Share the Love: Quilting

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I learn that its best to just make the effort in life. I’ve been very sick lately with an upper respiratory infection, and the  hardest part is trying to find relief during the mornings and late nights. For the past two weeks, I just haven’t been able to get enough sleep due to the amount of coughing and pain I’ve been in. My chest and back were so sore that at one point I couldn’t turn or lift things. Sleeping became very painful. I’ve been to the doctor twice. I’m on several cold and allergy medications, but it’s becoming very tiresome which depleted my energy.  During the day, I feel nervous leaving me on edge with no appetite at times.

This past Tuesday,  I had a little energy to make it to work. It was the only day I could make it to work. There were plenty of emails waiting for me after the Memorial Weekend. I still have programs to plan for work. I had my water, soup, and meds nearby. I would cough so bad that I was losing my voice. The coughing would send me into these instant panic attacks. Just trying to make it in and out of the store was a challenge. However,  in the back of my mind, I knew there was something that I had to do.

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I carried  a quilting book with me. The quilting book is called, The Splendid Sampler: 100 Spectacular Blocks from a Community of Quilters by Jane Davidson and Pat Sloan.  I wanted to loan the book to someone in a quilting group at the local church I partnered with nearby my job. A huge part of quilting and the quilting community is sharing.  Quilter share techniques, tools, fabric, and etc. The Splendid Sampler is a great book for quilters who want to learn new techniques and quilt blocks.

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I was so busy during the fall season last year that I didn’t have enough time to practice sewing at home. I was going through a transitional phase in my life between jobs. I figured it was time for me to share the book with someone else. Someone else could be making pretty quilt blocks while I get my personal life back to normal.

I sure did enjoy playing with fabric during that time. I remember going through a whole learning process just to piece together one block. After that I ended up making several of the same blocks. The fabric featured in the photos is  from Katarina Roccella’s line called Lavish for Art Gallery Fabrics.

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But, enough about my love of fabric…That Tuesday, I couldn’t do any serious outreach for work, but I got in my car during lunch and decided to pay  the quilting group a visit. I didn’t have to stay, but I needed to get out. When I arrived there, the chairperson of the quilting ministry said she wanted to meet me. She said she’s been seeing me around and she wanted to support our library’s quilting group. She knew that I had partnered with the quilting instructor, but she also wanted to help us.

It was something about that moment made me feel good. I think it big part of it was finding community and being apart of a quilting social group. For the longest, I’ve been struggling trying to learning quilting on my own. It’s great to finally share my joy with others.

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Craft your way out of the rejection spirit

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Several years ago, I was the cute single girl who couldn’t find a date. Despite all my accomplishments in life, people were puzzled as to why I never had a date or a serious relationship. I think my singleness made people uncomfortable based on their reactions. Did I have a secret? Was I a lonely and bitter person? The truth was that I was painfully shy around men. I’m very much afraid of men. I don’t think I ever grew out of it. I don’t think I ever really faced why I’m afraid of men in the first place? Why can’t I behave naturally around men. Why is it easier for me to talk to some men more than others?

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Like most people, I have feelings. I could be afraid, but I would like to be loved too someday. I realize that my behavior has played a role in why I’m still single. As I grew older, I would develop crushes. I believe crushes are these comical things that start off very  innocent, yet end painfully. Sometimes, I wonder if having a crush is a way to hide behind going after what one truly wants in life.  The idea of having a crush sets you up for failure at times. I put a lot of time in admiring those who showed no admiration for me. I would get so depressed and hide in self-pity. I kept repeating to myself that no one would ever love me. The truth was that I kept finding crushes to hide behind my fears. Having a crush is safe because it allows one to not have to do any work in actually being in a relationship. Instead, I would sit around and complain about being unloved. Life was passing me by. When it happens, I had to learn to pick up the pieces and move on. I was missing too much of life. I wasn’t developing new relationships.

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I remember looking from corner to corner one night. I remember being downtown after 9 p.m. one day on a cold winter’s night. “Where is the love of my life?” That question popped in my head. “Why did I have to wait those cold evenings alone?  Can someone  out there just be there for me?”

What disturbed me more was that I was feeling sorry for myself? There are plenty of women who are single? I bet they aren’t sitting around feeling sorry for themselves? If you have to spend Tuesday nights getting by alone downtown, then so be it. Deal with it, I told myself.

I looked within and I told myself that I would have to be strong. There will be times when you will feel like you are the loneliest person in the world. It hurts so much. But, I told myself that I would work on my crafts. My maker life seemed very exciting to me. It was a positive aspect of my life. I made up my mind that I would focus on it.

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I would study, experiment, and learn through the early mornings and late nights. I would push myself even when I didn’t feel like going any further. I would keep busy even when I found my mind slipping to a place that reminded me of how lonely and undesirable I felt in life. I learned years ago that what I focus on is what I will become.

There are days for dealing with your feelings and then there are other days when you have to get the motivation to get moving with your life. As painful as it was I had to find something to occupy my mind. I remember crafting my ways through quilt blocks, failing my way through quilt blocks, and ultimately improving upon my failures. I remember feeling happy and satisfied when I learned a new skills. There was this feeling. It’s a feeling you get that after so many failures you find the answer to the idea you develop sometime ago. I started regaining my confidence.

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When you can’t seem to take your mind off of rejection, focus on how you can create your own happiness. What can you create to make your life a little easier? What beauty do you want to see in life? What life do you want to craft for yourself? I remember creating several projects last year. Some good and some bad. However,  the point was that I was determined to keep moving forward. I’m not saying that crafting is a remedy for everything. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start investing in your own self-confidence. Build a little bit of yourself each day. Get out of the depths of darkness.

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Seeking Joy

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It’s my first post for the year 2018, and I can’t believe I’ve been away from my blog for so long. I started a new job back in December 2017. I’ve been feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Have you ever been in a negative situation for a few years and when you get out of the negative situation you feel as if you will never be comfortable again?

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For the past two years, I spent a lot of time looking for signs of love and happiness. I looked for friendship and kindness when there was anger. I searched for empathy when there was spite. When I thought I discovered something great, it would eventually slip out of my hands. Just look for signs, I told myself. Let’s see how all these obstacles line up for my good.  I later decided that the safest way to live was to not have such high expectations. I would be gracious, but in the back of my mind I would try not to show how hurt I was from inside.  I want to be confident, but after all that has happened I don’t know if people want what I necessarily have to offer. I sometimes doubt my abilities because I can hear previous voices and visualize previous experiences.  I know what it is like to fail, and I know what it is like to be alone while failing. What really hurts is when people sit around and watch you struggle. What I’ve learned is that as long as I know how to find the right resources, depending on people is not something I have to do in life.  I can survive the struggle on my own. I don’t need who I thought I needed.

However, my faith in God and my love of crafting keep me motivated. God is someone I continue to depend on even when I look for beauty and sometimes see ugliness. There are going to be times when I don’t feel like myself.  When I find myself feeling overwhelmed I try to train myself to think about God, family, friends, and my hobbies. It’s very challenging. But, I’m determined to come out successful through this new experience in 2018. I know that things aren’t perfect, but if I can take my mind off of the negative things, then my perspective on life will improve.

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One thing I find myself indulging in lately is mindless sewing. I’ll cut strips of fabric and create a rail fence mini quilt. I’ll purchase pre-cuts of 5′ squares and make a baby quilt. Sometimes, the stress from work and this feeling of guilt and shame takes over. I have no choice, but to focus my mind on other things. I spend nights learning how to make new quilt blocks. Through the steady cutting, pressing, and sewing material together, I find peace. It’s hard work, but its good work that strengthens me.

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The quilt project I’ve been working on lately is my little red riding hood quilt. I love whimsical fabric. It reminds me of being a kid walking into this fairy tale world where anything is possible. Woodland animals, bright colors, and elaborate patterns fill my heart with happiness. I remind myself how blessed I am to be able to come home from a rough day and play with fabric. “It’s a blessing,” I tell myself. It’s a blessing to have a safe place to go to when it seems like your mind can’t find any rest from anywhere else.

 

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There are times you can’t always run to people. During those times, I remind myself that to be still. Find your peace. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”-Psalm 46:10 That scripture takes me back to the present. When I’m away from work, I have a tendency to dwell on it. The truth is that I have a lot to be grateful for in life. Through the years, I plan to stay focus on God and his plans for my life. When it’s hard to stay at ease, I will turn to building a creative life centered around God and joy.

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Happy Pink Woodlands Baby Quilt

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What I love doing is in my free time is making baby quilts with adorable fabric. As a beginner, it’s fun and rewarding. It’s a great opportunity to practice piecing fabric, utilizing my walking foot, and binding the finished quilt.

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I was determined to finish. I had a few mistakes here and there, but I wasn’t going to allow it to discourage me. It’s always about the journey for me. Each project you learn and your grow. Problem solving becomes the exciting part of the project.  With each finished project, I feel that I’m getting closer to starting my own baby line.
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Starting my own baby quilt business  is a goal of mine. Quality work is also a goal, I want  to reach. I will continue to explore this idea. Maybe someday, I’ll get so great at making baby quilts that I will write a book. For now, I just want to keep learning and growing through my craft. There’s no rush. I’ll know when I’m ready to move forward.
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-Stephanie

So Long, Summer

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During the month of September, I remember accomplishing a small amount of sewing. I understand that I had a lot going on, but what was stopping me from committing time to the hobbies that I enjoyed. Various sewing projects are incomplete, and my home life is becoming very disorganized.
Fear could be one of the reasons why I wasn’t accomplishing much sewing. I also work a full-time job, and there are times I have work after work. My bedroom and handbags are becoming dumping grounds for all my problems.
So for October, I told myself that I would dedicate time to cleaning up my sewing area which is located in my bedroom. I know that I would feel much better if I would simply clean up and start completing projects again. I simply can’t concentrate or get any sewing complete when my home life is so disorganized. My walls are so dull an uninspired. What will I do? I did what any crazy person. I started crafting. I searched around for fabrics that reminded me of fall. I took my best shot at 12 am in the morning. (Yes, I get a lot of sewing done with my family is asleep.)
In my messy room, I made an attempt to complete a quilt block from the book, The Splendid Sampler by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. I have a desire to gain new skills through my messy phase. This block that I chose to complete from the book  is called Sweet Candy by Kris Thurgood.
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As a beginner I probably should stay away from directional fabric until I get better with my piecing skills.  I have more blocks I’ve been working on. I hope to share my blocks on the blog soon. I also hope to come up with a strategy to organize my sewing area. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,
Stephanie

Baby Quilt in Progress

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I wish I had all the time in the world to create, but at the moment my nerves have been bothering me in regards to my latest baby quilt. Honestly, I really enjoy making baby quilts and blankets. I feel like it’s one of the most useful things I’ve ever sewed so far. I feel like outside of work I get to enter this whimsical world of joy. I get to be at place that reminds of happiness.

However, the state of  bliss ends when I make mistakes. Sewing can be frustrating, but making mistakes is part of learning. You can’t get around it. You will ruin fabric. It’s just part of the process. There are days you will sew and then there are days when you will spend time ripping seams. Binding gives me the most trouble lately. Sometimes, I wish I had a quilting instructor to walk with me through the process of binding a quilt. I find the process nerve wracking because getting accurate mitered corners has been a challenge for me. At this time, I’ve been reviewing different techniques on binding a quilt through Craftsy and YouTube. I keep telling myself that I’m going to get through it. I’m going to somehow find the time and the energy to finish my “back to school” inspired quilt. The not “finishing part” of the project is giving me anxiety.

When I first started the “back to school” quilt, it was almost a project that ended up in the trash pile of projects that just didn’t work out. I chose a free quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, called the Jelly Roll Jam Quilt. I would eventually learned that there are a lot of things to consider before diving right into a quilt pattern.

Last year,  I purchased two jelly roll sets. A jelly roll is a named of a specific pre-cut coined by Moda Fabrics. Its a large roll of strips measuring 2.5″ x 42.” For Moda Fabrics, a jelly roll contains 40 strips of fabric from a particular fabric line. Keep in mind that the not all jelly rolls are created equally. The term can change depending on what fabric company. For instance, Riley Blake Designs refers to their rolled strips of fabric as “rolie polies.” Not all jelly rolls contain 40 strips of fabric. You have to pay attention to the amount of fabric strips you need while doing your fabric shopping.

Precut fabric reminds me of sweet candy actually, and I wanted to look for ideas on how to use them. I thought a free quilt pattern would be an opportunity to start using my fabric stash. One of the cute precuts I had on hand was from a fabric line called Tree Party by Kelly Panacci for Riley Blake Designs. It’s a super cute fabric line, that reminds me of having fun in the fall. The woodland animals appear so bright and cheery on the fabric.  You can’t help, but get happy while sewing.

 

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After diving into the project, I realized that I didn’t have enough strips on hand. I was hesitant to cut into the yardage of fabric I purchased from the same fabric line. I found another set of fabric strips that were in my stash that seemed to complement my project. The fabric strips were from the fabric line Crayola by Riley Blake Designs as well. Somehow, I was able to piece the strips together for the pattern. However, I ran into more problems. I accidently measured and cut incorrectly at least twice ruining some of my fabric pieces forcing me to improvise and alter the pattern.

I failed at the pattern, but I didn’t want the fabric to go to waste. I did the best I could to work on piecing what I had together to create a quilt top. In my mind, I knew that I had made various mistakes throughout the project. It’s hard not to feel disappointed, but I had to keep going. I know that if I plan on working on patterns in the future then I must work strategically. It would start with making sure I have correct amount of material on hand. I will be writing a future blog post on steps to take while working from a sewing or quilt pattern.

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Despite my mistakes and failures, when I showcased my quilt top no one really noticed or cared about my errors, but me. I actually received a few questions about making baby quilts and blankets. I’m not an expert. I make sure I tell people that directly. In the future, I could become an expert and a designer at making baby quilts. What’s stopping me from working hard and gaining new skills?

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My advice for newbie quilters and sewist is to keep going. I’ll admit that there will be projects that turn into disasters, and you might not ever want to return to them again. Maybe I’m a hoarder of some type, but I no longer just through away fabric from my failures. That fabric can be saved to do all sorts of patchwork. I say move beyond your failures, search for new ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Quilting for Tough Times

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One of my blog posts from the beginning discouraged sewing while in a bad mood. Honestly, I still don’t like the idea of  sewing for loves ones when I’m sick or angry. I make too many mistakes when I’m not my best self. Overall, it’s just not a great sewing experience. However, if it is a personal quilting project it should be based on your needs. Working with you hands can be therapeutic for many. I’ve discovered that doing a little bit of patchwork with quilting throughout the month helps me get through periods of loneliness, tough times, and moments when I need to be strong.

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When I commit to working on personal projects, I do a lot of praying and reflecting on life. I enjoy spending time just working with my hands. I also get lost in my thoughts. Once my rotary skills improved, I enjoyed cutting fabric squares to piece together a small quilt top. Achieving accurate seams is the most challenging for me. However, the journey is always important to me.  The whole process of working on a quilt, gives me the energy to keep fighting.

Life has taught me that I’m responsible for loving myself as well as creating my own happiness.  I know that it is recommended to reach out to people when you are experiencing tough times, but for me I just ended up confused. My advice would be to find a support group or talk to a professional. Talk to supportive friends and family. Spend time enjoying their presence, but be very careful about sharing information about your personal problems with people who aren’t from your core group. You will find that you are looking for answers that people can’t give you. Not everyone has your best interest.

I remember when I was dealing with depression. It was hard keeping up, and it appeared that my professional life was stagnant.  I made the mistake of sharing my problems with someone. I found out that the person was  using my problems against me. I felt like at some point this person was trying to talk me into feeling bad about myself even more. The person would often talk about how depressed I looked and mentioned bits and pieces about how things weren’t going well for me. It was troubling. The person wasn’t encouraging me. It was at the point that I realized that I needed change.  It was time to move on, and find a new life.

There are times that you need periods alone where you can work through problems yourself. Over the summer, I prayed a lot, and I knew I was tired of feeling like I was in the dumps.  I decided that I wanted to get better at quilting.  Each week, I was at my house, learning how to prepare a quilt top. The more it came together, the better I started to feel about myself. I don’t really know how to describe it, but when you make something on your own, it’s like an empowering feeling. I felt useful again.  I was learning new skills, and the great thing about it was that I wasn’t depending on anyone else to validate me.

 

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One of my most recent quilts features a lot of cats. I’ll admit that I’m a cat lady with no cats.  I wanted to make a personal project. It’s not perfect, but it reminded me that I have what it takes to finish a quilt. I hang it over my headboard. What’s different about this quilt, is that it was the first time I attempted to bind a quilt. Binding the quilt was hard, and I made a lot of mistakes. I was able to get over my fear of binding, and I have a lot of motivation to do better next time.

 

The most meaningful part of the quilting process was that it taught me how to start creating my own life again. I was learning how to express myself. I found it hard to get negative being surrounded by so much color all the time.  I say to myself sometimes “when life gives you lemons, make a quilt.” I don’t think the saying is original at all, but I tell myself those very words when I’m stressed.  I will always have problems, but at least I’m not sitting around dwelling on them.

Stephanie

 

 

 

5 lessons I learned after making my first baby quilt

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When I sew, I think a lot about family. It wasn’t hard for me to get started making baby quilts during the winter of 2017.  It was how I passed the time.  I remember feeling frustrated with life, and  I wasn’t getting anywhere fast, so one of the things I turned to was quilting for babies. It was one of the things that quieted my spirit. I did a lot of research on potential projects. I didn’t have a particular pattern, but I did sign up for Learn to Quilt: Charming Baby Quilt with Amy Gibson through Craftsy. Through that one particular class, I received a lot of helpful information to complete two baby quilts. Because of that process I learned 5 valuable  lessons that stay with me now as a beginning quilter.

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  1. Whenever quilting for a family member or friend, go into the quilting project with a positive spirit. When I first started learning how to sew, I would sew when I was happy, sad, sick, tired, or angry. It didn’t matter. I thought of sewing as my therapy away from personal  problems. As I moved on to learn how to sew for others, I realize I didn’t want to carry any negative attitudes from problems that occurred throughout the day into a project that was personal. In my opinion it’s different if I’m making something for myself. At this time, I don’t have any children. While completing my baby quilts, I pretended that I was quilting for a child or that I was quilting for a new mom. I thought about how I wanted the child to feel loved. Quilting for others is very personal. I want the project to be successful, so I only think of good thoughts, prayers, and appreciation for the receiver.

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2. Choose Quality

When I first started learning how to quilt, I decided that I wanted to use high quality  tools to have better results. Stop being frustrated while sewing.  A quilt is gift and necessity. You want it to last for you and your love ones. I didn’t want to cut corners. I knew I wanted to grow as a quilter, so I started by  investing in a new sewing machine, a Janome 49360 Quilter’s Computerized Sewing Machine. I purchased it from the Home Shopping Network. It was one of the best decisions I could have made as a beginner. It has speed control, an automatic thread cutter, and a drop-in bobbin system.  The sewing machine came with many helpful tools including a walking foot and patchwork foot. I also started stocking up on quality thread including Aurifil 50 wt thread. I did my best to do research on rulers, rotary cutters,  needles, batting, irons, pins, and etc. It was very time consuming, but I had a much better experience. In the past, I struggled because I was trying to cut corners. I’ve come to the conclusion that quilting can be an expensive hobby, but this is my passion and I’m willing to invest in it so that I can become a professional.

3. Aspire for accuracy, but don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes

Accuracy is very important in quilting. In quilting, everything is pieced together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Having a patchwork foot can be very helpful. You also have to check to your seams to make sure that they are accurate. Squaring up fabric and cutting accurately is crucial to the success of the quilt. If you are uncertain about a piece, don’t bother using it. At the end you, will save yourself problems.

My first and second baby quilts were far from perfect. I didn’t give them away. However, I started the projects because I wanted to know if quilting was something possible for me. Could I do it? Could I make it happen?  I realized that I could. You can too. My advice is to always strive to match your seams while piecing and making quilting blocks, but don’t beat yourself up for not making the mark every time. It’s ok to rip out seams. It’s ok to go back and cut your squares again. It’s also ok to invest in pre-cuts if you don’t feel comfortable your first time cutting up yards of fabric into 5″ squares. My very first baby quilts were made with charm packs. A charm pack is a set 30-40  5″ squares that you can piece together to form a quilt. The possibilities are endless. I found them easy to use when I first started because my cutting skills weren’t great. It took a lot of practice and better quality rulers before I felt comfortable cutting my own fabric squares. Take your time, but don’t get upset with yourself if you can’t make the mark all the time. IMG_20170501_121453_100

4. Enjoy the process, and every mistake is a learning experience

In quilting you will make mistakes. When I first started, I use to beat myself up because I couldn’t match my seams. I wasn’t cutting my squares accurately because my measuring was off. All admit that I spent hours feeling bad about myself, but it was wasted energy. So,  I decided to invest in quality rulers that made cutting easier and accurate. I watched several tutorials on YouTube regarding squaring up my fabric.  I did my research and I gathered information on how to match up my points. Yes, it was hard but I was learning. If you don’t make mistakes, then you will not learn. Let each project be a learning opportunity.

5. Be Patient! All beautiful things take time and hard-work.

Sewing and quilting take time. You aren’t in a competition to finish first, so go at your own pace. It takes time to cut, piece, and press all those little parts that make up a quilt. When you are a beginner it can be frustrating, but don’t worry about how slow or fast you are going. The important part is that you are always learning. Keep going! Remember with each mistakes, you are learning for better success next time.

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