Get (Really) Grounded

 

– The MOVEMENT Movement with Steven Sashen Episode 135 with Emily Gooding

 

Emily Gooding is a Movement Coach and a former Registered Nurse. She helps individuals with chronic pain, injuries, and movement dysfunction reclaim their quality of life through movement coaching, Thai massage, and environmental design. Emily’s ongoing journey navigating her own chronic pain has led her to explore many modalities such as martial arts, cold therapy, and ground-living. She believes in fostering a culture of curiosity, learning, and openness to new ideas. Her objective is to help empower her clients to unlock their full potential so they can enjoy more of their lives.

 

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Emily Gooding about getting grounded.

 

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

– How you spend a lot of time on the ground if you practice Brazilian Jujitsu.

– How we have spent most of human history close to the ground, so it makes sense to sleep there.

– Why sitting on the floor is better for your body than sitting in an ergonomic chair.

– How everything takes time to adjust to, so don’t be hard on yourself if being on the ground seems hard at first.

– How modern life is not built close to the ground and why we should return closer to the ground.

 

Connect with Emily:

Guest Contact Info

Instagram
@emilygmoves
@humanhomeottawa

 

Links Mentioned:
emilygooding.com
humanhomeottawa.com

 

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Jointhemovementmovement.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

 

 

Steven Sashen:

It wasn’t that long ago that people were saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.” It’s not actually true, but that’s what they were saying, and everyone was switching to standing desks. Well, what if that’s not actually the right place to go, or going far enough, or going in the right direction? Maybe there’s a different direction than standing that could be even more important and more relevant, and something you haven’t considered, or certainly haven’t thought about as an adult. Let’s leave it that way for now. We’ll see more about this on today’s episode of the Movement Movement podcast, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body, starting feet first, because those things are your foundation.

 

We break down the propaganda, the mythology, and sometimes the flat out lies you’ve been told about what it takes to run, walk, play, do yoga, CrossFit, lift, Dance Revolution, power lifting, skydiving. Yes, skydiving, or whatever else you’re doing, and how to do that enjoyably, efficiently, effectively. Did I say enjoyably? Yes, I know I did, because it’s a trick question, because look, if you’re not going to do something that you love and you enjoy, you’re not going to keep doing it. So find a way to do something that you like. Anyway, I’m Steven Sashen from XeroShoes.com, your host of the Movement Movement podcast. And if you don’t know, we call it that because we’re creating a movement about natural movement, letting your body do what it’s made to do.

 

You can find out more if you go to www.jointhemovementmovement.com. You’ll find previous episodes, all the ways to interact with us. You don’t have to do anything to join, that’s just the domain we got. There’s no special fee, there’s no secret handshake, but again, you can get alerted to new episodes, find all the previous ones. Then find us on social media, where you know what to do. Leave reviews, thumbs up, like us, hit the bell icon on YouTube, you know the drill. If you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe. That said, Emily, first of all, welcome. Secondly, tell people who you are, why you’re here, and let’s have some fun.

Emily Gooding:

That was awesome. Thanks so much for having me, Steven. Yeah. My name is Emily Gooding. I am a movement coach here from Ottawa in Canada, and I work with individuals to help improve their quality of life through movement coaching, Thai massage, and furniture design, really. Yeah. A little bit of everything. I’m a registered nurse, so my background’s in nursing. I fell into this by chance, and I just love it. I was always a personal trainer when I was going through nursing school, and it’s just something that I’ve always done. I’ve always worked with clients, worked with movement, and it’s just something I continued to do until I couldn’t nurse anymore. It just took over my life. So that’s where I’m at right now.

Steven Sashen:

I love it. Well, since you said Thai massage, you gave me a flashback to my favorite Thai massage story. When I was in Thailand, and holy crap, this was a long time ago, 1999, I’m at Wat Pho, where they do Thai massage. This tiny, tiny woman, couldn’t have weighed more than 90 pounds, is giving me a massage. And at one point, she’s working on my inner thigh, and it was the most excruciating thing I ever felt in my life. So I rolled over to see what she was doing, and she was just leaning on me with one elbow, while reading the Sunday comics. I thought, that is so not fair. If you’re going to cause that kind of pain, you at least should have to pay attention. But no, just be-

Emily Gooding:

No. No, they don’t need to. That’s the beauty of it. I think that’s why I fell in love with it. Being 5’1″ and 125 pounds, I’ve always been around athletes who were much bigger than me, a lot of men that were much bigger than me, and I was like, “Well, regular massage is just not going to cut it, so I’m going to have to learn how to walk on people and beat them up with my elbows, and my feet.”

Steven Sashen:

I have a friend who was a massage therapist. One of his clients was a professional bodybuilder, and after three sessions, he said to the guy, “I know you booked for 10. I’ve got to give you your money back. You’re just too big. I can’t do it.”

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, yeah. I’ve had to send some clients away, just because of how big they were. But luckily, my fiancé is a registered massage therapist. He’s a nice, big, strong guy, so he gets all of those clients.

Steven Sashen:

Perfect. Perfect. I mean, when you said furniture design, that leads into what I teased at the beginning. When we got on this call, before I hit record, the first thing I said is, “I love someone who’s got rings in the background.” You described what was behind you as being more than just having rings hanging from somewhere in the background. Well, anyway, I’m going to let you take it from there.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the rings that you’re describing in the background, it’s attached to a system, it’s a stall bar system. For those who don’t know what a stall bar is, it looks like a ladder that’s anchored to the wall. It’s used for body weight exercises, gymnastics, all that kind of stuff. You can attach Olympic rings to it and stuff like that. There’s a pull up bar at the top as well. It’s a pretty, relatively simple structure. Most people probably would’ve seen these types of things in their gym class, when they were in elementary school.

 

I had one of my clients design this for me. What’s special about this one in particular is that it has a desk attachment that can hang onto the rungs of the ladder at any height. So you can use it as a standing desk, you can put it down to a height level, where you can use a chair, or you can put it right down to the ground, where you can sit on the floor and utilize it. I wanted something like this because it was something that I would use a lot, and I couldn’t find anyone who would make it. So I was like, “Let’s just make it ourselves.” Right now I’m in my studio, and it’s quite a small room. It’s 10 by 20, so it’s not a huge room. This is where I train my clients. It’s also where I do Thai massage. I needed something that was compact and that was very versatile. So this was just a perfect thing.

 

Then I started featuring it in my videos, and people started asking about it. That’s where Human home was born. So I’ve been working with local creators in my community to design and build furniture that helps you move better and move more often. So, where you have a ground living desk, we work on creating ground cushions, a standing guest system like this, and really anything we can think of. So we’re still in the process of designing more furniture, refining the furniture that we’re building now. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

When did you start Human Home?

Emily Gooding:

This was, I guess, last year. Yeah. Unofficially last year

Steven Sashen:

Unofficially. Is there an official date?

Emily Gooding:

No. Everything that I do is unofficial.

Steven Sashen:

I like the way you think. People talk to us about what we’ve built, and I said, “Yeah, we’re just getting started.” They go, “No, this is a big thing.” I went, “No, we’re just getting started.” We’ve been doing this 12 and a half years. Only within the last year did I stop looking at things that were talking about startup companies. It’s like, I always think of myself as a startup. But anyway, be that as it may …

Emily Gooding:

Absolutely. I mean, if we talk about when the idea came about, it was from when I was a young kid. I just didn’t want to sit in a chair. I think it’s really hard to pinpoint when the origin is of these projects, because it’s just, if you’re doing your life’s work, I think it starts from the beginning.

Steven Sashen:

When people ask me to describe how Xero Shoes began, I usually half-jokingly start by saying, “Okay, when a mommy loves a daddy very much, then that’s how all began.” At least from my perspective.

Emily Gooding:

Absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

So as a kid, you were a floor sitting person?

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. I mean, I sat on the floor. I think part of it is because I grew up doing martial arts, so I grew up doing karate. I think you did martial arts as well.

Steven Sashen:

I did. Yeah.

Emily Gooding:

Okay. What did you do?

Steven Sashen:

I was an Aikido and Tai Chi guy, but I got to follow that up by saying my Tai Chi teacher was a guy who, when I met him, he’d been doing Tai Chi for 22 years. He was 27.

 

He treated Tai Chi as a fighting art, not just a thing that old people do to relax. I met him actually in Aikido, where he was a little overweight guy. And while he was a, I don’t remember what level black belt he was, he never wore his hakama, never wore the black belt. So he just looked a guy who didn’t really know what he was doing, and then he would just heave you across the room with no effort whatsoever.

 

I’ll do the last part of the story. This guy’s name’s Eric. Someone says, “Have you had Eric push you?” This is before I started doing Tai Chi. I was just doing Aikido, and they told me that Eric taught Tai Chi. They said, “Have you ever had Eric push you?” I said, “What are you talking about?” They said, “You got to come over to the house.” I go over to his house. He’s living with a couple of the guys that were all Tai Chi players, and there was no furniture in the living room. The classic furniture for a Tai Chi guy, no furniture. So I’m standing in the doorway, or the space between the living room and the dining room, I’m facing the dining room. It’s important for the geometry, this.

 

I have one arm in front of me at about chest level, and Eric puts his hands on me very gently. He’s just moving my arm very gently, and I’m going, “All right, this is weird.” I was curious what was going on, because I just heard some noise behind me. I look behind me, and there’s four guys holding a mattress against the wall, 10 feet behind me. As I turn around and I’m about to say, “Well, that’s interesting,” Eric just looks at me, he goes, “Bye-bye.” All I felt was a tap on my arm, and then I hit the mattress.

Emily Gooding:

Amazing. That’s straight out of a movie.

Steven Sashen:

It was, it really was. It was crashing tiger, flying Sashen. So I went, “All right, I got to find out what’s going on.” He used to go to karate schools and challenge karate guys to a fight, and he would just destroy them. Sometimes he would do something simple like, he’d say, “My hands are at my sides. I’m going to try and tap you on the top of your head. Don’t let me. Whatever you want to do, just don’t let me. I’m not going to do anything crazy. Don’t let me.” Then he would just tap, tap, tap, tap, and they’d never be able to block him, and they were very confused. Then he would say, “Do you think there’s something wrong with the practice you’ve been engaged in?” He just wasn’t telegraphing. Anyway, that’s a long martial arts …

Emily Gooding:

Very cool. Yeah, yeah. Everyone has their martial arts journey, but yeah, I guess bringing it back to my interest in ground living, it really does stem from martial arts. I started off doing karate. I’ve always felt drawn to the ground movement aspect because, in the karate that I did, we spent a lot of time on the floor as well, and then practicing drills on the ground. Yeah, yeah.

Steven Sashen:

It’s unusual.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, totally unusual. My senses were really awesome. And they were like, “Well, you know what? Other people are training on the floor, so we probably should get used to it as well.” I fell in love with that aspect of it. So now I do a lot of Brazilian jujitsu.

Steven Sashen:

I was going to ask if you had gone to BJJ from there.

Emily Gooding:

Yep, and that’s exactly what I do now. So now I do Brazilian jujitsu, where you spend a lot of your time on the ground, and I just feel really comfortable and at home there. My body feels fantastic. I mean, I interact with the ground pretty heavily, like sleep on the floor. I spend time eating on the floor, fill my laundry on the floor. It helped me with my chronic pain. I was a nursing student for a long time, so I spent a lot of time hunched over a desk. And I was like, “I have crazy neck pain. I have headaches all the time,” I was suffering from a lot of migraines and it was miserable. So really, this just stemmed from me trying to find solutions to the pain that I was having. I recognized that when I was doing jujitsu, I felt fine. When I was not doing jujitsu, I didn’t feel good. So how do I spend more time mimicking what I’m doing in jujitsu, in my day-to-day life? Yeah, now my life is jujitsu.

Steven Sashen:

So, while you’re eating, is someone trying to choke you out?

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, yeah. Sometimes. Just kidding.

Steven Sashen:

I can only imagine that when you say, about all the things that you’re doing on the floor, especially sleeping on the floor, there are some people who are going to go, “All right. That sounds completely insane.” How do you respond to that, and give them the invitation to say more about why you’re doing what you’re doing, why they might want to try it, and what the easy way into experiment might look like?

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. I thought it was crazy when I started doing it at first, because we had our nice, comfy Kings down bed that we were sleeping on. I started having pain in the middle of the night, just to give you some insight. I was having pain in the middle of the night and I’d wake up, and I’d have radiating pains on my arm. I didn’t know what to do. My fiancé’s a massage therapist. We were experimenting. We were doing all types of exercises. I could not figure it out for the life of me, why I would wake up in the middle of the night with this type of pain. So out of frustration and not wanting to wake my fiancé up all night long, I just grabbed my pillow, grabbed my blanket, and slept on the floor, and I would fall asleep. Then I did that again the next night, and then again the next night, to the point where I was just sleeping on the hardwood beside my bed.

 

Now I don’t recommend the people that that’s the way that you should do it. What I usually tell people, if they’re having pain when they’re sleeping, they don’t feel comfortable, well, try taking a nap on the floor. And I get myself set up. Like right now, I’m sitting on my Thai massage … I actually took a nap right before this call, but I have my Thai massage mat. So it’s just a thicker type of yoga mat, maybe an inch thick. Just start with a nap there, see how you feel, and your body has to get used to it. I mean, you’ve probably had those discussion many times with anyone transitioning to a minimalist shoe, that it takes some time to transition, especially if you’re coming from an orthotic, or a heavily cushioned and supported shoe. You need a little bit of time to build that tolerance and resilience up.

 

The same philosophy applies to sleeping on the floor. Your body has to get used to it. But if you think about it, for most of human history, we’ve spent all of our time interacting with the floor and sleeping on the ground. We never had really soft, cloud-like, memory foams to sleep on. So this is how we were designed to move. And when you sleep on the floor, what happens is, it’s not the most comfortable thing, but it encourages you to move frequently throughout the night. So there’s built in movement and mobility work as you’re sleeping. I personally just found that I feel better when I sleep on the floor, and it’s just through self-experimentation. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it’s what works for me. If I can share my story, and just open up another option or a door for someone else … It’s just to think about it and give it a shot. It might not be for you, but if it works for you, then why not? That’s it.

Steven Sashen:

Since human beings like to have prescriptions for how to do things, I’m going to add some things to the prescription for experiments on the floor. Talk about what you would recommend for someone in terms … I know this can sound silly. Literally, what position should they try, or start in? What are you doing for a pillow? I mean, let’s really give people-

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. Yeah. What I like to do when I’m making my bed, I try to imagine I’m trying to set up my floor bed, as I would for a toddler taking a nap on the floor. So I make it nice and cozy. I’ll maybe roll out a yoga mat. I don’t want it to be too, too hard, so I’ll roll out a yoga mat. If you have a Pilates mat or something like that, you can do that too. You can even use a nice carpet, just have a carpet. Then I’ll throw a comforter down or a sheet down, depending on what you’d like. At the beginning, I used a fit comforter, so just something that had a little bit of extra cushion. A question I get a lot is, do I use a pillow? Yes, I do use a pillow, sometimes. If I’m lying on my side, I tend to use a pillow just to support my head so it’s not in that awkward, laterally bent position. But if I’m on my back, I don’t use a pillow, just so that my head can sit naturally.

 

We have this little divot in the back of our head, and everyone can feel this flat part over our head, that’s just to let your head sit flat on the ground when you’re sleeping. That’s what it’s there for. Yeah, I have just a pretty flat, shitty Ikea pillow that I got. I actually had this super nice memory foam pillow with contours, and I hated it. So I went to Ikea, I’m like, “Give me your cheapest, crappiest, flattest pillow.”

Steven Sashen:

While we’re not sponsored by Ikea, I feel obligated to say Ikea products are not all shitty.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, no, no, no.

Steven Sashen:

Actually, when you said, shitty Ikea, hell, all I could think of is, how many Ikea things do I have in my house? Okay. I got those bookshelves. I got that thing. I’m a fan of some of their desserts. So Ikea food, we’re big fans of some of that. In fact, I’ve got a couple of cakes that have been in my freezer for too long. I’m going to have to pull them out and eat them this weekend, now that you reminded me.

Emily Gooding:

Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, my first standing desk too, which I still have, is an Ikea desk. It was perfect. You just got a tabletop with long legs and it was fantastic.

Steven Sashen:

Mine’s the same, actually.

Emily Gooding:

I love Ikea.

Steven Sashen:

I do too. Mine is the same. I have an Ikea desk that I put together in my office, and I had to raise it more than the legs could go, not because I’m massively tall, because I’m a whopping 5’5″, but because I threw a treadmill under there as well. So I needed that extra six to 90.

Emily Gooding:

Oh, cool.

Steven Sashen:

I just threw some cinder blocks down and put my desk on top of that.

Emily Gooding:

Beautiful.

Steven Sashen:

It’s very classy. I mean, beautiful cinder blocks. Let’s talk more just about living and being on the floor as well, but also, what your thoughts are. I mean, it is funny that this idea came up about, sitting being the new smoking, where Dan Lieberman, who kicked off the barefoot movement, his most recent book is called Exercised, and the first chapter is busting the myth about sitting as the new smoking, by saying, if we look at indigenous tribes, they spend more time sitting than we do. But they don’t spend time sitting in things that keep them from moving. So like you said about sleeping, there’s more motion involved. Sitting, there’s more motion involved. And in fact, the chair that I’m sitting on right now, I’m going to show this one, this is from core QRR, Core 360. It’s just a thing that is totally unstable. So way better. I’ve sat on yoga balls before, this thing is way, way better. So I’m technically sitting, but continually having to move in order to stay balanced and do the things that I’m doing.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. Yeah. I think we should differentiate the different types of sitting. Sitting in an ergonomic chair, where you’re fully supported and not moving, that’s probably more equivalent to smoking. Sitting on the floor, and you’ve probably seen me, I’m sitting on the floor right now, I’ve probably changed my position 10 to 20 times in the short conversation that we’ve had so far. So it’s completely different. When you’re sitting in a chair, you’re in that fixed position, and our bodies are lazy, right? So your body’s going to adapt to the position that you assume throughout most of the day. But if you don’t assume a position throughout most of your day, then it’s not going to adapt to it, and you’re going to be a model or versatile. So floor sitting is completely different than chair sitting.

 

There was a big shift towards the standing desk moment. I love the standing desk. I work from a standing desk often, and I do work from the ground often. Those are my two defaults, and lying down on the ground as well. But I think humans tend to be very binary, right? We tend to be all or nothing with it. We either sit or we either stand, but I think what’s really important is that we can … There’s that whole spectrum of movement in between those two positions too. Sometimes we can stand. Sometimes we can sit on the floor. Sometimes you can fly down, and sometimes it just means listening to your body and asking, what does it need right now? Today I didn’t have a great sleep, so maybe I just need to take a nap and lie on the floor for a little bit.

 

Normally, if I was going to do a conversation on Zoom, I’m usually standing up at my desk. But because I’m feeling a little bit under the weather, I’m going to sit down on the ground today, just to conserve a little bit of my energy, but we can adjust accordingly. But I think a lot of people tend to be like, “I’m using a standing desk. I’m going to stand here all day.” And then when they have a day like I’m having today, they’re going to feel crap. Then they’re like, “Standing desks don’t work at all.” I think having some flexibility with the way that we move as well is really important, and it forces you to be really intuitive about what’s going on in your body when you do recognize that movement exists on a spectrum.

Steven Sashen:

I have a chair next to me, because I’m in our conference room, and in my office, where I have my standing/ treadmill desk, I’ve got a desk next to it, because like you said, there’re sometimes where I’m going, “I just need a break.” I need to lean back and just chill. I am thinking that after I spend time on this, or standing, when I was thinking, I need to go back to a chair, for a while, I felt guilty. I will confess. It’s like, oh, I should be able to handle this better. Then it took me, not very long, because I don’t second guess some things like that very often, but it took definitely a few times where that was going through my head, of going, yeah, yeah, I just want to sit down. It’s no big deal.

Emily Gooding:

Absolutely. Yeah, we tend to beat ourselves up over things. It’s that overthinking it, right? Where we’re like, “We failed at it.” It’s like, no, we’re not used to it just yet. It just takes some time to adjust. And it might just mean you need to spend more time sitting on the floor too. It means that you need to gravitate towards being on the ground. I mean, you have a pretty active job and you talk a lot throughout the day, you might just maybe need to spend more time on the ground, or just lying down.

Steven Sashen:

I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor. Lean and I, we work really hard and often long hours. So I’ll roll home, cook some dinner, we get on the couch, we watch some television. And often, I find myself sitting in front of the couch, on the floor. When I’m on the floor, I think often about my dad, who, the only time he was ever on the floor is if he was trying to build something, like a coffee table without the instructions. And it would turn into something completely different because he didn’t follow the instructions, but I never really saw him spending time on the floor. That was not a thing I saw adults doing when I was growing up. I’m very aware of that every time I do it.

 

It’s interesting that my life looks nothing like anyone that I could model from, growing up. And I’m not unusual. I mean, this is not uncommon thing, especially with the people I hang out with, but it is interesting to see how somehow that happened. Conversely, now that I think of it, I know people who still live in the same place where I grew up, which was an upper middle class neighborhood outside of Washington DC. And the idea of people sitting on the floor, it’s even still a little weird for them. So it’s fascinating seeing how these things penetrate people’s brains or not.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. There’s definitely a cultural component to it as well. My dad is from the Caribbean, my mom grew up in Asia. They met here. So I grew up sitting on the floor with big families. There was never room at the table to have dinner. The younger ones always sat down around the coffee table, so interacting with the ground was just something that was a part of my life. It was not a really big deal. We squat. Even from the toilets that you see in Asia, they’re on the ground. So you got to be able to do a deep squat if you want to have a bowel movement.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, it comes in handy.

Emily Gooding:

Absolutely. But yeah, I think our modern life is just not built close to the ground. Every technological ‘advancement’ that we have, into quotation marks, is designed to disconnect us from the ground, even from our shoes. We’re starting at our shoes. Our heels start to get more and more elevated so that we’re further away from the ground. Our buildings are getting taller, so we’re not as close to the ground anymore. Our beds are even getting higher. Have you seen some of the beds that are out there? You have to climb onto them. When I go to a hotel, I have to get a running start to get up. The trucks that we have, you have to basically get a ladder just to get on top. No one wants to be close to the ground at all, and I think because, initially, it takes a little bit of work to get there if you’re not used to it.

Steven Sashen:

This was the intro to what we’re doing, and there was a bunch of things that we touched on before we started this conversation, that for whatever reason, have flown completely out of my head, which means I’m just going to say, where else are we going with this?

Emily Gooding:

Totally. I mean, one of the things that I wanted to do with Human Home in particular, and bringing the desks … I have this ground living desk that we make. It’s just an individual, moon shaped desk that you can slide right under. So it can support your elbows, but you can move your hips freely underneath the desk, and change your hip position. That’s something I want to get into schools because I think that when I was in school, if I had something like that, I would’ve thrived a lot more than I did, because I spent a lot of time in school being distracted, focused on my pain, just being miserable and not enjoying the process of it. Just because I was like, “This sucks. I hate sitting here. I feel antsy. I want to leave. I want to move around.” So I think, if I had that as a kid, I think I would’ve done a lot better in school. I don’t know how far you want to dive into this, but-

Steven Sashen:

Oh, all the way. Let’s go.

Emily Gooding:

I mean, I see a lot of kids with ADHD, or a lot of people with attention deficit issues, and I really think that if we gave them the freedom to move around more, we would see a lot less of that. I don’t know. I look at my eight year old nephew and I’m like, “There is no way I can get you to sit down in a chair for eight hours a day.”

 

It’s not because he’s a bad student. It’s just because I don’t think I can. I don’t think anyone’s designed to do that, let alone an eight year old boy. So I think, just making it more accessible for kids to move freely will help them learn better. And if we can get kids to learn better, then we’re going to really progress as society.

Steven Sashen:

I have a thing I want to add to that. Now I’m not going to make medical claims in what I’m about to say, but I’m just going to share this. We have a lot of parents of kids who have autistic children, or kids with ADD, or ADHD, who say, “The only shoes they want to wear are yours, and it seems they function better when they are.” I said, “I think I have a theory why.” My theory is that getting that extra stimulation, by wearing shoes that don’t have a shit ton of padding, is actually doing the same thing that Ritalin does. Ritalin is a stimulant and it calms people down, who have issues being hyperactive or having attention deficit problems, because it’s giving the brain a certain kind of information. The way the analogy that I have is, when I lived in New York City, I could meditate better, or fall asleep pretty much instantly on a subway because the noise of the subway was just a little bit louder than the thinking in my brain.

 

So, it’s easier. My theory is something similar is happening. I also joke when people ask me what I’ve done for a living, and I have a very long list of things that I’ve done in the last 40 something years. I start by saying, “Well, you have to keep in mind, they hadn’t invented Ritalin when I was a kid, if they had, I would not be doing the things that I’ve done.” So I would contend, and it would be interesting to see if being on the ground is just adding additional stimulation from all the movement you have to do and the feeling, that that might be calming in a similar way.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. I mean, I think that what you’re saying is really valid. It reminds me of when I walk my dog. He has a lot of energy. He’s a poodle mix, so he’s got lots of energy. He’s very, very active. What we notice that if we bring him to a new neighborhood for the same length of a walk, he’s a lot more tired after that walk than it is when we’re just bringing him on our regular routine walk.

 

Just changing your environment, I think that provides a lot more stimulation. Yeah, I think I agree with you.

Steven Sashen:

Well, Lena and I were somewhere. Where the hell did we go? I have no sense of space or time. Oh, New York, duh. She had never been to New York City before. I found it very relaxing because it was familiar to me, even though things have changed a lot since I left there, I moved out 29 years ago, but nonetheless, it was still very familiar in many ways. And for her, it was totally novel, and she was just exhausted from the stimulation. And of course, the irony with the dog, we have our first dog, each of us, it’s our first dog. We’ve had him for about three months. The secret with him, he’s also pretty high energy, is get him tired in a manageable way.

 

It’s like, if we just let him have his way when we’re out for a walk, he’ll just be looking for … I call him dog, the bunny hunter. He’s just always on the lookout for the bunnies. In our house, he’s constantly running back and forth from window to window, looking for the bunnies or the somethings. But when we take him for extra stimulation, if we have to drop him off at doggy daycare, he comes back pleasantly exhausted. If you don’t go that far, there’s definitely a relaxing component to a certain kind of stimulation. But when it gets to be a lot, then it just flat out knocks you on the ground.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think that’s really valid. If you look at your dog, they’re not too different. I think we forget that we’re mammals as well. At the end of the day, we’re animals as well. Our lizard brain still needs the same things that our dogs do. And I’d say 95% of behavioral issues with dogs are associated with lack of exercise.

 

I find myself starting to get antsy, I’m irritable if I don’t train or exercise as much, if I’m not moving. And if I’m forced to sit in a chair all day long, I’m not a happy camper.

Steven Sashen:

I think the challenge, or the problem is that people get acclimated to that in a certain way, if they just keep doing it.

 

Like just with being in New York, after enough time, you just start shutting off some of the stimulation. You just don’t pay attention to it. It still affects you in some way, but not as much. My suspicion is that people who are just sitting all day, who aren’t moving very much, and there are aches and pains and issues that go along with that, they either don’t put two and two together, that that’s part of the problem, or their brain just, again, acclimates and shuts it off just to allow them to continue doing this thing they think they need to do.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I think, getting to the ground can be really challenging for some people as well due to … Like you’re saying, you get acclimated to sitting in a chair. So getting to the ground can be a little bit challenging. I see people have a really difficult time just feeling comfortable on the ground. I just wanted to touch on that a little bit because I think it’s important, and I think that there’s a way that we can transition really safely. If I got people to get on the ground right now, if you’re not used to it, it can be really uncomfortable and you’re going to hate doing it. You’re going to never try it again.

 

So, what I always encourage people to do is to try to make it a little bit more inviting. You want it to be comfortable enough that you want to sit there for a little bit, but not so uncomfortable that you hate being there. And there’s a nice find balance. Once you get used to that, you can start to remove some of the comforts, and you’ll need less and less with time. The beautiful part of that is the more comfortable you get with discomfort, the more comfortable everything else feels. You’ll start to just feel comfortable in all kinds of places that you probably shouldn’t feel comfortable in, but it opens up a whole new world of comfort for you. You basically have to lower your standards of what’s comfortable.

Steven Sashen:

Pun intended.

Emily Gooding:

But you got to do it gradually.

Steven Sashen:

Well, let’s talk about what that means then, to do it gradually. But maybe as a bit of a mild tangent, I imagine some people are uncomfortable with the idea of getting on the ground because they’ve experienced that they have a hard time getting up off the ground.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. I teach this fall prevention class for seniors. And in the fall prevention class, what I get them to do is to actually, not necessarily fall down, but to get to the ground and practice getting back up. Most of the times why seniors end up in nursing homes is not because they fall, it’s because they fall and they can’t get back up. So getting back up is a really important skill. What I would say is practice doing that more and more frequently, and practice it with supports and people around. If you don’t feel necessarily comfortable getting to the ground by yourself right now, make sure that you have someone around, or make sure that you have something to hold onto so that you can get up. Or you can maybe even start by just standing up on your couch and sitting on your couch, and then standing back up.

 

You have to get all the way to the ground or just get to a lower platform, for example. And then eventually, you can start to remove some of those comforts. But yeah, there’s no shame in having someone come around and help you with that too, and making it easier for yourself. If you’re going to sit down on the ground, or go to your stairs, at the bottom of your stairs, and then be able to use the railing to pull yourself up too and practice it, you only get better when you spend more time doing it.

Steven Sashen:

Any other techniques or tips you want to share for either getting down or getting back up?

Emily Gooding:

Honestly, however you want to get up and down, it’s going to work for you, but there’s this drill that I like to do where you find 10 creative ways to get up and down, 10 different ways. So yeah, you get up off and down the ground. You can make it challenging by not using your hands at all, and you have to find 10 ways that you can get up, different ways to get up and down off of the ground. But explore your creativity and see what works best for your body. Don’t be afraid to use your hands in weird places, to put your feet … Just experiment and give it a try.

 

A lot of it is just problem solving that you have to do for your own body. Everyone’s really different too. Right? So you really just have to find what works for you, and you won’t find what works for you until you actually do it. It’s like practicing on a balance room. You just got to keep doing it and you’ll get better at it. Unfortunately, this is one of those areas where we want to find a lot of tips and tricks, but it’s just reps.

Steven Sashen:

Well, I’m going to pressure you for tip and trick though. So out of 10 different ways to get up or down, let’s focus on the getting up, for no apparent reason.

 

Give me two that people might not normally think of.

Emily Gooding:

Getting up off the ground. Okay. One extreme one would be to do a back roll and then come up like that. That’s not going to be very accessible. I think it’s like this. Think about your stance and when you’re coming up. You have four points of contact that you could have, right? Whether it’s your head, your hands, your knees, your feet, you want to make sure that there’s enough space between those. If your hands and your feet are in line like you’re walking a tight rope, you’re not going to be very stable. So you want to make sure that you have almost an equal distance between those points. We’re bipedal, so the goal would be to try to push yourself up onto your feet, using your hands. So you always want to think of where your center of gravity is. Usually just below and behind the belly button, a little bit below that. It really depends on where it is, but in the core, and you want to position that over your feet. Once your center of gravity is over your feet, then you can elevate yourself.

 

So, if you’re in quadruped position, you’re on all floors, you might have to use your hands to push your center of gravity back over your feet. And then from there, you can stand up. But if you know where your center of gravity is, your goal is to try to put it on top of your feet, then from there, you can elevate yourself.

Steven Sashen:

Just using that one, starting with your hands and feet, the idea that you’re going to push yourself back onto your feet, I’m just doing this for people, for the fun it, to help spur some creative thinking, hopefully, is then you could do the opposite of that, of try to move your feet closer to your hands.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

So, whatever the fixed point is, there’s going to be a moving point. See if you can switch that. I can imagine there’s ways of doing that, left and right as well. So one way I think of it is, think of whatever you’re doing and then try to find the opposite of that one. And then from that, see if you can find something that goes left or right.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. That’s a good tip. Yeah. I like that.

Steven Sashen:

I do it all the time. I’ve been talking about this a lot lately, only because I’m really happy about it. I noticed that I was putting my pants on left leg first. So I spent the last, probably two months, doing everything I could to focus on right leg first. Sometimes I’d forget, and it’s like, damn it, I forgot. But after about two months, now I’m ambidextrous and I’m just as-

 

Just as likely to start with my right leg as my left, just from wherever my balance has subtly shifted or what might be next to me, or whatnot. So I have a fondness for, what’s the thing that I’m doing? And now let’s try to find the opposite of that one.

Emily Gooding:

That’s a really, really good tip. That’s something that I’ve done with brushing my teeth, where I’ve tried to brush my teeth on my left hand, because I thought, I’ve always brushed my teeth on my right hand. So I don’t know. Maybe I should try it with my left hand, because in case I don’t have the use of my right hand anymore, there’s definitely a high possibility.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, I had that. I had shoulder surgery, so my right hand was all locked up for months. I was doing everything on my left hand, and the only thing I didn’t get totally fine with was writing. But yeah, in the couple months where I was in a sling, I didn’t get good enough writing. I figured out how to type with just my left hand as well, which was a little better than just a hunt and peck. But that was a fun challenge. I really enjoyed it.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. Again, more stimulating as well for us. The more simulation we get, I think the better for us.

Steven Sashen:

There’s one that I noticed people have been doing lately, and I don’t know if anyone’s thought about it. This is going to sound really silly, but I think as a result of people watching more television coming over from Great Britain, there’re more people who are now using their knife and fork the way people do in Great Britain, than the way we typically do in America. So America, you hold the fork in your left hand, cut with your right hand, and then switch the fork to your right hand, to actually pick things up, instead of keeping it in your left hand. In restaurants, I notice this. I see more and more people eating that way, where growing up, if I had seen anyone do that, I would have thought they were crazy.

Emily Gooding:

Oh, interesting. I know that happened when Peppa Pig came out with kids, and kids started to develop British accents.

 

Yeah. So funny, but you’ll see American kids with British accents, purely from Peppa Pig.

Steven Sashen:

That’s right. It is fun, watching our kids pick those little things up. I always like it when kids who grew up in a family where the accent in the house is very different than the accent out of the house, and watching how they co-switch. I find that fascinating.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. I grew up in a pretty multicultural household, so I had to do a lot of that. With my mom being from Cambodia and having a pretty strict Asian upbringing, and then having a Caribbean dad, the dichotomy was so funny. I’d go over to my mom’s family, my mom’s side of the family, and you’d have to address everyone and say hi to everyone. You have to look them right in the eyes and greet everyone. You didn’t hug and kiss. Then I go over to my dad’s side of the family, and you hugged and kissed everyone. It was just such a different upbringing. But it’s just the way we grow up here in North America, there’s so much multiculturalism. But you learn how to adapt, because that’s just the way it was. That’s the way I grew up too.

Steven Sashen:

Where have you landed on that spectrum?

Emily Gooding:

Somewhere in the middle. I feel I can adapt, depending on who I’m talking to. Yeah, I know how to adapt. I try to gauge the situation, see what’s the most appropriate. So I can go both ways, but I tend to lean towards hugging and kissing. I like it.

Steven Sashen:

You gave me another flashback. I remember being probably in junior high school, where our social circle included boys and girls. We weren’t sexual, but we wanted to be more physical. And I remember when we were all figuring out, is it cool to hug each other? We really worked the problem. Not consciously, we never talked about it, but you could tell. It was like, we want to do something to acknowledge the closeness that we have in our relationship. This seemed like a thing to do, but we hadn’t seen anyone do this. So it was something that became a thing. And of course, now in Colorado, I’ve lived in Boulder for years, if you don’t greet someone by hugging them, they think there’s something wrong with you.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s just the way it is sometimes. I mean, if you don’t look at my aunt, on my mom’s side, without addressing her, she thinks something’s wrong with you too. I mean, we all just come from different walks of life. I think we know what we value is just very different, but finding what works best for you … For me, I innately feel close to people. I feel like I want to hug them. That’s something that I’ve just embedded in my life.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. And to your point of adapting to figure out what’s appropriate for the situation, I’ve given that up long ago, or maybe I never thought of it to begin with, which is probably more likely. So there’re definitely times where I’ve done something, like hugging someone to say hello, where that is not what they’re used to at all. By and large, no one’s ever complained because, I mean, if I acted like I was embarrassed or it was the wrong thing, they might have a response. But otherwise, like, oh, and then it seemingly fine. I’m not suggesting people go hugging anyone. But anyway, let’s go back to the floor for a second, or more importantly, back to kids. I love this idea that you want to introduce this concept into schools, for a number of reasons. A, have you had any luck making that happen in some way? And B, what else do you imagine? What would be useful, whether it’s for kids or for anybody else, to explore these different levels of living and a human home?

Emily Gooding:

Right now, we’re in that process of just continuing the design process of the desk. So I want to make sure that I can solidify that and have enough produced so that I’ll have the stock ready when that time comes. I think what I’ll start with is reaching out to private schools, because they’re just a little bit easier to influence versus the school boards. That’s the direction that I’m taking right now, but I’m also just getting the opinions of kids. So anytime I have the opportunity to have a kid in the studio like, you can spend an hour trying out this desk. I’m like, “What do you think? Do you like it? What do you not like about it? What did you do on it?”

 

I think that’s the stage I’m at right now, where I’m just gathering data and learning to see if … At the end of the day, it’s the kids that are using this. So I want to hear their opinion, because I think as adults, we tend to just assume what’s best for kids, but we don’t ask them very much. So right now I’m at the stage of just asking as many kids as I can. So far, it seems that they like them. I always give them a choice. I say, “Here’s the desk with the chair, and then there’s the ground desk, and I’ll leave you to it.”

Steven Sashen:

What’s the most, either interesting or surprising response you’ve gotten from any of the kids who tried it?

Emily Gooding:

They don’t give a lot of great feedback, but I think just the fact that they like using it. They like the freedom to move around. They can move around the desk. They like that they can sit on the floor with it. They tell me that it just feels right. They want it. That’s all they tell me. They’re like, “I want this desk in my house so I can play my games on it. I can play on the computer, my cards,” whatever it is.

Steven Sashen:

You got to set up a camera to capture those responses.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, that’s a great idea. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Steven Sashen:

It would just be super fun. Sorry, it’s all more flashbacks. There was a time in New York when I was there, again, 30 something years ago, it was a commercial for some Broadway show. They had this eight year old redheaded kid and he says, “I loved it. And if a kid likes it, you know it’s great.”

Emily Gooding:

That’s exactly what it is. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

It was brilliant because … And while, as campy and comical as it was, it was on the money. It’s like, for that show, it’s like, yeah, if a kid loves it, definitely worth going to, regardless of how old you are.

Emily Gooding:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

Like, don’t ask a five-year-old if you’re ugly because they’ll tell you the truth.

Emily Gooding:

Kids are extremely honest, and it’s become something I’ve grown to appreciate about them, because they’ll give you the honest truth. I do a lot of play with my clients. I do a lot of workshops and classes where we do a lot of play. So I always ask my nieces and my nephews, what do you like to play? Can you help me come up with a game? And they’re so creative, they’re so uninhibited. It’s really beautiful to interact with kids in that way because they’re just the most creative people that you’ll ever meet. So if you need to brainstorm, they’re the best people to go to.

Steven Sashen:

And they can tell the truth from fiction when you’re telling them. My favorite thing is if I’m out barefoot, which I am a lot, in stores and restaurants, and whatnot, there’ll be some kid with his parents and the kid will sometimes ask their parents, why is that man not wearing shoes? But sometimes they just ask me directly, which is my favorite. I have two answers. I say, “If we were at the beach, would you wonder about that?” They go, “Oh, no,” and that’s usually all they need. They’re fine with that one. But sometimes I’ll say, “Do you like wearing shoes?” They go, “No.” I go, “Yeah, me neither.”

 

But what’s really fun is if you did that with adults, and I do that with adults too, I’ll say, “If we’re at the beach, would we have this conversation?” It stops them a little bit, but then they start to argue. But the kid, that’s all you need. It’s like, I get it. It’s context. I get it. It’s about comfort. That’s all they care about. That’s enough of an answer. They’re not going to argue, because they’ve taken it in and went, “Yeah, I can see that.”

 

They are delightful. The biggest compliment I ever got was from a friend of mine, their children who were at that time, eight and 10. We were hanging out for a day. At the end of the day, as they were going to bed, they said to their parents, “Steven’s weird.” They say, “What do you mean?” He’s like, “He’s not like a normal adult. He’s like a kid adult.” And I said, “That is the highest praise I think I’ve ever gotten that.”

Emily Gooding:

Yeah. That’s it. That’s exactly it. The people don’t quite understand. You look like an adult, but are you?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. The other thing I do with kids, that’s weird, is I talk to them like they’re my friends. I mean, I don’t use as many four letter words, but some … Because I can’t edit that well, but I just treat them they’re friends of mine, and it seems to be reciprocated.

 

Yeah. Actually, sorry, I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I showed up at one friend’s house and their daughter was throwing a bit of a tantrum. She’s just whining, just literally going, “Eh.” I just walked up to her and got right in her face, and did the same noise right back at her. It took two seconds till she just burst in hysterics and stopped.

Emily Gooding:

I really think that’s how kids learn too. If you just talk to them like a normal person, they learn so quickly. Here’s a funny story. I was driving home. I wasn’t sure how my cousins felt about me having my bongs and my weed out, all my paraphernalia. I was driving home from the rock climbing gym with my nieces. So, I called my fiancé. I said, “Hey, I forgot to do something. Could you please relocate the paraphernalia?” I thought that would’ve been the end of it.

 

But they’re, “What’s paraphernalia?” I’m like, “Oh, my God. Oh, no.” Then I didn’t know what to do. So I was like, “Honestly, it’s a plant.” I lied to them. And then I realized when got home, they’re like, “Can we see the paraphernalia plant?” I was like, “Okay, I don’t want to keep this up. This is paraphernalia. I would use it to smoke weed and get high. That’s what it’s used for.” Then we had a whole conversation about that, but they’re genuinely curious by nature. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to encourage that and just have discussions, because they’ll just ask questions. And then they’re like, “Oh, okay.”

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, done. It’s over.

Emily Gooding:

Done. It’s over. It’s quick and painless. It’s not too bad at all, but now they know what paraphernalia is.

Steven Sashen:

To have a paraphernalia, to have a six syllable word at your disposal, that’s pretty impressive.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. But if we only talk to children like children, then they’re never going to learn how to move beyond that.

Steven Sashen:

Well, let’s bring this back full circle. The irony then is we’re trying to talk to adults like adults, but so they can be more like children, to enjoy being on the floor, to enjoy experimenting, to enjoy these different things. I don’t normally get to do it that way, but that was brilliant. But I think that it’s a very interesting thing. In fact, if we go back to the beginning of our conversation, think about tribal cultures, the way that the parents and the children behave in terms of movement and relating to the ground, there’s no difference.

 

In the same way that, like what you were describing, the kids would sit around the coffee table on the floor while the adults were at a table, or a variation of the kids’ table for Thanksgiving, that’s just not a thing that happens. And I think what we’re talking about in many ways is giving ourselves, as adults, that invitation. I don’t want to say permission, the invitation to think back to what we would do as children and start exploring that, to hopefully keep that mobility, that sense of curiosity, that willingness to notice a pattern and try something else, that we just tend to get lazy and forget about.

Emily Gooding:

I mean, to sit on the floor and to do the things that we do, interacting with the ground is to really defy the conventional. It can be really uncomfortable. So I think it’s really important that the first thing we do is just start with our small tribes, right? Start in your home environment, start with your friends. It can be as simple as planning a picnic and just spending time on the ground. Right? It could be really simple. You don’t have to go and start a huge mission in order to do this. Just start with the culture inside of your home. And if your kids grow up that way, then it’s just going to be normal for them. That’s just the way it is. If your friends start to be exposed to this, then it’s just going to start to be a normal thing in their life. It just takes little bit of change, little bits at a time in shifting culture. It takes time, but I think just starting small and just starting with the little things that we can do, that’s a really, really good place to start.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. And keep in mind in public, the odds that someone’s going to remember who you are and have unpleasant thoughts about you in any way that will come back to you, is about zero. When I’m teaching barefoot running to people, we’ll go into the park. And I’ll, I’m not going to get into the details, but have them do a bunch of weird movement games. Basically the instruction is keep doing it till you’re having fun and don’t care what other people think, because guaranteed, they’re not close enough to see you anyway. They won’t recognize you anywhere else. So self-consciousness is completely misplaced. So knowing that, just do it until you don’t care, even if they did see you again, because then you’d be explaining that you had a whole bunch of fun and they should try it too.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. When I started wearing minimalist shoes, I’ve always found that I’m going to try to wear shoes that don’t look too minimalisty, like the Vibrams. Now I just wear Vibrams because I want people to ask me about it. I want to start a conversation. I want to wear the funkiest shoes that I can so that people can look at me and be like, “What are you doing?” And we can actually spark a conversation. I think that’s something that’s been really just beautiful to have in my life, because now I just have conversations with people on the street. When I’m walking down the street barefoot with my dog. Like, why are you walking down the street barefoot? Why not?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Well, I will let you know that you can possibly have a similar conversation with people if you’re wearing these instead of those, although it doesn’t start with people looking at you at scans. It starts with people going, :Hey, wait, are those your shoes?” Or just like, “What are those?” I have a joke. I say, “Don’t buy our product if you don’t like talking to strangers, because they will stop you on the street.” I mean, every customer we have has a story about that, which is super fun. Well, Emily, if people want to find out more about what you’ve been up to and how this could impact their life, how can they do that?

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, they can follow me on Instagram @emilygmoves, or you can follow my human home project @humanhomeottawa. You can also visit my website at emilygooding.com or humanhomeottawa.com. Yeah, just feel free. Send me a message. Get in touch. I always love connecting with people who are interested in chatting all things health and movement. Yeah, I love just connecting in general, but thank you so much for having me on this. I had a really good time.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, no, no. Total pleasure. Do let me know what happens when people do reach out, because they will. And for people who are listening, let me know what happens when you reach out, because you will. I’m loving how the whole idea of movement is expanding in many different directions. I especially love what you’re talking about regarding kids. That’s super exciting and fascinating, and fingers cross that you can really make that move forward.

Emily Gooding:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. Thanks for everything that you do. It’s really cool to just see. I mean, when I started wearing barefoot shoes, several years ago, there wasn’t many shoes in the market. And now I can’t even keep track of them anymore. I think it’s just such a beautiful thing that there’s so much more investment into health and movement. Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing, and I love it.

Steven Sashen:

Agree. People ask me, they go, “Well, what happens if other people start doing the same thing you’re doing?” I’m going, “Good. That’s the whole point.” So fingers crossed that at some point the giant companies realize that, well, what they’ve already known, which is what they’re doing is not good for people, but that they find a way to make the transition to doing what’s actually good, because that’s all I care about. We’re trying to change the world. It doesn’t have to be me. In fact, it can’t be, it’s got to be everybody. I literally say, I just hope I live long enough to see it because it should happen. We’re just all trying to make it happen, so I appreciate you being part of that as well.

Emily Gooding:

Likewise, likewise. Thank you so much.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Yeah. For everybody else, once again, thank you. A reminder, go to www.jointhemovementmovement.com, to find the previous episodes and all the different ways you can interact with us. Also, if you have any questions, comments, requests, etc., and you want to drop me an email, you can do that. Just find me at move, M-O-V-E, @jointhemovementmovement.com. Until then, or even after then, or before then, or any then, doesn’t really matter, most importantly, just go out and have fun, and live life feet first.

 

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