small notes about hurricanes and other things (#1 and #2)

during the hurricane last week, I sent a series of small notes to subscribers – and some of these ideas, of course, apply to the world beyond the weather.

small notes about hurricanes and other things #1

we don’t drink because of weather. not even unusual weather. if it snows in September (alberta) or floods in NC, we don’t drink.
you need to be sober to deal with the random things that happen in life. it could be bad weather, but it could be sick mother, or your fan belt splitting in half. it could be a faulty insulin pump. it could be a tenant’s overdose. you have to be sober to deal with the things.

to mix drinking with dangerous weather just seems like a bad idea.
you’ll agree with me.
if ever you needed to keep your wits about you, it’d be now.  

today’s exit-the-booze-down-elevator painting might be about exiting the shitty thinking, or it might be about exiting the dangerous situation, or it might be about finding the exit on the highway as you leave town, windows boarded up. an exit is about you taking care of you.
it’s you, making plans.

~

small notes about hurricanes and other things #2

unexpected things, large and small, are happening around us all the time. this is one of those things. they tell you that X will happen, but it’ll be something like X-2+Y-7. Which means you’re flexible. No black and white. It’s grey. You go where you need to go, soberly, eyes open. You do the next right thing in front of you. You do the basic self-care things every day (sleep, eat, rest, avoid overwhelm). you text your parents and friends and sober coach when you feel wacky. you don’t do this alone – hurricanes or sobriety. we do these things together.

~

This is Exit painting #114.
Exit the booze elevator. Get off and stay off.

I wish I could drink as much as I want and not suffer any consequences

from my daily micro-email sent September 12, 2018

if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can step off now. find the exit. get off and stay off. (sortie is ‘exit’ in french)
original painting #93 here today.

from me:
this is wednesday. we are home after 20 days of working ‘off-site’ while visiting in-laws, and travelling (mostly being lost) in the US. on the way home from the airport yesterday, as I sipped espresso and ate a power bar to try to wake myself up, mr.B says, “I didn’t tell you this before, but there’s a hurricane warning, a million people on standby for evacuation.” He didn’t use these words, of course, because he doesn’t speak english with words like ‘standby’. the reason he hadn’t told me, is because of my long-standing agitation about flying, and the self-imposed blackout on news that i have, but even MORE SO right before a flight. something bad happened in a plane yesterday? i don’t want to know. doesn’t change me having to get on the plane…
i’m easily wound up, so i have to filter the ‘news’ so i don’t get overwhelmed. and i guess husband knows me well enough to not tell me things that’ll exacerbate my shaking with fear, which i did only 3 times the plane yesterday, grabbing his arm. the rest of the time i happily worked on my laptop and unhappily did not eat the profoundly bad food (thanks air canada).
flying, for me, is like being sober. i do my best to keep my head attached even if it means doing things differently from other people. i reach out and bruise my husband’s arm when required, not often, but i do. when the anxiety stops, i go back to my shitty meal or my laptop. i don’t dwell. though why they continue to serve the shitty meal while it’s bumping around, i have no idea — oh wait, it’s because the bumping around is trivial — it doesn’t mean anything. the flight crew are bored with it. they keep pouring coffee…
i want to share more of the ‘stay here’ philosophy that developed on a bumpy flight in the next email, but also i’ve got some new mantras that i now say during times of anxiety…

some notes from my inbox:

pippa: “just want to say thank you for your emails. They make me feel like I’m in a posse of people who are doing this amazing thing. When I feel on the periphery of the world — cos it looks like everyone else is merrily drinking (even though I know logically this is not the case) — knowing that there are other women [and men] who have made the same excuses, wondered if they were making a mistake going AF (because, you know, I’m not THAT bad), and who go from feeling on top of the world about their decision to feeling shit and weird — makes the difference. Something has shifted for me fundamentally so I’m 10% conflicted but 90% happy and that part of me keeps getting bigger and more certain.  It used to be the other way round. I feel like I’m in a cool gang now.”

~

sobriety shingles: “I’m so glad mr b is enjoying doing this, I love them. Does he know how much the the little exit sign helps us? What it communicates to us? How evocative it is? I’d like to order more, I hope he doesn’t tire of this theme yet, I sure haven’t! Thank you, Belle, for everything.  Et merci monsieur b.”

~

S: “Hi Bella, I don’t normally reply to your emails … the main reason I am a lurker is because I don’t yet fully believe I have an issue with alcohol (although maybe I do since I am here!). I’m more of a binge drinker 2-3 times a week rather than a every day drinker. Which I know is just as bad but I have been reading your emails and I feel that I am starting to see the light …  it’s now Thursday (here in New Zealand) and I have yet to drink again since last Saturday, not because I have stopped myself but because I just don’t want to! seriously this is such a new feeling for me and a lot to take on board especially since I am actively working to manage my anxiety and depression (meds and psychologist).”

~

DaniZ: “honestly, i just feel angry tonight. At the end of the lesson, you have the ‘take a moment and imagine day 140’. I can’t. I DO feel broken, although I liked the part about when you stop drinking, the craving goes away. I know that to be true, but right now, that experience was too long ago, and so the ‘knowing’ is an in my head knowing, not a head AND heart knowing. So yeah, I’m just fucking pissed off right now, and feeling sorry for myself. I have a million and one things to be happy about and grateful for, and I am just heavy in the pout mode. I seriously wish that I could drink as much as I want and not have to suffer any consequences. How fucking childish is that? I’m 48 for god’s sake! Sorry. Totally crappy email, and rather than put it in my journal, I am sending it to you. Which hardly seems like a nice choice, but I am hoping that being honest with my feelings might help.”

broken plumbing, family squabbles, existential crises

from me:
after i sent my earlier message to say thank you I got some really lovely responses, so now i get to say thank you again 🙂

~

doug: “Wow. Humbly, I say you’re welcome. You thanking us.  I wasn’t expecting that. God, thank YOU so  much for everything.
Gratitude, true gratitude is precious. I try to recognize when I am grateful and stop and appreciate it. I realized recently that I felt like I was missing something. I thought about it. I realized that the feeling of gratitude had been absent lately. Not because I had anything less to be grateful for. I’d simply been too busy to appreciate my life. I love this email.  Thank you again. For giving me a reason to pause and give thanks. ~big hugs”

fatgit: “Well, that’s nice, if entirely redundant. Thank you too for giving me a life worth living. X Da”

emsyface: “That’s so good to hear (about mr.B). Makes such a difference when the other person is feeling good about themselves.”

honeybadger: “Just purchased the latest Mr. B work of art. I would have liked to pay more but have been on maternity leave (without getting paid) and daycare expenses start soon so money is tight right now. Didn’t want Mr. B to think it was a reflection on its value. I anticipate going back to work will be hard on many fronts so I plan on keeping the painting at work as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Playing it forward and remembering life in the sewer is always helpful when shit gets rough.”

peewit: “This is really lovely. A bit of a glimpse into belle-world, which I know you share plenty of but this is different, more like the doors opened a bit wider and we can see a bit more of you because this is you in relationship. And of course you don’t spill the guts of your relationship with us generally but as humans are relational beings – whether we like it or not 😉 – seeing how someone else ‘does’ relating is basically a teaching aid. And the way you’re willing to try to support each other, even when there’s struggles and differences and shit going on, that’s a door opening on to a lesson for most of us (most of us being people who do NOT like reaching for our own door handle even when we know we’re trapped). … Thanks so much for sharing belle, bless you and mr belle, xxxxx”

sobersusie: “I somehow missed that these are Mr. B’s creations. Well done! How exciting. Good for him.  May he continue creating! Thank you Belle for your presence in our lives. I hope you go to bed each night and feel you’ve made a difference in people’s lives because you have.”

happygal: “Overjoyed to read this. So happy you and Mr B are feeling fulfilled. We all love you Belle. Thank YOU for the seismic shift you’ve created in the sober world ”

LVL: “You are so special!! Blessed to have heard about you and you help make this struggle and climb easier!! Without Mr B, Mrs B would be different I guess. So in a sense the thanks goes to him for supporting you as well. Wanting to make you proud (like a verrrry young mom in a different country).  Hugs and lots of love from a sober and level LVL x”

fridgkit: “Thank you, Belle, for getting me to Day 36. For make my me believe that each day can be different and better. Thanks for your fiction and Mr. B’s art. And thanks for starting all this yourself, all those years ago. Broken plumbing, family squabbles, existential crises—I’ve weathered them all this week. Knowing you are there has been a big help!”


Exit painting

If booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can exit now. Find the door. Get out. Exit.

These are original EXIT paintings, done by MrBelle. each one is an original, they’re not prints. so there’s only one of each available. to see today’s new painting, go here.

thanks

from my daily micro-email sent August 28, 2018

 

thanks. 
let me start by saying thank you. for all the things.
you know those knots you carry around inside forEVER and then they slowly start to unwind? those knots. sure, you know about them.
that’s how i feel right this minute. un-knotted. (long may it continue!)

i want to say thanks for:
your support while i do this sober thing. you think that i’m doing something for you, but you’re doing something for me — in my coaching calls, in my montreal sober meetup, in my daily emails. i wake up each morning and scroll through my inbox, to see how you’re doing, to see if you have news. to see if you’ve written the song in the sand yet, or cleaned up the cat vomit, or if you’ve travelling home safely from vacation.

i also want to say thanks for the support on the newest addition to the site, the original art from Mr. Belle (who wants to sign his name now as: mr.B).

i don’t share a lot about his life (cuz it’s his life) but let me say this to you and you can read between the lines: he’s painting. evenings and weekends. he’s up and down the stairs to his office (when we’re at home), and now that we’re on vacation, he BROUGHT some of his art stuff in his suitcase to continue here in Canada.

to see him working on vacation is actually lovely. he’s had a slow, hard time with his career for the past 7 years so it’s really been a great thing to see him inspired.
and when THAT happens, it changes the inside of my marriage.
and when THAT happens, i feel ‘relieved’ but also supported. by you. so thank you. from both of us.

i’ll also say thank you to the agent who has asked to read the second draft of the sober fiction book. i’ll say thanks to the Everything list for your support in getting that book done. I’m planning (yes, still) to begin writing a new fiction book in September and i will let you know how you can follow along, too, when the time comes.

if you’re on a booze superhighway, it might be time to exit. if you’re on a booze elevator that only goes down, you can get off now. if you’re in the booze sewer, i promise you it’s better in the sunshine.

if you’re stuck in weird thinking, you can stop drinking and see how you feel.

exit the booze things.
all of them.
alcohol doesn’t suit you.
you’ve tried it.
it’s not for you.

hugs from me


link to original art – Exit 036
exit the sewer, exit the booze elevator.
original art, paintings – not prints – so only one of each available.

[Audio] Interview with Kristi Coulter 2018

It's been 2 years since I spoke with sober penpal #128, Kristi Coulter. She has a new book coming out on Tuesday, August 7th called Nothing Good Can Come From This. 

But the story of how she got here has a lot to teach us sober folks.

Like, how do you deal with people telling you that you just don't get it, or that you're shit?

I sent out this audio today (episode SP260) to podcast subscribers ... 

BUT I am going to make this full podcast available for 48 hours, even if you are not a podcast subscriber.

You'll want to hear this. Start now, just for a few minutes. 

Sober Podcast 260. Kristi Coulter (2018)

If you could leave a comment after you listen, that'd be great. Anonymous is fine. To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

Download SP260. Kristi Coulter (2018)

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

Feedback from listeners:

Lena: Love that part about it not being about willpower. Because I guess, that’s what works ... slowly getting to know a perspective of things to be great and even greater! And particularly inspiring awesome to getting to know real people who are showing up, and what is possible if you just go through that tough stuff. 'cause grass IS greener on the other (sober) side! Love for that <3"

Emsyface: "I found this a really useful and there were some parts that stuck out:

Before she quit she felt like she was just fulfilling everyone else’s needs and that her writing/pure creativity was “not essential”. This I think is important because it shows how alcohol makes us just focus on getting through and we deny ourselves any sense of pleasure or frivolity.

The part when she got negative feedback for expressing anger and that meant she was a “dry drunk” and would relapse...

The part where she talks about reading your blog and you “liking” being sober. Catherine Gray in her book talks about sobriety having such a negative image whereas the reality is anything but. That was so worth hearing again.

I found it affirming to hear from someone who didn’t have underlying mental health issues that if one did, one might need more support.

Other little nuggets were “drinking doesn’t change reality” (but changes how you process it); and that feelings don’t kill you. ... Thanks for this- one of the best I’ve heard in a while."


Wednesday Celebration Roundup

If we are sober penpals, then we email all the time and I keep track of your dates. Then i can celebrate you online (here) when you hit the big milestones. like these ones:

Happy Day 50 to Lheras!

Happy Day 50 to Scrappy!

Happy Day 50 to Wave-Spirit!

Happy Day 50 to Jennifer 2.0!

Happy Day 50 to Hat Trick!

Happy Day 50 to Da!

Happy Day 50 to Allison!

Happy Day 100 to Jane Marie!

Happy Day 100 to Reenster!

Happy Day 100 to Carly!

Happy Day 100 to Alligen!

Happy Day 180 to Mary Elizabeth!

Happy Day 200 to SerenityNow!

Happy Day 200 to Ana Maria!

Happy Day 200 to Prissy!

Happy Day 200 to Lhaschnoodle!

Happy Day 200 to Happy Day 200 to unpuzzlingpatti!

Happy Day 200 to wildflower!

Happy Day 200 to emsyface!

Happy Day 200 to jenwithoutwine!

Happy Day 400 to Dry Ace!

Happy Day 400 to Leila!

Happy Day 500 to Karebear!

Happy Day 500 to RRH!

Happy Day 500 to Goldie!

Happy Day 600 to Lime Tree!

Happy Day 600 to Sophiestar!

Happy Day 600 to Jazzie!

Happy Day 700 to Gene!

Happy Day 700 to Lola4126!

Happy Day 700 to TJS!

Happy Day 700 to RubyHarper!

Happy Day 700 to Poppy!

Happy Day 900 to Auds!

Happy Day 900 to Kaffy B!

Happy Day 900 to Debbie!

Happy Day 900 to KLC!

Happy Day 900 to Country Pat!

Happy Day 1000 to Hughie!

Happy Day 1200 to Grateful Girl!

Happy Day 1200 to Jenuful!

Happy Day 1300 to Sean!

Happy Day 1300 to Indian Lake!

Happy Day 1300 to Mel P!

Happy Day 1400 to Canadian Girl!

Happy Day 1400 to Festie!

Happy Day 1400 to Graceb!

Happy Day 1500 to Sanfransober!

Happy Day 1500 to Lara!

Happy Day 1600 to RunnerMom!

Happy Day 1700 to Janet!

Happy Day 1700 to Denise!

protect that shit

from AnnaD (day 86):

“Heavy drinking is like time travel. Each year of drinking is five years of actual life. It’s why relapses are time-sucking vortices, into which whole decades can be devoured like so many Cool Ranch Doritos. This makes falling off the wagon a much longer trip than the cute aphorism suggests. The wagon is much higher up off the ground than you’d think — if you dismount, you will fall a long, long time before you hit even a high bottom. Claw your way back on. It’s worth it. Because, like quitting smoking, almost everything is easier than the first part of quitting. Once you’ve done it, protect that shit like it’s sacred, because it fucking is.”

 

Senior Sober Workshop: Worth
(and senior just means you’re 200+ days sober)
registration begins Tuesday, July 17th
small group, live calls, homework, treat box in the mail
www.soberlinks.me/worth

how to travel (audio)

How do you stay sober when you're dealing with family, extra people, chaos, lack of sleep, and travel.

The advice I have for sober travelling will apply to you whether you are travelling or not, because you always have to be creating a space where you’re safe to be sober. 

And you know what? You need a lot more alone time than you think, so build it in. More in the full audio that is going out today to podcast subscribers.

Here's a clip where you can listen to a bit of the audio.

extract from Sober Podcast 254. How to Travel (You need more alone time than you think)

You can leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. Tell me the part that seems true for your experience ... To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

Download SP254. How to Travel

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

Solstice to Solstice 2018

From Sober in Richmond (The Solstice Guy): “I started my 100 Day challenge on the Solstice [and am celebrating 3.5 years sober tomorrow] … If there is anyone out there who needs some motivation to start – perhaps they can do the Solstice to Solstice. It really helped me to have the power of the whole darn earth behind me rather than a day or date on a calendar … It’s an incredibly magical thing, the Solstice to Solstice!”

Imagine it’s the longest day of the year (tomorrow in the northern hemisphere). Imagine you’re sober starting tomorrow, June 21st. It can be your Day 1 or maybe it’s your Day 50. Or 400. Doesn’t matter. Can you see yourself sober on December 21st? Winter Solstice. Stand here. Look ahead 180 days. Because if you think the view from day 100 is great, wait until you see 180 days.

  • If you’d like to be sober from Solstice to Solstice, you can put a comment below.
  • Audios to listen to for Solstice to Solstice? Receive one archived podcast every 2 days for 180 days. That’s 90 audios in total, starting with SP001 Accepting Help all the way to SP090 Magical Time. Audios discounted 40%

I like the idea of having the ‘whole darn earth behind me’ – how about you?