“I have asked for help and you have given it”

email from mygi (day 1): 

“Hey Belle, just finished listening to Lesson #1 of the Jumpstart class, and I’m in floods of tears because it’s real now and I’m not lurking any more and I’m real. I thought I was broken but maybe I’m not? Sobbing with reality and relief that I don’t have to fight any more.

My longest time sober was about 10 years ago. I’ve always feared quitting outright because I hated that time, it was boring and difficult and I thought that was difficult because I was sober. So I tried moderation, lots of different kinds of moderation, none of which have worked …

What’s different this time that gives me hope is that I’m not going to change anything in my life apart from this one thing. Everything is ok, I’m in an ok place. And I have support, I have asked for help and you have given it. Maybe it will happen to me this time, because I can see the future in you and your sober penpal gang and it doesn’t look so different from who I am now.

I can’t tell you how many times I gave that three year old a doughnut since I returned to day one. Sooooo many doughnuts, soooooo many tantrums. Day one is today again, and it’s shit. I don’t want to be here any more.

And I laugh/sobbed so hard at the corn on the cob thing. Yes, that’s it entirely. I can’t MAKE myself be like that about booze. You’re like that or you’re not. But I’m getting into scary never territory again so I’m going to return to the fact that I’m not drinking now. Not today.

Thank you Belle :-)”

[update: she’s on day 396 today, just celebrated one year sober]

if you don’t start, you’re not travelling

This is one minute message 251. In bed this morning, scratchy throat, very tired, I thought, ok, i’ll record a one minute message for today. and this is it.

To hear this message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.

If you don’t start, you’re not travelling. and there’s something very special and exciting about being underway. even if it takes a while. even if the changes are small. even if.


QUESTION: If we had to make a bumper stick out of one phrase in this podcast, what would it be? I’ll pick the 11th new comment, and you’ll get an audio bonus gift. New comments are held in moderation, so you won’t know who’s number 11. so submit one now.

11TH COMMENT (that actually chose a phrase from the audio):
Flyaway: “When shit doesn’t work, change something”


and in case you hate listening to audios, here’s the transcript:

Yesterday somebody sent me an email and they said: “I’m always looking through your sober messages for little nuggets on how you problem solve things in regular life.” And I’m like, what? How I do what? I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it, so it means when I’m narrating my life, I’m saying things that are interesting — which of course is always shocking. Because you know how on the inside of your head, stuff just occurs, right? You’ve got a voice in your head, it says things. Some of it we listen to, some of it we don’t. I have a voice in my head that tells me if this doesn’t work then try something else.

It has been very shocking to me in the process of doing the sober work to find that there are people out there who don’t have that same voice that says, “if you can’t find a solution doing it this way, do something else.” And so I started to research it. Because it turns out it’s a thing. It’s sort of like having brown hair or a cleft chin; just don’t have any sense of “what, you don’t hear this?” You know what it’s like over-drinking, you’re like, “what you mean, you don’t hear the voice that says drink now? Fuck, I thought everybody heard it. I thought everybody drank like me.” And then somebody points out some part of your personality and it’s kind of humbling and strange at the same time, because it forces me then to think about how I think, which of course is just exhausting.

I’m actually recording this from bed. It is 9:30 am. I have been awake for 2 hours. I have done nothing. I had a very busy catering day yesterday and today I’m having a coma. Although at least my coma has been coherent, upright, well no, prone, not upright. I’m in bed with my decaf coffee. I know, you want to hear a story about why I drink decaf. You can listen to a podcast about orchids. Because if I have caffeine, the top of my head comes off. And maybe that’s one of those lessons that when shit doesn’t work, you change something. Always trying to tweak and find a better solution, find a better way. How do you get from point A to point B?

The point of this video…video ha ha ha ha…the point of this audio today is to say … yeah I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I’m now trying to tie it all up in a small thing when really I have a lot more to say so now I can’t … that was me just self-editing to decide whether or not I was going to talk for longer or for less. I think I’ll do less … Yeah, I’m still trying to find the way to wind it up in a tight little bundle. You know with something cute and pithy and I’m not coming up with it.

If what you’re trying isn’t working, you try something else. And if that doesn’t seem evident, then you follow somebody else’s lead who has done that exact thing. Because I think this is a skill you can learn obviously or I wouldn’t talk about it everyday. I think it’s entirely possible to learn what other people do and then do it. Not just like learn how somebody runs a marathon and then you do it, but learn how to speak a language, you learn it from somebody else and you can pick up ways of thinking from other people. Like if you go to law school, you learn how to form a certain kind of argument and you learn how to write a certain kind of document. You can learn how to think a certain way.

So is it possible to change your thinking about this idea of I don’t know what to do next? I think, I think, I think there is. People say “oh it’s creativity,” but for me it’s not creativity, it’s desperation. It’s absolute, abject despair. Like, “I don’t want this thing, I want something else. I don’t want this thing, whatever it is, whatever’s happening in my life, whatever it is, I don’t want this debt, I don’t want this unhappiness in my marriage, I don’t want this child with really difficult behaviour, I don’t want this drinking thing to be robbing me of all of my energy.”

I’m only now coming to the realization after 5 years of doing this, when somebody else points it out to me, because I’m a slow learner, that there are two kinds of people in a situation like all the ones that I just described. There’s a person who can look at a situation and say, “OK I don’t like this. I wonder what I can do to change it, even marginally, even incrementally, even slowly. How can I be moving in the direction of changing it.” Or the other point of view is: “well this fucking sucks, this sucks, this fucking sucks, fuck, fuck, this fucking sucks, fuck this sucks, oh my god this sucks.”

Of course, there’s something very noble and proud about saying “this fucking sucks” because you get to stand there and say, “Look my life fucking sucks.” And people go: “oh yeah yeah, you’re right, if fucking sucks.” Nobody ever says to you, “Um what are you doing incrementally, day by day, 1% a day to improve this situation? What are you doing? Like, are you doing one day at a time sober so that at the end of the year, you have 365? And are you incrementally making some other kind of change to evolve in some other kind of way or are you standing around a) waiting to feel like it or b) waiting for some kind of large motivations so that you can change everything all at once because that really never works.”

We lack patience. No shit. But if you were to look ahead and say, “I want this thing in my life,” how do you even head off in that direction?

Because you know what, you’re travelling on a road anyway. You get up every day, you do your day, you make decisions every day about what’s going to happen today. And to some extent, you’re affecting what’s going to happen tomorrow by what you do today. If you’re going to have to get up and live your day every day anyway, what could you be incrementally doing to move some thing in a new direction. I don’t mean moving 10 things at once. And I don’t mean moving one thing ginormously. Because when you’re first sober, just being sober is the goal and that is your change per day to get a new result. But if you’re 200+ days sober, then what are you doing incrementally to build on your sober foundation and create something else.

There’s something that you can have, do, or be when you’re sober that you can’t do as a drinker. But it is very, very, very easy to stand still and say: “fuck, fuck, fuck this fucking shit.” First of all, it eliminates responsibility. It’s you saying “this happens to me.” Instead of you saying “I’m going to do 1% a day to make this different or better or go in a different direction.”

Like, your relationship has some kind of crap in it, so what are you doing 1% a day to move that in a better direction? What are you doing in terms of kindness every day to try to move that in a better direction? What are you doing in terms of, I don’t know, forgiveness or gratitude or making a lunch for somebody or back massages … what do people do for other people? Are you making the bed? Are you doing some of her chores that you always ask her to do or are you just doing some of them? Or are you walking around with a score card keeping score that she didn’t do this, so you’re not going to do that because she didn’t do this? That’s not 1% moving in a better direction.

You write a book a page a day, and you could be sober in a year a day at a time. You can make large, large changes in your life, slowly. But if you’re drinking, you’ve heard me say this before, if you’re drinking, you nail your foot to the floor in a room where you don’t want to be.

So what are you changing?

If the results you’re getting are not working, what are you changing every day, every day, what are you adjusting and changing and improving so that you move in a better direction? “Well, I’m too depressed because I’m too fat and I can’t go out.” Well what are you doing 1% a day. Can you walk from here to the end of the street and then back. And then tomorrow, walk, another block. And your answer then is: “well that will take too long, I need to feel better now.”

And I’m saying: there’s something really special in the process of being on the road to the improvement. Because then you’re underway. You’re taking action. You are deciding what happens next. That’s different than sitting on the couch saying, “this is all happening to me.” What are you doing, small, incrementally, tiny to improve whatever it is? What are you doing?

There’s my One Minute Message and it’s only, you know, ten minutes and thirty seconds. If I’m going to do a daily One Minute Message they really need to be short and sweet. Can I do this in a short and sweet version? OK, here’s the One Minute Message of this message:

If you feel trapped and stuck
One thing you can do to make some improvement
Is to slowly go in the direction where you want to go
And try little things to adjust and move
And move forward
And move forward.

Because there’s something magical about moving forward
Even if it’s not very fast.

And to be obsessed with some magic right day
Or some magic right feeling
Or to be obsessed with I need to make a dramatic change
So I can’t make small change because it won’t add up fast enough.
What I say to that is, you get up and you live your day every day anyway.
You might as well be making tiny, incremental changes so that you’re going somewhere.

I think this is called living with intention. What do I know?  I don’t listen to enough Louise Hay, is that her name? Hay House. So for today, I want you to look around and figure out what is the 1% you can do on that. You can clean one drawer. I know it’s not the whole house, but you can do a drawer. And you can make your wife’s lunch. I know it doesn’t solve all of the marriage problems, but you can make her lunch. And you can do that stack of filing that’s sitting beside your co-worker’s desk. And I know it doesn’t solve all of your animosity and your difficult relationship with her, but it’s a start. It’s a piece. Because you know what, if you don’t start, you’re not travelling.

I deteriorated out of a One Minute Message …

If you don’t start, if you don’t start, you’re not travelling. And if you’re not travelling, you’re not going to the new thing that you want to go to. If you don’t start, you’re not travelling. And I must tell you that ‘travelling’ needs to be spelled with 2 L’s, that’s how Canadians spell it. Sorry, I insist. If you don’t start, you’re not travelling, 2 L’s. I don’t really know why I felt the need to say that, except that I want you to see it in your head the way I see it in my head. How’s that for a One Minute Message. My god. OK. Alright fine. OK good byyyeee!

monday update: some days suck rocks

Today i want to share with you a link to a short Monday Update message. This is omm249. I was walking this morning, and thought i’d tell you about my shit day. AND also update you on what’s coming up this week.

To hear this Monday message, play below. nothing to download. just press play.



p.s. listen and then let me know if this monday update thing works for you as a little kick to begin the week. hugs

links mentioned in the audio:

photo that goes with the end of the audio:


and in case you hate listening to audios, here’s the transcript:

Good morning this is Belle speaking. I am recording this while walking on the street. I am on the shady side of the street because it is plenty warm today. I wanted to send a message directly to you to say that even if you’re having a shit day, it’s still OK.  You’re here and you’re facing forward and it doesn’t matter if you’re having a shit day. It just doesn’t. And I say this to you because I’m having a shit day and it’s not even noon yet. And I’ve tried to do 3 things this morning that just have not worked, at all, the way that I wanted them to. Including, you know, inviting my husband to join me while I was sitting in the sun having a coffee, trying to change my mood, and he said, no, because you know, he was working. Funny how that is.

I want to give you a head’s up of what’s happening this week. I will be sending out 1 to 2 emails a day for people who are on the email list, which must be you because you’re listening to this. I will have 3 new One Minute Messages this week. I’m opening a new session of the Sober Jumpstart Class on Friday, September 1st. There will be 25 spots open. And I will be working through the Labour Day long weekend to get everybody started and running well. If you’re not on the waiting list, you can do that at www.soberjumpstart.com.

If you are sober longer, like 200+ days (I just crossed to the sunny side of the street). If you are a sober senior — that’s wrong, right — senior’s wrong, because you’re not like 75 years old. Let’s see, if you’re a sober oldie, if you’re a sober … I don’t know, I’ll have to come up with a name for you. If you’re 200+ days, I have a brand new group 4-week class, starting on September 18th, which is a Monday. You must be 200 consecutive days sober in a row to register. No exceptions. It is specifically about the idea of worth (I can’t tell how good this microphone is when I’m walking). It’s specifically about worth, and how to build a life on top of this sober foundation that you have. So you could be 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 years sober, but you must be 200 days continuously, plus. Again, this is the “worth” class — I have to come up with another name for it. The Sober Senior Module 1: Worth. Because, you know what, we get so hung up on, “who am I now that I’ve quit drinking. Like, what kind of a life am I building.” And we forget that, well, I’m not going to give it all away … we forget that there is some worth to us, even now, even still, even before the big thing happens. So we’re going to come at it from a point of strength.

So that’s it. Two things this week, two big things. A bunch of small things of course, all the emails, some One Minute Messages. If you are a podcast subscriber, you will get another podcast. I think you got one on Friday. You’re going to get another one tomorrow. I’ve stepped it up, and you’re definitely getting 2 new podcasts per week now. Lots of new content. Lots of things to listen to while you’re commuting.

And the 2 big things are the Jumpstart Class on Friday, and the Sober Senior Worth workshop, which is a 4-week workshop, which begins September 18. That’s it.

I’ve now turned the corner. There’s a guy on the side of the road here. He’s got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 chairs set up on the side of the road to advertise ebeniste — wood working and reupholstering. So, it’s like a little mini store. It’s just these chairs. I’m going to take a picture of it … He wants to know if I can take the picture with him and the chairs. I’ll do that now and I’ll send this to you. OK, Bye!

So at the end of that, he wanted me to send it to him, but he didn’t have an email address, so he had me take a photograph of his personal ID, which seems like a violation of privacy. And now there’s somebody else taking his picture and for one second I can’t even tell if he works there, or if he’s just a guy standing in front of the guy who works there. OK, doesn’t matter. It still works for a good story, right? I got a good photo.

If you like these Monday morning-get your week started-tell you what’s coming up thing, if this is something you’d like me to do on a regular basis, just drop me a message. Talk to you soon. Bye! OK Bye!

aim for a high, firm bottom

from my inbox:

From E (day 128): “I follow a sober girl and when she was starting off, I followed her, left encouraging comments on the blog. She relapses frequently … and i got frustrated; my reaction is initially to try to fix her. or to say bracing things to her. none of which will help her, I’m sure.  but I do check the blog occasionally, like picking a scab that is irritating me 🙁 so my considered response is probably to back away, strengthen the boundaries between her and me. because her actions are her own responsibility and not mine … and I need to find a way of dealing with that.  but when she leaves sad comments I am at a loss as to how to respond. I generally go for something non-committal, or don’t reply. any thoughts on how I can let this person take up less space in my head?! you must get this all the time in your position!”

me:  I know this feeling, I think that reading blogs of repeated relapsers isn’t terribly helpful. except to remind us that we never want another day 1 again. there are some people’s blogs that i read when i first was getting sober, that started to blog about ‘moderation’ or about how being sober wasn’t for them, I unfollowed them. When i was starting, I want to surround myself with stories of how to be successfully sober … Do I now work with people who AREN’T successfully sober, yes. do I have a lot of patience? yes. do I overinvest in them more than they are invested in themselves? no. it’s about boundaries, I think … wolfie gets into some people’s heads. it’s terrifying to watch. they know that they’re being possessed. they know that the train is coming and they’re standing on the tracks. and they can’t get off the tracks.  it’s not logical. addiction isn’t logical. that’s the horror of it. people die. they can’t figure out how to get off the tracks and then get squished by the train, by wolfie, by booze. it happens all the fucking time.  all we can do is wave from safe land and say “come here” because while giving ideas is helpful, tough love doesn’t seem to work …  huglets

E: “Tx for this. V helpful. Agree totally re harshness not working. I think for me, snippets of things other people have said have unexpectedly made a massive difference. But I can’t guess what those things will be for someone else 🙁 it makes me so sad for that person. Such a waste. Thank you for all you do to be a lighthouse!”

me:  she will find her way. or she will get squished by the train. wolfie sometimes does suck the life out of perfectly nice people. what’s better? quit early. a high firm bottom. better.

E: “Absolutely. One of best things I recall from your podcast was you saying that we think we will quit later, when we HAVE to – as if it will be easier then. When of course the later we leave it, the more difficult it gets 🙁 earlier and firmer indeed!”

loneliness, depression, or boredom

from my inbox:

L: “I’m not doing well. I keep starting and failing. I keep starting out in the morning with plans for a new day 1, even get one occasionally, then feel so good, I decide to get some wine. So stupid, I know. I even thought the Solstice to Solstice would be a good marker for me, but nope. I subscribed to more audios from you, have increased treats … but still fall short in the evening with loneliness, depression, or boredom. I was even half hoping I would get my daughter’s cold, so I would quit again, got two weeks in last time, but went backwards again. My doctor prescribed meds to use to get past the cravings, but I’m always afraid to take stuff, so I haven’t tried them. That seems ridiculous too, since I have no problem poisoning myself with wine.. I don’t want to get caught in the thought of, Oh I’ll just wait until the first of the month. I want this to be my day 1 that sticks.. It will be when I get home from work today, and my brain will say, Oh it vacation time, you have a week off, or one more night, which of course there is no such thing! Heavy sigh.”

me: I know that feeling. I’d quit in the morning and then drink at 6 pm. and then repeat. someone told me they had 1000 day 1s (like 3 years worth) and I believed them. and you know what, it’s normal and totally predictable that someone with an anxiety issue would have anxiety about taking the medication 🙂 you can take it anyway, as a trial. you’ve tried other stuff, you haven’t tried this, and it might help. you don’t wait for special days. you want to feel better today so you start now. date of last drink can be today. really. and reach out for more support. if we are booked to talk once a week, you may find it easier to be more accountable and to get the courage to try the other things that will help. ~ hugs from me



shameless commercial link: book available in paperback, kindle & audio MP3 versions. www.100daysoberchallenge.com  Available through Gumroad, which means you can pay with a credit card, including AMEX, no paypal required. Electronic files delivered instantly. Get the bundle.

Audio: Misfit

This is a clip from Sober Podcast Episode #207 sent out yesterday to sober podcast subscribers.

~ ~

“I don’t walk in dog shit. I’m taking care of me.” (sent to me by MelMel as a possible bumper sticker)

~ ~

Yes, that’s an actual quote from the podcast. Here’s what happened.

J sent me this: “I often feel like I’m missing out when I see people (my family, etc) enjoying alcohol and having fun. It makes me feel a little sad. Will this go away? How can I change the way I think about it and my feelings around it? I feel like it’s yet another contributor to my being a misfit.”

and my answer, to address our feelings of ‘misfit’ is to engage in a bit of reframing.

You can listen to a clip from this podcast and add your comments below. My blog allows anonymous comments. You should leave one. Do it today 🙂

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.


If we had to make a bumper stick out of one phrase in this podcast, what would it be?



Download the entire podcast episode #207

Sign up for the monthly 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).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.


Feedback from subscriber:

Alicat (day 184): “I enjoyed this podcast immensely for a couple of reasons.  First reason:  I love hearing you talk about ‘the further you get from Day 1’ because I am now somewhere around Day 180 and nearly everything positive you have predicted has come to pass. I only very occasionally find myself in a jealous state because of the fun others appear to be having while drinking, and when it does pop up it passes very quickly. Sometimes because I leave the situation and take myself elsewhere. Sometimes because ‘fun’ drinking rather quickly becomes embarrassing or awkward drinking, and watching that reminds me how very happy I am to have left those moments behind me. Mostly I am glad to be feeling better (although I am still awfully tired sometimes, which I am attributing to emotional overwhelm) and looking better and waking up healthy. No churning stomach, no awful headache and no shame. Also, I am always keenly aware of where I have left my car. It is truly terrifying to think back on how many times I woke up wondering where it was.

The second reason I enjoyed the podcast: Your wonderful advice about when to stop fucking talking! I do tend to offer more information, or rationalization, or apology than is ever necessary when answering simple questions. I feel an overwhelming need to make others comfortable with whatever stance I happen to be taking at the moment but you are right; probably they really do not care! I know I usually don’t. OMG – so simple.  It is indeed freeing to realize that my doings and decisions really do not matter to most people.  Wheeeee!!!

The third reason I enjoyed the podcast:  Well it was your parting thought on being a misfit.  “So you’re a misfit and who gives a shit?” This has been a growing sentiment for the last few years and especially since about Day 60 of sober living. I have never fit in, and I have never been easy in the company of even the smallest crowd and y’know what? Who gives a shit? So that’s my vote for a bumper sticker: “So you’re a misfit eh? Well who gives a shit?” Good stuff as always Belle.”

big chunk of yesterday’s live audio (limited time)

i don’t normally do this.
in fact, i don’t think i’ve ever done it before…

yesterday i recorded a 2.5 hr live call. it’ll eventually be chunked up and sent out to podcast subscribers.

one thing subscribers get as a bonus is the UNEDITED version of the audios.

and you.
you’ve maybe never heard the unedited version.
and there’s something about the missteps, the fumbling around, the swearing, the reading of the comments, that makes the whole recording seem much more REAL.

so today…

(and i haven’t done this before)

but today
i have posted a large hefty morsel of yesterday’s live call. and i’m going to leave it up for 24 hrs only.

that’ll mean you can listen right now, in 10 minute increments if you must.
and so if you were unable to join us live yesterday, you can get some of that ‘group’ feeling today.

and also.
it’ll give you 1.5 podcasts, live, as they were being recorded.
you can post a comment about being a snake or a starfish …


link has been removed.


out of fairness to podcast subscribers, i’ll leave this up for only 24 hrs.
le hugs from le me



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


test message for Sunday’s live show

On Sunday, August 6th, I’m going to do a live 2-hour radio show.

In preparation, I turned on my mic and did a test message. I was trying to record a One Minute Message but things went VERY wrong.

Listen now to the little clip about Sunday’s call.


Set your timer.
Sunday August 6th, 2017






August 6th

6 a.m.
8 a.m.

9 a.m.
11 a.m.

2 p.m.
4 p.m.

3 p.m.
5 p.m.

11 p.m.
1 a.m.

When it’s show time, you can listen here > http://mixlr.com/sober-belle/

talk soon,

you’ve tried it for year. now try something else.

this is an extract from podcast SP206 being sent out to podcast subscribers today.

it’s about you wanting to be sober. During a recent live call, D asked me what she could do to be sober, since she’d been trying for a year. here’s my answer to her. This is a 3 minute extract from the podcast (and update, she’s on day 34 today, so something about this answer seems to have worked).



You want a different result. And it’s not that there isn’t support available for us, it’s that we don’t want it. If your thought process isn’t working now like it did before, then you do new things now. You’re going to need different things to get you going. you’ve changed. the elevator only goes down. The time to step off is right now.

This audio is taken from podcast SP206 (the full version of the audio is 24 minutes long).


Download the audio podcast episode 206

Sign up for the monthly 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).

Question: What phrase do you hear in this audio, perhaps as if for the first time – something that makes you think “oh yeah. that.” I’ll select a comment in the next 48 hrs and will send a present. anonymous comments are fine.


sober lunch treats (thank you)


sober lunch, thanks to the Tiny Gift Button.



top: smoked fish and pickled fish from the nice Danish restaurant on the Champs-Élysées. with fancy bottled water (also danish imported) and a baby coffee. divine. did not share.


bottom: desserts were from Karamel, new place only open a year, and the dessert on the right is a baby lemon meringue pie. very sweet (literally and figuratively). shared with husband. did not eat all desserts myself.