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:

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

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

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

Are you looking for longer sober podcasts?

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 (1-2 new full-length audios each ​week, you can cancel whenever you like ... but you won't. more sober tools = good)

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.

Download the entire podcast episode
#150: Kristi Coulter (FREE)

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I want to be sober. Should I try vitamins? A French class?

(Update of a post originally published february 2017)

OK, if you don't have a lot of time, I'll cut to the chase: Stop fucking around by building your house out of straw.

~

M (day 1) sent me this email: Belle, I keep trying all these things to help me be sober and nothing works. I just spent $100 on vitamins. I’ve been to a one-day, quit-drinking workshop. I signed up for a French class. You see, I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and with all the money I’m not spending on booze, I could buy a plane ticket.

~

You can hear her thinking, and you can absolutely see what she’s saying.

It seems logical, doesn’t it.

My reply to her would be: “If you are continuously sober, then yes, whatever you’re doing is working. Keep doing it.”

But if you are NOT continuously sober —if you reset after 2 days, or 20 days, or 200 days — then what you’re doing isn’t quite enough to keep you sober. So you add more sober tools.

Argh, I’m on Day 1 again. I’m enrolled in French class. Why isn’t that enough?

French class is something you can hang in the space that booze used to occupy.

But taking a French class is not a sober tool.

Sober tools are things that help you to BE sober.

Imagine this.

You are a little piggie, of the Three Little piggies, and you build your sober house, and wolfie repeatedly comes and blows your sober house down.

We'll note that you've built your sober house out of straw or sticks or tarps, but wolfie blows it over. Maybe not right away, maybe not tomorrow, but as soon as there’s a strong wind, or a celebration, or a death, or a runaway teenager, or Sheila in accounting pulls her shit and refuses to do the cheque run before end of day on Friday.

It doesn’t take much, when your house is built of straw. Wolfie is at the door, blowing.

Your sober house falls down.

But let’s be real, wolfie only has to barely knock on the door of your house made of straw to knock it over. To the house of wood, he’ll knock once or twice, and when that doesn’t work, he’ll add in lung full of hot air and a bit of whining. Doesn’t take long.

(And really, you built a sober house out of straw? You were wishing. You’re were hoping you could do the minimum. You knew it wasn’t going to be enough.)

To the house built out of sober stones, set careful on a sober cement foundation — yeah, that house — well, wolfie will knock on your door and when that doesn’t work, he’ll try to blow you over with convincing arguments as to why you need to Drink Right Now.

You will add in a bit more cement and wave to him through the window. He’ll look for cracks, but you’ve got double-paned glass and a bug screen.

This isn't a stone house. This is your life.

Your life is worth more than the minimum. It’s worth more than straw and tarps.

The soul of you, the essence of you, the real you that isn’t anesthetized, the real you that is empathetic and helpful and has good boundaries —THAT you deserves to be guarded in a solid stone structure.

What helps to build a wolfie-proof, stone sober house?

Advice from an architect. Talking to the girl at Home Depot about the length of the nails and what has worked on similar projects.

Pouring a cement foundation.

Going as slowly as required to NOT have to pour the foundation, dig it up, pour it again, and dig it up again. What a waste of time that is. You need a sober foundation, sure, but if you do it too quickly, or too rashly, or try to do it with inadequate cement, or do it while doing too many other things at the same time — well, you know what happens.

You can see this example clearly when I'm talking about cement.

The colour of the paint, and the carefully selected flowers, and the breeding fruit trees do not build a strong house. The French classes and spin classes and yoga classes and pottery classes and vitamins don’t help you change your behaviour. They’re wonderful (and necessary and lovely) things to add to your life. They are.

But they are not sober tools.

A sober tool is something that helps you to be sober. Not paint colour.

I know you want to paint the room, but you haven’t built the room yet. You want to choose the light fixture, but the wiring hasn't been installed.

You want to focus on the details all around THE THING.

The THING you want is to be sober.

And you’re online spending hours choosing the right French class? You just spent $100 on multivitamins because that should help you be sober?

What if you’d spent that time and that $100 on actual sober supports.

[You don’t though, because wolfie is a sly fucker, taunting perfectly nice people with bullshit logic like vitamins and French classes.]

OK. Sober tools. They are things that help you be sober. That would include anything that directly makes it more likely that you (a) remember that being sober is a good idea, (b) soothes irritation, (c) helps you be accountable, (d) checks in on you, (e) reminds you what you’re doing when you forget, (f) reinforces the idea of the sober foundation and why you need it because you forgot again, (g) makes it possible for you to not drink.

A French class isn’t a sober tool.

It's not just a book. A book about being sober is awesome. But you can stop re-reading the book, waiting for something to click. It doesn't work like that.

(Do you think you can read books about pouring cement foundations, and have the book be enough? Is a one-day workshop on cement-pouring enough? How about a forum of other people on day 1 of cement installation?]

You are probably walking around THIS THING, acting like you don’t know what to do.

You know what to do.

You know that if you ask for support from people who can actually support you, then you have a higher chance of actually getting this done.

You know that if you turn and face the resources and education and accountability that sober support provides, that you’ll learn from people who’ve done it 2,778 times, that you’ll save time, feel better, and have your cement poured sooner.

If you have built a house out of straw AND IT’S WORKING FOR YOU then keep doing what you’re doing.

But if the wind keeps blowing you over, you’ve got to look at having some new tools. Things to read AND accountabilty AND support AND cheerleading AND treats AND audios AND going to bed as early as possible...

Paint isn’t a tool.

Neither is a French class.

 

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.

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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

Duck Ponderings 005 – The Husband

In this Duck Ponderings episode I talk about husbands. Why don’t i talk about the contents of my marriage, does he resent how much time i spend on the sober things, does he read my sober writing every day as i complete it … and what happens when you don’t have children in terms of the ‘projects’ you create to fill the space.

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I also mention a video that i filmed on sunday morning… video here [click to begin!]:

 

To see the fiction project that I talk about in this episode, go here: bit.ly/sober-fiction

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

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