Tension Tamers

Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.

Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:

  1. Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
  2. Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
  3. Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
  4. Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
  5. Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
  6. Shiatsu neck/back massager: this is an essential tool for days when the tension in your upper back and neck are at its highest.
  7. Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
  8. Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
  9. Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
  10. Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.

These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission.  All of my  product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129.  While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.

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WOT 6

WOT 6 is here, which means we only have two more weeks until he is finished!!! I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since we said goodbye. This week is a big one! In WOT 6 they take all of their tests to determine if they’ll graduate. Thankfully, he passed both the EOC written exam and clothing inspection. I haven’t heard from him since he took his final PT test Tuesday night.

In a couple of days, we should receive the WOT 6 call. I cannot wait. This is the call where the trainees confirm that they are graduating. Additionally, we’ll be discussing his graduation weekend wishlist. Moreover, we’ll be asking if there are airmen that need to be adopted for the weekend. Unfortunately not all families can make it to graduation, when we adopt an airman it ensures there’s no man left behind.

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In addition to this week’s testing, the trainees are preparing for BEAST week. In week 7, they’ll be in the field putting all their learnings to the test. To get them ready, they’re completing FEST (Field Expeditionary Skills Training) training this week. This training includes basic rifle fighting techniques, crawling through a sand course, moving in columns and using proper hand signals.

Additionally, they’ll be doing CBRE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and high yield Explosives) training this week. This training includes a trip into the gas chamber. The trainees start their experience with full MOPP gear and gas mask on, but must remove it once the gas is turned on. Finally, they must give their reporting statements before leaving the chamber. Sounds like a whole lot of fun that I don’t want to have, but this prepares them for what they may encounter in their careers.

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Since there is a WOT 6 phone call, you can be sure that my phone will be attached to my hip. I’m so excited to hear how he did on his PT test and if he’s ready for BEAST week. Additionally, I want to be sure we plan his graduation weekend in accordance with what he wants.

So far the only plans we have, outside of the graduation events, is making him homemade cookies. Please keep him in your prayers as he finishes WOT 6 and heads into the field for Beast Week.  Lastly, I have to give a big shoutout to the Air Force MOMS BMT groups for being an excellent guide this process.

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What Next: taking supplements

So you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease, what next? Can you still take my supplements? When I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, my life was flipped upside down. There are plenty of treatment decisions to make, but there are immediate consideration as well. In fact, I had to evaluate all the supplements I was taking. Anything that was considered goitrogenic had to go because it could cause a thyroid storm. Moreover, I had to make decisions on how to mitigate the symptoms before treatment.

Here are the supplements I’m using to cope with my autoimmune disorder (as a major caveat everything I take has been played by my endo:)

1. Selenium – this mineral is essential for normal thyroid function and is beneficial for hyper/hypothyroid patients.

2. L-Carnitine – before I was given beta blockers, I used L-Carnitine to mitigate the hyper thyroid symptoms. Once I was post-RAI, I stopped taking this supplement.

3. CoQ10 – I was taking this before I got diagnosed and was advised to continue. Apparently, patients with Graves’ disease have lower amounts of CoQ10 in their blood.

4. Zinc – I just added this to my regimen after meeting with the registered dietician at my Endo’s office. There is evidence to support that zinc supplementation helps support thyroid function.

5. Collagen – I’m loving Vital Proteins Collagen Powder. It ‘a flavorless, can be mixed into coffee, is only 70 calories and has 17 grams of protein. As for why I’m taking this, it’s really about my vanity. I’m trying to keep my hair, skin and nails as healthy as possible. Thyroid disease and thyroid hormone supplementation can lead to hair loss. I am not about that life.

6. Biotin – see the explanation above.

7. Essential oils – no I don’t think they are a cure all, but lavender has helps calm me down if I’m Graves’ raging. Peppermint and Eucalyptus are critical in relieving congestion . Since my blood pressure is not always normal, I avoid taking decongestants.

I used to take a multivitamin and myriad of other supplements, but had to stop them once diagnosed. There are a lot of supplements that interact with the thyroid or thyroid medication, so you have to be careful. I have a lot of friends that have great results with Thrive and other supplements. The temptation to try those supplements is real, however, until my doc gives me the all clear, nothing in my small regimen will change. What’s next: adjusting my exercise routine.

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WOT 5

WOT 5 is here and I can’t believe if. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s going so fast. On the other hand, I can’t believe it’s going so slow. This week is the last full week of PT before Jake’s final PT test in week 6. Needless to say, this week is critical. As they complete this week, they will also be preparing for the written tests that are administered in WOT 6.

In WOT 5, the airmen are learning a lot including the Air Force’s mission. They’re learning about the laws that govern armed conflict. Additionally, this week they’re learning how to prepare, cope and recover from combat. Moreover, they’re continue to learn about their role as airman and how they are support the mission. It is well known that BMT is very tough physically, but there is a lot of knowledge the airmen trainees must take in and process before graduating.

Week of training five also brings the official “dress blues” photo. I can’t wait to see how he looks in his uniform. Clearly, I’ve already picked out a couple of spots where I can proudly display this photo. We’ll also have an opportunity to buy a disk of the photos taken from WOT 0 to WOT 6 at graduation. Hopefully, we can preview the photos before we have to purchase it.

Today was tough. I found myself missing him quite a bit. Unfortunately, I woke up with a horrible tension headache that left me feeling daffy for most of the day. Thank god I went back to my yoga practice in October. My Wednesday class is all about loosening how tight muscles and improving mobility. My teacher Christine is amazing and I’ve gotten some great tricks from her. Consequently, I used my therapy balls to release my neck muscles. It worked amazingly!

Clearly, today was an emotional day. One of those days that just smacks you in the fsa day for no reason. At any rate, I’m anxious to see and hear from Jake again. He doesn’t have a lot of time to call or write. Although, he should be able to call us during WOT 6.

And now have three more WOTs until graduation week. Twenty two days before we’ll see him in the airmen’s run; twenty three days until he graduates. Unsurprisingly, we’re counting down the days! Lastly, I’d ask to keep Jake in your prayers as he goes into the most critical phase of Basic Training. Please pray that he continues to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong as well prepared for his exams. Thank you for all your love and support. It is so appreciated!

Previous Training Weeks:
Week 0
Week 1
Week 2
Week 4

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BMT Family PT Challenge: Week Two

Today was test day for week two of my BMT Family PT challenge. Boy oh boy do I have some work to do on my running. I actually didn’t think I could do worse than last week, but here I was slower. To be fair, I ran more this week than last week. However, some may say my new “running pace” was stationary. Perhaps I need to adjust my strategy to include more walk/run intervals to improve my time.

In all due seriousness, the run may have technically been slower, but it went well. I’m using Couch25K to get back in running shape. Today’s run called for five minute warmup followed by running for eight minutes, walking for five, running for eight and a five minute cool down. Since I wanted to get a good time on 1.5 miles, I ran through part of the walking portion. That may not have been the best plan. Clearly, I don’t run like a gazelle.

As for the pushups and sit-ups, they both still suck. Nonetheless, I did make so good headway on the sit-ups. Today’s effort resulted in 26 sit-ups an improvement over last week’s 21. The pushups were a complete struggle, but I still made the cut with 14. Hopefully, I will hit the sit-up standard in next week’s BMT family PT challenge test. Importantly, there are only 24 days until we’ll see our Airman! I can’t wait!

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Slacking

Gotta be honest, I’ve been slacking on the blog these past few days. It’s just I’ve been exhausted these past couple of days with little to share. Friday was productive for me, but left me exhausted. I completed a BBG AB workout, went to yoga and enjoyed a restorative sauna session. Needless to say, it left me exhausted. And I was in bed with my Virginia Woolf novel by 9:30.

Goalielocks has practice scheduled for most of Saturday, but it was a bit touch and go if we’d take him since he hurt his foot/ankle playing football. In the end, we decided to take him, so his trainer could evaluate the injury. The injury location is weird. He’s actually more comfortable in skates playing hockey than walking.

After his practice, the trainer was able to take a look at it. Fortunately, his Trainer felt it was likely a sprain, but wanted us to rule out a fracture to the navicular bone in his foot. Since the Vikings were playing at 4:35 pm, my scheme was to take him post game right before the urgent care closes.

Unfortunately, the Vikings effort was anemic and Goalielocks was soon despondent. Consequently, we headed to urgent care during the beginning of the third quarter. By some miracle of god, there was no wait at the clinic. We were in and out with the x-rays and hands. Happily, the x-rays were negative for fracture. His diagnosis was sprain. Goalielocks was not happy when he was told to be non-weight bearing for 3 days.

That’s right folks the scooter is back- at least, temporarily. He isn’t quite the seasoned scooter driver that I was, but he’s learning. Additionally, he insists that he will not use the scooter or crutches at school. Tomorrow morning should be fun!

After a busy day yesterday, we’ve been slacking at home enjoying the pictures of my family’s vacation on the south seas. We did get most the laundry done and I did go to yoga, so the day wasn’t a complete wash. Tonight we had chilli and I was really regretting my decision to go gluten free. I’m not sure it’s possible, but I may have been lusting for a baguette. Thankfully, neither of us had the energy to drive and buy one. In the end, the bison chili was perfectly satisfying without the baguette. Someone who hasn’t been slacking is Jake. Today he starts WOT5 for Jake. Three more weeks til graduation!

Previous training weeks:

Week 0
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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WOT 4

WOT 4 is here and I couldn’t be more encouraged. We are officially half way thru- a major turning point. As I noted in an earlier post, I was able to speak with my AB on Saturday. He’s a bit homesick, but loving it. His FLT members have become his family. Unsurprisingly, he continues to love the chow. I guess I would too if someone made me pancakes or waffles every morning. Also, it appears there continues to be chicanery with the protein bars.

This week he’ll be learning about the Airman’s code and how important it is to their culture. He’ll also be learning the different Air Force symbols. Additionally, they’ll be briefed on base liberty this week. In fact, they can also earn base liberty now, which means they may be able to call from the pay phones. If you’re so inclined, you can include a calling card in your letter. As with the previous week, they continue to do PT, dorm inspections, weapons work and their jobs.

Now that he’s in WOT 4 and progressing well, we’re starting to plan our travel. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t wait this long, but the Air Force recommends waiting until this week to purchase tickets. Tomorrow I’ll start looking for hotel and rental car, which will be oh so much fun.

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Meanwhile in Florida, we’re enjoying the cooler temperatures. Piggie and I went for another training run. It was absolutely brutal. Clearly, it’s gonna take some time to get back into fighting shape. Oh well, I’ll keep working away it. Tonight everyone’s home, so we’re just chilling watching Hulu. Have a great night!

Previous Training Weeks:
Week 0
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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Road Warrior Weekend

I’m still recovering from my road warrior weekend.  In the course of two days, I put almost 400 miles on my car and visited three different rinks.  I even got to enjoy a weekday morning commute from Palm Beach to Kendall.  Thankfully, it was a holiday week, so traffic was significantly lighter than normal.  Needless to say, I left the house at 6:30 am to get there by 8:45, but since there was no traffic we got there at 8:00 am.  Of course, with Miami traffic, if I had left ten minutes later I would have been twenty minutes late.  Saturday brought four games at two different rinks in central and southern Broward.

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Saturday morning kicked off a crazy day of four hockey games at two separate rinks.  Fortunately, due to the schedule, I was able to see a at least a period of all four games.  It is always hard to divide and conquer with these games.  Honestly, I’d rather get to watch all of both of their games than having a weekend off.   My Mayor plays with such heart and grit.  It is an absolute joy to watch him play with his team.  They’re fantastic together… Saturday morning just wasn’t their time.

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Just hanging around waiting for my airman to call

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The best part of the game was when Jake called from BMT.  We had to fight to get the Hubby’s attention since he was actively coaching a hockey game when he called.  Fortunately, he was able to run over, speak briefly to him before heading back to lead the bench.  Unfortunately, he’s still dealing with a cold.  I asked him if he’d gone to the infirmary, but he hasn’t gone since he didn’t want to miss a moment.  He did get a little choked up telling me that he was homesick and missed the family, but he freaking loves the Air Force.   I shared some mom wisdom. We discussed how normal homesickness was and how important it is to learning how to manage his Air Force experience.  While he has experienced some homesickness, I want to be clear that he is absolutely loving it!

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As I was speaking, I was doing the most hockey mom thing ever.  Grabbing my other hockey player, Goalielocks and running to the car so we could get to his game in time.  Thankfully, Jake understands the madness of his life.  He continues to kick ass on his PT assessments in spite of his cold.  I’m so proud of how hard he worked before going to BMT.  This preparation set him up to be a successful trainee. 

I asked him how he likes his MTIs (drill instructors), his response may surprise you.  In a nutshell, he loves them and says that they are awesome.  Of course, it helps that his flight is the top PT flight in WOT4.  He said that they are helpful, hold them accountable and are invested in their success.   On Christmas, the Air Force took great care of them with a Prime Rib dinner with dessert for everyone.

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He spent a lot of time speaking about the guys in his FLT and how important they are to him.  I’m so glad that his wingman J will most likely be his roomie at tech school.  One of his dorm mates also played hockey growing up.  Jake was a forward and this AB is a goalie, so they’re trying to orchestrate some type of hockey game in the dorm.  At the end of the call, I was so emotional.  We miss him so much, but he continues to thrive and is clearly in the right place. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While he is loving his BMT experience, he will continue to face bouts of homesickness.  This is where you can help.  Every letter counts.  On my call, he mentioned receiving a card from a Senior Airman and was a bit star struck that someone of that rank would write him.  He asked me if there was a program out there for SrA to support the BMTs.  I answered no that card came from a friend of your mom’s.  He responded, “wow, that’s awesome.  Please tell him thank you.”  BG thank you, your card meant everything to him.
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By the time I made it to the rink, this road warrior was emotionally drained.  I miss him so much and worry about him but had to flip back into hockey mom mode.  Plus, Goalielocks and I may or may not have forgotten his stick, which absolutely added to my emotional stress.  I’m pretty sure I walked into the rink looking like a zombie.    Thank god for my hubby because he came to the rescue with a new stick.  And thank god there was a Dunkin’ close by and coffee does cure a lot.  When Goalielocks is in net, I am such a wreck.  The first game we were going to play was going to be a tough one.  I had myself convinced that it would be a blowout, so when it wasn’t I was relieved and happy.  Truly, my goalie played great and the game was entertaining and close.

For some reason, the scheduling gods of Florida hockey think it’s a great idea for U16 teams to play games almost back to back.  There’s no consideration of the physical stress and the physiology of an adult body playing a tough physical game back to back.  Think about it, when is the last time you saw a NHL team play a double header let alone a game back to back.  I bet you can’t remember because I can’t either.  Needless, we had little chance in the matter.  In the fifteen minutes I had between Goalielocks getting undressed and his second game’s call time, I took him and his bestie Leo to Publix.  The only thing they could really eat was fruit or protein bar because they didn’t have enough time to eat anything substantive.   Ridiculous.

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By the time game three of the day started, my emotions have recovered from the fraying of the early afternoon.  I was now annoyed with the nonsense that is Florida hockey.  Our third game of the day, a midget game, was an absolute shit show through the first two periods.  Goalielocks’ team was missing a player due to a skate issue and penalties kept us short handed. Honestly, it was horrible. The great thing about hockey, however, is that there are three periods of play.  After a wacky call on my goalie, a tripping call, from moving across his crease to follow the puck and the opponent falling, our team sprang into action.  Number 18 was back on the ice with working blades and went to work quickly.  In the span of a period, we went from losing a game 2-0 to winning the game 3-2.   Never give up!

Of course, I didn’t leave that rink to almost the next day because my Goalie decided to be the turtle in the race to undress post game as opposed to the hare.  While I waited for what felt like a century, my husband sent good news from the Ice Den: the Mayor’s game had been delayed.  Alas, I may still be able to catch some of his game.  Goalielocks did his best to foil these efforts by lallygagging in the locker room.  Thankfully, this road warrior may or may not have channeled Michael Schumacher as I drove up I-75 to Ice Den.  Victory was mine and I made it to the Mayor’s game by the end of the second period.

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The Mayor’s second game of the day, and our family’s fourth of the day, was a much better effort than his team’s effort that morning.  What I love about his team and especially his line is how they work together to make things happen.  It is clear when watching these boys that they’re playing for each other and not themselves.  What could be bad about that?  In the end, the Mayor’s team came away with a 7-2 victory and a healthy appetite.  Fortunately, there’s a great pizza place down the road where we ended up with some folks from his team.  Great food, great people and the greatest sport in the world, what could be bad?  In the end, we got home close to 11:00 pm another twelve hour plus day as a road warrior.

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Long Day

Today was a long day! Goalielocks and I left the house at 6:30 am, so we’d get to Kendall for practice before 8:45. As it happened, traffic was great and we got there forty five minutes early. Of course if we had left any later, we would have been incredibly late.

This morning’s practice was two hours on ice. Goalielocks got worked hard! He played well and was engaged all practice long. If you’re a goalie parent, I know how much you’d appreciate your goalie being engaged the entire practice. We’ve had past seasons where the goalies were left to their own devices at the opposite end of the rink.

Practice was great. Afterwards Goalielocks headed to lunch to celebrate’s a friends birthday. Fortunately, he was able to shower and borrow some clothes from a friend. He and his boys then headed to Texas De Brazil for a nice lunch. The moms, meanwhile, headed to Cheesecake factory for our lunch.

One of the best parts of hockey is the relationships that are formed and grown season after season. People often think we’re crazy for the amount of time we put in to travel hockey. While we may he crazy for other reasons, this isn’t one of them. I’ve been able to share so many experiences with my kids and my hockey family that are priceless. I have an incredible built in support system, which with recent life changes means everything.

The day will soon come when will hang up the travel hockey parent moniker. Incredibly that day is now nearer than farther. We’ve been in the game for nearly a decade and are grateful for the people and the lessons the sport has taught us. Hopefully, in the far term future we’ll return to travel hockey with the travel hockey grandparent moniker.

Speaking of hockey family, my youngest is back home after a nice sojourn with the K’s. The Outback Bowl was Goalielocks’ Christmas present, but we did give the Mayor and option to stay with his friend. After some deliberation, he decided to stay local. They kindly picked him up Monday night, so we didn’t have to drive South before heading North.

I’m glad to have him home. Truly, I’m incredibly grateful for our hockey family for their generous hospitality and loving our kid. We’re lucky people! Now after a long day on the road, I’m home and able to breathe and relax.

Please keep the airmen, sailors, soldiers and their families as they face deployment.

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WOT 3 is Underway

WOT 3 is underway at JBSA Lackland! This week Jake will take his second official PT test of basic training. While he’s already at the prescribed standard, he and his flight are working towards Warhawk status. This means they have to exceed the PT standards substantially. In his letter we received today, he mentioned that he’s closing in on the number of pushups needed for Warhawk status.

WOT 6, or week of training six, will bring the official PT test. This is the one that will determine whether or not they graduate and if they graduate with Thunderbolt or Warhawk status. For recruits starting after January 1, 20202, their final PT will be in week three. The Air Force made the change because too many recruits were coming into BMT ill prepared. To go from no physical activity to the level of fitness required at BMT is a massive leap. Jacob spent months working out in the gym and running in preparation for his departure.

WOT 3 also brings some changes to the uniform. Excitingly, this week brings the issuance of the dress blues. During WOT 5, they’ll be taking their graduation photos in their new dress uniforms. Additionally, this week they’ll get their names on their ABUs/OCPs. I can’t wait to see my airman in his uniform!

In the classroom, they’re continuing to learn about the Air Force and it’s culture. They’re also continuing to practice disassembling and reassembling their M-4s. Additionally, they discuss cyber awareness, basic leadership and character, and warrior role. And of course, the trainees are continuing to drill. Lastly, the best part of WOT 3 is that he should be able to call us this week! We cannot wait!
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Meanwhile at the homestead, I knocked out my BBG workout this morning before heading to yoga. Can I tell you how much I needed yoga after sitting in a stadium and a car for hours yesterday? Maria’s class was the perfect anecdote. Sadly, I’ll be missing yoga tomorrow due to the hockey schedule.

Post yoga, I headed to Boca to meet Mel’s mom T for lunch. We met at First Watch, which is an awesome breakfast and lunch place here in South Florida. I had a deconstructed breakfast burritos and home fried potatoes with coffee. It was yummy and super filling. We had the best time chatting and sharing in our mutual love of J and M. Jake is lucky that his girlfriend’s family is amazing and loves him dearly. Finally, Jake is loving the letters and asks that we spam him with them. Please consider dropping him a note! His address is below.

Previous Training Weeks:
Week 0
Week 1
Week 2

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