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

lent is a good cover


Lent is the perfect cover to quit drinking. In this audio, I share some ways to work ‘i’m not drinking these days’ into the conversation.

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

If we had to make a bumper sticker out of ONE phrase in this audio, what would it be? I’ll pick the 11th new comment and you’ll get an audio bonus gift.



shameless commercial link.
french mints.
you need two packages,
one for home
and one for your bag.

if I drink alcohol, my world will get smaller

email from Eleutheria (day 8): ” … At one point this weekend, I sat and looked at my dad in his hospital bed and said, “You know, if you ever want to walk again, it’s on you. You have to decide you are willing to go to physical therapy …” I continue, “And, when you get home, you are going to want to drink. You can’t.  You can’t drink. You can’t have just one. I can’t have just one. Aunt E, your sister, can’t have just one. Your brother T can’t have just one …”

He replied, “I know. It’s genetic … I can’t help it.”

To which I responded, “Yes, it’s genetic [maybe it’s genetic], but so is my nearsightedness. And, you know what I do every day? I wear glasses. I put them on every day to prevent developing headaches. You wanna also know what is genetic? Depression. I take one little pill each day, and it keeps me from experiencing emotional hell. That’s it. There are answers to these problems. And you know what else, there are things you can do about alcohol, too. I write an email – or actually a bunch of emails to a sober coach who doesn’t even live in the United States. I am actually WANTING to go to AA when I get back home … Do I want to go through the 12 steps? Nope! But I DO want to be around other people who “get this” and are in the same boat. It feels good not to be alone.”

My dad replied, “I don’t even want to drink right now.”

“Yeah, you don’t want to right now because you are in the hospital. But when are home and you get bored, lonely, stressed — any emotion, especially any negative emotion — you will want to fall back on what you know you can do. You are going to want to drink. It happens to ALL of us. But you can’t. If you don’t want to end up back here, you can’t.”

Deep down I know in my heart of hearts that my dad doesn’t want to change. At the same time, I am not trying to be a hypocrite. I have had so many Day 1s, I feel like I have broken a record for Day 1s. At the same time, it felt good to tell my family, “I can’t drink because I can’t drink like a normal person.” I told my mom and my sister. I don’t think my mom will EVER get alcoholism. She tells me, “But you aren’t like him. You have sense. You have control.” Ummmmm, no I don’t. I just haven’t told her all the horror stories that have accompanied my overdrinking. She has no clue about how much I have disrespected my body, my self esteem, my waistline, and bank account. She also hasn’t been in my head to replay all the embarrassing shit I have said — the conversations I have forgotten, the nights I don’t remember. I don’t need her to get it, though. I just need her to respect it.

I look at my dad’s life and how alcohol ruined it. He was this super good-looking medical professional with a smokin’ hot wife and two daughters who grew up to be pretty great people… he went scuba diving and snorkeling; he had a cool life … [over time] he ballooned into a morbidly obese man. He spends more time comatose drunk than he does sober … his world is this tiny, sad, dark place. I know that if I drink alcohol, my world will get smaller, more predictable, sadder, and darker, too.
I’m going to bed wayyyy early tonight – and am happy about that. I think I just completed Day 8 (?). Yep – Day 8 complete.”

[update: she’s on day 404 today]

this is painting 350 here.
if booze is an elevator that only goes down, you can get off. and when you’re off you stay off. look for the exit. and sometimes the exit is in FRENCH.

link here.




Happy Day 2000 to Catherine Gray

a very happy day 2000 to penpal #270! this is a super big deal, hooray for you!⁣

here’s a link to my podcast interview with Catherine > – just enter $0 for the price, it’s free⁣

hugs, belle xo


this is painting 336 here.
you are open to new possibilities. you’re open to changes. you’re out of the booze elevator in looking around for opportunities. this is you. it’s sunny here. open minded. open-hearted.

link here.


what did i say? what do i have to delete?

email from trigirl: “I woke up promising never to drink again, Every Single Day for probably 10 years. I’d wake up between 3 and 4, toss and turn, then get up when my husband’s alarm went off at 5:30 and pretend that I felt ok as I tried to piece together the previous evening. What did I say? Did we finish watching that movie? Did I talk on the phone or text people? I’d better check to see if I need to delete anything from Facebook! Today is the day — I’m not drinking wine tonight, this is it!! If I had anything remaining in the second bottle, I’d dump it down the sink. My resolve would crumble as the day progressed. I would replace the bottles at about 3:00 pm and start the whole thing all over again. It’s absolutely horrible to be stuck in that place, and I don’t ever want to go back there!

I went to an Elton John concert the other night. It was my second sober concert after watching Coldplay last year. On the way to the venue, I told my husband there are times when I still wish I could drink like a “normal” person. But I didn’t miss it when we got to the concert and avoided the giant lines for ID checks to get the wristband required to stand in the other giant lines to purchase alcohol. I watched a couple in the seats in front of us come and go as they repeatedly made the bathroom/beer run and a woman dancing around with two drinks in her hand who could have easily been home in her living room listening to a CD. It was a bonus to wake up with a clear memory of an enjoyable evening, tired but not hungover!”

[she is penpal 1942 and she’s on day 541 today]


this is painting 336 here.
you are open to new possibilities. you’re open to changes. you’re out of the booze elevator in looking around for opportunities. this is you. it’s sunny here. open minded. open-hearted.

link here.


from me: We will be in Tennessee in May

We are travelling to Tennessee in May 2019 for a combined art show for Mr.B’s exit paintings AND a live podcast recording.

The art show will be Friday May 10th in the evening, and the Podcast recording in front of a live audience (you!) will be the following morning, Saturday May 11th.

You can come meet us (well, mr.belle will be at the Friday night event). we’ll have snacks and paintings and you’ll meet interesting people (hahaha, I mean besides me).

I’m happy to share more info with you if you’re interested. You can send me an email at this special email address > > and I’ll send you some details.



And once you’re out of the booze elevator, you learn to rest and be present. Stay here. Stay focussed. Stay in the present. Stay sober. Stay true to yourself.

from me: what my physiotherapist taught me today

from me:
today i had my 5th treatment for my sore back. you know, the sore back that i waited a YEAR to start the physio. the lovely new physio girl (Lucia) who is like 27 years old and from spain, told me it’d take 4 sessions to feel markedly better. she was right. I waited a YEAR. yes, it’s true.
how long do we walk around feeling crappy before we reach out for help? because we’re sure it’ll suck or won’t be solvable? and then we do, and it turns out to be solvable, and then we feel better, and then feel idiotic for not starting sooner? yeah. that.
lucia wanted to work on stretching today, apparently in the hospital in denmark where she worked before, they ONLY do stretching. no TENS machine, no manual manipulation, no massage.
(and i’m like ‘stretching? that never works…’).
i wasn’t properly dressed for this, though, and the small hole in my jeans tore wide open. nice. ass falling out of my pyjamas AND now out of my jeans. thankfully i was wearing a long coat so i could get home.
and as we’re doing the exercises, my wrists are quite sore. we have to adapt a few of the yoga ‘plank’ things to be more suitable for aged people like me.
she says “they’ll get stronger, your arms. everyone says the same thing. they always complain about their arms and wrists when they start yoga.”
oh you mean i’m not a special unique snowflake with unfixable wrists? you mean i’ll get better at it just like everyone gets better at it? oh you mean with accountability, i can be reminded (repeatedly) that i’m doing well, i’m progressing, and it’s moving in the right direction?
i apparently also need to go to see lucia twice a week to be reminded that things change. that we’re not stuck in a shitty place. we reach out, try something new, and our wrists get stronger. the ass comes out of our jeans. and the back pain stops.
we remove the booze, the shitty place we felt trapped in melts away, and we can begin to heal.
right. so that’s my morning so far… (oh and husband ‘stayed home from work this morning to clean the house and clean the windows’ which is his code for ‘needed to sleep in’ but he’s vacuuming right behind me now. bumping my chair. i’m not complaining.)


from my inbox:

email from M: “Hi Belle, I just want to say a big thank you to you for showing me the way forward regarding drinking alcohol. My wife saw an ad on facebook “Tired of thinking about drinking” and I said to myself yes that’s me, I am tired of thinking about drinking. Didn’t drink Monday to Wednesday but by Thursday the voice inside my head would say ‘you deserve a drink now, you have had a hard day at work’. I find it easier reading your blogs knowing that “the wolfie” voice is in other people’s heads, and not just mine. The 1 bottle of wine on a Thursday becomes a bottle of beer and a bottle of wine on Friday and by Sunday it’s 2 bottles of wine (one whilst preparing Sunday dinner and one to follow). Wolfie always thought this a good idea, even though sometimes on a Sunday morning I said to myself i am not drinking today, wolfie would always win. My wife and I have done dry January for the last few years but always started to drink again in February. This year I have gone 32 days without a drink … Saturdays are better without it (and the rest of the week) and I can get up on a Sunday morning and remember everything I did the night before. I remember the meal, the movie we watched, the conversation we had. You have been an inspiration and I want to thank you again, so THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.”

email from S: “Hi Belle, thank you for sharing the ‘new subscribers’ emails, I too am one from the Facebook ad experiment. The time I received the link was perfect. I had been trying to moderate for years and failing terribly. my ‘bottoms’ were getting worse more destructive and where before they were only hurting me (so I thought). I had started to see they we hurting my family.  A conversation with my non-drinking 18 year old son who went to university in the summer, where over, dinner wine in hand, I was encouraging him to go out and drink in order to ‘make new friends’ (I can’t believe I was doing that now), and him saying to me ‘the main reason I don’t drink mum is because I’ve seen firsthand what it does to you’. Ouch! And then reading your book, has changed my life. It’s very early days I’m on day 38. I watch tv and see people drinking (all the time!) … but I try to remind myself that on tv they are drinking ribeana not wine and it’s wolfie talking to me so I tell him to piss off. I read your emails daily and listen to your podcasts. I have a journal too. Your message cards arrived in the post yesterday too and again were perfect timing. Thank you so much for showing me a way that isn’t too shameful (I’m still very disappointed that I let myself become so dependent on alcohol). Thank you for caring about people  so much to reach out in the way that you did with FB …”

Trirun (day 142): ” … I was surprised with how okay I was with being out to dinner with colleagues and not worry or be looking at the drinks. I really just did not care, in fact I was very proud on the inside and felt good that I was going home sober and without the guilt and effects of drinking. I wake up early and take in gorgeous sunrises and runs — and sunsets. I don’t worry about having to stop Or what to drink or how will I get to my hotel. I love that. For the first time in a long time I feel secure in me, and that makes me happy. Gourmet donut treat and coffee for me today, because I am happy. Truly happy that I made the decision to commit and stay in this sober place.”


new painting
Exit 349

because sometimes there’s no ‘exit’ sign. sometimes it’s a ‘way out’

ORIGINAL PAINTING #349. If booze is an elevator that only goes down, you get off and you stay off. find the way out. here is your visual reminder 🙂

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.