vacation / life

OMM278 > Vacation / Life

Imagine that you’re going to an all-expense paid vacation
There’s all these things that you can try
All kinds of fancy 3-star food
Drinks included

I left a big pause there so you could think about what that means
Here’s the world:
The world is just like an all-expense paid vacation
All these opportunities for you

Now think about the vacation

I left that space so that you could consider the following
These events, these places, these all-inclusive places
They’re familiar with people who don’t drink
The will always have extensive sober drink options.

Because not everybody drinks
Some people are sober
Some people are muslim
Some people are pregnant
Some people are mormon
Some people don’t drink
So you don’t need to worry about the fact that these people won’t have thought of you
They will
There’ll be something there for you

But also
An all-inclusive vacation
Is like an all-inclusive life
It’s filled with opportunities and
Things that you can take advantage of
That you cannot possibly enjoy
If you’re drunk

You go to an all-expense paid cruise vacation to
You go to Spain
You go to Portugal
And what, you drink the whole time?

All this loveliness around you
Just like in life
In this all-paid vacation

All this loveliness around you
And you are in a room with a bottle
Not paying any attention to what’s going on around you
Not really being present
Not really enjoying
All of the possibilities

Now you might say
But I don’t like snorkeling
That’s like saying
Well if I’m sober, then my life sucks.

There’s a whole fucking world of things out there
To do
Why don’t you just go to that 3-star Michelin restaurant
And eat their food
They’re familiar with people who don’t drink
There are lots of people, high-end people
Movie stars
There are lots of people who don’t drink in the world

You can be one of them
Because to waste your all-expense paid trip through life
Being alone in your room with a bottle
Is sadness
When there’s so much sunshine, warmth, experience and possibility
Waiting for you

And you know what?
You’ve already paid
[for this life. it has been delivered. it’s here]
You might as well take advantage
Of this cool life that’s around you


this is a closeup of painting #289 here


from my inbox:

SusieQQQ (day 66):
“December 26th, I was on solo parent duty while my husband worked. I took the kids to see Mary Poppins Returns, which was better than I expected but also brought up unexpected grief around childhood memories. Then I did sister Christmas with the sister who lives nearby that I’m not terribly close to … and then had to go deal with my dad’s broken computer and figuring out his new living situation. So, by the time I got home at 5 pm with two reallllllllllly cranky kids, I was TAPPED OUT. When the idea of drinking flitted by quickly, I knew that it meant that overwhelm had hit so I just pulled up Amazon Restaurants on my phone (which I NEVER do) and ordered the most guilty pleasure meal I could think of for my husband and me (Thai noodles and crab rangoon) and scarfed it down. It’s so funny how I still need to read your mails every morning (like today’s) where YOU say that you are resting or doing “nothing” in order for me to give myself permission for ME to treat myself like this. When will I just realize I can give my own self permission? That letting myself off the hook for cooking or being perfect is the only way I will get past this hurdle and onto the next one…”

me: well I think that take-out thai food sounds lovely and a worthwhile treat. and maybe you’ll learn to give yourself permission as you go along. it’s a muscle you learn to use. for now you’re doing it, and it doesn’t matter if the reminder comes from an outside source. I still do this: I listen to ‘motivation’ kinds of audios to get my head straight sometimes.
you’re right, too, that being sober is the foundation for all the other ‘work’ you want to do. when you’re kinder to yourself, when you give yourself permission to take care of you, it’s WAY easier to take on other challenges. you need this foundation in boundaries, saying no, figuring out what you can and can’t do, and easing up on the push-push. it’s like sobriety 101 = self-care 101. and then you use all the things you’ve learned here to go out and take on the world 🙂 but you do this part first, solidly. you do this part with a solid concrete foundation. before you go building shit on top of it!


i asked you to send in pictures of fuzzy slippers as a reminder to take time for yourself when the hard things are over.

27th day of gifts. I have a $150 podcast bundle to give away today. the reason for this prize is because i need some help. i’ve been sharing the original sober art that Mr. Belle has been making for us on this page here. What’s missing at the top, though, is some sort of explanation as to what the page is for … you know, something like “Sometimes you need a visual reminder to get off the booze elevator” or “On this page you will find …. and why that’s important to being sober …”
I’m asking for a bit of ‘creative writing’ from you, but also something that will help to convey the emotions. It’s hard, right? it’s so hard that I need some help. I know that you might write something – a phrase or an idea – that will spark what I know I need it to say. Or you’ll write a paragraph that completely encapsulates the whole thing and i’ll use it as is. either way … go and have a look here, and then give me an example of some of the text that could go at the top. If you’re a PR/marketing/creative writing person this would be good for you. or maybe you’ve purchased a painting and so you know what it means to you … I’ll read through the ideas today and will pick one to receive the podcast bundle, so you can start off the new year with 50 audios ready to press play! ~ hugs, and thanks, from me

link to original art by mr.belle

small notes about christmas (7-8)


oday is boxing day. it is a day to decompress. you might be travelling today. you might be lounging. you will still plan a sober treat, either way. you plan for a bath and then you TAKE a bath. it’s not just ‘maybe if there’s time – it’s “this is non-negotiable because being sober is more important than …” whatever else you’re doing 🙂 the reward for doing a hard thing, it can be as simple as a bath. so long as you then TAKE a bath. otherwise it’s just a promise you don’t keep. and you’re not doing that. no sir. not you. not this year. not today. you’re taking care of you. if you’re flying, then you’re planning for some special snack mid-flight. or you’re aiming for a 10 pm session of the Ellen special on netflix (ok, it’s funny in places, but i thought it was dull, but you know – dull might be just what you need, soothing in its dullness). plan and implement rewards and treats. non-negotiable. cuz you being sober is a big fucking deal. and you’re here. and you’re protecting it.

we need daily reminders that what we’re doing matters. we reach out for support AND we cheerlead for ourselves. we exit the booze elevator. this is exit 286. there is only one.



if you’re like me, then as soon as one thing is over, you’re already trying to fill the space. have you ever planned lunch while still eating breakfast? yeah, that’s me. I arrive post-christmas and think “i should go to culinary school in january, i should finish my novel, i should make every recipe in this book.” those are all my examples of thinking from the last 24 hrs.
as part of decompressing after big things, we need to remember that our heads take a while to un-tense. we sit there and think “i can’t just sit here I should be doing something.”
and then we sit some more.
   head: do this and this and this
   body: are you kidding me? i’m sitting on the couch, thank you very much.
while you and i are both familiar with push-push, there’s a time when it’s ok to take the lead from your ass as it sits on the couch. you might need this. you might need to do less. especially after a big thing. go for a walk? great. lounge on the couch? great.
sober? required.
so far today husband made 6 boxes for paintings sold over the weekend. he then took them to the post office, and bought us cream for coffee. i remain in my jammies. i did 3 hrs of emailing and then an hour of pastry-textbook-reading. i am contemplating going for a walk, but then my ass returns to the couch. where it just might stay.



small notes about christmas (5-6)


email from C: “Having a SUPER tough Christmas morning. Usually about now once the gifts were open, I would have a mimosa (or 6) as a ‘job well done’.
Got this gift from my 11 year old daughter though.
I’m on day 8 (had gone 46 before Thanksgiving) … this and lots of deep breaths will get my through a Tuesday! Thank you for your emails ❤️”



it’s ok to leave early. it’s ok to get up and go for a walk, to play with the baby, to snuggle with the dog. it’s ok to sit in the bathroom and listen to an audio. it’s ok to leave early from any event (at any time, always). if you’ve gotten to here, then that’s enough. you don’t have to stay for dessert. you can excuse yourself and say that you have to go and lie down, have been up since early, have a bit of a headache. it’s ok. you’ve gotten to here. you protect this now, going forward. that’s your job for today (and any day).


we don’t drink. we exit the booze elevator. we take exit 284 and we get off now.

small notes about christmas (1-4)


you don’t drink at christmas. you’ve tried drinking before, doesn’t suit you. today is a regular monday or tuesday. it’s just like any other day. it’s a day when you don’t drink. really, to add alcohol (addictive depressant) to an already stress-y day, would be madness. and waking up feeling proud of yourself is worth doing. even if you’ve never done it before. now’s the time 🙂



it’s not all sunshine. there will be illness and temper tantrums. there will be burned food. there will be grief as you celebrate without someone. all these emotions exist. you don’t pour alcohol on them. you’re having a sober christmas this year. even if. even if all the things happen. even if the HGTV event you’ve been trying to pull off turns into a crazy-house. even if. you can make a list of all the things that go well compared to the things that fly sideways. you showing up, you being here, that counts. write that one down twice.

make some time to listen to the christmas audio here.



email from Fridgkit (day 24 today): “OMG! I woke up this morning finally realizing what I’ve been trying to do the past few weeks, besides staying sober. I’ve been trying to find a way to reconnect with other people (or maybe to connect with them for the first time) without losing me. When I drink, I lose me. I thought losing me was the way to be with other people, but it’s not. The way to be with other people is to be there: maybe grumpy, maybe withdrawn, much less than outgoing and perky, but there. Sounds easy, but I know it’s not.  It’ll take a lot more work and a lot more of telling Wolfie to go to hell.  But I’ll use every device I can to get there.”


you have potential because you’re sober.
comes in goldsilver and purple-speckled


in sydney, australia it’s 7pm on christmas day which reminds me to say this: you will want to watch for post-goal-letdown. you do a big thing, then you need to plan some kind of treat for afterwards. your head will come in and say “but i deserve this” and your head is right, you do deserve something, but it’s not alcohol that you want. you want a piece of raspberry pie, or to sit with a cup of tea and flip through your new magazine. you want to leave some of the cleaning for tomorrow. you want to soak in the bathtub and then get out and put on your new fluffy slippers. you didn’t get slippers this year? fine, write them on your list to go buy first thing tomorrow morning. your treat for doing this big thing. this sober at christmas thing. you can send me a photo of your sober post-christmas slippers. i’ll be watching for you 🙂


it’s only early in paris, husband is still asleep. no gift opening yet. no new photos taken yet 🙂 original art from mr.belle here. merry hoho to you.

Christmas Audio

In this special Christmas edition of the podcast that i've just sent out to ​podcast subscribers, i talk about how to avoid getting too wound up, the things that children remember, and how to deal with attending a dinner where host is an over-drinker. 

Oh, and a good reminder, that needs to go on a t-shirt, which is: You don’t need to engage with every idiot.

I also mention Sober Party Bingo > use this link (the 10 rules for sober party bingo are about half-way down the post)

As a gift today, I am going to post the full 50 minute audio here, and leave it up until December 26th. You can begin to listen now, in 10 minute increments, even if you are not a podcast subscriber.

happy merry to you. may you have good food, good moods, and one gift that makes you smile. and a lot of sleep. and a treat for doing this sober thing. it's hard work. it's worth doing. it suits you.​

Audio will be available until December 26th. Listen now.​

[ link removed ]

​Bonus Sober Podcast C18. Christmas 2018​

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine, and tell me if there's anything that stands out for you ​​... To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

​Download C18. ​Christmas 2018​

Sign up for the ​podcast membership
(1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

​sober art thanks to mr.belle, this is painting #282 here.


sortie is ‘exit’ in french. exit the booze elevator. new painting posted, this is #279 at the top of the page here.

from me:
i don’t do it very often, but when i share an email like the one earlier today, i get a lot of feedback like “i’m so glad you share the shitty parts” or “i’m relieved that you’re real.” i suppose i could share more stories of ass-air-conditioned pyjama bottoms, but mostly i restrain myself. this isn’t entirely a belle-blog space; this is a me-space AND you-space and sharing-space. it’s a mixture of information and support and cheerleading (and entertainment and swearing and motivation). and hope.

anyway, just wanted to say thanks for all the email responses (34 so far and counting), and at the risk of total self-indulgence, i’m going to share some of them here. (skip down to today’s give-away if you’re bored with me.)

B: “All my life I’ve tried to be the Instagram perfect life, that I had it all together and is it BS!! Chasing it for every occasion and for others. I am flawed, we all are. I’ve always felt it, but better not let anyone else know my faults or struggles. This is my second sober Christmas. There have been moments I want to go back to having that glass of wine out, or while wrapping, or whatever Wolfie throws my way, but know I would end up having three more on the couch. I now know better. I also am learning even though it’s been over a year (day 424) I am still figuring it out, figuring me out. Today’s lesson – I am flawed, I need to ask for help, and that is ok, I am ok. Merry Christmas!”

D: “This was a wonderful email that truly struck a chord with me. Not only are you showing up for “us”, you show up for yourself, bad pajamas and all. I have spent a veritable lifetime showing up for everyone else, being thoughtful, dealing with illnesses both mental and physical of my parents, children, husband. I have cooked, cleaned, worked, listened. But, sadly, not to myself. Insight is a precious gift and I received it this morning … It’s time to show up for myself. Merry Christmas.”

SoberHager (day 98): “This email made me cry tears of joy! This will be my first sober Christmas in a couple decades. And, I had an “a ha” moment. I don’t need anything else but this! Being sober has helped me appreciate how far I have come, but most importantly that I deserve every bit of goodness in my life. I realize I have stopped comparing my life to everyone else’s life. My goodness may not seem like goodness to someone else but I don’t give a shit!  Thanks for sharing about your buttless jammies!”

German Lena (day 159): “Days of thoughtfulness? I never thought I could actually crave them. I was instead trying to avoid the whole ‘being aware and open’ thing … I had similar questions in my head these days. Like when did I effectively reach out for help? What made the difference? I went through some of my – our! – first emails and there was one that still makes me want to cry, you wrote “I’m here” … I don’t think it’s easy to do what you do (find a way to reach people) with words. Because honestly, why isn’t anybody else doing it this way? Why is everybody so focused on “visibility”, easy going, comfortable social media exhibition and glamorous perfect-moment-pictures? What’s it all about to get people’s attention without sustainably touching them? I don’t know. But I know, what’s going on here: You make me laugh (about jammies and a husband with serious cardboard preferences) and cry in just one email. There is seriously heavy stuff going on, but you have a the talent to inspire to look outside the “it’s all too hard” world. You’re anonymous and you’re real. And if I didn’t know better, I would consider that’s impossible. But as it is working, it must be genius.”

give-away for today: i think tomorrow i’m going to mail some postcards from france. would you like one? i will NOT write anything ‘sober’ on the card, just a general greeting. maybe there will be an eiffel tower on it. sure, why not, should be easy enough to find some when i go for my walk tomorrow. if you’d like to receive a postcard, you can hit reply and send me your name, and mailing address. I’ll mail a card to the first 5 emails. Please be careful with spelling, and include the complete address with zip code and country. ready?

[photos submitted for my ‘send me a seasonal photo’ contest last week]

i’m not thin. i need a haircut. i’m wearing jammies with the butt torn open.

from me:

when i think of how hard it is to admit that we need help (or encouragement, or cheerleading), when i think of how much bravery it takes to show up, raise your hand, and say “can someone help me with this,” when i think of how easy it is to listen to the lying voice in your head — well, it really is a miracle that we’re here, doing this online sober support thing. together. you and me.

i know, i send out emails, i do lots of cheering. and then sometimes I get a message that really reminds me — fully and fundamentally — that this makes a difference.

and i think: would I do what she’s doing? would i email a stranger? (that stranger being me). then i wonder if there’s anything about what i’m doing that makes it seem easier for you to share. if there is, of course, i’m unaware.

i think of the anonymous part of this — how much easier it is to do this with ‘words’ and not with instagram-worthy-glamour-shots of how FANTASTIC my life is. which is all a bunch of bullshit anyway. i’m not thin. i need a haircut. i’m wearing jammies with the butt torn open (my new ones – well, i don’t like them much, but don’t tell my husband, i wear them so that his feelings aren’t hurt, but i like my air conditioned ass-less ones better). i haven’t done any christmas baking. i haven’t cooked a meal yet this week.

but i show up, every day. there is consistency here in a way that our regular life often lacks. i didn’t realize the consistency would be important. i didn’t realize that your shitty childhood would make it seem like we share something fundamental. i have landed here, on this side of the screen, by accident. i suggested to someone that instead of trying to quit forever, that she quit for 100 days and then see how she liked it. and now it’s 6 years later.

i don’t know what’s making me so ‘thoughtful’ this morning. maybe it’s christmas. or finally being on vacation from job #1 in a way that makes my head open up. i’m about to trudge off to the grocery store (saturday before christmas? are you crazy?) and pick up a small chicken to roast, some canned tomatoes and fresh basil to make lasagne, and my husband asked for some raw coconut (which tastes like cardboard, but whatever).

happy saturday to you. the day after the shortest day of the year for the northern hemisphere. each day getting brighter. we show up. we do the thing. we are open to possibilities. we stop planning so much and wait to see how we feel when we get there.

today i feel like sloth but i’m going to make one kind of cookie. maybe shortbreads. i’m going to buy apples. i’m going to read my book. i’m going to be very happy to be off the booze elevator because i’ve ruined plenty of christmases with alcohol, and this year will not be one of them. this year i may be lazy, wearing old clothes, with bad hair. but i’ll have a gift that is better than all that combined.

le huglets from me



this is painting #277 here.

hope gets sucked out of us when we drink …

from my inbox:

photos from last week’s ‘send me your seasonal pictures’ email.

hope gets sucked out of us when we drink …

    email from Leener (day 480): “I’m beginning to suspect that somewhere along the way, with all of the sober reading I was doing, someone (me) sold me a lie. I keep ‘waiting’ for sober life to be ahhhmaayyyziiinng! This wonderful, beautiful, amazing thing I keep reading about and then find myself disappointed over when it eludes me.
YES, I’ve had hormone issues and mental health issues that frustrate the ‘sober life is amazing cause’. But really, have I ever been that effusive in my lifetime? Have I been that liberal with the use of superlatives? Wasn’t I raised to eschew hyperbole? Is it really a surprise that I’m not waking up every day declaring everything amazing? Now I am annoyed with myself for mentally beating myself up for being unable to embrace a descriptor that has not otherwise been on rotation as part of my vocabulary …
I’m going to stop chasing this story about someone else’s sober life that I bought into, and enjoy the one I have. My sober life. The one where I wake up in the mornings feeling good. The one where I can do hard shit. The one where I can be helpful to others and therefore feel useful. The one where I can take care of my kids, or my dog, no matter what time of day. The one where I am always able to drive. The one where I don’t (with dread) try to piece together the patchy memories from the night before. It may not be “amazing” — because I reserve that shit for unicorns — but it sure is swell. So there.”

me: happy day 480 to you. you know, life may not be AMMMAAAAZZING. but things are ‘possible’ in a way that they are not when we’re drinking. and that possibility thing, it’s a huge big difference. when drinking, I had this sense of everything being ‘so hard’ — and that feeling in itself is just too overwhelming and unsustainable. it’s better to be sober and be able to make some progress, even if it’s just in tiny little bits. at least it’s PROGRESS. compared to being stuck. or sinking.
and then when we quit drinking, it’s like ‘oh wait, you mean this isn’t inevitable? I can do something differently going forward?’ That feeling of being able to impact the future is the thing that gets sucked out of us when we drink.


Day 21 gift:

Today i have a package of homemade granola to put into the mail. I know, it sounds boring, right? but it’s made with maple syrup and dried cranberries. and you can sprinkle it on yogurt, or on top of your breakfast cereal. or eat it like a snack. I will send the granola out to the 21st person who can correctly fill in the blank:

Luckiest Jo: “I am a constant resetter a new day 1 most weeks, and I keep adding new things, I think though that there is a voice that tells me I don’t have the willpower, although sober me listens to what you say about not having the right tools and so i keep adding them, thank you for telling me i’m not crap. I get the thing about the Wolfie voice more and more … last weekend the Wolfie sounded completely logical, and ok to make the decision to drink … I try and follow your advice on being a ________ but I don’t normally manage, and feel overwhelmed pretty much all the time, but I think i’m getting that the volume of my Wolfie is at a level where I have to keep doing more sober stuff and the reading and listening this week is at least an hour and a half, but I will up that. I think I get now that it doesn’t matter what it takes to stop drinking, as long as I stay stopped.” [update: she’s on day 61 today!]

can you fill in the blank above? send me your guess, and i’ll send out a package of homemade granola!

toasted oats, rice krispies, raisins, dried cranberries, maple syrup — here served with greek yogurt and honey …

solstice to solstice

From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and am celebrating 3.5 years sober tomorrow] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”

Imagine it’s the longest day of the year (tomorrow in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober starting tomorrow, June 21st. It can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on December 21st? Winter Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.

  • If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you add a comment below.
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Sign up to receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%.

I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?

belle xo

[if your brain likes special numbers to get started, this might be a good one]

picture thanks to trigirl who sent it in for a photo project last christmas