Happy Day 2000 to Catherine Gray

a very happy day 2000 to penpal #270! this is a super big deal, hooray for you!⁣

here’s a link to my podcast interview with Catherine > gum.co/sp283 – just enter $0 for the price, it’s free⁣

hugs, belle xo


this is painting 336 here.
you are open to new possibilities. you’re open to changes. you’re out of the booze elevator in looking around for opportunities. this is you. it’s sunny here. open minded. open-hearted.

link here.


what did i say? what do i have to delete?

email from trigirl: “I woke up promising never to drink again, Every Single Day for probably 10 years. I’d wake up between 3 and 4, toss and turn, then get up when my husband’s alarm went off at 5:30 and pretend that I felt ok as I tried to piece together the previous evening. What did I say? Did we finish watching that movie? Did I talk on the phone or text people? I’d better check to see if I need to delete anything from Facebook! Today is the day — I’m not drinking wine tonight, this is it!! If I had anything remaining in the second bottle, I’d dump it down the sink. My resolve would crumble as the day progressed. I would replace the bottles at about 3:00 pm and start the whole thing all over again. It’s absolutely horrible to be stuck in that place, and I don’t ever want to go back there!

I went to an Elton John concert the other night. It was my second sober concert after watching Coldplay last year. On the way to the venue, I told my husband there are times when I still wish I could drink like a “normal” person. But I didn’t miss it when we got to the concert and avoided the giant lines for ID checks to get the wristband required to stand in the other giant lines to purchase alcohol. I watched a couple in the seats in front of us come and go as they repeatedly made the bathroom/beer run and a woman dancing around with two drinks in her hand who could have easily been home in her living room listening to a CD. It was a bonus to wake up with a clear memory of an enjoyable evening, tired but not hungover!”

[she is penpal 1942 and she’s on day 541 today]


this is painting 336 here.
you are open to new possibilities. you’re open to changes. you’re out of the booze elevator in looking around for opportunities. this is you. it’s sunny here. open minded. open-hearted.

link here.


from me: We will be in Tennessee in May

We are travelling to Tennessee in May 2019 for a combined art show for Mr.B’s exit paintings AND a live podcast recording.

The art show will be Friday May 10th in the evening, and the Podcast recording in front of a live audience (you!) will be the following morning, Saturday May 11th.

You can come meet us (well, mr.belle will be at the Friday night event). we’ll have snacks and paintings and you’ll meet interesting people (hahaha, I mean besides me).

I’m happy to share more info with you if you’re interested. You can send me an email at this special email address > galleryshow@artsober.com > and I’ll send you some details.



And once you’re out of the booze elevator, you learn to rest and be present. Stay here. Stay focussed. Stay in the present. Stay sober. Stay true to yourself.


from me: what my physiotherapist taught me today

from me:
today i had my 5th treatment for my sore back. you know, the sore back that i waited a YEAR to start the physio. the lovely new physio girl (Lucia) who is like 27 years old and from spain, told me it’d take 4 sessions to feel markedly better. she was right. I waited a YEAR. yes, it’s true.
how long do we walk around feeling crappy before we reach out for help? because we’re sure it’ll suck or won’t be solvable? and then we do, and it turns out to be solvable, and then we feel better, and then feel idiotic for not starting sooner? yeah. that.
lucia wanted to work on stretching today, apparently in the hospital in denmark where she worked before, they ONLY do stretching. no TENS machine, no manual manipulation, no massage.
(and i’m like ‘stretching? that never works…’).
i wasn’t properly dressed for this, though, and the small hole in my jeans tore wide open. nice. ass falling out of my pyjamas AND now out of my jeans. thankfully i was wearing a long coat so i could get home.
and as we’re doing the exercises, my wrists are quite sore. we have to adapt a few of the yoga ‘plank’ things to be more suitable for aged people like me.
she says “they’ll get stronger, your arms. everyone says the same thing. they always complain about their arms and wrists when they start yoga.”
oh you mean i’m not a special unique snowflake with unfixable wrists? you mean i’ll get better at it just like everyone gets better at it? oh you mean with accountability, i can be reminded (repeatedly) that i’m doing well, i’m progressing, and it’s moving in the right direction?
i apparently also need to go to see lucia twice a week to be reminded that things change. that we’re not stuck in a shitty place. we reach out, try something new, and our wrists get stronger. the ass comes out of our jeans. and the back pain stops.
we remove the booze, the shitty place we felt trapped in melts away, and we can begin to heal.
right. so that’s my morning so far… (oh and husband ‘stayed home from work this morning to clean the house and clean the windows’ which is his code for ‘needed to sleep in’ but he’s vacuuming right behind me now. bumping my chair. i’m not complaining.)


from my inbox:

email from M: “Hi Belle, I just want to say a big thank you to you for showing me the way forward regarding drinking alcohol. My wife saw an ad on facebook “Tired of thinking about drinking” and I said to myself yes that’s me, I am tired of thinking about drinking. Didn’t drink Monday to Wednesday but by Thursday the voice inside my head would say ‘you deserve a drink now, you have had a hard day at work’. I find it easier reading your blogs knowing that “the wolfie” voice is in other people’s heads, and not just mine. The 1 bottle of wine on a Thursday becomes a bottle of beer and a bottle of wine on Friday and by Sunday it’s 2 bottles of wine (one whilst preparing Sunday dinner and one to follow). Wolfie always thought this a good idea, even though sometimes on a Sunday morning I said to myself i am not drinking today, wolfie would always win. My wife and I have done dry January for the last few years but always started to drink again in February. This year I have gone 32 days without a drink … Saturdays are better without it (and the rest of the week) and I can get up on a Sunday morning and remember everything I did the night before. I remember the meal, the movie we watched, the conversation we had. You have been an inspiration and I want to thank you again, so THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.”

email from S: “Hi Belle, thank you for sharing the ‘new subscribers’ emails, I too am one from the Facebook ad experiment. The time I received the link was perfect. I had been trying to moderate for years and failing terribly. my ‘bottoms’ were getting worse more destructive and where before they were only hurting me (so I thought). I had started to see they we hurting my family.  A conversation with my non-drinking 18 year old son who went to university in the summer, where over, dinner wine in hand, I was encouraging him to go out and drink in order to ‘make new friends’ (I can’t believe I was doing that now), and him saying to me ‘the main reason I don’t drink mum is because I’ve seen firsthand what it does to you’. Ouch! And then reading your book, has changed my life. It’s very early days I’m on day 38. I watch tv and see people drinking (all the time!) … but I try to remind myself that on tv they are drinking ribeana not wine and it’s wolfie talking to me so I tell him to piss off. I read your emails daily and listen to your podcasts. I have a journal too. Your message cards arrived in the post yesterday too and again were perfect timing. Thank you so much for showing me a way that isn’t too shameful (I’m still very disappointed that I let myself become so dependent on alcohol). Thank you for caring about people  so much to reach out in the way that you did with FB …”

Trirun (day 142): ” … I was surprised with how okay I was with being out to dinner with colleagues and not worry or be looking at the drinks. I really just did not care, in fact I was very proud on the inside and felt good that I was going home sober and without the guilt and effects of drinking. I wake up early and take in gorgeous sunrises and runs — and sunsets. I don’t worry about having to stop Or what to drink or how will I get to my hotel. I love that. For the first time in a long time I feel secure in me, and that makes me happy. Gourmet donut treat and coffee for me today, because I am happy. Truly happy that I made the decision to commit and stay in this sober place.”


new painting
Exit 349

because sometimes there’s no ‘exit’ sign. sometimes it’s a ‘way out’

ORIGINAL PAINTING #349. If booze is an elevator that only goes down, you get off and you stay off. find the way out. here is your visual reminder 🙂

reckless. unconscious. unproductive. easily agitated.

 E-Z (day 10) : “Hey Belle, really enjoyed the audio lesson i listened to today. Your voice is really comforting and relatable, which is really nice considering quitting drinking is usually a touchy matter!

Anyways, I realized that I don’t like the person I am when I drink. I’m reckless, unconscious, unproductive, and easily agitated. I’ll also ramble on until the cows come home if you let me. The thing I think I hate most, though, is the guilty feeling that creeps into the backdrop whenever alcohol is in one’s system. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.

So, I think the version of the story I’ll tell people is that I am making my health more of a priority in my life, and right now that doesn’t involve alcohol. After a while if they ask if I’m still not drinking I’ll just say alcohol was never really for me. Because, really, who is it for?

Best, E-Z”


Exit 349

sometimes the sign doesn’t say exit, it says “way out” – find your way out of the booze elevator. it’s time.

who says productive is the goal?

email from Little Miss M (day 81): “I’m sick – yuck. I hadn’t been feeling well the past week but it finally knocked me out where I spent most of yesterday and today in bed. I hate spending days sick in bed because I feel like I’m wasting time when I should be doing something productive. But I know I have to take care of myself by taking the downtime for my body to fight whatever it is I’ve got. But anyway. Another sober weekend in the books!! Hoping to feel better tomorrow.”

me: haha. thanks wolfie for giving you a hard time that even when sick you can’t rest because it’s not productive 😉 who said productive was the goal? if you’re not feeling great, you take care of you. it’s a forced situation. I think the universe is telling you something 🙂

Little Miss M: “Belle I love your comment *who said productive was the goal?* I guess I never thought of that. In my mind productive is always the goal because if you’re not being productive, then you get nowhere and going nowhere is definitely not the goal. When I was drinking and hungover and I felt too awful to be productive, I used that as an excuse to give myself “downtime”. Now that I’m no longer drinking and hungover, I need to find other healthy reasons to allow myself to have downtime because a run down, sick person also goes nowhere. Just something I need to work on…” [update : she’s on day 89 today]


Exit 348

this is from the original set of paintings Mr.Belle did back in August 2018, from the folder that i went into, and pulled out a painting and posted it… This is one of the ones that he never thought anyone would see…  (also with multiple exits on it). if you’re a true collector, you’ll need one of these ‘early’ ones. hahaha. ok, that sounds cheesy even to me …

boundaries & control

Didi (day 46) says: “One thing I really battle with is worrying about what is my stuff and what is not – I spend my time worrying about trying to control, hold, sort out other people’s shit … Are we boozers just control freaks? … I remember hearing something you said – you’re right audio has a wonderful way of getting in our heads the way reading doesn’t! Thanks Belle.”

And so i’ve put together the “worry about your own shit” sober podcast bundle with 4 full audios and 2 tiny audios:

SP081 Control: relationship between drinking and control issues and anxiety; what are the things you can control, and the things that you can’

SP103 Boundaries: i’m doing this to take care of ME, you say. i’m learning how to say no

SP141 Can I drink again later? What to tell yourself when your brain acts up with ideas of future drinking

RA003 Who’s Going to Help Me? You know this feeling, it’s the parent who flaps around the house saying, I have to do everything myself. Why doesn’t anybody help me. And it’s the person who wants to make something for Christmas for her kids, but she starts it Christmas Eve, and she’s saying why isn’t anybody helping me, when everyone else has gone to bed.


OMM020 Boundaries: there are toxic people around you, there is shit-pouring. you need an umbrella. how do you get one? [clearly this one needs a language warning]

and a 2-minute clip from SP187 – Take Care of You (this is not the whole podcast, just an extract) – what does it mean to ‘take care of yourself’?



if alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off and stay off. artsober.com

how being sober is like making rhubarb muffins …

from me
yesterday i made rhubarb muffins that didn’t come out as i’d expected. I had a perfect vision in my mind: good texture sort of like a cupcake but loose like a muffin, sweet but not too sweet, tangy rhubarb, streusel topping.
i had a perfect vision in my mind of quitting drinking: i’d put the cork in the bottle, fill my days with knitting and triathlons and i’d finally defrost my freezer.
i was sort of winging the recipe for the muffins, i took my favourite way to do something that i already know (blueberry muffins) and thought i’ll just stick some rhubarb compote in the middle of the batter. you know, raw dough, rhubarb jammy stuff, more raw dough, then bake. that’ll work, right?
i was sort of winging my quitting drinking. i didn’t read up on it, i just tried to give it up. didn’t ask for help, didn’t see what anyone else had done. didn’t think about how quitting drinking without ACCOUNTABILITY was going to leave me alone in my head.
so i bake the muffins, they swell up in the pan (ok, that’s easy, i can put in less batter next time). and then the rhubarb starts to leak out. (ok, i can deal with that.)
so i tried to quit drinking, alone in my head, i got 5-7-9 days and then fell over. i was certain i wasn’t ‘addicted’ so why was it so hard to quit? oh you mean i have to ask someone for support and accountability. no thanks. i’d rather fall over again. really? no. but really?
the muffins come out of the oven. smell good. a bit leaky. fine. then i go to take one out of the pan.
and the top comes off.
the top of the muffin separates from the base.
because there’s a layer of wet jam there, too thick, created layers, the top never stuck down.
does it sound like quitting drinking? are you tired of having your head come off?
are you tired of thinking about drinking?
get a cookbook, watch a video.
then check with an actual someone who’s done it before, see what they think will work.
then try that. [listen to this message as an audio]



Where are they now?

this painting available
New York

click to see more sober / recovery art


the difference between reading about stuff versus ACTUALLY doing it

from my inbox:

there is a live chat thing on my site, where i can answer questions and help you find things. here’s a copy of a chat from this morning:

Hi there, can I answer a question for you?


Hi, does the sober challenge offer a direct helpful guide?


i’m not sure i understand the question. the sober challenge is a ‘challenge’ on my site, for people who’d like to quit drinking for 100 days. it can be done alone (you on your own) or with support from me (as a sober penpal).


Thank you! I just wanted to know if there was someone I can talk to directly, as a support guide, when I need someone to talk to, if I get the need for drinking.


yes, the support comes from me – either from the free stuff i send out (daily) or by signing up for us to be penpals. lots of people do it both ways. me personally, i need personal accountability for most things…


Yeah I’m debating signing up! I appreciate the help. It’s nice to know someone is there


i just did a class for my job #1, and there were two options: watch the videos, or watch the videos and work with a coach. i chose the latter. and i said to my husband this week “i can’t believe i waited this long, what a jackass i am.” i’m not pushing my stuff or trying to sell you something! i’m just saying that for me, the personal connection made the difference between CONSUMING stuff versus ACTUALLY doing it … again, i’m talking about a writing project, and not sobriety, but still…

If ever this happens to you, where you can’t find something, or you need help with a transaction, or you need some kind of technical question answered, or something explained, you can always drop into the chat, too. If i’m online, it’ll say “Chat with us LIVE” in the top right corner here. I cannot do ‘sober coaching’ by chat, but I can help you find things 🙂

Question: Do you have an experience with buying an online course, and not actually doing the content if there was no personal accountability? yeah. me too. my whole life!


link to original sober art, thanks to mr.belle

we don’t merge with our friends

from my inbox:

AnnaK (day 3): “Belle, I drank last Saturday on day 7 of my renewed pledge. I’m not sure why I’m having a hard time staying on track this time around … oh, how I wish I hadn’t drank that night just over a month ago after 5 months sober …
    I am still seeing a therapist and exploring this with her. I think I’m bored and trying to fit in with my current peer group. She agrees. I’m not sure what to do about this because I don’t necessarily want to get rid of all of my friends. As a single 37 year old woman with no children, I have found it difficult to find friends in similar circumstances who don’t drink socially every weekend (or more often). I got used to being the only one not drinking before and just have to do it again, I guess.”

me: I can reset you. I’m glad you’ve got someone to talk to about this. is your therapist a person in recovery too? if not you could add some of that kind of support as well. once I was about 6 weeks sober, I found it easier to socialize with people who were drinking. but to begin, I just felt too wobbly and so I spent more time doing solo things or sober things or daytime things with friends. you can get used to being the sober one again. just like you would if you were vegetarian. or training for a marathon. when we’re with friends, we’re all pursuing different things, on slightly different paths. we don’t merge with our friends. we’re still our individual (and best) selves. 

AnnaK: “Your statements about each of us pursuing different things and paths, being individuals who don’t merge with our friends, in particular, resonated with me. It was a forehead-slap kind of realization — of course, we are all unique individuals! It is neither necessary nor desirable to pursue the same course as everyone else. I’d much rather focus on being my individual and best self anyway, which is only attainable when I avoid alcohol.”


LINKS: are you following me on Medium? i wrote about extending Dry January into February here . not drinking today . i have hope that in being sober, my life will continue to improve . the booze elevator only goes down . i have to open the door, get off, and stay off . or else there’s resentment


Thanks for the support 🙂
Sober Art
this is Exit 337 … link.