small notes about hurricanes and other things (#1 and #2)

during the hurricane last week, I sent a series of small notes to subscribers – and some of these ideas, of course, apply to the world beyond the weather.

small notes about hurricanes and other things #1

we don’t drink because of weather. not even unusual weather. if it snows in September (alberta) or floods in NC, we don’t drink.
you need to be sober to deal with the random things that happen in life. it could be bad weather, but it could be sick mother, or your fan belt splitting in half. it could be a faulty insulin pump. it could be a tenant’s overdose. you have to be sober to deal with the things.

to mix drinking with dangerous weather just seems like a bad idea.
you’ll agree with me.
if ever you needed to keep your wits about you, it’d be now.  

today’s exit-the-booze-down-elevator painting might be about exiting the shitty thinking, or it might be about exiting the dangerous situation, or it might be about finding the exit on the highway as you leave town, windows boarded up. an exit is about you taking care of you.
it’s you, making plans.


small notes about hurricanes and other things #2

unexpected things, large and small, are happening around us all the time. this is one of those things. they tell you that X will happen, but it’ll be something like X-2+Y-7. Which means you’re flexible. No black and white. It’s grey. You go where you need to go, soberly, eyes open. You do the next right thing in front of you. You do the basic self-care things every day (sleep, eat, rest, avoid overwhelm). you text your parents and friends and sober coach when you feel wacky. you don’t do this alone – hurricanes or sobriety. we do these things together.


This is Exit painting #114.
Exit the booze elevator. Get off and stay off.

drinking is like shaking your mind

from me:
when i posted the ‘thank you’ message, i didn’t really expect people to say thank you, again, in return. and now when i share too many of these it’ll seem self-serving. so i’ll mix in a bit of what my inbox looks like today. the ups and the downs. 

andpops: “Your emails were great!! Im sure that I would not be where I am now without you!  You’re welcome but thank you right back at ya again. PS. It’s also fun to have you in the same time zone. I want to tell you again how psyched I am for Mr. Belles painting and to hang it in my office at work. I’ll send you a pic when it arrives and I hang it!  I even enjoy seeing all the new ones that get posted. It makes me happy that he feels inspired. He should also feel appreciated!”

A: “I’ve read the thank you message several times and wanted to reply but not known how. When you sent the other replies, I felt even more inadequate to respond but just wanted to say how lovely it sounded for you and Mr B.  I have to be honest I’m a philistine regarding art but I admire his talent and am ridiculously pleased for both of you that it’s working. Enough rambling, just really pleased for you both and of course envious.  I need to get out, off and into the sunshine.”

C: “I don’t expect a response, just wanted to vent. I love your husbands art and the theme has hit home. Big time. I have been looking for my Exit door for some time. I haven’t found it yet. Of course I equate that to yet another fault of mine. I think of the person that used to be on the other side of that door and I miss that version of me. But I’m exhausted, all the time. Why is it so much easier to “self medicate” than lace up the running shoes? I used to take such pride in my athletics but can’t even imagine having that discipline now. I am so tired. Tired of trying, working crazy hours, the stress and being alone. That being said, I am blessed with two wonderful kids but they are growing up and have lives of their own. I keep making promises to myself (and silently to you) to be better tomorrow, finally start being that perfect version of myself. And it’s like groundhog day. Without the benefit of positive progression. Anyway, not great at expressing myself and thanks for reading. Does Mr. B create any paintings that include directions to the Exit door? … Take care Belle and thanks for all you do! I still carry around one of your hand written letters with me. Took me weeks before I opened it and read it. Not sure what that’s about.”

pilates queenie: “Your husband’s art has become a minor obsession. I have purchased four and need to stop now. I can only afford so much — but it is worth more to me than you can imagine. I hope he does a showing — maybe some bigger pieces too. Thank him and tell him that his pieces move me in a way that I can’t explain. I may have told you I have many fine artists in my family including my sister and a couple of brothers and my mom who passed away 20 years ago. I think his art is reminiscent of how she made use of color and form. Clearly, he is hitting the mark with many, many people as they have all sold so quickly. Thank you to you too!!  You continue to inspire me to be a healthier person in mind, body and spirit.  Hope you keep doing what you are doing for a long time. 💜❤️💚”

Bean7: “I’m having a grumpy day. Even going to yoga this morning didn’t help. Maybe it did help, and I’d be even worse had I not gone? Laughs. I’m in my room watching NetFLIX AND TAkING cARE oF some tASKS. ONE of MY ANNOYances is my computeR. As you can see itS FUCKED UP … I’ve got mY SOBRIETY TODAY> THAT IS A POSITIve> BEAn7”

jenwithoutwine: “So beautiful. I read this with a soft smile and dampening eyes. And I am a girl who does. not. cry. (mostly) I feel lucky to witness this, so thanks for sharing. Beautiful things happening to beautiful people. It doesn’t get much better.”

Auntie Briggy: “… He clearly loves you so much because his concept of EXIT is so filled with compassion and love. Thank you again for being there. I know some day you will be too famous to email with me – so now I must really get sober for 30 days so I can still have you :)”

magitinto (day 2): “another thing I discovered, I drink to quiet my mind, or at least that is what I thought, however reality is that when drinking the opposite happens, my mind wont stop spinning around a 1000 topics and making everything so dramatic and so intense and so tiring, at the end is worse it is like shaking the mind. What I am really looking for is calm, silence, quite time with my mind focused, something I will never achieve drinking.”


from my daily micro-email sent August 28, 2018


let me start by saying thank you. for all the things.
you know those knots you carry around inside forEVER and then they slowly start to unwind? those knots. sure, you know about them.
that’s how i feel right this minute. un-knotted. (long may it continue!)

i want to say thanks for:
your support while i do this sober thing. you think that i’m doing something for you, but you’re doing something for me — in my coaching calls, in my montreal sober meetup, in my daily emails. i wake up each morning and scroll through my inbox, to see how you’re doing, to see if you have news. to see if you’ve written the song in the sand yet, or cleaned up the cat vomit, or if you’ve travelling home safely from vacation.

i also want to say thanks for the support on the newest addition to the site, the original art from Mr. Belle (who wants to sign his name now as: mr.B).

i don’t share a lot about his life (cuz it’s his life) but let me say this to you and you can read between the lines: he’s painting. evenings and weekends. he’s up and down the stairs to his office (when we’re at home), and now that we’re on vacation, he BROUGHT some of his art stuff in his suitcase to continue here in Canada.

to see him working on vacation is actually lovely. he’s had a slow, hard time with his career for the past 7 years so it’s really been a great thing to see him inspired.
and when THAT happens, it changes the inside of my marriage.
and when THAT happens, i feel ‘relieved’ but also supported. by you. so thank you. from both of us.

i’ll also say thank you to the agent who has asked to read the second draft of the sober fiction book. i’ll say thanks to the Everything list for your support in getting that book done. I’m planning (yes, still) to begin writing a new fiction book in September and i will let you know how you can follow along, too, when the time comes.

if you’re on a booze superhighway, it might be time to exit. if you’re on a booze elevator that only goes down, you can get off now. if you’re in the booze sewer, i promise you it’s better in the sunshine.

if you’re stuck in weird thinking, you can stop drinking and see how you feel.

exit the booze things.
all of them.
alcohol doesn’t suit you.
you’ve tried it.
it’s not for you.

hugs from me

link to original art – Exit 036
exit the sewer, exit the booze elevator.
original art, paintings – not prints – so only one of each available.

anonymous confession booth: sex

step right up. for one day only, i’m creating an anonymous sober confession booth about SEX. Yes, i’ve got something running through my head and i thought, OK, let’s blog about it. and really, it’s amazingly hard to talk about sex even when we’re quasi-anonymous online. And so then i thought, OK, let’s make it 100% anonymous, me included.

So here’s the deal.

  1. Post a comment below.
  2. For this to work you MUST leave your name and your email and your website address BLANK in the comments form (if you forget, i’ll go in and delete that info manually). all comments are to be anonymous. one of the comments will be from me, you just won’t know which one.
  3. I have no way of personally knowing who posts what.
  4. In your comment, write two or three sentences (max.) about something about sex that you think is ONLY your problem and that probably no one else has the same problem as you do. For example, i’ll make one up: “I can’t initiate sex when sober but i used to be able to when drinking” … OR … “i worry that i’m the only person who has x problem now that i’m sober.”
  5. Then post ONE anonymous ‘reply’ to one of the other comments already posted, and say something comforting, consoling, forgiving, kind. In fact, it would simply help if you said “i have this problem, too.”

i have a feeling that this will unfold in a lovely way. because you’re all lovely people. and we all have sex shit that we can’t talk about.

PS. if your name/email automatically shows up when you start to enter a comment, you can manually delete them OR you can ‘log out’ of your blogging profile.


Audio: My Situation is Different

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #228 sent to sober podcast members.

This audio is a personalized response to someone who asked me “but what about these circumstances, my life is hard, these things and these things.”

And no matter what day you’re on today, there’s a message in here for you.

I received this from J: after she heard my personalized reply:

“It’s really interesting to me that you said (and of course this is true) that I would have ended up overdrinking whether I married my widower or not … I see that you are of course right – I’d be an overdrinker with an overdrinker’s brain whether I had this particular job or these particular kids as my responsibility or not. So. That’s the truth. Wolfie will tell my very receptive brain that drinking anaesthetic would be a good idea. NO MATTER WHAT”


Question: How tempting is it to think that our situation is different? (this is a trick question; wolfie is an anus).


hugs, me

below i’ve posted a 3 minute clip from the longer audio, all i ask is that you leave a message in the comments. If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.



Download the entire podcast episode #228

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).


I want to be sober. Should I try vitamins? A French class?

(Update of a post originally published february 2017)

OK, if you don't have a lot of time, I'll cut to the chase: Stop fucking around by building your house out of straw.


M (day 1) sent me this email: Belle, I keep trying all these things to help me be sober and nothing works. I just spent $100 on vitamins. I’ve been to a one-day, quit-drinking workshop. I signed up for a French class. You see, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and with all the money I’m not spending on booze, I could buy a plane ticket.


You can hear her thinking, and you can absolutely see what she’s saying.

It seems logical, doesn’t it.

My reply to her would be: “If you are continuously sober, then yes, whatever you’re doing is working. Keep doing it.”

But if you are NOT continuously sober —if you reset after 2 days, or 20 days, or 200 days — then what you’re doing isn’t quite enough to keep you sober. So you add more sober tools.

Argh, I’m on Day 1 again. I’m enrolled in French class. Why isn’t that enough?

French class is something you can hang in the space that booze used to occupy.

But taking a French class is not a sober tool.

Sober tools are things that help you to BE sober.

Imagine this.

You are a little piggie, of the Three Little piggies, and you build your sober house, and wolfie repeatedly comes and blows your sober house down.

We'll note that you've built your sober house out of straw or sticks or tarps, but wolfie blows it over. Maybe not right away, maybe not tomorrow, but as soon as there’s a strong wind, or a celebration, or a death, or a runaway teenager, or Sheila in accounting pulls her shit and refuses to do the cheque run before end of day on Friday.

It doesn’t take much, when your house is built of straw. Wolfie is at the door, blowing.

Your sober house falls down.

But let’s be real, wolfie only has to barely knock on the door of your house made of straw to knock it over. To the house of wood, he’ll knock once or twice, and when that doesn’t work, he’ll add in lung full of hot air and a bit of whining. Doesn’t take long.

(And really, you built a sober house out of straw? You were wishing. You’re were hoping you could do the minimum. You knew it wasn’t going to be enough.)

To the house built out of sober stones, set careful on a sober cement foundation — yeah, that house — well, wolfie will knock on your door and when that doesn’t work, he’ll try to blow you over with convincing arguments as to why you need to Drink Right Now.

You will add in a bit more cement and wave to him through the window. He’ll look for cracks, but you’ve got double-paned glass and a bug screen.

This isn't a stone house. This is your life.

Your life is worth more than the minimum. It’s worth more than straw and tarps.

The soul of you, the essence of you, the real you that isn’t anesthetized, the real you that is empathetic and helpful and has good boundaries —THAT you deserves to be guarded in a solid stone structure.

What helps to build a wolfie-proof, stone sober house?

Advice from an architect. Talking to the girl at Home Depot about the length of the nails and what has worked on similar projects.

Pouring a cement foundation.

Going as slowly as required to NOT have to pour the foundation, dig it up, pour it again, and dig it up again. What a waste of time that is. You need a sober foundation, sure, but if you do it too quickly, or too rashly, or try to do it with inadequate cement, or do it while doing too many other things at the same time — well, you know what happens.

You can see this example clearly when I'm talking about cement.

The colour of the paint, and the carefully selected flowers, and the breeding fruit trees do not build a strong house. The French classes and spin classes and yoga classes and pottery classes and vitamins don’t help you change your behaviour. They’re wonderful (and necessary and lovely) things to add to your life. They are.

But they are not sober tools.

A sober tool is something that helps you to be sober. Not paint colour.

I know you want to paint the room, but you haven’t built the room yet. You want to choose the light fixture, but the wiring hasn't been installed.

You want to focus on the details all around THE THING.

The THING you want is to be sober.

And you’re online spending hours choosing the right French class? You just spent $100 on multivitamins because that should help you be sober?

What if you’d spent that time and that $100 on actual sober supports.

[You don’t though, because wolfie is a sly fucker, taunting perfectly nice people with bullshit logic like vitamins and French classes.]

OK. Sober tools. They are things that help you be sober. That would include anything that directly makes it more likely that you (a) remember that being sober is a good idea, (b) soothes irritation, (c) helps you be accountable, (d) checks in on you, (e) reminds you what you’re doing when you forget, (f) reinforces the idea of the sober foundation and why you need it because you forgot again, (g) makes it possible for you to not drink.

A French class isn’t a sober tool.

It's not just a book. A book about being sober is awesome. But you can stop re-reading the book, waiting for something to click. It doesn't work like that.

(Do you think you can read books about pouring cement foundations, and have the book be enough? Is a one-day workshop on cement-pouring enough? How about a forum of other people on day 1 of cement installation?]

You are probably walking around THIS THING, acting like you don’t know what to do.

You know what to do.

You know that if you ask for support from people who can actually support you, then you have a higher chance of actually getting this done.

You know that if you turn and face the resources and education and accountability that sober support provides, that you’ll learn from people who’ve done it 2,778 times, that you’ll save time, feel better, and have your cement poured sooner.

If you have built a house out of straw AND IT’S WORKING FOR YOU then keep doing what you’re doing.

But if the wind keeps blowing you over, you’ve got to look at having some new tools. Things to read AND accountabilty AND support AND cheerleading AND treats AND audios AND going to bed as early as possible...

Paint isn’t a tool.

Neither is a French class.


Audio: All The Stuff

This is an audio clip from Sober Podcast #222 sent to sober podcast members.

When J sent me an email that said this: “I use all the supports, I do it all. But then a switch flips and I’m drinking…” I just had to reply.

The difference between what our brain says we’re doing, versus what we’re doing… that’s what I talk about here.

Can you see how this audio applies to something in your life? lemme know.

P.S., here’s the response from J after she listened: “Thank you. Wow. Awesome. I listened once and will listen again and take notes and email you and make lists. You are right on all accounts … My head is spinning now. I’m going to work up a plan and I will email it to you. Thank you so much for this. I needed to hear it.”


below i’ve posted a 3 minute clip from the longer audio, all i ask is that you leave a message in the comments. If you’d like to listen to the whole thing, you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.



Download the entire podcast episode #222

Sign up for the monthly podcast membership
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).


Duck Ponderings 004 – The Book

catch up on episodes 1-3

Duck Ponderings 004 – The Book. The first book was an ‘accident’, the second book was more intentional. My 80% free model. The idea of being led by subscribers. How I’ve ‘stopped pushing’.  Oh, and there are horses at the duck pond today! And I tried really hard to get a photo …

dp4 IMG_8201

dp4 IMG_8203


Links mentioned:

”See the peacocks from here” (one minute message 284) >

200+ free One Minute Messages >

Longer Podcasts Archives >

The blog online >

The blog collection of Year 1 in a PDF file (“Keeping the Wolf from the Door”) >

The actual how-to-quit-drinking book (“Tired of Thinking About Drinking: Take My 100-Day Sober Challenge”) >

Bundle of Top 10 Podcasts >

Article on Medium about pushing >

Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw,


Donations to support these audios and keep them free 🙂


New Podcast Series… “Duck Ponderings: Behind the Scenes with a Sober Girl”

New Podcast Series
Starting Tuesday April 3rd

Introducing a new 10-part podcast, “Duck Ponderings – Behind the Scenes” with fascinating (!) behind the scenes stories from this sober girl. honest, unedited, rambling. recorded at the duck pond. complete with a badly dressed dog, a man who looks like a priest/jester, and a story about why my jewelry designer mails the bracelets to me in france only for me to turn around and re-mail them back to the US.

This new 10-part podcast will be free, hosted on gumroad and itunes. supported only by donations. (or use this link for paypal / no VAT). it works out every time. no sponsorship. just you pitching in where you can.

Stay tuned. The first three episodes will be released all at once on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Audio: I’m a guest on Lee Davy’s Alcohol & Addiction Podcast

In January 2018, I was a guest on Lee Davy’s Alcohol & Addiction Podcast. More about Lee here > The Truth About Alcohol*

We talked for 1.5 hrs (no kidding!) about language, metaphors, starting a sober journey with a trial/challenge. We also examined the differences between group support (which he offers) and the kind of one-on-one support that I do.

I have sent this audio out to my sober podcast members. But today I want to share it with you.

This link will be live for the next 48 hrs [link has been removed]


[link has been removed]



after you listen, post a comment and tell me what phrase from this audio is an a-ha moment for you. Something that you’ve maybe heard before, but today you REALLY heard it. Loud and clear.


Download this interview with Lee Davy

Sign up for my weekly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).



comments from listeners:

Springer: “Belle! I listened to your podcast interview with Lee Davy 3 or 4 times so far. It is brilliant!!! You are both inspiring and driven to help people. It was such a great interview. You (as always) sound very calm and graceful and wise and he also sounds like a very cool person. Thanks for sharing that with the world!!”

Hidcote:A mood isn’t a decision is such a cool mantra. And when I visualise my neural pathways changing and adapting is one of the best, comforting, uplifting feelings ever :-)”

Sami: “I went to my first aa meeting in about 10 years on Monday & felt exactly the same way I did 10 years ago, totally disconnected, it just did not resonate with me, I dont know why but I felt totally depressed afterwards, felt sorry for the people at the meeting & what they had been through & this made me sad, I dont need to feel worse than what I already do!  I understand its only 1 meeting but I went with someone who recommended it as a fabulous meeting, I just felt like it was not for me, maybe wolfie talking who knows but so not keen to go back. I just listened to your interview with Lee Davy & everything you said totally resonated with me, I got more out it than I did at the meeting. So am thinking I should sign up for the 100 day challenge today, this makes sense & see how I feel afterwards….”


  • this is an affiliate link. that means that if you go to lee’s site and you happen to spend money there, he will send me some coins. note: i have not reviewed his stuff. i haven’t taken his class. i am not recommending his stuff. i’m just disclosing that this is an affiliate link.