Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

Guest post by Kristin Offiler

Anyone who owns a pet can tell you how rewarding it is. What’s even more special? When your pet teaches you a thing or two about life.

My husband and I had been married for only three weeks when we started browsing PetFinder.com in search of a dog to adopt. We went back and forth between feeling like it wasn’t the right time to adopt a dog and feeling like it was the perfect time. We had moved into our house a few days before our wedding, so why not make three huge life changes all in the same month?

We found Mia’s profile on PetFinder on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August last year. Earlier in the day, our friend had been telling us stories about the previously abused dog she’d adopted. My heart broke thinking of all the animals in shelters that would be put to sleep if no one took them in. We had a new house with a backyard and I work from home—who were we to not adopt an animal in need? That’s when we found Mia.

I called the rescue league listed on her profile, which was based in Tennessee (we live in Rhode Island). The league’s founder called me back the next day and we chatted for at least an hour. I filled out the necessary paperwork, she called our references, and by Monday night we were picking up our new rescue puppy at the foster home 45 minutes away in Massachusetts.

The past fourteen months with Mia have been a time of great learning and growth for all three of us. I’d like to share some of the most precious lessons with you and hear what others have to say about the joy of owning and learning from a pet.

• Be filled with curiosity about the world. Like I said before, I work from home. This means Mia and I can take walks whenever we feel like it during the day, and the one thing I always love about our walks is Mia’s endless curiosity. We walk different routes around our neighborhood, but essentially we tend to walk through familiar settings. That hardly seems to matter to Mia, who follows her incredible sense of smell and sharp eyesight with such joy and curiosity that you’d think we were exploring new territory! It’s hard to keep this lesson in mind as humans who often fall into routines and ruts, but the world is truly a fascinating place worth exploring and enjoying. A simple walk with my dog always reminds me of this.

• Remind the people in your life that you love them. Mia wakes up and wags her tail at the sight of us. She affectionately nuzzles our faces and licks our hands when we talk to her. And when we get home from running an errand, she cries with excitement, even if we’ve only been gone an hour. She reminds us constantly that she loves us, and we remind her (and each other!). Life is so short and so fragile—take a lesson from your pet and tell someone you love them today.

• Rest when you need to. Ah, if only more humans could follow a dog or cat’s cue on napping, the world would be a better place! Maybe you can’t doze off at work or in the middle of a hectic meeting, but you can take time to rest and restore when you need it. Mia has the ability to be both full of energy and completely relaxed in the same moment—she can curl up and nap, but spring to her feet if we say the word “walk.” I try to keep this in mind when life gets stressful. If I need to unwind and relax, it’s best to take care of myself instead of stressing myself out more. Mia would never push herself without resting. Animals are smarter than us sometimes!

• Be patient with yourself and have a little bit of fun every day. When we were training Mia as a puppy, she learned her commands very quickly. But we had to be patient because even the smartest dog takes a little bit of time to learn new tricks. And even now, a year later, there are still commands she understands but resists because she’s impatient and wants that cookie you’re holding now! When she’s patient and we’re patient, she gets into the right frame of mind to do her trick. And she always makes time for a little bit of play every day. It’s never a bad idea to treat yourself with patience and do something you enjoy every day.

• Go outside. The best part of having a dog is the built-in excuse for taking a break from work and chores to get outside! Mia is always thrilled when we ask if she wants to go for a walk. Not once has she said no (and I doubt she ever will!). After our walks, my head feels clearer and my muscles feel more relaxed. I’ve learned from my dog that a simple 45-minute walk around the neighborhood and down to the beach can be exactly the thing I need to reduce stress and feel happier. And you can see it in her, too. When we get back from a walk, her energy is high and she’s happy to run a few extra laps around the yard or chew her favorite bone at our feet. It’s enough to motivate me to enjoy my chance to get outside with her and then come home to a cup of tea and a good book.

Life is full of lessons, but some of the most important ones are the small ones we learn from unlikely teachers, like our pets. On a daily basis our pets can inspire us to be better people and can show us how to truly enjoy life. Then there the astonishing stories of animals beating the odds by overcoming illness, abuse, or disfigurement and going on to live each day with joy. There are a million worthwhile lessons in every happy wag of the tail and affectionate nuzzle.

Kristin Offiler is a freelance writer in Rhode Island who writes for a site that helps students find the right psychology degree.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Life can be so serious at times. We know we should count our blessings instead of focusing on what we don’t have. One of the things I’m thankful for is the gift of laughter. Laughter lightens my mood and just makes me feel good all over, plus I hear laughter is good for your health. Check out the articles below the video to learn more about the benefits of laughter. So, when is the last time you had a good laugh? I saw this video years ago and it mad me laugh. Hope it will at least make you smile.

Benefits of Laughter:
The Benefit of Laughter – How Laughter Can Reduce Stress and Increase Health
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Benefits of humor

What makes you laugh?


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Guest post by Jenny Boykin

One really important thing that I didn’t know about happiness was that I don’t have to catch other people’s misery. Or anger. Or whatever. I didn’t know that loving you didn’t mean following you down into your own abyss. Besides, I’ve got my own abyss to deal with.

I used to get really unhappy that people I cared about wouldn’t get down in my misery muck with me. I can remember calling a friend who was supposed to be part of my inner circle and prattling on about my unhappy this or my tragic that and she would interrupt me mid-sentence and say, “Look Jen, I know you are going to do the right thing. But right now I gotta run and take care of my fish tank. You wanna call me tomorrow and tell me how it worked out?”
How effin’ rude! What kind of friend are you? Your tetras are more important than my tragedy?

Well, now I get it.

It’s not that my metaphorical tetras are more important than your rant-du-jour. (Well, maybe they are.) It’s just that if you are a ranter by nature, then everything in your life will trigger justifiable anger. And, if I’m your “go to” rant receiver, then I never get fed what I need from our relationship. And why would I want that?

If you are someone I love and hang out with, then I trust that you are fully capable of handling the stuff that comes your way. There will certainly be times when I need to be there in a deeper way for you, but if you are an emotionally healthy person, it won’t be every damn time we talk.

I want to continue to attract and be with people who take responsibility for the way their lives look. If you are a blamer or whiner or complainer, I want to love you too, But in smaller bits, from over there on the other side of the room.

In other words, I want to help, if I can. But I don’t want to lose myself in the process.

Live your beautiful life. Really, really, it’s okay to start now. You don’t have to be responsible for the crappolla of everyone in your life, but you do have to be responsible for your own. So allow less of that and more of the joy.

(Will somebody please remind me that I actually wrote these words when I call you tomorrow to complain about my whozits and whatnots? Here’s our code phrase: “I love you, Jen, and I just know you’re gonna work this out. Right now, though, I gotta go clean tetra poop. Call me tomorrow and let me know how you chose to handle that.”)

About the author:
My name is Jenny Boykin. Next year, my body will be 50. I keep meaning to make my life an art piece, but no one else I’m attached to seems to share in that objective. Apparently, I’m not the only woman with that dilemma. If, like me, you’re curious to answer that age old question, “Is there life after tampons?,” please visit me at www.couragetochange.us or contact me directly at jenny@couragetochange.us.

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“Life is not always easy. And that is a major reason why it is so precious. Many of life’s best rewards are possible only because you must work your way through difficult challenges to get to them. If everything in life were easy, there would be no opportunity for real fulfillment.” –Ralph Marston

Where do we get the idea that our life is supposed to be easy? Why do we think that when we start something new, things are going to go smoothly and happen in the timeframe in which we think it should happen? Why do we think that we should get results for our efforts when we want them?

About a month ago I watched the movie “Big Stan.” One part that stands out is when Stan, a weakling, is undergoing physical strength training. In the beginning it seemed like he was undergoing torture, but what the training was doing was toughening him up and teaching him how to fight and defend himself. Now this didn’t happen overnight, it took him 5 months of training every day for hours and hours to accomplish his goal. Although this movie was a comedy, the strength training scene came to mind a couple weeks later when I was feeling frustrated about something. It was an “A-ha moment,” a “light-bulb moment.” I realized that I was being too hard on myself. I realized that this was my training period and results were not going to happen any sooner because it was my wish and I felt “ready,” like I knew all I needed to know. Thinking of the movie made me smile and relax. I knew I was to keep on the track that I was on and to keep learning, and improvement would come in time. Since then, I’ve been thinking about life and how we like knowing what to expect and knowing when we are going to succeed, or…if we are going through a tough time, when the tough time is going to end. But life has other plans. We may be thinking we are just trying to reach a specific goal of our choosing, or we’re just going through a difficult time, but perhaps life is developing other things in us, as well as teaching us.


You might also like:
Life’s Struggles
Everything has a Price to Pay
Falling Down

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“Life is not a final. It’s daily pop quizzes.” –Author Unknown

Today’s article is by guest blogger Emma Taylor.

We’ve all heard the cliche about how poor college students are. While it may be an overused moniker, that doesn’t make it any less true. After tuition, room and board, books, fees, and food, there’s not enough left to go around (if you even had enough to go around for the essentials in the first place). Living as a poor college student tends to create a special kind of wisdom. You’ll not only learn how to get by on the cliche Ramen diet, but can pick up a few valuable life lessons as well. Read on to learn what some students discovered while making it work as poor college students.

1 – Life needs balance: When you don’t have a lot of money, you’ll learn that you can’t blow it all on one thing. Spend too much on food, and you won’t have any left over for entertainment. Stay up all night cramming for your next exam, and you won’t have the energy for your shift at work. PickTheBrain recommends finding balance in the four major areas of your life: health, family, career, and finances, allowing them to work together in tandem. You learn that balancing your money, efforts, and time results in a healthier, happier, and more relaxed life, no matter what you have in your bank account.

2 – Independence: For most students, college represents not only a time of living cheaply, but also living independently. One money blogger remembers going to college and quickly discovering that her bank account was overdrawn, a problem she had to take care of on her own. It may be scary, but living financially independent as a college student is a great way to learn how to be responsible and independent in your adult life.

3 – Cutting back feels good: Poor college students may limit water, laundry, and electricity to save cash, but it feels great to know that you’re saving the environment at the same time. Students at Mount Holyoke College implemented a water conservation plan for their campus, and they saved approximately 7,318,500 gallons. But not only that, they saved $29,274 in cold hard cash for the school.

4 – Little things make a difference: When you collect nickels and dimes so that you’re able to do your laundry, you quickly learn that even a little bit makes a difference, whether it’s change or doing something to go the extra mile. Malcolm Gladwell wrote an entire book, The Tipping Point, about this phenomenon, sharing his understanding of how little changes can have a large effect on your life and the lives of others.

5 – The best things in life are free: When you don’t have money, but plenty of time, you get resourceful. Poor college students know well that friends, experiences, love and free moments don’t cost a thing, but they may be the best things in your life. It’s a great financial lesson, as well as a smart way to live your life-recognizing that the things we most value have nothing to do with money at all.

6 – You’ll find a way to do what you really want: How do starving, cash strapped students somehow end up with a six pack to bring to the party every weekend? It’s a curious question with an easy answer: You’ll find money to use for what you really want, whether it means not paying a bill, or staying home all week to afford a great time on Saturday night. This is true not just with money, but with life choices. You can talk all day about how you really want to go to grad school, but it’s up to you to study for your entrance exam, even if you’re already working with a packed study schedule. If you really want to do it, you’ll make adjustments and find the time to get the work done.

7 -It’s easier to take care of things on time: It’s tough if you don’t have the money to pay a bill on time, but it’s even tougher to deal with the consequences of paying late. Late fees, reconnection fees, and other headaches mean planning ahead for bills makes sense. Learning this financial lesson can help you live a simpler, more organized life as well. Once you know it’s easier to plan ahead, you’ll find that things like packing for vacation, cooking dinner, and planning a wedding are all easier when you approach them ahead of time.

8 – Sometimes you have to say no: It’s fun to say yes. Yes to the credit card offer with a free t-shirt, yes to going out with your friends, and yes to helping out a friend with a difficult project. But say yes too much, and you may find yourself without enough money or time to enjoy yourself. It’s OK to say no. Sometimes you don’t have enough money to go out, or enough time to help someone out. As a poor student, you should master the art of gracefully saying no when it’s appropriate-saving you money and stress.

9 – Wastefulness costs money: Most college students learn to make good use of whatever they have. Whether you’re learning to make trash can punch or just using both sides of your paper, stretching a buck in college will teach you to conserve what you have. That means you can do more with less, whether it’s using limited resources at work, or finding ways to reduce waste and costs in your own home.

10 – Mistakes happen, then you move on: In 2010, more than 80% of students carried a credit card balance of over $2,000. For most of these students, that credit card was a mistake — often the result of a desire to get a free t-shirt, iPod, or pizza as a bonus for signing up. But making a mistake like this one doesn’t have to be devastating to your financial life, and you can learn from it. Make a plan to pay down your debt, and move on from your mistake-a lesson that is useful for all aspects of your life.

11 – Getting organized will save you stress and time: If you don’t have the money to go out and buy another hole punch because you can’t find the one you bought at the beginning of the semester, you’re going to find a way to get that hole punch back, whether it means digging through your dorm drawers or borrowing one from a friend. And you’ll probably learn at the same time that it’s essential to get organized, finding a place for every item in your home and reducing clutter. You may also find that getting rid of duplicates (or preventing their purchase altogether) saves you money and limited dorm room space.

12 – Fun times don’t have to be expensive: Poor college students can make a great night out of video games with friends, free student group outings, or school sporting events. Trent at The Simple Dollar highlighted 100 things to do that don’t cost a thing, but are fun to do on the weekend or any other time. These activities are free or cost very little, but offer great memories of times with friends.

13 – You can’t blame others for your problems: At college, you’re in charge of your own destiny. If you forget to pay a bill, it’s on you and no one else. Sure, you may have a roommate that’s late on rent, increasingly high tuition, and surprise fees. Those are easy ways to lay the blame elsewhere. Ultimately, you’re in charge of your life and how you react to your roommate, tuition, fees, and any other issues that pop up in your life.

14 – Convenience comes at a price: ATMs, fast food, and coffee from Starbucks may be lifesavers when you need them in a pinch. But poor college students know that a few bucks here and there for convenience will add up fast. Learning to limit your use of convenience items isn’t just good for your wallet — it’s good for your life. Planning financial transactions ahead of time, cooking your own healthier food, and spending time sleeping in instead of standing in line for coffee can go a long way to improving your life.

15 – DIY makes sense: Doing it yourself isn’t just fun, it’s frugal, too. Making your own coffee, snacks, and even crafts can save you money while giving you something fun to do. Not only that, but learning to DIY can teach you a great lesson on independence, and even spark an entrepreneurial spirit that can lead to a great career.

16 – Ask questions: It’s one thing to go with the flow. It’s completely another to completely flow through life without questioning anything, and this practice can get poor college students in lots of trouble. Forgetting to read the fine print can result in major surprises, fees, overdraft charges, rate increases, and more.

17 – Giving is great: In college, poor college students often work, but still stay poor because they’re working for free doing internships and volunteering. It can be a rough financial situation in the short term, but it pays off in the long term, resulting in experience and hiring power. Giving your time can pay off throughout life, whether it’s helping a friend, volunteering in your community, or getting good karma and tax writeoffs.

18 – Huge efforts don’t always mean huge returns: Anyone who’s spent years of college waiting tables can tell you — hard work doesn’t always pay off big. It’s a hard lesson, and harder to make things work financially, but it teaches students about varying degrees of payoff. You’ll learn that some things (like time spent in class) have a great return on investment, while others may leave you hanging. With this lesson, you can discover the best way to pursue tasks and work that will pay off the best.

19 – You’re never too good to buy used: Students frequently buy their books used, and find great value in doing so. But this lesson doesn’t have to stop with books: furniture, clothing, and other items work well used, too. Money expert Liz Pulliam Weston recommends several items you should never buy new, including DVDs, cars, and furniture.

20 – Privacy is valuable: In a world where students often overshare on Facebook, it’s hard to remember how valuable privacy is. But students will learn how to keep their credit card number and social security secure, even if it takes a stolen credit card to learn the lesson.

21 – Food tastes better when you don’t have to make it yourself: On a college student budget, food is often far from gourmet. Missing your mom’s cooking can make you realize how easy you had it at home and how badly your cooking skills need improvement. But your time as an independent cook may spark an interest in healthy, delicious cooking that will serve you for a lifetime.

Emma Taylor is a writer for Accredited Online Colleges.


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“It’s hard to tell your mind to stop loving someone when your heart still does.”

Many of us have experienced the pain of a broken heart when a relationship comes to an end. One of the things we do to self-soothe is to sit, or lay in bed, while listening to our favorite “sad” love songs over and over and over again. And then one day, you just stop listening. How did you get over your breakup?

Recently someone very close to my heart broke up with their longtime love. They said the break up was mutual. This is/was their first love. I’ve been offering words of advice to help the person get through this painful time but I know that my words have only offered temporary relief from the pain and sadness. I know that things just have to run their course. This got me thinking… “How do you mend a broken heart? How do you get over a breakup? What lessons can we learn when a relationship comes to an end?” Now I’m not talking about the negative things we might say about the other person, like… he/she is just a jerk, cheater, insensitive, a**hole, too possessive, too jealous, too controlling, crazy, cheap, depressing, selfish, etc. What I mean is – “What does the end of a relationship show us/teach us about ourselves?” I’ve decided to explore this further and in the future will write some blog posts on this subject. For starters, I’d like your help in answering this…

How do you mend a broken heart? How do you get over a breakup?

When it comes to relationships and their ending, I think many of us have heard the saying…

“It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

But it sure doesn’t feel like it when you’re experiencing the pain of heartache/heartbreak. We feel the loss like we’re an addict going through withdrawal.

“Love is the hardest drug to quit, but it is even harder when it is taken away.” (author unknown)

Maybe you noticed that things were different between the two of you. You may have felt the person distancing themselves from you. You may have had a feeling that the end was near…

Or it happened suddenly…

“Breaking up. It happens kind of suddenly. One minute, you’re holding hands walking down the street, and the next minute, you’re lying on the floor crying and all the good CDs are missing.” – Kennedy Kasares

The pain is excruciating. You didn’t know you could hurt this much. You really want this pain to stop. Time goes by, it still hurts, and you think – ‘Is time really on my side?’ because…

“They say that time heals all wounds but all it’s done so far is give me more time to think about how much I miss you.” – Ezbeth Wilder

You’re obsessing over him/her and feel…

You know you can’t be friends …

But you’re hoping and praying he/she will come to his/her senses and realize…

“Ain’t No Sunshine” (by Bill Withers)

You just want to wake up from this nightmare. You want to hear your loved one say…

“Baby Come Back” (by Player)


“Let’s Stay Together” (by Al Green)

Everyone says…

“If someone you love hurts you, cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it.” – Anonymous

But even though you try you…

“Can’t Let Go” (by Mariah Carey)

Because you still believe …

“We Belong Together” (by Mariah Carey)

You know that …

“Living in the past causes you to miss out on the present. Life is too short to let it pass you by.”

But your heart is saying…

“I Still Believe” (by Brenda K. Starr)

Maybe you were the one who initiated the breakup, or maybe the breakup was mutual.

It may hurt, but just remember that no one is…

“Irreplaceable” (by Beyonce’)

Even so, at the end of the day all you really want to know is…

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

More on this topic in another post. One thing I do know for sure is…

You’re going to need some music therapy. If you’re a woman, you’ve got to sing the women’s national anthem many, many, many times!

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

And eventually you will be singing this song…


“No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never get through it without your friends.”

What advice do you have for getting over a break up?


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“No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” — Barbara de Angelis

How old is old?

When I was in my early twenties I used to think 30 was old. Of all my birthday’s, I think turning 30 was the most difficult. Why? Because to me it meant that I was no longer young and that I had to “put away childish things.” It meant that now the world would officially see me as a “grown up,” and expect me to act like one — whatever that meant. For me it meant no more having fun going out to Happy Hour on Friday nights or dancing in a club. Where did this idea come from? I remember one night sitting at a bar in a restaurant with my best girlfriend. We were both in our twenties and we were, as the Jody Watley song says, “Looking For A New Love.” The DJ was spinning some tunes and people were on the dance floor having a good time. We were having a good time. I remember looking across the bar and seeing a woman in what looked to be her forties, sitting at the bar looking sad and drunk. This was not the first time I’d seen her in the place. She never looked liked she was really having a good time. To me she looked pathetic. She looked like an old woman trying to pick up a man. Each time I had seen her in the restaurant it looked like she was alone at the bar. Occasionally I’d see her talking with another female. And sometimes, before the end of the night, she’d end up in the company of one of the men in the restaurant. Now maybe we can say that she was just meeting all her dates at the same restaurant, or maybe she looked so sad because she was grieving. I’ll never know. What stuck with me was the thought I had after looking at this woman on that particular night. The thought being… “I don’t ever want that to be me. I don’t want to be some pathetic looking old woman sitting at a bar hoping to be picked up by some man.” And since somewhere in my mind I had deemed 30 to be old, it meant that that was the cutoff point for me to be out having fun in a bar or club. Not long after that I met the man who is now my husband and we did have lots of fun dating. Some of which included going out dancing. Soon the thought of 30 being old flew right out of my mind. In fact, a friend of mine and I actually had a conversation one day about how much we were enjoying our thirties. We felt like the twenties was just one big experimental phase and that with our early thirties we had discovered some newfound wisdom. We were still young, in good shape, having fun and we were wiser. WooHoo! Thirty has long since come and gone and I’ve found that although I may be getting older in years, I don’t feel old. I still feel vibrant, energetic, and curious about life. How about you?

So what have I learned about getting older? Ok, I haven’t completely thought it all out but here are a few of my pearls of wisdom:

1 – The outside may change but you can still remain young at heart.

“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” — Doris Lessing

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” — Chili Davis

2 – With time and age comes experience — learn the lessons.

“Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldn’t want to grow younger. The older you become, the more you know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.” — William Holden

“Of middle age the best that can be said is that a middle-aged person has likely learned how to have a little fun in spite of his troubles. – Don Marquis

3 – Keep having fun.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” –George Bernard Shaw

4 – Moderation is key. Too much of anything is not a good thing.

“Whatever you do, do it in moderation” — Proverbs

“Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

5 – Take good care of yourself — mentally as well as physically.

“A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. I reckon, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, it’s because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.” — Dorothea Kent

6 – Seek understanding.

“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

7 – Just because you grow older doesn’t mean you grow wiser. Always seek wisdom.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” — Albert Einstein

Pearls of Wisdom campaign:

Charity Jewish Care has recently launched ‘Pearls of Wisdom,’ a campaign which aims to change the perception of elderly people in society and encourage the younger generation to recognize and engage with the wisdom and life experiences that our elders have to offer.

As part of the campaign, renowned Creative Director Malcolm Green has created a short film in which elderly people share their pearls of wisdom. They talk about love, life and lots of other topics in an insightful and often funny way.

Check out this video for some more Pearls of Wisdom:

facebook.com/jewishcare – where people are leaving their Pearls of Wisdom

In the words of Satchel Paige:

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

You might also like:
How to Stay Young in Heart and Mind to Maximize Your Life


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