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Archive for the ‘Habits’ Category

Creating New Habits One Baby Step at a Time

Setting New Habits Realistically

New habits sometimes take a little while to set in. Take my new, daily 20-minute walk. In the first week, it’s been more of a semi-daily walk, as something has come up every other day. Do I beat myself up for not sticking to the program?

Are you kidding me? I just added walking before breakfast or coffee for crying out loud! That’s epic! If I “only” manage every other day, that’s still 3 days out of 6 I’m up and moving right after my morning pages and cat feeding. Up to now, I was doing well to make it to the garage to feed the outside cats, and the kitchen to feed me and the indoor cats before about 10AM. Now I’m walking more than a mile every other day!

The point I’m trying to make is setting new habits is hard. Sometimes I have to practically blast myself out of my old tried-and-true in order to add something new. And believe me, exercising before coffee is one of those times.

Opening a Window to New Experiences

And yet, as I’m putting on my clothes, tying my sneakers, and getting ready to Created with Canvahead out the door, I’m actually excited. I know. That sounds pretty odd. But in a few every-other-days, I’ve discovered how much a short morning walk can do for the entire day.

Some days I’m all eyes and ears, taking in everything in my path. Others, I’m focusing on walking as briskly as possible to get the blood moving and my brain activated. Then there are the days when it’s essentially a walking meditation where I let my thoughts wander and give only the necessary amount of attention to my surroundings (meaning I don’t cross streets without looking for cars, and I don’t run over people I might encounter on my walk).

There are no rules for this walk other than to just do it. Like my thrice weekly gym habit, it doesn’t take long to feel better for it. I’ve even noticed a decrease in appetite, and a greater tendency to grab something healthy. My weight dropped 3 pounds in the first week, which, in and of itself is a HUGE inspiration as I’ve been stagnating or going up for months!

Blood Feeds the Brain

Getting my blood moving early has other advantages as well. I’m more likely to sit down and knock out a project when I come home. I’m actually less hungry, if you can believe it. Each evening when I look back at my day, I can see very definite accomplishments. It might be personal stuff like laundry, housework, or bill paying. But quite often it’s effort I put into my writing or business.

Hours I used to spend spinning my wheels are now spent turning those wheels towards my goals and dreams. Somehow, my brain has decided that since I push the start of my day out by 20 or 30 minutes, I have to make up for it by being more dedicated to my craft and projects. Who knew it was possible to trick the brain like that?

Old Habits and New

I use Trello to keep track of all my projects, but there’s also a mental calendar which, though prone to losing things, carries a basic framework of my life and goals. It’s starting to get more insistent about speeding up what I’m doing, or having more productive hours in a day. Something I had put aside when I left my corporate job has suddenly returned, for better or worse. I’m eating lunch at my desk while working.

On one hand, it’s probably unwise to shove food down my throat while working, but on the other, the bites are infrequent enough that my brain has time to register satiation before I overeat. In essence, working while I’m eating has slowed me down so again, I eat less.

Eating Slowly and Mindfully

In the general scheme of things, eating less helps decrease weight. Eating https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishuggins/4675505957/in/photolist-88ac2F-8LnEVQ-r3ZSnA-rkryn2-dEHqQa-buZGL5-9NXU2Q-uQd4Gi-8HtvkK-brtvSa-mc16EB-zKaXu-mayYKi-LpBQx-24Q2uC3-5fjkkg-eJzqz-di4zr7-di4Cts-9d5Zj3-9SKTfn-FCdjdz-f5wwhN-XjXzMf-9P5vA2-kVMXd9-47aeuC-zNAvV-dZ5cLv-5P5kRq-5z3cp5-7fRw8n-Ad6nP2-fjj4VF-nPSwLg-GUXa92-ERVZat-YW3tj5-sgc13A-xYkggi-SwjMJA-K74gKR-qod9ho-evhnbP-5mpBv5-v38BL4-26QXWnW-nCnBUo-JSkWR-88acaPhealthier foods also helps decrease weight. Adding exercise—you guessed it, helps decrease weight. Put them all together, and health improves, stamina increases, and energy skyrockets.

All this has an interesting and especially pleasant side effect. I’m finding my mood is also elevated. I smile at people I pass on my walk; call sales clerks by name after requesting assistance with a smile, and am generally more patient (never one of my strong suits!).

Vocalizing My New-Found Joy

created with CanvaI find myself humming   “On a Wonderful Day Like Today” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd” or the Carpenters’ “Top of the World” with gay abandon, loud and off-key without concern for who might see, or whose ears might be battered. I’m less irritated by the irritating, and more accepting of life’s detours and delays.

I have to wonder if the change begun last year when I got my gym habit going is being expanded by the addition of the walk. Suddenly, the idea of being out among people several nights a week, at the gym, and more often overall is actually appealing! To an introvert like me who has, for years reveled in her own company, this is truly world-shaking. I’m wondering what other changes will manifest in the months to come, and how much further from my shell I’ll crawl?

Success Leads to a Brighter Outlook

Even to myself, a lot of this sounds like I’ve gone bat-shit crazy. But frankly, if this is crazy, why choose sanity? Other people see the numbers on the scale increasing, or look in the mirror to see clothes getting tighter, and get angry with themselves. Soon, the anger translates into how they interact with other people, and often, their anger takes them on a downward spiral into depression.

I’ve been there, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pleasant for me or anyone who had to interact with me. I decided long ago it was a town I wouldn’t revisit, but have, at times, passed through, if only for a moment. I’m learning, years later than most that one of the keys to avoiding that dark, gloomy place is to keep moving, both figuratively and literally.

Endorphins Bring Happiness Bubbling to the Surface

https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbI’ve always known on a conscious level that exercise releases endorphins which are basically the body’s happy pill. I’ve attributed my happiness, not so much to getting up and moving, but to dancing because dancing has always been my happy place. The truth is, how and where I move is irrelevant. Dancing may raise me higher because the energy is shared, and as I share it, I vibrate even higher.

Still, the act of getting out and walking, lifting weights at the gym, going on a hike—any time I move for even a few minutes raises my vibration and elevates my mood. Maybe that’s why it’s so much harder when I’ve been especially down. By staying still I stay where I am. If I move, I have to experience change, even if it’s only a slight mood elevation.

But once I’m moving and my mood is elevated, continuing to move is not only easier, it’s impossible to ignore. Music plays and I tap your feet, or maybe sing along. A sunny day beckons me outdoors to move through and become a part of it. A hiking trail, a wooded path, a park, even an outdoor mall are all places to explore and experience.

Moving Through Life Elevated

I’m so glad I’ve learned to get up and put one foot in front of the other; to experience the joy of movement of many kinds. Sure, there are days when my back will ache or my knees will complain. As it’s rarely debilitating, I’ve learned to push through it. There was a time I’d use the pain as an excuse to sit more, then wonder why the pain intensified over time until it was constant instead of intermittent.

My new motto/mantra is “Movement is Life, and Life is Movement”.

 

Ready to Raise Your Vibration?

Is the business you’re building leaving little time for self-care? Do you feel like you’re wallowing in quicksand? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate so you can take a daily walk, or just a night off? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Gratitude Attracts More

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned the benefits of movement, and have shied away from an overabundance of sloth.
  2. I’m grateful for active friends who draw me into their joy and their movement.
  3. I’m grateful for my friend Lorna who gave me a book which has gotten me moving even more, and able to finally see a healthy, fit, slimmer me.
  4. I’m grateful for painless days when everything is functioning better because it isn’t being forced to lay dormant.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; health, energy, positivity, joy, improvement, inspiration, motivation, productivity, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Getting Out of the Rut and Making the Life You Deserve

Seeing Changes and Knowing They’re Good

I’ve been in my current human form for the better part of 61 years yet I’m beginning to realize that for the much of that time, I was simply plodding from one day to the next, having little impact on the world around me and accomplishing little. I’d fallen into the societal trap of working at a job which offers a decent living, doing repetitive things, be it work, play or chores and errands.

I’d like to stay I began to wake up over the last 15 or 20 years, and that would certainly be true, but progress, up until the last 2 or 3 has been decidedly slow. Sure, I watched “The Secret” a few times, read “Laws of Attraction” in several of its forms and practiced positivity. I definitely made some improvements to myself but nothing of any real significance. That is, until I started taking a healing class on the recommendation of my massage therapist.

That class may not have launched my career as a healer, but it made me take some good, hard looks at myself and my life, and frankly, I wasn’t exactly pleased with the naked truth. My life was boring and predictable, uncreative and unremarkable. 4 months into the healing course, I decided to trust my gut for a change and quit my boring and soul-sucking 9-5 accounting job to launch my writing career.

Anyone who follows this blog pretty much knows how that’s been going. I’m certainly putting a lot of words on screen, but except for articles I publish on the website of the photographer I’ve begun working with, publication is still an unrequited dream. My inner critic is still stronger than I’d like despite the compliments I do get on some of my pieces. My ability to actually finish something longer than a blog post or article is still shaky at best. But I am making progress.

Yet, in my own way, I was still plodding along in a predictable and boring pattern. I get up, I exercise sometimes, I do my errands on the same day every week and dance on the same nights in the same place. In short, my brain and soul were itching to break out of this self-imposed rut.

Learning to Ride and Thrive with the Changes

A couple things happened over the last 4 months to get me moving again. First, I got tired of chronic pain and went in search of both a diagnosis and a solution. The nearly 3 months of physical therapy has not only given me no small amount of relief but has me exercising more regularly and moving much more freely.

Enter my photographer friend, Jesse. Towards the end of last year, she hired me to write some posts for her website. After attending a couple of events together, she realized she’d rather put her efforts into taking photographs and avoid having to write the accompanying story so she offered the job to me. It’s a perfect match as we both get to do what we love, plus we bring different administrative and marketing skills to the table, creating a very effective synergy.

Body issues also served to remind me that I’m not in the best of physical shape, but in a chicken or the egg kind of scenario, I figured that stressing out over money was a huge factor. After attending one of John Assaraf’s Brain-a-thons, I signed up for Winning the Game of Money and became part of a community of ambitious, supportive people.

It was a no-brainer for me when John offered an 11-day weight loss challenge. I lost a few pounds, improved my eating habits, starting eating more of the veggies from my weekly box and between the two programs, was feeling a whole lot better and more energetic. Better still was the improvement in my sleep and the drastic improvements in my pain levels, strength and flexibility. The icing on the cake was when I won one of the two subscriptions given out for the Winning the Game of Weight Loss program.

I am now starting week 11 of the WTGOM program and week 2 of WTGOWL (technically, I spent about 3 weeks on Level 1 because of the challenge). I’m learning to say “releasing fat” instead of “losing weight” because losing implies that you’ll eventually find it again. As most people who’ve spent years of their lives dieting know, it’s often an endless cycle of losing some and gaining more. I didn’t get to be 233 pounds at my highest by accident, I assure you. Thankfully, the last time I “lost weight” I actually did manage to keep some of it off, but I’m a long ways from my healthy place. The difference is, this time, I’m more confident about getting and staying there.

Finding Someone New and Exciting, and That Someone is Me

But this isn’t really a testimonial for John’s programs, but a picture of my own evolution. The last piece is the afore-mentioned friend and photographer, Jesse. She’s dragged me along, sometimes kicking and screaming on her own quest to work with Food Network. To my surprise, and to the especial surprise of my inner hermit, I’m having a blast. While she runs around with her camera photographing everything, I’m in amongst the people, talking, asking questions and generally having a great time. I don’t know how this happened as I’ve always thought of myself as a loner and someone who just doesn’t do well with people. Maybe on some levels that’s still true, but I know now that it doesn’t have to stay that way.

I’m learning that when people see someone with a notebook taking notes, they’re curious. When they find out you’re a writer/journalist, many are anxious to talk and share.

This weekend, we attended what was publicized as a beer event, but also featured about 20 food trucks. But these weren’t just any food trucks! Each and every one of them was owned and operated by chefs…not cooks, but chefs. One of them was a collaboration of 3 who had recently left the restaurant where they all worked. Their exit took the executive chef, chef de cuisine and pastry chef, and ultimately one of the cooks as well. You know it’s not about the money when three high level chefs turn their skills to running a food truck! They have a passion and a dream.

And that’s where I’m reminded I do too, and that I’m not going to realize them by sitting in my house day after day, maybe pounding away at this keyboard. I’m not going to find it going out on the same nights every week to the same place and seeing the same people who may or may not care whether I’m there or not, and it doesn’t really matter either way.

I’m going to find it by, for now, helping my friend chase her dream because in helping her, I’m giving myself a gift I didn’t even know I wanted or deserved. I’m gaining confidence, learning how to get people to talk about themselves, feeling the passion from those who do have the sense to follow what their heart wants. And I’m stretching those writing chops of mine into unknown directions where I just have to fake it ’til I make it. Except I realized tonight, I’m no longer faking it. I’m really loving the new directions, the places we’re going, the people I’m talking to. This is my new adventure, and the best part of it is that I really don’t know where it’s going to take me, and it doesn’t matter!

GOYA (Get off your Ass)

Though I wouldn’t recommend quitting your 9-5 job like I did, without a real plan or source of income, I’d definitely suggest you take a good, hard look at what you’re doing with your life and how it makes you feel. If you have settled into a life of sameness, make sure that’s what you really want, and if it isn’t, start by making small changes. Most important, find people who align with what you really want, and help them chase their dream until yours comes around and smacks you in the face.

My gratititudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my friend, Jesse who drags me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.
2. I am grateful to John and the NeuroGym team who are helping me improve my health, my outlook, my ambition, my drive and how I’m spending my time these days.
3. I am grateful to the friends and family who cheer me on, egg me on and kick my butt when I need it. Without the encouragement, I would still be existing instead of living.
4. I am grateful for my writing skills and my constant efforts to improve them; sometimes by studying, but more often by just exercising the muscle in a variety of ways.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, community, peace, harmony, healthy, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Go Full Paleo

With Better Understanding Comes Enlightenment

Yesterday I made the rash proclamation I was going to give the Paleo diet a try. However, today I did some research and with the help of The Ultimate Paleo Guide, I realized that my tastes alone, much less my propensity towards cooking and freezing large quantities just wouldn’t accommodate such a strict regime. Instead, I realize I just need to cut out the grains, if not entirely, by limiting consumption to infrequent occurrences. So without further ado, here are the 10 reasons I can’t eat like a cave (wo)man:

  1. Cheese – I admit it. I love cheese in so many shapes and styles. I love it sprinkled on vegetables, garnishing my turkey-pumpkin chili and too many other places to mention. When I’m starving but have no time to eat, a piece of cheese will keep me going for another couple of hours.
  2. Yogurt – It has allowed me to always eat the most important meal of the day; breakfast. Half a cup of non-fat greek plain with bee pollen and blueberries or honey is just what my newly awakened tummy can, well, stomach.
  3. Lentils – This lovely little legume has replaced beans of all sorts in my cooking. It is protein- and fiber- filled; in short, a nutritional kick start to whatever I decide to put it in.
  4. Squash – I have recently discovered a love of all things squash; be it pumpkin, butternut,spaghetti, acorn or kabocha. My harvest boxes boast squashes of all kinds, shapes and colors and far be it for me to turn my back on such bounty!
  5. Beets – how could I ever give up these lovely red and orange bulbs which grace my salads and smoothies with their smooth, rich flavor?
  6. Steel Cut Oatmeal – While I look for the gluten-free variety, when the mornings are freezing, I will forego my yogurt but only if I can have my oatmeal. This is non-negotiable and probably dates back to my childhood when a bowl of hot cereal was often the start of my day.
  7. Butter – I rarely eat toast so it’s not that I’d miss this spread on it. However, I do enjoy a bit of it on my potatoes (see more on that later) or veggies. Olive oil just doesn’t always cut it so I will use butter on occasion. And don’t even suggest making mashed potatoes without it.
  8. Potatoes – This isn’t something I eat every day or even every week, but I do enjoy them now and again. And if my potassium levels drop which they do on occasion, a baked potato with broccoli and cheese will often set me to rights.
  9. Almond and Coconut Milk – As these are recent developments and involve processing, I’m going to assume they’re not allowed. I use them in my smoothies and sometimes coffee. Again, not something I consume frequently, but enough that I can’t see giving them up.
    And last but not least
  10. Coffee – I am not fit for human interaction without my morning cup of coffee. Period. End of discussion. Fini. Don’t even ask me to enter a world where coffee isn’t on the menu, ok?
Making Adjustments that Fit My Lifestyle

I’m not one to set myself up for failure, though I will push to achieve things which seem impossible like, say, 50,000 words in a month. Knowing which foods I can comfortably live without is one of those things. But that doesn’t mean I can’t modify my diet and cut out some things I can openly admit I’ve been over-consuming of late. I’m not quite on track for the 20 pound loss by April, so I do realize change is necessary, but let’s be realistic, shall we? A small scoop of ice cream or a single piece of chocolate every so often isn’t going to blow my diet or cancel my resolve. I just have to renegotiate the meaning of “infrequent” with myself is all.

I may still look for paleo companies to pitch because, after all, I can write about something even if I don’t practice it myself, can’t I? Anyone can research a topic and write on it intelligently if they try. And so many of my healthy eating type posts will translate into Paleo, even if some will require a slight tweaking to fit the mold.

Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit

Overall, I believe it’s important to feed the entire body Human. That means, for me, daily meditations, exercise, good food, pursuing my passion, and above all, always striving to improve in each of these areas. I do well for awhile, then slip if I don’t monitor what I’m doing. Then comes a period of adjustment and getting back on track. The cycle ebbs and flows, repeating itself, but never quite the same, and overall, I feel better for it, so some of it must be working!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the power of Google. I can learn new things with a few keystrokes.
2. I am grateful for the ability to understand myself; my strengths, my weaknesses and my limitations. But also to understand where I can make changes which will maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. It’s an on-going project but I’m worth the effort.
3. I am grateful for new lessons learned and new confidence gained.
4. I am grateful for the love and good health of my furry family. Even when one is faltering, everyone joins forces to help them move back towards a state of healthiness.
5. I am grateful for abundance: confidence, initiative, motivation, inspiration, health, love, joy, peace, harmony, friendship, intelligence, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

January 28, 2015 Thinking about my thinking places

Some places are better for thinking than others

I believe it was “Holiday Hotel” where Bing Crosby sang “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I go to sleep counting my blessings.” For me, when my brain is full and I can’t pull anything out of it, there are a couple of places I go to think. One of those places is the kitchen. Whether I’m chopping veggies for a soup or stir fry or just cleaning up from dinner, I get a lot of good thinking done when I’m doing something which doesn’t really require that I engage my brain.

Tonight was one of those nights when random thoughts were flitting through, when I realized that I was finally getting back into my good habits on a regular basis after letting them slip for awhile. The train of thought continued as I washed pans and wiped down counters. I started putting two and two together and found that when I keep up with things like cleaning the kitchen and going to the gym, everything else falls into place as well.

While I was being sloppy about those good habits I’d established last year, both my blog and my writing suffered. I don’t really know which one got back on track first, but it seems that it all goes hand in hand. Either I’m doing all of them, or they all start to slip. There’s just no in between.

This could explain why, up until the last year or so, my gym habits were haphazard, my kitchen often stayed dirty for days and my house was horribly cluttered. I also didn’t post in my blog on a regular basis and I certainly wasn’t keeping up with my writing. Now, here I am, going to the gym often enough to be recognized by instructors and trainers, working on my second novel with a third percolating in my brain and going to bed with a clean kitchen nearly every night.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, provided she is willing to learn them

Had anyone told me two years ago that I’d be going to the gym three or four days a week, even taking Pilates classes, and being diligent about housekeeping (at least with certain things) I’d have laughed in their face. Had I realized two years ago that I would be feeling so much better for having changed my habits, I might have wished I’d started sooner.

Those baby steps really do add up

Everyone knows that if you want to get somewhere, you have to start by putting one foot in front of the other. I call it ‘baby steps’ because it applies to everything. If you want to learn something new, you take it one step at a time. If you’re going through a rough patch, you just get up every morning, and put one foot in front of the other until eventually, you get past it. If you want to change your life, you take that first, crazy, scary step, and the rest is just…you guessed it, one foot in front of the other.

You’ve got to step that step, walk that walk, shake that thing, and talk that talk

Sawyer Brown was popular a number of years ago, and I was fortunate enough to get to see them a couple of years ago at the local County Fair. One of my favorite songs they did was called “Step that Step”

I’ve come to realize since that time so many years ago when the song first resonated so strongly is that my subconscious recognized and embraced the message long before the rest of me caught up. In a nutshell, if you want to accomplish anything, you have to take the first step, then own it, live it, be it. (Warning! Laws of Attraction Moment coming!) You have to act like you’re already exactly where you want to be and have everything you want and need. In short, Step that step, Walk that walk, talk that talk.

It may seem like I’ve once again wandered off topic, but I really haven’t, for a change. What I realized tonight was that I’d allowed myself to stop living my dream for awhile, but thankfully, I hadn’t wandered too far and my internal compass guided me back to where I belong. It was only when I realized that some of the other habits I’d formed while being a writer were coming back as well that it really is an all or nothing proposition.

Think about it. If you really want to be someone and accomplish something, you have to start with yourself. You have to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. A cluttered environment precludes a healthy spirit. A lazy lifestyle precludes a healthy body. An unhealthy spirit and body precludes a healthy mind. It affects our choices from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we lay our heads down on our pillow at night. Mac and cheese or farfalle with spinach? An hour at the gym or an hour in front of the TV? Computer games or website development (as frustrating as that might be at first)? Clean up the kitchen tonight or let things pile up for a few days?

One small change leads to another small change and a bunch of small changes lead to a lifestyle change

So we’re back to taking it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. What is a leap of faith except taking that first giant step which will be followed by a whole lot of baby steps? What are the establishment of new and better habits but more steps on the road to the life you desire? The things you do and the changes you make might not always seem like they’re related, but they truly are important and necessary.

What is your dream? What steps are you going to take to bring you closer to that dream?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my thinking places.
2. I am grateful for revelations.
3. I am grateful for a return to my well-established better habits.
4. I am grateful that my daughter has launched her own blog.
5. I am grateful for abundance: ideas, revelations, thoughts, dreams, realities, imagination, steps, love, joy, happiness, harmony, beauty, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my daughter’s new blog: https://heathersculinaryadventures.wordpress.com/
Please also visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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