Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Little Lessons (With a Big Impact)

Sometimes everything that needs to be said to powerfully transform a situation or paradigm can be stated in a single word, sentence or paragraph.

Here are some small but powerful lessons that have made a difference in my life:

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the power to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia

"There's so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it ill behooves any of us
To find fault with the rest of us." - Unknown

"A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why can't we all be like that bird?"
- I want to attribute this to Ogden Nash, but I wouldn't swear to it in a court of law.

"Better resolve to win thy heart's desire
And striving bravely die in the endeavor
Than to have the embers of some smothered fire
Lie smoldering in thy saddened soul forever" - Unknown

"The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it." - W M Lewis

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

"No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness." - Aristotle

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in ones favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.'" - W H Murray

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle.

"The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours." - Ayn Rand

"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt


He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Edwin Markham

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Radmacher

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr Seuss

"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." - Howard Zinn, Historian

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." - Thich Nhat Hanh

"If you are going through hell...keep going." - Winston Churchill

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we
cannot live within." – James Baldwin

"I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him."
Booker T. Washington

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

"...try picturing a lobster...snug and protected in its familiar shell. But for the lobster to grow, it must break open that rigid shell to make room for the new one growing beneath it. Once the old shell has been broken, the lobster has nothing but its newly revealed shell, thin as a membrane, to protect it. It would be right for the lobster to fear this change of shell, because at this point it is extremely vulnerable. But this vulnerable state is the prerequisite for growing into a larger creature. In time the shell will harden and mature. If the lobster refused to break open the shell it knew originally, it would only succeed in stunting its growth." - Margaret Lobenstine, "The Renaissance Soul"

Yeah, baby. That's what I'm talking about.

The Work - a Powerful Practice for Transformation

What is The Work?

The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the stressful thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It's a way to understand what's hurting you, a way to end all your stress and suffering.

People who do The Work faithfully report life-changing results.

Eliminate stress: Live without anxiety or fear

Improve relationships: Have a new sense of connection and intimacy with your husband or wife, your parents, your children, and with yourself

Reduce anger: Get angry less often and less intensely, and eventually not at all

Eliminate depression: See perfection in situations that were once debilitating

Clarity: Act more intelligently and effectively

Energy: Experience a new sense of vigor and well-being

Peace: Learn how to love what is, and find lasting inner peace

How to Do The Work

1. Judge Your Neighbor

For thousands of years we’ve been told not to judge, but we still do it all the time—how our friends should act, whom our children should care about, what our parents should feel, do, or say. In The Work, rather than suppress these judgments, we use them as starting points for self-realization. By letting the judging mind have its life on paper, we discover through the mirror of those around us what we haven't yet realized about ourselves.

Fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet[below]:

The Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

Fill in the blanks below, using short, simple sentences. Don’t censor yourself; don’t be wise or “spiritual.” Take this opportunity to express your negative feelings on paper.

1. Who angers, irritates, saddens, or frustrates you, and why?
I am ________________ at ________________ because ____________________________________
Example: I am angry at Paul because he doesn’t listen to me, he doesn’t appreciate me, he argues with everything I say.

2. How do you want them to change?
What do you want them to do?
I want ________________ to ____________________
Example: I want Paul to see that he is wrong.
I want him to apologize.

3. What is it that they should or shouldn't do, be, think, or feel?
________________ should/shouldn't ____________________________________________.
Example: Paul should take better care of himself. He shouldn't argue with me.

4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
I need________________ to ____________________________________________.
Example: I need Paul to hear me and respect me.

5. What do you think of them? Make a list.
________________ is ________________________
Example: Paul is unfair, arrogant, loud, dishonest, way out of line, and unconscious

6. What is it that you don't want to experience with that person again?
I don't ever want to __________________________
Example: I don’t ever want to feel unappreciated by Paul again. I don’t ever want to see him smoking and ruining his health again.

2. The Four Questions

Investigate each of your statements from the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet using the four questions and the turnaround below. The Work is meditation. It’s about awareness, not about trying to change your thoughts. Ask the questions, then take your time, go inside, and wait for the deeper answers to surface. Download the blue sheet for use as a facilitation guide.

In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and a turnaround. For example, the first thought that you might question on the above Worksheet is "Paul doesn't listen to me." Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought, and let's do The Work. "[Name] doesn't listen to me":

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it's true?

How do you react when you think that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

Then turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don't forget to find three genuine examples of each turnaround.

3. Turn it Around

After you've investigated your statement with the four questions, you're ready to turn it around (the concept you are questioning).

Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person you've judged have in common.

A statement can be turned around to the opposite, to the other, and to the self (and sometimes to "my thinking," wherever that applies). Find a minimum of three genuine examples in your life where each turnaround is true.

For example, "Paul doesn't understand me" can be turned around to "Paul does understand me." Another turnaround is "I don't understand Paul." A third is "I don't understand myself."

Be creative with the turnarounds. They are revelations, showing you previously unseen aspects of yourself reflected back through others. Once you've found a turnaround, go inside and let yourself feel it. Find a minimum of three genuine examples where the turnaround is true in your life.

As I began living my turnarounds, I noticed that I was everything I called you. You were merely my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me (this didn't work, but only for 43 years), I can put the thoughts on paper, investigate them, turn them around, and find that I am the very thing I thought you were. In the moment I see you as selfish, I am selfish (deciding how you should be). In the moment I see you as unkind, I am unkind. If I believe you should stop waging war, I am waging war on you in my mind.

The turnarounds are your prescription for happiness. Live the medicine you have been prescribing for others. The world is waiting for just one person to live it. You're the one.

Examples of Turnarounds

Here are a few more examples of turnarounds:

"He should understand me" turns around to:
- He shouldn't understand me. (This is reality.)
- I should understand him.
- I should understand myself.

"I need him to be kind to me" turns around to:
- I don't need him to be kind to me.
- I need me to be kind to him. (Can I live it?)
- I need me to be kind to myself.

"He is unloving to me" turns around to:
- He is loving to me. (To the best of his ability)
- I am unloving to him. (Can I find it?)
- I am unloving to me (When I don't inquire.)

"Paul shouldn't shout at me" turns around to:
- Paul should shout at me. (Obviously: In reality, he does sometimes. Am I listening?)
- I shouldn't shout at Paul.
- I shouldn't shout at me.

(In my head, am I playing over and over again Paul's shouting? Who's more merciful, Paul who shouted once, or me who replayed it a 100 times?)

Embracing Reality

After you have turned around the judgments in your answers to numbers 1 through 5 on the Worksheet (asking if they are as true or truer), turn number 6 around using "I am willing ..." and "I look forward to ..."

For example, "I don't ever want to experience an argument with Paul" turns around to "I am willing to experience an argument with Paul" and "I look forward to experiencing an argument with Paul." Why would you look forward to it?

Number 6 is about fully embracing all of mind and life without fear, and being open to reality. If you experience an argument with Paul again, good. If it hurts, you can put your thoughts on paper and investigate them. Uncomfortable feelings are merely the reminders that we've attached to something that may not be true for us. They let us know that it's time to do The Work.

Until you can see the enemy as a friend, your Work is not done. This doesn't mean you must invite him to dinner. Friendship is an internal experience. You may never see him again, you may even divorce him, but as you think about him are you feeling stress or peace?

In my experience, it takes only one person to have a successful relationship. I like to say I have the perfect marriage, and I can't really know what kind of marriage my husband has (though he tells me he's happy too).

For an example of how to put this into practice, see the following video demonstration.

Dancing With God

Hello friends,

Thank you to Lynda Peeler and Kathy Mann for sharing this
with me so that I can share it with you. It is amazingly
profound ... Enjoy!

Dancing With God

When I meditated on the word Guidance
I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.

When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness,
and attentiveness from one person
and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw 'G: I thought of God, followed by 'u' and 'i'.
'God, 'u' and 'i' dance'
God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God as God
abides in you.

Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached.

If God has done anything for
you in your life,
please share this message with someone else,
for prayer is one of the best gifts we can receive.
There is no cost but a lot of rewards;
so let's continue to pray for one another !

And I Hope You Dance

Wow, that is fantastic!

Many blessings.

In sincere appreciation,

Linda Miller

Friday, January 25, 2008

Do You Want What You Want?

What would you want if you knew it was absolutely okay for you to want whatever you want?

Hmmm...scary question, huh? Until we free ourselves to want what we want, our wants tend to get all tangled up in other people's rules and expectations. What a wonderful way to live, right? Wrong!

Here's the thing: God didn't create you to be me, and I wasn't created to be you. We are not intended to be a replica or a duplicate or a reasonable facsimile of anyone else in the universe. We are intended to be the individual we were created to be. Our quirks and preferences and eccentricities don't break us, they make us.

So, what of this incredible urge many of us feel to conform? Okay, let's face it: a certain amount of conformity is good for us. It's scary enough, for instance, to drive in Houston, without having everyone deciding randomly whether to obey the traffic lights or not.

It's when we conform in ways that squelch our true selves, hide our light under a bushel or in any way diminish the glorious masterpiece that God created us to be that we fail ourselves deeply and profoundly. If there is any such thing as sin, that must be it.

Here we are, creatures of God, created in the image of God, and individuated for the purpose of having a unique experience of life for God, and we are desperately trying to squelch as many indications of our individuality as possible. And for what? For the pretense of acceptance, the illusion of approval, that fades away the second we fail to conform to an acceptable level.

We sell out our souls - for nothing. I say nothing because there is no substance to the approval of others, to someone else's validation. It is all smoke and mirrors and the slightest wisp of wind will reveal its fallacy.

Instead of trying desperately to secure the approval of others, why don't we begin to secure our own approval - that glorious feeling of looking into the mirror and liking, no loving, the person looking back at us; the delight of knowing that we have been true to our self and to the desires God has given us.

Our desires are an expression of God's intention to experience life in all its forms and potentialities. And yet we are free to choose. That's how much we are loved. We can absolutely go through life experiencing a tiny fraction of all that God has for us, if we so choose.

But is that what we really want? I think the problem today is consciousness. Obviously, it's not really a problem, but it does make it difficult to go on in our image-driven, other-centered, approval-seeking ways. At least it makes it difficult to do so comfortably. Enough of us are waking up that we are having difficulty ignoring the call that comes from the depths of our hearts and souls - the call to authenticity; the call to deepen and broaden and expand our experience of all that life offers; the call to make something meaningful and significant of the opportunities we are given.

The easiest thing to do may be to bury ourselves in some sort of unconscious behavior that will distract us from our longings so that we can go on with our lives. Isn't that tragic?

I could almost imagine God's disappointment. Except that there is no space for disappointment in unconditional love. God is perfectly okay with us squandering our life if that's what we choose to do. God's perfect, unconditional love accepts it all. And we can, too. But at the same time, if we can accept wasting our life on things that really mean nothing to us, why can't we imagine deciding instead to create the best life experience possible?

It truly is up to us. We get to decide. And then we get to live with the consequences of our decisions. It's something to think about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beloved Terrorists

I was thinking about terrorism recently and I realized that many of the people who use threats to control others do so with good intentions.

They are infected with fear themselves and they believe that by passing on their fears to others, they will save others from the fearsome consequences they dread themselves.

I am familiar with this kind of terrorism, having come from a church background where terrorism is practiced regularly. The people who preached a gospel of fear were not cruel people. They honestly believed that their teachings would benefit all who would heed them.

I have also known the kind of terrorism that communicates: "Conform or else." Parents are often guilty of this kind of terrorism. Their intentions are usually pure. They want us to become people of good character and good habits so that our quality of life will be the best it can possibly be. In my view, the only reason it becomes necessary for them to use terrorism to achieve their goals is their own lack of imagination, and possibly lack of a solid foundation. My discovery with my own children is that if you lay a foundation of open communication, which includes listening to at least 350 of the 400 question they ask every day when they are small, and answering as many of them as possible, you may find it unnecessary to instill fear in them. It is the relationship that causes them to want to develop good character. They naturally idolize their parents and want to please. If you let them know how much you appreciate their displays of love, generosity and other elements of good character, it is human nature for them to want more of that. It is called positive reinforcement. I am a firm believer in natural consequences, as well, but I believe they are not needed as often when you use plenty of positive reinforcement.

Of course, there are those terrorists who know exactly what they are doing. They want power and control, pure and simple. It seems from my observation that such people are usually brought down by their own harmful intentions. The terrorists I am talking about here may not carry machine guns or take part in suicide missions. Many of them wear nice suits and hold high positions in government or the community.

But I'm not sure they are capable of doing as much damage as the terrorists who love us, the ones who mean well, and so the fears get mixed up in the love and are much easier to believe and harder to shake.

We all have lessons to learn in this life, and one of them is to use our own gray matter to figure out for ourselves what we want our lives to be. No matter what we may have been taught, we are responsible for creating our own best lives, and if we choose not to, there is no one to blame but the person looking back at us from the mirror.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Discovering Wholeness

We call it healing, implying that there is something that is not perfect in us in the first place. Perhaps we could more appropriately call it discovering our wholeness.

It is a difficult concept for us in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with messages that something is wrong. And then we amplify the idea that something is wrong by continuously looking for problems to solve. I have noticed in myself a tendency to think something is wrong, and I recognize it as a habit of mind. If you are accustomed to spending a lot of time in your mind, you may discover this tendency in yourself, as well. And, wonder of wonders, if we are continuously looking for something wrong, guess what we are going to find? That's because we are creating what we are looking for. It is our looking for something that is not quite right that makes it so.

I recently had an experience that I find an interesting illustration of discovering wholeness. For years, I have been working through issues relating to the sexual abuse that I experienced as a child. I made some progress with psychotherapy, but I wanted more than progress. I wanted wholeness. I wanted to leave it all behind. And many times, I thought I had, only to find the issues resurfacing later.

I came to understand that I needed to forgive my abusers in order to release the pain I was still holding on to. And so, I forgave as best I knew how, going back over the memories I held of these events and forgiving each occurrence to the best of my ability.

I am always exploring and open to learning new ways of seeing things. And on several occasions, the truth was brought to my awareness that we do well to be grateful for everything because every person and event and experience holds some gift, if we are open to receiving. So, I decided to thank my abusers, going back over each memory and observing with new eyes, looking for the gift contained in these experiences.

I know. It sounds weird. And yet I am open to facilitate healing in others because of the pain I have experienced. I cherish life because I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

Ask and it is always given, although no one will force us to receive. And so, continuing on my journey of discovery, I became aware that the next step in letting go of the illusion of suffering would be to love my abusers. That was a hard pill to swallow. Yet the truth is that the reason we have need to forgive is that we are judging in the first place. Now, I am not saying I am prepared to tell everyone to drop their judgments, especially those who have been deeply hurt. That is a very personal decision. All I know is that I am prepared to drop mine or at least begin this practice.

And so, continuing on my journey, a good friend and mentor pointed out to me that I was afraid to own my power. I immediately recognized the truth in this statement, and I related it primarily to the physical abuse of my mother by her second husband. My higher self later revealed a connection between my abuse issues and my feelings of powerlessness, and I felt compelled to go beyond forgiveness, even beyond gratefulness and to take back my power. And so I went back over the memories I carried and in my heart I gave what my abusers would take away.

As long as someone is taking something from you, they have the power. As long as you remain a victim, you relinquish your power. But when you give, you own your power. I believe this is why Jesus said if anyone takes away your coat, give him your cloak also. You release your attachment to what is taken from you when you go beyond being a victim and become a benefactor. And you own your power when you give as opposed to being taken.

Maybe this is the end of this particular journey. Maybe there are discoveries yet to be made. It doesn't matter. There will always be something to discover, in some arena or other. And so, the exploration continues.

Monday, January 14, 2008

To Suffer or Not to Suffer

We are all enrolled in this gargantuan University we call Life. Attendance is mandatory. But that doesn't mean we are forced to gain knowledge or understanding. That is entirely up to us. We can repeat the same courses for a lifetime. Or we can learn what we need to learn and move on. Sometimes, we are required to take refresher courses because we haven't practiced, and therefore have forgotten, what we previously learned in a given course.

There are lessons in this University, and then there are interpretations of those lessons. It's in the Interpretation Department that we often get into trouble.

For instance, I was enrolled from birth in a course entitled "Letting Go". My mother and father divorced when I was an infant, and I usually saw my father about once a year during my childhood and adolescence. Children often will misinterpret lessons, and I was no exception. The lesson I took from my father's absence was that I must not be worthy of his attention. Perhaps I wasn't good enough to be wanted.

And so for the better part of my life, I expected people to abandon me. And I learned to be self-protective. I even married someone who is emotionally unavailable, because then, hey, what have you got to lose?

The trouble with being self-protective is that you create your own loneliness. You feel disconnected, and even though that disconnection is illusory, it feels very real.

And the trouble with getting into "safe" relationships, where there is no sense of connection to lose in the first place, is that you miss out on the very wonderful experience of intimacy. I know intimacy, because I do have family members, including my children, with whom I have always shared a deep connection.

So, you may not have anything to lose when you play it safe, but you also have nothing to gain. What's the point of even going into such a relationship except to learn that this is not what you really want?

It is said that you can't change the past, but in one sense you actually can. You can change your interpretation of events in the past, and thus rewrite your own history. That is what I did when I decided I didn't want to be plagued with abandonment issues any longer.

I opened my mind and expanded my vantage point, and the idea came to me that there is no abandonment. People and things come and go from our lives in natural cycles of birth and death, gain and loss, meeting and parting. Everything is temporary. It is not loss, but our resistance to loss, that causes us pain. It is our thinking that it should not have happened. He should not have left me. He should have been there for me. Therein lies the source of our suffering.

I am not sure I have fully realized this lesson. But now that I know that my own thoughts, and not anyone else's actions, are the source of my pain, I know I have a choice. I can suffer if I choose to, but it is not necessary. What freedom!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Butterfly is Emerging

Finally, I feel as if the metamorphosis I have been experiencing this year is nearly complete. I am beginning to reintegrate parts of myself that I had forgotten existed.

For our first meeting of the year, our Toastmasters Club, Frankly Speaking, held mini ice-breakers just to catch up with where everyone is and their visions for the coming year. Here is what I had to say:

About a year-and-a-half ago, I began my Toastmasters journey with a speech I titled Miracle Gro for My Soul. I mentioned several people and organizations that had been instrumental in my personal growth – my family of origin, my children, some of my friends and associates at La Quinta. Now I happily add Toastmasters to that list.

In the time I have enjoyed being a Toastmaster, I have experienced tremendous growth. Many of you have given me encouragement and support and love.

Also over the past year and a half, I have experienced my own “wilderness journey”, having only the vaguest idea where it would lead me but knowing that I was being guided every step of the way. Then over the past six months, I have gone through a sort of metamorphosis where I found it necessary to pull in my resources and focus the bulk of my energy on my transformation process. It was a time of endings, of letting go of a lot of things that were not working for me, and also a time of beginnings, of beginning to understand who I really am and what I am here to do.

To this end, a very dear friend pointed out to me that I am already doing what I am here to do. This led me to look at what it is that I do, what it is that I can’t “not do” – and I realized that everything I do stems from a desire to be God’s hands extended in loving touch. When I give massage or a hug, when I write, when I speak – my intention is always to touch profoundly, to connect deeply with those I touch, and to help them feel love.

Today, I am clearer than ever on what I am here to do. I am here to express God’s love in this world through touch, both physical touch and through words that touch hearts.

I am looking forward to living this vision each and every day. I am looking forward to the miracles that await me as I listen to my heart and follow my intuition. And I am looking forward to the looks on people’s faces when they ask me, “What do you do?” and I tell them, “I touch people.” Then, if they are asking out of genuine interest, I may go on to explain that I am a massage therapist, speaker and writer. If I sense they are asking from a desire to determine whether I hold any status in this world, I may just leave them with raised eyebrows and gaping mouths.

“Well, I never.”

Yep. There’s your trouble.