reaching out is an act of bravery (… and fish with baked pasta)

from me: i crossed the street to the deli to pick up a take-out lunch today. they serve fish on fridays. i’d forgotten that, was hoping for roast chicken and got salmon with pesto sauce and baked pasta that had the nice crunchy corner bits from being overcooked.

i was ‘celebrating’ doing a hard thing. catering yesterday, more catering on sunday. i’m not so good at cooking for myself BUT i’m master at sloth, at not going outside when i don’t have to. i’m master at declaring it’s bedtime even when it’s 8:30 pm, to much eye-rolling of mr.belle.

the large thing i did this morning was i got over the mental hurdle required, when a doctor messaged and asked if this was the place she could get confidential support to quit drinking.
i told mr.belle on his way out the door this morning that i was nervous to answer her. he says “but you work one-on-one with doctors and therapists all the time.” and i’m like, yes, but this feels different. i recognize now that lots of people are reluctant to go to AA (for whatever reason), as I would have been. and what if someone finds out. and what if i have to tell my boss and then they tell someone else.

well ok, sure. it sometimes is required for us to speak with our HR person about quitting-drinking resources. of course, it happens. But as a tentative, nervous reaching out online, i just felt the weight of her question.

I could feel it in my stomach.

And then i had to honestly ask myself: Would I be sober today without anonymous support online? i don’t think so. if it was just me alone in my head? i just don’t think so.

because me and my ‘big brain’ didn’t keep me from drinking. my three university degrees weren’t an inoculation from over-drinking.

so i wrote and edited and wrote and edited and sent off the email to the doctor (therapist, counsellor, social worker, nurse, psychiatrist) and i have to acknowledge, again, how hard it is to reach out for help, of any kind — private / anonymous / confidential / intelligent — or not.

after, i recorded a facebook video about it, and took some live questions (about whether you should drink at the end of your 100 day sober trial, and do i feel pressure to stay sober since i’m penpals with you).  you can watch that video here.

so i celebrate hard things with friday fish and pasta. and i’ll ask my husband to get the groceries i need for catering on his way home for work. and we’ll have baked sausages and roast potatoes for dinner. and maybe green beans for good measure. and that’ll be enough for today.

i’m in awe of us. of you and me. we’re braver than we think. we’re reaching out for support. that is such a large and worthwhile thing.

love, me

the thing


the thing you’re looking for isn’t IN the thing you’re craving. the thing you want to come FROM alcohol isn’t IN alcohol.

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

After you listen to this clip, you’ll want to go immediately to the podcast subscription page, look at the BONUS PHOTO I’m sending to new subscribers, and be sure to sign today Friday March 15, 2019 … the link is here >

the thing isn’t in the thing


the thing you’re looking for isn’t IN the thing you’re craving. the thing you want to come FROM alcohol isn’t IN alcohol.

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


After you listen to this clip, you’ll want to go immediately to the podcast subscription page, look at the BONUS PHOTO I’m sending to new subscribers, and be sure to sign up before Friday March 15, 2019 … the link is here >


After you listen to the audio, you can tell me: have you ever had a similar feeling of ‘i want it. i want it’ like i talk about in this episode?

view from the dining room window monday afternoon … no leaves on the trees yet

fit in

from me:  Sometimes these little One Minute Messages are not as meditative as they should be. And sometimes they’re a rant. Today’s is a rant. It’s a one minute rant. Are you really so worried about fitting in, that you’re going to give up what’s best for you? Which is not drinking? Are you really so worried about fitting in with a group of over-drinkers, that you’re going to pour alcohol on your head even though you know it doesn’t suit you? You know it doesn’t give you a better life. You know it doesn’t make you feel better. You cannot be that desperate to fit in with people who don’t get it, who don’t get what it’s like to be you, who don’t know that you are a better person without booze. You do lots of things in your life that other people don’t do. Some people eat ice cream, some people don’t. Some people run marathons, some people don’t. Some people do archery, some people don’t. Some people drink, we don’t. You don’t. You don’t drink. [listen to this as an audio]

this is special edition painting
#362 “free” > link
free from the booze elevator. free from the noise in your head. a painting celebrating you.

painting 362
at the top of the page here > link



Where are they now?

British Columbia

reckless. unconscious. unproductive. easily agitated.

 E-Z (day 10) : “Hey Belle, really enjoyed the audio lesson i listened to today. Your voice is really comforting and relatable, which is really nice considering quitting drinking is usually a touchy matter!

Anyways, I realized that I don’t like the person I am when I drink. I’m reckless, unconscious, unproductive, and easily agitated. I’ll also ramble on until the cows come home if you let me. The thing I think I hate most, though, is the guilty feeling that creeps into the backdrop whenever alcohol is in one’s system. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.

So, I think the version of the story I’ll tell people is that I am making my health more of a priority in my life, and right now that doesn’t involve alcohol. After a while if they ask if I’m still not drinking I’ll just say alcohol was never really for me. Because, really, who is it for?

Best, E-Z”


Exit 349

sometimes the sign doesn’t say exit, it says “way out” – find your way out of the booze elevator. it’s time.

who says productive is the goal?

email from Little Miss M (day 81): “I’m sick – yuck. I hadn’t been feeling well the past week but it finally knocked me out where I spent most of yesterday and today in bed. I hate spending days sick in bed because I feel like I’m wasting time when I should be doing something productive. But I know I have to take care of myself by taking the downtime for my body to fight whatever it is I’ve got. But anyway. Another sober weekend in the books!! Hoping to feel better tomorrow.”

me: haha. thanks wolfie for giving you a hard time that even when sick you can’t rest because it’s not productive 😉 who said productive was the goal? if you’re not feeling great, you take care of you. it’s a forced situation. I think the universe is telling you something 🙂

Little Miss M: “Belle I love your comment *who said productive was the goal?* I guess I never thought of that. In my mind productive is always the goal because if you’re not being productive, then you get nowhere and going nowhere is definitely not the goal. When I was drinking and hungover and I felt too awful to be productive, I used that as an excuse to give myself “downtime”. Now that I’m no longer drinking and hungover, I need to find other healthy reasons to allow myself to have downtime because a run down, sick person also goes nowhere. Just something I need to work on…” [update : she’s on day 89 today]


Exit 348

this is from the original set of paintings Mr.Belle did back in August 2018, from the folder that i went into, and pulled out a painting and posted it… This is one of the ones that he never thought anyone would see…  (also with multiple exits on it). if you’re a true collector, you’ll need one of these ‘early’ ones. hahaha. ok, that sounds cheesy even to me …

boundaries & control

Didi (day 46) says: “One thing I really battle with is worrying about what is my stuff and what is not – I spend my time worrying about trying to control, hold, sort out other people’s shit … Are we boozers just control freaks? … I remember hearing something you said – you’re right audio has a wonderful way of getting in our heads the way reading doesn’t! Thanks Belle.”

And so i’ve put together the “worry about your own shit” sober podcast bundle with 4 full audios and 2 tiny audios:

SP081 Control: relationship between drinking and control issues and anxiety; what are the things you can control, and the things that you can’

SP103 Boundaries: i’m doing this to take care of ME, you say. i’m learning how to say no

SP141 Can I drink again later? What to tell yourself when your brain acts up with ideas of future drinking

RA003 Who’s Going to Help Me? You know this feeling, it’s the parent who flaps around the house saying, I have to do everything myself. Why doesn’t anybody help me. And it’s the person who wants to make something for Christmas for her kids, but she starts it Christmas Eve, and she’s saying why isn’t anybody helping me, when everyone else has gone to bed.


OMM020 Boundaries: there are toxic people around you, there is shit-pouring. you need an umbrella. how do you get one? [clearly this one needs a language warning]

and a 2-minute clip from SP187 – Take Care of You (this is not the whole podcast, just an extract) – what does it mean to ‘take care of yourself’?



if alcohol is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off and stay off.

how being sober is like making rhubarb muffins …

from me
yesterday i made rhubarb muffins that didn’t come out as i’d expected. I had a perfect vision in my mind: good texture sort of like a cupcake but loose like a muffin, sweet but not too sweet, tangy rhubarb, streusel topping.
i had a perfect vision in my mind of quitting drinking: i’d put the cork in the bottle, fill my days with knitting and triathlons and i’d finally defrost my freezer.
i was sort of winging the recipe for the muffins, i took my favourite way to do something that i already know (blueberry muffins) and thought i’ll just stick some rhubarb compote in the middle of the batter. you know, raw dough, rhubarb jammy stuff, more raw dough, then bake. that’ll work, right?
i was sort of winging my quitting drinking. i didn’t read up on it, i just tried to give it up. didn’t ask for help, didn’t see what anyone else had done. didn’t think about how quitting drinking without ACCOUNTABILITY was going to leave me alone in my head.
so i bake the muffins, they swell up in the pan (ok, that’s easy, i can put in less batter next time). and then the rhubarb starts to leak out. (ok, i can deal with that.)
so i tried to quit drinking, alone in my head, i got 5-7-9 days and then fell over. i was certain i wasn’t ‘addicted’ so why was it so hard to quit? oh you mean i have to ask someone for support and accountability. no thanks. i’d rather fall over again. really? no. but really?
the muffins come out of the oven. smell good. a bit leaky. fine. then i go to take one out of the pan.
and the top comes off.
the top of the muffin separates from the base.
because there’s a layer of wet jam there, too thick, created layers, the top never stuck down.
does it sound like quitting drinking? are you tired of having your head come off?
are you tired of thinking about drinking?
get a cookbook, watch a video.
then check with an actual someone who’s done it before, see what they think will work.
then try that. [listen to this message as an audio]



Where are they now?

this painting available
New York

click to see more sober / recovery art


the difference between reading about stuff versus ACTUALLY doing it

from my inbox:

there is a live chat thing on my site, where i can answer questions and help you find things. here’s a copy of a chat from this morning:

Hi there, can I answer a question for you?


Hi, does the sober challenge offer a direct helpful guide?


i’m not sure i understand the question. the sober challenge is a ‘challenge’ on my site, for people who’d like to quit drinking for 100 days. it can be done alone (you on your own) or with support from me (as a sober penpal).


Thank you! I just wanted to know if there was someone I can talk to directly, as a support guide, when I need someone to talk to, if I get the need for drinking.


yes, the support comes from me – either from the free stuff i send out (daily) or by signing up for us to be penpals. lots of people do it both ways. me personally, i need personal accountability for most things…


Yeah I’m debating signing up! I appreciate the help. It’s nice to know someone is there


i just did a class for my job #1, and there were two options: watch the videos, or watch the videos and work with a coach. i chose the latter. and i said to my husband this week “i can’t believe i waited this long, what a jackass i am.” i’m not pushing my stuff or trying to sell you something! i’m just saying that for me, the personal connection made the difference between CONSUMING stuff versus ACTUALLY doing it … again, i’m talking about a writing project, and not sobriety, but still…

If ever this happens to you, where you can’t find something, or you need help with a transaction, or you need some kind of technical question answered, or something explained, you can always drop into the chat, too. If i’m online, it’ll say “Chat with us LIVE” in the top right corner here. I cannot do ‘sober coaching’ by chat, but I can help you find things 🙂

Question: Do you have an experience with buying an online course, and not actually doing the content if there was no personal accountability? yeah. me too. my whole life!


link to original sober art, thanks to mr.belle

we don’t merge with our friends

from my inbox:

AnnaK (day 3): “Belle, I drank last Saturday on day 7 of my renewed pledge. I’m not sure why I’m having a hard time staying on track this time around … oh, how I wish I hadn’t drank that night just over a month ago after 5 months sober …
    I am still seeing a therapist and exploring this with her. I think I’m bored and trying to fit in with my current peer group. She agrees. I’m not sure what to do about this because I don’t necessarily want to get rid of all of my friends. As a single 37 year old woman with no children, I have found it difficult to find friends in similar circumstances who don’t drink socially every weekend (or more often). I got used to being the only one not drinking before and just have to do it again, I guess.”

me: I can reset you. I’m glad you’ve got someone to talk to about this. is your therapist a person in recovery too? if not you could add some of that kind of support as well. once I was about 6 weeks sober, I found it easier to socialize with people who were drinking. but to begin, I just felt too wobbly and so I spent more time doing solo things or sober things or daytime things with friends. you can get used to being the sober one again. just like you would if you were vegetarian. or training for a marathon. when we’re with friends, we’re all pursuing different things, on slightly different paths. we don’t merge with our friends. we’re still our individual (and best) selves. 

AnnaK: “Your statements about each of us pursuing different things and paths, being individuals who don’t merge with our friends, in particular, resonated with me. It was a forehead-slap kind of realization — of course, we are all unique individuals! It is neither necessary nor desirable to pursue the same course as everyone else. I’d much rather focus on being my individual and best self anyway, which is only attainable when I avoid alcohol.”


LINKS: are you following me on Medium? i wrote about extending Dry January into February here . not drinking today . i have hope that in being sober, my life will continue to improve . the booze elevator only goes down . i have to open the door, get off, and stay off . or else there’s resentment


Thanks for the support 🙂
Sober Art
this is Exit 337 … link.

you’re not the only one

from me:

if you have been receiving my emails for a while, you might remember that just before Christmas I started to do some limited facebook experiments, where I offered support if you were ‘tired of thinking about drinking’ and in my first day doing it, over the span of 2 hrs I got 300 new subscribers, and then freaked out and turned it off.

300 actual people, entering real email addresses.

Then right around January 1st, as everyone was thinking of giving up drinking as a new year’s resolution OR for Dry January, i was routinely getting 1000 new subscribers A DAY.

And what do you think is the most curious part of this?

The limited Facebook test was only done with people who had tagged that they LIKED alcohol, wine, wine tasting, etc. in their facebook history.

All those pictures that we see people sharing on FB, all the wine-o’clock photos, all the ‘i’m drinking in the jaccuzi’ photos — as a sober person, you might be tempted to look at those photos and feel triggered, and yell out “fuck me, why can THEY drink and i can’t?”

when, in some cases, what is REALLY happening is that those same folks post photos like that, and THEN click on a link that says “tired of thinking about drinking.”

and they don’t just click and laugh and turn away. No. They put in their email address and say “send me stuff.”

Now that a few weeks have gone by, I’m starting to get some anonymous emails from these same Facebook folks (Hi you! Welcome!). I’m going to share a few of those emails today, not because they make me look great (i am, in fact, a genius), but perhaps as a reminder that you’re not alone with this. there’s a whole bunch of us here, doing this sober thing.

from my inbox:

S: “I have been sober for 38 days. To tell the truth when I read your book on New Years Day I wasn’t even thinking about trying to be sober, but everything I read made so much sense and I was looking for something to commit to and this has been it. You know what, it has been hard, it has required true focus and on many occasions I have heard Wolfie’s voice and had to tell it to get the F*%# out of my head. Which to date I have managed to do. I read your emails morning and night and I would say they along with a couple of self-soothing treats have kept me honest. I have been talking to someone from work about my newfound sobriety and they are now giving it a go, too, and are on day 4 … Thank you for your support, I honestly don’t think I could have done it without you. As I have tried many times before and NEVER made it this far and you are the point of difference.”

P: “I’m on day 37 and so proud of myself, there is no big story as to why I decided to give up drinking, I just got fed with thinking about it all the time and having no ‘off’ button. I was starting to feel like drinking was beginning to take over my life, when a ‘sponsored ad’, you :), popped up on my Facebook. I downloaded your book and decided the 100 day challenge was for me and I was starting on New Years Day. I’m so proud of myself, aside from being pregnant the longest I’ve ever been without a drink was 21 days, a few years ago and before then god only knows! Today was a bad day, the sort of day I’d usually ring my hubby up and say get me a bottle of wine on the way home! Wolfie started howling about midday and was getting louder all day. (I have read this before in your emails but calling the drinking voice Wolfie has helped me so much, I feel I can detach myself from it. I quite often tell him to fuck off now!!!).”

S: “I just wanted to let you know that I found your website when I googling ways to give up drinking that weren’t AA. I knew that AA wouldn’t work for me as there is no way that I could get up and speak in front of other people. In fact, my anxiety would probably stop me from even going to a meeting. I read your book in about 2 days and have now been alcohol free for 32 days. The demands of my life mean that I’m struggling to put in as many supports as I would like but I’m working on that. I’m going to start tonight by going to bed as early as I can! I especially need that today as my special needs son got into my bed at 2 last night and wanted to play from 5! Thanks Belle.”

N: “Thanks Belle for your email – I’m glad you aren’t a robot 😊 first of all, thanks for the book, I have read a lot of it so far and it is as if you are reading my drinking mind. I have been thinking, just very recently that I want to quit the booze and your book appeared on my facebook page. To me that is serendipity.”


link to click.   i posted the newest little 3.5 minute video to welcome new subscribers yesterday afternoon. you don’t have to ‘like’ it, OR be signed into facebook, to watch. You’re Not the Only One > video here.


this is exit 304 … link.