Out of our Control

Watch oil painting “Dove in a Forest” come alive in about 2 minutes (time lapse)

Tonight I’m disappointed that the houses we contact a listing agent about are already spoken for, before we even get a chance. Listings have dozens of contact inquiries after being freshly posted. So, it’s discouraging and I have to will myself not to panic. It will all work out, this unexpected move that we were blindsided by. The housing spike will hurt us, but we’ve been through worse things and we can get through this.

There are times in life when there are things that are out of our control personally, and also world wide. When those days are upon us, it helps to think of the consistency and stability of seasons and nature. They don’t worry. The animals and plants grow and thrive, while the sun rises and sets and the winds storm and calm.

A dove in a forest- if we don’t see it, does it not give us peace? We can imagine it. We can choose to be peaceful instead of anxious. It’s difficult. I’m not saying I’m getting it right every moment because I’m definitely not! I’ve already had some snitty tantrums and weepy moments. I have to work at the calm.

Whatever you’re facing, may you allow yourself to be human. But knowing that it’s not healthy to let adrenaline-pumping emotions surge for too long, be a little less human, and more like a dove in a forest. There we are, just gliding through the cool trees on a sunny day.



Letting Go – Again

See angel releasing dove oil painting with real beach shells come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I’ve used this same painting for a very similar blog post called “Letting Go”. In that post I said these wise words “We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.” Ha! I better take my own advice to heart, lest I be a hypocrite. The past couple of days I was in a sour sullen snit about the shocking news of learning that we have to move in about two months, when we intended to continue renting this house until after my husband’s graduation (he’d gone back to school after losing his job when the company he worked for moved out of the country, and he’s nearly done- graduates in June- but too late to get us out from under this predicament).

Today I pushed myself to start the taping of the Easter show even though that was the last thing I wanted to do, as I need to start packing! But I’d already committed to doing the show and had invested in it. Yesterday I finished making my dress and I finished the set design this afternoon. Taping has begun! The first segment is done- and it went much better than I thought it would. No matter what’s going on in our lives, we have to choose whether or not to let those temporary circumstances paralyze, discourage, or destroy our purpose. I could have canceled the show, but that would have been wrong.

Letting go of worry, anxiety, dread, fear, resentment, bitterness, despair, and anger is a perpetual experience. Life will never be perfect and if we allow our human condition to stop us from acting on our plans, we will leave things unsaid, inspirations never created, places never traveled, and destinies never reached. So, we must plow through and do the things our heart is stirred to do, even when we don’t feel like it. “Fake it ’till you make it” is real. Not only will we get to where we want to be if we keep doing it, regardless of how close to the bottom we are when we start, but we’ll also become joyful if we fake feeling joy.

Today’s work on the Easter show included dressing up in an outrageously festive gown and singing songs that are truly joyful. I may have started out faking the joy, but shortly after I forced myself to be joyful, I really was! I had a happy time today. I am glad I gave up my stubborn attitude and chose to let go.

My stressful circumstances will change, with or without my cooperative attitude. I can stomp my feet and tantrum my way through this ordeal, or I can aim for high energy to work at a smooth transition. I can look for positive serendipitous events that fall neatly into place. If I look for these things, I will find them. If I work for a smooth transition, I am likely to have one. Change is often difficult. We can hate every minute of it and be no better off. Or, we can rise to the challenge and fake joyfulness until we feel the joy.


Breathtaking Nature!

See this eagle and dove oil painting come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I haven’t done a falcon oil painting yet, so this eagle will have to do. About an hour ago I was at the glass patio door, just about to step outside, and there was a sudden flurry of wings as a falcon took off from where he was perching on my potting table, only about three feet from where I was! Last week there was an eagle nearby, so this painting isn’t too out of line, but the falcon was very near. Nature is breathtaking when something wild is so close, and maybe we don’t even know its there until we see it fly away.

I also saw a gorgeous yellow butterfly, a flock of tiny sparrows, and a chickadee. The cardinal family is also still living nearby. They have trained me to refill their bird feeder when they’ve run out of sunflower seeds. They certainly won’t starve without their favorite seeds, but they have become picky and will demand their favorites when all that’s left is the other kind of seeds that the smaller songbirds like. They’ve made a habit of picking at my salad greens near the glass door, because they know it will get me on my feet and out the door fast to fill their feeder. But today they found that the salad green trays were empty, ready for a new planting, and they couldn’t cause mischief. So instead, one of them sat in the tree when I came out and cheeped in an outraged tone, over and over- making his complaint quite clear.

I love the personalities of the wild birds and it’s always such a wonder when a predator like a falcon or eagle makes an appearance. We also see ospreys and water birds like egrets and herons. The Canadian geese have made a few returns, but since they pooped all over the area by the patio on their last visit, we’d prefer those guests not come back – at least not so close to the house!


What does Peace Mean?

See oil painting “Dove of Peace” come alive in just over 1 minute (time lapse)

“Peaceful” is a word used often lately in a way that bends, twists, and propagandizes the meaning. What does peace mean to you? Do you imagine a legal usage of the word? Do you visualize mockery, lies, cover-ups, and agendas? That’s a sad state of affairs. Turn off that dark noise and reject the chaotic world where up is down, and down is up. Virtue is malice, and hate is love.

Believe what you know, not what you are told.

Peace to me is a beautiful space where tranquility, calm, acceptance, closure, and letting go exists. It is a spiritual realm where we can choose contentment even when despair is the easier choice. Peace is what it means to be forgiven, to receive mercy, and to be set free.

Let no one alter what is uniquely yours alone, your private sovereign journey. Peace can’t be changed to fit a narrative or to coerce others to submit to their will. Spiritual peace is a gift that can never be denied to those who accept it. What enslaves is not peace, for peace is deliverance.


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Update

Watch this angel and dove oil painting “Autumn Angel” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)

First, the above oil painting is one that I’ve shared with you several times before. I’m happy to report that this one was already on YouTube and the music had no copyright issues, so all I needed to do is add the subscribe and video links at the end. I got off easily today! Now for my update:

The vlog show is still a GO, but it is slightly delayed. I discovered that I needed to order a new tripod that can extend taller. I tried balancing my current tripod on some soup cans, but that was, predictably and obviously, problematic and an accident just waiting to happen! Rigging something rather foolish is not the right way to launch the new show. So, there’s that. But also I learned that my green screen is a little bit too narrow. I need to buy a second one so that there is no shortage of screen on the edge.

These little tweaks are causing a small delay, but that’s not a big setback. I have a lot of other work to catch up on, like the ongoing project to upload my painting videos to YouTube and edit those that trigger copyright issues. I also had a backlog of things I didn’t finish before the Christmas break, like leaving a holiday themed painting unfinished and my palettes full of heaped up dried up paint that is proving tedious to clean. I’m not a very good assistant to myself, good thing I don’t have to pay myself for such shoddy work. 🙂

Are you also struggling to get back into a smooth routine? It’s been cold and dreary here, as it is in many parts of the world. Usually February brings longer days with more sunlight and that tends to help. Hang in there, winter never lasts forever (those of you who are going through winter right now). Of course even if this is your summer, “winter” can have a spiritual meaning. This is a challenging time for humanity. May we hope for spring days to come!


Peace be with You

See oil painting “Dove in a Forest” come alive in less than 2 minutes (time lapse)

This is one of my earlier paintings. It remains a favorite for some of you. I’ve worked hard today and I’m tired- are you? This art expresses how I feel at the moment: subdued, yet expectant (hopeful), quietly confident (letting nature and time take its course, faithful), and peaceful.

My work on the show is wrapping up. It will be delivered on schedule. My goal is to launch it several days before Christmas to give you time to share it with your family and friends. Until the show is finished, I’ll be putting in long days. It will all be worth it and I hope you enjoy the show!


Peace to You

Watch this “Dove of Peace” oil painting come to life

in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

This was a short project that I hope felt relaxing and calming to watch. May you have a blessed weekend of good positive moments, no matter how alarming and stressful the state of the world may be. Do something you enjoy.

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Letting Go

Watch this Angel Releasing Dove painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse), using broken pieces of shells I found on the beach, and a tiny “dove” from inside a sand dollar I also found there, at Tybee Island, Georgia.

There are times when we must let go, and let our hearts say, “Go in Peace”. This may be a spiritual letting go, a time of grief, or a physical letting go. It’s back to school time for many families and those of us who are facing this transitional time may be feeling more anxiety than usual. After deferring college or other situations, we may have expected a better situation for this year, only to find that the situation has escalated.

Letting go is difficult under ordinary circumstances, but when we are pushed harder than anticipated, it can be more challenging to reach spiritual acceptance of the change of seasons. School is just one obvious example, as it affects so many of us at around the same time every year. But all of us are touched by the change of seasons, as we see summer end and the passage of time has brought new things into our lives that may have been expected or wanted, or may be unexpected or unwanted. Either way, change is difficult.

Even good and happy changes bring a strong degree of stress. It may help to imagine our spiritual self as this angel, and the dove may represent the peaceful outcome of letting go, accepting that life is changing. If the change involves another person, we may wish blessings and a glorious, happy, prosperous, hope-filled flight into the unknown. May we rely on the strength of our love for others to see them through to the other side, if they have passed, or to see them into the future if they are launching into new experiences.

Perhaps the process of letting go is about ourselves. When life changes for others, it impacts us. Even if no one in our personal circle has a major life event, the seasons still pass. Time itself brings changes that cause us to reflect upon our lives and adjust to our new self. As we see July slipping into August, we may feel the change of seasons closing in. We may not have control over time, and future events, but we always have a spiritual choice about how we respond to change.

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Are we free?

"Silenced" oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

I painted the above art “Silenced” years ago after I was censored and blacklisted, put on target lists, and crimes were committed against me. This is eerily prophetic of what was to come. But, that’s not what I want to talk to you about today.

I’d like you to please pay attention to the above video of “Dove in a Forest“, one of my older paintings when I was first starting out as a career artist. I had my old camcorder then that was not HD, and this isn’t the most flattering footage, but it was nonetheless what I had chosen to share. I found this original video when sorting through my files. It was later replaced with a different video that I will share in a few minutes. I will explain why it was altered and potentially forever gone.

When I posed the question in the blog title “are we free”, many current situations probably came to your mind. However, I’d like you to think further back in time, and think smaller. Let’s contemplate how our creativity, independent voices, expressions, communications, and connections have been corralled, limited, and controlled in subtle ways that have happened over time, with many people not realizing it, and perhaps even denying the reality of. For it is there that it began, and why so many do not even recognize our present slavery.

One must understand the value of something before its loss is grieved. When a treasure is stolen, but the victim has no awareness of its loss or value, the victim is twice wronged. Firstly, the victim has been manipulated by the thief to believe that he has nothing of value to be stolen. Secondly, the thief has stolen it brazenly, without the victim even realizing the crime. But one day, the victim may understand this robbery has hurt him in ways he wasn’t aware of, and an otherwise organic path toward spiritual and intellectual growth has been trampled.

Social engineering is such a crime. It is an insidious technological form of mass manipulation that steals a treasure that most people aren’t aware of (our creative, intellectual, and spiritual freedom to live an authentic and organic life that is not covertly or overtly manipulated by profit or power driven entities), and don’t realize that this treasure has been stolen from us. It is theft nonetheless, and one day the impact of this spiritual and intellectual robbery will be greater understood.

 

This is a simplistic list, but quickly we can summarize how social engineering by governments partnering with tech companies and corporations target specific individuals and groups:

  • personalizing forms of censorship, covert or overt blacklists, throttling, blocks, algorithmic hiding of results/info, or deletions that apply to some persons or groups, but not to others; that apply to come topics, but not to others (controlling information)
  • corralling persons into groups that are meant to influence that individual, manipulating the natural path toward meeting people organically by showing certain people or groups while hiding or suppressing others (controlling association)
  • blocking some information while pushing others (propaganda and/or aggressive marketing)
  • skewing the frequency, rating, and feedback of communications to give a false impression of popularity or unpopularity (controlling perception)
  • engineering certain topics to appear to be “talked about by everyone” and thereby making that reality happen (steering conversation)

All of these things lead to people making choices in thought, word and deed that they may not have organically made. At a basic level, we may purchase something we normally wouldn’t have. That purchase may deny a worthy less politically connected competitor from our support. Or perhaps we wouldn’t have made any purchase at all if not steered toward doing do. In which case, the damage may be to our own bank accounts. 

Further, we can examine how a single purchase may alter our daily lives. A new appliance, for example, may change our routines, which may impact an entire household. This change may be positive, negative, or neutral, but if the decision for change was not organically chosen by us, it was not fully our choice. To the degree that we are manipulated into making choices we’d not have naturally done if all information was granted fair and equal access, we can’t accurately measure. 

The degree to which we are manipulated into changing our lives through purchases of services or products can vary widely. Someone who organically wouldn’t have chosen to subscribe to a streaming service, for example, may have otherwise found less captivating entertainment on television and perhaps would have spent his time unplugged. Maybe a book would have been read, or a journey to the backyard garden would have occurred. A conversation with a loved one, a decision to make dinner rather than order in, or any number of alternate paths could have been healthier and more spiritually beneficial than watching a screen.

In the case above, a single steered purchasing decision may have had a negative impact on the health, relationships, and spiritual and intellectual growth of an individual. That damage may be slight, but if time is treasure, every minute is precious. Add those minutes up, and the theft is greater than originally imagined. But, that’s still not where I’m headed with this post. 

It’s easy to see how physical decisions such as buying a product (the example of an appliance that changes a daily routine), or a service (the example of a streaming service that changes a lifestyle), can impact our lives. It’s also easy to see how censorship, throttling, banning, and secret tweaks to algorithms can change out lives; we have more or less visibility for work and relationships, we have more or less information in areas we wish to learn about, we are steered to think about policies and issues to vote in certain ways that will impact us globally, and much more. Yes, we can see all of that.

We can study this for years and still not get to the bottom of how insidious this evil is. We didn’t leap from a freer global society to one that is tightly controlled overnight. We didn’t go from the days of dial-up and civilian-run message boards to government/tech-allied moderated social media platforms overnight. None of this happened at warp speed, and much of it happened in subtle ways that most of us didn’t notice. That’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Compare this revised version of “Dove in a Forest” with the original version I shared with you at the top of this post.

Sometimes I created new versions of my videos because I have new software that will allow me to crop in tighter to the canvas. But often my revisions were not my choice. Social media platforms changed their time/size restrictions for uploading videos directly to their platforms, so I had to shorten my videos accordingly. Let’s play “spot the difference” briefly….

The revised video has me cut out of it entirely. You can no longer see my face. Now, truth be told I didn’t think unsmiling and rather unflattering footage of me was an asset, but at one time I was willing to share that vulnerable real side of me. That is the contemplative look I often have when I’m preparing to paint. I organically, originally allowed that to show.

It was that original video that led someone to request a print of “Dove in a Forest“. Something about this art really connected with them. Here’s a photo they shared with me of the framed print as displayed in their home.

What a humbling honor it is that my art is part of this family’s life! They are creating memories in this home, while something I’ve created quietly supports their laughter, tears and love as it rests on their furniture. For each blob of color is infused with a genuine desire for blessings and goodness, protection and prosperity.

But just think- what if this person had only seen the second video, the revised one? Would that magical connection to my painting have occurred? You can see that the second video has a different feel to it. It is shorter, faster, and less personal. The speed of it, just seconds faster, changes how it feels to view it. The music is different to accommodate the new speed, and possibly because I could no longer remember where I got that piece from. Music matters. A different composition changes the emotion.

For every compromise we make, a subtle shift occurs. Perhaps some of these changes are positive. It’s good to see clearer footage of my work, and shorter videos mean that more people have the attention span to watch them. However, are these changes meant for our own good? Just because we can make lemonade out of lemons, it does not mean that we would have chosen the lemons. How much do we value creative and intellectual freedom? And do we underestimate how easily we “the masses” are manipulated by emotion?

You may be aware that social media platforms, the entertainment industry, political parties, and nearly any organization or individual who market their policies, work, agenda, products or services rely heavily on market research. Short, clipped language is attention grabbing and addictive. Drama sells. They know what makes us tick. They study us. And we keep giving them more and more data to make their research increasingly more accurate and effective in manipulating us. 

With AI, they can dissect us at the speed of light. Knowledge is power- when they (entities in power over us) know us, they can control us. Our data is very valuable and as such, it is worth a lot of money. But it seems few of us understand this value, and how the theft of it hurts us. Even when we consent to the use of our data, entities are not honest about the extent in which our data is used to study us for the purpose of steering, manipulating, and controlling us. We are also kept in the dark about the compilation of our personality composite for government databases, shared with allied partners.

Anger is good for business. Short clipped messages seed miscommunication, misunderstandings, and misjudgments. When we are restricted in our language and limited in our sharing, we are less likely to contribute positive, thought provoking content that elevates and enlightens individuals. Rather, we unwittingly contribute to the fast paced culture of seed-feed-greed.

We seed the fertile fields of suspicion and malice when we short-sight our vision. We feed the masses when we contribute to the fast, chopping, clipped, and incomplete global conversation of hostility and fear. We satisfy greed of narcissists and dictators when we comply, when we willingly silence or cut short our creative voices.

Our data is valuable. What is meant to be extracted from us is the means to manipulate and control us: seed, feed, greed. But what if we rebel? What if we refuse to give them our anger? What if we become bored with drama? What if we reject steered conversations? What if we yawn and move on… to something fresh and new? What if we take back our power to think, speak, and create as we wish? What if we do not respond to the issues they push on us, but we listen to our inner voices and divine inspiration?

In this way, we protect our treasure. They are neither able to extract from us what they want, nor able to package it to push their agendas or grow their profit margins. We have rendered them impotent. We secure what they intend to steal when we value our treasure. They won’t know what our future thoughts and creations will be if we raise our spiritual and intellectual selves to new heights. They and their AI machines will never be able to successfully predict who we are because they have underestimated us. They have evaluated us on predictive programming alone, not by spiritual wisdom, discernment, and evidence of the human spirit.

Will you join me in my personal challenge? I am making a conscious effort to be aware of when I edit my words or when I alter my creative vision to conform with arbitrary or manipulative standards, or when I cave to the fear that the mob will retaliate against me. I will honor my God given purpose and I will not edit myself from view. I will not comply. I will do my part to restore intellectual and spiritual freedom to humanity. I will fight! Will you join me in this effort?

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New Painting

See this oil painting come alive in about 1 minute (time lapse video). Note: if you read my blog via e-mail, my videos probably won’t

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Happy 4th of July!

See this oil painting “Americana” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video), or view the longer version in the 4th of July show. This

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Happy Father’s Day!

I’m finally working on a new painting. I’ll share it on Wednesday. My daily blog has fallen behind since our sudden, unexpected move. I’m still

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New Art Journey

I’ve lost track of how many oil paintings I’ve done, but “over 200” is possibly right. My lifetime goal is over 1,000 finished oil paintings,

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Sand Dollar

First, the oil painting, then the story behind it… you’re invited to reflect upon what this means to you.

Watch me paint “Living Sand Dollar” in a minute (time lapse)

“I saw this living sand dollar in the touch pool at the Marine Science Center, but I’ve also seen many sand dollars at the beach. The living ones are dark and pop through the sand during low tide. We are not meant to take those, as removing them from the ocean will kill these special creatures. One time I saw a woman with a full bucket of living sand dollars and I felt grief stricken. But, when a sand dollar is light and dry (bone white and brittle, or turning that way), it is no longer living, and may be collected as a wonderful beach treasure souvenir.
The sand dollar is a fascinating simple sea creature with markings that have deeply religious and spiritual meaning for many Christians, and are especially meaningful at Easter. There are markings on the front and back, and “doves” inside (discovered only when a sand dollar is broken open).For many, the sand dollar represents the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
1. Five slits in a configuration may represent Christ’s wounds while on the cross
2. Markings look like an Easter lily with a star in the middle, symbolizing the birth of Christ
3. On the opposite side is an outline of a poinsettia, or Easter lily
4. Tiny doves of peace and hope are inside (white bird shapes that were once the sand dollar’s teeth)
Besides all of this, sand dollars are special to me because my dad brought one home to me when I was a child. He had been to Savannah for a military training exercise and had found the sand dollar on the beach. He told me that I needed to go one day, that I would love it. Dad died from cancer at age thirty-seven, after having beat it once before when in his twenties. He had served two tours in the Vietnam War. I had recently turned sixteen years old when he died. Many years later, I not only got to visit Savannah, but I now live here, and hope to make it my forever home.
When I found my first sand dollar on the beach, I held it up to the sky and said, 'This is for you, Dad.'"

from book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…

 

The art in the second video “Angel Releasing Dove” probably looks to you as if I was painting my sand dollar story as it relates to me holding a sand dollar to the heavens for Dad… but my conscious mind wasn’t aware of this connection until now, when putting this blog together. It was simply another painting project.

 

At the time, I’d found a bit of a broken shell that looked like an angel’s wing, and the idea to incorporate the actual shell into a painting of an angel was born. The “dove” idea came later when I realized that it was the right size to add to the painting. But really, it was just about using cherished treasures from a beautiful day at the beach with my family, especially my daughter who was walking with me when I found the broken shell and agreed with me that it looks like an angel’s wing.

 

So, it was new memories, not old, that inspired the angel and dove painting. And yet, obviously, it looks very much connected when I see the previous sand dollar story next to the angel and dove video. In this way, I once again see how our past, present and future are always connected- even when we can’t see it.

 

Sometimes that connection is seen easily by outside eyes, while we are oblivious to it. But does our unawareness made the connection disappear? I think not. Someday, we may see it. When that happens, it doesn’t make the reality suddenly reappear, it simply means that we are aware of it. Our awareness, recognition, admission, or approval of reality is unnecessary for truth to exist.

 

Nor do we need to understand serendipity or natural wonders, for those miracles to exist. And that brings me to a timely point to ponder:

 

If the religious meaning that some assign to a sand dollar is offensive, could a sand dollar be “banned”? The sand dollar is a living creature. Only when it is dead does it become a “thing” to possess and reassign to our own significance. The reality of the sand dollar’s life or death is not altered by the opinions, beliefs, passion, appreciation, or malice of humankind.

 

I invite you to ponder what happens when the free will of people to determine for themselves those thoughts that are kind or unkind to share, the words that should be said or left unsaid, and when the power of language that may hurt another may be considered a weapon; is controlled, stifled, and enforced by entities who perceive themselves as a moral authority over thoughts, ideas, words, and the association, distribution, possession and communication of these concepts. What happens? Is the truth altered? What is changed? Is the world a better place?

 

Is the sand dollar living or dead? If people no longer believe in religion, as is the wish of a very large movement (which is, of course, in itself a religion, though they are blind to it), for the “good” of the planet, will the sand dollar’s markings fade? Will they be erased? No, of course not. We cannot remove all traces of symbolism or reminders of what humankind believes, thinks, or feels that is “wrong”.

 

The sand dollar is a primitive living creature who is in many ways more free than we are. It is allowed to simply “be”… except when opportunistic beach goers collect these fragile beings while still alive, thereby killing them. The reasons for controlling other living beings may be scorn, condemnation and the prevention of influence and ideas that entities do not like… but sometimes control is about possessing another being, even if that possession denies them the freedom they need to thrive… or survive.

 

When I posted my Easter show yesterday, I named the video file “spring show”, because I wanted to avoid censors that blacklist the term “Easter”. Whatever your feelings about religion, politics, and other causes, I invite you to ponder what affect it has on us when entities control our freedom of thought, and our ability to share our thoughts with others.

 

Just as a sand dollar can never be “banned”, we are alive-imperfections and all- and are meant to be free.

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