is like water. It flows in and it flows out. But if you're not careful, it can, can drown you. So…


    Anna: Holy shit, Jordan! Where did that come from?


    Jordan: I don’t know! [laughs]


    Anna: Clearly there’s no easy answer here. I mean, there isn’t even a simple question that we were asking. But we knew all that going in.


    And I think what stood out to me between Jordan’s story, my own story, the stories that we got from Ronald and Harper and Kevin, is we can put so much hope into money. Like, so many expectations on it. And in some ways that’s totally right! Money does in a lot of ways bolster our ability to take care of ourselves on a very fundamental level. And we also look to it for security or to avoid a certain fate or to buy things that can ease the burden of life’s everyday bullshit. But, I think what’s standing out is it can be hard to predict like whether it’ll actually do what we need it to do or if it will just cause more problems, literally or emotionally.


    Digging into all of the like personal nuances of using money to address mental health is complicated, as we heard from all of you. And… I mean we can make 6 million episodes out of this. But it’s a good place to start, you know, like we can unpack our money baggage. We can reflect on the underlying needs that we’re trying to address with money and whether money can actually address those needs. Because sometimes, that can lead us to say, “You know? Actually, I won’t get what I need from this,” and then we can use it as an opportunity to find something else. Like something better.


    But at the same time what do we do when the answer is, “Yeah, money would really help here” and we don’t have it? Or our feelings or our histories interfere with our ability to accept that help or use it in that way?


    I guess that’s when we find ways to soothe and manage the feelings that come with that. And share our stories so we don’t think that we’re alone in them. And short of that, I’m really holding out on marrying rich.


    If you have more thoughts to share on money and mental health, you know we always want to hear from you. Just because the theme of the day is over doesn’t mean your stories are over.  So tag me or the show on social, call our toll-free number and leave a message, submit through our website.


    And in the meantime, I hope you treat yourself to something nice—whether that’s self-compassion or a small purchase that will give you the hit of dopamine when you need it. You know, whichever works.





    7 July 2022, 10:00 am
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