Let’s see how this goes

from me: do you quit drinking 'forever' or is it an experiment? what are the advantages of framing it as an experiment? I asked, you answered:

J: "If you can say ‘I choose not to drink’ it’s easier than saying ‘I can’t drink’ which can then start feelings of deprivation and the Wolfie voice. Framing it as an experiment should make it more achievable mentally than forever, your explanation of running as an example made sense, if you said that you were going to run x amount every day for the rest of your life ... what would happen? :)"

Flo (Day 47): "Hi Belle. I think framing it as an experiment an making it a choice. 'I'm choosing to go 100 days sober' is a whole lot less confronting than 'I'm going to give up alcohol forever', which frankly seems kind of unreal. I think if I say i'm giving up forever, i feel a fear in my solar plexus area and sick or maybe that's the hole i think needs filling up with something (alcohol). Saying that i'm choosing to do this for 100 days feels like i'm easing myself into this whole concept of finding out how my life will be sober, and will it be better? Let's just see how this goes and make a decision later. So less confronting."

~
Question: what do you think about quitting drinking as a choice ... you know, a choice that supports you to be your best you (this is a trick question)​.


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umr004.gratitude > i know that the idea of gratitude is talked about a lot. but what does it mean, in a practical sense. like HOW can you have an attitude of gratitude? i think i stumbled on an idea that works for me when I was doing a catering job this past weekend. 

Show Notes:

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Music: “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen

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Feedback from the ​meditation audio series: 

enroute: “​Thank you for that Belle, this meditation worked for me, and I have listened to a lot of teachers, a lot of silence, a lot of endless thoughts in my head, a lot of perspectives on meditation. For me, I know that whatever practice suits you, it lights the path to consciousness which lights the path to sobriety, creativity and more and more...​” ​Subscribe here.

Ready to quit?

from my inbox:

Rambling Rose (penpal #2512): 

"So something has been bothering me for a few weeks on the issue of readiness when it comes to being sober. I've heard on a number of occasions "in the rooms" that you just have to be really ready to quit drinking before you stay with recovery. I have heard it mostly in the context of people relapsing. It almost comes off as an accusation that he/she just didn't want it enough (recovery). Another thing I hear often is, "In your heart of hearts, do you want to quit?" UGH. YES.

There's something very flippant to me about this. I know people, myself included, who have wanted to quit for years - sincerely, in our heart of hearts - and hate being in addiction/excessive drinking limbo. It hurts. It isn't even enjoyable. It's not to "feel better" - for me, it was to feel less bad. But, of course that less-bad feeling starts to turn into a consistent and repetitive horror.

Drinking is the worst kind of hell, and it isn't that I (the true me) wanted to keep drinking, not when it got bad. I just didn't know how to stop it. I think that's why we surrender or reach out, because of course our brains will want booze.

I've brought it up to people (sponsors, sober women, etc.) before, and I usually get the same answers about not wanting it bad enough or not having some God moment where all of my sins, er, sorry, cravings (hah) were magically lifted.

It scares me when people say things like this, because I do want to stay sober, with all of my heart. But there hasn't been some God moment or change in my thinking. Not yet. Isn't that where the work and the supports come in?

Anyway. What made you know that you were totally done for good?

Do you think it is different for everyone?

Thanks. Whew, good to get that out of my head. It was upsetting me today, and kind of freaking me out."


me: I think that the idea of readiness is sort of like the idea of willpower. it’s assuming that the tool is in us. I think that the tools are outside us and that if someone is relapsing, they don’t have enough tools/supports/accountability. Us alone in our heads has us all drinking, me included.

but with the right amount of supports (different for each person) we can do this sober thing.

the challenge is getting people to try different supports when the original ones aren’t (or have stopped) working. we’re so stubborn and wolfie wants to keep us stuck, so that’s the hardest part of this. it’s not that rehab doesn’t work, it’s that no one wants to go. it’s not that antabuse doesn’t work, it’s that it’s hard to convince someone to take it because if they take it they can’t relapse and wolfie hates that. wolfie will argue against most supports.

wolfie wants you alone at home with a bottle. that’s the challenge as far as I can see: helping people to see that wolfie is bullshit and that there’s sunshine OUT HERE.

​~

​You might not agree with my advice to Rambling Rose. How do you feel about being 'ready'? Post a comment below.


Feedback from the new (free) meditation audio series:

Auntie Briggy: “Love this! Meditation is one thing for me that needs to be non-negotiable part of my tool box! You did a great job - meditation is just like sobriety - some days are shit and you don't pay attention for 2 seconds - some days you feel refreshed after but you keep staying with it. It was great to hear you doing something outside your comfort zone and trying a new tool! It teaches us courage to do things like this - try things - and keep trying them and adding things in.” Listen here.

[free audios] – Urban Meditation Starts Today

Today begins a new 10-part audio series called Urban Meditations (Regret)

Recorded in different urban environments, this series of mindfulness exercises will tie in with meditation, being still, and sobriety -- with a focus on the theme of regret. Yes, I'll be talking, but there is also quiet time for reflection too.

This 10-part podcast is free, hosted on gumroad and itunes. supported only by donations. it works out every time. no sponsorship. just you pitching in where you can.

And as promised, I have the preliminary 'intro' audio and episode 1 ready today.

umr000.intro > This is the first official audio in the new 10-part Urban Meditation series focussing on regret. Today I am recording in a park, complete with a visit from two dogs, and a rat. Never a dull moment. Time for a pause, are you ready?

umr001.cute > You are as cute as you’re ever going to be. Today. Right now. OK, if not, you’re definitely as YOUNG as you’re going to be.

Show Notes:

Get these messages on iTunes (apple podcast) > link

Get them on Stitcher > link

Get them on Gumroad > link

Music: “Ibiza Dream,” thanks to Chris Haugen

Donations to support these audios and keep them free.
On Gumroad > link
By Paypal (no VAT) > link

Duck Ponderings 010 – Small Goals

What happens when we try to fix everything at once? I talk about how I use this in other parts of life (sober + writing + running very slowly). And about how I’m bad with endings, and so this won’t be the last episode. I probably have one or two more to go…

 

 

 

Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw, https://bit.ly/2pZvbyu

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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.

 

Interview with Kristi Coulter (2016)

There was a time when Kristi Coulter and I were sober penpals, and we both said "oh you used to be a writer? me too. before drinking. did you also study writing at school and then not really use it? me too."

I'm sure you've done something like this. You were a person before, and then booze soaked into the fabric of your life and you lost some of the old person, some of the fresh-ideas person, some of the adventurous person.

Then you remove the booze, and the real you starts to shine again. (Really, it is exactly like drowning the little orchid with bottles of wine—it doesn't bloom—and then you stop pouring alcohol on it and it brightens up again.)

OK, so time has passed and now KC is here (book writing and widely-shared-viral-article writing) and i'm here (one book done, sober fiction book underway). 

KC is sober penpal #128 and she's on day 1786 today (Saturday). 

And way back, before she was well and truly famous, I interviewed her on my podcast. I've pulled that audio out of the archives and am sharing it as my weekend audio.

Here is a three-minute sample starting at about the 11 minute mark. This was recorded in July 2016 and it's so cool that we mention the Medium article that would then go on to become the viral piece...


If you would like to hear the entire one-hour interview, you can click the red link below. The price is ZERO and then you get the entire MP3 file of our podcast.

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#150: Kristi Coulter (FREE)

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try new things

I don't know how to say this so that you can hear me.

It's not just about starting again on day 1.

It's not just about saying "today is my new day 1."

It's about changing something.

Because if what you've been doing up to now isn't working, then you need to do something different.

It's not just 'try harder'. It's 'try different'.

If we are penpals, and you email me and say "today's my new day 1," I'm going to thunk you and say...

What are you changing?

Because you don't want to hang around day 1 anymore. And you want things to be different. And you're emailing a sober coach, so you want her opinion, because if you didn't, you'd just not tell me! 

So when you tell me "I'm on day 1," it would be incredibly bad form—and not fair—if I support you having a new day 1  without changing anything. That wouldn't be fair to you. It'd probably be irresponsible on my part, too. 

​Because this booze thing can get worse and worse.

We don't want that to be you and we don't want that to happen to you. 

It's not just having a new day 1 ... having a new day 1 is fabulous, don't get me wrong.

You need a new day 1 AND you need to add some new things because what you've been doing up to now hasn't been enough. 

And you want to move away from here, so you're going to do some new things now. 

~

If you would like some ideas on what you can add, so that you stop repeating the day 1 cycle, send me an email ​and i'll send you some links to things. hugs from me



I have transcribed this text from the (FREE) one minute audio message #168: New Things. ​ 

  • Get these ​one-minute messages on Gumroad > link
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“I choose not to do that”

I will say that probably the Number 1 determining feature of the probability of success in being sober, is an openness to try things that go against what your brain is suggesting is a good idea. 

Because you’ve got a brain that thinks that drinking is a good idea, so frankly anything I suggest—like if I say to you, when we’re sober penpals: “I think you should email 3-4 times a day.”

I don't need to do that

Wolfie comes right in there with, “I don’t need to do that. I’m too busy to do that. I’m too busy to send a one-word email that says ‘sober’.” (Nice.)

You: I’m going to be offline so I can’t email for 6 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 days.

I have an answer for that.

Still send a message every 4 hours, and they sit in your outbox and then as soon as you have a wifi connection, I’ll get them all at once.

Number of times someone has actually done that, and I’ve gotten a whole bunch of check-ins all at once? Zero.

It’s an option. But we don’t want to do it.

Why don’t we want to do it? ...

... because we want to keep drinking.

Well, we don’t WANT to keep drinking, but we have a voice that thinks that drinking is a good idea, so it’s going to fight against things that could actually help. Which is this whole thing about compliance.

Example:

You: I broke my ankle, and I want to walk without crutches.

Well, that’s sort of impacts its ability to heal. Might make it that you need surgery down the road. Instead you might need to take time off right now …

You: I don’t want that.

No shit, nobody wants it [laughs]. Who wants to email me 4 times a day?

but don’t tell me you can’t. 

Don’t tell me you can’t. Because it’s one word. And you set a timer on your phone that goes off at 9 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, 9 pm—and you send a one-word email every time the alarm goes off.

Don’t say that you can’t.

say that you won’t.

But don’t say that you can’t. Not fair.

And don’t say that you can’t get a sober treat every two days when you’re sober. You’re going to say something wolfie-like, such as I don’t really deserve it; I shouldn’t get a treat for something that everybody else can do without treats; or I don’t have money …

Don’t tell me that you don’t want to get treats. Tell me that wolfie is telling you not to get treats. Because you might as well call it what it is.

Wolfie will say: No treats, not worthy.

Wolfie will say: Too hard, no one will understand.

I’m saying—I’m yelling—Please, please, please …

You: Yea, I don’t want to do that. I choose not to do that.


I have transcribed this text from archived Sober Podcast #213: Compliance. If you'd like to hear this extract as an audio, go here.


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#213: Compliance

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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

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(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 009 – Vision

In this Duck Ponderings episode I talk about my ‘vision’. ha. as if i have one. Mostly i talk about logistics: how I track penpals, my excel spreadsheet, screen names, marketing, and a (not so) funny story about advertising on Facebook. During this audio, I also record a video which is below. This is literally the busiest day at the park I have ever seen. Ever.

.

.

I also recorded a video near the beginning, just to show the numbers of people at the park … video here [click to begin!]:

 

Music: “Acoustic Blues,” thanks to Jason Shaw, https://bit.ly/2pZvbyu

Donations to support these audios and keep them free 🙂 https://gum.co/DuckPonderingsaudios