Sober Photography (or Art) Project: Assignment #30

To participate in this sober photography project, you can be a photographer, or a painter or a artist of some kind … Time to dust off the camera, and get ready to photograph, draw or paint something lovely.

This is open for anybody (so long as you are sober), you don’t have to be a fancy ass photographer. No inner critic allowed. Are you ready?

Assignment #30 … Take a picture of something that is turquoise.

  • This is PROJECT, not a contest.
  • DEADLINE: Saturday October 27th @ 12 noon Eastern. Yes, a short deadline. The longer the deadline, the more likely we are to procrastinate, oui?
  • The format is open: for photos, you can use your camera phone or a nice camera. For drawings, paintings, just take a picture (or scan) and email to me.
  • The project must be original, and produced AFTER the assignment is received (like, no going through past pictures taken, it has to be new).
  • If you suck at photo adjustments or cropping, send it anyway with a note that you’d like me to adjust.
  • Send as LARGE a file size as you can manage (up to 12MB per image).  Don’t reduce for size.  the bigger the better.
  • Um, you have to be sober …
  • One entry per person per assignment (think of the size of my inbox!)
  • Send me the photo as an attachment in an email: and put ‘turquoise photo’ in your subject line.

NOTE: Find something and take a picture. It’ll turn out better than you think it will. This is a fun project, you remember fun right? I learned all about fun by doing this with Christina.

THIS IS NOT A CONTEST. This is a fun thing. Just take a photo. Just have fun.

Here’s an example of some turquoise photos to get you started.

send me an email: and put ‘turquoise photo’ in your subject line.

i’m afraid to drink, and i’m afraid not to

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 23rd.


from me:

sunday morning. and i think i’ll have an easy day today. read a book about writing, strategically lounge, frame it as self-care instead of sloth.
it’s a good thing my husband doesn’t care what happens on his birthday because yesterday our initial plans were rained out. then the secondary plans were sidetracked. then we decided to go for a walk (grey skies, rainy), stopped for terrible chinese food, and then just HAPPENED to be in little suburb town where they were having an english literature festival, and their keynote invited guest was JOHN IRVING. and so we walked over to city hall, took our free seats in a room that held 50 guests, and listened to him being interviewed for an hour and a bit for live radio.
and i say to husband, thats sort of random good luck, isn’t it. and he says that it seems to be happening to him more often these days.
and i said:
it’s because we’re in motion that opportunities come up. we were up, dressed, and out and found something. we were in progress already. we didn’t wait for john irving to show up at the door. we didn’t even hear of an invitation for this event. since i don’t watch tv, i had no real way of even knowing about this event at all.
how to find it? to be in motion. to be on the road. to take advantage of what comes up.
sobriety: being in motion, available to take advantage of what comes up.
so that’s how we spent his birthday: bad chinese, john irving, and then toast for dinner. he just brought me cereal (in bed, high cuisine!) and now i can hear the sweet sounds of boxes being cut to ship paintings.


from my inbox:

Peewit (day 629): “Ding dong belle, this is a most pertinent transcript. so, a few weeks ago you said something about renewing my penpaliness and my brain reacted with a nice long tidy list of NO NO NO. It went something like ‘I can’t possibly afford that it’s SO expensive and I’m doing really well at actually saving money lately so I’ve got saver momentum (!) and I’m not gonna fuck with that and anyway i had a year of coaching which I didn’t even need or make the most of and who the hell needs two years, people who didn’t get it the first time probably and that’s not me because Ive got no problems with sobriety it’s just everything else and a SOBER coach isn’t going to help with that blah blah’

And my heart went ‘oh god I’d LOVE that oh please let there be a way, I need more help. HELP!’

Fortunately the non wolfie part of my brain came up with a plan: ask The Husband if he’ll help pay for it. Because a month ago it was my birthday and I didn’t really want anything so ended up with zero gifts. And a feeling of having slightly short-changed myself. And so I asked (which was kinda hard for me) and he seems happy to help. HAPPY!!! Who knew?!

So if or when you’ve got a space and I’ve got the money sorted please can I have you back on my team??! Hugs 🤗 to youhoo, xxxxx”


mich2point0: “I was just thinking I wish I could write to belle but I can’t afford to pay for that. Today is another day one in a long long long list of Day 1s. So many good intentions- epically failed. I was sober for 90 days 4 years ago because after my DUI, I was required to have randomized drug testing for at least 90 days in order to keep my job. I also lost my drivers license for a year. This was pre Uber. It was hell. And now, here I am again, pretending that my life has not become unmanageable. Pretending that I’m not fucking up my sweet precious son- I’m a single mom. And I am tortured with shame. I am afraid to drink and afraid not to. When wolfie (and frankly his entire wolf pack) start knocking on my door- I don’t know what else to do. I truly don’t. A friends bother died on Wednesday, she found him blue, cold, and unresponsive from a heroine overdose, he was 26. I have been sobbing for days. Addiction is a motherfucker and I don’t know how to successfully kick mine. It feels like it’s too much and too hard to overcome. So why bother? I don’t know any other coping skills and I abhor AA. I’m lost, an untethered boat, being taken further and further out to sea. I need help.”

me: hi you. thanks for this. longer periods of time sober (hooray for 90 days) means that at least you know it’s better (and easier) to be sober than to listen to wolfie. it’s possible that you might find it easier to get some traction if you had a fraction more support. maybe you can add in some sober tools, so that the voice in your head can be reminded that you’re going to be OK. I could send some links to stuff on my site (free & paid). you can keep lurking, too. or you can reach out (hey you did that already …)
le hugs from me

m: “Thank you for answering… It really does feel more real to say all those things and have a witness to it. sober tools – I’m been trying to think of them. But my head just spins in circles and I make bad choices.. and the shame and regret. It’s debilitating. Paris. how devine”

me:  ok, well let me send you these idea for support links. here are some of the things on my site (free & paid) that might help provide you with some additional sober support. help to keep your sober car firmly in the middle of the lane.

  • read the blog in order starting from when I was on day 9 (it can be helpful to see that I had many very shitty days, and lots of times where I wanted to quit being sober. many.) ($19? i don’t remember the price, it’s less than $20)
  • listen to sober audios 2 x day, 10 minutes each time, morning and night.
  • as an introduction to me, I have recorded 11 episodes of a ‘behind the scenes story’ called ‘Duck Ponderings: Behind the Scenes with a Sober Girl,’ which includes the penpals and the sober support that I offer, and how I got here (FREE)
  • the sober jumpstart class to have a penpal for a year, and pick the one that comes with extra archived podcasts and calls with me.
  • go to bed as early as possible (ok this isn’t a tool on my site, but it’s very important. hiding in bed is a good place to avoid overwhelm) (and it’s free!).
  • Realize that you have a voice in your head that lies to you, so support to be sober will likely be met with very LOUD resistance from wolfie, saying “that won’t work or me.’ You can try it anyway. Wolfie is a liar. free
  • my book has an appendix with 60 sober tools in it; most of us start off trying to quit drinking with only 3-4 tools. when really, there are a boatload of things we can try – (get the one with audio, so you can listen while walking or put it on as you go to sleep and use it as meditation – it works. people fall asleep when I’m reading all the time. I’m not offended!)

OK. that’s a start. you can begin with these things and then see how you’re doing. if you need more ideas, I have more 🙂 hugs

m: “Holy fuck. I just started the audio and you have described me to a tee. And I’ve read tons of materials and know all the slogans. But you make me feel understood. Wow. I’m listening while at work. Hiding in my office.”


we remove the booze. we don’t add to existing problems.  then we open ourselves up to the potential that things can improve. even if it’s 1% a day, trending in the right direction.

this is a close-up of painting #226, here.


Wednesday Celebration Roundup

(i haven’t posted a roundup since July, so this list is longer than usual).

If we are sober penpals, then we email all the time and I keep track of your dates. Then i can celebrate you online (here) when you hit the big milestones. like these ones:

Happy Day 50 to JasJet

Happy Day 50 to Sandal!

Happy Day 50 to Sober Julie Mtl!

Happy Day 50 to CarolynW!

Happy Day 50 to Buttercup244!

Happy Day 50 to Brissie!

Happy Day 50 to Chum!

Happy Day 50 to Happiersober!

Happy Day 50 to drinkdodger!

Happy Day 50 to LightningBug45!

Happy Day 50 to BelayOn!

Happy Day 50 to Sargeant!

Happy Day 50 to Fly Over Girl!

Happy Day 50 to Flora!

Happy Day 50 to NMD!

Happy Day 50 to Edison!

Happy Day 50 to Franci!

Happy Day 50 to Moneyfortreats!

Happy Day 50 to Nayana!

Happy Day 50 to Miranda!

Happy Day 50 to Barbs!

Happy Day 50 to Daffodil Princess!

Happy Day 50 to Andpops!

Happy Day 50 to SoberNevertheless!

Happy Day 50 to Lee the Pea!

Happy Day 50 to Glanville!

Happy Day 50 to Sobersusie!

Happy Day 50 to Lena!

Happy Day 50 to Sparky!

Happy Day 50 to Granite Angel!

Happy Day 50 to JenJen!

Happy Day 100 to Aleesjourney!

Happy Day 100 to Veeee!

Happy Day 100 to Pilates Queenie!

Happy Day 100 to Miss Nelson!

Happy Day 100 to Ohnarn!

Happy Day 100 to Nell!

Happy Day 100 to SterlingGhost!

Happy Day 100 to Amazon Sister!

Happy Day 100 to ShelT!

Happy Day 100 to Bayleaf!

Happy Day 100 to Peppercorn!

Happy Day 100 to karin!

Happy Day 100 to Blackbird!

Happy Day 100 to Lheras!

Happy Day 100 to Jennifer 2.0!

Happy Day 100 to Da!

Happy Day 100 to lageeg!

Happy Day 100 to Janey!

Happy Day 100 to pinkclouds!

Happy Day 100 to Marie Louise!

Happy Day 100 to KeysKathy!

Happy Day 100 to Terry Kate!

Happy Day 100 to Flyfishingdude!

Happy Day 100 to Timely!

Happy Day 100 to Wilder!

Happy Day 100 to Versa!

Happy Day 100 to Moi!

Happy Day 100 to Suzabelle!

Happy Day 180 to Jane Marie!

Happy Day 180 to Carly!

Happy Day 180 to A Free Willow!

Happy Day 200 to Coffeegirl!

Happy Day 200 to AMA!

Happy Day 200 to Lotus!

Happy Day 200 to SoberSeasideSally!

Happy Day 300 to Happy Day 200 to Twisty!

Happy Day 300 to Happy Day 200 to KeyLes!

Happy Day 300 to Happy Day 200 to C-J!

Happy Day 300 to Happy Day 200 to Jacci2!

Happy Day 300 to Happy Day 200 to Simon’s Mom!

Happy Day 300 to Mary Elizabeth!

Happy Day 300 to Lovinrunning!

Happy Day 300 to Serenity Now!

Happy Day 300 to Evita87!

Happy Day 300 to Greenyj1!

Happy Day 300 to Jaded!

Happy Day 300 to MindfulMe!

Happy Day 300 to Ishmael!

Happy Day 300 to Lex!

Happy Day 300 to Kay!

Happy Day 300 to Shel!

Happy Day 300 to Mamabird!

Happy Day 300 to ECP!

Happy Day 300 to SG!

Happy Day 300 to Katrinka!

Happy Day 300 to Hidcote!

Happy Day 400 to Trigirl!

Happy Day 400 to Rehc!

Happy Day 400 to Sadie2015!

Happy Day 400 to JI!

Happy Day 400 to vstuart!

Happy Day 400 to RainyPNW!

Happy Day 400 to Stanley!

Happy Day 400 to Leener!

Happy Day 400 to Smokey!

Happy Day 400 to Sobe the Lion!

Happy Day 400 to Lordi!

Happy Day 400 to Ket!

Happy Day 400 to LD4ME!

Happy Day 400 to Mlodius!

Happy Day 400 to Frog!

Happy Day 400 to Bug June!

Happy Day 400 to MiMoMa!

Happy Day 400 to Lars!

Happy Day 400 to Nan!

Happy Day 400 to Flyaway!

Happy Day 500 to Leila!

Happy Day 500 to Maggie Mo!

Happy Day 500 to lmichel!

Happy Day 500 to LinZeeLou!

Happy Day 500 to BalanceBeam!

Happy Day 500 to BirdSetFree!

Happy Day 500 to Mia!

Happy Day 500 to Sobriety Unlocked!

Happy Day 500 to AuntieMame!

Happy Day 500 to Renne in Rochester!

Happy Day 600 to Newg!

Happy Day 600 to Leigh Ann!

Happy Day 600 to RossFSU!

Happy Day 600 to 35&changing!

Happy Day 600 to SoberSparkles!

Happy Day 600 to MrsWooly!

Happy Day 600 to NatureNancy!

Happy Day 600 to Kaycee!

Happy Day 600 to Blou!

Happy Day 600 to RetiringPartyGirl

Happy Day 600 to Peewit!

Happy Day 600 to Lavender!

Happy Day 600 to Gina!

Happy Day 600 to Helen!

Happy Day 600 to Gomez!

Happy Day 600 to Mummabear!

Happy Day 600 to Loz!

Happy Day 600 to jaylee!

Happy Day 600 to MrsRoberts!

Happy Day 600 to Lizzytish!

Happy Day 600 to Peaceable J!

Happy Day 600 to Mindful Monica!

Happy Day 700 to Princess Buttercup!

Happy Day 700 to SueW!

Happy Day 700 to Roadtosoberville!

Happy Day 700 to Lacie!

Happy Day 700 to KiKi71!

Happy Day 700 to Honey Bear!

Happy Day 700 to Resiliensea!

Happy Day 700 to true.d.true!

Happy Day 700 to Becca1978!

Happy Day 700 to Blondie!

Happy Day 700 to Jamie-Tampa!

Happy Day 700 to Capt. Unwined!

Happy Day 700 to Tiger2018!

Happy Day 700 to Honoring Grace!

Happy Day 700 to Boozy Betty!

Happy Day 700 to A_Sober_Cannibal!

Happy Day 700 to Shannon A!

Happy Day 700 to Sisty!

Happy Day 700 to SohoCat!

Happy Day 700 to Ashley!

Happy Day 700 to Gracie514!

Happy Day 700 to Indy!

Happy Day 700 to Pwhims!

Happy Day 700 to Rachel E!

Happy Day 700 to FlightPlan!

Happy Day 700 to Inspired!

Happy Day 700 to Calypso!

Happy Day 700 to Allie!

Happy Day 700 to Bunnie!

Happy Day 700 to Liz!

Happy Day 700 to Girl Named Sam!

Happy Day 700 to Meadowmuffins!

Happy Day 700 to Jeans!

Happy Day 700 to Sallyd!

Happy Day 700 to AmandaJ!

Happy Day 700 to Jena14!

Happy Day 800 to Ruby!

Happy Day 800 to Hollm!

Happy Day 800 to Reg!

Happy Day 800 to Bemmy Girl!

Happy Day 800 to BattleMatt!

Happy Day 800 to *Maverick!

Happy Day 800 to April!

Happy Day 800 to Froggy Google!

Happy Day 800 to unduped!

Happy Day 800 to Tsilver!

Happy Day 800 to vmd free!

Happy Day 800 to Lippy!

Happy Day 800 to Tierrazul!

Happy Day 800 to Nomobsing!

Happy Day 800 to Hollykate!

Happy Day 800 to JT Weir!

Happy Day 800 to Edi!

Happy Day 800 to Leftcoastgirl!

Happy Day 800 to Dry Ginger!

Happy Day 900 to Miss Kell!

Happy Day 900 to Reenie!

Happy Day 900 to Imara!

Happy Day 900 to Conn!

Happy Day 900 to KatieMay!

Happy Day 900 to Clearlee!

Happy Day 900 to Patten!

Happy Day 900 to KT Web!

Happy Day 900 to CaseyM!

Happy Day 900 to Surfrider11!

Happy Day 900 to Runnergirl!

Happy Day 1000 to Lanza!

Happy Day 1000 to Chell!

Happy Day 1000 to Joziegurrl!

Happy Day 1000 to Franny!

Happy Day 1000 to Husband #1!

Happy Day 1000 to TJ!

Happy Day 1000 to SoberInMtl!

Happy Day 1000 to ScrubJay!

Happy Day 1000 to Binkles!

Happy Day 1000 to Elis!

Happy Day 1000 to Lydster!

Happy Day 1000 to TrixeeK!

Happy Day 1000 to Fern!

Happy Day 1000 to Coco!

Happy Day 1000 to ShellMN!

Happy Day 1000 to Suzie Jay!

Happy Day 1000 to SarahBee!

Happy Day 1000 to NS Runner!

Happy Day 1000 to Case Study Michelle!

Happy Day 1000 to Truleah!

Happy Day 1000 to Pohenix!

Happy Day 1000 to ChellyBelly!

Happy Day 1000 to KAB!

Happy Day 1000 to Hughie!

Happy Day 1100 to JP!

Happy Day 1100 to Thirsty Iris!

Happy Day 1100 to Gypsygirl!

Happy Day 1100 to Tree!

Happy Day 1100 to Lucia!

Happy Day 1100 to Juliejean123!

Happy Day 1100 to Ami!

Happy Day 1100 to Sooz!

Happy Day 1100 to EMJ001!

Happy Day 1100 to Lavenderzone!

Happy Day 1100 to Linley!

Happy Day 1100 to Cal!

Happy Day 1200 to Gordon!

Happy Day 1200 to Unwinedgal!

Happy Day 1200 to Meraki!

Happy Day 1200 to Heya Monster!

Happy Day 1200 to Shorttermnoterm!

Happy Day 1200 to AnnieB!

Happy Day 1200 to Whitbell25!

Happy Day 1200 to Ginette!

Happy Day 1200 to Lilac!

Happy Day 1200 to ElizabethDC!

Happy Day 1200 to Silver Birch!

Happy Day 1200 to Mil!

Happy Day 1200 to Seekingpeace!

Happy Day 1200 to Yoda!

Happy Day 1200 to VTgirl!

Happy Day 1200 to MJP!

Happy Day 1200 to Inky!

Happy Day 1200 to Graceful!

Happy Day 1300 to TK!

Happy Day 1300 to Julie-Joy’s Sister!

Happy Day 1300 to Faye858!

Happy Day 1300 to me-fixing-me!

Happy Day 1300 to mythreesons!

Happy Day 1300 to Honner!

Happy Day 1300 to gingerade!

Happy Day 1300 to SophieSomething!

Happy Day 1300 to Jock!

Happy Day 1300 to Sea Turtle!

Happy Day 1300 to Miss M!

Happy Day 1300 to Coffeecuphead!

Happy Day 1300 to Kitkatpaddywack!

Happy Day 1300 to 1035!

Happy Day 1300 to Jayda!

Happy Day 1300 to Frankie!

Happy Day 1300 to LJ63!

Happy Day 1400 to Summer Walking!

Happy Day 1400 to Turcotte!

Happy Day 1400 to Jennetic!

Happy Day 1400 to Souther Magnolia1013!

Happy Day 1400 to Maureen!

Happy Day 1400 to Library Girl!

Happy Day 1400 to Joannie!

Happy Day 1400 to Chace!

Happy Day 1400 to Junebug!

Happy Day 1400 to Frenchie!

Happy Day 1400 to Gabbygirl37!

Happy Day 1400 to TheMadnessStopsNow!

Happy Day 1400 to Elly!

Happy Day 1400 to 19Cathleen!

Happy Day 1400 to rexytime!

Happy Day 1400 to cocomac!

Happy Day 1400 to NewChris!

Happy Day 1400 to Jas!

Happy Day 1500 to Paris!

Happy Day 1500 to Shout444!

Happy Day 1500 to Midwestveggie!

Happy Day 1500 to Rah!

Happy Day 1500 to RoseMarie!

Happy Day 1500 to Janna!

Happy Day 1500 to Jacqui!

Happy Day 1500 to Kelz!

Happy Day 1500 to Petunia!

Happy Day 1500 to Dancing Rabbit!

Happy Day 1500 to Microlady!

Happy Day 1500 to AlexP!

Happy Day 1500 to Chefstarr!

Happy Day 1500 to Monique!

Happy Day 1500 to iphonebonnie!

Happy Day 1500 to chachi!

Happy Day 1500 to nomorepinot!

Happy Day 1500 to fleur!

Happy Day 1500 to chatsworth!

Happy Day 1500 to cricket!

Happy Day 1500 to shar!

Happy Day 1500 to kenney!

Happy Day 1500 to paulita!

Happy Day 1500 to artsmommy!

Happy Day 1500 to ish!

Happy Day 1500 to meagan!

Happy Day 1600 to CassieB!

Happy Day 1600 to Roisin!

Happy Day 1600 to Shelby!

Happy Day 1600 to Weenie!

Happy Day 1600 to 1111!

Happy Day 1600 to Manda!

Happy Day 1600 to Sober lemon!

Happy Day 1600 to PP!

Happy Day 1600 to Foxie!

Happy Day 1600 to Battersea Park!

Happy Day 1600 to Welles!

Happy Day 1600 to Gra!

Happy Day 1600 to SusieQ!

Happy Day 1600 to IrishDee!

Happy Day 1600 to GW!

Happy Day 1600 to JustHadToHaveIt!

Happy Day 1600 to Annie!

Happy Day 1600 to Parsienne Knitter!

Happy Day 1600 to Run Dontwine!

Happy Day 1600 to IrishGirl!

Happy Day 1600 to Janett!

Happy Day 1600 to tlecompte!

Happy Day 1600 to hcassstevens!

Happy Day 1600 to otherjosh!

Happy Day 1700 to Isabel!

Happy Day 1700 to Daybird!

Happy Day 1700 to Connie!

Happy Day 1700 to Hank!

Happy Day 1700 to Emery!

Happy Day 1700 to Going2pieces!

Happy Day 1700 to SoberP!

Happy Day 1700 to DeeN!

Happy Day 1700 to Moore!

Happy Day 1700 to abwalsh!

Happy Day 1700 to Crispy!

Happy Day 1700 to Kimf!

Happy Day 1700 to Rose!

Happy Day 1700 to Santa Cruz!

Happy Day 1700 to Telling TheWords!

Happy Day 1700 to Sherri!

Happy Day 1700 to Lurking with Intent!

Happy Day 1700 to Lizzy!

Happy Day 1700 to OneDayAtATime!

Happy Day 1700 to KateF!

Happy Day 1700 to Wanting to be a sober mom!

Happy Day 1700 to Tammi!

Happy Day 1700 to Shell Bell!

Happy Day 1700 to RM!

Happy Day 1800 to Primrose!

Happy Day 1800 to Sadie!

Happy Day 1800 to SignGurl!

Happy Day 1800 to Jilly Bean!

Happy Day 1800 to Mylene!

Happy Day 1800 to Jeroen!

Happy Day 1800 to Lucy!

Happy Day 1800 to Catherine Gray (day 1859 today)!

Happy Day 1800 to DianeLouise!

Happy Day 1800 to Pam!

Happy Day 1900 to Sharon!

Happy Day 1900 to LD!

Happy Day 1900 to Laurie!

Happy Day 1900 to Durf11!

Kristi Coulter (day 1944 today)!

Happy Day 1900 to Sarita!

Happy Day 1900 to Ingrid!

Happy Day 1900 to Original Beth!

Happy Day 1900 to Leah!

Happy Day 2000 to JM!

Happy Day 2000 to Digs!

Happy Day 2000 to Carrie!

Happy Day 2000 to Amy!

Happy Day 2300 to me today!

that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us.

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 22nd.


from me:

saturday morning. husband’s birthday. we were going to take the train an hour from here and explore some new town but it’s forecast to rain all day, tomorrow too. now we’re contemplating the unspecial events of bed-movie watching and bed-food-ordering-in. i may make him meatballs for dinner (his request) if i can manage to get out to the store (hopeful). maybe they sell birthday presents at the grocery store, too … 
     do you know when you come to a fork in the road (sober) and you’re tempted with the idea of giving it up for a few days off? my parallel story is with fiction writing (sober), which i’d been doing for 372 days and i’ve recently lost the plot (ha) and was gathering advice so that i could justify stopping. it’s really too much to be 100% long-term sober, isn’t it (or to write fiction continuous days)? i was on day 372 and surely that was long enough. I’ll just stop for a few weeks maybe. I’m certain it’ll be easy to start again.
then i read some stuff and decided: i’m going to stop (sober) writing fiction daily. everyone will understand.
and phew, it felt like a relief. all the noise in my head of should i, shouldn’t i, it all stopped. i had a peaceful evening last night, we did a big houseclean for the first time in two weeks and even cleared off the table of all art supplies and ate dinner, seated across from each other, like grownups.
at about 9:30 pm, mrB said, want to watch a show? and i said …
I think I’ll just write for 15 minutes first.
because when faced with stopping, i realized this: i always have the choice. i’m not forced to be sober. i’m choosing to do it. because i like the results. i’m not forced to write fiction. i’m choosing to do it. because i like the results. so i didn’t drink yesterday and i worked on my sober fiction book.
when i gave myself permission to give up… i couldn’t face doing it.
the investment to maintain the momentum is minimal compared to the regret of not keeping going.


from my inbox:

bluesparkles (day 0):  “FUCK I hear you Belle. It just seems so damn boring and exhausting without the buzz of wine to keep the night going. I don’t know what to do instead. I mean, I do, and i’ve done it, but I’ve forgotten the past few weeks since i’ve been back at school and it’s ramped up the tension and need for release. I am so goddamn sick of thinking about it.
Belle, if I could tell you all the things that are running through my mind every day with school, the three kids, my job which is filled with children, colleagues, the new fire pit in our backyard so my hubby and i can enjoy a date night at home since we don’t have any damn help – well firepits don’t seem that fun with just coffee and creamer. I bought decaf coffee and creamer just for that reason, but it’s more fun with wine. and I hate that. Hate hate hate. I can do a trillion strong ass things, give birth, deal with marriage stuff, family serious health things, I don’t want to deal with one more damn thing – i.e. giving up something that relaxes me. does that make sense? I feel like your response is going to be unintentionally condescending because it’s just not that easy to find other sober supports and treats in the midst of life.”

me: I know that I will be unintentionally condescending when I say that you being sober is a big deal, for you, for the kids, and for feeling proud of yourself. if you’re missing out on a ‘buzz’ then yes, you can find it in other ways. you’re here [reading this, emailing] because on some level you know that you’re drinking more than you want to be. it’s not easy to find sober supports. but I’m here, and you can be emailing me 4 times a day. you could listen to the audios and set up calls with me. you have a voice in your head that tells you that alcohol makes things better. that’s what addiction is. it’s a head that lies to us. and on some level you know this. that’s why you’re emailing me. to ask me to say this. so I will 🙂 hugs


blue skies.  i can see clearly now, the rain is gone (thanks holly cole, good nova scotian girl). original paintings by mr.Belle who does these in his spare time, evenings and weekends, with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. for you.

this is painting #223. there’s only one. nice colours, matches the sky (no filter!). here.


sober party bingo

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 21st.


from me:

A_Sober_Cannibal sent me a link to this, yesterday, in response to my flailing around feeling like i didn’t know what to DO about a writing problem i’m having. i know. writing problems are already first-world problems, aren’t they. “More information might be helpful, but there’s no such thing as enough—at some point, a leap is required, and afterward, you still won’t know what was best … secondly, the idea of a right choice implies that the consequences of our choices are somehow cleanly connected, and isolated from everything else. You choose option A, and get consequence X. But choices and consequences aren’t paired off one-to-one, like doors in a game show bonus round, each hiding either a prize or a punishment. Every action sets off endlessly rippling consequences, a cascade of effects that are often both beneficial and detrimental, both short-term and long-term, both intended and unintended, both known and unknown. Your choice to work from home leads to freed-up commuting time (decidedly good), more family time (good), but also more tension with your partner (bad), and a harder time getting enough exercise (bad) and who knows what else. Each of these effects influences other parts of your life, in ways seen and unseen, forever. Yet we tend to think we can look at a single dilemma in isolation, identify the right response, and execute it, as though we’re lining up a shot on a billiard table.”

this also reminds me of the decision to be sober – will it fix all things like a shot on the billiard table? no. but will it set in motion another whole set of changes, some small some large, that will give us different outcomes? decidedly yes. we’re sober, that means we can show up for the challenges. it means we can take advantage of the job advancements. it means we can spend 40 minutes a day on a hobby, passion, side-hustle. it means we can be available when the phone rings at 2 a.m. It means we can show up everyday, as the best possible version of ourself that we can muster, and do our best.

so in my case, the dilemma i was having about my writing project? being in motion is better than trying to sort it all out in advance. there are some things you can’t tell until you’re going. sounds like being sober to me. can’t tell if you’ll like it until you’re going.

and here’s my treat yesterday, thanks to the tiny gift fund (daffodil princess):

from my inbox:

grace514 (day 724): “STILL SOBER and expecting my 2nd baby in exactly one week from today. Everything I have in my life is a result of sobriety & God! Yay! I just read through all my old penpal emails to you and realized it’s critical I go back to daily emails bc last time I was postpartum my cravings got bad (I relapsed a few weeks in last time). So here we goooo again, yay! I’ll be 2 years sober on September 28 which will be the day after my daughter is born!”


happygal (day 8): “Sober. Tomorrow is the work event I’ve been worried about since July. I can’t skip it because it’s my department at work. But I can leave early. I can eat good food and drink Diet Coke and tell anyone who harps at me with their wolfie voice that I’m really just not drinking these days.”

me: you can go and play sober bingo. we can make up the game right now 🙂
sober party bingo.
you get one point for each thing.

  1. arrive late
  2. take your own replacement drink even if you think there will be some there
  3. count the number of people who are also not drinking
  4. speak to one of them
  5. identify one person who is over-drinking and thinks that no one is noticing
  6. leave early
  7. email before you go
  8. email after you get home
  9. plan a treat for when it’s over
  10. dance around the kitchen when you get home, saying ‘this shit is hard and I fucking rock’

must do all steps for a perfect 10 🙂


jacci2 (day 210): “It’s weird to me that people take offense to your husbands sober-inspired art, but not your sober-inspired jewelry/mugs/key chains/etc, I still don’t get it. Speaking of which, I bought a mini one! Super excited. I love how you mentioned that four random sober people will be sharing a bigger piece of art among us, connecting us in the universe!  I wouldn’t have made that connection unless you said something, and I think it’s beautiful. I get to share a sober life with three other folks, as well as a piece of art from your family! From your sober family to ours. Awesome! 🙂 Please keep both little and big sizes coming! I think I may splurge on a big one for my one year soberversary. I also think it would be very cool to have a collection of your hubby’s sober art around the house, little reminders every day.”


J: “Dear Belle, yesterday I had my first drink in a long time after first signing up to your emails. One large wine became five in about 90 mins. I spend £125 on wine. £20 on a cab. £20 on another cab because I got on the wrong train. I argued with the man I love and our relationship is on a knife edge because of my previous outbursts. I argued with the father of my children too. I spent £20 on pizza I didn’t eat. I upset my daughter because she heard me arguing on the phone. Cancelled my manicure this morning because I felt so wretched. And am sobbing in the bath because I feel so ashamed with myself. Drinking masks so much pain but I thought I was dealing with it by not drinking. But I wonder if there is something more? Should we also make sure that we support sobriety with extra help? And am I the only one to have broken my own promise to myself to stay sober?”



if booze is an elevator that only goes down, it’s ok to step off. in fact, the earlier you get off, the better. find the exit.

link here


learn how to deal with being frustrated

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 20th.


from me:

the best part of yesterday was the pancakes with bacon salt, bacon, maple syrup, one fried egg (i gave the other one away), and tiny coffee. then we went towel shopping which took 2 hrs (oh, let’s get sheets too!). did you know that towels in france aren’t the same size as in north america? do you know that once you’ve lived with your NA towels and hung your towel rack over the radiator, to buy different towels will not work in that space? do you know that once you decide to buy the wrong sized towels, because – hey, you live here now, time to adjust – they’ll tell you that there’s going to be a sale next week, so you put it all back and leave with nothing but photos of what to buy? thankfully, very kind helpful staff (yeah to BHV), yeah to telling us about the sale. and just about a large boo to the rest of my day. all of it. i wasn’t able to get the right info at the right time, from the right people, including paid staff, too many loose ends, and not enough treats! i went into the freezer last night looking for a treat and found some cherry ice cream and ate that 🙂 sorry husband. i know it was yours. today i think i’ll get flowers. because really. i’m still a bit all over the place, it can’t still be post-travel can it? how long does it take to recover from jetlag. oh you mean it takes longer than i think and since i’m not drinking, i have to do less and go with the flow a bit more! oh, now you tell me …



from my inbox:

Lee the Pea (day 61): “For me, it’s all encaptured in those oh-so-important words of yours: learn how to deal with being frustrated. Frustration heads for the hills the moment alcohol hits the bloodstream – which would be wonderful, except — frustration waits patiently for the bloodstream to empty again, and then comes charging back to town. Only thing is, it’s relaxing restful holiday in the hills has made Frustration stronger and louder and angrier (with a tan). You’ve helped me appreciate that, by choosing to be sober, you FORCE yourself to search your toolbox for other frustration-dealing-tools — and the golden thing is . . . . they are in there. OK, they are harder to find than all the booze bottles sitting on top of the box. But if you ignore them, if you dig down deep enough — they are there.”


S: “I just quickly want to say; AA has 55,000 meetings in the US, making it a landslide most used. It is still the default treatment in both the UK and Australia. There are 1.2 million people going to these meetings in America. Can we please just or a minute, realise that AA has more than enough representation? I think it’s fine to give positive and negative 12 step feedback, but the alternatives for 12 Step Programs have barely any representation at all, while AA has been around for decades, and many people think it is the only way. I think both sides of the story need to be told, but shouldn’t this be whilst being aware of the fact that there is already a majority of people using the 12 step modicum? i know both work. This is just a thought.”


coffeegirl (day 173): “Hi Belle: I am processing my “girl’s weekend” last weekend which was so hard for me. I am thinking about some tools that I can add in for myself next year for better self care. Here are some of my ideas. Let me know what you think or if you have any additional thoughts. I know it’s a year away but it’s really about radical self care for me. I was thinking I might do best sleeping alone in my own room (we often share queen sized beds). I could excuse myself early with a book and a cup of tea, go to bed in a space by myself to unwind (these weekends are so stimulating, that I often have trouble getting to sleep too) and start early, like 9pm. No staying up late with everyone. No sharing a room. I really need more self care and good sleep than I ever thought or was willing to acknowledge. I am a middle child of five and when I am in a group that drinks like that which fortunately is a rarity for me, it’s hard for me to extract me and focus on what I need. God. I am 60. One would wish I was better at just taking myself by the hand and going to bed safely by now, huh? thoughts?”

me: I’m a large fan of having my own space. I wouldn’t share a queen sized bed with anyone, except my husband, but if there are two beds available then we sleep separately unless it’s a king. I can’t do it. well, I can, but I hate my sleep and I hate my life. it’s ok to focus on you. and it’s about time 🙂


Mr. N: “This is day 100 for me. I’ve always been a boozer and I’ve never tried to give up before. Indeed, I took 3 weeks off drinking for a diet about 10 years ago and thought I was doing terribly well indeed! … It’s gone really well. I’m enjoying being sober in many ways. However, Fridays nights can be tough. A little switch goes off in my head and it expects to be refreshed. Or maybe it expects to be numbed? I now don’t think about booze during the week. I have so much more time and I don’t have all the stress of thinking about booze. It’s like a weight has been lifted. I didn’t realise drinking was so stressful … But I wanted to thank you because so much of what you have said has been so true. You speak a bit like me I think and I can relate to you. I get it. You seem rather nice really. And you’re not boring me or telling me what to do or filling me with fear and you inspire me to look at the positives, the great things to look forward to when you ditch the bitch that is booze. Great work. People need you and thank goodness you’re doing what you’re doing. I’ll maybe even buy something soon. Kindest regards, N.”


STAY… 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.

link here


you don’t have to be brave today

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 19th.


from me:

my husband is self-employed and has often been at loose ends on what his next project would be. so he’s been ‘available’ whenever i needed something (not a great dynamic… honey if you’re not working, can you do the shopping, get me a coffee, go out now so i can have silence).

now that he’s working on the painting project we actually had to book a ‘date’ time for this week. though for us, that means breakfast in an american-style diner where we can get scrambled eggs and pancakes (decidedly un-french), and then after breakfast we’re going to … buy towels!

i often joke that one of the ways you can judge someone’s self-care is the state of their oven-mitts but it should be looking at the towels. old. frayed, 1 of the 4 towels is torn. yes we have 4 only, for 2 of us. there is no linen cupboard in a french apartment. there is a long wooden thing that holds the broom, mop, one bucket, and the 2 towels not in use can go on the shelf above, but only if they’re folded a certain way (otherwise the door won’t close). when mr.B announced on the weekend that we had to get new towels… then you know it’s well-past-time.

the things that we live with, just frayed around the edges, the things we hide when company is coming. YOU can have the nice small purple hand towel. ours are hidden when you visit.
so this morning, we’re having ‘date night’ with pancakes and towels.

it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very large. sober, occupied, projects. and able to look up and around and say “ok, is there something else that should be adjusted?” he’s apparently starting with the towels. that’s ok by me. these ones are from Wal-Mart, bought in Montreal in 2006. it’s time.

and you? is there a small self-care thing you can do today, since you’re not hungover? can you look around and find one small frayed thing you could adjust? a plant that needs pruning/watering, a nice set of dishes that you save only for company that you could use today. maybe it’s time to have your own version of pancakes and towels. 


from my inbox:

C (not yet a penpal): “Hi, Belle, I love receiving your emails. I always read them religiously. At the moment I am a bit of a stalker. I read your mails and those of your subscribers and I think – “What an amazing group of people!” You are all of one purpose; like me, you drink (or used to drink) too much. As yet I’m not as brave or strong as any of you and haven’t committed to total sobriety. Perhaps I will never do so. In my ideal little world I would be someone who has an occasional couple of glasses … I have read a book recently called “Mindful Drinking” which I enjoyed and which reinforced this idea. But the key that the writer has identified is something which is a bit alien to me. Plan your drinking and know when your alcohol days are going to be each week and don’t break your own rules by having more than three at a time. Always have more dry days in a week than drinking days. Well – perhaps it would be easier to just stop!! I managed a dry June and was very pleased with myself. But it’s amazing how quickly you go back to old habits.
You have had one or two criticisms on your site lately. One was about AA. I believe you should include both positive and negative experiences of AA. It is up to people to make up their own minds as to whether it is for them. The other that stuck out for me was from a lady who said you were using the site to plug your husband’s art work. Why shouldn’t you? It’s your site and you can blaze away. I’d love to see some of his work. Is there a website? [it’s here]
Here is one issue I have with trying to go totally dry. If I get up to day 48 and then have a glass of wine, I have to “reset”. If I’d got up to 48 and had to reset I would never get back again – it would be too demoralizing and I would be back on the down elevator for good – (or bad!) In my mind, it would be better to say. Woops! – tomorrow is day 49 and this day will be missed. So I have 49 out of 50 days sober!!
Thanks for all you do, Belle! You are an inspiration.”

me: if mindful drinking was possible, we’d all be doing it. once we have one drink, we lose the ability to make decisions about what happens next. this is sort of like saying “let’s moderate our cocaine usage…”
and the idea of a reset? well look at it this way, if you can do 48 days, then you can do the 49th day and then the 89th day and then 100. just once you can go straight through to 100 and see how you like it. Don’t have the one glass of wine, do 100 days continuous. The change is large. Well, you’ll see. And if you’re unable to do it without support (I couldn’t) then reach out for some (more). hugs


Lena (day 65): “ok, I feel totally ridiculous, but I am actually afraid of going to the grocery store today. and I have to, if I don’t want to starve … all the pressure of ‘don’t be so stupid, just manage your day, others can do it’. and I know that’s wolfie talking and it’s only 7 a.m. in the morning! … to be honest, the start of this idea to ‘just go to the grocery store as soon as husband is out of the door, stuff the emptiness with some good bulimia attack and maybe get (two, three) bottles of whatever on top’ began yesterday already. I haven’t gone, so far, but I went out to go for a walk, listening to some random podcast (because no time to lose on looking for the ‘perfect one for today’ – happened to be the one with the sprinkler, happened to be just perfect :)) and I have had had to stop my walk to write this email already in my head, now I’m sitting here half way, typing on my phone, no capitals available… it still feels shamefully ridiculous and (in the part of my brain that’s telling me I have to be brave and get everything done without help), I will email you before & after i go to the grocery store. phew!”

me: you don’t have to go to the grocery store today. some days the grocery store isn’t a good idea. I don’t think you’ll starve. I imagine you could do what I’m doing, and make some ‘leftover’ soup, with vegetable broth cubes, canned corn, cooked chicken from the freezer, dried pasta, and carrots. that’s going to be my dinner tonight. it’s not shamefully ridiculous to avoid things that make you feel weird on a weird-feeling day. you don’t have to be brave today. you haven’t learned what you need to learn yet to be brave (that sentence might be hard to understand!)

Lena: “that’s crazy. I don’t have to go! and I will survive (even the feeling of not having a perfectly stocked fridge when husband comes home). probably it’s not about starving … thanks for the ‘permission’ and the recipe! I could get some emergency bread at the bakery and pick a zucchini from the garden, too.
and the sentence about bravery? I have to print that out as a reminder for — just everything at the moment. and if that’s the only thing I really have to do today! but first there is some crying — of relief?”



If alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, it’s ok to EXIT. in fact, you can get out now. and stay out.

my lovely husband has started making sober art to share. original paintings, there’s only one of each. these aren’t prints, they’re handmade for you.

this one is Exit 160. there is only one, so my apologies if you click this link later and it’s already been claimed.

link here


it’s not like i can head over to the spa from the oncology floor

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 18th.


from me:

if you’re keeping track: i went for a run this morning, which means i not only went outside but i had a shower AND got dressed in real clothing, not jammies. those are 3 achievements for the day. i’m still ‘tired’ but also it’s from working hard and jetlag and husband working hard. he usually picks up the slack if i am busy on projects, and now it’s me saying “would you like an egg salad sandwich served to you while you work?” things have really shifted in our little life, for the better, as mr.B works more, is occupied, evenings and weekends, is up and out of bed when the alarm rings the first time, is HAPPY. who is this guy? this painting project … boy i can’t tell you how much it has changed our lives. we re-negotiate who’ll do what. i’m here, i’ll do the laundry. he’s out at the art store at lunch time, he’ll pick up cream for coffee (don’t run out of coffee, ever). re-negotiating is an ongoing process, like sobriety. it’s not ‘there, i understand it, now it’s done’ – because things change day to day. more or less stress. yesterday he went to the post office twice! but you know, it’s seeing him smile that is so great. really great. and i’m thrilled. i’m also aware the sober life that i’ve built on being sober stops if i drink again. of course, i’ve always known this, just like you do – if we have a drink, we go back to day 1, and sometimes day 1 is quickly regained, and sometimes it is not, and we can’t tell which one we’ll get when we take the drink. i am not at risk of drinking any more than before, but there is perhaps settled-ness to the decision of being sober. with mr.B doing the Exit paintings, i feel accountable to him in some way. like i’m sober for both of us. just like you are sober for you AND for your family. they count on you. they want you to be available at 3 a.m. when the pump fails, when the dog pukes, when they’re stuck and need you to pick them up. your family wants you to be happy in your own skin, which lets you be encouraging to them, which helps you show up every day. for me, when mr.B comes home for lunch with hands looking like this … it really makes me feel so proud. so let me say thank you to you. again. for helping to make this happen. it really is a big deal.

you can also see the paint on his shorts, the fact that he wears his wedding ring on his right hand, AND my pink sober-socked foot on the right


from my inbox:

Flightplan (day 731): “Hi Belle-Just realized that yesterday marked 2 years of not drinking. That feels huge. I have had more than my share of crazy events that could have been an excuse to drink. But I haven’t.
Because my [very young] daughter has leukemia, people ask me all the time “what are you doing to take care of yourself?” Sometimes it’s a laughable question and it annoys the shit out of me. It’s not like I can head over to the spa from the oncology floor. But I have learned a lot from not drinking – self care not always the big things – it’s the little treats, it’s going to bed early, it’s having a good cry and calling a friend. Having some water or tea. It’s feeling all these awful feelings and not trying to drown them with booze.
Anyway, 2 years is exciting. 100 days seemed unreachable on day 2. But here I am. 731 days. Yeah me. And thank you.”


Girl on the Learn (penpal #406): “Holy shit, I’m actually rounding the bend towards day 100!  Doesn’t this just prove that it really does pay off to keep trying???  If there are others like me who have been reset like 50 times… I hope they know to keep trying.  Because you were RIGHT!!!  (Imagine that!). I really DO feel different than I did at 30 days. Light years different. I feel relaxed. I don’t really want to drink. I can feel ease in my mind and body while out at a restaurant and not be freaking out about wine the whole time. I can have dessert and not really feel guilty because I’m not busy getting drunk on wine too.  It’s amazing! … So glad I didn’t give up on myself.”


lifeasirockit: “Day 2. I haven’t slept yet. My body is screaming for something calming, and I can’t take anything. I try to sleep but my brain spins crazy out of control. See, I have this anxiety habit. It limits me from everything I want to be, to do and become. When I drink, it gets severe. Well, after drinking, that is. I have tried with a few doctors and psychologists, but they all want to give me medicine, which has really bad side effects. And then you came – with all the hope I’ve been looking for! You’re not only helping with my drinking problem, but with a feeling of being seen and heard. That someone in this “dark and careless” world actually cares. That somewhere out there actually has compassion. My miracle. Here in the desert no one cares, it’s a very selfish society, no community. You know from before that these first days are traumatic for me. But I’m here, with you and that’s going to save me from a huge breakdown. Thank you from the bottom of my heart <3″


This is a personalized painting. mr.B will add your choice of words: Exit, Sortie, Salida … Stay … Potential … Fuck You Wolfie. Or maybe you’d like your painting to say: freedom, enough, remember, or your date of last drink …

original paintings by mr.Belle here

link here


… Because It’s Private

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 17th.


from me:

i don’t have it ‘all together’ – nobody does. everyone you know has had struggles of one kind or another. we don’t share our problems on social media. we don’t talk about it in the pick-up line at school.

but in every home on your street, every single one, there is debt or addiction or infidelity or mental health issues or eating disorder or neuro-atypical children or abuse or pathological lying.

it’s not always huge, it’s often not in your face, but it’s there. the lovely lady you see at work, the one with the fancy hair and nails — she’s had struggles, personal, private.

that everyone doesn’t share their private struggles doesn’t mean they’re not there. it means they’re private. and as soon as you search for ‘how to quit drinking’ online, you find out that it’s not just you. you can rant and rave ‘why aren’t people TALKING about how they drink too much’ but that’d be like saying ‘why didn’t she ever talk about how her partner had a gambling problem, or how her daughter thinks she’s a man and they’re worried about how she’ll be bullied at school.’

why don’t they talk about it? Because it’s private.

and facebook? facebook is the opposite of private. facebook is: “here’s me on my best day, or my worst day, but only what I choose to show you.” it’s not their literal worst day, it’s the version they’re willing to share. 

of course i don’t have it all together. nobody does. and if they act like they do, they’re lying. we all have insecurities, burdens, or struggles that we have overcome. i’m out of debt, i’m sober 6 years, and i still struggle to get dressed because i work from home. last week? 5 out of 6 days i worked in my jammies, showered, got back into my jammies. yesterday we went outside – in the great outdoors – to see the Led Zeppelin show at le Bon Marche and it was … well, as you’d expect a led zeppelin art show to be. i read books and looked at the expensive coats while he looked at 150€ band t-shirts. then we left and got lunch and ate in the park. today, it’s 2:43 pm local time, i’m in my jammies. haven’t been outside yet. that window is surely closing… but i’m sober. at 5 pm i’ll walk out to take paintings to the post office. and some days being sober and going to the post office is enough. 

notes from my inbox:

Y: “I panicked a bit there as I couldn’t find the way out on the two right hand side quarter paintings – I thought Mr B had forgotten to put an exit. But I then found them. But really, it did make me panic, like I was pushing the paint away looking for a way out – that’s scary. Powerful paintings.”

hernoodlyness: “Failed again this weekend. How do I go about signing up for my second round of penpal happiness? I am so anxious today, I cannot even function. Time to sort this shit out again.”

V: “Lurker here.  Like commenter “J” on your post – I too find your emails inspiring and helpful. However I totally disagree with her on whether you should be promoting your husband’s paintings. Of course promote them. Trying to sell paintings doesn’t diminish your good intent, much of what you do is for free. You didn’t take a vow of poverty, you spread the word of sobriety. I can’t imagine your husband is rolling in the dough on the proceeds of his painting sales.  And so what if he is, making a living off your creative work doesn’t make it less authentic.”

Harlow: “I don’t seem to be doing so well belle. I need to regroup and try harder. Today is a new day one and I’m not feeling good. The wheels are starting to fall off again, I’m losing perspective, momentum and motivation. I don’t know why. It feels so good being sober compared to this.”

S: “Dear Belle, You send emails to us regardless if we have paid, with amazing advice. Your husband has supported you when you have been at your lowest. I think it’s lovely the community you are building and the life you are sharing. So to all those cynical people just stop and support this artist who is finding his time. I suggest to do an exhibition. How powerful is this message … Girl from Bunbury ❤”



80% of what i do is free. daily message like this one, live radio shows. i send newsletters things in the mail. i record one-minute audio messages. the other 20% of things i do are paid, and of course you don’t have to do the paid stuff. you don’t 😉 you can do the free stuff. like the Duck Ponderings audios. there are 13 free audios about ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. Sign up on this page to access all 13 FREE Duck Pondering audios at once.

if you’re looking for a paid thing, because, you know, you feel compelled, then i have 4 of these brand new Stay Here bracelets in gold. I ordered them as a trial, and only got a few. i was worried they’d be too thin and tiny to support the hearts on the ends, but it worked out fine, and i might even order more. anyway. do NOT feel compelled to purchase a gold Stay Here bracelet. in fact, you can get a brass one instead. or nothing. you can put an elastic around your wrist. that’s free 🙂

Tea And Chocolate May Be Required

This message was sent to subscribers by email september 16th.


from me:

sunday morning. slept 10 hrs last night and the night before, and had a 2 hr nap yesterday. thought maybe i had a sleeping illness. then thought – this can’t be jetlag 5 days later. and THEN I thought: that vacation had a high level of sensory input. i was driving a car every day which isn’t something i usually do. some days i was on an interstate with trucks up my ass, not able to travel in the slow lane as too many cars merging in from the right, and a husband saying ‘you need to switch lanes’ and i’m like: i need to travel the speed limit, not impede traffic, and still keep my head attached. no small feat.
i didn’t used to be a nervous driver, but we haven’t had a car for 9 years. don’t need one here. so when we arrive anywhere on vacation in north america, it’s after a long flight, on little sleep, I pick up a rental car, and boom i’m on the highway.
and the roads in montreal? if i tell you were trying to get home from lasalle and ended up on ile des soeurs, you’ll know exactly what happened and where. if i tell you were trying to drive straight south from vermont to new york and ended up in providence rhode island, you’ll know what happened and where.
on the way to the airport, when were finally leaving to come home, mrB is like “you need to get gas” (to fill up rental car) and i’m like fuck gas. i’m done with this.” (and it looked full enough, and was, and it was fine.)
going forward, it’s not like i can say: “i hope I never have to drive a car again” because that’s unrealistic and limiting. what if i live in Squamish? how would i ever get anywhere without a car. what if i’m doing a road trip to small bakeries along the west coast and having sober meetups along the way?
no, the goal isn’t to be car-free. it’s to have more car exposures in the next year, so that it’s not so abrupt. which means driving in paris, on highways in france. it means practising. it means slow exposure. so that when i return from vacation, i don’t need to sleep 12 hrs at a time for days to recover 🙂 at least, i think that’s what’s happening. either that or i have mono 🙂 today, after 5 days, i did get dressed. i went for a short run. we’re going out to buy new towels. posted the first german painting and it sold in minutes so have posted a second one… that’s sunday from here. over and out. 

notes from my inbox:

C-J (day 184): “Good morning Belle. I’m feeling a little more upbeat this morning because i wanted to start today by writing to say a big thank you and tell you about how your influence has rubbed off on my work, and the difference it has made. which is a really nice thing for me and an indirect thank you from the people that I work with too.  Although they don’t really know about what kind of coaching you do, i tell some people that i have a personal coach, because i think coaching is very important, and I encourage everyone in my team to get coaching in lots of areas of their professional development, and i do professional coaching at work too, so they accept that i have a personal coach that I email and no one bats an eyelid about it.
Anyway, as you know from my previous emails part of our work involves sometimes finding clients of our building when they have passed away. Sometimes this can be extremely demanding on the manager of the building, who has a pretty busy day anyway, and if the death is complicated, gruesome, or is someone they were very fond of, it affects them deeply. which let’s face it is only natural as this is human beings we are talking about!
So i applied your logic about the filling up the tank before it gets empty, and got a group of my managers together and we have made a little pack and folder – and called it dealing with death – because there is no point calling it anything else, and if you are in a panic you need it to be called that when you are looking for it!
In the folder is a big print clear list of all the telephone numbers you might need, so that if you are crying you can still read them without your glasses on – a bullet point list of what to do – so if your brain freezes you don’t need to think or read the procedures, and there is a very clear message from me (their boss) telling them to make a cup tea (tea included and have a chocolate bar, also included) and then call another manager to come and help – number included.
We have also set up a quarterly support meeting to come together as a team and share good practice experiences and stories of our customers who have died – and what managers have had to deal with. We did this while we were writing the instruction pack and it was extremely cathartic, we had some tears and some laughter at some of the ridiculous things that can happen – so we realized we needed it going forward to take care of each other.
Our organization is 50 years old this year, and this is the first time we are filling up this particulate tank. We launched the packs at my big team meeting on Thursday – (the one that Boss staring crying at) and they were very well received, people felt cared for and appreciated having something ready prepared for a time of need.
Anyway my boss was very impressed so it may well become adopted nationally.
You have made such a difference to my life Belle both with my terrible head pain and over-drinking, helping me to place of more peaceful thoughtful clarity and of and of stable mood, and that helps me to help other people, so in turn you help them too.  It is a great thing that you have done. Thank you again.
Big big hugs. And hugs to Apprentice Annie too – I hope she is getting on well in her new job please send my good wishes to her.”

[update: she’s on day 200 today]


SPECIAL EDITION for Thanksgiving.
Thankful for being sober.
You can say thanks to yourself.
You are doing this.
This is you, helping you, to do all the things.
Each small-card painting is 10 x 15 cm (approx. 4″ x 6″)

original paintings here