our gas gauge is faulty

from me:

as this month goes on, the goal will be to do less. i know, sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it. but because we have heads that are easily wound up, and because we need to avoid overwhelm as much as possible, we will be practising – yes you – practising saying ‘no thanks’, and ‘i’m sorry i can’t do that for you this time’, and ‘can i get your help with this?’
the whole idea of doing it all is crazy-making, and while the rest of the world does suffer from this, too, for us it’s even more particularly worrisome. cuz if we fuck up this sober momentum thing, it’ll gigantically royally suck rocks.
so we will err on the side of caution.
here’s part of an email exchange i had today with penpal Gem64 (and yes, she’s on day 744, and yes, that doesn’t mean she’s immune from this same thing):

 Gem64: ” … I’m tired though, I’m strong one day then overdo it & knackered the next then beat myself up because I don’t have the energy to get through what I hope to. Then my brain is scrambled & confused & I don’t go to bed early enough to get the sleep I need. Yes the old vicious circle.”

me: the cycle of push-push-fall-over is the work of being sober. it’s the thing we have to sort out, so that sobriety stays possible and feels like it’s ‘working’. Being sober, and even is what will allow you to do all the very (very) cool things of xx and yy that you have coming up. clarity and focus are required.
to do that, you need to put fuel in your tank, stop at rest stops, get tune ups, change the tires. you can’t just drive and wait to drive off the road. it’s not really an option for us 🙂 we have to err on the side of caution also because our gas gauge is faulty and we often don’t know we’re out of gas until it’s too late.
there. that’s my helpful (not) nagging for today. I’ll say it again, though. the push-push is the wolfie voice winding you up. you can watch for that. it can be its own problem 🙂 hugs

Gem64: “Thank you, that is really insightful, wise, interesting & helpful. I’ve been hoping the upcoming holiday over Christmas & NY would ‘even me out’, – that’s my major tune up & tyre change I’ve been running on all cylinders for, knowing it’s nearly there & hoping nothing major breaks before then. my only description so far as to ‘how I am’ has been a roller coaster, but this ‘push-push-fall-over’ is a better description than a roller coaster, I will think about this a lot now thank you:) Evenness, stability, yes bloody hell scary concepts to those of us with ‘faulty gauges’.”

today’s gift…
is a brand new december edition cooking magazine from france. and i can mail it anywhere. it is in french, though. but if you win, and you don’t read french, you can just look at the lovely pictures. and i’ve written a few notes in the margins for you with a few translations and hints! I’ll send a copy of the french cooking magazine to the 22nd person who adds a new comment to this post about being ‘ready to quit’ drinking. Because comments are held in moderation, you won’t know how many people have posted before you. Make sure the comment actually has something to do with the post! 🙂

step 1. exit the booze elevator | step 2. stay here, stay focussed, stay sober, stay true to you | step 3. I have potential because i’m sober.


shortbread cookies

from me:

december 3rd. yes we had pancakes yesterday for my birthday, and yes i had kugelhoff later in the afternoon. then for dinner we had a very easy meal of ham and cheese sandwiches with lovely ham and lovely cheddar, both from our M&S outpost here. french cheese is lovely but it’s not cheddar.

husband had a sore back this weekend (!) so he spent a lot of time lounging. i watched Lady Bird (didn’t like it much) and i’m part way through watching the very-long Interstellar, which i’m liking enough even if i’m not a mcconaughey fan.

which is to say …

when you’re sober, you do regular puttering-around things. you go for breakfast (or not). you sleep in (or not). you don’t spend the day in bed wishing your head pounding would stop. sober girls run and then watch tv in they dark. they do laundry. they ask their husbands to re-do a painting that got damaged in transit (not bad, only one out of 250+).

which is to say …

if you haven’t tried being sober, you might want to try it. there are only upsides. including being able to think about other things. like movies. and laundry. and tea. and instant hot chocolate packages that arrive in the mail!

yesterday …

in my daily email, i asked for hilarious/horrid food stories, this one was #40 from G: “Raw fish? i can remember marinating salmon in a soy and honey sauce that I made. The following day I gently wrapped it in foil to cook in the oven. While it was cooking I did noodles and stir fried some lovely fresh veg. Unfortunately when i took the salmon out of the oven it was raw, I’d switched the grill on instead of the oven…”

and some others that just made me smile, like Noelle: “My worst, and so embarrassing food disaster was with jello [called JELLY in the UK]. My husband’s dad was marrying for the second time and having a reception at his house. I was about 22 and still dating my would be husband. I wanted to be part of the festivities and make my boyfriend and his family proud of me, so I offered to make the jello – for 75 people! I can remember it was grape jello with some kind of fruit mixed in. It was in a very large oblong container. The goal was to immerse the container in hot water and then turn the container upside down and plate it. When I did this, with several other family members in the kitchen, the jello plopped our onto the dish as purple liquid!  I was mortified. Needless to say there was no jello served at the reception. P.S. the marriage only lasted two months!”

and this one from ladybug11: “My favorite bad food story was the first time I made homemade baked Mac and cheese with my boyfriend, now husband. We were so proud of ourselves and excited to taste it. We didn’t realize that we had used the vanilla soy milk instead of plain soy milk. The taste combo of vanilla and cheddar cheese is so nasty! I can still conjure up the memory and gag to this day.”

but this message from suzabelle, i can totally seeing a young kid doing this exact thing: “I have a great food story … I attempted to make brownies from a box. I mixed everything and got them in the oven, then realized I forgot the egg. I didn’t think they’d really cooked yet. They’d only been in a couple minutes. So I yanked the pan out and just mixed in the egg. When they finished, we had scrambled eggs on top of the brownies. LOL! They still tasted good though.”

today’s gift is my three-ingredient recipe for shortbread cookies. they’re very simple, thanks to a smart trick that skips the whole rolling-out thing. this recipe came to me originally from my high school boyfriend’s mother, who was british and really the queen of doing things brilliantly and simply. no rolling out and no cookie cutters… to this day, i only make these simple shortbreads even though my mother is famous for her intricate ones. sorry mom! So today, I’ll send a copy of the recipe to everyone, no contest required, just send me an email and tell me what you think the 3 ingredients are … i’ll reply with the actual recipe 🙂

hope painting, done by belle, not her husband! this is hope 09. here

i’ll knit you a sweater

When i sent out the message about advent, first of december. and how it’s my birthday on the 2nd (enough hints?). i suggested that you send me an email with a christmas/holiday present story and that i’d send out a copy of my book to the 18th email. so far i’ve received over 50 messages and they’re still coming in.

the email #18 winner is R: “Best Christmas gift would have been a black saddle I was given when I was 15, as I had been borrowing saddles at the time to go riding.”

and there are some messages that are making my teary.

the whole ‘message of christmas’ thing, particularly as it is wrapped up in low-income families, are really touching. from M: “We were really poor when I was growing up, so ‘real’ store bought presents were a big deal. So I have a very clear memory of the first doll I got when I was six – it was a Stretch Armstrong Doll. Although I knew it was meant for a boy, and that I was a girl, it didn’t bother me, and I *LOVED* that doll until there was no more to love. It basically went everywhere with me. Years later, swapping childhood stories with my sister, I learned that my mom had been given charity gifts from a food bank so that us kids would have something to unwrap on Christmas Day, and that’s why I had wound up with a bit of an odd gift. My sister told me how happy my mom was seeing me happy, and I am reminded on thinking about it now, that even though we’re given things in a shape we may not have asked for, they can still bring unexpected happiness. Thanks for letting me take this trip down memory lane – a great way to start December. And happy birthday to you – I hope you get an unexpected gift :)”

Perhaps because my own childhood has a Barbie camper made out of cardboard in it, I can see the desperate mother, the happy child, the secrets and the despair AND the kid not caring at all, just happy for the gift. like this one from SoberSeasideSally (day 258): “When I was small we had little money and my dad was away in the Navy. My mother — with little option — “borrowed” one of my dolls and some of our old sweaters. She unravelled the sweaters and knitted me a wardrobe to gift me my “new” doll. She said I didn’t notice and was so over the moon with my new present! I don’t remember much but a nice memory of my mother’s I am thinking about a lot this season.”

There are stories of dolls who grew hair, of ‘bride’ dolls (several of those), of albums and cds and other musical gifts including guitars. There are bicycles, horses, charm bracelets and doll houses (seems like everyone got one with carpet the same as your actual house and wallpaper the same …). if my mom had made me a dollhouse out of cardboard, like my Barbie camper, then i don’t remember. funny, too, how the apartment we were in had no carpet and no wallpaper. have i ever lived in a house with wallpaper? is that a socio-economic thing? or a regional thing?

then my dad phoned me to wish me happy birthday, and he told me the same story he tells me every year, of where he was the day i was born (he was 18 years old), and how he found out, as it was a time when husbands weren’t allowed on the maternity floor, and so he was only called after it was over. this year on the phone he had some new anecdotes, having recently run into one of his managers at the time, who also remembered the story, and my dad could say to the guy, ‘well that baby is 52 years old tomorrow.’

Not all of Christmas memories are good ones, for me or for you. one thing we can do, though, is not drink. To add alcohol to a busy, emotionally-charged event, is literally putting gas on the fire. We can do this without booze. Doesn’t suit us. Not worth it. Too expensive. Wastes time.

Takes us away from the people around us.

i want to challenge you to open every email i send for the entire month of december. just open the emails. click a link in each one. nothing more. you don’t have to reply. you don’t even have to read them. just be here. be present. be consistent.

and in return, i’m going to put some kind of treat or gift in each email, i mean aside from the utterly FANTASTIC sober advice (!).

i will also put a picture of some original sober art in each email, the entire month. you will look at them and see what they say to you. that’s it.

Exit the booze elevator, painting #094, sent out to SoberinVA (in Virginia)

today is day 1 of clarity

from me:

so it’s december. and it’s my birthday tomorrow (electronic photos of cake happily accepted).
and it’s the beginning of advent.

there will be a lot of sales, a lot of end of the year blow-outs, buy this, buy that, buy all the things.
there with a lot of self-induced stress about perfect HGTV homes and perfect gifts and make-in-advance casseroles.
there will be plans to ‘fix my entire life, but not starting until january’
there will be ‘oh my god i’m hungover, can i really quit drinking now, in december?’

so i’ve been thinking about what I can do for december. something different.

and here’s what i’ve decided.

i want to challenge you to open every email i send for the entire month of december. just open the emails. click a link in each one. nothing more. you don’t have to reply. you don’t even have to read them. just be here. be present. be consistent.

and in return, i’m going to put some kind of treat or gift in each email, i mean aside from the utterly FANTASTIC sober advice (!).

i will also put a picture of some original sober art in each email, the entire month. you will look at them and see what they say to you. that’s it.

you can do that, right?

so today’s day 1. day 1 of … of giving? i don’t know. day 1 of engaging. day 1 of engaging with sober supports. day 1 of generosity. of … of clarity. yeah. clarity. i like that.

i know that holidays can be landmines of weird memories, but today i want you to search for a particularly happy one. Send me an email and tell me your favourite christmas/chanukah/holiday gift you received when you were young. The 18th email will receive a paperback copy of my book, signed, mailed to you from france. And I’ll share some of the stories maybe later today.



when your partner drinks too much

email from M: “Hi Belle, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and receiving your emails. I don’t have a booze Wolfie, but I have a food one. We’ve exchanged some emails in the past about that, and how the feelings around overeating are similar to the feelings around drinking.

Anyway, one of the reasons I have followed you all this time is because my boyfriend has a really big loud booze Wolfie, and things have been getting worse recently. I’m sort of left wondering what, if anything, I can do to help him, because if something doesn’t change he will end up dead.

Some background — he’s been a drinker for all of the 10 years that I’ve known him, except for a period of just over a year. At that point he got into some legal trouble … and he had to not drink. So he didn’t. He just quit drinking. He didn’t get any support of any kind, he just quit. After, he decided he could moderate — only drink when there was a special occasion or a party or something. And it started out like that, but then over time grew back into frequent drinking — several, if not most days of the week. He would go through periods of abstaining during the week, and just drinking on weekends.

Most recently he has taken to binge drinking on Friday nights and sometimes one or two other nights of the week as well. He will drink for 24+ hours and then sleep for 24 hours. And if I leave town for any reason, he will spend the entire time drinking. Last week, I was away for 5 days and he binge drank on 3 of those days. He is now having physical symptoms like gut issues, he has hallucinated and now his skin is itchy and rashy.

More background — he doesn’t have a job and hasn’t worked steadily since he was sober. He is depressed (even without alcohol), takes anti-depressants and I think he has social anxiety (although he would just say that he doesn’t like people).

So the current situation — on Friday evening he started drinking beer. I went to bed around 11 pm. On Saturday morning, at around 10:30, he was still up drinking … I asked him if he was trying to kill himself, because at this point, I seriously thought that maybe he was. He said that he didn’t want to die and he knew he had to quit drinking and his body was giving him all the signs. Of course he was drunk when he was saying all this. Anyway, he hasn’t had anything to drink since unless he’s keeping a secret stash because there’s no alcohol in the house and he hasn’t been out of the house in over a week. He also hasn’t spoken to me since Saturday morning. He gets up and eats and today he apparently did a few things around the house, but he hasn’t spoken to me.

I gave him a link to your website on Saturday morning — I thought maybe it would be a good fit for him because I know AA is not going to work — too much God and higher power and stuff. I know he’s at least visited your site (he sent me a screenshot, but he was still drunk).

So, in the end, I am left wondering what to do now. I know that I need to take care of myself, and I am doing that. But is there anything I can do to help him? I truly don’t believe that he will be able to stay sober without support. He’s a huge believer in willpower, which to me is the equivalent of trying harder and won’t work for the long term. It seems to be me that he has huge issues that he needs to deal with, booze or no booze. I personally wish he’d go into an inpatient treatment program. But I don’t know whether to try to talk to him about this, or just leave him alone for now, or what? I haven’t been through this, and I don’t want to act like I know the answers, because I really don’t. I just know that I don’t want to continue to live with him if he doesn’t get some kind of real help/support/tools. I can’t bring myself to ask him to leave right now because he has no job, no car, no money and no place to go.

So yeah, there’s my long rambling story.  Do you have any words of wisdom?

Thanks for everything you do Belle. Hugs, M.”


me: first, thanks for this. I mean, thanks for reaching out. there are lots of partners who probably feel like you do, but not everybody is trying to make themselves useful or to understand more.

What I will write here is what I would say if your BF was in the room, so to speak. 

those of us drinking, we have a loud voice in our head that basically screams until we feed it. we can periodically skip a day or two, but it’s often like waiting to drink. if you can imagine something along the lines of a mini-version of OCD. it’s not the hand-washing kind of OCD, but it’s the ‘that alcohol is saying DRINK ME’ kind. it’s hard to explain this ti other people who don’t have the same voice, but you probably understand entirely if you have a food wolfie. but just like it’s hard for a compulsive handwasher to explain why they continue to hand wash even when it gets in the way of their daily life, drinking is like that.

those of us drinking, and this included me, we know we want to quit, but can’t find a way to make the voice shut up. we quit for a day or two or a week or two but it’s hard.

without the right supports and tools, we go back to drinking again. We all do. this isn’t unique or unusual. Drinking again means we don’t have enough tools/supports. If we add more support and accountability with each reset, then we can get a better sense of what’s going to work, versus setting off and ‘trying harder’ which will yield similar results.

the hard part is that while we’re still drinking, we don’t really believe in a real, true way, that the only way to get the voice in our head to shut up is to dehydrate it (stop drinking entirely, not one drink here and there, but none). being sober is actually easier than trying to manage the voice.

but here’s the tricky and shitty part. the voice in our head that says DRINK NOW also says: “don’t ask for help, don’t accept help if it’s offered, don’t let anyone know, don’t tell, you’re a fuck up, you’re a disaster, this is too embarrassing for anyone to know, whatever THEY are suggesting will help won’t work I can tell without even trying.”

I guess what I’d say to you is that that voice in his head (in my head), it isn’t the real him. it’s the voice that wolfie presents (the desire to drink). our brains misfire and tell us all kinds of shit and lies, and the lies seem TRUE because they’re … well, they’re in our HEAD.

if you imagine someone with … I don’t know, maybe anorexia. you say to them: you’re too skinny and they say, I can plainly see that I’m fat. the person who’s anorexic can’t be easily convinced that their brain is lying to them. yet that’s what booze does to us. we say “I’ll never do THAT” (whatever, drink and drive, miss a school event, call in sick to work – whatever) and then when we do it, we say “well, it was only that one time.” 

There is avoidance and lying and misery in this, but it’s the booze, it’s not the person. it’s the ocd-like brain. it’s not who we really are. (I was a gigantic bitch and fought with my husband all the time when drinking. this is my personal example. now that I don’t drink, we just don’t fight. or maybe it’s once a year instead of (literally) once a week.)

all that said. I think what I’d say to you if he was here, is something similar to what I’d say to him: you have to take care of yourself. He may find a way to get some support and help and tools (and yes, I hope so, yes yes yes). But he may not. Some people do not find their way out of this. And it’s shitty and scary. The voice in my head was loud enough to convince me that if something bad was going to happen to me, that on some level I deserved it (all not true, but very convincing when that radio station is broadcasting from the inside of your own head).

in a kind way, on a morning when he’s sober (not while drinking), you might suggest some of the ‘less’ embarrassing kinds of support options. He could do my jumpstart class (the version with the 2 calls), and then continue on with weekly calls with me like lots of other people do (including a psychiatrist is one of my regular callers). He could speak with his doctor in an honest way and ask for some kinds of medication: something to help with anxiety, something to help with drinking (antabuse). If he can’t speak to his doctor honestly, he can go to a walk-in clinic where they don’t know him. This embarrassment though, it’s impossible for me to convey to you how large this embarrassment is. and how much it prevents us from doing what might seem logical to you. 

As well, there are probably outpatient treatment groups through the local hospital that can be attended on evenings and weekends. 

but you being the booze police won’t really help, as twisted as that sounds. the voice in an over-drinker’s head has a VERY DEFINITE fuck-you attitude, to anyone, about anything that makes us feel less-than, judged, or further embarrassed than we are already are. we will interpret everything as anger. and we’re nothing if not independent. and prickly. well, that’s me 🙂 I’ll just assume it’s him too.

is any of this helpful? I would suggest Al-Anon for you if only to have someone else in real life help you figure out what’s YOURS and what’s HIS. If you’re asking for direct practical advice – and given that I am not a professional – I’d say: remove the alcohol from the house, and encourage him. Offer cranberry and tonic every night at 6 pm even if he hates it. buy easy take-out dinners. remind him that you know that he wants to be sober, and that you’re willing to do what it takes for him to get his sober car on the road so long as he doesn’t drive that car over you in the meantime.

and if you want to, you can guide him to the jumpstart class and calls with me. If he declines, I can refund your purchase. but it might be worth a shot. part of what we struggle with the most is feeling that no one knows what it’s like, how hard it is to be us with this radio station in our head. when in fact, someone else who has quit drinking knows exactly what it’s like.

the shitty thing I said above is true, though. some people do not get out of this. some people have a loud voice and they can’t find a way to listen to anything else. that does happen. but trying to convince them that it’s happening is like trying to push a car uphill.

I hope this is 5% helpful — and you can discard the rest – as you should with most advice in life 🙂

hugs from me to both of you, belle  xo


M: “Thank you Belle this is 100% useful 🙂

I think I get the embarrassment thing and the automatic refusal of help — I imagine it’s somewhat like being fat. I often feel like people are judging me all the time and that I did this to myself and if only I weren’t so weak I wouldn’t be in this position, etc., etc. (whether this is actually true or not is irrelevant). I feel simultaneously like I should be able to fix this problem myself, and like I want help, but all the support I’ve ever reached out for and tried has been useless and not come from anyone who really understands. So I get that the embarrassment prevents him (you) from doing what seems logical, because I’ve done and sometimes still do the same.

And I’ve heard him say that he’s useless, and that he deserves to have his body shut down on him.  He says that he doesn’t deserve gifts or for me to nice to him.

I think my food wolfie is not probably not as loud or persistent as his booze wolfie (anymore anyway), but I get that compulsion.  I’ll be at a party where there’s a huge display of food and I can’t understand how other people are not just eating it constantly and I’ll be wondering if anyone will notice how much I’m eating, and worried about whether there will be enough.  So I guess it’s like that.

I’m scared that he’ll be one of those people who doesn’t find a way out, because what a waste.  He’s a beautiful, intelligent, caring man underneath everything …

Practically, the booze has been removed from the house, and I went to Costco the other day to buy huge amounts food and I will plan some kind of nice non-alcoholic drinks and a meal for Friday night which is when wolfie really starts screaming at him.

I was able to talk to him a bit last night and brought up the idea of using some supports and he didn’t say no, which is what I expected, so that’s encouraging. I think he’s really scared right now that he’s done irreparable damage to his body. He has a good relationship with his doctor and has been open with him already about the drinking, but has not taken him up on any of the options he’s given for quitting — until now, he didn’t want to quit. But the problem with the doctor is that it involves making a phone call to get an appointment and then leaving the house, and given where he’s at right now, I don’t think that will happen… I think the sober jumpstart class is a great place for him to start because he spends most of his time these days on his computer anyway, so it’s just an extension of what he’s already doing. He doesn’t even have to leave his chair, he just has to click. It’s extremely low barrier to entry. And once he gains a bit of sober momentum maybe he will be more inclined to try other supports, or maybe he will find other things that work for him. So yes, I will do that — I see there’s a waiting list right now, but I have added my email address to the waiting list and when a spot opens up in the next week then you can change it to his email address. He will complain about me spending money on it (he doesn’t deserve it), but the cost is about the same as a month’s worth of booze for him, so I guess I can offer him that logic.

Thank you so much — everything you said has been extremely helpful.”


this is me. fiercely selling hope since 2012. now it comes in a tangible, art form. that fits into a standard Michael’s 10×10 frame.

original art here

you can’t figure out drinking while you’re drinking …

quote from the blog:

… there’ll be some therapist out there who’ll come and correct me and say “you need to know the root cause before you can find a solution” and i’ll call bullshit.  Cuz you can’t figure out drinking while you’re drinking. and i don’t think i can figure out why i’m exhausted if i’m exhausted. that stuff has happened in the past is a fact, sure. but it’s what we DO NEXT that changes things. (not what we think next; and as paul likes to remind me, we have a problem with thinking… more thinking is probably not the answer.) what do you think? lost my mind?

[this is a quote from an earlier blog post written july 2014, you can read the whole thing here and you can leave a comment. just so i know you’re out there.]



selling hope since 2012
original art here

what happens before (like, before we quit)

I write a lot of emails for folks who have quit drinking and want support. I record audios, short and long. I talk about prelapse and treats and tools.

What I don’t often talk about is what happens before. Before we quit.
How do we sort through the thinking … what do we do with thoughts of moderation or counting days.

and so often, the ‘drink now’ voice is absolutely screamingly-loud, so it drowns out the real you in there … you know, the real you who signed up to get sober-support emails. the real you who knows that there’s something not-quite-right about your relationship with alcohol.

i’m happy to say that i have a 5-part Exit the booze elevator so you can Exist audio series. All you have to do is sign up and you’ll get audio #1 right away.

thanks to donations, three-quarters of the price has been covered for you, so this new series of audios is $10 US. one payment. not recurring. nothing weird. just 5 audios for you. yes, that’s my voice. you’ll hear me — talking directly to you.

Sign up here.

In these audios, I will talk about getting started, how to THINK about the idea of quitting drinking, advice on tools and supports, and we’ll talk about how to get ready to begin.

If booze is an elevator that only goes down, it’s time to find the exit.

Exit → Exist [audios for lurkers, sober-curious, not sure sobriety is for you] > Sign up here.

huglets from me.me

[how to market in a digital world] super interesting, relevant, useful, hopeful, real, honest, no-bullshit

from me: i got this question by email. “I’m xx years sober and I have been really enjoying your email marketing campaign as I build my own. May I ask who you learned marketing from?”

and i’m going to share some of my reply here, as I try to answer her questions about ‘marketing’ because i think it’s helpful to see behind-the-scenes stuff, and creates more transparency …

my reply:
Well this is kind, thank you … to be fair, the things that helps me the most are: listening to my subscribers, speaking to them not about me [no selfies, no photos of me and my dog. this isn’t about me. and i don’t have a dog]. and i talk to people individually,  not “hey guys,” but “this is for YOU …”). [I bristle when someone says “you guys need to hear this” as if email isn’t a one-on-one conversation between me and you. same with audios, they are a one-on-one communication between me and you. why do podcasters forget this?]

for me, the idea of being radically honest has helped. not in the TMI way, but in the ‘I often suck as a human’ way.

probably the biggest lessons I’ve learned are:

  • be myself
  • make it about my reader, not about me
  • offer 80% of what I do as completely free (underpromise, over-deliver) … the 20% of people who pay more than cover, and help provide for everyone else — and then everyone gets access to stuff, and I don’t have to nickel and dime for everything (which smells greedy anyway).
  • i don’t engage in any snark, ever, about anyone or anything. that means nothing about the president, or replying with anything but kindness to someone who thinks I’m a turd. the internet is a small place. shitty behaviour is eventually revealed. emails resurface.
  • the idea of not emailing someone too often really depends on who your subscribers are. Are you sending something that is actually useful? then you can email twice a day. But if you’re strictly advertising (buy my stuff), or if you’re only sharing how great you are, then no. the idea of once a week wouldn’t have been enough for me when i was first sober, but the info shared has to be super interesting, relevant, useful, hopeful, real, honest, no-bullshit.
  • Try all of it. Short audio, long audio, solo or interviews, video, video in the studio, video outside, audio in the studio, audio outside. I try all the things and then see what kind of feedback I get. People make it very clear what resonates.
  • Ask readers/subscribers for feedback but not in a needy way “what’s one thing in this article that struck you” versus “do you like this/me” I hate when people say “do you like this? do you want more of this?” It always feels like they’re saying “do you love me?”
  • You are not your reader. You may share similar personality traits or experiences, but what works for you may not work for them and vice versa. you’re doing this for them. if they want short then give them short. even if you think long is better. if they read long, then give them long, even if you’ve heard that attention spans are dwindling. the fact is, if it’s fascinating, useful, entertaining, motivation, or tells a story, people will read long form, listen to long audios, watch long videos. it’s about whether or not it’s useful for them.

That’s probably more than you wanted 🙂 I’m sure also the obvious thing I’m about to say is already clear. if we go into ANY online thing wondering how we’ll make money, then THAT focus and emphasis will SHOW to the end user. If we go into it wondering what we can share, who we will meet, what do THEY want, do I have what THEY need — then things will go better People can READ intent, between the lines, whether you think you’re saying it or not, it’s there.

boozers, especially, can smell bullshit a mile away. and fakey-fakeness. and forced positivity. and cynicism. and people who want to take their money because they’re in a dark place.

you know most of that already 🙂
thanks for asking, hugs, belle

and her reply: “That’s amazing. You are a leader in digital ‘thinking’, to me at least. I have read the best and most famous, but your email just now has blown my alcoholic sox off.”

to you: i am, in fact, a genius. but i share this because all the things are done with care. and sometimes i’ll make mistakes, but i’ll listen when told. i hear you. i hear the criticisms and i try to figure out the 5% that’s true. I hear the love and i don’t have to ‘ask’ for it.

p.s. the argument i had with my husband last week (sunday? monday?) continued all through the week, continues today, and i although I was sure I was right, it turns out I wasn’t. At all. and i’ve made a mess of things by defending my position very firmly. today, he tried to explain again and i can now see his side and I don’t look good in this at all. i’m waiting for him to be not-so-mad so that i can apologize. it’s much easier to say “you’re wrong” than to say “i fucked this up.” i’m still learning that :/


being sober feels like …

being sober feels like:

J: “Being sober feels like when it is snowing outside and you have nowhere to be so you stay inside with the warmth of the fire and the twinkle of the Christmas tree and the smell of fresh baked cookies and the sound of your children playing downstairs.
So good. Just so good.”

apprentice annie (day 1658): “Being sober (still) feels like a fucking miracle.

tina jeanne (day 47): “I would have to say the feeling is of utter peace. Whatever the opposite of anxiety is — that is how I feel.”

Jillie (day 16): “Being sober feels like perfect bangs. “

ckelly (day 14): “Being sober feels like I’m starting to know myself again, or maybe for the first time. It’s scary but also exciting to see what unfolds.”


i’ve started to add some quotes to the Exit (the Booze Elevator, Because It Only Goes Down) Sober Art page … Your vote – Good idea? Boring? You can also comment on the choice of colours (ash grey-blue or light turquoise, as shown on the page).

this is a close-up of #241
because sometimes the exit sign is in spanish

a rant about thanksgiving and instagram

of all things we have to consider today, let us consider this. our well-being is dependent on us being sober, present, aware, coherent, available, alert. To numb out, on this journey, is to give up the ability to drive your own car. if life is a highway, and you’re on the highway somewhere between when you’re born and age 99, then you sit at the wheel of this car called life, and you drive. because it’s a gift to be here, doing this. it’s a gift to remove the numbing, compulsive depressant from our heads. life is weird enough with adding burdens. life is complex enough with the roof that needs to be replaced, and the mother in law’s illness (again).

this time of year can make you think that it’s not worth doing — what with all those images of happy thanksgiving people crowding your instagram feed. look at all of those tables in those wealthy, architecturally designed homes, loaded with food, people smiling. where’s the cigarette smoke? where’s the dog who eats styrofoam and pukes halfway through the meal? where’s the reality of choosing to be away from your family for holidays so that they don’t make you crazy(ier)? where’s the reality of the clutter, the stickiness of regular life?

oh they’ve got orange pumpkins and pinecones and sparking minilights on the table…

Great. But i call bullshit.

To numb out because you see images of bullshit, and you wonder why your life isn’t like that – THEIR life isn’t like that, either. it’s called window dressing. it’s called ‘look at how great my family seems, aren’t you jealous, but i must strive to live a life that everyone is jealous of, why does my life have no value unless other people are jealous …’

No thanks. Too exhausting.

and you? gonna numb out because of that? no sir. you’re driving this car, your life. and you’re not handing over the wheel to a negative voice inside your head. not today. not today.

and you can go right now and unfollow all the displays of fake glamour, ok? unfollow all the stuff doesn’t suit you. unsubscribe right now. don’t hang around the things that make you feel crummy.

not drinking today. not today.


shameless commercial link:
first mr.belle went and bought 20 little 2-inch canvases, tiny things. then they’re covered in a coat of gesso (white base), then the sides are painted black. the actual stripes of coloured paint, he added with his FINGERS because he couldn’t get the right effect with a brush (!). then they dry, are turned over, and signed on the back, then magnets are glued on. then they’re turned over again and varnished and left to dry. these two below are #22 and #23. there are 30 in total. i had no idea what they looked like, he only showed me two as a sample to begin. exit magnets. you put one on your fridge and it protects you from whatever might be inside. exit the booze elevator. even if there’s alcohol in your fridge. these will remind you. you’d better get two 🙂

link here.