Time Travel ~ a poem

Plane travel
Sliding doors unravel
Which reality am I in?
2019 or 1987

I am a child
Going on an aeroplane
Daddy said he’d come but
He’s let me down again.

‘Go be a big girl’, he says
As he waves me goodbye.
I’m on a jumbo jet
Heading home alone.

Stopover from Disneyland
Dumbo in my arms
Stranger couple meets me
They hold my bags
Not my hand

They say they are friends
Though I don’t know their name
I hold myself tight
Possibly say things are alright

Though inside I am crying
Daddy is not around
And he is nowhere to be found
I am daddy’s little girl

~ By Amy Wilson

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Hello Self, Where are you?

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I met a wise woman last night. A horsey lady with ropey curls who listens as you speak and says it how it is when it’s her turn. I was explaining to her how I’d gone for an interview for a real job in a fancy building and didn’t get it. The whole experience had been anxiety provoking and I feel disheartened, lost.

After dissecting the interview many times, with each role play I notice how the panel has slightly different responses as my imagination tries to draw lines to meanings that I am totally unable to know without feedback.

I admit to this friend that my fear of failure or not doing enough…of really not being enough is under it all. I’ve played out another run around the sun being particularly busy with self improvement, studying a second degree, cramming for a soaring GPA as a reflection of my self worth.

She simply said, ‘What about your relationship with your self?’

I do a jolt and feel a wave of dull anger. ‘What do you mean? I’ve been candid enough with you to point out my flaws. I’m ‘enlightened’ enough to know what they are.  I am f$%kin self aware… I do yoga…I talk to animals…I even talk to a God of my understanding that I sometimes call Spirit/Source/Magic/Energy…whatever I feel comfortable with at the time.’ It’s basically laughable, I have some relationship with someone in there, don’t I?

She responds, ‘So you are stuck in all this doing, because to actually just sit in the shit with your uncomfortable feelings is harder’.

My jaw drops as I exhale. Truth can do that. There is space as her words echo in my head.

How do I do that? Just be in it. In what? I don’t know if I like the sound of any of it.

My mind jumps to rapid fire questions, ‘How did you learn? Do you write it out? Did you do a ….’. My voice trails off as I realise that doing courses is just another distraction from getting quiet enough to be in the warm pool of your own excretement.

She continues to speak of learning from her animals, and sitting with her herd. She works in equine therapy and teaches horsemanship skills.

I’ve tried to take it all in. But the reality, my mind is busy with its usual parody of thoughts. I share my primary fear ‘ Time is ticking by, my kids are nearly teenagers and I’m still lost out on the prairies whilst trying to make it to respectable 6 figure Successville.’

She slaps her hand down on the table with more force than she intended. I see a glimmer of fear and frustration cross her face, ‘Money? Now that’s an entirely different topic all together’. She shares her journey of deconstructing fears around having money or not, and how learning to give when she is holding on too tight has somehow with practice, taught her to relax. I think, far out yet another paradox.

I shift in my seat as I feel that familiar ball in my lower belly. The conversation rounds back to its original purpose. I’m left pondering, what does a relationship with ourselves mean? And is it different to a relationship with God or whatever we name the energy bigger than ourselves? Ouch, my head hurts. Maybe this is all too hard.

‘Ok, what about writing?, she says. A calm comes over me, ‘yeah I love that. Somehow I can feel through that’. With her gentle enthusiasm, she lights the way when I am in the dark. ‘Ok, do that. Just write and see what happens’.

As the conversation turns and I watch as this beautiful warm woman shares her own frustrations about warped love and family. With her large penetrating blues, at one point she admits she’s dyslexic and thus not intelligent. And I scream inside, ‘No, that’s just school conditioning! What you’ve shared with me in the past half an hour, I haven’t found in any university hall’. Again, all these measures we busy and beat ourselves with, no wonder this relationship with self feels so strange in comparison.

As the music jams on and a cleansing rain shower dumps down, I feel a rush of gratitude for this perfectly vulnerable, resilient woman with a lion heart. I want to thank her because this morning I’m tapping away, slowly finding the stones to step on.

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The Thing Is – a poem

The thing is

To decide

Where you begin

And I subside

 

The thing is

To help or stand beside

Refrain from advice

Simply hold my space

 

The Thing Is

To stay or to go

My liquid feet

They give no answers

 

The Thing Is

I feel the vice

Upon your crown

Heavy sharp

 

I want to reach over

And unbuckle it

But the reality is,

it’s not my own

 

The Thing Is

To stop the fuss

Over whose cargo to carry

Our own

 

The Thing Is

In the garden

You’ll find me

Dirty fingernails

Rooting in the leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Talk To Horses

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Over 8 weeks, students on a horse facilitated learning program have the opportunity to  make friends with the large four legged kind. They are given timeout from school to learn how to speak horse. It is through this relationship they learn the art of ‘step back and breathe’.

From their first day, students are taught how to approach their horse in a receptive way using proximity response. As a horse turns an eye, ear or a head towards them, they take a step back and a conscious breath out.  This breath out helps to relax both horse and human. It allows for a conversation to begin. They become aware of their own energy field. This is sometimes described as an energy ‘bubble’ . When we bump up against someone else’s bubble, we feel uncomfortable and take a step back instinctively to reduce uneasiness.  People vary in how much personal space they need, and what’s socially acceptable or the norm varies across cultures. 

Horses are a prey species that have evolved to be hyper aware using all their senses to survive. They scan our bodies for tension and continually monitor our breath, especially upon our approach. When we hold our breath, something we can do unconsciously when nervous or trying something new, the horse also feels tense. The cougar in the wild holds its breath before it attacks.  Through the ‘step back and breathe’ technique, we consciously relax and repeat this several times before reaching the horse.

 By approaching the horse mindfully, we ask permission to enter the horse’s space. This idea is different from what pony clubs across the land teach young riders. I was fed a mantra of  ‘you have to show the horse who’s boss’ when I was a youngster learning to ride. Yes, we have to display leadership to the horse and be clear in our actions which makes the horse feel safe. However, true leadership is a hell of a lot more than dominance and control. Winston Churchill, an inspiring leader for his time said

‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen’.

It is the latter part of this quote that is the other half of the story. In using proximity response, we are listening for the horse’s answer.

FullSizeRender_1Over the course of the program, students become aware of what’s going on inside their bodies. They learn to find out what’s ‘running’: be it fear, anger, frustration or any other emotion. Horses are super sensitive to picking up our emotions. By simply placing our hand on the body part where the unease is felt, we can dissipate the energy. We teach people how to do a body scan before approaching the horse and bring their energy within. Horses are sleuths when it comes to incongruency, a psychology term coined in 1950s. It happens when people are distracted, emotional and disconnected from their body. When someone is totally unaware of what’s going on inside them even if they are putting on a brave face or talking the talk. The emotion felt from them doesn’t match their behaviour. Horses don’t want to hang with us in this state as we’re unclear and potentially dangerous. However, horses willingly hold space for feelings, but they will only support once we honestly acknowledge our feelings, and become relaxed which happens naturally once we allow ourselves to feel. 

It is quite possible that if we all learnt to ‘step back and breathe’ during times of heightened emotions, the world would be a calmer place. When we react in the moment,  saying things in anger or throwing that punch, we are trapped in the reptilian part of our brain (our primal brain). By taking a few precious moments to step back and breathe, we can engage the prefrontal cortex, the thinking part of our brain, allowing for more conscious, peace evoking responses. Through this humble action, we could change the world, one step at a time. 

 

 

 

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Shadow work: How I felt my shadow

 

It is not unusual to find my brain joining imaginary dots at 2am. Being perpetually busy is easy to do giving our days structure and we have social media for the down times. Living with this heady cocktail, I am looking for a different way of living more in touch with natural rhythms without caffeine. Here comes the thang, when I drop into my body, I disengage from fantastical thoughts and basically sloooow the feck down.

Living where I live with open space and changing sky helps as watching this subtle beauty allows the mind to quiet. Old patterns die hard though, and it is easy to notice how Nature influences our own nature, but it takes more commitment than that. An owning of my wiring, and that overthinking tendencies is a habit much like over eating.

I was drawn to an online course this year that delves into shadow work and works with Mother Archetypes whereby we get in touch with our sacred feminine. This is not a walk in the park. No amount of study or intellectualising is gonna to get me through. Take away this crutch and I’m left wary – I’m told to go gently the course does you…!?

Am I doing it right? How can I think my way through this to reach some utopia?

It’s a regular Sunday, I get an incidental phone call from my cousin but somehow I am triggered into worthlessness. Like a cloud on an otherwise sunny day, bleak thoughts ramp up all vying for attention at once. Normally, I’d push them aside, possibly work harder at getting sh*t done, exercise or inadvertently lose it at the kids an hour or two later. But, this time I just stop. Bent over under the clothesline, I let myself free fall. I open up as my body shakes rather than cling to the safety of intellect. Taking myself away to the garage with pen in hand, I draw what I see. A face, a neck, rope, tears. It’s unbearable at first, but I hold on to this picture and keep drawing. More faces, more tears. Lost parts of me calling for comfort. Asking for love.

Maybe this is what spiritual seekers experience on drugs like toad venom or cactus juice? A reckoning when you stop and face your shadow. What you’ve feared to look at by giving it form becomes an entity, a known quantity and from there, it can be transformed. Stuck emotion around abandonment, rejection and isolation can bubble up to be released. We hadn’t known how to process them at the time before they latently start running the show.

There is a practice based on an 11th Century Buddhish Tibetan woman’s wisdom and more recently made popular by Lama Tsultrim Allione work, ‘How To Feed Your Demons’.  A peer of Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, Allione shows that by feeding our demons, we can nurture them and thus free ourselves from inner battles. Even that word ‘demon’ sounds scary, but they aren’t ghoulish devils, rather any blocks draining our energy, negative thoughts, fears, addiction or relationship woes. When we sit with them and give feelings form, we ask them what they need which is always some form of love or comfort, and from that place feed this liquid love to our demon. And surprisingly they lose their power, redundant by love. I reckon we’ve all had that happen before, there’s nothing quite like falling in love, though not always long lasting. But this process is because it is self-love. Underneath our dark knobbly bits, our vicious thoughts and deprecating fears are opportunities for pure self love.

After the face off with my shadow much like a beach after a storm, debris is floating, dislodged. My mind is surprisingly vacant, I put one foot in front of the other back inside to make dinner. Somehow I am more connected and own more parts of myself.

Who knows if or when we are ready? But at some point, there is a shift from reacting to embodying, and we wanna get real. It comes along as a process, a game of cat and mouse with apparently random occurrences that lead us to question who the hell we are, and what’s this thing called life about? Whose to say one path is any better than another.

I don’t believe in ephiphanies maybe because whenever I have one, I’ve (mistakenly) hoped it was this all defining ‘ah-ha’ moment, only to realise that I still wake up with the same neuroses a couple of weeks or months later. As that famous quote goes:

Before enlightenmentchop woodcarry water. After enlightenmentchop woodcarry water.”

Even the aim of enlightenment seems futile in the striving and trying. All I’ve discovered (which isn’t much when I’m buzzing around in my head) is in the gentle art of feeling my way, I nourish a relationship with myself. The more I sit in the depths of my heart, I get comfortable with not knowing what’s coming but ultimately more connected and confident that the ride and rewards are great.

 

 

Holler-days are over!

Is it just ours or do other families have this noise factor going on? 6 weeks of sultry summer, high decibel action as the two boys scurry, squabble and scream their excitement and frustrations.

Screen time. Silence. End of Screen Time = Scream.

They had their access liberally curbed which was like witnessing kids having drug withdrawals.

Aragon with his ladies, Salt and Pepa

Both sides of the family descended on us for Christmas to celebrate at our new home. There is nothing quite like my crazy family. I know everyone says that, but honestly mine are next level.

Enter stage left, ‘The Three Wise (Wo)Men’. One Woman, her ex-husband and her current partner. They originally planned to travel 1000km in a campervan together with a neurotic dog and my father’s ‘handicap’ of needing to empty his bladder bag every few hours (he had a stoma op last year). Rugged campers and making sure nothing is wasted nor left without being properly recycled, my dad’s urostomy bags went missing and probably ended up cross-contaminated with the banana skins.

My mum can talk…and talk…and talk. It is not unusual to hear her partner Dave saying, ‘We forgot where you started Kay…’, and the story climax never gets reached. And if that’s not happening, they are bickering. By the end, the three of them were sledging one another, 2 vs 1 for sport.

Thankfully they weren’t staying with us. One night they stayed at an alpacca farm in a nearby valley. A former gambler turned Korean minister has an airbnb business in a shed cum church. It was quite obviously a place of worship even complete with a sign ‘No drinking, No smoking’. The two wise men with beer in hand and my dad lit up a cigarette, as the minister comes in to greet them. He wasn’t impressed but left them to their own reckoning.

On Christmas morning, mum calls hysterically from the bathroom, ‘Dave…DAVE!”. She’d been too liberal with the H202, hydrogen peroxide whilst trying to whiten her teeth for the turkey. These two are evangelical when it comes to this wonder cure using it on everything from skin cancers to nausea to sore throat gargles.

My in-laws have their own quirks and they were here too. My father in law loves to be busy. Despite the 35+ degree heat, he was outdoors mowing, racking or picking up sticks having only suffered heat stroke the week before. When he is indoors, he loves a good BYO jigsaw puzzle. I found myself spinning circles in the kitchen with both mothers as we wrestled a delightful Christmas lunch into existence. There is something sentimental about toiling over English food on a hot Qld day imagining how many generations have done the same thing, but every year finds me wishing for a singalong around a campfire with no washing up. The champagne flowed and like clock work, after lunch the house feel into a snooze with loosened belts.

Woodford Folk Festival was on our radar this year. Tim worked on the build for a month before and was out there on Boxing Day, prepping for the crowds. A big time commitment with a great vibe, we were pumped to get there. Car packed and housesitter sorted, on the eve of our departure we have a family bounce, all 4 of us weighing in at over 250kg. Quinn goes sky high after a double bounce from Dad and lands like a sack. He’s down and out. A trip to the hospital confirms a nondisplaced fracture, complete with crutches. We still went with Quinn getting pulling along in a trolley.

5 weeks later, he has 1 week to go. Water, Swim, Ocean are calling.

Daily scratch ritual

 

School’s back in the swing. And I’ve had enough time to finish this post and press send.

Wishing all of you a happy year full of fuzz and frivolity oxo

 

Sloppy Ground

 

IMG_5250 (1)I’ve been outside of late walking the sloppy paddocks, my blood pumping and learning the lay of the land. Spirit horse and I jumped over a muddy stream together last week when he clipped my heel leaving me face down on the opposite bank, pain hot tingling poker. Stopped. Plans parked. Earth felt. I let him go and just went soft dead still. My mare Suki trotted over sniffing the ground like I was a hurt foal. Strong inhale, yes alive ok, no fuss back to grass. Chew chew. I lie feeling the pulse of the Earth in beat with my pain. I dare not move. Spirit eats nearby. Chomp chomp. Time passes.

He comes and kisses my hair with his lips.

You’re ok, move he says. Ouch, I can’t. Too far to the house.

He shows his teeth to nip gently, enough get up, the bears may come, get up.

Ok ok, I say. Can I lean on you?

He stands and I pull myself up. His wither steady. Hop Hop. Gate. Crawl. Rest. Crawl. Call. Help.

The kids hear me and come, boy crutches. Toy soldiers, dependable and weak yet strangely strong. Power shifts. Lean on me mum. I will carry you. 

We shuffle up the hill. Crawl in the steep bits. Home. Ice.

Little chef makes tea. Rest.

Little Chef protectively looking after me

I missed their school concert. Quinn was a monkey, so realistic the crowd cheered. It’s easier with a mask on, he says to really get into character. Beau and his class were a steady mountain in gloomy green capes waving scarves when they felt like it, some missing their cues and a correcting classmate loudly pointing it out ‘you don’t do it then’.

Nothing like an injury to find you evaluating life and how mobility is just one of those things we take for granted. I don’t like having my phone on me down the valley. It is a distraction and gets hot transmitting nonsense in my pocket. But… possibly I will have it on a fencepost nearby when I’m working horses on my own.

Here’s a love story with a happy ending- Suki a thoroughbred mare who lived at Spirit’s old home has come to live with us. She is a natural mother and only been separated from her foal 4 months ago, she is neighing to the neigh-bour’s foals regularly checking in. Spirit and Suki were never in the same paddock but would make lovey sounds over the fence. Now these two are reunited, sharing a paddock and beginning a herd.

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Their contentment is beautiful to witness. The power of friendship and belonging to a herd lowers their heart rates and anxiety levels, especially being a prey animal. Underneath trying to please their owners and compete in sports at their humans’ folly, horses just want to be horse. I’m sure lots of them love to be ridden if it doesn’t hurt and love the human-horse relationship, but not at the expense of being in their own kind herd in pasture under open skies. It’s their birthright. I’ve been reflecting on our love of horses- their allure, their pull, but also how we project our own thoughts on to them. We can romanticise them and coddle them.  This anthromorphism becomes so normal that we rarely question it.

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They are such giving creatures. They carry us, emotionally and physically. They show up with their gentle energy and reflect back to us what emotions and energies we are carry. I’ve been mentoring with a lady in equine therapy. Every Thursday, a group of 5 year 5 boys come out to learn about connecting with a horse (relationships), asking a horse to participate in their wishes (leadership) and emotional resilience (neuroscience and heart intelligence).  They learn about herd behaviour that is reflected in their own peer dynamics. It has been such profound work to see these boys learn about controlling their emotions, expressing their feelings and connecting with themselves and the horses. Boys chosen for the program because they have behavioural issues and turbulent family lives. The change in their attitude and the smiles (!) over a short period of time is remarkable. After one term, the program develops with a riding component for those keen to explore more. AJ Millions (founder) has an open door policy so any of these kids can visit the horses at any time they wish.

Writing isn’t flowing for me at the moment. Sometimes, it rolls like the sweet spring wind tussling the leaves and other times, it’s not. I tell myself that it’s ok, to sit with the void and be open to its vulnerability without lurching into it. That like the sun rises, some time when I’m doing another job, a pop up often formed and clear will come to life. I’ll sign off and go and spend time outside. Being patient for the next season.

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A letter for your tenth birthday

Dear Quinn,

A decade since that Spring sunrise when I first held you. The day before was spent watching a bushfire on the hill. Its flames consuming acacias in a calm, confronting way. I sat with Pat and felt pangs in my belly what felt like period pain amidst the drama of a helicopter taking water from the house dam to wet the fire.

By the wee hours you were on your way. And I was calm and there with you as you felt your peaceful way into the world. We were connected and still one entity, until at 4.48am you burst forth. With black coal eyes, you watched the world with an intense stare, observant and wise.

Now you are 10. Your hair falls to your shoulders, curled like an 19th Century aristocrat. You’re growing it out, finding your own way. You said to me this morning, you love being independent and this next decade will see more of that for you. Your curiosity channelled into nerf guns, endless modification ideas filling your notebooks.

Stand tall, gaze long, my beloved son. Put your roots deep into the Mother who will hold you up. You dream of being an assassin who ‘works in the shadows to serve the light’. You asked me earnestly, ‘Will you still love me if I choose to be one?’ Yes, whatever path you travel, I will always love you.

Go forth and create, my dear son. A life of laughter and care, love and intensity awaits you.

Eons of  love, mum

 

Serendipity

We have a home where we can spread out roots and let the seasons whisper their secrets to us. We have a place perched near the top of a hill with valley views and a large fig tree. When the wind is up, the figs sound like gunshots as they hit the shed roof.

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There are paddocks for animals and our menagarie is growing: some borrowed, some new. Our darling dog, Patrick Swayze is back with us after a stint with Grandma. And we are so happy! He fills such a big space in my heart and now at 11 years old, he is content, gentle, wise and such great company. I am never lonely when he is around.

FullSizeRenderNow life is overflowing with juicy goodness. Through a series of events aka universe magic, a friend flicked me an ad of a horse being given away. I called on a whim and spoke to a delightful lady who wanted him to go to a good home etc and be loved. I went and met this horse who came straight over and proceeded to show me his favourite massage spots. I hardly asked any questions, I was smitten. And the owner was content that he had chosen his new owner!

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Spirit now lives with us and has completed my dream of getting up every morning to horse. He has a back injury hence didn’t make it as a dressage prospect. And the sad part is that his back injury is human related. Horses have elongated spines that can be easily damaged through overwork and insensitive riding. I hope to rehabilitate him and give him a wonderful life here. Already he is teaching me about being quiet and listening, not always pushing my own agenda.

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There is a playfulness about animals. An ability to touch the present through them. They just ask us to show up and be ourselves. Not the fancy, academic, ambitious, sleek, successful version. I love how they see who I am, and respond to that by jumping in. It is the closest I get to God or Spirit or endless wonder (insert whatever word floats you).

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Malibu, one of 3 friend’s horses enjoying a vacation here

I am contentedly become the crazy horse lady….and feel unable to write about anything else… this obsession has been going for a long time.  And the future looks the same from the back of a horse.

Much love, Amy

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The Road to Character

So we’ve been in this town for 4 months now. It can feel longer like with any immersion experience, but also no time at all. And from asking others ‘how long did it take for you to feel settled, like a local?’ the answers vary but the ball park is around 2 years.

The routine of school and work seams our lives. The kids are settled into classes and soccer teams. We are starting to recognise faces on the street and frequent the local gig scene that supports artists from Maleny and down the Coast. The Upfront Club was an institution for local acts and really rocked a Monday night but closed last year after 22 years due to financial difficulties. But luckily a local cafe took over the premises has now started live music twice a week. We bustled 3 minutes down the road after dinner, had a drink and a chat, Tim got coerced into a song for his friend’s birthday and then recited The Man From Ironbark for a lark. And we were back home by 8pm. Good wholey fun for a Monday night.

The school had a Cafe night awhile back and did a call out to families keen to perform together. It didn’t take long before Beau and Tim were on the list. Here is a video of the song they performed. Beau’s favourite, one he learnt at his old preschool.

Sorry, cut short hit some technical difficulties… Beau has taken up piano and is writing songs. This week he wrote ‘Sad Song For Pat’ about our dog who we are all missing a lot. My mum is minding him because our rental has no fences.

But not for long, because our grand news is that we have purchased a property here. So we are staying to get our hands dirty in the soil and watch the misty skies pass over head. I’m in awe that my childhood dream of green rolling hills will be our reality. The block is 34.5 acres, partly cleared with paddocks and the bottom end of the property has a waterfall with a hefty drop and a rainforest that is quite impenetrable at present. Quinn and I have visions of getting into it with machetes. Walking trails is what we want to create.  The neighbours have told me an Aboriginal stone axe was found in 1950s as the tribes used the creek on their way to ceremonial grounds at Lake Baroon dam, 10 km north east in pre colonial times.

Life has a way of working its magic. We hope to have a cabin built soon-ish for folks to stay. The neighbouring property is named ‘The Space Between’, a name I really dig. And it got me thinking about that place we often find ourselves in- between jobs, holidays, projects, life stages….And our tendency to mentally jump on to the next thing before the current thing has actually finished. Or even if the current thing has ended, the desire to latch on to something else immediately to calm our anxiety or quieten our busy mind, instead of waiting in that fertile space of uncomfortable unknowing until the next thing rises gently out of the ether.

We move in August so this is a space I’m wading in, looking at the sharp greens of the foliage and fog breath mornings here in the treehouse. It’s prettier than the ticking watch.

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