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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 1999 1:25 am 
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What began, by Jessica, as a subject on bowing, turned into quite a learning experience. Jessica's last post struck a nerve however, and the proper place to discuss this specific issue is here, on Lori's Forum.

The 'mindblast' occurred when Jessica was discussing her learning Japanese cust... oh hell, go read it and come back. . .
=================
O.K.?, now to the comment that caught my attention:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
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. . .However, where I am majoring in Japanese, I have been encouraged by my professors to learn more about the culture from my Japanese friends. Due to my prior knowledge of the culture I had attained through my martial arts training, the professors took time with me, and made sure I knew how to behave appropriately in an office setting. Bowing is a very big part of this, both from the boss to the worker. . .


A couple of issues come to mind. First, does anyone know how the Female business person is treated in a Japanese work environment?
Secondly, same question pertaining their treatment in a Japanese dojo?

A short story to elaborate my point: A good friend of mine's daughter, who just received a doctorate in business management and was in a very high position within an American company that was doing business in Japan. A position came up for one of the American executives on her level to be transfered to Japan. My buddy was bragging over a beer that his daughter believed she was the top choice and her father was already planning a trip to Japan for a visit!!!

I smiled and said when your daughter's vacation time comes up, both you and her should take that vacation there, for that was the only way she was going!!

We ended wagering a bottle of the finest Scotch the winner might specify. . . we were both so sure of the outcome.

Since I was betting on a sure thing, I settled for bottle of Dewers. His daughter resigned shortly thereafter and joined another American firm!

Anyone wish to discuss this?

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GEM


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 1999 8:52 pm 
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For this topic - we need someone with some experience to provide some insight - I've not been to the far east - and as such cannot offer information about how women are treated there - other than 2 items I've picked up through my varied reading...

1) Women martial artists often have a harder time making rank regardless of skill level and length of study, and
2) Women in the business world have an even harder time achieving a high measure of success - financially or promotion-wise.

Again, I have no evidence to back up these claims - I've only gotten these 2 impressions from reading...

My experience overseas has shown me that for all the complaining done about the treatment of women in the U.S. - women in many countries have it a lot worse that we do here - from the extremes in the near east where women are not even considered people - they are considered possessions - to be beaten and/or discarded and/or sold at the will of their male "protectors" - to the far east where women have absolutely NO sayso over their reproductive life - forced abortions for second pregnancies and forced sterilizations - in Africa and elsewhere some countries still practice female circumcision upon reaching puberty - infanticide for female children - (yes it still happens!) the list goes on and on...

And we complain???

So my point?

Is there room for improvement in women's rights and treatment? Sure - there's room for improvement in treatment of many sectors of the population - female, Asian, Latin, Hispanic, Black or African-American, Catholic, Jewish, (take your pick which works for you) when we truly learn to look beyond the gender, racial, cutural or religious identifiers and see the person's heart - then we will be on our way to understanding.

Sure, there has been remarkable progress, and remarkable backslides. Excuse the pessimism, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

So, what to do? Maybe adapt a martial attitude toward these differences and slights - 1) be aware 2) avoid conflict 3) fight like hell when necessary 4) train hard (education) 5) be relentless (persistence) 6) use respect and courtesy in everything
7) mindset applies here as well! 8) decide on your goals and let nothing stop you

I could go on - but choose your own favorite teachings from martial arts and apply them - you may find they apply in places other than the dojo... maybe with a co-worker, superior or subordinate - maybe with your neighbor - or the parents of your kid's best friend ...
Maybe even yourself.

Peace,
Lori


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 1999 2:57 pm 
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I am a bit surprised that this topic received so little response! I kept my initial comments a bit vague and incomplete. A number of hidden questions were raised, but no one bit. . . so I'll have to pose them:

1. Did Jessica's professor comment mean the same thing to the men in his class as it was meant to convey to the women?

2. Was the American company aware that my friend's daughter would never be able to lead a sales team's presentation to a Japanese company? And in announcing the final selection of a man to the position, try to avert a discrimination lawsuit, by giving her the impression that she was, indeed in contention for the job?

3. Was she naive in believing her abilities and superior knowledge of the job should overcome any prejudice she might encountered while performing her job in Japan?

4. Did she blame her company or work place prejudices in Japan for her eventual fate?

These were a couple of the things I was thinking of while writing the initial post. I wanted to see if others might read these questions into the post and more importantly, if woman, preparing themselves to enter the workplace, are aware of these issues.

The incident related, happened three years ago and perhaps things have changed in Japan. If so, I'd certainly like to hear about this as well.

and J.D. . . . yes I could have, and probably should have chosen at least a bottle of Glen Livet (sp), but I felt a bit guilty, betting on a sure thing.
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GEM


[This message has been edited by gmattson (edited 02-21-99).]


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 1999 4:20 pm 
My wife's sister, a Christian minister, feared for her life while on a missionary expedition in China in October. Partly because she was a woman performing a role unacceptable for a woman to be in, by the local poplace.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 1999 7:25 pm 
Sensei Mattson,

I can supply more a bit more information that would perhaps lead to an answer in regards to the 1st question.

First, I need to make a bit of a revision to my original words. I used caps to revise, as I don't know the HTML.:

". . .However, where I am majoring in Japanese, I have been encouraged by my professors to learn more about the culture from my Japanese friends. Due to my prior LIMITED knowledge of the culture I had attained through my martial arts training, AND MY INTEREST IN THE JAPANESE CULTURE, the professors took time with me, and AFTER INVITING ME TO BE THEIR WORK STUDY, made sure I knew how to behave appropriately in an office setting. Bowing is a very big part of this, both from the boss to the worker. . ."

Here's a bit more background.

I went to the unversity with a great interest in Japanese culture, and the only views I had were primarily through my martial arts training, which in the scheme of things is very limited. However, I had also taken part in the Japan-America Society of Maine's activities, met some exchange students at the University of Maine, and done a fair amount of reading. In coming to pursue Japanese studies, perhaps through translation, I am hoping to in some ways relate my experience back to my martial arts training.

However, before I could pursue translation or anything else of that nature, I recognized that I needed to learn Japanese. And so, I came to a university that is set up on a modular system (which has it's own advantages and disadvantages), so that I could essentially spend 3-4 hours in class everyday, focusing on one subject (Japanese or whatever), and then study Japanese in the afternoon, and evening (also making time for practice and a social life). For me, this is the ideal.

My first month, I had Japanese class, and studied a lot, got used to the university, and made some friends. During this time, my work study was tutoring Japanese students in English. My 2nd month, however, I had an American culture class. When I had a break from tutoring, I would go to the Japanese classroom, and study. I would ask my professors grammar questions, which they continue to strongly encourage, and I would endlessly memorize vocab. and Kanji. This went on for a little while, and they had questioned me before if I received work study, and dropped hints that they needed one, asking if I had enough work study hours to do it. I told them yes, and they never mentioned it again...until one day, the head of the Japanese studies dept., came in the office that they had been letting me study in, and said something to the effect of, "Tomorrow, I need to to go speak to So And So and tell her I need you here." I was more than happy to do that.

I did that, and then making efforts to be polite with the limited prior knowledge I had, I began to do work study for them. They recognized my efforts, and gave me instruction on "office ettiquette," so to speak. With my slate wiped clean, I just listened and did what they told me to do, for the experience. At this point, there were also 2 others studying in the office with me after class as well--one male, and one female. They are expected to use the same forms of speech, and mannerisms as I am when addressing the professors or "taking orders" or what have you.

However, although this may be the case in this circumstance, I believe that cases and ineteractions vary, depending on the place, time, etc...

In regards to the work place in Japan, I have seen videos, and the men seem to be portrayed more. They were the ones working late and going drinking after. They were the ones golfing on the weekends. They were the ones sitting down with their customers. They women have been portrayed in the house, making sure their children get an education, doing the cooking and cleaning, etc. Also, from what I've heard they are the women usually are the receptionists or secretaries, they do other types of jobs. [This is only what I've seen and heard, and some of it may be a bit dated.]

As far as the treatment in the work environment, I guess mine is good because 1st I'm in America, and 2nd, because I try to do what I'm told to, exactly as I'm told to do it (it doesn't always happen that way, but I try...). However, I imagine maybe that's different in Japan...I don't really know.

As far as in the dojo, I have never trained in a dojo in Japan. I just know of my experience here in a traditional dojo in the US.

As far as Americans working in Japanese companies...I think that a male is more likely to get chosen for a company-type job. In Japan, everything is so systematic, and I guess the system is probably changing, but the folks who run the businesses aren't, and so unless there is a major turnover in business men, I guess this will be the case for a while.

I am not sure of the views held by American companies on such issues, but I guess the story of your friend gives some interesting insight.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 1999 7:28 pm 
I got so caught up in trying to get into my e-mail to get my password, that I didn't really close my message. Sorry about that.

Jessica


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 1999 9:27 pm 
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J.D.: I've noted the brands and will revise my Christmas "wish" list to Susan!

Jessica: Your educational experiences regarding Japanese culture, are quite similar to my friend's daughter. Both of you received your education in America. Your description of the videos may have been designed to reveal the real Japan as your professor may not be allowed to reveal in his class.

I have many Japanese businessmen friends. One in particular comes from a very wealthy family in Japan. For five years he and his family lived in California, while he worked for a large US based Japanese company. The primary reason for his working here was to learn more about Americans and our country.

We were attending a trade show in Chicago having an after dinner drink, when he looked at his watch and excused himself saying he had to call his wife to remind her to keep his daughter awake!!!

When he returned I asked what he meant by his comment. Without smiling he said that every night while he was travelling, he had to call home around 8pm (Calif time) to remind his wife to wake up their daughter, who may have fallen asleep while studying! Their daughter attended a regular day school, (she was 12 at the time)after school activities, then she had to attend a special Japanese school where she studied until around 6pm. After dinner, she had to do homework until around 9pm. Her mother's job was to keep her daughter awake!

I asked why he expected so much from his daughter and why all the pressure to excel. He explained that his father and he both went to the number one university in Japan and that it was expected that his daughter would also qualify to attend. When I asked what she wanted to do after graduating, he casually said that she wasn't planning to work, but that by going to this university she would be assured of marrying into the 'correct' family!

Whewwwww. . . I learned more about Japanese culture and business practices from my friend than all my other experiences combined.

Can you imagine an American woman walking into his father's office trying to sell him the absolute best database system in the world. . . which he desperately needed and only this woman could sell to him. . .

Would like to have a video of that!!! Image

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 1999 6:15 pm 
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Jessica:

I was deliberately pushing the issue of Women in Japan culture, hoping I'd get a rise out of people. . . saying how this attitude is common among many cultures. We could fill the forum with stories about how women are (mis)treated in many countries.

Here in America, women are fighting for equality. Some men may argue that in the process they give up a lot of benefits, consideration and qualities that some equate with their gender.

Japan, being so civilized, continues to honor those gender differences and of course the roles that go with being a man or woman.

But we all know. . . its just a question of time.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 1999 5:25 am 
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Sensei Mattson,

The story about your friend's daughter does sound somewhat familiar, in regards to videos I've seen and stories I've heard. I've never seen the video of the woman selling the big database to a man...hahaha.

I find the Japanese culture interesting, I guess something worth pursuing study. I have ever since I was about 10 years old...I guess I really can't say for sure why at this point, and in lieu of some of the truth about Japan, I sometimes think I'm crazy. Perhaps it's because in some ways it is such a contrast to the Western culture in which we live. I guess I find that interesting. In school, being brought up all the time with "the American Way," "the American Dream," etc., to me, those things were empty philosophies. Things that could not be achieved with compromising someone else's "Love, Life and the Pursuit of Happiness."

And so it goes...Women in Japan, or intending to go to Japan, have a different style of life than men. I shall have to ask my professors for more information on this topic.

I'll post more if they have any new information for me, which they might if I ask the right questions.

Thanks for discussing this issue, I appreciate your experience and great insight.

Jessica


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 1999 1:55 pm 
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"But we all know. . . its just a question of time."

Is it? I don't know very much about the Japanese culture, but judging from the people I have met from their and other countries I really don't expect it to change any time soon. As tough as women have it in this country, it is still better than what goes on in a lot of other countries across the globe!

I'll be the pessimist on this one. I'm not saying never, but I will say not for a while.

Cecil

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 1999 7:27 pm 
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Anthony,

I agree with you. I was just too chicken to say it!!!!!

The double standard can get to be a bit confusing. I've even seen it happen once in the dojo, where the woman tried to knock my block off, but counters with "hey, don't hit me so hard, I'm a WOMAN."

But you know darn well that men have our own double standards, particularly in the fidelity department. But, this webpage is for the MARTIAL ARTS, so I won't go there.

Cecil

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 1999 9:16 pm 
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Well, I may be sticking my neck out for some of the most radical "women's rights" groups to take a swipe at, but I agree with most of Anthony's post as well - and I'm not afraid to say so!

I will grant that we probably needed some of the more radical women in our history to pave the way for some of the rights we have today (ie. voting - not that it is well exercised after such a hard fought battle!) but with the changing roles women find ourselves in - we are often sacrificing other areas of our femininity...

Payscales in the corporate world are still far from equal - (if we are to belive the "studies" we read) but this doesn't have to stop a woman from climbing the corporate ladder and making upwards of six figures if that is what she truly wants - but the sacrifices necessary for this kind of climb will take away time to fulfill a "nurturer/caregiver" role in the family - sure - the "supermoms" try to do it all, but too often a jack (or jill) of all trades ends up master of none. Through the last few decades that anthropologists and psychologists have been studying this aspect of our society, it seems to be that daughters who watch their mothers juggle family with a successful career often opt for a more home-oriented role for themselves, and the opposite is also true! So what is best? Depends on the individual I suppose, but one benefit to living in this country is that we have the FREEDOM to choose either role, or a balance of both! Not an option in many other countries...

Now, back to what we sacrifice in the fight for "rights" - in search of "equality" - Cultivating an agressive, business-type attitude modeled after what is perceived to be a successful "male" persona doesn't leave much room for some of the more feminine social graces - especially in this country where simple etiquette between the sexes is a thing of the past! Yes, I am capable of opening a door myself - but when in the company of a gentlemen, what is wrong with the refined gesture of having him open it for me? Many times a woman may not even BE adverse to this kind of gesture, but, because of our social "evolution" men may feel uncomfortable even making the effort - and women may not even consider pausing to allow him because we are conditioned not to expect it! A double-edged sword as I see it. In our loud demands for "equality" (in the workplace as well as the dojo) we often forget that some differences will never be diminished - we would all do better to accept and even celebrate those differences (pause for just a moment and consider the ramifications of not having these differences...) rather than continuously fight to reduce them!

Going to the best college just to land the best husband may seem to be a confusion of priorities - but isn't that woman better off than the one who isn't even allowed to learn to read? At least she has the benefit of being educated - how she is allowed to express that education is another matter entirely - but if she takes the role of being the "provider," then who is going to take the "nurturer" role? Can she do both? Sure, but at what cost?

In the dojo, women want to be treated the same as the men right? Well, I don't want to get punched in the chest - but I do want my training partners to work to my level, not to go to either the one extreme of taking it too easy on me because of my gender, or the other of hitting me harder because they think that the very reason I am in a martial arts environment that I want to be treated like a man! I don't want to be treated as a "gender" - I want to be treated as an individual, and this individual enjoys being a woman, and doesn't mind recognition of that! Gender has no place in "clobbering" someone - just as a woman should not take advantage of her sex to hit someone harder than she expects to get hit, neither should gender become such an obstacle to training. Find ways to work around gender as we find ways to work around other differences in height, weight, and ability.

I could certainly continue... but I think I've approached making my point. I welcome discussion and/or dissenting views! Don't be afraid to go there!

Peace,
Lori


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 1999 1:33 pm 
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" what is wrong with the refined gesture of having him open it for me? Many times a woman may not even BE adverse to this kind of gesture, but, because of our social "evolution" men may feel uncomfortable even making the effort - and women may not even consider pausing to allow him because we are conditioned not to expect it! "

Ms. Loftus,

Is this why our department head--an older woman--looked puzzled when I offered to pick up a cup and throw it away for her that she had dropped at an office party? I did it out of habit; she is an older person, she holds a position of authority, she's treated me with nothing but respect since the day I've met her, so it really was just a reflex. That is one good thing I can say about the company I work for (name will be withheld since I'm writing this at work), a LOT of women are in management and executive positions. I don't think we have ever had a female executive yet, but I do think that it is only a matter of time.

But this company, one of the ones praised in Working Woman magazine, is the exception rather than the rule. I have heard far too many horror stories about how women are used, abused, underpayed and harrassed. But the thing that I know upsets me as a man is when a FEW women abuse the system with false accusations that automatically stick because of the history of oppression against the female gender. This can apply to other oppressed groups; it's the fools that make the group look bad (yes, I must be on some kind of "fool" kick in my posts.)

As for women in the martial arts, I admit that I NOW don't think we should take it easy on women in the dojo,although at first , I did. After a woman twice my age and half my size smacked me upside the head a couple of times, I got over my reservations! But, I still try to avoid most of the chest area. I'll try to go for the breast bone below the collar bone, dead center, not to the left or right. That usually works for most women. I do try to use more hand techniques with gup/kyu ranked women, because I figure that the average guy attacking them will probably use his fists. I haven' heard too many stories of a woman being kicked. I also do the grappling the same way as with a guy because I think that a man is probably going to try to use his strength to grab and overpower a woman if he wants to hurt her. In fact, I've found that a lot of women appreciate working out with a bigger guy because, and I quote, it helps them "get over the fear" of a bigger stronger opponent.

Cecil

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 1999 2:43 pm 
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Tony-san,

I think I understand better what you are trying to say - and I wasn't trying to diminish that point in my post - there are a myriad of different aspects to this discussion, and I perhaps went a little farther from your point than I intended. Yes it is entirely possible for these abuses to occur - by women in fact - who do want to "have their cake and eat it too" - especially when convenient. Not to say that there haven't been incredible abuses by men in positions of power, there have, and we probably all know that - but if your point is to acknowlege that women can take advantage of situations to exert their own version of "working" the system in an abusive fashion - yes! That is true! I've seen it as well! Then you can add to that the reverse discrimination that evolves where it is all the man's fault because everyone is too politically correct or gender sensitive or whatever to acknowledge that the women is taking things too far! So yes - it seems women are seeking a brand of equality on the negative side as well!

Cecil-san (PLEASE call me Lori - I only use the -san appellation as a courtesy because I often respond to people without knowing their rank or position, and I wish to afford everyone a measure of courtesy so as not to offend anyone! I will drop the -san occasionally as I get to know someone and/or if it bothers them, but it is actually quite a habit at this point - please don't feel obligated to be so formal with me! It's kind of my cyber "bow" if you will (sorry Tony!)

Now, as for what you mention about where you work, your department head may very well have been confused at your polite gesture! But please, don't let that ever stop you! This society, and crass Americans in general, can all stand a bit more courtesy in all areas - I can appreciate a somewhat relaxed attitude in an office situation, some affectations get ridiculous - but in the relaxing of formality, common courtesy often falls by the wayside - hence, a woman in a position of authority may feel she has has to adopt "masculine" traits to get there; may have abused the system; may have taken advantage of the sensitivity of the politics regarding her gender; or she may just have worked honestly and hard to get there - regardless, a polite gesture can be shocking when women may not be used to courtesies that are often lumped together with formality or perceived inequality. Don't get me wrong - she may very well be the one rejecting these courtesies through her signals! Intentional or otherwise!

Yes, your company probably is the exception rather than the rule. Though things are changing... but still the horror stories exist. And while a few women do abuse the evolving political sensitivity (jeesh what a term) they may even be acting as a reaction to the proliferation of "horror stories" that are still happening. Especially in the "good ole' boy" south -

Case in point - one at my workplace - a male transferred in from another location. He was senior to another female, but not her supervisor. He began making off-color remarks and suggestive comments. Didn't stop even when she asked him in no uncertain but polite terms to refrain. So, she went to their supervisor. Guess what, the harrassment stopped IMMEDIATELY but soon followed a bunch of BS "reports" to the supervisor that this lady was violating all kind of minor rules - punching in a couple minutes late - leaving a few minutes before the break - parking in the wrong place - making personal calls - whatever - some true where they were generally allowed or accepted practice by everyone in the department, but still not in the holy rule book, but others purely hearsay and trumped up. Following the "grievance" procedure for her was only time consuming and frustrating at best. She eventually left and got another job.

Like you said
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>
... it's the fools that make the group look bad<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That goes for men, women, minorities, or any other group. That's where again, I commend you for the courteous gesture you mentioned and encourage you to continue with that type of politeness regardless of the reaction from some etiquette deprived cretin - be they male OR female!

Sounds like your approach in the dojo is "right on!" I appreciate the considerations you mention, and I sure other women do as well. Sometimes I think that problems arise not out of malicious intent on the part of the male training partner (although I'm sure there are some occasions) but only because they are not aware of how the woman really feels - hence - forums like this are a good idea! Perhaps even those not posting may get an idea or two that improves training for all involved.

Thanks to all for your input! Please keep up the dialog - communication becomes our "bridge" to better training.

Peace,
Lori


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 1999 1:33 am 
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Sensei Mattson,

I have been away from the computer for a few days, as I'm home for spring break, but I wanted to thank you for bringing up this topic. I found it very interesting to think about, and it gave me a chance to evaluate and think about areas that I hadn't yet given much thought.

Thanks Again,

Jessica


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