stated out loud, in case you are mistaken: you are not alone with this.

yesterday i did a facebook experiment, offering support if you were ‘tired of thinking about drinking’ and in 2 hrs I got 300 subscribers, and freaked out and turned it off. 300 actual people, entering real email addresses.
the curious thing? the test was only done with people who had tagged that they 
LIKED alcohol, wine, wine tasting, etc. in their facebook history.
so what happens when you put something free and helpful in front of self-proclaimed wine lovers? hundreds of them, literally, raise their hand and say “i’d like to know more about this sober thing.”
i don’t know why i find this so surprising.
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.”
Then when i send a personal reply that says i’m not a robot, thanks for signing up, my inbox today is filled again with “thanks for the real message, i’m on day 2.”

so this is to state out loud, very clearly, in case you are mistaken:
you are not alone with this.
in fact, YOU have already found that sober supports exist online. you’re here reading, and re-engaging, and clicking links, and listening to audios. you’re here nodding, and crying, and laughing, and nodding again, saying “thank god it’s not just me.”
it’s not just you.
and the sober thing? it’s a big deal.


link to click.   if you’re brand new to the idea of being sober, or you’re a lurker, or you’re sober-curious — then welcome. you’re here! i’m going to release a set of brand new audios especially for lurkers beginning next week. the price will be only $10, as I have received some donations specifically to support other sober folks. like you. more here > exit audios (sponsored by donations).


from my inbox:

Colin (day 42): “I am listening to your podcasts and finding them enormously useful. This is my second attempt of 2018. Previously I went 166 days and then I went on vacation and then my wife went on a trip and wolfie got the better of me. But I feel a bit different this time, because I really HATED falling off the wagon, and got almost zero pleasure from any part of the drinking, and tons of pain from being drunk and hungover and ashamed. So while before I worked under the assumption that there would be a new Day 1 at some point, I’m now working on there never being another Day 1, because I’m done.”


Case Study Michelle (day 1062): “Saw this quote tonight and though of you. ‘You can’t fix the shit in your head with the shit in your head.'”


ShelT (day 123): “Hearing others like me never seems to get old haha. How on earth did we all think we were the only ones with our particular challenges and coping styles when there were versions of us all over the planet?!”

sometimes your exit sign is in german … link.

give grumpy people something to complain about

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 21st.

long run, quiet streets until i get to the street market, filled with polish sausage, italian homemade pasta, two lines to get into the corner bakery (one line for bread, one for pastries which have to be wrapped & boxed so takes longer). there was also a ginormous line for the apple stand. they’re selling only apples, but actual fresh ones, like from a real orchard, and more than the 3 kinds typically found in the grocery. they also were selling sparkling rhubarb juice in big litre bottles, but the lineup was probably 25 minutes long. so i ran past.
i listened to podcasts, one about writing (Dabblers vs. Doers), one about justice or its reasonable facsimile (Serial). i came home to an absent husband but a clean house. he was out getting coffee cream. he had busied himself yesterday with tearing out part of a cupboard and rehanging the door. i know from past experience not to question what he’s doing, that his enthusiasm shrivels under many questions of ‘why aren’t you doing it this way’ or ‘why are you doing it at all, it was fine before’.
i also did a very tentative facebook thing yesterday and today, you know, to sort of see how many people are out there, like us, perhaps high-bottom drinkers who are ‘tired of thinking about drinking’ and the results were staggering enough that i had to turn it off. 283 new subscribers yesterday afternoon in 4 hours. but then 300 new subscribers in only 2 hours this morning. it’s a very (very) strange feeling to watch 4 people per minute sign up to get info on ‘how to get the voice in your head to stop asking for alcohol’. and then it makes me nervous. like, do i even have anything to say … i know. hilarious right? the girl who never shuts up. but there’s a sense of responsibility, you know, when a stranger shows up at the door and says “can you help?”
well, um, i shuffle my feet. maybe. i mean, i have some audios you can listen to, and some things to read. i have a book. are those things enough? not really, of course, but they’re enough in some cases for thinking to shift, for the door to sobriety to crack open a fraction, so that some light can shine in. i know in my case it was only because i found someone online who’d quit drinking who didn’t have a low bottom, that i thought it was possible for me. that the world wouldn’t end. that i’d still have ‘fun’… (as if being hungover was fun, as if going to bed with a juice glass of wine was fun, as if measuring my quantity versus my husband’s and putting our glasses together on the counter to make sure he didn’t get more than me was fun.)
i won’t say ‘greetings’ to all the new subscribers, because they won’t see this message. i leave brand new people alone for a week or so, so they can poke around, decide if it suits them, unsubscribe if they don’t think they like me. they get some simple, regular messages that aren’t filled with my navel-gazing, or telling you about paintings, or stories of my sunday long run. instead i introduce the idea of wolfie, the concept of treats, and how it’s ok to quit drinking, even if you don’t think you have ‘a problem’ like ‘those people’.
anyway. that’s my day for you. i will eat a grapefruit, drink decaf, read my book, and do a bunch of food prep. and i’ll think of 300 people signing up in 2 hrs to get advice from a random girl on the internet. every one of us with our own personal stuff, our own stories, all wanting to get the ‘drink now’ voice to stop.
i’m glad you’re here.
hugs, xo


from my inbox:

L (not yet a penpal): “I so relate to DM who feels naked and exposed with nothing to cover themselves with since getting sober. I feel things big, and realize now that drinking was a way to turn the “volume” knob on myself down to a reasonable level (when you talked about that in your book, it was so validating and helpful). I don’t know what day DM is on, but I am on day 38 (I am pretty sure; it’s gotten so much easier now that I’m barely checking my sober app to see which day I am), and I can say the first 30 days were rough in this regard. I found myself wanting to run and hide a lot. I would feel a big emotion (happiness, sadness, embarrassment) and just need to remove myself and do something else until the jittery, crazy, overstimulated feelings passed. The reason  I’m writing this, though, is to say IT GETS BETTER!!!!! IT GETS EASIER!!!! DON’T GIVE UP!!!!! I am sure I’ll have tough times again. I feel guilty offering encouragement with so little sober time under my belt. I don’t feel quite qualified. But in my experience, I am getting better at finding other ways to handle my emotions and to take care of myself that don’t involve pouring liquor down my throat. And the other ways don’t make me feel like shit. It’s a win.
Also. I do hope that you’ll find some new stuff to sell to us, Belle, just to give grumpy people something else to complain about. 😉 I am wearing my ‘Grateful/Eff You Wolfie’ necklace and ‘Stay Here’ bracelet every day. I cannot tell you how they anchor me. It’s a tangible manifestation of my inner resolve to live up to my full potential, to love big and cry big and rejoice equally in both, to think clearly, to preserve my health, and to be a light that shines for other people still on the booze elevator. Maybe they’ll see my megawatt smile through the crack in the elevator door and think: ‘I could get off of this thing’.”

sometimes the Exit is in german, and perhaps this is a subtle message to hang in the office … it’s your german grandmother? or your german girlfriend …. link.


Update from London 2018

This is a brand new podcast (episode 273) going out today to podcast subscribers.

Recorded this ​new podcast on the train coming home from London, so the audio quality is a bit weird.

I'm also experimenting with recording and then not editing. Just letting it end up 'however' — I think this may encourage me to record more often, if i'm less worried about the right microphone or whatever.

We'll see 🙂 work in progress... everything is like everything.

I've posted the entire audio and I'll leave it up for 48 hrs. ​Listen now.

[ link removed ]

​Sober Podcast 273. ​London 2018

You can ​leave a comment below, anonymous is fine. ​

Question: Would you come to a meetup if i held one in your nearest major city? Would you come and eat homemade cinnamon doughnuts and chat? ​

 To download the entire audio, you can use the link below.

​Download ​SP273.  London 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)

​This is original Exit painting #253. If booze is an elevator that only goes down, it's time to exit. here's the reminder you can hang on your wall.

from me: I never planned to do this

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 19th.

i didn’t ever think i’d be a sober coach. i went to university, studied english and writing, then education, then more writing. then i didn’t work as a writer or as a teacher. i returned to writing when i started a sober blog because i couldn’t figure out how to solve the problems i was having in my head – you know, the problems of THINKING. and i knew that me alone in my head wasn’t going to be useful. i’d TRIED doing it alone in my head before. for years. many. the number of times i wrote “quit drinking” or “reduce” or “learn to moderate” (or my personal favourite is the time i wrote: “learn to drink like other people”).
i never planned to have sober penpals, but one person became others. i didn’t expect to sell sober jewelry, it just sort of evolved. i made a bracelet for myself and showed it and then someone else wanted one, so i got a few more. i didn’t think i’d have aluminum and brass and silver and gold and necklaces and leather keychains.

i did not plan to write a sober book. i did it because penpals were asking for the info to be collected in one coherent form.
record podcasts? i remember the first one i did, i was so terrified. and i was certain i had nothing to say. and i had to ask my husband to leave the house so he couldn’t hear how nervous i was.

sober meetups. treat boxes. newsletters in the mail. OMM wallet cards. this really has been the best time ever, i’m not kidding.

but something changed 2 months ago. it’s not just my project anymore. it’s not just me and you. i did something unusual and involved my husband. he’s been a watcher, a newsletter folder, a dish-doer. but one day in a fit of weirdness (we were arguing, in fact, about his career), i went into his things and pulled out an Exit painting he’d done in the weeks before. and I put it up for sale on my site. it tied in perfectly with the idea of Exit the booze elevator, and the sewer images i often mention.
so i know that i’ve been showing his paintings a lot. and some of you love the ‘daily photo album’ and some of you think that enough is enough. i try to balance what you say with his face when i tell him i need more paintings. I listen to you asking for beach colours and i kindly tell him that orange and green isn’t going to work. then i post one of his orange and green ones that he’s so proud of and cross my fingers.

which is to say …

thank you. for the over 200 paintings you’ve taken into your homes. i know that it’s inelegant to promote anything on a sober site. i try to make sure that 80% of what I do is completely free, including twice a day emails, live calls, newsletters, and stuff. and i know that if i was on day 1, i’d be bored with this whole email about me and my husband. but i’ll risk it. so that i can say thanks for your support. and i don’t mean ‘money’ support, i mean ‘tell him i like them’ support. i mean the great emails you send, that i can’t even share, because there are too many of them, and it’d be self-serving ad embarrassing if i posted them all.
but anyway, this is also to say that in a world where a small-town girl from Canada ends up being a sober coach (!), well, it’s pretty amazing, even to me. and that her husband who has been a bystander would step tentatively alongside, that’s just such a big thing. it has changed our entire marriage. and i’m not exaggerating even a little.

so you’ll forgive me if i continue to be proud of him (and of us), and you’ll forgive me when i overshare the colours and photos and the new things he comes up with. you never have to buy anything. and you have my permission to delete every second email if you think the frequency is too high 🙂 but then, you know, you might miss something good!

happy sober day
hugs from me xo


if booze is an elevator that only goes down, it’s ok to get off and stay off. this is painting #253, here.


a star is born. not for me.

This message was sent to subscribers by email November 4th

 I saw the new movie ‘a star is born’ last night. alone in a theatre. husband out of town.
it wasn’t a good idea.
the movie depicts lots of alcohol consumed, in a not appealing way. that part was fine (for me). i mean, it didn’t make me want to drink.
what i didn’t expect, was that the watching of a co-dependent relationship that still has love at its basis, would trigger some kind of co-dependent chaos-seeking feeling in me.
i come out of a movie like that, with a leading man who looks (and sings!) like he does, and i want to be her.
and that is fucked up.
i’ve had plenty of co-dependent, dysfunctional relationships in my life. my married life of the last 13 years represents none of it. my current life is regular. not dysfunctional. not dramatic. not chaotic. predictable. feeling misunderstood, sure — but only for days at a time, not for years.
i didn’t want to drink after i saw that film. i wanted to be the one looked at by that man, even if he came with that kind of baggage.
and that’s it’s own kind of addiction. the one who would be drawn to chaos. who would, even for a moment, think that that would be ‘a good life’.
so i’m looking forward to mr. belle coming through the front door in the next hour and a half, to reset any ideas i may have of what ‘good relationship’ looks like.
i may not even listen to the music from the film again. what a shit show. 

anyone else seen this film and had a ‘more-than-expected’ sadness afterwards? send me a note. if you haven’t seen it, honestly, i’d be careful in recommending it, if you’re sensitive like me.

[any comments left will edited to remove spoilers]


if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. original sober art by Mr. Belle.

sober art HERE. this is painting #252.

the part i never want to relive

This message was sent to subscribers by email october 18th.


day 1 stories:
the part i never want to relive”

from me: OK, i’ve been sharing day 1 stories, and giving away copies of the first year of the blog in collected PDF format. and yesterday’s winner already HAS a copy, so i’m going to share another story today and award the prize here. if you are NOT the winner, here’s a discount link you can use to get a copy.

Here’s story #5. If this is you, send me an email so i can send you the blog PDF 🙂

B: “I’ve never replied to an email before, I’ve been a kind of silent reader! This one piqued my interest though, as I haven’t really thought about day 1 since it happened. (Bit of background info – I’m 24 years old and I’m now 81 days sober).
My day one began with me waking up in hospital having been found passed out in the street. I had, the night before, turned up to a party in [city] that I was barely invited to (any reason to get out of the house and drink!) Anyway, long story short, my day one continued with me being discharged from the hospital, having to be held up by my dad because I still couldn’t walk. An hour later I was home in bed, dry retching and full of anxiety about how I even ended up on the street. I woke up at 7 pm that evening, and felt so scared and lost. I had lost my phone and pretty much my final shred of dignity.
I finally gathered the courage to face my parents, and they looked broken. One look at their faces and I felt like I had truly hit rock bottom. That’s the part of day 1 I never want to relive, seeing clearly for the first time the effect my drinking was having on everyone, not just selfish me.
The “tool” I would say I used was that I told my whole family and my closest friends that evening that the drinking had to stop. Mainly because I knew I would wake up the next day and want to carry on as normal. Having everyone around me know somehow made it impossible to go back on the promise I made myself.
Feels good to actually get that off my chest!
On another note, though I’ve been a silent reader of your emails they’re one of my most crucial tools nowadays. So thank you, truly, because you’ve definitely had an incredibly positive influence on my recovery.”


from my inbox:

moneyfortreats [penpal 2847]: “Tomorrow is Day 60. It’s a little surreal. Sounds rather impressive, I guess. I can’t believe how hard it was to make this decision and actually stop. I can’t believe how much I used to drink. The money and all the time — buying, consuming and thinking about when to drink, how much to drink, how much I drank, regretting the ingestion which turned into a definite feeling of illness and weakness in my body. Punishing myself in order to avoid the pain and disappointment life revealed to me.
Bought another candle. My place is going to be a fire hazard. Headline: “Raging Alkie Quits for health only to die in a blaze set off by Sober Treats 😝” [she’s on day 72 today]


KeysKathy (day 150) [penpal 2789]: “I think you rock and anyone who says otherwise is possessed. By Wolfie or another drunk demon. I still sit around at night and watch bad tv, but I am calmer and not driven to drink myself into oblivion.
Would you have thought six +years ago when you quit drinking that it would lead to this collaboration between you and your husband to do a good thing for so many people. Your words and his art are making a huge difference in so many peoples lives. What an inspiration to those of us (me) who cannot quite see where all of this will lead.


anonymous blog comment: “The only blog I’ve read that sells anything is this one.”


Dalai Mama (day 42) [penpal 7]: “Doing A-ok, thanks! I continue to be amazed at the depth of discomfort I have engaging with the world. Discomfort I drank to diminish, but obviously not an effective treatment. So, I am naked and defenseless against my anxiety and insecurities. No pain, no gain. I hope it will get easier.

me: do you think you are feeling better than on, say, day 5? like is the discomfort improving 1% per day or whatever? if you feel like it’s trending in the right direction, then you can wait a month and see how you feel. or do you think you have an underlying anxiety/depression-y thing going on.

DM: “I do think it’s better, the anxiety is a lifetime affliction but waking up with no hangover and eliminating the drinking thinking has absolutely helped 😊 I think it’s that thing, where you feel everything you have been avoiding feeling by drinking. In time I will get more used to managing the feelings and emotions that are there underneath everything, all the time.”

me: and at least we’re not adding booze to an existing underlying issue, which would only magnify the problems. and if you see an improvement at least, you know you’re going in the right direction. happy sober day today 🙂



small format art cards, 4″ x 6″, you can thanks, to yourself, for doing this sober thing. it’s a big deal. HERE.

it feels dangerous and scary

from me:

my husband was away on the weekend, and I did two things. (1) i went to see A Star is Born (my review here). and (2) i asked him to leave me some painting stuff out so that i could play, in his absence. i did one painting that night, then two the next night, but only when he was out and couldn’t see me.

i don’t think this will become a regular thing. i am not a painter. i’m not being falsely modest: i am a cake-baker. i am a caterer and a writer and a sober coach sometimes. i’ll own those nouns.

but also i’m a bossy know-it-all and i got tired of telling mr.belle what i wanted him to paint for me (“dark to light, sort of like sunshine and rain in the same painting”) and i decided to try it myself.

yes, it’s true that we met in art class, and the last 13 years i’ve painted exactly nothing. once we started dating, i slowly stopped, and by the time we were married, i’d stopped entirely.

i have no experience with this at all. EVER. i’ve never sold a painting before this week (and when i was making tee-hee noises in the kitchen, husband said, encouragingly: ‘yes, but that’s only because you never shared a painting before…’).

so monday night he went out, and i did two more, back to back, in the dark apartment, making a huge mess on the table that i would generally not tolerate from him. i wanted to get them done before he could see me.

then yesterday afternoon he headed in the rain to the art store to buy me my own paints, little baby tester tubes. i did two squares this morning with the ‘new colours’.

it feels like play, but also it feels dangerous and scary. all the wolfie voices start up (who am i to … he’s the real artist and i’m the … what if it sucks). And while my wolfie voice is loud while i’m doing the paintings, once they’re done i’m happy again. it’s like writing for me: during the process i’m super critical. once it’s done i’m happy to have done it …

today I completed my 4th and 5th hope paintings. i’m sharing this perhaps to practise being brave. or to show how the wolfie voice can be loud but not win. or maybe it’s to say something about what happens once the booze is removed. we step out into the light.

new painting posted here >

you know me…
selling hope since 2012 🙂

*ps. i’m sending out more ‘behind the scenes’ painting stuff, and notices when new paintings have been posted, to this list here. i won’t share much of my painting stuff here in the regular emails, so if you want to see/read more, put your name on the art notification list.

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #4

these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts on November 6th than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂

from my inbox:

C: “Thank you for the election day notes! They are helping. Love and gratitude from Day 31.”

B: “Thank you! here in nyc we need all the support we can get..keep them comin.xo”

Brigitte: “Oh yeah. There was one election night I downed 3/4 of a bottle of wine sobbing on the sofa. I felt like extra crap the next day, and the world felt hopeless. Not gonna happen this time.”

Mr J: “Oh my god, thank you so much for this! Election evening typically turns into some kind of fucked up drinking game for me, constantly checking the results. This time, I’m going to go vote after work, then eat all of the remaining Halloween candy in the house while binging Netflix.”

Mindful Me: “love the photos💕 Something about the art, hubby’s paintings, now photos from people — art does something — different but similar to your voice talking to me … It speaks deeply, occupies space, fills it with new ideas and smiles, and shoves Wolfie into the tiny corner.”

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #3

it is midterm election day in the US today, so these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts today than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂

when subscribers signed up to do the Exit Exist lurker audio series, they were asked to send in Exit photos they found around them. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. get off. and stay off. because we don’t drink. no matter what is happen around us. no matter what.

shameless commercial links 

there are:
4 x brass Stay Here bracelets
1 x silver Decisions bracelet (unisex)
left for 2018.
If you purchase today (tuesday), i’ll also send you a copy of an extra sober bonus: a 10 minute podcast about sober + bored (what to do when the long afternoon/evening of sobriety are staring back at you, SP218 – Bored)

small notes about american midterm elections (and other things) #2

it is midterm election day in the US today, so these emails are dedicated to maintaining a sense of calm and balance, to fill your inbox with a smile, a cheer, a diversion, or a reminder. there will be many more posts today than usual. and no matter where you live, there will be a message for you 🙂

when subscribers signed up to do the Exit Exist lurker audio series, they were asked to send in Exit photos they found around them. if booze is an elevator that only goes down, then you can exit. get off. and stay off. because we don’t drink. no matter what is happen around us. no matter what.