Relationships & Family   February 15, 2009

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better." 
— J. K. Rowling

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The Holistic Moms Network is dedicated to supporting parents who are interested in natural health and mindful parenting. The Cape Cod chapter holds monthly meetings at the Chatham Community Center on a variety of topics, including healthy food for our families, holistic education, and holistic health care. These meetings provide an opportunity for members and guests to network and get to know each other better. The group will soon announce its roster of speakers for the coming year. The meetings are open to all.

The Chatham Community Center
is located at 702 Main Street in Chatham.
For more information, contact
Lauren at 973-919-1646 or Jenny Wood at

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Watercolor paintings by Vera Champlin,
courtesy of Addison Art Gallery, Orleans

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
P. O. Box 720, North Eastham
Cape Cod, MA 02651
Telephone: (508) 255-5084
© Copyright 2009 CapeWomenOnline
All rights reserved


Over the Bridge
Working the 12 Steps   

by Beverly R.

As a member of Al-Anon, the author’s last name is withheld in accordance with the Al-Anon tradition which reads:
“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV.”

The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon can be found at:
The Traditions are at:

It wasn’t just the prospect of working and living in a beautiful setting that motivated me to move to Cape Cod. I was also making a conscious choice to use distance to create an emotional barrier between me and the dysfunction of my family, which on any given day could take me over if I let it. I was not running away, just building in enough space to allow me to recuperate from active addiction and its effects.
     So I left Connecticut, where I grew up and lived for the first fifty-three years of my life, and moved to North Eastham, and in doing so chose to become a faraway instead of a near grandmother. I explain the difference to my grandchildren by mimicking Elmo’s demonstration of near and far from Sesame Street—I run toward them in quick steps and get nose to nose and say, “This is near,” and then I run to the other side of the room and turn around and say, “This is far.” It makes them giggle and reminds me that I made the decision to live four hours away not just for self-protection, but also so that I could be more effective in serving my family as the only member in twelve-step recovery.
       I look at the Sagamore Bridge as the dividing line between a family system ravaged by the perpetuation of generation after generation of every “ism” in the book, and the calm, productive, creative life I enjoy on the Cape, the result of the recovery I gained from twenty-plus years of  putting my butt in the chair in Al-Anon. I cross the bridge going west to Connecticut to do the work of being the relatively sane matriarch in a family of four adult children and eleven grandchildren, and then I return east to the peace and serenity of my life here. There is no way I could do the one without the other.
       Holidays can be challenging. Dis-ease makes its presence known at every family gathering. Even if we’re spared the drama of someone being high or enraged, it’s there in subtle ways. The curse of being a recovering grandparent is that I see it darting around the room in all its classic manifestations—control, self-centeredness, judgment, resentment, sarcasm—and I see its effects on the faces of my grandchildren, from the baby to the teenager. I am now an eyewitness to the destructive power of a dysfunction that I was unaware of when my children were growing up, and I have to live with full knowledge of the part I played in passing it along to the next generation, and the next.
       The heartache weighs heavily on me on the drive home. For a long time I was used to counting down (i.e. up) the exits on Route 6 to help me get through the last leg of the trip, and then one day it struck me that, just as there are Twelve Steps in recovery, there are twelve exits between the Sagamore Bridge and the Orleans Rotary. I suddenly realized I could use them to work the Twelve Steps on the things I was obsessing over.
      Crossing the 616-ft. span that connects the Cape to the mainland and passing Exit 1 reminds me that the joy I feel at returning to my life is a direct result of Step One, accepting my powerlessness over people, places and things. Exit 3 in Sandwich prompts me to remember that Step Three gives me the release of knowing I’m not in charge. Traversing the mid-Cape, I work the middle steps, Four and Five, and start to look at ways I may have contributed both to what transpired and to any residual misery I am experiencing. On the two-lane between Dennis and Orleans, I work the action steps, Six through Ten, and begin forming a plan to determine where amends are in order, both for my own peace and so that I can be ready to recommit myself to a power greater than myself. By Exit 12, as Step Twelve promises, I have had a little spiritual re-awakening which allows me to just be excited about passing the familiar landmarks along the last few miles between the rotary and my house. I look forward to the rituals of pulling into my driveway, of the unpacking, re-nesting and cat-snuggling which will follow, and of knowing that all of me is finally home.

Beverly R. lives in North Eastham.


The Church, or . . .
The Struggle for Survival
– November 17, 2006

by Johanne Kieffer

“In the face of adversity, God asks you to do the right thing,” said the man who stood in front of me. I couldn’t tell his age. He was shabbily dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt. His teeth were grayed and salt and pepper stubble grew from his face. Forty to fifty perhaps? I’m sure he was much younger than he appeared.
  We stood in a church. A long line extended into the all-purpose room where government food was being distributed to the less fortunate. As I patiently waited, I asked myself “How did I get here?”
 It was surreal, like having an out-of-body experience. I became the observer, watching this scene unfold. The never-ending line was a patchwork of humanity—young, old, fat, thin. Some people were dressed neatly, some in obvious worn and tattered clothes. Some were dirty, some were clean. I found myself judging those around me, when in fact I was judging myself.
      As I approached the room where the food was located, I saw two long tables where four elderly female volunteers were seated. The woman at the first table was checking IDs. “Sign in please,” she said, pointing to the pen and paper placed in front of her. As I added my name to the list, the old woman continued, “Do you have a Mass. Health card?”
      I knew that anyone poor enough to qualify for Mass. Health Insurance also qualifies for government food. I dug into my purse and rummaged amidst the receipts, notes to myself, and candy wrappers until I successfully fished out my wallet. Producing the card confirmed that I was officially on or below the poverty line; like the get-out-of-jail-free card in Monopoly, it allowed me to move to the next station.
      Moving on, I was personally assigned a volunteer to take me around the makeshift market of folding tables stacked with cans, jars and boxes. Behind each table was yet another volunteer to replenish the goods and assist in my selections. I couldn’t imagine such personal service at the local market. It was unheard of, yet with free government food I was treated like royalty.
      The tables were arranged in a horseshoe, each displaying their own section of items such as cereal, vegetables, and powdered milk. As I approached each section, the voice behind the table asked, “How many in your family?” My reply determined the number of items I could take.
      The smiling faces of the volunteers seemed to genuinely convey their kind, friendly and even respectful help. Despite this, it was quite difficult for me to maintain a shred of dignity. I felt exposed, naked, the vulnerability of surrender surging through my body. I kept swallowing, swallowing hard. The lump in my throat seemed to expand into the size of a tennis ball. I thought that if I just kept swallowing maybe I could hold back the tsunami of tears.
       I battled to maintain the façade of calm. Why was this so hard for me? I had been through so much more and survived. Was the universe punishing me for making bad choices, I wondered? This had to be a manifestation of bad karma. It wasn’t enough that I was divorced with two kids. It wasn’t enough that my son had severe autism. It wasn’t enough that I couldn’t work and support my family. IT WASN’T ENOUGH, the universe bellowed in my head.
      I realized that I wasn’t done surviving. I had yet one more lesson to learn, humility. I took a deep breath to regroup. My energy shifted. I reminded myself that my children are my reason to get up in the morning, my reason to continue. So I swallowed and moved forward to humbly receive the next can of peas and jar of peanut butter.

Johanne Kieffer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Reiki Master practicing in Eastham. She is also a freelance writer, and resides with her two children on Cape Cod.

Send comments to: